Page images
PDF
EPUB

He bodes much “ horror and bad influence after his eclipse.” He speaks his wishes; but they who by weighing prudently things past foresee things to come, the best divination, may hope rather all good success and happiness, by removing that darkness, which the misty cloud of his prerogative made between us and a peaceful reformation, which is our true sunlight, and not he, though he would be taken for our sun itself. And wherefore should we not hope to be governed more happily without a king, whenas all our misery and trouble hath been either by a king, or by our necessary vindication and defence against him?

He would be thought“ inforced to perjury,” by having granted the militia, by which his oath bound him to protect che people. If he can be perjured in granting that, why doth he refuse for no other cause the abolishing of episcopacy ? But never was any oath so blind as to swear him to protect delinquents against justice, but to protect all the people in that order, and by those hands which the parliament should advise him to, and the protected confide in; not under the show of protection to hold a violent and incommunicable sword over us, as ready to be let fall upon our own necks, as upon our enemies ; nor to make our own hands and weapons fight against our own liberties. By his parting with the militia he takes to himself much

assurance in God's protection;" and to the parliament imputes the fear" of not daring to adventure the injustice of their actions upon any other way of safety.” But wherefore came not this assurance of God's protection to him till the militia was wrung out of his hands? It should seem by his holding it so fast, that his own actions and intentions had no less of injustice in them, than what he charges upon others, whom he terms Chaldeans, Sabeans, and the devil himself. But Job used no such militia against those enemies, nor such a magazine as was at Hull, which this king so contended for, and made war upon us, that he might have wherewithal to make war against us. cludes, that, " although they take all from him, yet can they not obstruct his way to heaven.” It was no handsome occasion, by feigning obstructions where they are not, to tell us whither he was going : he should have shut the door, and prayed in secret, not here in the high street. Private

praise of his

prayers

He con

in public ask something of whom they ask not, and that shall be theireward.

66 He

CHAPTER XI.

Upon the Nineteen Propositions, fc. Of the nineteen propositions he names none in particular, neither shall the answer : but he insists upon the old plea of “his conscience, honour, and reason ;” using the plausibility of large and indefinite words, to defend himself at such a distance as may hinder the eye of common judgment from all distinct view and examination of his reasoning. would buy the peace of his people at any rate, save only the parting with his conscience and honour." Yet shews not how it can happen that the peace of a people, if otherwise to be bought at any rate, should be inconsistent or at variance with the conscience and honour of a king. Till then, we may receive it for a better sentence, that nothing should be more agreeable to the conscience and honour of a king, than to preserve his subjects in peace; especially from civil war.

And which of the propositions were “obtruded on him with the point of the sword,” till he first with the point of the sword,” thrust from him both the propositions and the propounders ? He never reckons those violent and merciless obtrusions, which for almost twenty years he had been forcing upon tender consciences, by all sorts of persecution, till through the multitude of them that were to suffer, it could no more be called a persecution, but a plain war. From which when first the Scots, then the English, were constrained to defend themselves, this their just defence is that which he calls here, their making war upon his soul.”

He grudges that "so many things are required of him, and nothing offered him in requital of those favours which he had granted.” What could satiate the desires of this man, who being king of England, and master of almost two millions yearly,* what by hook or crook, was still in want; and those acts of justice which he was to do in duty, counts done as favours; and such favours as were not done without

* Since that time the revenues of England have somewhat increased ! -En.

[ocr errors]

the avaricious hope of other rewards besides supreme honour, and the constant revenue of his place?

“ This honour," he saith, “ they did him, to put him on the giving part. And spake truer than he intended, it being merely for honour's sake that they did so; not that it belonged to him of right: for what can he give to a parliament, who receives all he hath from the people, and for the people's good ? Yet now he brings his own conditional rights to contest and be preferred before the people's good; and yet, unless it be in order to their good, he hath no rights at all ; reigning by the laws of the land, not by his own; which laws are in the hands of parliament to change or abrogate as they see best for the commonwealth, even to the taking away of kingship itself, when it grows too masterful and burdensome.

For every commonwealth is in general defined, a society sufficient of itself, in all things conducible to well-being and commodious life. Any of which requisite things, if it cannot have without the gift and favour of a single person, or without leave of his private reason or his conscience, it cannot be thought sufficient of itself, and by consequence no commonwealth, nor free; but a multitude of vassals in the possession and domain of one absolute lord, and wholly obnoxious to his will. If the king have power to give or deny anything to his parliament, he must do it either as a person several from them, or as one greater : neither of which will be allowed him: not to be considered severally from them; for as the king of England can do no wrong, so neither can he do right but in his courts and by his courts ; and what is legally done in them, shall be deemed the king's assent, though he as a several person shall judge or endeavour the contrary; so that indeed without his courts, or against them, he is no king. If therefore he obtrude upon us any public mischief, or withhold from us any general good, which is wrong in the highest degree, he must do it as a tyrant, not as a king of England, by the known maxims of our law. Neither can he, as one greater, give aught to the parliament which is not in their own power, but he must be greater also than the kingdom which they represent : so that to honour him with the giving part was a mere civility, and may be well termed the courtesy of England, not the king's due.

But the “incommunicable jewel of his conscience” he will not give, “but reserve to himself.” It seems that his conscience was none of the crown jewels; for those we know were in Holland, not incommunicable, to buy arms against his subjects. Being therefore but a private jewel, he could not have done a greater pleasure to the kingdom, than by reserving it to himself. But he, contrary to what is here professed, would have his conscience not an incommunicable, but a universal conscience, the whole kingdom's conscience. Thus what he seems to fear lest we should ravish from him, is our chief complaint that he obtruded upon us; we never forced him to part with his conscience, but it was he that would have forced us to part with ours.

Some things he taxes them to have offered him," which, while he had the mastery of his reason, he would never consent to." Very likely ; but had his reason mastered him as it ought, and not been mastered long ago by his sense and humour, (as the breeding of most kings hath been ever sensual and most humoured,) perhaps he would have made no difficulty. Meanwhile at what a fine pass is the kingdom, that must depend in greatest exigencies upon the phantasy of a king's reason, be he wise or fool, who arrogantly shall answer all the wisdom of the land, that what they offer seems to him unreasonable !

He prefers his “ love of truth” before his love of the people. His love of truth would have led him to the search of truth, and have taught him not to lean so much upon his own understanding. He met at first with doctrines of unaccountable prerogative; in them he rested, because they pleased him; they therefore pleased him because they gave him all ; and this he calls his love of truth, and prefers it before the love of his people's peace.

Some things they proposed," which would have wounded the inward peace of his conscience.” The more our evil hap, that three kingdoms should be thus pestered with one conscience; who chiefly scrupled to grant us that, which the parliament advised him to, as the chief means of our public welfare and reformation. These scruples to many perhaps will seem pretended ; to others, upon as good grounds, may seem real ; and that it was the just judgment of God, that he who was so cruel and so remorseless to other men's consciences,

should have a conscience within him as cruel to himself; constraining him, as he constrained others, and ensnaring him in such ways and counsels as were certain to be his destruction.

“Other things though he could approve, yet in honour and policy he thought fit to deny, lest he should seem to dare deny nothing." By this means he will be sure, what with reason, honour, policy, or punctilios, to be found never unfurnished of a denial; whether it were his envy not to be overbounteous, or that the submissness of our asking stirred up in him a certain pleasure of denying. Good princes have thought it their chief happiness to be always granting; if good things, for the things' sake; if things indifferent, for the people's sake; while this man sits calculating variety of excuses how he may grant least; as if his whole strength and royalty were placed in a mere negative.

Of one proposition especially he laments him much, that they would bind “to a general and implicit consent for whatever they desired.” Which though I find not among the nineteen, yet undoubtedly the oath of his coronation binds him to no less; neither is he at all by his office to interpose against a parliament in the making or not making of any law; but to take that for just and good legally, which is there decreed, and to see it executed accordingly. Nor was he set over us to vie wisdom with his parliament, but to be guided by them; any of whom possibly may as far excel him in the gift of wisdom, as he them in place and dignity. But much nearer is it to impossibility, that any king alone should be wiser than all his council ; sure enough it was not he, though no king ever before him so much contended to have it thought so. And if the parliament so thought not, but desired him to follow their advice and deliberation in things of public concernment, he accounts it the same proposition as if Samson had been moved to the putting out his eyes, that the Philistines might abuse him.” And thus out of an unwise or pretended fear, lest others should make a scorn of him for yielding to his parliament, he regards not to give cause of worse suspicion, that he made a scorn of his regal oath.

But "tu exclude him froni all power of denial seems an arrogance;" in the parliament he means : what in him then to deny against the parliament ? Nonc at all, by what he argues :

« PreviousContinue »