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state, who had begun to throw off their prelatical chains, yet the sentiments would be very far from meeting their approbation; because, though the Puritans were opposed to Episcopacy, they yet had no objection to the principle of an establishment, the spiritual supremacy of the monarch; and much less any to the tithes provided for the support of the priesthood ; nor, I might add, to what was, above all, exposed by MILTON, the right of the established sect to withhold toleration, and to punish, with fines and imprisonments, and even with death, those who would not submit their consciences to the dictation of the magistrate.
At this time a most dreadful civil war raged in the nation, which was began in the year 1640. The historian Hume, speaking of the meeting of parliament at that period, says: “ The parliament, at meeting, (the 13th of April, 1640,) was unusually numerous. Every member looked upon this conjunction as a national crisis. The king in his speech represented the necessity of a supply to maintain his troops, and of means to expel the Scottish rebels, that the nation in general might be free from its fears, and the northern counties disburdened of such troublesome guests, whom they were obliged to maintain. The commons having, at the king's recommendation, filled their chair with William Lenthal, a lawyer of some reputation, established a committee of elections. Then they resolved that, on certain days of every week, there should be a committee of the whole house, to deliberate upon the state of religion, the grievances, the courts of justice,
commerce, and the affairs of Ireland. Fanaticism, with all its levelling principles, had now overspread the land. Even those leaders of the commons who had assumed a puritanical severity in their words and actions, to work the more effectually on the minds of the populace, were gradually infected with that enthusiasm which at first they had only feigned : many became real religionists, while others imbibed a large portion of puritanism, without laying aside their hypocrisy. The members were generally bent upon an alteration in the government. A few moderate men sought only to ascertain the liberties of the nation: others resolved to humble and diminish the royal prerogative; and there was a more violent party, that extended their views to an utter extirpation of the hierarchy and monarchical government; but these at first carefully concealed their designs under the profession of rigid Presbyterians, and were afterwards known by the name of Independents. Religion was become a universal fashion. The most eloquent speakers in the house introduced a kind of holy cant and jargon into their speeches, and all their allusions being scriptural, stamped them with an air of prophecy or inspiration.
9* Vol. vii. p. 169. London edition. 1759.
* The reader, by bearing in his mind that Hume was a Tory in politics, and an infidel in religion, will know how
A distinguished female writer, of sound constitutional principles and of heart-felt piety, Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson, gives the following account of the state of the nation at this period :“ The king had upon his heart the dealings both in England and Scotland with his mother, and harboured a secret desire of revenge upon the godly in both nations, yet had not courage enough to assert his resentment like prince, but employed a wicked cunning he was master of, and called king-craft, to undermine what he durst not openly oppose—the true religion: this was fenced with the liberty of the people, and so linked together, that 'twas impossible to make them slaves, till they were brought to be idolators of royalty and glorious lust, and as impossible to make them adore these gods, while they continued loyall to the government of Jesus Christ. The payment of civill obedience to the king and the laws of the land satisfied not; if any durst dispute his impositions in the worship of God, he was presently reckond among the seditious and disturbers of the public peace, and accordingly persecuted; if any were grieved at the dishonour of the kingdom, or the griping of the poore, or the unjust oppressions
to appreciate this description, so far as it relates to the Puritans: he seems to have totally forgotten that it is not the prerogative of any man to search the hearts of other men.
of the subiect, by a thousand ways, invented to maintain the riotts of the courtier and the swarms of needy Scots the king had brought in to devoure like locusts the plenty of this land, he was a Puritane: if any, out of mere morallity and civill honesty, discountenanced the abominations of those days, he was a Puritane, however he conformed to their superstitious worship: if any showed favour to any godly, honest person, kept them company, relieved them in want, or protected them against violent or uniust oppression, he was a Puritane: if any gentleman in his country maintained the good laws of the land, or stood up
for any public interest, for good order or government, he was a Puritane: in short, all that crost the viewes of the needie courtiers, the proud, encroaching priests, the theevish proiectors, the lewd nobillity and gentrie, whoever was zealous for God's glory or worship, could not endure blasphemous oaths, ribbald conversation, prophane scoffs, sabbath-breach, derision of the word of God, and the like; whoever could endure a sermon, modest habitt, or conversation, or something good, all these were Puritanes; and if Puritanes, then enemies to the king and his government, seditious factions, hypocrites, ambitious disturbers of the public peace, and finally, the pest of the kingdom. Such false logick did the children of darkness use, to argue with against the hated children of