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[298] a consistent disregard of the national liberties. The
Chap. VIII.} 1605.
importation of foreign books was impeded; and a severe censorship of the press was exercised by the bishops. Frivolous acts were denounced as ecclesiastical offences. The convocation of 1606, in a series
of canons, denied every doctrine of popular rights, asserting the superiority of the king to the parliament and the laws, and admitting no exception to the duty of passive obedience. Thus the opponents of the church became the sole guardians of popular liberty; the lines of the contending parties were distinctly drawn; the established church and the monarch were arrayed against the Puritan clergy and the people. A war of opinion began; immediate success was obtained by the established authority; but the contest would be transmitted to the next generation. Would victory ultimately belong to the churchmen or to the Puritans? to the monarch or to the people? The interests of human freedom were at issue on the contest.

‘The gospel is every man's right; and it is not to be endured that any one should be kept therefrom. But the evangel is an open doctrine; it is bound to no place, and moves along freely under heaven, like the star, which ran in the sky to show the wizards from the east where Christ was born. Do not dispute with the prince for place. Let the community choose their own pastor, and support him out of their own estates. If the prince will not suffer it, let the pastor flee into another land, and let those go with him who will, as Christ teaches.’ Such was the counsel of Luther on reading ‘the twelve articles’ of the insurgent peasants of Suabia. What Luther advised, what Calvin planned, was in the next century carried into effect by a rural community of Englishmen.

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