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munity, and had made them ripe for resistance and innovation. The despotism of the leaders of the church party had walked side by side with that of the court; and their rigorous persecution of the Puritans, which was offensive to the feeling of the humane, and to the moderation of the liberal, had excited the fears and the jealousies of the wise. The power of the episcopal courts had every where been urged into unusual animation and energy by the superintendance and incitement of the formidable High-Commission; and almost every diocese had witnessed scenes of rigour similar to those which had disgraced and exasperated the capital.
In this tender state of things, when Milton perceived that his country was proceeding resolutely to assert her liberty, he imagined that he was complying with a necessary duty, and was taking his proper part in the promotion of the common cause, by engaging, for ecclesiastical freedom, with the bishops.
The church of England, at this unfortunate crisis, could boast, among her prelates, of a Williams, a Davenant, a Hall, and an Usher;- men illustrious for their talents, eminent by their learning, amiable for their
virtues, and venerable for their piety: but unhappily at their head was placed a prelate, whose views were narrow, whose superstition was abject and intolerant, and who was pleased to be the supporter of that despotism, which supported his own.
Much as I dislike the principles and the temper of the unfortunate Laud, I would willingly believe that the conduct, which produced such ruinous consequences to his cause, and to the whole community, was the offspring of good motives, and that he intended well as a christian, though he acted perniciously as a politician. For his bigotted observance of ceremonies, he could plead the example of some of his most eminent predecessors; and,
any other period than that, in which he lived, when it was considered, and was, perhaps, designed as a conciliatory advance to the Roman church, this observance would have been an innocent, if not an inoffensive display of littleness. His support of an arbitrary court is as easily to be pardoned by the
* Archbishop Laud is certainly exempt from any suspicion of being inclined to popery: but he entertained a chimerical notion of the practicability of an union between the Churches of England and of Rome; and he weakly hoped that this great object might be accomplished by mutual and equal concessions.
who foresaw its approaching ruin; and by the moderate, who were disgusted with its de tyranny.
I am strongly attached to the Church of ab England, from whose lap I sprang, and at iden whose bosom I have been fostered: but myslu attachment to her is not that of instinct, but in of reason. I love her not merely because she celui is my mother and my nurse, but because she is deserving of my love. I regard her as she offers to God a spiritual worship, yet kno condescends to the imperfect nature of the worshipper; and keeps as remote from the rude and naked devotion of Calvin, as from the childish and idolatrous mummery of Rome: I respect her as she extends hersele usefulness by accommodating her ranks to those of the community, in which she is established; and, while she contributes to the social harmony by her enforcement of all its requisite subordination, considers man upon a level when she officiates ar ihe minister of God: but I give to her my most ardent el affection, when I contemplate her as mild and liberal, as uniting order with toleration,
S not 'meddle against the Puritans, as he was sure that they “ would carry all things at last." Rush, vol. i.
p. was the immediate cause of the good bisliop's ruin.
be as the patroness of learning and the encou
rager of enquiry, as the determined enemy of persecution for opinions, whether it be avowed by the stern republic of a presbytery, or by the unfeeling policy of a pontifical conclave. Such is the ground on which I rest my affection to my native Church: but if I saw her actuated by a narrow and ferocious spirit,
guarding her own temporal honours with more I le jealousy than the vital principles of Christ's
religion, doing evil with the flagitious pretence that good may be the result, mounted on a sanguinary tribunal to suppress opinion with overwhelming punishment, and hearing with delight the groan that issued from a bosom hostile to herself-if I saw her in this sad state of desertion from her own character, and of apostacy from the religion of her Master, I should no longer recognize her as the object of my filial reverence; I would renounce her with indignation; and, throwing her disgraceful favours at her feet, I would retire, beyond her corruption and her
vengeance, to some uncivilized region, where I might vindicate the name of Jesus from its impious profanation, and show him to be the author of blessings and not of misery to man.
These sentiments are not mine alone;
· On Milton's return from the continent, he found, as he informs us, the clamour loud and general against the bishops; some complaining of their tyranny, and some protesting against the existence of the mitred hierarchy itself. It was now beginning to be safe to talk; but, the Parliament not
being convened, the public indignation was forced still to wait, for a short interval, before it could diffuse itself from the press. When this rapid propagator of opinions and best guardian of truth was at last liberated, the prelatical party was assailed on all sides with argument and learning; with virulence and reproach. Our'author, as I believe, was, on this occasion, the leader of the attack; the first who became the
and of the popular resentment against the rulers of the church. His beloved tutor, Young, had been one of the victims of the primate's intolerance; and the new polemic entered on his career with the blended feeling of public and of private wrong, with the zeal of a sanguine, and with the emotion of an injured man.
His two books,“ of Reformation touching Church-Government in England," addressed to a friend, discover earnestness and integrity; and are the produce of a forci