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protestancy, who were led on, not“ by the sense of their allegiance," but by the hope of his apostacy to Rome, from disputing to warring; his own voluntary and first appeal.
His hearkening to evil counsellors, charged upon him so often by the parliament, he puts off as a device of those men who were so eager to give him better counsel.” That “those men” were the parliament, and that he ought to have used the counsel of none but those, as a king, is already known. What their civility laid upon evil counsellors, he himself most commonly owned; but the event of those evil counsels, “ the enormities, the confusions, the miseries,” he transfers from the guilt of his own civil broils to the just resistance made by parliament; and imputes what miscarriages of his they could not yet remove for his opposing, as if they were some new misdemeanors of their bringing in, and not the inveterate diseases of his own bad government; which, with a disease as bad, he falls again to magnify and commend. And may all those who would be governed by his “retractions and concessions," rather than by laws of parliament, admire his self-encomiums, and be flattered with that “ crown of patience,” to which he cunningly exhorted them, that his monarchical foot might have the setting it upon their heads !
That trust which the parliament faithfully discharged in the asserting of our liberties, he calls “ another artifice to withdraw the people from him to their designs." What piece of justice could they have demanded for the people, which the jealousy of a king might not have miscalled a design to disparage his government, and to ingratiate themselves ? To be more just, religious, wise, or magnanimous than the common sort, stirs up in a tyrant both fear and envy; and straight he cries out popularity, which, in his account, is little less than treason. The sum is, they thought to limit or take away the remora * of his negative voice, which, like to that little pest at sea,
upon it to arrest and stop the commonwealth steering under full sail to a reformation. They thought to share with him in the militia, both or either of which he could not possibly hold without consent of the people, and not be absolutely a tyrant. He professes “to desire no other liberty than what he envies not his subjects according to law;" yet fought with might and main against his subjects, to have a sole power over them in his hand, both against and beyond law. As for the philosophical liberty which in vain he talks of, we may conclude him very ill trained up in those free notions, who to civil liberty was so injurious.
* He here alludes to a superstition anciently prevalent among the sailors of the Mediterranean, that this little fish (the echeneis, or remora,) cleaving to the keels of ships, could stay their course even when under full sail. Pliny, in the opening of his 32nd book, has a splendid passage on this curious idea,-ED.
He calls the conscience “ God's sovereignty :” why, then, doth he contest with God about that supreme title ? why did he lay restraints, and force enlargements, upon our consciences in things for which we were to answer God only and the church? God bids us“ be subject for conscience sake;" that is, as to a magistrate and in the laws; not usurping over spiritual things, as Lucifer beyond his sphere. And the same precept bids him likewise, for conscience sake, be subject to the parliament, both his natural and his legal superior.
Finally, having laid the fault of these commotions not upon his own misgovernment, but upon the “ ambition of others, the necessity of some men's fortune, and thirst after novelty, he bodes himself “much honour and reputation, that, like the sun, shall rise and recover himself to such a splendour, as owls, bats, and such fatal birds shall be unable to bear.” Poets, indeed, use to vapour much after this manner. But to bad kings, who, without cause, expect future glory from their actions, it happens as to bad poets, who sit and starve themselves with a delusive hope to win immortality by their bad lines. For though men ought not to “ speak evil of dignities” which are just, yet nothing hinders us to speak evil, as often as it is the truth, of those who in their dignities do evil. Thus did our Saviour himself, John the Baptist, and Stephen the Martyr. And those black veils of his own misdeeds he might be sure would ever keep “his face from shining," till he could“ refute evil speaking with well doing," which grace he seems here to pray for; and his prayer doubtless as it was prayed, so it was heard. But even his prayer is so ambitious of prerogative, that it dares ask away the prerogative of Christ himself, “ To become the headstone of the corner.”
CHAPTER XVI. Upon the Ordinance against the Common-Prayer Book.
What to think of liturgies, both the sense of scripture and apostolical practice would have taught him better than his human reasonings and conjectures. Nevertheless, what weight they have, let us consider: if it“ be no news to have all innovations ushered in with the name of reformation,” sure it is less news to have all reformation censured and opposed under the name of innovation, by those who, being exalted in high place above their merit, fear all change, though of things never so ill, or so unwisely settled. So hardly can the dotage of those that dwell upon antiquity allow present times any share of godliness or wisdom.
The removing of liturgy he traduces to be done only as a “thing plausible to the people;" whose rejection of it he likens, with small reverence, to the crucifying of our Saviour; next, that it was done “ to please those men who gloried in their extemporary vein,” meaning the ministers. For whom it will be best to answer, as was answered for the man born blind,“ They are of age, let them speak for themselves;” not how they came blind, but whether it were liturgy that held them tongue-tied.
“For the matter contained in that book," we need no better witness than king Edward the Sixth, who to the Cornish rebels confesses it was no other than the old mass-book done into English, all but some few words that were expunged. And by this argument, which king Edward so promptly had to use against that irreligious rabble, we may be assured it was the carnal fear of those divines and politicians that modelled the liturgy no further off from the old mass, lest by too great an alteration they should incense the people, and be destitute of the same shifts to fly to, which they had taught the young king.
“ For the manner of using set forms, there is no doubt but that, wholesome” matter and good desires rightly conceived in the heart, wholesome words will follow of themselves. Neither can any true Christian find a reason why liturgy should be at all admitted, a prescription not imposed or practised by those first founders of the church, who alone had that authority : without whose precept or example, how
What we may
constantly the priest puts on his gown and surplice, so constantly doth his prayer put on a servile yoke of liturgy. This is evident, that they “who use no set forms of prayer,” have words from their affections; while others are to seek affections fit and proportionable to a certain dose of prepared words; which as they are not rigorously forbid to any man's private infirmity, so to imprison and confine by force, into a pinfold of set words, those two most unimprisonable things, our prayers, and that divine spirit of utterance that moves them, is a tyranny that would have longer hands than those giants who threatened bondage to heaven. do in the same form of words is not so much the question, as whether liturgy may be forced as he forced it. It is true
pray to the same God;” must we, therefore, always use the same words ? Let us then use but one word, because we pray to one God. “ We profess the same truths :” but the liturgy comprehends not all truths : "we read the same scriptures,” but never read that all those sacred expressions, all benefit and use of scripture, as to public prayer, should be denied us, except what was barrelled up in a coinmon-prayer book with many mixtures of their own, and, which is worse, without salt.
But suppose them savoury words and unmixed, suppose them manna itself, yet, if they shall be hoarded up and enjoined us, while God every morning rains down new expressions into our hearts ; instead of being fit to use, they will be found, like reserved manna, rather to breed worms and stink. “We have the same duties upon us, and feel the same wants ;” yet not always the same, nor at all times alike; but with variety of circumstances, which ask variety of words, whereof God hath given us plenty ; not to use so copiously upon all other occasions, and so niggardly to him alone in our devotions. As if Christians were now in a worse famine of words fit for prayer, than was of food at the siege of Jerusalem, when perhaps the priests being to remove the shew-bread, as was accustomed, were compelled every sabbath-day, for want of other loaves, to bring again still the same. If the “ Lord's Praver” had been the rant, or the pattern of set liturgies," as is here affirmed, why was neither that prayer, nor any other set form, ever after used, or so much as mentioned by the apostles, much less
commended to our use? Why was their care wanting in a thing so useful to the church ? so full of danger and contention to be left undone by them to other men's penning; of whose authority we could not be so certain? Why was this forgotten by them, who declare that they have revealed to us the whole counsel of God? who, as he left our affections to be guided by his sanctifying Spirit, so did he likewise our words to be put into us without our premeditation; not only those cautious words to be used before Gentiles and tyrants, but much more those filial words, of which we have so frequent use in our access with freedom of speech to the throne of grace. Which to lay aside for other outward dictates of inen, were to injure him and his perfect gift, who is the spirit, and giver of our ability to pray: as if his ministration were incomplete, and that to whom he gave affections, he did not also afford utterance to make his gift of prayer a perfect gift; to them especially, whose office in the church is to pray publicly.
And although the gift were only natural, yet voluntary prayers are less subject to formal and superficial tempers than set forms. For in those, at least for words and matter, he who prays must consult first with his heart, which in likelihood may stir up his affections ; in these, having both words and matter ready made to his lips, which is enough to make up the outward act of prayer, his affections grow lazy, and come not up easily at the call of words not their own. The prayer also having less intercourse and sympathy with a heart wherein it was not conceived, saves itself the labour of so long a journey downward, and flying up in haste on the specious wings of formality, if it fall not back again headlong, instead of a prayer which was expected, presents God with a set of stale and empty words.
No doubt but“ ostentation and formality” may taint the best duties; we are not therefore to leave duties for no duties, and to turn prayer into a kind of lurry: Cannot unpremeditated babblings be rebuked and restrained in whom we find they are, but ihe Spirit of God must be forbidden in all men? But it is the custom of bad men and hypocrites, to take advantage at the least abuse of good things, that under that covert they may remove the goodness of those things, rather than the abuse. And how unknowingly, how weakly