When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.…
I suppose there never was a time in the history of England which equalled in licentiousness and profanity the period ushered in by the Restoration. And doubtless the chief cause of this is to be found in the endeavour of the Puritans, when they were in power, to force upon the nation both their own theology and their own code of morals. The Puritans, in their intense eagerness to reform the nation, fell into the great mistake of supposing that they could make the people orthodox and virtuous by Acts of Parliament. At least, their deeds were in accordance with some such theory. The Book of Common Prayer was forbidden, under penalty, to be used either in churches or in private houses. Punishments were threatened against such as should find fault with the Calvinistic mode of worship. Public amusements were attacked. Theatrical representstions were proscribed. One statute ordered that all the maypoles in England should be cut down. The Long Parliament gave orders that Christmas Day should be strictly observed as a fast — a day of national humiliation. No person was to be "admitted into the public service until the House of Legislature should be satisfied as to his real godliness." Thus the Puritans set themselves most vigorously to "sweep" England and to "garnish" it. And it cannot be denied that to some extent they succeeded. The country did present an aspect of greater devoutness and morality. But all such Acts of Parliament could not communicate one spark of religious life; they could "sweep" away much visible dust, they could "garnish" the house with external observances, but they could not send the indwelling tenant. And so, in due time, to the untenanted house came the "seven devils:" — first, hypocrisy and all manner of cant, and secret debauchery, even during the Protectorate; and then, at the Restoration, an unblushing profanity sand licentiousness, the like of which England had never seen before. The king and his courtiers set the example of profligacy. The statesmen of the land became mere selfish tricksters. Literature draggled itself in the mire of pollution. The stage became utterly corrupt. Conventicles were proscribed. John Bunyan was only one of many who were sent to prison for preaching the gospel.
(T. C. Finlayson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.