Morley, George, Dd
Morley, George, D.D.
a learned English prelate, noted for his able polemics against Romanism and his faithful adherence to king Charles II in the face of all opposition, was born in London in 1597. He lost his parents when very young, and also his patrimony. However, at fourteen he was elected a king's scholar at Westminster School, and became a student of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1615, where he took the first degree in arts in 1618, and the second in 1621. Then he entered holy orders, and in 1628 became chaplain to Robert, earl of Caernarvon, and his lady, with whom he lived till 1640, without having or seeking any preferment in the Church. After that he was presented to the rectory of Hartfield, in Sussex, which he exchanged for the rectory of Mildenhall, in Wiltshire; but before this exchange, Charles I, to whom he had been appointed chaplain in ordinary, had given him a canonry of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1641. This is said to be the only preferment he ever desired. In 1642 he was admitted to the degree of D.D. About that time also he preached before the House of Commons, then largely made up of Nonconformists, but so little to their liking that he was not commanded to print his sermon, as all the other preachers had been. Nevertheless he was nominated one of the assembly of divines at Westminster because of his strong leaning to Calvinism, but he never appeared among them; on the contrary, he always remained with the king, and did him what service he could. Dr. Morley also used his influence at Oxford University to incline its professors to opposition against the Visitation Bill which had been enacted by the anti-royalists in Parliament; and as the Cromwellian party gained the ascendency he was marked out for punishment. In 1648, the Presbyterians having in the mean time gained the control of state affairs, Dr. Morley was deprived of all his preferments, and imprisoned for some little time. The length of his imprisonment is not exactly known, but in 1649 we find him preparing to quit England to join his royal master in Holland. Dr. Morley met the king at the Hague, and was for some time a constant companion of Charles II. In 1650, when the king set out on his expedition to Scotland, Dr. Morley went first to the Hague and then to Antwerp, where he resided, together with his friend, Dr. John Earle, in the house of Sir Charles Cotterell, and a year later in the house of Sir Edward Hyde. While thus retired from home and public life, he yet remained a most faithful adherent of the royal and episcopal cause, and even held Church services daily, "catechized once a week, and administered the communion once a month to all the English who would attend" (Hook). About 1654 he became chaplain to the queen of Bohemia at the Hague, but about 1656 he removed to Breda with the family of Sir Edward Hyde, and there continued the same practice as at Antwerp.
During the protectorate of Richard Cromwell, while the royalists were preparing for the Restoration, Charles employed Dr. Morley as a messenger to the Presbyterians. He quickly gained their confidence, because he was known to be a strong Calvinist. He was, moreover, a fit person to instil the Presbyterians with a desire for moderation, for he had been a prominent party in the treaty agreed to by Charles I in the Isle of Wight, which favored the Presbyterians in many respects. SEE PRESBYTERIANS. It is true Baxter did not very much like Dr. Morley, because, as he complains, Morley "talked of moderation in the general, but would come to no particular terms" (Autobiography, page 218). Yet Morley himself must have been persuaded of the successful issue of his mission if we judge him by his letter of May 4, 1660, in which he writes: "I have reason to hope that they (i.e., the Presbyterians) will be persuaded to admit of and submit to episcopal government, and to the practice of the liturgy in public, so they may be permitted, before and after their sermons, and-upon occasional emergencies, to use such arbitrary forms as they themselves shall think fit, without mixing of anything prejudicial to the government of the Church and State as they shall be settled" (Clarendon, State Papers, 6:738, 743). Upon the royalists, particularly, Dr. Morley had a good influence. They, as soon as they saw the approach of victory, manifested a too forward zeal, and made uncomfortable threatenings of revenge upon the republican party. Dr. Morley checked these evil tendencies, and thus softened down all opposition on both sides. Dr. Morley also, though incorrectly, represented the king's religious views, and refuted the statement that Charles II was a convert to popery. Of course Dr. Morley was duped by the king, and could never have served Charles had he known that man to have been a hypocrite. Morley was a diplomatist, seeking to gain the ascendency of the episcopal party in the English realm, but he was also an honest Christian, and would not have suffered himself to be the tool of an apostate. Indeed his position later in life against papists makes this plainer still. (See below.)
Upon the restoration of Charles II, Dr. Morley was rewarded for his faithfulness to his royal master by elevation to the bishopric, besides being restored to his canonry, and appointed dean of Christ Church. He was consecrated bishop of Worcester in 1660. In 1661 bishop Morley played a prominent part in the Savoy Conference (q.v.), commissioned to bring about such changes in the liturgy as might enable the Presbyterians and Episcopalians to unite once more. Though the archbishop of York was present, Morley appeared as the chief speaker of the bishops, and was for the Episcopalians what Baxter was for the Covenanters. Stoughton puts Morley next to Sheldon, yet acknowledges that the latter acted chiefly as adviser, "taking little share in the viva-voce discussions," while Morley appeared constantly as leader in the debates (1:163). In 1662 bishop Morley was made incumbent of the deanery of the royal chapel, and shortly after was transferred from the see of Worcester to that of Winchester. In 1673, when the royalists made a desperate attempt to introduce severe measures against the Nonconformists, bishop Morley figured prominently in the effort, and thus brought reproach upon himself for intolerance and stubbornness. He especially favored the modification of the "Test Act" in such a manner that it became necessary for every English subject to be faithful to "the Protestant religion as established by law in the Church of England." Yet Morley's position at this time may be satisfactorily explained. "His main policy was to protect the Establishment, on the basis of the Act of Uniformity, against papists on the one hand and dissenters on the other. He shared in the alarm which conversions to Rome and the encroachments of that Church inspired throughout England at the time; and partly from that cause he was induced to support the bill,... thinking by the new oath, which established the Church, to prevent an invasion by the enemy... Strength was wasted by internecine warfare' at a moment when Episcopalians and Presbyterians stood before a common foe. It was the story of the Crusaders repeated. Why not gather the forces of the Church and of the sects, and concentrate them upon the great enemy of the country's liberty and peace? Such impressions, under the circumstances, were not unnatural in the mind of a man like Morley" (Stoughton, 1:439, 440). In his old age Morley is reputed to have become more tolerant again, for it is related that he stopped proceedings against an ejected minister, and invited him to dinner, endeavoring to soften down the terms of conformity; but, better still, it is said that in Morley's last days he drank to an intermeddling country mayor in a cup of Canary, advising him to let dissenters live in quiet, "in many of whom, he was satisfied, there was the fear of God" — and he thought they were "not likely to be gained by rigor or severity." The bishop died in 1684. Burnet says that he "was in many respects a very eminent man, very zealous against popery, and also very zealous against dissent; considerably learned, with great vivacity of thought; soon provoked, and with little mastery over his temper" (1:590). His zeal against the doctrines of popery is apparent in his writings, and not less so his zeal against dissent; in connection with his opposition to both, he avows the doctrine of passive obedience, declaring in terms the most unequivocal "the best and safest way for prince, state, and people is to profess, protect, cherish, and allow of that religion, and that only, which allows of no rising up against or resisting sovereign power — no, not in its own defence, nor upon any other account whatsoever" (Morley's Treatises, sermon before the king, page 38). Indeed, he maintains, again and again, the principle of intolerance in the government of the Church, and the principle of despotism in the government of the State; holding the king to be sole sovereign, while Parliament is only a concurring power in making laws, and the bishops the only legitimate ecclesiastical rulers. Bishop Morley was a very generous man, and freely expended his income for the good of his benefices. He was a benefactor to Oxford University by granting Christ Church £100 per annum, and by establishing several prizes at Pembroke and other colleges. He spent much money in repairing the buildings in the see of Winchester, bequeathed a considerable sum to St. Paul's, London, and left £1000 to purchase lands for the support of small vicarages. The bishop also bore a high reputation for theological learning before the civil wars, as well as after the establishment of the episcopacy, and was acknowledged as well versed in the logic of the schools, and as a formidable controversialist. He wrote A Sermon at the Coronation of Charles II, April 23, 1661. In the dedication to the king, by whose command it was published, he says that he was now past his great climacteric, and this was the first time that ever he appeared in print: — Vindication of himself from Mr. Baxter's Calumny, etc. (1662): — Epistola apologetica et parcenetica ad theologum quendan Belgam scripta (1663, 4to; written at Breda, June, 1659; reprinted in 1683, under this title, Epistola, etc., in quae agitur de seren. regis Car. II erga reformatan religionem afectu). In this letter he attempts to clear Charles II from the imputation of popery, and urges the Dutch to lend their utmost assistance towards his restoration; but he was mistaken in his master's religion, and perhaps lived long enough to know it: — The Sum of a Conference with Darcey, a Jesuit, at Brussels (1649): — An Argument drawn from the Evidence and Certainty of Sense against the Doctrine of Transubstantiation: — Vindication of the Argument, etc.: — Answer to Father Cressy's Letter, written about 1662: — Sermon before the King, November 5, 1667: — Answer to a Letter written by a Romish Priest (1676): — Letter to Anne, duchess of York (1670). This lady, the daughter of Sir Edward Hyde, was instructed in the Protestant religion by our subject while he lived at Antwerp, but she afterwards forsaking the faith of her family, Dr. Morley wrote this defence of Protestantism: — Ad Virum Janum Ulitium Epistolae duae de Invocatione Sanctorum (1659). All the above pieces, except the first and second, were printed together in 1683, 4to: — A Letter to the Earl of Anglesey concerning the Means to keep out Popery, etc., printed at the end of A true Account of the whole Proceedings betwixt James, duke of Ormond, and Arthur, earl of Anglesey (1683): — Vindication of himself from Mr. Baxter's injurious Reflections, etc. (1683): — he made also An Epitaph for James I (1625), which was printed at the end of Spottiswood's History of the Church of Scotland, and is said to have been the author of A Character of King Charles II (1660, in one sheet 4to). In his polemics against Romanism bishop Morley discusses only three important points. The treatment of these indicates deep learning and great skill. He plies with much success the argument against transubstantiation, "drawn from the evidence and certainty of sense," maintaining his convincing argument with the dexterity of a practiced logician, so as to parry most successfully all the objections of Roman Catholic antagonists. He decidedly opposes the popish doctrine of purgatory; but he vindicates prayers for the dead in the way in which they were offered in the early Church, and as by modern Ainglicans they are still encouraged to be offered; that is, for the rest of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and the plenitude of redemption at the last day. Whatever may be the propriety of praying for the dead in such a qualified sense as this, Morley contends there is no ground on which to rest the doctrine of the invocation of saints. That doctrine he overthrows by an appeal to Scripture; and then he proceeds, after the Anglican method, to examine the writings of the fathers, and to show that they do not justify the popish dogma and its associated practices. The bishop enjoyed the association of some of the most distinguished literati of his day. He was an intimate friend of Falkland, and mixed much with Ben Jonson and Edmund Waller. He was strict and exemplary in his life, though much given to witticisms, and surrounded by a host of gay courtiers and literati; and was acknowledged by all as truly abstemious and laborious in his habits. See Chambers's Magazine, 8:69; Stoughton, Eccles. Hist. of England (Church of the Restoration) (see Index in volume 2); Perry, Eccles. Hist. volume 2 (see Index in volume 3); Wood, Athenae Oxon.; Neal, Hist. Puritans (Harper's ed.), 2:230; Burnet, Hist. of his own Times, 1:590; Salmon, Lives of the English Bishops, page 346. (J.H.W.)