Chapter II --The Era of The Restored Stuarts
If patient waiting and cheerfulness under disaster and disappointment ought to weigh in favor of royal claim, then Charles II. deserved to gain the English throne. Nature had given him a peculiar elasticity of temperament, and the school of adversity had served to cultivate rather than to eradicate his native bent. In all the qualities which make an agreeable courtier he was unexcelled. It was no effort for him to unbend, and to lose the sovereign in the companion. If his memory was not very tenacious of benefits, he had no passion for revenge, and by his easy address and good nature was capable of winning over opponents. If his own enjoyment was a chief consideration, he did not wholly ignore the enjoyment of his associates. Witness the mingled humor and urbanity which, amid the solemnities of the closing scene, inspired him to beg pardon of his friends for being such a long time in dying. Though he was no adept in learning, he ranked fairly among the princes of his time as respects culture, aimed to patronize literature, and was interested in new developments in science and art. But here commendation must cease. Charles II. was a poor example of royalty and manhood. His epicurean regard for his own comfort took precedence of all higher aims, and, under the existing conditions, was only less cruel than despotic energy. He cared little for his own honor or the honor of the nation. He condescended to bring himself and his kingdom into a virtual vassalage to Louis XIV., and offered to turn Roman Catholic, that the revenues and patronage of the powerful monarch might enable him to govern his own realm as he desired.
1 Explicit overtures to change his religions profession were a part of the secret treaty which Charles negotiated with Louis XIV. in 1670.In his disregard of family-sanctity, he rivalled the shamelessness of the French autocrat. He lavished favors upon several mistresses, and founded new houses among the nobles with his bastard sons. His court was made the head-quarters of license and frivolity. In fine, Charles was pre-eminently fitted to inaugurate a reaction against Puritan morals and manners.
That reaction came with swift movement and remorseless vigor. Human nature had been severely taxed by Puritan straightness, and as one extreme generally prepares for its opposite, extravagant austerity was followed by extravagant license. "Like a checked and choked up stream, public opinion dashed, with all its natural force and all its acquired momentum, into the bed from which it had been debarred. The outburst carried away the dams. The violent return to the senses drowned morality. Virtue had the semblance of Puritanism. Duty and fanaticism became mingled in common disrepute. In this great reaction, devotion and honesty, swept away together, left to mankind but the wreck and the mire." 2 Taine, History of English Literature, book iii. chap. i. Ridicule of the manners and speech of the Roundheads became the current employment of wit. Over against their sanctimonious phraseology a new vocabulary was set up, a vocabulary stocked to overflowing with ribaldry and profanity. Literature was abased to the service of Cavalier spite and laxity. Some of the most popular writers of the day cannot be characterized as anything else than high priests of indecency. Rochester's poems, even in their titles, are unfit to be reproduced, and the comedies of Wicherly might properly have been dedicated to Venus or Astarte. Yet these comedies were received with lively applause. Thus the theatre avenged itself for its enforced silence, under Puritan rule, by an excess of wantonness and license, corrupting its more frivolous patrons by its profligate representations, and in turn corrupted by the vicious and amorous appetite which it had excited. The maximum of this evil infection was at the court and capital. It spread doubtless to other quarters; yet, as indicated above, it is not to be assumed that the great body of the people threw off moral restraint.
No less marked than the reaction against Puritan manners was the reaction against Puritan politics. A royalist fervor such as had never been known was kindled. The policy and disposition of Charles rather than the temper of hie flatterers prevented a bloody onslaught upon those who had dared to oppose and resist their King. As it was, the royalist zeal found some opportunities for practical expression, such as the digging up and shameful exposure of the bodies of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw, and the execution of Henry Vane. In its theories, the spirit of king-worship, as it found no obstructions, observed no limits. The doctrine of non-resistance was carried to the farthest extreme possible. It was taught that nothing could justify rebellion against a legitimate sovereign. The Established Church enthusiastically appropriated this tenet, and sought to drill it into the minds of her communicants. The majority, perhaps, did not deny the propriety of a meek protest against questionable measures, a refusal of positive obedience to arbitrary and oppressive rule. But the protest, as they taught, must never pass over into active resistance. Moreover, there was a considerable class which took a more radical position. Embracing the patriarchal theory of government, as it was contained in the writings of Sir Robert Filmer, they left no place for proper restrictions of the regal prerogative. In fine, Thomes Hobbes, whose "Leviathan" was published some years before the accession of Charles II., had reason to think that the English world was approaching his view, and would erelong erect the sovereign into an earthly god.
1 Hallam remarks: "We can frame no adequate conception of the jeopardy in which our liberties stood under the Stuarts, especially in this particular period, without attending to this spirit of servility which had been so sedulously excited." (Constitutional History of England, chap. xii.)
Such a zeal could not be expected to go without high rewards. As the Church had proved her loyal affection to the King, and was disposed to exalt his prerogatives, she anticipated that the King would exalt her power and influence. It seemed to her that the time for recompense had come, and that now double should be paid her for all her sufferings. At least the leaders in the Establishment were determined to avail themselves of the reactionary movement to sweep away Puritan innovations, and to restore to Anglicanism, with its prelacy and Prayer Book, an unqualified supremacy. Under the existing conditions, the Presbyterians could not hope to sustain their favorite polity. However earnestly they may have believed, with the majority of the Westminster Assembly, that Divine right was on its side, they saw clearly enough that human right, or ability to hold the field, was lacking. They accordingly expressed a willingness to compromise. It was intimated by their representatives that they would accept the rule of bishops, provided their authority should be definitely limited by that of the presbyteries. They agreed also to use the Book of Common Prayer, on condition that some obnoxious points should be amended. To canvass a plan of agreement, a conference was held in 1661. But this negotiation lacked all promise of a successful result. To say nothing about the blunt disputatiousness of Baxter, who acted as spokesman for the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians allowed no real chance for an agreement, as they had no disposition to make concessions. Men like Bishop Sheldon, who was a chief manager on the prelatical side, wished rather that the Establishment should be thoroughly purged of Puritan leaven, than that any scheme of comprehension should be adopted.
The failure of the attempt to compromise meant proscription for the Presbyterians. As for other classes of Dissenters, it was not even thought necessary to admit them to any consultation. The new Parliament which was convened reinforced the strength of the Episcopalians. Even if Charles had been resolute to keep his pledges to the Presbyterians, he would have found it difficult to resist the intolerant zeal of the national legislature. But Charles was no man to expose himself to risk and trouble for the sake of plighted faith. Accordingly, the blows of persecution began to descend. In 1662 came the Act of Uniformity. This act declared episcopal ordination a prerequisite to the ministerial office, and denounced a fine of one hundred pounds against any one undertaking that office without such ordination; required consent to everything in the Book of Common Prayer, on pain of deprivation; exacted of all schoolmasters and officers in colleges and universities, as well as from all parsons, vicars, and curates, a declaration that it is unlawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the King and required all these classes likewise to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant, as an oath which from the beginning was contrary to the laws and liberties of the realm. A day was fixed upon which those who refused to submit to the conditions of the act were to be expelled from their livings. That day (August 24, 1662) witnessed the spectacle of two thousand persons resigning their cures in obedience to conscience. Not content with thus exiling men from their positions, and compelling them to become separatists, the government restricted their liberty, and sought to rob them of every ecclesiastical privilege. In 1665 such of the dissenting ministers as should decline to swear never to attempt any change in the government of Church or State were prohibited from coming within five miles of any town represented in Parliament, and also of any town where they had themselves resided as ministers or preached in any conventicle. A violation of the provisions of this statute (called the Five Mile Act) entailed a fine of forty pounds. Any two justices of the peace, on oath made before them as to an offense under the act, could commit the offender to prison for six months without bail.
Meanwhile the rod was applied also to the dissenting laity. The Corporation Act, which was passed in 1661, required all magistrates and persons holding offices of trust in corporations to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant as a nullity, and to attest belief in its being unlawful upon any consideration whatever, to take arms against the King.
1 These provisions struck at the heart of the Presbyterian party, whose strength lay in the little oligarchies of corporate towns, which directly or indirectly returned to Parliament a very large proportion of its members." (Hallam, Constitutional History, chap. xi.)By the Conventicle Act of 1664, severe penalties were ordained for all persons above the age of sixteen who should attend a religious assembly of five or more persons where the authorized Liturgy should not be used. A first offense under this act involved three months' imprisonment, or the payment of five pounds; a second offense, six months' imprisonment, or payment of ten pounds; a third offense, transportation to any foreign plantation, except Virginia and New England, or the payment of one hundred pounds. An attempt of a convicted person to escape transportation exposed him to a capital sentence.
As the magistrates, to a large extent, were inflamed by the same spirit which dictated this legislation, the jails were soon crowded with Dissenters. Among the victims were not a few men of shining virtue and talent. The extent of the persecution is not, indeed, specially surprising to one who duly considers the spirit of the age and the provocation which had been given. A turn in the wheel of fortune naturally brought retribution to those who in the time of their ascendency had rendered such scant charity to the friends of the Establishment. But the retribution surpassed all just bounds. As Hallam has remarked: "No severity comparable to this cold-blooded persecution had been inflicted by the late powers, even in the ferment and fury of a Civil war." 1 Constitutional History, chap. xi.
The Test Act, which was enacted in 1673, while it had its bearing upon Protestant Dissenters, inasmuch as it required that all persons holding offices of trust and profit should be able to certify that they had received the sacrament of the Lord's supper in some parish church, and according to the usage of the Establishment, was mainly directed against Roman Catholics. It imposed the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and exacted besides a declaration of disbelief in transubstantiation. Any person accepting office contrary to the stipulations of this act made himself incompetent to serve as guardian or administrator, to take a legacy, to enter upon any public trust, and exposed himself, moreover, to a fine of five hundred pounds.
In Scotland the ecclesiastical management was in most points a reflex of that which prevailed in England. A servile Parliament swept away the whole body of legislation which had been enacted since 1633. The Covenant was cast out as a thing abhorred. Bishops were reinstated, and the royal supremacy in all spiritual matters was affirmed. Fines were imposed for non-attendance upon the regular worship, ministers refusing to accept the new settlement were subjected to an aggravation of the Five Mile Act. It was even made a capital offense to preach at a conventicle (1660). Such were the laws, and the practice was not far behind. Recusants were exposed, on the one hand, to the greed of those who found a lucrative business in forfeitures and fines, and, on the other, to the barbarities of lawless troops, who were sent out to punish disorders. In one point only was the scheme which was applied to Scotland more indulgent to the Presbyterians than was the settlement in England. No service book was forced upon the ministers; there was nothing to prohibit the continued use of the Westminster Assembly's Directory. In Ireland, on the other hand, the use of the English Liturgy was made a part of the required conformity. This naturally involved in that country the ejection of most of the Presbyterian ministers from their livings.
The King's part in the persecution was that of a somewhat unwilling acquiescence. It probably cost him little worriment to forsake his promises, and his friendship for the Nonconformists was of the most superficial type. At the same time, however, he had no genuine regard for the Established Church, and considered it a rather irksome task to persecute outsiders for her benefit. The small measure of sympathy which he had for any religious party went to the Roman Catholics. A desire to shield them from the rigors of the law explains the indulgence which he attempted in 1612 to extend to Nonconformists, but which Parliament compelled him to retract. Charles II. was not willing to make substantial sacrifice for any form of religion. While not an avowed unbeliever, his practical attitude toward sacred things scarcely fell short of unmitigated frivolity.
1 He said once to myself," writes Burnet, "he was no atheist, but he could not think God would make a man miserable only for taking a little pleasure out of the way." (Own Time, book ii.)First upon his dying bed, when there was no longer occasion to make religion an adjunct of politics, the preference which he had for Rome came to a positive choice. A few hours before he expired, a priest, secretly admitted, received him into the Romish communion.
The supremacy which was accorded to the Established Church under the rule of Charles II. secured neither great honor nor emolument to the majority of her clergy. There were some prominent and lucrative positions, some incumbents of these whose talents would adorn any era; but if the description of Macaulay may be trusted, the average country clergyman of the times was a very humble being. He had no social distinction; he was never expected to choose any one above the rank of a waiting-woman for a wife. Not one living in fifty afforded anything like a comfortable support to a family. Manual labor must often be added to the parish duties to save from positive beggary. The purchase of books was out of the question, and study a secondary consideration. Still, as the historian allows, he was a man of influence. His lack of social prestige was in part compensated by the close relation to the mass of the humble people into which he was brought by his own humble standing.
The Duke of York, who succeeded as James II. (1685), brought to the throne a temper vastly different from that of his brother. He had less of geniality than Charles, less placability, less power of adapting himself to diverse conditions and parties. He was more diligent and methodical, but these qualities gave him little advantage on account of his narrow-mindedness and stubbornness. Charles knew how to retreat gracefully from an unpromising attempt. James, while he was blind enough to adopt measures certain to incense the great majority of his people, never conceded anything until panic-stricken and appalled by irretrievable disaster. As respects domestic relations, his record is scarcely more fit to be brought to the light than that of Charles. In religion he had become a bigoted Romanist. Unhappily, too, for himself, as the sovereign of a Protestant nation, and for the small minority who professed his faith, he was unwilling to make his faith a private matter. Holding the highest opinion of the royal dignity, disposed to rash and precipitate meddling with affairs that ought to have been approached with the utmost caution, James was well fitted to wreck the Stuart dynasty. Civilly and ecclesiastically, he was bent on making himself intolerable.
Among the evidences of the despotic temper of James are some of the agents whom be trusted and promoted. Who but a man with tyrannical instincts would have raised to the height of power such creatures as Jeffries in England, and Tyrconnel in Ireland? It is no injustice that history has assigned to Jeffries the title of "the unjust judge." Years of practice in cross-examining the hardened criminals of the capital had made him a supreme master of all the arts of effrontery and terrorism by which the accused, whether innocent or guilty, might be confounded and overwhelmed. "To enter his court was to enter the den of a wild beast." Yet this man was a chosen agent of James, and was assigned a chief part in the administration of the realm. Fresh from the horrors of the Bloody Assizes So the cruel and heartless prosecution for participation in the insurrection of Monmouth, in 1685, came to be called. he was rewarded with the chancellorship. In fact James treated Jeffries as a man after his own heart, whatever his interests may have led him to say at a later date, when the acts of the Chief Justice were universally execrated.
Another evidence of the love of arbitrary power which actuated James is seen in his desire for the repeal of the Habeas Corpus Act. From first to last he hated this with most cordial hatred. Even when an exile, in the instructions which he drew up for his son, he could not forbear to express his dislike for an act whose only fault was that it served as a defence against despotism. Nothing less than absolute rule could satisfy James. And as if to leave no doubt upon this point, he assumed by his sole authority to dispense with the laws of the realm. The Declaration of Indulgence which he put forth (April 4, 1687), whatever may be said in its favor, was a defiance of all legislative power in Parliament.
The arbitrary temper of James, apart from his religion, might in course of time have taxed the loyalty of the nation beyond endurance. As it was, his people had not merely his despotic disposition to offend them, but also his ultra and usurping Romanism. James was more ultra than the Pope himself. Indeed, his Holiness advised against undermining the friendship of the nation in over-hasty attempts to advance the Roman Catholic Church. Beside the motive of prudence, the Pope had another ground for looking with jealousy on the scheme of James; for he feared that in the outcome England would be practically annexed to France, and thus serve to swell the already dangerous ascendency of Louis XIV. But the adventurous spirit of the King, stimulated by fanatical advisers, overruled the counsels which came from the Vatican. These false advisers were the Jesuits, who at this time were more closely allied with the French monarch than with the Pope. A genuine successor of Father Persons, the Jesuit, whose intrigues, according to the testimony of Roman Catholics themselves, caused infinite mischief to their brethren in England, appeared upon the stage. With about the same success as his famous predecessor, Father Petre now undertook to engineer for Romish interests in the realm. No other counselor had such an influence over the designs and conduct of the King as this man.
That James should desire to better the condition of his Roman Catholic subjects cannot be counted blameworthy. He would have been guilty of unnatural indifference, if he had not been anxious to remove the severe proscription under which his brethren labored. And this might perhaps have been accomplished by a prudent and gradual process. But the spirit of the nation opposed to the attempt to gain such an end by violent and precipitate measures impassible barriers. This spirit, too, though lacking in tolerance, was not wholly made up of intolerance. Romish plots had given occasion to the suspicion that Roman Catholics could not be safely trusted with civil responsibilities. Romish casuistry, as set forth, if not by the authority of the Church, at least by eminent authors in the Church, had encouraged the idea that the principles of Roman Catholics bound them to sacrifice all truth and civil duty to their Church. Hence such men as Tillotson and Locke, who were interested to extend tolerance to the widest practicable limits, conceived that the safety of the State justified a restrictive policy against Romanists. A prejudice thus deeply rooted was not to be removed by sudden and aggressive measures, and least of all at a time when a tremor was being caused in the breast of every Protestant by the tragic fate of his co-religionists in France.
The Romanists being a small minority, James must necessarily depend upon the acquiescence or help of some party of non-Romanists in carrying out his plans. At first, he depended upon the Established Church. He promised to protect it in all its rights as secured by the laws. He had no particle of favor for nonconforming Protestants, and left them to the full rigor of the statutes enacted against them. "He hated the Puritan sects with a manifold hatred, theological and political, hereditary and personal." But if he had less hate for the Established Church he had no love for the same. On the contrary, he was quite willing to take advantage of the "non-resistance" policy, which it went all lengths in proclaiming, to violate its rights as guaranteed by the statutes of the realm. He found, however, that persistent abuse began to disabuse even zealous Churchmen of their non resistance principles. The great body of Episcopalians were roused into an attitude of resentment and hostility. In order to weather their opposition, he found it necessary to purchase the acquiescence of the odious Protestant sects. He concluded, therefore, to admit these sects, for the time being, to the favors which he was determined to secure for Roman Catholics, and so published the Declaration of Indulgence, in which he annulled all the statutes against Nonconformists, and asserted full liberty of conscience and of worship. Judged by this act alone, James might appear to be in advance of his age on the subject of religious freedom. But there is abundant evidence that he cared no more for religious freedom than did his patron Louis XIV., who at this very time was dragonnading the Huguenots, and sending them by the ten thousand into exile. He would have been glad to humble the Established Church by the aid of the sects, but the sects would have experienced small grace at his hands, if once he had succeeded in gaining a dominant power for Romanism.
Among the proofs, we may subjoin the treatment to which Scotch Dissenters were subjected in the early part of his reign. With the approbation of James, implied if not indeed explicit, the obsequious Parliament of that realm enacted a law of unexcelled barbarity. By this sanguinary statute mere attendance at a conventicle in the open air was made punishable with death. As everybody understood, the law was aimed against non-conforming Protestants, -- the one party at that time which was attracting attention by forbidden assemblies.
A second indication that the principles of tolerance had no real lodgment in the heart of the King is seen in his dealings with the Huguenots. As the fugitives poured into England, he at first professed great pity for them, and ordered a contribution in their behalf. This was pure affectation, designed to allay the jealousy which the persecutions of the Romish King across the Channel had aroused against himself as a Romish sovereign, and to secure a suitable pliancy in the Parliament about to convene. Before ever the contributions had come in, the King had repented of his charity, and begun to denounce the refugees. He warned the Huguenot ministers that it would be at their peril if they inveighed from the pulpit against their oppressor. The book of a worthy refugee, John Claude, containing an account of the perils and hardships of his brethren, was ordered by James to be burned by the hangman, though the book was published on the Continent, and in a foreign tongue. The liberal contribution of forty thousand pounds, which the sympathizing people had sent in, was withheld by the imposition of a most unreasonable test. He decreed that not a penny should be dealt out to any one of these conscientious Calvinists who did not first take the sacrament according to the Anglican ritual. "His conduct toward them was less excusable than that of Louis; for Louis oppressed them in the hope of bringing them over from a damnable heresy to the true Church; James oppressed them only for the purpose of forcing them to apostatize from one damnable heresy to another." 1 Macaulay, ii. 61.
A still further evidence that the toleration of James meant toleration ultimately for none but Roman Catholics, is found in the way in which he began to distribute offices. Romanists were brought into the ascendant in the Privy Council of the King. His own brother-in-law, Rochester, was expelled from the office of treasurer, because he refused to change his religion. A large proportion of the most responsible positions in the three kingdoms were placed in the hands of those who professed the Romish faith. Protestant officers were dismissed from the army to make room for Roman Catholic favorites. The rights of the Universities were invaded. The Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge was punished, and his associates rebuked, for refusing to bestow, contrary to a statute of the University, the degree of Master of Arts upon a Romanist. One of the highest positions at Oxford, the deanery of Christ Church, was given to a man whose only recommendation was that he was of the King's religion. An effort was made to force the Fellows of Magdalene College to accept, as president, a man of notorious vileness; and when a sense of shame compelled the withdrawal of his name, the College was still confronted with a royal nominee. Resistance was punished with the expulsion of the Fellows. A Romanist was installed president, and those of like faith were placed in the vacant fellowships. The College in fact was transformed into a Romish seminary. The significance of such a proceeding was unmistakable. It meant that the King, in defiance of law, designed as rapidly as should be feasible to convert the Protestant Establishment into a Romish Establishment. For carrying out this design, an arbitrary court, a new High Commission, was instituted. To the authority of this commission, of which the notorious Jeffries was the chief, all ministers of the Established Church were amenable. All were to be awed or chastised into obedience. A royal edict forbade them to preach on controversial subjects. The bishops were put under arrest and brought to trial for opposing the King's pleasure to use the clergy and the sanctuary as means of proclaiming his illegal Declaration of Indulgence. Churchmen were expected to sit unmoved and unresisting while the foundations were being dug from underneath them. Meanwhile, the King seemed to be preparing in Ireland a support to his English policy. Tyrconnel carried things there with a high hand, so that many Protestants thought it necessary to secure their safety by flight. There was room for the suspicion that Romish Ireland was to be used to subjugate Protestant England.
By this succession of arbitrary acts and open assaults upon the laws and institutions of the realm, James prepared his downfall. The goal toward which he was moving became too distinct to be hid from anything less than total blindness. When he first published his Declaration of Indulgence, a portion of the Dissenters were inclined thankfully to accept the boon, though the more eminent and discerning, like Baxter, Howe, and Bunyan, held aloof from the start, in the belief that an illegal indulgence would prove to be no real benefit. With the progress of events, however, the Dissenters were less and less disposed to repose confidence in James. Very friendly overtures being made by the Episcopalians, they entered into a coalition with them. William, Prince of Orange, who had married Mary, the eldest daughter of James, was invited into the realm. The luckless King had neither the courage nor the power to resist, and fled (1688) to the court of Louis XIV., upon whose help he depended for regaining his realm. With the aid of French troops he undertook a campaign in Ireland, but the battle of the Boyne (1690) ended all prospect of success through this channel. James spent the remainder of his days in France, where he was treated by Louis with royal generosity. Though hoping still for the recovery of his crown, he was only able to encourage the body of plotters and malcontents who vexed the reign of William and Mary. His arbitrary patronage of Roman Catholicism resulted in failure and exile for himself, and in prolonged hardships for the adherents of his Church.
Viewed on the political side, the religious policy of James redounded greatly to the benefit of the realm. It shocked the English people out of the servile attitude toward the crown which came with the Restoration, brought back something of the temper which had wrestled with Charles I., and thus effectually secured the interests of constitutional government.
Aside from the general outcome in the political and ecclesiastical sphere, the era of the restored Stuarts was, on the whole, a fruitful era in the annals of England. It was able to boast a fair share of illustrious men. Some of these, indeed, received their training in the preceding age of national trial and struggle; yet their achievements were sufficient in the later epoch to give them a definite association with it also. Here belong such eminent Puritans as John Milton, John Owen, and Richard Baxter. To make the list of typical Nonconformists the more complete, we may add also the names of John Goodwin and John Bunyan.
The Restoration left Milton in a strange world. The transition was like a second eclipse, following that which in 1653 had shut out nature from his view. An object of intense royalist animosity, he could hardly hope for personal safety. No serious attempt, however, was made upon his life. A brief imprisonment, and the condemnation of his writings against the late King to be burned by the hangman, were the sum of the positive proceedings against him. He was left to himself, in retirement and obscurity. All the more at home in the field of thought and imagination because the outside world had become so alien, he now addressed himself to the supreme task of his life. The "Paradise Lost" was completed in 1666 or 1667. It was a work at once Miltonic and Puritan; bearing the stamp of individual genius, but at the same time not denying the likeness of that austere company who had founded the Commonwealth; lofty in moral tone and rich in scenes of unrivalled beauty and majesty, yet suggesting some lack of warmth and sympathy, and showing some excess of that dogmatic confidence which proceeds with unfaltering step into the presence of deepest mystery, and endeavors to set forth the Divine in clear outline. The other products of these later years of Milton, the "Paradise Regained," and the "Samson Agonistes," were published in 1671.
John Owen is associated almost wholly with Puritan theology. Dowered with an aptitude for exact system, he mapped out the Calvinistic inheritance with distinct and unwavering lines. Never have covenants and decrees had a more stalwart defender against all Arminian heresy. But stern and uncompromising as was his creed, his temper is said to have been equable and gentle.
In Howe the austerity of Puritan theology was ameliorated by an element of idealism. His writings address the feelings as well as the intellect. Many of his passages have an elevation and breadth which remind of the great work of Hooker. Such qualities explain the eulogistic words of Robert Hall, who declared "that, as a minister, he had derived more benefit from John Howe than from all other divines put together." Quoted by A. B. Grosart, Representative Nonconformists.
Baxter was a man who must be described in compound phrase. He was tolerant, yet not wholly for tolerance; a Presbyterian, yet not without qualification; a Calvinist, yet not altogether a Calvinist; a preacher and pastor having the spiritual welfare of his flock most earnestly at heart, and coming before them with direct and penetrating words, yet a controversialist eager to grasp the weapons of debate on every occasion; an author of practical treatises, like the "Saints' Everlasting Rest," and the "Call to the Unconverted," by which tens of thousands have been edified, yet, by his own confession, fond of the fine-spun disquisitions of the scholastics, and affording himself some appalling specimens of his faculty for subtle end endless distinctions; a man as perfectly and unselfishly obedient to conscience as can well be named, yet engaging in a casuistical speculation which, at least in a few points, is quite as well adapted to confuse as to clarify the moral sense.
2 Baxter's "Christian Directory" is an extensive work in the line of casuistry. His fondness for subtle analysis naturally drew him to this field, which was cultivated with such misdirected enterprise in the seventeenth century. Among his Protestant contemporaries, Jeremy Taylor, in the "Doctor Dubitantium," approached most nearly to his elaborate attempt to resolve all questions of duty.His industry was simply amazing. Nearly two hundred treatises, a number of which were elaborate productions, came from his pen. In fine, while his work is not intellectually impressive in the more eminent sense, it is peculiarly striking in its variety and fullness.
John Goodwin earned theological distinction, as being, in the midst of Puritan Dissenters, an able and resolute champion of the Arminian system of doctrine. This system he held much in the sense of the great Leyden Professor from whom it derived its name. "His Arminianism," says Stoughton, "presents some striking differences from that of both the Anglican and Latitudinarian schools; it is animated by an evangelical spirit, and it is wrought out in connection with evangelical principles akin to those which appear prominently in the Arminianism of our Wesleyan brethren. Like them, this eminent predecessor of theirs maintained strenuously the doctrine of human depravity, of justification by faith, of the work of the Holy Spirit, of the new birth, and of sanctification." 1 Religion in England, iv. 372, 373.
Bunyan was known in his own time for considerable activity in plain theological writing. It is no mistaken taste, however, which leaves the theologian in oblivion, and gives imperishable renown to the dreamer. His other works may show the sincere and honest mind; his allegory is aglow with the light of genius. Both his experience and his talents fitted him to be "the great artist of the spiritual life of Puritanism." He took its ideas out of the region of abstraction, and clothed them with such lifelike and homelike forms, that the reader half forgets that he is not treading upon the firm ground of reality. The felicity of his style was such as to please at once the most cultured and the most unlearned. Popularity was almost as speedy as abiding. Ten editions of the "Pilgrim's Progress " were sold before the author's death. The book was composed in Bedford jail, to which Bunyan was committed six months after the Restoration, and in which he remained for eleven years. In his church relations Bunyan was identified with the Baptists. But he was not of the strictest sect. With a breadth which greatly afflicted some of his brethren, he refused to make immersion a pre-requisite to Christian communion at the Lord's table.
The Anglican Establishment was also favored with a number of eminent representatives. Thorndike stood for the acme of High Church sentiment. Cosin, Bramhall, and Bull were also stanch Anglicans, but not so remote from all charity toward Dissenters. Pearson, who is well known for his "Exposition of the Creed," might be ranked as a moderate Anglican. Barrow is to be associated with Low Churchmen. Stillingfleet in his earlier days proved very decidedly by his "Irenicum" a title to be placed in the same class; but later he retreated somewhat from his liberal sentiments. South, whatever may have been his position theoretically in the scale of ecclesiastical parties, stood at the summit as respects a disposition to reprove the Non-conformists, and to lash them with the whip of his satire. Pulpit talent was the special distinction of South. His nervous, incisive style, set off with frequent sallies of wit, was supremely fitted to command attention, whatever may have been the spiritual result. Barrow, besides being one of the ablest apologists of his day in the dispute with Romanism, was also a distinguished preacher. His sermons have not indeed the sparkle and vivacity which characterize those of South, but they are deeper and more comprehensive in thought, and richer in practical wisdom. Bull, who is likewise remembered for his thoughtful sermons, won his greatest laurels by his Defensio Fidei Nicaenae (1685), an argument for the orthodox Trinitarianism of the Ante-Nicene fathers. Historical criticism in the present is compelled to take some exceptions to this work; but it was crowned at the time with a singular honor, bringing to its Protestant author a vote of thanks from Roman Catholic dignitaries in France.
Jeremy Taylor, whom the Restoration elevated to a bishopric in Ireland, survived his promotion but a few years, his death occurring in 1667. His career as an author, therefore, mainly preceded the accession of Charles II. The last of his extended treatises, however, the "Dissuasive from Popery," was published after that date. The intellect of Taylor was not eminently critical; be did not proceed to his conclusions with the circumspection of the careful philosopher. Still, he exhibited in all his productions an ingenious, inquisitive mind, as well as a certain affluence of learning. In the faculty of imagination he was especially gifted; and this, coupled with a melodious English, and at times also with a rich vein of devotional feeling, has given a perennial charm to his writings. Few specimens of practical divinity have spoken more persuasively to a multitude of hearts than Jeremy Taylor's "Holy Living," and "Holy Dying."
A very interesting group within the Establishment was that which is known as the Cambridge Platonists. As their name indicates, they drew largely from Platonism, though scarcely more from the original philosophy than from the later or Neo-Platonic developments. The principal members of the group were Benjamin Whichcote, John Smith, Ralph Cudworth, and Henry More. An unique position was held by these men within the circle of English thought in their century. They represent a break in the philosophical movement which started from Bacon. In contrast with the sharp division which the great advocate of the inductive method predicated between the province of reason and revelation, they emphasized greatly the vocation of reason in the sphere of religion. "To go against reason," says Whichcote, "is to go against God; it is the selfsame to do that which the reason of the case doth require, and that which God Himself doth appoint. ... There is nothing so intrinsically rational as religion is; nothing that can so justify itself; nothing that hath so pure reason to recommend itself, as religion hath." The following noble definition includes a like idea : "Religion doth possess and affect the whole man; in the understanding it is knowledge; in the life it is obedience; in the affections it is delight in God; in our carriage and behavior it is modesty, calmness, gentleness, quietness, candor; in our dealings it is uprightness, integrity, correspondence with the rule of righteousness." 1 Aphorisms, 76, 457, 956. With Hobbes, who preceded as a writer most of the Cambridge school, they could of course have no fellowship whatever. Abhorring his remorseless statecraft, which left no higher sanction to religion or morals than the will of the executive, they strongly asserted the immutability of moral distinctions, their foundation in the unchanging nature of God Himself, where they are beyond the reach, even of a Divine fiat. The Cambridge Platonists stood also in contrast with Locke, who was contemporary with the later members, his "Essay on the Human Understanding" having been published in 1690. Locke's idea of the relation between reason and faith was not indeed remote from their own. But in general their philosophy was broadly contrasted with his. The one relied much on intuition, and gave the primacy to the inner world, to the mind viewed as rising into contact with the Divine reason; the other emphasized induction, and regarded the materials of knowledge as coming through the senses.
Among the speculative attempts of the Cambridge school, Cudworth's "True Intellectual System of the Universe" ranks as the most noteworthy. More wrote extensively, and was highly esteemed by his own party; but the eccentricities in which he indulged have much qualified his reputation in more recent times. Whichcote and Smith conciliate a special degree of favor by the readable quality of their brief productions. The latter, who died at the age of thirty-four, is represented only by ten sermons. Tulloch speaks of them in terms of enthusiastic praise, as combining a logic nearly as direct and penetrating as that of Chillingworth with an imagination as opulent as Jeremy Taylor's. 1 Rational Theology and Christian Philosophy in England in the Seventeenth Century, ii. 135.
While thus the era of the restored Stuarts was not without its distinction in the sphere of theology and philosophy, it was a marked era as respects advance in physical science. The Royal Society, which received its definite establishment in 1662, soon numbered a considerable list of members whose successful research in different fields won them lasting repute. Chief among these explorers of nature was Sir Isaac Newton, whose "Principia" was published in 1687.
In Scotland the age was a comparatively barren one in almost every respect. Neither sacred nor secular learning flourished. The bishops were not distinguished for culture or piety. There was, however, one marked exception. Robert Leighton gave to Scotland the example of a life which all right-thinking men have esteemed a precious legacy from that time to this. Bishop Burnet, who knew him familiarly, said of him: "He was possessed of the highest and noblest sense of Divine things that I ever saw in any man." 2 Own Time, book ii. recent writer remarks, in words of like praise: "As far as I call judge, a purer, humbler, holier spirit than that of Robert Leighton never tabernacled in Scottish clay." Robert Flint in St. Giles Lectures. First Series. It is also the opinion of this reviewer, that the writings of Leighton are still to be ranked at the head of the devotional literature of Scotland.