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LORD BACON'S TOLERANT PHILOSOPHY.
burning an Arminian professor of Holland ;' while CHAP. he, at the same time, refuted the errors of the heretic in a harmless tract. Arians were, by his order, burned at the stake; he disputed with a wretched man, whom, after the discussion, he consigned to the flames.” He long favored Calvinism, but he loved arbitrary power better than the tenets of Knox, and, when the Arminians in England favored royalty, King James became an Arminian. He steadily adhered to his love of flattery and his love of ease; but he had no fixed principles of conduct or belief.
Such was the character of the king of England at a period, when the limits of royal authority were not as yet clearly defined. Such was the man, to whose decision the puritans must refer the consideration of their claims. Would he be faithful to the principles, in which he had been educated ? He had called the church of Scotland “the sincerest kirk of the world;" he had censured the service of England as “an evil said mass.? Would he retain for puritans the favor, which he had promised ?
There were not wanting statesmen, whose more profound philosophy favored a liberal toleration. Lord Bacon, in whose vigorous mind the truths of political wisdom had been sown by Burleigh in deep furrows, cherished the established worship, and yet advised concessions,“ regarding the church as the eye
1 Winwood's Memorials, v. iii. 3 Calderwood, p. 286, year, 1590. p. 290. 293. 295. 298. 316. 339. 4 Bacon's Works, v. ii. p.
541. 357, and other places; Rapin's Hume, in Appendix to James I., England, v. ii. p. 179, 180. and Grahame, v. i. p. 253, charge
2 Lingard's England, v. ix. P. Bacon with intolerance; as I think, 217, 218; Prince, p. 127.
CHAP. of England, in which there might yet be a blemish.
The divisions in religion seemed to him a less evil 1603. than the violent measures of prevention. The
wound, said he, is not dangerous, unless we poison it with our remedies. — The wrongs of the puritans may hardly be dissembled or excused. The silencing of ministers for the sake of enforcing the ceremonies, is, in this scarcity of good preachers, a punishment that lighteth upon the people. — The bishops should keep one eye open to look upon the good, that those men do.—On subjects of religion, he says of himself, he was always for moderate counsels. Nor did he fear inquiry; for he esteemed controversy “the wind, by which truth is winnowed.”
But what relation could subsist between such philosophy, and the selfish arrogance of King James? The tolerant views of Bacon were disregarded in his own time; like L'Hopital and Grotius, he scattered the seeds of truth, which were not to ripen till a late generation. The English hierarchy had feared, in the new monarch, the approach of a “Scottish mist;" but apprehension was soon dispelled. The borders of Scotland were hardly passed, before James began to identify the interests of the English church with those of his prerogative. No bishop, no king, was a maxim often in his mouth. Whitgift was aware, that the puritans were too numerous to be borne down; “I have not been greatly quiet in mind,” said the disappointed arch-bishop,
1 Bacon, Of Church Controver- Apothegms. Works, v. ii. p.
516. sies. Of the Pacification of the 541. 517. 462. Church, first published in 1604. 2 Neal's Puritans, v. ii. p. 30.
CONFERENCE AT HAMPTON COURT.
vipers are so many." But James was not as yet CHAP. fully conscious of their strength. While he was in his progress to London, more than seven hundred of them presented the “millenary petition” for a redress of ecclesiastical grievances. He was never disposed to favor the puritans, but a decent respect for the party to which he had belonged, joined to a desire of displaying his talents for theological debate, induced him to appoint a conference at Hampton Court.
The conference was distinguished on the part of 1604. the king by a strenuous vindication of the church of 14. 16. England. Refusing to discuss the question of the power of the church in things indifferent, he substituted authority for argument, and where he could not produce conviction, demanded obedience. “I will have none of that liberty as to ceremonies; I will have one doctrine, one discipline, one religion in substance and in ceremony. Never speak more to that point, how far you are bound to obey."12
The puritans desired permission occasionally to assemble, and at their meetings to have the liberty of free discussions; but the king, prompt to discover, that concessions in religion would be followed by greater political liberty, interrupted the petition :“You are aiming at a Scot's presbytery, which agrees with monarchy as well as God and the devil; then
1 Hume's England, c. xlv; Neal's favorable to the king and bishops Puritans, v. ii. p. 31, 32.
than they deserved. Hallam, v. i. 2 Barlow's Sum and Substance p. 404. See Nugæ Antiquæ, v. i. of the Conf. at Hampton Court, p. p. 180, 181, 182, for an account 71. I chielly follow this account, more disgraceful to James. Yet which I find in the New-England Harrington was a friend to the Library of Prince, though more church.
CHAP. Jack and Tom and Will and Dick shall meet and
at their pleasures censure me and my council and all our proceedings. Then Will shall stand up and say,
, it must be thus; then Dick shall reply and say, nay, marry, but we will have it thus; and therefore, here I must once more reiterate my former speech, and say, le roi s' avisera ; the king alone shall decide.”l Turning to the bishops, he avowed his belief, that the hierarchy was the firmest support of the throne. Of the puritans he added; “I will make them conform, or I will harry them out of the land, or else worse,
only hang them; that's all.” This closed the day's debate.
On the last day of the conference the king defended the necessity of subscription, concluding, that “if any would not be quiet and show their obedience, they were worthy to be hanged.” The high commission and the use of inquisitorial oaths equally found in him an advocate. He argued for despotic authority and its instruments. A few alterations in the book of common prayer were the only reforms, which the conference effected. It was agreed, that a time should be set, within which all should conform; if any refused to yield before the time expired, they were to be removed. The king had insulted the puritans with vulgar rudeness and indecorous jests ;) but his self-complacency was satisfied. He had talked much Latin ;( he had spoken a part of the
1 Barlow, p. 79; Neal's Puritans,
2 Barlow, p. 83.
4 Barlow, p. 101.
THE PURITANS GAIN POWER IN THE COMMONS.
time in the presence of the nobility of Scotland and CHAP. England, willing admirers of his skill in debate and of his marvellous learning; and he was elated by the eulogies of the churchmen, who paid full tribute to the vanity of their royal champion. “Your majesty speaks by the special assistance of God's spirit,” said the aged Whitgift. Bishop Bancroft, on his knees, exclaimed, that his heart melted for joy, “ because God had given England such a king, as, since Christ's time, has not been ;) and, in a foolish letter, James boasted that “he had soundly peppered off the puritans."
Whitgift, the arch-bishop, a man of great consistency of character, estimable for his learning, respected and beloved by his party, did not long survive the conference. He earnestly desired not to live till the next parliament should assemble, for the puritans would have the majority; and grief, it is thought, hastened his death, six weeks after the 1604. close of the conference, and only eleven months after the death of Elizabeth.
In the parliament, which soon assembled, the party opposed to the church asserted their liberties with such tenacity and vigor, that King James began to hate them as embittering royalty itself. “ I had rather live like a hermit in the forest,” he writes, “than be a king over such a people as the pack of puritans are, that over-rules the lower house."4 At the opening of the session, he had in vain pursued the policy
1 Barlow, p. 93, 94; Lingard, v. 3 Fuller's Chh. Hist. b. x. p. 25. ix. p. 32; Neal's Purit. v. ii. p. 45. 4 Hallam, v. i. p. 408—420, es
2 Strype's Whitgift, App. p. 239. pecially the letter at p. 419. Note. VOL. I.