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we are bound religiously to preserve; the institutions which, in their wisdom, they have framed for us, we are bound faithfully to uphold, that our children after us may inherit those privileges and blessings which have been our happy inheritance. But let us not perpetuate the spirit of factions which have done their work of evil and good. Let us do honour to their sincerity, to their sacrifices, to their sufferings, and to their zeal, when it was on the suffering side. But let us mark out distinctly upon our bistorical chart the errors of their course, lest we, in our time, and others after us, should suffer shipwreck upon the same rocks and quicksands.
The wisest thing which the government and the rulers of the church in those days could have done, would have been to encourage the emigration to New-England, instead of impeding it. In an evil hour for the body politic did they close that abscess which the peccant humour had opened for itself
. They should have afforded every possible outlet. You will not live contentedly under our system; go then where you may establish your own, and go in peace. This should have been their language. But they did not understand the nature of the steain wbich was at work, and alarmed at hearing the vapour hiss as it issued out, they stopt the safety-valve. Indeed, throughout this whole portion of our history, to whatever communion or party the writer may belong, he will have almost as much to blush for, as to forgive.
The political struggle which began on both sides, rather from resentment of their wrongs than in any fixed purpose, assumed in its progress a character of decided principle. On the one part there was a generous sense of loyalty which shrunk from no personal sacrifices, but would bave given unlimited power to the object of its idolatrous devotion ; on the other, a sentiment, not less noble in degree, and of austerer kind, which offered up old feelings and old institutions at the altar of Republican Liberty. But the sects who associated for the subversion of the monarchy remained united no longer than while the contest was doubtful; their mutual animosity had only been suspended while they were bent upon the destruction of a common enemy. One of these sects perceived the error which they had committed, and addressed, in 1657, a memorial to Charles Il. offering their services to assist in his restoration. A few brief extracts from this paper may be read with peculiar advantage at this time,—and with interest at all times for their wisdom and the feeling with which it is expressed. The memorial came from certain Baptists,' and spoke the sense of that body of Christians, who have ever been the most tolerant of the sectarians.
Like poor bewildered travellers, perceiving that we have lost our
way, we are necessitated, though with tired and irksome steps, thus to walk the same ground over again, that we may discover where it was we first turned aside, and may institute a more prosperous course in the progress of our journey. Thus far we can say we bave gone right, keeping the road of honesty and sincerity, and having yet done nothing but what we think we are able to justily, not by those weak and beggarly arguments drawn either from success, which is the same to the just and the unjust, or from the silence and satisfaction of a becalmed conscience, but from the sure, sale, sound, and unerring maxims of law, justice, reason, and righteousness.
• How have our hopes been blasted ! how have our expectations been disappointed! how have our ends been frustrated! All those pleasant gourds under which we were sometimes solacing and caressing ourselves, how are they perished in a moment! how are they witbered in a night! how are they vanished and come to nothing! Righteous is the Lord, and righteous are all his judgments! We have sown the wind, and we have reaped a whirlwind; we have sown faction, and have reaped confusion ; we have sown folly, and we have reaped deceit. When we looked for liberty, behold slavery! When we expected righteousness, bebold oppression! When we sought for justice, behold a cry-a great and a lamentable cry throughout the whole nation!
• Time, the great discoverer of all things, has at last unmasked the disguised designs of this mysterious age, and made that obvious to the dull sense of tools which was before visible enough to the quick-sighted prudence of wise men,--that liberty, religion, and reformation, the wonted engines of politicians, are but deceitful baits by which the easily-deluded multitude are tempted to a greedy pursuit of their own ruin.'
The abuse of these' wonted engines' led necessarily to a violent reaction; and the people laid their liberties, with their crown, at the feet of Charles the Second. Under his reign it is that we first discover a set of men acting, with or without cause, in regular op. position to government,-sometimes upon just grounds, at others for the mere purpose of vexatiously impeding it in its ordinary course; and even at times forcing it into measures of iniquity and blood. Three classes may distinctly be perceived in this first regular Opposition:—the stern old republicans, who.though they had seen by experience how impossible it was to establish a conimonwealth in England, clung nevertheless to their darling theory: some of these men were of high principles and stoical virtue, who nursed in themselves a consolatory pride, by thinking that though fallen on evil days, they were worthy of a purer system and a happier age. With these men most of the Independents joined in feeling, and differed from them only in the reverence with which they regarded the memory of Oliver, whom the higher class beheld as the betrayer of their cause, but whose name was precious to those of his own community. The second class consisted of such men as Lord
Russel, whose imaginations were less ardent, and their views more moderate--who desired nothing more than constitutional liberty-and would have regarded such liberty as we now enjoy as a true political millennium : the Presbyterians were generally of this spię rit. The third were men of no principle, like Shaftsbury, who, whether he were conspiring with the crown, or against it, cared for nothing but his own purposes, and the gratification of a wicked heart. It would be libelling human nature to suppose that there were many persons so thoroughly depraved as this accomplished villain ;-he is here mentioned not as the representative, but as the head of a party whose sole principle was that of selfishness.
The wisest statesman of that age, Sir William Temple, speaks thus of oppositions. Among such men, I have observed all set quarrels with the age, and pretences of reforming it by their own models, to end commonly like the pains of a man in a little boat, who tugs at a rope that is fast to a ship: it looks as if he resolved to draw the ship to him ; but the truth and his meaning is, to draw himself to the ship, when he gets in where he can, and does like the rest of the crew when he is there.' How ofien has this happy illustration been cxemplified in the course of Eng. lish history! But if we would see in what manner the deleterious spirit of party can disorder the judgment and infect the whole moral and intellectual nature of men, it is only necessary to remember the Popish plot—that foulest stain in our annals. If there be one historical fact more humiliating to an Englishman than all others, more painful and mortifying to every good mindit is the conduct of Lord Russel upon occasion of Lord Stafford's sentence. At this time it requires no small exertion of charity to suppose that any person could ever have believed Lord Stafford's guilt, or have listened to the evidence against him without instantly perceiving its absurd insufficiency and its atrocious falsehood. Yet when he had been condemned upon such testimony, and the King (who dared not save him in opposition to the madness of the people and the malignity of party) remitted to the venerable old man the more ignominious and cruel parts of his sentence, Lord Russel stood up in Parliament and called in question the King's power of exercising this poor indulgence of humanity S-When he himself was condemned under circumstances of equal injustice, and the same mitigation of the pains of death was granted,--his own feelings, at being reminded of Lord Stafford's case, were hardly too severe a punishment for having thus, in the strong language of the prophet, corrupted his compassions, and sinned against his own soul. Lord Russel is deservedly canonized in his. tory as one of our state-martyrs ; and in thus alluding to this only spot upon his life, no wrong is offered or intended to his
name. But if the spirit of party could act in such a manner upon one whose principles were so just, whose disposition was so gen. tle, and whose heart was so good-upon so truly religious and excellent a man,--who can wonder at the demoniacal passions which it calls forth in viler natures-in the selfish, the sensual, the profligate, and the godless !
Under Charles the Second we first behold men acting for or against the government, not upon any consistent scheme of political views or moral principles, but merely as they happened to be in or out of place. And in the same reign the religious disputes, which during their paroxysms had occasioned such public and private calamities, such individual wickedness and national disgrace, settled in a chronic disease. The hatred which Charles conceived in his youth for the discipline and manners of the puritans would in him be pardonable, even if there had been less cause for a reasonable dislike of both; but it led him to measures of infamous cruelty in Scotland, and to a system in England which, though less bloody indeed, was yet abominably inhuman, as well as grossly impolític and unjust. It is not imaginable that any system could have reconciled all differencesand abated all asperities of sectarianism: that which was pursued tended inevitably to increase them; the Church retaliated upon its fallen enemies with little discrimipation and less charity, and the Nonconformists' Memorial became the counterpart of the Sufferings of the Clergy-another part of the History of Persecution in England! The sectaries thus acquired a new generic name, when that of Puritans had become odious to the nation; and though this may at first appear a trifling thing, it was in no slight degree unfavourable to the interests both of the State and the Church. The mere circumstance of being thus comprehended under one appellation gave them a bond of union, anda political coherence asadvantageous to their insulated concerns as it is injurious to the common weal. The Act of Uniformity embodied among us a party inveterately hostile to the Church; but the Church of England is vitally and inseparably connected with the State, and they who are discontented with it are but half-Englishmen. When Burleigh sought to impress upon his sovereign a full sense of the formidable strength of Spain, he reminded her not merely that the Spaniards were constant, ambitious, politic, and valiant,' but that they were also a people one-hearted in religion. This great stalesman well knew where this is not the case how rarely unanimity will be found in national measures.
James the Second towards the latter part of his reign courted the Nonconformists, and their late historians justify those who presented an address to this monarch, in terms not very consistent with historical truth. When a gang of assassins,' says the writer,
are tearing my flesh, and drinking my blood, and breaking my bones without mercy,—if Satan's eldest son were to pass by, and drag mine adversaries off me, and rescue me from their murderous hands, I know not that it would be any crime to thank him for his merciful interposition and his compassion to a poor tormented creature.' Discrete and sober language! from whence it might be inferred that all the tortures inflicted upon the Christians by Decius or Diocletian, had been renewed by the Church of England. But the Dissenters happened at that time to have a specimen of thorough Romish intolerance before their eyes; they compared the Act of Uniformity and the Conventicle Act (things bad enough of themselves) with the Dragonnades of Louis XIV. and taking warning in time by the experience of their neighbours, they made common cause with the Church against an enemy
persecuted by halves.
James was too late in his temporizing policy. The execution of Mrs. Gaunt, which, when all its circumstances of baseness, illegality, cruelty, and consummate wickedness are considered, is, perhaps, the foulest murder that ever was committed under the forms of law, had filled the Dissenters with indignation and hatred against him. They seem also to have continued obstinate believers in the popish plot, when most other persons were heartily ashamed of having been so grossly deluded. Even in the reign of George I. Crosby calls the conduct of Oates in this impudent villany, 'a never-to-be-forgotten service to his country.' 'Oh if men would but call into action half as much disposition to believe in matters of religion, as they exhibit daily in political transactions, there would be no such thing as infidelity in England,-for we continually see (and never was it more strongly exemplified than at the present time) that they who are possessed by the spirit of faction, form their opinion of the facts before them, and believe or disbelieve, according to their inclination and their will, in spite of the understanding faculty, and in contempt of conscience. When parties are once formed,' says Burnet, • and a resolution is taken upon other considerations, no evidence can convince those who have beforehand resolved to stick to their point.'
There are some curious particulars concerning Titus Oates in Crosby's History. This wretch being once told that he ought not to seek revenge, but leave it to God, replied, 'that vengeance was indeed God's sweet morsel, which he kept to himself! It is one of the few blots upon King William's reign that this man should have been pensioned with 4001. a year. Ïo remit his fine was allowable and wise, because so excessivea mulct was plainly intended to serve as a sentence of imprisonment for life; and therefore it was proper to abrogate a sentence which went beyond the strict bounds