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VOL. X. PART II.
ART. I.-The Letany of John Bastwick, Doctor of Physic, being now full of Devotion, as well in respect of the common Calamities of Plague and Pestilence, as also of his own particular Miserie, lying at this instant in Limbo Patrum, set down in a two Letters to Mr. Aquila Wykes, Keeper of the Gatehouse, his good Angell, in which there is an universall challenge to the whole World to prove the parity of Ministers to be jure divino; also a Demonstration that the Bishops are neither Christ's nor the Apostles' successors, but enemies of Christ and his Kingdom, and of the King's most excellent Majesty's prerogative royall, &c.: printed by the special procurement and for the especiall use of our English Prelates, in the year of Remembrance, Anno 1637.
"SHEPHERDS of people," says Lord Bacon, "had need know the calendars of tempests in state, which are commonly greatest when things grow to equality; as natural tempests are greatest about the equinoctial; and as there are certain hollow blasts of wind and secret swellings of seas before a tempest, so are there in states. Libels and licentious discourses against the state, when they are frequent and open; and, in like sort, false news often running up and down to the disadvantage of the state, and hastily embraced, are among the signs of troubles." The sagacity of these remarks is fully evinced by the history of the early part of the reign of King Charles the First. At that period, the secret presses which the discontented had established in the metropolis, teemed with publications which the law officers of the crown, and the judges in the ecclesiastical
VOL. X. PART II.
courts, could not but deem seditious. The agitation which these publications produced, gradually prepared the mass of the people for resistance to oppressive authority; and the cruelty with which their authors, when discovered, were punished, disgusted the feelings of the public, and mainly enabled the advocates of freedom to raise that banner, before which, after a long and bloody struggle, the royal standard was destined to be lowered to the dust.
The great leaders of the opposition in Charles's parliaments, were influenced in their proceedings by an anxious zeal for the defining of civil rights and the securing of civil liberty; and in their measures they were warmly supported by the people at large. But it may admit of a question, whether they would have experienced the encouragement which they actually met with, had not the minds of a considerable proportion of the nation been exasperated by religious restraints, enforced by the mistaken zeal of bigoted ecclesiastics? The strength of the cause of the opposition lay in the deep resentment and the fiery impatience of the Puritans. No soldiers fight so desperately as those who carry the sword in one hand, and the bible in the other.
The principles of the Puritans were imported into England from the Continent. During the persecutions which took place in the reign of Queen Mary, multitudes of English Protestants took refuge in such of the continental states as professed or tolerated the Protestant religion. Many of these, finding a shelter in the Swiss Cantons, imbibed a love for the ecclesiastical discipline of Calvin, of which they could not divest themselves when the accession of Elizabeth enabled them to return to their native country. Hence originated the schisms which took place in the English Church, and which for so long a period filled the minds of pious people with so much anxiety and distress. The differences between the two parties first took place on the comparatively trifling subjects of dress and ceremonies. To the Puritan, the surplice was an abomination. The true Churchman averred that the wearing of it was a matter of indifference. If, then, said the Puritans, it is a matter of indifference, why do you impose upon our preachers, the donning of this vestment of the vile Lady of Babylon? To this their antagonists rejoined, by a reference to canons and ecclesiastical orders; and by a demand of implicit obedience to those who were endued with spiritual power. This naturally opened a question as to the foundation and extent of ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and the contest was embittered whilst the one party haughtily maintained the jure divino right of bishops to spiritual domination, and the other vindicated their assertion of the parity of presbyters, and the expediency of lay elders in
the government of a Christian church. As might naturally have been expected, the Puritans, by attacking episcopacy, became embroiled with the state, and were occasionally treated by Elizabeth with considerable harshness. They were, however, connived at, and even protected by some of her ablest ministers; and during her reign they increased in numbers and importance.
As the Presbyterian discipline had been established in Scotland, by the active zeal of Knox and his brother reformers, and as King James had, in the general assembly at Edinburgh, in the year 1590,"praised God that he was born in the time of light of the gospel, and in such a place as to be king of such a kirk, the sincerest kirk in the world"-on his accession to the throne of England, the Puritans entertained sanguine hopes that their religious principles would be adopted by the state. But the futile conferences at Hampton Court, speedily awakened them from their dream of synods and church censures, and convinced them of what, if zeal had not bereft them of common sense, they must have antecedently suspected, that the monarch decidedly preferred a church splendidly endowed, which humbly hailed him as its head, to a kirk struggling with poverty, and marked with austerity; and which claimed a right to sit in judgment on his delinquencies no less than on those of the meanest of his subjects. At the termination of the second day's conference, his majesty declared that "he would make the Puritans conform, or he would harry them out of the land, or else worse." These words of ill omen were a prelude to severities, which, whilst they served to sour the temper of the sectarians, were insufficient for their extirpation. On the contrary, during the reign of James, they still continued to be numerous, and many preachers who were tinctured with their principles contrived to retain their situations in the church, in the capacity of lecturers.
The molestation of these preachers was a direful source of misfortune to Charles the First, and this molestation was principally the work of Archbishop Laud. The wrong which was done to this ecclesiastic at his trial, and the injustice which brought him to the block, have in some degree hallowed his memory for it is to the credit of human nature, that the general sympathy is on the side of him who is unfairly smitten by the hand of power. But candour must allow that he was a man of a narrow mind, and of arbitrary principles, and that his zeal appears to have been tinctured with malignity. He laid it down as an indisputable postulate, that the Church of England was infallibly correct both in doctrine and in discipline. Hence he inferred, that to dissent from her in the least iota was scandalous and sinful; and thought himself equally
justifiable in law and in equity, in compelling all Protestants in the King's dominions (he was sparing of the Catholics) to come within her pale. Endless were the pains which he took in the enforcement of the wearing of surplices and capes, in regulating the position of communion tables, and in compelling communicants to kneel at the holy eucharist. His love of splendour in divine offices gave colour to the false accusation brought against him by his enemies, of being a secret partizan of Popery. Many were the popular preachers whom he silenced, because they were followed by those who were puritanically inclined. In his zeal for uniformity, he would not suffer the Dutch and French churches, which had been allowed to carry on their worship in this kingdom, to adore their God in peace; but insisted upon it that the children of their members, born since their parents settled in England, should, under severe penalties, conform to the established mode of worship. His universal grasp reached the factories of our trading companies on the Continent, and the chaplains of our regiments in foreign parts; and he meditated the discomfiture of the pious exiles who had fled to indulge themselves in extempore prayer and the power of excommunication, in the vicinity of Cape Cod. Though the church of Ireland was an independent church, he intruded upon the province of the venerable Usher, and corrected its articles to a conformity with those of the church of England. Emboldened by success, he at length attempted to force a liturgy upon the whole people of Scotland. But the failure of this enterprise brought disgrace upon his counsels, and upon those of his royal master, and led the way to that series of calamities, which for a time abolished his favourite church, destroyed the constitution, and brought the unfortunate Charles and himself to the block.
Lest we should seem to bear too hard upon the memory of Laud, we think it expedient to observe, that his error was the error of the times in which he lived. At that period, uniformity was the darling object of every religionist; and no class of people then existed who had the least idea of toleration. It was reserved for future times to discover that religious liberty is the best security for the peace of a nation, and that, when sectarians are protected by law in the profession of their faith and the exercise of their worship, the public tranquillity is in no danger of violation. Toleration is the safety-valve which gives quiet issue to that zeal which, like steam, if too strongly compressed, would spread mischief and ruin all around.
At the period of the Scottish Reformation, the rapacity of the nobles had made such depredations on ecclesiastical property, that the kirk was reduced to a state of poverty, which, however primitive, was not entirely satisfactory to Knox and
his brother reformers; whose descendants, both in Scotland and in England, could not but regard with an evil, perhaps with a jealous eye, the splendid revenues which, in spite of similar invasions of the laity, were still left to the English church. Wishing to regulate all ecclesiastical affairs by the standard of their own discipline and circumstances, they professed to regard a superfluity of worldly goods as the bane of a churchman; and they were of opinion, that the political power conceded by the English constitution to the episcopal order was incompatible with the piety, the humility, and the active exertions in the cause of the gospel, which were requisite in those who were set apart for the exercise of spiritual functions. Hence, bishops were the objects of their abomination; and from the time of Martin Mar-prelate, to the period when those stumbling blocks to the faithful were expelled from the House of Lords, the mitre and the lawn sleeves were the perpetual objects of their virulent abuse. Amongst those who signalised themselves by their assaults on these remnants of Popery, as they styled them, was Dr. Bastwick, the author of the tracts, which this article may rescue from oblivion, in which, like thousands of other fugitive pieces, they have been long involved. We have thought it expedient thus to bring them into notice, as affording a specimen of the style in which theological controversy was conducted in the times of our ancestors; and as throwing some additional light on a striking incident in the history of Charles the First.
John Bastwick was born in the county of Essex. This is intimated in the following quaint passage, which we extract from the dedication of his "Letany," to the virtuous and elect lady, the Lady Walgrave.-" Calves, you know, in old times were good sacrifices, and well accepted of; and I doubt not but they may yet be well pleasing. Now I am an Essex calf, and the prelates have made me one, and pent me up in a coop a fatting. If they shall in fine, and after all this, sacrifice me upon the altar of the pillory, I will so bleat out their episcopal knaveries, as that the odour and sweet smelling savour of their oblation, I hope, shall make such a propitiation for the good of this land and kingdom, as the king himself and all loyal subjects shall be the better for it."
Bastwick must have been born to the inheritance of a decent property, as he was educated in Emanuel College, Cambridge, whence he repaired to the University of Padua, for the purpose of studying medicine. Having taken his degree in that celebrated school of physic, he returned to his native country, and established himself as a M. D. at Colchester. Here he appears to have met with a good deal of encouragement, and might have lived usefully and happily, had he not