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in part by their well-founded distrust of the king, to
The struggle of the Civil War was in the main a $17. The struggle between the enfeebled spirit of the Renaissance. and the spirit of Protestantism raised to its highest pitch. As the strife proceeded, the conduct of each party fell into the hands of those who were most completely filled with one or other of these spirits. The better part of Charles's advisers gave way to the worse, to the men of unbridled action and of mere hatred of Puritanism. If there were Pharisees in the opposite ranks, there were, as Chillingworth sadly preached, Sadducees and Publicans in his own. On the parliamentary side, the spirit of dogmatic Presbyterianism gained for a time the upper hand, in spite of the tendency of even the Puritan laity to shrink from putting their necks too far under the clerical yoke. There was to be but one form of church worship in England, but one religious creed for all Englishmen. When the first eighteen months of the war turned out badly for the parliamentary party, and the Scots were enticed to send aid by the adoption in England of their Solemn League and Covenant, it seemed as though the defeat of the king would stiffen the English Church and society into a doctrinal rigidity, as complete as the ceremonial rigidity of Laud.
From this fate England was saved by Cromwell and
§ 18. Cromwell
and the Sects.
the sects. These sects, especially the Independents, had learned by the experience of days when they found themselves practising their religion in hiding-places, or were driven to the New England settlements for a refuge, that it was well that the State should cease to meddle in religious matters at all. In opposition to the scholar-like doctrine of Chillingworth and Hales, they propounded ideas of the widest religious liberty based on the right of sectarian association, without which religious liberty can never be complete. They felt an absolute repulsion from a system under which conflicts were to be avoided by toning down strong religious expressions and strong religious feelings in a vast religious communion, including the most extreme varieties of belief and of moral conduct. What these men believed they believed strongly, they had embraced with all the rugged strength of their natures the moral idea of purity which they had conceived. But they knew that there were but few ready to share with them in their efforts, and they formed small communities in which the members encouraged one another in running the Christian course, whilst they regarded all national interference with religion as an evil to be avoided. Of such men were formed the regiments which, at Marston Moor and Naseby, decided the civil strife. They were more energetic and at the same time better disciplined than other men. Their greatest difficulty arose when the fight was over. With Cromwell as their military and political leader, and with Milton as their literary spokesman, they claimed to have fought for religious liberty, and they refused to lay down their arms till this was secured.
The soldiers felt that a force in arms is not the the Army. proper guardian of religious liberty. They earnestly
$ 19. premacy of
strove to place it under the care of the king, as the re
presentative of the old institutions, and of the parlia-
§ 1. Aims of the Pro
THE PROTECTORATE, THE RESTORATION, AND THE
THE army was the guardian of the new principle of religious liberty. It was the peculiar merit of the great man at its head, that he saw distinctly that other things than personal liberty were required for good government. He saw that it was necessary that the nation itself should step forward as the guardian of that treasure, and should speak its voice through the only means on which, in the ong run, a nation can speak- through an elected assembly. He saw too that, though a king standing outside the national feeling had lost the power and the right to command, complicated affairs required from day to day to be treated by an executive body which could only secure unity and energy of action by being made dependent on the sway of a single mind. Gradually too he perceived the necessity of countervailing the possible waywardness or tyrannical instincts of a single house, by the intervention of a second. In other words, he saw that the old constitution required to be modified and purified, not to be replaced by one entirely different. Every constitutional change made by him drew England back to the old forms, and indicated the way which ultimately led to the Restoration. For his own lifetime he was able to keep power in his hands; but he could
not hand it down to his successors. There are forlorn hopes in politics as well as in war, and Cromwell's Protectorate was one of them. The task of establishing religious liberty was beyond his strength. The nation would never make up its mind to permit it till it ceased to fear it, and it would not cease to fear it till it could be sure that power would not be used to force or entice the majority to abandon its opinions, or at least to rear up the succeeding generation in different opinions.
The principle of the supremacy of majorities, which is the cardinal point of parliamentary government, must be accepted fully before religious or political liberty can be accorded. That principle had not yet been admitted by any government which had succeeded to power since. the beginning of the Reformation. Elizabeth had successfully set it at nought because the majority of her subjects were divided in opinion, and because many of them who were hostile to her on religious grounds, agreed with her on political grounds. Charles and Laud failed in their attempt to set it at nought, because they treated the nation with contempt, and drove all the various sec tions of their adversaries into a united opposition. In this at least Cromwell was but treading in the steps of Charles. He kept aloft a standard which was the standard of a noble and high-hearted minority, but which was only the standard of minority after all. The real Puritans were but a few amongst the population of England, and those who cared for religious liberty were but a few amongst the Puritans. Such a position was most injurious to those who maintained it. It became impossible for the champions of religious liberty to permit religious liberty to exist in any complete sense. In old stories the fierce energy of the dwarf is often contrasted with the lazy good-nature of the giant. The Puritan army was but a vigorous dwarf after all when
§ 2. The Rights of Minorities.