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to lawful governors, even when they become tyrants, or in case of persecution for religion, or infringement on the laws of the country, or, in short, in any case whatever; and after the various authorities for these and other tenets have been given and denounced as false, seditious, beretical, and impious, the decree concludes with the following injunctions :
Lastly, we command and strictly enjoin all and singular readers, tutors, catechists, and others, to whom the care and trust of institution of youth is committed, that they diligently instruct and ground their scholars in that most necessary doctrine, which in a manner is the badge and character of the church of England, of submitting to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well : Teaching, that this submission and obedience is to be clear, absolute, and without exception of any state or order of men.”
The Wolf hus been too busy in your bed.-P. 202. During the latter years of the reign of Charles the Second, the dissensions of the state began to creep into the church. By far the greater part of the clergy, influenced by the ancient union of church and king, were steady in their adherence to the court in. terest. But a party began to appear, who were distinguished from their brethren by the name of Moderate Divines, which they assumed to themselves, and by that of Latitudinarians, which the high churchmen conferred upon them. The chief amongst these were'illotson, Stillingfleet, and Burnet. They distinguished themselves by a less violent ardour for the ceremonies, and even the government, of the church; for all those particulars, in short, by which she is distinguished from other Protestant congregations. Stillingfleet carried these condescensions so far, as to admit in his tract, called Irenicum, that, although the original church was settled in a constitution of bishops, priests, and deacons, yet as the apostles made no positive law upon this subject, it remained free to every Christian congregation to alter or to retain that form of church government. In conformity with this opinion, he, in conjunction with Tillotson and others, laid a plan for an accommodation with the Presbyterians, in 1668 ; and, in order to this comprehension, he was willing to have made such sacrifices in the point of ordination, &c. that the House of Commons took the alarm, and passed a vote, prohibiting even the introduction of a bill for such a purpose.
As, on the one hand, the tenets of the moderate clergy approximated those of the Calvinists; so, on the other, their antipathy and opposition to the church of Rome was more deeply rooted, in proportion to the slighter value which they attached to the particulars in which that of England resembled her. It flowed naturally from this indulgence to the Dissenters, and detestation of the Romanists, that several of the moderate clergy participated deeply in the terrors excited by the Roman Catholic plot, and looked with a favourable eye on the bill which proposed to exclude the Duke of York from the throne as a professor of that obnoxious religion. Being thus, as it were, an opposition party, it cannot be supposed that the low church divines united cordially with their high-flying brethren in renouncing the right of resisting oppression, or in professing passive obedience to the royal will. They were of opinion, that there was a mutual compact between the king and subject, and that acts of tyranny, on the part of the former, absolved the latter from his allegiance. This was particularly inculcated by the reverend Samuel Johnson (See Vol. IX. p. 369.) in “ Julian the Apostate," and other writings which were condemned by the Oxford decree. As the dangers attending the church, from the measures of King James, became more obvious, and the alternative of resistance or destruction"became an approaching crisis, the low church party acquired numbers and strength from those who thought it better at once to hold and assert the lawfulness of opposition to tyranny, than to make professions of obedience beyond the power of human endurance to make good.
This party was of course deeply hated by the Catholics, and hence the severity with which they are treated by Dryden, who objects to them as the illegitimate offspring of the Panther by the Wolf, and traces to their Presby ierian origin their indifference to the fasts and ascetic observances of the more rigid high-churchmen, and their covert disposition to resist regal domination. Their adherence to the English communion he ascribes only to the lucre of gain, and endeavours, if possible, to draw an odious distinction between them and the rest of the church. Stillingfleet, whom this motive could not escape, had already comprained of Dryden's designing any particular class of the clergy by a party name. “From the common people, we come to church-men, to see how he uses them. And he hath soon found out a faction among them, whom hecharges with juggling designs: but romantic heroes must be alJowed to make armies of a field of thistles, and to encounter wind. mills for giants. He would sain be the instrument to divide our clergy, and to fill them with suspicions of one another. And to this end he talks of men of latitudinarian stamp : for it goes a great way towards the making divisions, to be able to fasten a name of distinction among brethren; this being to create jealousies of cach other. But there is nothing should make them more careful to avoid such names of distinction, than to observe how ready their common enemies are to make use of them, to create animosities by them ; which hath made this worthy gentleman to start this different character of churchmen among us; as though there were any who were not true to the principles of the church of England, as by law established: If he knows them, he is better acquainted with them than the answerer is; for he professes to know none such. But who then are these men of the latitudiną. rian stamp ? To speak in his own language, they are a sort of ergoteerers, who are for a concedo rather than a nego.
And now, I hope, they are all well explained; or, in other words of his, they are, saith he, for drawing the nonconformists to their party, i. e. they are for having no nonconformists. And is this their crime? But they would take the headship of the church out of the king's hands : How is that possible? They would (by his own description) be glad to see differences lessened, and all that agree in the same doctrine to be one entire body. But this is that which their enemies fear, and this politician hath too much discovered ; for then such a party would be wanting, which might be played upon the church of England, or be brought to join with others against it. But how this should touch the king's supremacy, I cannot imagine. As for his desiring loyal subjects to consider this matter, I hope they will, and the more for his desiring it; and assure themselves, that they have no cause to apprehend any juggling designs of their brethren ; who, I hope, will always show themselves to be loyal subjects, and dutiful sons of the church of England.”-Vindication of the Answer to some late Papers, p. 104.
That many churches may for many mouths provide. P. 203. The Huguenot clergy, who took refuge in England after the re.cal of the edict of Nantes, did not all adhere to the same Protestant communion. There had been long in London what was called the Walloon church, exclusively dedicated to this sort of worship.
Many conformed to the church of England ; and, having submitted to new ordination, some of them obtained benefices : others joined in communion with the Presbyterians, and dissenters of various kinds. Dryden insinuates, that had the church of England presented vacancies sufficient for the provision of these foreign divines, she would probably have had the honour of attracting them all within her pale. The reformed clergy of France were far from being at any time an united body. “ It might have been expected,” says Burnet, “ that those unhappy contests between Lutherans, Calvinists, Arminians, and Anti-Arminians, with some minuter disputes that have enflamed Geneva and Switzerland, should have been at least suspended while they had a common enemy to deal with, against whom their whole force united was scarce able to stand. But these things were carried on rather with more eagerness and sharpness than ever." History of his Own Times, Book IV.
Have followed you for miracles of bread. P. 203. The three steeples argent obviously alludes to the pluralities enjoyed, perhaps by Stillingfeet, and certainly by some of the divines of the established church, who were not on that account less eager in opposing the intrusion of the Roman clergy, and stigmatising those who, at this crisis, thought proper to conform to the royal faith. These converts were neither numerous por respectable; and, whatever the Hind is pleased to allege in the text, posterity cannot but suspect the disinterestedness of their motives. Obadiah Walker, and a very few of the university of Oxford, embraced the Catholic faith, conforming at the same time to the forms of the church of England, as if they wished to fulfil the old saying, of having two strings to one bow.--The Earls of Perth and Melfort, with one or two other Scottish nobles, took the same step. Of the first, who inust otherwise have failed in a contest which he had with the Duke of Queensberry, it was wittily said by Halifax, that “ his faith had made him whole.” And, in general, as my countrymen are not usually credited by their brethren of England for an extreme disregard to their own interest, the Scottish converts were supposed to be peculiarly attracted to Rome by the miracle of the loaves and fishes. * But it may be said for these unfortunate peers, that if they were dazzled by the momentary sunshine which gleamed on the Catholic church, they scorned to desert her in the tempest which speedily succeeded. Whereas, we shall do a kindness to Lord Sunderland, if we suppose that he became a convert to Popery, merely from views of immediate interest, and not with the premeditated intention of blinding and betraying the monarch, who trusted him. Dryden must be supposed, however, chiefly interested in the vindication of his own motives for a change of religion.
* Blue bonnet lords, a numerous store,
Whose best example is, they're poor;
'Tis easier far to flourish than to fight. P. 203. Dryden here puts into the mouth of the Panther some of the severe language which Stillingfleet had held towards him in the ardour of controversy. He had, in direct allusion to our author, (for he quotes his poetry,) expressed himself thus harshly:
“ If I thought there were no such thing in the world as true religion, and that the priests of all religions are alike, * I might have been as nimble a convert, and as early a defender of the royal papers, as any one of these champions. For why sh
ald not one who believes no religion, declare for any? But since I do verily believe, that not only there is such a thing as true religion, but that it is only to be found in the books of ihe Holy Scripture, I have reason to inquire after the best means of understanding such books, and thereby, if it may be, to put an end to the controversies of Christendom.”+
“ But our grim logician proceeds from immediate and original to concomitant causes, which he saith were revenge, ambition, and covetousness. But the skill of logicians used to lie in proving; but this is not our author's talent, for not a word is produced to
Merely drawn in by hope of gains,
The New Converts.
Absalom and Achitophel, Part I.