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3. In the same work may be found a succinct account of the baptists. It is too long for insertion in this place: but cannot, it is apprehended, be very
much abridged. For the present purpose, it is sufficient to say, that, in their discipline and worship, as well as in the independency of their particular congregations, they very nearly resemble the independents; but differ from them in the administration of baptism. It is observable, that this denomination of christians,-now very respectable, but in their origin little intellectual, – first
- propagated the principles of religious liberty.
The separation of the puritans from the church of England began with the act of uniformity ; but was not discernible till the year 1566,—the period assigned for it by Neale*. Some writers term this --the first separation : the second, they say, took place, soon after the assembly of the clergy was convened at Lambeth, by the order of James the first, in 1604.
The principal cause assigned for these separations, was, the use of certain ceremonies, still practised by the ministers of the established church; particularly the retention of the surplice. In proportion as the controversy grew warm, more importance was annexed to these circumstances. Cartwright and his brethren admitted them to be indifferent in substance; though, on many accounts, seriously objectionable : at the time of the second separation, they were pronounced to be unlawful : and neither to be imposed nor endured.
* Hist. of the Puritans, c. iv.
The Act of Uniformity.
On the accession of queen Elizabeth, the greater part of the exiles returned to their native country. Their distinction, into conformists and non-conformists, followed them, on their return; and the liberty, which they then enjoyed, rather increased than diminished their animosities. A temporary peace was, however, signed ; and letters of mutual forgiveness passed between the leaders of the contending parties. It has been mentioned, that
queen Elizabeth wished the national creed and discipline to be as comprehensive as possible; but, being once established, she determinately resolved, that all should conform to it. With this view, the act of uniformity, (1 Eliz. c. 2), was passed. It enjoined, as we have already shortly stated, that all ministers of the church should use the book of Common Prayer authorized by the statute of the 5th and 6th years of Edward the sixth, with the addition of certain lessons, to be used on every Sunday and holiday in the year; and with an alteration in the form of the litany; and the insertion of two sentences in the delivery of the sacrament to the communicants. All persons were enjoined to attend divine service, at their parish church, or at some accustomed chapel, on every Sunday, and also on every other day prescribed by law, under the penalty of one shilling for each
absence. This statute was generally called the Act of Uniformity.
The Court of High Commission. Mention has been already made of the statutes, which, in the first year of the reign of queen Elizabeth, conferred upon her the spiritual supremacy of the church of England. A clause, inserted in that statute, was attended with the most serious effects; and, in the reign of her second successor, convulsed both the church and the state to their centres. It empowered “the queen, and her suc
cessors, to appoint commissioners, to exercise
any manner of spiritual or ecclesiastical juris“ diction in England or Ireland; to visit, reform,
redress, order, correct, and amend all heresies, “schisms, contempts, offences, and enormities “ whatsoever :"-with a proviso, that they “should “ determine nothing to be heresy, but what had “ been adjudged to be so, by the canonical scrip“ ture, or by the first four general councils, or any “other general council, wherein the same had been “ declared heresy, by the express and plain words “ of scripture; or such as should thereafter be “ declared to be heresy by the high court of par“ liament, with the consent of the clergy in convo
History of England, c. xli.
perfectly accord in their accounts of the unconstitutional and arbitrary rules of this court; and of the enormity of its proceedings. By the former, they are described in the following words :
“ The first primate, after the queen's accession, “ was Parker; a man, rigid in exacting conformity “ to the established worship, and in punishing, by “fine or deprivation, all the puritanical clergymen “ who attempted to innovate anything in the habits, “ ceremonies, or liturgy of the church. He died “ in 1575; and was succeeded by Grindall, who,
as he himself was inclined to the new sect, was, “ with great difficulty, brought to execute the laws
against them, or to punish the non-conforming “clergy. He declined obeying the queen's orders “ for the suppression of prophesyings, or the assem“ blies of the zealots in private houses, which, she “ apprehended, had become so many academies of “ fanaticism; and, for this offence, she had, by an “ order of the star-chamber, sequestered him from “ his archiepiscopal function, and confined him to “his own house. Upon his death, which hap“pened in 1583, she determined not to fall into “ the same error in her next choice; and she named
Whitgift, a zealous churchman, who had already signalized his
pen in controversy, and who, having in vain attempted to convince the puritans by argument, was now resolved to open their
eyes by power, and by the execution of penal “ statutes. He informed the queen, that all the
spiritual authority lodged in the prelates was insignificant, without the sanction of the crown;
and, as there was no ecclesiastical commission, “ at that time, in force, he engaged her to issue
a new one, more arbitrary than any of the former; " and conveying more unlimited authority. She “ appointed forty-four commissioners, twelve of “ whom were ecclesiastics; three commissioners “ made a quorum; the jurisdiction of the court “ extended over the whole kingdom, and over all “ orders of men ; and every circumstance of its “ authority, and all its methods of proceeding, “ were contrary to the clearest principles of law “ and natural equity. The commissioners were
empowered to visit and reform all errors, here
sies, schisms; in a word, to regulate all opinions, “ as well as to punish all breach of uniformity " in the exercise of public worship. They were " directed to make inquiry, not only by the legal “ method of juries and witnesses, but by all other “means and ways which they could devise; that
is, by the rack, by torture, by inquisition, by imprisonment. Where they found reason to suspect any person, they might administer to him an
oath, called ex officio; by which he was bound “ to answer all questions, and might thereby be
obliged to accuse himself, or his most intimate “ friend. The fines which they levied were dis“cretionary, and often occasioned the total ruin “ of the offender, contrary to the established laws “ of the kingdom. The imprisonment to which “they condemned any delinquent, was limited by “no rule but their own pleasure. They assumed
a power of imposing on the clergy what new