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obedience required, that if you compute the time of the passing this act, with the time allowed for the clergy to subscribe the book of Common-Prayer thereby established; you shall plainly find it could not be printed and distributed so, as one man in forty could have seen and read the book they did so perfectly assent and consent to*.
But this matter was not complete until the five-mile act passed at Oxford, wherein they take an opportunity to introduce the oath in the terms they would have itt. This was then strongly opposed by the lord treasurer Southampton, lord Wharton, lord Ashley‡, and others; not only in the concern of those poor ministers that were so severely handled, but as it was in itself a most unlawful, and unjustifiable oath. However, the zeal of that time against all non-conformists easily passed the act.
This act was seconded the same session at Oxford, by another bill in the house of commons, to have im
By the act of uniformity of public prayers, &c. which received the royal assent on the 19th of May, 1662, all parsons, vicars, or other ministers, &c. were ordered to conform to the church of England, before the feast of St. Bartholomew, or the 24th of August following, upon pain of losing all their ecclesiastical preferments, &c. And it is certain, that," the CommonPrayer Book, with the alterations and amendments . . . . . made by the convocation, did not come out of the press till a few days before the 24th of August." See Dr. Calamy's Abridgment of Mr. Baxter's History of his Life and Times, ubi supra, p. 201. By that act, passed in the parliament held at Oxford the 9th of October, 1665, and intitled, An act for restraining non-conformists from inhabiting corporations; the non-conforming ministers were prohibited, upon a penalty of forty pounds for every offence, to come, unless only in passing upon the road, within five miles of any city, corporation, borough, town, or place where they had been ministers, or had preached, after the act of uniformity; unless they first subscribed to the declarations of the act of uniformity, and did take and subscribe the following oath:
"I A. B. do swear, that it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the king: and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him, in pursuance of such commissions; and that I will not at any time endeavour any alteration of government, either in church or state."
Anthony Ashley-Cooper, afterwards earl of Shaftsbury.
posed that oath on the whole nation. And the provi dence, by which it was thrown out, was very remarkable; for Mr. Peregrine Bertie, being newly chosen, was that morning introduced into the house by his brother the now earl of Lindsey, and sir Thomas Osborn*, now lord treasurer, who all three gave their votes against that bill; and the numbers were so even upon the division, that their three votes carried the question against it. But we owe that right to the earl of Lindsey, and the lord treasurer, as to acknowledge that they have since made ample satisfaction for whatever offence they gave either the church or court in that vote.
Thus our church became triumphant, and continued so for divers years; the dissenting protestant being the only enemy, and therefore only persecuted; whilst the papists remained undisturbed, being by the court thought loyal, and by our great bishops not dangerous; they differing only in doctrine and fundamentals; but, as to the government of the church, that was, in their religion, in its highest exaltation.
This dominion continued unto them, until the lord Clifford, a man of a daring and ambitious spirit, made his way to the chief ministry of affairs by other and far different measures; and took the opportunity of the war with Holland, the king was then engaged in, to propose the declaration of indulgence †, that the dissenters of all sorts, as well protestants as papists, might be at rest, and so a vast number of people not be made desperate at home, while the king was engaged with so potent an enemy abroad. This was no sooner proposed, but the earl of Shaftsbury, a man as daring, but more able, (though of principles and interest diametrically opposite to the other) presently closed with it; and perhaps the opportunity I have had, by my conversation with them both; who were men of diversion, and of free and open discourses where they
* Sir Thomas Osborn, created afterwards baron of Kiveton and viscount Latimer, in 1673; earl of Danby, in 1674; marquis of Caermarthen, in 1689; and duke of Leeds, in 1694.
+ That declaration bore date, March 17, 1671-2.
had a confidence; may give you more light into both their designs, and so by consequence the aims of their parties, than you will have from any other hand.
My lord Clifford did in express terms tell me one day in private discourse: "That the king, if he would be firm to himself, might settle what religion he pleased, and carry the government to what height he would. For if men were assured in the liberty of their conscience, and undisturbed in their properties, able and upright judges made in Westminster-hall, to judge the causes of meum and tuum; and if, on the other hand, the fort of Tilbury was finished to bridle the city; the fort of Plymouth to secure the west; and arms for 20,000 in each of these; and in Hull, for the northern parts; with some addition, which might be easily and undiscernibly made to the forces now on foot; there were none that would have either will, opportunity, or power to resist." But he added withal," he was so sincere in the maintenance of property and liberty of conscience, that if he had his will, though he should introduce a bishop of Durham (which was the instance he then made, that see being then vacant) of another religion, yet he would not disturb any of the church beside, but suffer them to die away, and not let his change (how hasty soever he was in it) overthrow either of those principles; and therefore desired he might be thought an honest man as to his part of the declaration, for he meant it really." ·
The lord Shaftsbury (with whom I had more freedom) I with great assurance asked, "What he meant by the declaration? for it seemed to me (as I then told him) that it assumed a power to repeal and suspend all our laws, to destroy the church, to overthrow the protestant religion, and to tolerate popery." He replied, all angry, "that he wondered at my objection, there being not one of these in the case. For the king assumed no power of repealing laws, or suspending them, contrary to the will of his parliament or people; and not to argue with me at that time the power of the king's supremacy, which was of another nature
than that he had in civils, and had been exercised without exception in this very case by his father, grandfather, and queen Elizabeth, under the great seal to foreign protestants, become subjects of England; not to instance in the suspending the execution of the two acts of navigation and trade, during both this and the last Dutch war, in the same words, and upon the same necessity, and as yet without clamour, that ever we heard; but to pass by all that, this was certain, a government could not be supposed, whether monarchical or of any other sort, without a standing supreme, executive power, fully enabled to mitigate, or wholly to suspend, the execution of any penal law, in the intervals of the legislative power; which when assembled, there was no doubt but, wherever there lies a negative in passing of a law, there the address or sense known of either of them to the contrary (as for instance of either of our two houses of parliament in England) ought to determine that indulgence, and restore the law to its full execution. For without this the laws were to no purpose made, if the prince could annul them at pleasure; and so on the other hand, without a power always in being, of dispensing upon occasion, was to suppose a constitution extremely imperfect and impracticable; and to cure those with a legislative power always in being, is, when considered, no other than a perfect tyranny.
"As to the church, he conceived the declaration was extremely their interest; for the narrow bottom they had placed themselves upon, and the measures they had proceeded by, so contrary to the properties and liberties of the nation, must needs, in a short time, prove fatal to them; whereas this led them into another way, to live peaceably with the dissenting and differing protestants, both at home and abroad, and so by necessary and unavoidable consequences, to become the head of them all. For that place is due to the church of England, being in favour and of nearest approach to the most powerful prince of that religion, and so always had it in their hands to the intercessors and procurers of the greatest good and protection that
party, throughout all Christendom, can receive. And thus the archbishop of Canterbury might become, not only alterius orbis,' but alterius regionis papa;' and all this addition of honour and power attained without the least loss or dimunition of the church it not being intended that one living, dignity, or preferment, should be given to any but those that were strictly conformable.
"As to the protestant religion, he told me plainly, it was for the preserving of that, and that only, that he heartily joined in the declaration; for, besides that, he thought it his duty to have care, in his place and station, of those he was convinced were the people of God, and feared him, though of different persuasions. He also knew nothing else but liberty and indulgence that could possibly (as our case stood) secure the protestant religion in England; and he begged me to consider, if the church of England should attain to a rigid, blind, and undisputed conformity, and that power of our church should come into the hands of a popish prince; which was not a thing so impossible or remote as not to be apprehended; whether in such a case, would not all the arms and artillery of the government of the church be turned against the present religion of it? And should not all good protestants tremble to think what bishops such a prince was like to make, and whom those bishops would condemn for heretics, and that prince might burn. Whereas if this, which is now but a declaration, might ever, by the experience of it, gain the advantage of becoming an established law; the true protestant religion would still be kept up amongst the cities, towns, and trading places, and the worthiest and soberest (if not the greatest) part of the nobility, and gentry, and people."
As for the toleration of popery, he said, "It was a pleasant objection, since he could confidently say, that the papists had no advantage in the least, by this declaration, that they did not as fully enjoy, and with less noise, by the favour of all the bishops. It was