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ordinary branches of executive government. But the independents, who held that the appointment of the clergy should be left to the discretion of those who thought proper to employ them, were led, in consistency with this doctrine, to maintain that every civil officer, whether supreme or subordinate, should likewise be elected by the community. The presbyterians, therefore, were the friends of limited monarchy. The independents preferred a democratical constitution. · The connexion, however, between these religious and civil plans of government, though sufficiently obvious, was not acknowledged, nor perhaps discovered all at once; but was gradually developed and brought to light, during the course of the long contest between the king and the commons. For some time after the establishment of the reformation, the Roman Catholics continued to be the object of hatred and resentment to all denominations of protestants; but their disposition to support the prerogative
the two first princes of the house of Stuart, who secretly favoured their interest, as much as they hated the presbyterians and independents. Upon pretence of lenity to tender
did not escape
consciences, these two princes assumed the power of dispensing with the penal statutes against non-conformists'; but the real
purpose of those dispensations was apparent to all, and the nation felt equal alarm and indignation from considering those exertions of the prerogative as no less direct and palpable violations of the constitution, than they were decided marks of predilection for a party, the apprehension of whose return into power still continued to fill the nation with terror.
Of the two succeeding monarchs, Charles the second, it is now known, was a concealed, as his brother, James the second, was an avowed and bigoted Roman Catholic. The constant favour shewn by the four princes of the house of Stuart to the people of this persuasion, could not fail to procure for them returns of gratitude and affection, and to render them zealous defenders of the prerogative; as, on the other hand, the dislike which those princes invariably manifested to the presbyterians and independents, contributed to strengthen the political bias acquired by those dissenters, and to confirm the original principles by which they were attached to the popular cause.
But although the different religious parties in England were thus disposed to embrace those opposite political systems, their natural dispositions, in this respect, were sometimes warped and counteracted by peculiar circumstances. For some time after the accession of the house of Stuart, the terror of the restoration of popery, which had been inspired into every description of protestants, produced an extreme jealousy of the king, on acconnt of his marked and uniform partiality to the Roman Catholics; and united the church of England with the dissenters in opposing the designs of the crown. This was visible through the whole reign of James the first, and a con. siderable part of the reign of Charles the first, during which the nation, exclusive of the Roman Catholics, and a few interested courtiers, acted with wonderful unanimity in restraining the encroachments of the prerogative.
To form a proper notion of the effects arising from this union, we must consider the state of religious differences in those times. How inconsistent soever it may seem with the genuine principles of religious reformation, the primitive reformers, of every denomination,
were no less destitute than the Roman Catholics, of that liberality of sentiment which teaches men to indulge their neighbours in the same freedom of opinion which they claim to themselves. They were, all of them, so highly impregnated with a spirit of bigotry and fanaticism as to regard any remarkable deviation from their own tenets in the light of a damnable error, whichought, by every possible means, to be corrected or suppressed ; and for the attainment of this object, they were easily excited to brave every danger, and to submit to any inconvenience or hardship. Their interference, therefore, was always formidable to the civil power, and became frequently the chief cause of revolutions in government. At a subsequent period, the harshness and asperity attending the first exuberant growth of religiouş differences, have been gradually mellowed and softened in their progress to maturity; and the prejudices contracted in the dawn of philosophy, have been dissipated by the fuller light of science and literature, and by that cool and dispassionate inquiry which is the natural fruit of leisure, tranquillity and affluence. It may, perhaps, beconsidered as the strongest proof of
those intellectual improvements which mankind have attained in the present age, that we have held the most astonishing political changes, to which religion has in no respect contributed, and which have been regarded by the ministers of the altar in no other light but that of pecuniary interest.
In the latter part of the reign of Charles the first, the disputes between the king and the commons began to assume a different aspect. The apprehensions which were so long entertained of the Romish religion, had then, in a good measure, subsided; and the public attention was engrossed by the arbitrary measures of the crown, which produced a very general opinion, that certain precautions were necessary for guarding against the future encroachments of the prerogative. Here the church of England appeared to follow her natural propensity, and her clergy almost universally deserted the popular standard. The presbyterians and the independents, on the other hand, stood forward as the supporters of the national privileges; and while they became powerful auxiliaries to the cause of liberty, they derived a great acces