« PoprzedniaDalej »
This was done by many imperial constitutions * ; the penalties of heresy were aggravated in the jurisprudence of the nations, who invaded the Roman empire; burning alive, and finally the inquisitiont, - that greatest triumph of fanaticism over humanity,—were introduced by them I.-It should not, however, be forgotten, that in some cases, as those of the Donatists and the Albigenses, the persons thus punished for heresy, had deserved severe punishments, for their seditious practices.
5. The first penal statute enacted by an English parliament against heresy, was passed in the fifth year of Richard the seconds; it enacted, that “ heretics should be kept in prison, till they justified " themselves, according to law, and the reason of
holy church.” By an act passed in the second year of the reign of Henry the fourth |l, convicted
* See ante, c. X. 8. 4.
+ The writer is sensible that, during the last century, the horrors of the inquisition were greatly softened in Italy and Spain, and in other places : he speaks of it as it was originally formed, and, with little variation, continued till the close of the 17th century.
Nec lex justior ulla est
Quam necis artifices arte perire sua. The emperor Frederick ordained that, if any temporal lord, when admonished by the church, should neglect to clear the territories of heretics within a year, it should be lawful to seize and occupy the lands, and exterminate the heretical possessor. Upon the authority of this very constitution, the pope afterwards expelled this very emperor Frederick from his kingdom of Sicily, and gave it to Charles of Anjou. A.D. 1382.
| A. D. 1400.
heretics might be imprisoned and confined at the discretion of the diocesan, or his commissary; and those, who refused to abjure, or who relapsed, were ordered to be burned to death, in some conspicuous place.—In the beginning of the reign of Henry the fifth *, an act was passed against the Lollards or Wickliffites, by which it was decreed, that they should forfeit all their goods and chattels. In this reign the writ“ de hæretico comburendo" was frequently issued from the court of chancery; but it should be observed, that this was not a writ of course,-or, to use the legal phrase, er debito justitiæ ; it was only issuable by the special direction of the kingin councilt; so that if it was sometimes obtained from the king to persecute an heretic, it was often issued to save him.
6. The reformation arrived :-looking to this circumstance with an eye towards the tolerating feelings and habits of the present times, we should easily suppose that the primitive reformers were tolerant: but history shows, that, wherever the reforming banner triumphed, a long reign of intolerance was certain to ensue.“ The reformers,” says Mr. Gibbont, “were ambitious of succeeding the “ tyrants, whom they had dethroned. They imposed, “ with equal rigour, their creeds and confessions ;
they asserted the right of the magistrate to punish
• A.D. 1414.-See ante, c. x. s. 6.
t'i Hale, P. C. 395. On the subject of these laws, see Neale's Hist. vol. i. c. 1.
1 Hist. ch, liv. VOL. III.
" with death.” Another able writer, has observed; " that the free exercise of private judgment was “ most heartily abhorred by the first reformers, " except only, when the persons, who assumed it, " had the good fortune to be exactly of their
opinion.”—From the former pages of this publication it
appears, that they persecuted both the catholics, and all those protestants, whose religious creeds differed from their own, with merciless severity.-In the curious conference between Maitland of Lithington, the secretary of state, and Knoxt, both the secretary and the reformer agreed that idolatry ought to be suppressed, and that "the “ idolater ought to die the death:"—the only point in difference between them was, whether mass was idolatry, and the hearer of it an idolater.
Thus, intolerance may be charged on every party. If catholics be justly chargeable with a greater share of it than
any denomination of protestants, it should not be forgotten how much longer time, how much greater means the catholics have possessed for persecution, than have yet been enjoyed by protestants.
Act of Toleration. The claims of the protestant dissenters, at the time of the revolution, to complete toleration, were well founded ; and William's own disposition induced him to accede to them in their full extent: but his wishes were opposed by a powerful party in each house of parliament, and the measure of toleration, which was granted to the dissenters, was extremely limited. The corporation act and the test act, were left to operate on them; but, on taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and subseribing the declaration against popery, they were exempted from all the laws passed, in any of the preceding reigns, against persons refusing or neglecting to attend the service of the established church, and the exercise of their own religious worship was allowed them under certain easy regulations; those who denied the Trinity, were, however, excepted from the benefits of the act*.
* The author of the critique on Cook's History of the Church of Scotland, in the Edinburgh Review, vol. Xkvü.
+ Knox, p. 357
A further indulgence was shown to the feelings of the protestant dissenters, by the alteration which was made in the oath of supremacy. The oath prescribed by the act passed in the first year of the reign of Elizabeth, remained in force till the revó, lution. That oath contained, as we have seen, a clause, by which the person taking it was made to
testify and declare, on his conscience, that the
queen's highness was the only supreme governor " of this realm, and all other her highness's domi" nions, as well in all spiritual things or causes, as
temporal.” The clause, thus explicitly affirming the supremacy of the queen in spiritual causes and things, was followed by the negative clause, by
* See the history of the passing of this act, in The • Rights of the Protestant Dissenters," c . 8. 3.
which the authority of any foreign power in them, was denied. To this, the presbyterians had no objection; but the affirmative clause was offensive to them in the highest degree, as it expressed a doctrine diametrically opposite to their high notions of the independence of the church of Christ on the civil power,
in every thing that regards religious doctrine or discipline : on this account, a humane and politic attention to their tenets and feelings dictated to the government of William the justice and propriety of the omission of the affirmative clause from the oath. In the same spirit of indulgence, a clause was introduced, by which protestant dissenters in holy orders, and preachers and dissenters in dissenting congregations, who should subscribe the declaration against transubstantiation and popery, and testify their approbation of the thirty-nine articles, except the thirty-fourth, thirtyfifth, and thirty-sixth, and these words of the twentieth articles,—(the church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith),-were exempted from certain penalties in the act for restraining non-conformists from inhabiting corporations, and from some in the act of uniformityt.
If we reflect on all the circumstances, under which this act was passed, we must admit, that the general cause of civil liberty gained by it considerably: if we view it without reference to these, we shall be more scandalized by the niggardliness, than edified by the liberality of the boon, which
* 17 Car. II, c. 2. + 13 & 14 Car. II, c. 4.