Page:Historical Lectures and Addresses.djvu/194

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So Laud's desire was to teach men by the eye and by the heart; to set before them the quiet dignity of an orderly system, and let its teaching gradually sink into their minds. He enforced uniformity, not because uniformity was convenient for the nation, nor because it was enacted by law, but because it was necessary to set forth the strength and beauty of the devotional system of the Church of England. Within that system he was prepared to allow large latitude for difference of opinion. He had no wish to curb liberty of thought, but he aimed at checking what he held to be disorderly and disloyal action. There was the Prayer-book. Let men reverently perform the services therein prescribed, and let them discuss temperately and charitably theological questions in a scholarly spirit Laud was always anxious to remove difficulties which prevented thoughtful men from taking Holy Orders. He was satisfied that Chillingworth should subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles as being articles of peace—i.e., "as containing no errors which may necessitate or warrant any man to disturb the peace or renounce the communion of it". He had no fear of the results of free inquiry, if devotion and reverence held the first place. The system of the Church was to be definite, but it was to be large, sympathetic and liberal.

This in outline was Laud's ideal. Even those who do not agree with it may at least admit its nobility, and confess that it was a worthy object to absorb the energies of an ecclesiastical statesman. But even those who agree with it most entirely must recognise that Laud was wrong in the means by which he tried