A History of the Nonjurors/Preface

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PREFACE.

 

The present work originated in the feeling, that the history and principles of the Nonjurors were but very imperfectly known to the public in general. In prosecuting my task I have also deemed it to be my duty to correct the misrepresentations, which, in some cases from ignorance, in others from prejudice, have been so frequently circulated respecting this body of patient sufferers for conscience sake.

An account will be found of many of their works, together with the chief productions which appeared against them, as well as of the controversies in which they were so much engaged.

One portion of the volume will be read with considerable interest. I allude to the correspondence of the Nonjurors with the Greek Church in the east, which, with the exception of some brief extracts, is now for the first time published. For a copy of this correspondence, which is preserved among Bishop Jolly's MSS, I am indebted to the kindness of I. R. Hope, Esq. D.C.L. Chancellor of the Diocese of Sarum, to whom my best thanks are due.

It was originally my intention to have printed, in an Appendix, some of the Forms used on various occasions by the Nonjurors, especially the new Communion Office: but this was rendered impossible by the size of the volume. Should the present work, however, be favourably received, I may probably publish a separate volume, containing the Forms in question, which are so important in illustrating the principles of the Nonjurors.

The remarks on Mr. Hendley's case were written many weeks before the articles on that subject appeared in the Times. It may be remarked in addition, that the Rebellion had recently been suppressed; and the government of that day chose to consider many of the most faithful of the Clergy as favourers of the Pretender. The trial, being intended to strike terror into the Clergy, may be appealed to as one of the grossest acts of oppression on record. But though the Times had given such prominency to the subject, no notice whatever was taken of a printed copy of my remarks, which was forwarded by the Publisher, with a request that it might be inserted; in order that a fair view might be obtained of the matter. Thus did the Times refuse to permit any other view than its own to be put forth through its columns. But perhaps we cannot be surprised at such an act of injustice, when we take into consideration the vast and sudden change in the principles of that journal. Not long since it condemned such meetings on Church questions as those which have been held in the Diocese of Exeter, which it now approves. The views, therefore, of a paper, in which a petty dispute of a proprietor with the Clergyman of his parish is made a national grievance, and by which a flame is attempted to be kindled throughout the country, are entitled to little consideration.

While the last chapter was going through the press, my attention was directed to a most extraordinary statement in the Record. Because the Prayer for the Church Militant has been neglected in many Churches, the editor of the Record, a paper professing to be conducted on religious principles, actually designates the use of that Prayer as a change. The prayer was enjoined by the Reformers, whom the Record boasts of following, and until modern times it was universally read. In Cathedral Churches and College Chapels it is still read on Sundays and holy-days: and on the latter also in all parochial Churches in which the festivals are observed. Of this fact the editor would have been aware, had he been accustomed to attend public worship on such occasions. Whether the Rubric enjoining the Prayer be right or wrong, it was framed by the Reformers, and to call the use of it a change, is disparaging to the memory of those great and holy men.

The same paper also recommends an application to Parliament, the Crown first issuing a commission. But surely the editor of the Record cannot imagine that the House of Commons would stop just where he would wish! or that they would be content with rescinding such Rubrics only as he might select. Should the matter ever come before Parliament, changes of a most serious character will be proposed, and probably carried. Whatever may be the Record's views of the Liturgy, is the editor prepared to surrender the Articles? Yet were such a suicidal act as that which he recommends to be carried into effect, the Articles would fare no better than the Liturgy. Both would be placed in jeopardy. Besides, is it consistent to recommend the settlement of such questions in such an assembly, an assembly in which Romanists and Socinians, to say nothing of other Dissenters, have seats and votes!

That such a course will be adopted by the present Government I have no apprehension whatever. Sir Robert Peel and all the members of the Cabinet are too warmly attached to the Anglican Church to allow her Articles and Liturgy to be subjected to Parliamentary revision. But the Record and the Times are using their exertions, though in different ways, to bring us into a state of confusion.

Much is said of the danger of Popery: but is no danger to be apprehended from any other quarter? Let us suppose that the Record's advice were followed, and that the matter were submitted to Parliament; what would be the danger? Certainly not of Popery. Whatever may be the case with individuals: though their inclinations may be towards Rome, yet the Church is not committed by their acts any more than by the act of certain Clergymen in England in encouraging schism in Scotland. Nor is it within the compass of probabilities, that the Liturgy and the Articles should be altered so as to approximate towards Rome. But on the other hand, should the question be submitted to Parliament, there would too probably be a change of an opposite character, a change, which would so liberalise both the Articles and the Liturgy, that Socinians and all others might be comprehended within what must in such a case be deemed, not a Church, but the establishment. The Record, in looking to Parliament, knows not what it asks. If changes are once permitted, who can venture to predict where they will end!

The question of the Rubrics arose out of my subject, since the neglect, into which some of them have fallen, may be traced to principles, which had their origin in the period of which this volume treats.

The whole question of the Offertory, both with respect to the law and the benefits to be expected from its general adoption, is most satisfactorily and ably discussed in a recent work, "Remarks on English Churches, and on the Expediency of rendering Sepulchral Memorials subservient to Pious and Christian Uses. By I. H. Markland, F.R.S. and S.A." Mr. Markland devotes a chapter to the consideration of the subject, and it is treated in a spirit which must commend the work to every candid reader.

 

Jan. 23, 1845.

 
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