display | more...

On the king's restoration the survivors of the ejected clergy quietly regained their benefices. The Presbyterians helped to bring back the king and looked for a reward. Charles II promised them a limited episcopacy and other concessions, but his plan was rejected by the Commons.

A conference at the Savoy between leading Presbyterians and churchmen in 1661 was ineffectual, and a revision of the prayer-book by convocation further discontented nonconformists. The parliament of 1661 was violently anti-Puritan, and in 1662 passed an Act of Uniformity providing that all ministers not episcopally ordained or refusing to conform should be deprived on St Bartholomew's day, the 14th of August following. About 2,000 ministers are said to have been ejected, and in 1665 ejected ministers were forbidden to come within five miles of their former cures. Though some bishops and clergy showed kindness to the ejected, churchmen generally approved of this oppressive legislation; they could not forget the wrongs inflicted on their church by the once triumphant Puritans. Nonconformist worship was made punishable by fine and imprisonment, and on the third offence by transportation.

In 1672 Charles, who had secretly promised the French king openly to profess Roman Catholicism, issued a Declaration of Indulgence which applied both to Romanists and Protestant Nonconformists, but parliament compelled him to withdraw it, and, in 1673, passed a Test Act making reception of the holy communion and a denial of transubstantiation necessary qualifications for public office. Later, when the dissenters found friends among the party in parliament opposed to the crown, the church supported the king, and the doctrine of passive obedience was generally accepted by the clergy.

The church was popular, and among the great preachers and theologians who adorned it in the Caroline period were Jeremy Taylor, Pearson, Bull, Barrow, South and Stillingfleet. The lower clergy were mostly poor, and their social position was consequently often humble, but the pictures of clerical humiliation after 1660 are generally overcoloured; the assertion that they commonly married servants or cast-off mistresses of their patrons has been disproved, and it is certain that men of good family entered holy orders. In accordance with an agreement between Archbishop Sheldon and Lord Chancellor Clarendon, the clergy ceased to tax themselves in convocation, and from 1665 have been taxed by parliament. James II, though a Romanist, promised to protect the church, and the clergy were on his side in the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth, who was supported by dissenters. The church and the nation, however, were strongly Protestant and were soon alarmed by his efforts to Romanize the country. James dispensed with the law by prerogative and appointed Romanists to offices in defiance of the Test Act. In 1688 he ordered that his declaration for liberty of conscience, issued in the interest of Romanism, should be read in all churches. His order was almost universally disobeyed. Archbishop Sancroft and six bishops who remonstrated against it were brought to trial, and were acquitted to the extreme delight of the nation. James's attack on the church cost him his crown.

This text forms part of the History of the Church of England originally part of the entry ENGLAND, CHURCH OF from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the content of which lies within the public domain.

Previous: Next

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.