Oliver Cromwell - RR135B3

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Oliver Cromwell
Course: Course - English History
Subject: Subject:History
Lesson#: 3
Length: 1:11:57
TapeCode: RR135B3
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Who, age after age, has raised up unto Thyself men to serve Thee, we thank Thee that the world is never without Thy witness, nor without Thy Word, nor without Thy testimony; for the heavens declare the glory of Thy creation and of Thy handiwork. Guide us, our Father, day by day, that we may see, indeed, that Thy purpose and Thy plan is glorious; that Thy Word never fails, but brings back unto Thee that which Thou dost purpose. Bless us, now, as we study the things of Thy creation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tonight, we shall consider the era of Cromwell; and Cromwell’s work, in terms of reconstruction. Most of you have been watching, I suspect, Henry VIII; and now, Elizabeth, the Queen. How many of you have, incidentally, been seeing that. Well, if you’ve missed it, you have missed a very well-done and accurate series on English history, and they are well worth seeing on the reruns. The Elizabeth series will finish this coming week.

The 16th Century, the era of Henry VIII and Elizabeth, was one of monetary inflation, not only in England, but all of Europe. It continued into the 17th Century. It was a time of dramatic changes and movements. The Reformation had been born. Its influence was affecting all of North Europe and, of course, England. England was facing great internal changes because of the Puritan movement. As one historian, himself a Marxist, has commented, and I quote, “Dissent rooted in a century of Bible reading could not be easily crushed.” A very interesting point! The very dedicated study of the Bible—and the study of the Bible, not merely as a devotional book, as you have in fundamental circles today, and in the Jesus movement and elsewhere—but the study of the Bible as applicable to every area of life: to economics, to politics, to law, to every other area meant that there was a tremendous movement everywhere to change the things that are in terms of what God had decreed. [00:03:32]

Thus, throughout the reign of Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth...[edit]

Thus, throughout the reign of Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Puritan movement grew. In 1588, the Armada sent by Spain to conquer England and to make it a Catholic nation was defeated. The long era of Catholic and Spanish plots against Elizabeth came to an end. This did not end Catholic conspiracies, but it meant that the power of the Catholic conspiracy in England was, to all practical intent, broken, because their bulwark, Spain, had been defeated. Spain never again had the same power internationally. Thus, with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the entire European picture, the international scene, was drastically altered. It was comparable to what would happen tomorrow, internationally, if suddenly the Soviet Union were so thoroughly defeated that it would be virtually out of the picture as an international threat.

Now, the consequences of the defeat of the Armada were very dramatic—very dramatic—within England, because now, the Puritans were no longer needed. This is something you don’t get in the history books. But, the Puritans had been the backbone of the entire anti-Spanish movement. It was the Puritans who were the sea captains, who had been hitting the Spanish merchant vessels and the Spanish Fleet. It was the Puritans who were the ones who worked night and day to protect Queen Elizabeth, because they were afraid that if she were killed, Mary, Queen of Scots, who was executed shortly before the Armada, would become the queen; and they distrusted her, with cause. It was the Puritans in every area who had been the powerful force, protecting and furthering Elizabeth’s rule; but, they were powerful, they were independent, they were the dominant party in Parliament, and they were making themselves heard. [00:06:37]

Now for some time, going back before Richard III and...[edit]

Now for some time, going back before Richard III and temporarily abated then, and coming to full force in Henry VII and Henry VIII, and from there on, you had a movement of raw absolutism. The old English liberties had virtually disappeared. Parliament had become a rubber stamp. But, under the Puritans, with their power dominating Parliament, Parliament was now refusing to be a rubber stamp; and this, Elizabeth did not like. Now those of you who saw Elizabeth the Queen the last couple of times, the last couple of installments, saw a figure there very prominent; in fact, next to Elizabeth, the central character on the scene—Walsingham. Now, Walsingham was the man, who, as one of her chief secretaries of state, was responsible for uncovering one Catholic plot after another against the life of Queen Elizabeth. It was Walsingham who uncovered the work of the priest, Ballard, who came into the country and set afoot the Babington plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and to put Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. It was Walsingham who got the evidence on all of them, and on Queen Mary. None of this made Elizabeth grateful to Walsingham. As a matter of fact, Walsingham, who was a very scrupulously honest man, was never properly paid. Unlike any of the other men who served her (most of the others were lords), he served her with never a penny of the money he handled going into his pocket. He lived and died a poor man. In fact, he impoverished himself working to defend to Elizabeth’s life and to protect England from Spain, with hardly a thank-you ever from Queen Elizabeth. He was so poor when he died that his wife had difficulty burying him and had to have a private service, because she could not afford any of the things that went with a proper burial. It is ironic that, to this day, although the textbooks recognize the importance of Walsingham as one of the men who was most instrumental in preserving England from becoming a Catholic province, to this day only one life of Walsingham has been produced that is in English. [00:10:03]

But, with the defeat of the Armada, Elizabeth now could...[edit]

But, with the defeat of the Armada, Elizabeth now could, in effect, kick the Puritans in the teeth. And James I, who succeeded her just a few years later, about 15 years later—1603 to 1625; the dates of his reign—was as anti-Puritan as could be. As a matter of fact, he instituted the policy of leniency for Catholics within the country, favoring them as against the Puritans, and a thoroughly pro-Spanish policy. Everything was now done to cater to the Spaniards, to the point where the Spanish ambassador had more power sometimes in England than Parliament. There isn’t anyone here who doesn’t know the name of Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was executed, and yet Sir Walter Raleigh was the man who, not only had done a great deal at sea to defend the power of England, but had also done the first explorations of Guinea and South America, and claimed a vast segment of South America for the English crown, before the Spaniards had ever done so; and he fought to defend it. He defeated the Spaniards again and again, and so the Spanish ambassador went to James I with instructions from the King of Spain to ask for the execution of Sir Walter Raleigh; and that’s why Sir Walter Raleigh had his head chopped off. Raleigh, although he was not a Puritan, was working along the lines of a Puritan policy; and it was now treated as treason. Everything was being done to cater to the country that a few years ago had tried to conquer them. As a matter of fact, James I actually sent a delegation to beg the King of Spain to give the Infanta, the princess, as a bride for Prince Charles. They were refused, and failing this, they went to France, another Catholic power; and there they found Henrietta Maria, who became the wife of Charles and queen, when Charles became Charles I. [00:13:16]

This is why America was settled, incidentally...[edit]

This is why America was settled, incidentally. It was 1618 when Sir Walter Raleigh was executed; and within a couple of years, the Puritans were moving to New England. They had begun to lose all hope, as far as England was concerned. Cromwell was among those who planned to go. Sir Henry Vane, one of the great leaders, did go for a time and returned later; but their hope of creating a Christian commonwealth, of re-establishing and developing ancient liberties of Englishmen were now gone. And they looked to America to build there, as they said, a new Zion unto the Lord. England had become anti-Puritan, anti-Protestant, anti-middle class, anti-merchant; and parliament was, for many years, not even called to meet. [00:14:42]

Of course, this is why to this day the Royalist cause...[edit]

Of course, this is why to this day the Royalist cause is so popular with intellectuals and leftists: it was anti-Puritan and anti-middle class; and today, with your intellectuals being anti-Puritan and anti-middle class, quite naturally they glorify James, and especially Charles I. And yet, the sad fact is these monarchs, like most of the monarchs of the Old World between the latter part of the Middle Ages and the 20th Century, because they practiced so much inbreeding marrying cousins again and again and again, are sometimes not altogether bright, or all there; and seeds of very serious mental instability were passed down. Mary, Queen of Scots brought it over from France. She was half-French, and passed it on to her son, James I, Charles I. Of course, George III, a couple of centuries later came from such a long line of marriage of cousins that he spent much of his reign not knowing who he was; and his son, George IV, was very, very mentally unstable. This kind of thing is not very often talked about; but in one case of one so-called very great king, he was not entirely house-broken when he was 50 and 60 years of age. And yet, men like this are glorified, rather than coming to the truthful facts with regard to the middle classes, or Protestants, or Puritans, depending on the situation. Thus, the Royalist cause is popular to this day with many scholars, because it was anti-middle class and anti-Puritan. Moreover, it was the champion of humanism, the Royalist cause was, and of the Renaissance. [00:17:31]

Now, to give you an idea of what monarchy meant then...[edit]

Now, to give you an idea of what monarchy meant then, let me quote from Hume’s History of England—David Hume, the philosopher, and this is from Volume IV. He is writing here about Queen Elizabeth, with respect to the protests of the Puritan parliament against the monopoly she was granting, and I quote, “These grievances, the more intolerable for the present, and the most pernicious in their consequences, that ever were known in any age or under any government, had been mentioned in the last parliament, and a petition had even been presented to the queen, complaining of her patents; but she still persisted in defending her monopolists against her people. A bill was now introduced into the lower house, abolishing all these monopolies; and as the former application had been unsuccessful, a law was insisted on, as the only certain expedient for correcting these abuses. The courtiers, on the other hand, maintained that this matter regarded the prerogative (that is, the queen’s power), and that the commoners could never hope for success if they did not make application, in the most humble and respectful manner, to the queen’s goodness and beneficence. The topics which were advanced in the house, and which came equally from the courtiers and the country gentlemen, and were admitted by both, will appear the most extraordinary to such as are prepossessed with an idea of the privileges enjoyed by the people during that age, and of the liberty possessed under the administration of Elizabeth. It was asserted, that the queen inherited both an enlarging and a restraining power; by her prerogative, she might set at liberty what was restrained by statute or otherwise; and by her prerogative, she might restrain what was otherwise at liberty (in other words, no law could bind her; she was above the law): that the royal prerogative was not to be canvassed, nor disputed, nor examined; and did not even admit any limitation: that absolute princes, such as the sovereigns of England, were a species of divinity: that it was in vain to attempt tying the queen’s hands by laws or statutes: since by means of her dispensing power she could loosen herself at pleasure: and that, even if a clause should be annexed to a statute, excluding her dispensing power, she could first dispense with that clause, and then with the statute (this sounds like the Federal Register, doesn’t it?). After all this discourse, more worthy of a Turkish divan than of an English house of commons, according to our present idea of this assembly, the queen, who perceived how odious monopolies had become, and what heats were likely to arise, sent for the speaker, and desired him to acquaint the house, that she would immediately cancel the most grievous and oppressive of these patents. The house was struck with astonishment, and admiration and gratitude, at this extraordinary instance of the queen’s goodness and condescension. A member said (this was not a Puritan member), with tears in his eyes, that if a sentence of everlasting happiness had been pronounced in his favour, he could not have felt more joy, than that with which he was at present overwhelmed. Another observed that this message, from the sacred person of the queen, was a kind of gospel, or glad tidings, and ought to be received as such, and to be written in the tablets of their hearts. And it was farther remarked, that in the same manner as the Deity would not give His glory to another, so the queen herself was the only agent in their present prosperity and happiness.” [00:21:49]

Now, consider what they were fighting against when...[edit]

Now, consider what they were fighting against when this was the idea that had developed: that no law could bind the crown. If a man were convicted of murder, the king could set aside the sentence, or the queen; or, if a person were declared innocent, the crown could step in and sentence them, in spite of that—the absolute power of the monarch. Now, this was the issue at stake. Let’s skip over some years, almost a century, to 1660, the year of the Restoration, when Charles II was brought back after Cromwell’s death; and they tried those members of Parliament and of the court that had tried Charles I and executed him. I quote, “The trial opened on Tuesday, with the presiding judge’s charge to the jury. Bridgeman traced the legal position of the monarchy from the earliest times, showing that no single person or community of persons had any coercive power over the king of England; that the king was supreme governor, subject to none but God, and could do no wrong; and that if he could do no wrong, he could not be punished for any wrong.” [00:23:28]

Now, that was the thesis of the monarchy...[edit]

Now, that was the thesis of the monarchy. Absolute power, in other words, had been transferred by the Renaissance and by humanism from God to man. This did not develop overnight; it began centuries earlier in the latter part of the Middle Ages, and it developed in several fields; and we have it with us in all three. First of all, it developed in the papacy. The popes began to declare themselves to be above all men, to be infallible, to have divine right over men; that what was decreed from the see of St. Peter was binding upon all men. This is, of course, the doctrine of papal infallibility. You had the same doctrine in the universities, as humanism took over there; and they declared that the university and the scholar was beyond all law. Neither church nor state could touch him, and they called this the doctrine of academic freedom, which you still have, which is an assertion of the divine rights of the academy, of the university, beyond all law. No one can touch them. In fact, if they committed a crime, they were beyond church and state to touch them; only the academic senate could rule on a scholar—the divine right of the university and its scholars. In the political realm, it was the doctrine of the divine right of kings. We saw Sunday morning, when we were going over again the doctrine of dominion: authority and ownership are aspects of dominion; and if dominion is transferred (final, absolute dominion) from God to man, then absolute authority is transferred to man, also; and it’s just a question of argument, who has it: the church, or the pope, or the state, or the university? And this is why, of course, in the church today, you have the kind of thing happening. [00:26:03]

Someone sent me something recently from a church that...[edit]

Someone sent me something recently from a church that is supposed to be more conservative than most, where it was flatly stated that all members were bound to obey at all times authorities in the church; nothing said about in so far as authorities in the church are obedient to God. It was a flat requirement of obedience. What is this, but a claim to divine right? Now, this is what humanism did: it transferred the rights of God to the right to man.

And in England, what they had to fight was this claim on the part of the crown. As a matter of fact, the king was, you see, a religious figure—and to the point it was believed that his touch was healing; and annually, there was a day when people came to be touched by the king and healed. For example, on the week of Sunday, June 17, 1660, came Charles II, who had just returned to England. On Saturday, King Charles touched more than 600 persons in the banqueting hall, putting around the neck of each a white ribbon with an angel of gold on it. Supposedly, this had healing power; and, of course, that was a medallion like people get when they go to shrines in Catholic countries. They had come to the shrine, the king, because, he having divine power could heal people, supposedly, by his touch. [00:28:17]

Thus, the civil war that arose in England had its roots...[edit]

Thus, the civil war that arose in England had its roots in this fact. Did the old feudal concept of dominion beneficium still prevail? Was the crown still a feudal crown, holding it in terms of performing certain duties for the people of England as defender of the liberties of Englishmen? Cromwell, in 1653, said of the civil war and the execution of the king: “The king’s head was not taken off because he was king; nor the lords laid aside because they were lords, but because they did not perform their trust.” Now, he was speaking as an old-fashioned Englishman there, as one who believed in the feudal laws of England and saw them as still relevant; and this is why the civil war was fought: it was to re-establish godly law and order in England, as against a man-god on the throne. Cromwell’s hope was to prepare the people for godly self-government; and he undertook the rule, he said, until “God may fit the people for such a thing, rescued as they have been so recently out of their thralldom and bondage under the royal power. This may be the door to usher in the things that God has promised; which have been prophesied of; which He set the hearts of his people to wait and expect. You are at the edge of promises and prophesies.” This was the dream shared not only by Cromwell, but countless numbers of people: that if the people would but press forward in terms of God’s Law, they could establish an order in which the promises of Deuteronomy 28 would be fulfilled; where England would indeed be a land blessed of the Lord. [00:30:49]

England did prosper mightily...[edit]

England did prosper mightily. It became for awhile under Cromwell the most powerful nation in Europe for the first time in its history, not equaled again until the last century. Its army was so disciplined that—in a day when armies were rabbles in arms and when an army was disbanded, the country was afraid because the soldiers going home robbed and killed; they became beggars in the streets and highwaymen—all of Oliver’s men, as they were called, were within a matter of days home and in gainful work. There was never a beggar seen from Oliver’s Army that are criminal. His army was never defeated after the first defeat, where he learned the art of war; he was just a country squire at the time. It was feared by all Europe. [00:32:11]

Under Oliver’s rule, commerce prospered, and science...[edit]

Under Oliver’s rule, commerce prospered, and science had its glorious beginning, so that within a decade or two, England became the center of science in the world. But Cromwell learned also very quickly, to his bitter disillusionment, the people want the results of a godly order; not the moral disciple that goes into it. When he was going into one city in 1650 with Lambert, one of his associates, and the crowd was cheering, Cromwell turned to Lambert, and he said, “These very persons would shout as much, if you and I were going to be hanged.” Almost 10 years later to the day, Lambert remembered that, when he was led into London to be tried and hung by Charles II. This was the thing that caused him to despair. The people wanted a godly order, but they did not want the moral discipline that went into it. And he had another problem: broadly, faith was declining. Calvinism was beginning to decline in England, even during the Puritan régime. The effect of humanism was saturating the country, because the one area where the change had not been made, where the reform had not been made, was education; and the universities continued as they had before, and they were turning out humanists.

It’s very interesting … a man who was not a Christian, a scholar, D. P. Walker, has written a book on the period called The Decline of Hell. And he said because of the growing humanism, people began to lose their faith in God and in judgment, and in hell. And when they began to lose their belief in hell, they began to think sin wasn’t such a serious matter after all; and what’s a little adultery between friends; and what’s a little graft, if you don’t get caught. And this is what he says, and I quote, “Theories of democracy rose as hell declined.” Everybody was just as good as everybody else, including the criminal. Sounds very modern, doesn’t it? [00:35:31]

And one of the interesting things about the whole civil...[edit]

And one of the interesting things about the whole civil war era is this: first, it so savagely hated Cromwell and the Puritans by the scholars. And yet, a very interesting thing is that a number of Marxist scholars have become the greatest specialists on the period, especially the English Marxists. Some of them are very hostile to it, and some of them are very favorable to it, because, they say, “Look, they came close to making it work. Why? It’s the one time they set about to create an ideal order in the modern era, with social justice for everyone. Now, we don’t agree with their ideas, but they just about made it work; they really did make it work, and the people changed their mind and called the king back after Cromwell died. What’s the reason for it?” It’s very interesting, therefore, to read what they say. In fact, these Marxists have a journal in England just dedicated to studies of Cromwell and the Puritans, trying to get to the root of it. [00:36:57]

I’m going to read some remarks by one Marxist, who...[edit]

I’m going to read some remarks by one Marxist, who’s very honest; and, at this point, he drops his economic determinism and Marxism, because he does honestly account for it in terms of their theology. And this is what he says as to why it worked; and this is Christopher Hill, English Marxist, and I quote, “Predestination is at the heart of Protestantism. Luther saw that it was the only guarantee of the covenant: ‘For if you doubt, or disdain to know that God foreknows and wills all things, not contingently, but necessarily and immutably, how can you believe confidently, trust to, and depend upon his promises? Without predestination, Christian faith is utterly destroyed, and the promises of God and the whole Gospel entirely fall to the ground: for the greatest and only consolation of Christians in their adversity is the knowing that God lies not, but does all things immutably; and that His will cannot be resisted, changed, or hindered. A mighty fortress is our God.’ Luther declared that he would not have wanted free will, even if it could have been granted to him: only God can make salvation certain for some, if not for all. Indeed, the whole point for Luther lies in the uniqueness of the elect. Once touched with divine grace, they are differentiated from the mass of humanity. Their consciousness of salvation will make them work consciously to glorify God. The psychological effects of this conscious segregation of a group from the mass is enormous. Calvin went a step further and boldly proclaimed that God was useless to humanity, unless He had knowable purposes, which we can trust and with which we can cooperate. ‘What avails it, in short, to know a God with Whom we have nothing to do. How can the idea of God enter your mind without instantly giving rise to the thought that since you are His workmanship, you are bound by the very law of creation to submit to His authority. Ignorance of providence is the greatest of all miseries, and the knowledge of it the highest happiness. Faith gives us sure certainty and complete security of mind of a sort that is self-evident to those who possess it, and inexplicable to those who do not.’ Men have often commented on the apparent paradox of a predestinarian, theological system producing in its adherents an emphasis on effort, on moral energy. One explanation that has been offered is that, for the Calvinist, faith revealed itself in works; and that, therefore, the only way in which an individual could be assured of his own salvation was by scrutinizing his behavior carefully night and day to see whether he did, in fact, bring forth works worthy of salvation. It is by means of works performed through grace, in Calvin’s view, that the elect make their calling sure; and, like trees, are judged by their fruit. Salvation, consciousness of election or predestination, consisted of the turning of the heart toward God. A man knew he was saved, because he felt at some stage of his life an inner satisfaction, a glow, which told him that he was in direct communion with God. Cromwell was said to have died happy when assured that grace, once known, could never be lost, for once he had been in a state of grace. We are not dealing here with a mystical ecstasy of a recluse. We are dealing, rather, with the conscience of the average gentleman, merchant, or artisan. Professor Haller seems to me to have expressed this better than anyone else; when he writes that the Puritan preachers were dealing with the psychological problems of a dissatisfied minority. Their object was to inject moral purpose into men who felt lost in moral confusion. ‘Men,’ he adds, ‘who had the assurance that they are to inherit heaven, have a way of presently taking possession of the earth.’ This courage and confidence enabled them to fight with economic, political, or military weapons; to create a new world worthy of the God Who had so signally blessed them; a world remolded on their image; and therefore, in His.” [00:41:55]

Now, I think this is a very interesting statement,...[edit]

Now, I think this is a very interesting statement, because it so very definitely reflects, not a Christian perspective, but an outsider looking at it. Let me quote one more thing from this Marxist, just a few sentences: “ ‘The greater the trust the greater the account,’ Cromwell told Hammond. ‘There is not rejoicing simply in a low or high estate, in riches or poverty, but only in the Lord.’ In this sainthood of all believers, the saints were, per force, doers, not for the best of them in any calculation of reward for action, but simply because that was what being a saint meant. At doomsday, Bunyan said men will be asked not, ‘Did you believe? but, were you doers, or talkers only?’ To be convinced that one was a soldier in God’s army, and to stand back from the fighting, would have been a contradiction far less tolerable than that which philosophers have detected between individual freedom and divine predestination. Previous theologians had explained the world; for Puritans, the point was to change it. ‘Duties are ours, events are the Lord’s,’ said Samuel Rutherford.” [assumed end of quote] [00:43:23]

Now, in that next to the last sentence, did you recognize...[edit]

Now, in that next to the last sentence, did you recognize Karl Marx? Marx took up that sentence and said, “Up until now, the philosophers have been content to explain the world. It is their duty, rather, to change it.” You see, they were imitating the Puritans. A very interesting thing is that Stalin knew a little bit about English history; and what period did he know something about—the 17th Century and Cromwell. Here it worked. Why couldn’t they make it work? And Stalin was very defensive about the fact he didn’t have the results that Cromwell did. In other words, Marxism, with its economic determinism, was trying to ape the Puritan commonwealth and its results. The results were tremendous.

And the sad fact is, however, there was no one to carry on and to unite it when Cromwell died. England had never been so prosperous, nor so well-governed or law-abiding. But Cromwell, of his two sons, he left the rule to the one, who was the only one that was popular with the army and with parliament; but he was a mild-mannered young man, who simply wanted to live on his estate, and farm. The other son, who was very capable, none of them wanted; they didn’t want a strong man; and as a result, the son to whom he left England resigned the power in a hurry. General Monck took over, and after awhile, called in Charles II; and Charles II very quickly broke virtually all the promises that he had made. And yet ten years before Cromwell, when someone had said to him, when he had said: “What are we going to do? These people are not yet ready to rule themselves; and parliament is just arguing back and forth, and it’s all falling upon me”; someone said, “Well, couldn’t you bring back Charles II?” Cromwell remarked, “He is so damnably debauched, he would undo us all. Give him a shoulder of mutton and a whore. That’s all he cares for.” And he was right. The reign of Charles II was a period of unbroken profligacy. The reputation of England sank to an all-time low. Charles II, himself, was in the pay of the country they were at war with part of the time: he was in the pay of Louis XIV. He was a traitor, acting as an agent of the French crown, so he could get enough funds to continue with his debauchery. [00:46:59]

And it is interesting how the people very quickly,...[edit]

And it is interesting how the people very quickly, who had been so ready to shout and cheer when he returned, were disillusioned. To quote again, “Within a few years, not only Bristol Baptists were looking back nostalgically to those halcyon days of prosperity, liberty, and peace, those Oliverian days of liberty; an unsentimental civil servant, like Samuel Pepys, soon to be accused of papist leanings, recorded in July 1667, that ‘everybody do now days reflect upon Oliver and commend him what brave things he did, and made all the neighbor princes fear him.’ Cromwell’s former ambassador to France, Lockhart, whom Charles II also employed, found he had nothing of that regard that was paid in Cromwell’s time. George Downing made a similar remark about the attitude of the Dutch to him; and the ambassador of the Netherlands in 1672, told Charles II to his face that, of course, his country treated England differently from the Protector, for Cromwell was a great man, who made himself feared by land and by sea. The common people were muttering similar things. ‘Was not Oliver’s name dreadful to neighboring nations?’ Lodowick Muggleton asked in 1665. Four years later, an apothecary of Wolverhampton was in trouble for contrasting Cromwell’s successful Dutch policy with Charles II’s bungling. Not only was it in foreign affairs that such contrasts could be made: Roger Burrows’ biographer points out that the inefficiency of Charles II’s government was such that, despite the king’s frequent efforts to reward him, Orory was a richer man in the service of Cromwell than in the service of Charles II. It is the sort of thing men notice. The odious comparisons had become so frequent that French and Italian visitors commented on them.” [assumed end of quote] [00:49:16]

But, of course, what Cromwell had done, according to...[edit]

But, of course, what Cromwell had done, according to John Morley, was to destroy absolutism in both church and state; and as a result, he did lay the groundwork for the liberties that followed within a few generations, and that survived until World War I. Cromwell’s death was a rather sad one, because he knew what the people were, and he knew that his work might not long endure; and yet, he died as a godly man. The Protector’s … and I quote from Blauvelt’s study, “The Protector’s mind was clear, and for himself, he was happy that he thought much about the country that he was leaving, about God’s cause and God’s people. On the night of August 31st, he was heard to pray, ‘Lord, though I am a miserable and wretched creature. I am in covenant with Thee through grace, and I may I will come to Thee for Thy people. Thou hast made me, though, very unworthy, a mean instrument to do them some good, and Thee service; and many of them have set too high a value upon me, though others wish and would be glad of my death. Lord, however Thou dost dispose of me, continue to go on and do good for them. Give them consistency of judgment, one heart and mutual love, and go on to deliver them; and with the work of Reformation, make the name of Christ glorious in the world. Teach those who look too much upon Thine instruments to look more upon Thyself. Pardon such a desire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm, speaking of his enemies, for they are Thy people, too; and pardon the folly of this short prayer, even for Jesus Christ’s sake; and give me a good night, if it be Thy pleasure.’ Less than four years ago, his mother’s last words to him had been, ‘My dear son, I leave my heart with thee; a good night.’ On Thursday night, after nominating his successor, he was restless, but happy. ‘God is good, indeed He is,’ he was heard to say often, ‘and once I would be willing to live to be further serviceable to God and His people, but my work is done. God will be with His people.’ To one who would give Him a sleeping draught, he said, ‘It is not my design to drink or to sleep, but my design is to make what haste I can to be gone.’ Later he spoke some exceeding self-debasing words, annihilating and judging himself, mingled with broken texts, implying much consolation and peace. Toward morning, he fell into a coma; and between three and four in the afternoon, the crowd that waited for news at the palace gates were told that the Lord Protector was dead. Those sad eyes that once shed piercing sweetness were closed forever. It was the 3rd of September, the day of Dunbar and Worcester, his fortunate days. He had no more fortunate day than the 3rd of September, 1658, when he reached the bound of life, where he laid his burden down. He had been a good constable. He had kept the peace. He had saved England from anarchy. He had not hoped, he had said, to do much good, but only to prevent some evil; and he had done that. The old order of things in its general outline, at least, came back; and the short period of his power soon came to seem but a strange interlude in his country’s story. But by his sword, he had saved parliamentary government. He had made absolute monarchy impossible in England. He had done it by force; but back of the force lay the will of the people of England; but the great thing to which he looked forward was a spiritualized England, an England in which all the people would be the Lord’s people, and in which all the Lord’s people would be prophets. Will England, or any other country, ever attain to that?” [assumed end of quote] [00:54:06]

They had come close...[edit]

They had come close. They had, in fact, succeeded to a great degree, but the people abandoned it and, within a year or two, were longing for the good old days of Oliver. As long as the early 1800’s, according to the Anglican divine and poet, George Crabbe, the people in the rural village where he served and in other rural communities would say “the good old days” or “Oliver’s days.” A long time had passed, almost two centuries, and it was still remembered as “the good days.”

I said the Marxists in England have done more research into this era than any other, because it came so close, and, to a large degree, it succeeded; and yet, with all the volumes they have written and giving testimony, as Christopher Hill does to the fact that it was predestination, a faith in the sovereignty of God and in His Word, and God’s law-order, the world under God’s Law that was the bulwark of their power, they still looked for the answer somewhere else. But the work of reconstruction, to which Cromwell had dedicated himself, can only be accomplished in any age in only one way: under God, and in terms of His law-word. The world must be under God’s Law.

Let us pray. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we thank Thee that, though great men come and go, Thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever. That changest not. And Thy purpose for men and nations is the same: that the world should be under Thee and Thy Law. Thou hast called us. Thou hast predestined us, in terms of Thy glorious purpose, that all these things be accomplished. Use us, O Lord, in terms of these things. And make us not talkers only, but doers of Thy Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen. [00:57:08]

Are there any questions now...[edit]

Are there any questions now. We just have a few minutes left. Yes?

[Questioner] You talked about Stalin and his economic determinism, as opposed to Puritan commonwealth. I’d always thought the term “commonwealth” was pretty much synonymous with socialism.

[Rushdoony] It has been picked up and used by the Marxists. In fact, the Marxists had a very important little college, which graduated about 200 students, all of whom are very powerful in the country today, called Commonwealth College. But the commonwealth was actually a Puritan term in origin. So, it’s another borrowing by the Marxists.

[Questioner] What was its original meaning, then?

[Rushdoony] Oh, I’d have to trace that. I knew it once, and I’ve forgotten it. I’ll try to remember to do that.

Any other questions? Yes?

[Questioner] The question that I had was with his name. {unclear} anybody since Pierre Salinger’s {unclear}. [general laughter]

[Rushdoony] No more questions about Oliver Cromwell and the commonwealth era? If any of you have a chance, if it should ever come back, the movie on Cromwell is a good one. Significantly, it was done in England. It’s ironic: it was savagely criticized in England, but it was also done in England, because you do that. Now, some of the Marxists, perhaps, who were connected with it (I’m just guessing), but they slipped in one or two sentences about democracy. But, apart from that, they’re very faithful to the life of Cromwell. And it concludes with a picture of the inscription for his tomb: “Not Man, But Christ Is King.” Unfortunately, after Charles II returned, Cromwell’s body was dug up and burned, and the ashes scattered.

Yes? [00:59:47]

[Questioner] You were speaking about the films...[edit]

[Questioner] You were speaking about the films: are they on television now, or screen productions?

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes. The Elizabeth film, I believe, will conclude this week. It’s on tonight from 10:00 to 10:30, the fifth installment; and Sunday night and next Wednesday night, the sixth and last will be on. And the one on last Sunday and tonight on Channel 28 is on the Armada. It’s a very, very interesting one, and it’s well done. Yes. It probably will be on reruns, as well as the Henry VIII series. An interesting thing … both the Henry VIII series—The Wives of Henry VIII—and this Elizabeth series, which were put out by Mobil and filmed in England, have drawn bigger audiences than almost any other film; and it’s upset the television companies, because it’s knocked in a cocked hat all they’ve claimed about what appeals to TV audiences. Here is something that is mature, that is historically accurate, that is an hour and a half long, and it’s had maximum coverage, and not on the regular channels.

[Questioner] Did you note that John Prebble was the writer of this last episode of Elizabeth?

[Rushdoony] Oh, I didn’t notice that. That is very interesting. Prebble has written a trilogy on Scottish history, which is extremely good—very, very powerful.

Yes? [01:01:33]

[Questioner] Was anything mentioned, or was any attention...[edit]

[Questioner] Was anything mentioned, or was any attention given to the mixture of Spanish plus Moorish blood with the Irish, who are very, very fair skinned and normally kindred people?

[Rushdoony] No. This is, of late, discounted.

[Questioner] Really?

[Rushdoony] Yes. The feeling is that the ships that went ashore … the people were pretty largely (they’re beginning to realize) killed, looted, robbed. They didn’t receive them with any friendliness.

[Questioner] Where did the black Irish come from?

[Rushdoony] Well, the black Irish come from way, way back in the pre-Christian era, when the Phoenician and Armenian traders had colonies in Ireland. [general laughter] You still have a lot of Armenian names in Ireland. [general laughter]


[Questioner] Well, where is John Milton’s lifetime in this period?

[Rushdoony] He was one of the secretaries in the cabinet under Cromwell, and he did live longer; and we’ll begin with Milton next week, but his life is synonymous with this period. He came very close to having a death sentence pronounced against him by the new government at the restoration when the king came back. Now, at this point, it must be said that Charles II kept one promise that he made to General Monck, that there would be no major reprisals. So only a very limited number of people were executed, some of the leaders, but not a wholesale execution, as had been feared. He did keep that promise. He did not keep his promise with regard to the church. First, he kicked out of the established Church of England all the Presbyterians; and then he kicked out all the Anglicans, and left nobody there, except political hacks, whom he appointed; and it was the beginning of a long decline of the church.

Yes? [01:03:59]

[Questioner] Now, was it under James I that the King...[edit]

[Questioner] Now, was it under James I that the King James Version, the translation, was made?

[Rushdoony] Yes. Right.

[Questioner] How do you account for that being so …

[Rushdoony] Well, that was a part of the Puritan impulse that had begun earlier; and the King James furthered it, because the bible used in the churches and in the country at large was the Geneva Bible; and the very name, Geneva, upset him. So, he was ready to go along with another translation.

[Questioner] Well, did he appoint the scholars that made this King James …?

[Rushdoony] Nominally. They were appointed in his name, but they were not his appointment, really. Everything, you see, was done in the name of the king, but that didn’t mean the king ever, himself, did it.

Yes? [01:05:01]

[Questioner] It must have been before that, that Cranmer...[edit]

[Questioner] It must have been before that, that Cranmer had gotten that Book of Common Prayer together.

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes. Cranmer was in the reign of Henry VIII; and then under … he began the work, but the Book of Common Prayer was actually in its finished form under Edward VI, the boy king; and Cranmer was then executed under Bloody Mary. The policy under Charles I was actually to turn the Church of England into a papal church without a formal adherence to Rome, although there was a sub rosa one. Now, both Charles II and James II were Catholic. Charles II didn’t openly declare himself a Catholic, until he was on his deathbed; but James II, right off the bat; and James II was, in essence, the better of the two brothers (they were brothers), but he was the fanatical one; and he began the savage persecutions in England, especially in Scotland. It was the Killing Time, as it was called; and this was what led, then, to calling in William and Mary to overthrow James II.

There’s a very interesting story about James II. Those of you who saw the picture, Cromwell, remember the minister who was very close to Charles I, very faithful and loyal to the crown; but when he found that Charles was dishonest to the core in what he said to the Puritans, even though he retained his loyalty to the crown, he felt he had to tell them, “The king is lying to you.” He couldn’t abide that. He was a man of integrity. He was, basically, a commoner. Well, Hyde went into exile, and returned an elderly man with Charles II. James (the brother of Charles II, who later became James II, fell in love with his daughter and got her pregnant; and then secretly married her. And Charles II thought it was fitting and proper, and he approved of it. He had a high regard for Hyde, because Hyde was his most trustworthy minister, and he didn’t want him hurt, although Hyde was very upset about it and threatened to disinherit his daughter. [01:08:24]

At any rate, then Henrietta Maria, the mother from...[edit]

At any rate, then Henrietta Maria, the mother from France, wrote angrily that she was going to come there and have the marriage disannulled: the idea of her son marrying a commoner! So, at that, James II began to quell—James, that is, Duke of York—and he began to have his doubts about the marriage, and wondered if maybe he shouldn’t try to have it annulled. So, at this point, his cronies came to his rescue, and they all stood up and said, “Well, you might as well get rid of her. She has been nothing but a tramp, and we’ve all slept with her,” which was not true. So, this created quite a scandal, because they spread this story far and wide. And James made quite a ruckus. He wanted rid of her, and he had been trapped in the marriage, when he had been hot for it for a long time.

So, Charles—who, although he was a rascal, had sometimes a real streak of decency—sent some ministers to Anne when she was in childbirth, and confronted her with all these stories, that so and so has slept with you, and so on, so on, so on, so on and so—the whole catalog; and here she was having a baby and labor pains. And, at that, she lost her temper. And, although she was a good girl, she cut loose with quite a stream of profanity at everyone who had made that statement, and her husband for believing them. And she said, “He knows good and well there’s never been anyone in my life, but he.” Well, Charles II accepted her word; and, of course, it was the truth. And so, he told his brother, “Well, she’s your wife, no matter what your mother says.” And then, the courtiers admitted they had all lied. So, he lived with her, and out of that union was born … well, the boy who was born at that time died; but there was born Mary, who was wed to William of Orange, and ruled after James II was chased out of the country—the reign of William and Mary. And then, since they were childless, then the other sister, Anne, ruled after William and Mary. So, it was quite an interesting period. Well, our time is up, but I …