Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/193

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Laud
Laud
187

evoked by the breadth of his theological judgments; Charles also sympathised in his advocacy of authority over the external actions of ministers and congregations.

Shortly after his accession Charles asked Laud to inform him who among the clergy were suitable for promotion. Laud gave him a list in which the names of the prominent clergy were marked with O and P, the orthodox to be favoured or the puritan to be discouraged. The breadth of theoretical opinion which distinguished Laud's views, as enunciated in his conference with Fisher, was consistent with much narrowness in dealing with individuals. In reality puritanism was master of the field, and by no means inclined to tolerate those who assailed it. Laud, knowing that his opinions were those of a minority among the clergy, and of a still smaller minority among the laity, looked to the royal power to redress the balance. Circumstances thus combined with his own sense of the value of external discipline and with his own unsympathetic nature to blind him to the danger of using the king as an instrument for the reform of the church. The unwritten tradition of Anglicanism, that it was the duty of kings to support a learned and large-minded clergy against the dogmatism of Rome on the one side and of Geneva on the other, found a hearty supporter in Laud. He would have been very different from what he was if he had stopped to ask what effect the crushing of his opponents by the royal authority would have upon the independence of religious thought.

At all events Laud's opponents could not teach him the lesson of toleration. Charles's first House of Commons insisted on punishing Richard Montague [q.v.] for using anti-Calvinistic arguments against the Roman catholics, and for appealing to the king for protection. On 2 Aug. 1625 Laud and two other bishops wrote to the king on Montague's behalf. The church of England, they said, at the time when it was reformed, 'would not be too busy with every particular school-point. The cause why she held this moderation was because she could not be able to preserve any unity among Christians if men were forced to subscribe to curious particulars disputed in schools' (Works, vi. 244). With strange, but not inexplicable inconsistency, the three bishops reminded the king 'that we cannot conceive what use there can be of civil government in the commonwealth, or of preaching or external ministry in the church, if such fatal opinions as some which are opposite and contrary to those delivered by Mr. Montague shall be publicly taught and maintained.' It is unnecessary to seek elsewhere for the causes of Laud's failure during his own life and of the success which attended his principles after his death. In pleading against the intolerance of the puritans he was at one with the best spirit of his time. In pleading for the use of authority against the opinions of the intolerant, he was animated by fear of destruction in the immediate present.

On 16 Jan. 1626 Laud was one of four bishops who, writing to Buckingham in favour of Montague's book, advised that no one should be allowed to discuss the questions at issue 'by public preaching or writing' (ib. vi. 249). Preaching before Charles's second parliament on 6 Feb. 1626, Laud magnified the king's authority in the state as well as in the church, as he had already done in his sermon at the opening of the first parliament of the reign (ib. i. 63). By this time the House of Commons regarded him as hostile to civil liberty as well as to religious truth. Laud took the king's part on all points. He prepared the speeches which Charles delivered on 29 March and 11 May in behalf of Buckingham (ib. iv. 354), and he criticised and corrected Buckingham's defence delivered on 8 June (State Papers, Dom. xxvii. 25).

Charles showed his gratitude to Laud abundantly. On 30 Sept. 1626 he sent him a message by Buckingham that he was to be dean of the Chapel Royal. On 2 Oct. Buckingham told him 'what the king had further resolved concerning' him 'in case the archbishop of Canterbury should die' (Works, iii. 196). On 29 April 1627 Charles made him a privy councillor (ib. iii. 205). On 17 June he promised him the bishopric of London. On 9 Oct. Laud was included in a commission—subsequently revoked on 24 June 1628—for executing the office of archbishop during Abbot's sequestration. On 1 July 1628 the congé d'élire for the bishopric of London was signed by the king (ib. iii. 206, 208).

It was at Laud's advice that, before the end of 1628, Charles issued the declaration prefixed to a new edition of the articles now printed in the prayer-book. It was an attempt to avert distractions in the church by upholding the articles as the standard of faith and prohibiting controversial preaching. All questions of the external policy of the church were to be decided by convocation (Heylyn, p. 170). When parliament met in 1629, the House of Commons asserted its right to maintain quite a different standard of doctrine and discipline, but when its dissolution on 2 March brought the parliamentary life of England to a close for