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be persecuted for his conscience, or be ill used because he differs from the established religion; and therefore they agreed that the Papists in Scotland and Ireland should have the free exercise of their religion in private as they had in Holland; and as to Protestant dissenters, they heartily approved of their having an entire liberty of their religion, without any trouble or hindrance; and their highnesses were ready to concur in the settling it, and giving their guarantee to protect and defend it. If his majesty desired their concurrence in repealing the penal laws, they were ready to give it, provided the laws by which Roman Catholics were excluded from sitting in both houses of parliament, and from all employments, ecclesiastical, civil, and military, remained in force; and likewise those other laws which secure the Protestant religion against all attempts of the Roman Catholics; but they could not consent to the repeal of those laws which tended only to secure the Protestant religion, such as the tests, because they imported no more than a deprivation from public employments, which could do them no great harm. If the number of the Papists were inconsiderable, it was not reasonable to insist upon it; and if those few that pretend to public employments would do their party so much injury as not to be content with the repeal of the penal laws, unless they could get into offices of trust, their ambition only was to be blamed*." This letter was carried by Mr. Steward to the king, and read in the cabinet council, but it had no effect; only the king ordered Mr. Steward to write back, that he would have all or nothing. However, the church-party were satisfied with the prince's resolution to maintain the tests; the Protestant dissenters were pleased with their highnesses' declaration for the repeal of the penal laws, so far as concerned themselves, and they placed an entire confidence in their word. The lay-Papists and seculars pressed the king to accept of the repeal of so much of the penal laws as was offered, and blamed the ambition of the Jesuits and courtiers, who, rather than abate any thing, would leave them exposed to the severity of the law when a freedom was offered. At length the pensionary's letter was printed by allowance of the prince, and dispersed over England, which provoked the king to such a degree, that he spoke indecently of his highness to all the foreign ministers, and resolved to show him the severest marks of his displeasure.
The first project of gaining the prince having failed, his majesty went upon another, which, had it succeeded, must effectually have defeated the Protestant succession; and that was, providing the nation with an heir of his own body by the present queen, though for many years she had been reckoned incapable of having children. This was first whispered among the courtiers, but was soon after confirmed by proclamation in the Gazette of January 2 and 26, 1687-88, in words to this effect, "That it had pleased
* Burnet, p. 167.
Almighty God to give his majesty apparent hopes, and good assurance, of having issue by his royal consort the queen, who, through God's great goodness, was now with child* ;" wherefore his majesty appoints, that on the 15th of January, in the cities of London and Westminster; and on the 29th in all other places of England; and on the 29th of January and 19th of February in all places in Scotland, public thanksgiving and solemn prayer be offered up to God on this occasion; and a form of prayer was drawn up accordingly by the bishops of Durham, Rochester, and Peterborough; in which were these expressions: "Blessed be that good Providence that has vouchsafed us fresh hopes of royal issue by our gracious queen Mary; strengthen her, we beseech thee, and perfect what thou hast begun. Command thy holy angels to watch over her continually, and defend her from all dangers and evil accidents; that what she hath conceived may be happily brought forth, to the joy of our sovereign lord the king, the farther establishment of his crown, the happiness and welfare of the whole kingdom, and the glory of thy great name," &c. This struck all the Protestant part of the nation with consternation, except a few ranting tories, whose religion was at the service of the king, whensoever he should call for it. The conception was looked upon by the Jesuits as miraculous, and as the effect of a vow the queen had made to the Lady of Loretto; they prophesied it would certainly be a prince; while the Protestants sighed in secret, and suspected a fraud; the grounds of which suspicion the historians of these times have related at large.
The king, emboldened with the prospect of a Popish successor, instead of venturing first upon a parliament, published another declaration for liberty of conscience, April 27, in higher strains, and more advantageous to the Papists, than the former: the sub- stance of it was as follows:
"Our conduct has been such in all times as ought to have persuaded the world, that we are firm and constant to our resolutions; yet, that easy people may not be abused by the malice of crafty wicked men, we think fit to declare that our intentions are not changed since the 4th of April, 1687, when we issued our declaration for liberty of conscience in the following terms ‡;" [Here the declaration is recited at large, and then it follows] "Ever since we granted the indulgence, we have made it our care to see it preserved without distinction, as we are encouraged to do daily by multitudes of addresses, and many other assurances we receive from our subjects of all persuasions, as testimonies of their satisfaction and duty; the effects of which we doubt not but the next parliament will show, and that it will not be in vain that we have resolved to use our utmost endeavours to establish liberty of conscience on such just and equal foundations as will render it unal
* Gazette, no. 2306, and 2316.
Gazette, no. 2342.
+ Calamy's Abridgments, p. 382.
terable, and secure to all people the free exercise of their religion for ever, by which future ages may reap the benefit of what is so undoubtedly for the general good of the whole kingdom. It is such a security we desire, without the burden and constraint of oaths and tests, which have unhappily been made by some governments, but could never support any. Nor could men be advanced by such means to offices and employments, which ought to be the reward of services, fidelity, and merit. We must con
clude, that not only good Christians will join in this, but whoever is concerned for the wealth and power of the nation. It would, perhaps, prejudice some of our neighbours, who might lose part of those vast advantages they now enjoy, if liberty of conscience were settled in these kingdoms, which are above all others most capable of improvements, and of commanding the trade of the world. In pursuance of this great work, we have been forced to make many changes, both of civil and military officers, throughout our dominions, not thinking any ought to be employed in our service who will not contribute towards the establishing the peace and greatness of their country, which we most earnestly desire, as unbiassed men may see by the whole conduct of our government, and by the condition of our fleet and of our armies, which, with good management, shall constantly be the same, and greater, if the safety or honour of the nation require it. We recommend these considerations to all our subjects, and that they will reflect on their ease and happiness, now that above three years it has pleased God to permit us to reign over these kingdoms, we have not appeared to be that prince our enemies would make the world afraid of; our chief aim having been, not to be the oppressor but father of our people; of which we can give no better evidence, than by conjuring them to lay aside private animosities, as well as groundless jealousies, and to choose such members of parliament as may do their parts to finish what we have begun, for the advantage of the monarchy over which Almighty God has placed us, being resolved to call a parliament that shall meet in November next at farthest."
This declaration was published in the usual manner, and ordered to be read in time of divine service in all churches and chapels in and about London, May 20th and 27th; and in all the rest of England and Wales on the 3d and 10th of June following, upon penalty of being prosecuted in the ecclesiastical commission*. For this purpose the bishops were required to cause it to be distributed throughout their respective diocesses: some of them, says Burnet, carried their compliance to a shameful pitch, offering up their allegiance to the king without limitation or reserve. Dr. Crew, bishop of Durham, Barlow of Lincoln †, Cartwright of
Gazette, no. 2344.
+ Dr. Grey thinks that bishop Barlow could not be so forward a promoter of such addresses, because that in a letter to one of his clergy, dated May 29th, he informed him, that the clergy in London generally refused to read the declaration and
Chester, Wood of Litchfield and Coventry, Watson of St. David's, Sprat of Rochester, and Parker of Oxford, went all the lengths of the court, and promoted addresses of thanks to his majesty in the most exalted language, for the promise he had made in his late declaration, to maintain the church of England as by law established; though nothing was more evident than his design to subvert it. An address came from the clergy of Chester, justifying the declaration, as issuing from the prerogative of the king's supremacy, and insisting that the clergy were obliged by what is called statute law, the rubric of their liberty, to publish what was required by the king, or their bishop, and therefore they were troubled to hear of the disobedience of some of that bench, who, though they tenderly promised the dissenters something, yet refused to do their part about the declaration, lest they should be parties to it; which reason we with due modesty esteem insufficient. Herbert Croft, bishop of Hereford, published his reasons for reading the declaration, from that passage of Scripture," Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme," &c. "Now the king commanding it to be read, without requiring our assent, consent, or allowance, I cannot see," says the bishop, "how it can be refused. If it be said, this is to admit of a dispensing power, yet it is not contrary to the word of God. If the king should aver his dispensing power to be inherent in the crown, and will use it as he pleases, I should beseech him not to exert it in so high a manner; but after this, what have bishops to do but submit, since here is no doctrine affirmed, but only a declaration of matter of fact?"
However, the majority of the clergy were of different sentiments; eighteen bishops, and the chief of their clergy, refused to publish the declaration, so that it was read, says Burnett, only in seven churches in London, and in about two hundred all over England ‡. The commissioners for ecclesiastical affairs added, "As to myself, I shall neither persuade nor dissuade you, but leave it to your prudence and conscience, whether you will or not read it. But only this I shall advise, that if, after serious consideration, you find that you cannot read it but reluctante vel dubitante conscientiâ, in that case to read it will be your sin, and you to blame for doing it." Notwithstanding bishop Barlow wrote so candidly on the matter, in this instance, he sent up a letter of thanks to king James for his first declaration, published reasons for reading the second, and asserted and vindicated, in an elaborate tract, the regal power of dispensing with penal laws. This bishop was not a consistent character; he was timid and complying, accommodating himself to the times, and ready to side with the strongest. At one time he was a seeming friend to the Papists, then a distinguished writer against Popery. Now an enemy to the duke of York; then ever expressing his submission to king James; and afterward taking the oaths to his successors. Biographia Britannica, vol. 1, article Barlow. Godwin de Præsulibus, p. 305.-ED.
* Gazette, no. 2374.
+ Page 178.
Some who read it on the first Sunday, changed their minds before the second. Others declared in their sermons, that, though they obeyed the order, they did not approve the declaration. And one, more pleasantly than gravely, told his people, that though he was obliged to read it, they were not obliged to hear it; and stopped till they all went out, and then read it to the walls. Burnet's History, vol. 3. p. 178.-ED.
sent out citations by the king's order *, requiring the chancellors and archdeacons to send in lists of all who had obeyed, and of those who had not obeyed, the order of council; together with the places where it had been neglected +. Most of the bishops disobeyed, and generously undertook to stand in the gap, and screen the inferior clergy from prosecution: seven of them met at Lambeth, and after consultation signed an address, in behalf of themselves and several of their absent brethren, setting forth, "that they were not averse to the publishing his majesty's declaration for want of duty to his majesty, or due tenderness towards dissenters, in relation to whom (say they) we are willing to come to such a temper as shall be thought fit, when the matter comes to be considered and settled in parliament; but the declaration, being founded on such a dispensing power as may at present set aside all laws ecclesiastical and civil, appears to us illegal, and did so to the parliament in 1672; and it is a point of such great consequence, that we cannot make ourselves party to it, so far as the reading of it in the church in time of divine service will amount to, and distributing it all over the kingdom‡." Signed by Sancroft archbishop of Canterbury §, Lloyd bishop of St. Asaph, Kenn of Bath and Wells, Turner of Ely, Lake of Chichester, White of Peterborough, and Trelawny of Bristol.
The king was startled at the address, and answered in a very angry tone, "I have heard of this before, but did not believe it; I did not expect this from the church of England, especially from some of you. If I change my mind you shall hear from me; if not, I expect my commands shall be obeyed ||." And added, that they should be made to feel what it was to disobey him. The six bishops who brought the address replied, "The will of God
Let the reader now judge, whether the slavish doctrine of nonresistance and unlimited obedience, which the high-church party
Burnet, p. 176. Welwood's Memoirs, p. 184, sixth edition.
§ Archbishop Sancroft, in this instance, acted contrary to what had been his conduct and avowed principle in the former reign. For when, in 1681, Charles II. published his declaration to satisfy his people about dissolving his parliament, Sancroft moved that an order should be added to it, requiring the clergy to publish it in all the churches in England. This was looked on, says Burnet, as a most pernicious precedent, by which the clergy were made the heralds to publish the king's declarations, that might, in some instances, come to be not only indecent, but mischievous. But this, whatever was now his judgment, had been his decided opinion. For, on the present occasion, Dr. Cartwright, the bishop of Chester, who had been one of the prebendaries of Durham, it appears, from a paper among the MSS. of Mr. Talents of Shrewsbury, which fell into the hands of Mr. Archer of Tunbridge, could produce, and did show to the king, a revised copy of the liturgy in 1661, given by bishop Cosins to the library at Durham; in which Sancroft had added to the rubric, where it was said, "Nothing is to be read in churches but by the bishop's order, or the king's order." Yet, when king James commanded a declaration in favour of the dissenters to be read, this archbishop was amongst the first to oppose it, in contradiction to the clause which he had dictated, and the example he had given. Calamy's History of his own Life, vol. 1. p. 173. 176.-ED.
Burnet, p. 177.