페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

During the short interval which he passed in his native country, he by some means contrived to get privately into the council

of the Rebel Army at Whitehall,' where, he says, be heard

horrid villanies. A few weeks after this, he heard the rebel · Peters incite the rebel powers met in the Painted Chamber,

to destroy his Majesty, and saw that arch-traytor Bradsbaw

who not long after condemned bim.' The execution of the King is thus chronicled :

• 1649. The villanie of the Rebells proceeding now so far as to trie, condemne, and murder our excellent King on the 30th of this month, struck me with such horror that I kept the day of his martyrdom a fast, and would not be present at that execrable wickednesse; receive ing the sad account of it from my brother George and Mr. Owen, who came to visite me this afternoone, and recounted all the circumstances.'

Of the state of things during the Protectorate, we meet with only a few scattered notices of no great importance : they consist, for the most part, of expressions of indignant feeling at the severities to which the clergy were exposed, and at the abolition of fasts and festivals, with memoranda of the different preachers he heard.

• 1653. 30 Jan. At our own parish church a stranger preach'd. There was now and then an honest orthodox man got into the pulpit, and though the present incumbent was somewhat of the Independent, yet he ordinarily preach'd sound doctrine, and was a peaceable man, which was an extraordinary felicity in this age.' • 1654. 8 Feb. Ash Wednesday. In contradiction

to all costome and decency, the Usurper Cromwell feasted at the Lord Maior's, riding in triumph thro' the Citty.'

* 3 Dec. Advent Sunday. There being no office at the church, but extemporie prayers after ye Presbyterian way, for now all formes were prohibited, and most of the preachers were usurpers, I seldome went to church upon solemn feasts, but either went to London, where some of the orthodox sequestred Divines did privately use ye Common Prayer, administer sacraments, &c. or else I procured one to officiate in my house ; wherefore, on the 10th, Dr. Rich. Owen, the sequester'd minister of Eltham, preach'd to my family in my library, and gave us ye holy communion

• 1655. Jan. 28. · A stranger preached from 3 Collossians, 2. inciting our affections to the obtaining heavenly things. I understood afterwards that this man had been both chaplaine and lieutennent to Admiral Pen, using both swords, whether ordained or not I cannot say; into such times were we fallen!'

• 18 Mar. Went to London on purpose to heare that excellent preacher Dr. Jeremy Taylor on 14 Matt. 17. shewing what were the conditions of obtaining eternal life ; also concerning abatements for unavoidable infirmities, how cast on the accompts of y* Crosse. On the 31st I made a visit to Dr. Jerr. Taylor to conferr with him about some spiritual matters, using him thenceforward as my ghostly father. I beseech God Almighty to make me ever mindful of, and thankful for, his heavenly assistances.' 15 April. I went to London with my family to celebrate ye

feast of Easter. Dr. Wild preach'd at St. Gregorie's; the Ruling Powers conniving at ye use of the Liturgy, &c. in this church alone.

• 27 Nov. This day came forth the Protector's Edict or Proclamation, prohibiting all ministers of the Church of England from preaching or teaching any scholes, in which he imitated the Apostate Julian ; with ye decimation of all ye royal parties revenues throughout England. + 14 Dec. Now were the Jews admitted.'

25. There was no more notice taken of Christmas day in churches. I went to London where Dr. Wild preach'd the funeral sermon of Preaching, this being the last day, after which Cromwell's proclamation was to take place, that none of the Church of England should dare either to preach or administer Sacraments, teache schoole &c. on paine of imprisonment or exile. So this was ye mournfullest day that in my life I had seene, or ye Church of England herself since the Reformation ; to the greate rejoicing of both Papist and Presbyter. So pathetic was his discourse that it drew many teares from the auditory. Myself, wife, and some of our family received ye communion; God make me thankfull, who hath hitherto provided for us the food of our soules as well as bodies! The Lord Jesus pity our distress'd Church, and bring back the captivity of Sion!'

• 1656. 3 Aug. I went to London to receive the B. Sacrament, the first time the Church of England was reduced to a chamber and conventicle, so sharp was the persecution. The parish churches were fill'd with sectaries of all sorts, blasphemous and ignorant mechanics usurping the pulpets every where. Dr. Wild preach'd in a private house in Fleete Streete, where we had a greate meeting of zealous Christians, who were generaly much more devout and religious than in our greatest prosperity.'

. 2 Nov. There was now nothing practical preached or that pressed reformation of life, but high and speculative points and straines that few understood, which left people very ignorant and of no steady principles, the source of all our sects and divisions, for there was much envy and uncharity in the world; God of his mercy amend it! Now indeed that I went at all to church whilst these usurpers possess'd the pulpets, was that I might not be suspected for a Papist, and that tho' the minister was Presbyterianly affected, he yet was as I understood duly ordain'd, and preach'd sound doctrine after their way, and besides was an humble, harmlesse, and peaceable man.'

• On Sunday afternoone I frequently stay'd at home to catechise and instruct my familie, those exercises universally ceasing in the parish churches, so as people had no principles, and grew very ignorant of even the common points of Christianity; all devotion being

now plac'd in hearing sermons and discourses of speculative and national things.'

6

An

So far as integrity can go to make a competent witness, the contemporary testimony of Mr. Evelyn as to what he himself witnessed, is entitled to just attention. But although it is impossible not to respect the sincere, yet not very enlightened, piety which displays itself in these memoranda, it admits of reasonable doubt, whether he was altogether qualified to form a just estimate of the true character of the sectarian preachers whom he speaks of with so much horror as usurping the pulpits every where. He has evidently suffered himself to note down in his journal the mere hearsay of the day; since, that catechetical instruction was universally laid aside, that all devotion was now placed in hearing sermons, and that those sermons were wholly of a speculative strain, are assertions which, even if founded on fact, it was impossible he should have had sufficient means of verifying. The minister of his own parish, it is admitted, preached sound doctrine; and the man' who had been Admiral Penn's chaplain, is not charged with preaching any worse speculation than the necessity of heavenly mindedness. instance indeed is given, and it is a solitary one, of a me'chanic,' who preached from 2 Sam. xxiii. 20. "And Benaiah "went down and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in the time of snow;" the purport of his sermon being, as we are told, 'that no danger was to be thought difficult when God called for shedding of blood, inferring that now the Saints were 'called to destroy temporal governments.' Doctrine like this, if it be correctly reported, it was quite as much Oliver's concern as it could have been King Charles's, to take cognizance of; and it is quite impossible that it should have been maintained by any but rank Fifth-monarchy men. But it was enough for Mr. Evelyn to know that these preachers were usurpers, that they had not received Episcopal ordination, and that the best of them were Presbyterianly affected. On these grounds, though he seldom went at all to church himself, and though he had been so little in England since he was of age, that he could know nothing of the previous state of things as to the way in which the pulpits had been supplied, and the clerical functions discharged, he readily adopts the party calumnies of the day in their most sweeping application, not seeming to have the slightest suspicion of any ignorance or irreligion having an existence in the country prior to the overthrow of the monarchy. It is observable, too, that while he is lamenting over the people's ignorance of the common points of Christianity, owing, as it should seem, to their hearing so many sermons, and their not being taught the Church catechism, he himself discovers the most confused and erroneous notions

[ocr errors]

'

with regard to the cardinal doctrine of Justification by faith. The language which he ascribes to Jeremy Taylor, concerning 'abatements for unavoidable infirmities how cast into the ac'counts of the Cross,' is such as we should not have expected to meet with from any Protestant that had not stood godfather to two of mother Rome's own children, at the baptismal font at which her own priests presided, and himself adored the Pope's toe. In Mr. Evelyn's religious sentiments at this period, however, there is visible that strong tincture both of the theology and of the superstition of Rome, which characterised the Church of Englandism of the times. It was natural, therefore, that from Sectarianism and Independency he should recoil with instinctive aversion; especially, connected as they were, in his mind, with civil disorder as well as ecclesiastical insubordination. Mr. Evelyn was not an illiberal man: his prejudices were strong, because his information was deficient, while his feelings were warm. His attachment to the Church of England proceeded from his piety; it was not the substitute for it and his very superstition was connected with a certain simplicity of mind. How is it possible to judge more harshly of a man in whose private diary we find it noted, that there was much envy and uncharity in the world-God of his mercy amend it!'

6

One cannot but smile at the proof which is given of the 'sharpness of the persecution' against the Clergy, Dr. Wild preaching to a great meeting in a private house in Fleet-street, and the Liturgy being used at St. Gregory's by connivance of the Ruling Powers! A persecution of a very different quality of sharpness was subsequently set on foot, when those who afterwards became the Ruling Powers, took up the work of suppressing conventicles in right earnest. But of this, Mr. Evelyn is not the journalist. No justification, however, can be offered of the infringement of religious liberty to which Cromwell lent his authority; and the issue shewed that it was not less impolitic than it was unrighteous. We see how it alienated from the Government some of the most virtuous members of the community, and gave a sanctity to what was in itself a political cause, while it afforded the most plausible pretext for the retaliation it was certain sooner or later to provoke. There is reason to believe that Cromwell was very far from being personally infected with the spirit of intolerance; and he appears to have been tardy in giving into the evil policy of laying restrictions upon the Episcopal clergy; but the edicts in question must be considered as a foul stain, perhaps the greatest stain, upon his administration of the sovereignty. Of this unjustifiable interference with the rights of conscience, there is given the following instance.

"

1657. 25 Dec. I went to London with my wife, to celebrate

[ocr errors]

Christmas day, Mr. Gunning preached in Exeter Chapell, on 7 Michah, 2. Sermon ended, as he was giving us ye Holy Sacrament, the chapell was surrounded with souldiers, and all the communicants and assembly surpriz'd and kept prisoners by them, some in the house, others carried away. It fell to my share to be confin'd to a roome in the house, where yet I was permitted to dine with the master of it, ye Countesse of Dorset, Lady Hatton, and some others of quality who invited me. In the afternoone came Col. Whaly, Goffe, and others, from White-hall, to examine us one by one; some they committed to ye Marshall, some to prison. When I came before them they tooke my name and abode, examin’d me why, contrarie to an ordinance made that none should any longer observe ye superstitious time of the Nativity (so esteem'd by them), I durst offend, and par. ticularly be at Common Prayers, which they told me was but ye masse in English, and particularly pray for Charles Steuart, for which we had no Scripture. I told them we did not pray for Cha. Steuart, but for all Christian kings, princes, and governors. They replied, in so doing we praied for the K. of Spaine too, who was their enemie and a papist, with other frivolous and ensnaring questions and much threatning; and finding no colour to detaine me, they dismiss'd me with much pitty of my ignorance. These were men of high Aight and above ordinances, and spake spiteful things of our Lord's Nativity. As we went up to receive the Sacrament, the miscreants held their muskets against us as if they would have shot us at the altar, but yet suffering us to finish the office of Communion, as perhaps not having instructions what to do in case they found us in that action. So I got home late the next day, blessed be God.'

If Mr. Evelyn had not expressly affirmed that some of the audience were carried to prison, we should have been apt to suspect that the whole transaction was a wanton frolic of the officers, rather than an act emanating from the Governinent. They must have been strange orders indeed, under which the soldiers acted, that authorized them, if we understand Mr. Evelyn's expression, to level their muskets at the persons assembled, but left them in utter uncertainty what to do next, further than to stand by and let the service proceed. Nor was the conduct of the officers less singular, supposing that they had any other object than to divert themselves most un warrantably at the expense of the congregation. It is clear that there was precisely the same colour for detaining Mr. Evelyn that there was for detaining any other individual present, except the officiating clergyman, whose fate is not mentioned; and yet, after a sort of mock examination, (for the charge of praying for the King of Spain must surely have been a jest,) he is dismissed with an affected commiseration of bis ignorance! ! It is a great pity Mr. Evelyn has not let us know what became of Mr. Gunning, as well as of the individuals who were committed to prison,--how many were so committed, how long they lay there, and what was the means or price of their discharge. It

« 이전계속 »