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Christian Religion no otherwise than as it abhorred and reviled Popery, and valued those men most who did that most furiously. For the strict observation of the discipline of the Church, or the conformity to the Articles or Canons established, he made little inquiry, and took less care: and having himself made a very little progress in the ancient and solid study of divinity, he adhered only to the doctrine of Calvin; and for his sake did not think so ill of the Discipline, as he ought to have done. But if men prudently forbore a public reviling and railing at the hierarchy and ecclesiastical government, let their opinions and private judgement be what it would, they were not only secure from any inquisition of his, but acceptable to him and at least equally preferred by him: and though many other Bishops plainly discerned the mischiefs, which daily broke in to the prejudice of religion by his defects and remissness, and prevented it in their own dioceses as much as they could, and gave all their countenance to men of other parts and other principles; and though the Bishop of London (Dr. Laud) from the time of his authority and credit with the King, had applied all the remedies he could to those defections, and from the time of his being Chancellor of Oxford had much discountenanced and almost suppressed that spirit by encouraging another kind of learning and practice in that University; yet that temper in the Archbishop, whose house was a sanctuary to the most eminent of that factious party,* and who li.
* And yet Abbot observes, “ Grotius might have let his Majesty know, how factious a generation these contradicters (the Remonstrants) are ; how they are like to our Puritans in England; how refractory they are to the authority of the civil censed their most pernicious writings, left his successor a very difficult work to do, to reform and reduce a church into order that had been so long neglected, and that was so filled by many weak and more wilful churchmen.”
Upon the whole of this character, however, Speaker Onslow offers the following remarks: “ The worthy Prelate did surely deserve a better representation to posterity. He was a very wise and prudent man, knew well the temper and disposition of the kingdom with respect to the ceremonies and power of the Church, and did therefore use a moderation in the point of ecclesiastical discipline, which if it had been followed by his successor (Laud), the ruin that soon after fell on the Church might very likely have been prevented. His being without any credit at court from the latter end of King James' reign will bring no dishonour on his memory, if it be considered that his disgrace arose from his dislike of and his opposition to the imprudent and corrupt measures of the court at that time, and from an honest zeal for the laws and liberties of his country, which seemed then to be in no small danger; and it was a part truly becoming the high station he then bore. His advice upon the affair of the Palatinate, and the Spanish match, showed his knowledge of the true interest of England, and how much it was at his heart: and his behaviour and sufferings in the next reign about the loan and Sibthorpe's sermon, as they were the reasons of his disgrace at that time, so ought they to render his memory valuable to all, who wish not to
magistrate, &c. &c.” This does not, surely, look like favour. ing Puritanism!
see the fatal courses and oppression of those times revived in this nation. The Duke of Buckingham was his enemy, because the Archbishop would not be his creature; and the Church perhaps might have been thought to have been better governed, if he had stooped to the Duke, and given in to the wantonnesses of his power: but he knew the dignity of his character, and loved his country too well to submit to such a meanness; though very few of his brethren had the courage or the honesty to join with him in this, and (if the Archbishop himself is to be credited) his successor's rise was by the practice of those arts, which this good man could not bend to. As to his learning, we need no better testimony of it than his promotion by King James, who had too much affectation that way to prefer any one to such a station, who had not borne the reputation of a scholar : but there are other proofs of his sufficiency in this, even for the high place he held in the Church. If he had some narrow notions in divinity, they were rather the faults of the age he had his education in, than his; and the same imputation may be laid on the best and most learned of the Reformers. His warmth against popery became the office of a Protestant Bishop; though even toward Papists there is a remarkable instance of his mildness and charity, which showed that his zeal against their persons went no farther than the safety of the state required. (See Rushworth, I. 243.) His parts seem to have been strong and masterly, his preaching grave and eloquent, and his stile equal to any of that time. He was eminent for piety, and a care of the
of the poor; and his hospitality fully answered the injunction King James laid on him, which was, “to carry his house nobly and to live like an Archbishop.' He had no thoughts of heaping up riches : what he did save was laid out by him in the erecting and endowing of a handsome hospital for decayed tradesmen and the widows of such, in the town of Guildford in the county of Surry, where he was born and had his first education: and here I cannot omit taking notice, that the body of statutes drawn by himself for the government of that house is one of the most judicious works of that kind I ever saw, and under which for nearly one hundred years that hospital has maintained the best credit of any that I know in England. He was void of all pomp and ostentation, and thought the nearer the Church and churchmen came to the simplicity of the first Christians, the better would the true ends of religion be served; and that the purity of the heart was to be preferred, and ought rather to be the care of a spiritual governor than the devotion of the hands only. If under this notion some niceties in discipline were given up to goodness of life, when the peace of the Church as well as of the kingdom was preserved by it, 'twas surely no ill piece of prudence, nor is his memory therefore deserving of those slanders it has undergone upon that account. It is easy to see, that much of this treatment has been owing to a belief, in the admirers and followers of Archbishop Laud, that the reputation of the latter was increased by depreciating that of the former. They were, indeed, men of very different frames, and the parts they took in the affairs of both Church and State as disagreeing. In the Church, moderation and the ways of peace guided the behaviour of the first; rigour and severity, that of the last. In the State, they severally carried the like principles and temper: the one made the liberty of the people, and the laws of the land,
the measure of his actions; when the other to speak softly of it) had the power of the prince, and the exalting of the prerogative, only for the foundation of his. They were, indeed, both of them men of courage and resolution; but it was sedate and temperate in Abbot, passionate and unruly in Laud. It is not however to be denied, that many rare and excellent virtues were possessed by the latter: but it must be owned too, he seems rather made for the hierarchy of another Church, and to be the minister of an arbitrary prince; and the other to have had the qualifications of a Protestant Bishop, and the guardian of a free state."*
The candour of Wellwood, likewise, has enabled him to do justice to the merit of the Primate in question. “ Archbishop Abbot,” he observes, “ was a person of wonderful temper and moderation, and in all his conduct showed an unwillingness to stretch the act of uniformity beyond what was absolutely necessary for the peace of the Church, or the prerogative of the Crown, any farther than conduced to the good of the state. Being not well-turned for a court, though otherwise of considerable learning and genteel education, he either could not, or would not, stoop to the humour of the times; and now and then, by an unseasonable stiffness, gave occasion to his enemies to represent him as not well inclined to the prerogative, or too much addicted to a popular interest, and therefore not fit to be employed in matters of government."
His Grace acquired a moderate share of reputation by his theological and polemical writings; but being upon subjects chiefly temporary, t they are of
* Russel's Life of Abbot,' 8vo. Guildford, 1717. t E.g.' Answer to the Questions of the Citizens of London