Continued from previous post.The Westminster Dissent: Brothers Searching for Truth
After fighting between the armies of the King and Parliament began in 1642, both sides sought Scottish military support. The Scots were clear that their assistance required making the Church of England Presbyterian. In 1643, Parliament sent commissioners to Scotland for negotiation, resulting in the Solemn League and Covenant,
which set the condition that the Church in England and in Ireland would follow the Church of Scotland in doctrine and government. Legislation was passed to begin an Assembly of Divines to establish a new orthodoxy, to meet at Westminster Abbey. However, as the Assembly of Divines debated the exact details on a new national church, in 1643, and again in 1644, five members published Apologetical Narration, directly addressed to Parliament and for consideration by the entire nation, a dissent calling for a reformation of the Reformation, or particularly of Presbyterianism.
The authors of Apologetical Narration
formerly were ministers in Independent churches exiled in the Netherlands. In setting out a different viewpoint from the Presbyterians on church structure and authority, the Narration also presents a corollary position that all Christian churches are united spiritually on the basics of the Christian faith, as derived from what is entirely clear in Scripture, and in seeking truth by debating what is more complex. Further, in taking a stance on other issues of varying significance, a church should acknowledge the possibility for revision after continued debate. And the only recourse against heretical views of a particular church should be non-communion. This parallel position of the Narration eventually became known as the Theory of Denominationalism, which excluded the idea of having a national church.
The Presbyterians immediately published responses, which even noted that all the principles of Apologetical Narration
already had been publicly promoted and tried but found inadequate. [W. M. Hetherington, History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, Fifth Edition: New York, Anson D. F. Randolph & Co., 1890, p. 188]. However, the publishing of Apologetical Narration, in 1644, plunged the nation into debate over the many issues concerning a national church
and made obvious the lack of true agreement at the Westminster Assembly of Divines.Actually, the basic argument of the Narration had already been set out in 1611/12 in The Mystery of Iniquity, by Thomas Helwys,
on returning to England, from an Independent church exiled in the Netherlands, to fight persecution; [Thomas Helwys, A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity,
edited and introduced by Richard Groves: Macon, Mercer University Press, 1998, Book II, pp. 31-62]. And Helwys sent a copy to King James with a personal note, that to be in proper obedience to God, a king must recognize he has no spiritual authority over the immortal souls of his subjects. Helwys was imprisoned in 1612. He petitioned Parliament to be released on the same basis as set for Catholic recusants, which was denied. His wife is referred to as a widow in his uncle's will of 1616.Another Netherlands refugee, Mark Leonard Busher, published the same basic argument as Helwys in Religion's Peace, or a Plea for Liberty of Conscience, in 1614, sending copies to King James and the High Court of Parliament. He noted that a separation of Church and State stopped the government from usurping the rule of God, while not stopping the king to execute the law of God. Kings and magistrates are to rule temporal affairs by the swords of their temporal kingdoms, and bishops and ministers are to rule spiritual affairs by the word and Spirit of God, the sword of Christ's spiritual kingdom, and not to intermeddle one with another's authority, office, and function... But he has not set us free from the moral and judicial law of God; for that the king is bound to execute, and we are bound to obey....
[William R. Estep, Revolution within the Revolution: The First Amendment in Historical Context, 1612-1789,
Grand Rapids, William B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1990, pp. 55-58]. Religion's Peace [/[i]i]also was reprinted in 1646, when the Westminster Confession
was published, indicating the influence of the work on the nation.While the Assembly of Divines was in session, a Roger Williams returned from New England to London,
to obtain a charter for the colony of Providence Plantations. At this time, he published A Key into the Language of America,
giving him instant notoriety as an authority on Indians. When not ministering to the poor, he attended meetings of the Assembly. He wrote to the Dissenting Brethren, and beyond to Parliament, questioning the authority of the Assembly based on the right of freedom of conscience in Queries of Highest Consideration.
Williams argued that the name and function of the Assembly of Divines was not justified by Scripture, and that a state-established church polity,
(a political system of church government) was error. Christ did not promote a national covenant as Moses did, but a spiritual one, John 18:36. A national church could not be framed without violent persecution, but Christ taught peace and freedom of conscience, Matthew 13, Luke 9:53-56.Also at this time in 1644, Williams wrote his defence for freedom of religion, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience: discussed in a Conference between TRUTH and PEACE, Who, in all tender Affection, present to the High Court of Parliament, (as the result of their Discourse) these, (among other Passages) of highest consideration.
This famous work is written for the educated in 17th century high literary style, set in an extended context of a religious debate going back to the time of Calvin. The elegant idiom can be difficult to comprehend, and knowledge of Greek and Latin is assumed, with quotes not translated. The arguments often utilize complex logic and move quickly between two represented positions. [Page references herein to this work utilize the Mercer University Press publication of 2001]
The work begins by setting out 12 tenets on religious freedom and persecution, to be developed and supported further in refuting the answer of John Cotton, a New England minister, to a book written from prison under cover in milk, An Humble Supplication to the King's Majesty, as it was presented, 1620,
which Williams entitled, Scriptures and Reasons Written Long Since by a Witness of Jesus Christ, Close Prisoner in Newgate, Against Persecution in Cause of Conscience, and Sent While Since to Mr. Cotton.
Although the The Bloudy Tenent
is about 250 pages, websites often represent the work in such manner as to create the impression that it consists only of the 12 tenets.
Williams believed the author of Humble Petition
actually was John Murton, [p. ix], a church associate and possibly at one time a co-prisoner with Thomas Helwys. Williams held that arguments supporting persecution for religious beliefs actually were written in blood. His response to Cotton's arguments for State enforced religion, in the format of a conversation between Truth
sets forth an example of finding the truth through debate, which leads to peace, not persecution.In the initial tenets set out for further review in The Bloudy Tenent, Williams maintains that the coming of Christ required giving freedom of conscience and worship to all pagans, Jews, Muslims, or any anti-Christians, to be refuted only by the Word of God; and that no uniformity of religion should be enacted or enforced by the State. Sixthly, it is the will and command of God that, since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus, a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-Christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries, and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only, in soul matters, able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God’s Spirit, the word of God… Eighthly, God requires not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity, sooner or later, is the greatest occasion of civil war… Tenthly, an enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. Eleventhly, the permission of other consciences and worships than a state professes only can, according to God, procure a firm and lasting peace….
Williams actually was the first person from the religious debate of England and America to use the concept of a Wall of Separation between Church and State. He refers to the true church as a spiritual and mystical wall, the false church as a pretended wall, the civil state as a civil wall, and the natural or artificial walls of earth and stone around a city as defensive. He upholds there is no evidence from Scripture that God would be provoked by tolerating many religions, or that the true church within a State must be one only and national. [Pp. 176-178. ]
After John Cotton responded to The Bloudy Tenent/,[i] Williams made another reference to the concept of a Wall of Separation in [i]Mr. Cotton's Letter Examined and Answered.
Williams states, First, the faithful labors of many Witnesses of Jesus Christ, extant to the world, abundantly prove, that the Church of the Jews under the Old Testament in the type, and the Church of the Christians under the New Testament in the Anti-type, were both separate from the world; and that when they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc. and made his Garden a Wilderness, as at this day. And that therefore if he will ever please to restore his Garden and Paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto himself from the world, and that all that shall be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of the Wilderness of world, and added unto his Church or Garden. *[Williams uses the world as a synonym for civil state — note The Bloudy Tenent, pp. 73, 177. Type and Anti-type are theological terms, referring to parallel concepts between the Old and New Testaments. Williams constantly relied on a review of Scripture to support his positions.]
The Presbyterian party of Parliament immediately had The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution
burned, but Williams quickly had it reprinted. *[The Supreme Court referenced Williams in McCollum v. Board of Education, 1948, reviewed previously (note section two of the series), and in a roundabout manner quoted The Bloudy Tenent, as if he advocated the legal concept created by Justices in the 20th century for Separation of Church and State, rather than a position consistent with denominationalism, the Truth Triumphant, for the true meaning for the metaphor. However, the Court has never acknowledged the denominational position ever existed anywhere in history, just as the latter 20th century Justices never were aware of precedent cases which completely contradict their decisions on the Christian character of the nation, reviewed at the subsection, Vital Precedent Cases Ignored by the Court, under The Supreme Court on First Amendment History.]The fundamental principle of the Truth Triumphant, implicit in the concept of denominationalism, that in a free and fair debate the truth will win, was brought to the attention of the entire nation by the renowned poet, John Milton, in his famous unlicensed pamphlet set out as a speech before Parliament, Areopagetica.
In 1643, Parliament passed the Licensing Order,
reinstating censorship over all publishing, to be controlled by granting a printing monopoly to the Stationers' Company. In protest, in 1644, Milton argued before Parliament that God brought the Reformation to England, that the search for truth would be confirmed by a review of all facts and every argument. Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making. Under these terrors of sect and schism, we wrong the earnest and zealous thirst after knowledge and understanding which God hath stirred up in this city... A little generous prudence, a little forbearance of one another, and some grain of charity might win all these diligences to join and unite in one general and brotherly search after truth... so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?
(However, Milton may be best known by his place in the history of English literature, due to his epic poem, Paradise Lost,
written in reverence of the Bible, which at the 12th book advocates freedom of conscience). *[In ancient Athens, Areopagus was a hill where an acclaimed high court of appeal met, and where the apostle Paul preached Christ to the Greeks, Acts 17. The King James Version refers to the location as Mars Hill, its Roman name.] Others had already put forward Milton's argument, such as Thomas Goodwin in Imputato Fidei, or A Treatise on Justification/,[i] published in 1641, and arising from a theological debate with George Walker on justification. Goodwin argued that justification comes from an increasing endeavor to learn the truth, which requires religious toleration and the widest intellectual freedom, with encountering and overcoming error an essential part of the process. [i]The only art and method of raising an estate of honour and peace out of our errors is by sacrificing them upon the honour and service of the truth. This is a way to circumvent the Divell, and to turne his weapons upon himselfe. He sends errors out of Hell to curse the truth: but by this meanes you shall cause them to bless her altogether. Truth never gets up into her throne with that advantage as when her enemy (the opposite error) is made her foote-stoole. [William Haller, The Rise of Puritanism: Or, The Way to the New Jerusalem as Set Forth in Pulpit and Press from Thomas Cartwright to John Lilburne and John Milton, 1570-1643: Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1938, pp. 199-203].In 1641 Lord Robert Brooke put forward in the press the argument for toleration and the right to pursue truth, during a recess of Parliament, in A Discourse Opening the Nature of That Episcopacie, Which Is Exercised in England
based on his work from 1640, The Nature of Truth, Its Union and Unity with the Soule, which is One in its Essence, Faculties, Acts; One with Truth/.
was a response to a tract by Bishop Joseph Hall, which asserted that after the few tenets of the Christian faith that are clear and universally agreed upon by all churches of Christendom, other matters must be resolved by bishops in the interest of peace, order, and safety. Brooke argued for liberty of thought, unlicensed preaching and printing. No one person had complete possession of the truth, but it shines where it will, even among the humble and ignorant, as everyone is moved to inquiry and discussion. The search for truth goes on without ceasing, but when it becomes known entirely, all people will become one with God. [Haller, pp. 331-338.]
Actually, these arguments on religious toleration, which eventually became known as denominationalism and the Truth Triumphant, had their origins from William Tyndale through the Reformation from the European continent in the 16th century. From 1529 to 1533, Tyndale and Lord Chancellor Thomas More engaged in a debate of over a million words with a primary focus on the role of Scripture and the right to own a Bible translation. Tyndale relied heavily on Scripture to support his positions. The debate covered many related issues, and Tyndale argued for the ideas that became the foundation of democracy in England, not just freedom of conscience, but equal protection under the law with due process for all, rule by the consent of the governed, evenhanded justice, fair trails, and religious equality, with the freedom to speak, publish, and to decide for one's self the truth. [Farris, pp. 21-30.]
After John Calvin had Michael Servetus executed, in 1553, for his religious beliefs, French reformer Sebastian Castellio wrote a series of books attacking the death penalty for heresy. Castellio's Concerning Heretics may be the most significant work arguing for religious toleration in the 16th century.
Calvin and his successor, Theodore Beza, wrote defenses for the Servetus execution. The 17th century writings in England on religious toleration often quote from the celebrated debate between Castellio and Calvin.
William Haller, in The Rise of Puritanism,
summarizes succinctly Castellio's argument for religious toleration. Castellio claimed “room for the widest diversity of opinion within the limits set by the few essential tenents universally accepted by Christians.” The sword could not make truth prevail. “The toleration of religious differences was the only condition that could lead to the progressive discovery of truth.” [Haller, pp. 194,195.]
Haller cites Jacob Acontius as having reached an intellectual position similar to Castellio.
Fleeing persecution in Italy, going to Geneva, Germany, and elsewhere, he finally settled in England, received the favor of Queen Elizabeth, and wrote Stratagems of Satan,
first published in 1565, in Latin and French. It was only translated incompletely into English in 1648, but long before so, Englishmen were familiar with the work.
Haller also summarizes succinctly Acontius' argument. Satan's assault on the soul has one principle object, to have obedience rendered not to conscience but to some claim of infallible authority in other men, or conversely, to assert such authority over others, which comes from pride and arrogance. Thus, Acontius asserts that no one is free from error, and that no human can declare what is truth absolutely.
The few indispensable tenets of faith acknowledged by all Christians and essential to salvation are revealed directly to the heart of a person. However, the endless distinctions of doctrine commonly the subject of disagreement among people contribute nothing to salvation. The fact that no one can hope to attain perfect knowledge of truth does not mean that it does not exist or cannot be known. Everyone must search Scripture for light and is entitled to be heard, tailors, fishermen, butchers, cooks, silly women.
“Who knows by whom God will chuse to discover the truth?” Mistakes, scandals, vexations may come forth, but error is an essential part of the process of seeking to know, and by detecting the false we find truth. To overcome error, no sword is necessary, but truth only requires a free field for argument. [Haller, pp. 196-199.]
Haller notes these arguments on toleration and the pursuit of truth primarily were forwarded by many sects through the preaching of the time and the writings of many religious leaders, both on the European continent and in England.
Some historians attempt to claim priority for their own denomination in originating and promoting the ideas, but the individual sect had less significance than the sects as a whole. [Haller, p. 177.]Cromwell and the Ongoing Cry for Religious Freedom
In 1644, Oliver Cromwell led a surprising victory over a Royal Calvary unit. Soon thereafter, Parliament formed the New Model Army, with Cromwell second in command. In 1645, Cromwell defeated Charles at the battle of Naseby. Under siege at Oxford, Charles escaped to the Scots hoping to negotiate for assistance in exchange for making the Church of England Presbyterian. However, Parliament agreed to Presbyterianism for the Church of England, and Charles was handed over to the New Model Army.
Presbyterians then presented arguments against religious toleration as unreasonable and preposterous, which only could lead to lawlessness and social chaos. George Gillespie attempted to answer the arrogant Roger Williams in Wholesome Severity reconciled with Christian liberty.
However, the New Model Army was dominated by Independents and supported by the Levellers and the sects. The Levellers were a political movement best known for An Agreement of the People,
a manifesto, with different versions from 1647 to 1649. This declaration called for constitutional reform in England, to include the prohibition of laws compelling or penalizing religious beliefs, and disallowing government restraint on conscience, the practice of faith, or the free exercise of religion.
Universal voting rights also were affirmed, as well as equality for all under the law, and commensurate legislative constituencies. Many Leveller army recruits carried a copy of the document in their uniforms.
Sir Henry Vane, an Independent, promoted the interests of the sects and religious toleration in Parliament, as did Oliver Cromwell for the army. Cromwell argued that the example of the army proved toleration did not lead to chaos, but peace and harmony when united with Christian love. Note the pamphlet, Strong motives, or Loving and modest advice, unto the petitioners for Presbyterian government. That they endeavour not to the compulsion of any in matters of religion, then they wish others should endeavour to compel them. But with all love, lenitie, meekness, patience, & long-suffering to doe unto others, as they desire others should doe unto them,
authored either anonymously or by Cromwell in 1645. The pamphlet quotes a letter by Cromwell to the army — Presbyterians, Independents, all had here the same Spirit of Faith and prayer, the same presence and answer, they agree here, know no names of difference; pity it is, it should be otherwise anywhere. All that believe, have the real Unity which is most glorious, because inward and spiritual in the body and to the head. As for being united in forms (commonly called uniformity) every Christian will for Peace’s sake, study and do as far as Conscience will permit; And from brethren, in things of the mind, we look for no compulsion, but that of Light and reason.
The Westminster Confession of Faith
was completed in 1646. Parliament made disagreeing with the Confession
illegal and changed two articles to keep the Church under its own control. A bill for freedom of worship was introduced in Parliament but was defeated by the Presbyterians. Parliament then passed a bill on penalties for heresy and blasphemy, which never were enforced due to popular opposition.In 1648, Parliament negotiated with Charles I for his restoration with limited powers, with the army to be placed under its control. In response, Cromwell's forces under Colonel Pride prevented 121 members of the Commons from taking their seats, known as Pride's Purge, leaving 60 members to comprise a Rump Parliament.
With the Presbyterian and Royalist members of Parliament gone, the Independents were in control of the government. From January to May in 1649, the Rump tried and executed Charles, abolished the monarchy and the House of the Lords,
established a Council of State, (which controlled the press through the courts), and declared the nation a Commonwealth under the supreme authority of Parliament.
Charles was charged with levying war against the people for the upholding of his personal interest of will.*[The primary power of government in Britain was transferred from king to Parliament under the slogan, No Taxation without Representation, the principle behind the Magna Carta in establishing a limited monarchy. Samuel Rutherford set out the justification for the English Civil War in Lex Rex.]
The Scots declared the son of Charles I, Prince Charles, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland. A royalist coalition began forming in Ireland, raising troops to place Charles on the throne. Parliament sent military forces to crush the Irish revolt, with Cromwell giving up being chairman of the Council of State to take command. As the Scots negotiated with Charles to make him king in exchange for a Presbyterian State Church, Cromwell's forces moved into Scotland, subduing the country by the end of 1651. Charles fled to France.
The Rump established no national church. It made atheism illegal, required everyone to attend some place religious on Sunday and holy days, but repealed former acts of Parliament suppressing toleration. Then, a Committee of Propagation of the Gospel was appointed to find a solution on national uniformity of religion. As Cromwell had returned from his campaign in Scotland and again was involved in government, he became a prominent member of the Committee. Debate ensued on what should be required in regard to religion by law. Independents mostly argued for citizens having to recognize basics on faith from the Bible, without external adherence to doctrinal tests of an institutional church. Cromwell advocated a national church, but without the right to persecute non-adherents, and with liberty of conscience maintained for all. However, a threat of war with the Dutch and the demands of foreign policy brought the negotiations to a standstill.
As the nation prepared for war, Cromwell and officers of the army petitioned the Rump Parliament to return to the consideration of domestic reforms. The petition was set aside. Then, the Rump proposed a bill for New Representation in Parliament, with existing members retaining their seats without reelection,
while determining eligibility for additional members and placing all powers of State under the control of one permanent chamber. Cromwell proposed instead, that the Parliament appoint a provisional government and dissolve. Parliament refused and continued work on the the bill for New Representation. When the bill was put to a vote, Cromwell called in musketeers and had the Rump Parliament disassembled.
A small Council of Officers from the Rump then served as an interim governing body. They decided that congregational churches throughout the nation should recommend persons to be selected for a representative assembly. The army drew up a written constitution, the Instrument of Government,
which included making Cromwell king. He refused, and the constitution was revised, with his accepting a position as Protector. Power was distributed between the Protector and a Parliament.The Instrument of Government stipulated that Christianity should be held forth and recommended as the public profession of faith, but with guarantees that no one would be forced into orthodoxy. Those professing faith in God by Jesus Christ, but differing with specifics on a doctrine to be publicly proclaimed, were to be protected in the free exercise of their religion, except for Popery and Prelacy. Doctrinal error was to be won over through the teaching of “sound doctrine and the example of good conversation.”
The first Parliament elected under the Protectorate immediately tried to claim sovereignty, to which Cromwell objected
based on fundamental principles — that the government should be a single person and Parliament, not the latter alone and supreme; that Parliament could not be perpetual; and that as the supreme magistrate had liberty of conscience, so did every person. However, the Independents compromised with the Presbyterians to form a majority in Parliament, then setting restrictions on religious toleration. When members indicated intent to take sole control of the army, Cromwell had Parliament dissolved, which the Instrument permitted after five months.
In 1656, a second Parliament was elected, which drafted the Humble Petition and Advice. This written constitution confirmed Christianity and called for an agreement on a confession of faith to be held forth and recommended to the people, not to be maliciously or contemptuously reviled, but not to be compelled by penalties. The constitution provided protection for the free exercise of religion for those confessing faith in Christ, the Trinity, and Scripture as the Word of God, but with differing doctrine from the public profession of faith. However, at this point the nation mainly craved stability.
In September 1658, Cromwell died prematurely.
By the constitution he was empowered to chose a successor, and he had selected his son, Richard. In May, 1659, his conflicts with army generals resulted in recalling the Rump Parliament, which immediately voted to end the Protectorate. Then, Major-General John Lambert dissolved the Rump; and General George Monck, a royalist governing in Scotland, marched to London with 6,000 troops and restored the Long Parliament.
The Westminster Confession
was made the official statement of faith for the nation and new elections were held. In April 1660, the new Parliament declared Prince Charles the rightful King.
*[The death of Cromwell should be considered suspicious, actually consistent with poisoning, in a plot to reinstate Charles II as king, carried out by a State physician, an apothecary member of Parliament, and two priests, later to become bishops. See — H. E. McMains The Death of Oliver Cromwell: Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 2000.]Charles II and The Restoration
In May, Charles
returned to London from Holland, where from Breda he had issued a declaration of intent to promote religious toleration and to uphold liberty of conscience,
promised essentially as a condition for his restoration to the monarchy, on first hearing Cromwell was near death. Before his coronation, he reached a Restoration Settlement with Parliament, basically reinstating the status of government to its role before the Puritan takeover, but with the king no longer able to use prerogative courts, with discretionary powers and privileges, to try his enemies.
By the end of the year, 700 Puritan ministers were replaced by Anglicans. However, Charles made assurances that Presbyterian ministers were not enemies and proposed making minor concessions to them, such as some slight modifications to the Book of Common Prayer,
which was rejected by Parliament.
The bodies of Cromwell and three of his associates were taken from their coffins and hung in infamy for a day; and then, their heads were placed on spikes for display above Westminster Hall. Persecution of Separatists resumed. John Bunyan was imprisoned for maintaining unlawful assemblies and not conforming to the worship of the Church of England.
Coercive Church courts began operating, and the Solemn League and Covenant
was burned in public.Between 1662 to 1665, Parliament passed a series of acts known as the Clarendon Code, designed to crush religious dissent by punishing those not conforming to the Church of England.
The Corporation Act
required public officials to take communion in the Anglican Church and to swear the Solemn League and Covenant
was unlawful. A new Act of Uniformity
required clergy to assent to a revised Book of Common Prayer,
upon which all ceremonies had to be based. Preachers, teachers, even private tutors were to be approved and licensed by ecclesiastical authorities. The Licensing Act
prohibited printing of books or pamphlets contrary to the doctrine of the Church of England, with government officials empowered to search houses and shops. The Five Mile Act
forbade nonconformist ministers from coming within five miles of an incorporated town or the place of their former service. The Conventicle Act made an assembly of five or more persons for the exercise of religion illegal, and officials could brake into any suspected meeting. Up to 15,000 Quakers may have been imprisoned for meetings and refusing to go to public worship. Armed bands commonly made raids on illegal assemblies,
which represented most of the state religious persecution, rather than punishment for heresy.Charles saw all inquisitiveness in religion as mischievous to the State,
according to his intimate associate Gilbert Burnett, theologian and cleric. However, in December, 1662, Charles requested Parliament to ease the burden on dissenters and to permit worship by nonconformists through licensing, including Catholics. Parliament rejected the proposal as endangering the peace of the kingdom. In 1672, he issued a Declaration of Indulgence, asserting that dissenting preachers should be licensed.
Two days later he declared war on the Netherlands, as part of the terms of the secret Treaty of Dover
with Catholic France. According to the Treaty, he agreed to announce his conversion to Catholicism at a time set by his own discretion, when he would receive two million gold crowns to assist returning the nation to the Roman Church. The Treaty only became public after his death.
In 1673, Parliament passed the Test Act,
requiring that office holders of the government or the military take sacrament according to the rules of the Anglican Church.Rather than take the anti-Catholic oath of the Test Act, Charles' brother, James, Duke of York, resigned his governmental and high admiralty offices, making known his Roman faith.
His wife had converted to Catholicism just after their marriage in 1660, and he became a member of the Roman Church about eight years later, although due to Charles' insistence, he continued to take sacraments and attend the services of the Anglican Church. James was heir to the throne, as Charles' wife was barren, and any son of James' marriage was in line of succession. The fear of a return of Catholic dominance reached national hysteria and was the bases of much opposition to religious toleration. To bolster his Protestant image, Charles chose the Earl of Danby as a chief minister, who was anti-toleration, anti-dissenter, anti-Catholic. In 1675, Charles ordered all English born Jesuits and Catholic priests to leave the country. In 1678, the Popish Plot
was uncovered by an Anglican clergyman, a Jesuit plan to assassinate Charles and place his more Catholic brother, James, on the throne, while having Protestants massacred. Anti-Catholic sentiment became even more severe, subjecting them in general to suspicion of treason. However, upon investigation, the Plot was determined to be fiction.
On February 2, 1685, at age 54, Charles suffered a convulsion and died suddenly on the 6th, confessing Catholicism and receiving sacrament. *
[Charles even foamed at the mouth. He was bled, given strong laxatives, induced to vomit, but none of many remedies availed. Again, the King’s death was not investigated, but at the time, many suspected he was poisoned.]James II
As Charles did not endorse any of his illegitimate children for succession, his brother became King James II.
He promised to uphold and preserve the government and Church as established by law. However, he attended Catholic mass daily, and his favorite advisors were French Jesuit priests.
He released from prison 12,000 Catholics, who had refused the oath of allegiance of the Clarendon Code,
as well as 1,200 Quakers and other dissenters. However, there was no real public objection to this action, as the people were sympathetic to religious prisoners.
James asked Parliament to repeal the Test Act,
which was refused. Many feared James wanted to fulfill Charles II's plan to make England Catholic.
Two rebellions arose, which James easily defeated, but he insisted on using Catholic officers in the military, contrary to the Test Act.In 1687, James issued a Declaration of Indulgence, wishing all people of the dominion to be members of the Catholic Church, but suspending penal laws for nonconformity to the established Church, and upholding free exercise of religion. The Declaration permitted all people to have meetings and assemblies in private homes or elsewhere for serving God in their own manner, open to everyone freely admitted and on giving notice to a justice of the peace of a designated place. Supremacy oaths and religious tests for holding civil or military office were revoked, and all dissidents were pardoned of any crimes committed by violating former religious penal laws.
James appointed Catholics to important government, military, and university positions and began building his army with Irish Catholic soldiers. He devised a strategy to bring about a Catholic nation, by assuming control of the courts and by making Parliament submissive. He had judges not sympathetic to him dismissed, with replacements coming from his supporters.
Then, he used the courts to bully Protestant church and government officials. By appointing electoral agents and through his power over the charters of communities, he manipulated candidates for local government office, intending to establish a political organization for taking over Parliament. In response, Anglicans and Puritans from Parliament united to foil his plans.
James wrote letters to his two daughters, Mary and Anne, to have them convert to Catholicism. Both refused. Their mother had died in childbirth, and they were raised by a governance, and as Anglicans by the insistence of Charles II. They were the heirs to the throne. Mary, the elder daughter, was married to William of Orange of the Netherlands, known as a champion of the Protestant faith due to his role in wars against Catholic France.In 1688, James ordered his Declaration of Indulgence to be read in all churches by clergy on specified dates. Seven Anglican bishops signed a petition refusing to comply with the order, and the great majority of clergy did not undertake the reading. James had the bishops arrested and tried for inciting rebellion. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and crowds in the streets celebrated through the night, lighting bonfires. Weeks before the trail, James' second wife gave birth to a son, who would displace his daughters in line of succession to the throne. Protestant leaders felt the time was right to invite William of Orange to invade England.William of Orange and The Glorious Revolution
William agreed to the invasion of England, with setting out the objectives of eliminating arbitrary power, restoring laws dating back to the Magna Carta,
and reestablishing the authority of a freely elected Parliament. As William made military preparations, the commander in chief of James' army conspired to have the troops change sides. The coming invasion had the support of the entire nation. By November, William's forces landed, and soldiers from James' army began deserting. By December, as William marched toward London, James ordered his army to disband, while he escaped to France.William set up a temporary government, and a new Parliament was elected.
Parliament set aside divine right as the authority of the monarchy. Human authority was upheld as the bases of both Parliament and the monarchy. The crown was offered to William and Mary, on the condition of their accepting the Declaration of Rights,
which listed rights to be restored and protected, and which clarified the powers of the monarchy and Parliament.
Initially, the crown was offered to Mary, but she refused, unless William also was made king, not a prince or consort. William and Mary accepted the Declaration of Rights,
which Parliament changed in name to the Bill of Rights. The nation's judicial system was set up as independent of both Parliament and the monarchy, in reaction to the manner in which James II had packed the courts in his favor. A central bank was chartered under William of Orange in 1694, which the descendant kings of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, always had refused.
The insurance company, Lloyd's, was set up in 1688, and the London Stock Exchange was originated in 1698. *[Conspiracy theorists find significance in William of Orange agreeing to establish the Central Bank of England, actually privately owned, which included ceding sovereignty over a square mile of territory in the middle of London, known as The City of London, the main center of international banking today.]The New Way
In 1620, Francis Bacon published The New Organon or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature, known as The New Way,
referring to a scientific method and the discovery of principles of nature through empiric observation. Eventually, the authority of rational thought derived from experimental study began to take hold of English society,
and by 1687, Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica
represented a new era of science. The method of reasoning developed through science caused people to question the authority of government and the Church and assisted movement toward new political ideas in society.
In 1688/89, in Two Treatises on Government, John Locke sets out the justification for the Glorious Revolution,
reviewing extensively “the true original extent and end of civil government,” based not on Scripture alone, but examining the laws of nature appointed by God, according to a method of reasoning as emphasized by Bacon.
Locke held that all people are born free and equal, that God did not place any person above another, and that everyone has the natural right to life, liberty, and property, which is inalienable and sacred. As no superior force compels the laws of nature in human relations, government is necessary to guarantee equal opportunity and people's rights. Government arises out of an agreement between the people and a regulating social authority, which is binding for both sides. The people must obey the law, but government must not violate personal rights. However, the people actually rule and can replace the government, when human rights are violated. In order to constrain the excess of power in government, three branches should function separately, the executive, legislature, and judiciary. Locke's position achieved wide acclaim and greatly influenced the American Constitution. *[The concept of separation of powers in government actually originated in English law from the example of the constitution of Calvin's church in Geneva, which was based on the New Testament. Church government was conceived as consisting of an executive (the pastor), a legislature (the board of elders), and the voting membership of the congregation (the priesthood of all believers). Judicial matters were to be resolved by meetings between representatives of the executive and legislature.]
In A Letter Concerning Toleration,
published in 1689, Locke set out that civil government and religion have different functions. The government is constituted to procure, preserve, and advance the civil interests of the citizens, the things of this world. However, salvation concerns the world to come, and the care of souls is committed to God. Life and the power of true religion consist in the inward persuasion of the mind. Every believer is commissioned to draw others to the truth through reasoning. The power of the magistrate consists only of outward force, which is not acceptable to God for establishing the Church.
The magistrate cannot impose articles of faith on the people, and the Church does not have jurisdiction in worldly matters. The Church cannot deprive anyone of civil goods, property, or liberty, but its only remedy to deal with errant believers is separation from the community, excommunication. The Church must be free, and private conventicles should be allowed for all Christians, and even pagans, Muslims, and Jews. Private religious assemblies are not clandestine machinations, but the oppression of religious groups causes sedition. However, Catholics and atheists cannot be tolerated, as the former deliver themselves to the service and protection of a foreign prince, the Pope being as much a political figure as religious, and as the latter take no hold of promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of society.
Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration
is rich in content and well worth reading. The following is a sample quotation, taken from the William Popple translation. The letter originally was written in Latin, but immediately translated.Every man has an immortal soul, capable of eternal happiness or misery; whose happiness depending upon his believing and doing those things in this life, which are necessary to the obtaining God's favour, and are prescribed by God to that end. It follows from thence, first, that the observance of these things is the highest obligation that lies upon mankind; and that our utmost care, application, and diligence ought to be exercised in the search and performance of them; because there is nothing in this world that is of any consideration in comparison with eternity. Secondly, that seeing one man does not violate the right of another, by his erroneous opinions, and undue manner of worship, nor is his perdition any prejudice to another man's affairs; therefore, the care of each man's salvation belongs only to himself. But I would not have this understood, as if I meant hereby to condemn all charitable admonitions, and affectionate endeavors to reduce men from errors, which are indeed the greatest duty of a Christian. Any one may employ as many exhortations and arguments as he pleases, towards the promoting of another man's salvation; but all force and compulsion are to be forborne. Nothing is to be done imperiously. Nobody is obliged in that matter to yield obedience unto the admonitions or injunction of another, further than he himself is persuaded. Every man, in that, has the supreme and absolute authority of judging for himself. And the reason is, because nobody else is concerned in it, nor can receive any prejudice form his conduct therein.In 1689, Parliament passed the Toleration Act, which ended religious wars in England.
The punishments of the Clarendon Code
were revoked. Freedom of public worship was given to all groups accepting the Trinity and the divine inspiration of the Bible, and rejecting papal supremacy and transubstantiation. Thus, Catholics and Unitarians were excluded. However, non-Anglicans were banned from universities. With this Act as a first major step, eventually absolute toleration came to the United Kingdom, consistent with the Theory of Denominationalism and the Truth Triumphant, the position set out during the English Civil War by the Protestant sects dissenting against the Church of England, as Anglican or Presbyterian.Continued in the next post.....Download as a PDF for enhanced viewing and navigation here.