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James I and Charles I

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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June 18, 2024 12:01 am

James I and Charles I

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 18, 2024 12:01 am

After the death of Queen Elizabeth I, the Puritans had high hopes in the Calvinist King James I. Today, Michael Reeves explains why these hopes were ultimately dashed, despite the commissioning of the Bible that bears James' name.

Get Michael Reeves' Teaching Series 'The English Reformation and the Puritans' on DVD and the Digital Study Guide for Your Gift of Any Amount:

Meet Today's Teacher:

Michael Reeves is president and professor of theology at Union School of Theology in the United Kingdom. He is the featured teacher for the Ligonier teaching series The English Reformation and the Puritans. He is author of many books, including The Unquenchable Flame, Delighting in the Trinity, and Rejoice and Tremble.

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Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

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Nobody had expected it when young Princess Elizabeth had acceded to the throne. But as the years passed, Catholic practices simply fell into disuse. Old Catholic priests who were trained in the old ways died out. And soon the only theology that pastors could access was Protestant. Soon the only Bible that people remembered was in English. And knowledge of it, ownership of it, filtered into even the most rural areas. And so Elizabeth's long reign ensured that the nation was Protestant.

What it could never do was ensure that the nation was filled with people who were themselves Evangelical. It seems to be fallen human nature to put our hopes in the next leader, the next ruler. And with all the reform that had come with Elizabeth, the Puritans thought the next monarch, James I, the one who would authorize a new version of the Bible, King James Version, would bring even more reform.

But would he? You're listening to Renewing Your Mind and I'm glad that you're joining us this week. Yesterday Michael Reeves introduced us to Richard Sibbes the Puritan. And today he is going to zoom out to paint the picture of what was happening in Sibbes' world. James I is about to become king, followed by his son, Charles I. So let's see if all the Puritans hoped would happen under the reign of King James actually came to pass.

Here's Dr. Reeves. What we're going to do in this lecture is we're going to step back now for a moment and have a look at the bigger picture, the bigger story of what's going on. So we'll pick up at about halfway through Richard Sibbes' life the end of Elizabeth's reign. Now by the end of her reign in 1603 there was no doubt that to be English was to be Protestant. To be Catholic by this stage was to be the treacherous tool of foreign powers. And the cult of the Virgin Mary had been replaced in England by the cult of the Virgin Queen Elizabeth. Things had really changed in her reign. Back in 1560 at the beginning of her reign the Calvinist Geneva Bible had been produced and it was filled with marginal notes helping to explain difficult moments in the text.

So when for example you came across a tricky word like Antichrist it would explain for you that is the Pope with his whole body of filthy creatures. Now back in 1560 that was a position only held by the hardcore. By the end of Elizabeth's reign that was an absolutely standard position that would be held in England. And as much as anything Elizabeth's long reign and it was long from 1558 to 1603, 45 years, a generation, it came to be a war of attrition against Catholicism.

And nobody had expected it when young Princess Elizabeth had acceded to the throne. But as the years passed Catholic practices simply fell into disuse. Old Catholic priests who were trained in the old ways died out. And in their place Cranmer's liturgy and those homilies prepared for pastors everywhere were heard in every church week by week. And soon the only theology that pastors could access was Protestant. Soon the only Bible that people remembered was in English. And knowledge of it, ownership of it, filtered into even the most rural areas. And so Elizabeth's long reign ensured that the nation was Protestant.

What it could never do was ensure that the nation was filled with people who were themselves evangelical. Now we saw a little bit how the last decade of Elizabeth's reign, the 1590s, were a very difficult time for the Puritans. Lines had hardened, sides had been taken and the Puritans were waiting now. They were waiting for the Calvinist James VI of Scotland, the next in line to the throne to become king. Reared up in Scotland, he was never allowed to see his mother Mary Queen of Scots and so he was raised by guardians and tutors on a strict diet of haggis and Calvinism. And he grew up to be the hope of every Puritan.

And now the Puritans thought at last they would have a properly reformed monarch. And what's more, James was highly educated. He was the author of a number of treatises, actually the author.

He hadn't had ghostwriters do it. He was the author of Condemnations of Tobacco and Witchcraft through to works of politics, theology. And the Puritans thought surely here's the kind of man who'll understand the theological issues at stake in a way that Queen Elizabeth had never really understood. And so when Elizabeth died, before James made it south across the border to London, the Puritans had presented him with a petition for various changes to be made, particularly to the prayer book, which they saw as still rather popish. In response, James called for a conference to be called the next year at Hampton Court in 1604. And there the Puritans could put their case to him, as could those who are happy with a prayer book as it was.

They could both put their case to him. Now, unfortunately for the Puritans, King James, who had been King of Scotland, he was used to the fiery Scots, to the successors of John Knox, his take-no-prisoners style. And when James saw the sheer Englishness of the Puritans, their respectful submissiveness, he took that to mean, well, they've got no serious grievance.

They don't seem particularly agitated. They were English. Worse, James suspected that these Puritans were really after a Presbyterian church order. That's what he suspected, which James said in his thick Scottish burr, which I won't try to imitate. A Presbyterian church order agreeeth as well with the monarch as God and the devil.

Then, under a Presbyterian church order, Jack and Tom and Will and Dick shall meet, and at their pleasure they shall censor me. That, for James, was the nub of it. Reform was all very well, as long as it involved no chipping away at his divinely given authority as king. And so the Puritans came away from that conference with virtually nothing. The only significant idea that James did like was an idea for a new version of the Bible to be prepared. Now this, James' mind raced, because that Geneva Bible was filled with all those marginal notes, notes that advocated such worrying things as disobedience to a bad king. Not the sort of thing James wanted publicized. So the thought of a new Bible without such marginal notes set his mind racing.

And so King James' authorized version of the Bible was commissioned. Now it wasn't all doom and gloom for the Puritans. The next year, 1605, the Catholic gunpowder plot was foiled. Now this was a plot to kill the king and his government by blowing up the Houses of Parliament that met in the Palace of Westminster. The authorities were tipped off, and on the 5th of November they caught Guy Fawkes in a cellar underneath the Palace of Westminster where the Parliament would sit, and there he was guarding a huge stockpile of gunpowder. Of course Guy Fawkes was executed, and ever since the 5th of November has been in England celebrated as Guy Fawkes Night. And still today on the 5th of November we light bonfires and we stuff clothes with straw and call it a guy, and we throw this guy onto the fire in commemoration. And in the commemoration of what was the defeat of a major Catholic terrorist attempt, some also burn an effigy of the Pope.

So in the town of Lewes on the south coast of England, still today every 5th of November, they burn an effigy of the Pope. Now that foiled terrorist attempt, that really tipped national opinion away from Catholicism and towards Puritanism. James even began appointing some enthusiastically Puritan bishops, giving Puritanism an influential new voice in the country. But the fact that James was demanding conformity, just as much as Elizabeth ever had done, was the final straw for some. You see, for a generation there have been people, Puritans, hanging on waiting for Elizabeth's reign of compromise to end. And when it became clear that James was singing from the same hymn sheet, the same hymn of compromise, well, they wanted to leave. They wanted to go.

That was too much. And if that wasn't bad enough, it seemed that at times James went out of his way to antagonize the Puritans, as if to just keep everyone down, even those who might be roughly his theological allies. So in 1618, for example, James issued his book of sports.

And in his book of sports, it declared that most sports that didn't involve cruelty to animals were perfectly acceptable ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. The cruelty to the Puritans was that ministers were required to read out this book of sports from their pulpits. And by this time, most Puritans were generally strict Sabbatarians.

So this is a direct challenge. Some Puritans simply refused to read it out, which was a brave move. Some would read it out, then put it down in their pulpits and say, now people, remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. And all this being the case, James reign saw a growing number of Puritans leave. Some just left the Church of England, some left England itself, finally fed up. In 1607, one congregation upped and sailed to Holland, which was a popular choice, but it was a bleak existence there.

And so they began to look further afield. And in 1620, meeting up with some eager emigres in Plymouth on the south coast, they set sail for the New World aboard the Mayflower. Now that was a move that would really catch the Puritan imagination. Here with a godly fleeing oppression in England. It just looked like Israel fleeing Egypt. And the godly were looking for a promised land of freedom. There they would set up and establish a new England. They'd build a new Jerusalem.

It would be a city on a hill, a beacon to the world. And that was a vision that soon mobilized thousands to follow them. But back in old England, Puritanism would never again be a united force. Increasingly, it was becoming a collection of splinter groups. It was ever more divided on whether to stay in the Church of England and over a whole host of other theological issues. And the more that people left to enjoy their own understanding of religious freedom and purity, the more that Puritan influence was weakened. In horror at what was fast becoming a major Puritan problem, Richard Sibbes said, oh what a joyful spectacle as this to Satan. To see those who are separated from the world fall in pieces among themselves.

Our discord is our enemy's melody. That was Puritanism under James I. Under his son, Charles I, things were just going to get worse. Now before he became king, James' stuttering son Charles faced a big uphill public relations battle. In a naive bid to reconcile Protestantism and Catholicism, James had tried to marry off his son Charles to the Catholic daughter of the King of Spain. Politically this was very insensitive because just a generation before, Spain had sent a massive naval armada in 1588 to overthrow English Protestantism. And now people wondered, well is it that James wished the armada has succeeded because he seems to be going about things to achieve the same end? Well Charles, young Charles, had enough sense to pull out of that arranged marriage, but the moment he became king in 1625 he made almost as disastrous a decision.

He decided to marry the French princess Henrietta Maria. Now France, despite some remarkable successes by the reformer John Calvin, who was a Frenchman, France on the whole had remained doggedly Catholic through the whole Reformation. And when Charles' French bride arrived in the port of Dover with a swarm of Catholic priests in tow, well people assumed Charles must be a secret papist. And certainly Charles was a high churchman and he would stuff his church with bishops to his high church tastes.

Now the high church party in England, they were, well they hated the Reformation, or defamation as they called it, and they would for example deliberately build their new churches in a pre-Reformation style to make their point. Charles even managed to appoint his dream Archbishop of Canterbury, the diminutive William Lord, L-A-U-D. Now Lord was an Oxford academic who would never be trusted by the Cambridge Puritans. And Lord was, he was never a man really much able to win people over.

He seemed to reserve all displays of affection for his pet cats and his giant tortoise, but he didn't even really seem to try to win people over. And so when Charles reissued his father's book of sports, Lord merrily suspended all clergy who refused to play ball and read it from the pulpit. But it was Lord's love of liturgy and orderliness. He called it the beauty of holiness. His understanding of the beauty of holiness, of liturgically synchronized holiness.

And this really got people's backs up. For example he installed communion rails in the churches and people thought well either this is a cat lovers attempt to curb the freedom of the beloved Englishman's dog, people were used to bring their dogs into church those days, or it was Popish. And given that Lord insisted that people kneel at this rail for communion, well it looked like the latter. And you can see how things had changed by the confusion of one old lady in Norwich who at this time seeing the minister officiating behind this rail wearing scarlet mass vestments, she asked why is the mayor officiating? Things had really changed and people were shocked by this change that Lord was bringing about.

Now if I can I want to introduce a little sidebar here. So let's pull away from the big picture just for a moment. I said at the beginning of the series that I want to get to know John Owen in particular. And this was the state of England when John Owen was growing up. He was born in 1616 which is the year William Shakespeare died. And he was born into a Puritan parsonage and this country as it was now under James I, a country seething with religious and political tension. He was brought up in one of those attractive little villages just outside Oxford.

They are beautiful. And whilst that was a lovely place to be brought up, this was Archbishop Lord's Oxford. And Oxford was very high church in these days and Owen soon went to go on as a student at Queen's College Oxford. But with his Puritan upbringing Oxford was going to be a very uncomfortable place for him to be.

And you could tell it was going to be an uncomfortable place for him to be by the title of the first book that he wrote towards the end of this time. His first book was called A Display of Arminianism. And it laid out a basic theological position Owen would always hold. Owen believed passionately in the five points of Calvinism. And Arminianism which denied those five points he believed was a worrying open door to all sorts of heresy. And so a display of Arminianism was a robust Calvinist polemic arguing particularly for a Calvinist view of total depravity that we are so comprehensively affected by sin that there's nothing in us that can contribute or work towards our salvation. He argued for that for predestination and irresistibility of God's grace. Now there's just a little bit on Owen we'll get to know Owen properly in a couple of lectures time but I just want to anchor him there because that's where he was brought up in the reign of Charles I an Archbishop Lord. He was a theological outcast. A man who was brought up deeply deeply troubled by the prevailing theology of his day.

Now Owen wasn't the only one concerned. The behavior of the king and his archbishop was quite enough to provoke massive popular resistance and to push more and more into sympathy with the Puritans. And the air through the 1630s just kept getting hotter. In 1637 three hotheads were arrested and they were brought before the feared Star Chamber which was a court of law that just seemed above all law. And the three men were William Prynne who had criticized the lifestyle of the Queen Henrietta Maria. Henry Burton had described all bishops as upstart mushrooms.

And John Bastwick had also criticized Archbishop Lord's bishops. For these crimes their ears were carved off. Prynne's face was branded and they were then sentenced to be dragged through the streets of London where it was expected as they were put into the stocks the mob would pelt them with garbage and boo them. As it happened the crowd showed their approval for the men.

Now that was ominous. But it wasn't surprising this was a generation that had been brought up on all those stories of the martyrs under the reign of Bloody Queen Mary. All of those stories had been faithfully recorded by John Fox in his book of martyrs.

And that book of martyrs had long been on display in every Cathedral and many churches and the fates of Prynne Burton and Bastwick just look too similar to the fates of Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer. And people thought Charles looks like Mary, a Catholic tyrant. Despite the murmurings Charles and Lord pressed on. And that same year 1637 Charles decided it was high time now for his realm of Scotland to get up to speed with the High Church program. Remember his father had been King of Scotland and had become then King of Scotland and England.

So Charles had inherited two kingdoms. Scotland hadn't been using the prayer book but it was decided now it's time to get them up to speed. Let's give them a prayer book and to really help them get with a program this prayer book was amended to be even more high church. Unfortunately for Charles while John Knox the Scottish reformer had been dead for more than 60 years his spirit was alive and kicking in Scotland. When the new prayer book was read out by the newly appointed bishop in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh one of the members of the congregation picked up her stool and threw it at the bishop precipitating a riot in which the bishop was lucky to get away with his life.

Up in Breekin the bishop was taking no such chances. He led the service from the new prayer book with a pair of cocked pistols aimed at the congregation. The Scots gathered themselves together in a covenant.

Some of them signed it with their own blood. They rejected Charles reforms and when two rather nervous and reluctant English armies were sent north to deal with this Scottish impertinence the Scots beat them both. Many across Britain now saw here was a king ready to wage war against his own people to reintroduce popish ways and he was even prepared to raise an Irish Catholic army to do it.

The country would soon be plunged into a civil war in which Charles's army would eventually be crushed by the Puritan soldiers of a born general. The MP the Member of Parliament for Cambridge Oliver Cromwell. You're listening to the Tuesday edition of Renewing Your Mind and that was Michael Reeves from his series the English Reformation and the Puritans. Dr. Reeves serves as president and professor of theology at Union School of Theology and he's recorded a number of teaching series with Ligonier Ministries the one you heard from today another on the fear of the Lord and one on the truths of the Reformation and did you know that in addition to Ligonier ministry partners fueling the global outreach of Ligonier and Renewing Your Mind they have access to all of these series and hundreds of others in the free Ligonier app. You can learn more and become a partner today when you click give monthly when you respond to today's resource offer or by visiting slash partner. Thank you for prayerfully considering this level of support. If you'd prefer to make a one-time donation today in support of Renewing Your Mind as our way of saying thank you we'll send you this series the English Reformation and the Puritans on DVD and give you lifetime digital access to all the messages and the study guide. Simply call us at 800 435 4343 visit Renewing Your or click the link in the podcast show notes. Join us tomorrow as Michael Reeves zooms back in and introduces us to Thomas Goodwin here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-18 02:40:29 / 2024-06-18 02:48:53 / 8

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