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mouth defileth a man, while that which entereth into it doth not defile him.' It is understood that there is hardly any puerility, idolatry, Jesuitism, or extravagance, from Atheisin to Diabolism, that a little perverse ingenuity may not bless with some equivocal translation of textual authority. Even the perdition creed of St. Athanasius is not wholly unaccredited, and the late Archbishop Magee used to refer to the 16th chapter of St. Mark as the divine authority for its eternal maledictions.
King James was the oracle-the type of his time-its pedantry, ignorance, and superstition. The ' wise fool,' as Sully termed bim, dedicated one of his literary performances to Jesus Christ; in another erudite work, on Demonology, he had the good fortune to discover why the devil did worke more with auncient women than with others;' and we are not sure, had he been contemporary with Miss Martineau and her maid, he would have penetrated the mystery of mesmerism. His belief in evil spirits, however, is no great disparagement to his understanding. It was the common faith of the period. The 72d of the English Canons requires a bishop's license to the clergy for the casting out of devils.' In a sermon preached before Queen Elizabeth by Bishop Jewel, is the following illustrative rarity :
. It may please your grace to understand that this kind of people, I mean witches and sorcerers, within these few years are marvellously increased within your grace's realm. These eyes have seen most evident and manifest marks of their wickedness. Your grace's subjects pine away even unto death ; their colour fadeth, their flesh rotteth ; their speech is benumbed, their senses bereft. [Mesmerism and witchcraft are certainly related.] Wherefore your poor subjects' humble petition to your highness is, that the laws touching such malefactors may be put in due execution. For the shoal of them is great, their doings horrible, their malice intolerable, their example most miserable ; and I pray
God they may never practise further than upon the subject.”
In this there is not much to marvel. A dread of witches and of papists long continued the rabid apprehension of the nation. Two centuries later, individuals, reputed learned and enlightened, were not exempt from the delusion.
No less a personage than Mr. Justice Blackstone, in the presence of the reverend and orthodox body by whom he was appointed to teach, solemnly affirmed, that 'to deny the possibility, nay, actual existence of witchcraft and sorcery, is at once flatly to contradict the revealed word of God in various passages both of the Old and New Testament.'p It is needless to revert to the sentiments of
* Middleton's Works, vol. i. p. 355. + Commentaries (originally Lectures at Oxford,) b. iv. ch. 4.
Dr. Johnson or Addison; the first a wilful superstitionist, the other of an intellect trite, effeminate, timid, and unenterprising.
Worse than sorcery or witchcraft, in the first Stuart's reign, the whole island, from the Land's End to John-o’-Groat's, was overshadowed with the deadly nightshade of Calvinism. Thuggism would be a more suitable name; for it is only in the sanguinary delusions of the assassins of the East, who pervert horrid crimes into consecrated virtues, that a fit parallel can be found to the extremes of the Geneva school, which in place of divine beneficence plants a macerated demon; blind, truculent, and indiscriminative. Frightful as is the creed of the Calvins, Knoxes, and Melvilles in its rigour, it must be remembered as a feature of the period, that ninety assembled divines, (five of them deputies of King James,) having the fear of God before their eyes and the Holy Scriptures in their hands, after some nionths' deliberation at Dort, among other equally pious and plausible matter, declared, that God, by an absolute decree, hath elected to salvation a very small number of men, without any regard to their faith or obedience whatever, and excluded from saving grace all the rest of mankind, and appointed them by the same decree to eternal damnation, without any regard to their infidelity or impenitency.'* Even up to the present time, in the formularies of Scotland, it is affirmed, that they who having never heard the gospel know not Jesus Christ, and believe not in him, cannot be saved, be they ever so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, or the laws of . that religion which they possess.”The eighteenth article of the Church of England goes nearly to the same length ; with the distinction, however, in its favour, that it introduces the doctrine with an open and uncompromising declaration of the consequences of any doubt upon the subject, that is to say, * they are to be had accursed' who presume to interpret the acts of the Divinity by the aid of any other passages than that to which it is itself made to refer. And what is the warranty of Scripture upon which it boldly relies? why, Acts iv. 12, a verse irreconcileable with a correct translation of verses 9th and 10th of the same chapter.
Such are the perplexities of theology; such the dismal conclusions to which fallible men arrive when abandoned to the flickering lights of scriptural translations. It is the natural tendency of society under the guidance of churchmen, unaided by science and philosophy. After the Reformation theology long formed the staple topic of engrossment and controversy.
* Five Points, Art. I. + Westminster Confession, Larger ('atm. question 60.
Religious differences were almost exclusively agitated; formed the chief sources of wars, massacres, and diplomacy, and wholly absorbed the heart and intellect of the European nations. In the absence of free and independent research, under a timid and calculating intellectual guidance, the age seems drifting back to the profitless polemics of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The symptoms in our own country are palpable and unequivocal. Theological nuge which occupied our ancestors under King James distract their descendants under Queen Victoria. Divines rarely divide on the essentials of Christianity, those really pertinent to human weal, but its glosses, trappings, and ceremonies, which they artfully pervert into exclusive tests of power, patronage, and emolument. The ancient weapons that had been handled, worn out and abandoned as worthless, have been again furbished up and brought from the armory. After the elapse of two centuries the grand strife is still between civil and ecclesiastical ascendancy-between episcopacy and independency-between prelacy and presbytery; the idolatries of Rome, her vestments, crossings, Mariolatry, and absolutions, are again in issue; it is still chiefly a question of canonicals-of popish rags,' as Knox termed them, -whether the gown or surplice, corner cap or tippet, shall have precedency.
In no country and for a longer period have religious divisions been more fiercely and uncompromisingly agitated than in Scotland, yet no spiritual dogma divided the two parties so bitterly opposed upon the forms of public worship, church government, and discipline. Down to the present doctrinal dissent has made little progress in that country; the only considerable bodies of seceders, the Free Church inclusive, from the established church, still continue to adhere to its standard of faith. In the most turbulent period of the Scottish church, as they still continue, both Episcopalians and Presbyterians are equally Calvinists. But creeds, like laws, ought not to be estimated by their literal expression, but their practical uses and interpretation. Although nominally the faith of Presbyterians, Puritans, and Episcopalians was common and accordant in words, in spirit, and temper, it was entirely different. With the faith of the former was associated great strictness of life, a carriage and disposition gloomy and ascetic, an enthusiastic spirit of devotion, with its concomitants, good and bad,-honesty, earnestness, restlessness, inquisitiveness, censoriousness, arrogance, egotism, intolerance, and want of charity; all direct fruits of a devouring zeal, narrow mind, and rigid interpretation of Genevaism. From the same fountain the Episcopalians drew their profession, associated, however, with a converse practical observance; they were neither morose nor precise, but took religion easy, accustomed as they were to feel as if the danger was rather of there being too much than too little of it in the world. “In their notion, too, as remarked by a contemporary, “it was only in part a spiritual and moral law; it was in great part an affair of form and fashion; if the one-half of it had come down from heaven, the otl er was but the manufacture of expediency and the civil magistrate.' The violent antagonism into which they were thrown tended of course to augment the natural divergence of the two parties; and it is probable that the extreme scrupulosity of the Presbyterians provoked a greater laxity of manners among their opponents than might otherwise have prevailed.
Royalty naturally inclined to the more servile and accommodating interpretation. Disobedience is the inherent principle of religious independence, both from its assumption of self-maintenance and self-judgment; and authority instinctively shrinks from the alliance. In its incoherent forms exists no connective link, nothing upon which power can permanently rely for executive cooperation. Hence the predominant disposition of the Stuarts, and as it must be of princes generally, is to Catholicism, in which there are at least the abiding elements of order, subordination, supremacy, and regal state. Naked Popery, however, was too abhorrent to the heart of the nation to be openly introduced, so it was attempted clandestinely by that to which Romanism had the nearest affinity, under the guise of episcopacy. But the endeavour failed for want of energy in the execution. Neither King James nor his immediate successors were good papists, only waverers between the ancient and new worship; they cherished no intense persuasion either way, and their measures partook of the impotency of their convictions.
For the persecution of opinions to be successful one condition is indispensible. It must be remorseless, unpitiable, and exterminative. A gentle coercion, like a gentle breeze on a lighted taper, fans in place of extinguishing the flame. It was in the vigorous way popery maintained its ground in Italy and Spain, but failed in Holland and Britain. Very severe measures were tried in Scotland, but they were desultory, not general and persevering enough for the purpose. Dundee and Lauderdale were sufficiently hardy, but they never had, and doubtless knew it, the zealous support of their superiors; and with this drawback, and a strong local connection to contend against, aided by a form of worship which had many seductions to a simple, tenacious, and illiterate people, it is not surprising they failed.
The most active instrument in the abortive attempt to introduce prelacy and the English liturgy into Scotland was Archbishop Laud. He was the son of a clothier at Reading, in Berkshire. Educated at the free-school of his native town, and at Oxford, he was early smitten with the meretricious idolatries of popery. He was a learned polemic, and strict in morals; but anıbitious, intriguing, passionate, cruel, and vindictive. That he did not possess the gift of statesmanship is manifest in the wild design he cherished of consolidating three kingdoms in religious unity, whose histories and national elements are conflicting, like those of England, Ireland, and Scotland. In his rash and unscrupulous pursuit of this and other papal chimeras, he brought both himself and his master to the scaffold; for it was bad religion, more than bad politics, though both abounded, which ruined Charles I. and his dynasty.
When persecution could not be made effective in Scotland, the next politic course would doubtless have been toleration. As already hinted, if severity is not adequate to extirpate opinions, it hardens, strengthens, and diffuses them. This would have been far more humane, and wiser than the effort to establish a religion of the boot and thumb-screw,' which a man must have been insensible indeed if he did not hate and reject from the bloody hands which offered it. And after all, it is more certain, as Mr. Hallam remarks, that God abhors cruelty and persecution, than that he has set up bishops to have a superiority over presbyters.'*
We shall relieve the dryness of the exposition by an extract from a writer both wise and merry. It is from the Letters of the facetious and eloquent PeTER PLYMLEY, than whom, from long experience and excellent sense, there are not many better instructors in matters of church and state. It is the rare merit of the Rev. Sidney Smith that through a long life he has been the consistent advocate of civil and religious liberty all the world over,' and what he says on the attempt to bishop Scotland is in his best manner :
• For what a length of years was it attempted to compel the Scotch to change their religion ; horse, foot, artillery, and armed prebendaries were sent down after the Presbyterian parsons and their congregations. The Ebringtons of those days called for blood; this call is never made in vain, and blood was shed; but to the astonishment and horror of the Ebringtons of those days, they could not introduce the Book of Common Prayer, nor prevent that metaphysical people from going to heaven their true way instead of our true way. With a little oatmeal for food, and a little sulphur for friction, allaying cutaneous irritation with the one hand, and bolding his Calvinistic creed in the other, Sawney ran away to his finty hills, sung bis psalm out of tune his own way, and listened
* Constitutional History of England, vol. iii., p. 444.