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From Celtic woods is chased the wolfish crew;
It is remarkable how readily sentiments of toleration occur, even to the professors of the most intolerant religion, when their minds have fair play to attend to them. The edict of Nantes,
by which Henry IV. secured to his Huguenot subjects the undisturbed exercise of their religion, was the recompense of the great obligations he owed to them, and a sort of compensation for his having preferred power to conscience; an edict, declared unalterable, and which had even been sanctioned by Louis XIV. himself, so late as 1680, was, in 1685, finally abrogated. The violence with which the persecution of the Protestants was then pushed on, almost exceeds belief. The principal and least violent mode of conversion, adopted by the king and his minister Louvois, was by quartering upon those of the reformed religion large parties of soldiers, who were licenced to commit every outrage in their habitations short of rape and murder. When, by this species of persecution, a Huguenot had been once compelled to hear mass, he was afterwards treated as a relapsed heretic, if he shewed the slightest disposition to resume the religion in which he had been brought up. James II., in two letters to the Prince of Orange, beseeching toleration for the regular priests in Holland, fails not to condemn the conduct of Louis towards his Protestant subjects; yet, with gross inconsistency, or the deepest dissimulation, he was at the same time congratulating Barillon on his Most Christian Majesty's care for the conversion of his subjects, and hoping God would grant him the favour of completing so great a work. * And just so our author, after blaming the persecution of the Huguenots, congratulates Italy and Spain upon possessing such just and excellent laws, as the rules of the inquisitorial church courts.
A slimy-born and sun-begotten tribe,
Who far from steeples, and their sacred sound,
The dregs of the fanaticism of the last age fermented, during that of Charles II., into various sects of sullen enthusiasts, who
distinguished themselves by the different names of Brownists, Families of Love, &c. &c. In many cases they rejected all the usual aids of devotion, and, holding their meetings in the open air, and in solitary spots, nursed their fanaticism by separating themselves from the more rational part of mankind. Dryden has elsewhere described them with equal severity;
A numerous host of dreaming saints succeed,
Of the true old enthusiastic breed;
'Gainst form and order they their powers employ,
In Scotland, large conventicles were held in the mountains and morasses by the fiercest of the Covenanters, whom persecution had driven frantic. These men, known now by the name of Cameronians, considered popery and prelacy as synonymous terms; and even stigmatized, as Erastians and self-seekers, the more moderate Presbyterians, who were contented to exercise their religion as tolerated by the government.
Her novices are taught, that bread and wine
But the inward grace, or the thing signified,
His blood and body, who to save us died, &c.-P. 133.
The poet alludes to the doctrine of the church of England concerning the eucharist, thus expressed in the twenty-eighth article of faith:
"The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death; insomuch, that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
"Transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine, in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy writ; but it is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
"The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper only, after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean, whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the supper, is faith."
Dryden insists upon a supposed inconsistency in this doctrine; but his argument recoils upon the creed of his own church. The words of our Saviour are to be interpre ed as they must have been meant when spoken; a circumstance which excludes the literal interpretation contended for by the Romanists: For, by the words "Hoc est corpus meum," our Saviour cannot be then supposed to have meant, that the morsel which he gave to his disciples was transformed into his body, which then stood before their eyes, and which all but heretics allow to have been a real, natural, human body, incapable, of course, of being multiplied into as many bodies as there were persons to partake of the communion, and of retaining its original and identical form at the same time. But unless such a multiplied transformation actually took place, our Saviour's words to his apostles must have been emblematical only. Queen Elizabeth's homely lines are, after all, an excellent comment on this point of divinity:
His was the word that spake it;
True to her king her principles are found;
Oh that her practice were but half so sound!- P. 133. The pretensions of the church of England to loyalty were carried to a degree of extravagance, which her divines were finally unable to support, unless they had meant to sign the destruction of their religion. This was owing to the recollection of the momentous period which had lately elapsed. The interest of the church had been deeply interwoven with that of the crown; their struggle, sufferings, and fall, during the civil wars, had been in common, as well as their triumphant restoration: the maxını of no king no bishop," was indelibly imprinted on the hearts of the clergy; in fine, it seemed impossible that any thing should cut asunder the ties which combined them. In sanctioning, therefore, the doctrines of the most passive loyalty, the English divines probably thought. that they were only paying a tribute to the throne, which was to be returned by the streams of royal bounty and grace towards the church. Even the religion of James did not, before his accession, shake their confidence, or excite their apprehensions. They were far more afraid of the fanatics, under whose iron yoke they had so lately groaned, than of the Roman Catholics, who, for three generations, had been a depressed, and therefore a tractable body, whose ceremonies and church government resembled, in some respects, their own, and who had sided with them during the 5
civil wars against the Protestant sectaries. But when the members of the established church perceived, that the rapid steps which James adopted would soon place the Catholics in a condition to rival, and perhaps to overpower her, they were obliged to retract and explain away many of their former hasty expressions of absolute and unconditional devotion to the royal pleasure. The king, and his Catholic counsellors, saw with astonishment and indignation, that professions of the most ample subjection were now to be understood as limited and restricted by the interests of the church. In the height of their resentment, even the church of England's pretensions to a peculiar degree of loyalty were unthankfully turned into ridicule, in such bitter and sarcastic terms as the following, which occur in a pamphlet published expressly "with allowance," i, e. by royal permission.
"I have often considered, but could never yet find a convincing reason, why that part of the nation, (which is commonly called the church of England) should dare appropriate to themselves alone the principles of true loyalty; and that no other church or communion on earth can be consistent with monarchy, or, indeed, with any government.
"This is a presumption of so high a nature, that it renders the church of England a despicable enemy to the rest of mankind : For, what can be more ridiculous than to say, that a congregation of people, calling themselves a church, which cannot pretend to an infallibility even in matters of faith, having, since their first institution, made several fundamental changes of religious worship, should, however, assume to themselves an inerribility in point of civil obedience to the temporal magistrate? Or, what can be more injurious than to aver, that no other sect or community on earth, from the rising to the setting sun, can be capable of this singular gift of loyalty? So that the church of England alone, (if you have faith enough to believe her own testimony,) is that beautiful spouse of Christ, holy in her doctrine, and infallible in her duty to the supreme magistrate, whom (by a revelation peculiar to herself) she owns both for her temporal and spiritual head. But I doubt much, whether her ipsa dixit alone will pass current with all the nations of the universe, without making further search into the veracity of this bold assertion."
A New Test of the Church of England's Loyalty.
Or Isgrim's counsel.-P. 134.
This name for the Wolf is taken from an ancient political satire, called " Reynard the Fox;" in which an account is given of the intrigues at the court of the Lion; the impeachment of the Fox;
his various wiles and escapes; finally, his conquering his accuser in single combat. This ancient apologue was translated from the German by the venerable Caxton, and published the 6th day of June, 1481. It became very popular in England; and we derive from it all the names commonly applied to animals in fable, Reynard the fox, Tybert the cat, Bruin the bear, Isgrim the wolf, &c. The original of this piece is still so highly esteemed in Germany, that it was lately modernized by Goethe, and is published among his “Neüe Schriften." It is probable that this ancient satire might be the original of "Mother Hubbard's Tale," and that Dryden himself may have had something of its plan in his eye, when writing "The Hind and Panther." As it had become merely a popular story-book, some of his critics did not fail to make merry with his adopting any thing from such a source. "Smith. I have heard you quote Reynard the fox.- Bayes. Why, there's it now; take it from me, Mr Smith, there is as good morality, and as sound precepts, in The Delectable History of Reynard the Fox, as in any book I know, except Seneca. Pray, tell me, where, in any other author, could I have found so pretty a name for a wolf as Isgrim ?" *
The wretched Panther cries aloud for aid
To church and councils, whom she first betrayed;
The author here prefers an argument much urged by the Catholic divines against those of the church of England, and which he afterwards resumes in the Second Part. The English divines, say they, halt between two opinions; they will not allow the weight of tradition when they dispute with the church of Rome, but refer to the scripture, interpreted by each man's private opinion, as the sole rule of faith; while, on the other hand, they are obliged to have recourse to tradition in their disputes with the Presbyterians and dissenters, because, without its aid, they could not vindicate from scripture alone their hierarchy and churchgovernment. To this it was answered, by the disputants on the church of England's side, that they owned no such inconsistent opinion as was imputed to them; but that they acknowledged, for
*The Hind and the Panther Transversed, p. 14.