Letter written to the English Churchman on reading several readers’ letters and an article condemning the Church of the English Reformation and supporting Cromwell’s persecutions.

 

Sir:

     In allaying Mr Relf’s fears regarding my research expressed in his April 5th article, I shall keep to the evidence he provides. Bishop Neill, though no authority on this period, confirms the persecuting nature of the times. The Cromwellian definition of ‘malignants, delinquents and scandalous ministers’ was that they refused to accept the disestablishing and disbanding of the Episcopal Church of England and therefore were ousted. Remarks re the Triers, of whom two were Baptists, are neutral to the debate as the ungodly men mentioned referred to all parties. Nevertheless, the Triers placed party-line ministers in livings forced from their legal occupants. Plundered property was auctioned off. Alexander’s words become meaningless on realising that the one-fifth pensions were not paid to those deemed ‘malignants, delinquents and scandalous’, nor were they paid to single men or the widows of the persecuted. Thus most ejected ministers were denied financial compensation. Mr Relf has obviously not studied Walker at first hand and appears to think that a mere thirty-year-old is incapable of solid scholarship. Baptist commentators such as Martin accept Walker’s figures on good grounds and Congregationalist Daniel Neal would even add to them. Balanced Walker also lists and condemns Anglicans who were truly scandalous. Bishop Ryle’s comments refer to post-Commonwealth times. Of the list of names he gives, most were opposed to the Commonwealth and friends of Christopher Love whose blood fell on Cromwell’s hands. Baxter, their spokesman, called the Commonwealth ‘odious’, and, after Love’s martyrdom, said “The most of the ministers and good people of the land did look upon the New Commonwealth as tyranny, and were more alienated from them than before.” Cromwell, he claimed, found everything lawful that fostered his own exaltation. Farmer’s comments remind us that the laws to which he referred were leftovers from the anti-dissenting laws passed by the Presbyterians. Now they were the dissenters, not the Anglicans. Relf’s Marsden quote is misapplied. Marsden severely castigates the usurpers for their case-law and parliament-controlled religion. Their policies, he tells us, were ‘utterly untenable’ and ‘sanctified crime’ and ‘made revenge appear a Christian virtue’.

     If Britain is under God’s judgement, as Mr Relf suggests, and as there is nothing new under the sun in human evil, the best way to tackle modern problems is to see how such evil was overcome in history and not to lay a blanket of silence or disinformation on the past.