free ebooks

A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The Puritans only wished not to be oppressed

he opened the conference at

once with a thanksgiving to Almighty God 'for bringing him into the promised land where religion was purely professed, where he sat among grave, learned, and reverend men, not, as before, elsewhere, a king without state, without honour, without order, where beardless boys would brave him to his face.' He declared that the government of the English Church had been approved by manifold blessings from God himself; and he said that he had not called this assembly in order to make innovations in the same, but in order to strengthen it by the removal of some abuses. In the conference which he opened he held the office of moderator himself. Certainly the suggestions of the Puritans were not altogether without result. When they expressed the wish to see the Sunday more strictly observed, to have a trustworthy and faithful translation of the Bible provided, and to have the Apocrypha excluded from the canonical scriptures, they met with a favourable reception; but the King would neither allow the confessions of faith to be tampered with, nor the ceremonies which had been brought under discussion to undergo the least diminution. He thought that they were older than the Papacy, that the decision of deeper questions of doctrine ought to be left to the discussion of the Universities, and that the articles of the faith would only be encumbered by them. And every limitation of episcopal authority he entirely refused to discuss. The bishops themselves were amazed at the zeal with which the King
espoused the cause of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and allowed their justification of it even on a point of great importance for the constitution, the imposition of the oath _ex officio_.[321] They even exclaimed that God had bestowed on them a king, the like of whom had not been seen from the beginning of the world. It had been the intention and custom of other princes to limit the jurisdiction of the clergy, and to diminish their possessions. How much had they suffered from this even under Elizabeth! On the contrary it was one of the first endeavours of James I to put an end for ever to these attacks. For as in Scotland the abolition of bishoprics had been attended with a diminution of the authority of the crown, he had reason to be deeply convinced of the identity of episcopal and monarchical interests. In the heat of the conference at Hampton Court he laid down as his principle, 'No bishop no king.'

But in all this did King James fall in with the spirit of the English constitution? Did he not rather at this point intrude into it the sharpness of his Scottish prejudices? The old statesmen of England had acknowledged the services of the English Puritans in saving the Protestant confession in the struggle with Catholicism. The Puritans only wished not to be oppressed. He confounded them altogether with their Scottish co-religionists with whom he had had to contend for the sovereignty of the realm.

In less than two months from the Hampton Court Conference the Book of Common Prayer was re-issued with some few alterations, with regard to which the King expressly stated that they were the only alterations which were to be expected; for that the safety of states consisted in clinging fast to what had been ordained after good consideration. This was soon followed by a new collection of ecclesiastical laws, in the shape which they had taken under the deliberations of Convocation. In them the royal supremacy was insisted on in the strongest terms, and that over the whole kingdom, Scotland included. The same competence with regard to the Church was therein assigned to the King which had belonged to the pious kings of Judah and to the earliest Christian emperors: their authority was declared to be second only to that of Heaven. Henceforward no one was to be ordained without promising to observe the Book of Common Prayer and to acknowledge the supremacy.[322] And this statute had a retrospective application, even to those who were already in possession of an ecclesiastical benefice. The King and Archbishop Bancroft ordered that a short respite should be given to those who were inclined to acquiesce; but that those who made a decided resistance should without further ceremony be deprived of their benefices.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us