Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dangerous Lovers of Lectures

Certain zealots had eracted themselves into a society for buying in of imporporiations, and transferring them to the church; and great sums of money had been left to the society for these pious purposes. But it was soon observed, that the only use which they made of their funds, was to establish lecturers in all the considerable churches; men, how, without subjection to episcopal authority, employed themselves entirely in preaching and in spreading the fire of puritanism. Laud took care, by a decree, which was part in the court of exchequer, and which was much complained of, to abolish this society, and to stop their progress. It was, however, still observed, that, thro-out England, the lecturers were, all of them, puritanically affected: and from them the clergymen, who contented themselves with reading prayers and homilies to the people, commonly received the reproachful appellation of dumb dogs.

The puritans, restrained in England, shipped themselves off for America, and laid there the foundations of a government, which possessed all the liberty, both civil and religious, of which they found themselves deprived in their native country. But their enemies, unwilling that they should any where enjoy ease and contentment, and dreading, perhaps, the dangerous consequences of so disaffected a colony, prevailed witht he King to issue a proclamation, debarring these devotees access even into those inhospitable desarts. Eight ships, lying in the Thames, and ready to sail, were stayed by order of the council; and in these were embarked Sir Arthur Hazelrigh, John Hambden, and Oliver Cromwel, who had resolved for ever to abandon their native country, and fly to the other extremity of the globe; where they might enjoy lectures and discourses of any length or form which pleased them. The King had afterwards full leizure to repent this exercise of his authority.

[Hume, History, Charles I, chapter 3.]

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