Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/192

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Laud
Laud
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gave him the prebend of Buckden, and in 1615 the archdeaconry of Huntingdon. In 1616 the king promoted him to the deanery of Gloucester (Heylyn, pp. 60–3).

Before Laud paid his first visit to Gloucester the king told him to set in order whatever was amiss. Not only had the fabric of the cathedral been neglected, but the communion table was allowed to stand in the centre of the choir, a position which it occupied at that time in most of the parish churches, though in most cathedrals, and in the king's chapel, it was placed at the east end. Laud persuaded the chapter to pass acts for the repair of the building and the removal of the communion table, but did not explain his action in public, and gave deep offence to the aged bishop, Miles Smith, a learned hebraist and stout Calvinist, as well as to a large part of the population. This affair at Gloucester clearly exhibits the causes of Laud's failure in late life. If he had authority on his side, he considered it unnecessary even to attempt to win over by persuasion those who differed from him (ib. p. 63).

In 1617 Laud accompanied the king to Scotland, where he gave offence by wearing a surplice at a funeral (Diary; Nichols, Progresses, iii. 344). On 22 Jan. 1621 he was installed as a prebendary of Westminster, and on 29 June of the same year the king gave him the bishopric of St. Davids, with permission to hold the presidentship of St. John's in commendam. 'But,' wrote Laud in his diary, 'by reason of the strictness of that statute, which I will not violate, nor my oath to it, under any colour, I am resolved before my consecration to leave it;' and in fact he resigned the headship on 5 Nov., his consecration being on the 18th. He refused to allow Archbishop Abbot to take any part in the rite, on the ground that he was disqualified by an accidental homicide recently committed by him. According to Hacket (p. 63), James gave Laud the bishopric only under pressure from Charles and Buckingham; and it is quite possible that James perceived that Laud would be better placed in the deanery of Westminster, for which he had first intended him. Williams, however, on being made bishop of Lincoln, had sufficient influence to secure the retention of the deanery, and Laud had to be provided for in some other way.

On 23 April 1622 James sent for Laud, asking him to use his influence with the Countess of Buckingham, who was attracted towards the church of Rome by the arguments of Percy, a jesuit who went by the name of Fisher [see Fisher, John, (1569–1641)]. By the king's orders there had been two conferences held in her presence between Fisher and Dr. Francis White, and on 24 May 1622 a third conference was held, in which Laud took the place of White. The subject then discussed was the infallibility of the church.

Laud's arguments on this occasion, together with their subsequent enlargement in his account of the controversy published in 1639, mark his ecclesiastical position in the line between Hooker and Chillingworth. On the one hand he acknowledged the church of Rome to be a true church, on the ground that it 'received the Scriptures as a rule of faith, though but as a partial and imperfect rule, and both the sacraments as instrumental causes and seals of grace' (Works, ii. 144). He strove against the position 'that all points defined by the church are fundamental' (ib. ii. 31), attempting as far as possible to limit the extent of 'soul-saving faith' (ib. ii. 402). The foundations of faith were 'the Scriptures and the creeds' (ib. ii. 428). When doubts arose 'about the meaning of the articles, or superstructures upon them—which are doctrines about the faith, not the faith itself, unless when they be immediate consequences—then, both in and of these, a lawful and free general council, determining according to Scripture, is the best judge on earth' (ib.). Laud, in short, wished to narrow the scope of dogmatism, and to bring opinions not necessary to salvation to the bar of public discussion by duly authorised exponents, instead of to that of an authority claiming infallibility (on the bibliography of the controversy see the editor's preface to the 'Relation of the Conference,' Works, vol. ii.).

Though Laud's arguments failed permanently to impress the Countess of Buckingham, they gave him great influence over her son. On 15 June, as he states in his diary, he 'became C[onfessor] to my Lord of Buckingham,' and was afterwards consulted by him on his religious difficulties.

Soon afterwards Laud, for the first time, visited his diocese, entering Wales on 5 July, and leaving Carmarthen for England on 15 Aug. ('Diary' in Works, iii. 139, 140). He ordered the building of a chapel at his episcopal residence at Abergwilly, presenting it with rich communion plate (Heylyn, p. 88). During the remainder of James's reign Laud continued on good terms with Buckingham and the king, while there was an estrangement between him and Lord-keeper Williams, and Archbishop Abbot.

On 27 March 1625 James died, and with the accession of Charles I Laud's real predominance in the church of England began. James's sympathies with Laud were mainly