The Watershed: the Restoration of Uniformity1
My task and my sources
My task is to present an overview of the 17th century lead-up to the Act of Uniformity of 1662. My primary sources besides the Prayer Book are the Calendar of State Papers; the Common’s Journals: the Thurloe Papers; Gardiner’s Constitutional Documents, Cardwell’s History of Prayer Book Conferences, the Hartlib Papers; Byfield’s Assembly Minutes; Walker’s and Shaw’s records; Evelyn’s and Pepys diaries: Burnet’s, Durie’s, Laud’s, Prynne’s and Fuller’s eye-witness accounts and the Bodleian Library’s Special Collections. My secondary research includes Hooker, Strype, Benton, Huntington, Butler, Parker, Blunt, Tatham, Barnett-Smith, Holstun, Cutts and Curteis besides Prayer Book opponents ancient and modern. Of the latter, Dr. Alan Clifford sent me his animadversions against the Prayer Book, recommending a liturgical alternative authored by himself.
From Reformation to Revolution
The 16th century Reformation produced a longing for a simplified and unified form of joint worship in generally accepted and established forms reflecting a Scriptural language without popish innovations. This was realized in the Reformed Prayer Book of 1552. Sadly, the 17th century provided a dumbing down of doctrine and language in the name of religion enabling congregations to worship a rationalized god they could define and understand on their own terms. No wonder Prof. Sharon Achinstein in James Holstun’s Pamphlet Wars calls the Rebellion with its NewSpeak a worldly feat, forcing language, and with it religion and politics, back to Babel.
This resulted in the 1643 secularization of religion via the Presbyterian-Parliament plot The Solemn League and Covenant and the abolition of the Prayer Book. Happily, the century returned to united Protestant worship and witness in the rejuvenated 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
Last year, we examined the 1604 Hampton Court petitioners’ pleas for Prayer Book alterations. Convocation had already accepted the major reforms demanded, making the appeal to Caesar unnecessary. However, Convocation rejected the petitioners’ wish to baptise solely in consecrated buildings as unscriptural and refused to ban Confirmation seeing baptism and confession of faith as Christian essentials. Nor would they abandon lay-participation in worship, leaving prayers and responses to priestly mediation. Archbishop Whitgift called this Rome by another name. This stand against radical Non-Protestant Nonconformity was supported by first and second generation Continental Reformers. Convocation retained the sign of the cross at baptism in agreement with Pan-European Protestantism of both the Lutheran and Reformed kind.
After Charles’ 1625 coronation, the politico-militant mood of Cromwellians, Levelers, Fifth Monarchy Men and Roundheads turned anti-royal, arguing that the Church of England was the King’s adjunct, so both should go. The Civil Wars started with Cromwell arresting the Ely clergy because the Church held land-draining rights he coveted. His Irish and Scottish massacres financed his ‘model army’ and paid for his governments but did not extend to education, learning and foreign aid. His state-organised piracy in European waters, angered Britain’s allies, especially Sweden, but gained prize-money to finance Britain’s navy.
Archbishop Laud’s alleged Prayer Book corruptions
The scapegoat chosen to bear the Church of England’s alleged sins was Archbishop William Laud, accused by lawyer William Prynne of corrupting Reformed religion. Laud, however, furthered Cranmer’s, Bucer’s and Bullinger’s plans for a united, pan-European Protestant Reformed Church which the insular Presbyterians rejected. Laud’s alleged novelties were well-established Reformed practice, firmly anchored in the Edwardian and Elizabethan Prayer Books.
Nevertheless, scandalmongering pamphlets such as News from Ipswich claimed that the Protestant Book of Common Prayer was mutilated by Laud and no basis for Puritan union. Prynne’s and Henry Burton’s trumped-up charges were based primarily on State Occasional Prayers always altered to fit contemporary needs such as prayers for a royal issue which were answered and became redundant before Laud became Archbishop. The so-called Ping-Pong scandal concerning Laud’s positioning of the ‘altar’ was a farce as Laud argued for a moveable ‘Holy Table’, (his expression), to be placed where best heard.
Prynne claimed Laud altered ‘in the name of Jesus’ to ‘at the name of Jesus’ in the Epistle for the First Sunday after Easter, appealing to the 1557 Geneva edition. In his 1637 defence before the Star Chamber, Laud showed this edition, published before his birth, used ‘at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow’, just as Laud did.
Laud was falsely accused of altering ‘minister’ to ‘priest’ in the Prayer Book though ‘minister’ was his own and Prayer Book usage.
Prynne stole, altered, forged and burnt private papers of Laud and his real Puritan friends’ such as John Durie, believing the end justified the means. Laud protested against such Antinomian Jesuit practices in chorus with Prynne’s other ‘victims’ whom Prynne called ‘Old Protestants’ as opposed to Presbyterian self-styled ‘Old Puritans’. These ‘Old Protestants’ included Usher, Prideaux, Ward, Twisse, Burgess, Morton, Davenport, Gouge, Hall, Marshal, Calamy and Thomas Goodwin. Laud’s warnings against ‘Ultra-Puritans’ who courted Rome and his fine anti-papist statements were altered to make Laud look like a papist himself. Many of both ‘Old Puritan’ and ‘Old Protestant’ persuasions owed their ordination to Laud who showed more tolerance to Nonconformist ministers than even Archbishop Abbot. Laud, like Bullinger, denounced Calvin’s and the Ultra-Puritans’ misuse of the secular powers to enforce church discipline and excommunication. His tolerance of foreign Protestant churches in England won him Continental support and he aided Dutch-Reformed, Huguenots and British ex-patriot Protestants in France, Sweden, Holland and Germany. His care of the poor was exemplary. Happily, Trevor-Roper’s biography of Laud has pioneered new areas in Laudian research and most of Laud’s writings as also Prynne’s are freebies on the Internet.
The Westminster Directory replaces the Prayer Book
After the Usurpation’s State Constitution of 1643, The Solemn League and Covenant and the return to religio-political Judaic case-law, the Church of England was gradually outlawed from the bishops downwards. On January 3, 1644 Parliament banned the Prayer Book, because of its ‘manifold inconveniences’ (Prynne’s term). This caused clashes in Parliament as England had now no united worship.
On Bartholomew’s Day August 24, 1645, the anniversary of the Roman Catholic persecution of the French Protestants, Parliament replaced the Protestant Prayer Book by the State Directory of Public Worship for England, Scotland and Ireland. Ever since Travers’ day, radical legalists and Erastians had striven to force a Directory through Parliament to replace the Book of Common Prayer believing religion was a matter for the secular government.
Now persecutions were intensified and the Protestant Reformed Church of England, as during Mary’s totalitarian reign of terror, was again outlawed by a similar totalitarian system. Dissenters proudly boast that Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists have never persecuted. This is incorrect.
To enforce strict use of the Directory, Parliament ruled that public or private Prayer Book users would be fined five pounds; ten for the second offence; a year’s imprisonment without bail for the third with a further forty shilling fine added for not using the Directory. Severer penalties were added for not signing the Solemn League and Covenant.
Like her French Protestant brethren, whose ordination Laud accepted, the Protestant Reformed Church of England was forced to worship underground. Around ten thousand Church of England clergy and scholars were deprived of their livings and teaching posts. Their goods and property were confiscated; they were outlawed, deported as slaves, hounded to death, fettered in dark, unventilated ships’ holds or imprisoned with no trial. Even true Puritan Presbyterians like Christopher Love were executed for looking forward to post-Cromwellian times. The fact that the Presbyterian forces quarreled violently with Cromwell after Charles had made sound peace proposals caused the second Civil War and persecutions increased.
The Directory was more a Regulation Book than a Service Book and caused inner Dissenting conflicts. Soon usurpers of Anglican livings were allowed to use what forms they liked providing they were not Church of England. Happily, Cromwell’s chaotic, under-manned jurisprudence often failed to enforce penalties and magistrates allowed their palms to be crossed with silver.
Liberty of worship for all but Anglicans
To preserve an image of general tolerance, the Commons passed a bill on October 13, 1647 declaring nation-wide liberty of worship, but added: ‘their indulgence shall not extend to tolerate the use of the Book of Common Prayer in any place whatsoever’. They then abolished celebrations of Christ’s birth, His atoning death and Pentecost. This direct blow against the Christian faith was hypocritically called, ‘Setting up Christ and the Kingdom’ and the great Scottish armies under Leslie, trained and hardened in the Thirty-Years War, were requested by Parliament to erase England’s former faith by force.
The King and Archbishop of Canterbury were martyred. Cromwell had Charles beheaded without a proper trial but Prynne, despite his forgeries, failed to gain a lethal verdict against Laud, so he appealed to the specially gathered lynch-mob outside the court who granted his wish.
After Charles’ murder, the bogus religious Liberty Act of February 1654/55 was passed promising protection for religious Dissidents. In real terms this meant, Church of England ministers caught preaching, administering the sacraments, or marrying persons were imprisoned for three to six months and banished if they persisted. Anglican ministers, college professors, fellows and teachers were forbidden to tutor students and children and their colleges and schools closed down. Commissioners and Triers for appointing preachers were called persecuting Inquisitors by Bishop Hall and Antony Sadler. Such was Baptist Cresset but Baptists Jessey and Thombes were occasionally prepared to shut an eye.
Hardliners deny these Mary-like persecutions claiming that only a fraction of 10,000 were ministers and scholars in England at the time. The statistics show that 9,000 pre-Commonwealth parishes at the Restoration were pastored by usurpers and many hundreds were without shepherds and hundreds of educational establishments and libraries had been shut down. Cromwell’s plans to finance reforms by monies extorted from the Irish failed as he and his officers whipped off the cream and the soldiers were paid in kind by plunder. Of the fourteen Cambridge churches alone, only St. Peter’s, St. Bene’t’s and St. Andrews had settled ministers; ten out of sixteen colleges were ransacked and left derelict. This was reflected nation-wide. Indeed, John Durie repeatedly petitioned Cromwell’s Councils claiming they were cultivating a race of uneducated atheists and England needed over 20,000 teaching ministers to fill gaps left by the troubles. Durie reckoned that this could be financed if Cromwell, his court and rich Dissenting friends would only donate the price of one meal a day to education.
Happily, Charles’ post-humus Eikon Basilike, or The King’s Sigh’, a description of Charles’ stalwart Church of England Protestant faith, ran into countless editions and helped to strengthen public opinion towards a return to Scriptural, Prayer Book worship. From 1655, England regained courage to defy the usurping Commonwealth government’s intolerance and Cromwell’s own stand radically changed. He became less dogmatic as he allied with Roman-Catholic France and Spain, guided by eschatological fantasies and William Lilly’s Christian Astrology. This scared the Continental Protestants as Cromwell had formerly offered them protection through diplomats Durie and Pell but now Cromwell’s Roman Catholic allies claimed huge Protestant parts of Germany, Holland, Bohemia and Switzerland as their reward. There is an intriguing pamphlet from the 1680s outlining Cromwell’s and James II’s flirt with Rome to the detriment of the Protestant cause. The brief reign of Richard Cromwell witnessed a further break-up of his father’s politico-religio-military system.
The Restoration and Restitution
After nigh twenty years of suspended law, order and religious freedom, England demanded a restitution of the ‘old paths’, wanting simply to marry, be baptized, confirmed, listen to pastoral preaching, share the Lord’s Supper and be given a decent burial. England welcomed Charles II back to restore religious tolerance and peace. The Presbyterians, however, urged Charles to accept the Directory and keep the Prayer Book banned. Charles replied he would tolerate Presbyterians but would never give up The Church of England and the Prayer Book as they expressed the Protestant faith succinctly. After the Presbyterians were purged from Parliament in 1648 by the Cromwellian régime, they promised Charles that they would restore him if he reinstated them. Though Charles secured some 60 seats for Presbyterians, they broke their promise unilaterally and blocked Charles’ edicts of tolerance.
Nevertheless, Charles was able to remove the legal shackles of the totalitarian ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ and had an Act passed ‘for the confirming and restoring of ministers’. This generously kept usurping ministers in parishes where the incumbent had died or voluntarily resigned and restoring those clergy still alive who were ejected illegally. As eighteen of the twenty-seven bishops had died during the Interregnum leaving many vacancies, the situation was similar to the aftermath of Mary’s persecutions.
Most Continental Protestant Churches looked to the Church of England for leadership and Scandinavian, Dutch, German, French, Swiss and Eastern European Protestants backed the restored Church, so Charles issued a ‘Declaration concerning ecclesiastical affairs’ stating that the Church of England was seen as a Protestant leader in Europe and was ‘the best fence God hath raised in the world against Popery’.
The Savoy Conference
Urging mutual Protestant tolerance, the King begged Dissenters to patch up their internal quarrels. This proved hopeless, so Charles formed a Royal Commission in 1661, manned equally by Conformists and Non-Conformists, both sides containing proper ‘Puritans’. The Presbyterians even chose those whom they had formerly called ‘Malignants’, ‘Episcopalians’ and ‘Protestants’, like Richard Baxter, Thomas Manton and Edmund Calamy, to represent them. Former staunch rebel, John Gauden, took the King’s side, demanding a bishopric for his pains. The Commission met on April 15th at Bishop Sheldon’s Savoy Hospital quarters. Their task was ‘to advise upon and review the said Book of Common Prayer, comparing the same with the most ancient liturgies which have been used in the Church in the primitive and purest times’. They were given four months to reach an agreement.
The first day’s debate was chaotic. The Nonconformists treated Episcopalians as heretics and the Conformists treated the innovators as hempen homespuns. For order’s sake, it was decided that further suggestions should be made in writing, but this produced reams of contradictory Dissenting ideas. Then Baxter presented an alternative Prayer Book, authored during the conference. Immediately his fellow-Dissenters drew up six hundred written arguments against it.
Wrangling over words
The Dissenters examined each word of the old Prayer Book minutely, again rejecting ‘at the name of Jesus’, ‘in this day’ ‘deadly sins’, ‘epistle’, ‘worship’ and the word ‘all’ in the Litany, many being ignorant of the history and meaning of the terms, insisting that one English word should only have one meaning albeit as they defined it. ‘Epistle’ should only be used of letters, not literary passages, ‘in this day’ could only mean ‘today’ and not ‘in our times’, ‘worship’ meant only ‘adoration’ and not ’honour’, sins were not ‘deadly’ because the living committed them. The bishops replied that Scripture says the wages of sin is death. The Dissenters objected to praying for ‘all’ as in ‘all that travel’ or ‘all women in childbirth’ because some travelled on sinful errands and many women bore bastards. The bishops quoted I Tim. 1:2 ‘I will that prayers be made for all men’. The Dissenters rejected the term ‘priest’ which etymologically is merely ‘Presbyter’ cut-down, preferring a High Church interpretation of ‘minister’,
Matins said from the Communion Table where best heard were rejected because the Table was the site of the Lord’s Supper and prayers there with lay responses would reduce its symbolism. Morning Scripture readings should be banned as they gave the Word a mediatory value in itself whereas Scripture is only mediatory when explained by a worthy, spirit-filled minister. Abel Stevens comments:
‘But Puritanism with all its virtues had profound and inexorable vices. It early created a High-Churchism of its own, and claimed a higher Scriptural authority for Presbyterianism than the English reformers, or its great episcopal antagonists, Sewell, Whitgift, Hooker, and others, asserted for prelacy itself.’
Lay Responses and Prayers
The Dissenters wanted them abolished. Only legitimate ministers may respond and pray vicariously for the congregation. The Litany must be read in toto by the minister only. Laymen’s prayers and responses whilst kneeling during the reading of the commandments should be abolished and substituted by the incumbent’s prayer alone.
Baptism and the New Birth
English Reformers looked on the New Birth as a comprehensive and conclusive work of God including repentance, the forgiveness of sins, adoption, faith and justification to which baptism pointed. They thus inserted the Second Prayer at Baptism for the candidate to ‘receive remission of sins by spiritual regeneration’, which the Dissenters wanted abolished. Because of the return to Aristotelian analytical logic and Scholasticism amongst the Ultra-Puritans, this simple Biblical theology contradicted their ordo salutis which was a procession of separated events accompanied by following the moral law, or as per Rutherford, the Light of Nature. They thus demanded that the Prayer Book should reflect this progression but Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists had each their own ordo salutis.
Confirmation as a public declaration of faith was denounced as sacramental. The believer should declare his faith privately to the minister who would then judge its validity. These Ultra-High-Church Dissenters argued that the Church of England made a public confession of faith more important than baptism!
The Lord’s Supper
The Presbyterians stood at the Lord’s Supper, thinking it Apostolic. Cranmer showed Knox this was fallacious but it became part of the Presbyterians’ legal creed. The call for inner-examination concerning one’s worthiness should be forbidden as this was the minister’s responsibility. Home-communion for the sick was subject to the minister’s will. The Prayer of Consecration did not disclose the mechanics of the rite which should be made explicit and distinct.
The General Confession
The Dissenters rejected this. Specific sins should be confessed to the priest before Communion so he could allow the penitent access to the Table.
After Hampton Court, the catechism was lengthened to suit the Dissenters but now some demanded a much longer one and others a much shorter. The Scottish Presbyterians were allowed to use the Westminster Catechisms but quarreled over their length.
Births, marriages and deaths
The Dissenters claimed these were secular matters so the churching of women after childbirth and thanksgiving after a safe delivery should be forbidden. Exchanging rings and partaking of the Lord’s Supper in the marriage ceremony was a false sacrament. Besides, marriage celebrations were too naughty to render the newly-weds fit for communion! Though formerly for the removal of the Burial Service from the church to the graveside, they now wanted it abolished altogether because people could catch cold at the graveside!
The Gloria Patri
The Gloria Patri was mere ‘vain repetition’ if used above once in a service. The bishops thought one could not give God too much glory.
White gowns should be replaced by black ones.
The 1662 Act of Uniformity
As a great gesture of tolerance and fairness the York and Canterbury Convocations accepted many changes in wording and the addition of the Psalms but stood firm on kneeling at the Lord’s Supper as prayers were involved; lay participation in the liturgy; general prayers for all men; the surplice; Confirmation; ‘churching’ women and teaching regarding the New Birth. Against the anti-lay-participation contenders, the Prayer Book was extended by 8 Offices, 18 Prayers, 3 Versicles, 2 Exhortations and 3 Collects with responses. As a concession to the ‘anti-readings’ protestors, only two Epistles and one Gospel were added.
The Commons and Lords, still manned by many Dissenters, accepted the altered Prayer Book showing how much common opinion was now for the Restored Church.
On June 29, 1661, a bill for the “Uniformity of Public Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments” was read in Parliament, restoring the Prayer Book and repealing anti-Dissenting laws. Minor revisions and corrections followed but the bill was finally passed on May 19th, 1662 to be implemented on August 24th, Bartholomew’s Day, restoring the Protestant piety which Presbyterian persecution had sought to smother on that very anniversary seventeen years before.
It is strange how, from the time of the Act of Uniformity of 1662 on, Dissenters have emphasised that the Church of England showed great evil in causing the Act to be implemented on Bartholomew’s Day, the anniversary of the severe wrong done to Church of England Protestants at the hand of usurping Dissenters in 1645. They will not accept that on Bartholomew’s Day, 1662 great wrong was put right. Nor will they take responsibility for having persecuted the saints themselves for nigh twenty years. Indeed, their own guilt as persecutors during the Commonwealth Usurpation is nowhere so much as hinted at but it is seen as either a right of conquest or a political necessity. Thus Coleman goes so far as to ignore fully the heinous persecutions of Anglicans during the Commonwealth period in his book Two Thousand Confessors, and the positive historical fact that there was an enormous and joyful influx of Dissenting ministers into the restored Protestant Church of England after the Bartholomew’s Day Act of 1662.
The Great Ejection, the Grand Injection and the Minority Rejection
Who were ejected when?
Much is said in Dissenting circles about the alleged ‘two thousand ministers’ ejected by the Act of Uniformity. My sympathy is with all who are unjustly treated, whatever their side but here we have to do with a conglomeration of statistics gathered from between roughly 1650 and 1688 much of which does not apply to the 1662 scene. Even during this period Dissenters must admit that persecution was certainly not limited to denominational adherence. However, to enter into such historical discussions takes us from the immediate matter at hand. This is that the one and only Great Ejection during a non-Roman-Catholic period in England was when some 10,000 Church of England ministers, professors, lecturers and teachers were brutally ejected from the Church of England during Cromwell’s Interregnum and replaced by fierce opponents of that Church, its Prayer Book, Articles and Orders.
Coleman pleads in Two Thousand Confessors for no sympathy whatsoever with this true Great Ejection of Anglican ministers out of their own Church and shows no sympathy for the oppressed and persecuted whatsoever. We should rather sympathise with the ministers who violently usurped her livings and pulpits in the name of pure religion then left in protest when Protestantism re-triumphed! Accounts of malignant and drunkard ‘Anglicans’ rightfully thrown out by saintly militants and opportunists are artificial and fictive. Hall, Featley, Balcanqual, Usher, Bedell, Ward and Morten etc. were great men of God. It is true that there were some ‘Vicars of Bray’ amongst the Anglicans, but no less amongst those who forced them out of their livings and confiscated their goods, property and income in the Commonwealth period when the Church of England was outlawed.
The grand injection
Contrary to Coleman’s faulty maths and errors concerning usurping Dissenting ministers, the amount of Dissenters who flocked into the Church of England was immense and radically altered the image and witness of the Church, making it broader and more liberal. No less than nine thousand Dissenters flocked into the Church to be ordained as ministers in 1662, including one who was soon to be its Archbishop, John Tillotson, who was a Presbyterian up to 1662, became Vicar of Keddington, Suffolk in 1663, Dean of Canterbury in 1670, Canon of St. Paul’s in 1675, and made Archbishop of Canterbury by William in 1691. So, too, many Presbyterians and Congregationalists pastoring Merchant Adventurers churches on the Continent and Protestant churches in the New World, greatly neglected in these studies, took up Anglican orders.
The minority rejection
The records show that a minority of seven to eight hundred Dissenters, many un-ordained, refused to join the Church of England for widely different reasons, but as John 1:19 teaches, ‘If they had been of us, they would have no doubt continued with us.’ These men, therefore, did not found an alternative united Protestant Church but established a myriad of different denominations, each minister going to his own tent and formulating new theologies and church orders. Many of them, especially on the Presbyterian side became Socinians and Unitarians. Others rejected Reformed teaching concerning justification, election, atonement, conversion and ecclesiology and, if they had joined the Church of England then, would have made it the confused consortium it is sadly today. Present critics of the Act of Uniformity refer to this minority party as if it were one movement of Biblical Christianity against a worldly State Church, whereas the Dissenters were more divided amongst themselves than they were antagonistic to the Church of England. They started off a pamphlet war against one another that is still going on. Nevertheless, shortly after 1662 many Dissenters became Anglican ministers and a number of their most prominent men, especially under the Baptists, practiced ‘Occasional Communion’ with the Church of England and ‘open communion’ with fellow Christians whatever their personal views on baptism.
Facts challenging the extant lists of ‘ejected minister’ names
As hinted above, Coleman, Calamy and Palmer mention ‘upwards of two thousand’ who rejected the Act of Uniformity, but such lists only account for a fraction of the number they postulate refused to be ordained into the Church of England. Indeed, they add large numbers of names, covering many decades of history which have nothing to do with 1662. Furthermore, a number of the ministers mentioned never usurped Anglican livings so could not have been ‘ejected’. They did, however, ‘reject’ the re-established Church.
The 1660 run on derelict Anglican livings
Many others who allegedly were ejected from the Church of England cannot really be said to have ever joined her either. For instance, on hearing of the King’s return, many opponents of the Church of England and Episcopalianism rushed to reopen closed, formerly Anglican churches, feeling they could best argue against the King and bishops from a vantage position within the new Establishment. This opportunism proved futile, so some (not all) left of their own will, and are listed wrongly as ‘ejected’.
The Engagement churches
Many ministers, listed as ‘ejected’, including Baxter, had already formed new churches of their own in 16 different counties and Ireland in the 1650s. These ministers had signed an agreement organising a state church but without a King and the House of Lords. To refer to this step as a 1662 ‘ejection’ is incorrect, though many joined the restored Anglican Church in 1662. John Durie, who had led this initiative, was ordained into the Church of England by Bishop Hall and would have returned to its folds. His view was that ‘the powers that be are ordained of God’, however, his faithfulness to Cromwell and the unfaithfulness of a particular Baptist Trier, who withheld Durie’s wages and brought him into debt, forced him to flee the country in 1662. Durie lived the last 18-20 years of his life in Germany.
A number of alleged ‘ejected’ Baptists were called out of their usurped churches by their Associations long before the Act of Uniformity. A case in point is Henry Jessey who had served a former Anglican and a Baptist church during the Usurpation and would have gladly continued but he was told by his fellow Baptists to leave all residues of Anglicanism because he ‘could not serve God and Mammon’. Such facts regarding the Baptist churches prior to 1662 caused Baptist historian Whitley rightly to conclude ‘It will be seen that Bartholomew’s Day (1662) had scarcely anything to do with the Baptists.’
The Presbyterian rejecters were politically against social, spiritual and educational renewal of any kind, boycotting accommodation sub-committees dealing with them under Cromwell. Their religion was a matter of politics, order, discipline and Rationalism which excluded Anglicanism. Byfield’s official Westminster Assembly minutes show they were all at sea on doctrine and ecclesiology and believed ignorantly their Politico-Presbyterian system was built on Knox, Calvin and Melanchthon, none of whom were Presbyterians. Knox followed a seven-tier ministry to his dying day. Calvin followed the Savoy Lord Bishops’ presidential system and Melanchthon’s plans for reform were Episcopalian. Campbell’s The Triumph of Presbyterianism stresses their absolute intolerance of Protestants. Indeed, a number of Presbyterians in England and Scotland had formed churches of their own in their own buildings which they kept after 1662. Charles was more than accommodating to Scotland’s Presbyterians.
The Independents appealed to colonial ministers to fill empty livings and a number of Congregationalists’ sons like Increase, Nathaniel and Samuel Mather came to England to gain pastoral experience and benefit from academic training. Their correspondence shows they had no intention of remaining in England and quickly returned to the New World and are wrongly listed as ‘ejected’. Nevertheless, large numbers of English Congregationalists became ministers in the Church of England after 1662.
Mechanics and tradesmen
Anglican livings were usurped by un-ordained mechanics, tradesmen and merchants. Testimonies concerning their lack of training, calling and pastoral acumen are numerous. Evelyn calls them blasphemous men who made no attempt to preach the gospel. The more sincere of these, however, decided to prepare themselves diligently for a higher calling and were accepted by the restored Church.
Many Baptist and Independent usurping congregations accepted women ministers such as Elizabeth Poole and Irish Baptists gave them offices in their church hierarchy. Cromwell made a point of attending female preaching and had Poole preach before the General Council. These ‘reform’ movements rejected the Church of England.
Ministers ejected by fellow Dissenters
Many Dissenters, as Church Historian Gilbert Burnet relates, were ejected from their own Dissenting churches after 1662 for having cooperated with Anglicans or Royalists. Some joined the Church of England.
Parliament refused to give up all anti-dissenting laws
Parliament ignored Charles’ Edicts of Toleration and returned to implementing anti-dissenting laws such as the Five Mile Act aimed originally at Anglicans. These laws had been passed by the Long, Rump and Saints’ Parliaments and Cromwell’ Councils of a few hand-picked men when he abolished Parliamentary rule. What powers Parliament had been given, it decided to keep. It took Charles II years to promote tolerant reforms leading to his 1672 ‘Declaration of Indulgence’. However, Dissenters who backed a persecuting Parliament against the King rejected the Edict on the grounds that it was unconstitutional for a King to grant pardon. Parliament therefore, in defiance of Charles, passed the Test Act of 1673 so now the King had Parliament and the Scots against him. Now, to explain their tactics, Parliament revived Prynne’s policy against Charles I’s and William Laud’s campaigns for a united Pan-European Protestantism claiming that to show tolerance to all Protestants would eventually mean showing tolerance to Rome. Thus they preferred to leave Protestantism in a weak and divided state. So now, once again, as in Cromwell’s time, a Dissenting controlled Parliament cut off its nose to spite its face and politics ruled religion. This, of course made the reintroduction of united and coordinated papal activities all the easier, against which the Reformed Church of England had warned Dissenters whom they viewed as Rome’s Fifth-Column.
The value of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
The 1662 common worship came just in time to unite the nation’s prayers during the severe trials of the Bubonic Plague which, at its height, slaughtered 7,500 in London alone – per week. It is ideally designed for united, active, prayerful worship. The Roman Church’s Latin service book was couched in a dead, decayed and corrupt language. The Prayer Book’s English is that of a new-born language full of uncorrupted and expressive vitality. Yet English critics want to worship in every-day vulgar language professing not to understand the grandeur of Prayer Book diction though Africans and Indians tell me they do.
Ask these logophobes if they have ever read A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pilgrims’ Progress or Robinson Crusoe and they will probably say ‘yes’! Well, here you find more ‘hard words’ than in the Prayer Book, so how come these critics understand Shakespeare, Bunyan and Defoe but misunderstand Cranmer? Have they become verbally poverty-stricken in their worship, preferring the modern linguistic reducto ad absurdum of ‘whatdoyecall it?’, ‘what’s-his name?’, ‘thingy’, ‘yeknow’, ‘so-and-so’ and ‘thingummyjigs’? We seniors remember Gracie Fields’ famous reaction to the Government’s, simple-English for alleged war-time factory-workers of lower intelligence. In protest, dear Gracie sang:
‘It’s a ticklish sort of job making a thingy for a thingummy-bob.
Especially when you don’t know what it’s for.’
This is modern inclusive, dumbed-down, political correct pseudo-worship speech in a nut-shell.
Let us therefore rightly reject sesquipedalian thingummy-bob worship, rejoicing in the Book of Common Prayer in which the Holy Spirit in a purer language graciously gives us the opportunity to worship God in the beauty of holiness unto the throne of heavenly grace with a pure heart and humble voice, learning thus how to open our mouths and show forth His praise.
- This lecture was originally prepared for the 2012 Protestant Reformation Conference at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and was cut in places on delivery so as not to exceed the allotted time. Asides and explanations given during the lecture have not been added. ↩