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have adopted, had not Pope Paul, an old man, received the messenger whom she sent to announce to him her accession, in a manner which at once offended her woman's pride and wounded her queenly dignity. To adopt the Romanists after this, would be to commit power into the hands of those who would probably turn it against herself. On the other hand, she shrank from committing herself with the extreme Protestant party, the ascendancy of which would lead at once to a rebellion. She therefore threw herself into the arms of the High Church faction, in the belief that by balancing one extreme against another, she should be able to neutralise the hostility of both, and to govern quietly.
It is due to the memory of this illustrious princess to observe, that she was guided to this conclusion by the advice of the leaders of the Reformation on the Continent. These truly great men had looked on with sorrow, while the Reformed Church of England engaged, under her brother, in an internecine strife about questions of dress, ceremony, and ritual. They had witnessed the continuance of this conflict, even after persecutions had driven the representatives of the rival factions into exile; and now taking into account the critical condition both of Church and of State, they counselled the Queen to follow the dictates rather of a wise expediency, than of a narrow prejudice. The sum of their argument was this. The great object to be aimed at is, the establishment, with as little delay as possible, of Protestant government in England. Undoubtedly it were better-would circumstances admit of it, to discard the remnants of Popish customs and habits, and to assimilate the English Church, in all respects, to the Reformed Continental Churches. But habits, and even customs, up to a certain point, are in themselves indifferent; and the continuance or discontinuance of things indifferent, in a religious point of view, but politically important, must be left to the determination not of the clergy, but of the sovereign.
Elizabeth no sooner felt herself secure on the throne than she avowed her determination to restore to the Church the constitution which belonged to it in the reign of her brother. In one respect, indeed, she diverged from his policy and from that of her father. In restoring the deprived bishops to their sees, and appointing others, she refused to treat them as mere officers of State. She declared that they held their commissions from a power far superior to that of any earthly monarch, and expressed great disinclination to be addressed as Head of the Church. But in regard to other points her mind was made up: she would have the old vestments, the old usages, the old forms of prayer, and the V0L, CI. NO, CCY,
old Church discipline. In an instant the extreme Protestant party took the alarm. Its preachers had been fulsome in their professions of loyalty, while yet the policy of the new sovereign appeared to be doubtful. They now spoke of her, and even to her, in terms of the coarsest invective. She is in the habit, writes Bishop Cox to Gaulter, of listening with the greatest patience to bitter and sufficiently cutting discourses. • The Queen is irritated, the minds of the nobility are alienated, the diseased and weak are debilitated. If this go on, then verily we shall have a papistical or a Lutherano-papistical ministry
, or none at all; for an ungovernable zeal for discord is abroad. **
The reader must not suppose that complaints of this sort emanated from the heads of the High Church party alone. Grindal, Horn, Jewel, Pilkington—all men of the mildest spirit — were of one mind. In the Zurich letters their opinion stand recorded, and they agree to a tittle. “It is not owing * to us that vestments of this kind (the rotchet and the surplice) have not altogether been done away with. They are the robes of the Amorites, that cannot be denied. But the sum of our controversy is this. We hold that the members of • the Church of England may adopt, without impiety, the dis• tinction of habits now prescribed by public authority; espe
cially when it is proposed to them as a matter of indifference, 6 and while the use of the habits is enjoined only for the sake
of order, and due obedience to the laws.' Their own feel ings, their own wishes, were on the side of Continental sin plicity: but what then? They knew the temper of the times, and did not care to risk all, by aiming at too much. We are • brought into such straits, that since we cannot do what we would, shall we not do, in the Lord, what we can ?'
Here, then, we stand at the opening of a strife which was to continue, upon grounds perpetually shifting, throughout years unnumbered; which was to undermine the very foundations of the fabric for the purity of which the combatants professed to fight, and to revive again as soon as from the ruins into which she had fallen, the Church, in her integrity, should re-appear. As yet, it will be seen, that the points in dispute related to matters of the smallest visible importance. The Reformed Churches of Germany, Switzerland, and Scotland had exchanged the surplice
* There would really seem to have been no limits to the freedoms which grave preachers took at this crisis with the Queen's patience. The famous appeal of Dennis is well known : ‘Your Majesty began
your reign with the meekness of a lamb, you are now an untamed • heifer. Olim tanquam ovis, nunc autem, indomita juvenca.'
and band for a plain black cloak. They neither crossed the child
That this was Elizabeth's view of the case cannot for a
Of the Acts passed in 1559, relating to Church affairs, two only demand special notice on the present occasion. One, which restored to the Crown its supremacy over the State Ecclesiastical, contained a clause whereby her Majesty and her successors were empowered to create into a High Court of Commission, such persons (being natural born subjects) as by Letters Patent, the Sovereign for the time being might be pleased to appoint. The Commissioners so chosen were to hold office only during pleasure, and were authorised to visit, reprove, redress, order,
correct, and amend, all such errors, heresies, schisms, charges, offences, contempts, and enormities whatsoever, as by any manner of spiritual or ecclesiastical power, authority, or juris• diction, can or may lawfully be reproved, ordered, redressed,
corrected, visited, or amended. Nor were the Commissioners more restricted in their conduct of particular cases than their powers were limited in seeking for particular cases to conduct. Any person accused of any act or word which could by possibility be wrested into one or other of the offences specified in the deed, was liable to be arraigned, either with or without a jury, as the Court might determine; and failing other evidence, could be put upon his personal oath of purgation, to extort which recourse might be had to imprisonment or the rack. A readier instrument of unmitigated tyranny it is scarcely possible to conceive, and the result proved that it had not been called into existence without a purpose.
The second Act to which we refer, is well known as the Act of Uniformity; and it has received, in our opinion, scant justice at Mr. Marsden's hands. He describes it as the root and origin of all the evils which subsequently befell the Church of England. The Act of Uniformity,' he says, ' which passed in
• * the first year of Queen Elizabeth, may be considered as the period of time at which the battle was at length joined, and each of the two parties—the Puritans and Protestants - assumed its definite position. The Act embraced two vital questions : the revisal of the Prayer-book, and the compliance hereafter to o be rendered to the forms and ceremonies. With regard to the • book of Common Prayer, it remained in substance the second
of two prayer-books issued by King Edward-namely, that of • 1552. The few alterations made in it did not relieve the • Puritans, nor indeed were they meant to do so. With regard o to the vestments they felt themselves injured afresh; for they were compelled by a rubric in the revised book to retain all such ornaments of the Church in their ministry as were in use in • the second year of King Edward, the year in which his first im* perfect prayer-book was put forth, abounding as it did with the • traces of superstition; whereas the second prayer-book of 1552 • insisted only on the use of the surplice. This was much to be
deplored; not because the difference was important between a • surplice and a cope, but because it showed an unyielding temper.'
Unquestionably the return — though it were for a year or two only—and that more in theory than in practice— to the cope and the tippet was an error; but Mr. Marsden forgets to add, that in 1662 the error was remedied; and he totally overlooks the fact, that in requiring from its ministers a uniform system in
the celebration of public worship, the Church of England did no more than has been done by all National Churches, since the foundations of Christianity were laid. Indeed, we must go further. Though the Act of Supremacy struck a fatal blow at the Pope's spiritual jurisdiction, it was the Act of Uniformity, and that alone, which set aside the Mass, and rendered a continuance of Popish customs and ceremonies within the Church of England impossible. And it was the combination of the two which forced the whole of the Bishops, with one exceptionKitchen, Bishop of Llandaff, to resign their seats in the House of Lords, and abdicate their bishopricks. Had Mr. Marsden confined his censure to that clause in the Act of Supremacy which established in England a tribunal so monstrous as the High Court of Commission, all impartial men would have gone along with him. But he confounds right and wrong, or, to use a vulgar phrase, he puts the saddle on the wrong horse, when he charges the Act of Uniformity, per se, with severities wbich could never have been perpetrated but for the arbitrary proceedings and unlimited authority of the High Court of Commission.
The abdication of the Romish Bishops, partly for conscience sake, partly through compulsion, was not followed by an immediate re-constitution of the hierarchy. Of the Prelates ejected in Mary's reign, three only survived; and two of these, Coverdale and Hoskins, had, by joining the extreme Protestant party in Frankfort, rendered themselves in some measure obnoxious to the Court. But a visitation of the several dioceses of the Kingdom took place by commissioners acting in the Queen's name, and the churches were well purged of the Popish relics. It does not appear, however, that very many of the inferior clergy thought it necessary to follow the example which the Bishops had set them. Out of above eight thousand parish priests, not more than three hundred preferred their creed to their livings.
Between 1559 and 1562 the wrongs suffered by the Puritans were more imaginary than real. The terrors of the Act, whatever these might be, hung indeed over them, but no one stepped forward to inflict them; and in spite of frequent recommendations to the contrary, a large body of the clergy continued to celebrate public worship in such garbs, and with such forms, as appeared to themselves individually most suitable. At length the vacant sees were filled ; and in 1662 convocation met, with the settled purpose, on both sides, of bringing their differences to an issue. Bishop Sandys in the Upper House, and Dean Nowel in the Lower, led, what may be termed, the opposition. They desired to get rid of organs, and other