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which cuts off a man from all intercourse of sympathy with the good and great even of former ages, who range beyond the narrow pale of his own communion, seeming to inflict a moral incapacity to appreciate their lieroic worth! It is surely some drawback on the privilege of belonging to any church, to be required to propitiate its jealousy by such a sacrifice of generous sentiment and Christiau feeling.
It might have been thought, that the old feud between the Hierarchy and the Puritans, would by this time bave worn itself out, for want of persons sufficiently implicated in the original quarrel, to feel much concern in prosecuting it. For what more has the present Establishment to do with the Church of Elizabeth, than with that of Philip and Mary? Or what have the Dissenters of the present day to do with the excesses of the 'Fanaties in the days of Cromwell and Hugb Peters? If religious liberty be an evil, and ecclesiastical tyranny a good, or if there are persons who deem them such, then, the solicitude manifested to bring forward with every malignant aggravation, the alleged excesses of the republicans, and to cast a veil aver the transactions of the preceding and the subsequent reigns, is rational and easily to be accounted for. But otherwise, to undertake, at this time of day, a vindication of the bloody tyranny of the Tudors, and the not less arbitrary and intolerant governinent of the Stuarts, and to become the panegyrist of Strafford and of Laud, would seem to be a task so perfectly gratuitous as well as ungracious, as to be unworthy of any writer of talent or character. Our readers, however, caonot but be aware, that the press teems with reviews, magazines, charges, serions, and other writings, in wbich the warfare against Puritanism, ancient and modern, is kept up with all the zest and spirit which animated the politicians and prelates of persecuting times. The Bible Society bas roused the slumbering spirit of intolerance. The times when the Church had its synods and convocations, is perpetually adverted to as the good old days, the golden age of its prosperity. Charles and Laud are again placed at the head of the
. noble arıny of inartyrs,
wbile good king William is unceremoviously treated as a well-meaning Dutchman of no great wit and not much courage. The time of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, is represented by these writers as the only interruption of good government and rational piety,--the only period at the remembrance of wbich an Englishman needs blush for bis country; and on this it is endeavoured so to fix the attention, as to obliterate, if possible, from recollection, all that made the great rebellion necessary, and the wore auspicious revolution of 1688, glorious.
Were attempts like these chargeable only on a few harmless and feeble bigots of the Non-juror school, or on some jejurie
and needy scribblers writing for pence or for preferment, there would be nothing either ominous or extraordinary in the cireumstance. But when literary men, whose avocation exposes them to no professional bias, and whose situation in life discharges them from the necessity of becoming the mere birelings of parts, are seen laboriously transposing history, wresting it, as the Romanist does Scripture, from its genuine import, in order to make it serve to rivet error and sanction oppression, when such men, apostates, perhaps, from better principles, are found employing their book-wisdom and their eloquence or ingenuity, in giving fresh currency to forgotten calumnies, and in re-editing
the offal of obsolete libellers,—the matter becomes more serious, and it is bigla time that works like the present were multiplied, in which facts derived from approved historical records, may supply the most effective answer to the special pleadings of party advocates.
We deem the present work a seasonable as well as a valuable publication. Though displaying less research, and containing a sipaller proportion of original matter, than Mr. Brook's Lives of the Puritans, it will probably be more acceptable to general readers on account of its being in the form of continuous narrative. The work is confessedly a compilation, a great part of it being given either in the very words of the authorities referred to, or with a slight variation of their language. The historians who are chiefly followed, are, Stillingfleet, Collier, Fuller, Fox, Kennet, Echard, Strype, Burnet, Warner, Welwood, Neal, and Rapin; but other writers are occasionally referred to. Very considerable labour must have been bestowed on the collation of these authorities, and the arrangement of such multifarious meterials; and it is labour turned to excellent account. The mere reprint of the documents and statements brought together in these volumes, is a service rendered to the public.
The first chapter comprises the period from the first propagation of Christianity to the death of Henry VII. Section I. contains some preliminary remarks on the liberal constitution
of the Apostolic Churches,' for which he acknowledges himself mainly indebted to the Author of “ Protestant Nonconformity;" but there is a rather awkward interweaving of his own phraseology with that of the writer from wliom he has borrowed so largely. In one paragraph (p. 7), Milton's pithy remark, that
we read not thai Christ ever exercised force but once, and that was to drive profane ones out of bis temple, not to force them
in,'-occurs without any reference or mark of quotation; and a similar freedom is taken, not with the valuable thoughts' merely, but with the expressions of other writers. In the narration of facts, this adoption of the very language employed by the original writer, is, perhaps, allowable, and a general re
ference may be sufficient to protect the compiler from the charge of plagiarisın. But in didactic writing, there seems to be less necessity for borrowing; and as few of Mr. Brook's readers will suspect the extent of bis obligations to his predecessors, it might have been as well to indicate by the usual marks of
quotation, the passages which are not original. In Section II., on the era of Constantine, Mr. B. has done us the honour of making very free and copious citations from some former articles, but has omitted even to name the Eclectic Review at the bottom of the page. Will he pardou our saying that this is rather an irreligious liberty?
We have so recently bad occasion to take a review of the early listory of the British churches, that we shall not detain our readers with this portion of the work. Some few errors and some vague and hazardous assertions occur, wbich are not much to be wondered at in treating of a period involved in so great obscurity. For instance, that the • Christianity of these ages . was (Christianity) in its purest form;' that the exercise of • public instruction and public worship were duly observed ;' that, under the Dioclesian persecution, an incredible number of innocent Christians were toriented and slain; are points on which no doubts, Mr. B. affirms, can be entertained. He is mistaken : they are very doubtful points. His sketch of these times is, indeed, far from satisfactory. The account of Wicklif, though copious, is somewhat deficient in precision, The character of that greatest of the English Reformers is done ample justice to, but some notice should have been taken of bis predecessors and coadjutors, in a work professedly historical. This period of our ecclesiastical history is of the highest interest, and deserves the most attentive study. In the Lollards may be recognised under another name, the Puritans of a later day, and to them is certainly due the merit of having laid the foundations of our civil and religious liberties.
The false glory which the fickle sunshine of buman patronage and royal favour threw over the noipinal Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII., bas served to eclipse the purer lustre of the preceding efforts of reforiners and martyrs in the reigns of the Plantagenets. The emancipation of the English Church from the supremacy of the Pope by the Defender of the Faith,' is usually dwelt upon as a circumstance of the most transcendent importance, involving in it the greatest political blessings. An attentive consideration of the subject will, however, lead us to view this event in a light somewhat different. Preceding moparebs bad, when it suited their policy, shewn almost as little regard for the authority of his Holiness, as Henry VIII. did, although they had not gone the length of crowning themselves with the pontifical tiara. The legislative measures adopted in
Parliament had considerably crippled the power of the court of Rome in this country; and old Fuller quaintly remarks, that whereas some former laws liad pared the Pope's nails to the
quick, the statute of Premunire, in effect, cut off his fiogers.' The removal of prelates froid the principal civil offices, at the petition of the Parliaurent, in the reign of Edward JII., the withdrawment of the tribute to the Pope, which had been paid ever since the reign of John, and the disregard of the Papal bulls shewn by the same monarch, were bold and decisive steps towards emancipating the nation from the yoke of the man of *sin.' Had Edward III. lived some years longer, or bad bis magnanimous example been followed up by bis royal graadson, and the counsels of John of Gaupt prevailed over priesteraft, it is highly probable that little would have been left for Henry and Cranmer to accomplish in this respect.
It will not for a inoinent be contended, that Henry had any other than the basest and most selfish mutives for abjuring the Pope's supremacy. The only question is, what did the nation gain by this transfer of spiritual prerogative to the crown? It seeins to us, that the Act of Supremacy was, at least in its immediate consequences, fatal alike to liberty and to religion. Tbis enormous extension of the royal prerogative, although it seemed to take nothing froin the privileges of the people, did, in effect, deprive them of the power of offering any further resistance to the encroachments of ecclesiastical tyranny. So long as the Bishop of Rome was the acknowledged Head of the Church, the spirit of liberty might be allowed occasionally to manifest itself against the usurpations of the clergy, while the monarch sometiines found it to his advantage to cherish this spirit, and to call in the aid of bis Parliament to support him against the Pope. Some important concessions to popular freedom had been made with a view to lessen the influence or to restrain the encroachments of the Romish clergy, who formed a powerful aristocracy having interests not always in perfect accordance with those of the Crown. But now that the Church and the State were thus identified, to resist the Pope, was to rebel against the Sovereign. The victim of ecclesiastical oppression bad no longer an appeal from the priest to the temporal power, for he was now burned, or hanged, or mulcted, by virtue of the royal prerogative. The clergy, deprived of tbat foreign influence wbich bad enabled them at times to over-awe the monarch, or, at least, to dispute his prerogatives, sank into creatures and agents of his royal pleasure as the supreme fountain of spiritual power. Ecclesiastical censures fulminated against the crowned bead, now fell barmless, or rather, became the height of impiety, since they
were pointed at the Head of the Church. The independence of - he elergy was, in a word, annibilatert. They were thencefortly
incapacitated for taking a public step, until they should receive power, and authority, and instructions, from their newly constituted and self-constituted Head--an adulterer, a murderer, and wbat by many was deemed still worse, a layman.
of the importance which Henry himself attached to this vast extension of his prerogative, we may judge from the peculiar and extreme jealousy with which he viewed any thing that seemed to trenchi upon his absolute dominion in matters ecclesiastical. It rendered bin absolute, indeed, to a degree which no preceding monarch of England had ever been ; more absolute than any contemporary monarch in Christendom. By virtue of this fatal supremacy over the consciences of her subjects, his daughter Mary restored, the old popish observances, and rekindled the fames of martyrdom ; not scrupling to avail herself of an authority abhorrent from her principles as a Papist, in order to re-establish the religion of Rome. The use which she made of this monstrous prerogative, must not be forgotten, in estimating the blessings which resulted from the Act of Supremacy. The . reader will here pause for a moment,' says Mr. Brook, in commenting on the first acts of Queen Mary, ' to observe the ille* gality as well as the inconsistency of these measures.'
There was nothing which the Queen so much desired as the resto. ration of the ecclesiastical authority and jurisdiction to the highest point to which it had ever arrived: yet, she counteracted this authority and jurisdiction by as flagrant an exertion of her supremacy in the Church, as her father or brother ever exercised, who avowed this supremacy. Thus, contrary to all precedents, and to all ecclesiastical privileges, she, of her own sovereign will and pleasure, empowered a committee of priests, without a single bishop or temporal judge among them, to iry and determine a cause of the highest nature ; to examine the faith of three bishops, to convict them of heresy, to cast them out of the church, and to commit them into the hands of temporal men to be punished. As king Henry and his son Edward reformed by their supremacy some enormities in the church, against the majority of the people, so queen Mary, by the same power, turned things into the old channel : whatever this power enabled them to do, it enabled her to undo. By her royal proclamations and orders in council, she destroyed the reformation; and, having, at length procured the consent of parliament, she restored the whole body and soul of popery.' Vol. I. p. 238.
But when this power fell into the hands of her sister Elizabeth, the absurd consequences of having a female as the lay Head of the Church, were rendered still more glaringly manifest. A female Pope of Rome would have been considered as a monstrous burlesque upon the pontifical character,-a scandal to the Church, and a never failing subject of sarcasm to the Protestant. But what else was the Virgin-queen tban a female Pope of England, a lady Pontiff? And in what other light could foreign