« PreviousContinue »
CHARLES I. AND COMMONWEALTH.
THE commotions of this reign, both civil and ecclesiastical, gave birth to the larger and more valuable portion of its prose literature. Polemics still continued, though they received in part a new direction. According to Wood, it was a common practice with the students of Oxford, at this period, to seize all opportunities of wrangling, in order to prepare themselves, by habitual disputation, for those more serious controversies, in which they expected to be afterwards engaged. The absurd attempt of Laud to establish an uniformity of religious worship in the three kingdoms, gave great
umbrage to the Scots and Puritans, and engendered much polemical bitterness. It were endless even to enumerate the productions which teemed from the press, on most of the topics of controversial theology; nor would it be very edifying to dwell on the cant of the pulpit, and the declamations of party.
But the most important theologic dispute was the old one between the Catholics and Protestants; and which probably originated in the favour shewn in this and the preceding reign to the Jesuitical priests. Many of these were allowed to reside in Oxford or its vicinity; and they seized, with their characteristic zeal and activity, all opportunities of making converts among the students, many of whom they contrived to decoy to the Jesuiti cal colleges abroad. In this manner, the famous Chillingworth, subsequently the redoubted champion of the Protestants, was enticed to the college at Douay, by the Jesuit Fisher, alias Perse.
Moral, political, and metaphysical philosophy, obtained a precision and clearness unknown before. The minds of men, penetrated and disturbed by the dreadful evils which vexed their country, were naturally urged, in