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RISE OF THE PURITANS.
oppress them. When all other remedies had failed, the first step they took was to persuade the king to that fatal expedient, the Book of Sports; a step as fatal to his reputation, as to the Protestant religion, and the morals of the nation. Never was the true English spirit so discovered as in this; for, as if a temper hating all manner of force was rooted in their nature, when the people who were bad enough already, were commanded to be worse, they started at the hellish proposal, and reformed even of what they were before. The first ecclesiastical violence founded on this wicked basis, was the bishops enjoining the clergy to read it in their pulpits.
"I confess it has been often matter of wonder to me, that the clergy had no more cunning at that time, for let them be what else they will, we have seldom found them fools; and, generally speaking, when any work was to be done which would bring danger or difficulty with it, the clergy used to shift it off from themselves. But here lies the very mystery, and it will convince the world, that the Dissenters did not scrupulously quit their communion with the church for trifles and indifferent things, but were furiously and violently driven out of it, by imposing that upon them which no serious Christian could or ought to comply with to save his life. I cannot have so little charity but to believe, that the present clergy of the Church of England, if a proclamation for profaning the Lord's-day should be offered them to be read in their churches, by which they would be made accessories to the monstrous crime, there are hundreds of them so conscientious, so zealous for reformation, and sincerely pious, they would suffer any thing rather than comply with it.
Upon the enforcement of this crime, abundance of the best ministers of the Church of England were deprived of their livings, turned out of their pulpits, and left to seek their bread; and thus they became Dissenters. Others who had quitted the ceremonies in quest of a greater purity of
RISE OF THE PURITANS.
worship, and were therefore called Puritans, joining with them, they all embraced the same name, and so every one that could not sacrifice his conscience to the profaneness and abominable debauchery of the times, were cast out of the church I might enter into the history of that strange monster of religious politics, the Book of Sports, an original of which I have by me, and perhaps I could rip up the faults of some people who are long since gone to answer for it in another place; but I choose rather to bury than renew old mistakes, to reconcile, rather than widen our breaches; and therefore I throw a veil over the disasters of those times.
"Soon after these things, the unnatural and terrible wars began, and the parliament party prevailing, the episcopal government, together with the habits and ceremonies, and pomp of worship, went down at once; and the victorious people triumphing over their prince, with him dethroned episcopacy, and set up Presbyterian discipline. To pass over the history of these times: Upon the restoration, episcopacy returned, and the Regale ushered in the Pontificate; the bishops and all the et cetera of the Church of England were restored; and then the other party became Dissenters again. King Charles II. appointed a conference at the Savoy, to see, say some, if the Presbyterians could be brought to conform; others say it was only putting a fair gloss on the matter, to have the better pretence for suppressing them. Here they again showed their unwillingness to separate from the general body, and some of them went so far, that advantage was taken of it, to insinuate that they were episcopally inclined. But all would not do; conformity was not the design, and resolving to abate nothing, above 3000 ministers were silenced and deposed in the kingdom of England in one day. And here began the dissent for the ministers seeing themselves silenced at once, and so unjustly dealt with, and the people soliciting them, they resolved that
REASONS ASSIGNED FOR THEIR PRACTICE.
it was their duty not to abandon their flocks at the command of men; and whereas they were straightly charged with the apostle, to preach no more in that name, they answered with the same apostle, whether it be right in the sight of God, to obey God rather than man, judge ye? Upon this, they gathered churches, set up separate congregations, and being ministers rightly ordained, they made no scruple to administer all ordinances of worship."
From the foregoing narrative, our author deduces the three following arguments, which may serve as a justification of his own practice. "First, I infer that the Dissenters do not of mere choice differ from the church for the sake of dissenting, as some have maliciously insinuated, nor for trifles or indifferent things, as others allege; but of plain necessity, from true principles of conscience, a sense of duty, and scruples which they cannot get over. Secondly, That upon the Church of England refusing to abate what they cannot comply with, they nevertheless do not reject her as heretical or antichristian, but own her as a true church, subscribe willingly to all her doctrinal articles, and treat her members as brethren, being willing to preserve for her both their charity and respect. Thirdly, That would the Church of England enter upon a farther reformation, and abate in her discipline, government, and worship what these think is not warranted by the word of God, they would most gladly join with her again, and become one united body of Christians, in love, charity, doctrine, worship, and government. As to wishing all people of one mind, it can be extended no farther than to pray, and endeavour by instruction and persuasion, to enlighten the minds of those we think to be in
Review for April, 1707; vol. iv. p. 105–130.
De Foe's Education at Newington Green.—Account of the Academies of the Non-conformists.-Defects of those Institutions.-Some Particulars respecting Mr. Morton's Seminary.-De Foe's Vindication of his Tutor against the Aspersions of Wesley-Account of Mr. Charles Morton.Dunton's Character of him.-De Foe's Attainments at the Academy.— His character at that period. He is intended for the Ministry.—But diverted from that Profession.-Unfavourable Character of the times.— His Defence of a Gospel Ministry.-And Statement of the Qualifications necessary for it.-Defends himself from the Charge of being Illiterate against Browne and Tutchin.-Scurrility of Writers at that time.
ALTHOUGH the enemies of De Foe endeavoured to sink his reputation, by representing him as having been bred a 'tradesman, yet there is now sufficient evidence that he was intended for one of the learned professions-a circumstance overlooked by his former biographers. When he had, therefore, sufficiently qualified under inferior tutors, he was placed at about fourteen years of age, in an Academy at Newington Green, under the direction of "that polite and profound scholar," the Rev. Charles Morton, where he had great advantages for learning, and a very agreeable society.
Of the mode of education pursued in this seminary, no regular account has been preserved; but some judgment may be formed of it by a comparison with similar institutions, and by incidental notices in the works of De Foe and other writers.
The Academies of the Non-conformists being designed
Tong's Life of Shewer, p. 9.
ACADEMIES OF THE NON-CONFORMISTS.
as substitutes for the English universities, from which the law had excluded them, and being superintended by tutors who were educated in those establishments, comprehended all the principal branches of a learned education; such as the languages, logic, rhetoric, the mathematics, and philosophy. But as these institutions were intended principally for young men who had devoted themselves to the ministry in the churches of the Non-conformists, particular attention was paid to the study of divinity, upon their proficiency in which, their future respectability and usefulness mainly depended. They were not, however, confined to persons of that profession, but produced many who rose to eminence in civil life. Of the persons who conducted them, one of their own writers speaks thus: "In the English seats of learning, contrary to the practise of most of the other universities in Europe, the chief part of the business is performed, not by the professors of the different departments of science, but by private tutors. Of these, many ranked among the Non-conformists; and as tutors were needed for training up a rising race of pastors for the new-formed churches, they were as well qualified for the task as ever, and they could communicate their instructions in other places, as well as at Oxford and Cambridge."*
Although the tutors in these seminaries were in general men of learning and abilities, yet, it is not to be pretended that the advantages they afforded were at all equal to those of the public universities. Amongst their defects, may be mentioned the want of public libraries, and of suitable authority for the preservation of discipline. Upon these and other inconveniences, De Foe has some sensible remarks in a work not commonly known, in which he expresses himself with great freedom, but invokes a candid judgment for the Dissenters upon account of their political oppression. ""Tis evident," says he, "the great imperfection of our
Bogue and Bennett's Hist. of Dissenters, ii. 14.