« PreviousContinue »
and openly declar'd for their toleration and
them; because if these pretend confcience, yet walking diforderly, and not according but contrary to the Gofpel, and even to natural light, they are judged of all, and their fins being open, makes them fubjects (x) Whitof the magiftrate's fword, who ought not to bear it in lock, p. • vain (x).In a fpeech to the parliament, Ap. 3, 614. 1657, fpeaking concerning the provifion made for liberty of confcience in the Humble Petition and Advice, he made ufe of the following words: As to the liberty of 'men profeffing godlinefs under the variety of forms amongst us, you have done that, which was never 'done before; and I pray God it may not fall upon the 'people of God as a fault in them, or any fort of them,
if they do not put fuch a value on what was done, as never was put on any thing fince Chrift's time, for (y) Thurfuch a catholick intereft of the people of God (y).'-loe, vol. i Thefe extracts fully evince Cromwell's judgment concerning liberty of confcience, and make appear how zealous he indeed was to restrain men from injuring each other on the account of it: in a word, they fhew the man, the christian, the politician. I muft add,
3. That Oliver's practice was conformable to his principles. Though he declar'd himself an independant, (I fuppofe as that fect avowedly appear'd for civil and religious liberty in its greatest latitude) yet he confin'd not his refpect or his favours to them. He had great latitude of judgment, and conceiv'd that as 'twas very poffible for wife and good men to differ in their opinions about many points of religion, yet being equally wife and honeft, they ought equally to be regarded. We find Manton praying at his inauguration, Baxter preaching at his court, and Calamy confulted by him on a point of importance. Thefe were all Prefbyterians, little affected to him, but inclin'd to the royal intereft. The epifcopalians, many of them, were treated with equal favour and regard, though the party, as fuch, gave him a good deal of trouble. He fent for Dr. Brownrig, bishop of
encouragement. Indeed he constantly was a friend to religious liberty, and an oppofer
Exeter, and treated him with great outward refpect; he faved Dr. Barnard's life at the taking Droghedah, and made him his almoner; he invited archbishop Usher to him, and us'd' him with much civility, converfing with him about the advancement of the proteftant religion at home and abroad, and promifing him to make him a leafe of fome parts of the lands belonging to the archbishoprick of Armagh for 21 years, and at his death, order'd him to be interr'd with great pomp in Weftmin(z) Pair's fler Abby, where Dr. Barnard to a crowded audience Life of Uth- preach'd his funeral fermon (z). Dr. Parr, from whom I have the above particulars, imputes Cromwell's ordering this fo honourable an interment of Ufher's corps, not only to a defire of advancing his own honor, but likewife to a defign of punishing User's relations, by putting them to a great expence: but as he owns the Protector contributed two hundred pounds towards it, it is no way likely he had any fuch view. He probably thought, that fufficient for a very honourable burialthose who exceeded it were to blame themfelves, if they were hurt thereby.-But 'tis very hard to please those who are difpos'd to find fault.- -Cromwell's behaviour was alfo equally humane to fuch as profefs'd opinions uncountenanc'd by the many in Britain. To John Biddle who was a Unitarian, and the father of the English Unitarians, in his banishment into Scilly, he allowed a penfion of an hundred crowns a year; he admitted Jeremiah White and Peter Sterry into the number of his chaplains, though few fpeculated more freely on the ends and defigns of providence, or more out of the then road; and John Goodwin, though hated by the fashion(a) Life of Mr. Thom, able ecclefiaftics, continued conftantly in his favour (a).
Firmin, p. 10. 8vo. Lond. 1698.
Nor were even the Romanifts that behav'd well, deftitute of it. Sir Kenelm Digby, a man of quality, a philofopher and a catholic, in a letter to Mr. Secretary Thurle, dated Paris, March 18, 1656, has the follow
er, p. 73, & feqq. folio. Lond. 1686.
poser of spiritual tyranny. No wonder therefore that, in the first part of life, he fell (1) in
My obligations to his Highnefs are fo great, that it would be a crime in me to behave myfelf fo negligently as to give caufe for any shadow of the leaft fufpicion, or to do any thing that might re
quire an excuse or apology. I make it my bufiness C every where, to have all the world take notice how < highly I efteem myfelf obliged to his Highness, and how paffionate I am for his fervice, and for his honor ⚫ and intereft, even to the expofing of my life for them. I should think my heart were not an honeft one, if the blood about it were not warmed with any the leaft imputation upon my respects and my duty to his (b) ThurHighness, to whom I owe fo much (b).' Mr. Prynne loe, vol. iv. informs us, that Sir Kenelme was lodged by Cromwell P. 592. at Whitehall; that he fufpended penal laws against (c) True and perfect Romish priests; and protected feveral of them under narrative of ⚫ his hand and feal (c).' 'Tis certain he wrote to the what was of Virginia in favour of Lord Baltimore, pro- en by, and done, spokgovernor prietor of Maryland, who was of the Catholic perfwa- between fion (d). Mr.Prynne, &c. the 7th
loe, vol. i.
I will add but one thing more. 'Tis well known of May, Cromwell (though a believer in the prophecies of the Old 1659. 4to. Teftament, equally, to fay the leaft, with our modern without controvertists) was willing to harbour the Jews in Eng-place or land; that he appointed an affembly of men of feveral printer. profeffions to confider of the expediency of it; and that (d) Thur'twas not owing to him or his council that it prov'd lost P. 724. labour.All these confiderations will, if I mistake not, abundantly make appear the truth of the text, that bigottry made no part of Cromwell's character. It may be faid this was all policy - If it was it was not the policy of bigots, who break through every tie, human and divine, in order to promote their implanted nonfense and fuperftition.
(L) He fell in with the puritans, greatly opprefed.] The controverfy between the prelatifts and the puritans
in with the puritans, greatly oppreffed on
will appear in the eyes of moft, in this age, as very trifling and infignificant, and very unworthy of the attention which was formerly paid it. They were a ftiff kind of men, many of them, of both fides; of weak capacities or uninform'd understandings; who impos'd unreasonably, and refifted obftinately. But on the behalf of the puritans, it must be obferv'd that they always pretended confcience for their nonconformity, and, probably, as they were very great fufferers, they were fincere. This recommended them, as well as their regular behaviour, to the favour of the friends of civil liberty, and the lovers of virtue. These gentlemen, probably, faw many of their weakneffes, but they approv'd their honefty and integrity, us'd their intereft to bring them out of trouble, and generously help'd them in their difficulties. Another thing there was, which added not a little to their worth in the eyes of many of the most confiderable perfons of those times, namely, an adherence to the doctrinal articles of the church of England, in the fenfe of the compilers, and a strong aversion to popery. The gentry then read and wrote books of religious controverfy, and very many of them became converts to their party.- But however, this is certain, the puritans were fufferers; fufferers for confcientiously refusing to practise things which, in the opinion of their adverfaries, were of no worth or value; fufferers from men who pretended to be rulers and governors in a Proteftant church, whofe doctrines they dif own'd in many points; and fufferers from men whose pride, ambition, avarice, and cruelty had render'd them odious to the people in general, as well as to wife and confiderate men. Thefe perfons here meant were courtprelates, in the times of James and Charles I.
Such as for their bellies fake Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold.
account of their nonconformity, and appear'd
This is not meerly a poetical exaggeration. Soon after these lines were written, a polite writer, who declares himself no puritan,, fpeaks of thefe bifhops in the following terms. The more our prelates enjoy, the
more ftill they seek; and all our three kingdoms are 'grown fo fick of their pride, injuftice, and pragma
tical faction, that scarce any remedy but blood-let'ting can cure them. We find in Scripture the most
high and holy offices of religion performed by princes, even amongst and above the greatest of priests; but we scarce find any inftance at all where priests intermedled with any ftate affairs, either above or under princes: and yet with us now the employing and entrufting of clergymen in temporal bufinefs, is held as politick as it was in the times of popery: although no <time could ever justly boast of that ufe. But to pass
over temporal bufineffes, how violently have our bi'fhops been in their own canons about ceremonies, and indifferencies? and what disturbance hath that vio⚫lence produced? They ftrive as for the beauty and
glory of religion, to bring in the fame forms of liturgy, the fame pofture of the communion-table, the fame gefture at the communion, &c. in all our three
Of other care they little reck'ning make,