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of his administration were often extremely exceps tionable, they invariably proceeded from a firm persuasion that they were calculated to promote the welfare and happiness of the community. The grand defect in the character of this nobleman was, a want of liberality and comprehension of mind: he was a religious bigot; a character totally in. compatible with that of a great statesman. He was under the influence of a thoufand weaknefies and prejudices; his ideas of the nature and extent of regal authority were extravagantly high: he was wholly unacquainted with the principles of toleration; he was haughty, intractable, conceited, and morose; and entirely destitute of that spirit of mild wisdom and enlightened benevolence, which so remarkably distinguished his illustrious suecellor, the great Lord Somers.

The first act passed by the new parliament, pronounced every person who dared to affirm the King to be a Papist, incapable of holding any employment in church or state; a measure which obviously tended to increase the fufpicions already entertained respecting this point. The bishops, who had been previously restored to their spiritual functions, by virtue of the royal prerogative, exercised under colour of the Act of Supremacy, were now admitted to their former stations in parliament, from which they had been so long excluded. The power of the sword, which had been the immediate cause of the civil war, was folemnly relinquished, and the doctrine of non-resistance was explicitly avowed. The

Crown

Crown was invested with a power of regulating, or, rather, of new modelling, all the corporations throughout the kingdom, at pleasure; and all magistrates were obliged to declare, that it was not lawful, upon any pretence whatever, to take up arms against the Crown. All these different measures, however, were but so many preludes to the famous Act of Uniformity, which took place in the same fesfion; and which fell, like a thunderbolt, upon the devoted heads of the presbyterian party; i. e. upon a class of men who constituted, at that period, at least one half of the nation. To exhibit this act in its proper colours, it must be remembered, that the Convention Parliament, which restored the King, was composed chiefly of presbyterians, and that their generosity had so far exceeded the limits of discretion, as to induce them to rely, with unsuspecting confidence, upon the royal declaration from Breda, in which they were fattered with the prospect of a general amnesty and liberty of conscience; and to reject the advice of fome of the most fagacious members of that afsembly, who were of opinion, that specific conditions should be proposed to the King; who, in that critical situation of his affairs, would gladly have acquiesced in any terms which the general welfare of the community had rendered it prudent or proper to insist upon. By the Act of Uniformity, however, the Church was not only reestablished in all her pristine rights, but the terms of conformity were made ftill more rigorous than in U 2

any

any former period, with the express view of excluding all of the presbyterian denomination from the national communion; in consequence of which, about two thouland of the beneficed clergy voluntarily relinquished their preferments on Bartholomew-Day 1662, when the Act of Uniformity, by a refinement of cruelty, was to take place, in order to prevent those who should resign their livings from making any advantage of their tythes for the preceding year. After making every reasonable allowance for that mixture of adventitious motives by which, in such situations, human nature will be ever in some degree actuated, this must certainly be regarded as an astonishing sacrifice of temporal interest to integrity and conscience, and as exhibiting a noble proof of the deep impreffion which the Christian religion is capable of making upon the heart, and of the elevation of views and conduct which, in the most trying fituations, it is calculated to excite; but when we examine minutely into the reasons upon which this magnanimous secession was founded, we cannot but ftand astonished at their extreme frivolousness, and futility, and our admiration is almost annihilated by contempt. The leaders of the presbyterians, who were many of them men of great learning and abilities, did not object to a national establishment, as such; they were far even from professing to disapprove of the government of the church by bishops; to the theological fyftem contained in the Thirty-nine Articles, they were very

strongly

)

strongly attached ; and the use of a public formu. lary of worship they generally regarded, not only as lawful, but expedient : To what, then, did they object ? To submit to r:-ordination, by which the validity of the prior ordination by a presbytery would virtually be impugned: They could not in conscience consent to kneel at the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; nor could they make use of the sign of the Cross in Baptism; nor prevail upon themselves to bow at the name of Jesus; nor would they counterance the superstitions of the Romish Church, by wearing the ecclesiastical vestments, which they reckoned amongst the detestable aboaninations of that mother of harlots. It is difficult to determine whether a greater degree of bigotry was discoverable, in insisting upon

these servances as terms of communion, or in rejecting them as anti-christian and unlawful :-this, however, is certain, that Clarendon, who was now possessed of absolute authority, must have drank deep into the spirit of Laud, to have urged a measure which had a direct tendency to alienate the minds of half the nation from the King's person and government; which plunged a great number of worthy and conscientious men into the depths of indigence and distress, and which laid an extensive foundation for a schism which still subsists, and which has been productive of very pernicious consequences; though it must be acknowledged that much good has likewise resulted from it, but of such a nature, that the faintest idea of it could

petty ob

U 3

never

never enter within the narrow views of that honest but mistaken minister.

In the summer of 1662, the inauspicious mar. riage of the King with Catharine, Infanta of Portugal, was concluded. It is not certainly known what part the Chancellor took in this affair: the truth seems to be, that the King had resolved upon this alliance, and the minister therefore was compelled to acquiesce in that which he had too much discernment to approve. The pernicious effects of a catholic alliance were surely sufficiently obvious by the example of the former reign; and how the interests of this kingdom could be promoted by establishing the independency of Portugal, which was the great political consequence to be expected from this union, it was not easy to demonstrate. Spain was already funk much too low in the scale of power, and nothing could more effectually contribute to confirm the dangerous ascendency already acquired by France, than this absurd and impolitic measure. In the same year a transaction took place, which has frequently been represented as highly scandalous, and even criminal; I mean, the sale of Dunkirk; it does not, however, I must confess, appear to me in this heinous light. The revenue of the Crown was at this period very narrow, and the expence of maintaining Dunkirk was great; and though it is undeniable that a powerful kingdom cannot, without incurring some disgrace, part with any of its possess fions for pecuniary considerations, yet it must be

allowed

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