The greatest Anglican doctors of that age had maintained that no breach of law or contract, no excess of cruelty, rapacity, or licentiousness on the part of a rightful King could justify his people in withstanding him by force.  Some of them had delighted to exhibit the doctrine of nonresistance in a form so exaggerated as to shock common sense and humanity.  They frequently and emphatically remarked that Nero was the head of the Roman government when Saint Paul inculcated the duty of obeying magistrates.  The inference which they drew was that, if an English King should, without any law but his own pleasure, persecute his subjects for not worshiping idols, should fling them to the lions in the Tower, should wrap them up in pitched cloth and set them on fire to light up Saint James’s Park, and should go on with these massacres till whole towns and shires were left without one inhabitant, the survivors would still be bound meekly to submit and to be torn in pieces or roasted alive without a struggle.  The arguments in favor of this proposition were futile indeed, but the place of sound argument was amply supplied by the omnipotent sophistry of interest and of passion.

Many writers have expressed wonder that the high-spirited Cavaliers of England should have been zealous for the most slavish theory that has ever been known among men.  The truth is that this theory, at first, presented itself to the Cavalier as the very opposite of slavish.  Its tendency was to make him not a slave but a freeman and a master.  It exalted him by exalting one whom he regarded as his protector, as his friend, as the head of his beloved party and of his more beloved Church.  When Republicans were dominant, the Royalist had endured wrongs and insults which the restoration of the legitimate government had enabled him to retaliate.  Rebellion was, therefore, associated, in his imagination, with subjection and degradation, and monarchical authority with liberty and ascendancy.  It had never crossed his imagination that a time might come when a King, a Stuart, would persecute the most loyal of the clergy and gentry with more than the animosity of the Rump or the Protector.

That time had, however, arrived.  It was now to be seen how the patience which Churchmen professed to have learned from the writings of Paul would stand the test of a persecution by no means so severe as that of Nero.  The event was such that everybody who knew anything of human nature would have predicted.  Oppression speedily did what philosophy and eloquence would have failed to do.  The system of Filner might have survived the attacks of Locke, but it never recovered from the death blow given by [King] James [II]. – Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), from The History of England from the Accession of James II (Chapter 19)


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