ePub 版

dom, that the king was obliged to issue out a proclamation, commanding them to wait the determination of the ensuing parliament. The body of their clergy, by an instrument bearing date January 1, 1660, O. S. signed and sealed by the chief prelates and officials of their religion, ventured to depute a person of their own communion, to congratulate his majesty's restoration, and to present their humble supplications for the free exercise of their religion, pursuant to the articles of 1648, whom the king received very favourably, and encouraged to hope for an accomplishment of their requests in due time. Such amazing changes happened within nine months after the king's arrival at Whitehall.

The only persons who, under pretence of religion, attempted any thing against the government, were a small number of enthusiasts, who said they were for king Jesus: their leader was Thomas Venner, a wine-cooper, who, in his little conventicle in Coleman-street, warmed his admirers with passionate expectations of a fifth universal monarchy, under the personal reign of king Jesus upon earth, and that the saints were to take the kingdom to themselves. To introduce this imaginary kingdom, they marched out of their meeting-house towards St. Paul's church-yard, on Sunday January 6, to the number of about fifty men well armed, and with a resolution to subvert the present government, or die in the attempt. They published a declaration of the design of their rising, and placed sentinels at proper places. The lordmayor sent the trained-bands to disperse them, whom they quickly routed, but in the evening retired to Cane-wood, between Highgate and Hampstead. On Wednesday morning they returned and dispersed a party of the king's soldiers in Threadneedlestreet. In Wood-street they repelled the trained-bands, and some of the horse-guards; but Venner himself was knocked down, and some of his company slain; from hence the remainder retreated to Cripplegate, and took possession of a house, which they threatened to defend with a desperate resolution, but nobody appearing to countenance their frenzy, they surrendered after they had lost about half their number; Venner and one of his officers were hanged before their meeting-house door in Coleman-street, January 19, and a few days after, nine more were executed in divers parts of the city*.

* It plainly appeared, on the examination of these insurgents, that they had entered into no plot with any other conspirators. The whole transaction was the unquestionable effect of the religious frenzy of a few individuals. Yet it was the origin of a national burden and evil felt to this day. At the council, on the morning after the insurrection was quelled, the duke of York availed himself of the opportunity to push his arbitrary measures. On the pretext, that so extravagant an attempt could not have arisen from the rashness of one man, but was the result of a plot formed by all the sectaries and fanatics to overthrow the present governmen, he moved, "to suspend at such an alarming crisis, the disbanding of general Monk's regiment of foot;" which had the guard of Whitehall; and was by order of parliament to have been disbanded the next day. Through different causes, the motion was adopted, and a letter was sent to the king to request him to approve and confirm the resolution of the council, and to appoint the continu

This mad insurrection gave the court a handle for breaking through the late declaration of indulgence, within three months after it was published; for January 2, there was an order of council against the meetings of sectaries in great numbers, and at unusual times; and on the 10th of January a proclamation was published, whereby his majesty forbids the Anabaptists, Quakers, and fifth-monarchy men, to assemble or meet together under pretence of worshipping God, except it be in some parochial church or chapel, or in private houses by the persons there inhabiting*. All meetings in other places are declared to be unlawful and riotous. And his majesty commands all mayors, and other peaceofficers, to search for such conventicles, and cause the persons therein to be bound over to the next sessions. Upon this the Independents, Baptists, and Quakers, who dissented from the establishment, thought fit publicly to disown and renounce the late insurrection.

The Independents, though not named in the proclamation, were obnoxious to the government, and suspected to concur in all designs that might change the constitution into a commonwealth: to wipe off this odium, there was published, "A renunciation and declaration of the congregational churches and public preachers of the said judgment, living in and about the city of London, against the late horrid insurrection and rebellion acted in the said cityt." Dated January 1660. In this declaration they disown the principles of a fifth monarchy, or the personal reign of king Jesus on earth, as dishonourable to him, and prejudicial to his church; and abhor the propagating this or any other opinion by force or blood. They refer to their late meeting of messengers from one hundred and twenty churches of their way at the Savoy, in which they declare, (chap. 24. of their confession) that civil ance of the regiment till farther order. To this the king consented; and as the rumours of fresh conspiracies were industriously kept up, those troops were continued and augmented, and a way was prepared for the gradual establishment of a standing army, under the name of guards. This should be a memento to future ages, how they credit reports of plots and conspiracies thrown out by a minister, unless the evidence of their existence be brought forward. The cry of conspiracies has been frequently nothing more than the chimera of fear, or the invention of a wicked policy to carry the schemes of ambition and despotism. Secret History of the Court and Reign of Charles II. vol. 1. p. 346, 347.-ED.

• Kennet's Chron. p. 357.

+"This proclamation (Mr. Gough well observes) appears to be drawn up with more art and fallacy, than sound judgment and equity: while it reaches all the different sects of dissenters, all who do not assemble for worship in some parochial church or chapel, as rioters, it distinguishes only those looked upon as the most insignificant, and least formidable for their numbers or abilities. The Presbyterians are passed over in silence, for they could not with any colour of decency be pointed at as foes to the government they had just before been conducive to establishing. The Independents are also unnoticed, probably for fear of awakening the exertion of that vigour and of those abilities, the effects whereof were yet recent in the memory of the present administration. The Anabaptists and Quakers, as new or weaker sects, are treated with less ceremony: and are ranked with the wild disturbers of the public peace: wherein justice, the characteristic virtue of good government, was designedly violated by involving the innocent with the guilty in one confused mass." History of the Quakers, vol. 1. p. 443, 444.-ED.

magistrates are of divine appointment, and that it is the duty of all subjects to pray for them, to honour their persons, to pay them tribute, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority; and that infidelity, or indifference in religion, does not make void the magistrates' just and legal authority, nor free the people from their obedience. Accordingly they cease not to pray for all sorts of blessings, spiritual and temporal, upon the person and government of his majesty, and by the grace of God will continue to do so themselves, and persuade others thereunto. And with regard to the late impious and prodigiously-daring rebellion, they add, "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: O my soul! come not thou into their secret, but let God divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." Signed by

[blocks in formation]


William Greenhil
Matth. Barker
Tho. Malory
John Loder
John Yates
Thomas Owen

Nath. Mather

Will. Stoughton.

The Baptists published an apology in behalf of themselves and their brethren of the same judgment, with a protestation against the late wicked and most horrid treason and rebellion in this city of London; in which they avow their loyalty to the king, and promise that their practice shall be conformable; subscribed by William Kiffen, Henry Den, John Batty, Thomas Lamb, Thomas Cowper, and about twenty-nine or thirty other names. They also addressed the king, that the innocent might not suffer with the guilty; protesting in the most solemn manner, that they had not the least knowledge of the late insurrection, nor did, directly or indirectly, contrive, promote, assist, or approve of it. They offered to give security for their peaceable behaviour, and for their supporting his majesty's person and government. But notwithstanding this, their religious assemblies were disturbed in


This was subscribed by thirty ministers and principal members of the Baptist congregations. It was accompanied by another paper, called also an Apology," which had been presented to the king some months before Venner's insurrection; declaratory of their sentiments concerning magistracy, and of their readiness to obey the king and all in authority in all things lawful. Mr. Jessey, preaching soon after, declared to his congregation, that Venner should say, "that he believed there was not one Baptist among his adherents; and that if they succeeded, the Baptists should know, that infant-baptism was an ordinance of Jesus Christ." In farther vindication of this people, and to shew that they were unjustly charged with opposing magistracy and government, there was published about this time a small treatise entitled "Moderation or arguments and motives tending thereto; humbly tendered to the honourable members of parliament." Copious extracts from this piece may be seen in Crosby's History of the English Baptists, vol. 2. p. 42. 83.-ED.

all places, and their ministers imprisoned *; great numbers were crowded into Newgate, and other prisons, where they remained under close confinement till the king's coronation, when the general pardon published on that occasion set them at liberty.

The Quakers also addressed the king upon this occasion in the following words† :

"Oh king Charles!

"Our desire is, that thou mayest live for ever in the fear of God, and thy council. We beseech thee, and thy council, to read these following lines, in tender bowels, and compassion for our souls, and for our good.

"And this consider; we are about four hundred imprisoned in and about this city, of men and women from their families; besides, in the country jails above ten hundred. We desire, that our meetings may not be broken up, but that all may come to a fair trial, that our innocency may be cleared up."

"London, 16th day eleventh month, 1660+."

[ocr errors]

On the 28th of the same month, they published the declaration referred to in their address, entitled, "A declaration from the harmless and innocent people of God called Quakers, against all sedition, plotters and fighters in the world, for removing the ground of jealousy and suspicion from both magistrates and people


• Divers pious persons were haled out of their houses; four hundred were committed to Newgate; others to Wood-street Compter; and many to other prisons. The first and most violent persecution was chiefly levelled against them. Amongst others, who suffered on this occasion, was Mr. Hanserd Knollys. Mr. Vavasor Powel was, early in the morning, taken from his house by a company of soldiers, and carried to prison: from whence he was conducted to Salop, and committed with several others to the custody of a marshal where they were detained nine weeks, till they were released by an order of the king and council. Mr. John Bunyan was apprehended at a meeting and committed to prison, though he offered bail, till the next sessions. He was then indicted for " devilishly and perniciously abstaining from coming to church to hear divine service: and as a common upholder of several unlawful meetings and conventicles, to the distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom, contrary to the laws of our sovereign lord the king." He frankly owned being at the meeting. The justices took this for a confession of the indictment; and, because he refused to conform, sentenced him to perpetual banishment, on an act made by the then-parliament. Though the sentence of banishment was never executed upon him, he was kept in prison twelve years and a half, and suffered much under cruel and oppressive jailers. Above sixty dissenters were imprisoned with him: among whom were Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Dun, two eminent ministers well known in Bedfordshire. Mr. Bunyan was, at last, liberated on the importunity of Dr. Barlow, bishop of Lincoln. Crosby's History of the Baptists, vol. 2. p. 91–93; Vavasor Powel's Life, p. 129; and Robinson's Translation of Claude, vol. 2. p. 228.-ED.

+ Mr. Neal, a respectable person of the society informs me, has given two short paragraphs only of an address containing seven quarto pages of close letter-press. It underwent, it seems, several editions, not fewer than eight or ten; for being fraught with much pertinent, solid matter, as persecution continued, it was made very public. Mr. Neal, or his author Kennet, is charged with having mutilated the paragraphs which he quotes. For the second sentence stands in the original thus: "We beseech thee and thy council to read these following lines; and in tender bowels and compassion to read them over, for we write in love and compassion to your souls, and for your good." And after families should be added, in close holes and prisons."-ED.

Kennet's Chron. p. 361.

in the kingdom, concerning wars and fightings." Presented to the king the 21st day of the eleventh month, 1660*. Upon which his majesty promised them, on the word of a king, that they should not suffer for their opinions as long as they lived peaceably; but his promises were little regarded +.

The Presbyterian clergy were in some degree affected with these commotions, though envy itself could not charge them with guilt; but it was the wish and desire of the prelatical party, that they might discover their uneasiness in such a manner as might expose them to trouble; for their ruin was already determined, only some pretexts were wanting to cover the design, particularly such as affected the peace of the kingdom, and might not reflect on his majesty's declaration from Breda, which promised, that no person should be molested purely for religion. But they were insulted by the mob in the streets; when their families were singing psalms in their houses they were frequently interrupted by blowing of horns, or throwing stones at the windows. The Presbyterian ministers made the best retreat they could, after they had unadvisedly delivered themselves up into the hands of their enemies; for while they were careful to maintain an inviolable loyalty to his majesty's person and government, they contended for their religious principles in the press; several new pamphlets were published, and a great many old ones reprinted, about the magistrates' right of imposing things indifferent in the worship of God.-Against bowing at the name of Jesus.-The unlawfulness of the ceremonies of the church of England.-The Common Prayer-book unmasked.-Grievances and corruptions in church-government, &c. most of which were answered by divines of the episcopal party.

But the most remarkable treatise that appeared about this time, and which, if it had taken place, must have prevented the mischiefs that followed§, was that of the reverend Dr. Edward Stil

* Kennet's Chron. p. 366.

+ Dr. Grey impeaches here the candour and fidelity of Mr. Neal, as an historian: and adds, "Sewel, a Quaker, speaks more favourably. This writer, as Dr. Grey quotes him, does say, that at this time the king shewed himself moderate, for at the solicitation of some he set at liberty about seven hundred of the people called Quakers: and that they were acquitted from any hand in Venner's plot, and that, being continually importuned, the king issued forth a declaration, that the Quakers should be set at liberty without paying fees." But though Sewel states these facts, Dr. Grey either overlooked, or forgot to inform his reader, that Mr. Neal, in charging the king with the breach of his promise, speaks on the authority of Sewel: who says, "the king seemed a good-natured prince, yet he was so misled that in process of time he seemed to have forgot what he so solemnly promised on the word of a king." History of the Quakers, p. 257.-ED.

Rapin, vol. 2. p. 624, folio.

§ A conciliating and liberal design formed by two respectable men deserves to be mentioned here. "Soon after the Restoration, the honourable Mr. Boyle and sir Peter Pett were discoursing of the severities practised by the bishops towards the Puritans in the reign of Charles I. and of those which were returned on the episcopal divines during the following usurpations; and being apprehensive that the restored clergy might be tempted by their late sufferings to such a vindictive retaliation as would be contrary to the true measures of Christianity and politics,

« 上一頁繼續 »