Page images
PDF
EPUB

was to solicit the king's permission to attempt the conversion of the duke of York from the errors of the church of Rome. The solicited permission was granted, and the prelate's address to the duke, which has been preserved, evinces how truly in earnest he was in his wish to win James over to the reformed faith and practice of the church of England. The suspension of Dr Wood, the infamous bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, is also highly creditable to his integrity and zeal. When Charles was laid on his deathbed, the archbishop was summoned to attend him in his dying moments. He addressed the king in a weighty exhortation, and with much freedom of speech, but his faithfulness was lost on the wretched monarch, who preferred to have the last offices of religion administered to him by Romish priests.

In 1685, on the accession of James II., Sancroft's difficulties began. Deceived by the assurances which the king gave that he would support the church as established by law, the archbishop presented to him an address in his own name, and that of the other bishops. He likewise placed the crown on his majesty's head. But it has been disproved by Dr D'Oyly that he officiated on this occasion, without insisting on the administration of the sacrament, as Burnet insinuates. His refusal to act under the ecclesiastical commission which James issued, and his petitioning with the six bishops against reading the king's declaration for liberty of conscience, were acts which gave great offence at court. We have elsewhere noted the issue of this contest. When the infatuated monarch became aware of the danger of his situation, he sent for the archbishop in haste and earnestly besought his advice how to regain the ground which he had lost in the affections of his people. Sancroft complied with the request of his sovereign, and drew up ten articles for his consideration, in the last of which he firmly but respectfully stipulates for permission to attempt the conversion of the king himself from the errors of popery. James promised to listen to his advice, and commanded him to compose public prayers suited to the state of the kingdom at this critical period.

On the king's first departure from his capital, Sancroft was foremost to sign the address to the prince of Orange, praying him to summon a parliament. But he had already wavered greatly as to the line of conduct which it was his duty to pursue with respect to the prince. There is extant a paper in his own handwriting, in which he discusses three different modes of settling the government. The first was to declare the prince of Orange-who, at the instance of the nobility and some commoners, was administering the public affairs both civil and military -king, and solemnly to crown him. A second plan was to set up

the next heir to the crown after the king's death, and to crown her. The third

was, “ To declare the king, by reason of his unhappy principles, and his resolution to act accordingly, incapable of the government, with which such principles are inconsistent and incompatible, and to declare the prince of Orange custos reyni, who shall carry on the government in the king's right and name." To the last of these modes he

gave decided preference, reasoning on what must be done in hereditary monarcbies when the king is rendered incapable of directing the government through delicacy,' or otherwise. Yet, though he thus seems to have made up his mind as to what should be done, he obstinately refused to introduce the subject to the peers; and when all public func

[ocr errors]

tionaries were required to take an oath of allegiance to King William, he, with nine other prelates, refused to comply, pleading their previous oath to King James, his heirs, and successors. He was still, however, allowed to continue in the exercise of his metropolitical powers until the 1st of August, 1689, when he was suspended from office. On the 1st of February following, he was, with five other bishops, deprived by act of parliament, without any previous trial or censure. On the 3d of August, he finally left the metropolis, and retired to Fresingfield, the place of his nativity, which he never afterwards quitted. He spent the remainder of his life in great privacy, and died on the 24th of November, 1693.

We have already expressed our opinion of the integrity of this prelate's character. We think that he gave repeated evidence of his readiness to sacrifice all worldly advantage to what he believed to be his duty at the time. Yet he was not without many foibles, and even some of the darker traits of character. He was austere in his own life, and intolerant towards others. In some things too he was inconsistent. He maintained the doctrine of passive obedience, yet on James's first departure from his capital, the archbishop himself went from Guildhall, and having demanded and obtained the keys of the Tower, delivered them over as by order from the lords, to Lord Lucas, which, as has been observed in a tract attributed to Lord Somers, “ would have been as real acts of læsæ majestatis, if King James had not forfeited the duty and obedience of his subjects as if he had stabbed him to the heart." His literary character presents nothing very remarkable ; his style partook largely of all the common defects in the taste of the age, but is often highly terse and piquant. The archbishop's life has been recently written by Dr D'Oyly, in two volumes, octavo.

William Bates, D. D.

BORN A. D. 1625.-DIED A. D. 1699.

DR WILLIAM BATEs, a distinguished puritan divine, was born Nov. 1625, in the very year that Charles I. succeeded to the throne. Neither his ancestry nor his birth-place has been left on record. In fact, no regular account of him at all has been transmitted from his contemporaries ; a circumstance rather singular, considering the esteem which he commanded, and the eminence he reached among the men of his generation. Howe, who seems to have been longest and best acquainted with him, having known him, as he tells us himself, above forty years, has left us no other memorial of his friend than the funeral sermon preached upon his death, and which, though marked with much of its author's usual power and grandeur, and sketching the character of Bates with great felicity and fulness, has scarcely even furnished us with the outlines of his life.

More fortunate than some of his nonconforming brethren of that age, he enjoyed the advantages of a university education, and commenced his studies at Cambridge, being early admitted to Emanuel college ;

[ocr errors][merged small]

and, in 1644, removed to King's college, where, in 1647, he obtained his degree as Bachelor of Arts. He attached himself to the presbyterian party, and early commenced the public duties of his office, in which he very speedily obtained that high popularity which attended him to the last. His first charge was that of St Dunstan's, London, where he was appointed vicar, and where he remained till ejected by the act of uniformity in 1662. While there, he united himself with several other ministers in carrying on the morning lectures in Cripplegate church. In the restoration of Charles II. he took an active part, and was soon after appointed one of his majesty's chaplains. In the following November he received from the university of Cambridge the degree of Doctor in divinity, by an express royal mandate. About this time too he was offered the deanery of Litchfield and Coventry, but, along with several of his brethren, who were presented with similar bribes by the court, he, from conscientious scruples, declined the offer. It is said, that from the high and general estimation in which he was held, he might, by conformity to the dominant church, have secured any bishopric in the kingdom. At the same time it is evident that high as he stood, he was not reckoned the first of his party; for whilst he and Manton were offered deaneries, Baxter and Calamy had the credit of refusing bishoprics. In 1660 he was appointed one of the commissioners at the celebrated Savoy conference. This conference was summoned by a royal commission, and met at Savoy, the bishop of London's lodgings. "Its object was “ to advise upon and revise the book of common prayer.”'It consisted of a great many commissioners, episcopalian and presbyterian, and was carried on at considerable length, and with great keenness of discussion ; though it terminated altogether unsuccessfully. Baxter, in the second part of his · Life and Times,' has left us a very clear and copious narrative of the whole proceedings, into which, however, it is unnecessary to enter, farther than to select a slight anecdote of Dr Bates, of whom Baxter says " he spoke very solidly, judiciously, and pertinently." Baxter had said something in the course of debate, which Bishop Morley, the most vehement and unreasonable of his party, interpreted to mean, man might be for some time without sin;" “ upon which,” says Baxter, “ he sounded out his aggravation of this doctrine, and then cried to Dr Bates, What say you, Dr Bates, is this your opinion ? saith Dr Bates, believe we are all sinners, but I pray, my lord, give him leave to speak."

In 1662 he was deprived of his charge in London by the celebrated act of uniformity ;' and though never, like many of his brethren, cast into prison, nor subjected to such severe privations as most of them endured, yet he had much to undergo and to endure. Once when called to a deathbed along with Baxter, he was most providentially prevented from attending, though ignorant of the real danger he would have been exposed to from his enemies, who had stationed officers at the sick woman's house to seize him. In 1665 he took the oath imposed by the Oxford parliament, “ that they would not, at any time,

66 that a

" 5

Baxters Life and Times, part ji. p. 283. 3 Burnet's Hist. of his own Times, vol. i. p. 303. • Baxter's Life and Times, part ii. p. 304. – Burnet's owu Times vol. i. p. 294 • Baxter, part ii. p. 337.

[ocr errors]

"6

endeavour an alteration in the government of church or state." In this he was joined by about twenty of his brethren, who, acting upon the interpretation given of it by the Lord Keeper Bridgeman, whom Bates consulted upon the point, came in at the sessions,' as Baxter tells us, and took the oath. Among the chief of those who followed him upon this occasion were Howe and Poole ; and among those who stood out was Baxter, who could by no means be persuaded of the souudness of the Lord Keeper's explanation, “ that by endeavours was meant unlawful endeavour,” and who, therefore, notwithstanding a long letter from Dr Bates upon the subject, steadily persisted in his refusal, thinking the reasons contained in that letter by no means sufficient

to enervate the force of the objections to the oath, or to solve the difSculties.” In the beginning of the year 1668, some of the more moderate prelatists endeavoured to effect some sort of comprehension,' as it was called, by which, upon certain terms, the Dissenters might be admitted into the church. In this Dr Bates was actively concerned along with Manton and Baxter, on the presbyterian side. But the scheme met with such violent opposition from the leading prelates of the day, that it fell to the ground. A little after this, we find him presenting, along with some of his brethren, an address to the king for the relief of the nonconformists ; but though they were received most graciously, nothing was done, and as Baxter says, after all, they were as before. Again, in 1674, we find him engaged in another fruitless attempt to secure some privileges to his brethren. Tillotson and Stillingfleet sought an interview with him, and some other nonconforming ministers ; the scheme was proposed, and the terms drawn up; but through the inveterate opposition of some of the more violent of the bishops, the attempt ended as the others had done. The accession of James II. to the throne by no means diminished the sufferings of the puritans. Upon several of them this event brought fresh hardships and trials. Among these was Baxter, and one of the most interesting scenes in the whole of that interesting and eventful period, is the narrative of his trial before Jefferies, when, attended by Dr Bates, he faced unmoved the brutal threats and profane ribaldry of that perverter of justice and persecutor of the saints. The whole scene is far too long for transcription here : the few sentences that refer to the subject of this memoir is all that is required. “ Richard, Richard,” exclaimed Jefferies, interrupting Baxter in his defence," dost thou think we'll hear thee poison the court ? Richard, thou art an old fellow, an old knave; thou hast written books enough to load a cart, every one as full of sedition as an egg is full of meat.

I know thou hast a mighty party, and I see a great many of the brotherhood incomers waiting to see what will become of their mighty don; and a Doctor of the party, (looking to Dr Bates,) at your elbow; but by the grace of Almighty God, I'll crush you all !” 8 At the accession of William, he presented the address of the Dissenters to their majesties ; and ever after, till the day of his death, enjoyed the esteem and confidence of both king and queen. During the latter part of his life he was minister of a congregation at Hackney. He died there in 1699, aged 74. While residing there we meet with the following incident, narrated by Calamy, which

• Baxter, Life and Times, part iii. p. 13, 15. —Burnet, vol. i. p. 373.
' Baxter, ibid., p. 36.

• Orme's Life of Baxter, p. 368.

[ocr errors][merged small]

99

is introduced here as being interesting in a literary way. A French minister, a refugee from the persecutions of the duke of Savoy, came over to England. Dr Bates being desirous to see him, asked Calamy to bring him to Hackney. When he was introduced, " he made a very handsome speech to the Doctor in Latin ;” not one word of which the Doctor could understand, till Calamy interpreted. The Doctor then replied in Latin also, but not one word of his answer could Monsieur Amald comprehend till Calamy explained. The reason of this may be seen in our own day; when the English and foreign pronunciation of Latin are still as much at variance as ever; and this, as Calamy remarks, “ shows the inconvenience of our using a different pronunciation of the Latin tongue from what is common among foreigners."!

He did not outlive his usefulness; but in spite of the growing infirmities of which he himself tells us in his funeral sermon for Dr Jacomb, preached and laboured to the last, a circumstance too common to be remarked in these days, but most unaccountably uncommon in ours. He seems to have been the intimate friend of Tillotson and Stillingfleet, who were men like himself, moderate and pacific in their church principles. He was in all respects a superior man, and entitled to stand high in the ranks of nonconformity. In person he is said to have been handsome, or as Howe terms it in his funeral sermon for him,“ of a self-recommending aspect, composed of gravity and pleasantness, with a graceful mien, and calmness of person.' His character was amiable, his talents high, his learning extensive, his judgment clear and sound, and his memory remarkably strong. His works are by no means numerous or large, being originally comprised in one folio volume, and of late years modernized into four octavos. His largest work is his · Harmony of the Divine Attributes, which seems to have been intended for a system of divinity, and which, along with his discourses upon the existence of God, immortality of the soul, truth of the Christian religion, forms one of the compactest and completest systems of theology of which that period can boast. It is the production of a man of shrewd judgment and acute thought. Like Leighton among the Scotch divines, he seems to have risen superior to most of his contemporaries, in the adoption of a sounder philosophy, and the rejection of that abstruse and futile metaphysics which disfigured the writings of that age. His style is clear and polished, more of a modern air than any of his brethren, excepting Charnock. It is light and full of imagery ; tasteful, but by no means powerful ; attractive rather than impressive. He is said to have studied poetry and light literature ; and a number of romances were found in his library at his death. He was an admirer of Cowley ; and from some passages we would be tempted to believe he had studied Jeremy Taylor. There is far more compression and terseness in Bates than in Taylor; but by no means a dissimilarity in their general tone of style. But the divine whom he most resembles is Leighton. Like him his style is short and elegant rather than fluent and nervous. Like him he had abandoned the scholastic divisions and subdivisions in his discourses; and like him, almost nothing that wears the air of controversy is to be met with in his works. In this he most strikingly differed from

• Calamy's Life, vol i. p. 219.

« PreviousContinue »