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case, it had been justifiable; but when it was purely for nonconformity to certain rites and ceremonies, and a form of churchgovernment, it can deserve no better name than that of persecution.
The house of commons, from their apprehensions of the growth of Popery and of a Popish successor to the crown, petitioned the king against the duke's second marriage with the princess of Modena, an Italian Papist, but his majesty told them they were too late. Upon which the commons stopped their money-bill, voted the standing army a grievance, and were proceeding to other vigorous resolutions, when the king sent for them to the house of peers, and with a short speech prorogued them to January 7, after they had sat only nine days. In the mean time the duke's marriage was consummated, with the consent of the French king, which raised the expectation of the Roman Catholics higher than ever.
This induced the more zealous Protestants to think of a firmer union with the dissenters; accordingly Mr. Baxter, at the request of the earl of Orrery, drew up some proposals for a comprehension, agreeably to those already mentioned*. "He proposed that the meeting-houses of dissenters should be allowed as chapels, till there were vacancies for them in the churches-and that those who had no meeting-houses should be schoolmasters or lecturers till such time-that none should be obliged to read the Apocrypha-that parents might have liberty to dedicate their own children in baptism-that ministers might preach where somebody else who had the room might read the common-prayer -that ministers be not obliged to give the sacrament to such as are guilty of scandalous immoralities, nor to refuse it to those who scruple kneeling that persons excommunicated may not be imprisoned and ruined--and that toleration be given to all conscientious dissenters."-These proposals being communicated to the earl of Orrery, were put into the hands of bishop Morley†, who returned them without yielding to any thing of importance. The motion was also revived in the house of commons; but the shortness of the sessions put a stop to its progress. Besides, the court-bishops seemed altogether indisposed to any concessions+.
This year put an end to the lives of two considerable Nonconformist divines; Mr. William Whitaker, the ejected minister of St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, son of Mr. Jer. Whitaker, a divine of great learning in the oriental languages. He was an elegant preacher, and a good man from his youth. While he was at Emanuel-college, he was universally beloved; and when he came to London, generally esteemed for his sweet disposition. He was first preacher at Hornchurch, and then at the place from whence he was ejected. He afterward preached to a sepa
* Baxter, part 3. p. 110.
† Page 109.
Baxter, part 3. p. 140.
rate congregation as the times would permit, and died in the year 1673*.
Mr. James Janeway, M. A. was born in Hertfordshire, and a student of Christ-church, Oxford. He was afterward tutor in the house of Mr. Stringer at Windsor: but not being satisfied with conformity, he opened a separate meeting at Rotherhithe, where he preached to a numerous congregation with great success+. He was a zealous preacher, and fervent in prayer, but being weakly, his indefatigable labours broke his constitu tion, so that he died of a consumption March 16, 1673-4, in the thirty-eighth year of his age.
The revocation of the indulgence, and the displeasure of the court against the dissenters for deserting them in their designs to prevent the passing the test-act, let loose the whole tribe of informers. The Papists being excluded from places of trust, the court had no tenderness for Protestant Nonconformists; the judges therefore had orders to quicken the execution of the laws against them. The estates of those of the best quality in each county were ordered to be seized. The mouths of the high-church pulpiteers were encouraged to open as loud as possible; one, in his sermon before the house of commons, told them, that the Nonconformists ought not to be tolerated, but to be cured by vengeance. He urged them to set fire to the fagot, and to teach them by scourges or scorpions, and open their eyes with gall. The king himself issued out a proclamation for putting the penal laws in full execution; which had its effect 1.
Mr. Baxter was one of the first upon whom the storm fell, being apprehended as he was preaching his Thursday lecture at Mr. Turner's. He went with a constable and Keting the informer to sir William Pulteney's, who demanding the warrant, found it signed by Henry Montague, Esq. bailiff of Westminster. Sir William told the constable, that none but a city justice could give a warrant to apprehend a man for preaching in the city, whereupon he was dismissed §. Endeavours were used to surprise Dr. Manton, and send him to prison upon the Oxford or five-mile act, but Mr. Bedford preaching for him was accidentally apprehended in his stead; and though he had taken the oath in the five-mile act, was fined 201. and the place 407. which was paid by the hearers.
The like ravages were made in most parts of England; Mr. Joseph Swaffield of Salisbury was seized preaching in his own house, and bound over to the assizes, and imprisoned in the county jail almost a year. Twenty-five persons, men and women, were indicted for a riot, that is, for a conventicle, and
suffered the penalty of the law*. The informers were Roman Catholics, one of whom was executed for treason in the Popish plot.-At East Salcomb, in Devonshire, lived one Joan Boston, an old blind widow, who, for a supposed conventicle held at her house, was fined 127. and for nonpayment of it threatened with a jail. After some weeks the officers broke open her doors, and carried away her goods to above the value of the fine. They sold as many goods as were worth 137. for 50s.; six hogsheads valued at 40s. for 9s.; and pewter, feather-beds, &c. for 20s., besides the rent which they demanded of her tenants.-Mr. John Thompson, minister in Bristol, was apprehended, and refusing to take the Oxford oath was committed to prison, where he was seized with a fever through the noisomeness of the place: a physician being sent for, advised his removal; and a bond of 500l. was offered the sheriff for his security: application was also made to the bishop without success: so he died in prison March 4, declaring, that if he had known when he came to prison that he should die there, he would have done no otherwise than he did. Numberless examples of the like kind might be produced during the recess of the parliament. But the king's want of money, and the discontents of his people, obliged him to put an end to the war with the Dutch, with no other advantage than a sum of 2 or 3000l. for his expenses.
His majesty was unwilling to meet his parliament, who were now full of zeal against Popery, and began to consider the Nonconformists as auxiliaries to the Protestant cause; but necessity obliged him to convene them; and as soon as they met January 7, 1674, they addressed his majesty to banish all Papists, who were not housekeepers nor menial servants to peers, ten miles from London; and to appoint a fast for the calamities of the nation. They attacked the remaining members of the Cabal, and voted an address for removing them from his majesty's council; upon which the king prorogued them for above a year, after they had sat six weeks, without giving any money, or passing one single act which was an indication of ill blood between the king and parliament, and a certain forerunner of vengeance upon the dissenters. But to stifle the clamours of the people, his majesty republished his proclamation †, forbidding their meddling in state-affairs, or talking seditiously in coffee-houses; and then commanded an order to be made public, "that effectual care be taken for the suppressing of conventicles: and whereas, divers pretend old licences from his majesty, and would support themselves by that pretence, his majesty declares, that all his licences were long since recalled, and that no conventicle has any authority, allowance, or encouragement from him ‡.”
This year put an end to the life of that great man John Milton, born in London, and educated in Christ-college, Cambridge,
* Conf. Plea, part 4. p. 75. + Gazette, no. 883.
Ibid. no. 962. 965.
where he discovered an uncommon genius, which was very much improved by his travels. He was Latin secretary to the long-parliament, and wrote in defence of the murder of king Charles I. against Salmasius and others, with great spirit, and in a pure and elegant Latin style. He was afterward secretary to the protector Cromwell, and lost the sight of both his eyes by hard study. At the Restoration some of his books were burnt, and himself in danger; but he was happily included in the act of indemnity, and spent the remainder of his life in retirement. He was a man of an unequalled genius, and acquired immortal fame by his incomparable poem of Paradise Lost; in which he manifested such a sublimity of thought, and such elegance of diction, as perhaps were never exceeded in any age or nation of the world. His daughters read to him, after he was blind, the Greek poets, though they understood not the language. He died in mean circumstances, at Bunhill-row, London, in the sixtyseventh year of his age *.
Though the Protestant religion stood in need of the united strength of all its professors against the advances of Popery, and the parliament had moved for a toleration of Protestant dissenters, yet the bishops continued to prosecute them in common with the Papists. Archbishop Sheldon directed circular letters to the bishops of his province, enjoining them to give directions to their archdeacons and commissaries to procure particular information from the churchwardens of their several parishes on the following inquiries, and transmit them to him after the next visitation : 1. What number of persons are there, by common estimation, inhabiting within each parish subject to your jurisdiction? 2. What number of Popish recusants, or persons suspected of recusancy, are resident among the inhabitants aforesaid? 3. What number of other dissenters are there in each parish, of what sect soever, which either obstinately refuse or wholly absent themselves from
It is but a piece of justice to the memory and virtues of some of the most distinguished characters of the Conformists and Nonconformists of this period, to record here their pious exertions for the religious instruction of the Welsh. A subscription was opened, and an association was formed, for the distribution of Bibles, Testaments, and practical treatises, and for opening schools, in the principality of Wales. At the head of this institution was Dr. Tillotson, then dean of Canterbury. The gentlemen who were the chief contributors to this design were, Whichcote, Ford, Bates, Outram, Patrick, Durham, Stillingfleet, Meriton, Burton, Baxter, Gouge, Poole, Fowler, Newman, Reading, Griffith, Short, Gape, and the beneficent Firmin. From Midsummer 1674 to Lady-day 1675, they had distributed thirty-two Welsh Bibles, which were all that could be procured in Wales or London; two hundred and forty New Testaments, and five hundred Whole Duty of Man, in Welsh. In the preceding year eight hundred and twelve poor children had, by the charity of others, been put to school in fifty-one of the chief towns in Wales. The distribution of these books provoked others to that charitable work, so that the children placed at schools by these gentlemen, and others, from their own purse, amounted to one thousand eight hundred and fifty. It appears as if this undertaking gave birth to an edition of the Bible and liturgy in the Welsh tongue, in which Mr. Gouge had a principal concern, and to which Dr. Tillotson gave 507. The impression extended to eight thousand copies. Life of Mr. James Owen, p. 10-12; and Life of Mr. Thomas Firmin, p. 50.-ED.
the communion of the church of England, at such times as by law they are required?-Some of the clergy were grieved at these proceedings, and Dr. Tillotson and Stillingfleet met privately with Dr. Manton, Bates, Pool, and Baxter, to consider of terms of accommodation, which when they had agreed upon and communicated to the bishops, they were disallowed; so that when Tillotson saw how things were going, he cautiously withdrew from the odium, and wrote the following letter to Mr. Baxter, April 11, 1675: "That he was unwilling his name should be made public in the affair, since it was come to nothing: not but that I do heartily desire an accommodation (says he), and shall always endeavour it but I am sure it will be a prejudice to me, and signify nothing to the effecting the thing which, as circumstances are, cannot pass in either house without the concurrence of a considerable part of the bishops, and the countenance of his majesty, which at present I see little reason to expect*.”
But the bishops' conduct made them unpopular, and drew on them many mortifications. People's compassion began to move towards their dissenting brethren, whom they frequently saw carried in great numbers to prison, and spoiled of their goods, for no other crime than a tender conscience. The very name of an informer became as odious as their behaviour was infamous. The aldermen of London often went out of the way when they heard of their coming; and some denied them their warrants, though by the act they forfeited 1007. Alderman Forth bound over an informer to his good behaviour, for breaking into his chamber without leave. When twelve or thirteen bishops came into the city to dine with sir Nathaniel Herne, one of the sheriffs of London, and exhorted him to put the laws in execution against the Nonconformists, he told them plainly, they could not trade with their fellow-citizens one day, and put them in prison the next.
The moderate churchmen shewing a disposition to unite with the Nonconformists against Popery, the court resolved to take in the old ranting cavaliers, to strengthen the opposition; for this purpose Morley and some other bishops were sent for to court, and told, it was a great misfortune that the church party and dissenters were so disposed to unite, and run into one; the court was therefore willing to make the church easy, and to secure to the king the allegiance of all his subjects at the same time; for this purpose a bill was brought into the house of lords, entitled, "An act to prevent the dangers that may arise from persons disaffected to the government;" by which all such as enjoyed any beneficial office or employment, ecclesiastical, civil, or military; all who voted in elections of parliament men; all privy-counsellors, and members of parliament themselves; were under a penalty to take the following oath, being the same as was required by the five-mile act: "IA. B. do declare, that it is not lawful, upon any
↑ Compl. History, p. 338.
* Baxter, part 3. p. 157, 158.