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the persons and the sees, which commission may bear date before
Dr. Bramhall, bishop of Derry, was for the Irish way, where the king has an absolute power of nomination; and therefore no way seemed to him so safe as consecrating the persons nominated to void sees in Ireland, and then removing them to others in England, which he apprehended would clearly elude all those formalities which seemed to perplex the affair; but this was thought an ill precedent, as it opened a door for destroying the privileges of the church of England in their capitular elections. The old bishop of Ely was so far from wishing, with Dr. Bramhall, that the Irish method might be introduced into England, that he said, if he should live to see the church restored, he would be an humble suitor to his majesty, that the privileges of the English church, in their elections of bishops, might be introduced into Ireland.
Dr. Wren bishop of Ely, and Dr. Cosins of Peterborough, were for an expedient something like the second, to which the court agreed, and Mr. Chancellor Hyde wrote to Dr. Barwick for the form of such a commission as they judged proper, and urged, that it might be dispatched with all possible expedition. The chancellor had this affair very much at heart, but the old bishops were fearful lest it should be discovered, in which case they were sure to be the sufferers. Dr. Brownrigge of Exeter, and Dr. Skinner of Oxford, declined meddling in the affair; the rest declared their willingness to advance the work, but lived in hopes there might be no occasion for the hazard. The chancellor, in one of his letters, says, the king was much troubled that no more care was taken of the church, by those who should be the guardians of it. He censures the slowness of the clergy, and says, it was very decent, when their afflicted mother was in extremity, any of her Such were the chancellor's sons should be timorous and fearful. narrow principles, who seemed to hang the essence of Christianity, and the virtue of all divine ordinances, upon the conveyance of ecclesiastical power by an uninterrupted succession from the apostles.
The nonjurors had the like case in view after the Revolution, and provided for it in the best manner they could. But is not the Christian world in a sad condition, if the Christian bishop cannot be chosen or consecrated without a royal mandate, and the suffrage of a dean and chapter, when there were no such officers in the church for three hundred years after the apostles? and if the validity of all sacerdotal ministrations must depend on
* Life of Barwick, p. 204, Kennet's Chron. p. 14, 15. VOL. III.
a regular uninterrupted succession from St. Peter? especially as Baronius a Popish historian confesses, that in a succession of fifty popes not one pious or virtuous man sat in the chair; that there had been no popes for some years together; and at other times two or three at once; and when the same writer admits between twenty and thirty schisms, one of which continued fifty years, the popes of Avignon and Rome excommunicating each other, and yet conferring orders upon their several clergy. How impossible is it to trace the right line through so much confusion!
But with regard to the king, his concern for the regular consecration of Protestant bishops was a mere farce; for if he was not a Papist before this time, it is certain he was reconciled to the church of Rome this year, at the Pyrenean treaty concluded between France and Spain at Fontarabia, whither he had repaired incognito to engage them in his interest. Here the king stayed twenty days, in which time his majesty, with the earl of Bristol, and sir H. Bennet embraced the Roman-Catholic religion. The secret of this affair was well known to lord Clarendon, though he is pleased to mention it with great tenderness. "It is believed (says his lordship) by wise men, that in that treaty somewhat was agreed to the prejudice of the Protestant interest; and that in a short time there would have been much done against it, both in France and Germany, if the measures they had then taken had not been shortly broken, chiefly by the surprising revolution in England, which happened the next year, and also by the death of the two great favourites of the two crowns, Don Lewis de Haro, and cardinal Mazarin, who both died not long after it*.” But the secret of the king's reconciliation to the church of Rome has been more fully acknowledged of late years, by the eldest son of lord Clarendon, and by the duke of Ormond, who declared to several persons of honour, that "he himself, to his great surprise and concern, accidentally in a morning early, saw the king in the great church on his knees before the high altar, with several priests and ecclesiastics about him. That he was soon after confirmed in his sentiments by sir Henry Bennet and the earl of Bristol, who both owned the king to be a Catholic as well as themselves; but it was agreed, that this change should be kept as the greatest secret imaginable." There is another story, says bishop Kennet, which I have reason to think true: "Sir H. Bennet was soon after seen to wait on the king from mass, at which sight the lord Culpeper had so much indignation, that he went up to Bennet, and spoke to this effect; I see what you are at; is this the way to bring our master home to his three kingdoms? Well, sir, if ever you and I live to see England together, I will have your head, or you shall have mine;' which words struck such terror upon sir Harry Bennet, that he never durst set his foot in England till after the death of lord Culpeper, who met with a very surprising end soon after the king's return.”+ Kennet, p. 238.
Echard, p. 751.
But though the prime-ministers of France and Spain were now first witnesses of his majesty's abjuring the Protestant religion, there are strong presumptions that he was a Papist long before, even before his brother James, if we may credit the testimony of his confessor, father Huddleston.* To the proofs of this fact already mentioned under the year 1652, I would add the testimony of the author of the Mystery of Iniquity, printed 1689, who writes thus; "The king's [Charles II.'s] apostacy is not of so late a date as the world is made commonly to believe, for though it was many years concealed, and the contrary pretended and dissembled, yet it is certain he abjured the Protestant religion soon after the exilement of the royal family, and was reconciled to the church of Rome at St. Germains in France. Nor were several of the then-suffering bishops and clergy ignorant of this, though they had neither integrity nor courage to give the nation warning of it."+ Bishop Burnet, in the History of his Life and Times, confirms this testimony from the cardinal minister, who sent an advertisement of it to the bishop himself; he says, "that before the king left Paris (which was in June, 1654) he changed his religion, but by whose persuasion is not yet known; only cardinal De Retz was in the secret, and lord Aubigny had a great hand in it. Chancellor Hyde had some suspicion of it, but would not suffer himself to believe it quite ‡." And sir Allen Broderick declared upon his death-bed, that king Charles II. made profession of the Popish religion at Fontainbleau, before he was sent out of France to Cologne.
The Dutch Protestants suspected the change, but the king denied it in the most public manner; for when he was at Brussels in the year 1658, he wrote the following letter to the reverend Mr.Cawton, the Presbyterian minister of the English congregation at Rotterdam.
Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. We have received so full testimony of your affection to our person, and zeal for our service, that we are willing to recommend an affair to you in which we are much concerned. We do not wonder, that the malice of our enemies should continue to lay all manner of scandals upon us, but are concerned that they should find credit with any to make our affection to the Protestant religion suspected, since the world cannot but take notice of our constant and uninterrupted profession of it in all places.-No man has or can more manifest his affection to and zeal for the Protestant religion than we have done. Now, as you cannot but have much conversation with the ministers of the Dutch church, we presume and expect that you will use your utmost diligence and dexterity to root out those unworthy aspersions, so maliciously and groundlessly laid upon us by wicked men; and that you assure all
Welwood's Memoirs, p. 126.
that will give credit to you, that we value ourselves so much upon that part of our title, of being defender of the faith, that no worldly consideration can ever prevail with us to swerve from it, and the Protestant religion in which we have been bred, the pro-. pagation whereof we shall endeavour with our utmost power. Given at Bruxels, November 7, in the tenth year of our reign.'
To carry on the disguise, Dr. Morley afterward bishop of Winchester was employed to write an apologetical letter to Dr. Trigland, the Dutch minister at the Hague, to assert and prove the king's steadfastness to the reformed faith and communion. The letter was dated June 7, 1659, a little before the king's going to the Pyrenean treaty, to engage the RomanCatholic powers for his restoration*.
But to confirm the Presbyterians farther, and to put an end to all suspicions of his majesty's being turned Papist, sir Robert Murray and the countess of Balcarras were employed to engage the most eminent reformed ministers in France, to write to their Presbyterian brethren in England, and assure them of the king's steadfastness in the Protestant faith, and to excuse his not joining with the church at Charenton. Accordingly these credulous ministers, not being acquainted with the secret, wrote to their brethren at London to the-following purpose:
Monsieur Raymond Gaches, pastor of the reformed church at Paris, to the Rev. Mr. Baxter, March 23, 1659-60;-"I know what odium has been cast upon the king; some are dissatisfied in his constancy to the true religion, I will not answer what truly may be said, that it belongs not to subjects to inquire into the prince's religion; be he what he will, if the right of reigning belongs to him, obedience in civil matters is his due. But this prince never departed from the public profession of the true religion; nor did he disdain to be present at our religious assemblies at Roan and Rochelle, though he never graced our church at Paris with his presence, which truly grieved ust.”—
Monsieur Drelincourt, another of the French pastors at Paris, writes, March 24,-" A report is here, that the thing which will hinder the king's restoration, is the opinion conceived by some, of his being turned Roman Catholic, and the fear that in time he will ruin the Protestant religion. But I see no ground for the report, his majesty making no profession of it, but on the contrary has rejected all the aids and advantages offered him upon that condition. Charity is not jealous, and if it forbids us to suspect on slight grounds private persons, how can it approve jealousies upon persons so sacred! Besides, there are in the king's family, and among his domestics, some gentlemen of our religion, and my old friends; who at several times have given me assurances of the piety of this prince, and his stability in the profession he makes. Your Presbyterians are now intrusted with the honour
of our churches; if they recall this prince without the intervening of any foreign power, they will acquire to themselves immortal glory, and stop their mouths for ever, who charge us falsely as enemies to royalty, and make appear that the maxim, No bishop no king, is falsely imputed to us.
The famous monsieur Daillé of Paris, in his letter of April 7, 1660, writes to the same purpose," I know it is reported that the king has changed his religion; but who can believe a thing so contrary to all probability? Nothing of this appears to us; on the contrary we well know, that when he has resided in places where the exercise of his religion is not permitted, he has always had his chaplains with him, who have regularly performed divine service. Moreover, all Paris knows the anger the king expressed at the endeavours that were used to pervert the duke of Gloucester. And though it is objected, that he never came to our church at Charenton, yet as we are better informed of this than any one, we can testify, that religion was not the cause of it, but that it was upon political and prudential considerations, which may be peculiar to our church, for he has gone to sermon in Caen, and some other towns; and in Holland he heard some sermons from the famous monsieur More, our present colleague. Thus, sir, it is more clear than the day, that whatsoever has been reported till this time, of the change of this prince's religion, is a mere calumny*?
Monsieur de L'Angle, minister of the Protestant church at Rouen, wrote upon the same subject to his friend in London, more fully to evidence the king's steadfastness in the Protestant religion. These letters were printed and industriously spread over the whole kingdom.
The king himself in his letter to the house of commons says, "Do you desire the advancement of the Protestant religion? We have by our constant profession and practice given sufficient testimony to the world, that neither the unkindness of those of the same faith towards us, nor the civilities and protestations of those of a contrary profession, could in the least degree startle us, or make us swerve from it."
It is a surprising reflection of Mr. Baxter+, upon occasion of these letters: "These divines (says he) knew nothing of the state of affairs in England. They knew not those men who were to be restored with the king. They pray (says he) for the success of my labours, when they are persuading me to put an end to my labours by setting up those prelates, who will silence me and many hundreds more. They persuade me to that which will separate me from my flock, and then pray, that I may be a blessing to them; and yet (says he) I am for restoring the king, that when we are silenced, and our ministry at an end, and some of us lie in prisons, we may there and in that condition have peace of
Kennet's Chron. p. 94, 95.
+ Life, part 2, p. 216.