Page images

66 seem


his own actions; whereof to purge himself, he uses no other argument than a general and so often iterated commendation of himself; and thinks that court holy-water hath the virtue of expiation, at least with the silly people; to whom he familiarly imputes sin where none is, to seem liberal of his forgiveness where none is asked or needed.

What ways he hath taken towards the prosperity of his people, which he would so earnestly to desire,” if we do but once call to mind, it will be enough to teach us, looking on the smooth insinuations here, that tyrants are not more flattered by their slaves, than forced to flatter others whom they fear. For the people's "tranquillity he would willingly be the Jonah;” but lest he should be taken at his word, pretends to foresee within ken two imaginary “winds" never heard of in the compass, which threaten, if he be cast overboard, to increase the storm ;” but that controversy divine lot hath ended.

“He had rather not rule, than that his people should be ruined;" and yet, above these twenty years, hath been ruining the people about the niceties of his ruling. He is accurate to put a difference between the plague of inalice and the ague of mistakes; the itch of novelty, and the leprosy of disloyalty.” But had he as well known how to distinguish between the venerable gray hairs of ancient religion and the old scurf of superstition, between the wholesome heat of well governing and the feverous rage of tyrannizing, his judgment in state physic had been of more authority.

Much he prophesies, “ that the credit of those men, who have cast black scandals on him, shall ere long be quite blasted by the same furnace of popular obloquy, wherein they sought to cast his name and honour.” I believe not that a Romish gilded portraiture gives better oracles than a Babylonish golden image could do, to tell us truly who heated that furnace of obloquy, or who deserves to be thrown in, Nebuchadnezzar or the three kingdoms. It" gave him great cause to suspect his own innocence," that he was opposed by “so many who professed singular piety." But this qualm was soon over, and he concluded rather to suspect their religion than his own innocence, affirming

many with him were both learned and religious above the ordinary size.” But if his great seal, without the

that so

guesses that 66

parliament, were not sufficient to create lords, his parole must needs be far more unable to create learned and religious men; and who shall authorize his unlearned judgment to point them out? He

many well-minded men were by popular preachers urged to oppose him.” But the opposition undoubtedly proceeded and continues from heads far wiser, and spirits of a nobler strain; those priest-led Herodians, with their blind guides, are in the ditch already; travelling, as they thought, to Sion, but moored in the Isle of Wight. He thanks God “ for his constancy to the protestant religion both abroad and at home.” Abroad, his letter to the pope; at home, his innovations in the church, will speak his constancy in religion what it was, without further credit to this vain boast. His “ using the assistance of some papists," as

. the cause might be, could not hurt his religion ; but, in the settling of protestantism, their aid was both unseemly and suspicious, and inferred that the greatest part of protestants were against him and his obtruded settlement.

But this is strange indeed, that he should appear now teaching the parliament, what no man, till this was read, thought ever he had learned,“ that difference of persuasion in religious matters may fall out where there is the sameness of allegiance and subjection.” If he thought so from the beginning, wherefore was there such compulsion used to the puritans of England, and the whole realm of Scotland, about conforming to a Liturgy? Wherefore no bishop, no king? Wherefore episcopacy more agreeable to monarchy, if different persuasions in religion, may agree in one duty and allegiance? Thus do court maxims, like court minions, rise or fall as the king pleases.

Not to tax him for want of elegance as a courtier, in writing Oglio for Olla, the Spanish word, it might be well affirmed, that there was a greater medley and disproportioning of religions, to mix papists with protestants in a religous cause, than to entertain all those diversified sects, who yet were all protestants, one religion, though many opinions. Neither was it any “ shame to protestants,” that he, a declared papist, if his own letter to the pope, not yet renounced, belie him not, found so few protestants of his religion, as enforced him to call in both the counsel and the aid of papists to help establish


[ocr errors]


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 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, took 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


* 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.



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 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 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 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 he 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, 66 To become the headstone of the corner.”

[ocr errors]

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

« PreviousContinue »