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History of religion in England from the opening of the Long Parliament to the end of the eighteenth century (Volume 5) online

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humiliating satire on their own absurd intolerance.
While some Nonconformists chuckled at the exposure,
others grieved that such a weapon had been employed
on the side of truth and charity, and feared that oppo-
sition to their cause now would be hotter than it had
ever been before.f The discovery of the authorship
increased the desire to read the publication ; far and
wide copies were scattered, as so many fire-brands,
and the whole country appeared in a blaze. " Down
with the Whigs ! " " Down with the Presbyterians ! "
" Down with the Meeting Houses ! " shouted thousands
of Tory Churchmen. Press and pulpit, club and coffee

* Wilson's " Life and Times of De Foe," II. 56.

t De Foe was loud in his professions of Nonconformist
principles, but after what has been discovered by Mr. Lee, and
applied by Mr. Minto, it is difficult to believe in De Foe's pro-
fession of any principles whatever. His cleverness was amazing,
and so was his character, but in a different sense.

1703-1709.] CHURCH UNDER QUEEN ANNE. 349

house, rung with maledictions on the impudent insulter
of his fellow-countrymen. Government took up the
matter. First, the publication was condemned in the
House of Commons, and committed to the flames ;
next, the author was indicted at the Old Bailey, and
sentenced to pay a fine of 200 marks, to stand in the
pillory three times, to be imprisoned during the Queen's
pleasure, and to find sureties for good behaviour seven
years. The trial and its issue soon produced a re-
action. In July, 1703, — before the old Royal Exchange,
near the now vanished Conduit in Cheapside, and under
the shadow of Temple Bar, just vanishing in our time, —
respectable persons acted as a body-guard round the
literary convict ; garlands were hung on the ugly
machine, and the condemned man mounted it, as if
it had been a throne, amidst sympathetic acclamations,
whilst his health was drunk in overflowing bumpers.

During the general strife of politics and religion the
Queen performed an act, ever since honourably asso-
ciated with her reign and name. Her birthday fell on
a Sunday, February 6th, 1704, and the next day she
sent a messenger to the House of Commons, informing
them that she desired to grant, for the benefit of the
Church, her entire revenues arising out of tenths and
first-fruits, imposed by the Pope, and afterwards appro-
priated to the Crown. These, amounting to between
^16,000 and ;^ 1 7,000 a year, were now to constitute a
fund for the relief of the poorer Clergy. Burnet takes
credit to himself for having suggested such a plan first
to William and Mary, and now to Anne.* However,
that might be, the Commons approved oi the charitable
design, and at her request brought in a Bill enabling
the Crown to alienate this portion of the Royal revenue,

* " Own Time," II. 369.


and to create a chartered corporation for the distribu-
tion of the bounty. The Statute of Mortmain was
repealed, so far as was needful to give effect to the
Queen's generous design, which embraced the stimu-
lating of others to an imitation of her own example,
by bequeathing money for the augmentation of the
fund. That part of the Bill which touched the Statute
of Mortmain provoked discussion in the Upper House ;
but the Bishops, unanimous in this matter, successfully
carried it through all its stages.*

Passing by this pleasant episode in a stormy period,
we reach the summer of 1705, when England was astir
from end to end, with a coming election, into which
the ecclesiastical element was thrown with exasperating
effect. De Foe's " Shortest Way," and other inflam-
matory publications, together with " the-Church-in-
danger " cry, wrought an excitement rarely witnessed
even in old-fashioned electioneering days. Patrick,
Bishop of Ely, complained in the House that in the
election for Cambridge, it "was shameful to see a
hundred or more young students encouraged in hollow-
ing like schoolboys and porters, and crying out 'No
fanatics ! ' ' No occasional conformity ! ' against two
worthy gentlemen that stood as candidates." f At
Sandwich the Dissenters were extremely active, and a
newspaper controversy arose as to whether a flag had
or had not been hung out from an Anabaptist Meeting
House, emblazoned with "the old Commonwealth
breeches and a crown reversed." At Epworth, in
Lincolnshire, the High Church incumbent, Samuel
Wesley, stoutly opposed the Whig candidates. On the

* " Parliamentary History," VI. ; Tindal's " Continuation,"
III. 609 ; Boyer's " Queen Anne," 119.
t " Complete History of Europe for the Year 1705," p. 420.

1703-1709.] CHURCH UNDER QUEEN ANNE. 351

Steps of the parish church, the mob abused him " as
rascal and scoundrel," and went on a great part of the
night " drumming, shouting, and firing of pistols," under
the parsonage windows, where lay his good wife,
Susanna, "who had been brought to bed not three
weeks before." *

The result of the elections appeared in October,
1705, at the opening of Parliament. The Whigs had
gained an ascendency on many grounds ; perhaps not
scrupulous about employing means such as they often
attributed to the Tories. The cry of " Church in
danger" was now noticed, not that it might be re-
peated, but repressed. The Whig ministers put into
the Queen's hand a speech, in which she complained
of malicious insinuations of the Church's peril, and
declared her purpose to maintain both the Establish-
ment and Toleration. The Tory Lord Rochester,
however, in a debate on the Regency Bill, persisted in
representing the Church as in peril, upon which the
Whig Lord Halifax challenged him and his party to
a debate on the question. Her Majesty, as on a
former occasion, appeared as a listener ; while Roches-
ter tried to make good his words, and Halifax taunted
him with deeds of other days, when his Lordship was
a member of the High Commission. Sharp, Arch-
bishop of York, apprehended danger from the increase
of Dissent, particularly from the multiplication of
Dissenting academies, and he moved, that the Judges
might be consulted as to whether there were sufficient
laws for their suppression. Compton, Bishop of
London, rose to inveigh against a sermon by Benjamin
Hoadly, soon to be a name of great renown ; a sermon
in which, according to the Right Reverend speaker,

* Tyerman's " Life and Times of Samuel Wesley," 297.


" rebellion was countenanced, and resistance to the
higher powers encouraged." This brought Burnet on
his feet, who defended Hoadly, and aimed an arrow at
his brother Compton, who, said he, ought to have been
the last to complain of such a sermon ; for, if the
doctrine of that sermon were not good, he did not
know what defence his Lordship could make for ap-
pearing in arms at Nottingham. The Bishops of Ely
and Lichfield, Patrick and Hough, lamented the bitter
spirit shown by the Universities towards Noncon-
formists, and the names which some Clergymen gave
their Diocesans ; Hooper, now on the bench, in his
lawn and rochet, as Bishop of Bath and Wells, re-
gretted the terms " High Church," and " Low Church ; "
since the party to which he belonged only desired the
Church's welfare ; and the other party he did not
believe were averse to Episcopal order. It was voted,
by 6 1 to 30, that the Church was '* not in danger," a
decision in which the Commons concurred, by a
majority of 212 against 160. A Royal proclamation
followed, denouncing all who should propagate scan-
dalous reports about the Establishment, and stigma-
tizing a much-talked-of " Memorial," by Dr. Drake,
as "a malicious and seditious libel."*

Whilst Parliament sat in its accustomed place
during the autumn of 1705, Convocation held its
meetings close by ; and as Bishops would talk to their
brother Peers on all-absorbing questions of the day.
Deans, Archdeacons, and Proctors would also discuss
them with Commoners whose friendship they enjoyed.
But on few subjects did the two ecclesiastical bodies
come to the same conclusion : and as to the kind of

* '' Parliamentary History," VI. 479-511, and Burnet's "Own
Time," II. 434.

1703-1709.] CHURCH UNDER QUEEN ANNE. 353

loyal address proper at the time they held divergent
opinions. The Bishops drew up an address in which
they dwelt upon the Church's security ; the inferior
Clergy would not concur in it, but proposed another,
which while it acknowledged the devotion of the Queen,
did not deny that peril was to be apprehended from
other quarters. When this fresh document was carried
up in due form by the Prolocutor to the Jerusalem
Chamber, the Bishops said with all dignity, " We
cannot accept your address, you must accept what
we propose, or give reasons for rejecting it." At this
announcement when reported in Henry the Seventh's
Chapel, the assembled members took fire — "An Eng-
lish Synod," said they, "has the right of dissenting
from what is proposed by the Prelates, without giving
any reason for such dissent." The Fathers of the
Church were ready with reproof, as well as reply ;
their undeferential sons signified that they would
agree to no address which did not emanate from
themselves. This defiant policy went much too far
to please men of moderate views and calm temper.
The Dean of Peterborough at once drew up a protest
against the irregularities of his brethren, especially in
asserting their independence by claiming the right of
self-prorogation, and by putting into the chair a Pro-
locutor not sanctioned by the Primate. The protest
received the signatures of 51 out of 145 members ; but
when the Dean endeavoured to read it he was put
down by the clamours of the assembly, and at the
next meeting the majority voted a complaint against
the protesters, and a fresh declaration of Convocation
rights. In February, 1706, when they met after the
recess, they resolved on a letter to the Bishops, re-
minding them of previous addresses which waited for
VOL. v. 2 A


their Lordships' reply. A wide gulf now yawned
between the Houses. A stop was put to all friendly
communication. The Lower House had held inter-
mediate sessions — and entered on business, approving
some books, condemning others.*

This conduct tired out their Lordships' patience ; and
the Queen, most likely at the Archbishop's suggestion,
wrote to him a letter dated February 25, 1706, ex-
pressing her concern about these prolonged differences,
her endeavour to maintain the Constitution of the
Church, and her expectation that Bishops and Clergy
would act conformably to this her resolution. At the
same time she indicated her pleasure that Convocation
should be prorogued. The Bishop of Norwich, acting
as His Grace's commissary, on the ist of March,
summoned before him the Lower House. Dr. Binks,
as Prolocutor, accompanied by some of his brethren,
attended accordingly. The presiding Bishop began to
read the Royal letter ; Atterbury, the Prolocutor's
prime minister, plucked his sleeve, suggesting, " This
is no place for us." The Prolocutor, ready to retire,
stood irresolute. Up rose Burnet, " springing from his
seat," and shouted with characteristic impetuosity,
"This is the greatest piece of insolence I have ever
seen, to refuse to hear the Queen's orders. Mr. Pro-
locutor, go at your peril." The reading went on, the
Prolocutor remained a few minutes ; but soon the
members, foreseeing the inevitable prorogation, rushed
to the door determined not to listen ; thus repeating
one of those tumultuous scenes which had disgraced
the lower Clergy in the days of King William. When
the spring came, there appeared with it another Royal
letter to His Grace of Canterbury, complaining of

* This is Burnet's statement : " Own Time," II. 442.

1703-1709.] CHURCH UNDER QUEEN ANNE. 355

illegal practices being continued, and of reflections cast
upon the late prorogation, as unprecedented. This
Her Majesty regarded as a plain invasion of her
supremacy, and as she was resolved to preserve the
Constitution of the Church of England, she would
" use such means for the punishing offences of this
nature as are warranted by law." Upon this letter
being sent, a fresh disturbance arose. The Archbishop,
on the loth of April, summoned the Lower House to
the Episcopal Chamber. Some members went, but
not the Prolocutor. He was in the country — they
said. This was an intolerable mark of disrespect.
Tenison would not put up with it ; and pronounced
the absent Dean guilty of contumacy, reserving the
declaration of a penalty until the end of the month.
Informed of this, the latter did not feel inclined to
brave the consequences. Before the day arrived, a
protestation was drawn up against the Archbishop's
proceeding ; and this was presented by the Prolocutor.
But here again the heart of the Very Reverend Presi-
dent of the Lower House failed him, he begged pardon
and submitted to the Primate's authority, whereupon
sentence was waived, and the matter ended. Things
being brought to this pass, there followed a series of
prorogations, and Convocation did not meet for busi-
ness after April, 1706, until November, 17 10.*

The union of England and Scotland was effected in
1707. On May-day a general thanksgiving took place.
A grand procession to St. Paul's was followed by a
service, in which the Bishop of Oxford preached.

* Wilkins' "Concilia," IV. 636; Burnet's "Own Time," II.
412, 441-443, 470, 525. Calamy's " Continuation," 688, 713;
Lathbury's " Convocation," 397, 404 ; Perry's " History of the
Church," III. 186-196. There is a letter by Atterbury (III.
272) alluding to an incident not mentioned in these works.


Addresses to Her Majesty poured in from all parts of
the country, and the Dissenting ministers of London
expressed their gratitude to God, and their congratu-
lations to the Queen, on "the entire union of the two
nations," the setUed peace and quiet of her government,
the Protestant succession to the throne, and other similar
causes for rejoicing. The union involved religious
questions. Tories and Churchmen were alarmed.
They apprehended danger from so close an alliance
between one country under Episcopal, and another
under Presbyterian rule. In the Commons, Sir John
Packington, in the Lords, Bishop Hooper, spoke against
the measure ; but the Cabinet, the Liberal Bishops, the
majority of the Lords, and the majority of the Commons,
were strongly in its favour. The address of the London
Dissenting ministers may be regarded as fairly repre-
senting the sentiments of their brethren throughout the
country ; and it may be noticed here that the ultra-
Dissenter, Daniel De Foe, who had stood in the pillory,
was now entrusted by the Whig Government with
important business in the progress of this great trans-
action. It is curious to notice the want of religious
sympathy at that time between the two countries.
Separated by a wide, desolate, troubled border-land,
and by conflicting traditions and prejudices, with little
individual intercourse — in days when a journey from
London to Edinburgh seemed like crossing the globe, —
the two nations were also alienated, if that be not too
strong a term, by ecclesiastical preferences and recol-
lections, also by theological opinions as well as by
sentimental impulses. There was first the controversy
about Bishops and Presbyters, which had produced a
mutual exasperation almost inconceivable ; Prelacy was
an abomination on the other side the Tweed, and

1703-1709.] CHURCH UNDER QUEEN ANNE. 357

Presbyterianism a perfect scarecrow on this. Lawn
sleeves Scotchmen could not endure, and Genevan
cloaks an immense number of Englishmen looked upon
with undisguised contempt. The memory of wrongs
endured under the Stuarts lingered in the breast of
many a Highlander, and many a Lowlander ; and the
change wrought in the Establishment of Scotland, the
transference of property and prestige from priest to
presbyter, was an historical recollection rankling in the
mind of the London citizen and the country squire.
The strong Calvinism, too, preached in some Edinburgh
and Glasgow pulpits, excited aversion in the bosoms
of Arminian clergymen occupying pulpits in York and
Bristol and Norwich. The whole type of religious
feeling expressed in the Book of Common Prayer, and
the devotional literature based upon it, occupied another
spiritual zone than that filled by the Assembly's Con-
fession and Catechism, and the works to which those
formularies had given birth.

Between the Scotch Presbyterian, however, and the
English Dissenter, there existed considerable affinity.
In dogmatic belief, in public worship, and in personal
experience, numbers on both sides were much the
same. Still a strong difference might be detected
between certain English Presbyterians and Scotch
Presbyterians. Dr. Edmund Calamy visited Scotland
in 1709, and in his account of the journey some curious
instances of what I have said appear. He relates an
amusing story of his conversation with a pious woman
in North Britain, — who, talking with him about faith
and good works, to the latter of which the English
divine attached just importance, — exclaimed, " * O sir,
now you are fallen upon good works, as to them, I
must own, that by the report I have heard, I am in-


clined to believe you have more of them with you than
we have among us.' 'Well then/ said I, in order to a
yet further trial, ' if the belief of what God has revealed,
and the fruits and efforts of that belief, where it is
sincere and hearty, are the same with us and you, how
can it be that you should have the gospel with you,
and not we also among us .? ' ' Ah, sir,' said she, ' you
have with you no kirk sessions, presbyteries, synods, and
general assemblies, and therefore have not the gospel.'
' And is that then,' said I, ' the gospel 1 I am sure it
is a poor, meagre, and despicable gospel, if you rest
there, and carry the matter no further.' " *

There were not wanting, at the moment, plenty of
men and women in England — much more learned than
that good lady — who attached much the same import-
ance to Episcopacy and Convocation, as she did to
her Presbyterian form of Church government. And it
is remarkable that Scotch Episcopalians were out of
sympathy with their co-religionists in the South, inso-
much that amongst eleven Episcopalian clergymen
in Edinburgh, only one prayed for Queen Anne.
With regard to that exceptional person, Calamy says,
" I asked if he could mention any other Episcopal
meeting, but his own, where the Queen was prayed
for } He ackowledged he could not." f The excellent
William Carstairs, who had been chaplain to King
William, was Calamy's great friend, and invited him
to the Metropolis of the North, and between the two
there existed a strong religious sympathy and friend-

Prince George of Denmark, husband to the Queen,
died at Kensington Palace, on the 28th of October,
1708. He is described by Smollett, as of an amiable

* " Life of Calamy," II. 170. f Ibid., II. 164.

1703-1709.] CHURCH UNDER QUEEN ANNE. 359

rather than a shining character, brave, good-natured,
modest, and humane, but devoid of great talents and
ambition. His Royal wife was assiduous in her affec-
tionate attentions during his last moments ; * and as
she watched by his dying bed, received support from
the renewed friendship of the Duchess of Marlborough,
then in waiting as Mistress of the Robes. Intrigues
were going on at the time, relative to ministerial ap-
pointments. Whigs formed the Cabinet, and the lady
counsellor, amidst fluctuations of favour, now enjoyed
her mistress's confidence, being addressed in her notes
as " dear Mrs. Freeman." " But the reconciliation did
not endure."

. Anne wrote to the Czar,t saying, " It has pleased
God to take to Himself the soul of our dearest ; " and —
whilst she was at St. James's, thinking of him who lay
a corpse at Kensington — heralds were arranging the
order of the funeral, and a warrant was sent " to
prepare the Royal vault for the interment of George
Prince of Denmark ; " the Dean and Chapter after-
wards put in their claim with that of the heralds to
the pall carried at the funeral.^ Addresses of con-
dolence were presented by religious as well as civic
bodies, and among the rest, the Dissenting ministers,
headed by Mr. Matthew Clark, waited on Her Majesty
and were introduced by the Earl of Sunderland. On
this occasion she was not silent as she had been before,
but graciously replied, " I thank you for your address
and the assurances you give me of your zeal for my
person and Government, the union, and the Protestant

* Burnet's "Own Time," II. 515.
t Stanhope's " Queen Anne," II. 96.

i " Report of the Royal Commission on Hist. MSS.," II. 218 ;
IV. 181.


succession." Funeral sermons were preached, in which
the virtues of the deceased Prince were commemorated,
his conjugal fidelity being extolled in terms, from which
" it may be inferred that the age presented many
specimens of an opposite kind." *

Prince George, as a foreign Protestant, may be
regarded as representing a large religious class then
living within our shores, Lutherans, Dutch Reformed,
and French Calvinists, who were all allowed liberty of
worship. Amongst the French refugees, Camisard
fanaticism, which arose in the Cevennes, a violent
reaction against violent injustice, appeared in England ;
and in some of its manifestations took the form of
pretended supernatural utterances. The ministers and
elders of the French Church in the Savoy summoned
before their consistory three of the " prophets ; " and
the civil power also dealt with these infatuated offenders.
Three of them were convicted, under the statute against
blasphemy, and had to stand on a scaffold at Charing
Cross and the Royal Exchange with a paper in their
hats stating the nature of their offence. Calamy fell
in with certain individuals of the party, and relates
strange stories of their character and proceedings ;t but
these visionaries were no fair specimens of French
Protestantism. For the most part, the French exiles
were steady, sedate, and religiously disposed ; pre-
serving the traditions of their fathers, and suffering by
submission to banishment, a terrible penalty, for con-
scientious convictions. A kindly feeling towards the
strangers led to repeated attempts at securing for
them here a permanent home; and in 1709 an Act

* MS. note to Sermon preached at St. Giles in the Fields, by-
Thomas Knaggs, M.A,, Chaplain to Lord Brook,
t " Life," IL 72, 94, et seq.

1703-1709.] CHURCH UNDER QUEEN ANNE. 361

was passed for naturalizing foreign Protestants, upon
their taking oaths of allegiance and receiving the
sacrament in a Protestant Church. The Bill, carried
in the House of Commons by a large majority, was,
when introduced in the Upper House, zealously sup-
ported by the Bishop of Salisbury. The Bishop of
Chester indeed spoke against it, but the measure met
with Httle opposition.* A Bill in 171 1 to repeal this
humane and equitable Act, though carried by a Tory
House of Commons, was wisely rejected by the Lords.

* "Own Time," II. 524.



Henry Sacheverell, grandson of a Presbyterian
minister, and son of a Low Church incumbent, a High
Church zealot of no common order, now comes upon
the stage. He acquired in London a doubtful popu-
larity by advocating passive obedience and non-re-
sistance, and by vilifying Dissenters in the most
extravagant style. Preaching before the Judges at
the Summer Assizes of 1709, in the county of Derby,
and on the significant 5th of November, before the
London Corporation assembled in St. Paul's, he de-
nounced the Revolution as an unlawful act ; and
bitterly inveighed against the toleration of "the
Genevan discipline," as fraught with great peril and
adversity to the Church of England. The Tory Lord
Mayor, delighted with the sermon, requested its pub-
lication, but his motion to that effect met with oppo-
sition from a brother Alderman, However, this and
the Derbyshire discourse soon appeared in print, much
to the joy of the " High Flyers," as they were termed ;
much to the disgust of sober-minded people. The
audacity of the publication made it popular, and 40,000
copies were soon sold.

Both on political and religious grounds, it roused
the indignation of the Whigs, and of the Cabinet which
represented their ascendency. " Shall Sacheverell be

1709-1714.] CHURCH UNDER QUEEN ANNE. 363

Online LibraryJohn StoughtonHistory of religion in England from the opening of the Long Parliament to the end of the eighteenth century (Volume 5) → online text (page 26 of 34)