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History of religion in England from the opening of the Long Parliament to the end of the eighteenth century (Volume 1) online

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t Fuller's " History of Cambridge," 205.

: Thorndyke's "Works," Vol. VI., Oxford edition. Note by
Editor, 170. Pure Emmanuel occurs in Corbet's satirical poem,
161 5. It was commonly so styled,

§ Halley's "Life of Goodwin," prefixed to " Works," Vol. II.
of Nichol's edit,, p, 23. But Brownrigg, in 1645, was put out of
the Mastership of Trinity Hall.

II Cart Wright, Travers, Calamy, Seaman, Doolittle, S, Clarke,
and W. Jenkyns, came from Cambridge. Out of seventy-seven
Puritan names in Brook, we find forty-seven belonging to Cam-
bridge, and thirty to Oxford.


Cambridge.* Traces of Puritanism existed in Trinity
College even so late as 1636. In some tutors' chambers
" the private prayers were longer and louder by far,"
than in chapel. j But, before the civil wars, a change
in the opposite direction set in. Peter House under
Cosin, St. John's under Beale, Queen's under Martin,
and Jesus under Sterne, were becoming more and
more centres of Anglo-Catholicism. The influence of
Laud may be distinctly traced through the last two of
these heads of houses, Martin and Sterne having been
chaplains to the Archbishop. Nor was the Archbishop
himself inactive at Cambridge. The reports about
Trinity just noticed were placed in his hands pre-
paratory to his intended visitation in 1636. So far
did some go in the anti-Puritan movement that, accord-
ing to report, at the commencement, in July, 1633, Dr.
Collins eulogized Bellarmine, and Dr. Duncan defended
some of his theses. J Complaints were made by Puritans
of altars, vestments, and Jesuit activity. Organs were
erected, and the worship in Peter House Chapel in-
curred the displeasure of the Long Parliament.§ To
judge of the extent to which anti-Presbyterian views
prevailed at Cambridge in 1644, I may state that, of
residents, it seems about a tenth part of the number
was ejected. II

* The four were Goodwin (Catherine), Burroughs, Bridge
(Emmanuel), and Sydrach Sympson. Nye was an Oxford man.

t Cooper^ quoted in " Notes to Thorndyke," Vol. VI. 177.

X "Calendar of State Papers, Chas. I., 1633-34, Domestic,"
July 22, p. 150. § Thorndyke's " Works," VI. 169.

II Cooper gives 2,091 University residents in 1641, but says it
does not include the whole. (Thorndyke, VI. 165.) Walker
reports nearly 200 masters and fellows as ejected, besides inferior
scholars. Some of the ejected heads of houses were men of
moderate opinions. (Neal, III. 116.)

Newcome, in his " Autobiography," Cheetham Society, speaks
of the bitter feuds between the new and the old fellows in 1645.


The history of Oxford is not altogether like that of
Cambridge. The source of three religious impulses of
very different kinds, connected respectively with great
theological names of very different character — Wesley,
Pusey, and Jowett— the Midland University, central
and many-sided in its religious spirit, as it is in its
geographical position, did much to promote the Re-
formation, and did something to foster Puritanism. It
produced Reynolds, the Presbyterian, and Owen, the
Independent. A Puritan wave stirred the waters of
the University in 1640. But influence of that kind at
Oxford was feeble, compared w^ith its sweep at Cam-
bridge ; and the Laudian impetus to Anglo-Catholicism
most strongly marked the elder University. Laud was
Chancellor of Oxford, and here, of course, his restless
brain and untiring hands would specially prosecute the
•favourite business of his life. Accordingly, instances of
his minute, constant, and zealous interference abound
throughout his memoirs and papers. He had a very
large share in producing that opposition to Puritanism
and the Parliament, which characterized Oxford at the
commencement of the civil wars. Phases of conflict,
similar to those in the case of Cambridge, may be
recognized with greater distinctness in the case of
Oxford. We have seen already, from our account of
the military occupation of the latter University by the
King, that it assumed an attitude of determined defiance
towards the Parliament. What would be figurative in
reference to Cambridge is perfectly literal in reference
to Oxford. Colleges became barracks, and gownsmen
soldiers. The University therefore could not be re-
garded as otherwise than in a state of rebellion against
the Parliament, now actually the supreme power.
Consequently, when the city was taken, the University


was treated as a conquered enemy. To demand sub-
scription and fealty was the least thing which the
conquerors could do. To remove from office those who
were disaffected was but a measure of common pru-
dence. Besides, such a state of demoralization had
come over the whole institution, and war had so
driven away learning and discipline that reformation
was imperative. Arthur Wilson, an Oxford student, in
163 1, thus describes the moral state of the University: —
" That which was most burdensome to me in this my
retirement was the debauchery of the University. For
the most eminent scholars of the town, especially of
St. John's College, being of my acquaintance, did work
upon me by such endearments as took the name of
civilities (yet day and night could witness our madness),
and I must confess, the whole time of my life besides
did never so much transport me with drinking as that
short time I lived at Oxford, and that with some of
the gravest bachelors of divinity there." * To remedy
these evils, Commissioners in 1646 went down to
Oxford. Citations were issued requiring officers,
fellows, and scholars, to appear at the Convocation
House, between the hours of nine and eleven o'clock
in the forenoon. The Presbyterian visitors had worship,
and a sermon, which detained them till nearly eleven.
A story is related, that the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Fell,
had the clock put forward, so that it struck the hour
before the Commissioners arrived. At all events, as
the latter were coming in, they were met by the
University authorities going out, the beadle in attend-
ance, exclaiming, " Make way here for Mr. Vice-Chan-
cellor." The visitors did so, when Mr. Vice-Chancellor
moving his hat, passed by them, saying, " How do ye,

* Peck's " Desiderata Curiosa," II. 470.


gentlemen, 'tis past eleven o'clock." After this indignity
a new Commission was appointed, but the visitors on
the second occasion fared no better than their prede-
cessors. Their orders were not only disobeyed, but
also "despised and contemned." The heads of Colleges
asked, by " what authority they were summoned ; " and
resolutely refused to give up books and papers, the
keys of the Convocation House, and the beadles' staves.
The Proctors protested against the citation they had
received as illegal, and claimed to be exclusively under
the authority of the King and his visitors. Patiently
persisting in the assertion of its own power. Parliament
allowed the malcontents to be heard by counsel ; after
which, their answer was pronounced an insult to the
authority of the two Houses. Fell was then declared
to have forfeited, by his contumacy, the deanery of
Christ Church ; but the declaration, when posted on
the walls of that establishment was torn down and
trampled under foot. Mrs. Fell also gave much trouble,
and being imbued with an obstinacy like her husband's,
had to be forcibly carried out in her chair, by the hands
of the soldiers, into the quadrangle. Possession could
not be taken of Magdalen, All Souls, and other Colleges,
without breaking open the doors.*

There, as in Cambridge, notwithstanding the viru-
lence of the opposition, some of the Parliamentarian
party were willing to wink at evasions of the Covenant.
Isaak Walton tells a story of some one who, " observing
Dr. Morley's behaviour and reason, and inquiring of
him, and hearing a good report of his morals, was
therefore willing to afford him a peculiar favour." He
proposed that Morley should ride out of Oxford as the
visitors rode in, and not return until they left again,

* Walker, Part I. 127 ; Neal, III. zh6-453.


undertaking to secure for him his canonry without
molestation. The kind offer, though gratefully ac-
knowledged, was respectfully declined.* Morley wrote
in a dignified manner to Whitelocke, acknowledging
friendly interposition on his behalf : " Pray God he,
whosoever he be that succeeds me in it, may part with
it at his death as cheerfully as I do now, and that my
judges may not have cause to be more sorry for their
sentence than I am. It is glory enough for me that
Mr. Selden and Mr. Whitelocke were of another opinion,
for being absolved by you two and mine own conscience,
I shall still think myself in a capacity of a better con-
dition." t An instance of practical gratitude may also
be mentioned in connection with the Oxford ejectment.
Dr. Laurence, Master of Baliol, and Margaret professor,
had during the wars shown marked kindness to Colonel
Valentine Walton, an ofificer in the Parliament army,
who had been taken prisoner after Edge Hill fight, and
confined at Oxford — the prisoner being indebted to the
professor for his release. The obligation thus con-
tracted, Walton repaid when Laurence suffered eject-
ment. He settled on his friend a little chapelry called
Colne, in the parish of Somersham in Huntingdonshire,
augmenting its value by adding to it the tithes of
Colne. This benefice Laurence had become qualified
to enjoy, by receiving a certificate of the Oxford Com-
missioners, to the effect that he had engaged to observe
the Directory in all ecclesiastical administrations — to
preach practical divinity to the people — and to forbear
teaching any opinions which the reformed church con-
demned. J

* Walton's " Lives," 388.

t Whitelocke's " Memorials," 250.

X Wood's " Ath.," II. 215.

Walton, so called (though he wrote his name Wauton), married


After the University in general had been subdued, a
few scholars continued incorrigible. They abused the
new authorities, and scattered about the streets
scurrilous tracts, entitled " Pegasus taught to dance to
the tune of Lachryme "— " The Owl at Athens"—
"The Oxford tragi-comedy," and many more.* At
last, a Serjeant, attended by a file of musqueteers, pub-
lished before all the College gates by beat of drum a
proclamation, that if any person, expelled by the visitors,
should persist in remaining within the precincts of the
University, they should be taken into custody. And a
few days afterwards another proclamation appeared, to
the effect that if any of the proscribed individuals
tarried within five miles of the city, he should be
deemed a spy, and be punished with death. This was
enough. Oxford was soon cleared of its obnoxious
inmates. Probably the University had been encouraged
in its resistance by the knowledge of the differences
existing between the Parliament and the army. These
differences had become so serious, and had been
brought so near, that some of the soldiers in the Oxford
garrison, sympathizing with the army at head -quarters,
refused to obey the order of Parliament. Like King
Charles, the University hoped to escape under cover
of the strife between the two parties who had become
their conquerors. In that hope, however, the University,
like the King, proved to be mistaken.

Looking at the quarrel between the Parliament and
the University, we must admit that the Parliament had
on its side a right such as invariably follows victory,

Cromwell's sister Margaret, and was one of the Commissioners
of the High Court of Justice. (Noble's " Protectorate House,"
II. 224.)

* Neal, HI. 456.


and such as always waits on established government
But another aspect of this affair remains to be con-
sidered, corresponding with the second phase of the
Cambridge proceedings. What was ecclesiastical
became mixed up with what was political. Not
content with requiring obedience to the civil authority,
the victors aimed at extinguishing all spiritual power
in Oxford save their own. If, in justification or excuse
it be pleaded that this came as a necessity, arising out
of the civil establishment of religion, then the same
plea of justification or excuse is valid in relation to the
conduct of the now ejected, but afterwards restored
Prelatists, when they turned out Presbyterians and
Independents in 1662, The cases, so far as ecclesias-
tical imposition is concerned, appear to be alike. Those
who think the proceedings of 1662 were unrighteous,
and that national universities ought not to be subjected
to ecclesiastical tests, must, if consistent, also think that
the proceedings of 1644 3-^"^^ 1647 "^vere unrighteous in
the very same respects. To remove men of scandalous
life was proper, and nobody could complain of the
punishment of those who violated university statutes,
or wasted university property. Persons also who had
taken up arms against the Parliament might be justly
considered liable to some kind of penalty. But the
articles of inquiry, instead of being confined to such
points, were extended so as to embrace the neglect of
the Covenant, and all opposition made to the Directory,
or to any doctrine, "ignorance whereof doth exclude
from the sacrament of the Lord's supper." *

This kind of ecclesiastical inquisition served, as it
often did, to put Parliament in an utterly false position.
Armed in this manner, the ruling power stood up, not

* Scobell (1647;, 116.



as the shield-bearer of order, but as the sword-bearer
of persecution. The University availed itself of the
circumstance, and instead of attempting to justify its
resistance of the new government, which would have
been a difficult task, it immediately betook itself to the
doing of what was easy, and employed its ablest pens
in drawing up an elaborate paper in Latin and English
against the imposition of the new spiritual tests. In
this way, men who only paid the penalty of insubordi-
nation were enabled to appear as if carrying in their
hands the martyr's palm. The Oxford champions did
not plead for religious liberty. They did not found
their case on any broad principle of toleration. They
did not assert the right of conscience or expose the
evils of persecution. Sentiments in favour of arbitrary
government occurred even in this very manifesto, and
a good deal of the reasoning they employed was one-
sided, full of special pleading, and altogether unsatisfac-
tory. Yet some of their objections were forcible, as
when they urged that the adoption of the Covenant
would be incompatible with their subscription to the
Prayer Book, and when they complained of Prelacy
being ranked with Popery and profaneness. They
slyly intimated that they thought reform a necessity in
Scotland, as well as in England, and truly said that the
policy of the Parliament made the religion of England
look like a Parliamentary religion. The following
remark which they offered on the fourth article of the

Covenant, was not more galling than it was just :

" That the imposing the Covenant in this article may
lay a necessity upon the son to accuse the father, in
case he be a malignant, which is contrary to relio-ion,
nature, and humanity ; or it may open a way for
children that are sick of their fathers, to effect their


unlawful intentions, by accusing them of malignity ;
besides, the subjecting ourselves to an arbitrary punish-
ment, at the sole pleasure of such uncertain judges as
may be deputed for that effect, is betraying the liberty
of the subject."*

* Neal, III. 438.



Oliver Cromwell, in a letter from Bristol, after its
surrender in 1645, makes this remark — " Presbyterians
and Independents all have here the same spirit of faith
and prayer. They agree here, and have no names of
difference. Pity it is it should be otherwise anywhere."
A pamphlet, entitled "The Reconciler," published in
1646, affords another example of the spirit which was
thus manifested by the illustrious general, and abounds
in sensible remarks and salutary reproof applicable to
both parties. In other places, also, besides Bristol,
persons bearing these different religious names lived in
unity and co-operated in the promotion of the spiritual
welfare of their fellow-citizens, and in other publications
besides the " Reconciler," sentiments of candour and
charity were expressed. But, for the most part, the
contention between Presbyterians and Independents
was absurdly fierce, and numerous tracts appeared on
both sides filled with unchristian and disgraceful invec-

The city of Norwich supplies a remarkable instance
of this kind of strife. Puritanism had strongly esta-
blished itself there before the civil wars, and had borne
earnest witness against the innovations of the Anglo-
Catholics. When Episcopacy had been dethroned,
numbers of the clergy and citizens showed themselves


zealous in supporting the new order of things, backed,
as they were, by an order of ParHament bearing the
name of the Speaker.* They endeavoured to estabUsh
in all the churches which crowded the narrow streets
of that hive of manufacturing industry on the banks of
the Wensum, the Parliamentary model of worship, and
to fashion the religion of all the inhabitants after the
newly authorized type. But Independency had also
grown up, and was beginning to flourish within the
walls ; the Church planted in 1642 presented signs of
vigorous vitality, and probably other persons, not
in religious communion with it, favoured its interests
from political motives. The Episcopal party remained
strong, and succeeded in resisting, to some extent, the
reforming policy of their energetic Puritan neighbours.
This appears from a petition presented by the Presby-
terians to the mayor, in April, 1648, for a more com-
plete reformation, complaining that faithful ministers
were slighted, that ejected ministers of the Church of
England were preferred, that old ceremonies and the
service book were constantly used, and that the Direc-
tory was not generally adopted. The petitioners also
prayed for a thorough execution of the ordinances
against superstition and idolatry.! But the Puritans of
the city, instead of uniting their strength to maintain a
common cause against their opponents, engaged with
each other in a vehement paper war, which threw the
whole place into a state of feverish excitement. There
are extant two curious publications, the one entitled
** Vox Populil' an organ of the Independents, and the
other, bearing the name of *' Vox Norwicil' issued by
the Presbyterians. In the Independent " Vox Populil'

* Blomefield's " History of Norwich," I. 391.
t Ibid. I. 393.


the authors maintained that every man ought to be left
to the liberty of his own conscience ; that the Solemn
League and Covenant was the same engine of tyranny
in the hands of the presbyter that the mass-book had
been in the hands of the priest, or the Book of Common
Prayer in the hands of the prelate ; that immoral
ministers were allowed to remain in their incumbencies
without any attempt to remove them ; that nothing was
heard in parish pulpits but the subject of church dis-
cipline and ecclesiastical uniformity ; that the Presby-
terian clergy domineered over the Corporation ; and
that they were actuated mainly by self-interest, inas-
much as they had been at one time as ready to submit
to surplices, tippets, liturgies, and canons, as they were
now zealous in casting such things away. The object
and animus of this publication cannot be mistaken ; and
the character of the ''Vox NorwiW is equally intel-
ligible. It leaves what the Independents had said in
reference to the Covenant to be censured by authority,
and to be confuted by the pens and tongues of learned
men. But it vindicates the character of the Presby-
terian ministers, and declares that if in their preaching
they ever meddled with the topic of discipline and
uniformity, it was " but a touch and away ; " it asserts
that when they attended the court of the City Cor-
poration, it was as petitioners, " with their hats in their
hands," and that they w^ere, notwithstanding the impu-
tations cast upon them, disinterested men, as proved
by their conduct, and the amount of their preferments :
and it affirms that the covenants of congregational
churches, which had incurred the disapproval of Pres-
byterians, were vague and useless, and allowed people
to draw their necks out of Christ's yoke. The tract
further maintains that it was owing to the influence of
VOL. I. 2 K


the Presbyterian clergy that the magistrates of the
city had doubled the poor-rates, so that the condition
of the lower class had become considerably improved ;
but at the same time it admits that in congregational
churches the poor were better off, owing to their small
number — poor members not being so easily admitted
to such a communion as were sisters in "silk-gowns."
Then, as a last sting for their adversaries, the Presby-
terians add this curious observation : " Besides, you
can get so many good women to you, that their
husbands cannot bear the charge of our poor, because
their wives prove so chargeable to them."

It has been pointed out already how the military
success of Cromwell, and the unpopularity of the
Scotch, together with changes in the House of Com-
mons, helped the political Independents to curb
Presbyterian churchmanship. But in those outside
circumstances, if I may so express it, which materially
affected the interests lying within the proper sphere
of religion, a considerable change occurred during the
latter part of the year 1646. A lull of peace in the
midst of the civil wars, through the complete defeat
of the King's army, and the capture of his strongholds,
had deprived Cromwell and his soldiers of any further
opportunity to increase their laurels. The Scotch,
having the King in their camp, and being engaged in
negotiations with Parliament for the payment of
arrears, occupied an improved position, and further
changes in the Lower House, altered again somewhat
the relative strength of the two great parties. The
policy of the Presbyterians on political questions, was
moderation. They were averse to republicanism, and
wished to retain the old constitution of King, Lords,
and Commons. Some of the new members with strong


revolutionary sympathies, who had entered the House
in 1645, came by a natural influence to be more
moderate when called themselves to bear the respon-
sibilities of legislation, and when brought into close
contact with persons against whom they were previously
prejudiced. These now felt disposed somewhat to side
with the Presbyterians.* Moreover, new members had
been returned by constituencies loyal to the King, and
they thought they should best aid the royal cause b}^
voting with the Presbyterians. Consequently, the
Independent party lost ground a little in the arena of
their recent victories,t and the alteration speedily
manifested itself in the turn given to ecclesiastical
proceedings. The Presbyterians availed themselves of
their partially recovered supremacy to attack once
more the hateful sects, and, by the iron foot of penal
law, to crush out the life of error and evil. On the
26th of May, 1646, the Corporation of London, whose
courage revived after the debates upon "the keys,"
presented a remonstrance to the Lords and Commons,
in which they expressed their devotion to the Covenant,
gave Parliament credit for not desiring to let loose
"the golden reins of discipline and government," and
complained of private and separate congregations daily
erected in divers parts of the City, and commonly
frequented, and of Anabaptism, Brownism, and all
manner of schisms, heresies, and blasphemies vented
by such as professed themselves to be Independents.
So that the Corporation goes on to say : " We cannot

* See Godwin's "Commonwealth," II. 211-220, "Memoirs of
Edmund Ludlow," I. 172.

t Baillie's " Letters and Journals," II. 512, Appendix. Gillespie
says, March 30th, 1647 : — " In sum, the Independent party is for
the present sunk under water in the Parliament, and run down."


Online LibraryJohn StoughtonHistory of religion in England from the opening of the Long Parliament to the end of the eighteenth century (Volume 1) → online text (page 37 of 40)