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Title: The History of Persecution - from the Patriarchal Age, to the Reign of George II
Author: Atmore, Charles, Chandler, Samuel
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_. The occasional
superscripted characters are preceded by a carat ‘^’, and enclosed in
brackets should there be more than one (e.g. 2^{nd}).

Footnotes and their anchors have been resequenced for uniqueness within
the text, and have been moved to follow the paragraphs in which they are

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
the handling of any textual issues encountered during its preparation.


  _Freeman sculp._


  _Published by John Craggs, Hull. Jan 1^{st}. 1813._


                                from the


                    BY S. CHANDLER, D.D. F.R.S. S.A.


                            _A New Edition._


                           To which are added,

 The Rev. Dr. Buchanan’s Notices of the present State of the Inquisition
                                 at Goa.

                                 ALSO, AN





                     _LORD VISCOUNT SIDMOUTH’S BILL_;


                     =The New Toleration Act,=

                                 WITH THE



                           BY CHARLES ATMORE.


“Uniformity of religious belief is not to be expected, so variously
constituted are the minds of men, and consequently RELIGIOUS COERCION is
not only absurd and impolitic, but for all good purposes impracticable.”

                                   SUTTON, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.



              BLANCHARD, N^{o.} 14, CITY ROAD, LONDON; AND
                         WILSON AND SON, YORK.



                        PRINTED BY JOHN PERKINS,
                         BOWLALLEY-LANE, HULL.


                         The EDITOR’S PREFACE.

It is now upwards of seventy years since this excellent treatise was
first presented to the public by the author, and, considering his
celebrity as a writer, (especially among the Dissenters) it is presumed
no apology is necessary for sending it again into the world: especially
at the present interesting crisis, when the subject of RELIGIOUS
TOLERATION, is become the topic of general conversation and discussion.
This work comprises every thing of importance connected with the
dreadful persecutions which have disgraced human nature, both in ancient
and modern times, both at home and abroad; and is designed to prove that
the things for which christians have persecuted one another have
generally been of small importance; that pride, ambition, and
covetousness, have been the grand sourses of persecution; and that the
religion of Jesus Christ absolutely condemns _all_ persecution for
conscience sake.

In this Edition, I have wholly omitted Dr. Chandler’s “Preface,” which
contains “Remarks on Dr. Rogers’ vindication of the civil establishment
of religion,” and have substituted Memoirs of Dr. Chandler in its room:
which I thought would be more generally acceptable to the reader. I have
also omitted all his marginal notes of a controversial nature, being
answers to Dr. Berriman, who had written a pamphlet entitled, “Brief
remarks on Mr. Chandler’s Introduction to the History of the
Inquisition.” These I conceived would be at present of little use. And
as the republication of this volume is intended chiefly for _common_
readers, I have also left out all the Greek and Latin sentences
interspersed in the work, judging that they would be of no real
advantage to such persons. I have however retained Dr. Chandler’s
authorities, so that the _learned_ reader may refer to them when he
thinks proper. As to the body of the work, I have neither altered the
sense nor the language.

The additions I have made from that justly celebrated work, “Dr.
Buchanan’s Christian Researches in Asia,” will, I hope, be deemed a
valuable acquisition; and I beg leave here to express my grateful
acknowledgments to the Rev. Author of that work, for the very polite
manner in which he honoured my request, in permitting me to insert his
“Notices of the Inquisition at Goa.”

While this work was in the press, one of the most important events to
Religious Liberty occurred, which has taken place since the glorious
area of the Revolution, in 1688: viz. the repeal of the Persecuting
laws, and the passing of the NEW TOLERATION ACT. This event is so
closely connected with the subject matter of this work, and reflects so
much honour on the British government and nation, that I feel highly
gratified in affording the reader, a detail of the various steps which
were taken to obtain that Act: which now effectually secures to every
subject of the British Empire all the Religious Liberty he can expect or

I willingly record this memorial, that we, and our children after us,
may know how to appreciate our invaluable privileges; and that the names
of those noblemen and others who boldly stood forth in the defence and
support of Religious Toleration, might be handed down to posterity, that
“our children may tell their children, and their children another

May that infinitely important and wished-for period soon arrive, “when
every invidious distinction, and every hostile passion, shall be
banished from religious society; and when all the blessings of christian
liberty shall be diffused and enjoyed throughout the whole world!”

          “O catch its high import ye winds as ye blow,
          “O bear it ye waves as ye roll,
          “From the regions that feel the sun’s vertical glow,
          “To the farthest extremes of the pole!”

                                                     _=Charles Atmore.=_

HULL, FEBRUARY 15th. 1813.



_When the prospectus of this work was first published, the Editor had no
design of adding the Appendix, but intended to give copious biographical
notes of the most eminent persons recorded in the work. The matter of
the Appendix, however, afterwards appeared to him of such superior
importance, that he thought himself justified in changing his plan. And
he hopes the subscribers will excuse his having omitted that part of his
original design, and accept of this apology for the notes, being so few,
and so short, at the end of the volume._



      PREFACE                                            Page iii

      The Life of Dr. Chandler                               1-23

      The Introduction                                      27-31

                                BOOK I.
                 Of Persecution amongst the Heathens.
                               SECT. 1.
      Abraham persecuted                                    33-34

                               SECT. 2.
      Socrates persecuted amongst the Greeks                34-38

                               SECT. 3.
      Egyptian Persecutions                                 39-40

                               SECT. 4.
      Persecutions by Antiochus Epiphanes                   40-42

                               SECT. 5.
      Persecutions under the Romans                         42-54

                               SECT. 6.
      Persecutions by the Mahometans                        54-55

                               BOOK II.
      Of the Persecutions under the Christian Emperors         56

                               SECT. 1.
      Of the Dispute about Easter                           57-61

                               SECT. 2.
      Of the Persecutions under Constantine                 61-76

                               SECT. 3.
      The Nicene Council, or first general Council         76-103

                               SECT. 4.
      The first Council of Constantinople; or, second     103-112
        general Council

                               SECT. 5.
      The Council of Ephesus; or, third general Council   112-114

                               SECT. 6.
      The Council of Calcedon; or, fourth general         114-128

                               SECT. 7.
      The second Council at Constantinople; or, fifth     129-136
        general Council

                               SECT. 8.
      The third Council of Constantinople; or, sixth      136-140
        general Council

                               SECT. 9.
      The second Nicene Council; or, seventh general      141-143

                               BOOK III.
      Of Persecutions under the Papacy, and particularly  144-145
        the Inquisition

                               SECT. 1.
      Of the Progress of the Inquisition                  145-155

                               SECT. 2.
      Of the Officers belonging to the Inquisition        155-181

                               SECT. 3.
      Of the Crimes cognizable by the Inquisition, and    182-194
        the Punishment annexed to them

                               SECT. 4.
      Of the manner of proceeding before the Tribunal of  194-263
        the Inquisition

      Of the present state of the Inquisition at Goa,     263-284
        extracted from Dr. Buchanans Christian
        Researches in Asia

                               BOOK IV.
      Of Persecutions amongst Protestants                     285

                               SECT. 1.
      Luther’s opinion concerning Persecution                 286

                               SECT. 2.
      Calvin’s Doctrine and Practice concerning           288-300

                               SECT. 3.
      Persecutions at Bern, Bazil, and Zurich             300-303

                               SECT. 4.
      Persecutions in Holland, and by the Synod of Dort   303-311

                               SECT. 5.
      Persecutions in Great Britain                       311-354

                               SECT. 6.
      Of Persecutions in New England, in America          354-360

                               SECT. 1.
      Who have been the great promoters of Persecution    360-363

                               SECT. 2.
      The things for which Christians have persecuted     363-369
        one another have generally been of small

                               SECT. 3.
      Pride, Ambition, and Covetousness, the grand        369-372
        sources of Persecution

                               SECT. 4.
      The Decrees of Councils, and Synods of no           372-377
        Authority in matters of Faith

                               SECT. 5.
      The imposing Subscription to human Creeds,          377-387
        unreasonable and pernicious

                               SECT. 6.
      Adherence to the sacred Scriptures, the best        387-390
        security of Truth and Orthodoxy

                               SECT. 7.
      The Christian Religion absolutely condemns          390-413
        Persecution for conscience sake

      Hints on the recent persecutions in the British     415-416

      His Majesty’s most gracious interference with       416-419
        respect to the Religious Liberties of his
        subjects, and of his Royal Highness the Prince

      Some circumstances relating to Lord Sidmouth’s      422-427

      Lord Viscount Sidmouth’s proposed Bill              427-433

      Meeting of the Committee of Privileges of the       433-441
        Societies of the late Rev. John Wesley

      Proceedings of other Committees                     441-448

      Further proceedings of the Committee of             448-453
        Privileges, with general remarks

      The number of petitions presented in the House of   453-457
        Lords against Lord Sidmouth’s Bill

      Lord Sidmouth’s speech on the second reading of     457-472
        his Bill, with those of other noble Lords

      Remarks on the effects of Lord Sidmouth’s Bill      472-473

      Letter of the Right Honourable Spencer Percival,    473-475
        Chancellor of the Exchequer, with remarks

      Steps taken to obtain the new Toleration Act        476-489

      The New Toleration Act itself                       490-498

      Observations upon the aforesaid Act, with           498-505
        practical directions

      Remarks on the Edict recently issued by the         505-508
        Emperor of China against Christianity, with the
        horrible Edict itself

      Biographical notes                                  509-520

                          DR. SAMUEL CHANDLER.


The Rev. Dr. SAMUEL CHANDLER was descended from ancestors heartily
engaged in the cause of Nonconformity, and great sufferers for liberty
of conscience. His paternal grandfather was a respectable tradesman at
Taunton, in Somersetshire. He was much injured in his fortune by the
persecutions under Charles the Second, but “he took joyfully the
spoiling of his goods, knowing in himself that he had in heaven a better
and an enduring substance.”

The father of Dr. Chandler was a dissenting minister of considerable
worth and abilities, who spent the greater part of his life in the city
of Bath, where he maintained an honourable name.

Our author was born at Hungerford, in Berkshire, in the year 1693; his
father being at that time the pastor of a congregation of protestant
dissenters in that place. He early discovered a genius for literature,
which was carefully cultivated; and being placed under proper masters,
he made a very uncommon progress in classical learning, and especially
in the Greek tongue. As it was intended by his friends to bring him up
for the ministry, he was sent to an academy at Bridgewater, under the
care of the Rev. Mr. Moore: but he was soon removed from thence to
Gloucester, that he might become a pupil to Mr. Samuel Jones, a
dissenting minister of great erudition and abilities, who had opened an
academy in that city. This academy was soon transferred to Tewkesbury,
at which place Mr. Jones presided over it for many years with very high
and deserved reputation. Such was the attention of that gentleman to the
morals of his pupils, and to their progress in literature, and such the
skill and discernment with which he directed their studies, that it was
a singular advantage to be placed under so able and accomplished a
tutor. Mr. Chandler made the proper use of so happy a situation;
applying himself to his studies with great assiduity, and particularly
to critical, biblical, and oriental learning. Among the pupils of Mr.
Jones were Mr. Joseph Butler, afterwards Bishop of Durham, and Thomas
Secker, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. With these eminent persons
he contracted a friendship that continued to the end of their lives,
notwithstanding the different views by which their conduct was
afterwards directed, and the different situations in which they were

Mr. Chandler, having finished his academical studies, began to preach
about July, 1714; and being soon distinguished by his talents in the
pulpit, he was chosen, in 1716, minister of the Presbyterian
congregation at Peckham, near London, in which station he continued some
years. Here he entered into the matrimonial state, and began to have an
increasing family, when, by the fatal South-sea scheme of 1720, he
unfortunately lost the whole fortune which he had received with his
wife. His circumstances being thereby embarrassed, and his income as a
minister being inadequate to his expences, he engaged in the trade of a
bookseller, and kept a shop in the Poultry, London, for about two or
three years, still continuing to discharge the duties of the pastoral
office. It may not be improper to observe, that in the earlier part of
his life, Mr. Chandler was subject to frequent and dangerous fevers; one
of which confined him more than three months, and threatened by its
effects to disable him for public service. He was therefore advised to
confine himself to a vegetable diet, which he accordingly did, and
adhered to it for twelve years. This produced so happy an alteration in
his constitution, that though he afterwards returned to the usual way of
living, he enjoyed an uncommon share of spirits and vigour till seventy.

While Mr. Chandler was minister of the congregation at Peckham, some
gentlemen, of the several denominations of dissenters in the city, came
to a resolution to set up and support a weekly evening lecture at the
Old Jewry, for the winter half year. The subjects to be treated in this
lecture were the evidences of natural and revealed religion, and answers
to the principal objections against them. Two of the most eminent young
ministers among the dissenters were appointed for the execution of this
design, of which Mr. Chandler was one, and Mr. afterwards Dr. Lardner,
who is so justly celebrated for his learned writings, was another. But
after some time this lecture was dropped, and another of the same kind
set up, to be preached by one person only; it being judged that it might
be thereby conducted with more consistency of reasoning, and uniformity
of design; and Mr. Chandler was appointed for this service. In the
course of this lecture, he preached some sermons on the confirmation
which miracles gave to the divine mission of Christ, and the truth of
his religion; and vindicated the argument against the objections of
Collins, in his “Discourse of the grounds and reasons of the Christian
Religion.” These sermons, by the advice of a friend, he enlarged and
threw into the form of a continued treatise, and published, in 8vo. in
1725, under the following title: “A Vindication of the Christian
Religion, in two parts: I. A Discourse of the nature and use of
miracles. II. An Answer to a late book, entitled, A Discourse of the
grounds and reasons of the Christian Religion.” Dr. Leland observes,
that in this work our author “clearly vindicates the miracles of our
Saviour, and shews, that, as they were circumstanced, they were
convincing proofs of his divine mission.” But though Mr. Chandler
refuted the arguments of Collins against Christianity, he was not
unwilling to do justice to his merit, and therefore candidly said, in
the preface to his own book, “The preface to the Discourse of the
grounds and reasons is, in my judgment, an excellent defence of the
liberty of every one’s judging for himself, and of proposing his
opinions to others, and of defending them with the best reasons he can,
which every one hath a right to, as a man and a Christian.” Our author
also zealously opposed any interference of the civil magistrate in the
defence of Christianity: “Though the magistrate’s sword,” says he, “may
very fitly be employed to prevent libertinism, or the breach of the
public peace by men’s vices, yet the progress of infidelity must be
controuled another way, viz. by convincing men’s consciences of the
truth of Christianity, and fairly answering their objections against it.
Is it not surprising, that men, who take their religion upon trust, and
who therefore can know but little of the intrinsic worth of
Christianity, or of that strong evidence that there is to support it,
should be in pain for it, when they find it attacked by any new
objections, or old ones placed in a somewhat different view from what
they were before; or that they should call out aloud to the magistrate
to prevent the making them, because they know not how otherwise to
answer them? But that men of learning and great abilities, whose proper
office it is to defend Christianity, by giving the reasons for their
faith, and who seem to have both ability and leisure thus to stand up in
the behalf of it, should make their appeal to the civil power, and
become humble suitors to the magistrate to controul the spirit of
infidelity, is strangely surprising. It looks as if they suspected the
strength of Christianity; otherwise, one would think they would not
invite such strange and foreign aids to their assistance, when they
could have more friendly ones nearer at home, that would much more
effectually support and protect it; or at least, as though they had some
other interest to maintain than the cause of common Christianity; though
at the same time they would willingly be thought to have nothing else in
view, but the service and honour of it. If the scheme of our modern
deists be founded in truth, I cannot help wishing it all good success;
and it would be a crime in the civil magistrate, by any methods of
violence, to prevent the progress of it: but if, as I believe,
Christianity is the cause of God, it will prevail by its own native
excellence, and of consequence needs not the assistance of the civil
power.” A second edition of this work was published in 1728. Having
presented a copy of it to Archbishop Wake, his grace expressed his sense
of the value of the favour in the following letter, which is too
honourable a testimony to Mr. Chandler’s merit to be omitted. It appears
from the letter, that the Archbishop did not then know that the author
was any other than a bookseller.


            “Though I have been hindered by business, and company
  extraordinary, the last week, from finishing your good book, yet I am
  come so near the end of it, that I may venture to pass my judgment
  upon it, that it is a very good one, and such as I hope will be of
  service to the end for which you designed it.

  “I think you have set the notion of a miracle upon a clear and sure
  foundation; and by the true distinction of our blessed Saviour, in
  considering him as a Prophet sent from God, and as the Messiah
  promised to the Jews, have effectually proved him, by his doctrine and
  miracles, to be the one, and by his accomplishment of the prophecies
  of the Old Testament to be the other.

  “I cannot but own myself to be surprised, to see so much good learning
  and just reasoning in a person of your profession; and do think it a
  pity you should not rather spend your time in writing books, than in
  selling them. But I am glad, since your circumstances oblige you to
  the latter, yet you do not wholly omit the former. As we are all, who
  call ourselves Christians, obliged to you for this performance, in
  defence of our holy religion, so I must, in particular, return you my
  thanks for the benefit I have received by it; and own to you that I
  have, as to myself, been not only usefully entertained, but edified by
  it. I hope you will receive your reward from God for it. It is the
  hearty wish of,

                                          “Sir, your obliged friend,
                                                     “WILLIAM CANT.”

  “_Lambeth House, Feb. 14, 1725._”

Besides gaining the archbishop’s approbation, Mr. Chandler’s performance
considerably advanced his reputation in general, and contributed to his
receiving an invitation, about the year 1726, to settle as a minister
with the congregation in the Old Jewry, which was one of the most
respectable in London. Here he continued, first as assistant, and
afterwards as pastor, for the space of forty years, and discharged the
duties of the ministerial office with great assiduity and ability, being
much esteemed and regarded by his own congregation, and acquiring a
distinguished reputation both as a preacher and a writer.

In 1727, Mr. Chandler published “Reflections on the conduct of the
modern deists, in their late writings against Christianity: occasioned
chiefly by two books, entitled, A Discourse of the grounds and reasons,
&c. and the Scheme of literal prophecy considered: with a preface,
containing some Remarks on Dr. Rogers’s preface to his eight sermons.”
In this performance he exposed the unfair methods that were employed by
the enemies of Christianity in their attack of it, and the disingenuity
of their reasoning; and in his preface, he combated some sentiments
which had been advanced by Dr. Rogers, canon residentiary of Wells, and
chaplain to the Prince of Wales, to the prejudice of free inquiry, and
the right of private judgment. Mr. Chandler, who considered what had
been advanced by Dr. Rogers, “in favour of church power and authority,”
as strongly savouring of the spirit of persecution, could not refrain
from examining the Doctor’s scheme, which was to blend religion and
politics together, or to make religion not a _personal_ but a _state_
matter. Accordingly he has offered some very spirited and judicious
remarks on this subject, with a design to shew that religion, as it
implies a belief of certain principles, and a peculiar method of
worshipping God, said to be contained in revelation, is a purely
personal matter; and that every man ought to be persuaded in his own
mind, of the nature of its proofs, and doctrines, and principles, and to
dissent from the public establishment, if he finds it erroneous in any,
or every, article of its belief; since no man is to be saved or damned
hereafter, for the faith or practice of his superiors in church or
state, and because neither nature nor revelation hath given them, nor
can give them, a right or power to judge or believe for others.

In 1728, he published, “A Vindication of the antiquity and authority of
Daniel’s prophecies, and their application to Jesus Christ; in answer to
the objections of the author of the Scheme of literal prophecy
considered.” “Among other prophecies of the Old Testament, which the
author of the ‘Literal Scheme’ would not allow to have any literal
reference to the Messiah, he reckoned those of Daniel; and to make out
this the more clearly, he began with endeavouring to prove, that they
are no prophecies at all; that the book of Daniel was not written by the
famous Daniel mentioned by Ezekiel; and that it contains a manifest
reference to, or rather, an history of, things done several hundred
years after that Daniel’s time. This attempt to depreciate the authority
and antiquity of a book, which our author esteemed a noble testimony to
the truth of Christianity, induced him to try whether the ‘Literal
Schematist’s’ criticisms were just, and his arguments conclusive; with
which view he enters into a particular examination of the Eleven
Objections, wherein Mr. Collins had comprised what he had to urge
against the book; and, upon the whole, he concludes, that these
objections are of no weight, and therefore do not deserve any regard
from the thinking and impartial part of mankind. He then produces some
distinct arguments to prove the proper antiquity of Daniel’s book; and
having so far established its authority, he proceeds to the
consideration of the several prophecies contained in it, in order to
obviate the exceptions of Mr. Collins against the Christian
interpretation of them, and at the same time to shew, that the
explications which this writer would substitute in their stead, are
founded on palpable mistakes, and consequently false; all which he has
executed with great learning and acuteness.”

Mr. Chandler had a strong conviction of the pernicious nature, and
dangerous tendency, of the Romish religion, and was desirous of exposing
the persecuting spirit by which that church has been so much
characterised: and it was with this view that he published, in 1731, in
two volumes, 4to., a translation of “The history of the inquisition, by
Philip à Limborch:” to which he prefixed, “A large introduction,
concerning the rise and progress of persecution, and the real and
pretended causes of it.” In this introduction Mr. Chandler says, “I will
not deny, but that the appointing persons, whose peculiar office it
should be to minister in the external services of public and social
worship, is, when under proper regulations, of advantage to the decency
and order of divine service. But then I think it of the most pernicious
consequence to the liberties of mankind, and absolutely inconsistent
with the true prosperity of a nation, as well as with the interest and
success of rational religion, to suffer such ministers to become the
directors-general of the consciences and faith of others, or publicly to
assume, and exercise such a power, as shall oblige others to submit to
their determinations, without being convinced of their being wise and
reasonable, and never to dispute their spiritual decrees. The very claim
of such a power is the highest insolence, and an affront to the common
sense and reason of mankind; and wherever it is usurped and allowed, the
most abject slavery both of soul and body is almost the unavoidable
consequence. For by such a submission to spiritual power, the mind and
conscience is actually enslaved; and by being thus rendered passive to
the priest, men are naturally prepared for a servile subjection to the
prince, and for becoming slaves to the most arbitrary and tyrannical
government. And I believe it hath been generally found true by
experience, that the same persons who have asserted their own power over
others, in matters of religion and conscience, have also asserted the
absolute power of the civil magistrate, and been the avowed patrons of
those admirable doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance for
the subject.” At the close of this piece our author observes, that the
use of the view which he had given of the rise and progress of
persecution, was, “to teach men to adhere close to the doctrines and
words of Christ and his apostles, to argue for the doctrines of the
gospel with meekness and charity, to introduce no new terms of salvation
and Christian communion, not to trouble the Christian church with
metaphysical subtilties and abstruse questions, that minister to
quarrelling and strife, not to pronounce censures, judgments, and
anathemas, upon such as may differ from us in speculative truths, not to
exclude men from the rights of civil society, nor lay them under any
negative or positive discouragements for conscience sake, or for their
different usages and rites in the externals of Christian worship; but to
remove those which are already laid, and which are as much a scandal to
the authors and continuers of them, as they are a burden to those who
labour under them.” This piece was written with great learning and
acuteness, but was attacked by Dr. Berriman, in a pamphlet, entitled,
“Brief remarks on Mr. Chandler’s introduction to the history of the
inquisition.” Our author published, in the form of a letter, an answer
to these Remarks, in which he defended himself with great spirit. This
engaged Dr. Berriman to write “A Review of his remarks;” to which Mr.
Chandler replied, in “A second letter to William Berriman, D. D. &c. in
which his Review of his remarks on the introduction to the history of
the inquisition is considered, and the characters of St. Athanasius, and
Martyr Laud, are farther stated and supported.” This publication was
soon followed by another, entitled, “A Vindication of a passage of the
Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of London, in his second pastoral letter,
against the misrepresentations of William Berriman, D. D. in a letter to
his lordship;” and here the controversy ended. As our author had the
firmest persuasion, that there was nothing in the principles of
protestant dissenters which rendered them unfit to hold offices in the
state, or in corporations, and that it was a manifest injustice to
deprive them of the common rights of citizens, he likewise published, in
1732, in 8vo., “The dispute better adjusted about the proper time of
applying for a repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, by shewing that
some time is proper; in a letter to the author of the Dispute adjusted,
viz. the Right Reverend Dr. Edmund Gibson, Lord Bishop of London.”

Among other learned and useful designs which Mr. Chandler had formed, he
began a Commentary on the Prophets; and in 1735, he published, in 4to.,
“A Paraphrase and critical commentary on the prophecy of Joel;” which he
dedicated to the Right Honourable Arthur Onslow, Esq. Speaker of the
House of Commons. He afterwards proceeded a great way in the prophecy of
Isaiah; but before he had completed it, he met with the MS. lexicon and
lectures of the famous Arabic professor Schultens, who much recommends
explaining the difficult words and phrases of the Hebrew language, by
comparing them with the Arabic. With this light before him, Mr. Chandler
determined to study the Hebrew anew, and to drop his commentary till he
should thus have satisfied himself, that he had attained the genuine
sense of the sacred writings. But this suspension of his design
prevented the completion of it; for engagements of a different kind
intervened, and he never finished any other commentary on the prophets.
He continued, however, to publish a variety of learned works, and
displayed a very laudable zeal in support of religious liberty, and of
the truth of divine revelation.

In 1736, he published, in 8vo., “The History of Persecution, in four
parts; viz. I. Amongst the heathens. II. Under the Christian emperors.
III. Under the papacy and inquisition. IV. Amongst protestants. With a
preface, containing remarks on Dr. Rogers’s Vindication of the civil
establishment of religion.” In 1741, appeared, in 8vo., “A Vindication
of the history of the Old Testament; in answer to the misrepresentations
and calumnies of Thomas Morgan, M. D. and Moral Philosopher.” Dr. Leland
observes, that in this work of our author he has clearly proved, that
Morgan “hath been guilty of manifest falsehoods, and of the most gross
perversions of the scripture history, even in those very instances in
which he assures his reader he has kept close to the accounts given by
the Hebrew historians.” He likewise published, in opposition to the same
writer, in 1742, “A Defence of the prime ministry and character of

In 1744, Mr. Chandler published, in 8vo., “The witnesses of the
resurrection of Jesus Christ reexamined, and their testimony proved
entirely consistent.” This was a very important controversy, which was
at that time much agitated; and Dr. Leland, who stiles our author’s
piece upon the subject “a valuable treatise,” observes, that, in his
last chapter, “he hath summed up the evidence for the resurrection of
Jesus with great clearness and judgment.” In 1748, he published, in
8vo., “The case of subscription to explanatory articles of faith, as a
qualification for admission into the christian ministry, calmly and
impartially reviewed; in answer to, 1. A late pamphlet, entitled, The
Church of England vindicated, in requiring subscription from the clergy
to the Thirty-nine Articles. 2. The Rev. Mr. John White’s Appendix to
his third letter to a dissenting gentleman. To which is added, The
speech of the Rev. John Alphonso Turretine, previous to the abolition of
all subscription at Geneva, translated from a manuscript in the French.”
His writings having procured him a high reputation for learning and
abilities, he might easily have obtained a doctor’s degree in divinity,
and offers of that kind were made him; but for some time he declined the
acceptance of a diploma, and, as he once said, in the pleasantness of
conversation, because so many blockheads had been made doctors. However,
upon making a visit to Scotland, in company with his friend, the Earl of
Findlater and Seafield, he, with great propriety, accepted of this
honour, which was conferred upon him without solicitation, and with
every mark of respect, by the two universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
He had, likewise, the honour of being afterwards elected a fellow of the
Royal Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries.

On the death of King George the Second, in 1760, Dr. Chandler published
a sermon on that event, in which he compared that prince to King David.
This gave rise to a pamphlet, which was printed in the year 1761,
entitled, “The history of the man after God’s own heart;” wherein the
author ventured to exhibit King David as an example of perfidy, lust,
and cruelty, fit only to be ranked with a Nero, or a Caligula; and
complained of the insult that had been offered to the memory of the late
British monarch, by Dr. Chandler’s parallel between him and the King of
Israel. This attack occasioned Dr. Chandler to publish, in the following
year, “A Review of the history of the man after God’s own heart; in
which the falsehoods and misrepresentations of the historian are exposed
and corrected.” In this performance our author, though he could not
defend the character of the Jewish prince from all the accusations that
were brought against him, yet sufficiently cleared him from many of
them. His learning and sagacity also appeared to great advantage in this
piece; and his skill in the Hebrew language, and his extensive
acquaintance with biblical learning, enabled him to correct a variety of
mistakes into which his opponent had fallen, from his taking many things
as he found them in our common English translation, without paying any
regard to criticisms, various readings of particular passages, or the
opinions of expositors and commentators. It must, however, be confessed,
that in this controversy Dr. Chandler expressed himself with too much
warmth and asperity, which was indeed not unusual with him in his
polemical writings. But this being a subject on which he was determined
to enter into a full investigation, he prepared for the press a more
elaborate work, which was afterwards published in two volumes, 8vo.,
under the following title: “A Critical history of the life of David: in
which the principal events are ranged in order of time: the chief
objections of Mr. Bayle, and others, against the character of this
prince, and the scripture account of him, and the occurrences of his
reign, are examined and refuted; and the psalms which refer to him
explained.” As this was the last, it was, likewise, one of the best of
Dr. Chandler’s productions. We may safely assert, that, in point of
judgment, it is far superior to Dr. Delany’s Life of King David, and
that it is every way equal to it with respect to literature. The
explanations of the psalms, which relate to the Jewish monarch, are
admirable; and the commentary, in particular, on the sixty-eighth psalm,
is a masterpiece of criticism. The greatest part of this work was
printed off at the time of our author’s death, which happened on the 8th
of May, 1766, in his seventy-third year. During the last year of his
life, he was visited with frequent returns of a very painful disorder,
which he endured with great resignation and Christian fortitude. He
repeatedly declared, “that to secure the divine felicity promised by
Christ, was the principal and almost the only thing that made life
desirable: that to attain this he would gladly die, submitting himself
entirely to God, as to the time and manner of death, whose will was most
righteous and good; and being persuaded, _that all was well, which ended
well_ for eternity.” He was interred in the burying-ground at
Bunhill-fields, on the 16th of the month, and his funeral was very
honourably attended by ministers, and other gentlemen. He expressly
desired by his last will, that no delineation of his character might be
given in his funeral sermon, which was preached by Dr. Amory. In this
sermon, Dr. Amory, after observing that he was restrained from
delineating Dr. Chandler’s character, by his desire expressed in his
last will, says, “He had indeed himself made this unnecessary; as his
masterly and animated defences of the great doctrines of natural and
revealed religion, had abundantly manifested the uncommon greatness and
strength of his genius, the large extent and rich variety of his
learning, and the solid grounds on which his faith was founded: together
with his hearty attachment to the cause of rational piety and Christian
liberty, and his abilities for defending them. And after he had
ministered for forty years in this place, with so great reputation, it
might appear superfluous to inform any present, how full of exalted
sentiments of the Deity, how judicious and how spirited his public
prayers were, and how instructive and animating his discourses.” He had
several children; two sons and a daughter who died before him, and three
daughters who survived him, and both married; one of them to the Rev.
Dr. Harwood.

Dr. Chandler was a man of very extensive learning, and eminent
abilities; his apprehension was quick, and his judgment penetrating; he
had a warm and vigorous imagination; he was a very instructive and
animated preacher; and his talents in the pulpit, and as a writer,
procured him very great and general esteem, not only among the
dissenters, but among large numbers of the established church. He was
well known, and much respected by many persons of the highest rank, and
was offered considerable preferment in the church; Dr. Amory says, that
“the high reputation which he had gained, by his defences of the
Christian religion, procured him from some of the governors of the
established church, the offers of considerable preferment, which he
nobly declined. He valued more than these the liberty and integrity of
his conscience; and scorned for any worldly considerations to profess as
divine truths, doctrines which he did not really believe, and to
practise in religion what he did not inwardly approve.” But he steadily
rejected every proposition of that kind. He was principally instrumental
in the establishment of the fund for relieving the widows and orphans of
poor protestant dissenting ministers: the plan of it was first formed by
him; and it was by his interest and application to his friends, that
many of the subscriptions for its support were procured.

In 1768, four volumes of our author’s sermons were published by Dr.
Amory, according to his own directions in his last will; to which was
prefixed a neat engraving of him, from an excellent portrait by Mr.
Chamberlin. He also expressed a desire to have some of his principal
pieces reprinted in four volumes, octavo: proposals were accordingly
published for that purpose, but did not meet with sufficient
encouragement. But in 1777, another work of our author was published, in
one volume, 4to, under the following title: “A Paraphrase and Notes on
the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians, with doctrinal
and practical observations: together with a critical and practical
commentary on the two Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians.” This
work was published from the author’s own manuscript, which was evidently
intended for the press, by the Rev. Mr. Nathaniel White, who succeeded
him as pastor of the congregation of protestant dissenters in the Old
Jewry. That gentleman observes, in the preface to this work, that “there
seems to have been something in Dr. Chandler’s genius and strength of
mind, as well as in the unremitted course of his studies, which
eminently fitted him to comment upon the writings of St. Paul, and to
follow that deep and accurate reasoner, through his continued chain of
argument, so as to preserve the whole distinct and clear; though, from
the peculiar vigour of the apostle’s imagination, the fervour of his
affection, the compass of his thought, and the uncommon fulness of his
matter, his epistles are remarkable for sudden digressions, long
parentheses, remote connections, and unexpected returns to subjects
already discussed. These, added to many other circumstances common to
ancient writings, must necessarily occasion a considerable degree of
obscurity and difficulty, which it is the business of the sacred
expositor as much as possible to remove. In this view, the
distinguishing excellence of Dr. Chandler’s paraphrase seems to be, that
the author adheres most closely and constantly to the spirit of the
original, keeps the full idea of the inspired writer, and only that, as
far as he could apprehend it, before him, and never steps aside to pick
up any hints, however ornamented, which are not directly conveyed, or
strongly implied by the apostle: so that, not merely in the text, but in
the paraphrase, we find ourselves reading St. Paul himself, though in a
language more accommodated to our own conception, and with an
illustration which true learning, deep attention to the subject, and
uncommon critical sagacity enabled him to afford us.”——“The notes will
abundantly recommend the work to the studious and judicious enquirer,
who will find no difficulties artfully evaded, or slightly and
superficially touched; no unnecessary parade of reading, though many
striking proofs of the most extensive and liberal erudition.” Dr.
Chandler also left, in his interleaved Bible, a large number of critical
notes, chiefly in Latin.


                    ACCOUNT OF DR. CHANDLER’S SISTER

We shall here add some particulars relative to MRS. MARY CHANDLER,
sister to Dr. Chandler. She was born at Malmsbury, in Wiltshire, in
1687, and was carefully trained up in the principles of religion and
virtue. As her father’s circumstances rendered it necessary that she
should apply herself to some business, she was brought up to the trade
of a milliner. But as she had a propensity to literature, she employed
her leisure hours in perusing the best modern writers, and as many as
she could of the ancient ones, especially the poets, as far as the best
translations could assist her. Among these Horace was her particular
favourite, and she greatly regretted that she could not read him in the
original. She was somewhat deformed in her person, in consequence of an
accident in her childhood. This unfavourable circumstance she
occasionally made a subject of her own pleasantry, and used to say,
“that as her person would not recommend her, she must endeavour to
cultivate her mind, to make herself agreeable.” This she did with the
greatest care, being an admirable œconomist of her time: and it is
said, that she had so many excellent qualities in her, that though her
first appearance could create no prejudice in her favour, yet it was
impossible to know her without valuing and esteeming her. She thought
the disadvantage of her shape was such, as gave her no reasonable
prospect of being happy in the married state, and therefore chose to
remain single. She had, however, an honourable offer from a worthy
country gentleman, of considerable fortune, who, attracted merely by the
goodness of her character, took a journey of an hundred miles to visit
her at Bath, where she kept a milliner’s shop, and where he paid her his
addresses. But she declined his offers, and is said to have convinced
him, that such a match could neither be for his happiness, nor her own.
She published several poems, but that which she wrote upon Bath was the
best received. It passed through several editions. She intended to have
written a large poem upon the being and attributes of God, and did
execute some parts of it, but did not live to finish it. It was irksome
to her to be so much confined to her business, and the bustle of Bath
was sometimes disagreeable to her. She often languished for more leisure
and solitude; but the dictates of prudence, and a desire to be useful to
her relations, whom she regarded with the warmest affection, brought her
to submit to the fatigues of her business for thirty-five years. She
did, however, sometimes enjoy occasional retirements to the country
seats of some of her most respectable acquaintance; and was then
extremely delighted with the pleasures of solitude, and the
contemplation of the works of nature. She was honoured with the esteem
and regard of the Countess of Hertford, afterwards Duchess of Somerset,
who several times visited her. Mr. Pope also visited her at Bath, and
complimented her for her poem on that place. The celebrated Mrs. Rowe
was one of her particular friends. She had the misfortune of a very
valetudinary constitution, which was supposed to be, in some measure,
owing to the irregularity of her form. By the advice of Dr. Cheyne, she
entered into the vegetable diet, and adhered to it even to an extreme.
She died on the 11th September, 1745, in the fifty-eighth year of her
age, after about two days illness.





Religion is a matter of the highest importance to every man, and
therefore there can be nothing which deserves a more impartial inquiry,
or which should be examined into with a more disinterested freedom;
because as far as our acceptance with the Deity depends on the knowledge
and practice of it, so far religion is, and must be, to us a purely
personal thing; in which therefore we ought to be determined by nothing
but the evidence of truth, and the rational convictions of our mind and
conscience. Without such an examination and conviction, we shall be in
danger of being imposed on by crafty and designing men, who will not
fail to make their gain of the ignorance and credulity of those they can
deceive, nor scruple to recommend to them the worst principles and
superstitions, if they find them conducive or necessary to support their
pride, ambition and avarice. The history of almost all ages and nations
is an abundant proof of this assertion.

God himself, who is the object of all religious worship, to whom we owe
the most absolute subjection, and whose actions are all guided by the
discerned reason and fitness of things, cannot, as I apprehend,
consistent with his own most perfect wisdom, require of his reasonable
creatures the explicit belief of, or actual assent to any proposition
which they do not, or cannot either wholly or partly understand; because
it is requiring of them a real impossibility, no man being able to
stretch his faith beyond his understanding, _i. e._ to see an object
that was never present to his eyes, or to discern the agreement or
disagreement of the different parts of a proposition, the terms of which
he hath never heard of, or cannot possibly understand. Neither can it be
supposed that God can demand from us a method of worship, of which we
cannot discern some reason and fitness; because it would be to demand
from us worship without understanding and judgment, and without the
concurrence of the heart and conscience, _i. e._ a kind of worship
different from, and exclusive of that, which, in the nature of things,
is the most excellent and best, viz. the exercise of those pure and
rational affections, and that imitation of God by purity of heart, and
the practice of the virtues of a good life, in which the power,
substance, and efficacy of true religion doth consist. If therefore
nothing can or ought to be believed, but under the direction of the
understanding, nor any scheme of religion and worship to be received but
what appears reasonable in itself, and worthy of God; the necessary
consequence is, that every man is bound in interest and duty to make the
best use he can of his reasonable powers, and to examine, without fear,
all principles before he receives them, and all rites and means of
religion and worship before he submits to and complies with them. This
is the common privilege of human nature, which no man ought ever to part
with himself, and of which he cannot be deprived by others, without the
greatest injustice and wickedness.

It will, I doubt not, appear evident beyond contradiction, to all who
impartially consider the history of past ages and nations, that where
and whenever men have been abridged, or wholly deprived of this liberty,
or have neglected to make the due and proper use of it, or sacrificed
their own private judgments to the public conscience, or complimented
the licensed spiritual guides with the direction of them, ignorance and
superstition have proportionably prevailed; and that to these causes
have been owing those great corruptions of religion, which have done so
much dishonour to God, and, wherever they have prevailed, been
destructive to the interests of true piety and virtue. So that instead
of serving God with their reason and understanding, men have served
their spiritual leaders without either, and have been so far from
rendering themselves acceptable to their Maker, that they have the more
deeply, it is to be feared, incurred his displeasure; because God cannot
but dislike the “sacrifice of fools,” and therefore of such who either
neglect to improve the reasonable powers he hath given them, or part
with them in compliance to the proud, ambitious, and ungodly claims of
others; which is one of the highest instances of folly that can possibly
be mentioned.

I will not indeed deny, but that the appointing persons, whose peculiar
office it should be to minister in the external services of public and
social worship, is, when under proper regulations, of advantage to the
decency and order of divine service. But then I think it of the most
pernicious consequence to the liberties of mankind, and absolutely
inconsistent with the true prosperity of a nation, as well as with the
interest and success of rational religion, to suffer such ministers to
become the directors general of the consciences and faith of others; or
publicly to assume and exercise such a power, as shall oblige others to
submit to their determinations, without being convinced of their being
wise and reasonable, and never to dispute their spiritual decrees. The
very claim of such a power is the highest insolence, and an affront to
the common sense and reason of mankind; and wherever it is usurped and
allowed, the most abject slavery, both of soul and body, is almost the
unavoidable consequence. For by such a submission to spiritual power,
the mind and conscience is actually enslaved; and, by being thus
rendered passive to the priest, men are naturally prepared for a servile
subjection to the prince, and for becoming slaves to the most arbitrary
and tyrannical government. And I believe it hath been generally found
true by experience, that the same persons who have asserted their own
power over others in matters of religion and conscience, have also
asserted the absolute power of the civil magistrate, and been the avowed
patrons of those admirable doctrines of passive obedience and
non-resistance for the subject. Our own nation is sufficiently witness
to the truth of this.

It is therefore but too natural to suspect, that the secret intention of
all ghostly and spiritual directors and guides in decrying reason, the
noblest gift of God, and without which even the Being of a God, and the
method of our redemption by Jesus Christ, would be of no more
significancy to us, than to the brutes that perish, is in reality the
advancement of their own power and authority over the faith and
consciences of others, to which sound reason is, and ever will be an
enemy: for though I readily allow the great expediency and need of
divine revelation to assist us in our inquiries into the nature of
religion, and to give us a full view of the principles and practices of
it; yet a very small share of reason will suffice, if attended to, to
let me know that my soul is my own, and that I ought not to put my
conscience out to keeping to any person whatsoever, because no man can
be answerable for it to the great God but myself; and that therefore the
claim of dominion, whoever makes it, either over mine or any other’s
conscience, is mere imposture and cheat, that hath nothing but impudence
or folly to support it; and as truly visionary and romantic as the
imaginary power of persons disordered in their senses, and which would
be of no more significancy, and influence amongst mankind than theirs,
did not either the views of ambitious men, or the superstition and folly
of bigots encourage and support it.

On these accounts, it is highly incumbent on all nations, who enjoy the
blessings of a limited government, who would preserve their
constitution, and transmit it safe to posterity, to be jealous of every
claim of spiritual power, and not to enlarge the authority and
jurisdiction of spiritual men, beyond the bounds of reason and
revelation. Let them have the freest indulgence to do good, and spread
the knowledge and practice of true religion, and promote peace and good
will amongst mankind. Let them be applauded and encouraged, and even
rewarded, when they are patterns of virtue, and examples of real piety
to their flocks. Such powers as these, God and man would readily allow
them; and as to any other, I apprehend they have little right to them,
and am sure they have seldom made a wise or rational use of them. On the
contrary, numberless have been the confusions and mischiefs introduced
into the world, and occasioned by the usurpers of spiritual authority.
In the Christian church they have ever used it with insolence, and
generally abused it to oppression, and the worst of cruelties. And
though the history of such transactions can never be a very pleasing and
grateful task, yet, I think, on many accounts, it may be useful and
instructive; especially as it may tend to give men an abhorrence of all
the methods of persecution, and put them upon their guard against all
those ungodly pretensions, by which persecution hath been introduced and

But how much soever the persecuting spirit hath prevailed amongst those
who have called themselves Christians, yet certainly it is a great
mistake to confine it wholly to them. We have instances of persons, who
were left to the light of nature and reason, and never suspected of
being perverted by any revelation, murdering and destroying each other
on the account of religion; and of some judicially condemned to death
for differing from the orthodox, _i. e._ the established idolatry of
their country. And I doubt not, but that if we had as full and
particular an account of the transactions of the different religious
sects and parties amongst the Heathens, as we have of those amongst
Christians, we should find a great many more instances of this kind,
than it is easy or possible now to produce. However, there are some very
remarkable ones, which I shall not wholly omit.

                        HISTORY OF PERSECUTION.


                                BOOK I.


                                SECT. I.
                         _Abraham persecuted._

There is a passage in the book of Judith[1] which intimates to us, that
the ancestors of the Jews themselves were persecuted upon account of
their religion. Achior, captain of the sons of Ammon, gives Holofernes
this account of the origin of that nation. “This people are descended of
the Chaldeans; and they sojourned heretofore in Mesopotamia, because
they would not follow the gods of their fathers, which were in the land
of Chaldea; for they left the way of their ancestors, and worshipped the
God of heaven, the God whom they knew. So they cast them out from the
face of their gods, and they fled into Mesopotamia, and sojourned there
many days.” St. Austin[2] and Marsham[3] both take notice of this
tradition; which is farther confirmed by all the oriental historians,
who, as the learned Dr. Hyde[4] tells us, unanimously affirm, that
Abraham suffered many persecutions upon the account of his opposition to
the idolatry of his country; and that he was particularly imprisoned for
it by Nimrod in Ur. Some of the eastern writers also tell us, that he
was thrown into the fire, but that he was miraculously preserved from
being consumed in it by God. This tradition also the Jews believed, and
is particularly mentioned by Jonathan[5] in his Targum upon Gen. xi. 28.
“Nimrod threw Abraham into a furnace of fire, because he would not
worship his idol; but the fire had no power to burn him.” So early doth
persecution seem to have begun against the worshippers of the true God.


Footnote 1:

  Cap. 5. v. 6, &c.

Footnote 2:

  De civit. Dei, l. 16. c. 13.

Footnote 3:

  Marsh. Cron. § 5..fn-

Footnote 4:

  De Relig. Pers. c. 2.

Footnote 5:

  Hotting. Smeg. Orient. p. 290, &c.



                               SECT. II.
         _Socrates persecuted amongst the Greeks, and others._

[A]Socrates,[6] who, in the judgment of an oracle, was the wisest man
living, was persecuted by the Athenians on the account of his religion,
and, when past seventy years of age, brought to a public trial, and
condemned. His accusation was principally this: “That he did
unrighteously and curiously search into the great mysteries of heaven
and earth; that he corrupted the youth, and did not esteem the gods
worshipped by the city to be really gods, and that he introduced new
deities.” This last part of his accusation was undoubtedly owing to his
inculcating upon them more rational and excellent conceptions of the
Deity, than were allowed by the established creeds of his country, and
to his arguing against the corruptions and superstitions which he saw
universally practised by the Greeks. This was called corrupting the
youth who were his scholars, and what, together with his superior
wisdom, raised him many enemies amongst all sorts of people, who loaded
him with reproaches, and spread reports concerning him greatly to his
disadvantage, endeavouring thereby to prejudice the minds of his very
judges against him. When he was brought to his trial, several of his
accusers were never so much as named or discovered to him; so that, as
he himself complained, he was, as it were, fighting with a shadow, when
he was defending himself against his adversaries, because he knew not
whom he opposed, and had no one to answer him. However, he maintained
his own innocence with the noblest resolution and courage; shewed he was
far from corrupting the youth, and openly declared that he believed the
Being of a God. And, as the proof of this his belief, he bravely said to
his judges; “that though he was very sensible of his danger from the
hatred and malice of the people, yet that, as he apprehended, God
himself had appointed him to teach his philosophy, so he should
grievously offend him should he forsake his station through fear of
death, or any other evil; and that for such a disobedience to the Deity,
they might more justly accuse him, as not believing there were any
gods:” adding, as though he had somewhat of the same blessed spirit that
afterwards rested on the apostles of Christ, “that if they would dismiss
him upon the condition of not teaching his philosophy any more, ‘I will
obey God rather than you, and teach my philosophy as long as I live’.”
However, notwithstanding the goodness of his cause and defence, he was
condemned for impiety and atheism, and ended his life with a draught of
poison, dying a real martyr for God, and the purity of his worship. Thus
we see that in the ages of natural reason and light, not to be orthodox,
or to differ from the established religion, was the same thing as to be
impious and atheistical; and that one of the wisest and best men that
ever lived in the heathen world was put to death merely on account of
his religion. The Athenians, indeed, afterwards repented of what they
had done, and condemned one of his accusers, Melitus, to death, and the
others to banishment.


Footnote A:

  See note [A] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 6:

  Plat. in Apolog. pro Socrate. Diog. Laert. in vit. Soc.


I must add, in justice to the laity, that the judges and accusers of
Socrates were not priests. Melitus was a poet, Anytus an artificer, and
Lycon an orator; so that the prosecution was truly laic, and the priests
do not appear to have had any share in his accusation, condemnation, and
death. Nor, indeed, was there any need of the assistance of priestcraft
in this affair, the prosecution of this excellent man being perfectly
agreeable to the constitution and maxims of the Athenian government;
which had, to use the words of a late reverend author,[7] “incorporated
or made religion a part of the laws of the civil community.” One of the
Attic laws was to this effect: “Let it be a perpetual law, and binding
at all times, to worship our national gods and heroes publicly,
according to the laws of our ancestors.” So that no new gods, nor new
doctrines about old gods, nor any new rites of worship, could be
introduced by any person whatsoever, without incurring the penalty of
this law, which was death. Thus Josephus tells us,[8] that it was
prohibited by law to teach new gods, and that the punishment ordained
against those who should introduce any such, was death. Agreeably to
this, the orator Isocrates,[9] pleading in the grand council of Athens,
puts them in mind of the custom and practice of their ancestors: “This
was their principal care to abolish nothing they had received from their
fathers in matters of religion, nor to make any addition to what they
had established.” And therefore, in his advice to Nicocles, he exhorts
him to be “of the same religion with his ancestors.” So that the civil
establishment of religion in Athens was entirely exclusive, and no
toleration whatsoever allowed to those who differed from it. On this
account, the philosophers[10] in general were, by a public decree,
banished from Athens, as teaching heterodox opinions, and “corrupting
the youth” in matters of religion; and, by a law, very much resembling
the famous modern Schism Bill, prohibited from being masters and
teachers of schools, without leave of the senate and people, even under
pain of death. This law, indeed, like the other, was but very
short-lived, and Sophocles, the author of it, punished in a fine of five
talents. Lysimachus[11] also banished them from his kingdom. It is
evident from these things, that, according to the Athenian constitution,
Socrates was legally condemned for not believing in the gods of his
country, and presuming to have better notions of the Deity than his
superiors. In like manner, a certain woman,[12] a priestess, was put to
death, upon an accusation of her introducing new deities.


Footnote 7:

  Dr. Rogers’s Vindication of the Civil Establishment, &c.

Footnote 8:

  Cont. Apion. l. 2. c. 37. Edit. Havere.

Footnote 9:

  Isoc. Areop.

Footnote 10:

  Athen. p. 610. Edit. Casaub. Diog. Laert. l. 5. Segm. 38.

Footnote 11:

  Athen. p. 610.

Footnote 12:

  Jos. ibid.


Diogenes Laertius[13] tells us, that Anaxagoras, the philosopher, was
accused of impiety, because he affirmed, that “the sun was a globe of
red-hot iron;” which was certainly great heresy, because his country
worshipped him as a god. Stilpo[14] was also banished his country, as
the same writer tells us, because he denied “Minerva to be a god,
allowing her only to be a goddess.” A very deep and curious controversy
this, and worthy the cognizance of the civil magistrate. Diagoras[15]
was also condemned to death, and a talent decreed to him that should
kill him upon his escape, being accused of “deriding the mysteries of
the gods.” Protagoras also would have suffered death, had he not fled
his country, because he had written something about the gods, that
differed from the orthodox opinions of the Athenians. Upon the same
account, Theodorus, called Atheus, and Theotimus,[16] who wrote against
Epicurus, being accused by Zeno, an Epicurean, were both put to death.


Footnote 13:

  In vit. Anax.

Footnote 14:

  l. 5. c. 38.

Footnote 15:

  Joseph. ibid. Athen. p. 611.

Footnote 16:

  Athen. ibid.


The Lacedemonians[17] constantly expelled foreigners, and would not
suffer their own citizens to dwell in foreign parts, because they
imagined that both the one and the other tended to corrupt and weaken
their own laws; nor would they suffer the teaching of rhetoric or
philosophy, because of the quarrels and disputes that attended it. The
Scythians, who delighted in human blood, and were, as Josephus says,[18]
little different from beasts, yet were zealously tenacious of their own
rites, and put Anacharsis, a very wise person, to death, because he
seemed to be very fond of the Grecian rites and ceremonies.
[D]Herodotus[19] says, that he was shot through the heart with an arrow,
by Saulius their king, for sacrificing to the mother of the gods after
the manner of the Grecians; and that Scyles, another of their kings, was
deposed by them, for sacrificing to Bacchus, and using the Grecian
ceremonies of religion, and his head afterwards cut off by Octamasades,
who was chosen king in his room. “So rigid were they,” says the
historian,[20] “in maintaining their own customs, and so severe in
punishing the introducers of foreign rites.” Many also amongst the
Persians[21] were put to death, on the same account. And, indeed, it was
almost the practice of all nations to punish those who disbelieved or
derided their national gods; as appears from Timocles, who, speaking of
the gods of the Egyptians,[22] says, “How shall the ibis, or the dog,
preserve me?” And then adds, “Where is the place that doth not
immediately punish those who behave impiously towards the gods, such as
are confessed to be gods?”


Footnote 17:

  Joseph. ibid. § 36. Athen. ibid.

Footnote 18:

  Joseph. § 37.

Footnote D:

  See note [D] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 19:

  Herodot. Melpom. p. 246. Edit. Gronov.

Footnote 20:

  Id. p. 248.

Footnote 21:

  Joseph. ibid.

Footnote 22:

  Athen. p. 300.



                               SECT. III.
                        _Egyptian persecutions._

Juvenal[23] gives us a very tragical account of some disputes and
quarrels about religion amongst the Egyptians, who entertained an
eternal hatred and enmity against each other, and eat and devoured one
another, because they did not all worship the same god.


Footnote 23:

  Satyr. 15. See also Joseph. cont. Ap. l. 2. § 6.


          “[24]Ombos and Tentyr, neighbouring towns, of late,
          Broke into outrage of deep fester’d hate.
          Religious spite and pious spleen bred first
          This quarrel, which so long the bigots nurst.
          Each calls the other’s god a senseless stock,
          His own, divine, tho’ from the self-same block.
          At first both parties in reproaches jar,
          And make their tongues the trumpets of the war.
          Words serve but to inflame the warlike lists,
          Who wanting weapons clutch their horny fists.
          Yet thus make shift t’ exchange such furious blows,
          Scarce one escapes with more than half a nose.
          Some stand their ground with half their visage gone,
          But with the remnant of a face fight on.
          Such transform’d spectacles of horror grow,
          That not a mother her own son would know,
          One eye remaining for the other spies,
          Which now on earth a trampled gelly lies.”


Footnote 24:

  Englished by Mr. Dryden, &c.


All this religious zeal hitherto is but mere sport and childish play,
and therefore they piously proceed to farther violences; to hurling of
stones, and throwing of arrows, till one party routs the other, and the
conquerors feast themselves on the mangled bodies of their divided

           “Yet hitherto both parties think the fray
           But mockery of war, mere children’s play.
           This whets their rage, to search for stones——
           An Ombite wretch (by headlong strait betray’d,
           And falling down i’th’ rout) is prisoner made.
           Whose flesh torn off by lumps the ravenous foe
           In morsels cut, to make it farther go.
           His bones clean pick’d, his very bones they gnaw;
           No stomach’s balk’d, because the corps is raw.
           T’ had been lost time to dress him: keen desire
           Supplies the want of kettle, spit, and fire.”

Plutarch[25] also relates, that in his time some of the Egyptians who
worshipped a dog, eat one of the fishes, which others of the Egyptians
adored as their deity; and that upon this, the fish eaters laid hold on
the other’s dogs, and sacrificed and eat them; and that this gave
occasion to a bloody battle, in which a great number were destroyed on
both sides.


Footnote 25:

  De Isid. et Osir. p. 380. Edit. Franc.



                               SECT. IV.
                 _Persecutions by Antiochus Epiphanes._

Antiochus Epiphanes, though a very wicked prince, yet was a great zealot
for his religion, and endeavoured to propagate it by all the methods of
the most bloody persecution. Josephus[26] tells us, that after he had
taken Jerusalem, and plundered the temple, he caused an altar to be
built in it, upon which he sacrificed swine, which were an abomination
to the Jews, and forbidden by their laws. Not content with this, he
compelled them to forsake the worship of the true God, and to worship
such as he accounted deities; building altars and temples to them in all
the towns and streets, and offering swine upon them every day. He
commanded them to forbear circumcising their children, grievously
threatening such as should disobey his orders. He also appointed
overseers, or bishops, to compel the Jews to come in, and do as he had
ordered them. Such as rejected it, were continually persecuted, and put
to death, with the most grievous tortures. He ordered them to be cruelly
scourged, and their bodies to be tore, and, before they expired under
their tortures, to be crucified. The women, and the children which they
circumcised, were, by his command, hanged; the children hanging from the
necks of their crucified parents. Wherever he found any of the sacred
books, or of the law, he destroyed them, undoubtedly to prevent the
propagation of heretical opinions, and punished with death such as kept
them. The same author tells us also, in his History of the Maccabees,
that Antiochus put forth an edict, whereby he made it death for any to
observe the Jewish religion, and compelled them, by tortures, to abjure
it. The inhuman barbarities he exercised upon Eleazar and the Maccabees,
because they would not renounce their religion, and sacrifice to his
Grecian gods, are not, in some circumstances, to be paralleled by any
histories of persecution extant; and will ever render the name and
memory of that illustrious tyrant execrable and infamous. It was on the
same religious account that he banished the philosophers[27] from all
parts of his kingdom; the charge against them being, “their corrupting
the youth,” _i. e._ teaching them notions of the gods, different from
the common orthodox opinions which were established by law; and
commanded Phanias, that such youths as conversed with them should be


Footnote 26:

  Antiq. Jud. l. 12. c. 5.

Footnote 27:

  Athen. l. 12. c. 12.



                                SECT. V.
                    _Persecutions under the Romans._

The very civil constitution of Rome was founded upon persecuting
principles. [B]Tertullian[28] tells us, “that it was an ancient decree
that no emperor should consecrate a new god, unless he was approved by
the senate;” and one of the standing laws of the republic was to this
effect, as Cicero[29] gives it: “that no one should have separately new
gods, no nor worship privately foreign gods, unless admitted by the
commonwealth.” This law he endeavours to vindicate by reason and the
light of nature, by adding,[30] “that for persons to worship their own,
or new, or foreign gods, would be to introduce confusion and strange
ceremonies in religion.” So true a friend was this eminent Roman, and
great master of reason, to uniformity of worship; and so little did he
see the equity, and indeed necessity of an universal toleration in
matters of religion. Upon this principle, after he had reasoned well
against the false notions of God that had obtained amongst his
countrymen, and the public superstitions of religion, he concludes with
what was enough to destroy the force of all his arguments:[31] “It is
the part of a wise man to defend the customs of his ancestors, by
retaining their sacred rites and ceremonies.” Thus narrow was the
foundation of the Roman religion, and thus inconsistent the sentiments
of the wisest heathens with all the principles of toleration and
universal liberty.


Footnote B:

  See note [B] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 28:

  Apol. c. 2.

Footnote 29:

  De Leg. l. 2.

Footnote 30:

  De Leg. l. 2. c. 10.

Footnote 31:

  De Divin. l. 2. fin.


And agreeable to this settlement they constantly acted. A remarkable
instance of which we have in Livy, the Roman historian; he tells us,[32]
“that such a foreign religion spread itself over the city, that either
men or the gods seemed entirely changed; that the Roman rites were not
only forsaken in private, and within the houses, but that even publicly,
in the forum and capitol, great numbers of women flocked together, who
neither sacrificed nor prayed to the gods, according to the manner of
their ancestors.—This first excited the private indignation of good men,
till at length it reached the fathers, and became a public complaint.
The senate greatly blamed the Ædiles and capital Triumvirs, that they
did not prohibit them; and when they endeavoured to drive away the
multitude from the forum, and to throw down the things they had provided
for performing their sacred rites, they were like to be torn in pieces.
And when the evil grew too great to be cured by inferior magistrates,
the senate ordered M. Atilius, the prætor of the city, to prevent the
people’s using these religions.” He accordingly published this decree of
the senate, that “whoever had any fortune-telling books, or prayers, or
ceremonies about sacrifices written down, they should bring all such
books and writings to him, before the calends of April; and that no one
should use any new or foreign rite of sacrificing in any public or
sacred place.”


Footnote 32:

  Lib. 25 c. 1


Mecenas,[33] in his Advice to Augustus, says to him: “Perform divine
worship in all things exactly according to the custom of your ancestors,
and compel others to do so also; and as to those who make any
innovations in religion, hate and punish them; and that not only for the
sake of the gods, but because those who introduce new deities, excite
others to make changes in civil affairs. Hence conspiracies, seditions,
and riots, things very dangerous to government.” Accordingly Suetonius,
in his life of this prince,[34] gives him this character: “that though
he religiously observed the ancient prescribed ceremonies, yet he
contemned all other foreign ones; and commended Caius, for that passing
by Judea, he would not pay his devotions at Jerusalem.” He also, as the
same author tells us,[35] made a law, very much resembling our test act,
by which he commanded, “that before any of the senators should take
their places in council, they should offer frankincense and wine upon
the altar of that god in whose temple they met.” It was no wonder
therefore that Christianity, which was so perfectly contrary to the
whole system of pagan theology, should be looked upon with an evil eye;
or that when the number of Christians increased, they should incur the
displeasure of the civil magistrate, and the censure of the penal laws
that were in force against them.


Footnote 33:

  Apud Dion. Cassium, l. 52.

Footnote 34:

  Vit. Aug. c. 93.

Footnote 35:

  Ibid. c. 35.


The first public persecution of them by the Romans was begun by that
monster of mankind, Nero; who to clear himself of the charge of burning
Rome, endeavoured to fix the crime on the Christians; and having thus
falsely and tyrannically made them guilty, he put them to death by
various methods of exquisite cruelty. But though this was the pretence
for this barbarity towards them, yet it evidently appears from undoubted
testimonies, that they were before hated upon account of their religion,
and were therefore fitter objects to fall a sacrifice to the resentment
and fury of the tyrant. For [C]Tacitus tells us,[36] “that they were
hated for their crimes.” And what these were, he elsewhere sufficiently
informs us, by calling their religion “an execrable superstition.” In
like manner Suetonius, in his life of Nero, speaking of the Christians,
says, “they were a set of men who had embraced a new and accursed
superstition.” And ïtherefore Tacitus farther informs us,[37] that those
who confessed themselves Christians, “were condemned, not so much for
the crime of burning the city, as for their being hated by all mankind.”
So that it is evident from these accounts, that it was through popular
hatred of them for their religion, that they were thus sacrificed to the
malice and fury of Nero. Many of them he dressed up in the skins of wild
beasts, that they might be devoured by dogs. Others he crucified. Some
he cloathed in garments of pitch and burnt them, that by their flames he
might supply the absence of the day-light.


Footnote C:

  See note [C] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 36:

  Annal. l. 15. c. 44. Ibid. cap. 16.

Footnote 37:

  Annal. l. 15. c. 44.


The persecution begun by Nero was revived, and carried on by Domitian,
who put some to death, and banished others upon account of their
religion. Eusebius mentions Flavia Domitilla,[38] neice to Flavius
Clemens, then consul, as banished for this reason to the island Pontia.
Dion the historian’s account of this affair is somewhat different. He
tells us,[39] “that Fabius Clemens, the consul, Domitian’s cousin, who
had married Flavia Domitilla, a near relation of Domitian, was put to
death by him, and Domitilla banished to Pandataria, being both accused
of atheism; and that on the same account many who had embraced the
Jewish rites were likewise condemned, some of whom were put to death,
and others had their estates confiscated.” I think this account can
belong to no other but the Christians, whom Dion seems to have
confounded with the Jews; a mistake into which he and others might
naturally fall, because the first Christians were Jews, and came from
the land of Judea. The crime with which these persons were charged, was
atheism; the crime commonly imputed to Christians, because they refused
to worship the Roman deities. And as there are no proofs, that Domitian
ever persecuted the Jews upon account of their religion, nor any
intimation of this nature in Josephus, who finished his Antiquities
towards the latter end of Domitian’s reign; I think the account of
Eusebius, which he declares he took from writers, who were far from
being friends to Christianity, is preferable to that of Dion’s; and that
therefore these persecutions by Domitian were upon account of
Christianity. However, they did not last long; for as Eusebius tells
us,[40] he put a stop to them by an edict in their favour.
Tertullian[41] also affirms the same; and adds, that he recalled those
whom he had banished. So that though this is reckoned by ecclesiastical
writers as the second persecution, it doth not appear to have been
general, or very severe. Domitian[42] also expelled all the philosophers
from Rome and Italy.


Footnote 38:

  E. H. l. 3. c. 17, 18.

Footnote 39:

  l. 67, in Domit.

Footnote 40:

  E. H. l. 3. c. 20.

Footnote 41:

  Apol. c. 5.

Footnote 42:

  Suet. in vit. Domit. c. 10.


Under Trajan, otherwise a most excellent prince, began the third
persecution, in the 14th year of his reign. In answer to a letter of
Pliny, he ordered: “that the Christians should not be sought after, but
that if they were accused and convicted of being Christians they should
be punished; such only excepted as should deny themselves to be
Christians, and give an evident proof of it by worshipping his gods.”
These were to receive pardon upon this their repentance, how much soever
they might have been suspected before. From this imperial rescript it is
abundantly evident, that this persecution of the Christians by Trajan
was purely on the score of their religion, because he orders, that
whosoever was accused and convicted of being a Christian should be
punished with death, unless he renounced his profession, and sacrificed
to the gods. All that was required, says Tertullian,[43] was “merely to
confess the name, without any cognizance being taken of any crime.”
Pliny himself, in his letter to the emperor, acquits them of every thing
of this nature, and tells him, “that all they acknowledged was, that
their whole crime or error consisted in this, that at stated times they
were used to meet before day-light, and to sing an hymn to Christ as
God; and that they bound themselves by an oath not to commit any
wickedness, such as thefts, robberies, adulteries, and the like.” And to
be assured of the truth of this, he put two maids to the torture, and
after examining them, found them guilty of nothing but “a wicked and
unreasonable superstition.” This is the noblest vindication of the
purity and innocency of the Christian assemblies, and abundantly
justifies the account of Eusebius,[44] from Hegesippus: “that the church
continued until these times as a virgin pure and uncorrupted;” and
proves beyond all contradiction, that the persecution raised against
them was purely on a religious account, and not for any immoralities and
crimes against the laws, that could be proved against the Christians;
though their enemies slandered them with the vilest, and hereby
endeavoured to render them hateful to the whole world. “Why,” says
Tertullian,[45] “doth a Christian suffer, but for being of their number?
Hath any one proved incest, or cruelty upon us, during this long space
of time? No; it is for our innocence, probity, justice, chastity, faith,
veracity, and for the living God that we are burnt alive.” Pliny was
forced to acquit them from every thing but “an unreasonable
superstition,” _i. e._ their resolute adherence to the faith of Christ.
And yet, though innocent in all other respects, when they were brought
before his tribunal, he treated them in this unrighteous manner: he only
asked them, whether they were Christians? If they confessed it, he asked
them the same question again and again, adding threatenings to his
questions. If they persevered in their confession, he condemned them to
death, because whatever their confession might be, he was very sure,
“that their stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy deserved punishment.”
So that without being convicted of any crime, but that of constancy in
their religion, this equitable heathen, this rational philosopher, this
righteous judge, condemns them to a cruel death. And for this conduct
the emperor, his master, commends him. For in answer to Pliny’s
question, “Whether he should go on to punish the name itself, though
chargeable with no crimes, or the crimes only which attended the name?”
Trajan in his rescript, after commending Pliny, orders, “that if they
were accused and convicted of being Christians, they should be put to
death, unless they renounced that name, and sacrificed to his gods.”
Tertullian and Athenagoras, in their Apologies, very justly inveigh with
great warmth against this imperial rescript; and indeed, a more shameful
piece of iniquity was never practised in the darkest times of popery. I
hope also my reader will observe, that this was lay-persecution, and
owed its rise to the religious zeal of one of the best of the Roman
emperors, and not only to the contrivances of cruel and designing
priests; that it was justified and carried on by a very famous and
learned philosopher, whose reason taught him, that what he accounted
superstition, if incurable, was to be punished with death; and that it
was managed with great fury and barbarity, multitudes of persons in the
several provinces being destroyed merely on account of the Christian
name, by various and exquisite methods of cruelty.


Footnote 43:

  Apol. c. 2.

Footnote 44:

  E. H. l. 3. c. 32.

Footnote 45:

  Ad Scapul.


The rescript of Adrian, his successor, to Minutius Fundanus, pro-consul
of Asia, seems to have somewhat abated the fury of this persecution,
though not wholly to have put an end to it. Tertullian tells us[46] that
Arrius Antoninus, afterwards emperor, then pro-consul of Asia, when the
Christians came in a body before his tribunal, ordered some of them to
be put to death; and said to others: “You wretches! If you will die, ye
have precipices and halters.” He also says, that several other governors
of provinces punished some few Christians, and dismissed the rest; so
that the persecution was not so general, nor severe as under Trajan.


Footnote 46:

  Ad Scap.


Under Antoninus Pius the Christians were very cruelly treated in some of
the provinces of Asia, which occasioned Justin Martyr to write his first
Apology. It doth not, however, appear to have been done, either by the
order or consent of this emperor. On the contrary, he wrote letters to
the cities of Asia, and particularly to those of Larissa, Thessalonica,
Athens, and all the Greeks, that they should create no new troubles to
them. It is probable, that the Asiatic cities persecuted them by virtue
of some former imperial edicts, which do not appear ever to have been
recalled; and, perhaps, with the connivance of Antoninus Philosophus,
the colleague and successor of Pius in the empire.

Under him began, as it is generally accounted, the fourth persecution,
upon which Justin Martyr wrote his second Apology, Meliton his, and
Athenagoras his Legation or Embassy for the Christians. Meliton, as
Eusebius relates it,[47] complains of it as “an almost unheard of thing,
that pious men were now persecuted, and greatly distressed by new
decrees throughout Asia; that most impudent informers, who were greedy
of other persons’ substance, took occasion from the imperial edicts, to
plunder others who were entirely innocent.“ After this he humbly
beseeches the emperor, that he would not suffer the Christians to be any
longer used in so cruel and unrighteous a manner. [E]Justin Martyr,[48]
in the account he gives of the martyrdom of Ptolemæus, assures us, that
the only question asked him was, “whether he was a Christian?” And upon
his confession that he was, he was immediately ordered to the slaughter.
Lucius was also put to death for making the same confession, and asking
Urbicus the prefect, why he condemned Ptolemy, who was neither convicted
of adultery, rape, murder, theft, robbery, nor of any other crime, but
only for owning himself to be a Christian. From these accounts it is
abundantly evident, that it was still the very name of a Christian that
was made capital; and that these cruelties were committed by an emperor
who was a great master of reason and philosophy; not as punishments upon
offenders against the laws and public peace, but purely for the sake of
religion and conscience; committed, to maintain and propagate idolatry,
which is contrary to all the principles of reason and philosophy, and
upon persons of great integrity and virtue in heart and life, for their
adherence to the worship of one God, which is the foundation of all true
religion, and one of the plainest and most important articles of it. The
tortures which the persecutors of the Christians applied, and the
cruelties they exercised on them, enough, one would think, to have
overcome the firmest human resolution and patience, could never extort
from them a confession of that guilt their enemies would gladly have
fixed on them. And yet innocent as they were in all respects, they were
treated with the utmost indignity, and destroyed by such inventions of
cruelty, as were abhorrent to all the principles of humanity and
goodness. They were, indeed, accused of atheism, _i. e._ for not
believing in, and worshipping the fictitious gods of the heathens. This
was the cry of the multitude against [F]Polycarp:[49] “This is the
doctor of Asia, the father of the Christians, the subverter of our gods,
who teaches many that they must not perform the sacred rites, nor
worship our deities.” This was the reason of the tumultuous cry against
him, “away with these atheists.” But would not one have imagined that
reason and philosophy should have informed the emperor, that this kind
of atheism was a real virtue, and deserved to be encouraged and
propagated amongst mankind? No: reason and philosophy here failed him,
and his blind attachment to his country’s gods caused him to shed much
innocent blood, and to become the destroyer of “the saints of the living
God.”[50] At last, indeed, the emperor seems to have been sensible of
the great injustice of this persecution, and by an edict ordered they
should be no longer punished for being Christians.


Footnote 47:

  E. H. l. 4. C. 26.

Footnote E:

  See note [E] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 48:

  Apol. 2^{da.} c. 42. Edit. Thirlb.

Footnote F:

  See note [F] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 49:

  Euseb. E. H. l. 4. c. 15.

Footnote 50:

  Id. l. 4. c. 18.


I shall not trouble my reader with an account of this persecution as
carried on by Severus, Decius, Gallus, Valerianus, Dioclesian, and
others of the Roman emperors; but only observe in general, that the most
excessive and outrageous barbarities were made use of upon all who would
not blaspheme Christ, and offer incense to the imperial gods: they were
publicly whipped; drawn by the heels through the streets of cities;
racked till every bone of their bodies was disjointed; had their teeth
beat out; their noses, hands and ears cut off; sharp pointed spears ran
under their nails; were tortured with melted lead thrown on their naked
bodies; had their eyes dug out; their limbs cut off; were condemned to
the mines; ground between stones; stoned to death; burnt alive; thrown
headlong from high buildings; beheaded; smothered in burning lime-kilns;
ran through the body with sharp spears; destroyed with hunger, thirst,
and cold; thrown to the wild beasts; broiled on gridirons with slow
fires; cast by heaps into the sea; crucified; scraped to death with
sharp shells; torn in pieces by the boughs of trees; and, in a word,
destroyed by all the various methods that the most diabolical subtlety
and malice could devise.

It must indeed be confessed, that under the latter emperors who
persecuted the Christians, the simplicity and purity of the Christian
religion were greatly corrupted, and that ambition, pride and luxury,
had too generally prevailed both amongst the pastors and people.
[G]Cyprian, who lived under the Decian persecution, writing concerning
it to the presbyters and deacons,[51] says: “It must be owned and
confessed, that this outrageous and heavy calamity, which hath almost
devoured our flock, and continues to devour it to this day, hath
happened to us because of our sins, since we keep not the way of the
Lord, nor observe his heavenly commands given to us for our salvation.
Though our Lord did the will of his Father, yet we do not the will of
the Lord. Our principal study is to get money and estates; we follow
after pride; we are at leisure for nothing but emulation and
quarrelling; and have neglected the simplicity of the faith. We have
renounced this world in words only, and not in deed. Every one studies
to please himself, and to displease others.” After Cyprian, Eusebius the
historian gives a sad account of the degeneracy of Christians, about the
time of the Dioclesian persecution: he tells us,[52] “That through too
much liberty they grew negligent and slothful, envying and reproaching
one another; waging, as it were, civil wars between themselves, bishops
quarrelling with bishops, and the people divided into parties: that
hypocrisy and deceit were grown to the highest pitch of wickedness; that
they were become so insensible, as not so much as to think of appeasing
the divine anger, but that, like atheists, they thought the world
destitute of any providential government and care, and thus added one
crime to another; that the bishops themselves had thrown off all care of
religion, were perpetually contending with one another, and did nothing
but quarrel with, and threaten, and envy, and hate one another; were
full of ambition, and tyrannically used their power.” This was the
deplorable state of the Christian church, which God, as Eusebius well
observes, first punished with a gentle hand; but when they grew hardened
and incurable in their vices, he was pleased to let in the most grievous
persecution upon them, under Dioclesian, which exceeded in severity and
length all that had been before.


Footnote G:

  See note [G] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 51:

  Epist. xi. Ed. Fell.

Footnote 52:

  E. H. l. 8. c. 1.


From these accounts it evidently appears, that the Christian world alone
is not chargeable with the guilt of persecution on the score of
religion. It was practised long before Christianity was in being, and
first taught the Christians by the persecuting heathens. The most
eminent philosophers espoused and vindicated persecuting principles; and
emperors, otherwise excellent and good, made no scruple of destroying
multitudes on a religious account, such as Trajan, and Aurelius Verus.
And I think I may farther add, that the method of propagating religion
by cruelty and death, owes its invention to lay policy and craft; and
that how servilely soever the priesthood hath thought fit to imitate
them, yet that they have never exceeded them in rigour and severity. I
can trace out the footsteps but of very few priests in the foregoing
accounts; nor have I ever heard of more excessive cruelties than those
practised by Antiochus, the Egyptian heretic eaters, and the Roman
emperors. I may farther add on this important article, that it is the
laity who have put it in the power of the priests to persecute, and
rendered it worth their while to do it; they have done it by the
authority of the civil laws, as well as employed lay hands to execute
the drudgery of it. The emoluments of honours and riches that have been
annexed to the favourite religion and priesthood is the establishment of
civil society, whereby religion hath been made extremely profitable, and
the “gains of godliness” worth contending for. Had the laity been more
sparing in their grants, and their civil constitutions formed upon the
generous and equitable principle of an universal toleration, persecution
had never been heard of amongst men. The priests would have wanted not
only the power, but the inclination to persecute; since few persons have
such an attachment either to what they account religion or truth, as to
torment and destroy others for the sake of it, unless tempted with the
views of worldly ambition, power and grandeur. These views will have the
same influence upon all bad minds, whether of the priesthood or laity,
who, when they are determined at all hazards to pursue them, will use
all methods, right or wrong, to accomplish and secure them.

As, therefore, the truth of history obliges me to compliment the laity
with the honour of this excellent invention, for the support and
propagation of religion; and as its continuance in the world to this day
is owing to the protection and authority of their laws, and to certain
political ends and purposes they have to serve thereby; the loading the
priesthood only, or principally, with the infamy and guilt of it, is a
mean and groundless scandal; and to be perpetually objecting the
cruelties that have been practised by some who have called themselves
Christians, on others for conscience-sake, as an argument against the
excellency of the Christian religion, or with a view to prejudice others
against it, is an artifice unworthy a person of common understanding and
honesty. Let all equally share the guilt, who are equally chargeable
with it; and let principles be judged of by what they are in themselves,
and not by the abuses which bad men may make of them. If any argument
can be drawn from these, we may as well argue against the truth and
excellency of philosophy, because Cicero espoused the principles of
persecution, and Antoninus the philosopher authorized all the cruelties
attending it. But the question in these cases is not, what one who calls
himself a philosopher or a Christian doth, but what true philosophy and
genuine Christianity lead to and teach; and if persecution be the
natural effect of either of them, it is neither in my inclination or
intention to defend them.


                               SECT. VI.
                   _Persecutions by the Mahometans._

It may be thought needless to bring the Mahometans into this reckoning,
it being well known that their avowed method of propagating religion is
by the sword; and that it was a maxim of Mahomet, “not to suffer two
religions to be in Arabia.” But this is not all; as they are enemies to
all other religions but their own, so they are against toleration of
heretics amongst themselves, and have oftentimes punished them with
death. [H]Hottinger[53] gives us an account of a famous dispute amongst
them concerning the Coran, whether it was “the created” or “uncreated
word of God?” Many of their califfs were of opinion that it was created,
and issued their orders that the Musselmen should be compelled to
believe it.[54] And as for those who denied it, many were whipped;
others put in chains; and others murdered. Many, also, were slain, for
not praying in a right posture towards the temple at Mecca.[55] The same
author farther tells us, that there are some heretics, who, whenever
they are found, are burnt to death. The enmity between the Persians and
Turks,[56] upon account of their religious difference, is
irreconcileable and mortal; so that they would, each of them, rather
tolerate a Christian than one another. But I pass from these things to
the history of Christian persecution.


Footnote H:

  See note [H] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 53:

  Histor. Orient. p. 252.

Footnote 54:

  Pag. 362.

Footnote 55:

  Pag. 366.

Footnote 56:



                                BOOK II.

If any person was to judge of the nature and spirit of the Christian
religion, by the spirit and conduct only of too many who have professed
to believe it in all nations, and almost throughout all ages of the
Christian church, he could scarce fail to censure it as an institution
unworthy the God of order and peace, subversive of the welfare and
happiness of societies, and designed to enrich and aggrandize a few
only, at the expence of the liberty, reason, consciences, substance, and
lives of others. For what confusions and calamities, what ruins and
desolations, what rapines and murders, have been introduced into the
world, under the “pretended authority” of Jesus Christ, and supporting
and propagating Christianity? What is the best part of our
ecclesiastical history, better than an history of the pride and
ambition, the avarice and tyranny, the treachery and cruelty of some,
and of the persecutions and dreadful miseries of others? And what could
an unprejudiced person, acquainted with this melancholy truth, and who
had never seen the sacred records, nor informed himself from thence of
the genuine nature of Christianity, think, but that it was one of the
worst religions in the world, as tending to destroy all natural
sentiments of humanity and compassion, and inspiring its votaries with
that “wisdom which is from beneath,” and which is “earthly, sensual, and
devilish!” If this charge could be justly fixed upon the religion of
Christ, it would be unworthy the regard of every wise and good man, and
render it both the interest and duty of every nation in the world to
reject it.


                                SECT. I.
                  _Of the dispute concerning Easter._

It must be allowed by all who know any thing of the progress of the
Christian religion, that the first preachers and propagators of it, used
none of the vile methods of persecution and cruelty to support and
spread it. Both their doctrines and lives destroy every suspicion of
this nature; and yet in their times the beginnings of this spirit
appeared: “Diotrephes loved the pre-eminence,” and, therefore, would not
own and receive the inspired apostle. We also read, that there were
great divisions and schisms in the church of Corinth, and that many
grievous disorders were caused therein, by their ranking themselves
under different leaders and heads of parties, one being for Paul,
another for Apollos, and others for Cephas. These animosities were with
difficulty healed by the apostolic authority; but do not, however,
appear to have broken out into mutual hatreds, to the open disgrace of
the Christian name and profession. The primitive Christians seem for
many years generally to have maintained the warmest affection for each
other, and to have distinguished themselves by their mutual love, the
great characteristic of the disciples of Christ. The gospels, and the
epistles of the apostles, all breathe with this amiable spirit, and
abound with exhortations to cultivate this God-like disposition. It is
reported of St. John,[57] that in his extreme old age at Ephesus, being
carried into the church by the disciples, upon account of his great
weakness, he used to say nothing else, every time he was brought there,
but this remarkable sentence, “Little children, love one another.” And
when some of the brethren were tired with hearing so often the same
thing, and asked him, “Sir, why do you always repeat this sentence?” he
answered, with a spirit worthy an apostle, “It is the command of the
Lord, and the fulfilling of the law.” Precepts of this kind so
frequently inculcated, could not but have a very good influence in
keeping alive the spirit of charity and mutual love. And, indeed, the
primitive Christians were so very remarkable for this temper, that they
were taken notice of on this very account, and recommended even by their
enemies as patterns of beneficence and kindness.


Footnote 57:

  Hieron. in Gal. c. 6.


But at length, in the second century, the spirit of pride and domination
appeared publicly, and created great disorders and schisms amongst
Christians. There had been a controversy of some standing, on what day
Easter should be celebrated. The Asiatic churches thought that it ought
to be kept on the same day on which the Jews held the passover, the
fourteenth day of Nisan, their first month, on whatsoever day of the
week it should fall out. The custom of other churches was different, who
kept the festival of Easter only on that Lord’s day which was next after
the fourteenth of the moon. This controversy appears at first view to be
of no manner of importance, as there is no command in the sacred
writings to keep this festival at all, much less specifying the
particular day on which it should be celebrated. Eusebius tells us[58]
from Irenæus, that Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, came to Anicetus, bishop
of Rome, on account of this very controversy; and that though they
differed from one another in this and some other lesser things, yet they
embraced one another with a kiss of peace; Polycarp neither persuading
Anicetus to conform to his custom, nor Anicetus breaking off communion
with Polycarp, for not complying with his. This was a spirit and conduct
worthy these Christian bishops: but Victor, the Roman prelate, acted a
more haughty and violent part; for after he had received the letters of
the Asiatic bishops, giving their reasons for their own practice, he
immediately excommunicated all the churches of Asia, and those of the
neighbouring provinces, for heterodoxy; and by his letters declared all
the brethren unworthy of communion. This conduct was greatly displeasing
to some other of the bishops, who exhorted him to mind the things that
made for peace, unity, and Christian love. [I]Irenæus especially, in the
name of all his brethren, the bishops of France, blamed him for thus
censuring whole churches of Christ, and puts him in mind of the
peaceable spirit of several of his predecessors, who did not break off
communion with their brethren upon account of such lesser differences as
these. Indeed, this action of pope Victor was a very insolent abuse of
excommunication; and is an abundant proof that the simplicity of the
Christian faith was greatly departed from; in that, heterodoxy and
orthodoxy were made to depend on conformity or non-conformity to the
modes and circumstances of certain things, when there was no shadow of
any order for the things themselves in the sacred writings; and that the
lust of power, and the spirit of pride, had too much possessed some of
the bishops of the Christian church. The same Victor also excommunicated
one Theodosius, for being unsound in the doctrine of the Trinity.[59]


Footnote 58:

  Euseb. l. 5. c. 24.

Footnote I:

  See note [I] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 59:

  Euseb. l. 5. c. 28.


However, it must be owned, in justice to some of the primitive fathers,
that they were not of Victor’s violent and persecuting spirit.
Tertullian, who flourished under Severus, in his book to Scapula, tells
us, “Every one hath a natural right to worship according to his own
persuasion; for no man’s religion can be hurtful or profitable to his
neighbour; nor can it be a part of religion to compel men to religion,
which ought to be voluntarily embraced, and not through constraint.”
Cyprian, also, agrees with Tertullian his master. In his letter to
Maximus[60] the presbyter, he says, “It is the sole prerogative of the
Lord, to whom the iron rod is committed, to break the earthen vessels.
The servant cannot be greater than his lord; nor should any one arrogate
to himself, what the Father hath committed to the Son only, viz. to
winnow and purge the floor, and separate, by any human judgment, the
chaff from the wheat. This is proud obstinacy and sacrilegious
presumption, and proceeds from wicked madness. And, whilst some are
always assuming to themselves more dominion than is consistent with
justice, they perish from the church; and whilst they insolently extol
themselves, they lose the light of truth, being blinded by their own
haughtiness.” To these I shall add Lactantius,[61] though forty years
later than Cyprian. “They are convinced,” says he, “that there is
nothing more excellent than religion, and therefore think that it ought
to be defended with force. But they are mistaken, both in the nature of
religion, and in the proper methods to support it: for religion is to be
defended, not by murder, but persuasion; not by cruelty, but patience;
not by wickedness, but faith. Those are the methods of bad men; these of
good. If you attempt to defend religion by blood, and torments, and
evil, this is not to defend, but to violate and pollute it: for there is
nothing should be more free than the choice of our religion; in which,
if the consent of the worshipper be wanting, it becomes entirely void
and ineffectual. The true way, therefore, of defending religion, is by
faith, a patient suffering and dying for it: this renders it acceptable
to God, and strengthens its authority and influence.” This was the
persuasion of some of the primitive fathers: but of how different a
spirit were others!


Footnote 60:

  Epist. 54. Ed. Fell.

Footnote 61:

  Lib. 5. c. 20.


As the primitive Christians had any intervals from persecution, they
became more profligate in their morals, and more quarrelsome in their
tempers. As the revenues of the several bishops increased, they grew
more ambitious, less capable of contradiction, more haughty and arrogant
in their behaviour, more envious and revengeful in every part of their
conduct, and more regardless of the simplicity and gravity of their
profession and character. The accounts I have before given of them from
Cyprian and Eusebius before the Dioclesian persecution, to which I might
add the latter one of St. Jerom,[62] are very melancholy and affecting,
and shew how vastly they were degenerated from the piety and peaceable
spirit of many of their predecessors, and how ready they were to enter
into the worst measures of persecution, could they but have got the
opportunity and power.


Footnote 62:

  Epist. 13.



                               SECT. II.
              _Of the persecutions begun by Constantine._

Under Constantine the emperor, when the Christians were restored to full
liberty, their churches rebuilt, and the imperial edicts every where
published in their favour, they immediately began to discover what
spirit they were of; as soon as ever they had the temptations of honour
and large revenues before them. Constantine’s letters are full proof of
the jealousies and animosities that reigned amongst them.[63] In his
letters to Miltiades, bishop of Rome, he tells him, that he had been
informed that Cæcilianus, bishop of Carthage, had been accused of many
crimes by some of his colleagues, bishops of Africa; and that it was
very grievous to him to see so great a number of people divided into
parties, and the bishops disagreeing amongst themselves.[64] And though
the emperor was willing to reconcile them by a friendly reference of the
controversy to Miltiades and others; yet, in spite of all his
endeavours, they maintained their quarrels and factious opposition to
each other, and through secret grudges and hatred would not acquiesce in
the sentence of those he had appointed to determine the affair. So that,
as he complained to Chrestus bishop of Syracuse, those who ought to have
maintained a brotherly affection and peaceable disposition towards each
other, did in a scandalous and detestable manner separate from one
another, and gave occasion to the common enemies of Christianity to
deride and scoff at them. For this reason, he summoned a council to meet
at Arles in France, that after an impartial hearing of the several
parties, this controversy, which had been carried on for a long while in
a very intemperate manner, might be brought to a friendly and Christian
compromise. [J]Eusebius[65] farther adds, that he not only called
together councils in the several provinces upon account of the quarrels
that arose amongst the bishops, but that he himself was present in them,
and did all he could to promote peace amongst them. However, all he
could do had but little effect; and it must be owned that he himself
greatly contributed to prevent it, by his large endowment of churches,
by the riches and honours which he conferred on the bishops, and
especially by his authorizing them to sit as judges upon the consciences
and faith of others; by which he confirmed them in a worldly spirit, the
spirit of domination, ambition, pride, and avarice, which hath in all
ages proved fatal to the peace and true interest of the Christian


Footnote 63:

  E. H. l. 10. c. 5.

Footnote 64:


Footnote J:

  See note [J] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 65:

  De Vit. Con. l. 1. c. 44.


In the first edict, given us at large by Eusebius,[66] published in
favour of the Christians, he acted the part of a wise, good, and
impartial governor; in which, without mentioning any particular sects,
he gave full liberty to all Christians, and to all other persons
whatsoever, of following that religion which they thought best. But this
liberty was of no long duration, and soon abridged in reference both to
the Christians and heathens. For although in this first mentioned edict
he orders the churches and effects of the Christians in general to be
restored to them, yet in one immediately following he confines this
grant to the Catholic church. After this, in a letter to Miltiades
bishop of Rome, complaining of the differences fomented by the African
bishops, he lets him know, that he had so great a reverence for the
Catholic church, that he would not have him suffer in any place any
schism or difference whatsoever. In another to Cæcilianus bishop of
Carthage,[67] after giving him to understand, that he had ordered Ursus
to pay his reverence three thousand pieces, and Heraclides to disburse
to him whatever other sums his reverence should have occasion for; he
orders him to complain of all persons who should go on to corrupt the
people of the most holy Catholic church by any evil and false doctrine,
to Anulinus the pro-consul, and Patricius, to whom he had given
instructions on this affair, that if they persevered in such madness
they might be punished according to his orders. It is easy to guess what
the Catholic faith and church meant, viz. that which was approved by the
bishops, who had the greatest interest in his favour.


Footnote 66:

  E. H. l. 10. c. 5.

Footnote 67:

  E. H. l. 10. c. 6.


As to the Heathens,[68] soon after the settlement of the whole empire
under his government, he sent into all the provinces Christian
presidents, forbidding them, and all other officers of superior dignity,
to sacrifice, and confining to such of them as were Christians the
honours due to their characters and stations; hereby endeavouring to
support the kingdom of Christ, which is not of this world, by motives
purely worldly, viz. the prospects of temporal preferments and honours;
and notwithstanding the excellent law he had before published, that
every one should have free exercise of his own religion, and worship
such gods as they thought proper, he soon after prohibited the old
religion,[69] viz. the worship of idols in cities and country;
commanding that no statues of the gods should be erected, nor any
sacrifices offered upon their altars. And yet, notwithstanding this
abridgment of the liberty of religion, he declares in his letters
afterwards, written to all the several governors of his provinces,[70]
that though he wished the ceremonies of the temples, and the power of
darkness were wholly removed, he would force none, but that every one
should have the liberty of acting in religion as he pleased.


Footnote 68:

  De vit. Const. l. 2.

Footnote 69:

  Ibid. c. 45.

Footnote 70:

  Ibid. c. 56.


It is not to be wondered at, that the persons who advised these edicts
to suppress the ancient religion of the heathens, should be against
tolerating any other amongst themselves, who should presume to differ
from them in any articles of the Christian religion they had espoused;
because if erroneous and false opinions in religion, as such, are to be
prohibited or punished by the civil power, there is equal reason for
persecuting a Christian, whose belief is wrong, and whose practice is
erroneous, as for persecuting persons of any other false religion
whatsoever; and the same temper and principles that lead to the latter,
will also lead to and justify the former. And as the civil magistrate,
under the direction of his priests, must always judge for himself what
is truth and error in religion, his laws for supporting the one, and
punishing the other, must always be in consequence of this judgment. And
therefore if Constantine and his bishops were right in prohibiting
heathenism by civil laws, because they believed it erroneous and false,
Dioclesian and Licinius, and their priests, were equally right in
prohibiting Christianity by civil laws, because they believed it not
only erroneous and false, but the highest impiety and blasphemy against
their gods, and even a proof of atheism itself. And by the same rule
every Christian, that hath power, is in the right to persecute his
Christian brother, whenever he believes him to be in the wrong. And in
truth, they seem generally to have acted upon this principle; for which
party soever of them could get uppermost, was against all toleration and
liberty for those who differed from them, and endeavoured by all methods
to oppress and destroy them.

The sentiments of the primitive Christians, at least for near three
centuries, in reference to the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, were,
generally speaking, pretty uniform; nor do there appear to have been any
public quarrels about this article of the Christian faith.[71] Some few
persons, indeed, differed from the commonly received opinion. One
Theodotus a tanner, under the reign of Commodus, asserted Christ was a
mere man, and on this account was excommunicated, with other of his
followers, by pope Victor, who appears to have been very liberal in his
censures against others. Artemon propagated the same erroneous opinion
under Severus. Beryllus[72] also, an Arabian bishop under Gordian,
taught, “that our Saviour had no proper personal subsistence before his
becoming man, nor any proper godhead of his own, but only the Father’s
godhead residing in him;” but afterwards altered his opinion, being
convinced of his error by the arguments of Origen. [K]Sabellius[73] also
propagated much the same doctrine, denying also the real personality of
the Holy Ghost. After him Paulus Samosatenus,[74] bishop of Antioch, and
many of his clergy, publicly avowed the same principles concerning
Christ, and were excommunicated by a large council of bishops. But
though these excommunications, upon account of differences in opinion,
prove that the bishops had set up for judges of the faith, and assumed a
power and dominion over the consciences of others, yet as they had no
civil effects, and were not enforced by any penal laws, they were not
attended with any public confusions, to the open reproach of the
Christian church.


Footnote 71:

  Euseb. E. H. l. 5. c. 28.

Footnote 72:

  Ibid. l. 6. c. 33.

Footnote K:

  See note [K] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 73:

  Ibid. l. 7. c. 27.

Footnote 74:

  Ibid. l. 7. c. 28, 29.


But when once Christianity was settled by the laws of the empire, and
the bishops free to act as they pleased, without any fear of public
enemies to disturb and oppress them, they fell into more shameful and
violent quarrels, upon account of their differences concerning the
nature and dignity of Christ.[75] The controversy first began between
Alexander bishop of Alexandria, and [L]Arius,[76] one of his presbyters,
and soon spread itself into other churches, enflaming bishops against
bishops, who out of a pretence to support divine truth excited tumults,
and entertained irreconcileable hatreds towards one another. These
divisions of the prelates set the Christian people together by the ears,
as they happened to favour their different leaders and heads of parties;
and the dispute was managed with such violence, that it soon reached the
whole Christian world, and gave occasion to the heathens in several
places to ridicule the Christian religion upon their public
theatres.[77] How different were the tempers of the bishops and clergy
of these times from the excellent spirit of Dionysius bishop of
Alexandria, in the reign of Decius, who writing to Novatus upon account
of the disturbance he had raised in the church of Rome, by the severity
of his doctrine, in not admitting those who lapsed into idolatry in
times of persecution ever more to communion, though they gave all the
marks of a true repentance and conversion, tells him, “one ought to
suffer any thing in the world rather than divide the church of God.”


Footnote 75:

  De vit. Const. l. 2. c. 61.

Footnote L:

  See note [L] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 76:

  Soc. E. H. l. 1. c. 6.

Footnote 77:

  Euseb. l. 6. c. 45.


The occasion of the Arian controversy[78] was this.[79] Alexander,
bishop of Alexandria, speaking in a very warm manner concerning the
Trinity before the presbyters and clergy of his church, affirmed there
was “an Unity in the Trinity,” and particularly that “the Son was
co-eternal and consubstantial, and of the same dignity with the Father.”
Arius, one of his presbyters, thought that the bishop, by this doctrine,
was introducing the Sabellian heresy, and therefore opposed him, arguing
in this manner: “If the Father begot the Son, he who was begotten must
have a beginning of his existence; and from hence,” says he, “it is
manifest, that there was a time when he was not; the necessary
consequence of which” he affirmed was this,[80] “that he had his
subsistence out of things not existing.” Sozomen adds farther, that he
asserted, “that by virtue of his free-will the Son was capable of vice
as well as virtue; and that he was the mere creature and work of God.”
The bishop being greatly disturbed by these expressions of Arius, upon
account of the novelty of them, and not able to bear such an opposition
from one of his presbyters to his own principles, commanded
(“admonished, as president of the council, to whom it belonged to enjoin
silence, and put an end to the dispute”) Arius to forbear the use of
them, and to embrace the doctrine of the consubstantiality and
co-eternity of the Father and the Son. But Arius was not thus to be
convinced, especially as a great number of the bishops and clergy were
of his opinion, and supported him; and for this reason himself and the
clergy of his party were excommunicated, and expelled the church, in a
council of near an hundred of the Egyptian and Lybian bishops met
together for that purpose, by the bishop, who in this case was both
party and judge, the enemy and condemner of Arius. Upon this treatment
Arius and his friends sent circular letters to the several bishops of
the church, giving them an account of their faith, and desiring that if
they found their sentiments orthodox, they would write to Alexander in
their favour; if they judged them wrong, they would give them
instructions how to believe. Thus was the dispute carried into the
Christian church, and the bishops being divided in their opinions, some
of them wrote to Alexander not to admit Arius and his party into
communion without renouncing their principles, whilst others of them
persuaded him to act a different part. The bishop not only followed the
advice of the former, but wrote letters to the several bishops not to
communicate with any of them, nor to receive them if they should come to
them, nor to credit Eusebius,[81] nor any other person that should write
to them in their behalf, but to avoid them as the enemies of God, and
the corrupters of the souls of men; and not so much as to salute them,
or to have any communion with them in their crimes. Eusebius,[82] who
was bishop of Nicomedia, sent several letters to Alexander, exhorting
him to let the controversy peaceably drop, and to receive Arius into
communion; but finding him inflexible to all his repeated entreaties, he
got a synod to meet in Bithynia, from whence they wrote letters to the
other bishops, to engage them to receive the Arians to their communion,
and to persuade Alexander to do the same. But all their endeavours
proved ineffectual, and by these unfriendly dealings the parties grew
more enraged against each other, and the quarrel became incurable.


Footnote 78:

  Soc. E. H. l. 1. c. 15.

Footnote 79:

  Theodoret[79a] indeed gives another account of this matter, viz. That
  Arius was disappointed of the bishopric of Alexandria by the promotion
  of Alexander, and that this provoked him to oppose the doctrine of the
  bishop.[79b] But it should be considered that Theodoret lived an
  hundred years after Arius, and appears to have had the highest hatred
  of his name and memory. He tells us, “he was employed by the devil;
  that he was an impious wretch, and damned in the other world.” The
  accusations of such a one deserve but little credit, especially as
  there are no concurrent testimonies to support them. Bishop Alexander
  never mentions it amongst those other charges which he throws upon
  him, in his letter to the bishop of Constantinople. Constantine
  expressly ascribes the rise of the controversy to Alexander’s
  inquisitory temper, and to Arius’s speaking of things he ought never
  to have thought of. Socrates assures us it was owing to this, that
  Arius apprehended the bishop taught the doctrine of Sabellius.
  Sozomen[79c] imputes their quarrel only to their diversity of
  sentiments. Bishop Alexander says he opposed Arius, because he taught
  impious doctrines concerning the Son; and Arius affirms he opposed
  Alexander on the same account. Now whether Theodoret’s single
  unsupported testimony is to be preferred to these other accounts, I
  leave every one that is a judge of common sense to determine. Nay, I
  think it is evident it must be a slander, because the bishop himself
  had an esteem for Arius, after his advancement to the bishopric of
  Alexandria, and, as Gelasius Cyzicenus tells us,[79d] “made him the
  presbyter next in dignity to himself;” which it is not probable he
  would have done, if he had seen in him any tokens of enmity because of
  his promotion.

Footnote 79a:

  Theod. l. 1. c. 2.

Footnote 79b:

  c. 7, 14.

Footnote 79c:

  Soz. p. 426.

Footnote 79d:

  l. 2. c. 1.

Footnote 80:

  E. H. l. 1. c. 15.

Footnote 81:

  Soc. E. H. l. 1. c. 6.

Footnote 82:

  Soz. l. 1. c. 15.


It is, I confess, not a little surprising, that the whole Christian
world should be put into such a flame upon account of a dispute of so
very abstruse and metaphysical a nature, as this really was in the
course and management of it. Alexander’s doctrine, as Arius represents
it in his letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia,[83] was this: “God is always,
and the Son always. The same time the Father, the same time the Son. The
Son co-exists with God unbegottenly, being ever begotten, being
unbegottenly begotten. That God was not before the Son, no not in
conception, or the least point of time, he being ever God, ever a Son:
for the Son is out of God himself.” Nothing could be more inexcusable,
than the tearing the churches in pieces upon account of such high and
subtle points as these, except the conduct of Arius, who on the other
hand asserted, as Alexander, his bishop, in his letter to the bishop of
Constantinople,[84] tells us, “that there was a time when there was no
Son of God, and that he who before was not, afterwards existed; being
made, whensoever he was made, just as any man whatsoever; and that
therefore he was of a mutable nature, and equally receptive of vice and
virtue,” and other things of the like kind. If these were the things
taught, and publicly avowed by Alexander and Arius, as each represents
the other’s principles, I persuade myself, that every sober man will
think they both deserved censure, for thus leaving the plain account of
scripture, introducing terms of their own invention into a doctrine of
pure revelation, and at last censuring and writing one against another,
and dividing the whole church of Christ upon account of them.


Footnote 83:

  Theod. E. H. l. 1. c. 5.

Footnote 84:

  Id. l. 1. c. 4.


But it is no uncommon thing for warm disputants to mistake and
misrepresent each other; and that this was partly the case in the
present controversy, is, I think, evident beyond dispute; Alexander
describing the opinions of Arius, not as he held them himself, but
according to the consequences he imagined to follow from them. Thus
Arius asserted, “the Son hath a beginning, and is from none of the
things that do exist;” not meaning that he was not from everlasting,
before ever the creation, time, and ages had a being, or that he was
created like other beings, or that like the rest of the creation he was
mutable in his nature. Arius expressly declares the contrary, before his
condemnation by the council of Nice, in his letter to Eusebius, his
intimate friend, from whom he had no reason to conceal his most secret
sentiments, and says,[85] “This is what we have and do profess, that the
Son is not unbegotten, nor in any manner a part of the unbegotten God,
nor from any part of the material world, but that by the will and
council of the Father he existed before all times and ages, perfect God,
the only begotten and unchangeable, and that therefore before he was
begotten or formed he was not,” i. e. as he explains himself, “there
never was a time when he was unbegotten.” His affirming therefore that
the Son had a beginning, was only saying, that he was in the whole of
his existence from the Father, as the origin and fountain of his being
and deity, and not any denial of his being from before all times and
ages; and his saying that he was no part of God, nor derived from things
that do exist, was not denying his generation from God before all ages,
or his being completely God himself, or his being produced after a more
excellent manner than the creatures; but that as he was always from God,
so he was different both from him, and all other beings, and a sort of
middle nature between God and his creatures; whose beginning, as
Eusebius of Nicomedia writes to Paulinus,[86] bishop of Tyre, was “not
only inexplicable by words, but unconceivable by the understanding of
men, and by all other beings superior to men, and who was formed after
the most perfect likeness to the nature and power of God.” This is the
strongest evidence that neither Arius nor his first friends put the Son
upon a level with the creatures, but that they were in many respects of
the same sentiments with those who condemned them. Thus Alexander
declares the Son to be “before all ages.” Arius expressly says the same,
that he was “before all times and ages.” Alexander, that “he was
begotten, not out of nothing, but from the Father who was.” Arius, that
“he was the begotten God, the Word from the Father.” Alexander says,
“the Father, only, is unbegotten.” Arius, that “there never was a time
when the Son was not begotten.” Alexander, that “the subsistence of the
Son is inexplicable even by angels.” Eusebius, that “his beginning is
inconceivable and inexplicable by men and angels.” Alexander, that “the
Father was always a Father because of the Son.” Arius, that “the Son was
not before he was begotten;” and, that “he was, from before all ages,
the begotten Son of God.” Alexander, that “he was of an unchangeable
nature.” Arius, that “he was unchangeable.” Alexander, that “he was the
unchangeable image of his Father.” Eusebius, that “he was made after the
perfect likeness of the disposition and power of him that made him.”
Alexander, that “all things have received their essence from the Father
through the Son.” Arius, that “God made by the Word all things in heaven
and earth.” Alexander, that “the Word, who made all things, could not be
of the same nature with the things he made.” Arius, that “he was the
perfect creature or production of God, but not as one of the
creatures.”[87] Arius, again, that “the Son was no part of God, nor from
any thing that did exist.” Alexander, that “the only begotten nature was
a middle nature, between the unbegotten Father, and the things created
by him out of nothing.” And yet, notwithstanding all these things, when
Alexander gives an account of the principles of Arius to the bishops, he
represents them in all the consequences he thought fit to draw from
them, and charges him with holding, that the Son was made like every
other creature, absolutely out of nothing, and that therefore his nature
was mutable, and susceptive equally of virtue and vice; with many other
invidious and unscriptural doctrines, which Arius plainly appears not to
have maintained or taught.


Footnote 85:

  Theod. E. H. l. 1. c. 5.

Footnote 86:

  Id. Ibid. c. 6.

Footnote 87:

  Theod. E. H. l. i. c. 4.


I do not, however, imagine that Alexander and Arius were of one mind in
all the parts of this controversy. They seemed to differ in the
following things. Particularly about the strict eternity of the
generation of the Son. Alexander affirmed, that it was “absolutely
without beginning;” and, that there was no imaginary point of time in
which the Father was prior to the Son; and, that the soul could not
conceive or think of any distance between them. Arius, on the other
hand, maintained, “The Son hath a beginning, there was a time when he
was not;” by which he did not mean, that he was not before all times and
ages, or the creation of the worlds visible and invisible; but that the
very notion of begetting and begotten doth necessarily, in the very
nature of things, imply, that the begetter must be some point of time,
at least in our conception, prior to what is begotten. And this is
agreeable to the ancient doctrine of the primitive fathers. They held,
indeed, many of them,[88] such as Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras,
Tertullian, Novatian, Lactantius, &c. that Logos, i. e. power, wisdom,
and reason, existed in God the Father strictly from eternity, but
without any proper hypostasis or personality of its own. But that before
the creation of the worlds, God the Father did emit, or produce, or
generate this Logos, reason or wisdom; whereby, what was before the
internal Logos, or wisdom of the Father, existing eternally in and
inseparably from him, had now its proper hypostasis, subsistence, or
personality. Not that the Father hereby became “destitute of reason,”
but that this production proceeded after an ineffable and inexplicable
manner. And this production of the Word some of them never scrupled to
affirm was posterior to the Father, and that the Father was prior to the
Son as thus begotten. They considered the Son under a twofold character,
as the reason, and as the word of God. As “the reason of God,” he was
eternally in the Father, “unoriginated, unbegotten, underived.” As “the
word of God,” he was Missus, Creatus, Genitus, Prolatus, and received
his distinct subsistence and personality then, when God said, “Let there
be light;” and on this account the Father was, as Novatian speaks, “as a
Father prior to the Son.” And, as Tertullian says, “God is a Father and
a Judge. But it doth not thence follow that he was always a Father and
always a Judge, because always God: for he could not be a Father before
the Son, nor a Judge before the offence. But there was a time when there
was no offence, and when the Son was not, by which God became a Judge
and Father.”


Footnote 88:

  Dial. p. 112. 413. p. 20, &c. De Reg. fid. p. 240. De ver. Sap. p.


Another thing in which Alexander and Arius differed, was in the use of
certain words, describing the production and generation of the Son of
God. Alexander denied that he was made or created, and would not apply
to him any word by which the production of the creatures was denoted.
Whereas Arius, and Eusebius of Nicomedia, did not scruple to affirm that
he was created, founded, and the like. And for this they quoted that
passage, Prov. vii. 22, &c. as rendered by the LXX. “The Lord created me
the beginning of his way, he founded me before the age, and begat me
before all the hills.” They did not, however, hereby put him upon a
level with the creatures. For though Arius says, he was the “perfect
creature of God,” yet he immediately subjoins, “yet not as one of the
creatures;” and affirms that he was “begotten not in time,” or “before
all time,” which could not be affirmed of the creatures. And his friend
Eusebius says, that he was “created, founded, and begotten with an
unchangeable and ineffable nature.” Nor were the primitive fathers
afraid to use such-like words. Justin Martyr says, he was “the first
production of God,” Apol. I. c. 66. Tatian, that he was “the first born
work of the Father.” Tertullian, that Sophia was “formed the second
person.” And indeed most of the primitive fathers expounded the
before-mentioned passage of the Proverbs of the eternal generation of
the Son, and thereby allowed him to be “created and founded.”

Another thing in which Alexander and Arius seemed to differ, was about
the voluntary generation of the Son of God. Alexander doth not, I think,
expressly deny this, but seems to intimate, that the generation of the
Son was necessary. Thus he says of the Son, “He is like to the Father,
and inferior only in this, that he is not unbegotten,” or “that the
Father only is unbegotten;” the consequence of which seems to be, that
he apprehended his generation as necessary as the essence of the Father.
Arius on the contrary, and his friends, affirmed, that “he was begotten
by the will of the Father;” a doctrine not new nor strange in the
primitive church. Justin Martyr, speaking of the Word, says,[89] “this
virtue was begotten by the Father by his power and will.” And again,
explaining the scripture Gen. xix. 24. “The Lord rained down fire from
the Lord from heaven,” he says, “There was one Lord on earth, and
another in heaven, who was the Lord of that Lord who appeared on
earth;[90] as his Father and God, and the author or cause to him of
being powerful, and Lord, and God,” Cont. Tryph. Pars secund. And again,
he expressly affirms him “to be begotten by the will of his Father.” In
like manner Tatian, “that he did come forth by the pure will of the
Father.” And Tertullian, Cont. Prax. “He then first produced the Word,
when it first pleased him.” I do not take upon me to defend any of these
opinions, but only to represent them as I find them; and I think the
three particulars I have mentioned were the most material differences
between the contending parties.


Footnote 89:

  Dialog. p. 413. Ed. Thirl.

Footnote 90:

  Ibid. p. 413.


I know the enemies of Arius charged him with many other principles; but
as it is the common fate of religious disputes to be managed with an
intemperate heat, it is no wonder his opponents should either mistake or
misrepresent him, and, in their warmth, charge him with consequences
which either he did not see, or expressly denied. And as this appears to
be the case, no wonder the controversy was never fairly managed, nor
brought to a friendly and peaceable issue. Many methods were tried, but
all in vain, to bring Alexander and Arius to a reconciliation, the
emperor himself condescending to become a mediator between them.

The first step he took to heal this breach was right and prudent: he
sent his letters to Alexandria,[91] exhorting Alexander and Arius to lay
aside their differences, and become reconciled to each other. He tells
them, that “after he had diligently examined the rise and foundation of
this affair, he found the occasion of the difference to be very
trifling, and not worthy such furious contentions; and that therefore he
promised himself that his mediation between them for peace, would have
the desired effect.” He tells Alexander, “that he required from his
presbyter a declaration of their sentiments concerning a silly, empty
question.” And Arius, “that he had imprudently uttered what he should
not have even thought of, or what at least he ought to have kept secret
in his own breast; and that therefore questions about such things should
not have been asked; or if they had, should not have been answered; that
they proceeded from an idle itch of disputation, and were in themselves
of so high and difficult a nature, as that they could not be exactly
comprehended, or suitably explained;” and that to insist on such points
too much before the people, could produce no other effect, than to make
some of them talk blasphemy, and others turn schismatics; and that
therefore, “as they did not contend about any essential doctrine of the
gospel, nor introduce any new heresy concerning the worship of God,”
they should again communicate with each other; and finally, that
notwithstanding their sentiments in these unnecessary and trifling
matters were different from each other, they should acknowledge one
another as brethren, and, laying aside their hatreds, return to a firmer
friendship and affection than before.


Footnote 91:

  Euseb. Vit. Const. l. 1, c. 63, &c.


But religious hatreds are not so easily removed, and the ecclesiastical
combatants were too warmly engaged to follow this kind and wholesome
advice. The bishops of each side had already interested the people in
their quarrel,[92] and heated them into such a rage that they attacked
and fought with, wounded and destroyed each other, and acted with such
madness as to commit the greatest impieties for the sake of orthodoxy;
and arrived to that pitch of insolence, as to offer great indignities to
the imperial images. The old controversy about the time of celebrating
Easter being now revived, added fuel to the flames, and rendered their
animosities too furious to be appeased.


Footnote 92:

  Euseb. Vit. Const. l. 3. c. 4, 5. 325. Id. Ibid. c. 6. Soc. E. H. l.



                               SECT. III.
                         _The Nicene Council._

[M]Constantine being greatly disturbed upon this account, sent letters
to the bishops of the several provinces of the empire to assemble
together at Nice in Bithynia, and accordingly great numbers of them
came, A. C. 325,[93] some through hopes of profit, and others out of
curiosity to see such a miracle of an emperor, and many of them upon
much worse accounts. The number of them was 318, besides vast numbers of
presbyters, deacons, Acolythists, and others. The ecclesiastical
historians tell us, that in this vast collection of bishops some “were
remarkable for their gravity, patience under sufferings, modesty,
integrity, eloquence, courteous behaviour,” and the like virtues; that
“some were venerable for their age, and others excelled in their
youthful vigour, both of body and mind.” They are called “an army of
God, mustered against the devil: a great crown or garland of priests,
composed and adorned with the fairest flowers; confessors: a crowd of
martyrs; a divine and memorable assembly; a divine choir,” &c. But yet
they all agree that there were others of very different characters.
Eusebius tells us, that after the emperor had ended his speech,
exhorting them to peace, “some of them began to accuse their neighbours,
others to vindicate themselves, and recriminate; that many things of
this nature were urged on both sides, and many quarrels or debates arose
in the beginning;” and that some came to the council with worldly views
of gain. Theodorit says,[94] that those of the Arian party “were subtle
and crafty, and like shelves under water concealed their wickedness;”
that amongst the orthodox some of them “were of a quarrelling malicious
temper, and accused several of the bishops, and that they presented
their accusatory libels to the emperor.” Socrates says that “very many
of them, the major part of them, accused one another; and that many of
them the day before the emperor came to the council, had delivered in to
him libels of accusations, or petitions against their enemies.” Sozomen
goes farther, and tells us, “that as it usually comes to pass, many of
the priests came together, that they might contend earnestly about their
own affairs, thinking they had now a fit opportunity to redress their
grievances; and, that every one presented a libel to the emperor, of the
matters of which he accused others, enumerating his particular
grievances. And that this happened almost every day.” Gelasius
Cyzicenus’s account of them is,[95] “that when all the bishops were
gathered together, according to custom, there happened many debates and
contentions amongst the bishops, each one having matters of accusation
against the other. Upon this they gave in libels of accusation to the
emperor, who received them; and when he saw the quarrels of such bishops
with one another, he said, &c. and endeavoured to conceal the wicked
attempts of such bishops from the knowledge of those without doors.” So
that, notwithstanding the encomiums of this council, the evil spirit had
plainly got amongst them; for after the emperor had exhorted them to lay
aside all their differences, and to enter into measures of union and
peace, instead of applying themselves to the work for which they were
convened, they began shamefully to accuse each other, and raised great
disturbances in the council by their mutual charges and reproaches.
Sabinus also saith,[96] they were generally a set of very ignorant men,
and destitute of knowledge and learning. But as Sabinus was an heretic
of the Macedonian sect, probably his testimony may be thought
exceptionable; and even supposing his charge to be true, yet [N]Socrates
brings them off by telling us, that they were enlightened by God, and
the grace of his holy spirit, and so could not possibly err from the
truth. But as some men may possibly question the truth of their
inspiration, so I think it appears but too plain, that an assembly of
men, who met together with such different views, were so greatly
prejudiced and inflamed against other, and are supposed, many of them,
to be ignorant, till they received miraculous illuminations from God,
did not seem very likely to heal the differences of the church, or to
examine with that wisdom, care, and impartiality, or to enter into those
measures of condescension and forbearance that were necessary to lay a
solid foundation for peace and unity.


Footnote M:

  See note [M] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 93:

  The first general council, A. C. c. 17.

Footnote 94:

  Theod. E. H. l. 1. c. 7, 11.

Footnote 95:

  l. 2. c. 8.

Footnote 96:

  Soz. E.H. l. 1. c. 9.

Footnote N:

  See note [N] at the end of the volume.


However, the emperor brought them at last to some temper, so that they
fell in good earnest to creed-making, and drew up, and subscribed that,
which, from the place where they were assembled, was called the Nicene.
By the accounts of the transactions in this assembly, given by
[O]Athanasius himself, in his letter to the African bishops,[97] it
appears, that they were determined to insert into the creed such words
as were most obnoxious to the Arians, and thus to force them to a public
separation from the church. For when they resolved to condemn some
expressions which the Arians were charged with making use of, such as,
“the Son was a creature; there was a time when he was not,” and the
like; and to establish the use of others in their room, such as, “the
Son was the only begotten of God by nature, the Word, the Power, the
only Wisdom of the Father, and true God;” the Arians immediately agreed
to it: upon this the fathers made an alteration, and explained the
words, “from God,” by the Son’s “being of the substance of God.” And
when the Arians consented also to this, the bishops farther added, to
render the creed more exceptionable, that “he was consubstantial, or of
the same substance with the Father.” And when the Arians objected, that
this expression was wholly unscriptural, the Orthodox urged, that though
it was so, yet the bishops that lived an hundred and thirty years before
them, made use of it. At last, however, all the council subscribed the
creed thus altered and amended, except five bishops, who were displeased
with the word “consubstantial,” and made many objections against it: and
of these five, three, viz. Eusebius, Theognis, and Maris, seem
afterwards to have complied with the rest, excepting only, that they
refused to subscribe to the condemnation of Arius.


Footnote O:

  See note [O] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 97:

  Theod. E. H. l. 1. c. 3.


Eusebius,[98] bishop of Cæsarea, was also in doubt for a considerable
time, whether he should set his hand to it, and refused to do it, till
the exceptionable words had been fully debated amongst them, and he had
obtained an explication of them suitable to his own sentiments. Thus
when it was asserted by the creed, that “the Son was of the Father’s
substance,” the negative explication agreed to by the bishops was
exactly the same thing that was asserted by Arius, viz. that “he was not
a part of the Father’s substance.” Again, as the words “begotten, not
made,” were applied to the Son, they determined the meaning to be, that
“the Son was produced after a different manner than the creatures which
he made,” and was therefore of a more excellent nature than any of the
creatures, and that the manner of his generation could not be
understood. This was the very doctrine of Arius, and Eusebius of
Nicomedia, who declared, that “as the Son was no part of God, so neither
was he from any thing created, and that the manner of his generation was
not to be described.” And as to the word “consubstantial” to the Father,
it was agreed by the council to mean no more, than that “the Son had no
likeness with any created Beings, but was in all things like to him that
begot him, and that he was not from any other hypostasis, or substance,
but the Father’s.” Of this sentiment also were Arius, and Eusebius his
friend, who maintained not only his being of a more excellent original
than the creatures, but that he was formed “of an immutable and
ineffable substance and nature, and after the most perfect likeness of
the nature and power of him that formed him.” These were the
explications of these terms agreed to by the council, upon which
Eusebius, of Cæsarea, subscribed them in the creed; and though some few
of the Arian bishops refused to do it, yet it doth not appear to me,
that it proceeded from their not agreeing in the sense of these
explications, but because they apprehended that the words were very
improper, and implied a great deal more than was pretended to be meant
by them; and especially, because an anathema was added upon all who
should presume not to believe in them and use them. Eusebius, of
Cæsarea, gives a very extraordinary reason for his subscribing this
anathema, viz. because “it forbids the use of unscriptural words, the
introducing which he assigns as the occasion of all the differences and
disturbances which had troubled the church.” But had he been consistent
with himself, he ought never to have subscribed this creed, for the very
reason he alledges why he did it; because the anathema forbids only the
unscriptural words of Arius, such as, “He was made out of nothing; there
was a time when he was not,” and the like; but allowed and made sacred
the unscriptural expressions of the orthodox, viz. “Of the Father’s
substance, and consubstantial,” and cut off from Christian communion
those who would not agree to them, though they were highly exceptionable
to the Arian party, and afterwards proved the occasions of many cruel
persecutions and evils.


Footnote 98:

  Theod. l. 1. c. 12.


In this public manner did the bishops assert a dominion over the faith
and consciences of others, and assume a power, not only to dictate to
them what they should believe, but even to anathematize, and expel from
the Christian church, all who refused to submit to their decisions, and
own their authority.[99] For after they had carried their creed, they
proceeded to excommunicate Arius and his followers, and banished Arius
from Alexandria. They also condemned his explication of his own
doctrine, and a certain book, called Thalia, which he had written
concerning it. After this they sent letters to Alexandria, and to the
brethren in Egypt, Lybia, and Pentapolis, to acquaint them with their
decrees, and to inform them, that the holy synod had condemned the
opinions of Arius, and were so zealous in this affair, that they had not
patience so much as to hear his ungodly doctrine and blasphemous words,
and that they had fully determined the time for the celebration of
Easter. Finally, they exhort them to rejoice, for the good deeds they
had done, and for that they had cut off all manner of heresy, and to
pray, that their right transactions might be established by Almighty God
and our Lord Jesus Christ. When these things were over, Constantine[100]
splendidly treated the bishops, filled their pockets, and sent them
honourably home; advising them at parting to maintain peace amongst
themselves, and that none of them should envy another who might excel
the rest in wisdom and eloquence, and that such should not carry
themselves haughtily towards their inferiors, but condescend to, and
bear with their weakness. A plain demonstration that he saw into their
tempers, and was no stranger to the pride and haughtiness that
influenced some, and the envy and hatred that actuated others. After he
had thus dismissed them he sent several letters, recommending and
enjoining an universal conformity to the council’s decrees both in
ceremony and doctrine, using, among other things, this argument for
it,[101] “That what they had decreed was the will of God, and that the
agreement of so great a number of such bishops, was by inspiration of
the Holy Ghost.”


Footnote 99:

  Soc. l. 1. c. 9.

Footnote 100:

  Euseb. de Vit. Const. l. 3. c. 20.

Footnote 101:

  Soc. E. H. l. 1. c. 9.


It is natural here to observe, that the anathemas and depositions agreed
on by this council, and confirmed by the imperial authority, were the
beginning of all those persecutions that afterwards raged against each
party in their turns. As the civil power had now taken part in the
controversies about religion, by authorising the dominion of the bishops
over the consciences of others, enforcing their ecclesiastical
constitutions, and commanding the universal reception of that faith they
had decreed to be orthodox; it was easy to foresee, that those who
opposed them would employ the same arts and authority to establish their
own faith and power, and to oppress their enemies, the first favourable
opportunity that presented: and this the event abundantly made good.
And, indeed, how should it be otherwise? For doctrines that are
determined merely by dint of numbers, and the awes of worldly power,
carry no manner of conviction in them, and are not likely therefore to
be believed on these accounts by those who have once opposed them. And
as such methods of deciding controversies equally suit all principles,
the introducing them by any party, gives but too plausible a pretence to
every party, when uppermost, to use them in their turn; and though they
may agree well enough with the views of spiritual ambition, yet they can
be of no service in the world to the interest of true religion, because
they are directly contrary to the nature and spirit of it; and because
arguments, which equally prove the truth and excellency of all
principles, cannot in the least prove the truth of any.

If one may form a judgment of the persons who composed this council,
from the small accounts we have left of them, they do not, I think,
appear to have met so much with a design impartially to debate on the
subjects in controversy, as to establish their own authority and
opinions, and oppress their enemies. For besides what hath been already
observed concerning their temper and qualifications, [P]Theodorit
informs us,[102] that when those of the Arian party proposed in writing,
to the synod, the form of faith they had drawn up, the bishops of the
orthodox side no sooner read it, but they gravely tore it in pieces, and
called it a spurious and false confession; and after they had filled the
place with noise and confusion, universally accused them of betraying
the doctrine according to godliness. Doth such a method of proceeding
suit very well with the character of a synod inspired, as the good
emperor declared, by the Holy Ghost? Is truth and error to be decided by
noise and tumult? Was this the way to convince gainsayers, and reconcile
them to the unity of the faith? Or could it be imagined, that the
dissatisfied part of this venerable assembly would acquiesce in the
tyrannical determination of such a majority, and patiently submit to
excommunication, deposition, and the condemnation of their opinions,
almost unheard, and altogether unexamined? How just is the censure
passed by [Q]Gregory Nazianzen[103] upon councils in general? “If,” says
he, “I must speak the truth, this is my resolution, to avoid all
councils of the bishops, for I have not seen any good end answered by
any synod whatsoever; for their love of contention, and their lust of
power, are too great even for words to express.” The emperor’s conduct
to the bishops met at Nice[104] is full proof of the former; for when
they were met in council, they immediately fell to wrangling and
quarrelling, and were not to be appeased and brought to temper, till
Constantine interposed, artfully persuading some, shaming others into
silence, and heaping commendations on those fathers that spoke agreeable
to his sentiments. The decisions they made concerning the faith, and
their excommunications and depositions of those who differed from them,
demonstrate also their affectation of power and dominion. But as they
had great reason to believe, that their own decrees would be wholly
insignificant, without the interposition of the imperial authority to
enforce them, they soon obtained their desires; and prevailed with the
emperor to confirm all they had determined, and to enjoin all Christians
to submit themselves to their decisions.


Footnote P:

  See note [P] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 102:

  E. H. l. 1. c. 7.

Footnote Q:

  See note [Q] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 103:

  Vol. I. Epist. lv. Edict. Col.

Footnote 104:

  Euseb. de Vit. Const. l. 3. c. 13.


His first letters to this purpose were mild and gentle,[105] but he was
soon persuaded by his clergy into more violent measures; for out of his
great zeal to extinguish heresy, he put forth public edicts, against the
authors and maintainers of it; and particularly against the Novatians,
Valentinians, Marcionists, and others, whom after reproaching “with
being enemies of truth, destructive counsellors, and with holding
opinions suitable to their crimes,” he deprives of the liberty of
meeting together for worship, either in public or private places, and
gives all their oratories to the orthodox church. And with respect to
the Arians,[106] he banished Arius himself,[107] ordered all his
followers, as absolute enemies of Christ, to be called Porphyrians, from
[R]Porphyrius, an heathen, who wrote against Christianity; ordained that
the books written by them should be burnt, that there might be no
remains of their doctrine left to posterity; and most cruelly commanded,
that if ever any one should dare to keep in his possession any book
written by Arius, and should not immediately burn it, he should be no
sooner convicted of the crime but he should suffer death. He afterwards
put forth a fresh edict against the recusants, by which he took from
them their places of worship, and prohibited not only their meeting in
public, but even in any private houses whatsoever.


Footnote 105:

  Ibid. c. 65.

Footnote 106:

  Soz. l. 1. c. 21.

Footnote 107:

  Soc. l. 1. c. 9.

Footnote R:

  See note [R] at the end of the volume.


Thus the orthodox first brought in the punishment of heresy with
death,[108] and persuaded the emperor to destroy those whom they could
not easily convert. The scriptures were now no longer the rule and
standard of the Christian faith. Orthodoxy and heresy were from
henceforward to be determined by the decisions of councils and fathers,
and religion to be propagated no longer by the apostolic methods of
persuasion, forbearance, and the virtues of an holy life, but by
imperial edicts and decrees; and heretical gainsayers not to be
convinced, that they might be brought to the acknowledgment of the truth
and be saved, but to be persecuted and destroyed. It is no wonder, that
after this there should be a continual fluctuation of the public faith,
just as the prevailing parties had the imperial authority to support
them, or that we should meet with little else in ecclesiastical history
but violence and cruelties committed by men who had left the simplicity
of the Christian faith and profession, enslaved themselves to ambition
and avarice, and had before them the ensnaring views of temporal
grandeur, high preferments, and large revenues. “Since the time that
avarice hath encreased in the churches,” says [S]St. Jerome,[109] “the
law is perished from the priest, and the vision from the prophet. Whilst
all contend for the episcopal power, which they unlawfully seize on
without the church’s leave, they apply to their own uses all that
belongs to the Levites. The miserable priest begs in the streets—they
die with hunger who are commanded to bury others. They ask for mercy who
are commanded to have mercy on others—the priests’ only care is to get
money—hence hatreds arise through the avarice of the priests; hence the
bishops are accused by their clergy; hence the quarrels of the prelates;
hence the causes of desolations; hence the rise of their wickedness.”
Religion and Christianity seem indeed to be the least thing that either
the contending parties had at heart, by the infamous methods they took
to establish themselves and ruin their adversaries.


Footnote 108:

          _The Edict of Constantine to the bishops and people._

  “Since Arius hath imitated wicked and ungodly men, it is just that he
  should undergo the same infamy with them. As therefore Porphyrius, an
  enemy of godliness, for his having composed wicked books against
  Christianity, hath found a suitable recompense, so as to be infamous
  for the time to come, and to be loaded with great reproach, and to
  have all his impious writings quite destroyed; so also it is now my
  pleasure, that Arius, and those of Arius’s sentiments, shall be called
  Porphyrians, so that they may have the appellation of those, whose
  manners they have imitated. Moreover, if any book composed by Arius
  shall be found, it shall be delivered to the fire; that “not only his
  evil doctrine may be destroyed, but that there may not be the least
  remembrance of it left.” This also I enjoin, that if any one shall be
  found to have concealed “any writing” composed by Arius, and shall not
  immediately bring it and consume it in the fire, death shall be his
  punishment; for as soon as ever he is taken in this crime, he shall
  suffer a capital punishment. God preserve you.”

Footnote S:

  See note [S] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 109:

  Epist. xiii.


If one reads the complaints of the orthodox writers against the Arians,
one would think the Arians the most execrable set of men that ever
lived, they being loaded with all the crimes that can possibly be
committed, and represented as bad, or even worse, than the devil
himself. But no wise man will easily credit these accounts, which the
orthodox give of their enemies, because, as Socrates tells us,[110]
“This was the practice of the bishops towards all they deposed, to
accuse and pronounce them impious, but not to tell others the reasons
why they accused them as such.” It was enough for their purpose to
expose them to the public odium, and make them appear impious to the
multitude, that so they might get them expelled from their rich sees,
and be translated to them in their room. And this they did as frequently
as they could, to the introducing infinite calamities and confusions
into the Christian church. And if the writings of the Arians had not
been prudently destroyed, I doubt not but we should have found as many
charges laid by them, with equal justice, against the orthodox, as the
orthodox have produced against them; their very suppression of the Arian
writings being a very strong presumption against them, and the many
imperial edicts of Constantine, Theodosius, Valentinian, Martian, and
others, against heretics, being an abundant demonstration that they had
a deep share in the guilt of persecution.


Footnote 110:

  E. H. l. 1. c. 24.


Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, in his letter to the bishop of
Constantinople,[111] complains that Arius and others, desirous of power
and riches, did day and night invent calumnies, and were continually
exciting seditions and persecutions against him; and Arius in his turn,
in his letter to Eusebius, of Nicomedia, with too much justice charges
pope Alexander with violently persecuting and oppressing him upon
account of what he called the truth, and using every method to ruin him,
driving him out of the city as an atheistical person, for not agreeing
with him in his sentiments about the Trinity. Athanasius also bitterly
exclaims against the cruelty of the Arians, in his Apology for his
flight.[112] “Whom have they not,” says he, “used with the greatest
indignity that they have been able to lay hold of? Who hath ever fallen
into their hands, that they have had any spite against, whom they have
not so cruelly treated, as either to murder or to maim him? What place
is there where they have not left the monuments of their barbarity? What
church is there which doth not lament their treachery against their
bishops?” After this passionate exclamation he mentions several bishops
they had banished or put to death, and the cruelties they made use of to
force the orthodox to renounce the faith, and to subscribe to the truth
of the Arian doctrines. But might it not have been asked, who was it
that first brought in excommunications, depositions, banishments, and
death, as the punishments of heresy? Could not the Arians recriminate
with justice? Were they not reproached as atheists, anathematized,
expelled their churches, exiled, and made liable to the punishment of
death by the orthodox? Did not even they who complained of the cruelty
of the Arians in the most moving terms, create numberless confusions and
slaughters by their violent intrusions into the sees of their
adversaries? Was not Athanasius himself also accused to the emperor, by
many bishops and clergymen, who declared themselves orthodox, of being
the author of all the seditions and disturbances in the church,[113] by
excluding great multitudes from the public services of it; of murdering
some, putting others in chains, punishing others with stripes and
whippings, and of burning churches? And if the enemies of
Athanasius[114] endeavoured to ruin him by suborned witnesses and false
accusations, Athanasius himself used the same practices to destroy his
adversaries; and particularly Eusebius of Nicomedia, by spiriting up a
woman to charge Eusebius with illicit connections, the falsehood of
which was detected at the council of Tyre. His very ordination also to
the bishopric of Alexandria, was censured as clandestine and illegal.
These things being reported to Constantine,[115] he ordered a synod to
meet at Cæsarea in Palestine, of which place Eusebius Pamphilus was
bishop, before whom Athanasius refused to appear. But after the council
was removed to Tyre, he was obliged by force to come thither, and
commanded to answer to the several crimes objected against him. Some of
them he cleared himself of, and as to others he desired more time for
his vindication. At length, after many sessions, both his accusers, and
the multitude who were present in the council, demanded his deposition
as an impostor, a violent man, and unworthy the priesthood. Upon this,
Athanasius fled from the synod; after which they condemned him, and
deprived him of his bishopric, and ordered he should never more enter
Alexandria, to prevent his exciting tumults and seditions. They also
wrote to all the bishops to have no communion with him, as one convicted
of many crimes, and as having convicted himself by his flight of many
others, to which he had not answered. And for this their procedure they
assigned these reasons; that he despised the emperor’s orders, by not
coming to Cæsarea; that he came with a great number of persons to Tyre,
and excited tumults and disturbances in the council, sometimes refusing
to answer to the crimes objected against him, at other times reviling
all the bishops; sometimes not obeying their summons, and at others
refusing to submit to their judgment; that he was fully and evidently
convicted of breaking in pieces the sacred cup, by six bishops who had
been sent into Egypt to inquire out the truth. Athanasius, however,
appealed to Constantine,[116] and prayed him, that he might have the
liberty of making his complaints in the presence of his judges.
Accordingly Eusebius of Nicomedia, and other bishops came to
Constantinople, where Athanasius was; and in an hearing before the
emperor, they affirmed that the council of Tyre had done justly in the
cause of Athanasius, produced their witnesses as to the breaking of the
sacred cup, and laid many other crimes to his charge. And though
Athanasius seems to have had the liberty he desired of confronting his
accusers, yet he could not make his innocence appear: for
notwithstanding he had endeavoured to prejudice the emperor against what
they had done, yet he confirmed their transactions, commended them as a
set of wise and good bishops, censured Athanasius as a seditious,
insolent, injurious person, and banished him to Treves, in France. And
when the people of Alexandria, of Athanasius’s party, tumultuously cried
out for his return, Antony the Great, a monk, wrote often to the emperor
in his favour. The emperor in return wrote to the Alexandrians, and
charged them with madness and sedition, and commanded the clergy and
nuns to be quiet; affirming he could not alter his opinion, nor recall
Athanasius, “being condemned by an ecclesiastical judgment as an exciter
of sedition.” He also wrote to the monk, telling him it was impossible
“he should disregard the sentence of the council,” because that though a
few might pass judgment through hatred or affection, yet it was not
probable that such a large number of famous and good bishops should be
of such a sentiment and disposition; for that Athanasius was an
injurious and insolent man, and the cause of discord and sedition.


Footnote 111:

  Theod. l. 1. c. 4, 5.

Footnote 112:

  Vol. I, p. 702.

Footnote 113:

  The whole account, as given by Sozomen, is this: Eusebius of Nicomedia
  and Theognis accused Athanasius to Constantine, as the author of
  seditions and disturbances in the church, and as excluding many who
  were willing to enter into it; whereas all would agree, if this one
  thing was granted. Many bishops and clergymen affirmed these
  accusations against him were true; and going frequently to the
  emperor, and affirming themselves to be orthodox, accused Athanasius
  and the bishops of his party of being guilty of murders, of putting
  some in chains, of whipping others, and burning of churches. Upon this
  Athanasius wrote to Constantine, and signified to him that his
  accusers were illegally ordained, made innovations upon the decrees of
  the council of Nice, and were guilty of seditions and injuries towards
  the orthodox. Upon this Constantine was at a loss which to believe;
  but as they thus accused one another, and the number of the accusers
  on each side grew troublesome to him; out of his love of peace, he
  wrote to Athanasius that he should hinder nobody from the communion of
  the church; and that if he should have any future complaints of this
  nature against him, he would immediately drive him out of Alexandria.
  The reader will observe, that the charge against Athanasius brought by
  Eusebius and Theognis, was confirmed by many orthodox bishops, in the
  very presence of the emperor; and that Athanasius, instead of denying
  it, objects to the ordination and orthodoxy of his accusers, and
  charges them with a bad treatment of the orthodox; and that the
  evidence on both sides appeared so strong, that the emperor knew not
  which to believe; but that, however, he was at last so far convinced
  of the factious, turbulent spirit of Athanasius, that he ordered him
  to open the doors of the church, under pain of banishment.

Footnote 114:

  Philostorg. Compen. E. H. l. 8. c. 11.

Footnote 115:

  Soz. l. 2. c. 25, 28.

Footnote 116:

  Soz. E. H. p. 488, 491, 492.


Indeed Athanasius, notwithstanding his sad complaints under persecution,
and his expressly calling it a diabolical invention,[117] yet seems to
be against it only when he and his own party were persecuted, but not
against persecuting the enemies of orthodoxy. In his letter to
Epictetus, bishop of Corinth, he saith,[118] “I wonder that your piety
hath suffered these things,” (viz. the heresies he had before mentioned)
“and that you did not immediately put those heretics under restraint,
and propose the true faith to them; that if they would not forbear to
contradict they might be declared heretics; for it is not to be endured
that these things should be either said or heard amongst Christians.”
And in another place[119] he says “that they ought to be had in
universal hatred for opposing the truth;” and comforts himself, that the
emperor, upon due information, would put a stop to their wickedness, and
that they would not be long lived. And to mention no more, “I therefore
exhort you,” says he,[120] “let no one be deceived; but as though the
Jewish impiety was prevailing over the faith of Christ, be ye all
zealous in the Lord. [121]And let every one hold fast the faith he hath
received from the fathers, which also the fathers met together at Nice
declared in writing, and endure none of those who may attempt to make
any innovations therein.” It is needless to produce more instances of
this kind; whosoever gives himself the trouble of looking over any of
the writings of this father, will find in them the most furious
invectives against the Arians, and that he studiously endeavours to
represent them in such colours, as might render them the abhorrence of
mankind, and excite the world to their utter extirpation.


Footnote 117:

  Ad Imp. I. Const. Apol. p. 716.

Footnote 118:

  Vol. I. p. 584.

Footnote 119:

  Orat. 1. cont. Ar. p. 304.

Footnote 120:

  Vol. I. p. 291.

Footnote 121:

  p. 292.


I write not these things out of any aversion to the memory, or peculiar
principles of Athanasius. Whether I agree with him, or differ from him
in opinion, I think myself equally obliged to give impartially the true
account of him. And as this which I have given of him is drawn partly
from history, and partly from his own writings, I think I cannot be
justly charged with misrepresenting him. To speak plainly, I think that
Athanasius was a man of a haughty and inflexible temper, and more
concerned for victory and power, than for truth, religion, or peace. The
word “consubstantial,” that was inserted into the Nicene creed,[122] and
the anathema denounced against all who would or could not believe in it,
furnished matter for endless debates. Those who were against it,
censured as blasphemers those who used it; and as denying the proper
subsistence of the Son, and as falling into the Sabellian heresy. The
consubstantialists, on the other side, reproached their adversaries as
heathens, and with bringing in the polytheism of the Gentiles. And
though they equally denied the consequences which their respective
principles were charged with, yet as the orthodox would not part with
the word “consubstantial,” and the Arians could not agree to the use of
it, they continued their unchristian reproaches and accusations of each
other. Athanasius would yield to no terms of peace, nor receive any into
communion, who would not absolutely submit to the decisions of the
fathers of Nice. In his letter to Johannes and Antiochus[123] he exhorts
them to hold fast the confession of those fathers, and “to reject all
who should speak more or less than was contained in it.” And in his
first oration against the Arians he declares in plain terms,[124] “That
the expressing a person’s sentiments in the words of scripture was no
sufficient proof of orthodoxy, because the devil himself used scripture
words to cover his wicked designs upon our Saviour; and even farther,
that heretics were not to be received, though they made use of the very
expressions of orthodoxy itself.” With one of so suspicious and jealous
a nature there could scarce be any possible terms of peace; it being
extremely unlikely, that without some kind allowances, and mutual
abatements, so wide a breach could ever be compromised. Even the
attempts of Constantine himself to soften Athanasius, and reconcile him
to his brethren, had no other influence upon him, than to render him
more imperious and obstinate; for after Arius had given in such a
confession of his faith as satisfied the emperor,[125] and expressly
denied many of the principles he had been charged with, and thereupon
humbly desired the emperor’s interposition, that he might be restored to
the communion of the church; Athanasius, out of hatred to his enemy,
flatly denied the emperor’s request, and told him, that it was
impossible for those who had once rejected the faith, and were
anathematized, ever to be wholly restored. This so provoked the emperor
that he threatened to depose and banish him, unless he submitted to his
order;[126] which he shortly after did, by sending him into France, upon
an accusation of several bishops, who, as Socrates intimates, were
worthy of credit, that he had said he would stop the corn that was
yearly sent to Constantinople from the city of Alexandria. To such an
height of pride was this bishop now arrived, as even to threaten the
sequestration of the revenues of the empire. Constantine also
apprehended, that this step was necessary to the peace of the church,
because Athanasius absolutely refused to communicate with Arius and his


Footnote 122:

  Soz. l. 2. c. 18.

Footnote 123:

  Vol. I. p. 951.

Footnote 124:

  p. 291.

Footnote 125:

  Soc. l. 1. c. 27.

Footnote 126:

  Id. ibid. c. 35.


Soon after these transactions Arius died,[127] and the manner of his
death, as it was reported by the orthodox, Athanasius thinks of itself
sufficient fully to condemn the Arian heresy, and an evident proof that
it was hateful to God. Nor did Constantine himself long survive him; he
was succeeded by his three sons, Constantine, Constantius, and Constans.
Constantine the eldest recalled Athanasius from banishment,[128] and
restored him to his bishopric; upon which account[129] there arose most
grievous quarrels and seditions, many being killed, and many publicly
whipped by Athanasius’s order, according to the accusations of his
enemies. Constantius, after his elder brother’s death, convened a synod
at Antioch in Syria, where Athanasius was again deposed for these
crimes, and Gregory put into the see of Alexandria. In this council a
new creed was drawn up,[130] in which the word “consubstantial” was
wholly omitted,[131] and the expressions made use of so general, as that
they might have been equally agreed to by the orthodox and Arians. In
the close of it several anathemas were added, and particularly upon all
who should teach or preach otherwise than what this council had
received, because, as they themselves say, “they did really believe and
follow all things delivered by the holy scriptures, both prophets and
apostles.” So that now the whole Christian world was under a synodical
curse, the opposite councils having damned one another, and all that
differed from them. And if councils, as such, have any authority to
anathematize all who will not submit to them, this authority equally
belongs to every council; and therefore it was but a natural piece of
revenge, that as the council of Nice had sent all the Arians to the
devil, the Arians, in their turn, should take the orthodox along with
them for company, and thus repay one anathema with another.


Footnote 127:

  Ad Solit. Vit. Agen. Epist. p. 809, 810.

Footnote 128:

  Soc. l. 2. c. 8.

Footnote 129:

  Soz. l. 3. c. 5.

Footnote 130:

  Soz. l. 3. c. 5.

Footnote 131:

  Soc. l. 2. c. 10.


Constantius himself was warmly on the Arian side, and favoured the
bishops of that party only, and ejected Paul the orthodox bishop from
the see of Constantinople, as a person altogether unworthy of it,
Macedonius being substituted in his room.[132] Macedonius was in a
different scheme, or at least expressed himself in different words both
from the orthodox and Arians,[133] and asserted, that the Son was not
consubstantial, but ὁμοιουσιος, not of the same, but a like substance
with the Father; and openly propagated his opinion, after he had thrust
himself into the bishopric of Paul.[134] This the orthodox party highly
resented, opposing Hermogenes, whom Constantius had sent to introduce
him; and in their rage burnt down his house, and drew him round the
streets by his feet till they had murdered him. But notwithstanding the
emperor’s orders were thus opposed, and his officers killed by the
orthodox party, he treated them with great lenity, and in this instance
punished them much less than their insolence and fury deserved. Soon
after this, Athanasius and Paul[135] were restored again to their
respective sees; and upon Athanasius’s entering Alexandria great
disturbances arose, which were attended with the destruction of many
persons, and Athanasius accused of being the author of all those evils.
Soon after Paul’s return to Constantinople he was banished from thence
again by the emperor’s order, and Macedonius re-entered into possession
of that see, upon which occasion 3150 persons were murdered, some by the
soldiers, and others by being pressed to death by the croud.
Athanasius,[136] also, soon followed him into banishment, being accused
of selling the corn which Constantine the Great had given for the
support of the poor of the church of Alexandria, and putting the money
in his own pocket; and being therefore threatened by Constantius with
death. But they were both, a little while after, recalled by Constans,
then banished again by Constantius; and Paul, as some say, murdered by
his enemies the Arians, as he was carrying into exile; though, as
Athanasius himself owns,[137] the Arians expressly denied it, and said
that he died of some distemper. Macedonius having thus gotten quiet
possession of the see of Constantinople, prevailed with the emperor to
publish a law,[138] by which those of the consubstantial, or orthodox
party, were driven, not only out of the churches but cities too, and
many of them compelled to communicate with the Arians by stripes and
torments, by proscriptions and banishments, and other violent methods of
severity. Upon the banishment of Athanasius,[139] whom Constantius, in
his letter to the citizens of Alexandria, calls “an impostor, a
corrupter of men’s souls, a disturber of the city, a pernicious fellow,
one convicted of the worst crimes, not to be expiated by his suffering
death ten times;” George was put into the see of Alexandria, whom the
emperor, in the same letter, stiles “a most venerable person,[140] and
the most capable of all men to instruct them in heavenly things;” though
Athanasius, in his usual style, calls him “an idolater and hangman, and
one capable of all violences, rapines, and murders;” and whom he
actually charges with committing the most impious actions and outrageous
cruelties. Thus, as Socrates observes,[141] was the church torn in
pieces by a civil war for the sake of Athanasius and the word


Footnote 132:

  Soc. l. 3. c. 4.

Footnote 133:

  Athanas. de Sanct. Trin. V. 2. p. 210.

Footnote 134:

  Soc. l. 2. c. 18.

Footnote 135:

  Soc. l. 2. c. 15.

Footnote 136:

  c. 17.

Footnote 137:

  Ad Sol. Vit. Ag. p. 813.

Footnote 138:

  Soc. l. 2. c. 27.

Footnote 139:

  Ad Const. Apol. p. 695.

Footnote 140:

  Cont. Ar. Orat. 1. p. 290.

Footnote 141:

  l. 2. c. 25.


The truth is, that the Christian clergy were now become the chief
incendiaries and disturbers of the empire, and the pride of the bishops,
and the fury of the people on each side were grown to such an height, as
that there scarce ever was an election or restoration of a bishop in the
larger cities, but it was attended with slaughter and blood. Athanasius
was several times banished and restored, at the expense of blood; the
orthodox were deposed, and the Arians substituted in their room, with
the murder of thousands; and as the controversy was now no longer about
the plain doctrines of uncorrupted Christianity, but about power and
dominion, high preferments, large revenues, and secular honours;
agreeably hereto, the bishops were introduced into their churches,[142]
and placed on their thrones, by armed soldiers, and paid no regard to
the ecclesiastical rules, or the lives of their flocks, so they could
get possession, and keep out their adversaries: and when once they were
in, they treated those who differed from them without moderation or
mercy, turning them out of their churches, denying them the liberty of
worship, putting them under an anathema, and persecuting them with
innumerable methods of cruelty; as is evident from the accounts given by
the ecclesiastical historians, of Athanasius, Macedonius, George, and
others, which may be read at large, in the forementioned places. In a
word, they seemed to treat one another with the same implacable
bitterness and severity, as ever their common enemies, the heathens,
treated them; as though they thought that persecution for conscience
sake had been the distinguishing precept of the Christian religion; and
that they could not more effectually recommend and distinguish
themselves as the disciples of Christ, than by tearing and devouring one
another. This made Julian,[143] the emperor, say of them, “that he found
by experience, that even beasts are not so cruel to men, as the
generality of Christians were to one another.”


Footnote 142:

  Soc. l. 2. c. 15, 16.

Footnote 143:

  Am. Mar. l. 22. c. 5.


This was the unhappy state of the church in the reign of Constantius,
which affords us little more than the history of councils and creeds,
differing from, and contrary to each other; bishops deposing, censuring,
and anathematizing their adversaries, and the Christian people divided
into factions under their respective leaders, for the sake of words they
understood nothing of the sense of, and striving for victory even to
bloodshed and death. Upon the succession of Julian to the empire, though
the contending-parties could not unite against the common enemy, yet
they were by the emperor’s clemency and wisdom kept in tolerable peace
and order.[144] The bishops, which had been banished by Constantius his
predecessor, he immediately recalled, ordered their effects, which had
been confiscated, to be restored to them, and commanded that no one
should injure or hurt any Christian whatsoever. And as Ammianus
Marcellinus,[145] an heathen writer of those times, tells us, he caused
the Christian bishops and people, who were at variance with each other,
to come into his palace, and there admonished them, that they should
every one profess their own religion, without hindrance or fear,
provided they did not disturb the public peace by their divisions. This
was an instance of great moderation and generosity, and a pattern worthy
the imitation of all his successors.


Footnote 144:

  Soc. l. 3. c. 1.

Footnote 145:

  l. 22. c. 5.


In the beginning of Julian’s reign[146] some of the inhabitants of
Alexandria, and, as was reported, the friends of Athanasius, by his
advice, raised a great tumult in the city, and murdered George, the
bishop of the place, by tearing him in pieces, and burning his body;
upon which Athanasius returned immediately from his banishment, and took
possession of his see, turning out the Arians from their churches, and
forcing them to hold their assemblies in private and mean places.
[T]Julian, with great equity, severely reproved the Alexandrians for
this their violence and cruelty, telling them, that though George might
have greatly injured them, yet they ought not to have revenged
themselves on him, but to have left him to the justice of the laws.
Athanasius, upon his restoration, immediately convened a synod at
Alexandria, in which was first asserted the divinity of the Holy Spirit,
and his consubstantiality with the Father and the Son.[147] But his
power there was but short; for being accused to Julian as the destroyer
of that city, and all Egypt, he saved himself by flight,[148] but soon
after secretly returned to Alexandria, where he lived in great privacy
till the storm blown over by Julian’s death, and the succession of
Jovian to the empire, who restored him to his see, in which he continued
undisturbed to his death.


Footnote 146:

  Soc. l. 3. c. 2, 3, 4. Philost. l. 7. c. 2.

Footnote T:

  See note [T] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 147:

  Philost. l. 7. c. 13.

Footnote 148:

  Theod. l. 4. c. 2.


Although Julian behaved himself with great moderation, upon his first
accession to the imperial dignity, towards the Christians, as well as
others, yet his hatred to Christianity soon appeared in many
instances.[149] For though he did not, like the rest of the heathen
emperors, proceed to sanguinary laws, yet he commanded, that the
children of Christians should not be instructed in the Grecian language
and learning. By another edict he ordained, that no Christian should
bear any office in the army, nor have any concern in the distribution
and management of the public revenues.[150] He taxed very heavily, and
demanded contributions from all who would not sacrifice, to support the
vast expences he was at, in his eastern expeditions. And when the
governors of the provinces took occasion from hence to oppress and
plunder them, he dismissed those who complained with this scornful
answer, “your God hath commanded you to suffer persecution!” He also
deprived the clergy of all their immunities, honours, and revenues,
granted them by Constantine; abrogated the laws made in their favour,
and ordered they should be listed amongst the number of soldiers. He
destroyed several of their churches, and stripped them of their treasure
and sacred vessels. Some he punished with banishment, and others with
death, under pretence of their having pulled down some of the pagan
temples, and insulted himself.


Footnote 149:

  Soc. l. 3. c. 14, &c.

Footnote 150:

  Theod. l. 3. c. 6, &c.


The truth is, that the Christian bishops and people shewed such a
turbulent and seditious spirit, that it was no wonder that Julian should
keep a jealous eye over them; and, though otherwise a man of great
moderation, connive at the severities his officers sometimes practised
on them. Whether he would have proceeded to any farther extremities
against them, had he returned victorious from his Persian expedition, as
Theodorit[151] affirms he would, cannot, I think, be determined. He was
certainly a person of great humanity in his natural temper; but how far
his own superstition, and the imprudencies of the Christians, might have
altered this disposition, it is impossible to say. Thus much is certain,
that the behaviour of the Christians towards him, was, in many
instances, very blameable, and such as tended to irritate his spirit,
and awaken his resentment. But whatever his intentions were, he did not
live to execute them, being slain in his Persian expedition.


Footnote 151:

  Ibid. l. 3. c. 21.


He was succeeded by Jovian,[152] who was a Christian by principle and
profession. Upon his return from Persia the troubles of the church
immediately revived, the bishops and heads of parties crowding about
him, each hoping that he would list on their side, and grant them
authority to oppress their adversaries. Athanasius,[153] amongst others,
writes to him in favour of the Nicene creed, and warns him against the
blasphemies of the Arians; and though he doth not directly urge him to
persecute them, yet he tells him, that it is necessary to adhere to the
decisions of that council concerning the faith, and that their creed was
divine and apostolical; and that no man ought to reason or dispute
against it, as the Arians did. A synod also of certain bishops met at
Antioch in Syria; and though several of them had been opposers of the
Nicene doctrine before, yet finding that this was the faith espoused by
Jovian, they with great obsequiousness readily confirmed it, and
subscribed it, and in a flattering letter sent it to him, representing
that this true and orthodox faith was the great centre of unity. The
followers also of Macedonius, who rejected the word “consubstantial,”
and held the Son to be only “like to the Father,” most humbly besought
him, that such who asserted the Son to be unlike the Father might be
driven from their churches, and that they themselves might be put into
them in their room; with the bishops names subscribed to the petition.
But Jovian, though himself in the orthodox doctrine, did not suffer
himself to be drawn into measures of persecution by the arts of these
temporizing prelates, but dismissed them civilly with this answer: “I
hate contention, and love those only that study peace;” declaring, that
“he would trouble none upon account of their faith, whatever it was; and
that he would favour and esteem such only, who should shew themselves
leaders in restoring the peace of the church.” Themistius the
philosopher, in his oration upon Jovian’s consulate, commends him very
justly on this account, that he gave free liberty to every one to
worship God as he would, and despised the flattering insinuations of
those who would have persuaded him to the use of violent methods;
concerning whom he pleasantly, but with too much truth, said, “that he
found, by experience, that they worship not God, but the purple.”


Footnote 152:

  Soc. l. 3. c. 24, 25.

Footnote 153:

  Theod. l. 4. c. 4.


The two emperors, Valentinianus and Valens, who succeeded Jovian, were
of very different tempers, and embraced different parties in religion.
The former was of the orthodox side;[154] and though he favoured those
most who were of his own sentiments, yet he gave no disturbance to the
Arians. On the contrary, Valens, his brother, was of a rigid and
sanguinary disposition, and severely persecuted all who differed from
him. In the beginning of their reign[155] a synod met in Illyricum, who
again decreed the consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.[156]
This the two emperors declared in a letter their assent to, and ordered
that this doctrine should be preached. However, they both published laws
for the toleration of all religions, even the heathen and Arian.[157]
But Valens was soon prevailed on by the arts of Eudoxius,[158] bishop of
Constantinople, to forsake both his principles of religion and
moderation, and embracing the Arian opinions, he cruelly persecuted all
those who were of the orthodox party. The conduct of the orthodox synod
met at Lampsacus was the first thing that enraged him; for having
obtained of him leave to meet, for the amendment and settlement of the
faith, after two months consultation they decreed the doctrine of the
Son’s being like the Father as to his essence, to be orthodox, and
deposed all the bishops of the Arian party. This highly exasperated
Valens, who, thereupon, called a council of Arian bishops, and commanded
the bishops that composed the council at Lampsacus to embrace the
opinions of Eudoxius the Arian; and upon their refusal immediately sent
them into banishment, and gave their churches to their enemies, sparing
only Paulinus, for the remarkable sanctity of his life. After this he
entered into more violent measures, and caused the orthodox, some of
them to be whipped, others to be disgraced, others to be imprisoned, and
others to be fined.[159] He also put great numbers to death, and
particularly caused eighty of them at once to be put on board a ship,
and the ship to be fired when it was sailed out of the harbour, where
they miserably perished by the water and the flames. These persecutions
he continued to the end of his reign, and was greatly assisted in them
by the bishops of the Arian party.


Footnote 154:

  Soc. l. 4. c. 1.

Footnote 155:

  Theod. l. 4. c. 8.

Footnote 156:

  Cod. Theod. tit. 16. l. 9.

Footnote 157:

  Soc. l. 4. c. 6.

Footnote 158:

  Soz. l. 6. c. 7.

Footnote 159:

  Soc. ibid. c. 15, 16. Theod. l. 4. c. 22.


In the mean time great disturbances happened at Rome.[160] Liberius,
bishop of that city, being dead, Ursinus, a deacon of that church, and
Damasus, were both nominated to succeed him. The party of Damasus
prevailed, and got him chosen and ordained. Ursinus being enraged that
Damasus was preferred before him, set up separate meetings, and at last
procured himself to be privately ordained by certain obscure bishops.
This occasioned great disputes amongst the citizens, which should obtain
the episcopal dignity; and the matter was carried to such an height,
that great numbers were murdered in the quarrel on both sides, no less
than one hundred and thirty-seven persons being destroyed in the church
itself, according to Ammianus,[161] who adds, “that it was no wonder to
see those who were ambitious of human greatness, contending with so much
heat and animosity for that dignity, because, when they had obtained it,
they were sure to be enriched by the offerings of the matrons, of
appearing abroad in great splendor, of being admired for their costly
coaches, sumptuous in their feasts, out-doing sovereign princes in the
expenses of their tables.” For which reason Prætextatus, an heathen, who
was prefect of the city the following year, said, “Make me bishop of
Rome, and I’ll be a Christian too.”


Footnote 160:

  Soc. l. 4. c. 29.

Footnote 161:

  Soc. l. 27. c. 3.


Gratian, the son of Valentinian, his partner and successor in the
empire, was of the orthodox party, and after the death of his uncle
Valens recalled those whom he had banished, and restored them to their
sees. But as to the Arians,[162] he sent Sapores, one of his captains,
to drive them, as wild beasts, out of all their churches. Socrates and
Sozomen tell us, however, that by a law he ordained, that persons of all
religions should meet, without fear, in their several churches, and
worship according to their own way, the Eunomians, Photinians, and
Manichees excepted.


Footnote 162:

  Theod. l. 5. c. 2.



                               SECT. IV.
   _The first council of Constantinople; or second general council._

Theodosius, soon after his advancement by Gratian to the empire,
discovered a very warm zeal for the orthodox opinions;[163] for
observing that the city of Constantinople was divided into different
sects, he wrote a letter to them from Thessalonica, wherein he tells
them, “that it was his pleasure, that all his subjects should be of the
same religion with Damasus bishop of Rome, and Peter bishop of
Alexandria; and that their church, only, should be called catholic, who
worshipped the divine Trinity as equal in honour; and that those who
were of another opinion should be called heretics, become infamous, and
be subject to other punishments.” He also forbid assemblies and
disputations in the Forum, and made a law for the punishment of those
that should presume to argue about the essence and nature of God. Upon
his first coming to Constantinople,[164] being very solicitous for the
peace and increase of the church, he sent for Demophilus the Arian
bishop, and asked him whether he would consent to the Nicene faith, and
thus accept the peace he offered him: adding this strong argument, “if
you refuse to do it, I will drive you from your churches.” And upon
Demophilus’s refusal, the emperor was as good as his word; and turned
him and all the Arians out of the city, after they had been in
possession of the churches there for forty years.[165] But being willing
more effectually to extinguish heresy, he summoned a council of bishops
of his own persuasion, A. C. 381, to meet together at Constantinople, in
order to confirm the Nicene faith: the number of them were one hundred
and fifty; to these, for form’s sake, were added thirty-six of the
Macedonian party. And accordingly this council,[166] which is reckoned
the second oecumenical or general one, all of them, except the
Macedonians, did decree that the Nicene faith should be the standard of
orthodoxy; and that all heresies should be condemned. They also made an
addition to that creed, explaining the orthodox doctrine of the Spirit
against Macedonius, viz. after the words Holy Ghost, they inserted, “the
Lord, the Quickner, proceeding from the Father, whom with the Father and
the Son we worship and glorify, and who spake by the prophets.” When the
council was ended,[167] the emperor put forth two edicts against
heretics; by the first prohibiting them from holding any assemblies; and
by the second, forbidding them to meet in fields or villages, ordering
the houses where they met to be confiscated, and commanding that such
who went to other places to teach their opinions, or perform their
religious worship, should be forced to return to the places where they
dwelt, condemning all those officers and magistrates of cities who
should not prevent such assemblies. A little while after the conclusion
of this council,[168] finding that many disorders were still occasioned
through the opposition of the several parties to one another, he
convened the principal persons of each, and ordered them to deliver into
his hand a written form of their belief; which after he had received, he
retired by himself, and earnestly prayed to God, that he would enable
him to make choice of the truth. And when after this he had perused the
several papers delivered to him, he tore them all in pieces, except that
which contained the doctrine of the indivisible Trinity, to which he
intirely adhered. After this he published a law, by which he forbid
heretics to worship or preach, or to ordain bishops or others,
commanding some to be banished, others to be rendered infamous, and to
be deprived of the common privileges of citizens, with other grievous
penalties of the like nature. [U]Sozomen, however, tells us, that he did
not put these laws in execution, because his intention was not to punish
his subjects, but to terrify them into the same opinions of God with
himself, praising at the same time those who voluntarily embraced them.
Socrates also confirms the same, telling us,[169] that he only banished
Eunomius from Constantinople for holding private assemblies, and reading
his books to them, and thereby corrupting many with his doctrine. But
that as to others he gave them no disturbance, nor forced them to
communicate with him, but allowed them all their several meetings, and
to enjoy their own opinions as to the Christian faith. Some he permitted
to build churches without the cities, and the Novatians to retain their
churches within, because they held the same doctrines with himself.


Footnote 163:

  Soz. l. 7. c. 4, 6.

Footnote 164:

  Soc. l. 5. c. 7.

Footnote 165:

  c. 8.

Footnote 166:

  The second general council, A. C. 381.

Footnote 167:

  Cod. Theod. l. 11, 12.

Footnote 168:

  Soz. l. 7. c. 12.

Footnote U:

  See note [U] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 169:

  l. 5. c. 20.


Arcadius and Honorius,[170] the sons and successors of Theodosius,
embraced the orthodox religion and party, and confirmed all the decrees
of the foregoing emperors in their favour. Soon after their accession to
the imperial dignity, Nectarius bishop of Constantinople died, and John,
called for his eloquence Chrysostom, was ordained in his room: he was a
person of a very rigid and severe temper, an enemy to heretics, and
against allowing them any toleration. Gaina, one of the principal
officers of Arcadius, and who was a Christian of the Arian persuasion,
desired of the emperor one church for himself, and those of his opinion,
within the city. Chrysostom being informed of it, immediately went to
the palace, taking with him all the bishops he could find at
Constantinople; and in the presence of the emperor bitterly inveighed
against Gaina, who was himself at the audience, and reproached him for
his former poverty, as also with insolence and ingratitude. Then he
produced the law that was made by Theodosius, by which heretics were
forbidden to hold assemblies within the walls of the city; and turning
to the emperor, persuaded him to keep in force all the laws against
heretics; adding, that it was better voluntarily to quit the empire,
than to be guilty of the impiety of betraying the house of God.
Chrysostom carried his point, and the consequence of it was an
insurrection of the Goths, in the city of Constantinople; which had like
to have ended in the burning the imperial palace, and the murder of the
emperor, and did actually end in the cutting off all the Gothic
soldiers, and the burning of their church, with great numbers of persons
in it, who fled thither, for safety, and were locked in to prevent their
escape. His violent treatment of several bishops,[171] and. the
arbitrary manner of his deposing them, and substituting others in their
room, contrary to the desires and prayers of the people, is but too full
a proof of his imperious temper, and love of power. Not content with
this, he turned his eloquence against the empress Eudoxia, and in a set
oration inveighing against bad women, he expressed himself in such a
manner, as that both his friends and enemies believed that the invective
was chiefly levelled against her. This so enraged her that she soon
procured his deposition and banishment. Being soon after restored, he
added new provocations to the former, by rebuking the people for certain
diversions they took at a place where the statue of the empress was
erected. This she took for an insult on her person, and when Chrysostom
knew her displeasure on this account, he used more severe expressions
against her than before, saying, “Herodias is enraged again; she raises
fresh disturbances, and again desires the head of John in a charger.” On
this and other accounts he was deposed and banished by a synod convened
for that purpose, bishops being always to be had in those days easily,
to do what was desired or demanded of them by the emperors.
[V]Chrysostom died in his banishment, according to the Christian wish of
Epiphanius,[172] “I hope you will not die bishop of Constantinople;”
which Chrysostom returned with a wish of the same good temper, “I hope
you will not live to return to your own city;” so deadly was the hatred
of these saints and fathers against each other. After Chrysostom’s
death, his favourers and friends were treated with great severity, not
indeed on the account of religion, but for other crimes of sedition they
were charged with; and particularly, for burning down one of the
churches in the city,[173] the flames of which spread themselves to the
senate house, and entirely consumed it.


Footnote 170:

  Soz. l. 8. c. 1, 2, 4.

Footnote 171:

  Soz. l. 8. c. 6.

Footnote V:

  See note [V] at the end of the volume.

Footnote 172:

  Soz. l. 8. c. 16.

Footnote 173:

  Soc. l. 6. c. 18.


Under the same emperors the Donatists[174] gave sad specimens of their
cruelty in Africa towards the orthodox, as St. Austin informs us. They
seized on Maximianus, one of the African bishops, as he was standing at
the altar, beat him unmercifully, and ran a sword into his body, leaving
him for dead. And a little after he adds, that it would be tedious to
recount the many horrible things they made the bishops and clergy
suffer; some had their eyes put out; one bishop had his hands and tongue
cut off, and others were cruelly destroyed. I forbear, says Austin, to
mention their barbarous murders, and demolishing of houses, not private
ones only, but the very churches themselves. Honorius[175] published
very severe edicts against them, ordaining, that if they did not, both
clergy and laity, return to the catholics by such a day, they should be
heavily fined, their estates should be confiscated, the clergy banished,
and their churches all given to the catholics. These laws Austin
commends as rightly and piously ordained, maintaining the lawfulness of
persecuting heretics by all manner of ways, death only excepted.


Footnote 174:

  Epist. 50. ad Bon. & Epist. 68. ad Januar.

Footnote 175:

  Cod. Theod. l. 52.


Under the reign of Theodosius, Arcadius’s son, those who were called
heretics were grievously persecuted by the orthodox. Theodosius,[176]
bishop of Synnada in Phrygia, expelled great numbers of the followers of
Macedonius from the city and country round about, “not from any zeal for
the true faith,” as Socrates says, “but through covetousness, and a
design to extort money from them.” On this account he used all his
endeavours to oppress them, and particularly Agapetus, their bishop;
armed his clergy against them, and accused them before the tribunal of
the judges. And because he did not think the governors of the provinces
sufficient to carry on this good work of persecution, he went to
Constantinople to procure fresh edicts against them; but by this means
he lost his bishopric, the people refusing him admission into the church
upon his return, and choosing Agapetus, whom he had persecuted, in his


Footnote 176:

  Soc. l. 7. c. S


Theophilus,[177] bishop of Alexandria, the great enemy of Chrysostom,
being dead, Cyrill was enthroned in his room, not without great
disturbance and opposition from the people, and used his power for the
oppression of heretics; for immediately upon his advancement he shut up
all the churches of the Novatians in that city, took away all their
sacred treasures, and stripped Theopemptus their bishop of every thing
that he had. Nor was this much to be wondered at, since, as Socrates
observes,[178] from the time of Theophilus, Cyrill’s predecessor, “the
bishop of Alexandria began to assume an authority and power above what
belonged to the sacerdotal order.” On this account the great men hated
the bishops, because they usurped to themselves a good part of that
power which belonged to the imperial governors of provinces; and
particularly Cyrill was hated by Orestes, prefect of Alexandria, not
only for this reason, but because he was a continual spy upon his
actions. At length their hatred to each other publicly appeared. Cyrill
took on him, without acquainting the governor, or contrary to his leave,
to deprive the Jews of all their synagogues, and banished them from the
city, and encouraged the mob to plunder them of their effects. This the
prefect highly resented, and refused the bishop’s offers of peace and
friendship. Upon this, about fifty monks came into the city for Cyrill’s
defence, and meeting the prefect in his chariot, publicly insulted him,
calling him sacrificer and pagan; adding many other injurious
reproaches. One of them, called Ammonius, wounded him in the head with a
stone, which he flung at him with great violence, and covered him all
over with blood; and being, according to the laws, put by Orestes
publicly to the torture, he died through the severity of it. St. Cyrill
honourably received the body into the church, gave him the new name of
Thaumasius, or, the Wonderful; ordered him to be looked on as a martyr,
and lavishly extolled him in the church, as a person murdered for his
religion. This scandalous procedure of Cyrill’s the Christians
themselves were ashamed of, because it was publicly known that the monk
was punished for his insolence; and even St. Cyrill himself had the
modesty at last to use his endeavours that the whole affair might be
entirely forgotten. The murder also of Hypatia,[179] by Cyrill’s friends
and clergy, merely out of envy to her superior skill in philosophy,
brought him and his church of Alexandria under great infamy; for as she
was returning home from a visit, one Peter, a clergyman, with some other
murderers, seized on her, dragged her out of her chariot, carried her to
one of the churches, stripped her naked, scraped her to death with
shells, then tore her in pieces, and burnt her body to ashes.


Footnote 177:

  Soc. l. 7. c. 7.

Footnote 178:

  l. 7. c. 13, 14.

Footnote 179:

  Soc. l. 7. c. 15.


Innocent[180] also, bishop of Rome, grievously persecuted the Novatians,
and took from them many churches; and, as Socrates observes, was the
first bishop of that see who disturbed them. Celestine also, one of his
successors, imitated this injustice, and took from the Novatians the
remainder of their churches, and forced them to hold their assemblies in
private;[181] “for the bishops of Rome, as well as those of Alexandria,
had usurped a tyrannical power, which, as priests, they had no right
to;” and would not suffer those who agreed with them in the faith, as
the Novatians did, to hold public assemblies, but drove them out of
their oratories, and plundered them of all their substance.


Footnote 180:

  Id. ibid. c. 9.

Footnote 181:

  Soc. l. 7. c. 11.


Nestorius bishop of Constantinople, immediately upon his advancement,
shewed himself a valiant persecutor; for as soon as ever he was
ordained, he addressed himself to the emperor before the whole
congregation,[182] and said, “Purge me, O emperor, the earth from
heretics, and I will give thee in recompence the kingdom of heaven.
Conquer with me the heretics, and I with thee will subdue the Persians.”
And, agreeable to his bloody wishes, the fifth day after his
consecration, he endeavoured to demolish the church of the Arians, in
which they were privately assembled for prayer. The Arians, in their
rage, seeing the destruction of it determined, set fire to it
themselves, and occasioned the burning down the neighbouring houses; and
for this reason, not only the heretics, but those of his own persuasion,
distinguished him by the name of Incendiary. But he did not rest here,
but tried all tricks and methods to destroy heretics; and, by these
means, endangered the subversion of Constantinople itself. He persecuted
the Novatians, through hatred of Paul their bishop for his eminent
piety. He grievously oppressed those who were not orthodox, as to the
day of keeping Easter, in Asia, Lydia, and Caria, and occasioned the
murders of great numbers on this account at Miletus and Sardis.


Footnote 182:

  c. 29.


Few indeed of the bishops were free from this wicked spirit. Socrates,
however, tells us,[183] that Atticus, bishop of Constantinople, was a
person of great piety and prudence, and that he did not offer violence
to any of the heretics, but, that after he had once attempted to terrify
them, he behaved more mildly and gently to them afterwards. Proclus[184]
also, bishop of the same city, who had been brought up under Atticus,
was a careful imitator of his piety and virtue, and exercised rather
greater moderation than his master, being gentle towards all men, from a
persuasion that this was a much more proper method than violence, to
reduce heretics to the true faith, and therefore he never made use of
the imperial power for this purpose. And in this he imitated Theodosius
the emperor, who was not at all concerned or displeased that any should
think differently of God from himself. However, the number of bishops of
this temper was but small. Nothing pleased the generality of them but
methods of severity, and the utter ruin and extirpation of their


Footnote 183:

  Soz. l. 7. c. 2.

Footnote 184:

  Soc. l. 7. c. 41.


Under the reign of this emperor, the Arians also, in their turn, used
the orthodox with no greater moderation than the orthodox had used them.
The Vandals, who were partly pagans, and partly Arians, had seized on
Spain and Africa, and exercised innumerable cruelties on those who were
not of the same religion with themselves. Trasimond, their general in
Spain, and Genseric, in Africa, used all possible endeavours to
propagate Arianism throughout all their provinces. And, the more
effectually to accomplish this design, they filled all places with
slaughter and blood; by the advice of the bishops of their party,
burning down churches, and putting the orthodox clergy to the most
grievous and unheard of tortures, to make them discover the gold and
silver of their churches, repeating these kind of tortures several
times, so that many actually died under them. Genseric seized on all the
sacred books he could find, that they might be deprived of the means of
defending their opinions. By the counsel of his bishops, he ordered that
none but Arians should be admitted to court, or employed in any offices
about his children, or so much as enjoy the benefit of a toleration.
Armogestes, Masculon, and Saturus, three officers of his court, were
inhumanly tortured to make them embrace Arianism; and, upon their
refusal, they were stripped of their honours and estates, and forced to
protract a miserable life in the utmost poverty and want. These and many
more instances of Genseric’s cruelty towards the orthodox, during a long
reign of thirty-eight years, are related by Victor, l. 1. _in fine_.


                                SECT. V.
          _The council of Ephesus; or third general council._

During these transactions, a new controversy, of a very extraordinary
and important nature, arose in the church, which, as the other had done
before, occasioned many disorders and murders, and gave birth to the
third general council. Nestorius,[185] the persecuting bishop of
Constantinople, although tolerably sound in the doctrine of the real
deity of the Logos, yet excepted against the Virgin Mary’s being called
“mother of God,” because, as he argued, “Mary was a woman, and that,
therefore, God could not be born of her;” adding, “I cannot call him
God, who once was not above two or three months old;” and, therefore, he
substituted another word in the room of it, calling her “mother of
Christ.” By this means he seemed to maintain not only the distinction of
the two natures of Christ, for he allowed the proper personality and
subsistence of the Logos, but that there were also two distinct persons
in Christ; the one a mere man, absolutely distinct from the word, and
the other God, as absolutely distinct from the human nature. This caused
great disturbances in the city of Constantinople, and the dispute was
thought of such consequence, as to need a council to settle it.
Accordingly, Theodosius convened one at Ephesus,[186] A. C. 431. of
which Cyrill was president; and as he hated Nestorius, he persuaded the
bishops of his own party to decree, that the Virgin was, and should be,
the mother of God, and to anathematize all who should not confess her in
this character, nor own that the word of God the Father was united
substantially to the flesh, making one Christ of two natures, both God
and man together; or who should ascribe what the scriptures say of
Christ to two persons or subsistences, interpreting some of the man,
exclusive of the word; and others of the word, exclusive of the human
nature; or who should presume to call the man Christ, “the bearer, or
the receptacle of God,” instead of God; and hastily to depose Nestorius
five days before the coming of John, bishop of Antioch, with his
suffragan bishops. John, upon his arrival at Ephesus, deposed Cyrill, in
a council of bishops held for that purpose, and accused him of being the
author of all the disorders occasioned by this affair, and of having
rashly proceeded to the desposition of Nestorius. Cyrill was soon
absolved by his own council, and, in revenge, deposed John of Antioch,
and all the bishops of his party. But they were both reconciled by the
emperor, and restored each other to their respective sees, and, as the
effect of their reconciliation, both subscribed to the condemnation of
Nestorius, who was sent into banishment, where, after suffering great
hardships, he died miserably; being thus made to taste those sweets of
persecution he had so liberally given to others, in the time of his
power and prosperity. The emperor himself,[187] though at first he
disapproved of this council’s conduct, yet afterwards was persuaded to
ratify their decrees, and published a law, by which all who embraced the
opinions of Nestorius, were, if bishops or clergymen, ordered to be
expelled the churches; or, if laymen, to be anathematized. This
occasioned irreconcilable hatreds amongst the bishops and people,[188]
who were so enraged against each other, that there was no passing with
any safety from one province or city to another, because every one
pursued his neighbour as his enemy, and, without any fear of God,
revenged themselves on one another, under a pretence of ecclesiastical


Footnote 185:

  Evag. E. H. l. 1. c. 2. Soc. l. 7. c. 32, 34.

Footnote 186:

  Soc. ibid. Evag. l. 1. c. 5.

Footnote 187:

  Evag. l. 1. c. 12.

Footnote 188:

  Chal. Concil. Act. 10. Frag. Epist. Edes. Epic.



                                SECT. VI
         _The council of Chalcedon; or fourth general council._

Marcian,[189] the successor of Theodosius in the empire, embraced the
orthodox party and opinions, and was very desirous to bring about an
entire uniformity in the worship of God, and to establish the same form
of doxologies amongst all Christians whatsoever.[190] Agreeably to this
his temper, Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, addressed him soon after his
promotion, in these words: “God hath justly given you the empire, that
you should govern all for the universal welfare, and for the peace of
his holy church: and, therefore, before and in all things, take care of
the principles of the orthodox and most holy faith, and extinguish the
roarings of the heretics, and bring to light the doctrines of piety.”
The legates also of Leo, bishop of Rome, presented him their accusations
against Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria; as did also Eusebius, bishop of
Dorylæum, beseeching the emperor that these things might be judged and
determined by a synod. Marcian consented, and ordered the bishops to
meet first at Nice, and afterwards at Chalcedon, 451. This was the
fourth oecumenical or general council, consisting of near six hundred
prelates. The principal cause of their assembling was the Eutychian
heresy. Eutyches, a presbyter of Constantinople, had asserted, in the
reign of Theodosius, jun.[191] that “Jesus Christ consisted of two
natures before his union or incarnation, but that after this he had one
nature only.” He also denied that “the body of Christ was of the same
substance with ours.” On this account, he was deposed in a particular
council at Constantinople, by Flavian, bishop of that place; but, upon
his complaining to the emperor that the acts of that council were
falsified by his enemies, a second synod of the neighbouring bishops met
in the same city, who, after examining those acts, found them to be
genuine, and confirmed the sentence against Eutyches. But Dioscorus,
bishop of Alexandria, who was at enmity with Flavian of Constantinople,
obtained, from Theodosius, that a third council should be held on this
affair; which accordingly met at Ephesus, which the orthodox stigmatized
by the name of the thieving council, or Council of Thieves. Dioscorus
was president of it, and, after an examination of the affair of
Eutyches, his sentence of excommunication and deposition was taken off,
and himself restored to his office and dignity; the bishops of
Constantinople, Antioch, and others, being deposed in his stead. But the
condemned bishops, and the legates from Rome, appealed from this
sentence to another council, and prevailed with Theodosius to issue his
letters for the assembling one: but as he died before they could
meet,[192] the honour of determining this affair was reserved for his
successor, Marcian; and when the fathers, in obedience to his summons,
were convened at Chalcedon, the emperor favoured them with his presence;
and, in a speech to them, told them, “that he had nothing more at heart
than to preserve the true and orthodox Christian faith, safe and
uncorrupted, and that, therefore, he proposed to them a law, that no one
should dare to dispute of the person of Christ, otherwise than as it had
been determined by the council of Nice.” After this address of the
emperor, the fathers proceeded to their synodical business, and,
notwithstanding the synod was divided, some of the fathers piously
crying out, “Damn Dioscorus, banish Dioscorus, banish the Egyptian,
banish the heretic, Christ hath deposed Dioscorus;” others, on the
contrary, “Restore Dioscorus to the council, restore Dioscorus to his
churches;” yet, through the authority of the legates of Rome, Dioscorus
was deposed for his contempt of the sacred canons, and for his contumacy
towards the holy universal synod. After this, they proceeded to settle
the faith according to the Nicene creed, the opinions of the fathers,
and the doctrine of Athanasius, Cyrill, Cælestine, Hilarius, Basil,
Gregory, and Leo; and decreed, that “Christ was truly God, and truly
man, consubstantial to the Father as to his deity, and consubstantial to
us as to his humanity; and that he was to be confessed as consisting of
two natures without mixture, conversion of one into the other, and
without division or separation; and that it should not be lawful for any
person to utter, or write, or compose, or think, or teach any other
faith whatsoever;” and that if any should presume to do it, they should,
if bishops or clergymen, be deposed; and if monks or laicks, be
anathematized. This procured a loud acclamation: “God bless the emperor,
God bless the empress. We believe as pope Leo doth. Damn the dividers
and the confounders. We believe as Cyrill did: immortal be the name of
Cyrill. Thus the orthodox believe; and cursed be every one that doth not
believe so too.” Marcian ratified their decrees,[193] and banished
Dioscorus, and put forth an edict, containing very severe penalties
against the Eutychians and Apollinarists. By this law the emperor
ordained, “that they should not have power of disposing their estates,
and making a will, nor of inheriting what others should leave them by
will. Neither let them receive advantage by any deed of gift, but let
whatsoever is given them, either by the bounty of the living, or the
will of the dead, be immediately forfeited to our treasury; nor let them
have the power, by any title or deed of gift, to transfer any part of
their own estates to others. Neither shall it be lawful for them to have
or ordain bishops or presbyters, or any other of the clergy whatsoever;
as knowing that the Eutychians and Apollinarists, who shall presume to
confer the names of bishop or presbyter, or any other sacred office upon
any one, as well as those who shall dare to retain them, shall be
condemned to banishment, and the forfeiture of their goods. And as to
those who have been formerly ministers in the Catholic church, or monks
of the orthodox faith, and forsaking the true and orthodox worship of
the Almighty God, have or shall embrace the heresies and abominable
opinions of Apollinarius or Eutyches, let them be subject to all the
penalties ordained by this, or any foregoing laws whatsoever, against
heretics, and banished from the Roman dominions, according as former
laws have decreed against the Manicheans. Farther, let not any of the
Apollinarists, or Eutychians, build churches or monasteries, or have
assemblies and conventicles either by day or night; nor let the
followers of this accursed sect meet in any one’s house or tenement, or
in a monastery, nor in any other place whatsoever: but if they do, and
it shall appear to be with the consent of the owners of such places,
after a due examination, let such place or tenement in which they meet
be immediately forfeited to us; or if it be a monastery, let it be given
to the orthodox church of that city in whose territory it is. But if so
be they hold these unlawful assemblies and conventicles without the
knowledge of the owner, but with the privity of him who receives the
rents of it, the tenant, agent, or steward of the estate, let such
tenant, agent, or steward, or whoever shall receive them into any house
or tenement, or monastery, and suffer them to hold such unlawful
assemblies and conventicles, if he be of low and mean condition, be
publicly bastinadoed as a punishment to himself, and as a warning to
others; but if they are persons of repute, let them forfeit ten pounds
of gold to our treasury. Farther, let no Apollinarist or Eutychian ever
hope for any military preferment, except to be listed in the foot
soldiers, or garrisons: but if any of them shall be found in any other
military service, let them be immediately broke, and forbid all access
to the palace, and not suffered to dwell in any other city, town or
country, but that wherein they were born.”


Footnote 189:

  Evag. l. 2. c. 1.

Footnote 190:

  Concil. Chalced. Act. 13.

Footnote 191:

  Evag. l. 1. c. 9, 10.

Footnote 192:

  Evag. l. 2. c. 4, 18.

Footnote 193:

  Evag, l. 2. c. 5.


“But if any of them are born in this august city, let them be banished
from this most sacred society, and from every metropolitan city of our
provinces. Farther, let no Apollinarist or Eutychian have the power of
calling assemblies, public or private, or gathering together any
companies, or disputing in any heretical manner; or of defending their
perverse and wicked opinions; nor let it be lawful for any one to speak
or write, or publish any thing of their own, or the writings of any
others, contrary to the decrees of the venerable synod of Chalcedon. Let
no one have any such books, nor dare to keep any of the impious
performances of such writers. And if any are found guilty of these
crimes, let them be condemned to perpetual banishment; and, as for
those, who through a desire of learning shall hear others disputing of
this wretched heresy, it is our pleasure that they forfeit ten pounds of
gold to our treasury, and let the teacher of these unlawful tenets be
punished with death. Let all such books and papers as contain any of the
damnable opinions of Eutyches or Apollinarius be burnt, that all the
remains of their impious perverseness may perish with the flames; for it
is but just that there should be a proportionable punishment to deter
men from these most outrageous impieties. And let all the governors of
our provinces, and their deputies, and the magistrates of our cities,
know, that if, through neglect or presumption, they shall suffer any
part of this most religious edict to be violated, they shall be
condemned to a fine of ten pounds of gold, to be paid into our treasury;
and shall incur the farther penalty of being declared infamous.” For
this law, pope Leo returns him thanks,[194] and exhorts him farther,
that he would reform the see of Alexandria, and not only depose the
heretical clergy of Constantinople from their clerical orders, but expel
them from the city itself.


Footnote 194:

  August. Epist. 75.


At the same time that they published these cruel laws, the authors of
them, as Mr. Limborch[195] well observes, would willingly be thought to
offer no violence to conscience. Marcian himself, in a letter to the
Archimandrites of Jerusalem, says, Such is our clemency, that we use no
force with any, to compel him to subscribe, or agree with us, if he be
unwilling; for we would not by terrors and violence drive men into the
paths of truth. Who would not wonder at this hypocrisy, and at such
attempts to cover over their cruelties? They forbid men to learn or
teach, under the severest penalties, doctrines which they who teach them
are fully persuaded of the truth of, and think themselves obliged to
propagate; and yet the author of such penalties would fain be thought to
offer no violence to conscience. But for what end are all these
penalties against heretics ordained? For no other, unquestionably, but
that men may be deterred, by the fear of them, from openly professing
themselves, or teaching others, principles they think themselves bound
in conscience to believe and teach; that being at length quite tired out
by these hardships, they may join themselves to the established
churches, and at least profess to believe their opinions. But this is
offering violence to conscience, and persecution in the highest degree.
But to proceed:


Footnote 195:

  Hist. Inqu. l. 1. c. 4.


Proterius[196] was substituted by this council bishop of Alexandria, in
the room of Dioscorus; and upon his taking possession of his bishopric,
the whole city was put into the utmost confusion, being divided, some
for Dioscorus, some for Proterius. The mob assaulted with great violence
their magistrates,[197] and being opposed by the soldiers, they put them
to flight by a shower of stones; and as they betook themselves to one of
the churches for sanctuary, the mob besieged it, and burnt it to the
ground, with the soldiers in it. The emperor sent two thousand other
soldiers to quell this disturbance, who increased the miseries of the
poor citizens, by offering the highest indignities to their wives and
daughters. And though they were for some time kept in awe,[198] yet,
upon Marcian’s death, they broke out into greater fury, ordained
Timotheus bishop of the city, and murdered Proterius, by running him
through with a sword. After this, they hung him by a rope, in a public
place, by way of derision, and then, after they had ignominiously drawn
him round the whole city, they burnt him to ashes, and even fed on his
very bowels in the fury of their revenge. The orthodox charged these
outrages upon the Eutychians; but Zacharias, the historian, mentioned by
Evagrius, says, Proterius himself was the cause of them, and that he
raised the greatest disturbances in the city: and, indeed, the clergy of
Alexandria, in their letter to Leo, the emperor, concerning this affair,
acknowledge, that Proterius had deposed Timotheus, with four or five
bishops, and several monks, for heresy, and obtained of the emperor
their actual banishment. Great disturbances happened also in
Palestine[199] on the same account; the monks who opposed the council
forcing Juvenal, bishop of Jerusalem, to quit his see, and getting one
Theodosius ordained in his room. But the emperor soon restored Juvenal,
after whose arrival the tumults and miseries of the city greatly
increased, the different parties acting by one another just as their
fury and revenge inspired them.


Footnote 196:

  Evag. l. 2. c. 5.

Footnote 197:

  Niceph. l. 15. c. 8.

Footnote 198:

  Evag. l. 2. c. 8.

Footnote 199:

  Evag. l. 2. c. 5.


Leo succeeded Marcian,[200] and sent circular letters to the several
bishops, to make inquiries concerning the affairs of Alexandria, and the
council of Chalcedon. Most of the bishops adhered to the decrees of
those fathers, and agreed to depose Timotheus, who was sent to bear
Dioscorus company in banishment.


Footnote 200:

  c. 9, 10.


Under Zeno, the son-in-law and successor of Leo, Hunnerick the Vandal
grievously persecuted the orthodox in Africa. In the beginning of his
reign he made a very equitable proposal, that he would allow them the
liberty of choosing a bishop, and worshipping according to their own
way, provided the emperor would grant the Arians the same liberty in
Constantinople, and other places. This the orthodox would not agree to,
choosing rather to have their own brethren persecuted, than to allow
toleration to such as differed from them. Hunnerick was greatly enraged
by this refusal, and exercised great severity towards all who would not
profess the Arian faith, being excited hereto by Cyrill, one of his
bishops, who was perpetually suggesting to him, that the peace and
safety of his kingdom could not be maintained, unless he extirpated all
who differed from him as public nuisances. This cruel ecclesiastical
advice was agreeable to the king’s temper, who immediately put forth the
most severe edicts against those who held the doctrine of the
consubstantiality, and turned all those laws which had been made against
the Arians, and other heretics, against the orthodox themselves; it
being, as Hunnerick observes in his edict, “an instance of virtue in a
king, to turn evil counsels against those who were the authors of them.”
But though the persecution carried on by the orthodox was no vindication
of Hunnerick’s cruelty towards them, yet I think they ought to have
observed the justice of divine Providence, in suffering a wicked prince
to turn all those unrighteous laws upon themselves, which, when they had
power on their side, they had procured for the punishment and
destruction of others. A particular account of the cruelties exercised
by this prince may be read at large in Victor de Vandal. Persec. l. 3.

Zeno, though perfectly orthodox in his principles, yet was a very wicked
and profligate prince, and rendered himself so extremely hateful to his
own family, by his vices and debaucheries, that Basiliscus, brother of
Verina, mother of Zeno’s empress, expelled him the empire, and reigned
in his stead;[201] and having found by experience, that the decrees of
the council of Chalcedon had occasioned many disturbances, he by an
edict ordained, that the Nicene creed alone should be used in all
churches, as being the only rule of the pure faith, and sufficient to
remove every heresy, and perfectly to unite all the churches; confirming
at the same time the decrees of the councils of Constantinople and
Ephesus. But as to those of the council of Chalcedon, he ordered, that
as they had destroyed the unity and good order of the churches, and the
peace of the whole world, they should be anathematized by all the
bishops; and that wherever any copies of those articles should be found
they should be immediately burnt. And that whosoever after this should
attempt, either by dispute or writing, or teaching, at any time, manner
or place, to utter, or so much as name the novelties that had been
agreed on at Chalcedon contrary to the faith, should, as the authors of
tumults and seditions in the churches of God, and as enemies to God and
himself, be subject to all the penalties of the laws, and be deposed, if
bishops or clergymen; and if monks or laicks, be punished with
banishment, and confiscation of their effects, and even with death
itself.[202] Most of the eastern bishops subscribed these letters of
Basiliscus; and being afterwards met in council at Ephesus, they deposed
Acacius, the orthodox bishop of Constantinople, and many other bishops
that agreed with him. They also wrote to the emperor to inform him, that
“they had voluntarily subscribed his letters,” and to persuade him to
adhere to them, or that otherwise “the whole world would be subverted,
if the decrees of the synod of Chalcedon should be re-established, which
had already produced innumerable slaughters, and occasioned the shedding
of the blood of the orthodox Christians.” But Acacius, bishop of
Constantinople, soon forced Basiliscus to alter his measures, by raising
up the monks and mob of the city against him; so that he recalled his
former letters, and ordered Nestorius and Eutyches, with all their
followers, to be anathematized, and soon after he quitted the empire to
Zeno.[203] Upon his restoration he immediately rescinded the acts of
Basiliscus, and expelled those bishops from their sees, which had been
ordained during his abdication. In the mean time the Asiatic bishops,
who in their letter to Basiliscus had declared, that the report of their
“subscribing involuntarily, and by force, was a slander and a lie;” yet,
upon this turn of affairs, in order to excuse themselves to Acacius, and
to ingratiate themselves with Zeno, affirm, “that they did it not
voluntarily, but by force, swearing that they had always, and did now
believe the faith of the synod of Chalcedon.” Evagrius leaves it in
doubt, whether Zacharias defamed them, or whether the bishops lied, when
they affirmed that they subscribed involuntarily, and against their


Footnote 201:

  Evag. l. 3. c. 4.

Footnote 202:

  Evag. l. 3. c. 5.

Footnote 203:

  l. 3. c. 8, 9.


Zeno[204] observing the disputes that had arisen through the decrees of
the last council, published his Henoticon, or his “uniting and pacific
edict,”[205] in which he confirmed the Nicene, Constantinopolitan, and
Ephesine councils, ordained that the Nicene creed should be the standard
of orthodoxy, declared that neither himself nor the churches have, or
had, or would have any other symbol or doctrine but that, condemned
Nestorius and Eutyches, and their followers; and ordered, that whosoever
had, or did think otherwise, either now or formerly, whether at
Chalcedon or any other synod, should be anathematized. The intention of
the emperor by this edict, was plainly to reconcile the friends and
opposers of the synod of Chalcedon; for he condemned Nestorius and
Eutyches, as that council had done, but did not anathematize those who
would not receive their decrees, nor submit to them as of equal
authority with those of the three former councils: but this compromise
was far from having the desired effect.


Footnote 204:

  Evag. c. 13.

Footnote 205:

  c. 14.


During these things several changes happened in the bishopric of
Alexandria.[206] Timothy, bishop of that place, being dead, one Peter
Mongus was elected by the bishops suffragans of that see, which so
enraged Zeno, that he intended to have put him to death; but changed it
for banishment, and Timothy, successor of Proterius, was substituted in
his room. Upon Timothy’s death, John, a presbyter of that church,
obtained the bishopric by simony, and in defiance of an oath he had
taken to Zeno, that he would never procure himself to be elected into
that see. Upon this he was expelled, and Mongus restored by the
emperor’s order. Mongus immediately consented, and subscribed to the
pacific edict, and received into communion those who had formerly been
of a different party. Soon after this he was accused by Calendio,[207]
bishop of Antioch, for adultery, and for having publicly anathematized
the synod of Chalcedon at Alexandria; and though this latter charge was
true, yet he solemnly denied it in a letter to Acacius,[208] bishop of
Constantinople, turning with the time, condemning and receiving it, just
as it suited his views, and served his interest. But being at last
accused before Felix,[209] bishop of Rome, he was pronounced an heretic,
excommunicated, and anathematized.


Footnote 206:

  Evag. l. 3. c. 11, 12.

Footnote 207:

  c. 16.

Footnote 208:

  Evag. c. 17.

Footnote 209:

  c. 20, 21.


Anastasius,[210] who succeeded Zeno, was himself a great lover of peace,
and endeavoured to promote it, both amongst the clergy and laity, and
therefore ordered, that there should be no innovations in the church
whatsoever. But this moderation was by no means pleasing to the monks
and bishops. Some of them were great sticklers for the council of
Chalcedon, and would not allow so much as a syllable or a letter of
their decrees to be altered, nor communicate with those who did not
receive them. Others were so far from submitting to this synod, and
their determinations, that they anathematized it; whilst others adhered
to Zeno’s Henoticon, and maintained peace with one another, even though
they were of different judgments concerning the nature of Christ. Hence
the church was divided into factions, so that the bishops would not
communicate with each other. Not only the eastern bishops separated from
the western, but those of the same provinces had schisms amongst
themselves. The emperor, to prevent as much as possible these quarrels,
banished those who were most remarkably troublesome from their sees, and
particularly the bishops of Constantinople and Antioch, forbidding all
persons to preach either for or against the council of Chalcedon, in any
places where it had not been usual to do it before; that by allowing all
churches their several customs, he might prevent any disturbances upon
account of innovations.[211] But the monks and bishops prevented all
these attempts for peace, by forcing one another to make new confessions
and subscriptions, and by anathematizing all who differed from them as
heretics; so that by their seditious and obstinate behaviour they
occasioned innumerable quarrels and murders in the empire. They also
treated the emperor himself with great insolence, and excommunicated him
as an enemy to the synod of Chalcedon. Macedonius,[212] bishop of
Constantinople, and his clergy raised the mob of that city against him,
only for adding to one of their hymns these words, “who was crucified
for us.” And when for this reason Macedonius was expelled his bishopric,
they urged on the people to such an height of fury as endangered the
utter destruction of the city; for in their rage they set fire to
several places in it, cut off the head of a monk, crying out, he was “an
enemy of the Trinity;” and were not to be appeased till the emperor
himself went amongst them without his imperial diadem, and brought them
to temper by proper submissions and persuasions.[213] And though he had
great reason to be offended with the bishops for such usage, yet he was
of so humane and tender a disposition, that though he ordered several of
them to be deposed for various offences, yet apprehending that it could
not be effected without bloodshed, he wrote to the prefect of Asia, “not
to do any thing in the affair, if it would occasion the shedding a
single drop of blood.”


Footnote 210:

  Evag. l. 3. c. 30.

Footnote 211:

  l. 3. c. 31, 32.

Footnote 212:

  Evag. l. 3. c. 44.

Footnote 213:

  c. 34.


Under this emperor, Symmachus,[214] bishop of Rome, expelled the
Manichees from the city, and ordered their books to be publicly burnt
before the doors of the church.


Footnote 214:



Justin[215] was more zealous for orthodoxy than his predecessor
Anastasias, and in the first year of his reign gave a very signal proof
of it. Severus, bishop of Antioch, was warm against the council of
Chalcedon, and continually anathematizing it in the letters he wrote to
several bishops; and because the people quarrelled on this account, and
divided into several parties, Justin ordered the bishop to be
apprehended, and his tongue to be cut out; and commanded that the synod
of Chalcedon should be preached up through all the churches of the
empire. Platina also tells us,[216] that he banished the Arians, and
gave their churches to the orthodox. Hormisda also, bishop of Rome, in
imitation of his predecessor Symmachus, banished the remainder of the
Manichees, and caused their writings to be burnt.


Footnote 215:

  Evag. l. 3. c. 4, 9.

Footnote 216:

  In vit. Johan. 1. Platin.


Justinian,[217] his successor in the empire, succeeded him also in his
zeal for the council of Chalcedon, and banished the bishops of
Constantinople and Antioch, because they would not obey his orders, and
receive the decrees of that synod. He also published a constitution, by
which he anathematized them and all their followers; and ordered, that
whosoever should preach their opinions should be subject to the most
grievous punishments. By this means nothing was openly preached in any
of the churches but this council; nor did any one dare to anathematize
it. And whosoever were of a contrary opinion, they were compelled by
innumerable methods to come into the orthodox faith. In the third year
of his reign[218] he published a law, ordering that there should be no
pagans, nor heretics, but orthodox Christians only, allowing to heretics
three months only for their conversion. By another he deprived heretics
of the right of succession.[219] By another he rendered them incapable
of being witnesses in any trial against Christians. He prohibited them
also from baptizing any persons, and from transcribing heretical books,
under the penalty of having the hand cut off. These laws were
principally owing to the persuasions of the bishops. Thus Agapetus,
bishop of Rome, who had condemned Anthimus, and deposed him from his see
of Constantinople, persuaded Justinian to banish all those whom he had
condemned for heresy. Pelagius also desired,[220] that heretics and
schismatics might be punished by the secular power, if they would not be
converted. The emperor was too ready to comply with this advice. But
notwithstanding all this zeal for orthodoxy, and the cruel edicts
published by him for the extirpation of heresy, he was infamously
covetous,[221] sold the provinces of the empire to plunderers and
oppressors, stripped the wealthy of their estates upon false accusations
and forged crimes, and went partners with common whores in their gains
of prostitution; and what is worse, in the estates of those whom those
wretches falsely accused of rapes and adulteries. And yet, that he might
appear as pious as he was orthodox, he built out of these rapines and
plunders many stately and magnificent churches; many religious houses
for monks and nuns, and hospitals for the relief of the aged and infirm.
Evagrius[222] also charges him with more than bestial cruelty in the
case of the Venetians, whom lie not only allowed, but even by rewards
encouraged to murder their enemies at noon-day, in the very heart of the
city, to break open houses, and plunder the possessors of their riches,
forcing them to redeem their lives at the expence of all they had. And
if any of his officers punished them for these violences, they were sure
to be punished themselves with infamy or death. And that each side might
taste of his severities, he afterwards turned his laws against the
Venetians, putting great numbers of them to death, for those very
murders and violences he had before encouraged and supported.


Footnote 217:

  Evag. l. 3. c. 11.

Footnote 218:

  Paul. Diacon. c. 16.

Footnote 219:

  Cod. de Hæret. Novel. 42. c. 1.

Footnote 220:


Footnote 221:

  Evag. l. 4. c. 30.

Footnote 222:

  c. 32.



                               SECT. VII.
   _The second council at Constantinople; or fifth general council._

During his reign, in the 24th year of it, was held the fifth general
council at Constantinople, A. C. 553, consisting of about 165 fathers.
The occasion of their meeting was the opposition that was made to the
four former general councils, and particularly the writings of Origen,
which Eustachius, bishop of Jerusalem, accused, as full of many
dangerous errors.[223] In the first sessions it was debated, whether
“those who were dead were to be anathematized?” One Eutychius looked
with contempt on the fathers for their hesitation in so plain a matter,
and told them, that there needed no deliberation about it; for that king
Josias formerly did not only destroy the idolatrous priests who were
living, but dug also those who had been dead long before out of their
graves. So clear a determination of the point, who could resist? The
fathers immediately were convinced, and Justinian caused him to be
consecrated bishop of Constantinople, in the room of Menas, just
deceased, for this his skill in scripture and casuistry. The consequence
was, that the decrees of the four preceding councils were all confirmed;
those who were condemned by them re-condemned and anathematized,
particularly Theodorus bishop of Mopsuestia, and Ibas, with their
writings, as favouring the impieties of Nestorius: and finally, Origen,
with all his detestable and execrable principles, and all persons
whatsoever who should think, or speak of them, or dare to defend them.
After these transactions the synod sent an account of them to
Justinian,[224] whom they complimented with the title of “the most
Christian king, and with having a soul partaker of the heavenly
nobility.” And yet soon after these flatteries his most Christian
majesty turned heretic himself, and endeavoured with as much zeal to
propagate heresy, as he had done orthodoxy before; he published an
edict, by which he ordained, that “the body of Christ was incorruptible,
and incapable even of natural and innocent passions; that before his
death he eat in the same manner as he did after his resurrection,
receiving no conversion or change from his very formation in the womb,
neither in his voluntary or natural affections, nor after his
resurrection.” But as he was endeavouring to force the bishops to
receive his creed, God was pleased, as Evagrius observes,[225] to cut
him off; and notwithstanding “the heavenly nobility of his soul, he
went,” as the same author charitably supposes,[226] “to the devil.”


Footnote 223:

  Evag. l. 4. c. 38.

Footnote 224:

  l. 4. c. 39.

Footnote 225:

  Evag. l. 4. c. 41.

Footnote 226:

  l. 5. c. 1.


Hunnerick,[227] the Arian king of the Vandals, treated the orthodox in
this emperor’s reign with great cruelty in Africa, because they would
not embrace the principles of Arius; some he burnt, and others he
destroyed by different kinds of death; he ordered the tongues of several
of them to be cut out, who afterwards made their escape to
Constantinople; where Procopius, if you will believe him, affirms he
heard them speak as distinctly as if their tongues had remained in their
heads. Justinian himself mentions them in one of his constitutions. Two
of them, however, who happened to be whore-masters, lost afterwards the
use of their speech for this reason, and the honour and grace of


Footnote 227:

  Evag. l. 4. c. 14.


Justin the younger,[228] who succeeded Justinian, published an edict
soon after his advancement, by which he sent all bishops to their
respective sees, and to perform divine worship according to the usual
manner of their churches, without making any innovations concerning the
faith. As to his personal character, he was extremely dissolute and
debauched, and addicted to the most vile and criminal pleasures. He was
also sordidly covetous, and sold the very bishoprics to the best
bidders, putting them up to public auction. Nor was he less remarkable
for his cruelty;[229] he had a near relation of his own name, whom he
treacherously murdered; and of whom he was so jealous, that he could not
be content till he and his empress had trampled his head under their
feet.[230] However, he was very orthodox, and published a new
explication of the faith, which for clearness and subtlety exceeded all
that went before it. In this he professes, that “he believed in Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit, the consubstantial Trinity, one deity, or nature,
or essence, and one virtue, power and energy, in three hypostases or
persons; and that he adored the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in
Unity, having a most admirable division and union; the Unity according
to the essence or deity; the Trinity according to the properties,
hypostases or persons; for they are divided indivisibly; or, if I may so
speak, they are joined together separately. The godhead in the three is
one, and the three are one, the deity being in them; or to speak more
accurately, which three are the deity. It is God the Father, God the
Son, and God the Holy Ghost, when each person is considered by itself,
the mind thus separating things inseparable; but the three are God, when
considered together, being one in operation and nature. We believe also
in one only begotten Son of God, God the Word—for the holy Trinity
received no addition of a fourth person, even after the incarnation of
God the Word, one of the holy Trinity. But our Lord Jesus Christ is one
and the same, consubstantial to God, even the Father, according to his
deity, and consubstantial to us according to his manhood; liable to
suffering in the flesh, but impassible in the deity. For we do not own
that God the Word, who wrought the miracles, was one, and he that
suffered another; but we confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of
God, was one and the same, who was made flesh and became perfect man;
and that the miracles and sufferings were of one and the same: for it
was not any man that gave himself for us, but God the Word himself,
being made man without change; so that when we confess our Lord Jesus
Christ to be one and the same, compounded of each nature, of the godhead
and manhood, we do not introduce any confusion or mixture by the
union—for as God remains in the manhood, so also nevertheless doth the
man, being in the excellency of the deity, Emanuel being both in one and
the same, even one God and also man. And when we confess him to be
perfect in the godhead, and perfect in the manhood, of which he is
compounded, we do not introduce a division in part, or section to his
one compounded person, but only signify the difference of the natures,
which is not taken away by the union; for the divine nature is not
converted into the human, nor the human nature changed into the divine.
But we say, that each being considered, or rather actually existing in
the very definition or reason of its proper nature, constitutes the
oneness in person. Now this oneness as to person signifies that God the
Word, i. e. one person of the three persons of the godhead, was not
united to a pre-existent man, but that he formed to himself in the womb
of our holy Lady Mary, glorious mother of God, and ever a virgin, and
out of her, in his own person, flesh consubstantial to us, and liable to
all the same passions, without sin, animated with a reasonable and
intellectual soul.—For considering his inexplicable oneness, we
orthodoxly confess one nature of God the Word made flesh, and yet
conceiving in our minds the difference of the natures, we say they are
two, not introducing any manner of division. For each nature is in him;
so that we confess him to be one and the same Christ, one Son, one
person, one hypostasis, God and man together. Moreover, we anathematize
all who have, or do think otherwise, and judge them as cut off from the
holy Catholic, and apostolic church of God.” To this extraordinary
edict, all, says the historian, gave their consent, esteeming it to be
very orthodox, though they were not more united amongst themselves than


Footnote 228:

  l. 5. c. 1.

Footnote 229:

  Evag. l. 5. c. 2.

Footnote 230:

  Evag. l. 5. c. 3.


Under Mauritius,[231] John bishop of Constantinople, in a council held
at that city, stiled himself oecumenical bishop, by the consent of the
fathers there assembled; and the emperor himself ordered Gregory to
acknowledge him in that character. Gregory absolutely refused it, and
replied, that the power of binding and loosing was delivered to Peter
and his successors, and not to the bishops of Constantinople;
admonishing him to take care, that he did not provoke the anger of God
against himself, by raising tumults in his church. This pope was the
first who stiled himself, Servus Servorum Dei,[232] servant of the
servants of God; and had such an abhorrence of the title of universal
bishop, that he said, “I confidently affirm, that whosoever calls
himself universal priest is the forerunner of Antichrist, by thus
proudly exalting himself above others.”


Footnote 231:

  Platin in vit. Greg. I.

Footnote 232:

  l. 6. Epist. 194.


But, how ever modest Gregory was in refusing and condemning this
arrogant title, Boniface III.[233] thought better of the matter, and
after great struggles, prevailed with Phocas, who murdered Mauritius the
emperor, to declare that the see of the blessed apostle Peter, which is
the head of all churches, should be so called and accounted by all, and
the bishop of it oecumenical or universal bishop. The church of
Constantinople had claimed this precedence and dignity, and was
sometimes favoured herein by the emperors, who declared, that the first
see ought to be in that place which was the head of the empire. The
Roman pontiffs, on the other hand, affirmed, that Rome, of which
Constantinople was but a colony, ought to be esteemed the head of the
empire, because the Greeks themselves, in their writings, stile the
emperor Roman emperor, and the inhabitants of Constantinople are called
Romans, and not Greeks; not to mention that Peter, the prince of the
apostles, gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven to his successors, the
popes of Rome. On this foundation was the superiority of the church of
Rome to that of all other churches built; and Phocas, who was guilty of
all villanies, was one of the fittest persons that could be found to
gratify Boniface in this request. Boniface, also, called a council at
Rome, where this supremacy was confirmed, and by whom it was decreed,
that bishops should be chosen by the clergy and people, approved by the
prince of the city, and ratified by the pope with these words, “Volumus
& jubemus,” for this is our will and command. To reward Phocas for the
grant of the primacy, he approved the murder of Mauritius, and very
honourably received his images, which he sent to Rome. And having thus
wickedly possessed themselves of this unrighteous power, the popes as
wickedly used it, soon brought almost the whole Christian world into
subjection to them, and became the persecutors general of the church of
God; proceeding from one usurpation to another, till at last they
brought emperors, kings and princes into subjection, forcing them to
ratify their unrighteous decrees, and to punish, in the severest manner,
all that should presume to oppose and contradict them, till she became
“drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs
of Jesus, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of
the earth.”


Footnote 233:

  Platin in vit. Bonif. III.


The inquisition is the master-piece of their policy and cruelty; and
such an invention for the suppression of religion and truth, liberty and
knowledge, innocence and virtue, as could proceed from no other wisdom
but that which is “earthly, sensual, and devilish.” And as the history
of it, which I now present my reader with a faithful abstract of, gives
the most perfect account of the laws and practices of this accursed
tribunal, I shall not enter into the detail of popish persecutions,
especially as we have a full account of those practised amongst
ourselves in Fox and other writers, who have done justice to this
subject. I shall only add a few things relating to the two other general
councils, as they are stiled by ecclesiastical historians.

Under Heraclius,[234] the successor of Phocas, great disturbances were
raised upon account of what they called the heresy of the Monothelites,
i. e. those who held there were not two wills, the divine and human, in
Christ, but only one single will or operation. The emperor himself was
of this opinion, being persuaded into it by Pyrrhus patriarch of
Constantinople, and Cyrus bishop of Alexandria. And though he afterwards
seems to have changed his mind in this point, yet in order to promote
peace, he put forth an edict, forbidding disputes or quarrels, on either
side the question. Constans, his grandson, was of the same sentiment,
and at the instigation of Paul bishop of Constantinople, grievously
persecuted those who would not agree with him. Martyn,[235] pope of
Rome, sent his legates to the emperor and patriarch to forsake their
errors, and embrace the truth; but his holiness was but little regarded,
and after his legates were imprisoned and whipped, they were sent into
banishment. This greatly enraged Martyn, who convened a synod at Rome of
150 bishops, who decreed, that whosoever should “not confess two wills,
and two operations united, the divine and the human, in one and the same
Christ, should be anathema,” and that Paul bishop of Constantinople
should be condemned and deposed. The emperor highly resented this
conduct, and sent Olympius hexarch into Italy to propagate the
Monothelite doctrine; and either to kill Martyn, or send him prisoner to
Constantinople. Olympius not being able to execute either design,
Theodorus was sent in his room, who apprehended the pope, put him in
chains, and got him conveyed to the emperor, who after ignominiously
treating him, banished him to Pontus, where he died in great misery and
want. The bishops of Constans’s party[236] were greatly assistant to him
in this work of persecution, and shewed more rage against their
fellow-Christians, than they did against the very barbarians themselves.


Footnote 234:

  Plat. in vit. Honorii I.

Footnote 235:

  Plat. in vit. Mart.

Footnote 236:

  Act. 15, 6. Constant. Tom. Concil. 2.



                              SECT. VIII.
    _The third council at Constantinople; or sixth general council._

Constantine, the eldest son of Constans, cut off his two younger
brothers’ noses, that they might not share the empire with him; but,
however, happened to be more orthodox than his predecessors; and by the
persuasion of Agatho,[237] pope of Rome, convened the sixth general
council at Constantinople, A. D. 680, in which were present 289 bishops.
The fathers of this holy synod complimented the emperor with being
“another David, raised up by Christ, their God, a man after his own
heart; who had not given sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eye-lids,
till he had gathered them together, to find out the perfect rule of
faith.” After this they condemned the heresy of one will in Christ, and
declared, “that they glorified two natural wills and operations,
indivisibly, inconvertibly, without confusion, and inseparably in the
same Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, i. e. the divine operation, and
the human operation.” So that now the orthodox faith, in reference to
Christ, was this; that “he had two natures, the divine and human; that
these two natures were united, without confusion, into one single
person; and that in this one single person, there were two distinct
wills and operations, the human and divine.” Thus, at last, 680 years
after Christ, was the orthodox faith, relating to his deity, humanity,
nature and wills, decided and settled by this synod; who, after having
pronounced anathemas against the living and dead, ordered the burning of
heretical books, and deprived several bishops of their sees; procured an
edict from the emperor, commanding all to receive their confession of
faith, and denouncing not only eternal, but corporal punishments to all
recusants; viz. if they were bishops, or clergymen, or monks, they were
to be banished; if laymen, of any rank and figure, they were to forfeit
their estates, and lose their honours; if of the common people, they
were to be expelled the royal city. These their definitive sentences
were concluded with the usual exclamation, of, “God save the emperor,
long live the orthodox emperor; down with the heretics; cursed be
Eutyches, Macarius, &c. The Trinity hath deposed them.”


Footnote 237:

  Plat. in vit. Agath.


The next controversy of importance was relating to the worship of
images. The respect due to the memories of the apostles and martyrs of
the Christian church, was gradually carried into great superstition, and
at length degenerated into downright idolatry. Not only churches were
dedicated to them, but their images placed in them, and religious
adoration paid to them. Platina tells us, that amongst many other
ceremonies introduced by pope Sixtus III. in the fifth century, he
persuaded Valentinian the younger, emperor of the West, to beautify and
adorn the churches, and to place upon the altar of St. Peter, a golden
image of our Saviour, enriched with jewels. In the next century the
images of the saints were brought in, and religious worship paid to
them. This appears from a letter of pope Gregory’s, to the bishop of
Marseilles, who broke in pieces certain images, because they had been
superstitiously adored. Gregory tells him,[238] “I commend you, that
through a pious zeal, you would not suffer that which is made with hands
to be adored; but I blame you for breaking the images in pieces: for it
is one thing to adore a picture, and another to learn by the history of
the picture what is to be adored.” And elsewhere he declares,[239] that
“images and pictures in churches, were very useful for the instruction
of the ignorant, who could not read.” Sergius, after this, repaired the
images of the apostles. John VII. adorned a great many churches with the
pictures and images of the saints. And at length, in the reign of
Philippicus, Constantine the pope, in a synod held at Rome, decreed,
that images should be fixed up in the churches, and have great adoration
paid them. He also condemned and excommunicated the emperor himself for
heresy; because he erased the pictures of the fathers, which had been
painted on the walls of the church of St. Sophia, at Constantinople; and
commanded that his images should not be received into the church; that
his name should not be used in any public or private writings, nor his
effigies stamped upon any kind of money whatsoever.


Footnote 238:

  l. 9. Ind. 2. Ep. 2.

Footnote 239:

  l. 7. Ind. 2. Ep. 109. Platin.


This superstition of bringing images into churches was warmly opposed,
and gave occasion to many disturbances and murders. The emperor Leo
Isaurus greatly disapproved this practice, and published an edict, by
which he commanded all the subjects of the Roman empire to deface all
the pictures, and to take away all the statues of the martyrs and angels
out of the churches, in order to prevent idolatry, threatening to punish
those who did not, as public enemies. Pope Gregory II.[240] opposed this
edict, and admonished all Catholics, in no manner to obey it. This
occasioned such a tumult at Ravenna in Italy, between the partisans of
the emperor and the pope, as ended in the murder of Paul, exarch of
Italy, and his son; which enraged the emperor in an high degree; so that
he ordered all persons to bring to him all their images of wood, brass,
and marble, which he publicly burnt; punishing with death all such as
were found to conceal them. He also convened a synod at Constantinople;
where, after a careful and full examination, it was unanimously agreed,
that the intercession of the saints was a mere fable; and the worship of
images and relicts was downright idolatry, and contrary to the word of
God. And as Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople, favoured images, the
emperor banished him, and substituted Anastasius, who was of his own
sentiments, in his room. Gregory III.[241] in the beginning of his
pontificate, assembled his clergy, and by their unanimous consent,
deposed him on this account from the empire, and put him under
excommunication; and was the first who withdrew the Italians from their
obedience to the emperors of Constantinople, calling in the assistance
of Charles king of France. After this, he placed the images of Christ
and his apostles in a more sumptuous manner than they were before upon
the altar of St. Peter, and at his own expence made a golden image of
the Virgin Mary, holding Christ in her arms, for the church of St. Mary
ad Præsepe.


Footnote 240:

  Plat. in vit. Gregor. II.

Footnote 241:



Constantine Copronymus, Leo’s son and successor in the empire, inherited
his father’s zeal against the worship of images, and called a synod at
Constantinople to determine the controversy. The fathers being met
together, to the number of 330, after considering the doctrine of
scripture, and the opinions of the fathers, decreed, “that every image,
of whatsoever materials made and formed by the artist, should be cast
out of the Christian church as a strange and abominable thing; adding an
anathema upon all who should make images or pictures, or representations
of God, or of Christ, or of the Virgin Mary, or of any of the saints,
condemning it as a vain and diabolical invention; deposing all bishops,
and subjecting the monks and laity, who should set up any of them in
public or private, to all the penalties of the imperial constitutions.”
They also deposed Constantine, patriarch of Constantinople, for opposing
this decree; and the emperor first banished him, and afterwards put him
to death; and commanded, that this council should be esteemed and
received as the seventh oecumenical, or universal one. Paul I.[242] pope
of Rome, sent his legate to Constantinople, to admonish the emperor to
restore the sacred images and statues which he had destroyed; and
threatened him with excommunication upon his refusal. But Copronymus
slighted the message, and treated the legates with great contempt, and
used the image worshippers with a great deal of severity.


Footnote 242:

  Platin. in vit. Paul. I.

Constantine, bishop of Rome, the successor of Paul, seems also to have
been an enemy to images, and was there tumultuously deposed; and Stephen
III.[243] substituted in his room, who was a warm and furious defender
of them. He immediately assembled a council in the Lateran church, where
the holy fathers abrogated all Constantine’s decrees; deposed all who
had been ordained by him bishops; made void all his baptisms and
chrisms; and, as some historians relate, after having beat him, and used
him with great indignity, made a fire in the church, and burnt him
therein. After this, they annulled all the decrees of the synod of
Constantinople, ordered the restoration of statues and images, and
anathematized that execrable and pernicious synod, giving this excellent
reason for the use of images; “that if it was lawful for emperors, and
those who had deserved well of the commonwealth, to have their images
erected, but not lawful to set up those of God, the condition of the
immortal God would be worse than that of men.” After this the pope
published the acts of the council, and pronounced an anathema against
all those who should oppose it.


Footnote 243:

  Id. in vit. Stephani.



                               SECT. IX.
        _The second Nicene council; or seventh general council._

Thus the mystery of this iniquity worked, till at length, under the
reign of Irene and Constantine her son, a synod was packed up of such
bishops as were ready to make any decrees that should be agreeable to
the Roman pontiff, and the empress. They met at Nice, An. 787, to the
number of about 350. In this venerable assembly it was decreed, “that
holy images of the cross should be consecrated, and put on the sacred
vessels and vestments, and upon walls and boards, in private houses and
public ways; and especially that there should be erected images of the
Lord our God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, of our blessed Lady, the mother
of God, of the venerable angels, and of all the saints. And that
whosoever should presume to think or teach otherwise, or to throw away
any painted books, or the figure of the cross, or any image or picture,
or any genuine relicts of the martyrs, they should, if bishops or
clergymen, be deposed; or if monks or laymen, be excommunicated.” Then
they pronounced anathemas upon all who should not receive images, or who
should call them idols, or who should wilfully communicate with those
who rejected and despised them; adding, according to custom, “Long live
Constantine and Irene his mother. Damnation to all heretics. Damnation
on the council that roared against venerable images: the holy Trinity
hath deposed them.”

Irene and Constantine approved and subscribed these decrees, and the
consequence was, that idols and images were erected in all the churches;
and those who were against them, treated with great severity. This
council was held under the popedom of Hadrian I. and thus, by the
intrigues of the popes of Rome, iniquity was established by a law, and
the worship of idols authorized and established in the Christian church,
though contrary to all the principles of natural religion, and the
nature and design of the Christian revelation.

It is true, that this decision of the council did not put an entire end
to the controversy. Platina tells us,[244] that Constantine himself, not
long after, annulled their decrees, and removed his mother from all
share in the government. The synod also of Francfort, held about six
years after, decreed that the worship and adoration of images was
impious; condemned the synod of Nice, which had established it, and
ordered that it should not be called either the seventh, or an universal
council. But as the Roman pontiffs had engrossed almost all power into
their own hands, all opposition to image worship became ineffectual;
especially as they supported their decrees by the civil power, and
caused great cruelties to be exercised towards all those who should dare
dispute or contradict them.


Footnote 244:

  In vit. Hadrian I.


For many years the world groaned under this antichristian yoke; nor were
any methods of fraud, imposture and barbarity, left unpractised to
support and perpetuate it. As the clergy rid lords of the universe, they
grew wanton and insolent in their power; and as they drained the nations
of their wealth to support their own grandeur and luxury, they
degenerated into the worst and vilest set of men that ever burdened the
earth. They were shamefully ignorant, and scandalously vicious; well
versed in the most exquisite arts of torture and cruelty, and absolutely
divested of all bowels of mercy and compassion towards those, who even
in the smallest matters differed from the dictates of their superstition
and impiety. The infamous practices of that accursed tribunal, the
inquisition, the wars against heretics in the earldom of Tholouse, the
massacres of Paris and Ireland, the many sacrifices they have made in
Great Britain, the fires they have kindled, and the flames they have
lighted up in all nations, where their power hath been acknowledged,
witness against them, and demonstrate them to be very monsters of
mankind. So that one would really wonder, that the whole world hath not
entered into a combination, and risen in arms against so execrable a set
of men, and extirpated them as savage beasts, from the face of the whole
earth; who, out of a pretence of religion, have defiled it with the
blood of innumerable saints and martyrs, and made use of the name of the
most holy Jesus, to countenance and sanctify the most abominable

But as the inquisition is their master piece of hellish policy and
cruelty, I shall give a more particular account of it in the following

                               BOOK III.


For several ages the method of proceeding against heretics was committed
to the bishops, with whom the government and care of the churches were
entrusted, according to the received decrees of the church of Rome. But
as their number did not seem sufficient to the court, or because they
did not proceed with that fury against heretics, as the pope would have
them; therefore, that he might put a stop to the increasing progress of
heresy, and effectually extinguish it, about the year of our Lord 1200,
he founded the order of the Dominicans and Franciscans. [W]Dominick and
his followers were sent into the country of Tholouse, where he preached
with great vehemence against the heretics of those parts; from whence
his order have obtained the name of Predicants. Father Francis, with his
disciples, battled it with the heretics of Italy. They were both
commanded by the pope to excite the Catholic princes and people to
extirpate heretics, and in all places to inquire out their number and
quality; and also the zeal of the Catholics and bishops in their
extirpation, and to transmit a faithful account to Rome: hence they are
called inquisitors.


Footnote W:

  See note [W] at the end of the volume.


Dominick being sent into the country of Tholouse, was confirmed in the
office of inquisitor by the papal authority; after which, upon a certain
day, in the midst of a great concourse of people, he declaredo penly in
his sermon, in the church of St. Prullian, “that he was raised to a new
office by the pope;” adding, that “he was resolved to defend, with his
utmost vigour, the doctrines of the faith; and that if the spiritual arm
was not sufficient for this end, it was his fixed purpose to call in the
assistance of the secular one, and to excite and compel the Catholic
princes to take arms against heretics, that the very memory of them
might be intirely destroyed.” It evidently appears that he was a very
bloody and cruel man. He was born in Spain, in the village of Calaroga,
in the diocese of Osma. His mother, before she conceived him, dreamt
that “she was with child of a whelp, carrying in his mouth a lighted
torch; and that after he was born, he put the world in an uproar by his
fierce barkings, and set it on fire by the torch which he carried in his
mouth.” His followers interpret this dream of his doctrine, by which he
enlightened the whole world; but others, with more reason, think that
the torch was an emblem of that fire and faggot, by which an infinite
number of persons were consumed to ashes.


                                SECT. I.
                 _Of the progress of the Inquisition._

Dominick being settled in the country of Tholouse, sent a great number
of persons, wearing crosses, to destroy the Albigenses in those parts;
and caused the friars of his order to promise plenary indulgences to all
who would engage in the pious work of murdering heretics. He also caused
Raymond earl of Tholouse to be excommunicated, as a defender of
heretics, and his subjects to be absolved from their oaths of
allegiance. The cross-bearers, being thus sent by Dominick, filled all
places with slaughter and blood, and burnt many whom they had taken
prisoners. In the year 1209, Biterre was taken by them; and the
inhabitants, without any regard of age, were cruelly put to the sword,
and the city itself destroyed by the flames; and though there were
several Catholics in it, yet, lest any heretics should escape, Arnold,
abbot of Cisteaux, cried out, “Slay them all, for the Lord knows who are
his;” upon which they were all slain, without exception. Carcassone also
was destroyed, Alby and La Vaur taken by force; in which last place they
hanged Aymeric, the governor of the city, who was of a noble family,
beheaded eighty of lower degree, and threw Girarda, Aymeric’s sister,
into an open pit, and covered her with stones. Afterwards they conquered
Carcum, where they murdered sixty men. They seized on Villeneuve, a
large city near Tholouse, and burnt in it 400 Albigenses, and hanged
fifty more. They also took Castres de Termis, and in it Raymond, lord of
the place, whom they put in jail, where he died; and burnt in one large
fire, his wife, sister, and virgin daughter, because they would not
embrace the faith of the church of Rome. They also took Avignon by
treachery, and, in despite of their oaths, plundered the city, and
killed great numbers of the inhabitants; and, at last, forced the brave
earl to surrender Tholouse itself, and then stripped him of his
dominions, and would not absolve him from his excommunication, without
walking in penance to the high altar, in his shirt and breeches, and
with naked feet. Upon this conquest and destruction of the Albigenses,
the inquisition proceeded with vigour, and was established by several
councils at Tholouse and Narbonne.

In the year 1232, the inquisition was brought into Aragon, and pope
Gregory gave commission to the archbishop of Tarracone, and his
suffragans, to proceed against all persons infected with heretical
pravity; and accordingly the inquisition was there carried on with the
greatest rigour.

In 1251, pope Innocent IV. created inquisitors in Italy: and the office
was committed to the Friars Minors and Predicants. The Friars Minors
were appointed in the city of Rome, the patrimony of St. Peter, Tuscany,
the dutchy of Spoletto, Campania, Maretamo, and Romania. To the
Predicants he assigned Lombardy, Romaniola, the Marquisate of Tarvesano,
and Genoa; and gave them certain articles to be prescribed to the
magistrates and people subject to their jurisdiction, with power to
excommunicate all who refused to observe them; and in process of time
tribunals of the inquisition were erected in Germany, Austria, Hungary,
Bohemia, Poland, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Ragusia, and in all places where the
power of the pope could extend itself. Innumerable cruelties were
practised upon those whom the judges condemned for heresy; some were
burnt alive, others thrown into rivers, tied hand and foot, and so
drowned; and others destroyed by different methods of barbarity.

Ferdinand and Isabella having united the several kingdoms of Spain by
their inter-marriage, introduced, in the year 1478, the inquisition into
all their kingdoms, with greater pomp, magnificence and power, than it
had ever yet appeared in. The Jews were the first who felt the fury of
it. A set time was appointed by the inquisitors for them to come in and
make confession of their errors, in the year 1481. Accordingly about
1700 of both sexes appeared, who had their lives granted them. Many,
however, refused to obey, and persisted in their heresy. On this they
were immediately seized; and through the violence of their torments
great numbers confessed their crimes, and were thrown into the fire;
some acknowledging Christ, and others calling on the name of Moses.
Within a few years, two thousand of them of both sexes were burnt.
Others professing repentance, were condemned to perpetual imprisonment,
and to wear crosses. The bones of others who were dead were taken out of
their graves, and burnt to ashes; their effects confiscated, and their
children deprived of their honours and offices. The Jews being terrified
by this cruelty, fled, some into Portugal, others into Italy, and
France; and left all their effects behind them, which were immediately
seized on for the king’s use. At length, in 1494, to purge their
kingdoms intirely from Jewish superstition, Ferdinand and Isabel by a
law ordered them to depart all their dominions within four years;
forbidding them ever to return to Spain, under the punishment of
immediate death. Most writers affirm that there were 170,000 families
who departed; others say there were 800,000 persons; a prodigious
number, almost exceeding belief.

In the year 1500, the archbishop of Toledo took great pains to convert
the Moors of Granada to Christianity. He first of all gained over some
of their chief priests by gifts and favours. Others, who refused to
become Christians, he put in irons in jail, and ordered them to be used
with great cruelty; and by these methods gained many converts. Ferdinand
at last published an edict against them, commanding them in general to
become Christians, or depart his dominions within a certain day.

This tribunal, first erected to discover Jews and Moors, soon began to
proceed against heretics, and to exercise the same cruelties against
these as they had against the others. Charles V. king of Spain, who with
great difficulty had brought the inquisition into the Netherlands,
against the Lutherans and reformed, recommended it to his son Philip in
his will; and Philip gave full proof of his zeal to execute his father’s
commands. For when he was requested by many to grant liberty of religion
in the Low Countries, he prostrated himself before a crucifix, and
uttered these words: “I beseech the divine majesty, that I may always
continue in this mind; that I may never suffer myself to be, or to be
called the lord of those any where, who deny thee the Lord.” Nor is this
any wonder; for the popish divines endeavoured to persuade the kings of
Spain that the inquisition was the only security of their kingdom. No
one can wonder, that under this persuasion, the Spanish kings have been
violent promoters of the inquisition; and that they have inflicted the
most cruel punishments upon the miserable heretics. Philip II. not only
in the Low Countries, but also in Spain, shewed himself the patron of
it; and that the most outrageous cruelty was acceptable to him. He gave
some horrid specimens of it in the year 1559, in two cities of Spain,
when he came thither from the Low Countries; [245]“Immediately on his
arrival,” as Thuanus relates, “he began to chastise the sectaries. And
whereas, before this, one or more, just as it happened, were delivered
to the executioner, after condemnation for heresy; all that were
condemned throughout the whole kingdom were kept against his coming, and
carried together to Seville, and Valladolid, where they were brought
forth in public pomp to their punishment. The first act of faith was at
Seville, the 8th of the calends of October; in which John Ponce de Leon,
son of Rhoderic Ponce Comte de Baylen, was led before the others, as in
triumph, and burnt for an obstinate heretical Lutheran. John Consalvus,
a preacher, as he had been his companion in life, was forced to bear him
company in his death; after whom followed Isabella Venia, Maria Viroes,
Cornelia, and Bohorchés; a spectacle full of pity and indignation, which
was encreased, because Bohorchés, the youngest of all of them, being
scarce twenty, suffered death with the greatest constancy. And because
the heretical assemblies had prayed in the house of Venia, it was
concluded in her sentence, and ordered to be levelled with the ground.
After these, came forth Ferdinand San Juan, and Julian Hernandez,
commonly called the Little, from his small stature, and John of Leon,
who had been a shoemaker at Mexico in New Spain, and was afterwards
admitted into the college of St. Isidore; in which his companions
studied, as they boasted, the purer doctrine privately. Their number was
encreased by Frances Chaves, a nun of the convent of St. Elizabeth, who
had been instructed by John Ægidius, a preacher at Seville, and suffered
death with great constancy. From the same school, came out Christopher
Losada, a physician, and Christopher de Arellanio, a monk of St.
Isidore, and Garsias Arias; who first kindled those sparks of the same
religion amongst the friars of St. Isidore, by his constant admonitions
and sermons, by which the great pile was afterwards set on fire, and the
convent itself, and good part of that most opulent city almost consumed.
He was a man of uncommon learning, but of an inconstant, wavering
temper; and, being exceeding subtle in disputing, he refuted the very
doctrines he had persuaded his followers to receive, though he brought
them into danger on that account from the inquisitors. Having, by these
arts, exposed many whom he had deceived to evident hazard, and rendered
himself guilty of the detestable crime of breach of faith; he was
admonished by John Ægidius, Constantine Ponce, and Varquius, that he had
not dealt sincerely with his friends, and those who were in the same
sentiments with himself; to which he replied, that he foresaw, that in a
little time they would be forced to behold the bulls brought forth for a
lofty spectacle; meaning thereby, the theatre of the inquisitors.
Constantine answered, You, if it please God, shall not behold the games
from on high, but be yourself amongst the combatants. Nor was
Constantine deceived in his prediction: for afterwards, Arias was called
on; and whether age had made him bolder, or whether, by a sudden
alteration, his timorousness changed into courage, he severely rebuked
the assessors of the inquisitory tribunal; affirming, they were more fit
for the vile office of mule keepers, than impudently to take upon
themselves to judge concerning the faith, which they were scandalously
ignorant of. He farther declared, that he bitterly repented that he had
knowingly and willingly opposed, in their presence, that truth he now
maintained, against the pious defenders of it; and that from his soul he
should repent of it whilst he lived. So at last, being led in triumph,
he was burnt alive, and confirmed Constantine’s prophecy. There remained
Ægidius and Constantine, who closed the scene; but death prevented their
being alive at the shew. Ægidius having been designed by the emperor,
Philip’s father, for bishop of Tortona, upon the fame of his piety and
learning, being summoned, publicly recanted his errors, wrought on
either by craft, or the persuasion of Sotus, a Dominican; and hereupon
was suspended for a while from preaching, and the sacred office, and
died some time before this act. The inquisitors thought he had been too
gently dealt with, and therefore proceeded against his body, and
condemned him dead to death, and placed his effigies in straw on high
for a spectacle. Constantine, who had been a long while the emperor’s
confessor, and had always accompanied him in his retirement, after his
abdication from his empire and kingdoms, and was present with him at his
death, was brought before this tribunal, and died a little before the
act, in a nasty prison. But, that the theatre might not want him, his
effigies was carried about in a preaching posture. And thus this shew,
terrible in itself, which drew tears from most who were present, when
these images were brought on the scene, excited laughter in many, and at
length indignation. They proceeded with the same severity, the following
October, at Valladolid, against others condemned for the same crime;
where king Philip himself being present, twenty-eight of the chief
nobility of the country were tied to stakes and burnt.” Bartholomew
Caranza, archbishop of Toledo, was also accused; who for his learning,
probity of life, and most holy conversation, was highly worthy of that
dignity. He was cast into prison, and stripped of all his large
revenues. His cause was brought before Pius V. at Rome, and Gregory
XIII. pronounced sentence in it.


Footnote 245:

  Vol. I. lib. 23. Ed. Buck.


Philip, not content to exercise his cruelty by land, established the
inquisition also in the ships. For in the year 1571, a large fleet was
drawn together under the command of John of Austria, and manned with
soldiers listed out of various nations. King Philip, to prevent any
corruption of the faith, by such a mixture of various nations and
religions, after having consulted pope Pius V. deputed one of the
inquisitors of Spain, fixed on by the inquisitor general, to discharge
the office of inquisitor; giving him power to preside in all tribunals,
and to celebrate acts of faith, in all places and cities they sailed to.
This erection of the inquisition by sea, Pius V. confirmed by a bull
sent to the general inquisitor of Spain, beginning, “Our late most dear
son in Christ.” Jerome Manrique exercised the jurisdiction granted him,
and held a public act of faith in the city of Messina, in which many
underwent divers punishments.

He also established it beyond Europe, not only in the Canary islands,
but in the new world of America; constituting two tribunals of it, one
in the city of Lima, in the province of Peru; the other in the province
and city of Mexico. The inquisition at Mexico was erected in the year
1571, and in a short space gave large proofs of its cruelty. Paramus
relates, that in the year 1574, the third after its erection, the first
act of faith was celebrated with a new and admirable pomp, in the
Marquisses, market-place, where they built a large theatre, which
covered almost the whole area of the market-place, and was close to the
great church; where were present the viceroy, the senate, the chapter,
and the religious. The viceroy, the senate, and a vast number of others,
went with a large guard, in solemn procession, to the market-place,
where were about eighty penitents; and the act lasted from six in the
morning to five in the evening. Two heretics, one an Englishman, the
other a Frenchman, were released. Some for judaizing, some for polygamy,
and others for sorceries, were reconciled. The solemnity of this act was
such, that they who had seen that stately one at Valladolid, held in the
year 1559, declared, that this was nothing inferior to it in majesty,
excepting only that they wanted those royal personages here, which were
present there. From this time they celebrated yearly solemn acts of the
faith, where they brought Portuguese Jews, persons guilty of incestuous
and wicked marriages, and many convicted of sorcery and witchcraft.

The method of the tribunal of the inquisition, as now in use in Spain,
is this. The king proposes to the pope the supreme inquisitor of all his
kingdoms, whom the pope confirms in his office. The inquisitor thus
confirmed by the pope, is head and chief of the inquisition in the whole
kingdom, and hath given him by his holiness full power in all cases
relating to heresy. It belongs to his office to name particular
inquisitors, in every place where there is any tribunal of the
inquisition, who nevertheless cannot act unless approved by the king; to
send visitors to the provinces of the inquisitors, to grant
dispensations to penitents and their children, and to deliberate
concerning other very weighty affairs. In the royal city the king
appoints the supreme council of the inquisition, over which the supreme
inquisitor of the kingdom presides. He hath joined with him five
counsellors, who have the title of apostolical inquisitors, who are
chosen by the inquisitor general upon the king’s nomination. One of
these must always be a Dominican. The supreme authority is in this
council of the inquisition. They deliberate upon all affairs with the
inquisitor general, determine the greater causes, make new laws
according to the exigency of affairs, determine differences amongst
particular inquisitors, punish the offences of the servants, receive
appeals from inferior tribunals, and from them there is no appeal but to
the king. In other tribunals there are two or three inquisitors: they
have particular places assigned them, Toledo, Cuenca, Valladolid,
Calahorre, Seville, Cordoue, Granada, Ellerena; and in the Aragons,
Valencia, Saragossa, and Barcelona.

These are called provincial inquisitors. They cannot imprison any
priest, knight, or nobleman, nor hold any public acts of faith, without
consulting the supreme council of the inquisition. Sometimes this
supreme council deputes one of their own counsellors to them, in order
to give the greater solemnity to the acts of faith.

These provincial inquisitors give all of them an account of their
provincial tribunal once every year to the supreme council; and
especially of the causes that have been determined within that year, and
of the state and number of their prisoners in actual custody. They give
also every month an account of all monies which they have received,
either from the revenues of the holy office, or pecuniary punishments
and fines.

This council meets every day, except holy-days, in the palace-royal, on
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the morning; and on Tuesdays,
Thursdays, and Saturdays after vespers; in these three last days two
counsellors of the supreme council of Castile meet with them, who are
also counsellors of the supreme council of the inquisition.

This tribunal is now arisen to such an height in Spain, that the king of
Castile, before his coronation, subjects himself and all his dominions,
by a special oath, to the most holy tribunal of this most severe

In the year 1557, John III. king of Portugal, erected the tribunal of
the inquisition in his kingdom, after the model of that in Spain. It was
chiefly levelled against the Jews, who groan under the cruel yoke of it
to this day, without any mitigation of their punishment, being liable to
all the penalties ordained against heretics. And because the Jewish
wickedness spread every day more and more in the parts of the East
Indies, subject to the kingdom of Portugal, Cardinal Henry, inquisitor
general in the kingdom of Portugal, erected, anno 1560, the tribunal of
the inquisition in the city of Goa, the metropolis of that province;
where it is carried on at this time with great magnificence and

And that the inquisition might proceed every where without any
impediment, pope Paul III. anno 1542, deputed six cardinals to be
inquisitors general of heretical pravity, in all Christian nations
whatsoever; and gave them authority to proceed without the bishops
against all heretics, and persons suspected of heresy, and their
accomplices and abettors, of whatsoever state, degree, order, condition
and pre-eminence; and to punish them, and confiscate their goods; to
degrade, and deliver over to the secular court the secular and regular
clergy in holy orders; and to do every thing else that should be
necessary in this affair. Pius IV. enlarged their power; and in 1564,
gave them authority to proceed against all manner of persons, whether
bishops, archbishops, patriarchs or cardinals, who were heretics, or
suspected of heresy. At length Sixtus V. anno 1588, appointed fifteen
congregations of the cardinals, and assigned to each of them their
proper business. To these were added a commissary, and an assessor
general. Whatever the majority of these cardinals agree, is looked on as
the decree of the whole congregation. They meet twice a week; on
Wednesdays in St. Mary’s church, supra Minervam; and on Thursdays in the
pope’s presence. In this congregation his holiness decides or confirms
the votes of the counsellors and cardinals, and makes a prayer when the
congregation comes in.


                               SECT. II.
            _Of the Officers belonging to the Inquisition._

These are the inquisitors; the judge of the forfeited effects, the
executor, the notaries, the jail-keeper, the messenger, the door-keeper,
the physician, the assessors, the counsellors, the familiars, the
promoter fiscal, the receiver of the forfeited effects, and the visitors
of the inquisitors.

The inquisitors are persons delegated by the pope to enquire concerning
all heresies, and to judge and punish heretics. Generally speaking, no
one can be deputed to this office who is not forty years old. But if a
person is remarkable for knowledge and prudence, he may, in Spain and
Portugal, be created inquisitor sooner. This office is accounted of so
great dignity in the church of Rome, that the title of “most reverend”
is given to the inquisitors as well as the bishops.

Their privileges are many and great. They can excommunicate, suspend,
and interdict. None excommunicated by them can be absolved, without
command of the pope, except in the article of death. They may apprehend
heretics, though they take sanctuary in churches; and make statutes, and
encrease the punishments against them. They can grant indulgences of
twenty or forty days, and give full pardon of sins to all their officers
who died in their service; and have themselves granted a plenary
indulgence in life and death. Whosoever shall damage the effects of the
inquisitor, or his officer, or shall kill, strike or beat any one of
them, is to be immediately delivered over to the secular court. They are
freed from serving of all offices. They are to have lodgings,
provisions, and other necessaries provided for them. They may proceed
against all persons whatsoever, few excepted; against bishops, priests,
and friars; and all laicks whatsoever, even princes and kings. They may
cite persons of any sex or condition for witnesses: a famous instance of
which there is in Joan, daughter of the emperor Charles V. whom they
cited before their tribunal to interrogate her concerning a certain
person, in some matters relating to the faith. The emperor himself had
such an awe of them, that he commanded his daughter without delay to
make her deposition, to avoid the sentence of excommunication. Upon
which, she actually appeared before the archbishop of Seville,
inquisitor general, and gave in her evidence. In Spain also the
inquisitors pretend to have a jurisdiction over the subjects of other
kings. Of this, we have an instance in Thomas Maynard, consul of the
English nation at Lisbon, who was thrown into the prison of the
inquisition, under pretence that he had said or done something against
the Roman religion. M. Meadows, who was then resident, and took care of
the English affairs at Lisbon, advised Cromwell of the affair; and,
after having received an express from him, went to the king of Portugal,
and in the name of Cromwell demanded the liberty of consul Maynard. The
king told him, it was not in his power; that the consul was detained by
the inquisition, over which he had no authority. The resident sent this
answer to Cromwell; and having soon after received new instructions from
him, had again audience of the king, and told him, that since his
majesty had declared he had no power over the inquisition, he was
commanded by Cromwell immediately to declare war against it. This
unexpected declaration so terrified the king and the inquisition, that
they immediately determined to free the consul from prison; and
immediately opened the prison doors, and gave him leave to go out. The
consul refused to accept a private dismission; but in order to repair
the honour of his character, demanded to be honourably brought forth by
the inquisition. The same Maynard continued many years after under the
same character, in the reigns of Charles and James II. and lived at
Lisbon till he was about eighty years old, without any molestation from
the inquisition. This story was well known to all foreign merchants, who
lived at that time, and many years after, at Lisbon.

The inquisitors may also compel the governors of cities to swear that
they will defend the church against heretics; and to extirpate with all
their power, from their governments, all who are noted for heretics by
the church. They may also command all secular magistrates to seize and
keep in custody all heretics, and to carry them wheresoever they order.
And for the better apprehending of heretics, the inquisitors may go with
an armed attendance, and bear arms themselves. They may compel witnesses
to give evidence by fines, pledges, excommunication, or torture. They
have also power to excommunicate all lay persons disputing about the
faith, publicly or privately; and those who do not discover heretics, by
themselves or other persons. And finally, they may condemn and prohibit
all heretical books, and suspected of heresy, or containing propositions
erroneous, or differing from the Catholic faith.

If the inquisitors are negligent or remiss in their office, they are
prohibited from entering the church for four years; or if they offend by
unjustly extorting money, they are punished by the prelates of their
order; but in such a manner, however, as not to lessen men’s opinion of
the dignity and authority of the holy office. From this precaution it
is, however, very plain, that the tribunal of the inquisition is not so
very holy and blameless, as they would have them believe in Spain and
Portugal; but that the inquisitors punish innocent men sometimes very
unjustly, throwing them into prison, and treating them in a very
barbarous and unworthy manner. Of this we have a fresh instance in the
inquisition at Goa, in relation to father Ephraim, a Capucine; whom, out
of mere hatred and revenge, they seized by craft and subtlety, and
carried away to Goa, and there shut him up in the prison of the
inquisition. The story is this: Father Ephraim having had an invitation
from some English merchants, built a church in the city of Madrespatan,
which was near to the city of St. Thomas. To this place, several of the
Portuguese came from St. Thomas’s, to have the benefit of Ephraim’s
instruction. By this, he incurred the hatred of the Portuguese; and,
upon some disturbance that was raised, father Ephraim was called to St.
Thomas to appease it; where he was seized by the officers of the
inquisition, and carried to Goa, bound hands and feet, and at night
coming from on board the ship, hurried into the prison of the
inquisition. All men wondered that this Capucine should be brought
prisoner before the tribunal of the inquisition as an heretic, who was
known to be a person of great probity and zeal for the Roman religion.
Many were concerned for his delivery; and especially friar Zenon, of the
same order, who tried every method to effect it. When the news of his
imprisonment came to Europe, persons were very differently affected. His
brother, the lord Chateau des Bois, solicited the Portugal ambassador at
Paris, till he prevailed with him to send letters to his Portuguese
majesty, to desire his peremptory orders to the inquisitors at Goa, to
dismiss Ephraim from his prison. The pope also himself sent letters to
Goa, commanding him to be set free, under the penalty of
excommunication. The king also of Golconda, who had a friendship for
him, because he had given him some knowledge of the mathematics,
commanded the city of St. Thomas to be besieged, and to be put to fire
and sword, unless Ephraim was immediately restored to his liberty. The
inquisitors not being able to surmount all these difficulties, sent him
word that the prison gates were open, and that he might have his liberty
when he pleased. But he would not leave his jail, till he was brought
out by a solemn procession of the ecclesiastics of Goa. And although
there are many instances of the like injustice, yet they very seldom
publicly punish the injustice and cruelty of the inquisitors, lest their
authority, which they would have always accounted sacred, should be
contemned. The inquisitor may also appoint a vicar general over his
whole province, with a power of proceeding to a definitive sentence on
the impenitent and relapsed, and of receiving informations and
accusations against any persons, and of citing, arresting, and putting
in irons witnesses and criminals, and of putting them to the question or
torture; and in general, of doing every thing which the inquisitor
himself, if present, could do.

The counsellors or assessors of the inquisition are skilful persons,
such as divines, canonists, and layers, whom the inquisitors call in, in
difficult cases, to assist them with their advice. When any questions
happen in the trials of the causes of heresy, relating to the quality,
_i. e._ the nature and degree of guilt in any propositions spoken by
heretics, or persons suspected of heresy, the decision in such affairs
belongs to the divines, who are thence called qualificators; who are to
determine whether it be heretical, or favours of heresy, or erroneous,
or such as offends pious ears, or rash, or scandalous, or schismatical,
or seditious, or blasphemous, or injurious. The layers are consulted
about the punishment or absolution of offenders, and other the like
merits of causes. However, the inquisitors are not bound necessarily to
follow the advice of these counsellors; but after they have heard their
opinions, are free to determine and act what they think proper. These
counsellors are sworn to secrecy, and are not acquainted with the names
of the criminals or witnesses.

The promoter fiscal is that officer of the inquisition, who acts the
part of accuser. It belongs to him to examine the depositions of the
witnesses, and give information of criminals to the inquisitors; to
demand their apprehension and imprisonment, and, when apprehended or
admonished, to accuse them.

The notaries, registers, or secretaries of the inquisition, write down
the injunctions, accusations, and all the pleadings of the causes; the
depositions of the witnesses, and answers of the criminals; and whether
the colour of their face changes; whether they tremble or hesitate in
speaking, whether they frequently interrupt the interrogatories by
hawking or spitting, or whether their voice trembles; that by these
circumstances, they may know when to put the criminals to the torture.
These notaries may be chosen either of the laity, or from the monks and
clergy. They swear them faithfully to execute that office, and to keep
the strictest secrecy.

The judge and receiver of the forfeited effects, is the attorney
belonging to the treasury of the inquisition; who demands, defends, and
sells, the confiscated goods of heretics, and pays the salaries and
other expences of the holy office.

The executors are they who execute and perform the commands of the
inquisitors. They apprehend and keep in custody criminals, and pursue
them in any places to which they may have escaped; and may, when
needful, put them in irons. All persons, whether magistrates or others,
are obliged to assist them, when they are endeavouring to apprehend any
person, or seize his effects, upon penalty of a large fine, and being
put under the ban.

The familiars are the bailiffs of the inquisition, which, though a vile
office in all other criminal courts, is esteemed so honourable in this
of the inquisition, that there is not a nobleman in the kingdom of
Portugal who is not in it; and these are commonly employed by the
inquisitors to take persons up. If several persons are to be taken up at
the same time, the familiars must so order things, that they may know
nothing of each other’s being apprehended. And at this the familiars are
so expert, that a father and his three sons and three daughters, who
lived together at the same house, were all carried prisoners to the
inquisition, without knowing any thing of one another’s being there till
seven years afterwards, when they of them who were alive, came forth in
an act of faith.

There is a particular kind of these familiars, who wear crosses,
instituted by Dominic; who vow upon oath, before the inquisitors, that
they will defend the catholic faith, though with the loss of fortune and
life. The inquisitors give them red crosses, which they have blessed,
and may compel them to perform their vow.

The visitor of the inquisition is one who goes into all the provinces
where the inquisitors are, and reports to the inquisitor general and
council whatever he thinks proper to be amended; and whether the several
inquisitors have observed the several orders and rules prescribed to
them, that in case of any offences, they may be duly punished.

The civil magistrate is under great subjection to these inquisitors and
their officers. He swears to defend the catholic faith, and to cause all
the constitutions relating to the inquisition to be observed, and that
he will study to exterminate all persons marked out for heretics by the
church. And if any temporal lord shall, after admonition by the church,
neglect to purge his dominions from heretical pravity, for the space of
a year after such admonition, his country is ordered to be seized, and
the person seizing it allowed to possess it without contradiction. When
any persons are condemned for heresy by the inquisitors, the civil
magistrate is obliged to receive them as soon as delivered to him, and
to punish them with the deserved punishment; without presuming directly
or indirectly to hinder any judgment, sentence, or process of the

The office of the jail-keepers is not to be described; though some
account of their jail will not be amiss.

All criminals have not alike places of imprisonment, their cells being
either more terrible and dark, or more easy and chearful, according to
the quality of the persons and their offences. In reality, there is no
place in the prison of the inquisition that can be called pleasant or
chearful, the whole jail is so horrible and nasty.

These jails are called in Spain and Portugal “Santa Casa,” i. e. the
holy house. Every thing it seems in this office must be holy. The
prisons are so built, as the author of the History of the Inquisition at
Goa describes them, that they will hold a great number of persons. They
consist of several porticoes; every one of which is divided into several
small cells of a square form, each side being about ten feet. There are
two rows of them, one being built over the other, and all of them
vaulted. The upper ones are enlightened by iron grates, placed above the
height of a tall man. The lower ones are under ground, dark, without any
window, and narrower than the upper ones. The walls are five feet thick.
Each cell is fastened with two doors; the inner one thick, and covered
over with iron, and in the lower part of it there is a little small
window, through which they reach to the prisoner his meat, linen, and
other necessaries, which is shut with two iron bolts. The outer door is
entire, without any opening at all. They generally open it in the
morning, from six o’clock till eleven, in order to refresh the air of
the prison.

In Portugal all the prisoners, men and women, without any regard to
birth or dignity, are shaved the first or second day of their
imprisonment. Every prisoner hath two pots of water every day, one to
wash, and the other to drink; and a besom to cleanse his cell, and a mat
made of rushes to lie upon, and a larger vessel to ease nature, with a
cover to put over it, which is changed once every four days. The
provisions which are given to the prisoners, are rated according to the
season, and the dearness or plenty of eatables. But if any rich person
is imprisoned, and will live and eat beyond the ordinary rate of
provisions, and according to his own manner, he may be indulged, and
have what is decent and fit for him, and his servant, or servants, if he
hath any, with him in the jail. If there are any provisions left, the
jail-keeper, and no other, must take them, and give them to the poor.
But Reginald Gonsalvius observes, p. 106. that this indulgence is not
allowed to prisoners of all sorts, but to such only as are taken up for
small offences, who are to be condemned to a fine. But if they find by
the very accusation that any persons are to be punished with forfeiture
of all their effects, they do not suffer them to live so plentifully,
but order them a small pension for their subsistence, viz. about thirty
maravedis, of the value of ten Dutch stivers. This agrees with the
account of Isaac Orobio, who had a plentiful fortune at Seville, and was
nevertheless used very hardly in the prison of the inquisition there.
Although his estate was very large, yet he was allowed a very small
pension to provide himself provision. This was flesh, which they made
him sometimes dress and prepare for himself, without allowing him the
help of any servant. In this manner are the richer prisoners treated. As
to the poorer, and such who have not enough to supply themselves in
jail, their allowance is fixed by the king, viz. the half of a silver
piece of money, called a real,[246] every day; and out of this small
sum, the buyer of their provision, whom they call the dispenser, and
their washer, must be paid, and all other expences that are necessary
for the common supports of life. Besides, this very royal allowance for
the prisoners doth not come to them but through the hands of several
persons, and those none of the most honest; first by the receiver, then
the dispenser, then the cook, then the jail-keeper, who, according to
his office, distributes the provisions amongst the prisoners. Gonsalvius
adds, that he gave this particular account of this matter, because all
these persons live, and have their certain profits out of this small
allowance of the king to the prisoners; which coming to them through the
crooked hands of these harpies, they cannot receive it till every one of
them hath taken out more than a tenth part of it.


Footnote 246:

  Dr. Geddes tells us of one in the inquisition at Lisbon, who was
  allowed no more than three vintems a day; a vintem is about an English
  penny farthing.


The author of the History of the Inquisition at Goa tells us, this order
is observed in distributing the provisions. The prisoners have meat
given them three times every day; and even those who have the misfortune
to be in this case, though they have money, are not treated much better
than others, because their riches are employed to make provision for the
poorer. I was informed by Isaac Orobio, that in Spain they sometimes
give the prisoners coals, which they must light, and then dress their
own food. Sometimes they allow them a candle. Those who are confined in
the lower cells generally sit in darkness, and are sometimes kept there
for several years, without any one’s being suffered to go or speak to
them, except their keepers; and they only at certain hours, when they
give them their provision. They are not allowed any books of devotion,
but are shut up in darkness and solitude, that they may be broke with
the horrors of so dreadful a confinement, and by the miseries of it
forced to confess things which oftentimes they have never done.

And how dreadful the miseries of this prison are, we have a famous
instance given us by Reginald Gonsalvius Montanus.[247] In the age
before the last, a certain English ship put in at the port of Cadiz,
which the familiars of the inquisition, according to custom, searched
upon the account of religion, before they suffered any person to come
ashore. They seized on several English persons who were on board,
observing in them certain marks of evangelical piety, and of their
having received the best instruction, and threw them into jail. In that
ship there was a child, ten or twelve years, at most, old, the son of a
very rich English gentleman, to whom, as was reported, the ship and
principal part of her loading belonged. Amongst others, they took up
also this child. The pretence was, that he had in his hands the psalms
of David in English. But, as Gonsalvius tells us, those who knew their
avarice and cursed arts, may well believe, without doing any injury to
the holy inquisition, that they had got the scent of his father’s
wealth, and that this was the true cause of the child’s imprisonment,
and of all that calamity that followed after it. However, the ship with
all its cargo was confiscated; and the child, with the other prisoners,
were carried to the jail of the inquisition at Seville, where he lay six
or eight months. Being kept in so strait confinement for so long a
while, the child, who had been brought up tenderly at home, fell into a
very dangerous illness, through the dampness of the prison, and the
badness of his diet. When the lords inquisitors were informed of this,
they ordered him to be taken out of the jail, and carried, for the
recovery of his health, to the hospital, which they call the Cardinal.
Here they generally bring all who happen to fall ill in the prison of
the inquisition; where, besides the medicines, of which, according to
the pious institution of the hospital, there is plenty, and a little
better care, upon account of the distemper, nothing is abated of the
severity of the former jail; no person besides the physician, and the
servants of the hospital, being allowed to visit the sick person; and as
soon as ever he begins to grow better, before he is fully recovered, he
is put again into his former jail. The child, who had contracted a very
grievous illness from that long and barbarous confinement, was carried
into the hospital, where he lost the use of both his legs: nor was it
ever known what became of him afterwards. In the mean while it was
wonderful, that the child, in so tender an age, gave noble proofs how
firmly the doctrine of piety was rooted in his mind; oftentimes, but
especially morning and evening, lifting up his eyes to heaven, and
praying to him, from whom he had been instructed by his parents, to
desire and hope for certain help; which the jailkeeper having often
observed, said, he was already grown a great little heretic.


Footnote 247:

  P. 119.


About the same time[248] a certain person was taken up and thrown into
the same jail, who had voluntarily abjured the Mahometan impiety, and
came but a little before from Morocco, a famous city of Mauritania, and
capital of the kingdom, into that part of Spain which lies directly over
against it, with a design to turn Christian. When he had observed that
the Christians were more vicious and corrupt than the Moors he had left,
he happened to say, that the Mahometan law seemed to him better than the
Christian. For this the good fathers of the faith laid hold of him,
thrust him into jail, and used him so cruelly, that he said publicly,
even when in confinement, that he never repented of his Christianity,
from the day he was baptized, till after his having been in the
inquisition, where he was forced against his will to behold all manner
of violences and injuries whatsoever.


Footnote 248:

  P. 121.


The complaint of Constantine, the preacher of Seville, was not less
grievous concerning the barbarities of this prison;[249] who, although
he had not as yet tasted of the tortures, yet often bewailed his misery
in this jail, and cried out: “O my God, were there no Scythians in the
world, no cannibals more fierce and cruel than Scythians, into whose
hands thou couldst carry me, so that I might but escape the paws of
these wretches?” Olmedus also, another person famous for piety and
learning, fell into the inquisitors hands at Seville; and through the
inhumanity of his treatment, which had also proved fatal to Constantine,
contracted a grievous illness, and at last died in the midst of the
nastiness and stench. He was used to say, “Throw me any where, O my God,
so that I may but escape the hands of these wretches.”


Footnote 249:

  P. 104.


The author of the History of Goa agrees in this account,[250] who
frankly owns, that through the cruelty and length of his imprisonment he
fell into despair, and thereby often attempted to destroy himself; first
by starving himself; and because that did not succeed, he feigned
himself sick; and when the physician of the inquisition found his pulse
unequal, and that he was feverish, he ordered him to be let blood, which
was done again five days after. When the doctor was gone, he unbound his
arm every day, that so by the large effusion of blood, he might
continually grow weaker and weaker. In the mean while he eat very
little, that by hunger, and loss of blood, he might put an end to his
miserable life. Whilst he was in this sad condition, he had sent him a
confessor of the Franciscan order, who, by various arguments of comfort,
endeavoured to recover him from his despair. They also gave him a
companion in his jail, which was some comfort to him in his confinement.
But growing well again after about five months, they took his companion
from him. The lonesomeness of his jail brought on again his melancholy
and despair, which made him invent another method to destroy himself. He
had a piece of gold money, which he had concealed in his clothes, which
he broke into two parts; and making it sharp, he opened with it a vein
in each arm, and lost so much blood, that he fell into a swoon, the
blood running about the jail. But some of the servants happening to come
before the usual time to bring him something, found him in this
condition. The inquisitor hereupon ordered him to be loaded with irons
upon his arms and hands, and strictly watched. This cruelty provoked him
to that degree, that he endeavoured to beat his brains out against the
pavement and the walls; and undoubtedly the ligaments upon his arms
would have been torn off, had he continued any longer in that state.
Upon this they took off his chains, gave him good words, encouraged him,
and sent him a companion, by whose conversation he was refreshed, and
bore his misery with a little more easiness of mind. But after two
months they took him from him again, so that the solitude of his jail
was more distressing to him than before.


Footnote 250:

  Cap. 19, 20, 21.

The prisoners,[251] as soon as ever they are thrown into jail, are
commanded to give an account of their name and business. Then they
inquire after their wealth; and to induce them to give in an exact
account, the inquisition promises them, that if they are innocent, all
that they discover to them shall be faithfully kept for, and restored to
them; but that if they conceal any thing, it shall be confiscated,
though they should be found not guilty. And as in Spain and Portugal
most persons are fully persuaded of the sanctity and sincerity of this
tribunal, they willingly discover all their possessions, even the most
concealed things of their houses, being certainly persuaded, that when
their innocence shall appear, they shall soon recover their liberty and
effects together. But these miserable creatures are deceived; for he
that once falls into the hands of these judges, is stripped at once of
all he was possessed of. For if any one denies his crime, and is
convicted by a sufficient number of witnesses, he is condemned as a
negative convict, and all his effects confiscated. If to escape the jail
he confesses his crime, he is guilty by his own confession, and in the
judgment of all justly stripped of his effects. When he is dismissed
from prison as a convert and penitent, he dares not defend his
innocence, unless he desires to be thrown again into jail, and
condemned; and, as a feigned penitent, to be delivered over to the
secular arm.


Footnote 251:

  Inquis. Goan. cap. 13.


When the prisoner is brought before his judge,[252] he appears with his
head and arms, and feet naked. In this condition he is brought out of
jail by the warder. When he comes to the room of audience, the warder
goes a little forward, and makes a profound reverence, then withdraws,
and the prisoner enters by himself. At the farther end of the audience
room there is placed a crucifix, that reaches almost to the ceiling. In
the middle of the hall is a table about five feet long, and four broad,
with seats all placed round it. At one end of the table, that which is
next to the crucifix, sits the notary of the inquisition; at the other
end the inquisitor, and at his left hand the prisoner sitting upon a
bench. Upon the table is a missal, upon which the prisoner is commanded
to lay his hand, and to swear that he will speak the truth, and keep
every thing secret. After they have sufficiently interrogated him, the
inquisitors ring a bell for the warder, who is commanded to carry back
his prisoner to jail.


Footnote 252:

  Inquis. Goan. cap. 18.


No one in the prison must so much as mutter, or make any noise, but must
keep profound silence. If any one bemoans himself, or bewails his
misfortune, or prays to God with an audible voice, or sings a psalm or
sacred hymn, the jail-keepers, who continually watch in the porches, and
can hear even the least sound, immediately come to him, and admonish him
that silence must be preserved in this house. If the prisoner doth not
obey, the keepers admonish him again. If after this the prisoner
persists, the keeper opens the door, and prevents his noise, by severely
beating him with a stick; not only to chastise him, but to deter others,
who, because the cells are contiguous, and deep silence is kept, can
very easily hear the outcries and sound of the blows. I will add here a
short story that I had from several persons; which, if true, shews us
with what severity they keep this silence. A prisoner in the inquisition
coughed. The jailors came to him, and admonished him to forbear
coughing, because it was unlawful to make any noise in that house. He
answered, it was not in his power. However, they admonished him a second
time to forbear it; and because he did not, they stripped him naked, and
cruelly beat him. This increased his cough; for which they beat him so
often, that at last he died through the pain and anguish of the stripes.

They insist so severely on keeping this silence, that they may cut off
every degree of comfort from the afflicted; and especially for this
reason, that the prisoners may not know one another, either by singing,
or any loud voice. For it oftentimes happens, that after two or three
years confinement in the jail of the inquisition, a man doth not know
that his friend, nor a father that his children and wife are in the same
prison, till they all see each other in the act of faith. And finally,
that the prisoners in the several cells may not talk with one another;
which, if ever found out, their cells are immediately changed.

If any one falls ill in the prison, they send to him a surgeon and
physician, who administer all proper remedies to him to recover him to
health. If there be any danger of his dying, they send him a confessor,
if he desires it. If the criminal doth not ask for a confessor, and the
physician believes the distemper to be dangerous, he must be persuaded
by all means to confess; and if he judicially satisfies the inquisitors,
he is to be reconciled to the church before he dies; and being absolved
in judgment, the confessor must absolve him sacramentally.

If he is well, and desires a confessor, some are of opinion he may not
have one granted him, unless he hath confessed judicially. Others think
he may; and in this case the confessor’s business is to exhort him to
confess his errors, and to declare the whole truth, as well of himself
as of others, as he is bound de jure to do. However, he must add, that
he must not accuse himself or others falsely, through weariness of his
imprisonment, the hope of a more speedy deliverance, or fear of
torments. Such a criminal the confessor cannot absolve, before his
excommunication is first taken off, and he is reconciled to the church.
But in Italy the prisoners are more easily allowed a confessor than in

They are particularly careful not to put two or more in the same cell,
unless the inquisitor for any special reason shall so order, that they
may not concert with one another to conceal the truth, to make their
escape, or to evade their interrogatories. The principal reason, indeed,
seems to be, that through the irksomeness of their imprisonment, they
may confess whatsoever the inquisitors would have them. But if an
husband and his wife are both imprisoned for the same offence, and there
be no fear that one should prevent the other from making a free
confession of the crime, they may be put in the same cell.

The inquisitors[253] are obliged to visit the prisoners twice every
month, and to enquire whether they have necessaries allowed them, and
whether they are well or not. In this visit they usually ask him in
these very words; How he is? How he hath his health? Whether he wants
any thing? Whether his warder is civil to him? i. e. Whether he speaks
to him in a reproachful and severe manner? Whether he gives him his
appointed provision, and clean linen? and the like.[254] These are
exactly the sentences and words they use in these visits, to which they
neither add any thing, nor act agreeable; for they use them only for
form’s sake, and when the inquisitor hath spoken them he immediately
goes away, scarce staying for an answer. And although any one of the
prisoners complains that he is not well used, it is of no advantage to
him, nor is he better treated for the future. If there be occasion or
necessity, it will be convenient for them to visit the prisoners three
or four times every month, yea, as often as they think proper; viz. when
the criminal bears with impatience the misfortune and infamy of his
imprisonment, in such case the inquisitor must endeavour to comfort him
very often, not only by himself, but by others; and to tell him, that if
he makes a free confession, his whole affair shall be quickly and kindly


Footnote 253:

  Gonsalv. p. 125.

Footnote 254:

  Inquis. Goan. c. 12.


The inquisitors must take care not to talk with the criminals, when they
are examined or visited, upon any other affairs but such as relate to
their business. Nor must the inquisitor be alone when he visits, or
otherwise gives them audience; but must have with him his colleague, or
at least a notary, or some other faithful servant of the holy office.

This also they are particularly careful of, that the criminals may not
be removed from one cell to another, nor associate with any other. If
any prisoners have been shut up together at once in the same cell, when
they are removed they must be removed together, that hereby they may be
prevented from communicating any thing that hath been transacted in the
prison. This is more especially to be observed, in case any of them
recall their confession, after they have been removed from one cell and
company to another. But if a criminal confesses, and is truly converted,
he may more easily be removed from one cell to another, because the
inquisitor is in no pain for fear of his retracting, but may oftentimes
make use of him to draw out the truth from other prisoners.

If women are imprisoned, they must each of them have, according to their
quality, one honest woman at least for a companion, who must never be
absent from her, to prevent all suspicion of evil. This companion must
be ancient, of a good life, pious and faithful. Sometimes when women are
to be imprisoned, they do not carry them to the jail of the inquisitors,
especially if they are regulars, if the jails be within the walls of the
monasteries, but to the convents of the nuns. When this happens, they
command the abbess or prioress to admit nobody to discourse with the
prisoner without express leave of the inquisitor, but diligently to
observe the order given her. But when the cause is of importance, and
full of danger, and such they esteem all that relate to the faith, they
think it safer that women should be imprisoned in the jails of the
inquisitors. But the cardinals inquisitors general are to be consulted
in this affair, who, after mature consideration, are to determine
whether it be most expedient that such criminals should be kept in the
jails of the bishops, or inquisitors regulars; especially if they are
young and handsome, as is often the case of those who are taken up for
telling people’s fortunes about their sweethearts.

It is farther the custom and received use of this holy tribunal, that
such who are imprisoned for heresy are not admitted to hear mass, and
other prayers which are said within the jail, till their cause is
determined. Their principal pretence for this custom is, that it may
possibly happen, when there is a great number of criminals, that the
several accomplices, companions and partakers of the crime, may at least
by nods and signs discover to one another how they may escape judgment,
or conceal the truth.

But the true and genuine reason is, that the prisoner may have nothing
to contemplate besides his present misfortune; that so being broken with
the miseries of his confinement, he may confess whatsoever the
inquisitors would have him. For this reason they deny them books, and
all other things that would be any relief to them in their tedious
imprisonment. If any one of the prisoners whatsoever prays the
inquisitor when he visits him, that he may have some good book, or the
holy Bible, he is answered, that the true book is to discover the truth,
and to exonerate his conscience before that holy tribunal; and that this
is the book which he must diligently study, viz. to recover the
remembrance of every thing faithfully, and declare it to their
lordships, who will immediately prescribe a remedy to his languishing
soul. If the prisoner in the same or next visit is importunate about it,
he will be commanded silence; because if he asks to please himself, they
may grant or deny him according to their pleasure.

The keeping the jail anciently belonged to the executor’s office; and
as often as he was absent, he was obliged to provide another keeper at
his own charge. But now the jail-keeper is created by the
inquisitor-general, and is different from the executor.

Those who keep the jails for the crime of heresy, must swear before the
bishop and inquisitor that they will faithfully keep their prisoners,
and observe all other things prescribed them.

Formerly there were two keepers to every jail, but now there is only one
jail-keeper appointed in every province, chosen by the inquisitor
general, who is not allowed to give the prisoners their food. But the
inquisitors choose some proper person to this office, who is commonly
called the dispenser. The provisions they give the criminals are
generally prepared and dressed in the house of the inquisition; because
if they were to be prepared in the houses of the criminals themselves,
or any where else, something might easily be hid under them, that might
furnish them with the means to conceal the truth, or to elude or escape
judgment. This however is to be left to the prudence and pleasure of the
inquisitors, whether and when the criminals may without danger prepare
their provision in their own houses. But upon account of the hazard
attending it, the inquisitors but seldom, and not without exquisite
care, gratify them in this particular. If any things are sent them by
their friends or relations, or domestics, the jail-keeper and dispenser
never suffer them to have them, without first consulting the

As these keepers have it in their power greatly to injure or serve their
prisoners, they must promise by an oath, before the bishop and
inquisitors, that they will exercise a faithful care and concern in
keeping them; and that neither of them will speak to any of them but in
presence of the other, and that they will not defraud them of their
provision, nor of those things which are brought to them. Their servants
also are obliged to take this oath.

But notwithstanding this law, a great part of the provision appointed
for the prisoners is withheld from them by their covetous keepers; and
if they are accused for this to the inquisitors, they are much more
gently punished, than if they had used any mercy towards them. Reginald
Gonsalve relates,[255] that in his time Gaspar Bennavidius was keeper of
a jail. “He was a man of monstrous covetousness and cruelty, who
defrauded his miserable prisoners of a great part of their provisions,
which were ill dressed, and scarce the tenth part of what was allowed
them, and sold it secretly, for no great price, at the Triana. Besides,
he wholly kept from them the little money allowed them to pay for the
washing of their linen; thus suffering them to abide many days together
in a nasty condition, deceiving the inquisitor and treasurer, who put
that money to the keepers account, as though it had been expended every
week for the use of the prisoners, for whom it was appointed. Neither
was it very difficult to deceive them, because they took but little
pains to inquire out the truth. If any one of the prisoners complained,
muttered, or opened his mouth upon account of this intolerable usage,
the cruel wretch, who had divested himself of all humanity, had a remedy
at hand. He brought the prisoner immediately out of his apartment, and
put him down into a place they call Mazmorra, a deep cistern that had no
water in it. There he left him for several days together, without any
thing to lie on, not so much as straw. His provision there was so very
rotten, that it was more proper to destroy his health by sickness, than
to preserve it, or support him in life. All this he did without ever
consulting the inquisitors, and yet fraudulently and villanously
pretended their command to his prisoner. If any one besought him to
complain to the inquisitors for so injurious a treatment, for they could
not do it by any other person, and to desire an audience, the cunning
wretch, knowing that the whole blame must lie upon himself, pretended
that he had asked, but could not obtain it. By such forged answers he
kept the miserable prisoner in that deep pit twelve or fifteen days,
more or less, till he had fully gratified his anger and cruelty. After
this he brought him out, and threw him into his former jail; persuading
him that this favour was owing to his humanity and care, having made
intercession for him with their lordships. In short, his thefts and
injuries with which he plagued his prisoners, who were otherwise
miserable enough, were so numerous, that some persons of interest with
the inquisitors at length accused him before them. Upon this he was
imprisoned himself; and being found guilty of many false accusations, he
received this sentence: that he should come out at a public act of the
faith, carrying a wax candle in his hand, be banished five years from
the city, and forfeit the whole sum of money, which by virtue of his
office he was to have received from the holy tribunal.”


Footnote 255:

  P. 111, &c.


“This very man,[256] whilst he was keeper, had in his family an ancient
servant maid, who observing the distress of the prisoners, labouring
under intolerable hunger and nastiness, through the wickedness and
barbarity of her master, was so moved with pity towards them, being
herself well inclined to the evangelical piety, that she often spoke to
them through the doors of their cells, comforted them, and as well as
she could exhorted them to patience, many times putting them in meat
under their doors, in proportion to the mean and low abilities of her
condition. And when she had nothing of her own, by which to shew her
liberality to the prisoners of Christ, she stole good part of that
provision from the wicked thief her master, which he had stolen from the
prisoners, and restored it to them. And that we may the more wonder at
the providence of God, who so orders it that the worst of parents shall
not have always the worst of children, but sometimes even the best, a
little daughter of the keeper himself was greatly assisting to the maid
in these pious thefts. By means of this servant the prisoners had
information of the state of the affairs of their brethren and fellow
prisoners, which much comforted them, and was oftentimes of great
service to their cause. But at length the matter was discovered by the
lords inquisitors, by whom she was thrown into prison for a year, and
underwent the same fate with the other prisoners, and condemned to walk
in the public procession with a yellow garment, and to receive two
hundred stripes; which was executed upon her the following day, through
the streets of the city, with the usual pomp and cruelty. To all this
was added banishment from the city and its territories, for ten years.
Her title was, “The favouress and aidress of heretics.” What excited the
implacable indignation of the lords, the fathers of the faith, against
her, was, that they discovered in her examination, that she had revealed
the secrets of the most holy tribunal to some of the inhabitants of the
city, particularly relating to the provision allotted to the prisoners.
From both these examples, and from their different and unequal
punishment, any one may see how much safer it is to add to the
affliction of the prisoners in their jail, than to comfort them by any
act of humanity and mercy whatsoever.”


Footnote 256:

  P. 114.


And in order that the jail of heretics may be kept secret, no one of the
officials, no not the judge himself, can enter it alone, or speak with
the prisoners but before another of the officials, nor without the
previous order of the inquisitors. All are obliged to swear that they
will observe this, that no one may see or speak to the prisoners besides
the person who gives them their necessaries; who must be a faithful,
honest person, and is obliged to swear that he will not discover the
secrets, and must be searched to prevent his carrying any orders or
letters to the prisoners.

This command they will have observed as most sacred, because, as they
say, secrecy is the strength of the inquisition, which might easily be
violated, unless this order be punctually kept; and therefore they
always most severely punish those who transgress it. Gonsalvius
Montanus[257] gives us a very remarkable instance of this. “One Peter ab
Herera, a man not altogether vile, but of some humanity, and not very
old, was appointed keeper of the tower of Triana, which is the prison of
the inquisition. It happened, as it often doth in such numerous and
promiscuous imprisonments, that amongst other prisoners committed to his
custody, there was a certain good matron, with her two daughters, who
were put in different cells, and earnestly desired the liberty of seeing
one another, and comforting each other in so great a calamity. They
therefore earnestly entreated the keeper, that he would suffer them to
be together for one quarter of an hour, that they might have the
satisfaction of embracing each other. He being moved with humanity and
compassion, allowed them to be together, and talk with one another for
half an hour; and after they had indulged their mutual affections, he
put them, as they were before, in their separate prisons. A few days
after this they were put with great cruelty to the torture; and the
keeper being afraid, that through the severity of their torments, they
should discover to the lords, the fathers inquisitors, his small
humanity in suffering them to converse together for half an hour without
the inquisitors leave; through terror, went himself to the holy
tribunal, of his own accord confessed his sin, and prayed for pardon;
foolishly believing, that by such his confession he should prevent the
punishment that threatened him for this action. But the lords
inquisitors judged this to be so heinous a crime, that they ordered him
immediately to be thrown into jail; and such was the cruelty of his
treatment, and the disorder of mind that followed on it, that he soon
grew distracted. However, his disorder and madness did not save him from
a more grievous punishment. For after he had lain a full year in that
cursed prison, they brought him out in the public procession, cloathed
with the yellow garment, and an halter round his neck, as though he had
been a common thief; and condemned him first to receive two hundred
lashes through the streets of the city, and then to the gallies for six
years. The day after the procession, as he was carried from the Triana
to be whipped with the usual solemnity, his madness, which usually
seized him every other hour, came on him; and throwing himself from the
ass, on which, for the greater shame, he was carried, he flew upon the
inquisitory Alguazile,[258] and snatching from him a sword, had
certainly killed him, had he not been prevented by the mob who attended
him, and set him again upon the ass, and guarded him till he had
received the two hundred lashes according to his sentence. After this
the lords inquisitors ordered, that as he had behaved himself indecently
towards the Alguazile, four years more should be added to the six for
which he was at first condemned to the gallies.”


Footnote 257:

  P. 108.

Footnote 258:

  An officer that executes the orders of the inquisition.


These keepers are answerable for the smallest fault, for they are to use
the same care in the custody of their prisoners, as fathers ought to do
in governing their families; so that if they suffer any one to escape
from jail, they are to be punished according to the nature of their
offence. It is therefore their business frequently to visit and search
the cells of their prisoners, to prevent any thing from being
clandestinely carried in, by which they may destroy themselves, dig
through the walls, and so escape. Their care of the women is to be
peculiarly strict; since the sex is naturally frail, and more subject
than men to yield to passion and despair, and so are more likely to seek
an occasion of destroying themselves. They must, above all other things,
take care that they do not behave themselves indecently towards their
women prisoners. Thus the congregation of cardinals inquisitors general
condemned a jail-keeper to the gallies for seven years, and to perpetual
banishment from the place where he committed his offence, for having
carnal knowledge of a woman that was prisoner in the holy office.

If the inquisitor thinks it necessary to prevent the escape of any
prisoners, he may lay them in irons. If the poverty of the inquisitors
is so great, or their jails so defective, as that they are not fit to
hold in safe custody, either for the thinness of the walls, or for want
of iron bars to the windows, or sufficient bolts for the doors, if the
magistrate be required by the inquisitor, he must take care of the safe
custody of the prisoners.

What the several duties of the messenger, door-keeper, and physician
are, is plain enough from their very names. They must be honest men, and
not suspected, and born of old christians.

The salaries of the inquisitors and officers are differently paid in
different countries.

In Spain there are fixed salaries for the inquisitors, and other
ministers of the holy office, which are paid them at stated times out of
the forfeited effects.

“Every inquisitor hath annually allowed him 60,000, which is now
increased to an hundred thousand pieces, every one of which is worth two
of those brass pieces of money, which they commonly call Albi. The
judges of the forfeited effects have each of them 30,000. The promoter
fiscal as many. The scribe or notary the same. The executor 60,000. The
receiver as many. The messenger 20,000. The door-keeper 10,000. The
physician 5,000. These salaries may be increased at the pleasure of the
inquisitor general, and are to be paid by the receiver at the fixed
times; which if he neglects to do, he may be deprived of his office by
the inquisitors.

“The assessors and counsellors have no stipend, but must give their
advice gratis, when the inquisitors desire it, as some lawyers affirm;
and though they may receive a salary freely offered them, yet they
cannot demand it, because all Christians are bound to support and defend
the affair of the Catholic faith. However, these assessors, who are the
eyes of the judges in every cause, even though it be spiritual, justly
receive a salary for their service and labour: for many things are
justly received, which it would be injustice to demand.

“Those advocates who defend the causes of the poor, have a stipend out
of the treasury, which is usually very small, though honourable. But if
the criminals are not poor, the advocates are paid out of their

It is also provided in Spain, by many constitutions, that inquisitors,
who receive gifts, incur the sentence of excommunication, and are
deprived of their office, and fined double the value of what they take.
However, as the author of the History of the Inquisition at Goa informs
us, the inquisitors know how to amass vast riches, by two methods. When
the effects of the prisoners, after confiscation, are sold by the cryer,
the inquisitors, notwithstanding the interdict to the contrary, usually
send one of their domestics, who bids a low price for such things as his
master wants, being pretty secure that nobody else will out-bid them;
and by this means they buy very valuable things for half price, or less.
Besides this, the inquisitors have a right to demand the payment of the
expences, and other necessary charges they have been at, when, and in
what sums they please, whenever the money arising from the confiscations
is carried into the royal treasury; without ever giving any reason, or
any one’s daring to ask them for what purposes they employ it.

Gonsalvius Montanus also tells us, in his Arts of the Spanish
Inquisition, cap. 10. that the inquisitors are sometimes prevailed with
to use their prisoners a little more kindly, by some pretty presents
made by their friends and relations. But this matter must be dextrously
managed, that so the inquisitor may not refuse the offer. The first
thing, therefore, is, to bribe one of his servants; in which there is no
difficulty, provided it be done privately. When the inquisitors
themselves are tampered with, they generally answer, that holy tribunal
is incorrupt, and suffers no manner of gifts whatsoever to be received.
But they have generally, amongst their attendance, some child of their
brother or sister; or, at least, a servant that they greatly esteem, and
who is to be highly respected, and who only sees the inquisitor refuse
the presents offered to him. This servant comes to the prisoner’s
friend, and privately points out to him the relation of the lord
inquisitor. This is giving him to understand, unless the person be a
stock, that though before he in vain attempted to corrupt the integrity
of this holy tribunal, he may by this conveyance prevail upon the
inquisitor, though he would refuse to accept the same present when more
openly offered him.


                               SECT. III.
_Of the crimes cognizable by the Inquisition, and the punishment annexed
                               to them._

The first and principal crime is heresy. Three things are required to
make any one properly an heretic. 1. That he hath been baptized. 2. That
he err in his understanding in matters relating to the faith, i. e.
differ in those points which are determined by a general council, or the
pope, as necessary to be believed, or enjoined as an apostolic
tradition. 3. Obstinacy of will; as when any one persists in his error,
after being informed by a judge of the faith that the opinion he holds
is contrary to the determination of the church, and will not renounce it
at the command of such a judge, by abjuring it, and giving suitable
satisfaction. This crime is so widely extended by the doctors of the
Romish church, that they esteem every thing as heresy, that is contrary
to any received opinion in the church, though it be merely
philosophical, and hath no manner of foundation in the scripture.

The punishments ordained against heretics are many, and most grievous.
The first is excommunication; by which heretics are driven from the
church, and expelled the company of all Christians. The ceremony of it
is thus: when the bishop pronounces the anathema, twelve priests stand
round him, and hold lighted torches in their hands, which they throw
down on the ground, and tread under foot at the conclusion of the
excommunication; after which a letter is sent to the proper parishes,
containing the names of the excommunicated persons, and the reason of
their sentence. Persons thus excommunicated, are deprived of all
ecclesiastical benefices and dignities, and are not to receive Christian

Being excommunicated, all their effects are forfeited, all donations by
them are null and void, and even portions paid to children must be
revoked, and all legacies to wives forfeited. The treasury of the
inquisition devours all. The consequence of this is, that the children
of heretics are absolutely disinherited; excepting only when a child
accuses his heretical parents. Heretics are also deprived of their
natural power over their children, and of that civil power they have
over their servants; so that slaves and servants are, ipso facto, freed
from servitude the moment their masters fall into heresy. Subjects are
also freed from obedience to heretical princes and magistrates, and
absolved from their oaths of allegiance. In a word, heretics lose all
right and property in every thing that they have. Hence proceeds the
maxim, “that faith is not to be kept with heretics,” because it ought
never to be given them; and because the keeping it is against the public
good, the salvation of souls, and contrary, as they say, to the laws of
God and man. Farther, all places of refuge, which are open to
malefactors, and the worst of villains, are denied to heretics. Another
punishment is imprisonment; or if they cannot be apprehended, they are
put under the ban; so that any one, by his own private authority, may
seize, plunder, and kill him as an enemy, or robber. The last penalty is
death, the most terrible one that can be inflicted, viz. the being burnt
to death. Such as are obstinate and impenitent, are to be burnt alive;
others are to be first strangled, and then burnt.

Heretics are distinguished into open and secret. Open heretics are such,
who publicly avow somewhat contrary to the Catholic faith, or which is
condemned as such by the sentence of the inquisitors. Secret heretics
are such who err in their mind, but have not shewn it outwardly by word
or deed; and these are excommunicated ipso jure; or who by word or
writing have discovered the heresy of their heart with secrecy and
craft; and such are liable to all the punishments of heretics.

Again, heretics are either affirmative or negative. Affirmative heretics
are such who err in their minds as to matters of faith; and who by word
or deed shew that they are obstinate in their wills, and openly confess
it before the inquisitor. Negative heretics are such, who being
according to the laws of the inquisition convicted of some heresy before
an inquisitor, yet will not confess it; constantly declaring that they
profess the Catholic faith, and detest heretical pravity; or who owning
heretical words or actions, deny the heretical intention; or who refuse
to discover all their accomplices. Such are generally put to the

Again, heretics are either impenitent or penitent. An impenitent is one
who, being convicted of heresy, or having confessed it before an
inquisitor, will not obey his judge, when he commands him to forsake his
heresy and abjure it, but obstinately perseveres in his error; or who
having confessed through fear of punishment, yet afterwards asserts his
innocence, or doth not observe the penance enjoined him. Penitents are
those who, being admonished by the inquisitor, abjure their error, and
give suitable satisfaction, as the bishop or inquisitor enjoins them;
either of their own accord, or upon any particular inquisition made
after them. Such who return of their own accord, are treated with
greater mildness; but the other enjoined a very severe penance. But they
will by no means receive such who do not return till after frequent
admonition, or till fear of death; or who endeavour any ways to persuade
others to heresy, especially kings and queens, or the sons and daughters
of princes.

Next to heretics are the believers of heretics, and such who receive,
defend, and favour them; who by word or deed declare their belief of an
heretic’s error, who knowingly take them into their houses and other
places, and thus conceal them from the hands of the church, or give them
notice to make their escape, or vindicate them on their trial, or hinder
the procedure of the office of the inquisition; or who, being
magistrates, refuse to extirpate them, or to apprehend and keep them in
custody, or to punish them when given over to them by the inquisitors;
or who being prelates or inquisitors, neglect to have safe prisons, and
faithful jailkeepers, or to apprehend, torture, or punish heretics.
These, ipso facto, incur excommunication; and if they remain under it a
year, are to be punished as heretics. And finally, such who visit them
privately, whilst in custody, and whisper with them, and give them food;
or who lament their apprehension or death, or who complain they are
unjustly condemned, or who look with a bitter countenance on their
prosecutors, or who gather up the bones of heretics after they are
burnt; these are all favourers of heresy, and are ipso jure

Such also who hinder the office of the inquisition are subject to this
tribunal. This may be done by rescuing persons taken up for heresy from
prison, or by wounding any of the witnesses against them; or by using
threatenings, and terrifying words; or by hindering process, judgment,
or sentence; or if a temporal lord ordains that no one shall take
cognizance of heresy but himself, and that no one shall be accused but
before his tribunal, nor any bear arms but those of his own household.
The punishment of this is excommunication; which, if they continue under
a year, they must either abjure, or be delivered over as heretics to the
secular arm. Sometimes their whole dominions are put under interdict,
and given to him who can first conquer them.

Yea, they extend this affair sometimes so far, that all manner of
offences committed against any one that belongs to the inquisitors,
though they have no relation to the faith, are punished in the same
manner as though the office of the inquisition had been hindered by
them, or the inquisitor himself had received some grievous injury.
Reginald Gonsalvius[259] gives us a remarkable instance of this, which
happened in the former age at Seville. The bishop of Terragone, chief
inquisitor at Seville, went one summer for his diversion to some
pleasant gardens situate by the sea side, with all his inquisitory
family, and walked out, according to his custom, with his episcopal
attendance. A child of the gardener, two or three years old at most,
accidentally sat playing upon the side of a pond in the garden, where my
lord bishop was taking his pleasure. One of the boys that attended his
lordship, snatched out of the hand of the gardener’s child a reed, with
which he was playing, and made him cry. The gardener hearing his child,
comes to the place; and when he found out the occasion of his crying,
was angry, and bad the inquisitor’s servant restore the reed to him. And
upon his refusal, and insolently contemning the countryman, he snatched
it away; and as the boy held it fast, the gardener slightly hurt his
hand by the sharp husk of the reed, in pulling it from him. The wound
was far from being mortal, or from endangering the loss of any part, and
so could not deserve a severe punishment. It was no more than a scratch
of the skin, a mere childish wound, as one may imagine by the cause of
it. However, the inquisitor’s boy came to his master, who was walking
near the place, to complain about his wound; upon which the inquisitor
orders the gardener to be taken up, and thrown into the inquisitory
jail, and kept him there for nine months in very heavy irons; by which
he received such damage in his circumstances, which were at best but
mean, as the poor man could not easily recover; his children and wife,
in the mean while, being ready to perish for hunger; and all because he
did not pay deference enough to the inquisitor’s boy, as a member of the
holy tribunal. At nine months end they dismissed him from jail, and
would have persuaded him that they dealt much more mercifully with him
than his crime deserved.


Footnote 259:

  P. 191.


Again, there are other persons who are only suspected of heresy. This
suspicion is threefold; light, vehement, or violent. A light suspicion
arises from a person’s frequenting conventicles, and in his behaviour
differing from the common conversation of the faithful. A vehement
suspicion of heresy, is a person’s not appearing when called to answer
upon any article of the faith; hindering the inquisition, giving council
or assistance to heretics; or advising them to conceal the truth, or who
knowingly accompany, visit, or receive them; or who are convicted of
perjury or lying, in a cause of the faith; or who give ecclesiastical
burial to heretics, or their favourers, or bury them in church yards
with psalms and prayers; or who preserve the ashes, bones, garments, and
the like, of buried heretics; or who think ill of some doctrine or order
of the church, such as the power of the pope, the religion of the monks,
the rites of the sacrament, and the like; or who persist in their
excommunication for two years; such persons give such suspicions as are
sufficient to put them to the torture. A violent suspicion arises from
such external words and actions by which it may be effectually, and
almost always concluded, that he who says or doth them is an heretic;
such as the receiving the communion from heretics, and the like. Of
these different kinds of suspicions the punishment is different. A
person lightly suspected is enjoined canonical purgation, or may be made
to abjure. One vehemently suspected may be commanded a general
abjuration of all heresies; after which, if he relapses into his former
heresy, or associates with, and favours heretics, he is delivered over
to the secular power as a relapse. One violently suspected, is to be
condemned as an heretic. If he confesses and abjures, he may be admitted
to penance; but if he doth not confess, and will not abjure, he is to be
delivered over to the secular court, and burnt.

And as some persons are suspected, others are defamed for heresy; such
who are spoken against by common report, or such against whom there is
legal proof before a bishop that they are spoken against upon account of
heresy. And to this two witnesses suffice, though they have had their
information from different persons, and though they do not agree as to
time and place, and the causes of their knowledge; and though the person
accused as defamed, can prove himself to be of good reputation. The
punishment of one thus defamed is canonical purgation, and some other
ordinary penalty.

Again, other persons are relapsed; such who after having been convicted,
either by the evidence of the fact, or their own confession, or legal
witnesses, have publicly abjured their heresy, and are convicted of
falling into the same again, or into any different heresy, or into a
violent suspicion of heresy, and who accompany, visit, and favour
heretics; or who are found to be perjured after abjuration, or who after
abjuration and purgation do not perform the penance enjoined them. But
there is this difference between the last, and the former relapsed
persons; that the former are left without mercy to the secular arm;
whereas it is in the inquisitor’s pleasure to deliver the latter to
secular judgment, or not.

Those also who read and keep prohibited books are subject to the
tribunal of the inquisition. Pope Pius V. by a bull excommunicated,
amongst others, all who should knowingly read, keep in their houses,
print, or in any wise defend, for any cause, publicly or privately,
under any pretence or colour, prohibited books, without the authority of
the apostolic see. If any one brings heretical books into any Catholic
countries, he is not only excommunicated, but his goods confiscated, and
himself whipped, if he be of mean condition; but if he is of the better
sort, he is banished at the pleasure of the inquisitor. If there arises
any vehement suspicion of heresy, from any one’s reading, keeping,
defending, or printing the books of heretics, he may be put to the
torture to discover the truth. If any of the clergy read or keep
prohibited books, they are vehemently suspected; and may be deprived of
the active and passive voice, suspended from divine services, deprived
of the offices of reading, preaching, &c. and be enjoined fastings,
pilgrimages, and the like.

The inquisitors also take cognizance of those who marry several wives at
once, because they are presumed to think wrong of the sacrament of
matrimony. If upon examination any one affirms it lawful for a christian
man to have several wives at once, he is taken for a formal heretic, and
is to be punished as such. If he denies any heretical intention, he must
be put to the torture; that the inquisitors may know what his mind is,
and whether he married two wives out of any erroneous opinion concerning
the sacrament of matrimony, or through lust, or carnal concupiscence.
All such persons are suspected of heresy, and must abjure as such, and
may be condemned to the gallies.

If any one celebrates mass, or hears confession, and gives absolution,
not being in priest’s orders, he is vehemently suspected of heresy; and
must abjure as such, and then be delivered over to the secular arm, to
be punished with death. Raynald gives us an instance of one who said he
was a bishop, though he had not the pope’s bull, and as such consecrated
priests. The story is this: “James the priest, a false Minorite, born in
the dutchy of Juliers, forged the pope’s bull, and declared in the
Netherlands that he was a bishop; and although he had not been ordained
a bishop, he consecrated priests by a false ceremony in several dioceses
of Germany and the Low Countries. At length he was convicted of his
wickedness, and the magistrates of Utrecht thought fit, not to condemn
him to the flames, that he might be quickly consumed, but to be
gradually burnt by boiling water, that so they might conquer his
obstinacy, because he most impudently refused to acknowledge his crime.
But being gradually let down into the boiling cauldron, and overcome
with the extremity of the pain, he detested his wickedness, and prayed
that he might receive a milder punishment. His judges being moved with
compassion, ordered him to be taken out of the boiling cauldron, and
then to be beheaded.”

Those also who solicit women or boys to dishonourable actions in the
sacramental confession, are subject to this tribunal. Pius IV. published
a bull against them; and when this bull was first brought into Spain,
all persons were commanded by a public edict, solemnly published
throughout all the churches of the archbishopric of Seville, that
whosoever knew or had heard of any monks or clergymen who had abused the
sacrament of confession to these crimes, or had in any manner acted in
this vile manner at confession with their wives or daughters, they
should discover them within thirty days to the holy tribunal; and very
grievous censures were annexed to such as should neglect or contemn it.
When the decree was published, so large a number of women went to the
palace of the inquisitors in the city of Seville only, to make their
discoveries of these most wicked confessors, that twenty secretaries,
with as many inquisitors, were not sufficient to take the depositions of
the witnesses. The lords inquisitors being thus overwhelmed with the
multitude of affairs, assigned another thirty days for the witnesses;
and when this was not sufficient, they were forced to appoint the same
number a third and a fourth time. For as to women of reputation, and
others of higher condition, every time was not proper for them to apply
to the inquisitors. On one hand, their conscience forced them to a
discovery through a superstitious fear of the censures and
excommunication; and on the other hand, their regard to their husbands,
whom they were afraid to offend, by giving them any ill suspicion of
their chastity, kept them at home; and therefore veiling their faces,
after the Spanish custom, they went to the lords inquisitors, when, and
as privately as they could. Very few, however, with all their prudence
and craft, could escape the diligent observation of their husbands at
the time of discovery, and hereby possessed their minds with the deepest
jealousy. However, after so many had been informed against before the
inquisitors, that holy tribunal, contrary to all men’s expectations, put
a stop to the affair, and commanded all those crimes which were proved
by legal evidence, to be buried in eternal oblivion.

It is required that this solicitation be made in the act of sacramental
confession; and such confessors are vehemently suspected, and must
abjure as such, and be enjoined fastings and prayers, and may be
condemned to the gallies, or perpetual imprisonment; must be suspended
from hearing confessions, and deprived of their benefices, dignities and
the like.

Yea, sometimes, according to the heinousness of the offence, a more
grievous punishment is inflicted. “The Venetians ordered one of them to
be burnt alive, by command of the pope. He had been father confessor to
some nuns in the dominions of Venice, and had got twelve of them with
child; amongst whom the abbess and two others had children in one year.
As he was confessing them, he agreed with them about the place, manner,
and time of lying with them. All were filled with admiration and
astonishment, taking the man for a perfect saint, he had so great a shew
of sanctity in his very face.” Epist. ad Belgas, Cent. 1. Ep. 66. p.
345. & Ep. 63. p. 316.

In Portugal also the crime of sodomy belongs to the tribunal of the
inquisition. By the laws of that kingdom sodomites are punished with
death, and confiscation of all their effects; and their children and
grandchildren become infamous. After the natural death of a sodomite, if
the crime hath not been proved, they cannot proceed against him, neither
as to the crime, nor confiscation of effects, although the crime can be
proved by legal witnesses; because crimes, which are not particularly
excepted, of which sodomy is one, are extinguished by the death of the
delinquent. Nor do they proceed against a dead sodomite, nor confiscate
his effects, although he hath been convicted, or confessed when he was
alive. If such a one takes sanctuary in a church, he cannot be taken out
of it.

If we compare these things with the punishments of heretics, it will
appear that the crime of sodomy in the kingdom of Portugal is esteemed a
much smaller one than that of heresy, because sodomites enjoy privileges
which are denied to heretics. And yet it may happen, that a truly pious
man, who fears God, and is most careful of his eternal salvation, may be
accounted an heretic by the Portuguese inquisitors; whereas, a sodomite
cannot but be the vilest of men. But it is not at all strange, that by
the laws of that tribunal Barabbas should be released, and Christ

Blasphemers also, who deny God, or their belief in him, or the virginity
of our Lady, are subject to the inquisitors, and punished in the
following manner. If the blasphemy be very heinous, and the blasphemer a
mean person, he is made to wear an infamous mitre, hath his tongue tied,
and pinched with an iron or wooden gag, is carried forth as a public
spectacle without his cloak, whipped with scourges, and banished. But if
he be a person of better condition, or noble, he is brought forth
without the mitre, thrust for a time into a monastery, and punished with
a fine. In smaller blasphemies they are dealt with more gently, at the
pleasure of the inquisitors, viz. the blasphemer is condemned to stand,
during divine service, upon some holiday or other, with his head naked,
without his cloak and shoes, his feet naked, a cord tied round him, and
holding a burning wax-taper in his hands. Sometimes also they squeeze
his tongue with a piece of wood. After divine service is over his
sentence is read, by which he is enjoined fastings, and a fine.

This punishment, however, doth not take place as to a clergyman. For if
a clergyman was to appear without his shoes, and with an halter about
his neck, and thus stand at the gates of the church before the people,
the clerical order, and the ministry of the clergy would suffer
disgrace; and it would become a wonder, and evil example to the laity,
if the blaspheming clergy were thus exposed.

In these cases the inquisitors mostly act according to their own
pleasure, who have an ample power of judging according to the nature and
heinousness of the crimes. A certain person who had a quarrel with a
clergyman of Ecya, a city in Spain, accidentally said, in the hearing of
others, that he could not believe that God would come down into the
hands of so profligate an adulterer. The vicar of the ordinary fined him
for the speech. But the clergyman, not contented with this revenge,
afterwards accused him of blasphemy at the tribunal of the inquisitors
at Seville. Nor did the fine to which he was before condemned by the
ordinary, prevent his being taken up by command of the inquisitors,
imprisoned for a whole year, brought out in triumph without cloak or
hat, carrying a wax candle in his hand, his tongue gagged with a wooden
gag, thus to punish his blasphemy; and being forced to abjure, as
lightly suspected, he was fined a second time.

Fortune-tellers, who look into the palms of the hands, such who exercise
divination by lots, and use candles and holy water to discover stolen
goods, if they deny any heretical intention, may be tortured to discover
it; and if found guilty, are excommunicated, whipped, banished, and
subject to other punishments. If any pretend to foretel the mysteries of
faith by the stars, or the life or death of the pope, or his kindred,
they may be punished with death, and confiscation of goods. With these
fortune-tellers are joined witches; who are reported to deny the faith,
and make a compact with the devil. These poor wretches are miserably
tortured to force them to confess, and then burnt. The inquisitors,
within the space of 150 years, burnt 30,000 of them.

Finally, the Jews are also severely handled by this tribunal. The
inquisition, indeed, is not designed to compel the Jews to turn
Christians, but is introduced against those who, being converted from
Judaism to Christianity, return again to the principles they have
forsaken; or who deny matters of faith common to them and Christians; or
if they invoke devils, or sacrifice to them; or if they speak heretical
blasphemies, or pervert a Christian from the faith, or hinder infidels
from being converted; or knowingly receive an heretic, or keep heretical
books, or deride the host or the cross; or keep Christian nurses, and
the like. But the inquisition is levelled principally against those, who
having professed Christianity, and been baptized, turn again to Judaism.
When suspected they are liable to the torture, may be compelled to
abjure, fined, imprisoned, whipped, or burnt, according to the nature of
their errors, or heretical actions.


                               SECT. IV.
 _Of the manner of proceeding before the tribunal of the Inquisition._

It now remains that I give some account of what relates to the execution
of the inquisitorial office.

When the inquisitor is first constituted by the pope, he must present
himself to the king, or other temporal lord of those territories in
which he is to act, and deliver his apostolic commission, and demand
full protection for himself and officers, in all matters belonging to
their office. He must also shew his commission to the archbishops and
bishops of the dioceses in which he is sent. Finally, he takes an oath
from the civil officers, that they will defend the faith, and obey the
inquisitor with all their might; and this oath they may compel them to
take, under pain of excommunication, and all the punishments which
attend it.

After this, the inquisitor appoints a sermon to be preached on a certain
day, all other sermons being suspended; at which, four of each religion
must be present, and in which he commends the Catholic faith, and
exhorts the people to extirpate heretical pravity. When the sermon is
ended, he admonishes them to discover to himself all persons who are
erroneous, and have said or done any thing against the faith; and then
orders monitory letters to be read from the pulpit, by which all
persons, of whatsoever condition, clergy or laity, are commanded, under
pain of excommunication, to discover to the inquisitors within six or
twelve days following any heretic, or person suspected of heresy, which
they know. These monitory letters are called, “An edict of the faith.”
When these letters are read, he promises, in the pope’s name,
indulgencies for three years to all who assist him in reducing heretics,
or who discover to him any such; or person defamed, and suspected of
heresy; or who, in any other case, bear true witness before him in an
act of faith. And finally, he assigns a time of grace to all heretics,
&c. viz. the month following; promising them, that if within that space
they come freely to him, before they are accused or apprehended, and
voluntarily discover their guilt, and ask pardon, they shall obtain
pardon and mercy; viz. freedom from death, imprisonment, banishment, and
confiscation of effects.

From this obligation to accuse heretics, no persons, of whatsoever
dignity or degree, are exempted; brother must accuse brother, the wife
her husband, the husband his wife, the son his father, when heretical,
or suspected of heresy; the edict obliges all; and neither kings nor
princes, nor nearest relations are exempted.

Joan, the daughter of the emperor Charles V. was cited by the
inquisitors to be interrogated before them, against a certain person,
concerning some things relating to the faith. She consulted her father,
who advised her to make her deposition without any delay (lest she
should incur excommunication) not only against others, but even against
himself, if she knew him to be blameable in the least matter. Joan
obeyed this command of her father, and immediately deposed before
Ferdinand Valdez, archbishop of Seville, at that time bishop and
inquisitor general.

Lewis de Carvajal, although governor and captain general of the province
of Tampico and Pamico, was forced to walk out in public penance, because
he did not denounce four women, who were secretly Jews, and to whom he
was uncle; and though a little before he had the honourable title of
president, he was forced to hear his ignominious sentence publicly, was
for ever deprived of all offices under the king, reduced to the lowest
misery, and through grief and weariness of his life, soon went the way
of all flesh.

If any person comes in within the appointed time to accuse himself, he
is asked, how long he hath continued in his errors, and from whom he
learnt them? whether he hath had, and read any heretical or suspected
books? what they were, from whom he had them, and what he hath done with
them? Other questions are added concerning his accomplices in heresies,
that he may tell the names of all those heretics, or persons suspected
of heresy, whom he knows. He is farther asked, whether he hath ever been
inquisited, processed, or accused or denounced in any tribunal, or
before any judge, on account of the aforesaid errors, or other things
relating to heresy? He is also admonished simply to tell the whole truth
which he knows, as well of himself as of others; because, if he is
afterwards found deceitfully to have concealed any thing, he is judged
as one whose confession is imperfect, and as impenitent, and feignedly
converted. Finally, he is interrogated, whether he repents of these
errors and heresies into which he hath fallen? and whether he is ready
to abjure, curse, and detest them, and all other heresies whatsoever,
that exalt themselves against the holy apostolic and Roman church, and
to live for the future catholicly, according to the faith of the church
of Rome, and devoutly to fulfil the salutary penance enjoined him?

However, such as come thus voluntarily, are far from escaping all
punishment, but are either treated kindly at the pleasure of the
inquisitor, according to the quality of their persons and crimes, or
else condemned to pay a fine, or give alms, or some such works of
charity. But if they wait till they are accused, denounced, cited or
apprehended, or suffer the time of grace to slip over, they are
pronounced unworthy of such favours.

And in this case many foolishly deceive themselves with a false opinion,
believing, that because favour is promised to such who appear
voluntarily, they shall be free from all punishment; because they are
only saved from the more terrible ones, it being left to the pleasure of
the inquisitors to inflict some penitential punishment on them,
according to the nature of their crime, as will appear from the
following instance. “There was at the city of Cadiz a certain foreigner,
who yet had lived in Spain for twenty years; who, according to a common
superstition, dwelt in a desart in a certain chapel, upon the account of
religion. Hearing in his chapel of the great number of those who were
taken up every day at Seville by the inquisitors, for what they call the
Lutheran heresies; having heard also of the decree of the inquisitors,
by which he was commanded, under the terrors of excommunication,
immediately to discover to the inquisition whatsoever he knew of those
things, either as to others or himself; the poor stupid hermit comes to
Seville, goes to the inquisitors and accuses himself, because he thought
the said inquisitors would use singular clemency towards those who thus
betrayed themselves. His crime was, that whereas being about twenty
years before this at Genoa, and hearing a certain brother of his
disputing about a man’s justification by faith in Christ, of purgatory,
and other things of the like nature, he did not wholly condemn them,
though he never thought of them afterwards. He therefore acknowledged
his crime, and came to ask mercy. When the lords inquisitors had
received his confession, they commanded the poor hermit to jail; where,
after a long confinement, he was brought out in public procession, and
was sentenced to wear the sanbenito, to three years imprisonment, and
the forfeiture of his effects.”

Sometimes also they use a certain stratagem to draw persons to a
voluntary appearance before the inquisitors. “When they have apprehended
any remarkable person, who hath been the teacher of others, or who they
know hath been resorted to by many others, upon account of his doctrine
and learning, as being a teacher and preacher of great repute; it is
usual with them to cause a report to be spread amongst the people, by
their familiars, that being grievously tortured, he had discovered
several of those that had adhered to him, suborning some persons out of
the neighbouring prisons to assert that they heard his cries amidst his
tortures, in order to give the greater credit to the report. These
reports are spread for this reason, that such who have attended on his
instructions, or have been any ways familiar with him, may in time go to
the holy tribunal, confess their fault, and implore mercy, before they
are sent for, or apprehended. By this means they impose on many, who, if
they had waited for their summons, had never been summoned at all. Or if
it should have happened that they had been summoned, would not have been
dealt with more severely than they generally are, who trust to the
inquisitors promises.”

If any person is accused by another, the accuser is interrogated, “How
long he hath known N. against whom he denounces? likewise, how he came
to know him? Again, whether he observed that the aforesaid N. was
suspected of matters relating to the faith from his words, or his
actions? Likewise, how often he had seen the said N. do or say those
things for which he thought him an heretic, or suspected of heresy?
Likewise, at what time, and in the presence of whom the aforesaid N. did
or said those things of which he is denounced? Likewise, whether the
aforesaid N. hath had any accomplices in the aforesaid crimes, or any
writings belonging to the offences denounced? Likewise, to what end and
purpose the aforesaid things were done or said by the aforesaid N.
whether seriously, or in jest? If it appears that there was a long
interval of time between the commission of the crimes denounced, and the
making the denunciation, the inquisitor interrogates the denouncer, why
he deferred so long to come to the holy office, and did not depose
before, especially if he knew that he incurred the penalty of
excommunication by such omission?” He is moreover asked, “Whether he
knows any thing farther of N. which concerns the holy office, or of any
other person? Likewise, whether he hath at any time had any cause of
hatred or enmity with the aforesaid N. and whence it proceeded? With
what zeal, and with what intention he comes to the holy office, and to
make denunciation? Whether he hath denounced through any passion of
mind, ill will, hatred, or subornation? And he is admonished ingenuously
to tell the truth.” He is especially interrogated how he came by his
knowledge, because on that principally the truth and weight of the
testimony depends.

When the denunciation is received; first, it must be read over to the
denouncer, that he may add, take away, or alter as he pleases. Secondly,
he must subscribe to his deposition; or if he cannot write, he must at
least put under it the sign of the cross. Thirdly, he must take an oath
of secrecy.

After this, the witnesses are called on. And in this affair all persons,
even such as are not allowed in other tribunals, are admitted. Persons
excommunicated, heretics, Jews, and infidels, wives, sons and daughters,
and domestics, are allowed as witnesses against those accused of heresy,
but never for them: those who are perjured and infamous, whores, bawds,
those under the ban, usurers, bastards, common blasphemers, gamesters,
persons actually drunk, stage-players, prize-fighters, apostates,
traitors, even all without exception, besides mortal enemies.

When the witnesses are summoned, first they take an oath upon the
scriptures to speak the truth. After this he is asked by the inquisitor,
whether he knows, or can guess the cause of his citation and present
examination? If he says yes, he is interrogated how he knew it? If he
says no, he is interrogated, whether he hath known, or doth know now any
one or more heretics, or persons suspected of heresy, or at least is
able to name any such? Whether he knows N.? What was the occasion of his
acquaintance with him? How long he hath known him? Whether he hath been
used to converse with him? Whether he hath heard at any time any thing
from the said N. concerning the Catholic religion? Whether ever he was
in such a place with the said N. and whether the said N. did or said
there such and such heretical things, or favouring of heresy? Who were
present when N. did or said the aforesaid things? How often he saw them
said or done, and on what occasion, and how? Whether the said N. spoke
the aforesaid things in jest, or without thinking, or through a slip of
his tongue, or as relating the heresies of some other person or persons?
Whether he said any thing which ought not to have been said, through
hatred or love, or omitted and concealed somewhat that ought to have
been explained? He is farther admonished to tell the single truth,
because, if he is detected of speaking falsely, he will be made to
suffer the penalties, not only of perjury, but of favouring heresy.

After this, one of the proctors of the court demands that the criminal
be taken up, and the inquisitor subscribes an order for this purpose.
When he is apprehended, he must be well guarded, put in irons, and
delivered to the jailkeeper of the inquisition.

When the criminal is put in jail, he is brought before the inquisitor.
The place where he appears before the inquisitor, is called by the
Portuguese the table of the holy office. At the farther end of it there
is placed a crucifix, raised up almost as high as the ceiling. In the
middle of the room there is a table. At that end which is nearest the
crucifix, sits the secretary or notary of the inquisition. The criminal
is brought in by the beadle, with his head, arms and feet naked, and is
followed by one of the keepers. When they come to the chamber of
audience, the beadle enters first, makes a profound reverence before the
inquisitor, and then withdraws. After this, the criminal enters alone,
who is ordered to sit down on a bench at the other end of the table,
over against the secretary. The inquisitor sits on his right hand. On
the table near the criminal lies a missal, or book of the gospels; and
he is ordered to lay his hand on one of them, and to swear that he will
declare the truth, and keep secrecy.

After taking this oath, of declaring the truth both of himself and
others, the inquisitor interrogates him of divers matters. As, whether
he knows why he was taken up, or hath been informed of it by any one or
more persons? Where, when, and how he was apprehended? If he says that
he knows nothing of it, he is asked, whether he cannot guess at the
reason? whether he knows in what prisons he is detained? and upon what
account men are imprisoned there? If he says he cannot guess at the
cause of his imprisonment, but knows that he is in the prisons of the
holy office, where heretics and persons suspected of heresy are
confined, he is told, that since he knows persons are confined there for
their profanation of religion, he ought to conclude that he also is
confined for the same reason; and must therefore declare what he
believes to be the cause of his own apprehension and confinement in the
prisons of the holy office. If he says he cannot imagine what it should
be, before he is asked any other questions, he receives a gentle
admonition, and is put in mind of the lenity of the holy office towards
those who confess without forcing, and of the rigour of justice used
towards those who are obstinate. They also compare other tribunals with
the holy office, and remind him, that in others the confession of the
crime draws after it immediate execution and punishment; but that in the
court of the inquisition, those who confess and are penitent, are
treated with greater gentleness. After this, he is admonished in
writing, and told, that the ministers of the holy office never take up
any one, or are used to apprehend any one without a just cause; and that
therefore they earnestly beseech him, and command and enjoin him,
exactly to recollect and diligently to consider his actions, to examine
his conscience, and purge it from all those offences and errors it
labours under, and for which he is informed against.

After this he is asked, what race he comes of? Who were his parents and
ancestors? that hereby he may declare all his family. Whether any one of
them was at any time taken up by the holy office, and enjoined penance?
This they are especially asked, who descend from Jews, Mahometans, and
sectaries. Where he was brought up? In what places he hath dwelt?
Whether he ever changed his country? Why he did so, and went into
another place? With whom he conversed in the aforesaid places; who were
his friends, and with whom he was intimate? Whether he ever conversed
with any of his acquaintance about matters of religion, or heard them
speak about religion? In what place, and when, and how often, and of
what things or matters they conversed?

He is moreover asked, of what profession he is, and what employment of
life he follows? Whether he be rich or poor? What returns he hath, and
what the expences of his living? Then he is commanded to give an account
of his life, and to declare what he hath done from his childhood, even
to this time. And that he may declare all this, he is asked, in what
places or cities he studied, and what studies he followed? Who were his
masters? whose names he must tell. What arts he learnt? What books he
hath had and read? and whether he hath now any books treating of
religion, and what? Whether ever he hath been examined and cited, or
sued, or processed before any other tribunal, or the tribunal of the
holy inquisition, and for what causes; and whether he was absolved or
condemned, by what judge, and in what year? Whether ever he was
excommunicated, and for what cause? Whether he was afterwards absolved
or condemned, and for what reason? Whether he hath every year
sacramentally confessed his sins, how often, and in what church? Then he
is commanded to give the names of his confessors, and of those from whom
he hath received the eucharist; and especially for the ten years last
past, and more. What orations or holy prayers he recites? Whether he
hath any enemies? whose names he must tell, and the reasons of their

If the criminal is persuaded by these, or by more or less such
interrogatories, openly to confess the truth, his cause is finished,
because it is immediately known what will be the issue of it.

But if after all these interrogatories the prisoner persists in the
negative, and says he doth not know why he is cited or sent to prison,
the inquisitor replies, that since it appears from his own words, that
he will not discover the truth, and that there is no proof of his having
such enmities with any person, or that there are no such causes of
hatred as he alledges, by which others could, or ought to be induced
slanderously, and falsely to inform against him, that therefore there
arises the stronger suspicion, that the depositions against him in the
holy office are true. And therefore he is beseeched and abjured, by the
bowels of mercy of Christ Jesus, to consider better and better, and
ingenuously to confess the truth, and to declare whether he hath erred
in words or deeds, in the aforesaid matter relating to the faith, and
the holy office, or rendered himself suspected to others.

If by such general interrogatories the inquisitor cannot draw from the
prisoner a confession of the crime of which he is accused, he comes to
particular interrogatories, which relate to the matter itself, or the
crimes or heresies for which the criminal was denounced. For instance,
if he was accused for denying purgatory, then one, two, or three days
after his first examination, he is again interrogated by the inquisitor,
whether he hath any thing, and what to say, besides what he said in his
other examination? Whether he hath thought better of the matter, and can
recollect the cause of his imprisonment, and former examination, or hath
at least any suspicion who could accuse him to the holy office, and of
what matters? Whether he hath heard any one discoursing of paradise,
purgatory, and hell? What he heard concerning that matter? Who they
were, that he heard speaking, or disputing of those things? Whether he
ever discoursed of them? What he hath believed, and doth now believe
about purgatory? If he answers, that his faith concerning it hath been
right, and denies any ill belief, but that he believes as holy mother
church believes and teaches, he is ordered to say what the holy Roman
mother church doth think and believe concerning this article.

If the prisoner knows the reason of his being apprehended, and openly
confesses every thing of which he hath been accused to the inquisitor,
he is commended, and encouraged to hope for a speedy deliverance. If he
confesses some things, but cannot guess at others, he is commended for
taking up the purpose of accusing himself, and exhorted by the bowels of
mercy of Jesus Christ to proceed, and ingenuously to confess every thing
else of which he is accused; that so he may experience that kindness and
mercy, which this tribunal uses towards those who manifest a real
repentance of their crimes by a sincere and voluntary confession.

In these examinations the inquisitors use the greatest artifice, to draw
from the prisoners confessions of those crimes of which they are
accused; promising them favour, if they will confess the truth. And by
these flattering assurances they sometimes overcome the minds of more
unwary persons; and when they have obtained the designed end,
immediately forget them all. Of this Gonsalvius[260] gives us a
remarkable instance. “In the first fire that was blown up at Seville,
anno 1558, or 1559, amongst many others who were taken up, there was a
certain pious matron with her two virgin daughters, and her niece by her
sister, who was married. As they endured those tortures of all kinds,
with a truly manlike constancy, by which they endeavoured to make them
perfidiously betray their brethren in Christ, and especially to accuse
one another, the inquisitor at length commanded one of the daughters to
be sent for to audience. There he discoursed with her alone for a
considerable time, in order to comfort her, as indeed she needed it.
When the discourse was ended, the girl was remanded to her prison. Some
days after he acted the same part again, causing her to be brought
before him several days towards the evening, detaining her for a
considerable while; sometimes telling her how much he was grieved for
her afflictions, and then intermixing familiarly enough other pleasant
and agreeable things. All this, as the event shewed, had only this
tendency, that after he had persuaded the poor simple girl, that he was
really, and with a fatherly affection concerned for her calamity, and
would consult as a father what might be for her benefit and salvation,
and that of her mother and sisters, she might wholly throw herself into
his protection. After some days spent in such familiar discourses,
during which he pretended to mourn with her over her calamity, and to
shew himself affected with her miseries, and to give her all the proof
of his good will, in order, as far as he could, to remove them; when he
knew he had deceived the girl, he begins to persuade her to discover
what she knew of herself, her mother, sisters, and aunts who were not
yet apprehended, promising upon oath, that if she would faithfully
discover to him all that she knew of that affair, he would find out a
method to relieve her from all her misfortunes, and to send them all
back again to their houses. The girl, who had no very great penetration,
being thus allured by the promises and persuasions of the father of the
faith, begins to tell him some things relating to the holy doctrine she
had been taught, and about which they used to confer with one another.
When the inquisitor had now got hold of the thread, he dextrously
endeavoured to find his way throughout the whole labyrinth; oftentimes
calling the girl to audience, that what she had deposed might be taken
down in a legal manner; always persuading her, this would be the only
just means to put an end to all her evils. In the last audience he
renews to her all his promises, by which he had before assured her of
her liberty, and the like. But when the poor girl expected the
performance of them, the said inquisitor, with his followers, finding
the success of his craftiness, by which he had in part drawn out of the
girl, what before they could not extort from her by torments, determined
to put her to the torture again, to force out of her what they thought
she had yet concealed. Accordingly she was made to suffer the most cruel
part of it, even the rack, and the torture by water; till at last they
had squeezed out of her, as with a press, both the heresies and
accusations of persons they had been hunting after. For, through the
extremity of her torture, she accused her mother and sisters, and
several others, who were afterwards taken up and tortured, and burnt
alive in the same fire with the girl.”


Footnote 260:

  P. 82, &c.


But if they do not succeed neither with this way, the inquisitor permits
some person or other, who is not unacceptable to the prisoner, to go to
him, and converse with him; and if it be needful to feign himself still
one of his own sect, but that he abjured through fear, and discovered
the truth to the inquisitor. When he finds that the prisoner confides in
him, he comes to him again late in the evening, keeps on a discourse
with him, at length pretending it is too late to go away, and that
therefore he will stay with him all night in the prison, that they may
converse together, and the prisoner may be persuaded by the other’s
discourse to confess to one another what they have committed. In the
mean while there are persons standing at a proper place without the
jail, to hear and to take notice of their words; who, when there is
need, are attended by a notary.

Or else the person who thus treacherously draws out any thing, according
to his desire, from his fellow-prisoners, prays the jail-keeper, when
according to custom he is visiting his prisoners, to desire that he may
have an audience. And when he goes out of his jail to give an account of
his office, he discovers not only what he heard from any of the
prisoners, but also how they received the doctrine proposed to them;
whether with a chearful or angry countenance, and the like; if they
refused to give them an answer, and what they themselves think of them.
And the accusations of such a wretch they look on as the best and most
unexceptionable evidence, although the person be otherwise one of no
manner of worth, credit, or regard.

They who have been lately in the prison of the inquisition in Spain and
Portugal, tell us of another method they make use of to draw a
confession from the prisoners, viz. The inquisitor suborns a certain
person to go and speak to the prisoner, and to tell him he comes of
himself, and of his own accord, and to exhort him to tell the inquisitor
the truth, because he is a merciful man, and such fine tales. This is
now particularly the custom in Spain and Portugal, as to those they call
the new Christians. If the prisoner affirms himself to be a Catholic,
and denies that he is a Jew, and is not convicted by a sufficient number
of witnesses, they suborn one to persuade him to confess. If he protests
himself innocent, the other replies, that he also hath been in jail, and
that his protesting his innocence signified nothing. What, had you
rather dwell for ever in jail, and render your life miserable, by being
ever parted from your wife and children, than redeem your freedom, by
confessing the crime? By this, and other like things, the prisoners are
oftentimes persuaded to confess not only real, but fictitious crimes.
And when their constancy is thus almost overcome, the inquisitor
commands them to be brought before him, that they may make him a
confession of their faults.

After these examinations, if the prisoner persists in the negative, he
is admitted to his defence, and hath an advocate or proctor appointed
him, but such only as the inquisitors allow him; and who, as soon as
ever they know the prisoners are criminal, bind themselves by oath to
throw up their defence. A copy of the accusation is usually given to the
prisoner, to which he must answer article by article; and likewise a
copy of the proofs, but not of the names of the witnesses, nor any
circumstances by which they may discover who they are, for fear the
witnesses should be in danger if known.

After the process is thus carried on, it is finished in this manner:
Either by absolution, if the prisoner be found really innocent, or the
accusation against him not fully proved. Not that they pronounce such
person free from heresy, but only declare that nothing is legally proved
against him, on account of which he ought to be pronounced an heretic,
or suspected of heresy; and that therefore he is wholly released from
his present trial and inquisition. But if, notwithstanding this, he
should afterwards be accused of the same crime, he may be again judged
and condemned for it; and this absolution will stand him in no stead.

If the party accused is found to be only defamed for heresy, and not
convicted of heresy by any legal proofs, he is not absolved, but
enjoined canonical purgation. The manner of the purgation is this: the
party accused must produce several witnesses, good and Catholic men, who
must swear by God, and the four holy gospels of God, that they firmly
believe he hath not been an heretic, or believer of their errors; and
that he hath sworn the truth, in denying it upon oath. If he fails in
his purgation, i. e. cannot procure such a number of purgers as he is
enjoined, he is esteemed as convict, and condemned as an heretic.

If the person accused is not found guilty by his own confession, or
proper witnesses; yet if he cannot make his innocence appear plainly to
the inquisitor, or if he is caught contradicting himself, or faultering,
or trembling, or sweating, or pale, or crying; or if there be half proof
of his crime, he is put to the question or torture. And this liberty the
inquisitors sometimes shamefully abuse, by torturing the most innocent
persons; as appears by the following instance.

“[261]A noble lady, Joan Bohorquia, the wife of Francis Varquius, a very
eminent man, and lord of Higuera, and daughter of Peter Garsia Xeresius,
a wealthy citizen of Seville, was apprehended, and put into the
inquisition at Seville. The occasion of her imprisonment was, that her
sister, Mary Bohorquia, a young lady of eminent piety, who was
afterwards burnt for her pious confession, had declared in her torture
that she had several times conversed with her sister concerning her own
doctrine. When she was first imprisoned, she was about six months gone
with child; upon which account she was not so straitly confined, nor
used with that cruelty which the other prisoners were treated with, out
of regard to the infant she carried in her. Eight days after her
delivery they took the child from her, and on the fifteenth shut her
close up, and made her undergo the fate of the other prisoners, and
began to manage her cause with their usual arts and rigour. In so
dreadful a calamity she had only this comfort, that a certain pious
young woman, who was afterwards burnt for her religion by the
inquisitors, was allowed her for her companion. This young creature was,
on a certain day, carried out to her torture, and being returned from it
into her jail, she was so shaken, and had all her limbs so miserably
disjointed, that when she laid upon her bed of rushes, it rather
encreased her misery than gave her rest, so that she could not turn
herself without the most excessive pain. In this condition, as Bohorquia
had it not in her power to shew her any, or but very little outward
kindness, she endeavoured to comfort her mind with great tenderness. The
girl had scarce began to recover from her torture, when Bohorquia was
carried out to the same exercise, and was tortured with such diabolical
cruelty upon the rack, that the rope pierced and cut into the very bones
of her arms, thighs, and legs; and in this manner she was brought back
to prison, just ready to expire, the blood immediately running out of
her mouth in great plenty. Undoubtedly they had burst her bowels,
insomuch that the eighth day after her torture she died. And when after
all they could not procure sufficient evidence to condemn her, though
sought after and procured by all their inquisitorial arts; yet, as the
accused person was born in that place, where they were obliged to give
some account of the affair to the people, and indeed could not by any
means dissemble it; in the first act of triumph appointed after her
death, they commanded her sentence to be pronounced in these words:
because this lady died in prison (without doubt suppressing the causes
of it) and was found to be innocent upon inspecting and diligently
examining her cause, therefore the holy tribunal pronounces her free
from all charges brought against her by the fiscal, and absolving her
from any farther process, doth restore her both as to her innocence and
reputation; and commands all her effects, which had been confiscated to
be restored to those to whom they of right belonged, &c. And thus, after
they had murdered her by torture, with savage cruelty, they pronounced
her innocent.”


Footnote 261:

  Gonsalv. p. 181.


After the sentence of torture is pronounced, the officers prepare
themselves to inflict it. “[262]The place of torture in the Spanish
inquisition is generally an under-ground and very dark room, to which
one enters through several doors. There is a tribunal erected in it, in
which the inquisitor, inspector, and secretary sit. When the candles are
lighted, and the person to be tortured brought in, the executioner, who
was waiting for him, makes a very astonishing and dreadful appearance.
He is covered all over with a black linen garment down to his feet, and
tied close to his body. His head and face are all hid with a long black
cowl, only two little holes being left in it for him to see through. All
this is intended to strike the miserable wretch with greater terror in
mind and body, when he sees himself going to be tortured by the hands of
one who thus looks like the very devil.”


Footnote 262:

  Gonsalv. p. 65, 66.


The degrees of torture formerly used, were principally three: first, by
stripping and binding. Secondly, by being hoisted on the rack. Thirdly,

This stripping is performed without any regard to humanity or honour,
not only to men, but to women and virgins, though the most virtuous and
chaste, of whom they have sometimes many in their prisons. For they
cause them to be stripped, even to their very shifts; which they
afterwards take off, and then put on them straight linen drawers, and
then make their arms naked quite up to their shoulders. As to
squassation, it is thus performed: the prisoner hath his hands bound
behind his back, and weights tied to his feet, and then he is drawn up
on high, till his head reaches the very pully. He is kept hanging in
this manner for some time, that by the greatness of the weight hanging
at his feet, all his joints and limbs may be dreadfully stretched; and
on a sudden he is let down with a jirk, by the slacking the rope, but
kept from coming quite to the ground; by which terrible shake his arms
and legs are all disjointed, whereby he is put to the most exquisite
pain; the shock which he receives by the sudden stop of his fall, and
the weight at his feet, stretching his whole body more intensely and

The author of the History of the Inquisition at Goa tells us,[263] that
the torture now practised in the Portuguese inquisition is exceeding
cruel. “In the months of November and December, I heard every day in the
morning the cries and groans of those who were put to the question,
which is so very cruel, that I have seen several of both sexes who have
been ever after lame. In this tribunal they regard neither age nor sex,
nor condition of persons, but all without distinction are tortured, when
it is for the interest of this tribunal.”


Footnote 263:

  C. 23.


The method of torturing, and the degree of tortures now used in the
Spanish inquisition, will be well understood from the history of Isaac
Orobio, a Jew, and doctor of physic, who was accused to the inquisition
as a Jew, by a certain Moor his servant, who had by his order before
this been whipped for thieving; and four years after this he was again
accused by a certain enemy of his for another fact, which would have
proved him a Jew. But Orobio obstinately denied that he was one. I will
here give the account of his torture, as I had it from his own mouth.
After three whole years which he had been in jail, and several
examinations, and the discovery of the crimes to him of which he was
accused, in order to his confession, and his constant denial of them, he
was at length carried out of his jail, and through several turnings
brought to the place of torture. This was towards the evening. It was a
large under-ground room, arched, and the walls covered with black
hangings. The candlesticks were fastened to the wall, and the whole room
enlightened with candles placed in them. At one end of it there was an
inclosed place like a closet, where the inquisitor and notary sat at a
table; so that the place seemed to him as the very mansion of death,
every thing appearing so terrible and awful. Here the inquisitor again
admonished him to confess the truth, before his torments began. When he
answered he had told the truth, the inquisitor gravely protested, that
since he was so obstinate as to suffer the torture, the holy office
would be innocent, if he should shed his blood, or even expire in his
torments. When he had said this, they put a linen garment over his body,
and drew it so very close on each side, as almost squeezed him to death.
When he was almost dying, they slackened at once the sides of the
garment; and after he began to breathe again, the sudden alteration put
him to the most grievous anguish and pain. When he had overcome this
torture, the same admonition was repeated, that he would confess the
truth, in order to prevent farther torment. And as he persisted in his
denial, they tied his thumbs so very tight with small cords, as made the
extremities of them greatly swell, and caused the blood to spurt out
from under his nails. After this he was placed with his back against a
wall, and fixed upon a little bench. Into the wall were fastened little
iron pullies, through which there were ropes drawn, and tied round his
body in several places, and especially his arms and legs. The
executioner drawing these ropes with great violence, fastened his body
with them to the wall; so that his hands and feet, and especially his
fingers and toes being bound so straitly with them, put him to the most
exquisite pain, and seemed to him just as though he had been dissolving
in flames. In the midst of these torments, the torturer, of a sudden,
drew the bench from under him, so that the miserable wretch hung by the
cords without any thing to support him, and by the weight of his body
drew the knots yet much closer. After this a new kind of torture
succeeded. There was an instrument like a small ladder, made of two
upright pieces of wood, and five cross ones sharpened before. This the
torturer placed over against him, and by a certain proper motion struck
it with great violence against both his shins; so that he received upon
each of them at once five violent strokes, which put him to such
intolerable anguish that he fainted away. After he came to himself, they
inflicted on him the last torture. The torturer tied ropes about
Orobio’s wrists, and then put those ropes about his own back, which was
covered with leather to prevent his hurting himself. Then falling
backwards, and putting his feet up against the wall, he drew them with
all his might, till they cut through Orobio’s flesh even to the very
bones; and this torture was repeated thrice, the ropes being tied about
his arms about the distance of two fingers breadth from the former
wound, and drawn with the same violence. But it happened, that as the
ropes were drawing the second time, they slid into the first wound;
which caused so great an effusion of blood, that he seemed to be dying.
Upon this the physician and surgeon, who are always ready, were sent for
out of a neighbouring apartment, to ask their advice, whether the
torture could be continued without danger of death, lest the
ecclesiastical judges should be guilty of an irregularity, if the
criminal should die in his torments. They, who were far from being
enemies to Orobio, answered that he had strength enough to endure the
rest of the torture, and hereby preserved him from having the tortures
he had already endured repeated on him, because his sentence was, that
he should suffer them all at one time, one after another. So that if at
any time they are forced to leave off through fear of death, all the
tortures, even those already suffered, must be successively inflicted to
satisfy the sentence. Upon this the torture was repeated the third time,
and then it ended. After this he was bound up in his own clothes, and
carried back to his prison, and was scarce healed of his wounds in
seventy days. And inasmuch as he made no confession under his torture,
he was condemned, not as one convicted, but suspected of Judaism, to
wear for two whole years the infamous habit called Sambenito, and after
that term to perpetual banishment from the kingdom of Seville.

Ernestus Eremundus Frisius,[264] in his History of the Low Country
Disturbances, gives us an account from Gonsalvius, of another kind of
torture. There is a wooden bench, which they call the wooden horse, made
hollow like a trough, so as to contain a man lying on his back at full
length; about the middle of which there is a round bar laid across, upon
which the back of the person is placed, so that he lies upon the bar
instead of being let into the bottom of the trough, with his feet much
higher than his head. As he is lying in this posture, his arms, thighs,
and shins are tied round with small cords or strings, which being drawn
with screws at proper distances from each other, cut into the very
bones, so as to be no longer discerned.[265] Besides this,[266] the
torturer throws over his mouth and nostrils a thin cloth, so that he is
scarce able to breathe through them; and in the mean while a small
stream of water like a thread, not drop by drop, falls from on high,
upon the mouth of the person lying in this miserable condition, and so
easily sinks down the thin cloth to the bottom of his throat; so that
there is no possibility of breathing, his mouth being stopped with
water, and his nostrils with the cloth; so that the poor wretch is in
the same agony as persons ready to die, and breathing out their last.
When this cloth is drawn out of his throat, as it often is, that he may
answer to the questions, it is all wet with water and blood, and is like
pulling his bowels through his mouth. There is also another kind of
torture peculiar to this tribunal, which they call the fire. They order
a large iron chafin-dish full of lighted charcoal to be brought in, and
held close to the soles of the tortured person’s feet, greased over with
lard, so that the heat of the fire may more quickly pierce through them.


Footnote 264:

  P. 19.

Footnote 265:

  These two methods of punishment seem to be taken from the two
  different forms of the antient Eculeus.

Footnote 266:

  Gonsalv. p. 76, 77.


This is inquisition by torture, when there is only half full proof of
their crime. However, at other times torments are sometimes inflicted
upon persons condemned to death, as a punishment preceding that of
death. Of this we have a remarkable instance in William Lithgow, an
Englishman, who, as he tells us in his travels, was taken up as a spy in
Mallagom, a city of Spain, and was exposed to the most cruel torments
upon the wooden horse. But when nothing could be extorted from him, he
was delivered to the inquisition as an heretic, because his journal
abounded with blasphemies against the pope and the Virgin Mary. When he
confessed himself a Protestant before the inquisitor, he was admonished
to convert himself to the Roman church, and was allowed eight days to
deliberate on it. In the mean while the inquisitor and Jesuits came to
him often, sometimes wheedling him, sometimes threatening and
reproaching him, and sometimes arguing with him. At length they
endeavoured to overcome his constancy by kind assurances and promises;
but all in vain. And therefore as he was immoveably fixed, he was
condemned, in the beginning of Lent, to sutler the night following
eleven most cruel torments; and after Easter to be carried privately to
Granada, there to be burnt at midnight, and his ashes to be scattered
into the air. When night came on his fetters were taken off, then he was
stripped naked, put upon his knees, and his hands lifted up by force;
after which opening his mouth with iron instruments, they filled his
belly with water till it came out of his jaws. Then they tied a rope
hard about his neck, and in this condition rolled him seven times the
whole length of the room, till he was almost quite strangled. After this
they tied a small cord about both his great toes, and hung him up
thereby with his head towards the ground, and then cut the rope about
his neck, letting him remain in this condition till all the water
discharged itself out of his mouth; so that he was laid on the ground as
just dead, and had his irons put on him again. But beyond all
expectation, and by a very singular accident, he was delivered out of
jail, escaped death, and fortunately sailed home to England. But this
method of torturing doth not belong to this place, where we are treating
only of the inquisition of a crime not yet fully proved.

If when the person is decently tortured he confesses nothing, he is
allowed to go away free; and if he demands of his judges that he be
cleared by sentence, they cannot deny it him; and they pronounce, that
having diligently examined the merits of the process, they find nothing
of the crime of which he was accused legally proved against him.

But if, when under the question, he confesses, it is written in the
process; after which he is carried to another place, where he hath no
view of the tortures, and there his confession made during his torments
is read over to him, and he is interrogated several times, till the
confession be made. But here Gonsalvius observes,[267] that when the
prisoner is carried to audience, they make him pass by the door of the
room where the torture is inflicted, where the executioner shews himself
on the purpose to be seen in that shape of a devil I have described
before; that as he passes by, he may, by seeing him, be forced to feel,
as it were over again, his past torments.


Footnote 267:

  P. 73.


If there be very strong evidence against the criminal, if new proofs
arise, if the crime objected to him be very heinous, and the discoveries
against him undoubted; if he was not sufficiently tortured before, he
may be tortured again, but then only “when his mind and body are able to
endure it.”

If he doth not persist in his first confession, and is not sufficiently
tortured, he may be put to the torture again; not by way of repetition,
but continuation of it.

But if he persists in his confession, owns his fault, and asks pardon of
the church, he is condemned as guilty of heresy by his own confession,
but as penitent. But if he obstinately persists in heresy, he is
condemned, and delivered over to the secular arm to be punished with
death. If he confesses any thing by torture, he must be forced to abjure

When a person accused of heresy is found to be only slightly suspected
of it, he is considered either as suspected publicly or privately. If he
is publicly suspected, this was formerly the manner of his abjuration.
On the preceding Lord’s day the inquisitor proclaims, that on such a day
he will make a sermon concerning the faith, commanding all to be present
at it. When the day comes, the person to abjure is brought to the
church, in which the council hath determined that he shall make his
abjuration. There he is placed upon a scaffold, erected near the altar,
in the midst of the people, and is not allowed to sit, but stands on it,
that all may see him, bare-headed, and with the keepers standing round
him. The sermon being made on the mass, to the people and clergy there
present, the inquisitor says publicly, that the person there placed on
the scaffold is suspected from such and such appearances and actions, of
the heresy that hath been refuted in the public sermon; and that
therefore it is fit that he should purge himself from it, by abjuring
it, as one slightly suspected. Having said this, a book of the gospels
is placed before him, on which laying his hands, he abjures his heresy.
In this oath he not only swears that he holds that faith which the Roman
church believes, but also that he abjures every heresy that extols
itself against the holy Roman and apostolic church: and particularly the
heresy of which he was slightly suspected, naming that heresy: and that
if he shall do any of the aforesaid things for the future, he willingly
submits to the penalties appointed by law to one who thus abjures, and
is ready to undergo every penance, as well for the things he hath said
and done, as for those concerning which he is deservedly suspected of
heresy, which they shall lay on him; and that with all his power he will
endeavour to fulfil it.

If he hath not been publicly suspected, he abjures privately after the
same manner in the episcopal palace, or inquisitor’s hall.

If he is vehemently suspected, he is placed in like manner upon a
scaffold; and after he hath taken his oath upon the gospels, his
abjuration is delivered him in writing, to read before all the people,
if he can. If he cannot read, the notary, or some religious, or
clergyman reads it by sentences, pausing between each till the other
hath repeated it after him; and so on, till the whole abjuration is gone
through. In this abjuration he submits himself to the punishments due to
relapses, if he ever after falls into the heresy he hath abjured. After
the abjuration is made, the bishop admonishes him, that if ever
hereafter he doth, or says any thing by which it can be proved, that he
hath fallen into the heresy he hath abjured, he will be delivered over
to the secular court without mercy. Then he injoins him penance, and
commands him to observe it; adding this threatening, that otherwise he
will become a relapse, and may, and ought to be judged as an impenitent.
However, suspected persons, whether it be slightly or vehemently, are
not condemned to wear crosses, nor to perpetual imprisonment, because
these are the punishments of penitent heretics; though sometimes they
are ordered to wear for a while the Sambenito, according to the nature
of their offence. Ordinarily they are injoined to stand on certain holy
days in the gates of such and such churches, holding a burning taper of
such a weight in their hands, and to go a certain pilgrimage; sometimes
also they are imprisoned for a while, and afterwards disposed of as is
thought proper.

Gonsalvius gives us some instances of these punishments.[268] “There was
at Seville a certain poor man, who daily maintained himself and his
family by the sweat of his brow. A certain parson detained his wife from
him by violence, neither the inquisition nor any other tribunal
punishing this heinous injury. As the poor man was one day talking about
purgatory, with some other persons of his own circumstances, he happened
to say, rather out of rustic simplicity than any certain design, that he
truly had enough of purgatory already, by the rascally parson’s
violently detaining from him his wife. This speech was reported to the
good parson, and gave him a handle to double the poor man’s injury, by
accusing him to the inquisitors, as having a false opinion concerning
purgatory. And this the holy tribunal thought more worthy of punishment
than the parson’s wickedness. The poor wretch was taken up for this
trifling speech, kept in the inquisitor’s jail for two whole years, and
at length being brought in procession, was condemned to wear the
Sambenito for three years in a private jail; and when they were expired,
to be dismissed, or kept longer in prison, as the lords inquisitors
should think fit. Neither did they spare the poor creature any thing of
his little substance, though they did his wife to the parson, but
adjudged all the remains of what he had after his long imprisonment to
the exchequer of the inquisition.


Footnote 268:

  P. 192.


“[269]In the same procession there was also brought forth a reputable
citizen of Seville, as being suspected of Lutheranism, without his cloak
and his hat, and carrying a wax taper in his hand, after having
exhausted his purse of 100 ducats towards the expences of the holy
tribunal, and a year’s imprisonment in the jail of the inquisition, and
having abjured as one vehemently suspected; only because he was found to
have said, that those immoderate expences (and on these accounts the
Spaniards are prodigiously extravagant) which were laid out in erecting
those large paper or linen buildings, which the common people corruptly
call monuments, to the honour of Christ now in heaven, upon Holy
Thursday; and also those which were expended on the festival of Corpus
Christi, would be more acceptable to God, if they were laid out upon
poor persons, or in placing out to good persons poor orphan girls. Two
young students[270] added to the number in that procession. One because
he had written in his pocketbook some verses made by a nameless author,
so artificially, as that the same words might be interpreted so as to
contain the highest commendation of, or reflection upon Luther. Upon
this account only, after two year’s imprisonment, he was brought forth
in procession, without his hat and cloak, carrying a wax taper; after
which he was banished for three years from the whole country of Seville,
made to abjure as lightly suspected, and punished with a fine. The other
underwent the same censure, only for transcribing the verses for their
artful composition, excepting only that he commuted his banishment for
100 ducats towards the expences of the holy tribunal.”


Footnote 269:

  P. 195.

Footnote 270:

  P. 196.


If any one informed against, confesses on oath his heresy, but declares
that he will abjure and return to the church, he must publicly abjure in
the church before all the people. There is placed before him the book of
the gospels; he puts off his hat, falls on his knees, and putting his
hand on the book, reads his abjuration. And from this none, though
otherwise privileged, are excepted. After this abjuration they are
absolved from excommunication, and reconciled to the church; but are
injoined various punishments, or wholesome penances by the inquisitors
at pleasure. What the punishments of religious persons are, may be seen
from the two following instances.

Friar Marcellus de Pratis, a religious of the order of the Minors, was
condemned in Sicily by the inquisition (because he had rashly feigned
himself a saint, impeccable, confirmed in grace, and had pronounced
other scandalous and rash propositions) to the gallies for three years,
to be banished for two more into such a convent of his own religion as
should be assigned him, with this addition; that he should fast every
Friday on bread and water, eat upon the ground in the refectory, walk
without his hat, and sit in the lowest place in the choir and refectory,
and be perpetually deprived of his active and passive vote, and of the
faculty of hearing any persons confessions whatsoever.

One Mary of the Annunciation, prioress of the monastery of the
Annunciation at Lisbon, a maid of thirty-two years old, had pretended
that the wounds of Christ, by the special grace and privilege of God
were imprinted on her, and shewed thirty-two wounds made on her head,
representing the marks of those which were made by our Saviour’s crown
of thorns, and blood sprinkled on her hands like a rose, the middle of
which was like a triangle, and shewed the holes of the nails narrower on
one side than the other. The same were to be seen in her feet. Her side
appeared as though it had been laid open by the blow of a lance. When
all these things were openly shewn, it was wonderful to see how they
raised the admiration and devotion of serious and holy men, and withal
surprized and deceived them; for she did not suffer those pretended
wounds to be seen otherwise than by command of her confessor. And that
absent persons might have a great veneration for her, she affirmed, that
on Thursdays she put into the wounds a small cloth, which received the
impression of five wounds in form of a cross, that in the middle being
the largest. Upon which these cloths were sent, with the greatest
veneration, through the infinite devotion of the faithful, to the pope,
and to almost all the most venerable and religious persons of the whole
world. And as Paramus then had the administration of the causes of faith
in the kingdom of Sicily, he saw several of those cloths, and the
picture of that woman drawn to the life; and a book written by a person
of great authority concerning her life, sanctity, and miracles. Yea,
Pope Gregory XIII. himself determined to write letters to that wretched
creature, to exhort her thereby to persist with constancy in her course,
and to perfect what she had begun. At last the imposture was found out,
that the marks of the wounds were not real, but made with red lead; and
that the woman’s design was, when she had gained authority and credit
enough, by her pretended sanctity, to recover the kingdom of Portugal to
its former state, which had legally fallen under the power of Philip II.
Upon this the following sentence was pronounced against her by the
inquisitors of Lisbon, December 8, anno 1588. First, she was commanded
to pass the rest of her life shut up in a convent of another order, that
was assigned to her without the city of Lisbon. Likewise, that from the
day of pronouncing the sentence, she should not receive the sacrament of
the eucharist for the space of five years, three Easters, and the hour
of death excepted; or unless it were necessary to obtain any jubilee,
that should in the mean while be granted by the pope. Likewise, that on
all Wednesdays and Fridays of the whole year, when the religious women
of that convent held a chapter, she should be whipped, whilst the psalm,
“Have mercy on me O God,” was reciting. Likewise, that she should not
sit down at table at the time of refreshment, but should eat publicly on
the pavement, all being forbidden to eat any thing she left. She was
also obliged to throw herself down at the door of the refectory, that
the nuns might tread on her as they came in and went out. Likewise, that
she should perpetually observe the ecclesiastical fast, and never more
be created an abbess, nor be chosen to any other office in the convent
where she had dwelt, and that she should be always subject to the lowest
of them all. Likewise, that she should never be allowed to converse with
any nun without leave of the abbess. Likewise, that all the rags marked
with drops of blood, which she had given out, her spurious relics, and
her effigies describing her, should be every where delivered to the holy
inquisition; or if in any place there was no tribunal of the
inquisition, to the prelate, or any other person appointed. Likewise,
that she should never cover her head with the sacred veil; and that
every Wednesday and Friday of the whole year she should abstain from
meat, and live only on bread and water; and that as often as she came
into the refectory, she should pronounce her crime with a loud voice in
the presence of all the nuns.

Michael Piedrola also took upon himself for many years the name of a
prophet, boasted of dreams and revelations, and affirmed they were
revealed to him by a divine voice. Being convicted of so great a crime,
he abjured de levi, was for ever forbid the reading of the Bible, and
other holy books, deprived of paper and ink, prohibited from writing or
receiving letters, unless such only as related to his private affairs;
denied the liberty of disputing about the holy Scripture, as well in
writing as in discourse; and finally, commanded to be thrown into jail,
and there pass the remainder of his life.

Another punishment of heretics who abjure, is the confiscation of all
their effects. And this confiscation is made with such rigour, that the
inquisition orders the exchequer to seize on not only the effects of the
persons condemned, but also all others administered by them, although it
evidently appears that they belong to others. The inquisition at Seville
gives a remarkable instance of this kind.

“Nicholas Burton, an Englishman, a person remarkable for his piety, was
apprehended by the inquisition of Seville, and afterwards burnt for his
immoveable perseverance in the confession of his faith, and detestation
of their impiety. When he was first seized, all his effects and
merchandizes, upon account of which he came to Spain, were, according to
the custom of the inquisition, sequestered. Amongst these were many
other merchandizes, which were consigned to him as factor, according to
the custom of merchants, by another English merchant dwelling in London.
This merchant, upon hearing that his factor was imprisoned, and his
effects seized on, sent one John Frontom, as his attorney into Spain,
with proper instruments to recover his goods. His attorney accordingly
went to Seville; and having laid before the holy tribunal the
instruments, and all other necessary writings, demanded, that the goods
should be delivered to him. The lords answered that the affair must be
managed in writing, and that he must choose himself an advocate
(undoubtedly to prolong the suit) and out of their great goodness
appointed him one, to draw up for him his petitions, and all other
instruments which were to be offered to the holy tribunal; for every one
of which they exorbitantly took from him eight reals, although he
received no more advantage from them, than if they had never been drawn
at all. Frontom waited for three or four whole months, twice every day,
viz. in the morning, and after dinner, at the gates of the inquisitor’s
palace, praying and beseeching, on his bended knees, the lords
inquisitors, that his affair might be expedited; and especially the Lord
Bishop of Tarraco, who was then chief inquisitor at Seville, that he, in
virtue of his supreme authority, would command his effects to be
restored to him. But the prey was too large and rich to be easily
recovered. After he had spent four whole months in fruitless prayers and
intreaties, he was answered, that there was need of some other writings
from England, more ample than those he had brought before, in order to
the recovery of the effects. Upon this the Englishman immediately
returns to London, and procures the instruments of fuller credit which
they demanded, comes back with them to Seville, and laid them before the
holy tribunal. The lords put off his answer, pretending they were
hindered by more important affairs. They repeated this answer to him
every day, and so put him off for four whole months longer. When his
money was almost spent, and he still continued earnestly to press the
dispatch of his affair, they referred him to the bishop. The bishop,
when consulted, said he was but one, and that the expediting the matter
belonged also to the other inquisitors; and by thus shifting the fault
from one to the other, there was no appearance of an end of the suit.
But at length being overcome by his importunity, they fixed on a certain
day to dispatch him. And the dispatch was this: the licentiate Gascus,
one of the inquisitors, a man well skilled in the frauds of the
inquisition, commands him to come to him after dinner. The Englishman
was pleased with this message, and went to him about evening, believing
that they began to think in good earnest of restoring him his effects,
and carrying him to Mr. Burton the prisoner, in order to make up the
account; having heard the inquisitors often say, though he did not know
their real meaning, that it was necessary that he and the prisoner
should confer together. When he came, they commanded the jail-keeper to
clap him up in such a particular prison, which they named to him. The
poor Englishman believed at first that he was to be brought to Burton to
settle the account; but soon found himself a prisoner in a dark dungeon,
contrary to his expectation, and that he had quite mistaken the matter.
After three or four days they brought him to an audience; and when the
Englishman demanded that the inquisitors should restore his effects to
him, they well knowing that it would agree perfectly with their usual
arts, without any other preface, command him to recite his Ave Mary. He
simply repeated it after this manner: ‘Hail, Mary, full of grace, the
Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is Jesus
the fruit of thy womb. Amen.’ All was taken down in writing, and without
mentioning a word about the restoring his effects (for there was no need
of it) they commanded him back to his jail, and commenced an action
against him for an heretic, because he had not repeated the Ave Mary
according to the manner of the church of Rome, and had left off in a
suspected place, and ought to have added, ‘Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us sinners;’ by omitting which conclusion, he plainly
discovered that he did not approve the intercession of the saints. And
thus at last, upon this righteous pretence, he was detained a prisoner
many days. After this he was brought forth in procession, wearing an
habit; all his principal’s goods for which he had been suing being
confiscated, and he himself condemned to a year’s imprisonment.”

Besides this confiscation of effects, they enjoin them wholesome
penances; such as fastings, prayers, alms, the frequent use of the
sacraments of penance, and the eucharist; and, finally, pilgrimages to
certain places.

Some penances are honorary, attended with infamy to those who do them.
Such are, walking in procession without shoes, in their breeches and
shirt, and to receive therein public discipline by the bishop or priest;
to be expelled the church, and to stand before the gates of the great
church upon solemn days, in the time of mass, with naked feet, and
wearing upon their cloak an halter about their neck. At this time they
only stand before the gates of the church, with a lighted candle in
their hand, during the time of solemn mass on some holy day, as the bell
is ringing to church.

Besides these, they now use the punishment of banishment, of beating,
and whipping with scourges or rods. Sometimes they are condemned to
fines, excluded as infamous from all public offices, prohibited from
wearing silver or gold, precious garments and ornaments, and from riding
on horses or mules with trappings, as nobles do.

But the most usual punishment of all, is their wearing crosses upon
their penitential garments, which is now frequently enjoined penitents
in Spain and Portugal. And this is far from being a small punishment;
because such persons are exposed to the scoffs and insults of all, which
they are obliged to swallow, though the most cruel in themselves, and
offered by the vilest of mankind; for by these crosses they are marked
to all persons for heresy, or, as it is now in Spain and Portugal, for
Judaism: and being thus marked, the they are avoided by all, and are
almost excluded from all human society.

This garment was formerly of a black and bluish colour, like a monk’s
cloak, made without a cowl; and the crosses put on them were strait,
having one arm long, and the other across, after this manner †.
Sometimes, according to the heinousness of the offence, there were two
arms across, after this manner ‡. But now in Spain this garment is of a
yellow colour, and the crosses put on it are oblique, after the manner
of St. Andrew’s cross, in this form X, and are of a red colour. This
cloak the Italians call “Abitello,” the Spaniards “Sant Benito,” as
though it was “Sacco Benito,” i. e. the blessed sackcloth, because it is
fit for penance, by which we are blessed and saved. But Simancas says it
is the habit of St. Benedict.

Finally, the most grievous punishment is the being condemned to
perpetual imprisonment, there to do wholesome penance with the bread of
grief and the water of affliction. This is usually enjoined on the
believers of heretics, and such as are difficultly brought to
repentance; or who have a long while denied the truth during the trial,
or have perjured themselves.

Besides this condemnation to perpetual imprisonment, such persons are
also enjoined other penances, viz. sometimes to stand in the habit
marked with the cross at the door of such a church, such a time, and so
long, viz. on the four principal festivals of the glorious Virgin Mary,
of such a church; or on such and such festivals, at the gates of such
and such churches. Sometimes before they are shut up in prison they are
publicly exposed, viz. being clothed with the habit of the crosses, they
are placed upon an high ladder in the gate of some church, that they may
be plainly seen by all; where they must stand till dinner time; after
which they must be carried, clothed in the same habit, to the same
place, at the first ringing to vespers, and there stand till sun-set;
and these spectacles are usually repeated on several Sundays and
festivals in several churches, which are particularly specified in their
sentence. But if they break prison, or do not otherwise fulfil the
penances enjoined them, they are condemned as impenitents, and as under
the guilt of their former crimes; and and if they fall again into the
hands of the inquisitors, they are delivered over as impenitents to the
secular court, unless they humbly ask pardon, and profess that they will
obey the commands of the inquisitors.

However, if persons remain impenitent till after sentence is pronounced,
there is no farther place for pardon. And yet there is one instance of
Stephana de Proaudo, extant in the book of the sentences of the
Thoulouse inquisition, who, being judged an heretic the day before, and
left as an heretic to the secular court (from whence it appears that it
was not then usual for those who were left to the secular court to be
burnt the same day on which the sentence is pronounced, as is now
practised in Spain and Portugal) seeing on the following day, viz.
Monday, that the fire in which she was to be burnt was made ready, said
on that very day, that she was willing to be converted to the Catholic
faith, and to return to the ecclesiastical unity. And when it was
doubted whether she spoke this feignedly or sincerely, or through fear
of death, and was answered, that the time of mercy was elapsed, and that
she should think of the salvation of her soul, and fully discover
whatsoever she knew of herself or others concerning the fact of heresy,
which she promised to say and do, and that she would die in the faith of
the holy church of Rome; upon this the inquisitor and vicars of the
bishop of Tholouse called a council on the following Tuesday, and at
length it was concluded, that on the following Sunday she should confess
the faith of the church of Rome, recant her errors, and be carried back
to prison, where it would be proved whether her conversion was real or
pretended; and so strictly kept, that she might not be able to infect
others with her errors. Emerick[271] also gives us an instance at
Barcelona, in Catalonia, of three heretics, impenitent, but not
relapsed, who were delivered over to the secular arm. And when one of
them, who was a priest, was put in the fire, and one of his sides
somewhat burnt, he cried to be taken out of it, because he would abjure
and repent. And he was taken out accordingly. But he was afterwards
found always to have continued in his heresy, and to have infected many,
and would not be converted; and was therefore turned over again, as
impenitent and relapsed, to the secular arm, and burnt.


Footnote 271:

  P. 204.


The author of the History of the Inquisition at Goa,[272] gives us
another instance of a very rich new Christian, whose name was Lewis
Pezoa, who, with his whole family, had been accused of secret Judaism,
by some of his enemies; and who, with his wife, two sons and one
daughter, and some other relations that lived with him, were all thrown
into the jail of the inquisition. He denied the crime of which he was
accused, and well refuted it; and demanded that the witnesses who had
deposed against him might be discovered to him, that he might convict
them of falsehood. But he could obtain nothing, and was condemned as a
negative, to be delivered over to the arm of the secular court; which
sentence was made known to him fifteen days before it was pronounced.
The Duke of Cadaval, an intimate friend of the Duke d’Aveira, inquisitor
general, had made strict inquiry how his affair was like to turn. And
understanding by the inquisitor general, that unless he confessed before
his going out of prison he could not escape the fire, because he had
been legally convicted, he continued to entreat the inquisitor general,
till he had obtained a promise from him, that if he could persuade Pezoa
to confess, even after sentence pronounced, and his procession in the
act of faith, he should not die, though it was contrary to the laws and
customs of an act of faith. Upon that solemn day therefore, on which the
act of faith was to be held, he went with some of his own friends, and
some that were Pezoa’s, to the gate of the inquisition, to prevail with
him, if possible, to confess. He came out in the procession, wearing the
infamous Samarre, and on his head the Caroch, or infamous mitre. His
friends, with many tears, besought him in the name of the Duke de
Cadoval, and by all that was dear to him, that he would preserve his
life; and intimated to him, that if he would confess and repent, the
said duke had obtained his life from the inquisitor general, and would
give him more than he had lost. But all in vain; Pezoa continually
protesting himself innocent, and that the crime itself was falsely
invented by his enemies, who sought his destruction. When the procession
was ended, and the act of faith almost finished, the sentences of those
who were condemned to certain penances having been read, and on the
approach of evening the sentences of those who were to be delivered over
to the secular court being begun to be read, his friends repeated their
intreaties, by which at last they overcame his constancy, so that
desiring an audience, and rising up that he might be heard, he said,
“Come then, let us go and confess the crimes I am falsely accused of,
and thereby gratify the desires of my friends.” And having confessed his
crime, he was remanded to jail. Two years after he was sent to Evora,
and in the act of faith walked in procession, wearing the Samarre, on
which was painted the fire inverted, according to the usual custom of
the Portuguese inquisition; and after five years more that he was
detained in the jail of the inquisition, he was condemned to the gallies
for five years.


Footnote 272:

  C. 38.


If the person accused is found a relapse by his own confession, he
cannot escape death, even though he is penitent. If he be in holy
orders, he is first degraded. After sentence is pronounced against him,
he is delivered to the secular arm, with this clause added to his
sentence by the inquisitors: “Nevertheless, we earnestly beseech the
said secular arm, that he will moderate his sentence against you, so as
to prevent the effusion of blood, or danger of death:” Thus adding
hypocrisy and insult to their devilish barbarity.

If the person accused be an impenitent heretick, but not relapsed, he is
kept in chains in close imprisonment, that he may not escape, or infect
others; and in the mean while all methods must be used for his
conversion. They send clergymen to instruct him, and to put him in mind
of the pains of hell-fire. If this will not do, they keep him in chains
for a year or more, in a close, hard jail, that his constancy may be
overcome by the misery of his imprisonment. If this doth not move him,
they use him in a little kinder manner, and promise him mercy, if he
will repent. If they cannot thus prevail with him, they suffer his wife
and children, and little ones, and his other relations, to come to him,
and break his constancy. But if after all he persists in his heresy, he
is burnt alive.

If the person accused be found guilty of heresy by the evidence of the
fact, or legal witnesses, and yet doth not confess, but persists in the
negative; after having been kept in jail for a year, he must be
delivered over to the secular arm. So that if it should happen that he
is accused by false witnesses, and is really innocent, the miserable
wretch, though falsely condemned, is delivered to the power of the
secular court, to be burnt alive; nor is it lawful for him, without the
commission of mortal sin, as the Roman doctors think, to save his life,
by falsely confessing a crime he hath not committed; and therefore it is
the duty of the divines and confessors, who comfort such a negative, and
attend on him to his punishment, to persuade him to discover the truth;
but to caution him by all means not to acknowledge a crime he hath not
committed, to avoid temporal death; and to put him in remembrance, that
if he patiently endures this injury and punishment, he will be crowned
as a martyr.

It is however evident, if the practice of the Portugal inquisition be
considered, that the inquisitors are not so very solicitous about the
eternal salvation of those they condemn, as they are to consult their
own honour by the criminals confessions even of false crimes. Of this we
have a remarkable instance, of a noble Portugueze, descended from the
race of the new Christians, who was accused of Judaism. But as he did
most firmly deny the crime objected to him, nothing was omitted that
might persuade him to a confession of it; for he was not only promised
his life, but the restitution of all his effects, if he would confess,
and threatened with a cruel death if he persisted in the negative. But
when all this was to no purpose, the inquisitor general, who had some
respect for him, endeavoured to overcome his constancy by wheedling, and
other arguments; but when he constantly refused to confess himself
guilty of a crime he had not committed, the inquisitor general being at
last provoked by his firmness, said, “What then do you mean? Do you
think that we will suffer ourselves to be charged with a lie?” And
having said this, he went off. When the act of faith drew near, the
sentence of death was pronounced against him, and a confessor allowed
him to prepare him for death. But at last he sunk under the fear of his
approaching dreadful punishment, and by confessing on the very day of
the act of faith the crime falsely fastened on him, he escaped death;
but all his estate was confiscated, and he himself condemned for five
years to the gallies.

If the person accused is a fugitive, after waiting for his appearance a
competent time, he is cited to appear on such a day in the cathedral of
such a diocese, and the citation fixed on the gates of the church. If he
doth not appear, he is complained of for contumacy, and accused in form.
When this is done, and the crime appears, sentence is pronounced against
the criminal; and if the information against him be for heresy, he is
declared an obstinate heretic, and left as such to the secular arm. This
sentence is pronounced before all the people, and the statue or image of
the absent person publicly produced, and carried in procession; on which
is a superscription, containing his name and surname; which statue is
delivered to the secular power, and by him burnt. Thus Luther’s statue
was burnt, together with his books, at the command of Pope Leo X. by the
Bishop of Ascoli.

The inquisitors also proceed against the dead. If there be full proof
against him of having been an heretic, his memory is declared infamous,
and his heirs, and other possessors, deprived of his effects; and
finally, his bones dug out of their grave, and publicly burnt. Thus
Wickliff’s body and bones were ordered to be dug up and burnt, by the
council of Constance: Bucer and Fagius, by Cardinal Pool, at Cambridge;
and the wife of Peter Martyr, by Brookes, Bishop of Gloucester, at
Oxford; whose body they buried in a dunghill. And thus Mark Antony de
Dominis, Archbishop of Spalato, was condemned after his death for
heresy; and the inquisitors agreed that the same punishments should be
executed upon his dead body, as would have been on himself had he been

Having taken this resolution, the twenty-first day of December, anno
1624, was appointed for the pronouncing sentence. Early in the morning
of it, so vast a multitude had got together to St. Mary supra Minervam,
where they generally give these religious shews, that they were forced
not only to shut up, but to guard the gates with armed men; and the
great area before the church was so prodigiously thronged, that there
was scarce room for the cardinals themselves to pass. The middle aisle
of the church, from the first to the fourth pillar, was boarded in, with
boards above the height of a tall man. At the upper and lower end of it
there were gates, guarded by Switzers. On each side there were
scaffolds, running the whole length of the inclosure; in which were
seats for the cardinals and other prelates, and other conveniences, to
receive the courtiers and other noblemen standing or sitting. On the
right hand, coming in, the sacred council presided; on the left hand
were placed the inferior officers of the holy inquisition, the governor
of the city, and his officials. Before the pulpit was to be seen the
picture of Mark Anthony, drawn in colours, covered with a black common
garment, holding a clergyman’s cap in his hand, with his name, sirname,
and archiepiscopal dignity, which formerly he had borne, inscribed upon
it, together with a wooden chest bedaubed with pitch, in which the dead
body was inclosed. The rest of the church was filled with citizens, and
a great many foreigners; the number of whom was at that time larger,
because the jubilee that was at hand had brought them from all parts to
the city, that they might be present at the opening of the sacred gates.

Things being thus disposed, a certain parson mounted the pulpit, and
with a shrill voice, which rung through all the parts of the spacious
church, and in the vulgar language, that the common people might
understand him, read over a summary of the process, and the sentence by
which the cardinals inquisitors general, specially deputed for the
affair by the pope, pronounced Mark Anthony, as a relapse into heresy,
to have incurred all the censures and penalties appointed to relapsed
heretics by the sacred canons, and papal constitutions; and declared him
to be deprived of all honours, prerogatives, and ecclesiastical
dignities, condemned his memory, and cast him out of the ecclesiastical
court, delivered over his dead body and effigies into the power of the
governor of the city, that he might inflict on it the punishment due,
according to the rule and practice of the church. And finally, they
commanded his impious and heretical writings to be publicly burnt, and
declared all his effects to be forfeited to the exchequer of the holy
inquisition. After this sentence was read, the governor of the city and
his officers threw the corpse, effigies, and aforesaid writings into a
cart, and carried them into the Campo Fiore, a great multitude of people
following after. When they came there, the dead body, which as yet in
all its members was whole and entire, was raised out of the chest as far
as the bottom of the breast, and shewn from on high to the vast
concourse of people that stood round about; and was afterwards, with the
effigies and bundle of his books, thrown into the pile prepared for the
purpose, and there burnt.

And finally, in order to beget in the common people a greater abhorrence
of the crime of heresy, they usually pull down and level with the ground
the houses or dwellings in which heretics hold their conventicles, the
ground on which they stood being sprinkled over with salt, and certain
curses and imprecations uttered over it. And that there may be a
perpetual monument of its infamy, a pillar or stone, four or five feet
high, is erected in the said ground, with large characters on it,
containing the name and owner of the house, shewing the reason of its
demolition, and the reign of what pope, emperor or king, the matter was

The whole of this horrid affair is concluded by what they call “An Act
of Faith;” which is performed after this manner. When the inquisitor is
determined to pronounce the sentences of certain criminals, he fixes on
some Lord’s-day or festival to perform this solemnity. But they take
care that it be not Advent Sunday, or in Lent, or a very solemn day,
such as the Nativity of our Lord, Easter, and the like; because it is
not decent that the sermons on those days should be suspended, but that
every one should go to his own parish church. A certain Sunday or
festival therefore being appointed, the parsons of all the churches of
that city or place, in which this solemnity is to be performed, do, by
command of the bishop and inquisitor, when they have done preaching,
publicly intimate to the clergy and people, that the inquisitor will, in
such a church, hold a general sermon concerning the faith; and they
promise, in the name of the pope, the usual indulgence of forty days, to
all who will come and see, and hear the things which are there to be
transacted. They take care to give the same notice in the houses of
those religious, who commonly preach the word of God; and that their
superiors should be told, that because the inquisitor will in such a
church make a general sermon concerning the faith, therefore he suspends
all other sermons, that every superior may send four or two friars, as
he thinks fit, to be present at the sermon, and the pronouncing the
sentences. This solemnity was formerly called “A general Sermon
concerning the Faith;” but it is now called, “An Act of Faith.” And in
this, great numbers of persons, sometimes one or two hundred, are
brought forth in public procession to various kinds of penances and
punishments, all wearing the most horrible habits. They choose festivals
for this solemnity, because then there is a greater confluence of people
gathered together to see the torments and punishments of the criminals,
that from hence they may learn to fear, and be kept from the commission
of evil. And indeed, as this act of faith is now celebrated in Spain and
Portugal, the solemnity is truly an horrible and tremendous spectacle,
in which every thing is designedly made use of that may strike terror;
for this reason, as they say, that they may hereby give some
representation and image of the future judgment.

If any one, whether an impenitent or relapsed heretic is to be delivered
to the secular court, the bishop and inquisitor give notice to the
principal magistrate of the secular court, that he must come such a day
and hour with his attendants to such a street or place, to receive a
certain heretic or relapsed person out of their court, whom they will
deliver to him: and that he must give public notice the same day, or the
day before in the morning, by the crier, throughout the city, in all the
usual places and streets, that on such a day and hour, and in such a
place, the inquisitor will make a sermon for the faith; and that the
bishop and inquisitor will condemn a certain heretic or relapse, by
delivering him to the secular court.

In most of the tribunals of the inquisition, especially in Spain, it is
a remarkable custom they use, viz. on the day before the acts of faith,
solemnly to carry a bush to the place of the fire, with the flames of
which they are consumed, who deserve the punishment of being burnt. This
is not without its mysteries; for the burning, and not consuming bush,
signifies the indefectible splendour of the church, which burns, and is
not consumed; and besides this, it signifies mercy towards the penitent,
and severity towards the froward and obstinate. And farther, it
represents how the inquisitors defend the vineyard of the church,
wounding with the thorns of the bush, and burning up with flames all who
endeavour to bring heresies into the harvest of the Lord’s field. And
finally, it points out the obstinacy and frowardness of heretics, which
must rather be broken and bent, like a rugged and stubborn bush; and
that as the thorns and prickles of the bush tear the garments of those
who pass by, so also do the heretics rend the seamless coat of Christ.

Besides, the day before the criminals are brought out of jail to the
public act of faith, they part with their hair and their beard; by which
the inquisitors represent, that heretics return to that condition in
which they were born, viz. becoming the children of wrath.

All things being thus prepared to celebrate this act of faith, all the
prisoners, on that very day which is appointed for the celebration of it
are clothed with that habit which they must wear in the public
procession. But the custom in this matter is not altogether the same in
all the inquisitions. In that of Goa, the jail-keepers, about midnight,
go into the cells of the prisoners, bringing a burning lamp to each of
them, and a black garment striped with white lines; and also a pair of
breeches, which reach down to their ankles; both which they order them
to put on. The black habit is given them in token of grief and
repentance. About two o’clock the keepers return, and carry the
prisoners into a long gallery, where they are all placed In a certain
order against the wall, no one of them being permitted to speak a word,
or mutter, or move; so that they stand immoveable, like statues, nor is
there the least motion of any one of their members to be seen, except of
their eyes. All these are such as have confessed their fault, and have
declared themselves willing to return by penance to the bosom of the
church of Rome. To every one of these is given a habit to put over their
black garment. Penitent heretics, or such as are vehemently suspected,
receive the blessed sackcloth, commonly called the Sambenito; which, as
we have before related, is of a saffron colour, and on which there is
put the cross of St. Andrew, of a red colour, on the back and on the
breast. Vile and abject persons are made to wear the infamous mitre for
more outrageous blasphemies, which carries in it a representation of
infamy, denoting that they are as it were bankrupts of heavenly riches.
The same mitre also is put on Polygamists, who are hereby shewn to have
joined themselves to two churches; and finally, such as are convicted of
magic; but what is signified hereby as to them, I have not been able to
discover. The others, whose offences are slighter, have no other garment
besides the black one. Every one hath given him an extinguished taper,
and a rope about their neck; which rope and extinguished taper have
their signification, as we shall afterwards shew. The women are placed
in a separate gallery from the men, and are there cloathed with the
black habit, and kept till they are brought forth in public procession.

As to those who are designed for the fire, viz. such as have confessed
their heresy, and are impenitent, and negatives, viz. such who are
convicted by a sufficient number of witnesses, and yet deny their crime,
and finally such as are relapsed, they are all carried into a room
separate from the others. Their dress is different from that of the
others. They are however, clothed with the sackcloth, or kind of mantle,
which some call the Sambenito, others the Samarra or Samaretta. And
though it be of the same make as the Sambenito is, yet it hath different
marks, is of a black colour, hath flames painted on it, and sometimes
the condemned heretic himself, painted to the life, in the midst of the
flames. Sometimes also they paint on it devils thrusting the poor
heretic into hell. Other things may also be put on it; and all this is
done, that persons may be deterred from heresy by this horrible

As to those, who after sentence pronounced, do at length confess their
crime, and convert themselves, before they go out of jail, they are, if
not relapses, clothed with the Samarra, on which the fire is painted,
sending the flames downward, which the Portugueze call Fogo revolto; as
though you should say, the fire inverted. Besides this, they have paper
mitres put on them, made in the shape of a cone; on which also devils
and flames are painted, which the Spaniards and Portugueze call in their
language Carocha. All of them being thus clothed, according to the
nature of their crime, are allowed to sit down on the ground, waiting
for fresh orders. Those of them who are to be burnt, are carried into a
neighbouring apartment, where they have confessors always with them, to
prepare them for death, and convert them to the faith of the church of

About four o’clock the officers give bread and figs to all of them, that
they may somewhat satisfy their hunger during the celebration of the act
of faith. About sun-rising, the great bell of the cathedral church
tolls; by which, as the usual signal of an act of faith, all persons are
gathered together to this miserable spectacle. The more reputable and
principal men of the city meet at the house of the inquisition, and are
as it were the sureties of the criminals, one of them walking by the
side of each criminal in the procession, which they think is no small
honour to them. Matters being thus prepared, the inquisitor places
himself near the gate of the house of the inquisition, attended by the
notary of the holy office. Here he reads over in order the names of all
the criminals; beginning with those whose offences are least, and ending
with those whose crimes are greatest. The criminals march out each in
their order, with naked feet, and wearing the habit that was put on them
in jail. As every one goes out, the notary reads the name of his surety,
who walks by his side in the procession. The Dominican monks march
first; who have this honour granted them, because Dominick, the founder
of their order, was also the inventor of the inquisition. The banner of
the holy office is carried before them; in which the image of Dominick
is curiously wrought in needle-work, holding a sword in one hand, and in
the other a branch of olive, with these words “justice and mercy.” Then
follow the criminals with their sureties. When all those whose crimes
are too slight to be punished with death, are gone out into procession,
then comes the crucifix; after which follow those who are led out to the
punishment of death. The crucifix being in the midst of these, hath its
face turned to those who walk before, to denote the mercy of the holy
office to those who are saved from the death they had deserved; and the
back part of it to those who come after, to denote that they have no
grace or mercy to expect: for all things in this office are mysterious.
Finally, they carry out the statues of those who have died in heresy,
habited in the Samarra; and also the bones dug out of the graves, shut
up in black chests, upon which devils and flames are painted all over,
that they may be burnt to ashes.

[273]When they have thus marched round the principal streets of the
city, that all may behold them, they at length enter the church, where
the sermon concerning the faith is to be preached. At Goa this is
usually the church of the Dominicans, and sometimes that of the
Franciscans. The great altar is covered over with cloth, upon which are
placed six silver candlesticks, with burning tapers. On each side of it
is erected something like a throne; that on the right hand for the
inquisitor and his counsellors; that on the left for the viceroy and his
officers. Over against the great altar there is another lesser one, on
which several missals are placed; and from thence even to the gate of
the church is made a long gallery, three feet wide, full of seats, in
which the criminals are placed, with their sureties, in the order in
which they enter the church; so that those who enter first, and have
offended least, are nearest the altar.


Footnote 273:

  Dr. Geddes gives us the following account of this procession in
  Portugal, p. 442. “In the morning of the day the prisoners are all
  brought into a great hall, where they have the habits put on they are
  to wear in the procession, which begins to come out of the inquisition
  about nine o’clock in the morning.

  “The first in the procession are the Dominicans, who carry the
  standard of the inquisition, which on the one side hath their founder,
  Dominick’s picture, and on the other side the cross, betwixt an
  olive-tree and a sword, with this motto, “Justitia & Miserecordia.”
  Next after the Dominicans come the penitents; some with Benitoes, and
  some without, according to the nature of their crimes. They are all in
  black coats without sleeves, and bare-footed, with a wax-candle in
  their hands. Next come the penitents who have narrowly escaped being
  burnt, who over their black coat have flames painted, with their
  points turned downwards, to signify their having been saved, but so as
  by fire. Next come the negative and relapsed, that are to be burnt,
  with flames upon their habit, pointing upward; and next come those who
  profess doctrines contrary to the faith of the Roman church, and who,
  besides flames on their habit pointing upward, have their picture,
  which is drawn two or three days before upon their breasts, with dogs,
  serpents, and devils, all with open mouths painted about it.

  “Pegna, a famous Spanish inquisitor, calls this procession, ‘Horrendum
  ac tremendum Spectaculum,’ and so it is in truth, there being
  something in the looks of all the prisoners, besides those that are to
  be burnt, that is ghastly and disconsolate, beyond what can be
  imagined; and in the eyes and countenances of those that are to be
  burnt, there is something that looks fierce and eager.

  “The prisoners that are to be burnt alive, besides a Familiar, which
  all the rest have, have a Jesuit on each hand of them, who are
  continually preaching to them to abjure their heresies; but if they
  offer to speak any thing, in defence of the doctrines they are going
  to suffer death for professing, they are immediately gagged, and not
  suffered to speak a word more.

  “This I saw done to a prisoner, presently after he came out of the
  gates of the inquisition, upon his having looked up to the sun, which
  he had not seen before in several years, and cried out in a rapture,
  ‘How is it possible for people that behold that glorious body, to
  worship any Being but him that created it?’ After the prisoners comes
  a troop of familiars on horseback, and after them the inquisitors and
  other officers of the court upon mules; and last of all comes the
  inquisitor general upon a white horse, led by two men, with a black
  hat, and a green hatband, and attended by all the nobles, that are not
  employed as familiars in the procession.

  “In the Terreiro de Paco, which may be as far from the inquisition as
  Whitehall is from Temple-bar, there is a scaffold erected, which may
  hold two or three thousand people; at the one end sit the inquisitors,
  and at the other end the prisoners, and in the same order as they
  walked in the procession; those that are to be burnt being seated on
  the highest benches behind the rest, which may be ten feet above the
  floor of the scaffold.”


After this comes in the inquisitor, surrounded with his colleagues, and
places himself on the right hand throne; and then the viceroy, with his
attendants, seats himself on the throne on the left hand. The crucifix
is put on the altar in the midst of the six candlesticks. Then the
sermon is preached concerning the faith, and the office of the
inquisition. This honour is generally given to the Dominicans. The
author of the History of the Inquisition at Goa tells us, that in the
act of faith, in which he walked in procession, cloathed with the
Sambenito, the provincial of the Augustines preached the sermon, which
lasted half an hour, and treated of the inquisition, which he compared
to Noah’s ark; but said it was preferable to Noah’s ark in this, because
that the animals which entered it came out of it after the flood with
the same brutal nature they carried in; whereas the inquisition so far
changes the persons who are detained in it, that though they enter cruel
as wolves, and fierce as lions, they come out of it meek as lambs.

When the sermon is ended, two readers, one after another, mount the same
pulpit, and with a loud voice publicly read over the sentences of all
the criminals, and the punishment to which they are condemned. He whose
sentence is to be read over, is brought by an officer into the middle of
the gallery, holding an extinguished taper in his hand, and there stands
till his sentence is read through; and because all the criminals are
supposed to have incurred the greater excommunication, when any one’s
sentence is read over, he is brought to the foot of the altar, where,
upon his knees, and his hands placed on the missale, he waits till so
many are brought there, as there are missals upon the altar. Then the
reader for some time defers the reading of the sentences; and after he
hath admonished those who are kneeling at the altar, that they should
recite with him with their heart and mouth the confession of faith he is
to read over to them, he reads it with a loud voice; and when it is
ended, they all take their former places. Then the reader reads over the
sentences of the rest, and the same order is observed till all the
sentences are gone through.

When the sentences of all those, who are freed from the punishment of
death by the mercy of the office, are read through, the inquisitor rises
from his throne, puts on his sacred vestments, and being attended with
about twenty priests, comes down into the middle of the church, and
there saying over some solemn prayers,[274] which may be seen[275] in
the Book of the Sentences of the Thoulouse Inquisition, he absolves them
all from the excommunication they were under, giving each of them a blow
by the hands of those priests who attend him.


Footnote 274:

        _Verse._ Lord save thy men servants, and thine handmaids.
        _Resp._ Those, O my God, who trust in thee.
        _Verse._ The Lord be with you.
        _Resp._ And with thy spirit.

                              _Let us pray._

  Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, to these thy men servants, and thine
  handmaids, the worthy fruit of penance; that they may be rendered
  innocent in the sight of thy holy church, from the integrity of which
  they have strayed through sin, by obtaining the pardon of their sins,
  through Christ our Lord. _Amen._

Footnote 275:

  Fol. 149.


Farther, when the inquisitors absolve and reconcile penitents at an act
of faith, they make use of rods, to admonish them, that by heresy they
have fallen from the favour of God into his anger and fury. Hence
Paramus[276] advises such penitents to consider, with how great
indulgence they are treated, because they are only whipped on the
shoulders; that they may go away, and being mindful of the divine fury,
may take heed not to relapse for the future. The rod also points out the
judiciary power which the inquisitors exercise over impious heretics,
and those who are suspected of heresy; because a rod is the measure by
which any one’s deserts are measured, and therefore penitents are
whipped with rods according to the nature of their offence, whereby
their faults are weighed and measured. Farther, the inquisitors use
rods, because, as a rod at the beginning is in its nature flexible,
tender and soft, but at last hard, blunt and stiff, so the inquisitors
are soft and tender, whilst penitents offending through frailty and
ignorance, reconcile themselves; but if heretics do afterwards suffer
themselves to be overcome by wickedness, and fall again into the crimes
they have committed, then they whip them, and strike them severely, even
to the burning of the fire. And, finally, they use rods to establish and
support the weak in the faith; because rods are a very apt instrument to
support and confirm the lame and weak.


Footnote 276:

  L. 2. t. 3. c. 11.


The penitents carry in their hands extinguished wax tapers, whilst the
inquisitors reconcile them; to intimate, that the light of the faith
hath been altogether extinguished in their minds by the sin of heresy
and infidelity. These tapers are made of wax, whereby heretics profess
(Risum teneatis) that their hearts have been so melted, through the heat
of Concupiscence, as to receive various sects; and that as wax grows
hard by moisture, but melts by dryness and warmth, so they being
hardened by the moisture of carnal delights, have remained in
infidelity, but are melted as wax, and converted by the dryness and heat
of tribulation and penance enjoined them. And finally, the cotton of the
taper, and the wax of which it is made, and the fire with which it is
lighted after absolution, shadow forth that the heretics have denied
faith, hope, and charity. But when the tapers are lighted after their
reconciliation, this signifies that they profess they will demonstrate,
by the light of good works, the faith which they have recovered.

Farther, those who are reconciled are sprinkled with holy water and
hyssop, in token, that being brought out of the power of darkness, and
having turned the eyes of their minds to the true light of the faith,
they are to remain free from all the snares and calumnies of the devil,
that they may serve God with greater freedom.

Farther, he who hath offended against the Catholic faith which he had
professed, hath a rope tied round his neck, to signify, that the inward
parts of such a person being possessed by the craftiness of the devil,
have been given to such sins, of which his outward parts being tied with
ropes, give a very evident sign and proof. And though they are
reconciled after abjuration of their heresy, yet they walk with a rope
tied about their necks; that they may come out as witnesses against
themselves, and may be examples to others, that they may turn their eyes
to the inward spots of the mind.

During this action, every one of the prisoners eats the bread and figs
in the church, which were given them by the officers of the inquisition
in jail.

When this ceremony is performed, the inquisitor goes back to his place;
after which the sentences of those who are appointed to death are read
over; the conclusion of which is, that the inquisition can shew them no
favour, upon account of their being relapsed, or impenitent, and that
therefore it delivers them over to the arm of the secular court, which
they earnestly intreat so to moderate their punishment, as to prevent
the effusion of blood, and danger of death. When those last words are
read, one of the officers of the holy office gives each of them a blow
on the breast, by which he signifies that they are left by the
inquisition; upon which one of the officers of secular justice comes to
them and claims them. If any of them are in holy orders, they are
degraded, and deprived of all their orders, before they are delivered to
the secular arm. After this they read the sentences against the dead. At
last these miserable wretches are brought to the secular judge, to hear
the sentence of death; and when they come before him, they are severally
asked in what religion they desire to die? Their crime is never inquired
into; because it is not the office of the secular magistrate to ask,
whether those, who are condemned by the inquisition, are criminal? He is
to presuppose them guilty, and his duty is to inflict the punishment
appointed by law upon those who commit such crimes, of which they are
pronounced guilty by the inquisition. When they have answered this one
single question, they are soon after tied to a stake, round about which
there is placed a pile of wood. Those who answer that they will die
Catholics, are first strangled; but those who say they will die Jews or
heretics, are burnt alive.[277] As these are leading out to punishment,
the rest are carried back without any order, by their sureties, to the
jail of the inquisition. This is the celebration of an act of faith in
Portugal; or rather in that part of India which is subject to the
Portugueze, as a Frenchman hath described it in his History of the
Inquisition at Goa, who himself walked in procession at an act of faith,
wearing the infamous Sambenito, and who accurately observed and
described all the circumstances of it.


Footnote 277:

  I cannot here avoid giving my reader a more particular account of this
  execution from Dr. Geddes, who himself was once present at it. His
  words are these: “The prisoners are no sooner in the hands of the
  civil magistrate, than they are loaded with chains, before the eyes of
  the inquisitors; and being carried first to the secular jail, are,
  within an hour or two, brought from thence, before the lord chief
  justice, who without knowing any thing of their particular crimes, or
  of the evidence that was against them, asks them, one by one, in what
  religion they do intend to die? If they answer, that they will die in
  the communion of the Church of Rome, they are condemned by him, to be
  carried forthwith to the place of execution, and there to be first
  strangled, and afterwards burnt to ashes. But if they say, they will
  die in the Protestant, or in any other faith that is contrary to the
  Roman, they are then sentenced by him, to be carried forthwith to the
  place of execution, and there to be burnt alive.

  “At the place of execution, which at Lisbon is the Ribera, there are
  so many stakes set up as there are prisoners to be burnt, with a good
  quantity of dry furze about them. The stakes of the professed, as the
  inquisitors call them, may be about four yards high, and have a small
  board, whereon the prisoner is to be seated, within half a yard of the
  top. The negative and relapsed being first strangled and burnt, the
  professed go up a ladder, betwixt the two jesuits, which have attended
  them all day; and when they are come even with the forementioned
  board, they turn about to the people, and the jesuits spend near a
  quarter of an hour in exhorting the professed to be reconciled to the
  Church of Rome; which, if they refuse to be, the jesuits come down,
  and the executioner ascends, and having turned the professed off the
  ladder upon the seat, and chained their bodies close to the stake, he
  leaves them; and the jesuits go up to them a second time, to renew
  their exhortation to them, and at parting tell them, that they leave
  them to the devil, who is standing at their elbow to receive their
  souls, and carry them with him into the flames of hell-fire, so soon
  as they are out of their bodies. Upon this a great shout is raised,
  and as soon as the jesuits are off the ladders, the cry is, ‘Let the
  dogs beards, let the dogs beards be made;’ which is done by thrusting
  flaming furzes, fastened to a long pole, against their faces. And this
  inhumanity is commonly continued until their faces are burnt to a
  coal, and is always accompanied with such loud acclamations of joy, as
  are not to be heard upon any other occasion; a bull feast, or a farce,
  being dull entertainments, to the using a professed heretic thus

  “The professed beards having been thus made, or trimmed, as they call
  it in jollity, fire is set to the furze, which are at the bottom of
  the stake, and above which the professed are chained so high, that the
  top of the flame seldom reaches higher than the seat they sit on; and
  if there happens to be a wind, to which that place is much exposed, it
  seldom reaches so high as their knees: so that though, if there be a
  calm, the professed are commonly dead in about half an hour after the
  furze is set on fire; yet, if the weather prove windy, they are not
  after that dead in an hour and a half, or two hours, and so are really
  roasted, and not burnt to death. But though, out of hell, there cannot
  possibly be a more lamentable spectacle than this, being joined with
  the sufferers (so long as they are able to speak) crying out,
  ‘Miserecordia por amor de Dios, Mercy for the love of God;’ yet it is
  beheld by people of both sexes, and all ages, with such transports of
  joy and satisfaction, as are not on any other occasion to be met
  with.” Dr. Gedde’s Tracts, vol. I. p. 447, &c. Thus far Dr. Geddes.

  When Mr. Wilcox, afterwards the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of
  Rochester, was minister to the English factory at Lisbon, he sent the
  following letter to the then Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Gilbert Burnet,
  dated at Lisbon, Jan. 15, 1706, N. S. which I publish by his
  lordship’s allowance and approbation, and which abundantly confirms
  the foregoing account.

        “My Lord,

  “In obedience to your lordship’s commands, of the 10th ult. I have
  here sent all that was printed concerning the last Auto de Fe. I saw
  the whole process, which was agreeable to what is published by
  Limborch and others upon that subject. Of the five persons condemned,
  there were but four burnt; Antonio Tavanes, by an unusual reprieve,
  being saved after the procession. Heytor Dias, and Maria Pinteyra,
  were burnt alive, and the other two first strangled. The execution was
  very cruel. The woman was alive in the flames half an hour, and the
  man above an hour. The present king and his brothers were seated at a
  window so near, as to be addressed to a considerable time, in very
  moving terms, by the man as he was burning. But though the favour he
  begged was only a few more faggots, yet he was not able to obtain it.
  Those which are burnt alive here, are seated on a bench twelve feet
  high, fastened to a pole, and above six feet higher than the faggots.
  The wind being a little fresh, the man’s hinder parts were perfectly
  wasted; and as he turned himself, his ribs opened before he left
  speaking, the fire being recruited as it wasted, to keep him just in
  the same degree of heat. But all his entreaties could not procure him
  a larger allowance of wood to shorten his misery and dispatch him.”
  Thus far the Letter.

  How diabolical a religion must that be, which thus divests men of all
  the sentiments of humanity and compassion, and hardens them against
  all the miseries and sufferings of their fellow creatures! For as Dr.
  Geddes observes, _ibid._ p. 450, “That the reader may not think that
  this inhuman joy is the effect of a natural cruelty that is in these
  peoples disposition, and not of the spirit of their religion, he may
  rest assured, that all public malefactors besides heretics, have their
  violent deaths no where more tenderly lamented than amongst the same
  people, and even when there is nothing in the manner of their deaths
  that appears inhuman or cruel.”


The method of celebrating an act of faith in Spain, is somewhat
different. For whereas at Goa the banner, which they carry before the
procession hath the picture of Dominick wrought in it, Paramus says,
that in Spain the cross is the banner of the inquisition, which is
carried before them; and tediously tells us of several mysteries
signified by the cross, of which I will here give a short summary.

The cross is the beginning and end of all acts of the inquisition; and
by it is represented, that the tribunal of the inquisition is a
representation of that supreme and final tribunal, in which the sign of
the cross shall appear before the Lord Christ, coming to the judgement
of the world with great majesty and glory. Farther, it denotes the war
which the inquisition wages against heretics, and the victory which they
gain over the enemies of the orthodox faith; because the inquisitors are
appointed the conquerors of heretical pravity, and captains for the
defence of religion, who keep watch at the castle of the inquisition for
the Christian faith, repair it when going to ruin, restore it when
tumbled down, and preserve it when restored in its ancient, flourishing
and vigorous state.

The inquisition uses a green cross, that it may be more conveniently
distinguished from those crosses of other colours, which are used by the
Christian commonwealth; and especially that it may be shadowed out, that
all things usually signified by greenness, belong to the inquisition.
For instance, greenness denotes stability and eternity; it is a
grateful, pleasant, and attractive colour to the eyes, and finally is a
sign of victory and triumph. Hereby is shadowed forth, that the
inquisitors of heretical pravity vigilantly preserve the stability of
the church; and that heretics are attracted by the green cross, so that
they cannot escape the judgment of this tribunal, and by beholding it
are brought to the tender bosom of mother church, and drawn to
repentance, and the sincerity of the faith.

The banner of the inquisition hath a green cross in a field sable,
adorned on the right hand with a branch of green olive, and brandishing
on the left a drawn sword, with this motto round about the scutcheon,
“Exsurge, Domine, & judica causam tuam; Psal. lxxiv. 22. Arise, O Lord,
and plead thy own cause.” The branch of green olive denotes the same as
the green cross. But the branch of olive is on the right hand of the
cross, and the sword on the left, to shew that in the inquisition mercy
is mixed with justice; and the meaning of this mixture they derive from
the ark of the tabernacle, in which, together with the tables, there was
the rod and the manna, the rod of severity, and the manna of sweetness;
as though the rod of Aaron which blossomed, was the rod with which
judges command criminals to be whipped. The branch of olive at the right
hand, signifies that nothing ought to be so strictly regarded by the
inquisitors as mercy and clemency, which the olive most wonderfully
shadows forth, which hath branches always green, and which endures
storms much longer than any other trees, and if buried under water, is
not so soon destroyed, nor doth so easily lose its verdure. The drawn
sword brandishing on the left, points out that the inquisitors, after
having tried in vain all methods of mercy, do then as it were
unwillingly come to the use and drawing of the sword, which was given by
God for the punishment of offenders. The field of sable, in the midst of
which the green cross is placed, intimates the repentance of the
criminals, and the sorrow they conceive on account of their sins; which,
however, the green mitigates with the hope of pardon.

The motto round the scutcheon, “Exsurge Domine,” &c. marks out that the
inquisitors, in expectation of the coming of the Lord, do in the mean
while punish the wicked, that they may deter others, and defend the

But besides these things, there are other differences between the
celebration of an act of faith in India and Spain. Gonsalvius tells
us,[278] this solemn procession began in this manner at Seville. “In the
first place went some school-boys, brought out of a certain college in
which boys were taught, which they commonly call the house of teaching,
who strike an awe upon others by their habit, singing, and order, in
which they are kept by certain clergymen cloathed in surplices. They
walk along singing the litanies of the saints, repeating them
alternately, the chorus alternately answering,[279] “Ora pro nobis.”
After these follow the prisoners themselves, commonly called
penitentials, disposed as it were into several classes in this order.
Next after the children walk those who are convicted of lesser faults.
The tokens of their guilt are usually unlighted candles, halters about
their necks, wooden bits, and paper mitres. They walk with their heads
uncovered, that the mitre may not be concealed; and after the manner of
slaves, without their cloak. Those who excel others in birth, or riches,
follow after those who are meaner. Next to these march those who are
cloathed with the Sambenito’s, or military mantles, marked across with
the red cross; the same order being observed as above, according to the
distinction of the persons. Those who are defiled in holy orders, as
they are superior in dignity, so also are they in their place or rank in
the procession. After these comes the third and last class, viz. of
those who are appointed for the fire. Every prisoner is attended by two
armed familiars, for his safe custody, one on each side of him; besides
which, those who are to die have two monks or theatins, as they call
them, walking by them. The whole council of the city, consisting of the
alguazils, jurors, the judges of twenty-four degrees, the great officers
of the court, the regent and viceroy himself, or his deputy, who are
followed by a great number of nobility on horseback, immediately follow
the classes of the prisoners, who, according to the custom of a triumph,
ought certainly to march first. After these comes the ecclesiastical
order, the clergy, beneficed persons, and curates walking first. Next
after them walk the whole chapter of the principal church, which they
commonly call the cabild of the greater church. Then the abbots and
priors of the monks orders, with their attendants. All these walk before
the holy tribunal to do honour to it, because, on that day, it openly
triumphs. Between these and the next after there is a space left empty,
in which the fiscal of the inquisition, who hath had no small share in
gaining that victory to the holy tribunal, walks as standard-bearer in
truly military pomp, displaying and opening the standard made of red
damask silk. This standard is most curiously embroidered, having on one
side of it the arms of that pope who granted the inquisition, with his
name written at large; and on the other those of King Ferdinand, who
first brought it into Spain. Every thing in it is wrought with silk,
gold, and purple. Upon the very point of this banner is fastened a
silver crucifix washed over with gold, of great value; to which the
superstitious multitude pay a peculiar veneration, for this reason only,
because it belongs to the inquisition. At length come the fathers of the
faith themselves, with a slow pace, and profound gravity, truly
triumphing, as becomes the principal generals of that victory. After
them come all the familiars of the holy inquisition on horseback. Then
an innumerable company of the common people and mob, without any order
or character. In this pomp they march from the jail of the inquisition
to the high and magnificent scaffold, which is built of wood, in the
noblest and most capacious street of the city, for shewing the penitents
to public view, and for hearing their sentences. On this scaffold they
make them sit in the same order as they marched. There is also another
scaffold almost as large as the former, over against it, in which is
erected the tribunal of the lords inquisitors; where they sit in their
inquisitorial, and almost divine majesty, attended with all that
grandeur in which they came.”


Footnote 278:

  P. 135.

Footnote 279:

  Pray for us.


The king (if present) the queen and the whole court, and also the
legates, and all the nobility of Spain, generally honour this solemnity
with their presence. The seat of the inquisitor general is like a
tribunal, raised above the king’s. When all are seated in their places,
they begin with celebrating mass; but when the priest who officiates is
come to about the middle of the service, he leaves the altar, and goes
back to his proper place. Then the supreme inquisitor comes down from
the scaffold, robed in all his ornaments; and making his reverences
before the altar, ascends by several steps to the king, attended by some
of the officers of the inquisition, who carry the crucifix and gospels,
and the book in which is contained the oath, by which the king obliges
himself to protect the Catholic faith, to the extirpation of heresies,
and the defence of the inquisition. The king standing bare-headed,
having on one side of him the constable of Castile, or one of the
grandees of Spain, who holds up the sword of state, swears that he will
keep the oath, which is publicly read over to him, by one of the members
of the royal council; and remains in the same posture, till the supreme
inquisitor goes back to his place. After this one of the secretaries of
the inquisition goes into a desk, reads over the like oath, and takes it
from the council, and the whole assembly. Then all the several sentences
are read over, and the solemnity sometimes lasts till nine o’clock in
the evening.

Criminals penitent and reconciled, and brought out in public procession,
are carried back to their former jails in the holy office the same day
in which the sentences are pronounced against them, and the day
following are brought to an audience of the inquisitors, and are
admonished of those things which are enjoined them by their sentences,
and how grievously they will be punished, unless they humbly do the
penances assigned them. After this, they send every one to the place to
which his sentence ordered him. Those who are condemned to the gallies,
are sent to the jails of the secular judges. Some are whipped through
the principal streets of the city, and sometimes receive two hundred
lashes. Others wear the infamous Sambenito; some every day, others must
appear in them only sundays and holy days. But in these things every one
observes the custom of his own inquisition. In the inquisition at Goa
this is the method. Before the prisoners are dismissed, they are carried
from jail to some other house, where they are every day instructed in
the doctrines and rites of the Church of Rome; and when they are
dismissed, every one hath a writing given him, containing the penances
enjoined them; to which is added a command, that every one shall exactly
keep secret every thing he hath seen, said or heard, and all the
transactions relating to him, whether at the table, or in other places
of the holy office. And to this secrecy every prisoner binds himself by
a solemn oath.

The day after this solemnity also, the effigies of those condemned to
death, painted to the life, are carried to the dominican’s church, and
there hung up to be viewed by all. The custom in this matter is
described by Ludovicus a Paramo.[280] “There is another monument of
infamy, which, though vulgarly called by the Spaniards Sambenito, yet is
not a garment, but a cloth affixed to the walls of the churches for
perpetual infamy in the parishes where they lived. On this cloth is
written the name and surname of the criminal, and the business he
carried on is also expressed. If he discovers any farther, they add
another little piece to the cloth to prevent doubt, describing his
country, and oftentimes also the parents and grandfathers of the
condemned person.


Footnote 280:

  L. 2. t. 2. c. 5. n. 9, 10, 11.


“In some of these cloths may be read who were the parents of the
criminals, of what race they were; whether they were married, or if
married women, whose wives they were; whether lately recovered to the
Christian religion, from the Jewish law and Mahometan sect. Finally, the
cause of their penance is declared according to the nature of their
crime, viz. that he was an arch-heretic, a dogmatist, a declared
heretic, an heretical apostate, a feigned penitent, negative and
obstinate, an impenitent and relapsed heretic, a Lutheran, Anabaptist,
Calvinist, Martianist heretic, even though they died before
condemnation. Besides this inscription, there is also painted the mark
which is usually put on living penitents, as is above explained. In the
ancient cloths, which have not yet been repaired, one may see an upright
cross. Besides these already mentioned, other things may be seen in
them; for in some the person and crime is omitted, and this one word
only written without the picture, ‘Combustus,’ burnt. On the clothes of
such as are reconciled, this word only, without any cross or mark,
‘Reconciliatus,’ reconciled. Sometimes the date of the year is wanting.
Sometimes the flames are painted without any inscription, so that the
criminal cannot possibly be known. However, these monuments of infamy
and disgrace are not to be fixed up to render those infamous, who are
reconciled during the time of indulgence and grace. For as it was agreed
with them, that they should not wear such infamous habits, nor be
cloathed with them during the time of their reconciliation, it would be
contrary to reason and justice to hang them up, because it would be
wholly to destroy the favour granted them. This constitution is observed
in all the kingdoms and dominions of the King of Spain, except in
Sicily; where, in the year 1543, when the licentiate Cervera was
inquisitor there, there was a very great commotion at Palermo, when the
people rose against the holy inquisition, and tore off the infamous
cloths from the walls of the church dedicated to St. Dominic, with so
great a fury and rage, that they could never, to this day, fix them up
again upon the walls either of that, or any other church.”

Thus far we have described the method of proceeding observed in the
inquisition; and if we attentively consider it, and compare it with the
usual method of proceeding in all other courts, we shall find it to be a
series and connection of injustice and cruelties, and subversive of all
laws, both divine and human.

The Papists usually recommend to their own people this tribunal as an
holy one, and call the inquisition the holy office. But if we consider
it thoroughly, we shall find it is all disguise, by which they endeavour
to palliate and cover over the villany and injustice of this court. I
will not now undertake to shew that the causes which are managed before
this tribunal are not subject to human judgment, but belong to the
tribunal of God, and his son Christ: for God only, the supreme Lord of
all, who can save, and can destroy, can prescribe the laws of salvation
and damnation: He only, as omniscient and searcher of hearts, can
pronounce an infallible judgment of every one’s faith, which lies
concealed in his mind, and which he may dissemble by words or actions,
and hath admitted no man as partner with himself in this power. From
hence it evidently follows, that it is a sacrilegious violation of the
divine majesty and laws, in that the pope of Rome arrogates to himself
the judgment of the faith, prescribes laws of believing to the faithful,
erects the tribunal of an inquisition, sends every where inquisitors as
judges delegated by him, who, in his name, and by a power granted by
him, are to inquire into the faith of all, and punish those who are not
in all things obedient to the pope. Nor will I here examine that
villainous doctrine, by which they teach that heretics are to be
deprived of all power, so that faith is not to be kept with them;
subjects are not bound by their oath of allegiance and fidelity: that
the husband or wife, for the heresy of either, is freed from the laws of
matrimony, and even children from obedience to their parents: for it is
fully evident, that this doctrine subverts all laws, divine and human.

I will only, in a few words, represent the principal iniquities and
instances of injustice of this tribunal; in which, as to the reason and
method of proceeding in favour of the faith, it differs from the laws
and customs of all other courts; whereby things evidently unjust in
other tribunals, are in this accounted just. I shall not indeed mention
all, but the chief only, and most remarkable instances, as specimens of
the rest.

I. The first is, that the inquisitors, by publishing an edict of the
faith, oblige all, under the penalty of excommunication, to inform
before them of every one of whom they suspect of heresy, for the
slightest cause; so that not only a relation is bound to accuse his
relation, a brother his brother, and by this information to bring him
into danger of being burnt, the most horrible of all punishments; but
even a wife her husband: yea, what destroys all the laws of nature, a
son, according to the opinion of many doctors, is bound to inform
against his father, if a secret heretic.

II. A second instance of injustice, is their condemning a person defamed
only for heresy, to make canonical purgation, i. e. to purge himself
with seven, more or less, compurgators; so that if he fails in one, two
or three, he is accounted guilty, for thus the life and torture of any
one depends on the will and pleasure of another.

III. A third is, that in this office every one, though excluded by other
courts, is admitted for a witness, a mortal enemy only excepted.

IV. To this may be added a fourth, that the names of the witnesses are
not shewn to the prisoner, nor is any circumstance discovered to him by
which he can come to the knowledge of the witnesses.

V. A fifth instance of injustice is, that if two unexceptionable
witnesses, who yet must ever be liable to exception, because unknown to
the criminal, testify of different facts, yea, sometimes if there be one
only, yea, if but a mere report, they think it enough to order to the

VI. A sixth instance is, that they would have persons informed against
become their own accusers: for as soon as ever any one is thrown into
jail, he is bound by an oath to declare the truth.

VII. A seventh instance is, that the inquisitors use various arts to
draw out a confession from the prisoners, by making them deceitful
promises, which, when they have got the confession, they do not believe
themselves obliged to fulfil; that so the prisoner being destitute of
all human assistance and comfort, and seeing no end to his miseries,
may, through the art and fraud of the inquisitor, have no possible way
left to defend himself, and yet in the mean while these wretches affect
the appearance of justice, and grant the criminals an advocate and
proctor to manage their cause. But in this the prisoner is miserably

VIII. And this is an eighth specimen of their injustice, because the
advocate granted to him is given him only to betray him. For he may not
choose such an advocate as he himself approves of, nor is it lawful for
the advocate to defend the prisoner, unless he would be accounted as a
favourer of heresy; but the inquisition itself assigns him his advocate,
bound to them by an oath, whose principal business is to persuade the
criminal to confess the crime he is accused of, not to use any methods
of defence not practised in the court of the inquisition, and
immediately to quit his defence, if he cannot defend him according to
the laws of the inquisition.

IX. A ninth is, that when the crimes cannot be proved against the
prisoner, he is not absolved from the crime of which he is accused, but
only from prosecution; and all the declaration that is made, is that the
crime against him is not proved by proper witnesses; and this sentence
is never taken for an adjudged case. So that he who is once informed
against to the inquisition, although he be innocent, and his crime
cannot be proved according to the received manner of the inquisition,
though indeed, according to that manner, all crimes of which there is
but the least suspicion may be easily proved; yet he is never blotted
out of the inquisitors book or index, but his name is there preserved in
perpetual remembrance of his being a suspected person, that if he should
happen to be informed against for heresy at any other time, these latter
informations added to the former may amount to a real proof; and that
although he is dismissed from jail by the sentence of the judge, he may
never be able to live in safety, but that being always suspected by the
inquisitor, he may be arrested for the same crime which ought to have
been forgotten, upon the fresh information of some vile and wicked

X. A tenth, and that not the least instance of injustice, is their
readiness to put persons to the torture, and that to discover a secret
crime, lying concealed in the mind; yea, that they will use the torture
so much the sooner, because the crime is more concealed than other

XI. The eleventh is, their putting persons to the torture upon half full
proof of the crime. This half full proof is faultering, defamation, and
one witness of his own knowledge, or when the tokens are vehement and
violent. All these things are subject to the pleasure of the judge. So
that if any one falls into the hands of a cruel inquisitor, and faulters
in his answer, or is informed against by one witness, who declares he
was present at the action or words he gives information of, he cannot
possibly escape the torture, nor consequently the punishment of the
crime he is accused of, considering the violence of the torments. Nor is
this all; but as there may be some facts occasioned not so much by
heresy concealed in the mind, as by carnal concupiscence or rashness,
they will have such to be tortured for their intention, and force them
by torments to confess they had an heretical intention in their mind.

XII. A twelfth is, that when they prepare themselves for the torture,
they gravely and seriously admonish the criminal to speak nothing but
the truth, and to confess nothing that is not agreeable to truth to
avoid the tortures. By this means they put on the appearance of
sincerity, as though they sought nothing but the naked truth, that when
the torture is finished they may be very secure that the tortured person
hath confessed a real crime, because they have seriously and gravely
admonished him to say nothing contrary to truth. In the mean while they
suppose, that the crime objected against him is real, and endeavour to
force from him a confession by torture, and threaten to double his
torments unless he confesses; so that if he denies the crime, his
torments are aggravated; if he confesses it, his torments are soon
ended. Hence it appears, that their design is not honestly to find out
the truth by torture, but that they suppose the crime is real, although
according to the laws of the inquisition it be only half proved, and
then extort a confession of it.

XIII. A thirteenth is, that whereas in other courts the number is
certainly fixed how often the torture may be repeated, they have
invented a method of torturing persons very often, without offending
against the law, which provides that the tortures shall not be repeated
above twice or thrice. If, for instance, they make use of the lesser
tortures, and the prisoner confesses nothing, they afterwards make use
of more grievous ones, then proceed to such as are more cruel, till at
different intervals of time they have gone through all the several kinds
of tortures. And this they do not call a repetition, but only a
continuation of the torture; so that if any one hath been several times
tortured, but with a different kind of torture each time, and hath thus
at certain distances gone through all the kinds of torture, according to
the opinion of these merciful casuists, he ought to be accounted as
tortured only once.

XIV. A fourteenth is, that when they deliver condemned persons to the
secular arm, they intercede for them, that their punishment may be so
moderated as to prevent shedding of blood, or danger of death. And in
the mean while, if the magistrate is not ready to burn the heretics, or
delays the punishment, they oblige him, under penalty of
excommunication, to execute the sentence. The superstitious wretches are
afraid they should become irregular, by delivering a criminal to the
secular magistrate without intercession, and yet are not afraid of
becoming irregular, by compelling the magistrate under penalty of
excommunication to murder those whom they have condemned. Can any thing
be more evident, than that this is nothing more than acting a part, and
an affectation to be thought by the people to have no hand in the murder
of which they are really the authors?

XV. The last instance I shall mention, appears in their ridiculous
process against the dead, whose relations and heirs they cite, to appear
on such a day to defend, if they can and will, the memory of the dead.
Whereas they themselves have made it a law, that if any one appears in
defence of an heretic, he shall be accounted as a favourer of heretics
himself, and condemned as such, and have no advocate or procurator to
defend himself. So that they cite all persons to defend the memory of
the dead, and yet deter all persons from such defence by a most grievous
punishment, appointed against the favourers of heretics. So that all
this is like their intercession for criminals, mere imposture and sham.
Then they provide an advocate to manage the cause, bound to them under
an oath, and he publicly declares he cannot defend the memory of the
deceased. So that as no one undertakes his defence, the accusations
against him are reckoned just, the proofs legal, and the deceased is
condemned for heresy. But what greater instance of injustice can there
be, than to condemn a person as convicted, whose defence no one dares
undertake, without running the hazard of his fortune and life.

If any one considers these things, which I have mentioned as specimens
only, he will find no sanctity in the court of the inquisition; but must
acknowledge, that in the whole method of proceeding there is nothing but
injustice, fraud, impostures, and the most accursed hypocrisy; by which
the inquisitors, under the feigned pretence of sanctity, endeavour to
disguise the villany of their proceedings, that so they may maintain
their dominion over the miserable common people, and keep them all in
subjection to themselves. And though they do every thing that is wicked
and vile, yet they would have all adore them for the venerable character
of sanctity.

It is needless to mention here more instances of their cruelty: I shall
say all in a few words. The miseries of the jail, in which the prisoners
are generally confined by themselves for several years, shut up in
darkness, without being allowed any human converse, are so great, the
cruelty of their torments so severe, and their punishments so exquisite,
that they greatly exceed the cruelty of all other courts: for persons
are not only burnt alive, but their mouths gagged, so that they have not
the liberty to groan or cry out in those most horrible tortures; and by
thus stopping up their mouths, they are in such an agony, as that they
are almost strangled. But their cruelty towards the penitent and
converted is most detestable: for whereas the church ought, with open
arms, to embrace penitents, in imitation of the shepherd who carried the
lost sheep on his shoulders, and brought it home to the sheepfold, these
wretches enjoin the most grievous punishments on those whose lives they
spare, which with them are only wholesome penances. For they condemn
them either to wear the infamous Sambenito, or to imprisonment, or the
gallies, whereby their very life is oftentimes a punishment to them;
whilst others are denied the very hopes of life, especially the
relapsed, who are condemned to death without mercy, though they convert
themselves. And yet the sacraments are given to those who are reconciled
to the church when they desire it; and thus before they are put to death
they become members of the church, put in a state of salvation, and by
the priests themselves most certainly assured of an heavenly crown. Can
there be any greater cruelty, and more abhorrent from the spirit of
Christianity, than to punish with death an erroneous person who repents,
detests his error, and is now reconciled to the church? But the
ecclesiastical sanctions must be satisfied, and the authority of the
church preserved entire, though the laws of Jesus Christ, and the
commands of the gospel are trampled under foot.

All these iniquities are committed according to the very laws of the
inquisition. Many things are indeed, in the execution of this office,
left to the pleasure of the inquisitors, which power they often
villainously abuse, as appears from their daily practice, and
innumerable instances; for it was the common complaint of all nations
against the inquisition, what Thuanus tells us[281] was the complaint of
the Neapolitans: “That the perverse and preposterous form of trials
increased the horror, because it was contrary to natural equity, and to
every legal method in carrying on that jurisdiction. Add to this the
inhumanity of their tortures, by which they violently extorted from the
miserable and innocent criminals, that they might deliver themselves
from their torment, whatsoever the delegated judges would have them
confess, though generally contrary to truth. And for this reason it was
justly said, that it was invented not for the sake of defending
religion, which the primitive church had provided for by a quite
different method, but that by this means they might strip all men of
their fortunes, and bring innocent persons into danger of being


Footnote 281:

  Hist. l. 3.


The papists indeed glory, that the inquisition is the most certain
remedy to extirpate heresies. And because the inquisition is so
effectual a method to extirpate heresies, Ludovicus a Paramo[282]
gathers from thence that it was ordained for this purpose by the most
wise providence of God. But what is really unjust in itself, and carried
on by unjust methods, cannot have God for its author; nor is success any
argument that the inquisition is from God. The first inquiry is, whether
it be suitable to the nature of the Christian doctrine? If it be not, it
is then unjust and anti-christian. Many things are unrighteously
undertaken, by men, and accomplished by violence and cruelty, by which
innocence is oppressed; which, although God in his just and wise counsel
permits, he is far from approving. Even in Japan, a cruel persecution
hath extinguished the Christian religion, as preached by the Roman
priests; so that the Roman Catholic religion is equally extinguished
there by the violence of persecutions, as those doctrines are in Spain,
which are contrary to the church of Rome, and which they render odious
by the infamous name of heresy. And yet they will not allow that any
just argument can be drawn from hence, to prove that that persecution
was given by divine Providence, as a most effectual remedy for the
extirpation of their religion. If other parties of Christians would use
the same diligence and cruelty of inquisition against them, I may
venture to affirm, that they themselves could not withstand it: but that
within a few years the popish religion would be extinguished in all
Protestant countries, and scarce a single person left who would dare to
profess it. But God forbid that the Christian religion should ever be
propagated this way, which doth not consist in a feigned and
hypocritical profession, but in a sincere and undissembled faith. And
therefore, as no one ought to assume to himself the power of judging
concerning it, but God the searcher of hearts, to him only let us leave
it to pass the true judgment concerning every man’s belief. Let us in
the mean while detest the tyranny of the papists; and strive to reduce
those who, in our judgment, hold errors, into the way of truth, by the
good offices of charity and benevolence, without arrogating to ourselves
a judgment over the consciences of others. And out of a serious regard
to the last great day of judgment, let us approve our consciences to
God: and every one of us, expecting from his mercy an equitable and
righteous judgment, pray without ceasing: “ARISE, O LORD, AND PLEAD THY


Footnote 282:

  L. 2. t. 3. c. 4, 5.



                        OF THE PRESENT STATE OF
                        THE INQUISITION AT GOA,

  _Taken from the Rev. Dr. BUCHANAN’s “Christian Researches in Asia.”_



In every age of the Church of Rome there have been individuals, of an
enlightened piety, who derived their religion not from “the commandments
of men,” but from the doctrines of the Bible. There are at this day, in
India and in England, members of that communion, who deserve the
affection and respect of all good men; and whose cultivated minds will
arraign the corruptions of their own religion, which the author is about
to describe, more severely than he will permit himself to do. He is
indeed prepared to speak of Roman Catholics with as much liberality as
perhaps any Protestant has ever attempted on Christian principles: for
he is acquainted with individuals, whose unaffected piety he considers a
reproach to a great body of Protestants, even of the strictest sort. It
is indeed painful to say any thing which may seem to feeling and noble
minds ungenerous; but those enlightened persons, whose good opinion it
is desirable to preserve, will themselves be pleased to see that truth
is not sacrificed to personal respect, or to a spurious candour. Their
own church sets an example of “plainness of speech” in the assertion of
those tenets which it professes, some of which must be extremely painful
to the feeling of Protestants, in their social intercourse with
Catholics; such as, “That there is no salvation out of the pale of the
Romish church.”

This exclusive character prevents concord and intimacy between
Protestant and Catholic families. On the principles of infidelity they
can associate very easily; but on the principles of religion, the
Protestant must ever be on the _defensive_; for the Romish church
excommunicates him: and although he must hope that some individuals do
not maintain the tenet, yet his uncertainty as to the fact prevents that
cordiality which he desires. Many excellent Catholics suffer unjustly in
their intercourse with Protestants, from the ancient and exclusive
articles of their own church, which they themselves neither profess nor
believe. If they will only intimate to their Protestant friends, that
they renounce the exclusive principle, and that they profess the
religion of the Bible, no more seems requisite to form with such persons
the sincerest friendship on Christian principles.

At the present time we see the Romish religion in Europe _without_
dominion; and hence it is viewed by the mere philosopher with
indifference or contempt. He is pleased to see, that the “seven heads
and the ten horns” are taken away; and thinks nothing of the “names of
blasphemy.” But in the following pages, the author will have occasion to
shew what Rome is, as _having_ dominion; and possessing it too within
the boundaries of the British Empire.

In passing through the Romish provinces in the East, though the author
had before heard much of the Papal corruptions, he certainly did not
expect to see Christianity in the degraded state in which he found it.
Of the priests it may truly be said, that they are, in general, better
acquainted with the Veda of Brahma than with the Gospel of Christ. In
some places the doctrines of both are blended. At Aughoor, situated
between Tritchinopoly and Madura, he witnessed (in October 1806) the
Tower of Juggernaut employed to solemnize a Christian festival. The old
priest Josephus accompanied him, when he surveyed the idolatrous car and
its painted figures, and gave him a particular account of the various
ceremonies which are performed, seemingly unconscious himself of any
impropriety in them. The author went with him afterwards into the
church, and seeing a book lying on the altar, opened it; but the reader
may judge of his surprize, when he found it was a Syriac volume, and was
informed that the priest himself was a descendant of the Syrian
Christians, and belonged to what is now called the Syro-Roman Church,
the whole service of which is in Syriac.—Thus, by the intervention of
the papal power, are the ceremonies of Moloch consecrated in a manner by
the sacred Syriac language. What a heavy responsibility lies on Rome,
for having thus corrupted and degraded that pure and ancient church!

While the author viewed these Christian corruptions in different places,
and in different forms, he was always referred to the Inquisition at
Goa, as the fountain-head. He had long cherished the hope, that he
should be able to visit Goa before he left India. His chief objects were
the following:

1. To ascertain whether the inquisition actually refused to recognise
the Bible, among the Romish churches in British India.

2. To inquire into the state and jurisdiction of the inquisition,
particularly as it affected British subjects.

3. To learn what was the system of education for the priesthood; and

4. To examine the ancient church-libraries in Goa, which were said to
contain all the books of the first printing.

He will select from his journal in this place, chiefly what relates to
the inquisition. He had learnt from every quarter, that this tribunal,
formerly so well known for its frequent burnings, was still in
operation, though under some restriction as to the _publicity_ of its
proceedings; and that its power extended to the extreme boundary of
Hindoostan. That, in the present civilized state of Christian nations in
Europe, an inquisition should exist at all under their authority,
appeared strange; but that a papal tribunal of this character should
exist under the implied toleration and countenance of the British
Government; that Christians, being subjects of the British Empire, and
inhabiting the British territories, should be amenable to its power and
jurisdiction, was a statement which seemed to be scarcely credible; but,
if true, a fact which demanded the most public and solemn

                                  _Goa, Convent of the Augustinians,
                                               Jan. 23, 1808._

  ‘On my arrival at Goa, I was received into the house of Captain
  Schuyler, the British resident. The British force here is commanded by
  Colonel Adams, of His Majesty’s 78th regiment, with whom I was
  formerly well acquainted in Bengal.[283] Next day I was introduced by
  these gentlemen to the vice-roy of Goa, the Count de Cabral. I
  intimated to his excellency my wish to sail up the river to Old
  Goa,[284] (where the inquisition is,) to which he politely acceded.
  Major Pareira, of the Portuguese establishment, who was present, and
  to whom I had letters of introduction from Bengal, offered to
  accompany me to the city, and to introduce me to the archbishop of
  Goa, the primate of the Orient.


Footnote 283:

    The forts in the harbour of Goa were then occupied by British troops
    (two king’s regiments, and two regiments of native infantry) to
    prevent its falling into the hands of the French.

Footnote 284:

    There is Old and New Goa. The old city is about eight miles up the
    river. The vice-roy and the chief Portuguese inhabitants reside at
    New Goa, which is at the mouth of the river, within the forts of the
    harbour. The old city, where the inquisition and the churches are,
    is now almost entirely deserted by the secular Portuguese, and is
    inhabited by the priests alone. The unhealthiness of the place, and
    the ascendency of the priests, are the causes assigned for
    abandoning the ancient city.


  ‘I had communicated to Colonel Adams, and to the British resident, my
  purpose of enquiring into the state of the inquisition. These
  gentlemen informed me, that I should not be able to accomplish my
  design without difficulty; since every thing relating to the
  inquisition was conducted in a very secret manner, the most
  respectable of the lay Portuguese themselves being ignorant of its
  proceedings; and that, if the priests were to discover my object,
  their excessive jealousy and alarm would prevent their communicating
  with me, or satisfying my inquiries on any subject.

  ‘On receiving this intelligence, I perceived that it would be
  necessary to proceed with caution. I was, in fact, about to visit a
  republic of priests; whose dominion had existed for nearly three
  centuries; whose province it was to prosecute heretics, and
  particularly the teachers of heresy; and from whose authority and
  sentence there was no appeal in India.[285]


Footnote 285:

    I was informed that the vice-roy of Goa has no authority over the
    inquisition, and that he himself is liable to its censure. Were the
    British government, for instance, to prefer a complaint against the
    inquisition to the Portuguese government at Goa, it could obtain no
    redress. By the very constitution of the inquisition, there is no
    power in India which can invade its jurisdiction, or even put a
    question to it on any subject.


  ‘It happened that Lieutenant Kempthorne, commander of His Majesty’s
  brig Diana, a distant connection of my own, was at this time in the
  harbour. On his learning that I meant to visit Old Goa, he offered to
  accompany me; as did Captain Stirling, of His Majesty’s 84th regiment,
  which is now stationed at the forts.

  ‘We proceeded up the river in the British resident’s barge,
  accompanied by Major Pareira, who was well qualified, by a thirty
  years’ residence, to give information concerning local circumstances.
  From him I learned that there were upwards of two hundred churches and
  chapels in the province of Goa, and upwards of two thousand priests.’

  ‘On our arrival at the city,[286] it was past twelve o’clock: all the
  churches were shut, and we were told that they would not be opened
  again till two o’clock. I mentioned to Major Pareira, that I intended
  to stay at Old Goa some days; and that I should be obliged to him to
  find me a place to sleep in. He seemed surprised at this intimation,
  and observed that it would be difficult for me to obtain reception in
  any of the churches or convents, and that there were no private houses
  into which I could be admitted. I said I could sleep any where; I had
  two servants with me, and a travelling bed. When he perceived that I
  was serious in my purpose, he gave directions to a civil officer, in
  that place, to clear out a room in a building which had been long
  uninhabited, and which was then used as a warehouse for goods. Matters
  at this time presented a very gloomy appearance; and I had thoughts of
  returning with my companions from this inhospitable place. In the mean
  time we sat down in the room I have just mentioned, to take some
  refreshment, while Major Pareira went to call on some of his friends.
  During this interval I communicated to Lieutenant Kempthorne the
  object of my visit. I had in my pocket ‘Dellon’s Account of the
  Inquisition at Goa;’[287] and I mentioned some particulars. While we
  were conversing on the subject, the great bell began to toll; the same
  which Dellon observes always tolls, before day-light, on the morning
  of the Auto da Fè. I did not myself ask any questions of the people
  concerning the inquisition; but Mr. Kempthorne made inquiries for me:
  and he soon found out that the Santa Casa, or Holy Office, was close
  to the house where we were then sitting. The gentlemen went to the
  window to view the horrid mansion; and I could see the indignation of
  free and enlightened men arise in the countenance of the two British
  officers, while they contemplated a place where formerly their own
  countrymen were condemned to the flames, and into which they
  themselves might now suddenly be thrown, without the possibility of


Footnote 286:

    We entered the city by the palace gate, over which is the statue of
    Vasco de Gama, who first opened India to the view of Europe. I had
    seen at Calicut, a few weeks before, the ruins of the Samorin’s
    Palace, in which Vasco de Gama was first received. The Samorin was
    the first native prince against whom the Europeans made war. The
    empire of the Samorin has passed away; and the empire of his
    conquerors has passed away: and now imperial Britain exercises
    dominion. May imperial Britain be prepared to give a good account of
    her stewardship, when it shall be said unto her, “Thou mayest be no
    longer steward!”

Footnote 287:

    Monsieur Dellon, a physician, was imprisoned in the dungeon of the
    inquisition at Goa for two years, and witnessed an Auto da Fè, when
    some heretics were burned; at which he walked barefoot. After his
    release he wrote the history of his confinement. His descriptions
    are in general very accurate.


  ‘At two o’clock we went out to view the churches, which were now open
  for the afternoon service; for there are regular daily masses; and the
  bells began to assail the ear in every quarter.

  ‘The magnificence of the churches of Goa, far exceeded any idea I had
  formed from the previous description. Goa is properly a city of
  churches; and the wealth of provinces seems to have been expended in
  their erection. The ancient specimens of architecture at this place
  far excel any thing that has been attempted in modern times in any
  other part of the East, both in grandeur and in taste. The chapel of
  the palace is built after the plan of St. Peter’s at Rome, and is said
  to be an accurate model of that paragon of architecture. The church of
  St. Dominic, the founder of the inquisition, is decorated with
  paintings of Italian masters. St. Francis Xavier lies enshrined in a
  monument of exquisite art, and his coffin is enchased with silver and
  precious stones. The cathedral of Goa is worthy of one of the
  principal cities of Europe; and the church and convent of the
  Augustinians (in which I now reside) is a noble pile of building,
  situated on an eminence, and has a magnificent appearance from afar.

  ‘But what a contrast to all this grandeur of the churches is the
  worship offered in them! I have been present at the service in one or
  other of the chapels every day since I arrived; and I seldom see a
  single worshipper, but the ecclesiastics. Two rows of native priests,
  kneeling in order before the altar, clothed in coarse black garments,
  of sickly appearance, and vacant countenance, perform here, from day
  to day, their laborious masses, seemingly unconscious of any other
  duty or obligation of life.

  ‘The day was now far spent, and my companions were about to leave me.
  While I was considering whether I should return with them, Major
  Pareira said he would first introduce me to a priest, high in office,
  and one of the most learned men in the place. We accordingly walked to
  the convent of the Augustinians, where I was presented to Joseph a
  Doloribus, a man well advanced in life, of pale visage and penetrating
  eye, rather of a reverend appearance, and possessing great fluency of
  speech and urbanity of manners. At first sight he presented the aspect
  of one of those acute and prudent men of the world, the learned and
  respectable Italian Jesuits, some of whom are yet found, since the
  demolition of their order, reposing, in tranquil obscurity, in
  different parts of the East. After half an hour’s conversation in the
  Latin language, during which he adverted rapidly to a variety of
  subjects, and enquired concerning some learned men of his own church,
  whom I had visited in my tour, he politely invited me to take up my
  residence with him, during my stay at Old Goa. I was highly gratified
  by this unexpected invitation; but Lieutenant Kempthorne did not
  approve of leaving me in the hands of the _Inquisitor_. For judge of
  our surprise, when we discovered that my learned host was one of the
  inquisitors of the holy office, the second member of that august
  tribunal in rank, but the first and most active agent in the business
  of the department. Apartments were assigned to me in the college
  adjoining the convent, next to the rooms of the inquisitor himself;
  and here I have been now four days at the very fountain head of
  information, in regard to those subjects which I wished to
  investigate. I breakfast and dine with the inquisitor almost every
  day, and he generally passes his evenings in my apartment. As he
  considers my enquiries to be chiefly of a literary nature, he is
  perfectly candid and communicative on all subjects.

  ‘Next day after my arrival, I was introduced by my learned conductor
  to the Archbishop of Goa. We found him reading the Latin letters of
  St. Francis Xavier. On my adverting to the long duration of the city
  of Goa, while other cities of Europeans in India had suffered from war
  or revolution, the archbishop observed, that the preservation of Goa,
  was owing to the prayers of St. Francis Xavier. The inquisitor looked
  at me to see what I thought of this sentiment. I acknowledged that
  Xavier was considered by the learned among the English to have been a
  great man: what he wrote himself, bespeaks him a man of learning, of
  original genius, and great fortitude of mind; but what others have
  written for him, and of him, tarnished his fame, by making him the
  inventor of fables. The archbishop signified his assent. He afterwards
  conducted me into his private chapel, which is decorated with images
  of silver, and then into the Archiepiscopal library, which possesses a
  valuable collection of books. As I passed through our convent, in
  returning from the archbishop’s, I observed among the paintings in the
  cloisters a portrait of the famous Alexis de Menezes, archbishop of
  Goa, who held the synod of Diamper near Cochin, in 1599, and burned
  the books of the Syrian Christians. From the inscription underneath I
  learned that he was the founder of the magnificent church and convent
  in which I am now residing.

  ‘On the same day I received an invitation to dine with the chief
  inquisitor, at his house in the country. The second inquisitor
  accompanied me, and we found a respectable company of priests, and a
  sumptuous entertainment. In the library of the chief inquisitor I saw
  a register, containing the present establishment of the inquisition at
  Goa, and the names of all the officers. On my asking the chief
  inquisitor whether the establishment was as extensive as formerly, he
  said it was nearly the same. I had hitherto said little to any person
  concerning the inquisition, but I had indirectly gleaned much
  information concerning it, not only from the inquisitors themselves,
  but from certain priests, whom I visited at their respective convents;
  particularly from a father in the Franciscan convent, who had himself
  repeatedly witnessed an Auto da Fè.


                        ‘_Goa, Augustinian Convent, 26th Jan. 1808._

  ‘On Sunday, after divine service, which I attended, we looked over
  together the prayers and portions of Scripture for the day, which led
  to a discussion concerning some of the doctrines of Christianity. We
  then read the third chapter of St. John’s Gospel, in the Latin
  Vulgate. I asked the inquisitor whether he believed in the influence
  of the Spirit there spoken of. He distinctly admitted it; conjointly
  however he thought, in some obscure sense, with _water_. I observed
  that water was merely an emblem of the purifying effects of the
  Spirit, and could be _but_ an emblem. We next adverted to the
  expression of St. John in his first Epistle; ‘This is he that came by
  water and blood: even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by _water_
  and _blood_:—blood to atone for sin, and water to purify the heart;
  justification and sanctification: both of which were expressed at the
  same moment on the cross. The inquisitor was pleased with the subject.
  By an easy transition we passed to the importance of the Bible itself,
  to illuminate the priests and people. I noticed to him that after
  looking through the colleges and schools, there appeared to me to be a
  _total eclipse_ of Scriptural light. He acknowledged that religion and
  learning were truly in a degraded state.—I had visited the theological
  schools, and at every place I expressed my surprise to the tutors, in
  presence of the pupils, at the absence of the Bible, and almost total
  want of reference to it. They pleaded the custom of the place, and the
  scarcity of copies of the book itself. Some of the younger priests
  came to me afterwards, desiring to know by what means they might
  procure copies. This inquiry for Bibles was like a ray of hope beaming
  on the walls of the inquisition.

  ‘I pass an hour sometimes in the spacious library of the Augustinian
  convent. There are many rare volumes, but they are chiefly
  theological, and almost all of the sixteenth century. There are few
  classics; and I have not yet seen one copy of the original scriptures
  in Hebrew or Greek.’


                        ‘_Goa, Augustinian Convent, 27th Jan. 1808._

  ‘On the second morning after my arrival, I was surprised by my host,
  the Inquisitor, coming into my apartment clothed in _black robes_ from
  head to foot: for the usual dress of his order is white. He said he
  was going to sit on the tribunal of the holy office. ‘I presume,
  father, your august office does not occupy much of your time?’ ‘Yes’
  answered he ‘much. I sit on the tribunal three or four days every

  ‘I had thought, for some days, of putting Dellon’s book into the
  Inquisitor’s hands; for if I could get him to advert to the facts
  stated in that book, I should be able to learn, by comparison, the
  exact state of the inquisition at the present time. In the evening he
  came in, as usual, to pass an hour in my apartment. After some
  conversation I took the pen in my hand to write a few notes in my
  journal; and, as if to amuse him, while I was writing, I took up
  Dellon’s book, which was lying with some others on the table, and
  handing it across to him, asked him whether he had ever seen it. It
  was in the French language, which he understood well. ‘Relation de l’
  Inquisition de Goa,’ pronounced he, with a slow, articulate voice. He
  had never seen it before, and began to read with eagerness. He had not
  proceeded far, before he betrayed evident symptoms of uneasiness. He
  turned hastily to the middle of the book, and then to the end, and
  then ran over the table of contents at the beginning, as if to
  ascertain the full extent of the evil. He then composed himself to
  read, while I continued to write. He turned over the pages with
  rapidity, and when he came to a certain place, he exclaimed in the
  broad Italian accent, ‘Mendacium, Mendacium.’ I requested he would
  mark those passages which were untrue, and we should discuss them
  afterwards, for that I had other books on the subject. ‘Other books,’
  said he, and he looked with an inquiring eye on those on the table. He
  continued reading till it was time to retire to rest and then begged
  to take the book with him.

  ‘It was on this night that a circumstance happened which caused my
  first alarm at Goa. My servants slept every night at my chamber door,
  in the long gallery which is common to all the apartments, and not far
  distant from the servants of the convent. About midnight I was waked
  by loud shrieks, and expressions of terror, from some person in the
  gallery. In the first moment of surprise I concluded it must be the
  _Alguazils_ of the holy office, seizing my servants to carry them to
  the inquisition. But, on going out, I saw my own servants standing at
  the door, and the person who had caused the alarm (a boy of about
  fourteen) at a little distance, surrounded by some of the priests, who
  had come out of their cells on hearing the noise. The boy said he had
  seen a _spectre_, and it was a considerable time before the agitations
  of his body and voice subsided.—Next morning at breakfast the
  Inquisitor apologised for the disturbance, and said the boy’s alarm
  proceeded from a ‘phantasma animi,’ a phantasm of the imagination.’

  ‘After breakfast we resumed the subject of the inquisition. The
  inquisitor admitted that Dellon’s descriptions of the dungeons, of the
  torture, of the mode of trial, and of the Auto da Fè, were in general
  just; but he said the writer judged untruly of the motives of the
  inquisitors, and very uncharitably of the character of the Holy
  Church; and I admitted that, under the pressure of his peculiar
  suffering, this might possibly be the case. The inquisitor was now
  anxious to know to what extent Dellon’s book had been circulated in
  Europe. I told him that Picart had published to the world extracts
  from it, in his celebrated work called ‘Religious Ceremonies,’
  together with plates of the system of torture and burnings at the Auto
  da Fè. I added that it was now generally believed in Europe that these
  enormities no longer existed, and that the inquisition itself had been
  totally suppressed; but that I was concerned to find that this was not
  the case. He now began a grave narration to shew that the inquisition
  had undergone a change in some respects, and that its terrors were


Footnote 288:

  The following were the passages in Mr. Dellon’s narrative, to which I
  wished particularly to draw the attention of the inquisitor.—Mr. D.
  had been thrown into the inquisition at Goa and confined in a dungeon,
  ten feet square, where he remained upwards of two years, without
  seeing any person, but the gaoler who brought him his victuals, except
  when he was brought to his trial, expecting daily to be brought to the
  stake. His alleged crime was, charging the inquisition with cruelty,
  in a conversation he had with a priest at Daman, a Portuguese town in
  another part of India.

  “During the months of November and December, I heard every morning the
  shrieks of the unfortunate victims, who were undergoing the
  _Question_. I remembered to have heard, before l was cast into prison,
  that the Auto da Fè was generally celebrated on the first Sunday in
  Advent, because on that day is read in the churches that part of the
  Gospel in which mention is made of the LAST JUDGMENT; and the
  inquisitors pretend by this ceremony to exhibit a lively emblem of
  that awful event. I was likewise convinced that there were a great
  number of prisoners, besides myself; the profound silence, which
  reigned within the walls of the building, having enabled me to count
  the number of doors which were opened at the hours of meals.—However,
  the first and second Sundays of Advent passed by, without my hearing
  of any thing, and I prepared to undergo another year of melancholy
  captivity, when I was aroused from my despair on the 11th of January,
  by the noise of the guards removing the bars from the door of my
  prison. The Alcaide presented me with a habit, which he ordered me to
  put on, and to make myself ready to attend him when he should come
  again. Thus saying, he left a lighted lamp in my dungeon.—The guards
  returned about two o’clock in the morning, and led me out into a long
  gallery, where I found a number of the companions of my fate, drawn up
  in a rank against the wall: I placed myself among the rest, and
  several more soon joined the melancholy band. The profound silence and
  stillness caused them to resemble statues more than the animated
  bodies of human creatures. The women, who were clothed in a similar
  manner, were placed in a neighbouring gallery, where we could not see
  them; but I remarked that a number of persons stood by themselves at
  some distance, attended by others, who wore long black dresses, and
  who walked backwards and forwards occasionally. I did not then know
  who these were: but I was afterwards informed that the former were the
  victims who were condemned to be burned, and the others were their

  “After we were all ranged against the wall of this gallery, we
  received each a large wax taper. They then brought us a number of
  dresses made of yellow cloth, with the cross of St. Andrew painted
  before and behind. This is called the _San Benito_. The relapsed
  heretics wear another species of robe, called the _Samarra_, the
  ground of which is grey. The portrait of the sufferer is painted upon
  it, placed upon burning torches with flames and demons all round.—Caps
  were then produced called _Carrochas_; made of pasteboard, pointed
  like sugar loaves, all covered over with devils, and flames of fire.

  “The great bell of the Cathedral began to ring a little before
  sunrise, which served as a signal to warn the people of Goa to come
  and behold the august ceremony of the Auto da Fè; and then they made
  us proceed from the gallery one by one. I remarked as we passed into
  the great hall, that the inquisitor was sitting at the door with his
  secretary by him, and that he delivered every prisoner into the hands
  of a particular person, who is to be his guard to the place of
  burning. These persons are called Parrains, or _Godfathers_. My
  Godfather was the commander of a ship. I went forth with him, and as
  soon as we were in the street, I saw that the procession was commenced
  by the Dominican Friars; who have this honour, because St. Dominic
  founded the inquisition. These are followed by the prisoners who
  walked one after the other, each having his Godfather by his side, and
  a lighted taper in his hand. The least guilty go foremost; and as I
  did not pass for one of them, there were many who took precedence of
  me. The women were mixed promiscuously with the men. We all walked
  barefoot, and the sharp stones of the streets of Goa wounded my tender
  feet, and caused the blood to stream: for they made us march through
  the chief streets of the city: and we were regarded every where by an
  innumerable crowd of people, who had assembled from all parts of India
  to behold this spectacle; for the inquisition takes care to announce
  it long before, in the most remote parishes. At length we arrived at
  the church of St. Francis, which was, for this time, destined for the
  celebration of the act of faith. On one side of the altar was the
  grand inquisitor and his counsellors; and on the other the vice-roy of
  Goa and his court. All the prisoners were seated to hear a sermon. I
  observed that those prisoners who wore the _horrible Carrochas_ came
  in last in the procession. One of the Augustin monks ascended the
  pulpit, and preached for a quarter of an hour. The sermon being
  concluded, two readers went up to the pulpit, one after the other, and
  read the sentences of the prisoners. My joy was extreme when I heard
  that my sentence was not to be burnt, but to be a galley-slave for
  five years.—After the sentences were read, they summoned forth those
  miserable victims who were destined to be immolated by the holy
  inquisition. The images of the heretics who had died in prison were
  brought up at the same time, their bones being contained in small
  chests, covered with flames and demons.—An officer of the secular
  tribunal now came forward, and seized these unhappy people, after they
  had each received a _slight blow upon the breast_ from the Alcaide, to
  intimate that they were _abandoned_. They were then led away to the
  bank of the river, where the vice-roy and his court were assembled,
  and where the faggots had been prepared the preceding day.—As soon as
  they arrive at this place, the condemned persons are asked in what
  religion they choose to die; and the moment they have replied to this
  question, the executioner seizes them, and binds them to a stake in
  the midst of the faggots. The day after the execution, the portraits
  of the dead are carried to the church of the Dominicans. The heads
  only are represented, (which are generally very accurately drawn; for
  the inquisition keeps excellent limners for the purpose,) surrounded
  by flames and demons; and underneath is the name and crime of the
  person who has been burned.” _Relation de l’ Inquisition de Goa_,
  chap. XXIV.


‘I had already discovered, from written or printed documents, that the
Inquisition of Goa was suppressed by royal edict in the year 1775, and
established again in 1779. The Franciscan father before mentioned
witnessed the annual Auto da Fè, from 1770, to 1775. “It was the
humanity, and tender mercy of a good king,” said the old father, “which
abolished the inquisition.” But immediately on his death, the power of
the priests acquired the ascendant, under the Queen Dowager, and the
tribunal was re-established, after a bloodless interval of five years.
It has continued in operation ever since. It was restored in 1779,
subject to certain restrictions, the chief of which are the two
following, ‘That a greater number of witnesses should be required to
convict a criminal than were before necessary;” and, ‘That the Auto da
Fè should not be held publicly as before; but that the sentences of the
tribunal should be executed privately, within the walls of the

‘In this particular, the constitution of the new inquisition is more
reprehensible than that of the old one; for, as the old father expressed
it, ‘Nunc sigillum non revelat Inquisitio.’—Formerly the friends of
those unfortunate persons who were thrown into its prison, had the
melancholy satisfaction of seeing them once a year walking in the
procession of the Auto da Fè; or if they were condemned to die, they
witnessed their death, and mourned for the dead. But now they have no
means of learning for years whether they be dead or alive. The policy of
this new mode of concealment appears to be this, to preserve the power
of the inquisition, and at the same time to lessen the public odium of
its proceedings, in the presence of British dominion and civilization. I
asked the father his opinion concerning the nature and frequency of the
punishments within the walls. He said he possessed no certain means of
giving a satisfactory answer: that every thing transacted there was
declared to be ‘sacrum et secretum.’ But this he knew to be true, that
there were constantly captives in the dungeons; that some of them are
liberated after long confinement, but that they never speak afterwards
of what passed within the place. He added that, of all the persons he
had known, who had been liberated, he never knew one who did not carry
about with him what might be called, ‘the mark of the inquisition;’ that
is to say, who did not shew in the solemnity of his countenance, or in
his peculiar demeanor, or his terror of the priests, that he had been in
that dreadful place.

‘The chief argument of the Inquisitor to prove the melioration of the
Inquisition was the superior _humanity_ of the inquisitors. I remarked
that I did not doubt the humanity of the existing officers; but what
availed humanity in an inquisitor? he must pronounce sentence according
to the laws of the tribunal, which are notorious enough; and a _relapsed
heretic_ must be burned in the flames, or confined for life in a
dungeon, whether the inquisitor be humane or not. ‘But, if,’ said I,
‘you would satisfy my mind completely on this subject, shew me the
inquisition.’ He said it was not permitted to any person to see the
inquisition. I observed that mine might be considered as a peculiar
case; that the character of the inquisition, and the expediency of its
longer continuance had been called in question; that I had myself
written on the civilization of India, and might possibly publish
something more upon that subject, and that it could not be expected that
I should pass over the inquisition without notice, knowing what I did of
its proceedings; at the same time I should not wish to state a single
fact without his authority, or at least his admission of its truth. I
added that he himself had been pleased to communicate with me very fully
on the subject, and that in all our discussions we had both been
actuated, I hoped, by a good purpose. The countenance of the inquisitor
evidently altered on receiving this intimation, nor did it ever after
wholly regain its wonted frankness and placidity. After some hesitation,
however, he said he would take me with him to the inquisition the next
day.—I was a good deal surprised at this acquiescence of the inquisitor,
but I did not know what was in his mind.

‘Next morning after breakfast my host went to dress for the holy office,
and soon returned in his inquisitorial robes. He said he would go half
an hour before the usual time for the purpose of shewing me the
inquisition. The buildings are about a quarter of a mile distant from
the convent, and we proceeded thither in our _manjeels_.[289] On our
arrival at the place, the inquisitor said to me, as we were ascending
the steps of the outer stair, that he hoped I should be satisfied with a
transient view of the inquisition, and that I would retire whenever he
should desire it. I took this as a good omen, and followed my conductor
with tolerable confidence.


Footnote 289:

  The manjeel is a kind of palankeen common at Goa. It is merely a
  sea-cot suspended from a bamboo, which is borne on the _heads_ of four
  men. Sometimes a footman runs before, having a staff in his hand, to
  which are attached little bells or rings, which he jingles as he runs,
  keeping time with the motion of the bearers.


‘He led me first to the great hall of the inquisition. We were met at
the door by a number of well-dressed persons, who, I afterwards
understood, were the familiars, and attendants of the holy office. They
bowed very low to the inquisitor, and looked with surprise at me. The
great hall is the place in which the prisoners are marshalled for the
procession of the Auto da Fè. At the procession described by Dellon, in
which he himself walked barefoot, clothed with the painted garment,
there were upwards of one hundred and fifty prisoners. I traversed this
hall for some time, with a slow step, reflecting on its former scenes,
the inquisitor walking by my side, in silence. I thought of the fate of
the multitude of my fellow-creatures who had passed through this place,
condemned by a tribunal of their fellow-sinners, their bodies devoted to
the flames, and their souls to perdition. And I could not help saying to
him, ‘Would not the holy church wish, in her mercy, to have those souls
back again, that she might allow them a little further probation?’ The
inquisitor answered nothing, but beckoned me to go with him to a door at
one end of the hall. By this door he conducted me to some small rooms,
and thence to the spacious apartments of the chief inquisitor. Having
surveyed these he brought me back again to the great hall; and I thought
he seemed now desirous that I should depart. ‘Now, father,’ said I,
‘lead me to the dungeons below; I want to see the captives.’—‘No,’ said
he, ‘that cannot be.’—I now began to suspect that it had been in the
mind of the inquisitor, from the beginning, to shew me only a certain
part of the inquisition, in the hope of satisfying my enquiries in a
general way. I urged him with earnestness, but he steadily resisted, and
seemed to be offended, or rather agitated by my importunity. I intimated
to him plainly, that the only way to do justice to his own assertions
and arguments, regarding the present state of the inquisition, was to
shew me the prisons and the captives. I should then describe only what I
saw; but now the subject was left in awful obscurity.—‘Lead me down,’
said I, ‘to the inner building and let me pass through the two hundred
dungeons, ten feet square, described by your former captives. Let me
count the number of your present captives, and converse with them. I
want to see if there be any subjects of the British government, to whom
we owe protection. I want to ask how long they have been here, how long
it is since they beheld the light of the sun, and whether they ever
expect to see it again. Shew me the chamber of torture; and declare what
modes of execution, or of punishment, are now practised within the walls
of the inquisition, in lieu of the public Auto da Fè. If, after all that
has passed, father, you resist this reasonable request, I shall be
justified in believing, that you are afraid of exposing the real state
of the inquisition in India.’ To these observations the inquisitor made
no reply; but seemed impatient that I should withdraw. ‘My good father,’
said I, ‘I am about to take my leave of you, and to thank you for your
hospitable attentions, (it had been before understood that I should take
my final leave at the door of the inquisition, after having seen the
interior,) and I wish always to preserve on my mind a favourable
sentiment of your kindness and candour. You cannot, you say, shew me the
captives and the dungeons; be pleased then merely to answer this
question; for I shall believe your word:—How many prisoners are there
now below, in the cells of the inquisition?’ The inquisitor replied,
‘That is a question which I cannot answer.’ On his pronouncing these
words, I retired hastily towards the door, and wished him farewell. We
shook hands with as much cordiality as we could at the moment assume;
and both of us, I believe, were sorry that our parting took place with a
clouded countenance.

‘From the inquisition I went to the place of burning in the _Camp Santo
Lazaro_, on the river side, where the victims were brought to the stake
at the Auto da Fè. It is close to the palace, that the vice-roy and his
court may witness the execution; for it has ever been the policy of the
inquisition to make these spiritual executions appear to be the
executions of the state. An old priest accompanied me, who pointed out
the place and described the scene. As I passed over this melancholy
plain, I thought on the difference between the pure and benign doctrine,
which was first preached to India in the apostolic age, and that bloody
code, which, after a long night of darkness, was announced to it under
the same name! And I pondered on the mysterious dispensation, which
permitted the ministers of the inquisition, with their racks and flames,
to visit these lands, before the heralds of the Gospel of Peace. But the
most painful reflection was, that this tribunal should yet exist, unawed
by the vicinity of British humanity and dominion. I was not satisfied
with what I had seen or said at the inquisition, and I determined to go
back again. The inquisitors were now sitting on the tribunal, and I had
some excuse for returning; for I was to receive from the chief
inquisitor a letter which he said he would give me, before I left the
place, for the British resident in Travancore, being an answer to a
letter from that officer.

‘When I arrived at the inquisition, and had ascended the outer stairs,
the door-keepers surveyed me doubtingly, but suffered me to pass,
supposing that I had returned by permission and appointment of the
inquisitor. I entered the great hall, and went up directly towards the
tribunal of the inquisition, described by Dellon, in which is the lofty
crucifix. I sat down on a form, and wrote some notes; and then desired
one of the attendants to carry in my name to the inquisitor. As I walked
up the hall, I saw a poor woman sitting by herself, on a bench by the
wall, apparently in a disconsolate state of mind. She clasped her hands
as I passed, and gave me a look expressive of her distress. This sight
chilled my spirits. The familiars told me she was waiting there to be
called up before the tribunal of the inquisition. While I was asking
questions concerning her crime, the second inquisitor came out in
evident trepidation, and was about to complain of the intrusion; when I
informed him I had come back for the letter from the chief inquisitor.
He said it should be sent after me to Goa; and he conducted me with a
quick step towards the door. As we passed the poor woman I pointed to
her, and said to him with some emphasis, ‘Behold, father, another victim
of the holy inquisition!’ He answered nothing. When we arrived at the
head of the great stair, he bowed, and I took my last leave of Josephus
a Doloribus, without uttering a word.’

The foregoing particulars concerning the inquisition at Goa are detailed
chiefly with this view; that the English nation may consider, whether
there be sufficient ground for presenting a remonstrance to the
Portuguese government, on the longer continuance of that tribunal in
India; it being notorious, that a great part of the the Romish
Christians are now under British protection. “The Romans,” says
Montesquieu, “deserved well of human nature, for making it an article in
their treaty with the Carthaginians, that they should abstain from
SACRIFICING their CHILDREN to their gods.” It has been lately observed
by respectable writers, that the English nation ought to imitate this
example, and endeavour to induce her allies “to abolish the human
sacrifices of the inquisition;” and a censure is passed on our
government for their indifference to this subject.[290] The indifference
to the inquisition is attributable, we believe, to the same cause which
has produced an indifference to the religious principles which first
organized the inquisition. The mighty despot, who suppressed the
inquisition in Spain, was not swayed probably by very powerful motives
of humanity; but viewed with jealousy a tribunal, which usurped an
independent dominion; and he put it down, on the same principle that he
put down the popedom, that he might remain pontiff and grand inquisitor
himself. And so he will remain for a time, till the purposes of
Providence shall have been accomplished by him. But are we to look on in
silence, and to expect that further meliorations in human society are to
be effected by despotism, or by great revolutions? “If,” say the same
authors, “while the inquisition is destroyed in Europe by the power of
despotism, we could entertain the hope, and it is not too much to
entertain such a hope, that the power of liberty is about to destroy it
in America; we might even, amid the gloom that surrounds us,
congratulate our fellow-creatures on one of the most remarkable periods
in the history of the progress of human society, the FINAL ERASURE _of
the inquisition from the face of the earth_.”[291] It will indeed be an
important and happy day to the earth, when this final erasure shall take
place; but the period of such an event is nearer, I apprehend, in Europe
and America, than it is in Asia; and its termination in Asia depends as
much on Great Britain as on Portugal. And shall not Great Britain do her
part to hasten this desirable time? Do we wait, as if to see whether the
power of infidelity will abolish the other inquisitions of the earth?
Shall not we, in the mean while, attempt to do something, on Christian
principles, for the honour of God and of humanity? Do we dread even to
express a sentiment on the subject in our legislative assemblies, or to
notice it in our treaties? It is surely our duty to declare our wishes,
at least, for the abolition of these inhuman tribunals, (since we take
an active part in promoting the welfare of other nations,) and to
deliver our testimony against them in the presence of Europe.


Footnote 290:

  Edin. Rev. No. XXXII. p. 449.

Footnote 291:

  Edin. Rev. No. XXXII. p.429.


This case is not unlike that of the immolation of females in Bengal,
with this aggravation in regard to the latter, that the rite is
perpetrated in our own territories. Our humanity revolts at the
occasional description of the enormity; but the matter comes not to our
own business and bosoms, and we fail even to insinuate our
disapprobation of the deed. It may be concluded then, that while we
remain silent and unmoved spectators of the flames of the widow’s pile,
there is no hope that we shall be justly affected by the reported
horrors of the inquisition.—(_Thus far Dr. Buchannan._)

                                BOOK IV.

After the world had groaned for many ages under the insupportable
bondage of Popish superstition and cruelty, it pleased God, in his own
good Providence, to take the remedy of these evils into his own hands;
and after several ineffectual attempts by men, at last to bring about a
reformation of religion by his own wisdom and power. The history of this
great event hath been very particularly and faithfully given by many
excellent writers, to which I must here refer my readers; and it must be
owned, that the persons employed by Almighty God, to accomplish this
great work, were, many of them, remarkable for their great learning and
exemplary piety. I am sure I have no inclination to detract from their
worth and merit. One would indeed have imagined, that the cruelties
exercised by the papists upon all who opposed their superstitions in
worship, and their corruptions in doctrine, should have given the first
reformers an utter abhorrence of all methods of persecution for
conscience-sake, and have kept them from ever entering into any such
measures themselves. But it must be confessed, that however they
differed from the church of Rome, as to doctrines and discipline, yet,
that they too generally agreed with her, in the methods to support what
they themselves apprehended to be truth and orthodoxy; and were angry
with the papists, not for persecuting, but for persecuting themselves
and their followers; being really of opinion that heretics might be
persecuted, and, in some cases, persecuted to death. And that this was
their avowed principle, they gave abundant demonstration by their


                                SECT. I.
               _Luther’s opinion concerning Persecution._

Luther, that great instrument, under God, of the reformation in Germany,
was, as his followers allow, naturally of a warm and violent temper, but
was however in his judgment against punishing heretics with death. Thus,
in his account of the state of the Popish church, as related by
Seckendorf, he says:[292] “the true church teaches the word of God, but
forces no one to it. If any one will not believe it, she dismisses him,
and separates herself from him, according to the command of Christ, and
the example of Paul in the Acts, and leaves him to the judgment of God:
whereas our executioners and most cruel tyrants teach not the word of
God, but their own articles, acting as they please, and then adjudge
those who refuse to believe their articles, and obey their decrees, to
the fires.” The same author gives us many other strong passages to the
same purpose. Particularly, in one of his letters to Lineus, who asked
his opinion about the punishment of false teachers, Luther says:[293] “I
am very averse to the shedding of blood, even in the case of such as
deserve it: and I the more especially dread it in this case, because, as
the Papists and Jews, under this pretence, have destroyed holy prophets
and innocent men; so I am afraid the same would happen amongst
ourselves, if in one single instance it should be allowed lawful for
seducers to be put to death. I can therefore, by no means, allow that
false teachers should be destroyed.” But as to all other punishments,
Luther seems to have been of Austin’s mind, and thought that they might
be lawfully used. For, after the before-mentioned passage, he adds, “it
is sufficient that they should be banished.” And in another place[294]
he allows, that “heretics may be corrected, and forced at least to
silence, if they publicly deny any one of the articles received by all
Christians, and particularly that Christ is God; affirming him to be a
mere man or prophet.” “This,” says he, “is not to force men to the
faith, but to restrain from public blasphemy.” In another place he goes
farther and says,[295] that “heretics are not indeed to be put to death,
but may however be confined, and shut up in some certain place, and put
under restraint as madmen.” As to the Jews, he was for treating them
more severely;[296] and was of opinion, that “their synagogues should be
levelled with the ground, their houses destroyed, their books of prayer,
and of the talmud, and even those of the old testament, be taken from
them; their rabbies be forbid to teach, and forced, by hard labour, to
get their bread; and if they would not submit to this, that they should
be banished, as was formerly practised in France and Spain.”


Footnote 292:

  L. 2. Sect. 36. § 83.

Footnote 293:

  Ibid. Sect. 13. § 43.

Footnote 294:

  Ibid. Sect. 36. § 83.

Footnote 295:

  L. 3. Sect. 8. § 28.

Footnote 296:

  L. 3. Sect. 27. § 3.


[297]This was the moderation of this otherwise great and good man, who
was indeed against putting heretics to death, but for almost all other
punishments that the civil magistrates could inflict: and agreeably to
this opinion, he persuaded the Electors of Saxony not to tolerate in
their dominions, the followers of Zuinglius, in the opinion of the
sacrament, because he esteemed the real presence an essential or
fundamental article of faith; nor to enter into any terms of union with
them, for their common safety and defence, against the endeavours of the
papists to destroy them. And accordingly, notwithstanding all the
endeavours of the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, to get them included in the
common league against the papists, the Elector would never allow it,
being vehemently dissuaded from it by Luther, Melancton, and others of
their party, who alledged, “That they taught articles contrary to those
received in Saxony; and that therefore there could be no agreement of
heart with them.”


Footnote 297:

  L. 3. Sect. 32. § 125.


In one of his conferences with Bucer, he declared, that there could be
no union, unless Zuinglius and his party should think and teach
otherwise; cursing all phrases and interpretations that tended to assert
the figurative presence only; affirming, that [298]“either those of his
own opinion, or those of Zuinglius, must be the ministers of the devil.”
On this account, though Luther was for treating Zuinglius and his
followers with as much christian friendship as he could afford them, yet
he would never own them for brethren, but looked on them as heretics,
and pressed the Electors of Saxony not to allow them in their dominions.
[299]He also wrote to Albert Duke of Prussia, to persuade him to banish
them his territories. Seckendorf also tells us, that the Lutheran
lawyers of Wirtemburg condemned to death one Peter Pestelius, for being
a Zuinglian; though this was disapproved by the Elector of Saxony.
Several also of the anabaptists were put to death by the Lutherans, for
their obstinacy in propagating their errors, contrary to the judgment of
the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, who declared himself for more moderate
measures, and for uniting all sorts of protestants amongst


Footnote 298:

  L. 2. Sect. 6. § 11.

Footnote 299:

  Sect. 17. § 47.

Footnote 300:

  L. 3. Sect. 6. § 15. Sect. 13. § 41. Ibid.



                               SECT. II.
        _Calvin’s Doctrine and Practice concerning Persecution._

John Calvin, another of the reformers, and to whom the christian world
is, on many accounts, under very great obligations, was however well
known to be in principle and practice a persecutor. So entirely was he
in the persecuting measures, that he wrote a treatise in defence of
them, maintaining the lawfulness of putting heretics to death. And that
by heretics he meant such who differed from himself, is evident from his
treatment of Castellio and Servetus.

The former, not inferior to Calvin himself in learning and piety, had
the misfortune to differ from him in judgment, in the points of
predestination, election, free-will and faith. This Calvin could not
bear, and therefore treated Castellio in so rude and cruel a manner, as
I believe his warmest friends will be ashamed to justify. In some of his
writings he calls him “Blasphemer, reviler, malicious barking dog, full
of ignorance, bestiality and impudence; impostor, a base corrupter of
the sacred writings, a mocker of God, a contemner of all religion, an
impudent fellow, a filthy dog, a knave, an impious, lewd, crooked-minded
vagabond, beggarly rogue.” At other times he calls him “a disciple and
brother of Servetus, and an heretic.” Castellio’s reply to all these
flowers, is worthy the patience and moderation of a Christian, and from
his slanderer he appeals to the righteous judgment of God.

But not content with these invectives, Calvin farther accused him of
three crimes; which Castellio particularly answers. The first was of
theft, in taking away some wood, that belonged to another person, to
make a fire to warm himself withal: this Calvin calls “Cursed gain, at
another’s expence and damage;” whereas, in truth, the fact was this.
Castellio was thrown into such circumstances of poverty by the
persecutions of Calvin and his friends, that he was scarce able to
maintain himself. And as he dwelt near the banks of the Rhine, he used
at leisure hours to draw out of the river with an hook, the wood that
was brought down by the waters of it. This wood was no private property,
but every man’s that could catch it. Castellio took it in the middle of
the day, and amongst a great number of fishermen, and several of his own
acquaintance; and was sometimes paid money for it by the decree of the
senate. This the charitable Calvin magnifies into a theft, and publishes
to the world to paint out the character of his Christian brother.

But his accusations ran farther yet; and he calls God to witness, that
whilst he maintained Castellio in his house, “He never saw any one more
proud or perfidious, or void of humanity; and it was well known he was
an impostor, of a peculiar impudence, and one that took pleasure in
scoffing at piety, and that he delighted himself in laughing at the
principles of religion.” These charges Castellio answers in such a
manner, as was enough to put even malice itself to silence. For,
notwithstanding Calvin’s appeal to God for the truth of these things,
yet he himself and two of his principal friends, who were eminent
preachers in Savoy, pressed Castellio, even contrary to his inclination,
to take the charge of a school at Stratsburg; and therefore, as he says
to Calvin, “With what conscience could you make me master, if you knew
me to be such a person when I dwelt in your house? What sort of men must
they be, who would commit the education of children to such a wicked
wretch, as you appeal to God you knew me to be.”

But what is yet more to the purpose, is, that after he had been master
of that school three years, Calvin gave him a testimonial, written and
signed with his own hand, as to the integrity of his past behaviour;
affirming, amongst other things, “That he had behaved himself in such a
manner, that he was, by the consent of all of them, appointed to the
pastoral office.” And in the conclusion he adds, “Lest any one should
suspect any other reason why Sebastian went from us, we testify to all
wheresoever he may come, that he himself voluntarily left the school,
and so behaved himself in it, as that we adjudged him worthy this sacred
ministry.” And that he was not actually received into it, was “non
aliqua vitæ macula,” not owing to any blemish of his life, nor to any
impious tenets that he held in matters of faith, but to this only cause,
the difference of our opinions about Solomon’s Songs, and the article of
Christ’s descent into hell. But how is this testimonial, that Castellio
had no “macula vitæ,” was unblameable as to his life, reconcileable with
the appeal to God, that he was proud and perfidious, and void of
humanity, and a professed scoffer at religion, whilst he dwelt at
Calvin’s house? If this charge was true, how came Calvin and his friends
to appoint him master of a school, and judge him worthy the sacred
ministry? Or if he was of so bad a character once, and afterwards gave
the evidence of a sincere repentance by an irreproachable behaviour,
what equity or justice, what humanity or honour was there in publishing
to the world faults that had been repented of and forsaken? Castellio
solemnly protests that he had never injured Calvin, and that the sole
reason of his displeasure against him was because he differed from him
in opinion. On this account he endeavoured to render him every where
impious, prohibited the reading of his books; and, what is the last
effort of enmity, endeavoured to excite the civil magistrate against him
to put him to death. But God was pleased to protect this good man from
the rage of his enemies. He died at Basil, in peace; and received an
honourable burial, the just reward of his piety, learning, and merit.

I may add to this account, Calvin’s treatment of one Jerom Bolsec,[301]
who from a Carmelite monk had embraced the reformed religion, but held
the doctrine of free-will and predestination upon the foresight of good
works. Calvin was present at a sermon preached by him at Geneva, upon
these articles; and the sermon being ended, publicly opposed him in the
congregation. When the assembly was dismissed, poor Bolsec was
immediately apprehended, and sent to prison; and soon after, by Calvin’s
counsel, banished for sedition and Pelagianism from the city, and forbid
ever to come into it, or the territories of it, under pain of being
whipped, A. C. 1551.


Footnote 301:

  Bez. in vit. Calvin.


But Calvin’s treatment of the unfortunate Servetus was yet more severe.
His book, entitled, “Restitutio Christianismi,” which he sent in MS. to
Calvin, enraged him to that degree, that he afterwards kept no temper or
measures with him; so that as Bolsec and Uytenbogaert relate, in a
letter written by him to his friends Viret and Farrel, he tells
them,[302] that “If this heretic (Servetus) should ever fall into his
hands, he would take care that he should lose his life.” Servetus’s
imprisonment at Vienne, soon gave him an opportunity to shew his zeal
against him: for, in order to strengthen the evidence against him,
Calvin sent to the magistrates of that city the letters and writings
which Servetus had sent to him at Geneva. This is evident from the
sentence itself against him; in which those writings, as well as his
printed book, are expressly mentioned, as containing the proofs of his
heresy. Whether Calvin sent them of his own accord, or at the desire of
the magistrates of Vienne, I shall not presume to determine. If of his
own accord, it was a base officiousness; and if at the request of those
magistrates, it was a most unaccountable conduct in a Protestant to send
evidence to a Popish court to put a Protestant to death; especially
considering that Servetus could not differ more from Calvin than Calvin
did from the Papists, their common adversaries, and who certainly
deserved as much to be burnt, in their judgment, as Servetus did in


Footnote 302:

  Biblioth. Raison. Pour d’ Octobre, &c. 1728. Art. VIII.


Besides this, Servetus farther charges him with writing to one William
Trie, at Lyons, to furnish the magistrates of that city with matter of
accusation against him. The author of the Bibliotheque before-mentioned,
says this is a mere romance, dressed up by Servetus. I confess it doth
not appear to me in so very romantic a light; at least Calvin’s
vindication of himself, from this charge, doth not seem to be altogether
sufficient. He says, “It is commonly reported that I occasioned Servetus
to be apprehended at Vienne; on which account it is said, by many, that
I have acted dishonourably, in thus exposing him to the mortal enemies
of the faith, as though I had thrown him into the mouth of the wolves.
But, I beseech you, how came I so suddenly into such an intimacy with
the pope’s officers? It is very likely, truly, that we should correspond
together by letters; and that those who agree with me, just as Belial
doth with Jesus Christ, should enter into a plot with their mortal
enemy, as with their companion: This silly calumny will fall to the
ground, when I shall say, in one word, that there is nothing in it.” But
how doth all this confute Servetus’s charge? For whatever differences
soever there might be between Calvin and the Papists in some things,
yet, why might he not write to the Papists at Vienne to put Servetus to
death for what was equally counted heresy by them both, and when they
agreed as the most intimate friends and companions in the lawfulness of
putting heretics to death? What Calvin says of the absurdity of their
intimacy and conspiracy with him their mortal enemy, is no absurdity at
all. Herod and Pontius Pilate, though enemies, agreed in the
condemnation of the Son of God.

Besides, it is certain, that the magistrates at Vienne had Servetus’s
Manuscripts sent to them from Geneva, either by Calvin, or the
magistrates of that city; and when Servetus was afterwards apprehended
at Geneva, the magistrates there sent a messenger to Vienne, for a copy
of the process that had been there carried on against him; which that
messenger received, and actually brought back to Geneva. So that nothing
is more evident, than that there was an intimacy and conspiracy between
the Protestants of Geneva and the Papists at Vienne, to take away the
life of poor Servetus; and that, though they were mortal enemies in
other things, and as far different from one another as Christ and
Belial, yet that they agreed harmoniously in the doctrine and practice
of persecution, and were one in the design and endeavour of murdering
this unhappy physician. And though Calvin is pleased magisterially to
deny his having any communication by letters with the Papists at Vienne,
yet I think his denial far from sufficient to remove the suspicion. He
himself expressly says that many persons blamed him for not acting
honourably in that affair; and the accusation was supported by
Servetus’s complaint, and by what is a much stronger evidence, the
original papers and letters which Servetus had sent to Calvin, which
were actually produced by the judges at Vienne, and recited in the
sentence as part of the foundation of his condemnation. And as Calvin
himself never, as I can find, hath attempted to clear up these strong
circumstances, though he owed it to himself and his friends, I think he
cannot well be excused from practising the death of Servetus at Vienne,
and lending his assistance to the bloody Papists of that place, the more
effectually to procure his condemnation.

But he had the good fortune to make his escape from imprisonment, and
was, June 17, 1553, condemned for contumacy, and burnt in effigy by the
order of his judges; having himself got safe to Geneva, where he was
re-condemned, and actually burnt in person, October 27, of the same year
1553. He had not been long in this city before Calvin spirited up one
Nicholas de la Fountain, probably one of his pupils, to make information
against him; wisely avoiding it himself, because, according to the laws
of Geneva, the accuser must submit to imprisonment with the party he
accuses, till the crime appears to have a solid foundation and proof.
Upon this information Servetus was apprehended and imprisoned. Calvin
ingenuously owns, that this whole affair was carried on at his instance
and advice; and that, in order to bring Servetus to reason, he himself
found out the party to accuse him, and begin the process against him.
And therefore, though, as the fore-mentioned author of the Bibliotheque,
for January, &c. 1729, observes, the action, after its commencement, was
carried on according to the course of law; yet, as Calvin accused him
for heresy, got him imprisoned, and began the criminal process against
him, he is answerable for all the consequences of his trial, and was in
reality the first and principal author of his death; especially as the
penal laws against heretics seem at that time to have been in force at
Geneva, so that Servetus could not escape the fire upon his conviction
of heresy.

When he was in jail, he was treated with the same rigour as if he had
been detained in one of the prisons of the inquisition. He was stripped
of all means of procuring himself the conveniences and supplies he
needed in his confinement. They took from him ninety-seven pieces of
gold, a gold chain worth twenty crowns, six gold rings, and at last put
him into a deep dungeon, where he was almost eaten up with vermin. All
this cruelty was practised upon a protestant in the protestant city of
Geneva. Besides this, he could never get a proctor or advocate to assist
him, or help him in pleading his cause, though he requested it, as being
a stranger, and ignorant of the laws and customs of the country. Calvin,
at the request of the judges, drew up certain propositions out of
Servetus’s books, representing them as blasphemous, full of errors and
profane reveries, all repugnant to the word of God, and to the common
consent of the whole church; and, indeed, appears to have been
acquainted with, and consulted in the whole process, and to have used
all his arts and endeavours to prevent his coming off with impunity.

It is but a poor and mean excuse that Calvin makes for himself in this
respect, when he says; [303]“As to the fact, I will not deny, but that
it was at my prosecution he was imprisoned:—But that after he was
convicted of his heresies, I made no instances for his being put to
death.” But what need of instances? He had already accused him, got him
imprisoned, prosecuted in a criminal court for the capital crime of
heresy, and actually drew up forty articles against him for heresy,
blasphemy, and false doctrine. When he was convicted of these crimes,
the law could not but take its course; and his being burnt to death was
the necessary consequence of his conviction. What occasion was there
then for Calvin to press his execution, when the laws themselves had
adjudged him to the flames? But even this excuse, poor as it is, is not
sincerely and honestly made: for Calvin was resolved to use all his
interest to destroy him. In his letter to Farrel, he expressly says, “I
hope, at least, they will condemn him to death, but not to the terrible
one of being burnt.” And in another to Sultzer, “Since the papists, in
order to vindicate their own superstitions, cruelly shed innocent blood,
it is a shame that Christian magistrates should have no courage at all
in the defence of certain truth.—However, I will certify you of one
thing, that the city treasurer is rightly determined, that he shall not
escape that end which we wish him.” And in another to the church at
Franckfort,[304] “The author (Servetus) is put in jail by our
magistrates, and I hope he will shortly suffer the punishment he
deserves.” There was but one way possible for him to escape; and that
was by bringing his cause from the criminal court, where he was
prosecuted, before the council of the two hundred. And this Calvin
vigorously opposed and reflected on the syndic himself for endeavouring
it. He says, “that he pretended illness for three days, and then came
into court to save that wretch (Servetus) from punishment; and was not
ashamed to demand, that the cognizance of the affair should be referred
to the two hundred. However he was unanimously condemned.” Now, what
great difference is there between a prosecutor’s endeavouring to prevent
the only method by which a criminal can be saved, and his actually
pressing for his being put to death? Calvin actually did the former, and
yet would fain persuade us he had no hand in the latter.


Footnote 303:

  Epist. ad Farrel.

Footnote 304:

  Epist. ad Farrel.


It is much of a piece with this, his desiring that the rigour of
Servetus’s death might be mitigated; for as the laws against heretics
were in force at Geneva, the tribunal that judged Servetus could not,
after his conviction of heresy, absolve him from death, nor change the
manner of it, as Calvin says he would have had it; and therefore his
desiring that the rigour of it might be abated, looks too much like the
practice of the inquisitors, who when they deliver over an heretic to
the secular arm, beseech it so to moderate the rigour of the sentence,
as not to endanger life or limb.

This was the part that Calvin acted in the affair of Servetus, which I
have represented in the most impartial manner, as it appears to me; and
am sorry I am not able to wipe off so foul a stain from the memory of
this otherwise excellent and learned reformer. But when his enemies
charge him with acting merely from principles of malice and revenge in
this matter, I think it an evident abuse and calumny. He was, in his own
judgment, for persecuting and destroying heretics, as appears from the
treatise he published in vindication of this practice, entitled, “A
declaration for maintaining the true faith, held by all Christians
concerning the Trinity of persons in one only God, by John Calvin,
against the detestable errors of Michael Servetus, a Spaniard. In which
it is also proved, that it is lawful to punish heretics; and that this
wretch was justly executed in the city of Geneva.” Geneva, 1554.

This principle was maintained by almost all the fathers and bishops of
the church since the three first centuries, who esteemed heresy as one
of the worst of impieties, and thought it the duty of the civil
magistrates to employ their power for the suppression of it, and for the
support and establishment of the orthodox faith. And though the first
reformers abhorred the cruelty of the papists towards the protestants,
they had nevertheless the same abhorrence of what they counted heresy
that the papists had, and agreed with them in the lawfulness of
suppressing it by the civil power. So that Calvin acted in this affair
from a principle, though a mistaken principle of conscience, and had the
encouragement and approbation of the most learned and pious reformers of
the times he lived in.

Melancton, in a letter to Bullinger, says[305] “I have read also what
you have written concerning the blasphemies of Servetus, and I approve
your piety and judgment. I think also, that the senate of Geneva have
done right, that they have put to death that obstinate person, who would
not cease to blaspheme; and I wonder that there are any who disapprove
that severity.” He affirms the same also in another letter to Calvin
himself. Bucer also said publicly in his sermon, that “He ought to have
his bowels pulled out, and be torn in pieces,” as Calvin relates in his
letter to Sultzer. Farrel in a letter to Calvin, says, that “He deserved
to die ten thousand deaths; that it would be a piece of cruelty, and an
injustice to Christ, and the doctrine of piety, for magistrates not to
take notice of the horrible blasphemies of that wicked heretic. And he
hoped God would so order it that as the magistrates of Geneva were very
praise-worthy for punishing thieves and sacrilegious persons, so they
would behave themselves well in the affair of Servetus, by putting him
to death, who had so long obstinately persisted in his heresies, and
destroyed so many persons by them.”


Footnote 305:

  Calv. Op. Vol. ult.


[306]The pastors of the church at Basil, in their letter to the syndics
and senate of Geneva, express their joy for the apprehension of
Servetus, and advise them first to “Use all endeavours to recover him;
but that if he persisted in his perverseness, they should punish him
according to their office, and the power they had received from God, to
prevent his giving any disturbance to the church, and lest the latter
end should be worse than the first.” [307]The ministers of the church of
Bern were of the same opinion; and in their letter to the magistrates of
Geneva say, “We pray the Lord that he would give you the spirit of
prudence, counsel and strength, to remove this plague from the churches,
both your own and others,” and advise them “to neglect nothing that may
be judged unworthy a Christian magistrate to omit.” [308]The ministers
of Zurich give much the same advice, and thought that there was need of
a great deal of diligence in the affair; “especially as the reformed
churches were evil thought of, amongst other reasons for this, as being
themselves heretical, and favourers of heretics. But that, as the
Providence of God had given them an opportunity of wiping off so evil a
suspicion, and preventing the farther spreading of so contagious a
poison, they did not doubt but their excellencies would be careful to
improve it.” [309]Those of Scaffhusen subscribed to the judgment of
those of Zurich, and declare, that they did not doubt, but that their
prudence would put a stop to the attempts of Servetus, lest his
blasphemies, as a canker, should eat up the members of Christ; adding
these remarkable words, “That to endeavour to oppose his dreams by a
train of reasoning, what would it be, but to grow mad with a madman?”


Footnote 306:


Footnote 307:


Footnote 308:


Footnote 309:



These extracts, which are taken out of the letters printed at the end of
Calvin’s Institutions, clearly demonstrate that he acted seriously and
deliberately in the affair of Servetus; and that he consulted the
neighbouring churches, and had their opinion of the lawfulness and
expediency of putting him to death for his heresies. And though it doth
not wholly excuse his fault, yet it ought in justice to be allowed as an
abatement and extenuation of it; and, I think, evidently proves, what
his enemies are very unwilling to allow, that he was not transported by
rage and fury, and did not act merely from the dictates of envy and
malice, but from a mistaken zeal against what he accounted blasphemy and
heresy, and with the concurrent advice of his brethren in the ministry,
and fellow-labourers in the great work of the reformation. And I think
his eminent services to the church of God, both by his preaching and
writings, ought, notwithstanding all his failings, to secure to his
memory the honour and respect that is due to it: for he deserved well of
all the reformed churches, and was an eminent instrument in the hand of
Providence, in promoting the great and glorious work of saving men from
the gross errors, superstitions and idolatries of the Romish church. And
as I thought myself obliged impartially to represent these things as
they appeared to me, I hope all who love to distinguish themselves by
Calvin’s name, will be careful not to imitate him in this great blemish
of his life, which, in reality, hath tarnished a character, that would
otherwise have appeared amongst the first and brightest of the age he
lived in.

In the year 1632, after Calvin’s death, one Nicholas Anthoine was
condemned also by the council of Geneva, to be first hanged, and
afterwards burnt; because, that having forgotten the fear of God, he had
committed the crime of apostacy and high treason against God, by having
opposed the Holy Trinity, denied our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
blasphemed his holy name, renounced his baptism, and the like.


                               SECT. III.
               _Persecutions at Bern, Basil, and Zurich._

Valentinus Gentilis,[310] a native of Cosentia in Italy, had the
misfortune also to fall into some heterodox opinions concerning the
Trinity, and held that the Father alone was αυτοθεος, God of himself,
αγεννητος, unbegotten, Essentiator, the giver of essence to all other
beings; but that the Son was Essentiatus, of a derived essence from the
Father, and therefore not αυτοθεος, or God of himself, though at the
same time he allowed him to be truly God. He held much the same as to
the Holy Ghost, making them three eternal Spirits, distinguished by a
gradual and due subordination, reserving the monarchy to the Father,
whom he stiled the one only God. Being forced to fly his native country,
on account of his religion, he came to Geneva, where there was a church
of Italian refugees, several of whom, such as G. Blandrata, a physician,
Gribaldus, a lawyer, and Paulus Alciatus, differed from the commonly
received notions of the Trinity. When their heterodoxes came to be known
at Geneva, they were cited before the senators, ministers, and
presbyters, and being heard in their own defence, were refuted by
Calvin, and all subscribed to the orthodox faith.


Footnote 310:

  Bez. in vit. Calv. B. Aret. Hist. Val. Gent.


But V. Gentilis having after this endeavoured to propagate his own
opinions, he was again apprehended, and forced by Calvin and others to a
public abjuration, and condemned anno 1558, to an exemplary penance,
viz. “That he should be stripped close to his shirt, then barefoot and
bare-headed should carry in his hand a lighted torch, and beg God and
the court’s pardon on his knees, by confessing himself maliciously and
wickedly to have spread abroad a false and heretical doctrine; but that
he did now from his heart detest and abhor those abominable, lying, and
blasphemous books, he had composed in its defence; in testimony of which
he was to cast them, with his own hands, into the flames, there to be
burnt, to ashes. And for more ample satisfaction, he was injoined to be
led through all the streets of Geneva, at the sound of trumpet, in his
penitential habit, and strictly commanded not to depart the city without
permission.” And this penance he actually underwent.

But having found means to make his escape, he came at last to Gaium, a
prefecture, subject to the canton of Bern, where he was seized and
imprisoned by the governor, who immediately sent an account of his
apprehension to the senate of Bern, who ordered him to be brought
prisoner to that city, where they put him in jail. After they had seized
all his books and papers, they collected several articles, with the
heads of an indictment out of them to be preferred against him. Amongst
others these were two, 1. “That he dissented from us, and all the
orthodox, in the doctrine of the Trinity.” And 2. “That his writings
contained many impious blasphemies concerning the Trinity.” And because
he continued obstinate in his opinions, notwithstanding the endeavours
of the divines to convert him, he was condemned by the senate, for his
blasphemies against the Son of God, and the glorious mystery of the
Trinity, to be beheaded; which sentence was executed on him in
September, anno 1566.

[311]At Basil, also, heresy was a crime punishable with death, since the
reformation, as appears from the treatment of the dead body of David
George, an enthusiastical anabaptist. Having left Holland he went to
Basil, and settled there as one that was banished out of his country for
the sake of his religion, propagating his own doctrines by letters,
books, and messengers in Holland. But his errors being discovered after
his death, he was taken out of his grave, and together with his books
and pictures burnt to ashes, by order of the magistrates, at the place
of execution, without the walls of Basil, May 13, 1559. His opinions
were first extracted from the printed books and manuscript papers found
in his house, and himself declared an arch heretic.


Footnote 311:

  Brand Hist. Book 3. p. 77.


[312]Zurich also furnishes us with an instance of great cruelty towards
an anabaptist. A severe edict was published against them, in which there
was a penalty of a silver mark, about four shillings English money, set
upon all such as should suffer themselves to be-rebaptized, or should
withhold baptism from their children. And it was farther declared, that
those who openly opposed this order, should be yet more severely
treated. Accordingly one Felix was drowned at Zurich, upon the sentence
pronounced by Zuinglius, in these four Words, “Qui interum mergit,
mergatur:“ He that re-dips, let him be drowned. This happened in the
year 1526. About the same time also, and since, there were some more of
them put to death. [313]From the same place, also, Ochinus was banished,
in his old age, in the depth of winter, together with his children,
because he was an Arian, and defended polygamy, if Beza’s account of him
be true.


Footnote 312:

  Book 2. p. 57.

Footnote 313:

  Beza, Epist. 1.


Lubieniecius,[314] a Polish Unitarian, was, through the practices of the
Calvinists, banished with his brethren from Poland, his native country;
and forced to leave several protestant cities of Germany, to which he
had fled for refuge, particularly, Stetin, Frederickstadt, and Hamburg,
through the practices of the Lutheran divines, who were against all
toleration. At Hamburg he received the orders of the magistrates of the
city to depart the place on his death-bed; and when his dead body was
carried to Altenau to be interred, though the preachers could not, as
they endeavoured, prevent his being buried in the church, yet they did
actually prevent the usual funeral honours being paid him. John
Sylvanus,[315] superintendant of the church of Heidelberg, was put to
death by order of Frederick Elector Palatine, anno 1571, being accused
of Arianism.


Footnote 314:

  Vit. Lub. Præf. Hist. Reformat. Polon.

Footnote 315:

  Lub. Hist. l. 2. c. 5.



                               SECT. IV.
          _Persecutions in Holland, and by the Synod of Dort._

If we pass over into Holland, we shall also find that the reformers
there were most of them in the principles and measures of persecution,
and managed their differences with that heat and fury, as gave great
advantages to the Papists, their common enemies. In the very infancy of
the reformation the Lutherans and Calvinists condemned each other for
their supposed heterodoxy in the affair of the sacrament, and looked
upon compliance and mutual toleration to be things intolerable. These
differences were kept up principally by the clergy of each party. The
Prince of Orange, and States of Holland, who were heartily inclined to
the reformation, were not for confining their protection to any
particular set of principles or opinions, but for granting an universal
indulgence in all matters of religion, aiming at peace and mutual
forbearance, and to open the church as wide as possible for all
Christians of unblameable lives; whereas the clergy being biassed by
their passions and inclinations for those masters, in whose writings
they had been instructed, endeavoured with all their might to establish
and conciliate authority to their respective opinions; aiming only at
decisions and definitions, and shutting up the church by limitations in
many doubtful and disputable articles; so that the disturbances which
were raised, and the severities which were used upon the account of
religion, proceeded from the bigotry of the clergy, contrary to the
desire and intention of the civil magistrate.

Before the ministers of the reformed party were engaged in the
controversy with Arminius,[316] their zeal was continually exerting
itself against the anabaptists, whom they declared to be excommunicated
and cut off from the church, and endeavoured to convert by violence and
force, prohibiting them from preaching under fines, and banishing them
their country, upon account of their opinions. And the better to colour
these proceedings, some of them wrote in defence of persecution; or,
which is the same thing, against the toleration of any religion or
opinions different from their own; and for the better support of
orthodoxy, they would have had the synods ordain, that all church
officers should renew their subscriptions to the confession and
catechism every year, that hereby they might the better know who had
changed their sentiments, and differed from the received faith. This
practice was perfectly agreeable to the Geneva discipline; Calvin
himself, as hath been shewn, being in judgment for persecuting heretics;
and Beza having wrote a treatise, anno 1600, to prove the lawfulness of
punishing them. This book was translated from the Latin into the Low
Dutch language by Bogerman, afterwards president of the synod of Dort,
and published with a dedication, and recommendation of it to the
magistrates. The consequence of this was, that very severe placarts were
published against the anabaptists in Friesland and Groningen, whereby
they were forbidden to preach; and all persons prohibited from letting
their houses and grounds to them, under the penalty of a large fine, or
confinement to bread and water for fourteen days. If they offended the
third time, they were to be banished the city, and the jurisdiction
thereof. Whosoever was discovered to re-baptize any person, should
forfeit twenty dollars; and upon a second conviction to be put to bread
and water, and then be banished. Unbaptized children were made incapable
of inheriting; and if any one married out of the reformed church, he was
declared incapable of inheriting any estate, and the children made


Footnote 316:

  Brandt. Hist. V. 2. l. 17.


But the controversy that made the greatest noise, and produced the most
remarkable effects, was that carried on between the Calvinists and
Arminians. Jacobus Arminius, one of the professors of divinity at
Leyden, disputing in his turn about the doctrine of predestination,
advanced several things differing from the opinions of Calvin on this
article, and was in a few months after warmly opposed by Gomarus his
colleague, who held, that “It was appointed by an eternal decree of God,
who amongst mankind shall be saved, and who shall be damned.” This was
indeed the sentiment of most of the clergy of the United Provinces, who
therefore endeavoured to run down Arminius and his doctrine with the
greatest zeal, in their private conversations, public disputes, and in
their very sermons to their congregations, charging him with
innovations, and of being a follower of the ancient heretical monk
Pelagius; whereas the government was more inclinable to Arminius’s
scheme, as being less rigid in its nature, and more intelligible by the
people, and endeavoured all they could to prevent these differences of
the clergy from breaking out into an open quarrel, to the disturbance of
the public peace. But the ministers of the predestinarian party would
enter into no treaty for peace: the remonstrants were the objects of
their furious zeal, whom they called mamelukes, devils, and plagues;
animating the magistrates to extirpate and destroy them, and crying out
from the pulpits, “We must go through thick and thin, without fearing to
stick in the mire: we know what Elijah did to Baal’s priests.” And when
the time drew near for the election of new magistrates, they prayed to
God for such men, “as would be zealous even to blood, though it were to
cost the whole trade of their cities.” They also accused them of keeping
up a correspondence with the Jesuits and Spaniards, and of a design to
betray their country to them.

These proceedings gave great disturbance to the magistrates, especially
as many of the clergy took great liberties with them, furiously
inveighing against them in their sermons, as enemies to the church, and
persecutors; as libertines and free-thinkers, who hated the sincere
ministers of God, and endeavoured to turn them out of their office. This
conduct, together with their obstinate refusal of all measures of
accommodation, and peace with the remonstrants, so incensed the
magistrates, that in several cities they suspended some of the warmest
and most seditious of them, and prohibited them from the public
exercises of their ministerial function; particularly Gezelius of
Rotterdam, and afterwards Rosæus, minister at the Hague, for
endeavouring to make a schism in the church, and exhorting the people to
break off communion with their brethren. Being thus discarded, they
assumed to themselves the name of the persecuted church, and met
together in private houses, absolutely refusing all communion with the
remonstrant ministers and party, in spite of all the attempts made use
of to reconcile and unite them.

What the ministers of the contra-remonstrant party aimed at, was the
holding a national council; which at length, after a long opposition,
was agreed to in the assembly of the States-General, who appointed Dort
for the place of the meeting. Prince Maurice of Orange, the Stadtholder,
effectually prepared matters for holding the said assembly; and as he
declared himself openly for the contra-remonstrant party, not for that
he was of their opinions in religion, being rather inclined to those of
Arminius, but because he thought them the best friends to his family, he
took care that the council should consist of such persons as were well
affected to them. In order to this his excellency changed the government
of most of the towns of Holland, deposed those magistrates who were of
the remonstrant persuasion, or that favoured them in the business of the
toleration, and filled up their places with contra-remonstrants, or such
as promoted their interests; making use of the troops of the states, to
obviate all opposition.

The consequence of this was the imprisonment of several great men of the
remonstrant persuasion, such as the advocate Oldenbarnevelt, Grotius,
and others; and the suspension, or total deprivation of a considerable
number of the remonstrant clergy, such as Vitenbogart, of the Hague,
Grovinckhovius, of Rotterdam, Grevius, and others, by particular synods
met together for that purpose, and to prepare things, and appoint
persons for the ensuing national one at Dort. The persons fixed on were
generally the most violent of the contra-remonstrant party, and who had
publicly declared, that they would not enter into communion with those
who differed from them, nor agree to any terms of moderation and peace.
There were also several foreign Divines summoned to this council, who
were most of them in the Calvinistic scheme, and professed enemies to
the Arminians.

The lay commissioners also, who were chosen by the States, were most of
them very partial contra-remonstrants; and two or three of them, who
seemed more impartial than the others, were hardly suffered to speak;
and if they did, were presently suspected, and represented by letters
sent to the states, and Prince Maurice, at the Hague, as persons that
favoured the remonstrants; which was then considered as a crime against
the government, insomuch, that by these insinuations, they were in
danger of being stripped of all their employments.

The session and first opening of this venerable assembly,[317] was Nov.
13, 1618. John Bogerman was chosen president of it; the same worthy and
moderate Divine, who had before translated into Low Dutch Beza’s
Treatise, to prove the lawfulness of punishing heretics, with a preface
recommendatory to the civil magistrate; chosen not by the whole synod,
but by the Low Country divines only, the foreigners not being allowed
any share in the election.


Footnote 317:

  The Council of Dort, A. C. 1618.


At the fifth session the remonstrants petitioned the synod, that a
competent number of their friends might have leave to appear before
them, and that the citation might be sent to the whole body, and not to
any single person, to the end that they might be at liberty to send such
as they should judge best qualified to defend their cause; and
particularly insisted, that Grovinckhovius and Goulart might be of the
number. One would have thought that so equitable a request should have
been readily granted. But they were told, that it could not be allowed
that the remonstrants should pass for a distinct body, or make any
deputation of persons in their common name to treat of their affairs;
and agreeably to this declaration, the summons that were given out were
not sent to the remonstrants as a body or part of the synod, but to such
particular persons as the synod thought fit to choose out of them; which
was little less than citing them as criminals before a body of men,
which chiefly consisted of their professed adversaries.[318] When they
first appeared in the synod, and Episcopius in the name of the rest of
them talked of entering into a regular conference about the points in
difference, they were immediately given to understand, that no
conference was intended; but that their only business was to deliver
their sentiments, and humbly to wait for the judgment of the council
concerning them.


Footnote 318:

  Act Syn. Dord. Sess. 22.


Episcopius, in the name of his brethren, declared, that they did not own
the synod for their lawful judges, because most of that body were their
avowed enemies, and fomenters and promoters of the unhappy schism
amongst them; upon which they were immediately reprimanded by the
president, for impeaching and arraigning their authority, and presuming
to prescribe laws to those whom the States-General had appointed for
their judges. The Divines of Geneva added upon this head, “That if
people obstinately refused to submit to the lawful determinations of the
church, there then remained two methods to be used against them; the
one, that the civil magistrate might stretch out his arm of compulsion;
the other that the church might exert her power, in order to separate
and cut off, by a public sentence, those who violated the laws of God.”
After many debates on this head, between the synod and the remonstrants,
who adhered to their resolution of not owning the synod for their
judges, they were turned out of it, by Bogerman the president, with
great insolence and fury; to the high dissatisfaction of many of the
foreign Divines.

After the holy synod had thus rid themselves of the remonstrants, whose
learning and good sense would have rendered them exceeding troublesome
to this assembly, they proceeded to fix the faith; and as they had no
opposition to fear, and were almost all of one side, at least in the
main points, they agreed in their articles and canons, and in their
sentence against the remonstrant clergy, who had been cited to appear
before them; which was to this effect: “They beseeched and charged in
the name of Christ, all and singular the ministers of the churches
throughout the United Netherlands, &c. that they forsake and abandon the
well-known five articles of the remonstrants, as being false, and no
other than secret magazines of errors.—And whereas some, who are gone
out from amongst us, calling themselves remonstrants, have, out of
private views and ends, unlawfully violated the discipline and
government of the church—have not only trumped up old errors, but
hammered out new ones too—have blackened and rendered odious the
established doctrine of the church with impudent slanders and calumnies,
without end or measure; have filled all places with scandal, discord,
scruples, troubles of conscience—all which heinous offences ought to be
restrained and punished in clergymen with the severest censures:
therefore this national synod—being assured of its own authority—doth
declare and determine, that those ministers, who have acted in the
churches as heads of factions, and teachers of errors, are guilty, and
convicted of having violated our holy religion, having made a rent in
the unity of the church, and given very great scandal: and as for those
who were cited before this synod, that they are besides guilty of
intolerable disobedience—to the commands of the venerable synod: for all
which reasons the synod doth, in the first place, discharge the
aforesaid cited persons from all ecclesiastical administrations, and
deprive them of their offices; judging them likewise unworthy of any
academical employment.—And as for the rest of the remonstrant clergy,
they are hereby recommended to the provincial synods, classes, and
consistories—who are to take the utmost care—that the patrons of errors
be prudently discovered; that all obstinate, clamorous, and factious
disturbers of the church under their jurisdiction, be forthwith deprived
of their ecclesiastical and academical offices.—And they the said
provincial synods are therefore exhorted—to take a particular care, that
they admit none into the ministry who shall refuse to subscribe, or
promise to preach the doctrine, asserted in these synodical decrees; and
that they suffer none to continue in the ministry, by whose public
dissent the doctrine which hath been so unanimously approved by all the
members of this synod, the harmony of the clergy, and the peace of the
church may be again disturbed—And they most earnestly and humbly beseech
their gracious God, that their High Mightinesses may suffer and ordain
this wholesome doctrine, which the synod hath faithfully expressed—to be
maintained alone, and in its purity within their provinces—and restrain
turbulent and unruly spirits—and may likewise put in execution the
sentence pronounced against the above mentioned persons—and ratify and
confirm the decrees of the synod by their authority.”

The states readily obliged them in this christian and charitable
request; for as soon as the synod was concluded, the old advocate
Barnevelt was beheaded, who had been a zealous and hearty friend to the
remonstrants and their principles, and Grotius condemned to perpetual
imprisonment; and because the cited ministers would not promise wholly,
and always to abstain from the exercise of their ministerial functions,
the states passed a resolution for the banishing of them on pain, if
they did not submit to it, of being treated as disturbers of the public
peace. And though they only begged a respite of the sentence for a few
days, to put their affairs in order, and to provide themselves with a
little money to support themselves and families in their banishment,
even this was unmercifully denied them, and they were hurried away next
morning by four o’clock, as if they had been enemies to the religion and
liberties of their country.

Such was the effect of this famous presbyterian synod, who behaved
themselves as tyrannically towards their brethren, as any prelatical
council whatsoever could do; and to the honour of the church of England
it must be said, that they owned their synodical power, and concurred by
their deputies, Carleton Bishop of Landaff, Hall, Davenant, and Ward, in
condemning the remonstrants, in excommunicating and depriving them, and
turning them out of their churches, and in establishing both the
discipline and doctrines of Geneva in the Netherlands. For after the
council was ended, the remonstrants were every where driven out of their
churches, and prohibited from holding any private meetings, and many of
them banished on this very account. The reader will find a very
particular relation of these transactions, in the learned Gerard
Brandt’s History of the Reformation of the Low Countries, to which I
must refer him.


                                SECT. V.
                    _Persecutions in Great-Britain._

If we look into our own country, we shall find numerous proofs of the
same antichristian spirit and practice. Even our first reformers, who
had seen the flames which the papists had kindled against their
brethren, yet lighted fires themselves to consume those who differed
from them. Cranmer’s hands were stained with the blood of several.[319]
He had a share in the prosecution and condemnation of that pious and
excellent martyr John Lambert, and consented to the death of Ann Askew,
who were burnt for denying the corporal presence; which, though Cranmer
then believed, he saw afterwards reason to deny.


Footnote 319:

  Burnett’s Hist. Ref. Vol. II. p. 106, 107.


In the year 1549, Joan Bocher was condemned for some enthusiastical
opinions about Christ, and delivered over to the secular power. The
sentence being returned to the council, King Edward VI. was moved to
sign a warrant for her being burnt, but could not be prevailed with to
do it. Cranmer endeavoured to persuade him by such arguments, as rather
silenced than satisfied the young king: so he set his hand to the
warrant with tears in his eyes, saying to the archbishop, that if he did
wrong, since it was in submission to his authority, he should answer for
it to God. Though this struck Cranmer with horror, yet he at last put
the sentence in execution against her.

About two years after one George Van Pare, a Dutchman, was accused, for
saying, “That God the Father was only God, and that Christ was not very
God.” And though he was a person of a very holy life, yet because he
would not abjure, he was condemned for heresy, and burnt in Smithfield.
The Archbishop himself was afterwards burnt for heresy; which, as Fox
observed, many looked on as a just retaliation from the providence of
God, for the cruel severeties he had used towards others.

The controversy about the Popish habits was one of the first that arose
amongst the English reformers. Cranmer and Ridley were zealous for the
use of them, whilst other very pious and learned Divines were for laying
them aside, as the badges of idolatry and antichrist. Amongst these was
Dr. Hooper, nominated to the bishoprick of Gloucester; but because he
refused to be consecrated in the old vestments, he was by order of
council first silenced, and then confined to his own house; and
afterwards, by Cranmer’s means, committed to the Fleet prison, where he
continued several months.

[320]In the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, A. C. 1559, an act
passed for the uniformity of common prayer, and service in the church,
and administration of the sacraments; by which the queen and bishops
were empowered to ordain such ceremonies in worship, as they should
think for the honour of God, and the edification of his church. This act
was rigourously pressed, and great severities used to such as could not
comply with it. Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, made the clergy
subscribe to use the prescribed rites and habits; and cited before him
many of the most famous Divines who scrupled them, and would allow none
to be presented to livings, or preferred in the church, without an
intire conformity. He summoned the whole body of the London pastors and
curates to appear before him at Lambeth, and immediately suspended 37,
who refused to subscribe to the unity of apparel; and signified to them,
that within three months they should be totally deprived, if they would
not conform. So that many churches were shut up; and though the people
were ready to mutiny for want of ministers, yet the archbishop was deaf
to all their complaints, and in his great goodness and piety was
resolved they should have no sacraments or sermons without the surplice
and the cap. And in order to prevent all opposition to church tyranny,
the Star Chamber published a decree for sealing up the press, and
prohibiting any person to print or publish any book against the queen’s
injunctions, or against the meaning of them. This decree was signed by
the bishops of Canterbury and London.


Footnote 320:

  Queen Elizabeth.


This rigid and fanatical zeal for habits and coremonies, caused the
Puritans to separate from the established church, and to hold private
assemblies for worship. But the queen and her prelates soon made them
feel their vengeance. Their meetings were disturbed, and those who
attended them apprehended, and sent in large numbers, men and women, to
Bridewell, for conviction. Others were cited into the spiritual courts,
and not discharged till after long attendance and great charges.
Subscriptions to articles of faith were violently pressed upon the
clergy, and about one hundred of them were deprived, anno 1572, for
refusing to submit to them. Some were closely imprisoned, and died in
jail, through poverty and want.

And that serious piety and christian knowledge might gain ground, as
well as uniformity, the bishops, by order of the queen, put down the
prophesyings of the clergy, anno 1574, who were forbid to assemble as
they had done for some years, to discourse with one another upon
religious subjects and sermons; and as some serious persons of the laity
were used to meet on holidays, or after they had done work, to read the
scriptures, and to improve themselves in christian knowledge, the
parsons of the parishes were sent for, and ordered to suppress them.

Eleven Dutchmen, who were anabaptists, were condemned in the consistory
of St. Paul to the fire, for heresy; nine of whom were banished, and two
of them burnt alive in Smithfield. In the year 1583, Copping and
Thacker, two Puritan ministers, were hanged for non-conformity. It would
be endless to go through all the severities that were used in this reign
upon the account of religion. As the queen was of a very high and
arbitrary temper, she pressed uniformity with great violence, and found
bishops enough, Parker, Aylmer, Whitgift, and others, to justify and
promote her measures; who either entered their sees with persecuting
principles, or embraced them soon after their entrance, as best
befitting the ends of their promotion. Silencings, deprivations,
imprisonments, gibbets, and stakes, upon the account of religion, were
some of the powerful reasonings of those times. The bishops rioted in
power, and many of them abused it to the most cruel oppressions. The
cries of innocent prisoners, widowed wives, and starving children, made
no impression on their hearts. Piety and learning with them were void of
merit. Refusal of subscriptions, and non-conformity, were crimes never
to be forgiven. A particular account of these things may be seen in Mr.
Neal’s history of the Puritans, who hath done some justice to that

I shall only add, that the court of high commission established in this
reign, by the instigation of Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, by
which the commissioners were impowered to inquire into all misdemeanors,
by all such ways and means as they could devise, and thought necessary;
to examine persons upon oath, and to punish those who refused the oath
by fine or imprisonment, according to their discretion, was an high
stretch of the prerogative, and had a very near resemblance to the
courts of inquisition; and the cruelties that were practised in it, and
the exorbitant fines that were levied by it in the two following reigns,
made it the universal abhorrence of the nation, so that it was dissolved
by parliament, with a clause that no such court should be erected for
the future.

[321]King James I. was bred up in the kirk of Scotland, which professed
the faith and discipline of those called Puritans in England; and though
he blessed God, “For honouring him to be king over such a kirk, the
sincerest kirk in the world,” yet, upon his accession to the English
throne, he soon shewed his aversion to the constitution of that kirk;
and to their brethren, the puritans in England. These were solicitous
for a farther reformation in the church, which the bishops opposed,
instilling this maxim into the king, [322]“No Bishop, no King;” which,
as stale and false a maxim as it is, hath been lately trumped up, and
publicly recommended, in a sermon on the 30th of January. In the
conference at Hampton Court, his Majesty not only sided with the
bishops, but assured the puritan ministers, who were sent for to it,
that “he had not called the assembly together for any innovations, for
that he acknowledged the government ecclesiastical, as it then was, to
have been approved by God himself;” giving them to understand, that “if
they did not conform, he would either hurry them out of the kingdom, or
else do worse.”[323] And these reasonings of the king were so strong,
that Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, with an impious and sordid
flattery said, “He was verily persuaded that the king spoke by the
spirit of God.”


Footnote 321:

  James I.

Footnote 322:


Footnote 323:

  Heylin’s Life of Laud, p. 58.


It was no wonder that the bishops, thus supported by an inspired king,
should get an easy victory over the puritans; which possibly they would
not have done, had his majesty been absent, and the aids of his
inspiration withdrawn; since the archbishop did not pretend that himself
or his brethren had any share of it. But having thus gotten the victory,
they strove by many methods of violence to maintain it; and used such
severities towards the non-conformists, that they were forced to seek
refuge in foreign countries. The truth is, this conference at Hampton
Court was never intended to satisfy the puritans, but as a blind to
introduce episcopacy into Scotland, and to subvert the constitution and
establishment of that church.

His majesty, in one of his speeches to his Parliament, tells them, that
“he was never violent and unreasonable in his profession of religion.” I
believe all mankind will now acquit him of any violent and unreasonable
attachment to the protestant religion and liberties. He added in the
same speech, it may be questioned whether by inspiration of the spirit,
“I acknowledge the Roman church to be our mother church, although
defiled with some infirmities and corruptions.” And he did behave as a
very dutiful son of that mother church, by the many favours he shewed to
the papists during his reign, by his proclamations for uniformity in
religion, and encouraging and supporting his bishops in their
persecutions of such as differed from, or could not submit to them.

Bancroft, promoted to the Archbishoprick of Canterbury, was, as the
historian[324] calls him, “A sturdy piece,” a cruel and inflexible
persecutor, treating the non-conformists with the greatest rigour and
severity; and who, as Heylin tells us, [325]“was resolved to break them,
if they would not bow.” He put the canons and constitutions agreed on A.
C. 1603, furiously into execution, and such as stood out against them,
he either deprived or silenced. And indeed, as the aforementioned author
says, [326]“Who could stand against a man of such a spirit, armed with
authority, having the law on his side, and the king to his friend?
During his being archbishop he deprived, silenced, suspended, and
admonished, above three hundred ministers. The violencies he and his
brethren used in the high-commission courts, rendered it a public
grievance.” [327]“Every man must conform to the episcopal way, and quit
his hold in opinion or safety. That court was the touchstone, to try
whether men were metal for their stamp; and if they were not soft enough
to take such impressions as were put upon them, they were made malleable
there, or else they could not pass current. This was the beginning of
that mischief, which, when it came to a full ripeness, made such a
bloody tincture in both kingdoms, as never will be got out of the
bishop’s lawn sleeves.”


Footnote 324:


Footnote 325:

  Life of Laud, p. 58.

Footnote 326:


Footnote 327:



But nothing displeased the sober part of the nation more, than the
publication of the Book of Sports, which the bishops procured from the
king, and which came out with a command, enjoining all ministers to read
it to their parishioners, and to approve of it; and those who did not,
were brought into the high commission, imprisoned, and suspended; this
book being only a trap to catch some conscientious men, that they could
not otherwise, with all their cunning, ensnare.

[328]“These, and such like machinations of the bishops,” says my author,
“to maintain their temporal greatness, ease, and plenty, made the stones
in the walls of their palaces, and the beam in the timber, afterwards
cry out, moulder away, and come to nothing; and caused their light to go
out offensive to the nostrils of the rubbish of the people.”


Footnote 328:



Indeed many of the king’s bishops, such as Bancroft, Neal, and Laud, who
was a reputed papist in Oxford, and a man of a dangerous turbulent
spirit, were fit for any work; and as they do not appear to have had any
principles of real piety themselves, they were the fittest tools that
could be made use of to persecute those who had. Neal, when he was
Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, prosecuted one Edward Wightman, for
broaching erroneous doctrine, and having canonically condemned him, got
the king’s warrant for his execution; and he was accordingly burnt in
Litchfield. One Legat also was prosecuted and condemned for heresy, by
King Bishop of London, and expired in the flames of Smithfield. He
denied the divinity of our Saviour, according to the Athanasian mode of
explaining it; but as Fuller tells us, he was excellently skilled in
scripture, and his conversation very unblameable. But as these
sacrifices were unacceptable to the people, the king preferred, that
heretics hereafter, though condemned, should silently and privately
waste themselves away in prison, rather than to amuse others with the
solemnity of a public execution.

In the reign of the Royal Martyr,[329] the church grew to the height of
her glory and power; though such is the fate of all human things, that
she soon sickened, languished, and died. Laud, carried all before him,
and ruled both church and kingdom with a rod of iron. His beginning and
rise is thus described by Archbishop Abbot, his pious and worthy


Footnote 329:

  Charles I.


[330]“His life in Oxford was to pick quarrels in the lectures of the
public readers, and to advertise them to the then Bishop of Durham, that
he might fill the ears of King James with discontents against the honest
men that took pains in their places, and settled the truth, which he
called puritanism, in their auditors.


Footnote 330:

  Rapin, vol. II. p. 278. 2d edit.


“He made it his work to see what books were in the press, and to look
over epistles dedicatory, and prefaces to the reader, to see what faults
might be found.

“It was an observation what a sweet man this was like to be, that the
first observable act he did, was the marrying the Earl of Devonshire to
the Lady Rich, when it was notorious to the world that she had another
husband, and the same a nobleman, who had divers children then living by
her. King James did for many years take this so ill, that he would never
hear of any great preferment of him: insomuch that the Bishop of
Lincoln, Dr. Williams, who taketh upon him to be the first promoter of
him, hath many times said, that when he made mention of Laud to the
King, his Majesty was so averse from it, that he was constrained
oftentimes to say, that he would never desire to serve that master, who
could not remit one fault to his servant. Well, in the end he did
conquer it, to get him to the Bishoprick of St. David’s; which he had
not long enjoyed, but he began to undermine his benefactor, as at this
day it appeareth. The Countess of Buckingham told Lincoln, that St.
David’s was the man that undermined him with her son. And verily, such
is his aspiring nature, that he will underwork any man in the world, so
that he may gain by it.”

[331]He had a peculiar enmity to Archbishop Abbot, a man of an holy and
unblameable life, because he had informed King James that Laud was a
reputed papist in Oxford, and of a dangerous, turbulent spirit; and as
James I. was wrought up into an incurable animosity against the
puritans, “this was thought to be fomented by the papists, whose agent
Bishop Laud was suspected to be: and though the king was pleased with
asservations to protest his incentive spirit should be kept under, that
the flame should not break out by any preferment from him; yet getting
into Buckingham’s favour, he grew into such credit, that he was thought
to be the bellows which blew those flames that were every where rising
in the nation.


Footnote 331:



“For the papists used all the artifices they could to make a breach
between the king and his people; and to accomplish this, amongst other
methods, they sowed the seeds of division betwixt puritan and
protestant; for all those were puritans, with this high grown Armenian
popish party, that held in judgment the doctrine of the reformed
churches, or in practice live according to the doctrine publicly taught
in the church of England. And they attributed the name of protestant,

“1. To such papists, as either out of policy, or by popish indulgence,
held outward communion with the church of England.

“2. To such protestants, as were either tainted with, or inclinable to
their opinions.

“3. To indifferent men, who embrace always that religion, that shall be
commanded by authority. Or,

“4. To such neutrals as care for no religion, but such as stands with
their own liking; so that they allow the church of England the refuse
both of their religion and ours.”

Thus far Wilson: and though Laud might be, as the same historian
relates, of “a motley form of religion” by himself, yet the whole course
of his tyrannical administration gave but too just reason for suspicion,
that his strongest inclinations were towards Rome and Popery.[332] The
first parliament of Charles I. re-assembled at Oxford in 1625,
complained that Popery and Arminianism were countenanced by a strong
party in the kingdom; and Neal Bishop of Winchester, and Laud, then of
St. David’s, were chiefly looked upon as the heads and protectors of the
Arminians, nay, as favourers of Popery.


Footnote 332:

  Rapin, vol. II. p. 240. Com. Hist. vol. III. p. 35.


The reasons of this suspicion were many. He was drove on by a rigid,
furious, and fanatical zeal for all the ceremonies of the church of
England, even for such as seemed the least necessary. And not content
with these, he promoted and procured the introduction of many others,
which never had been enjoined by lawful authority.

January 16, 1630, he consecrated, as Bishop of London, St. Catharine
Creed Church, with all the fopperies of a popish superstition. [333]“At
the bishop’s approach to the west door, some that were prepared for it,
cried with a loud voice, “Open, open, ye everlasting doors, that the
king of glory may enter in.” Immediately enters Laud. Then falling down
upon his knees, with his eyes lifted up, and his arms spread abroad, he
cried out “This place is holy: the ground is holy: in the name of the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I pronounce it holy.” Then he took up some
of the dust, and threw it up into the air several times, in his going up
towards the chancel. When they approached near to the rail, and
communion table, the bishop bowed towards it several times; and
returning, they went round the church in procession, singing the 100th
psalm; after that the 19th psalm; and then said a form of prayer, “Lord
Jesus Christ, &c.” concluding, “We consecrate this church, and separate
it unto thee as holy ground, not to be profaned any more to common use.”


Footnote 333:

  Rapin, vol. II. p. 286.


“After this the bishop being near the communion table, and taking a
written book in his hand, pronounced curses upon those that should
afterwards profane that holy place, by musters of soldiers, or keeping
profane law courts, or carrying burdens through it; and at the end of
every curse he bowed towards the east, and said, “Let all the people
say,” Amen. After this he pronounced a number of blessings upon all
those who had any hand in framing and building of that sacred and
beautiful church, and those that had given, or should hereafter give any
chalices, plate, ornaments, or utensils; and at the end of every
blessing he bowed towards the East, saying, “Let all the people say,”

“After this followed the sermon; which being ended, the bishop
consecrated and administered the sacrament in manner following.

“As he approached the communion table, he made many lowly bowings, and
coming up to the side of the table, where the bread and wine were
covered, he bowed seven times; and then, after the reading of many
prayers, he came near the bread, and gently lifted up the corner of the
napkin wherein the bread was laid; and when he beheld the bread, he laid
it down again, flew back a step or two, bowed three several times
towards it; then he drew near again, and opened the napkin, and bowed as
before. Then he laid his hand on the cup, which was full of wine, with a
cover upon it; which he let go, then went back, and bowed thrice towards
it. Then he came near again; and lifting up the cover of the cup, looked
into it, and seeing the wine, he let fall the cover again, retired back,
and bowed as before. Then, he received the sacrament, and gave it to
some principal men; after which many prayers being said, the solemnity
of the consecration ended.”

In this manner have I seen high mass celebrated pontifically. And from
whence did the pious Laud learn all these kneelings, bowings, throwings
of dust, cursings, blessings, and adorations of the sacramental
elements; from the sacred scriptures, or the writings of the primitive
fathers? No: it was an exact copy of the Roman Pontifical, which was
found in his study; and though he alledged in his defence that it was a
form communicated by Bishop Andrews to him, it was ridiculous, since
Andrews himself had it from the same pontifical.

[334]The next year, 1632, Henry Sherfield, Esq. recorder of Sarum, was
fined in the Star Chamber £500. on the following occasion. There was in
the city of Salisbury a church called St. Edmund’s, whose windows were
painted with the history of the creation; where God the Father was
represented in the form of an old man, creating the world during the
first six days, but painted sitting on the seventh, to denote the day of
rest. In expressing the creation of the sun and moon, the painter had
put in God’s hand a pair of compasses, as if he was going to measure
them. The recorder was offended with this profaneness; and, by an order
of vestry, took down those painted glasses, and broke some of the panes
with his stick, and ordered others to be put up in their room. Upon this
an information was exhibited against him in the Star Chamber, by the
attorney-general; where Sherfield was for this reason charged with being
ill-affected to the discipline of the Church of England, and the
government thereof by bishops, because he had broken excellent pictures
of the creation, and fined for his crime in the sum above mentioned,
committed to the Fleet, removed from his recordership, and bound to his
good behaviour. Nor was Laud ashamed, in justification of such pictures,
to urge, as the papists continually do, that place in Dan. vii. 9, in
which God is described as “the ancient of days;” shewing himself a worse
divine, or a more popishly affected one, than the Earl of Dorset, who
then sat with him in the court, and said, that by that text was meant
“the eternity of God, and not God to be pictured as an old man, creating
the world with a pair of compasses. But I wish” added the Earl, “there
were no image of the Father, neither in the church, nor out of the
church; for, at the best, they are but vanities and teachers of lies.”


Footnote 334:

  Rushw. Tom. II. p. 153, 156.


In 1633,[335] Laud was made Archbishop of Canterbury; and having
observed that the placing the communion table in the body of the church,
or at the entrance of the chancel, was not only a prostitution of the
table to ordinary and sordid uses, but the chancel looked like an
useless building, fit only for a schooling and parish-meeting, though
originally designed for the most solemn office of religion; to redeem
these places, as he termed it, from profaneness, and restore them to the
primitive use of the holy sacrament, the archbishop used his utmost
diligence to remove the communion table from the body of the church, and
fix it at the upper end of the chancel, and secure it from the approach
of dogs, and all servile uses, by railing it in, and obliging the people
to come up to those rails to receive the sacrament with more decency and
order. This affair, says Lord Clarendon, he prosecuted more passionately
than was fit for the season, and created disputes in numberless
places;[336] so that the high commission had frequent occasions to
punish the ministers, who were suspected of too little zeal for the
Church of England. And as since the reformation the altars were changed
into communion tables, and placed in the middle of the chancel, to avoid
superstition; many imagined, and that with too much reason, the tables
were again turned into altars with intent to revive a superstitious


Footnote 335:

  Com. Hist. vol. III. p. 73.

Footnote 336:

  Rapin, vol. II. p. 291.


In the year 1634,[337] he set up and repaired Popish images in the glass
windows of his chapel at Lambeth; particularly one of God the Father, in
the form of a little old man. This Laud himself owned, that he repaired
the windows at no small cost, by the help of the fragments that
remained, and vindicated the thing. He introduced also copes,
candlesticks, tapers, and such like trumperies. So that L’Estrange, whom
no man will charge with partiality against the archbishop, says of him:
[338]“The Archbishop of Canterbury stands aspersed, in common fame, as a
great friend at least, and patron of the Romish Catholics, if he were
not of the same belief. To which I answer by concession: true it is, he
had too much and long favoured the Romish faction—though not the Romish
faith. He tampered indeed to introduce some ceremonies, bordering upon
superstition, disused by us, and abused by them. From whence the
Romanists collected such a good disposition in him to their tenets, as
they began not only to hope, but in good earnest to cry him up for their


Footnote 337:

  Rush. ad An. 1634, p. 270, 280.

Footnote 338:

  Id. v. III. p. 1326.


Under the year 1635,[339] the author of the notes to the Complete
History tells us, that one of the great offences taken by wise and good
men against the archbishop, was the new attempt of reconciling the
Church of England to the Church of Rome. The design was to accommodate
the articles of the Church of England to the sense of the Church of
Rome, for the reconciliation of the two churches. Davenport, an English
Franciscan Friar, published a book to this purpose, under the name of
Franciscus de Sancta Clara, which was dedicated to the king, and said to
have been directed to Archbishop Laud. And it was an article objected
against him, that for the advancement of popery and superstition in this
realm, he had wittingly and willingly harboured and relieved divers
popish priests and jesuits, and particularly Sancta Clara, who hath
written a popish and seditious book, wherein the thirty-nine articles of
the Church of England are much traduced and scandalized, the said
archbishop having divers conferences with him, while he was writing the
said book. The archbishop did not seem to deny his acquaintance with the
man, nor with the design of the book; but was rather afraid the book
would not answer the design.


Footnote 339:

  Vol. III. p. 82.


The same author farther adds, that the best observations on this matter
were made by Mr. Rous, in a speech against Dr. Cosin, March 16, 1640, “A
second way by which this army of priests advanceth this popish design,
is the way of treaty. This hath been acted both by writings and
conference. Sancta Clara himself says, ‘Doctissimi eorum, quibuscunque
egi.’ So it seems they have had conference together. And Sancta Clara,
on his part, labours to bring the articles of our church to popery, and
some of our side labour to meet him in the way. We have a testimony that
the great arch-priest himself hath said: ‘It were no hard matter to make
a reconciliation, if a wise man had the handling of it.’”

Such was the good opinion which the papists had of Laud, and of his
inclinations to popery, that it is certain they offered him a cardinal’s
cap. Eachard and others say he refused it.

[340]But the Lord Wiquefort, as cited by Mr. Oldmixon, informs us, in
his Treatise of the Ambassador and his Function, that Laud treated with
Count Rosetti, the popish agent in England, for a pension of 48,000
livres a year; which if the Pope would have settled upon him, he would
not only have accepted the cardinal’s cap, but have gone to Rome, and
have dwelt with the Pope and his cardinals as long as he lived.


Footnote 340:

  Hist. of Stuarts, p. 118.


The bitter and relentless fury with which he treated the puritans, and
others, who were friends to the Church of England, and some of the best
protestants in the kingdom, is a demonstration that he was more papist
than protestant. Of the puritans he used to say, as Heylin tells us,
that “they were as bad as the papists;” and indeed he used them in a
much worse manner.

In the Considerations he presented to the King, “Anno 1629, for the
better securing the Church Government,” he prayed his Majesty, amongst
other things, that Emanuel and Sydney Colleges in Cambridge, which are
the nurseries of puritanism, may from time to time be provided of grave
and orthodox men for their governors. In the several accounts of his
province, which he sent to the King, we read almost of nothing but
conformity and non-conformity to the church, refractory people to the
church, peevish and disorderly men, for preaching up the observation of
the sabbath, breach of church canons, wild, turbulent preachers, for
preaching against bowing at the name of Jesus, and in disgrace of the
common prayer book; and in consequence of these things, presentments,
citations in the high commission court, censures, suspensions from
preaching, and other like pious methods, to reduce and reform them.[341]
And so grievous and numerous were the violencies he exercised on these
and the like occasions, in the star chamber, high commission, and
spiritual courts, that many excellent and learned men were forced to
leave the kingdom, and retire to the West-Indies. And yet even this was
unmercifully forbidden them. For in the year 1637, a proclamation was
issued to stop eight ships going to New England; and another warrant
from the council, of which Laud was one, to the Lord Admiral, to stop
all ministers unconformable to the discipline and ceremonies of the
church, who frequently transport themselves to the summer islands, and
other plantations; and that no clergyman should be suffered to go over,
without approbation of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and Bishop of
London. These prohibitions, as the Complete Historian observes,
increased the murmurs and complaints of the people thus restrained, and
raised the cries of a double persecution, to be vexed at home, and not
suffered to seek peace or refuge abroad.


Footnote 341:

  Com. Hist. vol. III. p. 90.


But how were the papists treated all this while? why with brotherly
mildness and moderation. For whilst these severities were exercising
against protestants, there were many pardons and indulgencies granted to
popish offenders. The papists were in reality his favourites and

On July 7, 1626,[342] Montague’s books, intitled, “An Appeal to Cæsar,”
and “A Treatise of the Invocation of Saints,” were called in question by
the House of Commons, and reported to contain false, erroneous,
papistical opinions. For instance: “That the Church of Rome hath ever
remained firm, upon the same foundation of sacraments and doctrines
instituted by God. That the controverted points (between the Church of
England and that of Rome) are of a lesser and inferior nature, of which
a man may be ignorant, without any danger of his soul at all. That
images may be used for the instruction of the ignorant, and excitation
of devotion. [343]That there are tutelar saints as well as angels.” The
House of Commons voted his books to be contrary to the established
articles; to tend to the King’s dishonour, and to the disturbance of
church and state. And yet this zealous protestant Bishop Laud was, as
the Complete Historian assures us, “a zealous friend to the person and
opinions of Mr. Montague;”[344] and made this entry in his diary on this
affair. “Jan. 29. Sunday. I understand what D. B. had collected
concerning the Cause, Book, and Opinions of Richard Montague, and what
R. C. had determined with himself therein. Methinks I see a cloud
arising, and threatening the Church of England;” viz. because the popish
opinions of this turbulent priest were censured as contrary to the
established articles of the church of England. He was fit to be made one
of Laud’s brethren; and accordingly was preferred to the Bishoprick of
Chichester, anno 1629.


Footnote 342:

  Rapin, vol. II. p. 244.

Footnote 343:

  Com. Hist. vol. III. p. 30.

Footnote 344:

  P. 32.


[345]The author of the Remarks on the Complete Historian farther tells
us, under the year 1632, that great prejudice was taken against some of
Bishop Laud’s churchmen, by one of them protesting to die in the
communion of the Church of Rome; Dr. Theodore Price, prebendary of
Winchester, and sub-dean of Westminster. Mr. Prynne affirmed, that this
man, very intimate with the archbishop, and recommended by him specially
to the King to be a Welch Bishop, in opposition to the Earl of Pembroke,
and his chaplain Griffith Williams, soon after died a reconciled papist,
and received extreme unction from a priest. The remarker adds, “It is
strange partiality in the Oxford Historian, to question this matter,
when Laud himself, in his MS notes upon that relation given by Mr.
Prynne, doth by no means deny the fact, but excuses the using his
interest for him; and says, ‘he was more inward with another bishop, and
who laboured his preferment more than I.’”


Footnote 345:

  Vol. III. p. 67.


In the same year, 1632,[346] Mr. Francis Windbank was made secretary of
state by the interest of Bishop Laud, who hath entered it in his Diary.
“1632. June 15. Mr. Francis Windbank, my old friend, was sworn Secretary
of State; which place I obtained for him of my gracious master King
Charles.” He proved so much a creature of the queen’s, and such an
advocate and patron of all suffering papists and jesuits, that he had
the character of a papist, and brought a very great odium upon Laud who
preferred him. That which created him the more envy, was the turning out
the old secretary, Sir John Coke, who was displaced by Laud “for his
honest firmness against popery,” as the author of the remarks on the
complete historian assures us, and for his hatred and opposition to the
jesuits. This job was labouring for three years’ space and at last
obtained by Laud’s influence on the King.


Footnote 346:

  Com. Hist. p. 67.


These instances, and many others which might be mentioned, are
sufficient to discover what sort of a protestant Laud was, and how he
stood affected to the church of Rome. I shall now consider his character
for piety, which was exactly of a piece with his protestantism.

He was a creature of the Duke of Buckingham, who was one of the lewdest
men in the kingdom. This man, as Archbishop Abbot said of him, was the
only inward counsellor with Buckingham; “sitting with him sometimes
privately whole hours, and feeding his humour with malice and spite.”
His marrying the Earl of Devonshire to the Lady Rich, though she had
another husband, is a glorious argument of his regard to the laws of
God, and particularly of his reverence for the seventh commandment.

He gave, also, notable proofs of his zeal to maintain the honour of the
fourth. The liberties taken at Wakes, or annual feasts of the dedication
of churches, on Sundays, were grown to a very high excess, and
occasioned great and numerous debaucheries. The lord chief justice
Richardson,[347] in his circuit, made an order to suppress them, Laud
complained of this to the king, as an intrusion upon the ecclesiastical
power; upon which Richardson was severely reprimanded, and forced to
revoke the order. The justices of the peace upon this drew up a petition
to the king, shewing the great inconveniences which would befal the
country, if those revels, church-ales and clerk-ales, upon the
Lord’s-day, were permitted. But before the petition could be delivered,
Laud published by the king’s order, the declaration concerning
recreations on the lord’s-day, “out of a pious care for the service of
God,” as that declaration expresses it towards the conclusion of it.
However, this “pious care” of Laud and the king was resented by the
soberest persons in the nation, as irreligious and profane, as those
revels had been the occasion of an “infinite number of inconveniences;”
and the declaration for publishing the lawfulness of them through all
parish-churches, [348]“proved a snare to many ministers, very
conformable to the church of England, because they refused to read the
same publicly in the church, as was required: For upon this many were
suspended, and others silenced from preaching.” An instance of great
piety, unquestionably this; first to establish the profanation of the
Lord’s-day by a public order, and then to persecute and punish those
ministers who could not, in conscience, promote the ends of “so godly a
zeal,” by reading the king’s order for wakes and revels on the
Lord’s-day out of that very place, where perhaps they had been just
before publishing the command of the most high God, not to profane but
to keep it holy.


Footnote 347:

  Rushw. vol. I. p. 196.

Footnote 348:

  Rushw. vol. I. p. 196.


His treatment of Mr. Prynne may also be added, as another instance of
this prelate’s exemplary love of virtue, and pious zeal for the service
of God. [349]That gentleman published in the year 1632 his
Histrio-Mastix, or book against stage-plays; in which, with very large
collections, he exposed the liberties of the stage, and condemned the
lawfulness of acting. Now, because the court became greatly addicted to
these entertainments, and the queen was so fond of them, as meanly to
submit to act a part herself in a pastoral; therefore this treatise
against plays “was suspected” to be levelled against the court and the
queen; and it “was supposed an innuendo,” that in the table of the book
this reference was put, “women actors notorious whores.” Now mark the
christian spirit, the burning zeal of the pious Laud. Prynne was
prosecuted in the star chamber by Laud’s procurement, who shewed the
book to the king, and pointed at the offensive parts of it; and employed
Heylin to pick out all the virulent passages, and “N. B. to give the
severest turn to them;” and carried these notes to the attorney general
for matter of information, and urged him earnestly to proceed against
the author.


Footnote 349:

  Com. Hist. p. 67.


Prynne was accordingly prosecuted; and being sufficiently convicted by
suspicions, suppositions, and innuendoes, he was sentenced, Laud sitting
as one of his judges, to have his book burnt in the most public manner;
to be himself put from the bar, and made for ever incapable of his
profession; to be excluded from the society of Lincoln’s Inn, and
degraded in Oxford; to stand in the pillory in Westminster and
Cheapside, and lose both his ears, one in each place; with a paper on
his head, declaring his offence to be “an infamous libel” against both
their majesties, the state and the government; to pay a fine of five
thousand pounds, and to suffer perpetual imprisonment. Good God! what
cruelty and barbarity is here? what insolent sporting with men’s
fortunes, liberties, and bodies? What was the occasion of this bloody
severity? A gentleman’s writing against the abuses of plays. Who ordered
the prosecution against him for writing against plays? Archbishop Laud.
Who sat at the head of his judges, who pronounced this infamous
sentence? Archbishop Laud. Excellent archbishop! how christian, how
commendable his zeal! How gloriously must religion flourish under his
archiepiscopal inspection, and by his becoming “the most reverend”
abettor, encourager, and great patron of plays on week days, and revels
on sundays?

[350]’Tis true, he was for building colleges, repairing churches,
settling statutes for cathedrals, annexing commendams to small
bishoprics, settling of tithes, building hospitals, aggrandizing the
power, and encreasing the riches of the clergy; and these things may be
esteemed arguments of his piety, and of “the greatness of his soul above
the ordinary extent of mankind:” This I do not take on me to deny; but
it puts me in mind of the Carthusian monk, mentioned by Philip de
Comines, in his “Commentaries of the Neapolitan war:” Comines was
looking on the sepulchre of John Galeacius, first duke of Milan of that
name, in the Carthusian church of Pavia, who had governed with great
cruelty and pride, but had been very liberal in his donations to the
church and clergy. As he was viewing it, one of the monks of the order
commended the virtue, and extolled the piety of Galeacius. Why, says
Comines, do you thus praise him as a saint? You see drawn on his
sepulchre the ensigns of many people, whom he conquered without right.
“Oh,” says the monk, “it is our custom to call them saints, that have
been our benefactors.”


Footnote 350:

  Com. Hist. p.


But let us pass on from his piety to his christian tenderness and
compassion, of which there are many very remarkable instances on record.

[351]The case of Mr. Prynne, I have already mentioned. Another instance
is that of the Rev. Mr. Peter Smart, who, July 27, 1628, preached on the
Lord’s Day against the innovations brought by Dr. Cosins into the
cathedral church of Durham; such as fonts, candles, pictures, images,
copes, singings, vestments, gestures, prayers, doctrines, and the like.
Cosins demeaned himself during the sermon very turbulently, and
immediately afterwards summoned him before the high commission; by whom
he was censured by two acts of sequestration, and one of suspension.
After this they unlawfully transmitted him to London, to answer there in
the high commission, for the same cause, before the inquisitors general
for the kingdom; who sent him back again with proper instructions to the
high commission at York, where they fined him £500. committed him to
jail, detained him under great bonds, excommunicated him, sequestred all
his ecclesiastical livings, degraded him, “ab omni gradu et dignitate
clericali;” by virtue of which degradation, his prebendship and
parsonage were both taken from him, and himself kept in jail. By these
oppressions his life was several times endangered, and himself and
children lost and spent above fourteen thousand pounds of real estate,
whereby they were utterly undone. The hand of Laud was in all this evil,
as appears by the book published by Mr. Smart himself, with the title of
“Canterbury’s Cruelty.”


Footnote 351:

  Com. Hist. p. 58. Notes.


The truth is, many of the most worthy and learned protestant gentlemen
and divines were treated by him with the utmost indignity and barbarity;
some of them dying in jail, and others being made to undergo the most
cruel bodily punishments, for daring to oppose his arbitrary and
superstitious proceedings. No man of compassion can read his treatment
of Dr. Leighton, without being shocked and moved in the same tender
manner as the House of Commons were, who several times interrupted, by
their tears, the reading of the Doctor’s petition, which I shall here
present my reader with entire, and leave him to form what character he
pleases of the man that could contrive and carry on such a scene of
barbarous and execrable cruelty.


           _To the Honourable and High Court of Parliament._

  _The humble Petition of ALEXANDER LEIGHTON, Prisoner in the Fleet_;


“How your much and long distressed petitioner, on the 17th of February
gone ten years, was apprehended in Black-Fryers, coming from the sermon,
by a high commission warrant (to which no subject’s body is liable), and
thence, with a multitude of staves and bills, was dragged along (and all
the way reproached by the name of jesuit and traitor) till they brought
him to London-House, where he was shut up, and, by a strong guard, kept
(without food) till seven of the clock, till Dr. Laud, then Prelate of
London, and Dr. Corbet, then of Oxford, returned from Fulham-House, with
a troop attending. The jailer of Newgate was sent for, who came with
irons, and with a strong power of halberts and staves; they carried your
petitioner through a blind, hollow way, without pretence or examination;
and opening up a gate into the street (which some say had not been
opened since Queen Mary’s days) they thrust him into a loathsome and
ruinous dog-hole, full of rats and mice, which had no light but a little
grate; and the roof being uncovered, the snow and rain beat in upon him,
having no bedding, nor place to make a fire, but the ruins of an old
smoky chimney; where he had neither meat nor drink, from the Tuesday at
night, till the Thursday at noon. In this woeful place and doleful
plight, they kept him close, with two doors shut upon him, for the space
of fifteen weeks; suffering none to come at him, till at length his wife
was only admitted.

“The fourth day after his commitment, the high commission pursuivants
came (under the conduct of the sheriffs of London) to your petitioner’s
house, and a mighty multitude with them, giving out that they came to
search for jesuit’s books. There these violent fellows of prey laid
violent hands upon your petitioner’s distressed wife, with such
barbarous inhumanity, as he is ashamed to express; and so rifled every
soul in the house, holding a bent pistol to a child’s breast of five
years old, threatening to kill him, if he would not tell where the books
were; through which the child was so affrighted, that he never cast it.
They broke open presses, chests, boxes, the boards of the house, and
every thing they found in the way, though they were willing to open all.
They, and some of the sheriffs’ men, spoiled, robbed, and carried away
all the books and manuscripts they found, with household stuff, your
petitioner’s apparel, arms, and other things; so that they left nothing
that liked them; notwithstanding your petitioner’s wife told the
sheriffs, they might come to reckon for it. They carried also a great
number of divers of your petitioner’s books, and other things, from one
Mr. Archer’s house, as he will testify.

“Farther, your petitioner being denied the copy of his commitment, by
the jailor of Newgate, his wife, with some friends, repaired to the
sheriff, offering him bail, according to the statute in that behalf;
which being shewed by an attorney at law, the sheriff replied, that he
wished the laws of the land, and privileges of the subject, had never
been named in the parliament, &c. Your petitioner (having thus suffered
in body, liberty, family, estate, and house) at the end of fifteen weeks
was served with a subpœna, on information laid against him by Sir
Robert Heath, then his Majesty’s attorney general; whose dealing with
your prisoner was full of cruelty and deceit. In the mean time it did
more than appear, to four physicians, that poison had been given him in
Newgate; for his hair and skin came off in a sickness (deadly to the
eye) in the height whereof, as he did lie, censure was passed against
him in the star chamber, without hearing (which had not been heard of)
notwithstanding of a certificate from four physicians, and affidavit
made by an attorney, of the desperateness of the disease. But nothing
would serve Dr. Laud, but the highest censure that ever was passed in
that court to be put upon him; and so it was to be inflicted with knife,
fire, and whip, at and upon the pillory, with ten thousand pounds fine;
which some of the lords conceived should never be inflicted, only it was
imposed (as on a dying man) to terrify others. But the said doctor and
his combinants, caused the said censure to be executed the 26th day of
November following (with a witness) for the hang-man was armed with
strong drink all the night before in prison, and, with threatning words,
to do it cruelly. Your petitioner’s hands being tied to a stake (besides
all other torments) he received thirty-six stripes with a treble cord;
after which, he stood almost two hours on the pillory, in cold frost and
snow, and suffered the rest; as cutting off the ear, firing the face,
and slitting of the nose; so that he was made a theatre of misery to men
and angels.” [Here the compassion of the house of commons was so great,
that they were generally in tears, and ordered the clerk to stop reading
twice, till they had recovered themselves.] “And being so broken with
his sufferings, that he was not able to go, the warden of the Fleet
would not suffer him to be carried in a coach: but he was forced to go
by water, to the farther endangering of his life; returning to the jail
after much harsh and cruel usage, for the space of eight years, paying
more for a chamber than the worth of it (having not a bit of bread, nor
a drop of water allowed). The clerk of the Fleet, to top up your
petitioner’s sufferings, sent for him to his office, and without
warrant, or cause given by your petitioner, set eight strong fellows
upon him, who tore his clothes, bruised his body, so that he was never
well, and carried him by head and heels to that loathsome and common
gaol; where, besides the filthiness of the place, and vileness of the
company, divers contrivances were laid for taking away the life of your
petitioner, as shall manifestly appear, if your honours will be pleased
to receive and peruse a schedule of that subject.

“Now the cause of all this harsh, cruel, and continued ill usage,
unparalleled yet upon any one since Britain was blessed with
christianity, was nothing but a book written by your petitioner, called
“Sion’s Plea against the Prelacy; and that, by the call of divers and
many good Christians in the parliament time, after divers refusals given
by your petitioner; who would not publish it being done, till it had the
view and approbation of the best in the city, country, and university,
and some of the parliament itself: In witness whereof he had about 500
hands; for revealing of whose names he was promised more favors by Sir
Robert Heath than he will speak of: But denying to turn accuser of his
brethren, he was threatened with a storm, which he felt to the full;
wherein (through God’s mercy) he hath lived, though but lived; choosing
rather to lay his neck to the yoke for others, than to release himself
by others’ sufferings.

“Farther, the petitioner was robbed of divers goods, by one Lightborn,
Graves, and others, officers and servants of the Fleet, amounting
towards the value of thirty pounds, for which Lightborn offered
composition (by a second hand) upon the hearing of the approach of
parliament; but your petitioner (notwithstanding his necessity) refused
to hearken to any such illegal and dangerous way. To innumerate the rest
of your petitioner’s heavy pressures, would take up a volume; with which
he will not burden your honours, till further opportunity.

“And therefore, he humbly and heartily entreateth, that you would be
graciously pleased to take this his petition into your serious thoughts,
and to command deliverance, that he may plead his own cause, or rather
Christ’s, and the state’s. As also to afford such cost and damages as he
has suffered in body, estate, and family; having been prisoner (and that
many times) in the most nasty prisons, eleven years, not suffered to
breathe in the open air: to which, give him leave to add his great
sufferings in all those particulars, some sixteen years ago, for
publishing a book, called, ‘The Looking-Glass of Holy War.’

“Farther, as the cause is Christ’s and the states, so your petitioner
conceiveth (under correction) that the subject of the book will be the
prime and main matter of your agitation, to whose wisdom he hopeth the
book shall approve itself.

“Also your petitioner’s wearing age, going now in seventy-two years,
together with the sicknesses and weakness of his long distressed wife,
require a speedy deliverance.

“Lastly, the sons of death, the jesuits and jesuited, have so long
insulted in their own licentious liberty, and over the miseries of your
servant, and others; who, forbearing more motives, craves pardon for his
prolixity, being necessitated thereto from the depth and length of his
miseries. In all which he ceaseth not to pray, &c. and,

                                               “Kisseth your hands.”

                            PROV. xxiv. 11.

“Wilt thou not deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that
are ready to be slain?”

When this merciless sentence on Leighton was pronouncing, Laud stood up
in public court, and “pulled off his cap, and gave God thanks for it;”
and in his diary he makes this remark on the execution, without one word
to discover that his bowels yearned, or his heart relented. “Friday,
Nov. 16. He (Leighton) was severely whipped; and being set in the
pillory, he had one of his ears cut off, one side of his nose slit, and
branded on one cheek with a red-hot iron. And on that day sevennight his
sores upon his back, ear, nose and face, not being cured, he was whipped
again at the pillory in Cheapside, and there had the remainder of his
sentence executed upon him, by cutting off the other ear, slitting the
other side of his nose, and branding the other cheek.”

These, and the like instances are specimens of this most reverend
prelate’s humanity, compassion, and christian moderation. I shall only
consider him in one view more, viz. his constant regard to the laws and
liberties of his country.

He justified, and did all he could to support Charles I. in all the
illegal and arbitrary measures of his government. In 1626, after he had
dissolved his Parliament, because they were too intent upon the redress
of grievances, though they had voted four subsidies, and three
fifteenths, he resolved to raise money by the illegal method of a loan.
And to promote this, who so fit as Laud; who, with others of his
brethren, were, as the complete historian expresses it, unhappily
“engaged in the interest of Buckingham, and very forward in those
measures which the king unfortunately took.” Accordingly Laud received a
command from the king to draw up instructions to shew the urgency of the
king’s affairs, and his occasions of supply. These instructions Laud
soon got ready; and the king sent them as letters of precept to the two
archbishops, to be communicated to their suffragans, to be published in
all the parishes of the kingdom. This was justly looked upon as a
stratagem of state to promote the raising of money without a parliament,
and Laud was employed as the fittest tool to promote these arbitrary
measures of the king. The papists joined with the bishops, and were very
forward in the loan: whilst the puritans were backward in it; and some
of the best gentlemen in the kingdom, upon their refusal to lend money,
were immediately committed to several jails.

Besides this, the court had their parsons to preach up absolute
obedience to the king’s commands. Sibthorp, in his sermon at
Northampton, laid it down as gospel, that “It is the king’s duty to
direct and make laws; that he doth whatever pleaseth him; and that it is
the subject’s duty to yield a passive obedience.” Manwaring, in a
sermon, spoke more plainly, and affirmed, that “the king was not bound
to observe the laws of the realm concerning the subject’s rights and
liberties; but that his royal will and command, in imposing loans and
taxes, without common consent of Parliament, doth oblige the subject’s
conscience, upon pain of eternal damnation;” and that those who refused
the loan, became guilty of impiety, disloyalty, and rebellion. And yet
infamous as this doctrine was, and subversive of all the laws of the
kingdom, Laud was their patron and advocate; and in contempt of the
censure of the House of Lords on Manwaring, gave him first as his reward
a good benefice, and afterwards advanced him to the Bishoprick of St.
David. And because this parliament, which had censured Manwaring, had
also complained of Laud himself, and passed a vote against innovations
in religion, and against such as should counsel and advise the levying
of tonnage and poundage without grant of parliament; Laud, out of his
great love for the liberties of the kingdom, advised the king to
dissolve it; which he accordingly did, to the great discontent of the
nation in general.

Another illegal project for raising money, was by a tax to provide and
maintain a certain number of ships to guard the seas; and writs were
sent all over the kingdom, An. 1636, for this purpose. Laud was
peculiarly active in this affair; and as several persons refused to pay
the sums they were rated at, they were summoned before the council
table, where they were brow-beaten, and sentenced to jail by Laud, and
others of the council.[352] Laud acknowledges he gave his vote with the
rest, and he had an hand in these and almost all other illegal pressures
for ship-money; and in his diary he tells us, that “Dec. 5, 1639. A
resolution was voted at the council board,” when he was present, “to
assist the king in extraordinary ways, if the parliament should prove
peevish, and refuse, &c.”


Footnote 352:

  Wharton, vol. II. p. 233.


[353]The endeavouring arbitrarily to reduce the kirk of Scotland to the
discipline of the church of England, was also by Laud’s persuasion and
advice; who was ordered by the king to hold continual correspondence
with the bishops and council of Scotland, and to take with them the
necessary measures to accomplish the design. [354]The Scots bishops were
so lifted up, says Burnet, with the king’s zeal, and so encouraged by
Archbishop Laud, that they lost all temper. And when the violent
measures that were used to impose the liturgy, &c. drove the Scots to an
open rupture, he forwardly procured an order of council, directed to the
two archbishops, to write their several letters to the bishops, that
they might incite their clergy to assist the king to reduce the Scots.
Laud accordingly wrote to his several suffragans, and raised by the
clergy a very great sum on this occasion. The queen also wrote letters
to promote contributions amongst the Roman catholics, to further the
same good cause. So that Laud and his clergy, the queen and her papists,
joined hand in hand to destroy or enslave the protestants of Scotland;
who rose in their own defence, and to preserve themselves from the
arbitrary measures of this tyrannical archpriest.


Footnote 353:

  Rapin, vol. II. p. 300.

Footnote 354:

  Vol. I. p. 26.


But it would be endless to reckon up all the instances of his illegal
proceedings. He was a confederate with all the enemies of the liberties
of these kingdoms, and pushed on the unhappy king to such fatal
measures, as at last produced the civil wars and the subversion of the
constitution. He was chief counsellor and minister after Buckingham’s
death; so that as Sir Edward Deering said of him, to the parliament,
“Our manifold griefs do fill a mighty and vast circumference, yet so
that from every part our lines of sorrow do lead unto him, and point at
him the centre, from whence our miseries in this church, and many of
them in the commonwealth, do flow.” Sir Harbottle Grimstone was more
severe, who called him, “The sty of all pestilential filth—The great and
common enemy of all goodness, and good men—A viper near his majesty’s
person, to distill poison into his sacred ears.”

These and the like violences of Laud and his creatures, drew down the
just vengeance of the parliament on his head, and involved the church of
England itself in his ruin. Bishops and common prayer were now no more.
The church was formed after a quite different model, and the
presbyterian discipline received and established, both the lords and
commons taking the solemn league and covenant, which was intended for
the utter abolishing prelatical government. The writers of the church
party think this an everlasting brand of infamy upon the presbyterians.
But how doth this throw greater infamy upon them, than the subversion of
presbytery in Scotland, and the imposing canons and common prayer on
that nation, doth on Laud and his creatures? If the alteration of the
established religion, in any nation, be a crime in itself, it is so in
every nation; and I doubt not but the Scotch presbyterians, think that
that archbishop, and the prelatical party, acted as unjustly, illegally,
and tyrannically, in introducing the English form of church government
and worship into Scotland, contrary to their former settlement, and the
inclination of almost the whole nation, as the high-church party can do
with respect to the presbyterians, for altering the form of the
establishment in England; And, indeed, the same arguments that will
vindicate the alterations made in Scotland by the king and the bishops,
will vindicate those made in England by the parliament and the

[355]It would have been highly honourable to the presbyterian party, had
they used their power, when in possession of it, with moderation, and
avoided all those methods of persecutions and suspensions they had
themselves felt the effects of in former times. But to do them justice,
they had no great inclination for moderate measures, or allowing any
form of religion but their own; as appears from the larger catechism of
the Westminster divines, approved by the general assembly of the kirk of
Scotland; in which the “tolerating a false religion” is ranked amongst
the sins forbidden in the second commandment. And accordingly as soon as
they came into the church, all others must out who would not comply, and
submit to sequestrations and imprisonments.


Footnote 355:



“The solemn league and covenant” was imposed, and rigorously exacted of
all people, as they would escape their brand and penalty of malignants.
Many of the episcopal clergy, both in the city and country, were
expelled their livings; though by a generosity, not afterwards imitated
by them, provision was made for the support of their wives and children.
The lord-mayor, aldermen, and common-councilmen of London, presented a
remonstrance to the parliament, desiring a strict course for suppressing
all private and separate congregations; that all anabaptists, heretics,
&c. as conformed not to the public discipline, may be declared and
proceeded against; that all be required to obey the government settled,
or to be settled; and that none disaffected to the presbyterian
government, be employed in any place of public trust.

An ordinance of parliament was also made; by which every minister that
should use the common prayer, in church or family, was to forfeit five
pounds for the first time, ten pounds for the second, and to suffer a
year’s imprisonment for the third. Also every minister, for every
neglect of the directory, was to pay forty shillings; and for every
contempt of it, by writing or preaching, to forfeit, at the discretion
of those before whom he was convicted, any sum not under five pounds,
nor above fifty pounds. The parliament also appointed elderships to
suspend, at their discretion, such whom they should judge to be
scandalous, from the sacrament, with a liberty of appeal to the
classical eldership, &c. They set up, also, arbitrary rules about the
examination and ordination of ministers by Triers, who were to be sound
in faith, and such as usually received the sacrament. And in these
things they were quickened by the Scots, who complained that reformation
moved so slowly, and that sects and errors encreased, and endeavours
were used for their toleration. Great restraints also were put upon the
liberty of the press, by several ordinances made for that purpose. And,
to say the truth, when they once got presbytery established, they used
the same methods of suspensions, sequestrations and fines, that the
prelatical party had done before, though not with equal severity; and
were as zealous for uniformity in their own covenant and discipline, as
the bishops were for hierarchy, liturgy, and ceremonies.

[356]But the triumphs of the presbytery and covenant were but short.
Upon the restoration of the “royal wanderer,”Charles II. prelacy
immediately revived, and exerted itself in its primitive vigor and
severity. In his majesty’s first declaration to his loving subjects, he
was pleased to promise “a liberty to tender consciences, and that no man
should be disquieted or called in question for differences of opinion in
matters of religion; and that he would consent to an act of parliament
for the full granting that indulgence.” But other measures soon
prevailed. In the second year after his restoration, the act of
uniformity was passed; by which all ministers were to read, and
“publicly declare unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing
contained in, and prescribed by the book of common prayer,” before the
feast of St. Bartholomew then ensuing, under the penalty of immediate
and absolute deprivation. The consequence of this act was, that between
two and three thousand excellent divines were turned out of their
churches; many of them, to say the least, as eminent for learning and
piety as the bishops, who were the great promoters of this barbarous
act; and themselves and families, many of them, exposed to the greatest
distress and poverty.


Footnote 356:

  Charles II.


This cruel injustice obliged the ejected ministers, and their friends,
to set up separate congregations; and occasioned such a division from
the established church, as will, I hope, ever remain, to witness against
the tyranny of those times, and the reverend authors and promoters of
that act, to maintain the spirit and practice of serious religion, and
as a public protestation for the civil and religious liberties of
mankind, till time shall be no more; or till the church shall do herself
the justice and honour to open wide her gates, for the reception of all
into her communion and ministry, who are not rendered incapable of
either, by Jesus Christ the great shepherd and bishop of souls. But
however, measures were then soon taken to disturb their meetings. In
1664, the bill against frequenting conventicles passed, the first
offence made punishable with five pounds, or three months imprisonment;
the second offence with ten pounds, or six months imprisonment; and the
third with banishment to some of the foreign plantations; sham plots
being fathered on the dissenters, to prepare the way for these

But some of the bishops, such as Sheldon, Ward, Wrenn, &c. did not think
these hardships enough; and therefore, notwithstanding the devastations
of the plague, and though several of the ejected ministers shewed their
piety and courage, in staying and preaching in the city during the fury
of it, the five mile act was passed against them the next year at
Oxford; by which all the silenced ministers were obliged to take an
oath, that it was not lawful, on any pretence whatsoever, to take arms
against the king, or any commissioned by him; and that they would not,
at any time, endeavour an alteration in the government of church and
state. Such who scrupled the oath were forbid to come within five miles
of any city or parliament borough, or of the church where they had been
ministers, under penalty of forty pounds, or six months imprisonment,
for every offence.

After these things, several attempts were set on foot for a
comprehension, but rendered ineffectual by the practices of the bishops;
and particularly by Ward, bishop of Salisbury, who had himself taken the
solemn league and covenant: But having forsaken his first principles, it
is no wonder he became a bitter persecutor. In the year 1670, another
severe act was passed against them: by which it was provided, that if
any person, upwards of sixteen, should be present at any conventicle,
under colour of exercising religion in any other manner than according
to the practice of the church of England, where there were five persons
or more, besides those of the said household, the offenders were to pay
five shillings for the first offence, and ten shillings for the second;
and the preacher to forfeit twenty pounds for the first, and forty
pounds for the second offence, and those who knowingly suffered any such
conventicles in their houses, barns, yards, &c. were to forfeit twenty
pounds. The effect of these acts was, that great numbers of ministers
and their people were laid in jails amongst thieves and common
malefactors, where they suffered the greatest hardships and indignities;
their effects were seized on, and themselves and families reduced to
almost beggary and famine.

But at length this very parliament, which had passed these severe bills
against protestant dissenters, began themselves to be awakened, and
justly grew jealous of their religion and liberties, from the increase
of popery: and therefore, to prevent all dangers which might happen from
popish recusants, they passed, in 1673, the test act; which hath since
been, contrary to the original design of the law, turned against the
protestant dissenters, and made use of to exclude them from the
enjoyment of those rights and privileges which they have a natural claim
to. In the year 1680, a bill passed both houses of parliament, for
exempting his majesty’s protestant dissenting subjects from certain
penalties; but when the king came to the house to pass the bills, this
bill was taken from the table, and never heard of more; And though this
parliament voted, that the prosecution of protestant dissenters, upon
the penal laws, was grievous to the subject, a weakening the protestant
interest, an encouragement to popery, and dangerous to the peace of the
kingdom; yet they underwent a fresh prosecution, their meetings were
broken up, many ministers imprisoned, and most exhorbitant fines levied
on them and their hearers.

In the beginning of King James’s (II.) reign, these rigorous proceedings
were continued, but as the design of that unhappy bigotted prince was to
subvert the religion and laws of these kingdoms, he published in the
year 1687, a declaration for a general liberty of conscience to all
persons, of what persuasion soever; not out of any regard or affection
to the protestant dissenters, but for the promoting the popish religion
and interest. He also caused an order of council to be passed, that his
declaration of indulgence should be read, in all churches and chapels,
in the time of divine service, all over England and Wales. But though
the dissenters used the liberty which was thus granted them, and had
several opportunities to have been revenged on their former persecutors;
yet they had too much honour, and regard to the protestant religion and
liberties, ever to fall in with the measures of the court, or lend their
assistance to introduce arbitrary power and popery. And as the divines
of the church of England, when they saw King James’s furious measures to
subvert the whole constitution, threw off their stiff and haughty
carriage towards the dissenters, owned them for brethren, put on the
appearance of the spirit of peace and charity, and assured them that no
such rigorous methods should be used towards them for the future; things
that never entered into their hearts whilst they were triumphant in
power, and which nothing but a sense of their own extreme danger seems
then to have extorted from them; the dissenters, far from following
their resentments, readily entered into all measures with them for the
common safety, and were amongst the first and heartiest friends of the
revolution, under King William III. of glorious and immortal memory.

Soon after the settlement of this prince upon the throne, an act was
passed for exempting their majesty’s protestant subjects, dissenting
from the church of England, from the penal laws; and though the king, in
a speech to the two houses of parliament, told them, “That he hoped they
would leave room for the admission of all protestants that were willing
and able to serve him;” agreeable to which, a clause was ordered to be
brought into the house of lords, to take away the necessity of receiving
the sacrament to make persons capable of offices; yet his majesty’s
gracious intentions were frustrated, and the clause rejected by a great
majority. Another clause also that was afterwards added, that the
receiving the sacrament in the church of England, or in any other
protestant congregation, should be a sufficient qualification, met with
the same fate as the former: so that though the dissenters were freed
from the penal laws, they were left under a brand of infamy, and
rendered incapable of serving their king and country. And the Lord’s
Supper laid open to be prostituted by law to the most abandoned and
profligate sinners; and an institution designed for the union of all
christians, made the test of a party, and the means of their separation
from each other; a scandal that remains upon the church of England to
this day. It is indeed but too plain, that when the established church
saw itself out of danger, she forgot her promises of moderation and
condescension towards the dissenters, who readily and openly declared
their willingness to yield to a coalition. But as the clergy had formed
a resolution of consenting to no alterations, in order to such an union;
all the attempts made to this purpose became wholly ineffectual. Indeed,
their very exemption from the penal laws was envied them by many; and
several attempts were made to disturb and prosecute them in this reign,
but were prevented from taking effect by royal injunctions.

Upon the death of King William, and the succession of Queen Anne, the
hatred of the clergy towards the dissenters, that had lurked in their
breasts, during the former reign, immediately broke out. Several sermons
were preached to render them odious, and expose them to the fury of the
mob. A bill was brought in and passed by the house of commons, for
preventing occasional conformity, imposing an hundred pounds penalty
upon every person resorting to a conventicle or meeting, after his
admission into offices, and five pounds for every day’s continuance in
such offices, after having been present at such conventicle: but upon
some disagreement between the Lords and Commons, the bill dropped for
that time. The same bill, with some few alterations, passed the house of
commons the two next sessions, but was rejected by the lords. During
this reign several pamphlets were published, containing bitter
invectives against the dissenters, and exciting the government to
extirpate and destroy them. Several prosecutions were also carried on
against them for teaching schools, &c. with great eagerness and malice.
In 1709, an open rebellion broke out, when the mob pulled down the
meeting-houses, and publicly burnt the pews and pulpits. Sacheverell was
trumpet to the rebellion, by preaching treason and persecution; and the
parliament that censured him, was hastily dissolved. The parliament that
succeeded, 1711, was of a true tory spirit and complexion; and, in its
second session, passed the bill against occasional conformity. The next
parliament, which met in 1714, was of the same disposition, and passed a
bill to prevent the growth of schism; by which the dissenters were
restrained from teaching schools, or from being tutors to instruct
pupils in any family, without the license of the archbishop or bishop of
the diocese where they resided; and the justices of the peace had power
given them finally to determine in all cases relating thereto. Another
bill was also intended to be brought in against them, to incapacitate
them from voting in elections for parliament men, or being chosen
members of parliament themselves.

But before these unjust proceedings had their intended effect, the
protestant succession, in his late majesty king George I. took place;
Queen Anne dying on the first of August, the very day on which the
schism bill was to have commenced; which, together with that to prevent
occasional conformity, were both repealed by the first parliament called
together by that excellent prince. And I cannot help thinking that if
the church of England had then consented to have set the dissenters
intirely free, by repealing the test and corporation acts; it would have
been much to its own honour and reputation, as well as a great strength
and security to the national interest. But the time was not then come.
We still labour under the oppression of those two acts; and
notwithstanding our zeal for his majesty’s person and family, must sit
down as easy as we can, with the inclination to serve him, whilst by law
we are denied the opportunity and power.

The sentiments of his late majesty, of glorious memory, with respect to
moderation, and the tolerating of dissenters, were so fully understood
by the whole nation, as kept the clergy in tolerable good order, and
from breaking out into many outrages against them. But a controversy
that began amongst themselves, soon discovered what spirit many of them
were of. The then bishop of Bangor, the now[357] worthy and reverend
bishop of Winchester, happened in a sermon before his majesty, to assert
the supreme authority of Christ as king in his own kingdom; and that he
had not delegated his power, like temporal lawgivers, during their
absence from their kingdoms, to any persons, as his deputies and
vicegerents. Anno 1717. He also published his preservative; in which he
advanced some positions contrary to temporal and spiritual tyranny, and
in behalf of the civil and religious liberties of mankind. The goodness
of his lordship’s intentions to serve the family of his present majesty,
the interest of his country, and the honour of the church of God, might
methinks have screened him from all scurrilous abuses. But how numerous
were his adversaries, and how hard the weapons with which they attacked
him! Not only the dregs of the people and clergy opened against him; but
mighty men, and men of great renown, from whom better things might have
been expected, entered the lists with him, and became the avowed
champions for spiritual power, and the division of the kingdom between
Christ Jesus and themselves. His lordship of Bangor had this manifest
advantage upon the face of the argument. He pleaded for Christ’s being
king in his own kingdom: his adversaries pleaded for the translation of
his kingdom to certain spiritual viceroys. He for liberty of private
judgment, in matters of religion and conscience: they for dominion over
the faith and consciences of others. He against all the methods of
persecution: they for penal laws; for corporation and test acts, and the
powerful motives of positive and negative discouragements. He with the
spirit of meekness and of a friend to truth: they with bitterness and
rancour, and an evident regard to interest and party.


Footnote 357:

  In 1736.


However, the lower house of convocation accused and prosecuted him, for
attempting the subversion of all government and discipline in the church
of Christ, with a view undoubtedly of bringing him under a spiritual
censure, and with impeaching the regal supremacy in causes
ecclesiastical, to subject him to the weight of a civil one. Of the
bishop it must be said, to his everlasting honour, that the temper he
discovered, under the opposition he met with, and the slanders that were
thrown on him, was as much more amiable than that of his adversaries, as
his cause was better, his writings and principles more consistent, and
his arguments more conclusive and convincing. But notwithstanding these
advantages, his lordship had great reason to be thankful to God that the
civil power supported and protected him; otherwise his enemies would
not, in all probability, have been content with throwing scandal upon
his character, but forced him to have parted with SOMETHING, and then
delivered him unto Satan for the punishment of his flesh, and made him
have felt the weight of that authority, which God made him the happy and
honourable instrument of opposing; especially if they were all of them
of a certain good archdeacon’s mind, who thought he deserved to have his
tongue cut out.

The dissenters also have had their quarrels and controversies amongst
themselves, and managed them with great warmth and eagerness of temper.
During their persecution under King Charles II. and the common danger of
the nation under his brother James, they kept tolerably quiet; the
designs of the common enemy to ruin them all, uniting them the more
firmly amongst themselves. But after the revolution, when they were
secure from oppression by the civil power, they soon fell into eager
disputes about justification, and other points of like nature. The
high-flown orthodox party would scarce own for their brethren those who
were for moderation in these principles, or who differed in the least
from their doctrine concerning them. [358]And when they could no longer
produce reason and scripture in their defence, they, some of them, made
use of infamous methods of scandal, and endeavoured to blast the
character of a reverend and worthy divine, Dr. Williams, in the most
desperate manner; because they could no otherwise answer and refute his
arguments. But his virtue stood the shock of all their attempts to
defame it; for after about eight weeks spent in an enquiry into his
life, by a committee of the united ministers, which received all manner
of complaints and accusations against him; it was declared at a general
meeting, as their unanimous opinion, and repeated and agreed to in three
several meetings successively, that he was intirely clear and innocent
of all that was laid to his charge.


Footnote 358:

  Nelson’s Life of Bp. Bull, p. 275, 276.


Thus was he vindicated in the amplest form, after the strictest
examination that could be made; and his adversaries, who dealt in
defamation and scandal, if not brought to repentance, were yet put to
silence. It was almost incredible how much he was a sufferer for his
opposition to Antinomianism, by a strong party, who left nothing
unattempted to crush him, if it had been possible. But as his innocence
appeared the brighter, after his character had been thoroughly sifted,
he was, under God, greatly instrumental in putting a stop to those
pernicious opinions which his opposers propagated; which struck at the
very essentials of all natural and revealed religion. His Gospel Truth
remains a monument of his honour; a monument his enemies were never able
to destroy. However, nothing would serve, but his exclusion from the
merchant’s Lecture at Pinners-Hall. Three other worthy divines, who had
been his partners in that service, bore him company; and their places
were supplied with four others, of unquestionable rigidness and sterling
orthodoxy. Many papers were drawn up on each side, in order to an
accommodation; so that it looked as Dr. Calamy tells us, as if the
creed-making age was again revived. It was insisted, that Arminianism
should be renounced on one side, and Antinomianism on the other. But all
was in vain; and the papers that were drawn up to compose matters,
created new heats, instead of extinguishing the old ones. These
contentions were kept up for several years, till at last the disputants
grew weary, and the controversy thread-bare, when it dropped of itself.

The next thing that divided them was the Trinitarian controversy, and
the affair of subscription to human creeds and articles of faith, as a
test of orthodoxy. In the year 1695, a great contest arose about the
trinity, amongst the divines of the church of England, who charged each
other with Tritheism and Sabellianism; and according to the
ecclesiastical manner of managing disputes, bestowed invectives and
scurrilous language very plentifully upon each other. The dissenters, in
the reign of his late majesty, not only unfortunately fell into the same
debate, but carried it on, some of them at least, with equal want of
prudence and temper.

In the west of England, where the fire first broke out, moderation,
christian forbearance, and charity, seemed to have been wholly
extinguished. The reverend and learned Mr. James Peirce, minister in the
city of Exeter, was dismissed from his congregation, upon a charge of
heresy; and treated by his opposers, with shameful rudeness and
insolence. Other congregations were also practised with, to discard
their pastors upon the same suspicion, who were accused of impiously
“denying the Lord that bought them;” to render them odious to their
congregations, merely because they could not come up to the unscriptural
tests of human orthodoxy. And when several of the ministers of London
thought proper to interpose, and try, if by advices for peace, they
could not compose the differences of their brethren in the west; this
christian design was as furiously opposed as if it had been a
combination to extirpate christianity itself; and a proposal made in the
room of it, that the article of the church of England, and the answer in
the assembly’s catechism, relating to the trinity, should be subscribed
by all the ministers, as a declaration of their faith, and a test of
their orthodoxy.

This proposal was considered by many of the ministers, not only as a
thing unreasonable in itself, thus to make inquisition into the faith of
others, but highly inconsistent with the character of protestants,
dissenting from the national establishment; and dissenting from it for
this reason amongst others, because the established church expressly
claims “an authority in controversies of faith.” And, therefore, after
the affair had been debated for a considerable while, the question was
solemnly put, and the proposal rejected by a majority of voices. This
the zealots were highly displeased with, and accordingly publicly
proclaimed their resentments from the pulpits. Fasts were appointed
solemnly to deplore, confess, and pray against the aboundings of heresy;
and their sermons directly levelled against the two great evils of the
church, Nonsubscription and Arianism. Through the goodness of God they
had no power to proceed farther; and when praying and preaching in this
manner began to grow tedious, and were, by experience, found to prove
ineffectual, to put a stop to the progress of the cause of liberty,
their zeal immediately abated, the cry of heresy was seldomer heard, and
the alarm of the church’s being endangered by pernicious errors,
gradually ceased; it being very observable, that though heresy be ever
in its nature the same thing, yet that the cry against it is either more
or less, according as the political managers of it, can find more or
fewer passions to work on, or a greater or lesser interest to subserve
by it.


                               SECT. VI.
                   _Of Persecutions in New England._

It hath been already remarked, in the foregoing section, that the
rigours with which Laud, and his persecuting brethren treated the
puritans, occasioned many of them to transport themselves to New
England, for the sake of enjoying that liberty of conscience, which they
were cruelly denied in their native country. And who could have
imagined, but that their own sufferings for conscience sake must have
excited in them an utter abhorrence of these antichristian principles,
by which they themselves had so deeply smarted? But though they carried
over with them incurable prejudices against persecuting prelates, yet
they seem many of them to have thought that they had the right of
persecution in themselves; and accordingly practised many grievous
cruelties towards those who did not fall in with their doctrine and
discipline, and church order.

I shall not here mention the severities practised on great numbers of
persons for supposed witchcraft, to the great blemish and dishonour of
the government there, those prosecutions being carried on not properly
upon a religious account; but I am obliged, in justice, not to pass by
the cruel laws they made against the persons called Quakers, who felt
the weight of their “independent discipline,” and were treated with the
utmost rigour by their magistrates and ministers.

[359]In the year 1656, a law was made at Boston, prohibiting all masters
of ships to bring any quakers into that jurisdiction, and themselves
from coming in, “on penalty of the house of correction.” When this law
was published, one Nicholas Upshal, who was himself an independent,
argued against the unreasonableness of such a law; and warned them to
take heed “not to fight against God,” and so draw down a judgment upon
the land. For this they fined him twenty-three pounds, imprisoned him
for not coming to church, and banished him out of their jurisdiction.


Footnote 359:

  Sewel’s Hist. p. 161.


[360]But though this law was executed upon many persons with unrelenting
and extreme rigour; yet, as it did not entirely prevent the quakers from
coming into New England, a more cruel law was made against them in the
year 1658. “That whosoever of the inhabitants should, directly or
indirectly, cause any of the quakers to come into that jurisdiction, he
‘should forfeit one hundred pounds to the country, and be committed to
prison,’ there to remain till the penalty should be satisfied: and
whosoever should entertain them, knowing them to be so, ‘should forfeit
forty shillings to the country for every hour’s entertainment’ or
concealment, and be committed to prison till the forfeiture should be
fully paid and satisfied. And farther, that all and every of those
people, that should arise amongst them there, should be dealt withal,
and suffer the like punishment as the laws provided for those that came
in: viz. That for the first offence, if a male, ‘one of his ears should
be cut off, and he kept at work in the house of correction,’ till he
should be sent away at his own charge. For the second, ‘the other ear,
and be kept in the house of correction,’ as aforesaid. If a woman, then
‘to be severely whipped,’ and kept as aforesaid, as the male for the
first; and for the second offence, to be dealt withal as the first. And
for the third, ‘he or she should have their tongues bored through with
an hot iron,’ and be kept in the house of correction close at work, till
they be sent away at their own charge.”


Footnote 360:

  Id. p. 1


Could it be imagined that the authors of these bloody laws had been
forced from their own native country by the terrors of persecution? or
that after all their complaints, about the violences and oppressions of
the prelates against themselves, they should yet think persecution for
conscience-sake a lawful thing; and that they had a right, as soon as
ever they could get power, to persecute others? The making such laws,
and the execution of them, was certainly more detestable in them than
others; who should have learnt forbearance and compassion towards
others, by the things which they themselves had suffered. And yet they
seem to have been as devoid of these virtues, as Laud or any of his
brethren, against whom they had so bitterly and justly exclaimed.

[370]In pursuance of the before-mentioned law, one William Brend, and
William Leddra, were committed to the house of correction at Boston;
where they were kept five days without food, and after that received
twenty blows each with a three-corded whip. The next day Brend, who was
an elderly man, was put in irons, and tied neck and heels close together
for sixteen hours. The next morning the jailer took a pitched rope,
about an inch thick, and gave him twenty blows over the back and arms
with as much force as he could, so that the rope untwisted. But he
fetched another thicker and stronger, and gave him fourscore and
seventeen more blows, and threatened to give him as many more the next
morning. Brend had nothing on but a serge cassock upon his shirt, so
that his back and arms were grievously bruised, and the blood hung as in
bags under his arms; and so cruelly was his body mangled, that it was
reduced almost to a perfect jelly.


Footnote 370:

  Id. p. 195.


The same year J. Copeland, Christ. Helder, and J. Rous, were apprehended
and imprisoned, and condemned to have each of them their right ear cut
off by the hangman; which was accordingly executed; after which they
were whipped.

But things did not stop here. Norton and others of his brethren the
ministers, petitioned the magistrates to cause the court to make some
law to banish the quakers, upon pain of death. The court consisted of
twenty-five persons; and the law being proposed, it was carried in the
affirmative, thirteen to twelve. As the law is very peculiar, and
contains the reasons given by these “Independent Persecutors,” and shews
the severity of their discipline, I shall give the substance of it;
which is as follows:

[371]“Whereas there is a pernicious sect, commonly called quakers,
lately risen, who by word and writing have published and maintained many
dangerous and horrid tenets, and do take on them to change and alter the
received laudable customs of our nation, in giving civil respect to
equals, or reverence to superiors, whose actions tend to undermine the
civil government, and also to destroy the order of the churches, by
denying all established forms of worship, and by withdrawing from
orderly church fellowship, allowed and approved by all orthodox
professors of the truth—whereby divers of our inhabitants have been
infected;—for prevention thereof, this court doth order and enact, that
every person or persons of “the cursed sect” of the ‘Quakers,’ who is
not an inhabitant of, but is found within this jurisdiction, shall be
apprehended without warrant, where no magistrate is at hand, by any
constable, commissioner, or select man—who shall commit the said person
to close prison, there to remain without bail until the next court of
assistance, where they shall have a legal trial: and ‘being convicted to
be of the sect of the quakers, shall be sentenced to be banished, upon
pain of death.’ And that every inhabitant of this jurisdiction, being
convicted to be of the aforesaid sect, either by taking up, publishing,
or defending the horrid opinions of the quakers, or the stirring up
mutiny, sedition, and rebellion against the government, or by taking up
their absurd and destructive practices, viz. denying civil respect to
equals and superiors, and withdrawing from our church assemblies, and
instead thereof frequent meetings of their own, in opposition to our
church order, or by adhering to, or approving of any known quaker, and
the tenets and practices of the quakers, that are opposite to “the
orthodox received opinions of the godly, and endeavouring to disaffect
others to civil government, and church orders, or condemning the
practice and proceedings of this court against the quakers, manifesting
hereby their complying with those, whose design is to overthrow the
order established in church and state; every such person, upon
conviction before the said court of assistants, in manner as aforesaid,
‘shall be committed to close prison for one month;’ and then, unless
they choose voluntarily to depart this jurisdiction, shall give bond for
their good behaviour, and appear at the next court; where continuing
obstinate, and ‘refusing to retract or reform the aforesaid opinions,’
they shall ‘be sentenced to banishment, upon pain of death:’ And any one
magistrate, upon information given him of any such person, shall cause
him to be apprehended; and shall commit any such person to prison,
according to his discretion, until he come to trial, as aforesaid.”


Footnote 371:

  Id. p. 199.


“Here endeth,” says my author, “this sanguinary act, being more like to
the decrees of the Spanish inquisition, than the laws of a reformed
christian magistracy; consisting of such who themselves, to shun
persecution (which was but a small fine for not frequenting the public
worship) had left Old England.” And what was it occasioned this bloody
law? Why, because the poor quakers refused to pull off their hats, and
withdrew from the church assemblies of these independent persecutors,
and frequented their own meetings, in opposition to their church order;
and because the quakers held tenets opposite to the orthodox received
opinions of the godly, i. e. opposite to their own opinions, who by
flying from England seem to have imagined that they carried away with
them all the orthodoxy and godliness out of the kingdom.

And to shew the rigidness of their discipline, and that they did not
intend this law merely “in terrorem,” they wickedly murdered several
innocent persons under the cover of it, several of their priests
standing with pleasure to see them executed. Thus William Robinson,
merchant, Marmaduke Stephenson, Mary Dyer, and William Leddra, were
hanged at Boston for being quakers; and they would have proceeded to
more executions, had it not been for the Mandamus of Charles II. who,
though a papist, yet was of a more merciful disposition than these New
England disciplinarians, and ordered all proceedings against the quakers
immediately to stop.

It would be endless to recount all the cruelties they used to these poor
people, whom they imprisoned, unmercifully whipped, oppressed with
fines, and then condemned them to be sold to the plantations, to answer
the fines they had laid upon them. But enough hath been said to shew the
inhumanity of their spirit and practice, and to raise in the reader an
abhorrence and detestation of such a conduct in men, who, though they
had been persecuted themselves, carried the principles of persecution
with them into the place of their banishment, and used worse severities
towards others for conscience-sake, than what they themselves had
experienced from the bitterness of their enemies; and thereby made it
appear, that they complained against the persecutions of the prelatical
party, not because they were for moderation and christian charity in
their own conduct, but because they thought the right of persecution
only in themselves, and that violence ought not to be made use of to
support any but the orthodox opinions of such as they themselves
esteemed to be godly, and to maintain what they called the order and
fellowship of their own churches.

[372]I have only to add, that I find also from the same author, that the
quakers were much persecuted in Scotland; but as he hath given no
particular account of that affair, I have nothing farther to enlarge
upon that subject.


Footnote 372:

  p. 567.


And thus have I brought the History of Persecution down to our own
times, and nation; and shewn how all parties have, in their turns of
power, been sharers in this guilt. If church history would have afforded
me a better account, I assure my reader he should have had it told with
pleasure. The story, as it is, I have told with grief. But it is time to
dismiss him from so ungrateful an entertainment, and see what useful
reflections we can make on the whole.



                                SECT. I.
            _The Clergy the great promoters of persecution._

It is a truth too evident to be denied, that the clergy in general,
throughout almost all the several ages of the christian church; have
been deep and warm in the measures of persecution; as though it had been
a doctrine expressly inculcated in the sacred writings, and recommended
by the practice of our Saviour and his apostles. Indeed, could such a
charge as this have been justly fixed on the great author of our
religion, or the messengers he sent into the world to propagate it; I
think it would have been such an evidence of its having been dictated by
weak or wicked, or worldly-minded men, as nothing could possibly have

But that christianity might be free from every imputation of this kind,
God was pleased to send his son into the world, without any of the
advantages of worldly riches and grandeur, and absolutely to disclaim
all the prerogatives of an earthly kingdom. His distinguishing character
was that of “meek and lowly;” and the methods by which he conquered and
triumphed over his enemies, and drew all men to him, was “patience and
constancy, even to the death.” And when he sent out his own apostles, he
sent them out but poorly furnished, to all human appearance, for their
journey;[373] “without staves, or scrip, or bread, or money,” to let
them know that he had but little of this world to give them; and that
their whole dependence was on Providence.


Footnote 373:

  Luke ix. 3.


One thing however he assured them of, that they should be
“[374]delivered up to the councils, and scourged in the synagogues, and
be hated of all men for his sake.” So far was he from giving them a
power to persecute, that he foretold them they must suffer persecution
for his name. This the event abundantly justified: And how amiable was
their behaviour under it? How greatly did they recommend the religion
they taught, by the methods they took to propagate it? “The arms of
their warfare were not carnal, but spiritual.” The argument they used to
convince those they preached to, was the “demonstration of the spirit,
and of power.” They “approved themselves as the ministers of God, by
much patience, by afflictions, necessities, distresses, stripes,
imprisonments, tumults, labours, watchings, fastings, pureness,
knowledge, long-suffering, kindness; by the Holy Ghost, by love
unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, and by the armour
of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” Oh how unlike were
their pretended successors to them in these respects! How different
their methods to convince gainsayers! Excommunications, suspensions,
fines, banishments, imprisonments, bonds, scourges, tortures and death,
were the powerful arguments introduced into the church; and recommended,
practised, and sanctified by many of the pretended fathers of it.


Footnote 374:

  Matt. x. 17.


Even those whom superstition hath dignified by the name of saints,
Athanasius, Chrysostom, Gregory, Cyril, and others, grew wanton with
power, cruelly oppressed those who differed from them, and stained most
of their characters with the guilt of rapine and murder. Their religious
quarrels were managed with such an unrelenting, furious zeal, as
disturbed the imperial government, threw kingdoms and nations into
confusion, and turned the church itself into an aceldama, or field of
blood. Some few there have been who were of a different spirit; who not
only abstained from persecuting counsels and measures themselves, but
with great justice and freedom censured them in others. But as to your
saints and fathers, your patriarchs and bishops, your councils and
synods, together with the rabble of monks, they were most of them the
advisers, abettors, and practisers of persecution. They knew not how to
brook opposition to their own opinions and power, branded all doctrines
different from their own with the odious name of heresy, and used all
their arts and influence to oppress and destroy those who presumed to
maintain them. And this they did with such unanimity and constancy,
through a long succession of many ages, as would tempt a stander-by to
think that a bishop or clergyman, and a persecutor, were the same thing,
or meant the self-same individual character and office in the christian

I am far from writing these things with any design to depreciate and
blacken the episcopal order in general. It is an office of great dignity
and use, according to the original design of its institution. But when
that design is forgotten, or wholly perverted; when, instead of becoming
“Overseers” of the flock of Christ, the bishops “tear and devour” it,
and proudly usurp “Dominion over the Consciences of” Christians, when
they ought to be content with being “helpers of their joy.” I know no
reason why the name should be complimented, or the character held
sacred, when it is abused to insolence, oppression and tyranny; or why
the venerable names of fathers and saints should screen the vices of the
bishops of former ages, who, notwithstanding their writing in behalf of
christianity and orthodoxy, brought some of them the greatest disgrace
on the christian religion, by their wicked practices, and exposed it to
the severest satire of its professed enemies: and for the truth of this,
I appeal to the foregoing history.

If any observations on their conduct should affect the temper and
principles of any now living, they themselves only are answerable for
it, and welcome to make what use and application of them they please.
Sure I am that the representing them in their true light, reflects an
honour upon those reverend and worthy prelates, who maintain that
moderation and humility which is essential to the true dignity of the
episcopal character, and who use no other methods of conviction and
persuasion but those truly apostolical ones, of sound reasoning and
exemplary piety. May God grant a great increase, and a continual
succession of them in the christian church!


                               SECT. II.
 _The Things for which Christians have persecuted one another generally
                         of small importance._

But as the truth of history is not to be concealed; and as it can do no
service to the christian cause to palliate the faults of any set of
christians whatsoever, especially when all parties have been more or
less involved in the same guilt; I must observe farther, as an
aggravation of this guilt, that the things for which christians have
persecuted each other, have been generally “matters of no importance in
religion,” and oftentimes such as have been “directly contrary” to the
nature of it. If my reader would know upon what accounts the church hath
been filled with divisions and schisms; why excommunications and
anathemas have been so dreadfully tossed about; what hath given occasion
to such a multitude of suspensions, depositions and expulsions; what
hath excited the clergy to such numberless violencies, rapines,
cruelties, and murders, he will probably be surprised to be informed
that it is nothing of any consequence or real importance, nothing
relating to the substance and life of pure and undefiled religion;
little besides hard words, technical terms, and inexplicable phrases,
points of mere speculation, abstruse questions, and metaphysical
notions; rites and ceremonies, forms of human invention, and certain
institutions, that have had their rise and foundation only in
superstition: these have been the great engines of division; these the
sad occasions of persecution.

Would it not excite sometimes laughter, and sometimes indignation, to
read of a proud and imperious prelate excommunicating the whole
christian church, and sending, by wholesale, to the devil, all who did
not agree with him in the precise day of observing Easter? Especially
when there is so far from being any direction given by Christ or his
apostles about the day, that there is not a single word about the
festival itself. And is it not an amazing instance of stupidity and
superstition, that such a paltry and whimsical controversy should
actually engage, for many years, the whole christian world, and be
debated with as much warmth and eagerness, as if all the interests of
the present and future state had been at stake; as if Christ himself had
been to be crucified afresh, and his whole gospel to be subverted and

The Arian controversy, that made such havoc in the christian church,
was, if I may be allowed to speak it without offence, in the beginning
only about words; though probably some of Arius’ party went farther
afterwards, than Arius himself did at first. Arius, as hath been shewn,
expressly allowed the son to be “before all times and ages, perfect God,
unchangeable,” and begotten after the most perfect likeness of the
unbegotten father.

This, to me, appears to bid very fair for orthodoxy; and was, I think,
enough to have reconciled the bishop and his presbyter, if there had not
been some other reasons of the animosity between them. But when other
terms were invented, that were hard to be understood, and difficult to
be explained, the original controversy ceased; and the dispute then was
about the meaning of those terms, and the fitness of their use in
explaining the divinity of the Son of God.

Arius knew not how to reconcile the bishop’s words, “ever begotten,”
with the assertion, that the Son, co-exists “unbegottenly with God;” and
thought it little less than a contradiction to affirm, that he was
“unbegottenly begotten.” And as to the word “consubstantial,” Arius
seems to have thought that it destroyed the personal subsistence of the
Son, and brought in the doctrine of Sabellius; or else that it implied
that the Son was “a part of the Father;” and for this reason declined
the use of it. And, indeed, it doth not appear to me that the council of
Nice had themselves any determinate and fixed meaning to the word, as I
think may be fairly inferred from the debates of that council with
Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, about that term; which, though put into
their creed, in opposition to the Arians, was yet explained by them in
such a sense, as almost any Arian could have, bona fide, subscribed.

On the other hand, the bishop of Alexandria seems to have thought, that
when Arius asserted that the son existed “by the will and counsel of the
Father;” it implied the mutability of his nature; and that, when he
taught concerning the Son, “that there was a time when he was not,” it
inferred his being a temporary, and not an eternal being; though Arius
expressly denied both these consequences. In short, it was a controversy
upon this metaphysical question, “[375]whether or no God could generate
or produce a being, in strictness of speech, as eternal as himself? Or,
whether God’s generating the Son doth not necessarily imply the
pre-existence of the Father, either in conception, or some small
imaginable point of time;” as Arius imagined, and the bishop denied.


Footnote 375:

  Theod. E. H. l. 18. c. 5.


This was, in fact, the state of this controversy. And did not the
emperor Constantine give a just character of this debate, when he
declared the occasion of the difference to be very trifling; and that
their quarrels arose from an idle itch of disputation, since they did
not contend about any essential doctrine of the gospel? could these hard
words and inexplicable points justify the clergy in their intemperate
zeal, and in their treating each other with the rancour and bitterness
of the most implacable enemies? What hath the doctrine of real
godliness, what hath the church of God to do with these debates? Hath
the salvation of men’s souls, and the practice of virtue, any dependance
upon men’s receiving unscriptural words, in which they cannot believe,
because they cannot understand them; and which, those who first
introduced them, were not able to explain?

If I know my own heart, I would be far from giving up any plain and
important doctrine of the gospel. But will any man coolly and soberly
affirm, that nice and intricate questions, that depend upon metaphysical
distinctions, and run so high as the most minute supposeable atom or
point of time, can be either plain or important doctrines of the gospel?
Oh Jesus! if thou be “the Son of the everlasting God, the brightness of
thy Father’s glory, and the express image of his person;” if thou art
the most perfect resemblance of his all-perfect goodness, that kind
benefactor, that God-like friend to the human race, which the faithful
records of thy life declare thee to be; how can I believe the essential
doctrines of thy gospel to be thus wrapped up in darkness? or, that the
salvation of that church, “which thou hast purchased with thy blood,”
depends on such mysterious and inexplicable conditions? If thy gospel
represents thee right, surely thou must be better pleased with the
humble, peaceable christian, who when honestly searching into the
glories of thy nature, and willing to give thee all the adoration thy
great Father hath ordered him to pay thee, falls into some errors, as
the consequence of human weakness; than with that imperious and
tyrannical disciple, who divides thy members, tears the bowels of thy
church, and spreads confusion and strife throughout thy followers and
friends, even for the sake of truths that lie remote from men’s
understanding, and in which thou hast not thought proper to make the
full, the plain decision. If truth is not to be given up for the sake of
peace, I am sure peace is not to be sacrificed for the sake of such
truths; and if the gospel is a rule worthy our regard, the clergy of
those times can never be excused for the contentions they raised, and
the miseries they occasioned in the christian world, upon account of

The third and fourth general councils seem to have met upon an occasion
of much the like importance. The first council of Nice determined the
Son to be a distinct hypostasis, or person from, but of the same nature
with the Father. The second at Constantinople, added the Holy Ghost to
the same substance of the Father, and made the same individual nature to
belong equally and wholly to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; thus
making them three distinct persons in one undivided essence. But as they
determined the Son to be truly man, as well as truly God, the bishops
brought a new controversy into the church, and fell into furious debates
and quarrels about his personality.

Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, with his followers, maintained two
distinct persons in Christ, agreeable to his two distinct natures. But
St. Cyril, the implacable enemy of Nestorius, got a council to decree,
that the two natures of God and man being united together in our Lord,
made one person or Christ; and to curse all who should affirm that there
were two distinct persons or subsistencies in him.

It is evident, that either Cyril and his council must have been in the
wrong in this decree, or the two former councils of Nice and
Constantinople wrong in theirs; because it is certain, that they decreed
the word PERSON to be used in two infinitely different senses. According
to those of Nice and Constantinople, one individual nature or essence
contained three distinct persons; according to Cyril’s council, two
natures or essences infinitely different, and as distinct as those of
God and man, constituted but one person. Now how “one nature should be
three persons, and yet two natures one person,” will require the skill
even of infallibility itself to explain; and as these decrees are
evidently contradictory to one another, I am afraid we must allow that
the Holy Ghost had no hand in one or other of them.

This some of the clergy very easily observed; and therefore, to maintain
the unity of the person of Christ, Eutyches and Dioscorus maintained,
that though Christ consisted of two natures before his incarnation, yet
after that he had but one nature only. But this was condemned by the
council of Chalcedon, and the contradictions of the former councils
declared all to be true, and rendered sacred with the stamp of
orthodoxy. This was also ratified by the fifth council under Justinian,
who also piously and charitably raked into the dust of poor Origen, and
damned him for an heretic.

But still there was a difficulty yet remaining, about the person of
Christ: for as Christ’s being one person did not destroy the distinction
of his two natures, it became a very important and warm controversy,
whether Christ had any more than one will, as he was but one person in
two natures? or, whether he had not two wills, agreeable to his two
distinct natures, united in one person? This occasioned the calling the
sixth general council, who determined it for the two wills; in which,
according to my poor judgment, they were very wrong. And had I had the
honour to have been of this venerable assembly, I would have completed
the mystery, by decreeing, that as Christ had but one person, he could
have but one personal will; but however, that as he had two natures, he
must also have two natural wills.

I beg my reader’s pardon for thus presuming to offer my own judgment, in
opposition to the decree of the holy fathers; but at the same time I
cannot help smiling at the thought of two or three hundred venerable
bishops and fathers thus trifling in council, and solemnly playing at
questions and commands, to puzzle others, and divert themselves. Were it
not for the fatal consequences that attended their decisions, I should
look on them as “Bishops in masquerade,” met together only to ridicule
the order, or to set the people a laughing at so awkward a mixture of
gravity and folly. Surely the reverend clergy of those days had but
little to do amongst their flocks, or but little regard to the nature
and end of their office. Had they been faithful to their character
instead of “doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof came
envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of
corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is
godliness, “they would have” consented to, and taught wholesome words,
even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is
according to godliness.

But this was not the temper of the times. It would have been indeed more
tolerable, had the clergy confined their quarrels to themselves, and
quarrelled only about speculative doctrines and harmless contradictions.
But to interest the whole christian world in these contentions, and to
excite furious persecutions for the support of doctrines and practices,
even opposite to the nature, and destructive of the very end of
christianity, is equally monstrous and astonishing. And yet this is the
case of the seventh general council, who decreed the adoration of the
Virgin Mary, of angels and of saints, of relicts, of images and
pictures, and who thereby obscured the dignity, and corrupted the
simplicity of the christian worship and doctrine. This the venerable
fathers of that council did, and pronounced anathemas against all who
would not come into their idolatrous practices, and excited the civil
power to oppress and destroy them.


                               SECT. III.
 _Pride, ambition, and covetousness, the grand sources of persecution._

Surely it could not be zeal for God and Christ, and the truth and honour
of christianity; no real love to piety and virtue, that prompted and led
the bishops and their clergy on to these acts of injustice and cruelty.
Without any breach of charity, it may be asserted of most, if not all of
them, that it was their pride, and their immoderate love of dominion,
grandeur and riches, that influenced them to these unworthy and wicked
measures. The interest of religion and truth, the honour of God and the
church, is I know the stale pretence; but a pretence, I am afraid, that
hath but little probability or truth to support it.

For what hath religion to do with the observation of days? or, what
could excite Victor to excommunicate so many churches about Easter, but
the pride of his heart, and to let the world see how large a power he
had to send souls to the devil? How is the honour of God promoted, by
speculations that have no tendency to godliness? Will any man seriously
affirm, that the ancient disputes about “Hypostasis, Consubstantial,
&c.” and the rest of the hard words that were invented, did any honour
to the name of Christ, or were of any advantage to the religion of his
gospel? Or, can he believe that Alexander, Arius, Athanasius,
Macedonius, and others, were influenced in all their contentions and
quarrels, in all the confusions they were the authors of, and the
murders they occasioned, purely by religious motives? Surely the honour
of religion must be promoted by other means; and genuine christianity
may flourish, and, indeed, would have flourished much better, had these
disputes never been introduced into the church; or had they been managed
with moderation and forbearance. But such was the haughtiness of the
clergy, such their thirst of dominion over the consciences of others,
such their impatience of contradiction, that nothing would content them
but implicit faith to their creeds, absolute subjection to their
decrees, and subscription to their articles without examination or
conviction of their truth; or for want of these, anathemas, depositions,
banishments, and death.

The history of all the councils, and of almost all the bishops, that is
left us, is a demonstration of this sad truth. What council can be
named, that did not assume a power to explain, amend, settle, and
determine the faith? That did not anathematize and depose those who
could not agree to their decisions, and that did not excite the emperors
to oppress and destroy them? Was this the humility and condescension of
servants and ministers? Was not this lording it over the heritage of
God, seating themselves in the throne of the Son of God, and making
themselves owned as “fathers and masters,“ in opposition to the express
command of Christ to the contrary?

[376]Clemens Romanus, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, cap. 44.
tells us, That “the apostles knew, by the Lord Jesus Christ, that the
episcopal name and office would be the occasion of contention in the
christian church; a noble instance,” says the learned Fell, in his
remarks on the place, “of the prophetic spirit of the apostolic age.
Formerly,“ he adds, that, “men’s ambition and evil practices to obtain
this dignity, produced schisms and heresies.” And it was indeed no
wonder that such disorders and confusions should be occasioned, when the
bishoprics were certain steps, not only to power and dominion, but to
the emoluments and advantages of riches and honours.


Footnote 376:

  Apud Cotel. p. 173. Edit. Amstel.


Even long before the time of Constantine, the clergy had got a very
great ascendant over the laity, and grew, many of them, rich, by the
voluntary oblations of the people: But the grants of that emperor
confirmed them in a worldly spirit, and the dignities and vast revenues
that were annexed to many o£ the sees, gave rise to infinite evils and
disturbances. So they could but get possession of them, they cared not
by what means; whether by clandestine ordinations, scandalous symony,
the expulsion of the possessors, or through the blood of their enemies.
How many lives were lost at Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and
Antioch, by the furious contentions of the bishops of those sees;
deposing one another, and forcibly entering upon possession? Would
Athanasius, and Macedonius, Damasus, and others, have given occasion to
such tumults and murders, merely for words and creeds, had there not
been somewhat more substantial to have been got by their bishoprics?
Would Cyril have persecuted the Novations, had it not been for the sake
of their riches, of which he plundered them, soon after his advancement
to the see of Alexandria? No. The character given by the historian of
Theodocius, bishop of Synada, may be too truly applied to almost all the
rest of them; who persecuted the followers of Macedonius, not from a
principle of zeal for the faith, but through a covetous temper, and the
love of money. This St. Jerome observed with grief, in the passage cited
page 86, of this history; Ammianus Marcellinus, an heathen writer,
reproached them with, in the passage cited page 102.


                               SECT. IV.
   _The decrees of councils and synods of no authority in matters of

I think it will evidently follow from this account, that the
determinations of councils, and the decrees of synods, as to matters of
faith, are of no manner of authority, and can carry no obligation upon
any christian whatsoever. I will not mention here one reason, which
would be itself sufficient, if all others were wanting, viz. That they
have no power given them, in any part of the gospel revelation, to make
these decisions in controverted points, and to oblige others to
subscribe them; and that therefore the pretence to it is an usurpation
of what belongs to the great God, who only hath, and can have a right to
prescribe to the consciences of men.

But to let this pass; what one council can be fixed upon, that will
appear to be composed of such persons, as, upon an impartial
examination, can be allowed to be fit for the work of settling the
faith, and determining all controversies relating to it? I mean, in
which the majority of the members may, in charity, be supposed to be
disinterested, wise, learned, peaceable and pious men? Will any man
undertake to affirm this of the council of Nice? Can any thing be more
evident, than that the members of that venerable assembly came, many of
them, full of passion and resentment; that others of them were crafty
and wicked, and others ignorant and weak? Did their meeting together in
a synod immediately cure them of their desire of revenge, make the
wicked virtuous, or the ignorant wise? If not, their joint decree, as a
synod, could really be of no more weight than their private opinions;
nor perhaps of so much; because, it is well known, that the great
transactions of such assemblies are generally managed and conducted by a
few; and that authority, persuasion, prospect of interest, and other
temporal motives, are commonly made use of to secure a majority. The
orthodox have taken care to destroy all the accounts given of this
council by those of the opposite party; and Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea,
hath passed it over in silence; and only dropped two or three hints,
that are very far from being favourable to those reverend fathers. In a
word, nothing can be collected from friends or enemies, to induce one to
believe that they had any of those qualifications which were necessary
to fit them for the province they had undertaken, of settling the peace
of the church by a fair, candid and impartial determination of the
controversy that divided it: So that the emperor Constantine, and
Socrates the historian, took the most effectual method to vindicate
their honour, by pronouncing them inspired by the Holy Ghost; which they
had great need of, to make up the want of all other qualifications.

The second general council were plainly the creatures of the emperor
Theodosius, all of his own party, and convened to do as he bid them;
which they did, by confirming the Nicene faith, and condemning all
heresies: [377]A council of “geese and cranes, and chattering jackdaws;”
noisy and tumultuous, endlessly contending for episcopal sees and
thrones. The third general council were the creatures of Cyril, who was
their president, and the inveterate enemy of Nestorius, whom he
condemned for heresy, and was himself condemned for his rashness in this
affair, and excommunicated by the bishop of Antioch. The fourth met
under the awes of the emperor Marcian; managed their debates with noise
and tumult, were formed into a majority by the intrigues of the legates
of Rome, and settled the faith by the opinions of Athanasius, Cyril, and
and others. I need not mention more; the farther we go, the worse they
will appear.


Footnote 377:

  Greg. Naz. Vol. II. p 81.


Now may it not be asked, how came the few bishops, who met by command of
Theodosius, this council of wasps, to be stiled an oecumenical or
general council? As they came to decree, as he decreed they should, what
authority, with any wise man, can their decisions have? As they were all
of one side, except thirty-six of the Macedonian party who were
afterwards added, what less could be expected, but that they would
decree themselves orthodox, establish their own creed, and anathematize
all others for heretics? And as to the next council, I confess I can pay
no respect or reverence to a set of clergy met under the direction and
influence of a man of Cyril’s principles and morals; especially as the
main transaction of that council was hurried on by a desire of revenge,
and done before the arrival of the bishop of Antioch, with his suffragan
brethren, and condemned by him as soon as he was informed of it; till at
length the power and influence of the emperor reconciled the two haughty
prelates, made them reverse their mutual excommunications, decree the
same doctrine, and join in pronouncing the same Anathemas. Cannot any
one discern more of resentment and pride in their first quarrel, than of
a regard to truth and peace; and more of complaisance to the emperor,
than of concern for the honour of Christ, in their after reconciliation?
And as to the next council, let any one but read over the account given
of it by Evagrius; what horrible confusions there were amongst them; how
they threw about anathemas and curses; how they fathered their violences
on Christ; how they settled the faith by the doctrines of Athanasius,
Cyril, and other fathers; and if he can bring himself to pay any
reverence to their decrees, I envy him not the submission he pays them,
nor the rule by which he guides and determines his belief.

I confess I cannot read the account of these transactions, their
ascribing their anathemas and curses to Christ and the Holy Trinity, and
their decisions as to the faith, to the Holy Ghost, without indignation
at the horrid abuse of those sacred names. Their very meeting to
pronounce damnation on their adversaries, and to form creeds for the
consciences of others, is no less than a demonstration that they had no
concurrence of the Son of God, no influence of the Holy Spirit of God.
The faith was already settled for them, and for all other christians, in
the sacred writings, and needed no decision of councils to explain and
amend it. The very attempt was insolence and usurpation. Infallibility
is a necessary qualification for an office of such importance. But what
promise is there made to councils of this divine gift? or, if there
should be any such promise made to them; yet the method of their
debates, their scandalous arts to defame their adversaries, and the
contradictions they decreed for truth and gospel, prove, to the fullest
conviction, that they forfeited the grace of it. And indeed, if the
fruits of the spirit are love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness and meekness, there appeared few or no signs of them in any of
the councils. The soil was too rank and hot to produce them.

I wish, for the honour of the former times, I could give a better
account of these assemblies of the clergy, and see reason to believe
myself that they were, generally speaking, men of integrity, wisdom,
candour, moderation and virtue. The debates of such men would have
deserved regard, and their opinions would have challenged a proper
reverence. But even had this been the case, their opinions, could have
been no rule to others; and how great a veneration soever we might have
had for their characters, we ought, as men and christians, to have
examined their principles. There is one rule superior to them and us, by
which christians are to try all doctrines and spirits; the decision of
which is more sacred than that of all human wisdom and authority, and
every where, and in all ages, obligatory. But as the ancient councils
consisted of men of quite other dispositions; and as their decisions in
matters of faith were arbitrary and unwarranted; and as those decisions
themselves were generally owing to court practices, intriguing
statesmen, the thirst of revenge the management of a few crafty
interested bishops to noise and tumult, the prospects and hopes of
promotions and translations, and other the like causes, the reverence
paid them by many christians is truly surprising; and I cannot account
for it any way but one, viz. that those who thus cry up their authority,
are in hopes of succeeding them in their power; and therefore would fain
persuade others that their decrees are sacred and binding, to make way
for the imposing of their own.

It would be well worth the while of some of these council-mongers to lay
down some proper rules and distinctions, by which we may judge what
councils are to be received, and which to be rejected; and particularly
why the four first general councils should be submitted to, in
preference to all others. Councils have often decreed contrary to
councils, and the same bishops have decreed different things in
different councils; and even the third and fourth general councils
determined the use of the word PERSON in an infinitely different sense
from what the two first did. Heretical councils, as they are called,
have been more in number than some orthodox general ones, called by the
same imperial authority, have claimed the same powers, pretended to the
same influence of the Holy Ghost, and pronounced the same anathemas
against principles and persons. By what criteria or certain marks then
must we judge, which of these councils are thieving, general,
particular, orthodox, heretical, and which not? The councils themselves
must not be judges in their own cause; for then we must receive, or
reject them all. The characters of the bishops that composed them will
not do, for their characters seem equally amiable and christian on each
side. The nature of the doctrine, “as decreed by them,” is far from
being a safe rule; because, if human authority, or church power makes
truth in any case, it makes it in every case; and therefore, upon this
foot, the decrees at Tyre and Ephesus are as truly binding, as those at
Nice and Chalcedon. Or, if we must judge of the councils by the nature
of the doctrine, abstracted from all human authority, those councils can
have no authority at all. Every man must sit in judgment over them, and
try them by reason and scripture, and reject and receive them, just as
he would do the opinions of any other persons whatsoever. And, I humbly
conceive, they should have no better treatment, because they deserve


                                SECT. V.
      _The imposing Subscriptions to Human Creeds unreasonable and

If then the decrees of fathers and councils, if the decisions of human
authority in matters of religion are of no avail, and carry with them no
obligation; it follows, that the imposing subscriptions to creeds and
articles of faith, as tests of orthodoxy, is a thing unreasonable in
itself, as it hath proved of infinite ill consequence in the church of

I call it an “unreasonable custom,” not only because where there is no
power to make creeds for others, there can be no right to impose them;
but because no one good reason can be assigned for the use and
continuance of this practice. For, as my Lord Bishop of London admirably
well explains this matter[378], “As long as men are men, and have
different degrees of understanding, and every one a partiality to his
own conceptions, it is not to be expected that they should agree in any
one entire scheme, and every part of it, in the circumstances as well as
the substance, in the manner of things, as well as in the things
themselves. The question therefore is not in general about a difference
in opinion, which, in our present state, is unavoidable; but about the
weight and importance of the things wherein christians differ, and the
things wherein they agree. And it will appear, that the several
denominations of christians agree both in the substance of religion, and
in the necessary inforcements of the practice of it. That the world and
all things in it, were created by God, and are under the direction and
government of his all-powerful hand, and all-seeing eye; that there is
an essential difference between good and evil, virtue and vice; that
there will be a state of future rewards and punishments, according to
our behaviour in this life; that Christ was a teacher sent from God, and
that his apostles were divinely inspired; that all christians are bound
to declare and profess themselves to be his disciples; that not only the
exercise of the several virtues, but also a belief in Christ is
necessary, in order to their obtaining the pardon of sin, the favour of
God, and eternal life; that the worship of God is to be performed
chiefly by the heart, in prayers, praises, and thanksgivings; and, as to
all other points, that they are bound to live by the rules which Christ
and his apostles have left them in the holy scriptures.” Here then, adds
the learned bishop, “is a fixed, certain, and uniform rule of faith and
practice, containing all the most necessary points of religion,
established by a divine sanction, embraced as such by all denominations
of christians, and in itself abundantly sufficient to preserve the
knowledge and practice of religion in the world. As to points of greater
intricacy, and which require uncommon degrees of penetration and
knowledge; such indeed have been subjects of dispute, amongst persons of
study and learning, in the several ages of the christian church; but the
people are not obliged to enter into them, so long as they do not touch
the foundations of christianity, nor have an influence upon practice. In
other points it is sufficient that they believe the doctrines, so far as
they find, upon due enquiry and examination, according to their several
abilities and opportunities, that God hath revealed them.”


Footnote 378:

  Bishop of London’s 2d Pastoral Letter, p. 24, 25.


This incomparable passage of this reverend and truly charitable prelate,
I have transcribed intire; because it will undoubtedly give a sanction
to my own principles of universal benevolence and charity. His lordship
affirms, that “all denominations of christians agree in the substance of
religion, and in the necessary enforcement of the practice of it;”
inasmuch as they do all believe firmly and sincerely those principles
which his lordship calls, with great reason and truth, “a fixed,
certain, and uniform rule of faith and practice, as containing all the
most necessary points of religion, and in itself abundantly sufficient
to preserve the knowledge and practice of religion in the world.”

My inference from this noble concession, for which all the friends to
liberty, in church and state, throughout Great Britain, will thank his
lordship, is this; that since all denominations of christians do, in his
lordship’s judgment, receive his fixed, certain, and uniform rule of
faith, and embrace all the most necessary points of religion; to impose
subscriptions to articles of faith and human creeds, must be a very
unreasonable and needless thing: for either such articles and creeds
contain nothing more than this same rule of faith and practice, and then
all subscription to them is impertinent, because this is already
received by all denominations of christians, and is abundantly
sufficient, by the bishop’s own allowance, to preserve the knowledge and
practice of religion in the world; or such articles and creeds contain
something more than his lordship’s fixed rule of faith and practice,
something more than all the most necessary points of religion, something
more than is sufficient to preserve the knowledge and practice of
religion in the world, _h. e._ some very unnecessary points of religion,
something on which the preservation of religion doth not depend; and of
consequence, subscriptions to unnecessary articles of faith, on which
religion doth not depend, can never be necessary to qualify any person
for a minister of the church of Christ, and therefore not for the church
of England, if that be part of the church of Christ. And this is the
more unnecessary, because, as his lordship farther well observes, “the
people are not obliged to enter into them, so long as they do not touch
the foundations of christianity,” i. e. so far as his lordship’s
certain, fixed and uniform rule, which contains all necessary points of
religion, is not affected by them. And if the people are not obliged to
enter into points of great intricacy and dispute, I humbly conceive the
clergy cannot be obliged to preach them; and that of consequence it is
as absurd to impose upon them subscriptions to such things, as to oblige
them to subscribe what they need not preach, nor any of their people

Upon his lordship’s principles, the imposing subscriptions to the hard,
unscriptural expressions of the Athanasians and Arians, by each party in
their turns, and to the thirty-nine articles of the church of England,
must be a very unreasonable and unchristian thing; because, the
peculiarities to be subscribed, do not one of them enter into his
specified points of religion, and of consequence are not necessary to
preserve religion in the world; and after so public a declaration of
charity towards all denominations of christians, and the safety of
religion and the church, upon the general principles he hath laid down,
there is no reason to doubt but his lordship will use that power and
influence which God hath entrusted him with, to remove the wall of
separation in the established church, in order to the uniting all
differing sects, all denominations of christians, in one visible
communion; and that he will join in that most christian and catholic
prayer and benediction of one of his own brethren; though disapproved of
by another of narrower principles, “[379]blessed be they who have
contributed to so good a work.”


Footnote 379:

  Bishop of Bangor’s answer to the Dean of Worcester, postscript, p.


Subscriptions have ever been a grievance in the church of God; and the
first introduction of them was owing to pride, and the claim of an
unrighteous and ungodly power. Neither the warrant of scripture, nor the
interest of truth, made them necessary. It is, I think, but by few, if
any, pretended that the sacred writings countenance this practice. They
do indeed abound with directions and exhortations to “adhere stedfastly
to the faith, not to be moved from the faith, nor tossed about with
every wind of doctrine.” But what is the faith which we are to adhere
to? What the faith established and stamped for orthodox by the bishops
and councils? Ridiculous! If this was the case, our faith must be as
various as their creeds, and as absurd and contradictory as their
decisions. No: The Faith we are to be grounded and settled in, is that
“which was at once delivered to the saints,” that which was preached by
the apostles to Gentiles as well as Jews; “the wholesome words we are to
consent to are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine
which is according to godliness.” This all genuine christians receive,
out of regard to a much higher authority than belongs to any set of men
in the world; and therefore the sanction of fathers and councils in this
case, is as impertinent as a man’s pretending to give a sanction to the
constitutions of the great God. And as to all other articles of faith,
neither they, nor any others, have any commission to impose them on the
consciences of men; and the moment they attempt to do it, they cease to
be servants in the house of God, and act as the true and proper lords of
the heritage.

But it may be said, that “the church hath power to determine in
controversies of faith; so as not to decree any thing against scripture,
nor to enforce any thing to be believed as necessary to salvation
besides it;” _i. e._ I suppose the church hath power to guard the truths
of scripture; and in any controversies about doctrines, to determine
what is or is not agreeable to scripture, and to enforce the reception
of what they thus decree, by obliging others to subscribe to their
decisions. If this be the case, then it necessarily follows, that their
determinations must be ever right, and constantly agreeable to the
doctrine of holy writ; and that they ought never to determine but when
they are in the right; and are sure they are in the right; because, if
the matter be difficult in its nature, or the clergy have any doubts and
scruples concerning it, or are liable to make false decisions, they
cannot, with any reason, make a final decision; because it is possible
they may decide on the wrong side of the question, and thus decree
falsehood instead of truth.

I presume there are but few who will claim, in words so extraordinary a
power as that of establishing falsehood in the room of truth and
scripture. But even supposing their decisions to be right, how will it
follow that they have a power to oblige others to submit to and
subscribe them? If by sound reason and argument they can convince the
consciences of others, they are sure of the agreement of all such with
them in principle; and, upon this foot, subscriptions are wholly
useless: If they cannot convince them, it is a very unrighteous thing to
impose subscriptions on them; and a shameful prevarication with God and
man for any to submit to them without it.

Decisions made in controversies of faith, by the clergy, carry in them
no force nor evidence of truth. Let their office be ever so sacred, it
doth not exempt them from human frailties and imperfections. They are as
liable to error and mistake, to prejudice and passion, as any of the
laity whatsoever can be. How then can the clergy have any authority in
controversies of faith, which the laity have not? That they have erred
in their decisions, and decreed light to be darkness, and darkness
light; that they have perplexed the consciences of men, and corrupted
the simplicity of the faith in Christ, all their councils and synods are
a notorious proof. With what justice or modesty then can they pretend to
a power of obliging others to believe their articles, or subscribe them?
If I was to speak the real truth, it will be found that those numerous
opinions which have been anathematized as heretical, and which have
broken the christian world into parties, have been generally invented,
and broached, and propagated by the clergy. Witness Arius, Macedonius,
Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, and others; and therefore if we may
judge, by any observations made on the rise of heresy, what is a proper
method to put a stop to the progress of it, it cannot be the clergy’s
forming articles of faith, and forcing others to subscribe them; because
this is the very method by which they have established and propagated

The truth is, this method of preventing error will suit all religions,
and all sorts of principles whatsoever; and is that by which error
maintains its ground, and is indeed rendered impregnable. All the
different sorts of christians, papists, and protestants, Greeks,
Lutherans, Calvinists, and Arminians, cannot certainly be right in their
discriminating principles. And yet where shall we find any clergy that
do not pretend a right to impose subscriptions, and who do not maintain
the truth of the articles to which they make such subscription
necessary? Upon this foot the doctrines of the council of Trent, the
thirty-nine articles of the church of England, and the assemblies
confession of faith, are all of them equally true, christian and sacred;
for they are in different places embraced as standards of orthodoxy, and
their sacredness and authority secured and maintained by the
subscriptions of the clergy to them: and therefore I think it as little
agreeable to prudence, as it is to justice, for christians to keep up a
practice that may be so easily, and hath been so often turned into a
security for heresy, superstition and idolatry; and especially for
protestants to wear any longer these marks of slavery, which their
enemies, whenever they have power, will not fail to make use of, either
to fetter their consciences, or distinguish them for the burning.

But it may be said, that the abuse of subscriptions is no argument
against the use of them; and that as they are proper to discover what
men’s sentiments are, they may be so far sometimes a guard and security
to the truth. But as all parties, who use them, will urge this reason
for them, that they are in possession of the truth, and therefore
willing to do all they can to secure and promote it; of consequence,
subscriptions to articles of faith can never be looked on properly as
guards to real truth, but as guards to certain prevailing principles,
whether true or false. And even in this case they are wholly

The clergy of the church of England are bound to subscribe the
thirty-nine articles, i. e. to the truth of Athanasian and Calvinistic
principles. But hath this subscription answered its end? Do not the
clergy, who are all subscribers, and who often repeat their
subscriptions, differ about these heads as much as if they had never
subscribed at all? Men that have no principles of religion and virtue,
but enter the church only with a view to the benefices and preferments
of it, will subscribe ten thousand times over, and to any articles that
can be given them, whether true or false. Thus the Asiatic bishops
subscribed to the condemnation of the decrees of the council of
Chalcedon, and inform Basiliscus the emperor that their subscriptions
were voluntary. And yet when Basiliscus was deposed, they immediately
subscribed to the truth of those decrees, and swore their first
subscription was involuntary. So that subscriptions cannot keep out any
atheists, infidels, or profligate persons. And as to others, daily
experience teaches us, that they either disbelieve the articles they
subscribe, subscribing them only as articles of peace: or else, that
after they have subscribed them, they see reason, upon a more mature
deliberation, to alter their minds, and change their original opinions.
So that till men can be brought always to act upon conscience, never to
subscribe what they do not believe, nor ever to alter their judgment, as
to the articles they have subscribed; subscriptions are as impertinent
and useless as they are unreasonable, and can never answer the purposes
of those who impose them.

But I apprehend farther, that this imposing of subscriptions is “not
only an unreasonable custom,” but attended with many very pernicious
consequences. It is a great hindrance to that freedom and impartiality
of inquiry which is the unalterable duty of every man, and necessary to
render his religion reasonable and acceptable. For why should any person
make any inquiries for his own information, when his betters have drawn
up a religion for him, and thus kindly saved him the labour and pains?
And as his worldly interest may greatly depend on his doing as he is
bid, and subscribing as he is ordered; is it not reasonable to think
that the generality will contentedly take every thing upon trust, and
prudently refrain from creating to themselves scruples and doubts, by
nicely examining what they are to set their hands to, lest they should
miss of promotion for not being able to comply with the condition of it,
or enjoy their promotions with a dissatisfied and uneasy conscience?

Subscriptions will, I own, sometimes prove marks of distinction, and as
walls of separation: For though men of integrity and conscience may, and
oftentimes undoubtedly do submit to them; yet men of no principles, or
very loose ones, worldly and ambitious men, the thoughtless and
ignorant, will most certainly do it, when they find it for their
interest. The church that encloses herself with these fences, leaves
abundant room for the entrance of all persons of such characters. To
whom then doth she refuse admittance? Why, if to any, it must be to men
who cannot bend their consciences to their interest; who cannot believe
without examination, nor subscribe any articles of faith as true,
without understanding and believing them. It is in the very nature of
subscriptions to exclude none but these, and to distinguish such only
for shame and punishment. Now how is this consistent with any thing that
is called reason or religion?

If there could be found out any wise and reasonable methods to throw out
of the christian church and ministry, men who are in their hearts
unbelievers, who abide in the church only for the revenues she yields to
them, who shift their religious and political principles according to
their interest, who propagate doctrines inconsistent with the liberties
of mankind, and are scandalous and immoral in their lives; if
subscriptions could be made to answer these ends, and these only, and to
throw infamy upon such men, and upon such men only, no one would have
any thing to alledge against the use of them. Whereas, in truth,
subscriptions are the great securities of such profligate wretches, who
by complying with them, enter into the church, and thereby share in all
the temporal advantages of it; whilst the scrupulous, conscientious
christian, is the only one she excludes; who thinks the word of God a
more sure rule of faith than the dictates of men; and that subscriptions
are things much too sacred to be trifled with, or lightly submitted to.

They are indeed very great snares to many persons, and temptations to
them too often to trespass upon the rules of strict honesty and virtue.
For when men’s subsistence and advantages in the world depend on their
subscribing to certain articles of faith, it is one of the most powerful
arguments that can be, to engage them to comply with it. It is possible
indeed they may have their objections against the reasonableness and
truth of what they are to subscribe: But will not interest often lead
them to overlook their difficulties, to explain away the natural meaning
of words, to put a different sense upon the articles than what they will
fairly bear, to take them in any sense, and to subscribe them in no
sense, only as articles of peace?

It must be by some such evasions that Arians subscribe to Athanasian
creeds, and Arminians to principles of rigid Calvinism. This the clergy
have been again and again reproached with, even by the enemies of
christianity: and I am sorry to say it, they have not been able to wipe
off the scandal from themselves. I am far from saying or believing that
all the clergy make these evasive subscriptions: those only that do so
give this offence; and if they are, in other cases, men of integrity and
conscience, they are objects of great compassion.

As far as my own judgment is concerned, I think this manner of
subscribing to creeds and articles of faith, is infamous in its nature,
and vindicable upon no principles of conscience and honour. It tends to
render the clergy contemptible in the eyes of the people, who will be
apt to think that they have but little reason to regard the sermons of
men, who have prevaricated in their subscriptions, and that they preach
for the same reason only that they subscribed, _viz._ their worldly
interest. It is of very pernicious influence and example, and in its
consequences leads to the breach of all faith amongst mankind, and tends
to the subversion of civil society. For if the clergy are known to
prevaricate in subscribing to religious tests of orthodoxy, is it not to
be feared that others may learn from them to prevaricate in their
subscriptions to civil tests of loyalty? and, indeed, there is a great
deal of reason to imagine, that if men can tutor and twist their
consciences so as to subscribe articles of faith, contrary to their own
persuasion, and only as articles of peace, or a qualification for a
living, they would subscribe for the same reason to Popery or
Mahometanism: For if this be a good reason for subscribing any articles
which I do not believe, it is a reason for subscribing all; and
therefore I humbly apprehend that a practice, which gives so much
occasion to such scandalous prevarications with God and man, should be
cast off as an insufferable grievance, and as a yoke upon the necks of
the clergy, too heavy for them to bear.

Let me add farther, that this practice of imposing subscriptions, hath
been the occasion of innumerable mischiefs in the church of God. It was
the common cry of the orthodox and Arians, and all other heretics, in
their turns of power, “either subscribe, or depart from your churches.”
This enflamed the clergy against each other, and filled them with
hatred, malice and revenge. For as by imposing these subscriptions,
inquisition was made into the consciences of others; the refusal to
submit to them was a certain mark of heresy and reprobation; and the
consequence of this was the infliction of all spiritual and temporal
punishments. It was impossible but that such procedures should
perpetuate the schisms and divisions of the church, since the wrath of
man cannot work the righteousness of God; and since civil punishments
have no tendency to convince the conscience, but only to enflame the
passions against the advisers and inflicters of them. And as
ecclesiastical history gives us so dreadful an account of the melancholy
and tragical effects of this practice, one would think that no nation
who knew the worth of liberty, no christian, protestant, church, that
hath any regard for the peace of the flock of Christ, should ever be
found to authorize and continue it.


                               SECT. VI.
   _Adherence to the Sacred Scriptures the best Security of Truth and

What security then shall we have left us for truth and orthodox, when
our subscriptions are gone? Why, the sacred scriptures, those oracles of
the great God, and freedom and liberty to interpret and understand them
as we can; the consequence of this would be great integrity and peace of
conscience, in the enjoyment of our religious principles, union and
friendship amongst christians, notwithstanding all their differences in
judgment, and great respect and honour to those faithful pastors, that
carefully feed the flock of God, and lead them into pastures of
righteousness and peace. We shall lose only the incumbrances of
religion, our bones of contention, the shackles of our consciences, and
the snares to honesty and virtue; whilst all that is substantially good
and valuable, all that is truly divine and heavenly, would remain to
enrich and bless us.

The clergy would indeed lose their power to do mischief; but would they
not be happy in that loss, especially as they would be infinitely more
likely to do good? They would be no longer looked on as fathers and
dictators in the faith; but still they might remain “ambassadors for
Christ, beseeching men in Christ’s stead, to become reconciled to God.”
And was all human authority, in matters of faith, thus wholly laid
aside, would not the word of God have a freer course, and be much more
abundantly glorified? All christians would look upon scripture as the
only rule of their faith and practice, and therefore search it with
greater diligence and care, and be much more likely to understand the
mind of God therein. The main things of christianity would,
unquestionably, be generally agreed to by all; and as to other things,
points of speculation and difficult questions, if christians differed
about them, their differences would be of no great importance, and might
be maintained consistent with charity and peace.

Indeed, a strict and constant adherence to scripture, as the only judge
in controversies of the christian faith, would be the most likely method
to introduce into the church a real uniformity of opinion, as well as
practice. For if this was the case, many disputes would be wholly at an
end, as having nothing to give occasion to them in the sacred writings;
and all others would be greatly shortened, as hereby all foreign terms,
and human phrases of speech, by which the questions that have been
controverted amongst christians have been darkened and perplexed, would
be immediately laid aside, and the only inquiry would be, what is the
sense of scripture? What the doctrine of Christ and his apostles? This
is a much more short and effectual way of determining controversies,
than sending men to Nice and Chalcedon, to councils and synods, to
Athanasius, or Arius, to Calvin or Arminius, or any other persons
whatsoever that can be mentioned, who at best deliver but their own
sense of scripture, and are not to be regarded any farther than they
agree with it.

It was the departure from this, as the great standard of faith, and
corrupting the simplicity of the gospel-doctrine by hard, unscriptural
words, that gave occasion to the innumerable controversies that formerly
troubled the christian church. Human creeds were substituted in the room
of scripture; and according as circumstances differed, or new opinions
were broached, so were the creeds corrected, amended and enlarged, till
they became so full of subtleties, contradictions, and nonsense, as must
make every thoughtful man read many of them with contempt. The
controversy was not about scripture expressions, but about the words of
men; not about the sense of scripture, but the decrees of councils, and
the opinions of Athanasius, Leo, Cyril, and the venerable fathers. And
upon this foot it was no wonder their disputes should be endless; since
the writings of all fallible men must certainly be more obscure and
intricate than the writings of the infallible spirit of truth, who could
be at no loss about the doctrines he dictated, nor for proper words
suitably to express them.

It is infinite, it is endless labour, to consult all that the fathers
have written; and when we have consulted them, what one controversy have
they rationally decided? What one christian doctrine have they clearly
and solidly explained? How few texts of scripture have they critically
settled the sense and meaning of? How often do they differ from one
another, and in how many instances from themselves? Those who read them,
greatly differ in their interpretation of them; and men of the most
contrary sentiments, all claim them for their own. Athanasians and
Arians appeal to the fathers, and support their principles by quotations
from them. And are these the venerable gentlemen, whose writings are to
be set up in opposition to the scripture, or set up as authoritative
judges of the sense of scripture? Are creeds of their dictating to be
submitted to as the only criterion of orthodoxy, or esteemed as
standards to distinguish between truth and error? Away with this folly
and superstition! The creeds of the fathers and councils are but human
creeds, that have all the marks in them of human frailty and ignorance.
The creeds which are to be found in the gospel are the infallible
dictates of the spirit of the God of truth, and as such claim our
reverence and submission; and as the forming our principles according to
them, as far as we are able to understand them, makes us christians in
the sight of God, it should be sufficient to every one’s being owned as
a christian by others, without their using any inquisitory forms of
trial, till they can produce their commission from heaven for the use of
them. This, as it is highly reasonable in itself, would do the highest
honour to the christian clergy; who, instead of being reproached for
haughtiness and pride, as the incendiaries and plagues of mankind, as
the sowers of contention and strife, and disturbers of the peace of the
church of God, would be honoured for their work’s sake, esteemed for
their characters, loved as blessings to the world, heard with pleasure,
and become succesful in their endeavours to recommend the knowledge and
practice of christianity.


                               SECT. VII.
 _The Christian Religion absolutely condemns Persecution for conscience

Were the doctrines of the gospel regarded as they should be, and the
precepts of the christian religion submitted to by all who profess to
believe it, universal benevolence would be the certain effect, and
eternal peace and union would reign amongst the members of the christian
church. For if there are any commands of certain clearness, any precepts
of evident obligation in the gospel, they are such as refer to the
exercise of love, and the maintaining universal charity. In our
Saviour’s admirable discourse on the mount, this was the excellent
doctrine he taught: [380]“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit
the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of
God.” And in another place, describing the nature of religion in
general, he tells us, that [381]“the love of God is the first
commandment; and that the second is like unto it—thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself.” This he enjoins upon his disciples as his
peculiar command: [382]“This is my commandment, that ye love one
another, as I have loved you;” and recommends it to them as that whereby
they were to be distinguished from all other persons. [383]“A new
commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved
you, that ye also love one another. [384]By this shall all men know that
ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”


Footnote 380:

  Matt. v. 5, 7, 9.

Footnote 381:

  Matt. xxii. 35.

Footnote 382:

  John xv. 12.

Footnote 383:

  xiii. 84.

Footnote 384:



This was the more needful for them, considering that our Lord foreknew
the grievous persecutions that would befal them for his sake; to
encourage them under which, he pronounces them blessed: [385]“Blessed
are they which are persecuted for righteousness-sake, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven;” whilst, at the same time, he leaves a brand of
infamy on persecutors, and marks them out for the vengeance of God:
[386]“Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven;
for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you. [387]Woe unto
you, for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers
killed them; therefore, saith the wisdom of God, I will send you
prophets and apostles, and they will slay and persecute them, that the
blood of all the prophets—may be required of this generation.”


Footnote 385:

  Matt. v. 10.

Footnote 386:


Footnote 387:

  Luke xi. 47, &c.


And indeed, so far was our Lord from encouraging any persecuting
methods, that he rebuked and put a stop to all the appearances of them.
Thus when his disciples would have called down fire from heaven to
consume the Samaritans, who refused to receive him, he rebuked them, and
said, [388]“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; the Son of Man
is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them;” and when one of
those who were with Christ cut off the ear of one of the high priest’s
servants, upon his laying hands on him, he severely reproved him:
[389]“Put up again thy sword into its place; for all they that take the
sword shall perish with the sword.” And, in order to cure his apostles
of their ambition and pride, and to prevent their claiming an undue
power, he gave them an example of great humility and condescension, in
washing and wiping their feet, and forbid them imitating the
[390]“gentiles, by exercising dominion and authority; but whoever will
be great amongst you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be
chief amongst you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man came
not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a
ransom for many.” And as the Jewish teachers took on them the name of
Rabbi, to denote their power over the consciences of those they
instructed, he commanded his disciples, [391]“Be ye not called Rabbi,
for one is your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren; and call
no man father upon earth, for one is your father, which is in heaven.
But he that is greatest amongst you, shall be your servant.” From these,
and other passages of like nature, it is very evident, that there is
nothing in the life of Jesus Christ that gives any countenance to these
wicked methods of propagating and supporting religion, that some of his
pretended followers have made use of, but the strongest directions to
the contrary.


Footnote 388:

  Luke ix. 55, 56.

Footnote 389:

  Matt. xxvi. 52.

Footnote 390:

  xx. 25, &c.

Footnote 391:

  Matt. xxiii. 8, &c.


[392]It is indeed objected, that Christ says, “compel them to come in,
that my house may be full:” but that this compulsion means nothing more
than invitation and persuasion, is evident from the parallel place of
scripture, where what St. Luke calls, [393]“compel them to come in,” is
expressed by, “bid them to the marriage,” _i. e._ endeavour, not by
force of arms, but by argument and reason, by importunity and
earnestness, and by setting before men the promises and threatnings of
the gospel, and thus addressing yourselves to their hopes and fears, to
persuade and compel them to embrace my religion, and become the subjects
of my kingdom; and in this moral sense of compulsion, the original word
is often used.


Footnote 392:

  Luke xiv. 23.

Footnote 393:

  Matt. xxii. 9.


[394]But farther, it is, by a late writer, reckoned very surprising,
that Christ should say, [395]“Think not I am come to send peace, I came
not to send peace, but a sword; for I am come to set a man at variance
with his father, and the daughter against her mother, &c.” But how is
this so very surprising? or what man of common sense can mistake the
meaning of the words, who reads the whole discourse? In the former part
of it, it is expressly declared, that the most grievous persecutions
should befal his disciples for his sake; that “brother should deliver up
brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise
up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” Can any
man understand this of an intention in Christ to set people at variance?
when it is a prediction only of what should be the consequence of
publishing his gospel, through the malice and cruelty of its opposers; a
prediction of what his disciples were to suffer, and not of what they
were to make others suffer.


Footnote 394:

  Christianity as old, &c. p. 305.


Footnote 395:

  Matt. x. 34, 35.


And as to that passage in Luke, [396]“I am come to send fire on the
earth: and what will I, if it be already kindled? Suppose ye that I am
come to give peace on earth? I tell you nay, but rather division.” How
is it explained by Christ himself? Why, in the very next words: “For
from henceforth,” _i. e._ upon the publication of my religion and
gospel, “there shall be five in one house divided, three against two,
and two against three, &c.” Can any man need paraphrase and criticism to
explain these passages of any thing, but of that persecution which
should befal the preachers and believers of the gospel? or imagine it to
be a prophetic description of a fire to be blown up by Christ to consume
others, when the whole connection evidently refers it to a fire, that
the opposers of his religion should blow up, to consume himself and
followers? Jesus knew it was such a fire as would first consume himself.
“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already
kindled?” or, as the words should be translated, “How do I wish it was
already kindled? How do I wish it to break out on my own person, that I
might glorify God by my sufferings and death?” For as it follows, “I
have a baptism to be baptised with,” a baptism with my own blood: “and
how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” After this account of his
own sufferings, he foretels the same should befal his followers:
“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you nay, but
rather division;” _i. e._ as I myself must suffer to bear witness to the
truth, so after my decease, such shall be the unreasonable and furious
opposition to my gospel, as shall occasion divisions amongst the nearest
relations, some of whom shall hate and persecute the other for their
embracing my religion. And of consequence [397]“Christ did not declare,
in the most express terms,” as the fore-mentioned writer asserts, “that
he came to do that which we must suppose he came to hinder.” He did only
declare, that he came to do what he was resolved not to hinder, _i. e._
to publish such a religion as his enemies would put him to death for,
and as would occasion divisions amongst the nearest relations, through
the unreasonable hatred and opposition that some would shew to others
upon account of it. This matter is elsewhere clearly expressed by
Christ: [398]“These things have I spoken to you, that ye should not be
offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time
cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth God service.
And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the
father nor me,” _i. e._ have not understood either natural religion, or
the religion of my gospel.


Footnote 396:

  Luke xii. 49, 51.

Footnote 397:


Footnote 398:

  John xvi. 1, 2, 3.


There is therefore nothing in the conduct or doctrines of Jesus Christ
to countenance or encourage persecution. His temper was benevolent, his
conduct merciful; and one governing design of all he said, was to
promote meekness and condescension, universal charity and love. And in
this all his apostles were careful imitators of his example: [399]“Let
love,” saith St. Paul, “be without dissimulation; be kindly affectioned
one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another.
[400]If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all
men.” And the love he recommended was such, [401]“as worketh no ill to
his neighbour;” and which therefore he declares “to be the fulfilling of
the law.”


Footnote 399:

  Rom. xii. 9, 10.

Footnote 400:


Footnote 401:

  xiii. 10.


And, lest different sentiments in lesser matters should cause divisions
amongst christians, he commands, [402]“to receive him that is weak in
the faith, not to doubtful disputations,” not to debates, or contentions
about disputations, or disputable things. Upon account of such matters,
he orders that none should [403]“despise or judge others, because God
had received them;” [403]and because every man ought to be “fully
persuaded in his own mind,” and because [404]“the kingdom of God was not
meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the holy ghost;”
and because every one was to [405]“give an account of himself to God,”
to whom alone, as his only master, he was to stand or fall. From these
substantial reasons he infers, [406]“We then that are strong,” who have
the most perfect understanding of the nature of christianity, and our
christian liberty, [407]“ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and
not to please ourselves;” and having prayed for them, that the God of
patience and consolation would grant them to “be like-minded one towards
another,” according to, or after the example of Christ, that,
notwithstanding the strength of some, and the weakness of others, they
might, [408]“with one mind, and with one mouth, glorify God, even the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;” he adds, as the conclusion of his
argument, [409]“Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also
received us to the glory of God.”


Footnote 402:

  Rom. xiv. 1.

Footnote 403:

  Ibid. 3, 5.

Footnote 404:


Footnote 405:


Footnote 406:

  xv. 1.

Footnote 407:


Footnote 408:


Footnote 409:

  Rom. xv. 7.


In his letters to the [410]Corinthians, he discovers the same divine and
amiable spirit. In his first epistle he beseeches them, “by the name of
the Lord Jesus Christ, that they would all speak the same thing, and
that there should be no schism amongst them, but that they should be
perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment;”
_i. e._ that they should all own and submit to Christ, as their only
lord and head, and not rank themselves under different leaders, as he
had been informed they had done; for that they were [411]“the body of
Christ,” and all of them his members, and ought therefore to maintain
that charity to one another, “which suffereth long, and is kind; which
envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave
itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh
no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth
all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all
things; which is greater and more excellent than faith and hope, which
fails not in heaven itself,” where faith and hope shall be at an end;
and without which, though we could [412]“speak with the tongue of men
and angels, should have the gift of prophesy, and understand all
mysteries, and all knowledge, and could remove mountains; yea, though we
should bestow all our goods to feed the poor, and give our bodies to be
burned, we should be only as sounding brass, and as a tinkling cymbal;”
nothing in the account of God, nothing as to any real profit and
advantage that will accrue to us. And, in his second epistle, he takes
his leave of them, with this divine exhortation, and glorious
encouragement: [413]“Finally brethren, farewell; be perfect, be of good
comfort, be of one mind,” be affectionate, and kindly disposed to one
another, as though you were influenced by one common mind: “Live in
peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”


Footnote 410:

  1 Cor. i. 10, &c.

Footnote 411:

  xii. 27.

Footnote 412:

  xiii. 1, &c.

Footnote 413:

  2 Cor. xiii. 11.


In his epistle to the Galatians,[414] he gives us a catalogue of those
works of the flesh which exclude men from the kingdom of God; such as
“adultery, fornication,—hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife,
seditions, heresies, envyings,” and the like; and then assures us, that
“the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, against which
there is no law:” and, after having laid down this as an essential
principle of christianity, that [415]“neither circumcision availeth any
thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature;” as it is expressed in
another place, “Faith which worketh by love;” he pronounces this truly
apostolic benediction, [416]“As many as walk according to this rule,
peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.”


Footnote 414:

  Gal. v. 19, &c.

Footnote 415:

  Chap. vi. 15.

Footnote 416:



The same divine and excellent strain runs through his letter to the
Ephesians: [417]“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that
ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all
lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in
love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of
peace;” and the term of this union, which he lays down, is the
acknowledgment of one catholic church, one spirit, one Lord and
Mediator, and “One God, even the Father of all, who is above all,
through all, and in all.” The contrary vices, of [418]“bitterness and
wrath, and anger and clamour, and evil-speaking and malice, are to be
put away,” as things that “grieve the Holy Spirit of God?”[419] and we
must “be kind one to another, forgiving one another even as God, for
Christ’s sake, hath forgiven us;[420] and be followers of God, by
walking in love, even as Christ hath also loved us, and hath given
himself for us.”


Footnote 417:

  Eph. iv. 1, &c.

Footnote 418:


Footnote 419:

  Eph. iv. 32.

Footnote 420:

  Chap. v. 1, 2.


His exhortation to the Philippians,[421] is in the most moving terms:
“If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any
fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy;
that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of
one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory, but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”


Footnote 421:

  Phil. ii. 1, &c.


In his exhortation to the Colossians, he warmly presses our cultivating
the same disposition, and abounding in the same practice: [422]“Put off
all these, anger, wrath, malice;—put on as the elect of God, holy and
beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness,
long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, even
as Christ forgave us. And above all these things, put on charity, which
is the bond of perfectness: and let the peace of God rule in your
hearts, to which also ye are called in one body.”


Footnote 422:

  Col. iii. 8, &c.


In his directions to Timothy, he gives him this summary of all practical
religion: [423]“The end of the commandment is charity out of a pure
heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned;” and he ascribes
men’s turning aside to vain jangling, to their having swerved from this
great principle.


Footnote 423:

  1 Tim. i. 5, &c.


And, to mention no more passages on this head, I shall conclude this
whole account with that amiable description of the wisdom that is from
above, given by St. James: [424]“The wisdom that is from above is pure,
and peaceable, and gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of good
fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. But if we have bitter
envying and strife in our hearts, we have nothing to glory in, but we
lye against the truth,” _i. e._ belie our christian profession; for
whatever false judgment we may pass upon ourselves, this “wisdom
descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish; for where
envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”


Footnote 424:

  James iii. 14, &c.


I have thrown all these excellent passages of the sacred writings
together, that it may appear, in the most convincing light, that the
scriptures have nothing in them to countenance the spirit, or any of the
methods of persecution; and to confront the melancholy account I have
given before of the progress and ravages caused by this accursed evil.
Good God, how have the practices of christians differed from the
precepts of christianity! Would one imagine that the authors of those
dreadful mischiefs and confusions were the bishops and ministers of the
christian church? That they had ever read the records of the christian
religion? Or if they had, that they ever believed them?

But it may be objected, that whatever may be the precepts of the
christian religion, yet the conduct even of the apostles themselves
gives some countenance to the spirit and practice of persecution, and
particularly the conduct of St. Paul; and that such powers are given to
the guides and bishops of the christian church, as do either expressly
or virtually include in them a right to persecute. Let us briefly
examine each of these pretensions.

As to the practice of the apostles,[425] Beza mentions two instances to
vindicate the punishment of heretics. The first is that of Ananias and
Sapphira, struck dead by Peter; and the other that of Elymas the
sorcerer, struck blind by Paul. But how impertinently are both these
instances alledged? Heresy was not the thing punished in either of them.
Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for hypocrisy and lying; and for
conspiring, if it were possible, to deceive God. Elymas was a jewish
sorcerer, and false prophet; a subtle, mischievous fellow, an enemy to
righteousness and virtue, who withstood the apostolic authority, and
endeavoured, by his frauds, to prevent the conversion of the deputy to
the christian faith. The two first of these persons were punished with
death. By whom? What, by Peter? No: by the immediate hand of God. Peter
gave them a reproof suitable to their wickedness; but as to the
punishment, he was only the mouth of God in declaring it, even of that
God who knew the hypocrisy of their hearts, and gave this signal
instance of his abhorrence of it in the infancy of the christian church,
greatly to discourage, and, if possible, for the future to prevent men
thus dealing fraudulently and insincerely with him. And, I presume, if
God hath a right to punish frauds and cheats in another world, he hath a
right to do so in this; especially in the instance before us, which
seems to have something very peculiar in it.


Footnote 425:

  De Hæret. a Magist. pun. p. 161, &c.


Peter expressly says to Sapphira, [426]“How is it that ye have agreed
together to tempt the spirit of the Lord?” What can this tempting of the
spirit of the Lord be, but an agreement between Ananias and his wife, to
put this fraud on the apostle, to see whether or no he could discover it
by the spirit he pretended to? This was a proper challenge to the spirit
of God, which the apostles were endued with, and a combination to put
the apostolic character to the trial. Had not the cheat been discovered,
the apostle’s inspiration and mission would have been deservedly
questioned; and as the state of christianity required that this divine
mission should be abundantly established, Peter lets them know that
their hypocrisy was discovered; and, to create the greater regard and
attention to their persons and message, God saw fit to punish that
hypocrisy with death.


Footnote 426:

  Acts v. 9.


As to Elymas the sorcerer,[427] this instance is as foreign and
impertinent as the other. Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus, had
entertained at Paphos one Barjesus, a jew, a sorcerer; and hearing also
that Paul and Barnabas were in the city, he sent for them to hear the
doctrine they preached. Accordingly they endeavoured to instruct the
deputy in the christian faith, but were withstood by Elymas, who by his
subtleties and tricks, endeavoured to hinder his conversion. St. Paul
therefore, in order to confirm his own divine mission, and to prevent
the deputy’s being deceived by the frauds and sorceries of Elymas, after
severely rebuking him for his sin, and opposition to christianity, tells
him, not that the Proconsul ought to put him in jail, and punish him
with the civil sword, but that God himself would decide the controversy,
by striking the sorcerer himself immediately blind; which accordingly
came to pass, to the full conviction of the Proconsul.


Footnote 427:

  Acts xiii. 6, &c.


Now what is there in all this to vindicate persecution? God punishes
wicked men for fraud and sorcery, who knew their hearts, and had a right
to punish the iniquity of them. Therefore men may punish others for
opinions they think to be true, and are conscientious in embracing,
without knowing the heart, or being capable of discovering any
insincerity in it. Or God may vindicate the character and mission of his
own messengers, when wickedly opposed and denied, by immediate judgments
inflicted by himself on their opposers. Therefore the magistrate may
punish and put to death, without any warrant from God, such who believe
their mission, and are ready to submit to it, as far as they understand
the nature and design of it. Are these consequences just and rational?
or would any man have brought these instances as precedents for
persecution, that was not resolved, at all hazards, to defend and
practise it?

But doth not St. Paul command to [428]“deliver persons to satan for the
destruction of the flesh?” Doth he not [429]“wish that they were even
cut off who trouble christians, and enjoin us to mark them which cause
divisions and offences, contrary to his doctrine, and to avoid them, and
not to eat with them?” Undoubtedly he doth. But what can be reasonably
inferred from hence in favour of persecution, merely for the sake of
opinions and principles? In all these instances, the things censured are
immoralities and vices. The person who was delivered by St. Paul to
satan, was guilty of a crime not so much as named by the gentiles
themselves, the incestuous marriage of his father’s wife; and the
persons we are, as christians, commanded not to keep company and eat
with, are men of scandalous lives; such as fornicators, or covetous, or
idolaters, or railers, or drunkards, or extortioners, making a
profession of the christian religion, or, in St. Paul’s phrase, “called
brethren;” a wise and prudent exhortation in those days especially, to
prevent others from being corrupted by such examples, and any infamy
thrown on the christian name and character. As to those whom the apostle
“wishes cut off,” they were the persecuting Jews, who spread contention
amongst christians, and taught them to bite and devour one another, upon
account of circumcision, and such like trifles; men that were the
plagues and corrupters of the society they belonged to. Men who caused
such divisions, and who caused them out of a love to their own belly,
deserved to have a mark set upon them, and to be avoided by all who
regarded their own interest, or the peace of others.


Footnote 428:

  1 Cor. v. 5.

Footnote 429:

  Gal. i. 9. v. 12. Rom. xvi. 17. 1 Cor. v. 9.


What the apostle means by delivering to satan, I am not able certainly
to determine. It was not, I am sure, the putting the person in jail, or
torturing his body by an executioner, nor sending him to the devil by
the sword or the faggot. One thing included in it, undoubtedly was his
separation from the christian church; [430]“put away from amongst
yourselves that wicked person:” which probably was attended with some
bodily distemper, which, as it came from God, had a tendency to bring
the person to consideration and reflection. The immediate design of it
was the destruction of the flesh, to cure him of his incest, that, by
repentance and reformation, his “spirit might be saved in the day of
Christ;” and the power by which the apostle inflicted this punishment,
was peculiar to himself, which God gave him [431]“for edification, and
not for destruction:” So that whatever is precisely meant by delivering
to satan, it was the punishment of a notorious sin: a punishment that
carried the marks of God’s hand, and was designed for the person’s good,
and was actually instrumental to recover and save him. _2 Cor._ ii.


Footnote 430:

  1 Cor. v. 13.

Footnote 431:

  2 Cor. x. 8.


But what resemblance is there in all this to persecution, in which there
is no appearance of the hand of God, nor any marks but those of the
cruelty and vengeance of men; no immorality punished, and generally
speaking, nothing that in its nature deserves punishment, or but what
deserves encouragement and applause. And it is very probable that this
is what St. Paul means by his “wishing those cut off” who disturbed the
peace of the Galatian christians, by spreading divisions amongst them,
and exciting persecutions against them; though I confess, if St. Paul
meant more, and prayed to God that those obstinate and incorrigible
enemies to christianity, who, for private views of worldly interest,
raised perpetual disturbances and persecutions wherever they came, might
receive the just punishment of their sins, and be hereby prevented from
doing farther mischief, I do not see how this would have been
inconsistent with charity, or his own character as an inspired apostle.

It may possibly be urged, that though the things censured in these
places are immoralities, yet that there are other passages which refer
only to principles; and that the apostle Paul speaks against them with
great severity: as particularly, [432]“If any man preach any other
gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” And
again, [433]“A man that is an heretic, after the first and second
admonition, reject.” As to the first of these, nothing can be more
evident, than that the apostle pronounces an anathema only against those
who subverted the christian religion; such who taught that it was
insufficient to salvation, without circumcision, and submission to the
Jewish law. As the gospel he taught was what he had received from
Christ, he had, as an apostle, a right to warn the churches he wrote to
against corrupting the simplicity of it: and to pronounce an anathema,
_i. e._ to declare in the name of his great Master, that all such false
teachers should be condemned who continued to do so: And this is the
utmost that can be made of the expression; and therefore this place is
as impertinently alledged in favour of persecution, as it would be to
alledge those words of Christ, “He that believeth not shall be
condemned.” The anathema pronounced was the divine vengeance; it was
Anathema Maranatha, to take place only when the Lord should come to
judgment, and not to be executed by human vengeance.


Footnote 432:

  Gal. i. 9.

Footnote 433:

  Tit. iii. 10.


As to heresy, against which such dreadful outcries have been raised, it
is taken indifferently in a good or a bad sense in the scripture. In the
bad sense, it signifies, not an involuntary error, or mistake of
judgment, into which serious and honest minds may fall, after a careful
inquiry into the will of God; but a wilful, criminal, corruption of the
truth for worldly ends and purposes. Thus it is reckoned by [434]St.
Paul himself amongst the works of the flesh, such as adultery,
fornication, variance, strifes, and the like; because heresy is embraced
for the sake of fleshly lusts, and always ministers to the serving them.
Thus St. Peter: [435]“There were false prophets also amongst the people,
even as there shall be false teachers amongst you, who privily shall
bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and
bring upon themselves swift destruction; and many shall follow their
pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken
of; and through covetousness shall they, with feigned words, make
merchandize of you; whom he farther describes as walking after the flesh
in the lust of uncleanness,” and as given to almost all manner of vices.
This is heresy, and “denying the Lord that bought us,” and the only
meaning of the expression, as used by the apostle; though it hath been
applied by weak or designing men to denote all such as do not believe
their metaphysical notion of the Trinity, or the Athanasian creed. Hence
it is that St. Paul gives it, as the general character of an heretic,
that [436]“he is subverted,” viz. from the christian faith; “sinneth,”
viz. by voluntarily embracing errors, subversive of the gospel, in
favour of his lusts, on which account he is “self-condemned,” viz. by
his own conscience, both in the principles he teaches, and the vile uses
to which he makes them serve. So that though sincere and honest
inquirers after truth, persons who fear God, and practise righteousness,
may be heretics in the esteem of men, for not understanding and
believing their peculiarities in religion; yet they are not and cannot
be heretics, according to the scripture description of heresy, in the
notion of which there is always supposed a wicked heart, causing men
wilfully to embrace and propagate such principles as are subversive of
the gospel, in order to serve the purposes of their avarice, ambition,
and lust.


Footnote 434:

  Gal. v. 20.

Footnote 435:

  2 Pet. ii. 1, &c. v. 10.

Footnote 436:

  Tit. iii. 11.


Such heresy as this is unquestionably one of the worst of crimes, and
heretics of this kind are worthy to be rejected. It must be confessed,
that heresy hath been generally taken in another sense, and to mean
opinions that differ from the established orthodoxy, or from the creeds
of the clergy, that are uppermost in power: who have not only taken on
them to reject such as have differed from them, from their communion and
church, but to deprive them of fortune, liberty, and life. But as St.
Paul’s notion of heresy entirely differs from what the clergy have
generally taught about it, theirs may be allowed to be a very irrational
and absurd doctrine, and the apostle’s remain a very wise and good one;
and though they have gone into all the lengths of wickedness to punish
what they have stigmatized with the name of heresy, they have had no
apostolic example or precept to countenance them; scripture heretics
being only to be rejected from the church, according to St. Paul; and,
as to any farther punishment, it is deferred till the Lord shall come.

As to the powers given to the guides, or overseers, or bishops of the
church, I allow their claims have been exceeding great. They have
assumed to themselves the name of the church and clergy, hereby to
distinguish themselves from the flock of Christ. They have taken on
them, as we have seen, to determine, mend, and alter the faith; to make
creeds for others, and oblige them to subscribe them; and to act as
though our Savior had divested himself of his own rights, and given unto
them “all power in heaven and earth.” But these claims have as little
foundation in the gospel as in reason.

The words clergy and church, are never once used in scripture to denote
the bishops, or other officers, but the christian people. St. Peter
advises the presbyterers [437]“to feed the flock of God, and to exercise
the episcopal office willingly, not as lording it over the heritages,”
or clergy of God. And St. Paul, writing to his Ephesians, and speaking
of their privileges as christians, says, that “by Christ they were made
God’s peculiar lot,” or heritage, or clergy. In like manner the body of
christians in general, and particular congregations in particular
places, are called the church, but the ministers of the gospel never in
contra-distinction to them. It is of all believers that St. Peter gives
that noble description, that they are “a spiritual house, an holy
priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices; a chosen generation, a
royal priesthood, an holy nation, and a peculiar people,” or a people
for his peculiar heritage, or “purchased possession,” as the word is
rendered. Eph. i. 14. So that to be the church, the clergy, and the
sacred priests of God, is an honour common to all christians in general
by the gospel charter. These are not the titles of a few only, who love
to exalt themselves above others.


Footnote 437:

  1 Pet. v. 3.


Undoubtedly, the order of the christian worship requires that there
should be proper persons to guide and regulate the affairs of it. And
accordingly St. Paul tells us, [438]“that Christ gave some apostles,
some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers;”
different officers, according to the different state and condition of
his church. To the apostles extraordinary powers were given, to fit them
for the service to which they were called; and, to enable them to manage
these powers in a right manner, they were under the peculiar conduct of
the spirit of God, Thus our Saviour, after his resurrection, breathed on
his disciples the Holy Ghost, and said, [439]“Whose soever sins ye
remit, they are remitted to them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they
are retained;” a commission of the same import with that which he gave
them before, Matt. xviii. 18. “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall
be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be
loosed in heaven.” To “bind, is to retain men’s sins; and to loose, is
to remit their sins.” And this power the apostles had; and it was
absolutely necessary they should have it, or they could never have
spread his religion in the world.


Footnote 438:

  Eph. iv. 11.

Footnote 439:

  John xx. 23.


But wherein did this binding and loosing, this retaining and remitting
sins, consist? What, in their saying to this man, I absolve you from
your sins; and, to the other, I put you under the sentence of damnation?
would any considerate man in the world have ever credited their
pretensions to such an extravagant power? or can one single instance be
produced of the apostles pretending to exercise it? No: their power of
binding and loosing, of retaining and remitting sins, consisted in this,
and in this principally, viz. their fixing the great conditions of men’s
future salvation, and denouncing the wrath of Almighty God against all,
who, through wilful obstinacy, would not believe and obey the gospel.
And the commission was given them in the most general terms, “whose
soever sins ye retain, &c.” not because they were to go to particular
persons, and peremptorily say, “you shall be saved, and you shall be
damned;” but because they were to preach the gospel to gentiles as well
as jews, and to fix those conditions of future happiness and misery that
should include all the nations of the earth, to whom the gospel should
be preached.

This was their proper office and work, as apostles; and, in order to
this, they had the spirit given them, to bring all things that Christ
had said to their remembrance, and to instruct them fully in the nature
and doctrines of the gospel. And as they have declared the whole counsel
of God to the world, they have loosed and bound all mankind, “even the
very bishops and pastors of the church, as well as others,” as they have
fixed those conditions of pardon and mercy, of future happiness and
misery for all men, from which God will not recede, to the end of time.
This was a power fit to be entrusted with men under the conduct of an
unerring spirit, and with them only; whereas the common notion of
sacerdotal or priestly absolution, as it hath no foundation in this
commission to the apostles, nor in any passage of the sacred writings,
is irrational and absurd, and which the priests have no more power to
give, than any other common christian whatsoever; no, nor than they have
to make a new gospel.

I would add, that as the apostles received this commission from Christ,
they were bound to confine themselves wholly to it and not to exceed the
limits of it. They were his servants who sent them; and the message they
received from him, that, and that only, were they to deliver to the
world. Thus St. Paul says of himself, that [440]“God had committed to
him the world of reconciliation,” and that he was “an ambassador for
Christ;” that he [441]“preached not himself, but Christ Jesus the Lord,
and himself the servant of others for Jesus’ sake;” that he had [442]“no
dominion over others faith,” no power to impose upon them arbitrary
things, or articles of faith, which he had not received from Christ; and
that accordingly he [443]“determined to know nothing but Christ, and him
crucified,” _i. e._ to preach nothing but the pure and uncorrupted
doctrines of his gospel; and that this was his great comfort, that he
had “not shunned to declare the counsel of God.”


Footnote 440:

  2 Cor. v. 20.

Footnote 441:

  iv. 5.

Footnote 442:

  i. 24.

Footnote 443:

  1 Cor. ii. 2.


If then the inspired apostles were to confine themselves to what they
received from God, and had no power to make articles of faith, and fix
terms of communion and salvation, other than what they were immediately
ordered to do by Christ, it is absolutely impossible that the clergy can
have that power now; who have, as I apprehend, no immediate commission
from Christ, nor any direct inspiration from his Holy Spirit. Nor is
there any thing in the circumstances of the world to render such a power
desirable; because the apostles have shewn us all things that we need
believe or practise as christians, and commanded the preachers of the
gospel to teach no other doctrines but what they received from them.
Hence St. Peter’s advice to the elders, that they, [444]“should feed the
flock of God, not as lording it over the heritage.” And St. Paul, in his
epistles to Timothy, instructing him in the nature of the gospel
doctrines and duties, tells him, that [445]“by putting the brethren in
remembrance of these things, he would approve himself a good minister of
Jesus Christ;” and commands him to [446]“take heed to himself, and to
the doctrines” he had taught him, “and to continue in them;” charging
him, [447]“in the sight of God, and before Christ Jesus, to keep the
commandment given him, that which was committed to his trust, without
spot, unrebukeable, till the appearance of Christ Jesus.” These were the
things to which Timothy was to confine himself, and to commit to others,
that they might be continually preached in the christian church; and, of
consequence, it is the same apostolic doctrine that the bishops, or
elders, or ministers of the church, are to instruct their hearers in
now, as far as they understand it, without mixing any thing of their own
with it, or of any other persons whatsoever.


Footnote 444:

  1 Pet. v. 3.

Footnote 445:

  1 Tim. iv. 6.

Footnote 446:

  vi. 13, 14, 20.

Footnote 447:

  2 Tim. ii. 2.


The great end and design of the ministerial office, is for the
[448]“perfecting of the saints, and the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Hence the elders are commanded “to take heed to themselves, and to the
flock, over which the Holy Ghost had made them bishops, to feed the
church of God.” They are likewise exhorted to “hold fast the faithful
word, as they had been taught, that by sound doctrine they may be able
to exhort and convince others.” They are to “give attendance to reading,
exhortation, and doctrine,” and to put others in remembrance of the
great truths of the gospel: charging them, before the Lord, not to
strive about unprofitable words, but to “be gentle to all men,” and “in
meekness to instruct even those who oppose.” They are to “contend
earnestly for the faith,” as well as other christians, but then it is
for “that faith which was once delivered to the saints,” and, even for
this, [449]“the servant of the Lord is not to fight.” He is not to use
carnal but spiritual weapons; nor to put on any armour but that of
righteousness on the right hand, and on the left. They are to
[450]“speak the truth,” but it must be [451]“in love.” They should be
“zealously affected,” but it should be always “in a good thing.” They
must “stop the mouths of unruly and vain talkers,” but it must be by
“uncorruptness of doctrine, gravity, sincerity, and sound speech, that
cannot be condemned.”


Footnote 448:

  Acts xx. 28.

Footnote 449:

  2 Tim. ii. 24.

Footnote 450:

  Eph. iv. 15.

Footnote 451:

  Tit. i. 11. ii. 8.


Upon these, and the like accounts, they are said to be “over us in the
Lord”, “to rule us,” and to be “our guides;” words that do not imply any
dominion that they have over the consciences of others, nor any right in
them to prescribe articles of faith and terms of communion for others.
This they are expressly forbidden, and commanded to preach the word of
God only, and pronounced accursed if they preach any other gospel than
that which they have received from the apostles. And, of consequence,
when we are bid “to obey” and “submit ourselves“ to them, it is meant
then, and then only, when they “rule us in the Lord;“ when they speak to
us the word of God, and “labour in the word and doctrine.” In all other
cases, they have no power, nor is there any obedience due to them. They
are to be respected, and to “be had in double honour for their work
sake,” _i. e._ when they “preach not themselves, but Christ Jesus the
Lord,” and when their faith and conversation is such, as to become
worthy our imitation. But if “they teach otherwise, and consent not to
the words of our Lord Jesus; if they doat about words whereof come envy,
strife, and railing, supposing that gain is godliness, from such we are
commanded to withdraw ourselves.” The episcopal character, however
otherwise greatly venerable, then forfeits the reverence due to it, and
becomes contemptible.

So that there are no powers or privileges annexed to the episcopal or
ministerial character, in the sacred writings, that are in the least
favourable to the cause of persecution, or that countenance so vile and
detestable a practice. As to the affair of excommunication, by which the
clergy have set the world so often in a flame, there is nothing in the
sacred records that confines the right of exercising it to them, nor any
command ever to exercise it, but towards notorious and scandalous
offenders. The incestuous Corinthian was delivered over to satan by the
church in full assembly, on which account his punishment or censure is
said to be [452]“by many.” And though St. Paul bids Titus to “reject an
heretic,” he also bids the Corinthians to [453]“put away that wicked
person from amongst them,” which had brought such a scandal upon their
church; and the “Thessalonians, to withdraw themselves from every
brother that should walk disorderly.” So that as the clergy have no
right, from the new testament, to determine in controversies of faith,
nor to create any new species of heresy, so neither have they any
exclusive right to cut off any persons from the body of the church, much
less to cut them off from it for not submitting to their creeds and
canons; and, of consequence, no power to mark them out by this act to
the civil magistrate, as objects of his indignation and vengeance.


Footnote 452:

  1 Cor. v. 4.

Footnote 453:

  2 Cor. ii. 6.


I have been the longer on this head, that I might fully vindicate the
christian revelation from every suspicion of being favourable to
persecution. Notwithstanding some late insinuations of this kind that
have been thrown out against it, by its professed adversaries, let but
the expressions of scripture be interpreted with the same candour as any
other writings are, and there will not be found a single sentence to
countenance this doctrine and practice. And therefore though men of
corrupt minds, or weak judgments, have, for the sake of worldly
advantages, or through strong prejudices, entered into the measures of
persecution under pretence of vindicating the christian religion; yet,
as they have no support and foundation in the gospel of Christ, the
gospel ought not to be reproached for this, or any other faults of those
who profess to believe it. Let persecution be represented as a most
detestable and impious practice, and let persecutors of every
denomination and degree bear all the reproaches they deserve, and be
esteemed, as they ought to be, the disturbers, plagues, and curses of
mankind, and the church of God; but let not the religion of Jesus Christ
suffer for their crimes, nor share any part of that scandal, which is
due only to those who have dishonoured their character and profession,
and abused the most beneficent and kind institution that ever appeared
in the world.

It is in order to expose this shameful practice, and render it the
abhorrence of all mankind, that I have drawn up the foregoing sheets;
and, I presume, that no one who hath not put off humanity itself, can
read them without becoming sentiments of indignation. The true use to be
made of that history, is, not to think dishonourably of Christ and his
religion; not to contemn and despise his faithful ministers, who, by
preaching and practice, by reason and argument, endeavour to propagate
knowledge, piety, righteousness, charity, and all the virtues of private
and social life. The blessing of the Almighty God be with them. The
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ succeed and prosper them. I say
therefore, the use of the foregoing history is to teach men to adhere
closely to the doctrines and words of Christ and his apostles, to argue
for the doctrines of the gospel with meekness and charity, to introduce
no new terms of salvation and christian communion; not to trouble the
christian church with metaphysical subtleties and abstruse questions,
that minister to quarrelling and strife; not to pronounce censures,
judgments, and anathemas, upon such as may differ from us in speculative
truths; not to exclude men from the rights of civil society, nor lay
them under any negative or positive discouragements for conscience-sake,
or for their different usages and rites in the externals of christian
worship; but to remove those which are already laid, and which are as
much a scandal to the authors and continuers of them, as they are a
burden to those who labour under them. These were the sole views that
influenced me to lay before my reader the foregoing melancholy account;
not any design to reflect on the clergy in general, whose office and
character I greatly reverence; and who, by acting according to the
original design of their institution, would prove the most useful set of
men in every nation and kingdom, and thereby secure to themselves all
the esteem they could reasonably desire in the present world; and, what
is infinitely more valuable, the approbation of their great Lord and
Master in another.


                           =  Finis.=



_The following APPENDIX by the Editor, contains hints on the recent
persecutions in this country; a brief statement of the circumstances
relating to LORD SIDMOUTH’S BILL; a circumstantial detail of the steps
taken to obtain the new TOLERATION ACT, with the Act itself, and other
important matter._



                       _APPENDIX, BY THE EDITOR._


Since the accession of King William and Queen Mary, to the throne of
Great Britain, and the Act of Toleration, made in the first year of
their reign, a degree of religious liberty, unknown to former ages, has
been enjoyed by the inhabitants of this highly-favoured country.

In the latter part of the reign of Queen Anne, the religious privileges
of Protestant Dissenters were threatened, but by the happy accession of
the illustrious house of Brunswick to the throne, their fears were soon
dissipated, and their privileges secured.

In the commencement of the late revival of pure and undefiled religion,
in this land, about the year 1739, lawless mobs arose, in different
parts of the kingdom, and grievously maltreated and persecuted the Rev.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, the Rev. George Whitefield and
others. But as my limits will not permit me to enlarge on the
persecutions which these illustrious men endured for a season, I must
beg leave to refer the reader, who wishes for further information on the
subject, to “Mr. Wesley’s Journals,” the “case, or journal, of John
Nelson,” one of the first Methodist preachers, and to a pamphlet
entitled, “Modern Christianity exemplified, at Wednesbury, and other
adjacent places in Staffordshire.”[Aa]


Footnote Aa:

  These publications may be had at No. 14, City Road, London.


I might here also record the persecutions endured by Robert Carr
Brackenbury Esq. and Mr. (now Dr.) Adam Clarke, in the Norman Isles,
about the year 1786;[A1] of Mr. Matthew Lumb, in the island of St.
Vincent;[A2] Mr. John Brownell, in the island of Nevis, and of Mr.
Daniel Campbell, and others, in the island of Jamaica, in the West
Indies;[A3] also, the recent persecutions at Wye, in Kent;[A4] at
Pershore, in Worcestershire;[A5] at Childrey, near Wantage, in
Berkshire;[A6] at Wickham Market,[A7] in Suffolk, and at Drayton, in
Shropshire.[A8] These, with others that might be adduced, were they
particular, would fill a volume; but I forbear, I wish I might for the
honour of my country, and of the nineteenth century, to cast a veil over
them, and to bury them in everlasting oblivion.


Footnote A1:

  Wesley’s Life by Coke &c. page 429.

Footnote A2:

  Meth. Mag. vol. 16, page 441.

Footnote A3:

  Ibid ... vol. 27, page 95.

Footnote A4:

  Evan. Mag. for May, 1811.

Footnote A5:

  Meth. Mag. vol. 35, 396.

Footnote A6:

  Evan. Mag. for March, 1811.

Footnote A7:

  Ibid.... Ibid.

Footnote A8:

  Ibid.... Nov. 1811.


His late Majesty King George the Second, was a firm friend to religious
toleration, and was often heard to say, “no man should be persecuted for
conscience-sake in his dominions.” His present Majesty King George the
Third, has walked in the steps of his royal grandfather. He declared in
his first speech from the throne, “that it was his invariable resolution
to preserve the toleration inviolate;” a declaration, I am happy to say,
which he has religiously fulfilled, through a long and beneficent reign.

When any disturbances, or persecutions, have arisen in any of the
British colonies, or extreme parts of the empire, his Majesty has
invariably asserted his royal prerogative in redressing the grievances
of his subjects; and has always peremptorily refused to recognise any
colonial law, which infringed on religious liberty. This will appear
from the following authentic documents. In the island of St. Vincent, in
the year 1792, the Legislature passed an act “that no person, (the
regular clergy excepted) should preach without a licence from them, and
that this licence should not be granted to any who had not previously
resided for twelve months on the island.” For the first offence the
punishment was to pay a fine of ten Johannes, or imprisonment, for at
least, thirty days. For the second, such corporal punishment as the
court should think proper to inflict, and banishment; and lastly, on
return from banishment, death!! were the edicts of the Heathen Emperors
more cruel or severe than this! But in the month of October, 1793, his
Majesty, in council, was graciously pleased to disannul the act of the
Assembly, of St. Vincent, and thus restored liberty of conscience to his
persecuted subjects.

An act having passed the House of Assembly, in the island of Jamaica, in
December 1802, “prohibiting preaching by persons not duly qualified by
law;” after the passing of which act, one minister, though duly
qualified at home, by the Act of Toleration, was, for preaching at
Morant Bay, cast into prison! This occurred in May 1803, but his Majesty
in council, disallowed of that act also, and on the 12th of December,
1804, the following messuage appeared in the Royal Gazette, Kingstown,

                             _House of Assembly, December 12, 1804._

A Messuage from his Honour, the Lieut.-Governor, by his Secretary, as

“Mr. SPEAKER,—I am directed by the Lieut.-Governor, to lay before the
House, an extract of a letter from Earl Camden, dated Downing-Street,
7th of June, 1804, together with the draught of a bill, which his Honor
has been instructed to be proposed to the house to be passed into a


Extract of a letter from the Rt. Hon. Earl Camden, to Lieut. General
Nugent, dated Downing-Street, June 7, 1804,—

“SIR,—I herewith transmit to you an order of his Majesty in council,
dated April 23d last, disallowing an act passed by the Legislature of
the Island of Jamaica, in December 1802,” entitled, “An act to prevent
preaching by persons not duly qualified by Law;” and a further order of
his Majesty in council of the same date, to which is annexed, the
draught of a bill upon the same subject, which, in compliance with the
direction contained in the said order, I am desired you will take an
early opportunity of proposing to the Assembly to be passed into a law.”

“Ordered, that the above message and the papers sent down therewith, do
lie on the table, for the perusal of the members.”

In December 1807, the Legislative Assembly of the island of Jamaica,
passed another law, of a similar nature to the above; but his Majesty in
council, on the 26th of April, 1809, was graciously pleased to disallow
that law also; thereby fully evincing to the world, his fixed
determination to prevent persecution in every part of his dominions, and
to shew himself a “nursing father” to the church and people of God.
Notwithstanding, however, his Majesty’s most gracious interference in
the above instances, such is the persecuting spirit of the government of
Jamaica, that they have recently passed an Act plainly intended to
prevent, if possible, the instruction of the Negroes, by those who alone
will take the pains to bestow it.

This Act was passed November 14th, 1810, entitled, “An act to prevent
preaching and teaching by persons not duly qualified, and to restrain
meetings of a dangerous nature, on pretence of attending such preaching
and teaching.” But as his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, is treading
in the steps of his Royal Father, and manifesting the same regard for
the religious liberties of the people in this vast empire, we feel
confident this persecuting law will meet with the same fate as the
former, and will never receive the royal sanction.

We are emboldened to expect this from the recent conduct of his Royal
Highness, in the case of Demerary, where a Proclamation had been issued
subversive of religious liberty, under the administration of Governor
Bentinck, but which his Royal Highness was graciously pleased to

The following Proclamation was issued by Major-General Carmichael, who
succeeded Governor Bentinck in the government of Demarary, and is copied
from the Essequibo and Demarary Royal Gazette, of Tuesday March 7, 1812.

‘Whereas, I have received instructions from his Royal Highness the
Prince Regent, to recall the Proclamation issued on the 25th of May,
1811, and to give every aid to Missionaries in the instruction of
religion, the Proclamation of the above date is hereby recalled; and the
following regulations will take place from this date:—

‘First,—It is to be understood, that no limitation or restraint can be
enforced upon the right of instruction, on particular estates, provided
the meetings for this purpose take place upon the estate, and with the
consent and approbation of the proprietor and overseer of the estate.

‘Secondly,—As it has been represented, that on Sundays inconvenience
might arise from confining the hours of meeting in chapels, or places of
general resort, between sun-rise and sun-set, the hours of assembling on
that day shall be between five in the morning and nine at night. And on
the other days the slaves shall be allowed to assemble for the purpose
of instruction, or divine worship, between the hours of seven and nine
at night, on any neighbouring estate to that to which they belong;
provided that such assembly takes place with the permission of the
overseer, attorney, or manager of the slaves, and of the overseer,
attorney, or manager of the estate on which such assembly takes place.

‘Thirdly,—All chapels and places destined for divine worship, or public
resort, shall be registered in the colonial Secretary’s office; and the
names of persons officiating in them shall be made known to the
Governor; and the doors of the places shall remain open during the time
of public worship or instruction.

‘Given under my Hand and Seal-at-Arms, at the Camp-House, this 7th Day
of April, 1812, and in the 52d Year of His Majesty’s Reign.

                                                   H. L. CARMICHAEL.

In the year 1789, some of the preachers and people connected with the
Rev. John Wesley, were harrassed by some Justices of the peace on a
pretence entirely new. They were told, “You profess yourselves members
of the Church of England, therefore your licences are good for nothing;
nor can you, as members of the church, receive any benefit from the Act
of Toleration.” Mr. Wesley saw, that if the proceedings on this subtle
distinction were extended over the nation, the Methodists must either
profess themselves dissenters, or suffer infinite trouble. He certainly
did not wish his societies to alter their relative situation to the
national church without absolute necessity; and yet he wished them to be
relieved from this embarrasment. He therefore stated the case to a
member of parliament, (I believe to Mr. Wilberforce,) a real friend to
liberty of conscience; hoping that the Legislature might be prevailed
upon to interpose, and free the Methodists from the penalties of the
Conventicle Act.

The following is an extract from Mr. Wesley’s letter:—

      “Dear Sir,—Last month a few poor people met together in
Somersetshire, to pray, and to praise God, in a friend’s house: there
was no preaching at all. Two neighbouring Justices fined the man of the
house twenty pounds. I suppose he was not worth twenty shillings.—Upon
this, his household goods were distrained and sold to pay the fine. He
appealed to the Quarter Sessions: but all the Justices averred, ‘The
Methodists could have no relief from the Act of Toleration, because they
went to Church; and that, so long as they did so, the Conventicle Act
should be executed upon them.’

“Last Sunday, when one of our Preachers was beginning to speak to a
quiet congregation, a neighbouring Justice sent a Constable to seize
him, though he was licenced; and would not release him till he had paid
twenty pounds—telling him, his licence was good for nothing, ‘because he
was a Churchman.’

“Now Sir, what can the Methodists do? They are liable to be ruined by
the Conventicle Act, and they have no relief from the Act of Toleration!
If this is not oppression, what is? Where then is English liberty? The
liberty of christians, yea of every rational creature? who as such, has
a right to worship God according to his own conscience. But waving the
question of right and wrong, what prudence is there in oppressing such a
body of loyal subjects? If these good Magistrates could drive them, not
only out of Somersetshire, but out of England, who would be gainers
thereby? Not his Majesty, whom we honour and love: not his Ministers,
whom we love and serve for his sake. Do they wish to throw away so many
thousand friends? who are now bound to them by stronger ties than that
of interest.—If you will speak a word to Mr. Pitt on that head, you will
oblige, &c.”

Mr. Wesley also addressed the following letter to the Bishop of
________, on the same subject:—

“My Lord,—I am a dying man, having already one foot in the grave.
Humanly speaking, I cannot long creep upon the earth, being now nearer
ninety than eighty years of age. But I cannot die in peace, before I
have discharged this office of christian love to your Lordship. I write
without ceremony, as neither hoping nor fearing any thing from your
Lordship, or any man living. And I ask, in the name and in the presence
of him, to whom both you and I are shortly to give an account, why do
you trouble those that are quiet in the land? Those that fear God and
work righteousness? Does your Lordship know what the Methodists are?
That many thousands of them are zealous members of the church of
England? and strongly attached, not only to his Majesty, but to his
present Ministry? Why should your Lordship, setting religion out of the
question, throw away such a body of respectable friends? Is it for their
religious sentiments? Alas my Lord, is this a time to persecute any man
for conscience-sake? I beseech you, my Lord, do as you would be done to.
You are a man of sense: you are a man of learning: nay, I verily believe
(what is of infinitely more value) you are a man of piety. Then think,
and let think—I pray God to bless you with the choicest of his

                                                 I am, my Lord, &c.”

To another Bishop, who, I suppose, had forbidden his Clergy to let Mr.
Wesley preach in their Churches, he wrote in his own laconic way as

“My Lord,—Several years ago, the church-wardens of St. Bartholomew’s
informed Dr. Gibson, then Lord Bishop of London, ‘My Lord, Mr. Batemen,
our rector, invites Mr. Wesley very frequently to preach in his Church.’
The Bishop replied, ‘And what would you have me do? I have no right to
hinder him. Mr. Wesley is a clergyman regularly ordained, and under no
ecclesiastical censure.’

                                            I am, my Lord,
                                   Your Lordship’s obedient Servant,
                                                 JOHN WESLEY.”


Though the horrible and persecuting laws, known by the names of the
Conventicle and Five Mile Acts, had never been repeated, yet, for
upwards of a century, they lay nearly dormant, and were generally
considered as virtually dead. But, I am sorry to have it to record, that
those Acts have been recently roused from their long slumber, to life
and action.

In the spring of the year 1811, a bill was introduced into the House of
Lords, (which had long been in contemplation) by the Rt. Hon. Lord
Viscount Sidmouth, the object of which was said to be the “amending and
explaining the Toleration Acts, as far as they applied to Protestant
Dissenting Ministers;” but which in fact, had it passed into a law,
would have been a violation of the laws of religious liberty, and
subversive of the most valuable rights and privileges of the Methodists
and Dissenters.

I give the Right Hon. mover of this bill full credit for the purity of
its motives, nor do I think he was at all aware that it would eventually
operate against the people whom he professed to serve; however, much
real good to the cause of religious toleration, whether intended or not,
has ultimately ensued from the introduction of this bill into the House
of Lords. It excited considerable interest in the nation at large,
especially among the dissenters of all denominations. Committees were
formed, and various meetings were held by them, and also by the
“Committee of Privileges” belonging to the societies founded by the late
Rev. John Wesley; a detail of which I shall here beg leave to lay before
the reader, by inserting an extract from a narrative of their
proceedings respecting Lord Sidmouth’s bill, and the speeches delivered
by several noble Lords when the second reading of that bill was moved.

“Lord Viscount Sidmouth, it is well known, had long had the present
measure in contemplation, and as a foundation for the proceeding, he had
made several motions in the House of Lords within the last two or three
years, which had for their object the procuring of information relative
to the number of licenced teachers, and places of worship, and the state
of the Established Church. Returns of the Archbishops and Bishops on
these subjects having been laid before the House of Lords; on the 9th of
May, 1811, his Lordship rose to call the attention of the House to
certain abuses of the act of William and Mary, and that of the 19th of
the present reign, and to move for leave to bring in a bill for amending
and explaining the same, as far as they applied to Protestant Dissenting

“After what he had to say, their Lordships would see whether the
correction of these abuses should not be a matter of anxious solicitude
to all persons of all persuasions, and to every one who felt what was
due to the dignity, the honour, and the sanctity of religion itself. It
was to be regretted, that, up to the period of the Revolution, the
history of religion was, in this country, a history of intolerance and
persecution. Whatever party was uppermost, whether Catholic, Protestant,
or Puritan, the same want of Toleration for diversity of opinion was
displayed. The Revolution was the æra of religious liberty in this
country, and William III. accomplished that which would ever remain a
monument of his wisdom: he meant the Toleration Act. That act, while it
removed the penalties to which Dissenters were subject, declared that
all the Ministers in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, upon
subscribing twenty-six of the thirty-nine articles, upon taking the
oaths, and signing a declaration, may officiate in any chapel or
meeting-house. By an act of the nineteenth of the King, their signing
any of the thirty-nine articles was dispensed with, and they were only
to express their belief in the Holy Scriptures. Within the last thirty
or forty years, these acts had received a novel interpretation. At most
of the Quarter-Sessions, where the oaths were taken and the declaration
made, it was now understood, that any person whatever, however ignorant
or profligate, whether he descended from the chimney or the pillory, was
at liberty to put in his claim to take the oaths before the Justices, to
make the declaration, and also at liberty to demand a certificate which
authorised him to preach any doctrine he pleased; which exempted him
besides from serving in the militia, and from many civil burdens to
which his fellow-subjects were liable.

“Now, if religion be the best foundation of all the virtues, was it not
a matter of the last importance that it should not be tainted at its
very source, and that men who did not choose to follow the regular
pursuits of honest industry, should not have it in their power to poison
the minds of the people by their fanaticism and folly? He would appeal
to any man who had officiated at the Quarter Sessions, whether he had
not seen men totally illiterate, without education, without one
qualification of fitness, demanding to take the oaths, and obtaining a
licence to preach? He did not wish to state particular instances of
gross deficiency as to intellectual qualification, and of gross abuses
in other respects, which it was in his power to do. He did not mean to
lay much stress on illiteracy; but it was the self-assumption of the
office, without bringing any testimony of fitness, to which he
particularly meant to object, as inconsistent with the Act of

“He had seen the returns of Dissenting Preachers from two
Archdeaconries; and many of them, he must say, ought not to have been
allowed to constitute themselves the ministers of religion. Amongst the
list there were men who had been blacksmiths, coblers, tailors, pedlars,
chimney-sweepers, and what not. These men were totally out of their
place: they were not, in fact, at liberty, by law, to take upon
themselves the functions of teachers. There were counties in this
kingdom where a different interpretation was put on the Toleration Act.
In the county of Devon, and in Buckinghamshire, the Magistrates admitted
no person to qualify, unless he shewed that he was in holy orders, or
pretended holy orders, and the preacher and teacher of a congregation.
This he conceived to be according to the real meaning of the Toleration
Act; and it was in this way that the Bill he proposed to introduce would
explain that Act. He should propose, that, in order to entitle any man
to obtain a qualification as a Preacher, he should have the
recommendation of at least six reputable householders of the
congregation to which he belonged, and that he should actually have a
congregation that was willing to listen to his instructions. With regard
to preachers who were not stationary, but itinerant, he proposed that
they should be required to bring a testimonial from six householders,
stating them to be of sober life and character, together with their
belief, that they were qualified to perform the functions of preachers.

“The noble Lord then noticed the great increase of dissenting preachers
of late years. Those who would be affected by his Bill did not belong to
any sect of dissenters; they were of the worst class of the
Independants, and distinguished by their fanaticism and a certain
mischievous volubility of tongue. In the first fourteen years of the
present reign, the average annual increase of dissenting teachers was
limited to eight, but now it amounted to twenty-four. The causes of this
increase, he considered to be partly the increase of population, and the
greater prevalence of religious feelings among the people; but there
were other and powerful causes, in the numerous pluralities and
non-residence of the clergy. Another great cause was the want of
churches to accommodate a numerous population, and, therefore, his
Lordship seriously called the attention of the House to consider how
this deficiency could be remedied, and recommended the example of
parliament in the reign of Queen Anne, who had ordered the erection of
fifty-two new churches in London. He regarded the Church of England as
the great preservative of the principles and the morals of the people.
Unfortunately, at present, we were in danger of having an established
church, and a sectarian people.

“On the question being put, LORD HOLLAND said, that even what had fallen
from his noble friend, impressed more strongly on his mind, that no
necessity existed for the desired interference. The whole seemed to go
upon a fundamental error, that it was only by the permission of
government that individuals were to instruct others in their religious
duties. He, on the contrary, held to be the right of every man who
thinks he can instruct his fellow-creatures, so to instruct them. He was
sorry that something slipped from his noble friend, as if he held it
improper that persons of low origin, or particular trades, should
attempt to teach the doctrines of Christianity. On this point he held a
different opinion. Might not even they be inspired with the same
conscientious feelings of duty which were required to be felt by those
of the higher orders of clergy, to whom the state had given such large
emoluments? It was his strong feeling, that it was neither wise nor
prudent to meddle with the Act of Toleration. For the measure itself, he
did not think a sufficient case was made out, as to the existence of any
real practical evils or inconveniences, to require such an interposition
on the part of the Legislature. His Lordship then referred to some
calculations as to the increase of dissenting teachers of late years,
which he did not seem to regard as a misfortune, or an alarming
consideration. With respect to what was said of the established church,
he agreed in the opinion, that a want of sufficient number of places of
religious worship was injurious. This was a point in which the
established religion was essentially concerned; it should take care that
no insufficiency in this respect should exist. He had no objection that
the public purse should, to a certain extent, contribute to the expences
of the necessary erections; but he thought the immediate funds of the
Church should also contribute. Such was the uniform custom of the Church
of Rome, and the established Church in this country should shew itself
no less mindful of its duty in so essential a point. With respect to his
noble friend’s Bill, he repeated his opinion, there was not a sufficient
ground laid for its adoption.

“EARL STANHOPE acquiesced in every thing that had fallen from his noble
Friend (Lord Holland.) That noble Lord, on whatever question he spoke,
whether wright or wrong, wise or unwise, always spoke from principle.
But on the present occasion, he did not think that his noble friend, or
the noble viscount had gone far enough. They did not, or would not,
touch the real state of the question. They must know, or if they did
not, he would tell them, that in most parts of England, where the
parishes did not consist of more than a thousand souls, the places of
worship, exclusive of private houses, barns, &c. were as three to four
of those of the established church; and that if Scotland and Ireland
were to be included, the proportion between the Dissenters and the
established Church would be found as two to one. Lord Sidmouth had told
the House, that hardly more than one half of the clergy were resident on
their livings. It would be much better for his noble friend to bring in
a Bill to correct this evil, than be dabbling with the Dissenters. The
noble Lord had expressed his fears, lest there should be an established
Church and a sectarian people—the truth was, that this was the case
already, and he would advise his noble friend not to be meddling with
that class of men, who had, according to him, the mischievous gift of
the tongue, and who might be canvassing among the farmers at elections,
and hinting to them that they had tithes to pay. It was better to let
these people alone, and for the noble Lord to exert his magnificent
abilities in correcting the abuses which existed in the Church. It was
well known, that the tide of opinion was running strong a certain way,
and it was as vain to think of stopping the current of opinion, as to
stop the stars in their course.”

The Bill was then presented, and read a first time, a Copy of which
which I here here insert.

                                A BILL,

_Intituled, an Act to explain and render more effectual certain Acts of
  the first Year of the Reign of King William and Queen Mary, and of the
  19th Year of the Reign of His present Majesty, so far as the same
  relate to Protestant Dissenting Ministers._

Whereas, by an Act made in the first year of the reign of King William
and Queen Mary, intituled, An Act for exempting their Majesties’
protestant subjects dissenting from the church of England from the
penalties of certain laws, persons dissenting from the church of England
in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, and preachers or teachers of
any congregation of dissenting Protestants, in order to their being
entitled to certain exemptions, benefits, privileges, and advantages, by
the said Act granted, are required to declare their approbation of and
to subscribe to certain articles of religion: and whereas, by another
Act, made in the nineteenth year of the reign of his present Majesty,
intituled, An Act for the further relief of Protestant Dissenting
ministers and schoolmasters, it is enacted, that every person dissenting
from the church of England in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, or
pretending to holy orders, being a preacher or teacher of any
congregation of dissenting Protestants, if he shall scruple to declare
and subscribe, as required by the said first recited Act, may make and
subscribe the declaration in the said last recited Act set forth, in
order to his being entitled to the exemptions, benefits, privileges, and
advantages, granted by the said first recited Act, and to certain other
exemptions, benefits, privileges, and advantages, granted by the said
last recited Act: and whereas doubts have arisen as to the description
of persons, to whom the said recited provisions were intended to apply,
and it is expedient to remove the said doubts; may it therefore please
your Majesty that it may be declared and enacted, and be it declared and
enacted by the King’s most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons, in this
present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that
every person being a Protestant, dissenting from the church of England
in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, or pretending to holy orders,
who shall be appointed or admitted to be the minister of any separate
congregation of dissenting Protestants, duly certified and recorded or
registered according to law, shall be, and is hereby declared to be, a
person entitled to qualify himself to be a dissenting minister, within
the intent and meaning of the said recited provisions of the said Acts;
and that no other than such person, is so entitled, within the intent
and meaning of the same.

And be it further enacted, that from and after the passing of this Act,
upon the appointment of any person, being a Protestant, dissenting from
the church of England, and being in holy orders, or pretended holy
orders, or pretending to holy orders, to be the minister of any separate
congregation of dissenting Protestants, duly certified and recorded or
registered according to law, and upon his admission to the peaceable
possession and enjoyment of the place of minister of the said
congregation, it shall be lawful for any __________ or more substantial
and reputable householders belonging to the said congregation, in order
that the said minister may duly qualify himself according to this Act,
to certify the said appointment and his admission to the peaceable
possession and enjoyment of the said place, by writing under their hands
and proper names, in a certain form to be directed to the Justices of
the Peace at the General Session of the Peace, to be holden for the
county, riding, or place where such congregation shall be established;
and every such minister, who shall cause the certificate to him granted
as aforesaid, to be recorded at any General Session of the Peace to be
holden as aforesaid, within _________________ after the date of the said
certificate, in the manner directed by this Act, (proof being first made
on the oath of __________________ or more credible witness or witnesses
of the hand-writing of the several persons of the said congregation
whose names are subscribed to the said certificate,) shall be and is
hereby allowed, without further proof, to take the oaths, and to make
and subscribe the declaration against Popery, required to be taken and
made by the said Act passed in the first year of the reign of King
William and Queen Mary, and also the declaration set forth in the said
Act, passed in the nineteenth year of the reign of his present Majesty;
and, after taking the said oaths, and making and subscribing the said
declarations, in manner and upon proof aforesaid, every such minister,
shall be, and is hereby declared to be entitled to all the exemptions,
benefits, privileges, and advantages granted to Protestant dissenting
ministers by the said recited Acts or either of them, or by any Act in
the said recited Acts or either of them mentioned or referred to.

Provided always, and be it further enacted, that, nothing hereinbefore
contained shall affect or impeach, or be construed to affect or impeach,
any provision or exemption, or any qualification or modification
thereof, contained in any statute made since the said recited Acts, and
now in force, relating to the militia, or the local militia, of this

Provided also, and be it further enacted, that nothing hereinbefore
contained, shall affect or impeach, or be construed to affect or
impeach, the title or claim of any dissenting minister, who before the
passing of this Act, shall have taken the oaths, and subscribed the
declarations mentioned or set forth in the said recited Acts, or either
of them, to have and enjoy the exemptions, benefits, privileges, and
advantages, granted by the said Acts, or either of them.

And whereas it is expedient to exempt from certain penalties, other
persons hereinafter described, who shall make and subscribe the
declaration set forth in the said act of the nineteenth year of the
reign of his present Majesty; be it further enacted, that in case any
person being a Protestant, dissenting from the Church of England, and in
holy orders, or pretended holy orders, or pretending to holy orders, but
who shall not have been appointed or admitted the minister of any
separate congregation of dissenting Protestants, shall be desirous of
qualifying himself according to this act, to preach and officiate as a
dissenting minister, it shall be lawful for any ______ or more
substantial and reputable householders being respectively dissenting
Protestants of one and the same sect of persuasion with the person
applying, to certify, on their consciences and belief, by writing under
their hands and proper names in a certain form, to be directed to the
justices of the peace at the general sessions of the peace to be holden
for the county, riding, or place, where the said householders or the
major part of them shall reside, that such person is a Protestant
dissenting minister of their sect or persuasion, and has been known to
them and every of them for the space of ________________ at the least
before the date of the said certificate, and that such person is of
sober life and conversation, and of sufficient ability and fitness to
preach or teach and officiate as such dissenting minister; and every
person to whom such last mentioned certificate shall be granted, who
shall cause the same to be recorded at any general session of the peace
to be holden as aforesaid, within ____________ after the date of the
said certificate, in the manner directed by this act, proof being first
made on the oath of __________ or more credible witness or witnesses of
the hand writing of the several persons whose names are subscribed to
the said certificate, shall be, and is hereby allowed without further
proof to take the said oaths, and make and subscribe the said
declarations in the said recited Acts mentioned or set forth; and every
such person, after taking the said oaths and making and subscribing the
said declarations in manner and upon the proof aforesaid, may from
thenceforth preach and officiate as a dissenting minister in any
congregation of dissenting Protestants duly certified and registered or
recorded according to law; and every person so qualifying himself as
last aforesaid, shall be wholly exempted from all and every the pains,
penalties, punishments, or disabilities inflicted by any statute
mentioned in the said recited Acts or either of them, for preaching or
officiating in any congregation of Protestant dissenters for the
exercise of religion permitted and allowed by law.

And be it further enacted, that upon the appointment or admission of any
person of sober life and conversation to be a probationer for the
exercise during a time to be limited of the functions of a protestant
dissenting minister, it shall be lawful for any _____ or more dissenting
ministers who shall have taken the said oaths, and made and subscribed
the said declarations pursuant to the said recited Acts or either of
them, or this Act, to certify the said appointment or admission by
writing under their hands, in a certain form, to be directed to the
justices of the peace, at the general session of the peace to be holden
for the county, riding, or place where the said ministers, or the major
part of them, shall reside, and that the person so appointed or admitted
is of sober life and conversation, and has been known to them for the
space of ________________ before the date of the said certificate; and
every person to whom such last-mentioned certificate shall be granted,
who shall cause the same to be recorded at any general session of the
peace to be holden as aforesaid, wherein ____________ after the date of
the said last-mentioned certificate in the manner directed by this Act,
(proof being first made on the oath of __________ or more credible
witness or witnesses of the hand writing of the said ministers whose
names are subscribed to the said certificate,) shall be and is hereby
allowed without further proofs to take the said oaths, and to make and
subscribe the said several declarations, in the said recited Acts
mentioned or set forth; and every such person after taking the said
oaths, and making and subscribing the said declarations, may from
thenceforth during the period specified in such certificate, and not
exceeding ________ next ensuing, preach and officiate as such
probationer in any congregation of dissenting Protestants duly certified
and registered or recorded according to law; and every person so
qualifying himself as last aforesaid shall be and is hereby declared to
be during the space of ____________________ exempted from all and every
the penalties, punishments, and disabilities inflicted by any statute
mentioned in the said recited Acts, or either of them, for preaching or
officiating in any congregation of dissenting Protestants, for the
exercise of religion permitted and allowed by law.

Provided always, and be it enacted, that nothing herein contained shall
be construed to authorize or enable any person to qualify more than
____________ as such probationer.

And be it further enacted, that the Justices of the Peace, to whom any
such certificate as aforesaid shall within the time herein limited, be
tendered at their general session, shall, and they are hereby required,
after such proof in verification thereof as is herein directed, to
administer the said oaths and declarations to the person producing such
certificate, upon his offering to take and make and subscribe the same
respectively, and thereupon to record the said certificate at the said
session, and therefore to keep a register; provided always, that any
declaration required to be subscribed by the said recited Acts, or
either of them, shall be subscribed in open court, with the proper
christian and surname, and names of the person making such declaration
in his own hand writing, and in the usual manner of his writing, the
same in words at length, and not otherwise: provided always, that in the
body of every certificate granted by the said officer or officers of the
said court to any person as such probationer and not as minister, there
shall be expressed the limitation of time for which such certificate
shall be in force by virtue of this Act.

And be it further enacted, that every certificate of appointment or
admission of any such minister, or of any person to officiate as such
minister, or of any such probationer pursuant to this Act, shall be
subscribed with the respective proper names of the several persons
granting the same in their own hand writing, and in the usual manner of
their writing and subscribing the same, and in the presence of the
person or persons who is or are to be the witness or witnesses to verify
the same before the Court of General Session of the Peace in the manner
herein directed.

And be it further enacted, that this Act shall be deemed and taken to be
a public Act, and shall be judicially taken notice of as such by all
Judges, Justices, and others, without being specially pleaded.”


The reader will immediately see, that this Bill would have had a strong
operation upon the economy of the Methodists, but the extent of that
operation it was impossible to foresee. However, no sooner was the Bill
read, than its effects were sufficiently understood to fill them with
great alarm and apprehension for their societies, upon which it would
have had the most destructive influence. The members of their “Committee
of Privileges” were immediately summoned to meet, which they did, May
14, 1811, when they formed, and afterwards published the following

                               JOHN WESLEY.

Convened for the purpose of taking into consideration a Bill, brought
  into the House of Lords by the Right Honourable Lord Viscount
  Sidmouth, intituled, “An Act to explain and render more effectual
  certain Acts of the first year of the Reign of King William and Queen
  Mary, and of the nineteenth year of the Reign of his present Majesty,
  so far as the same relate to Protestant dissenting ministers,”

              _Held at the New-Chapel, City-Road, London_,
                        _The 14th of May, 1811_;


I. THAT the said Bill, if carried into a law, will be a great
infringement of the laws of religious toleration, and will be subversive
of the most valuable rights and privileges which we as a religious
society enjoy.

II. That the said Act will, in future, curtail the privileges and
exemptions of our regular preachers, who are wholly devoted to the
functions of their office, and to which they are legally entitled under
the letter and spirit of the Act of Toleration.

III. That the said Act will render it very difficult, if not
impracticable, to obtain certificates for the great body of local
preachers and exhorters, and who are not only an useful part of our
society, but whose aid is essentially necessary in the very numerous
chapels and meeting-houses, in which our congregations assemble.

IV. That with great grief of heart we have observed of late a growing
disposition, in different parts of the country, to disturb our meetings,
even those which are held only for prayer to Almighty God, and to
enforce the penalties of the Conventicle Act upon those who officiate in
them: the great inconvenience and heavy expences of which we have
already felt. If this system of persecution should be persevered in, the
subordinate teachers of our body, to the amount of many thousands of
persons in the united kingdom, will be driven to apply for certificates
to protect them from the penalties of the Conventicle Act, which indeed
they can obtain under the existing laws without obstruction; but if the
present Bill should be passed into a law, it will be utterly impossible
to consider such persons as dissenting ministers, and to certify them
under the said Act: therefore, either an end will be put to the
functions of a most valuable and useful part of our community, or they
will be exposed to all the penalties of the Conventicle Act; the
consequence of which will be, that as the people cannot, and ought not,
to refrain from Acts of social worship, and meetings for religious
instruction, the penalties cannot be paid, and the prisons will be
peopled with some of the most peaceable and pious characters in the

V. That a great number of the persons mentioned in the last resolution
(as well as a large proportion of our societies) considering themselves
as members of the established Church, to which they are conscientiously
attached, will feel it quite incompatible with their sentiments to apply
for certificates under the terms of the said Act, which requires them to
be certified and to declare themselves as dissenting ministers.

VI. That the offices alluded to in the fourth resolution, are an
essential part of the economy of our societies, which has for its object
the instruction of the ignorant, and the relief of the miserable, rather
than the creation or extention of a distinct sect of religion; and
without whose aid, the various chapels of our societies in the united
kingdom, which have cost an immense sum of money in their erection,
cannot be supported.

VII. That our chapels have been built, and large sums of money, due upon
the same, for which the respective trustees are now responsible, have
been lent and advanced under the most perfect confidence that our system
so necessary for their support, would remain undisturbed; and that those
rights of conscience, which our most gracious Sovereign on his accesion
to the throne declared should be maintained inviolable, would, in this
happy and enlightened country, ever be held sacred, and preserved

VIII. That it does not appear to us, that the present toleration laws
are either so ineffectual, or the interpretation of them so uncertain,
as to render any Bill necessary to explain them, much less to curtail
the benefits intended to be conveyed by them; but on the other hand we
are satisfied, that if the present Bill should pass, the whole law of
religious toleration will become more obscure, and its meaning more
uncertain; and thus a fruitful source of litigation and oppression will
be opened.

IX. That the returns of the archbishops and bishops, of the number of
places for divine worship, &c. in their respective dioceses, upon which
the present measure appears to be founded, are far from furnishing
evidence of the necessity of restricting the operations of religious
societies; but on the contrary, they contain the most decisive proofs
(from the inadequacy of the parish churches to contain the inhabitants
of the kingdom) that the increasing population calls for all the means
of religious instruction, which well-disposed persons of all
denominations of christians, have in their power to afford.

X. That from the manifest effect which the diffusion of religion has had
for the last fifty years, in raising the standard of public morals, and
in promoting loyalty in the middle ranks, as well as subordination and
industry in the lower orders of society, which so powerfully operate
upon the national prosperity and public spirit, we dread the adoption of
any measure which can in the least weaken these great sinews of the
nation, or restrain the patriotic efforts of any of the religious
communities of the country.

XI. That as we deprecate the consequences of the Bill as it now stands,
so we cannot see that any modification of it can meet the views of its
Right Honourable and noble proposer, (whose character we highly respect)
without essentially deteriorating, the indefeasible rights and
privileges of those who are the objects of the toleration laws.

XII. That inasmuch as this Act will most deeply affect our societies,
whose moral character and loyalty are unimpeachable, we feel it our duty
to declare, that we do not believe there exists among them any practice
or disposition, to warrant a legislative measure, which would abridge
our rights and privileges.

XIII. That the introduction of the present measure is as unseasonable,
as it is needless and oppressive. At any time, religious rights form a
most delicate subject for legislative interference, but at such a time
as this, when not only unanimity, but affection for the government and
laws of our country are more than ever essential, for the patient
endurance of the pressure of the times, and the repulsion of the
bitterest enemy with which this country had to contend, the discussion
of these rights is most feelingly to be deprecated. Much
irritation,—even worse than political irritation, would be produced, and
the ardent affection of many a conscientious and loyal subject would be
involuntarily diminished. We are impressed with these sentiments the
more deeply, as not a shadow of a charge is brought against our very
numerous body, and we can challenge the most rigid enquiry into the
moral and political character of our preachers and our people.

XIV. That, abstaining from all observations on the abstract rights of
conscience, but with the views and feelings thus expressed, we are most
decidedly of opinion that the present measure is radically
objectionable, and does not admit of any modification; and we cannot but
feel it our duty to oppose the Bill in all its stages by every
constitutional means.

XV. That we reflect with high satisfaction on the liberal, enlightened,
and religious declaration of our most gracious Sovereign, on the
commencement of his Reign. “Born,” said his Majesty, in his first speech
from the throne, “and educated in this country, I glory in the name of
Briton, and the peculiar happiness of my life will ever consist in
promoting the welfare of a people, whose loyalty and warm affection to
me I consider as the greatest and most permanent security of my throne;
and I doubt not, but their steadiness in those principles will equal the
firmness of my invariable resolution to adhere to, and strengthen this
excellent constitution in church and state; AND TO MAINTAIN THE
MY CROWN; and as the surest foundation of the whole, and the best means
to draw down the divine favour on my reign, IT IS MY FIXED PURPOSE TO
This declaration of our beloved Sovereign has been religiously fulfilled
during a long and benificent reign, and has been humbly met by our
societies with the affection it was calculated to inspire. We have built
with confidence upon this gracious declaration, and our confidence has
not been misplaced. His Majesty has been a shield to the religious of
all persuasions, and he has respected the rights of conscience in all.
And we cannot doubt that His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, with
those just sentiments of truth and sincerity, which he has graciously
declared shall be the guide of his character and every action of his
life, will feel it is happiness to recognize the high natural rights of
conscience; and should it please the wise disposer of all events to
restore his afflicted Father to the personal exercise of his royal
functions, His Royal Highness will feel it amongst the many blessings of
his benevolent and liberal administration, that he has, agreeably to the
ardent wishes of a great portion of His Majesty’s loyal subjects,
preserved those sacred rights entire, and returned to his beloved Father
the Toleration inviolate. We have too much confidence in the wisdom and
justice of Parliament, to imagine that a measure will be adopted so
obnoxious to such a large proportion of the nation, as our societies and
congregations constitute: but if unhappily we should be disappointed,
and in the dernier resort, we should be driven to submit our case to His
Royal Highness, we have already the gratification of his royal
assurance, that he will “be ready to listen to the complaints of those
who may think themselves aggrieved, and regulate his conduct upon the
established principles of that ancient and excellent constitution, under
which the people of this country have hitherto enjoyed a state of
unrivalled prosperity and happiness.”


The following were some of the reasons which induced the committee to
adopt the foregoing resolutions:—

I. At present every man may choose his own mode of religious
instruction, and every man who is impressed with the belief that it is
his duty to preach or teach, has the liberty to do so, on making oath
and subscribing certain declarations. These are points fully recognized
by the Toleration Laws, and if they were not, religious toleration
would, indeed, be confined within narrow bounds. But the proposed Bill
is quite a measure of condition and restraint, and would so operate to a
very extensive decree.

II. The magistrate now acts ministerially; he will then, we contend, act
judicially. This is a point of the very highest consequence to all ranks
of christians. At present, the magistrate has no discretion as to the
administering the oaths &c.: he is required to administer them to those
that offer, &c. But, if the present Bill should pass, he will, of course
become the judge of the qualities of the householder who certifies, _i.
e._ how far he is substantial and reputable. It appears to us also, that
he might probably be the judge of the truth of the certificate: and,
therefore, how far the persons certifying were dissenting Protestants,
and were of the same sect or persuasion. This would be a most fruitful
source of difference of opinion, and, consequently, the hardship would
fall upon the applicant for a qualification, who would be exposed to
infinate vexation. The very terms are open to difference of opinion in
magistrates, as must every other subject upon which they are to decide
judicially. This would be the subversion of a principle which has been
acknowledged since the first statute on the subject of toleration. Would
the power thus given to the magistrate, be any thing less than that
which he has in licensing public houses? and can we suppose this to be
fitting in religious matters?

III. At present, the Court of King’s Bench will grant a mandamus to
admit a dissenting teacher where the chapel is endowed, as in the case
of Rex, _v._ Barker, 3 Burr. 1264.... But if this Bill passes, it will,
it is presumed, deprive the first class of persons, named in the Bill,
of the benefit of this writ. At present, a person must shew that he is
legally qualified, according to law, to act as a dissenting teacher,
before he can have the benefit of the mandamus; but under the present
Bill, a person must first be admitted to the peaceable possession and
enjoyment of the place of minister of a congregation before he can
qualify. Now, if there be a contest between two persons, as was the case
above-mentioned, and one of them, who, according to the terms of the
deed of endowment, is entitled to the possession of the chapel, has
occasion to apply to the court for a mandamus to be admitted, how is it
possible that the court can grant it, unless he can shew that he is a
legal minister, qualified according to the existing laws? This he could
not do for want of a qualification under the Act, and this qualification
he could not get, for want of the peaceable possession of the very
situation which formed the subject of contest. It is obvious, then, what
a situation the congregations of endowed chapels would be placed in. The
trustees being in possession of the property, might, in most cases,
appoint whom they might think proper, and the congregation, and their
chosen minister, would have no redress.

IV. There is a phraseology used in the second section, which we have
never yet seen adopted, and the mode of wording adds another trait of
character before unknown in the law of toleration. It speaks of the
appointment of a person, not only being a Protestant, dissenting from
the Church of England, and being in holy orders, or pretended holy
orders, or pretending to holy orders; but the applicant must have an
additional character to be entitled to the immunities of William and
Mary, and of 19th Geo. III, that is, he must be the minister of a
separate congregation. This word separate, whatever be its meaning, as
applied to this subject, was never used till the 43d of Geo. III.

V. With respect to the exemptions, the first class are entitled to all
the existing immunities contained in the exemption from militia services
and offices. The second class, who are intended, it is presumed, to
compromise the itinerant preachers of the Methodist societies, are only
exempted by the proposed Bill from pains and penalties, whereas, at
present, they are, we contend, entitled to all the privileges of the
most regular dissenting minister, presiding over one congregation only.
The third class are intended, we presume, to comprise the young student,
who is preparing for his office, and preaching to a congregation on
trial. These are also only exempted from pains and penalties, whereas,
at present, they also are entitled to the privileges of the most regular

VI. At present, the cost of the certificate is but sixpence, besides the
journey to the sessions to take the oaths; but by the proposed law, the
applicant must be at the expence of taking a witness with him to verify
the certificate. This, when the sessions are at a distance, will
sometimes be of importance to a poor candidate for the ministry; but
when it is coupled with the circumstance, that this Bill proposes to
give the magistrate a judicial power, which will leave him at liberty,
more or less, to reject the certificate, on account of the want, as he
may suppose, of substance or reputation in the certifier, the
disappointment, vexation, and expence may be endless. If the Magistrate
have power thus to determine and to reject on the first application, so
he may on the second, and ultimately, the applicant may never be
considered as properly qualified; and he at length may be obliged to
make an application to the superior courts, the determination of which,
as it would be a question of fact, might be very expensive. The
consequence of this clause, we apprehend, will be very serious.

These being their conclusions, they looked at the proposed Bill with
dread and dismay, as being calculated to make the most alarming inroads
upon the rights and privileges they had enjoyed since the foundation of
their societies in the year 1739.


I shall here also record some of the very judicious and laudable
proceedings of the committees of Protestant dissenters on this business.

The Ministers of the three denominations of Protestant dissenters
(Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists,) resident in and about
London, have, for nearly a century, regularly associated, and have
assembled, at least, annually, for the management of their affairs. A
committee was appointed by them, about two years ago, to attend to the
progress of the Bill which the noble lord had signified his intention to
introduce. As soon as the provisions of this Bill were made known, the
committee called a general meeting of the whole body, on Thursday, May
16. The meeting was uncommonly numerous; and the discussions which took
place were conducted with candour and harmony.

_Library, Red-Cross-Street, May 16, 1811._—At a numerous meeting of the
general body of Protestant dissenting ministers, of the three
denominations, residing in and about the cities of London and
Westminster, regularly summoned to deliberate on the means of opposing
the Bill introduced into the House of Lords by Viscount Sidmouth, which
has a tendency to narrow the provisions of the Toleration Act, the
following resolutions were unanimously adopted:—

1. That the right of peaceably assembling, for the purposes of religious
worship and public instruction, according to the dictates of our own
consciences, belongs to us as men, as christians, and as members of
civil society; that this right ought not to be abridged or controled, by
any secular authority; and that we cannot consent to the alienation or
surrender of it, without criminality on our own parts, disrespect to the
memory of those from whom we have, under providence, received it, and
injury to the best interests of our descendants and successors; to whom
it is our duty, as far as we are able, to transmit it inviolable.

2. That this right has been recognized and maintained, from the
Revolution to the present day, partly by a liberal construction of the
Toleration Act, and partly by the protection of the illustrious Princes
of the House of Brunswick; and that it would betray a want of confidence
in the favour of our Sovereign, in the justice of the legislature, and
in the spirit of the times, to submit to any proposed restrictions of
this right, in passive silence.

3. That as faithful and loyal subjects, attached to the civil
constitution of our country, and desirous of contributing to that
tranquility and union on which its permanence and prosperity very much
depend, we cannot forbear expressing our regret that any measures should
be proposed which have a tendency, by abridging our liberty as
Protestant dissenters, and restraining the exercise of social worship
among those with whom we have connected, to excite dissatisfaction and
discontent at the present interesting crisis; and, more especially at a
time when we had reason to hope that our liberty would have been
enlarged instead of being restrained; though we are peaceably waiting
for that period in which this happy event shall take place, and penal
laws no longer have any operation in the province of religion.

4. That the Bill now introduced into the House of Lords appears to us
inconsistent with the unmolested liberty which we have long thankfully
enjoyed; repugnant to our principles and profession as Protestant
dissenters, who disavow the authority of the civil magistrate in the
province of religion, and imposing restrictions which will be in various
respects, injurious and oppressive.

5. That it is our duty, on our own behalf, and on behalf of our
brethren, as well as with a view to the cause of religions liberty in
general, to make every constitutional effort in our power for preventing
this Bill from passing into a law; and that for this purpose a petition
be presented by this body to the House of Peers.

                                              DAN. TAYLOR, Chairman.


At a Meeting of the Deputies appointed for supporting the Civil Rights
  of Protestant dissenters, held at the King’s Head Tavern, in the
  Poultry, London, May 15, 1811, WILLIAM SMITH, Esq. M. P. in the Chair:

_Resolved_, That liberty of conscience, comprehending the freedom of
public assemblies for religious worship and instruction, in such forms
and under such teachers as men shall for themselves approve, is the
unalienable right of all; in the peaceable exercise of which they are
not justly controlable by the civil magistrate.

_Resolved_, That this liberty has been generally recognized in the
practice of the British Government since the æra of the Revolution,
under the construction of the statute commonly called the Toleration
Act; whatever may have been the letter of the law, the spirit of
toleration has been extended, and a large portion of religious liberty
actually enjoyed.

_Resolved_, That we have beheld, with great concern, a Bill lately
brought into Parliament, designed, as appears to us, to abridge such
religious liberty, and having a tendency to deprive the lower classes of
the community of those opportunities which they have so long enjoyed, to
attend public worship and religious instruction under teachers of their
own choice.

_Resolved_, That, as deputies appointed by large and respectable bodies
of Protestant dissenters to attend to their civil rights, it becomes our
bounden duty immediately to protest against the principle of such
measure, and to point out the unjust and vexatious operation of the
aforesaid Bill, as now brought into Parliament.

_Resolved_, That a Petition against the said Bill, grounded on the
principles of the foregoing resolutions, be signed by the members of
this meeting, and presented to the legislature.

_Resolved_, That the foregoing resolutions be signed by the chairman,
and inserted in all the public papers.

                                                 W. SMITH, Chairman.


At a Numerous and Respectable Meeting of Protestant Dissenters of
  various Denominations, and other Friends to Religious Liberty,
  residing in different parts of the United Empire, held at the London
  Tavern, Bishopsgate Street, May the 15th, 1811, SAMUEL MILLS, Esq. in
  the Chair.


I. THAT this meeting believe that there are at least two millions of
Protestant dissenters in the kingdom of England and Wales, including
persons of opulent fortunes, high literary attainments, and active
benevolence: that their exertions have contributed to promote industry,
knowledge, good morals, social order, and public prosperity. That they
are not inferior to any of their fellow-subjects in fervent love to
their country, nor in ardent loyalty to their venerable sovereign, whose
early promise, ‘TO PRESERVE THE TOLERATION INVIOLATE,’ has made an
indelible impression on their hearts;—and that any measures which might
excite their discontent and enfeeble their attachment, would, therefore,
at any time, and especially at this period, be inconsistent with the
national interest, and with wise and liberal policy.

II. That although this meeting consider the right to worship God
according to individual judgment as an inalienable right superior to all
social regulations; and, although they have long anticipated a period
when all penal laws for worshipping God according to their consciences
would be abolished, they have been unwilling to agitate the public mind
for the attainment of their hopes; and presuming that no persons would,
in this age, venture to assail the Act of Toleration, after the
ever-memorable declaration of the King, they have been content to regard
it with grateful emotions, and to esteem it as an effectual protection
against the recurrence of former persecutions.

III. That the persons assembled at this meeting have received, with
great anxiety, the communications frequently made by the Right Hon.
Viscount Sidmouth, of his intention to propose legislative enactments,
interfering with the laws relating to Protestant dissenters; that they
did hope the applications he has received, and the information
communicated, would have prevented his perseverance. But they have
learned the disappointment of their hopes, and have ascertained the
provisions of the Bill which he has at length introduced into parliament
with extreme regret, and with painful apprehension.

IV. That this Bill declares that all the provisions relating to
dissenting ministers, contained in the Toleration Act, and in the
subsequent Act for their further relief, were intended to be limited
only to ministers of separate congregations; and enacts, 1. That such
ministers upon being admitted to the peaceable possession and enjoyment
of the place of minister of a separate congregation, may, on a
certificate in writing, under the hands of substantial and reputable
householders belonging to such congregation, signed in the presence of
some credible witness, who is to make proof of their signatures upon
oath at a general Sessions of the Peace, be permitted to take the oaths,
and to sign the declaration previously required; and shall then, and
then only, during their continuance to be ministers of such separate
congregation, be intitled to all the privileges and exemptions which the
former acts had conferred. 2. That any other person who may desire to
qualify himself to preach as a dissenting minister, must procure several
substantial and reputable householders, being dissenters of the same
sect, and of the same congregation, to certify on their consciences, in
writing, to his being a Protestant dissenting minister of their sect,
and of the same congregation, and to their individual and long knowledge
of his sobriety of conversation, and of his ability and fitness to
preach; and that such certificate must be proved, as before stated,
before he be exempt from the pains, penalties, and punishments to which
he would otherwise be liable as a dissenting minister. And, 3. That any
person of a sober life and conversation, admitted to preach on probation
to any separate congregation, must produce a certificate from several
dissenting ministers (who have taken the oaths, to be also proved on
oath at a general Session) of his life and conversation, and to their
long previous knowledge, before he can be permitted to take the oaths
and subscribe the declaration; and that he may then, during a limited
period, to be specified in the certificate, officiate as a probationer
to any dissenting congregation, and be during a limited period, exempt
from prosecution and punishment. But neither of the two last mentioned
classes of persons, will be entitled to any privileges, or to the
exemptions from offices conferred on dissenting ministers by the
Toleration Act.

V. That the principle assumed as the foundation of the Bill is
incorrect:—That the Toleration Act authorised any persons to become
dissenting ministers who conceived themselves to be called and qualified
to preach, upon giving security to the State for their loyalty and
christian principles, by taking certain oaths and subscribing certain
declarations; and not only prevented their persecution under laws made
in times less favourable to civil and religious liberty, but conceiving
their labours to be of public utility, granted to them exemptions from
all parochial offices and other duties which might interfere with their
more important exertions:—That such construction of the Act of
Toleration has been sanctioned by the general practice of a century, and
has never been impugned by any decision in a superior court of law; and
that even if such construction be incorrect, and legislative exposition
be required, such declaratory Bill ought to follow the intention of the
Act which has subsequently passed; and should extend and not
contract,—protect and not impair, the relief afforded by the former
ancient and venerable statute.

VI. That the Bill introduced into parliament is not justified by any
necessity, and will be highly injurious; that it is unnecessary, because
the evils presumed to result from the abuses of the existing laws, by a
few persons who may have improperly taken the oaths required from
dissenting preachers and teachers, do not exist but to a most
inconsiderable extent; and because the extension of all such abuses has
been anxiously, and would be effectually discountenanced by every class
of Protestant dissenters—and that it must be injurious, because it will
introduce forms unprecedented, inconvenient, or impracticable; will
render itinerant preachers, students of divinity, ministers on
probation, and many persons to whose ardent piety and disinterested
labours multitudes are indebted for religious instruction, liable to
serve all civil offices, ... and will expose all ministers, or the
witnesses to their certificates, to be harrassed by repeated attendances
at different sessions, and to capricious examinations, and unlimited
expence,—because, by limiting the right of persons to become dissenting
ministers, it will impose new restrictions on toleration; and because it
will create a precedent for future attempts at even more dangerous or
fatal experiments against religious liberty.

VII. That, although most reluctant to interference with political
affairs, they cannot but regard the present attempt with peculiar
sensations of alarm; and that veneration for their ancestors, regard to
their posterity, respect for rights which they can never abandon, and
the sacred obligations which they feel, will therefore compel them to
disregard all doctrinal and ritual distinctions, and to unite by every
legitimate effort to prevent the pending Bill from passing into a law,
and to oppose the smallest diminution of the privileges secured by the
Act of Toleration.

VIII. That from the noble declaration of the liberal-minded and
illustrious Prince Regent of the Empire, that he will deliver up the
constitution unaltered to his Royal Father, this meeting are encouraged
to indulge confident hope that a measure so innovating and injurious can
never obtain the sanction of his high authority; and they also rejoice
that it has not been introduced by his Majesty’s government; that
respectful application be therefore made to them for their wise and
continued protection; that a petition to the House of Lords against the
Bill be signed by all the persons present at this meeting, and that all
congregations of Protestant dissenters, and other friends of religious
liberty throughout the empire, be recommended to present similar
petitions, and that a committee consisting of persons resident in
London, be appointed to effectuate these proceedings, and to adopt any
measures they may deem expedient to prevent the successful prosecution
of this Bill; and that dissenting ministers of every denomination
resident in the country, be also members of this committee: and that
such committee may increase their number, and that any three members be
competent to act.

                                                 S. MILLS, Chairman.


I now return to the proceedings of the general committee of the
societies of the late Rev. John Wesley.

On Thursday they were closely engaged all day in carrying the aforesaid
measure into effect, and sending a copy of the resolutions into every
circuit throughout the kingdom, that their friends might know the
opinion of the committee on the subject, and be prepared to co-operate
with it, in every future measure which might be deemed necessary to the
preservation of our religious rights.

As Lord Sidmouth had fixed on Friday the 17th for the second reading of
the Bill, there was but little time for obtaining signatures to a
petition; however, this little time was improved, and on Friday morning,
before eleven o’clock, upwards of two thousand signatures were obtained
to petitions from their different societies and congregations in the two
London circuits.

Application was made to Lord Erskine, who paid the utmost attention to
their case; at the same time he most readily engaged to present their
petitions to the House, and to oppose the Bill; as did also Lords Grey
and Holland.

In the evening, Lord Stanhope moved, that the second reading of the Bill
should be deferred till some future day, which motion was seconded by
Earl Grey, and acceded to by Lord Sidmouth; who in a short speech
informed the House, that on Tuesday the 21st he should bring the subject
forwards for discussion.

This delay was considered a favourable interposition of Providence, as
it afforded the Committee opportunity for procuring parchments, and
preparing a copy of a petition, to be sent into those circuits from
whence they could be returned before Tuesday noon. Special messengers
were sent to Bristol, Birmingham, and into some parts of Kent and
Sussex; and these were provided with directions and parcels, to be left
in every circuit through which they passed, that the urgency of the
business might be understood, and every energy exerted to accomplish
their purpose.

To evince the zeal and activity which prevailed on this occasion, I here
give an extract from a letter written by a gentleman of high
respectability, who was actively engaged in this business.

                                                    “_May 23, 1811._

“Since last Thursday I have been fully occupied, by the “Committee of
Privileges,” on the business of Lord Sidmouth’s Bill. On Saturday night
at eight o’clock two post chaises and four, set off on this important
business, one to Birmingham, and the other to Bristol. At half past
eleven the same night, I was sent to seek another, but after going all
over the city, was obliged to return to the committee room without one.
At half past twelve o’clock, I procured a coach in Aldersgate-street,
and, with a friend, drove all over the town in search of a conveyance. A
little before three o’clock in the morning while we were knocking up the
people at the _fifteenth_ Inn, a respectable looking man came up with a
lanthorn and enquired, “what was the matter?” we answered ‘we wanted a
post chaise and four, and must have it, it being on parliamentary
business.’ He replied “he could have supplied us had we come at a more
seasonable hour, but now he had only one post boy in the house, and he
was gone to bed.” We begged of him to do what he could for us, and at
length persuaded him to drive us _himself_. The horses were put to in a
trice, and we set off full speed for Bromley, which we reached in an
hour and a quarter. Here we again knocked up the people at the Inn, but
lost half an hour before they were ready. Having left our petitions,
with solemn orders to deliver them as soon as it was light, we set off
for Sevenoaks, which we reached before seven o’clock. Here, while we
were explaining the nature of the business we came on, to Mr. ______ we
partook of a hasty breakfast. We then jumped into the chaise and started
for Tunbridge; having delivered our parcels and given suitable
directions, we drove on to the Wells; after delivering our message
there, with steady course we pursued our way to Rye, and drove up to the
chapel. The morning service was concluded and the people were just
coming out; we instantly desired them to stop, telling them, we had come
express from London on very important business. Having ascended the
pulpit stairs, with every eye fixed upon us, we laid before them the
purport of our mission, by informing them of the Bill, and explaining
its nature. We then informed them of the Committee appointed for
guarding their privileges, and read their resolutions: we told them also
of whom the Committee consisted, and that we had travelled the whole
night to reach them at that time. We then requested those to stay who
wished to sign the petition; not a dozen went away till they had signed.
One man indeed, when he heard none was permitted to sign who was under
sixteen, whispered to another, and said, “he should not sign, for he
thought it was a scheme to take them by surprise to get them drawn for
the Militia.”

“We dispatched messengers to the places adjacent, to be ready for the
evening service: one went out thirteen miles, and did not return until
midnight. I left my friend Mr. _______ at Rye, while I went to
Winchelsea, about three miles off. The minister had just concluded his
sermon when I arrived; having informed him of my design, he requested
the whole congregation to stop when the service was ended. I then stated
the case, and most of the people signed the petition: one man came and
said, “pray Sir, let somebody sign for me.” “My good man,” said I, “it
will not be allowed, you must assist us by your prayers.” “Really Sir,”
said another, “I could wish to sign, but l never wrote my name in my
life, but do give me the pen and I will try!”

“At twelve o’clock on Monday we bent our course homeward, and on Tuesday
about the same hour, we reached town. We sat close till five o’clock in
the afternoon, sending off petitions, in alphabetical order, by coaches,
till a message came down express from the House of Lords to inform us,
that the business was about to begin. Every one therefore took his arms
full and conveyed them to the coach, which instantly drove off with all
speed to the House. I and two other friends had three good loads of
those remaining ones which were taken from us at the door of the
anti-chamber of the House.

“We had at that time above a thousand petitions on the road. The
operations of the Bill were not known beyond the environs of the
Metropolis, and yet a mighty flood of petitions poured in. Lord Erskine
undertook the cause of our societies.

“After bringing into the House many bags full, the petitions were still
so numerous, that his Lordship was obliged to fetch the rest from the
anti-chamber in his arms, and he came down to the House several times in
this manner loaded like a porter.”

I was myself at Leeds at the time when this Bill was pending in the
House: the petitions for that Town and neighbourhood arrived on
Wednesday morning May 22nd. The Committee which had been previously
formed was sitting at the time, and they immediately dispatched
messengers into different parts of the town, and the adjacent villages,
to obtain signatures. In the course of that afternoon and the forenoon
of the following day some thousands had signed the petitions, and had
not the business been stopped on the Thursday afternoon by the arrival
of the pleasing tidings that the Bill was lost, many thousands more
signatures would have been obtained in a few days.

The different denominations of Dissenters in that large and populous
Town, formed a Committee of respectable gentlemen, who also manifested
great zeal and activity in this noble cause; they deputed several
persons to go to their respective congregations in the country, to
obtain signatures to their petitions, which they likewise obtained in
abundance. Indeed, such unity of sentiment I never witnessed on any
subject before; the pious and candid members of the established Church,
cordially united with the Methodists and Dissenters to shew their
decided disapprobation of the obnoxious Bill, and all, as with one heart
and voice, avowed their determination to oppose, to the uttermost, all
restrictions on Religious Liberty.

The same activity was manifested, and similar exertions made, in every
part of the kingdom where the nature of the Bill was thoroughly
understood, its effects were deeply deplored and deprecated by all
classes of people in the land.

“In every place the Messengers met with the most zealous co-operation of
the people, who dreading the loss of their religious privileges, came
forwards to sign the petitions with an eagerness which was highly
honourable to their feelings. At Bristol, the Mayor granted the use of
the Town-Hall, and although the notice was so short, yet between twelve
and five o’clock on Monday, the petition received upwards of 1900
signatures, and this was in addition to separate petitions from all the
dissenting congregations in the city, which were numerously signed. By
these means the committee had procured before Tuesday noon upwards of
250 petitions, bearing 30,000 Signatures. The Committee was incessantly
employed in examining and taking an account of them. And that every
thing might be conducted with the utmost regularity, almost every
petition was separately rolled up, tied with red tape, and the place
from whence it came, together with the number of signatures it
contained, legibly written on one end of the roll, so that when it was
presented, the noble Lord had no difficulty in announcing these
particulars to the House. It required the utmost exertions of the
committee to prepare all things in readiness before the House met;
however, this was accomplished, and the petitions were delivered to Lord
Erskine in one of the anti-chambers. His Lordship was pleased to express
his satisfaction with what had been done, and whilst he was carrying his
burthens into the House, appeared to feel a noble pride in the office he
had undertaken to perform.”

EARL STANHOPE said, he held in his hand a petition against the Bill,
signed by upwards of 2000 persons; and he had no doubt that if the Bill
was persisted in, the petitioners against it, instead of thousands, must
be counted by millions.

The petition having been received, and ordered to lie on the table,

The Earl of LIVERPOOL rose, and after bearing his testimony to the good
intentions of his noble friend who had introduced the Bill, and who, he
was confident, had nothing in view dangerous to the wholesome and wise
system of toleration in this country, expressed his doubts respecting
the prudence of his farther pressing the measure. If it were pressed,
the good that would result, would be comparatively much less than was
expected in any view of the subject. But if it were pressed under the
present misconceptions of its object, and the alarm and apprehension
thereby created, the evils produced by it might far preponderate. The
Toleration Laws, he was ready to say, were matters on which he thought
the Legislature should not touch, unless it were from causes of great
paramount necessity. Under all these circumstances, he trusted that his
noble friend would see the propriety of not farther pressing his Bill.

Lord Viscount SIDMOUTH said he was placed in a situation of considerable
difficulty, as he must consider the sentiments expressed by the noble
Earl as the sentiments of the Government of which he was a principal
part. Yet, if his noble friend confessed that misconceptions had gone
abroad on the object of his measure, that could not be a reason
sufficient for him to withdraw his Bill in the present stage of it. The
greatest misconceptions, misapprehensions, and he might add,
misrepresentations of the Bill had been made without doors; so that
although it was not regular in that stage to enter into particulars, he
should for convenience, if not regular, take that opportunity of stating
what the Bill was and what it was not.

Earl GREY spoke to order. He would be the last person to interrupt the
noble Viscount, but it was certainly quite out of order to enter into
the details of the question on the presentation of the petitions, when
the opportunity of addressing the House would so soon occur on the
second reading. He was convinced of the purity of intention by which his
noble friend was actuated, and that he entertained no design of
infringing on the just and liberal toleration of every man’s opinion and
worship; but he thought that the present was not the time for discussing
the question when they were receiving petitions, unless the reception of
them was to be objected to.

Lord Viscount SIDMOUTH said he should not farther trouble the House at
that time. It had not been his intention to take up their time long; but
he should reserve himself till the second reading, then more fully to
explain himself.

Earl STANHOPE presented fifteen other petitions from different
dissenting congregations in various parts of England, (Castlecary,
Market Harborough, &c.) which were severally ordered to lie on the

Lord HOLLAND rose, and said he had numerous petitions to present to the
House against the present Bill, the first of which he should move to be
read. It was the joint petition of the three denominations of the
dissenters in, and in the vicinity of, the metropolis, namely, the
Presbyterian, the Baptist, and the Independent. He should say little by
way of preface, except that he believed that that, as well other
petitions, would shew that the people of this country were not so
ignorant of the nature and character of a Bill brought into Parliament
as not to see and appreciate its consequences on their civil or their
religious liberty. He was happy to hear from the noble Secretary of
State what he had heard from him that night on the impolicy of such a
measure. But, he must say, that the noble Viscount had very fairly
shaped his course in the proceedings both last session and this. He
(Lord Holland) had last June stated his intention to look with much care
and great jealousy at any attempt to meddle with or impair the
provisions of the Toleration Act, and he thanked the noble Viscount for
having so fully explained his views this session. He could not, however,
avoid expressing his surprise and regret that the noble Secretary of
State had not taken an opportunity, either last session or this, of
stating his prudential objection to the adoption of this measure,
instead of leaving that to the present occasion, when the petitions
against it were crowding in from all parts of England. He then presented
the petition, which was received, and ordered to lie on the table.

Lord HOLLAND then stated that he had a great number of other petitions.

The Earl of MORTON said it was desirable to know whether any of those
petitions contained matter which reflected upon, or was irregular to be
presented to that House.

Lord HOLLAND said he had been unable to read them all. Several he had
read, which contained no such matter. But he should feel pleasure in
having them all read to the House, if it would not be too inconvenient
in respect of time.

The Earl of LAUDERDALE said that he also had many petitions to present.
Such was, however, the opinion he entertained of the respectability of
character of the persons who had framed them, that, if there was any
intention shown of casting doubt or reflections on them, he certainly
should move that every one of those which he should present should be

The Earl of MORTON was satisfied with the explanation of the noble Baron
(Lord Holland.)

The petitions presented by Lord Holland, 65 in number, were then
received, the preambles read, and ordered to lie on the table. They were
from congregations in a number of places in Wiltshire, Essex, Dorset,
Berks, Middlesex, &c.; one petition we believe, was signed by above 4000

The EARL of MOIRA rose, and after some observations on the
respectability of the petitioners, declared his readiness to stake his
responsibility for the propriety of the sentiments they contained. His
Lordship then presented a great number of petitions from different
places in London, Westminster, Surrey, Middlesex, Kent, Cambridgeshire,
Essex, Berks, Sussex, Bucks, Wilts, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Hants,
Herts, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, &c.
amounting to about seventy, all which were ordered to lie on the table.

The EARL of LAUDERDALE then rose, and presented twenty petitions from
Bath, the Isle of Wight, Kent, and various other places, with signatures
to the amount of more than 10,000 names, all which were taken as read,
and ordered to lie on the table.

EARL GREY presented a petition from a Meeting at Bristol, which his
Lordship said was intended to have been presented by the High Steward of
that city (Lord Grenville.) His noble friend could not attend in the
House that night, but he was confident, from what he knew of his
opinions respecting the important subject of Toleration, that he was
favourable to the prayer of the petition. Ordered to lie on the table.

The Duke of NORFOLK observed, that persons not dissenters, but friends
to the principle of Toleration, had signed the petition.

Earl GREY then presented seventy-seven other petitions from Lewes,
Portsmouth, Daventry, Colnbrook, Gloucester, and other places, which
were also ordered to lie on the table.

The Earl of ROSSLYN presented twenty-five similar petitions from
different places. Ordered to lie on the table.

Lord ERSKINE stated, that he had two hundred and fifty-five petitions to
present on the same important subject. He should make no other prefatory
remark, but to say, that they contained the same opinions on that
question which he himself maintained on the subject of the Toleration
Act. After having read one of the petitions, his Lordship proceeded to
present them to the House, when it was a little amusing to see him
engaged for more than half an hour, in lifting up his bags full of rolls
one after another, and laying them on the table, then drawing them out
and announcing the place from whence each came, and the number of
signatures affixed. They were from many parts of the south of England,
and some of them had an immense number of signatures.

The Marquis of LANSDOWNE then stated, that he had above 100 different
petitions to present to their Lordships on the same subject, and of the
same tenor. The first petition he presented, his Lordship stated, was
signed by many persons not Protestant dissenters; several of them
beneficed clergymen of the established church, who, equally with the
Protestant dissenters, deprecated any interference with the Toleration
Laws; and was signed by 896 persons. All these petitions were also
received, and ordered to lie on the table.

The number of all the petitions received was about 629.

The order of the day was then called for by several Lords, when

Lord Viscount SIDMOUTH rose, and said, that in moving the second reading
of this Bill, he should make no remarks on the number of the petitions
which had been presented against it, as he readily supposed that the
petitioners sincerely believed what they had expressed with respect to
the operation of it. His noble friend (Lord Liverpool) had truly stated,
that great misconception and misapprehension had gone forth respecting
the Bill, and he must add, great misrepresentation. The various public
resolutions were, for the greater part, inapplicable to the real objects
of his Bill. When the intelligent mind of his noble friend was not quite
free from misconception, he could not wonder at seeing the
misapprehensions of others. It seemed to be thought that some change was
intended in our Toleration Laws. What was it? The object of the Bill,
the clauses of which might be amended in the Committee, was merely to
give uniformity to the two Acts on which our system of toleration was
founded; its object was not to exclude any class of dissenters, but to
comprehend all, according to the spirit and meaning of those Acts. This
was the sole purpose of the Bill. He was led to propose it, from
information, he had a considerable time since received, of what was and
is the prevalent mode of executing those Acts. He lamented to think that
the effect of those Bills was, that any persons of depraved morals
should be able by taking the oath of allegiance, by making the
declaration against popery, and subscribing to certain articles of the
church, or declaring himself, under the 19th of the present King, a
christian and protestant, and a believer that the Old and New Testaments
contained the revealed will of God, to claim his licence, and that his
certificate should enable him to preach any where any doctrines he
pleased; and that this did, in fact, till 1802, exempt him from many
civil and from all military services. At first he could hardly credit
that interpretation of the laws. He could state, but that he feared
fatiguing their Lordships, informations from many magistrates, of
numerous applications at Quarter Sessions, evidently to obtain these
exemptions. He had heard of what he confessed was creditable to a sect
of Dissenters, wherein they acknowledged these abuses, and expressed
their desire to correct them by the expulsion from among them of such
unworthy persons; (the Wesleyan connexion was here alluded to.) He had
learned with satisfaction, that though the prevalent interpretation of
the law was as he had stated, yet with many well-informed and
respectable persons it was not so. In Devon, Norfolk, Bucks, and in
Suffolk too, he learned that that interpretation was not admitted.
Feeling the abuses that were committed, learning the opinions of
enlightened men, and the practice of many respectable magistrates on
this subject, he had felt it necessary to bring the consideration of it
before parliament. He had been encouraged to do so by the opinions of
respectable persons, of magistrates, and judges; and he had stated, in
June, 1809, that he intended to do nothing but what was with a view to
secure the toleration of Protestant dissenters, as well as the support
of the church of England, of which he gloried in being a member. By this
fair standard he had proceeded, and in his Bill there was nothing to be
found inconsistent with it.—He had not contented himself with the
authorities he had mentioned, but had sought further information, and
even communications with various dissenters. From some of them he had
received voluntary communications, and with others he had had
conversation; and though many wished he should take no steps in the
business, few objected to the measure he proposed. They thought merely,
though the measure was innocent, yet that it might excite in other
quarters a disposition to introduce into it objectionable clauses. They
did not seem, on the whole, to think there was any thing in it
materially objectionable. Every class of dissenting preachers, in fact,
who had separate congregations, were left by this Bill in the same state
as before, with the removal of all sorts of impediments, and the
magistrate would know better what was his duty on such subjects. What
better mode of attestation could there be than that of several persons
of the congregation for those who sought for licences? As to the
question of substantial and reputable householders, or householders
merely, that was a consideration for the Committee. There was no other
regulation but to relieve them from different practices at different
Quarter Sessions.

The second point applied to such as had not separate congregations. He
did not expect to meet with any difficulty on this subject from the
quarter whence it rose. It would be a farce to talk of toleration, he
confessed, and at the same time to exclude this class of persons from
the rights allowed to other Protestant dissenters, though he must say,
that he knew they had often given great pain and vexation to many most
excellent and meritorious beneficial clergymen. Yet he must in candour
admit, that hundreds and thousands of people would, through our own
unpardonable and abominable neglect, be deprived of all moral and
religious instructions, were it not for the services of these persons.
Millions in this country were indebted to them for their religious
instruction. (_Hear!_) We are not at liberty to withhold the only means
of moral and religious knowledge. He had not, therefore, excluded such
persons, which would have been contrary to indispensible and eternal
justice. The third point of his Bill related to probationers. He had on
that point, proposed that six persons should sign their belief of the
sober and exemplary life, of the capacity, &c.; of the individual. What
test could be more moderate? His object was to follow up the principles
of the toleration laws, which never meant that any person should assume
to himself the privilege of a preacher and teacher, and exercise such
important functions, without some attestations.—(_Hear!_) Any person
under the Bill might then be chosen, nay, he might be said even to
choose himself, if he procured such attestations. He confessed he did,
confidently, but, as he had found, vainly, expect, that he should have
had the consent of all the sects and descriptions, who felt what was due
to the purity, sanctity, and dignity of religion. All he was
apprehensive of was, that some friends to the established church might
think the Bill would be inefficient for what was requisite; but he never
thought that any Protestant dissenter would consider it inconsistent
with the wise and just enactments of the toleration laws. He learned
that in the customs of dissenters, probation was requisite for the proof
of the gifts necessary for the ministerial office; therefore, he had
merely proposed that three dissenting preachers should sign a testimony
in the probationer’s favour. In our own church, by our ecclesiastical
laws, there were certain probations and attestations to be made. A
Deacon must have the testimonials of three clergymen to his life, gifts,
&c. His name must also be read three times in church. He did not mean to
say that this always prevented improper introductions, but that such
were the precautions that were observed by law. Though he had received
much information on the subject, no man should be placed by him in an
unpleasant situation by his stating his name, though there were noble
Lords present who knew what information he had received. From the
itinerant Methodists, of whom he did not wish to speak disrespectfully,
he had grounds on which he expected their approbation. He had formed his
opinions from those of magistrates and respectable gentlemen of various
descriptions. Objections had been started at first by his noble friend,
for whom he had much respect, (Lord Holland) who seemed to think that
any man had a right to take on himself the office of teacher, on making
the declarations, &c. and that it was not a question for the Legislature
to take up. He would say, that this opinion was utterly inconsistent
with the meaning of the Toleration Act. That Act, right or wrong, was a
measure of condition. (_Hear, hear!_ from the opposition side.) He never
could agree to those broad principles. But in some respects, he thought
these laws intolerant; where, for instance, they limited religious
doctrines. (_Hear, hear!_) His noble friend had called the Toleration
Act the palladium of religious liberty. What did he admire in it? Its
beneficent effects, he had said, in its providing freedom of worship.
Could he deny, that it was differently acted upon in different counties?
In proportion to his admiration of it, his wish should be to render its
operation universal. It was not so at present. There was no case,
wherein when the licence had been refused, the party had, at least for
many years, resorted to the Court of King’s Bench. He went to another
county. Thus, there was a different interpretation in counties bordering
upon each other. Let the benefit, therefore, be made universal. If this
measure were improper, come at once to the assertion of the broad
principle, and try to alter the laws in that way. That broad principle
had never existed in any age or in any country.

History, both sacred and profane, shewed the importance that had been
always attached to the priesthood, which had never been assumed, but
conferred. He was not so read in the sacred writings as he ought to be,
and he could touch on them only with great deference. But he had read,
“Lay hands suddenly on no man;” and also that persons chosen for such
situations should be “of good report.” He could not think of the
argument taken from the low condition of those who, in earlier days,
received their divine missions, as applicable to present times, and as
giving authority to the persons he had alluded to, to lay their claims
to divine influence, without any attestation to their character and
qualifications. The early ages of the church shewed that purity of
character was held indispensible to him who attempted to enter into the
solemn offices of the priesthood. His noble friend had said, that no
case had been made out. He appealed to their Lordships on that point. He
then stated a circumstance that recently happened at Stafford, when the
magistrate, certainly not regularly, required the applicant to write his
name, but who answered, that he came there not to write, but to make the
declaration. He was convinced he had now made out sufficient grounds for
the second reading, and for going into a committee. The noble Lord
proceeded to state, from a paper he held in his hand, in which the
writer mentioned as an instance of the laxity with which licenses to
preach were granted, that he had heard a person in the neighbourhood of
London, who seemed well versed in all the atheistical and deistical
arguments on the subject of religion, lecturing to a crowded audience
for two hours and an half, and broaching the most irreligious and even
blasphemous doctrines. The Bill which he had introduced would naturally
check the existence or spreading of such abuses, which could not fail to
be lamented by every man who was a friend to the morals or the happiness
of all classes of society; and he feared that the broad principle stated
on a former night by his noble friend, (Lord Holland) tended to let
loose this class of men, whose labours must be so destructive of
civilized society. Their Lordships did not do their duty if they thought
themselves absolved from attending to the prevention of such abuses. It
was their duty to protect the ignorant and unwary from being led astray,
and to put them on their guard against such mischievous practices. The
noble Lord then alluded to various resolutions that had been published
in the newspapers. It had surprised him much to observe one set of these
resolutions subscribed by a very respectable gentleman, who was a member
of the other House of Parliament, (Mr. W. Smith,) in which the Bill was
represented as being designed to abridge religious liberty. He saw with
astonishment that such an object was ascribed to the measure, than which
nothing could be farther from his thoughts. Upon the whole, he could not
help expressing an ardent wish that the Bill should be read a second
time, in order that it might go into a committee, were it might undergo
a variety of amendments. He himself should propose several alterations
in the committee; but if he perceived a strong unwillingness on the part
of their Lordships to entertain the Bill, however much he should regret
it, he should respectfully acquiesce in their decision. He concluded
with moving, that the Bill be now read a second time.

The Archbishop of CANTERBURY declared his utter abhorrence of every
species of religious persecution. Whilst he lamented the errors, as he
thought them, of the Protestant dissenters from the church of England,
he admitted that they had a full right to the sober and conscientious
profession of their own religious opinions. The sacred writings were
allowed by all Protestants to be the great standard of religious
doctrine, but the interpretation of them was liable to error. Uniformity
of religious belief was not to be expected, so variously constituted
were the minds of men, and consequently religious coercion was not only
absurd and impolitic, but for all good purposes impracticable. As to the
present Bill, he should deliver his opinion very shortly. It appeared to
him that there were only two objects which it had in view; the first
was, to produce uniformity in explaining the Act of Toleration, and the
second was to render the class of dissenting ministers more respectable,
by the exclusion of those who were unfit for the office. These objects
seemed laudable in themselves, and calculated to increase the
respectability of the dissenting interest. At the same time the
dissenters themselves were the best judges of their own concerns: and as
it appeared, from the great number of petitions which loaded the table
of the House, that they were hostile to the measure, he thought it would
be both unwise and impolitic to press this Bill against their consent.
He therefore wished that the noble Lord would withdraw it, and put an
end to the alarm which had been excited, even though it might be

Lord ERSKINE said, that the evidence which they had had in the
multiplicity of petitions which he had the honour to present to them
against the present Bill, left no doubt as to the opinion entertained by
the Dissenters and Methodists on the subject. But it was to be observed
that a small part of the petitions had yet arrived, and that if longer
time had been allowed, ten times the present number, which already
encumbered their Lordships’ table, and loaded the floor of the House,
would have been presented; such was the opinion which the dissenters at
large entertained of the measure, and such the anxiety they felt at the
appearance of encroachment on any of the privileges which they enjoyed.

The Bill professed to be of a declaratory nature, and only explanatory
of the Act of Toleration; but he would contend, that it was repugnant
both to the letter and the spirit of the Toleration Act. As to the case
of a man teaching blasphemous doctrines, a circumstance to which the
noble Lord had adverted as having actually taken place, was not such a
person, he would ask, liable to be indicted for a misdemeanour? If a man
inculcated sedition or blasphemy from the pulpit, was he not liable to
be punished for it? and was not this the case with Winterbotham? There
was no occasion for any new law against blasphemy; and therefore, so far
there was no occasion for the noble Lord to refer to such an abuse as a
ground for the present Bill. His Lordship here made a distinction which
is not commonly attended to, and indeed seldom noticed, between the
Methodists and other classes of dissenters, by observing that it had
ever been their wish to continue members of the established Church, had
they not been driven by the Conventicle Act to qualify as dissenters, to
avoid the penalties which would have otherwise been levied upon them.
That some of them, to this day, have chosen to run the risk of such
penalties, rather than qualify as dissenters in opposition to their
principles, for they do not dissent from the established Church. And was
it wise or just policy to subject this people to the vexatious, and to
them, ruinous, operation of a Bill, the principle of which was
subversive of the Toleration Act? The noble Lord then spoke in terms of
high commendation of the zeal and usefulness of this people, and thought
them worthy of encouragement and support, rather than restriction and
opposition. He knew that some descriptions of preachers among them asked
no exemption from serving in civil offices. If they refused to serve,
their certificate would not protect them. The law on this subject was
quite clear, and required no explanation. If a man was a religious
teacher, and had no other avocation, in that case he had “a local
habitation and a name,” he was a pastor and had a flock, from which it
was not the meaning of the Toleration Act that he should be abstracted,
in order to serve in civil or military offices. But if all this was not
the case, then he could claim no such exemption. If the pressure of the
times, and the demand for military service, required that such exemption
should be narrowed, then do it by a special Act to that effect, and not
by narrowing the Act of Toleration. He had formed this opinion after he
had been asked by his noble friend to examine these statutes, before he
knew that this Bill was to be opposed by the dissenters, and that he
should have to present 250 petitions against it, from the societies in
and near London, and the neighbouring counties, of the late Rev. John
Wesley. But in a few days there would be an immense number from distant
parts of the kingdom. He stated that the person just named, the founder
of the sect, or numerous body of christians, whose petitions he with
pleasure presented to that House, was a man who he had had the honour to
be acquainted with; and had heard expound the word of God; whose labours
had not been equalled since the days of the Apostles, for general
usefulness to his fellow subjects. A man more pious and devoted, more
loyal to his King, or more sincerely attached to his country, had never
lived. He also spoke in feeling terms of the eminent character of his
own sister (the late Lady Ann Erskine.) The Act was a direct repeal of
the most important parts of the Toleration Acts, as they had been
uniformly explained for one hundred and twenty years; and he believed
that no court and no judges in the country would agree in the
construction put on them by the noble Lord. Would they suffer a Bill to
pass declaring that to be a law which was not law? It was not only
necessary to look into the Toleration Act, but into the intolerant Acts
that preceded it, and beat down religious liberty. The noble Lord then
went into some of these Acts, and concluded with wishing to God that all
of them could be buried in oblivion.

After a variety of other arguments against the Bill, he concluded a long
but most eloquent and impressive speech, with moving that the second
reading should be postponed to that day six months.

Lord HOLLAND, in allusion to the assertion, that the majority of the
petitioners probably did not understand the measure against which they
petitioned, observed, that the holding such language was singularly
unbecoming and offensive. Looking at the immense number who signed the
petitions on the table, it was no light libel to stigmatize them with
want of understanding on a question that so closely touched their
immediate interests. A Right Rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury)
had said, that the deluge of petitions which overflowed their table, was
produced by misapprehension. To follow up the metaphor, it might be said
that this deluge was brought down by the flagrant sin of the Bill. Two
charges had been casually thrown out against him (Lord Holland:) one,
that he pushed the idea of religious liberty to an extent which struck
at the Christian religion itself: this he must utterly deny. The other
was, that he gave absurd and extravagant praise to the Toleration Act,
an Act which had been characterised as abominably intolerant. He would
not go into those considerations, but come directly to the Bill. He had
before declared his principles, and he saw now no reason to shrink from
them. He was an enemy, a most decided, principled, and resolved enemy,
to restraints on religious freedom. He was convinced that every man had
a natural right to choose his mode of religious teaching, and that no
authority had a right to interfere with the choice. A man had as good a
right to preach a peculiar doctrine as he had to print it.

In the language of the Right Reverend Prelate, (the Archbishop of
Canterbury) the scriptures were a great largess to the world, a mighty
and free gift to all mankind; not restrained to the disciples or the
discipline of a peculiar church, but given for the benefit of the world.
(_Hear!_) he considered the Toleration Act as the great religious
charter; and religious liberty could not subsist unless it was perfect
and secure, in the language of Locke, it was equal and impartial, and
entire liberty, of which religion and religious men stood in need. The
Toleration Act had two parts. One of them was a most generous and
liberal concession to the people, and the other was nothing beyond a
base and scanty admission of an undoubted right. In one of those parts a
crowd of laws were merely done away, which were a shame to the statute
book; laws that ought never to have existed. In the other, it was
enacted, that on signing certain articles, an immunity from specified
inconveniences should be given to dissenting ministers. He was always
unwilling that questions of this nature should be stirred. He would not
go into the question, but if it pleased the House that the Toleration
Act, which had slept for a hundred and fifty years, should be roused
once more, he was ready to meet the whole discussion. When the noble
Lord (Sidmouth) had given notice of his measures, the House could
scarcely have the aspect in which it was afterwards to look upon them.
But at every repetition of the notice, something was added. The evil
complained of by the noble Lord was more and more seen to be visionary,
but the remedy was seen to be more and more violent. One diminished as
the other increased. As to the evils which the Bill was to remedy, there
was no document before the House to prove that there was any loss of
militia service by the privileges of the dissenters. The noble Lord
(Sidmouth) had established his opinion on some private letters, on which
probably that noble Lord placed much reliance. But were those things to
be documents, authorising the House to heap disabilities on the whole
immense body of dissenters? The part of the Bill which went to force the
dissenting ministers to be moral, after the fashion of the noble Lord,
was new, and offensive, and tyrannical. This was the distinct meaning of
the noble Lord. He would manufacture the dissenting ministers into
precisely such men as he would wish to have preaching to himself; but
this was not the species of preacher that the dissenters chose. This
attempt of measuring the morality of the dissenting minister by the
noble Lord’s private conceptions, was totally opposed to the principles
of the Toleration Act, and was calculated to be eminently offensive and
vexatious. What was the mode of qualification? They must find six
substantial and reputable housekeepers to vouch for their morality. And
who were those that were to have the power of bringing forward six such
housekeepers to speak to character; or who was to deny the dissenters
the right of having humble men for their teachers? Suppose five hundred
paupers choose to hear religion from a man of their own choosing and of
their own class; was it to be said, that the desire was beyond what
might be permitted? and yet where was this teacher to find his six
substantial and reputable housekeeping vouchers? Or was the argument to
be persisted in by those men who were ready to boast of their attachment
to religion, and to acknowledge, as one of its glories, that it had
risen by the labours of humble men, not merely without dependence on,
but in opposition to the wealth, and influence, and power, of the great
of this world? Yet it was not enough for the Bill that the dissenting
minister should be devout and learned, but that he should be proved so
to his congregation. How? by the signature of six substantial and
reputable housekeepers? Was his ordeal to end here? No; the judgment of
the six housekeepers was to be revised by a country justice, before the
dissenting congregation could be secure of the teacher whom they had
originally chosen for his fitness. The article on probationers was
unjust and absurd. When a vacancy occurred in the dissenting pulpit, a
number of candidates usually appeared, who were to give evidence of
their qualities, by preaching, before they had or could have obtained an
appointment. By the operation of the article now alluded to, those young
men would be subjected to the horrid penalties of the Conventicle Act.
If this Bill were to pass, they would find 50,000 Methodist teachers
applying immediately for licences, for fear of persecution. But though
the regular Methodist teachers might not have any thing to fear from a
prosecution of that nature, since the wise statute of Anne, yet if this
Bill passed, the whole important body of the itinerants would be exposed
to peculiar hazards. The noble Lord (Sidmouth) had spoken of having had
the approbation of many respectable dissenters on the Bill; but he (Lord
Holland) had conversed with many on the subject, and he had not found
one who did not decidedly disapprove of it entire. The Bill was
completely at variance with the original idea thrown out to the House,
as he understood it; and he could not doubt that it was at variance with
all that he had ever learned to revere as the genuine principles of
religious liberty. (_Hear! Hear!_)

Lord STANHOPE said, he did not now rise to oppose the Bill, because it
had already got its death blow. He hoped, however, it would be followed
up by a measure of a very different nature, (alluding to the repeal of
the Conventicle Act). He had never felt more pleasure in his whole
parliamentary life, than he had done on this very day; and if any one
asked him the reason, he would tell them, it was at the immense heap of
petitions that was then strewed upon their floor, and piled upon their
table, and all against this most wretched Bill. He liked this, because a
kind of silly talk had been going abroad that there was no public. He
had always thought otherwise. He had heard it said, that such was the
public feeling, that they would not, at the present moment, be affected
by any thing which could possibly happen. The petitions now on their
Lordship’s table, however, completely gave the lie to this allegation.
The event had shewn that there was still a public opinion in this
country, and that, when called into action, it could manifest itself
speedily, and with effect. He was happy this had occurred. He had never
doubted that there was still such a thing as public opinion; and hoped
those noble Lords who had hitherto doubted the fact, would now be
convinced of their error. And he saw to-day that there was a public, and
a public opinion, and a public spirit. He saw it in the multitude of
petitions sent up on so short a notice; and he was rejoiced to find it
alive, active, and energetic. He would not talk of the Bill; that was
dead and gone; and it would be beneath a man of sense to quarrel with
the carcase. (_A laugh!_) The Bill was declaratory as well as active,
and it was illegal as well as either. He defied all the Lawyers in the
House, and out of the House to prove that this wretched and unfortunate
Bill was not illegal. _(Hear!)_ He would not condescend to argue every
point. It was unnecessary to argue upon what was beyond human help. It
was all over with the Bill; its hour was come; the Bill was dead and
gone, but he must say something on the subject, however. The noble Lord
(Sidmouth) had declared the Conventicle Act to be abominable. He (Lord
Stanhope) was one of those who detested that Act which they called the
Toleration Act, and for this reason, because it did not go far enough.
He hated the name of the Toleration Act. He hated the word Toleration.
It was a beggarly, narrow, worthless word; it did not go far enough. He
hated toleration, because he loved liberty. (_Hear!_) There was not a
man in that House—not one among the law Lords—not one, perhaps, among
the Bishops themselves, that had read so many of our religious statutes
as he had; and disgusting, and foolish, and wicked, the most of them
were. He had gone through them with a professional man by his side, and
with his pen had abstracted and marked off 300 laws about religion from
the Statute Book; and he ventured to assert, that they were of such a
nature as would make their Lordships disgusted with the Statute Book,
and ashamed of their ancestors, who could have enacted them. There was
but one good statute that he saw, and that was a model for statutes: it
was the wisest on religion that he had ever seen. It was a statute of
Edward VI. who might fairly be said to be the first protestant Prince
who had ever reigned in this country, for King Henry the eighth, that
defender of the faith, could hardly be said to be a real protestant.
This statute of Edward VI. abolished the whole set of religious statutes
before it. Yes, shoveled them away all at once; it was the best of
statutes. (_laughing!_) For what need had religion of Acts of
Parliament? Was not religion capable of standing by itself? (_Hear!
hear!_ from Lord Sidmouth.) The noble Lord might say, _hear! hear!_ but
was it not true? If the noble Lord did not believe it, he (Lord
Stanhope) at least did. Was not America religious? Yet there, there was
no established religion—there, there were no tythes. In one particular
state, that of Connecticut, he was informed there was a law, that if any
man voluntarily gave a bond to a clergyman, no suit upon it could be
entertained in a court of justice. And for a good reason, because it
being the duty of the clergyman to instruct his flock, and to make them
good and honest men, if he succeeded in doing so, no such suit would
have been necessary: on the other hand, having failed to perform his
duty, he could have no right to be rewarded. Oh! if the establishment in
this country were never to be paid till they made the people honest,
many of them, he was afraid, would go without any reward whatever. All,
then, must have a right to choose for themselves in matters of religion
and this was not the first time he thought so.

To toleration, as it now existed in this country, he was, as he already
said, a decided enemy; but to religious liberty he was a most decided
friend, convinced that no restraint should be put on religion, unless in
so far as it might seem to endanger the state.

Earl GREY said, though he perceived that his noble friend (Sidmouth) did
not mean to press this Bill farther, yet, he could not allow the
question to be put without declaring his unchangeable objection both to
the details and to the principle of the Bill, to which no modifications
could ever reconcile him. The principle of the Bill was
restraint—restraint vexatious and uncalled for. That it was a Bill of
restraint, even his noble friend (Sidmouth) himself had not denied, or
attempted to disguise. He (Earl Grey) was against all restraint. He went
along with his noble friend (Lord Holland) in thinking that every man
who was impressed with a belief that he had a call to preach, ought to
have every liberty allowed him to do so. One inconvenience stated to
result from this unlimited liberty had been said to be of a purely civil
nature, inasmuch as it afforded facilities to men not actually
preachers, but who pretended to be so, to avail themselves of that
character, to escape certain obligations imposed on the other subjects
of the country, such as serving in the militia, &c. Judging from the
papers on the table, he could not see the force or justice of this
observation. For the last forty years the number of persons licensed
appeared to have been about 11,000. He should take, however, the last
twelve years. Dividing them into two equal parts, it appeared that, in
the six former years, the number licensed was 1,100, and, in the latter
six years, 900, so that the number had diminished, instead of
increasing, and the present measure, instead of being thereby more
peculiarly called for, had become so much the less necessary.

Lord SIDMOUTH briefly replied. He took some objection to the legal
reasoning on his Bill, and professed himself not dismayed, by the
opposition which it met, from bringing forward any future measures on
the subject, which he thought suggested by his duty.

The question was then put by the Lord Chancellor, “that the Bill be read
a second time this day six months,” and carried without a division: it
was therefore entirely lost.


Lord SIDMOUTH’S Bill being thus lost, and the subject of Toleration
having been so fully discussed, and so ably defended in the House of
Lords, it was rational to hope that the cause of religious liberty would
now be triumphant; that persecutors would be ashamed and hide their
heads; that the pious people of the land would enjoy their privileges
unmolested; that every man would be permitted to worship God according
to the dictates of his conscience, and “sit under his vine and fig-tree,
none daring to make him afraid.” But alas! this hope was fallacious; the
spirit of persecution revived, a new construction was put upon the
Toleration Act, and “the enemies of religious liberty exerted themselves
to effect that without law, which they failed to accomplish by it.”
Several magistrates in different parts of the kingdom, at the Quarter
Sessions of the peace, refused to administer the oaths as formerly, to
the ministers who applied, and in some cases they were treated with
rudeness and contempt!

The Conventicle Act was again brought into use, and several persons were
fined, or imprisoned, for preaching without licences, or in unlicenced
houses, and in one instance, for _praying_ with a few poor people: this
religious exercise, by a certain Nobleman, who was chairman of the
Quarter Sessions, was construed in _teaching_, and the man was fined
accordingly! This extraordinary decision, however, was overruled by an
application to the Court of King’s Bench, and the fine returned.

Dreadful outrages were committed in various parts of the country, and
the lives and liberties of his Majesty’s peaceable and loyal subjects
were threatened and endangered.

These circumstances greatly alarmed the nation, and more especially as
several cases had been brought before the Court of King’s Bench, and the
decisions of the Judges appeared to be contrary to former
interpretations of the Toleration Act. Matters now began to wear a very
alarming aspect, and it was apprehended that the persecuting spirit of
former ages was about to be revived. The Toleration Act, under which the
Methodists and Dissenters had been so long protected, it was now
discovered, could no longer afford them protection. This state of things
excited universal interest; the minds of the pious people in the land,
both in and out of the established Church, were greatly agitated; and it
was deemed highly expedient, yea absolutely necessary, that some
decisive steps should be immediately taken, for the better security of
the invaluable rights of Conscience and Religion.

The Committees of the different denominations of Dissenters, of the
friends of Religious Liberty, and of Mr. Wesley’s Societies, as
mentioned before, were again convened; and after the most mature
deliberation, it was unanimously determined respectfully to submit their
grievances to his Majesty’s Ministers, and to pray for redress. This
they did, first to the late Right Honourable Spencer Perceval,
Chancellor of the Exchequer, who approved of the plan proposed for their
relief, and promised them support; as will appear from the following
authentic copy of a letter, dated Downing-street, April 10th, 1812, and
addressed to Joseph Butterworth, Esq. Fleet-street.

                                   _Downing-street, April 10, 1812._

SIR,—Having had an opportunity, in the course of the late recess, to
consider, with my colleagues, the subject of your communication, on the
part of the dissenters, I proceed to acquaint you as I promised, with
our opinion upon it.

It appears to us, that the interpretations recently given, at different
Quarter Sessions, to those statutes under which magistrates are
authorized to grant certificates to persons wishing to act as Dissenting
Ministers, (and which interpretations, as far as they have hitherto
undergone judicial decision, appear to be more correct constructions of
these laws, than those which heretofore prevailed in practice,) place
the persons, who wish to obtain certificates as Dissenting Ministers, in
a situation so different from that in which the previous practice had
placed them, as to require parliamentary interference and relief, to the
extent, at least, of rendering legal the former practice; and I shall,
therefore, be willing, either to bring forward, or to support, an
application to parliament for the purpose of affording such relief.

Understanding, however, that a case is now pending in judgment, before
the King’s Bench, upon the construction of some part of these Acts, it
appears to me, that it will be desirable to postpone any direct
application to the Legislature till that decision shall explain the
exact state of the law upon the point in dispute in that case. By
postponing the application to parliament till after the decision in that
case, no such delay will be incurred as will prevent the application to
parliament in this session, since the decision will, I believe, be
pronounced upon it in the ensuing term.

The precise mode of giving this relief, whether by the repeal of any
existing laws, or by making the Act of the magistrate purely
ministerial, in administering the oaths, and granting the certificates,
to such persons as may apply, is a matter which I wish to be understood
as reserved for future consideration; but I think it material to state,
distinctly, that I understand the desire of the persons, whom you
represent, to be this—that the exemptions to be conferred by such
certificates, from the penalties, to which such persons might otherwise
be exposed for preaching, &c. should be universal to all who so qualify
themselves; while the exemption from civil and military burdens or
duties should be confined to those only who are ministers of
congregations, and who make the ministry so completely their profession,
as to carry on no other business, excepting that of a schoolmaster.

As to the question respecting the liability of dissenting chapels to the
poor rates, I am convinced that the dissenters must consider it as a
subject of very inferior importance, both in effect and in principle.—On
principle, I conceive, all that could be required would be, that the
chapels of dissenters should be put precisely on the same footing as
chapels belonging to the establishment; if they stand on any other
footing, in point of legal liability at the present moment, (which,
however, I do not understand to be the case,) I should be very ready to
propose, that the law in that respect should be altered.

If you wish for any further communication with me on this subject, I
shall be happy to appoint a time for seeing you.

                                 I have the honour to be,
                                 Your most obedient humble Servant,
                                            (_Signed_) SP. PERCEVAL.


This letter reflects great honour upon Mr. Perceval, but his lamented
death which happened on the 11th of May following, put a stop to the
proceedings of the Committees for some time.

In the month of June they made application to the Right Hon. the Earl of
Liverpool, who very politely received the deputation from the
committees, and engaged to bring forward and support a Bill which would
effectually relieve them, and secure to them all their religious
privileges. A Bill was accordingly, in the month of July, introduced
into the House, which speedily passed through both the Lords and
Commons, almost without opposition, and received the Royal Assent on the
23d of July. This auspicious Act is entitled “an Act to repeal certain
Acts, and amend other Acts, relating to religious worships and
assemblies, and persons teaching and preaching therein.”[Ab]

[Footnote Ab: 52 George the Third, Chap. 155.]

I consider the obtaining the new Toleration Act as a glorious epoch in
the annals of British history: it reflects great honour upon the nation,
upon his Majesty’s government, upon the Legislative authorities of the
land, and upon _all_ who used their exertions to obtain it; I could not
therefore deny myself the high gratification, at the close of this work,
to record the most interesting circumstances which have come to my
knowledge, of this important event.

It has excited sentiments of gratitude and joy in the hearts of every
liberal-minded person in the country, and will more than ever endear to
them our happy constitution and the lenient Government under which,
Divine Providence hath placed us.

I record these circumstances the more willingly, because they form a
happy contrast between the present enlightened and meliorated state of
society and that recorded, by Dr. Chandler, in the preceding pages.

The following document may be deemed authentic, and though containing
but a small part of the interesting account which might be given, will
nevertheless gratify thousands of the present generation, and will be
read with grateful emotions by those who are yet to be born. Our
children, who may rise up after us, when we are “gathered to our
fathers,” will pronounce the framers and promoters of this Act blessed;
and our children’s children will joy fully exclaim, O GOD WE HAVE HEARD


The following is a detail of the steps taken by the Committee of
Privileges, belonging to the Societies founded by the late Rev. John
Wesley. The letter was addressed, by the Committee, to the
Superintendants of Circuits in the Methodist connection.

                                          _London, July 31st, 1812._

In May last the General Committee of Privileges addressed a circular
letter to the Superintendants of Circuits, with a view to allay the
apprehensions of the people, under the circumstances in which they were
then placed from the new construction of the Toleration Act; and to
assure them, that no time would be lost in taking such measures as were
likely to promote the success of an application to the Legislature for
relief; and they, at the same time, inclosed the copy of a letter from
the late Mr. Perceval (published with his permission) in which he
promised to bring forward or to support such an application to
Parliament:—but the melancholy death of that lamented statesman, put an
end for some time, to the correspondence with Government upon the

The Committee, being of opinion that a measure of this nature and
magnitude, ought to _originate_ with his Majesty’s Government, (whoever
might be in office for the time being) solicited no individual member of
the Legislature on the subject, but waited till an administration was
appointed; when this was done the Committee lost no time in addressing
the Right Honourable the _Earl of Liverpool_: and after the necessary
communications, a Bill was introduced into Parliament under his
Lordship’s auspices, which, to our inexpressible satisfaction has now
passed into a law.

In order to understand the bearings and effect of this important and
salutary Act of Parliament, and before we make any general remarks, it
may be necessary to advert to the situation in which our Societies were
placed, and to some of the proceedings of the Committee for the purpose
of accomplishing the object they had in view.

By the CONVENTICLE ACT, (22 Charles II. c. 1) it was enacted, that if
any person of sixteen years of age and upwards, should be _present_ at
any Conventicle or meeting for religion, other than according to the
Liturgy, and practice of the Church of England, at which should be
present above five persons besides those of the same household, he
_should pay a fine of five shillings_ for the first offence, and _ten
shillings for every subsequent offence_; which penalties might, in case
of the _poverty_ of an offender, be levied on the goods and chattles of
_any person present_. _Every person_ who should _teach_ or _preach_ at
such Conventicle or meeting, should forfeit _twenty pounds_ for the
_first offence_; and _forty pounds, for every subsequent offence_. Every
person who should suffer any such Conventicle or meeting in his house or
premises, should _forfeit twenty pounds_, which, in case of his poverty,
might be levied upon the goods of _any person present_. The _justices_
and the _military_ were impowered to enter Conventicles, and disperse
religious meetings. And the Act declares the principle (most severe and
intolerant) upon which it is to be interpreted, namely:—“_That it shall
be construed most largely and beneficially for the suppressing of
Conventicles, and for the justification and encouragement of all persons
to be employed in the execution thereof_;” and that no _record_,
_warrant_, or _mittimus_ to be made by virtue of that Act, or any
proceedings thereupon should be _reversed_, _avoided_, or _any way
impeached_, by reason of any _default_ in _form_! It was also declared,
that the goods and chattles of the _husband_ should be liable for the
penalties incurred by the _wife_ for _attending a meeting for religious

As to the FIVE MILE ACT, (17 Charles II. c. 2) it is thereby declared,
that persons therein mentioned who should _preach in any Conventicle,
should not come within five miles of any corporate town sending
burgesses to Parliament_, unless in passing upon the road, before such
person shall have taken the oath therein-mentioned at the Quarter
Sessions, under a penalty of _forty pounds_.

Besides these two Acts of Parliament, there were several other Acts
which rendered nonconformity, or a deviation from the established
religion of the country, unlawful, and highly penal.

Thus stood the law relative to religious assemblies on the accession of
_King_ WILLIAM and _Queen_ MARY, when, or soon afterwards, an Act of
Parliament was passed for the relief of conscientious persons, suffering
under or exposed to those intolerant and oppressive laws. By that Act (1
William and Mary, c. 18) usually called the TOLERATION ACT, it was in
substance declared, that with regard to _private individuals_, the
former Acts should not extend to _any person dissenting from_ the Church
of England, who should at the Sessions take the Oaths, and subscribe the
Declaration therein mentioned; and with regard to the _ministers of
religion_, it was enacted that no _person dissenting_ from the Church of
England, in Holy Orders, or pretended Holy Orders, or pretending to Holy
Orders, nor any preacher or teacher of any congregation of _dissenting_
Protestants, who should at the Sessions make the _Declaration_ and take
the Oaths therein expressed, should be liable to the penalties of the
Acts of Parliament therein mentioned. Provided that such person should
not at any time preach in any place _with the doors locked, barred, or
bolted_. By this Act also, a justice was empowered at any time to
require _any person_ that went to any meeting for the exercise of
religious worship, to subscribe the _Declaration_ and take the _Oaths_
therein mentioned; and in case of refusal, to _commit such person to
prison_. And the ministers of religion having taken the Oaths under the
Act, were exempt from certain offices. It was declared, that no assembly
for religious worship should be allowed till _registered_. And
disturbers of religious worship coming _into_ a registered place, were
subjected to the penalty of twenty pounds. There are other provisions in
the Act, which it may be unnecessary to mention; nor need we
particularize the STATUTE of the 10th of _Queen_ ANNE, c. 2, which
extends the liberty of a person having taken the Oaths in one county, to
preach in another county; nor the STATUTE of the 19th of George III.
which regulates the _Oaths_ and _Declaration_ to be made, and extends
the exemptions.

You will perceive, that it was only by the operation of these last Acts,
that any _Protestant_ not resorting to the established church, could be
protected from the antecedent penal statutes; and in proportion as the
construction of these Tolerating Acts was limited, would be the
destructive operation of those penal statutes. However, these Acts of
Toleration were considered by the various classes of Dissenters as the
Palladium of their religious liberty; and their efficacy for the
protection of the various classes of _Dissenters_ was never questioned
till very lately; and all who believed it their duty to preach the
religious doctrines which they held, and were inclined to protect
themselves from the penalties of former Acts, found little difficulty in
getting the magistrates at the Sessions to administer the oaths; &c. as
it was the generally received doctrine, that the magistrates acted
merely _ministerially_—that they had no authority to enquire into the
_fitness_ or _character_ of the applicant—and could not refuse the
oaths, &c. to any man who represented himself in _Holy Orders_, or
_pretended Holy Orders_, or as _pretending to Holy Orders_; or as being
a _teacher_ or _preacher_ of a congregation _dissenting_ from the church
of England; and it was thought, that there could scarcely be any
_dissenting_ teacher of religion who could not properly consider himself
as falling within one of the above descriptions. But latterly there has
been a manifest alteration in the conduct of many magistrates, who, by
narrowing the construction of the Toleration Act, have, on many alleged
reasons, refused the oaths, &c. to several applicants. The _new
construction_ of the magistrates, has in some points of very great
importance to the religious nonconformists, or occasional conformists,
been sanctioned by the Court of King’s Bench, which held, that a man to
entitle himself to take the oaths, &c. as required by the Act of
Toleration, ought to shew himself to be the acknowledged teacher or
preacher of some _particular congregation_, and that it was not enough
for a man to state himself a Protestant Dissenter, who preaches to
several congregations of Protestant Dissenters. And with regard to
persons pretending to Holy Orders, the decision of the Court left us in
great uncertainty.

In this state of perplexity, with regard to what was to be the
construction of the Toleration Act, or rather of probability that it
would afford but a very insufficient protection for the _Methodists,
even if they could denominate themselves Dissenters_, the Committee were
under the necessity of deeply considering the situation of the whole
body. But when they were constantly receiving intelligence from various
parts of the country, of the appearance of a new spirit of hostility to
the _preachers_, and of persecution against the _harmless members_ of
their Societies, by enforcing the penalties of the most odious of
obsolete laws upon the persons of the poor and defenceless, the
Committee were exceedingly alarmed. For although they admired, and have
experienced the benefit of the pure and impartial administration of
justice, for which this country is so celebrated, yet they could not but
consider the state of the Societies with apprehension, when they saw the
press teeming with the grossest slander and falsehood against them;
their religious practices traduced and vilified; and they themselves
represented as “_vermin fit only to be destroyed_,” had such
representations been casual, they would have been disregarded; but when
they were reiterated in certain popular _Publications month after
month_, and one _quarter_ of a year after another—when the legislature
were loudly and repeatedly called upon to adopt measures of coercion
against them, under the pretence that evangelical religion was inimical
to public security and morals; and, as they saw, that in unison with
this spirit, there seemed a growing disposition in many to enforce the
penalties of the _Conventicle Act_ upon those who either _had not_ taken
the oaths, or _could not_ take them, or _were not permitted_ to take
them, &c. under the Toleration Act, the Committee were under the
greatest apprehension that the Societies were about to be deprived of
that liberty to worship God, which, either under the law, or by the
courtesy of the country, they had enjoyed from their first rise nearly a
century ago. And their fears were far from being allayed by the
intelligence which thickened upon them, and they became furnished with a
mass of incontrovertible evidence from different parts of the country,
which shewed that, even if the members of our Societies were to be
considered as _Dissenters_, it would be utterly impossible to get
protection under the Toleration Acts for our Preachers and Teachers,
especially for the Local Preachers, Class Leaders, &c. &c.

These various Teachers were absolutely necessary for our economy, and
without them we knew that our Societies and religious customs could not
be carried on. They had, it is true, been _tolerated_ by the general
_consent_ of the country, rather than _protected_ by the _law_; but this
had with almost equal efficacy secured the free exercise of their
religious privileges.

However, as a bitter spirit of intolerance was thus manifesting itself,
the Committee thought it in vain to contend for protection under acts of
parliament which were of _uncertain interpretation as to Dissenters_,
but of no value to those who _considered themselves as belonging to the
Church of England_, of which the great bulk of our Societies is
composed, the Committee therefore determined to submit their case to the
Government, and to Parliament; and to solicit the adoption of such a
measure as would secure to the _Methodist Societies_, and to _other
denominations of Christians suffering with them_, the free exercise of
their religious rights and privileges.

It now became necessary for the Committee deeply and critically to
consider the situation and principles of the Societies, in order to
adopt a measure for their relief, which they might submit to his
Majesty’s ministers for their support in parliament. In doing this, the
Committee could not forget that the Societies are mere associations of
christians, united for general improvement and edification; and as the
great majority of them were, from religious principle, attached to the
Church of England, they could not conscientiously take the oaths as
_Dissenters_,—to whom, alone, the _Act of Toleration_ applied. Therefore
no amendment of that Act appeared likely to answer the purpose. But as
Dissenters of various denominations were also to be contemplated by the
projected measure, it became necessary to proceed upon some principle
common to all. A principle which should recognize _the rights of
conscience_, and at the same time afford that security for peaceable and
loyal conduct, which the government of any State has a right to expect.
It appeared also material to avoid all phraseology which would be
exclusively applicable to _any one sect_ of religious people.

As to the principle, the Committee, at an early stage of their
deliberations, came to the resolution, that although all well-regulated
societies, and denominations of Christians, will exercise their own
rules for the admission of public or private teachers among themselves,
yet _it is the unalienable right of every man to worship God agreeably
to the dictates of his own conscience_; and that he has a right to HEAR
and to TEACH those Christian truths which he conscientiously believes,
without any _restraint_ or _judicial_ interference from the _civil
magistrate_, provided he do not thereby disturb the peace of the
community, and that on no account whatever would the Committee concede
this fundamental principle.

You will see at once, that it is only on this legitimate principle, that
the various members of our Societies, and indeed mankind in general,
_have any right to teach and instruct one another_. It was on this
leading principle, that we drew up and submitted a Bill to the late Mr.
Perceval, qualified however with those provisions which made our
religious worship known, and laid it open for the inspection of all; and
left our teachers subject to be called upon to take the usual
obligations of allegiance &c. which no good man could object to; and
which by the Constitution, no subject can lawfully refuse; but at the
same time provision was made, that those oaths were not to be taken as
an _antecedent_ qualification, but when required, they were to be taken
with the least possible inconvenience, by going before one neighbouring
magistrate, instead of the Quarter Sessions. A Bill founded on such
principles, and with such views, the Committee trusted would at once
secure the _rights of conscience_, and give every needful _pledge_ to
the _State_, for the fulfilment of our duties as good subjects. And
although they did not attempt to amend the Act of Toleration, which had
now become so uncertain in its construction, but only suggested a new
Act, adapted to the present state of religious Society, yet they did not
wish to remove the Old Toleration Act, or lessen any of the benefits to
be derived from it, by any class of Christians.

On these principles, and with a view to establish them in practice, the
correspondence with the _Earl of Liverpool_ was conducted, and we have
the great satisfaction to say, that from a just sense of the high
importance of those principles, which have been so powerful in the
establishment and support of the _Protestant Church_, and the
preservation of civil order in this country; and which are so congenial
with every dictate of sound policy, and pure religion, his Lordship and
his Majesty’s Ministers prepared a Bill, which having now passed into a
law, will be found to carry into effect what the Committee deemed so
essential, in any measure designed to meet the situation of the
_Methodist_ Societies, and _other denominations of Christians_. To a
short sketch of this Act, we have now to request your attention; but for
full information we must refer you to the Act itself.

The new Act _absolutely repeals_ the _Five Mile_ and the _Conventicle
Acts_, and another Act of a most offensive kind, which affected a highly
respectable body, the _Quakers_. It then proceeds to relieve from the
Penalties of the several Acts mentioned in the Toleration Act, or any
amendment of the same, all Protestants who resort to a congregation
allowed by the Acts there referred to: and you will not fail to observe,
that while it meets the situation of the _Dissenters_, how liberally it
treats the condition of _our Societies_. It is not now necessary that a
person should be obliged to relinquish his attachment to the established
Church, in order to bring himself under the protection afforded by this
Act; and on the other hand _if he be a Dissenter_ he is protected by
this Act. The simple condition of protection is, that a Protestant do
resort to _some place of worship_, which if not the only way, is at
least the usual and overt manner of shewing our belief in the existence
of the Deity, and in a future state of retribution; without which, there
is no security for the peace and happiness of Society. To _our
Societies_, this feature of the Act is of great importance, because it
allows our members to continue their attachment to the established
Church, without relinquishing the privileges which the christian
communion of our Societies, so largely affords. As under the Toleration
Act, so under this Act, all places of worship must be _certified_ to the
proper Court; but under this Act, a Preacher need not wait till the
place be _registered_ before he preaches. By the former Acts only _five
persons_ could meet together, besides a man’s own family, without having
the place registered; by this Act, the number is extended to _twenty
persons_ who may meet without certifying the place of meeting. By the
_former Act_, no person could preach till he had taken the Oaths; by
this Act, any person may preach without having taken the Oaths; and is
merely liable to be called on _once_ to take them afterwards, _if
required in writing by one Justice_. By the _Toleration Acts_, persons
were obliged to go to the Quarter Sessions to take the Oaths; by this
Act any person may take them before one Justice only; and in no case, is
such person compellable to _travel above five miles for that purpose_:
so that it will be perfectly unnecessary for any of our Preachers or
Teachers to take the Oaths until they are required by a Justice, unless
our travelling Preachers, who carry on no business, and intend to claim
exemption from civil and military duties. By the _new construction_ of
the Toleration Act, it appeared that only particular persons could
insist upon taking the Oaths, &c. by this Act _any Protestant_, whether
preacher or otherwise, whether a Dissenter or a Member of the Church of
England, may require a Justice to administer the Oaths, &c. and grant a

As to the exemption from civil and military duties, they are about the
same, as to Preachers carrying on no business, except that the
Toleration Act extended only to Dissenters, and this Act exempts all
Preachers as they were by the Toleration and new Militia Acts, whether
Dissenters or not. By the Toleration Act, so by this, the doors of all
places of worship are to be unlocked. In this Act you will observe a
great and most beneficial alteration for the protection of religious
assemblies. The Toleration Act did not provide for the punishment of
riotous persons who did not come into the house, by which means many of
our congregations were greatly disturbed by noises made on the outside:
but by this Act, any person who shall wilfully and maliciously disturb a
Congregation, (whether by coming into or being on the outside of the
house) shall incur a penalty of £40. which penalty is double the amount
of that imposed for the same offence by the Toleration Act. There is
also another important advantage in this Act, which is, that the writ of
_Certiorari_ is not taken away, by which means, Proceedings may be
removed into the Court of King’s Bench.

Thus have we endeavoured to give you an outline of this important Act of
the Legislature: an Act which, we trust, you and our friends will
consider as clearly recognizing in practice, those great principles
which are the basis of religious freedom, and that its operation will
not only enable our Societies to exercise under the protection of the
law, those privileges which they have ever considered the most sacred
and invaluable, and which, under the Divine blessing, have contributed
to the consolation of thousands; but it will serve for the extension of
piety and virtue amongst all denominations, by promoting christian
fellowship, the dissemination of Divine truth, and the interchange of
religious instruction. And whilst it amply extends the circle of
religious liberty to those who dissent from, or who only partially or
occasionally conform to the established Church, as well as to strict
members of her communion, who wish to enjoy religious meetings, it will
excite attachment to, and encrease the security of that church, which
has produced so many champions for the verities of our holy religion,
and in which indeed, our Societies have been founded.

Nor should it be forgotten, (especially in times like the present) that
this Act is of peculiar excellency, from the effect it will have upon
the happiness of the _religious poor_. They value exceedingly the
liberty of associating for mutual religious instruction and consolation.
It is the exercise of that privilege which soothes them under poverty
and distress, and, by the grace of God, makes them content under the
apparently adverse dispensations of Divine providence; and teaches them
to wait with patience for the “_inheritance which is incorruptible_.”
This Act by removing all restraint from the performance of the great
duty of “_exhorting one another_,” may be considered as having the
well-disposed and pious poor for its object, and great will be their
gratitude and gladness, that they can, under the protection of this Law,
worship God in their own way, and instruct each other, as well as hear
those Ministers whose labours they esteem. And while it has this effect
upon their individual happiness, it will make them value the
Constitution of the Country, through which they derive such benefits. In
short, the Committee cannot but contemplate this important extention of
Religious Freedom, with the highest satisfaction and delight; and they
cannot doubt, that in proportion to the apparent excellency of this Act
of Parliament, will be the magnitude of the benefits which the nation at
large will derive from it.

In the accomplishment of this salutary measure, the Committee have
necessarily had much correspondence with the Prime Minister, THE RIGHT
HONORABLE THE EARL OF LIVERPOOL; and it is a duty they owe to his
Majesty’s Government, and to that noble Lord in particular, to express
with pleasure and gratitude the high sense of the obligations they feel
themselves under, for the patient attention which his Lordship has given
to the many and necessary representations of the Committee, as well as
the readiness manifested to meet fully, the situation of our Societies,
and of other religious denominations; and for the cordiality with which
his Lordship matured and supported the Bill in Parliament, which appears
to be commensurate to the present necessities and wishes of our

The Committee are also under considerable obligations to HIS GRACE THE
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, for his polite attention to the subject, and
for the liberal sentiments expressed by his Grace, on various occasions:
And we cannot but feel great gratitude to all the right Reverend
Prelates who concurred in the Bill, without whose concurrence, it must
have met with considerable difficulties in its progress through

It is also the duty of the Committee, to express their humble thanks to
the rest of the Cabinet Ministers, for the support which this measure
has received from them, and particularly to THE RIGHT HONOURABLE, THE
LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR, for his Lordship’s candid and liberal attention to
the Bill, in the House of Lords; and also to THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
VISCOUNT CASTLEREAH, for the labour of conducting it in the House of
Commons. In these sentiments of respect and gratitude, we are sure we
shall be joined by you, and our Societies universally.

The Committee are happy to inform you, to whom they are under particular
obligations, on this important occasion, that you may have the pleasure
of participating with them, in those sentiments which the sense of
benefits received naturally inspire. They will therefore mention, that
they are greatly indebted to the RIGHT HONOURABLE EARL STANHOPE, to the
for their attention and support in the House of Peers; and to WILLIAM
BABINGTON, ESQ. Members of the House of Commons, from each of whom, the
Committee have derived important services relative to this valuable Act.

While endeavouring to express our gratitude upon this occasion, rather
than pretending to discharge the debt which we owe to the distinguished
characters we have mentioned, it is with great satisfaction that we
acknowledge the co-operation which we have experienced from “THE
represent the great body of Dissenters in this country, and from our
affectionate friends the QUAKERS, with whom, as well as with other
denominations of Christians we are happy to be associated in receiving
benefit in the same friendly Act of the legislature: we are sure this
co-operation will encrease your esteem for those respectable members of
civil and religious society.

In considering the many circumstances relative to the progress and
completion of this excellent measure, we cannot but adore the providence
and goodness of God, without whose direction and aid the work could not
have been accomplished. And we would ascribe the glory, honour, and
power to Him, from whom alone all good councils and all just works do
proceed. Our joy is great upon this int