I NTRODUCTION. 87 spirits would abate nothing of the episcopal power or profit, but maintained, that to yield any thing was giving up the cause to the opposite party.. In the year 1641, the parliament introduced two bills, one to abolish the high commission court, the other the star-chamber, both of which obtained the royal assent.+ The former of these courts, observes Lord Clarendon, had assumeda disputable power of imposingfines; that it some- times exceeded in the severity of its sentences; that it rendered itself 'very unpopular ; and had managed its censures with more sharpness, and less policy, than the times would bear : but he declares he did not know that any innocent clergyman suffered by any of its ecclesiastical censures.t The abolition of these courts effectually clipped the wings of the persecuting prelates. Numerous petitions being sent up, from all quarters for preaching ministers, a committee of forty members of the house was appointed, called the committee of preaching ministers, to send ministers where there were vacancies, and provide for their maintenance.§ And there being many complaints of idle and licentious clergymen, another com- mittee was appointed, called the committee of scandalous ministers, to examine these complaints.N A third com- mittee was appointed, called the committee of plund,ered ministers, for the relief of such godly ministers as were driven from their cures, for adhering to the parliaments Many pious and learned divines were members of these committees, who employed their abilities to the utmost for public usefulness. Upon the presentation of numerous grievances from all . Fuller's Church Hist. b. xi. p. 175. Scobell's Collections, part i. p. 9, 12. Clarendon's Hist. vol. i. p.221, 222.-The high commission, says Hume, extended its jurisdiction over the w hole kingdom, and over all orders of men ; and every circumstance of its authority, and all its methods of proceeding, were contrary to the clearest principles of law and natural equity. The commissioners were impowered to administer the oath ex officio, by which a person was bound to answer all questions, and might thereby be obliged to accuse himself or his most intimate friend. The fines were discretionary, and often occasioned the total ruin of the offender, contrary to the established laws of the kingdom. This court was a real Inquisition ; attended with all the iniquities, as well as cruelties, inseparable from that tribunal. It was armed,says Granger,with an inquisitorialpower, to forceany one to confess what he knew, and to punish him at discretion. .--Hume's Hist. of Eng. vol. v. p. 189.--Granzer's Biol. Hist, vol. r. p. 206. Clareadon's Hist. vol. i. p. 295. 11 Sylvester's Life of Baxter, part i. p, 19. 2 Walker's Suf. Clergy, part i. p. 73.