« VorigeDoorgaan »
it then pleased God to call him to repent-, Westminster School, he finds, when still ance, and to reveal Jesus Christ in him. a mere boy, that his conscience will not His religion was Puritan, and the word permit him to take the oath of supremin his case points to the moral fervour as acy. After lingering for a period at Oxwell as to the scholastic dogmatism of the ford in unattached study, he travels on Puritans. In point of fact, the most the continent, and makes his way, as was characteristic men of the entire period customary for spiritual knights errant of between the rise of Calvin and the Res- the time, to Geneva. Here the Calvinistoration of Charles II. are unintelligible tic doctors would give him play for his unless we to some extent realize that dialectical weapons, and to dispute, disspiritual heat, that transcendent belief in tinguish, define, was for him, now and responsibility to God, which could not, henceforward, the highest possible happilike the Puritan theology, be embodied in ness. The son of an eminent English creeds, but which is vividly present in courtier, the heir of an ancient and oputhe best religious literature of the time, lent house, he was likely to receive from in Calvin's letters, and indeed in all Cal- the hierarchs of the Puritan Rome suffivin's writings, in Jeremy Taylor's ser cient deference to flatter his intellectual mons and devotional treatises, in Mil- pride, while their argumentative skill, ton's best poetry and Baxter's best prose. practised in the debates of the most conThe religious inspiration of the age troversial century in the history of the reached all parties in England, but it world, would polish to a gossamer attenburned most vehemently in the Puritans. uation that subtlety which was at once The fundamental allegation of Luther and the force and the foible of Vane. He reCalvin was that the Church of Rome had turned to England in a white glow of Pufalsified Christianity. They did not, as ritan illumination, and the court began to they have been a thousand times misrep- I look with chagrin upon the prospect of resented to have done, proclaim the such an addition to the Puritan ranks. It emancipation of the human mind from was arranged that Laud should take him authority. They appealed to an infallible in hand, but the result was as might have Bible against a Church whose claim to been foreseen.. Laud had a limited loginfallibility they rejected ; and they af- ical faculty and a short temper; Vane firmed it to be the duty of all men to sub- had a genius for argumentative logic, an mit to the infallible Bible as emphatically invincibly placid temper, and that ineffaas Rome affirmed it to be the duty of all | ble self-complacency which is irritating men to submit to the infallible Church. in any man, insufferably irritating in a The English Puritans, whose theory of stripling. Finding that he made no prog. inspiration was more rigid than that of ress, Laud few into a passion and brought Luther and Calvin, insisted with fiery im- the discussion to an end. Shrewd Sir portunity that the Bible and the Bible Harry, the father, looked on with philoalone should be the religion of England. sophical tranquillity, speculating perhaps Laud and the anti-Puritans urged that on the possibility that his son's Puritanrites and ceremonies, though not en- ism might turn up as a good card one of joined in the Bible, might be lawfully im- these difficult and dubious days. posed by the Church. The Anglican We next find young Henry, with the view was something of a compromise and acquiescence of his father, who is doubtsomething of a retrogression ; both cir- | less glad to have him temporarily out of cumstances would discredit it with the the way, on board an emigrant ship amid emotionally fervid and dialectically abso- a company of Puritans bound for New lute Henry Vane. Accordingly, from the England. The honest exiles cannot help earliest point at which we can trace him, looking on him as a surprising, if not he is a Puritan. A scrupulous conscien- alarming, phenomenon. His long hair, tiousness was combined in him with con- his courtly dress, his aristocratic deportsistent, unswerving Biblicism. At Ox- ment, strike them as more compatible ford, to which he had been sent from with the character of a court spy than of
a genuine Puritan. But they soon dis- sibly stand this. Boston became a scene cover their mistake. In prayer and theo- of fierce contention between Hutchinsonlogical discourse the young aristocrat can ians and anti-Hutchinsonians. The clergy out-stay the longest-winded of the party.'proved themselves as capable of critiHe lands at Boston in the beginning of cism as their censor; and Mrs. Hutchin1635, is admitted to the freedom of Mas- son was accused of various theological sachusetts on the 3rd of March, and in errors, Antinomian and Sabellian, the the following year is appointed Governor very sound of which was enough to make of the Colony.
both the ears of any Puritan hearing them American writers are naturally inter- to tingle. The probability is that, if Mrs. ested in Vane's residence in Boston and Hutchinson had praised the other preachgovernorship of Massachusetts. That he ers as much as she praised Mr. Cotton, should have been elected to administer they might have failed to detect her herethe affairs of the colony at an age when sies. Vane took part with her and Cotyoung men are commonly still at college ton, defending her with a chivalry which is enough to prove that he possessed must enlist Mr. Mill and the leaders of some remarkable qualities, and Mr. Up- the Woman's Rights movement in his ham quotes instances of his dexterity favour, and arguing that her doctrines, and tact in managing men and composing though they looked like heresies, were differences : but, on the whole, his gov- orthodox enough. The case appears to ernorship was not successful. Claren- have been one in which a correct decision don's account is that, through his unpar- depended on the apprehension of sundry alleled intellectual subtlety, he involved theological distinctions, which ordinary the colony in interminable disputes and persons were almost sure to overlook or dissensions, and I fancy this is an uncivil confound, but which would be perfectly statement of a substantial fact. He did and fascinatingly lucid to the subtle mind not bring the disputes into the colony, of Vane. According to the Puritan thebut, having to deal with disputes, he did ology, personal holiness, or sanctification, so not as a man of action, but as an irre- is in no sense or degree the price of salfragable logician; not as a builder of vation ; in plainer words, good works houses on the ground, who hews his have absolutely no effect in justifying the stones with hammer and chisel, but like a sinner. But sanctification, if genuine builder of castles in the air, who cuts that is, if produced by Divine grace actphantom blocks with air-drawn razors. ing on the believer — is an indispensable He did not succeed, but he was ready to accompaniment, and an infallible proof, prove to all the world that he ought to of justification; in other words, good have succeeded.
works are absolutely inseparable from a The colony was blessed or cursed with life of saving faith. On these points Puria Mrs. Hutchinson, a preaching woman, tan theologians are agreed, and I have no clever, vehement, disputatious, censo- doubt that Mrs. Hutchinson and Henry rious, qualified in a rare degree to set men Vane would have maintained them against by the ears. She held every week one or all who should affirm that Luther's docmore preaching and prayer meetings, attrine of salvation by faith alone is unfawhich she rehearsed the sermons deliv-vourable to morals. But Mrs. Hutchinered from some Boston pulpit the Sunday son might very well draw a distinction before, with comments of her own. The between genuine sanctification and works theology of the town did not give her sat- really good on the one hand, and certain isfaction ; Mr. Cotton alone of several external symbols of sanctification, certain clergymen preached the Gospel as, in her ostensibly good works, which, in Puritan opinion, it ought to be preached. Cler-circles, might be easily taken for such, ical human nature in a Puritan colony on the other. If what she said was that where the pastors expected to have them- demure faces, long prayers, and converselves looked up to as the Heaven-sent sation interlarded with Scripture – in one guides of the community, could not pos-word, all the external signs of Puritanism
- were no infallible proofs of justifica- ried home an affectionate recollection of tion, it may easily be conceived that her his New England friends ; but he had language, wholly satisfactory to a Cot- not been successful ; and the essential tonian, would strike one of the opposite reason of his failure was that his genius faction as countenancing the deadly An- was for drawing out the terms of a logitinomian heresy that good works are not cal demonstration rather than for governessential to salvation, and that there can ing men. be godliness without virtue. Vane and In the England of 1637 he found ample her other supporters declared that she occupation for his observant and speculastruck merely at Pharisaism, hypocrisy, tive faculties, and it soon seemed probaformality ; her enemies alleged that she ble that the experience which he had taught that the justified sinner might gained of affairs would be put in exercise. continue to sin.
It was the time when Laud and Strafford The reader has probably had more were at the height of their power. In the than he wants of theology, but I may add year of Vane's return, Prynne, Burton, that the second heresy imputed to Mrs. and Bastwick, a lawyer, a clergyman, and Hutchinson — the belief that the Holy a physician, who had written against the Ghost is an Influence, instead of a Per- Bishops, had their ears cut off in Palace son — would, in the discussions it origi- Yard, were fined £5000 apiece, and were nated be still more promotive of abstruse consigned to life-long imprisonment in speculating and nice distinguishing, and remote castles. Parliament had not sat would afford still finer play to the dia- for eight years, and servile judges had lectical subtlety of Vane, than the first. pronounced the King entitled to levy
The colony buzzed with disputation ship-money upon Hampden and other inlike a distracted beehive. Out of the land householders. Vane entered into question of Mrs. Hutchinson's heresy, or relations with the leading Puritans, and, in addition to it, arose the question of the in his intercourse with the Court, was on right of the Church to punish her for the the alert for information which might be same, and in this also Vane was ready useful to the party. Sir Henry Vane, his with his logic. A sentence or two from father, was a member of the Privy Counhis controversial writing on this point cil. Between the elder Vane and Strafwill exhibit in small compass his concep- ford, who had insulted him, there was tion of Bible law as defining the powers bitter hostility. The father and the son alike of Church and State.“ Churches continued, as usual, on excellent terms. have no liberty to receive or reject, at In due course, after his return from their discretions, but at the discretion of America, young Vane married and took Christ. Whatsoever is done in word or up his abode with his wife in London. deed, in Church or Commonwealth, must He was elected member for Hull in the be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Short Parliament, which met in the (Col. iii. 17). Neither hath Church nor spring of 1640. In the course of this Commonwealth any other than ministerial summer his father, absent in the North power from Christ (Eph. v. 23), who is the of England, desirous of enabling Henry Head of the Church and the Prince of the to increase the amount of the settlement Kings of the Earth (Rev. i. 5).” To realize already made upon his wife, instructed his this ideal, to bring Commonwealth and secretary in London to put into his son's Church into the condition prescribed by hands the keys of certain boxes containChrist, was the object of Vane's life. His ing, says the father, “writings and the doctrine led directly to the sovereignty evidences of my lands.” Having got of the Christian people, for no monarch from the boxes what he wanted, young could be entitled to deprive Christians of Vane caught sight of a “red velvet cabthe liberty conferred on them by Christinet,” and being curious to know what – that is of the liberty to perform fully was within, procured its key from the secwhat Christ enjoins — or could exercise retary and opened it. He finds, among more than ministerial power. But whilst other papers, a memorandum in his faththus covering himself with glory as a con- er's hand of treasonable expressions used troversalist, Vane slipped out of his seat by Strafford in the preceding May at a as Governor. His controversial antago- meeting of the Privy Council. Deeply nist, Winthrop, was elected in his stead, struck with the discovery, he takes a copy and in rather more than two years after of the paper, and feels bound to comhe reached the colony, Vane returned to municate it to “some person of better England. With a party in Massachusetts judgment than myself.” The person sehe was still highly popular, and he car-| lected is Pym, the conductor of the impeachment of Strafford. The words used ing slow and soft between willow-hung were to the effect that the King, having banks in “an endless plain ; ” Milton's vainly appealed to the affections of his is a swollen torrent rending its way down people, was “absolved and loose from all hill. Vane could track a thought with rule of government," entitled “to do what unweariable patience into a thousand rampower will admit," and at liberty for one ifications ; he could hold his way imperthing, to employ the army of Ireland "to turbably amid distinctions which the fiery reduce this kingdom to obedience.” The glance of Milton penetrated or overlooked. effect produced by this evidence, when In his sonnet to Vane, Milton signalizes Pym brought it up on the trial of Straf- his power of exact discrimination and ford, was very great, and though the im- definition, and we can imagine Vane's peachment was abandoned and the meth- countenance lighting up with enthusiasm od of attainder adopted, it unquestiona- as he marked his own fine-drawn logical bly helped to bring the Earl to the block. wire-work becoming radiant in the imThe circumstance that there was personal aginative eloquence of Milton. enmity between Strafford and the elder Cromwell, Milton, and Vane were Vane has suggested scepticism as to the agreed that England ought not to pause purely accidental nature of the discovery half-way, but to complete her reformamade by his son. Vane, the Privy Coun- tion. Milton's position in his first pamcillor, was bound by oath to observe se- phlet was, as Professor Masson finely cresy respecting what took place at meet- says, “that the European Reformation ings of the Privy Council, and his oath begun by Luther had been arrested in required him to conceal all such mem-England at a point far less advanced than oranda as that of Strafford's treasonable that which it had reached in other counadvice. It is not surprising that the cav- I tries, and that, in consequence, England aliers should have accused the father of had ever since been suffering and strugtreachery and perjury, but we may, I gling, and incapacitated, as by a load of think, assent to the resolution in which nightmare only half thrown off, for the the House of Commons declared that no full and free exercise of her splendid blame could be attached to the son. The spirit.” Cromwell and Vane, adroitly younger Vane never sat in the Privy using Sir Edward Deering as their inCouncil along with Strafford, and as one strument, introduced a bill in May, 1641, of the most advanced and resolute Puri- “ for the utter abolishing and taking tans, he had a right to be as eager in the away of all Archbishops, Bishops, their search for evidence against their great Chancellors and Commissaries, Deans, adversary as Pym himself.
Deans and Chapters, Archdeacons, PreIn the Long Parliament he at once as- bendaries, Chanters, Canons, and all other sociated himself with the Root and their under-officers.” Vane's speech in Branch party. Their view of the policy the debate was the speech of a wary polito be adopted in regard to the State was tician and experienced Parliamentary that the amplest constitutional conces- statesman, rather than of an enthusiastic sions should be exacted from the King, dreamer of ecclesiastical dreams. Episand not only so, but that securities should copacy, he argued, could be defended be taken that those concessions would only by substantially the same arguments not, in any vicissitude of public feeling, be as defended Popery ; it had been tried in resumed. For the Church they demanded England, and had shown itself unfavoura complete reform, to the extent of able to piety; it alienated the Church of sweeping away the entire Episcopal sys- | England from the Reformed Churches; it tem and substituting a system which they tended to bring back Popery; and it was did not exactly define, but which would hostile to civil liberty and favourable to bring the government and ritual of the arbitrary conceptions of government. Church into close accordance with those The hardest-headed zealot in the House of the other Churches which had thrown could not call this abstruse, the most prooff the yoke of Rome. Pre-eminent in saic stateman could not call it fantastical. this party we distinguish Oliver Crom- Strange to say - strange, that is, when well, Henry Vane, and outside the we recollect the sequel — Cromwell, MilHouse – John Milton. Between Milton ton, and Vane were all three at this time and Vane it is easy to understand how more correctly definable as Presbyterians there should be sympathy. . Each had than by any other ecclesiastical designawhat the other, comparatively speaking, tion. It is curiously illustrative of the lacked. Vane was singularly void of im- nature of Revolutions, and of the charaginative fire; his writing is a river mov- acter of the results which their rude and
perilous ministry can effect, that it was the Five Members. From that hour the not found possible, in the course of the destinies of England were in the hands Puritan Revolution, to fix permanently, of the Root and Branch Party. in place of the ecclesiastical system swept When the war broke out, Cromwell beaway, any one of the forms of ecclesiasti-took himself to the field. Vane, intrepid cal polity which prevailed at the time. in speculation, perfect in moral courage, Each party, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, had the reputation of physical timidity. Independent, was in turn strong enough In friendship and in policy, they remained to oppress or strong enough to destroy ; cordially allied. After the death of Hampbut when the Puritan army was triumphant den, in the summer of 1643, and the death in England, neither Episcopacy, Presby- of Pym, which occurred a few months teries, nor Independency could have its later, Vane was the most important of way. At the time when Laud was cutting those leaders of the Parliament who conoff Presbyterian ears and Wren was hop- fined themselves to their Parliamentary ing to bring some Puritan to the stake, the duties. He had been appointed jointgreat body of the people wanted nothing secretary of the navy so early as 1640, more than that the Laudian ceremonial and both in this capacity and in the work should not be matter of forcible imposi- of Committees, he proved himself a contion on the consciences of men. At the summate man of business. time when Cromwell and Vane pushed Sufficient importance has not been atforward the Root and Branch bill, a tem- tached by Macaulay in his history to the perate version of the Presbyterian sys- service performed by Vane for the Partem, with considerable freedom in the liament in the second half of 1643. Occuuse of vestures and liturgies, would have pied with Cromwell's statement that his given satisfaction to a like proportion of Ironsides, men of religion and a high purthe nation. When the war ended with pose, had brought victory to the Puritan the battle of Worcester, both Episcopacy standard, Lord Macaulay makes no menand Presbyterianism had become imprac- tion of that feat of statesmanship and ticable, but Independency, though pro- diplomacy by which the extremely probafessed by many able men, and favoured ble crushing of Cromwell's military by Cromwell on the ground of the com-schemes in the bud was averted. In the parative tolerance of its adherents, could summer of 1643 the scale of the Parlianot be established. The issue of all the ment was dangerously depressed. The furious contention between the three King was carrying all before him in the forms of Protestant Christianity was that West; Newcastle had not been checked Cromwell found himself compelled to set in the East ; it seemed likely, if not inon foot a nondescript scheme, which any evitable, that, should no important accesmodern Independent, or Divine-right In-sion of force be gained by the Parliament, dependent of any time, would reject as a brief campaign in 1644 would bring the intolerable. There are no disappoint-war to a close, and lay the liberties of ments so heart-breaking as those of great England in their grave. Cromwell was revolutions.
fully sensible of the danger, for he knew For the present, Vane and Cromwell that the troops of the Eastern counties, had overstepped the mark. The debate which he had been organizing, were not on the Root and Branch bill marks a numerous enough to cope with Newcaspoint at which there occurred a decided tle. Clarendon has not overlooked the rally on behalf of the Church and of critical nature of the situation. He dwells Charles. In proceeding against Strafford with bitter emphasis on the means by the Commons had acted as one man, and which the fortune of the war was changed. even in the attempt to save the Earl from An embassy was despatched to Scotland. the capital sentence Digby had com- Vane, though several commissioners were manded only a trifling minority. But associated with him, was himself the emwhen Strafford had fallen and Laud and bassy. “He was chosen," says Clarenhis impositions were flung out of sight, don," to cozen and deceive a whole naa formidable party in the House became tion, which excelled in craft and cunning, conscious of a strong enthusiasm for the which he did with notable pregnancy and Church of England. Two events com- dexterity.” He was chosen to persuade bined to stay the reaction and to hurry on the Scots to send an arıny to the aid of the Revolution. In the autumn of 1641, the Parliament. The negotiation was England was convulsed by intelligence ticklish, but there is no need to suppose of the Irish Rebellion; in the first month that Vane tried, or intended, to cozen. of 1642, Charles attempted the arrest of | It was necessary to hold out an induce.