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History of religion in England from the opening of the Long Parliament to the end of the eighteenth century (Volume 2) online

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shell preserves the kernel, or a casket a jewel. I would have him
endowed with a robe of honour." (" Cromwellian Diary," II.

At length it was " Resolved that there be a purple robe lined
with ermine, a Bible, a sceptre, and a sword, provided for the
investiture of the Lord Protector." Thursday, 25th June, 1657.
(" Post-meridian Journals.")

* Mr. Lockyer, chaplain to his Highness, made an exhortation
at the Banqueting House, Whitehall, after the Westminster Hall


forces by sea and land, the whole Government, and
people of these three nations, to the blessing and pro-
tection of God Almighty. After this, the people giving
several great shouts, and the trumpets sounding, his
Highness sat down in the chair of state, holding the
sceptre in his hand."* Heralds; Garter, and Norroy,
King-at-Arms ; his Highness's Gentlemen ; men of the
Long Robe : the Judges ; Commissioners of all sorts ;
Robert, Earl of Warwick, bareheaded, with the sword
of the Commonwealth ; the Lord Mayor, with the City
sword ; Privy Councillors and Generals took part in
the ceremony — whilst on seats, built scaffold-wise, sat
the Members of Parliament ; and below them, the
Judges and the Aldermen of London.

When the ceremony had ended, the Protector, having
saluted the foreign ambassadors, entered his state

* "Pari. Hist." III. 1514-1518.

The following story is told : — " When Cromwell took on him
the Protectorship, in the year 1653, the very morning the cere-
mony was to be performed, a messenger came to Dr. Manton to
acquaint him that he must immediately come to Whitehall.
The doctor asked him the occasion. He told him he should
know that when he came there. The Protector himself, without
any previous notice, told him what he was to do, i.e., to pray
upon that occasion. The doctor laboured all he could to
be excused, and told him it was a work of that nature which
required some time to consider and prepare for it. The Protector
replied that he knew he was not at a loss to perform the service
he expected from him, and opening his study-door, he put him in
with his hand, and bid him consider there — which was not above
half an hour. The doctor employed that time in looking over his
books, which he said was a noble collection." Harris's " Life of
Cromwell," p. 4.

If the story be true, the date is incorrect ; and the ceremonial
of 1653, when Lockyer gave an exhortation at Whitehall Ban-
queting House, is confounded with the ceremony of 1657, when
Manton prayed in Westminster Hall. It would look as if the
devotional part of the service had not been contemplated in
the original arrangement, but was afterwards introduced by the
express desire of Cromwell.


coach, together witli the Earl of Warwick, Lord
Richard Cromwell, his son, and Bulstrode, Lord Whitc-
locke, who sat with him on one side ; and Lord Vis-
count Lisle and General Montague on the other :
Lord Claypolc led the horse of honour caparisoned
with the richest trappings. At night there were great

Parliament reassembled January the 20th, 1658.
Lord Commissioner Fiennes made a speech that day
before his Highness, in which he entered at large upon
the subject of toleration and charity. He spoke
quaintly of the Rock: — "a spirit of imposing upon
men's consciences, where God leaves them a latitude ; "
and of the Q?iicksaud : — "an abominable licentiousness
to profess and practise any sort of detestable opinions
and principles." The object of the Petition and Advice
was to steer a middle course between the two. He
strongly inveighed against bigotry, and maintained
that the right way was the golden mean, even God's
way. God, when he came to Elijah, was not in the
whirlwind, the earthquake, or the fire ; but in the small
still voice. So with men's religious profession. " It
must," said his Lordship, " be a small and still voice,
enough to hold forth a certain and distinct sound, but
not to make so great a noise as to drown all other
voices besides. It is good, it is useful, to hold forth a
certain confession of the truth ; but not so as thereby
to exclude all those that cannot come up to it in all
points, from the privileges which belong to them as
Christians, much less, which belong to them as men."*
The members who had been excluded were now ad-
mitted, after having taken the oath according to the

* A report of this speech is given in the "Journals of the
Commons," under date January the 25th, 1657-58.


" Petition and Advice." They were extremely re-
publican in their ideas, and were inveterate enemies to
the Protector : their influence with their own party
outside had been increased by their recent conduct,
which was regarded as proving their strong attachment
to " the good old cause." At the same time some of
Cromwell's warmest friends were removed to the other
House, which had been constituted so as to resemble
somewhat the ancient House of Peers. The effect
of this new state of things upon the two parties ex-
isting among the Commons became immediately

After the new oath had been administered to all the
ministers, a business which it took some hours for six
commissioners to accomplish, the Commons, preceded
by their mace-bearer, as of old, marched up to the
House of Lords, where his Highness the Protector, in
kingly state, received them, and then proceeded to
address the united assembly as " My Lords and Gentle-
men." — "You have now a godly ministry," said his
Highness, " you have a knowing ministry ; such an
one as, without vanity be it spoken, the world has not,
men knowing the things of God, and able to search
into the things of God, by that only which can fathom
those things in some measure." In connection with
this notice of a godly ministry at the re-opening of
Parliament, it may not be irrelevant to mention that
the daily meetings of Cromwell's Parliament com-
menced with prayer ; and that whereas in the Little
Parliament the members turned the legislative assembl}-
into a prayer-meeting — and " engaged " one after
another in devotional exercises — in the Parliaments
which followed, no such custom obtained ; but some
regular minister officiated each morning. So scrupulous


did the Commons become in confining the performance
of Divine worship to the Clergy, that in tlie last of
Oliver's Parliaments, the House on one occasion waited
half an hour for the minister, and because he did not
make his appearance proceeded without prayer.*

Soon after Cromwell's opening speech, a debate arose
about the " maintenance of a godly ministry " — by
which words the Lord Protector on the one hand, and
on the other, many who sat in this Parliament, would
not mean quite the same thing. In the estimation of
certain members, scarcely any revenues remained for
the Clergy, notwithstanding all the provision which
had been made for them of late years. P^orty or fifty
petitions lay on the table, asking for aid to support the
preaching of the Gospel ; but there existed no avail-
able sources of relief. In Lancashire it was affirmed
that there were parishes, nineteen miles square, con-
taining two thousand Protestant communicants, besides
as many Papists — which parishes greatly needed sub-
division, whilst the niinisters equally needed increased
means of support. How' to maintain the clergy was
the question in hand ; but, according to a habit common
in public assemblies, the debate soon veered round to
another point, and presently the House was found
struggling with the inquiry. Should there be another
Convocation or Assembly of Divines .' One member
battled both points at once — contending there was no
need of any further assembly ; and that before they
raised additional money for religious purposes they
ought to pay their civil debts. A second speaker ob-
served that there had been already an Assembl)', which
had settled foundations, but it had been dissolved, and
to call another would be very expensive — whilst persons

* •• Cromwcllian Diary," 1. xxvii., and I'airy, 522.


fit to compose it would be found very scarce. But,
exclaimed a third, though what the late Assembly
resolved had been put in print, it had not been put in
practice, and there needed a new authority of the same
kind, to gather out the weeds from amidst the corn.
The ordination of ministers and some outward form of
unity were also of great importance, Avhich could be
obtained only by another ecclesiastical Convocation.
A fourth condemned the proposal altogether, inasmuch
as the former assembly had sat long, had cost much,
and had effected little. With such differences of
opinion that question was speedily waived. Com-
plaints respecting the marriage law and the insecurity
of registration next came upon the carpet ; and the
non-residence of leading men in the universities was
attacked by the introduction of a Bill for its prevention ;
but soon a subject arose before the House which
swallowed up all other subjects of debate. Cromwell's
batch of Peers proved the rock on which the second
Protectorate Parliament went to pieces.* Sir Arthur
Haselrig — -who took his seat with the Commons,
although nominated one of the new Peers — appears
prominently in the final Republican broil, occasioned
by the attempt to give to the Commonwealth some-
what of the aristocratic aspect of a kingdom. And
here, it is affecting to recollect the change which
eighteen years had effected in reference to men as well
as measures. Of the patriots who took the lead at the
opening of the Long Parliament, John Pym slept under
the pavement of Westminster Abbey ; John Hampden
was at rest in the village church which bore his name ;
Brooke, years before, had ended his career at Lichfield ;
Bering, after his changeful course, had been gathered

* The Republicans at first rejected had been now admitted.


to his fathers ; \\inc and Marten were in retirement ;
others had disappeared ; and now, of all the most busy
actors on the stage in 1640, there remained before the
public view only Oliver Cromwell, with Haselrig, the
" hare-brained " in hot opposition, and Nathaniel
Fiennes — more wise in council than valiant in war —
fighting out this last political battle at the side of the
Protector, his old friend.

His Ilighness's speeches on the 25th of January and
4th of l^'ebruary were filled with patriotism and wisdom,
and with manifest touches of pathos, in harmony Avith
such pensive memories of this mortal state of existence
as have been just indicated ; and in keeping, too, with
such a foresight of the end soon to follow, as we now
are able to exercise. They are the last two of those
memorable orations which, after being long neglected,
are now beginning to be studied and understood. In
the former of these speeches, the brave and noble ruler
of England — burdened not so much with the infirmities
of years as with the cares of government, worn out not
by old age, but by years of toil and anxiety, of counsel,
and of war — spoke of what was most dear to his heart,
of the Protestant interest abroad, and the Protestant
interest at home ; for Cromwell was a Protestant to
the backbone. Papists had been ICngland's enemies
from Queen P^lizabeth's reign downwards, and as
enemies to their country they were treated b}- the
Protector. And besides Papists, others in his estima-
tion threatened the interests of the Commonwealth.

Just at this juncture, the Republicans, in their oppo-
sition to the new settlement, were bent upon upsetting
everything. P^oundation stones just laid were being
rudely torn up. and the whole fabric was fast falling to
pieces. Indeed some sectaries pleaded, in a certain


foolish book, quoted but not named, for " an orderly
confusion." " Orderly confusion ! " exclaimed his High-
ness. " Men have wonderfully lost their consciences
and their wits. I speak of men going about who can-
not tell what they would have, yet are willing to kindle
coals to disturb others." Fifth Monarchy men, also,
were now hastening in the same direction as the
Royalists. Whilst they wanted to set up a republic,
they were in fact playing the game of Charles Stuart.
" It were a happy thing," said the old man, wearied out
with the war of opinion, " if the nation would be content
with rule. ' Content with rule ' if it were but in civil
things, and with those that would rule worst ; because
misrule is better than no rule, and an ill government,
a bad government is better than none ! Neither is
this all, but we have an appetite to variety, to be not
only making \vounds, ' but widening those already
made.' As if you should see one making wounds in
a man's side, and eager only to be groping and grovel-
ling with his fingers in those wounds ! This is what
such men would be at ; this is the spirit of those who
would trample on men's liberties in spiritual respects.
They will be making wounds, and rending and tearing
and making them wider than they were. Is not this
the case .'' Doth there want anything — I speak not of
sects in an ill sense, but the nation is hugely made up
of them — and what is the want that prevents these
things from being done to the uttermost, but that men
have more anger than strength .-* They have not power
to attain their ends. 'There wants nothing else.' And
I beseech you judge what such a company of men of
these sects are doing, while they are contesting one
with another ! They are contesting in the midst of a
generation of men (a malignant Episcopal party, I

1Go8,Feb.] the church of the COMMOXWEALTIL 155

mean) contesting in the midst of these all united. What
must be the issue of such a thing as this ? " *

Then, on the 4th of Februar)', came those last words
which wound up all— last words which Englishmen
are now studying with deep earnestness, and with
increasing insight — "And if this be the end of your
sitting and this be your carriage, I think it high time
that an end be put to your sitting, and I do dissolve
this Parliament. And let God be judge between yon
and me."

" Believe me," said Hartlib, Milton's friend ; " believe
me it was of such necessity, that if their session had
continued but tw^o or three days longer, all had been in
blood, both in city and countr}^ upon Charles Stuart's
account." t

Ecclesiastical legislation for England, under Oliver
Cromwell's Protectorate, ended with the dissolution of
Parliament. Of course there were no more Acts ; nor
were there any more Ordinances, respecting Church
affairs. But the same sleepless vigilance and un-
wearied activity as before, were shown by the Protector
in relation to religious as well as other subjects. The
ponderous Order Book for 1658, in which may be
traced the proceedings of Government from day to
day, bears witness to the large amount of ecclesiastical
business transacted by his Highness and his counsel-
lors. They determined upon the supply of destitute
parishes, chapelries, and outlying populations ; the
settlement of questions about tithes, church leases, and
rights of presentation ; the union of parishes ; the
augmentation of incomes, and various grants to public
preachers. J There also occur orders to make collec-

* Carlyle's " Cromwell, II. 634. f Ibid., II. 651.

X The question of augmentations of li\ings had been brought


tions for the repair of a church at South Oxendon,
struck by Hghtning ; and of another at Egbaston,
damaged in the wars. It is curious to meet with a
petition of the members of the Congregational Church,
at Warwick, complaining that a constable had indicted
Mr. Whitehead, a member, for not attending the parish
church, and had demanded fines for absence ; where-
upon it was ordered that a letter should be written to
the Justices, to let them know, that if the case were
as it had been represented, the Council was much
dissatisfied therewith, as an abridgment of that liberty
which the law allowed. More curious still is it to meet
with a complaint of reproachful and provoking language
having been used at church by a Commonwealth's man
against a Royalist, who is described as being " under
obligation, with great penalties, to his Highness for
keeping the peace, and good bearing of himself to his
Highness." It is most curious of all, to find a petition
from Anastatius Cominus, a Bishop of the Greek
Church, under the patriarch of Alexandria, on behalf
of himself and others, referred to the Committee for
approbation of public preachers.*

How favourably these entries in the old parchment-
bound folio — written in a firm, bold, legible hand,
characteristic of the men whose proceedings the}-
chronicle — contrast with the records of the Protectorate
Parliament ! Whilst the latter were spending their
time upon bigoted efforts to curtail the religious

before the Council in the month of October, 1656 : it was referred
to the Lord Deputy and others to speak with Dr. Owen and Mr.
Nye upon the subject, and to report their opinions to the CounciL
Some points respecting ministers in later entries were referred
to Nye, Caryl, and Peters.

,* The last three minutes belong respectively to May, 1658,.
June, 1658, and March, 1656.


liberties of the people ; the Council of State, with the
actual sovereign of England at its head, was employ-
ing an effective influence to check the career and to
mitigate the mischiefs of intolerance. And as this
supreme executive body tempered the narrow policy
of parties, it also suppressed the misguided zeal of
individuals. How significant is that expression of
displeasure at the attempted abridgment of freedom
which had been made in a miserably sectarian spirit by
some who, professing to maintain justice and charity,
to say the very least, ought to have known better.



The schemes of politicians, the proceedings of Parlia-
ment, and the administration of affairs by a Council
of State — although necessary to be studied in order to
obtain a knowledge of external circumstances, such as,,
under the Commonwealth, powerfully influenced re-
ligious society — can convey but a very inadequate idea
of the actual working of ecclesiastical institutions at
that period ; and no conception whatever of the
spiritual life either of churches or of individuals. It is
requisite, therefore, that we should turn our attention
to the inner history of different communions ; and not
only look somewhat minutely at their character and
proceedings, but also glance at a few of the eminent
individuals who were connected with them.

Both in theory and practice, Cromwell's Broad
Church included Presbyterians, Independents, and
Baptists. In reviewing the state of these parties re-
spectively, I commence with the Presbyterians. The
Presbyterian scheme of church government,* as de-
termined by the Assembly of Divines, contains an

* The authorities for this sketch of Presbyterianism are the
Westminster form of Presbyterian government, Parhamentary
ordinances, and the account of the particular form under which
Presbyterianism appeared in Lancashire, as given by Hibbert, in
his " History of the Foundations of Manchester."

1645-lf.o8.] THE CirURCH OF THE COMMOmVEALTIL 159-

enumeration of three kinds of officers — namely, pastors,
who both preached and ruled ; lay elders, who ruled,
but did not preach ; and deacons, who chiefly attended
to the necessities of the poor. Each congregation was
to have its affairs administered b}- such officers ; and
upon the Presbytery, consisting of Pastors and Elders,
devolved the oversight of communicants, the mainten-
ance of discipline, and the administration of censures.
Censures, too, admitted of three degrees — admonition,
suspension, and excommunication. Notorious offenders-
were required to make an acknowledgment of sin before
the whole congregation ; and if they proved incorrigible,
they were to be cut off from the communion of the
Lord's Supper, and from the right of bringing their
children to be baptized. Means, however, ^vere to be
employed for the restoration of such unhappy outcasts.
Members liable to be brought before their several
Presbyteries adopted measures of retaliation. Accusa-
tions were preferred against church officers. They
were accused, for instance, of being present at horse
races, or at ale-feasts, where there was fiddling, bowling,
or tippling going on ; of neglecting to sing psalms in
the family; of entertaining Cavaliers ; of affirming that
the Parliament was a body without a head ; of appeal-
ing to the authority of Scripture in support of the royal
cause ; and of never having publicly manifested any
sorrow for malignancy. These accusations were fol-
lowed by recriminations on the opposite side.*

Next to this congregational or parish Presbytery, and
superior to it, was the Classical Assembly, composed
of delegates from parish congregations — the number
sent by each not being more than four, or less than
two. Their business was to take cognizance of the

* " Hist, of the Foundations of Manchester," I. 276.


conduct of Ministers and Elders ; to admit candidates
to office ; to inquire into the state of congregations ;
to decide cases too difficult for settlement by Parochial
Elders; and to discharge such legislative functions
as did not usurp the authority of the higher courts.
Disputes between Ministers and Elders were deter-
mined before this classical tribunal. The Provincial
Synod formed the next superior court, to Avhich delegates
went from the classical Presbyteries ; meetings for the
Province of Lancaster bring held in the church at
Preston. Thither appeals were carried, and there
judgments were enforced, there also candidates for the
ministry passed through a theological examination.
The preliminary trials having reached a satisfactory
conclusion, notice was posted on the church door, that
the persons approved would be ordained at the end of
a month, if no objection were offered. That solemn
service included the offering of prayers, the preaching
of a sermon, the asking of the Pastor Elect certain
questions, and the imposition of hands, with the
delivery of a pastoral charge. He afterwards received
a certificate of ordination.

To crown the series of church courts, a General
Assembly was requisite ; but to this point of perfection
Presbyterianism in England never attained. Even in
Lancashire, where the system appeared in its greatest
vigour, its movements were crippled. Episcopalians
resisted it, avowing their love for Bishops, continuing
to use the surplice and the liturgy, and condemning
Presbyterian marriages and sacraments. The want
of State authority for the enforcement of a complete
scheme of discipline was a great vexation to its
advocates ; and when the Covenant could no longer
be pressed, and the law against the Prayer Book proved


a dead letter, the predominant religionists found it
difficult to contend against the lingering popularity of
ancient forms, and sometimes strove in vain to resist
the efforts which were made to introduce ejected Epis-
copalians into vacant pulpits. They at length dis-
covered it was to their own interest to draw towards
their Episcopalian brethren ; and before the Common-
wealth expired, attempts were made to establish a
moderate form of diocesan rule, somewhat after the
model ascribed to Archbishop Ussher. The two parties
searched for points of ecclesiastical agreement, and
went so far as to preach in each other's places of
worship. In some cases political sympathies formed a
still deeper basis of union. Disliking the Protectorate,
and longing for the restoration of royalty, both parties
joined in the famous insurrection under Sir George
Booth in 1659. And a further bond arose in a common
antipathy to the sects and to all unordained ministers.
Among the Lancashire Presbyterians were some
very remarkable men. Richard Herrick, Warden of
the Collegiate church of Manchester, was learned,
munificent, disinterested, and conscientious ; but he
was one of the most passionate of partizans, at a time
when partizanship was pre-eminently rife. He had
little or no enmity to Episcopacy in the abstract,* but

* The following passage with respect to him occurs in the

Online LibraryJohn StoughtonHistory of religion in England from the opening of the Long Parliament to the end of the eighteenth century (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 37)