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England.” Let us consider for a moment the value of these words. Ten years before, we found Charles entering into secret engagements, ‘contrary to his oath, and subversive of all his duties to his subjects. We find him now, after various changes of fortune, beginning, as it were, a fresh career of imposture, degradation, and treac'hery, in order to destroy the constitution over which he had been called to preside, and to extinguish the laws which he was bound to administer.
Some of the chief obstacles to this plan, after the Whig leaders, might be expected to come from the Dissenters. In the language of a pamphlet of the day, “ the strength of the Dissenters is the weakness of the Crown.” In order to diminish this strength, the Act of the 35th of Elizabeth was put strictly in force. Dissent» ing ministers were prosecuted in all parts of the country, and obliged to pay heavy fines for the discharge of their duty. The jails were filled with those who were unable to pay these fines, and it is said, that in Uxbridge alone, two hundred warrants for distress were issued.*‘‘
At the same time the Whig newspapers, which were very active in bringing to light acts of oppression and injustice, were suppressed, and
the writers of them imprisonedL ‘Great pains
‘were taken, on the other hand, ‘to direct the
public mind into the road of abject servility.‘ Roger L’Estrange set up a'paper, called the Observator', which served as a vehicle for the most outrageous libels on the principles and perSons of‘the Opposition. Amongst other passages of a similar kind, he said that a citizen’s skullwas but a thing to try the temper of a soldier’s sword upon. '
Every exertion was made to procure from the country addresses abhorring the association found amongst Lord Shaftesbury’s papers, and stigmatising the ignoramus juries. Those who promoted these addresses, ‘which were obtained from the indifference rather than the zeal of the people, were the adherents of the Court, and the’ members of the church. The universitiesalso were unanimous in giving their sanction to doc. trines calculated to obtain the favour of royalty, and ‘rivet the chains of the multitude. The Vice-Chancellor of ‘Cambridge, in addressing the King, told him that he reigned “ by a fundamental, hereditary right of succession, which n0 religion, no law,‘ no fault, can ‘alter or diminish.” The celebrated decree of the Uni‘ versity of Oxford, ‘ condemning resistance, and inculcating passive obedience, was not passed till some time afterwards. But these declara
tions were moderate, when compared with the doctrines inculcated in the sermons of various divines. Dr. Spratt, in a sermon before the Artillery Company, endeavoured to prove, from texts of Scripture, that the use of arms is lawful in a private, and much more in a public quarrel, but contrary to the Gospel, if not sanctioned by alegal authority. The intention of this harangue seems to have been to encourage the soldiery in abetting the King’s arbitrary government. Dr. Hickes, an equally zealous and more conscientious friend of royal power, asserted in his sermons, that the professors of Christianity ought to die, rather than resist by force, not only the King, but all that are put in authority under him. It was to confute the last-mentioned author, that Mr. Samuel Johnson, chaplain to Lord Russell, wrote a book called the Life of Julian the Apostate, defending resistance in extreme cases. *
. It is not to the credit either of the piety or the wisdom of this age, that political questions were treated by divines, and decided by reference to Scripture. Our Saviour, whilst he lost no opportunity of recommending charity and benevolence, expressly declined any interference with the ‘political duties of his disciples. And
and toleration. It was, no doubt, from observing this disposition, that Lord Russell was inclined to favour the Dissenters. He wished the Church to open its doors, that Protestants might not have enemies amongst themselves. His sentiments, I hope, were not less Christian than those of the high dignitaries, who promoted intolerancein the Church, and tyranny in the State. ’
The trial of Argyle, which took place in Scotland at the end of the year 1681, would have been a disgrace even‘tothe most arbitrary government in Europe. He had rendered'himself obnoxious to the Duke, by moving, that in an act which confirmed all former acts, the words “ and all acts against popery,” should be inserted. It was a year after this that James desired him to take the test for privy councillors, an oath ambiguous in its terms, and which James himself had said, no honest man could take. The Earl wished to decline and disqualify him