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and settle tyranny, than by subduing first the consciences of vulgar men, with the insensible puison of their slavish doctrine: for then the body and besotted mind without much reluctancy was likeliest to admit the yoke.
He commends also “parliaments held with freedom and with honour.” But I would ask how that can be, while he only must be the sole free person in that number; and would have the power with his unaccountable denial, to dishonour them by rejecting all their counsels, to confine their lawgiving power, which is the foundation of our freedom, and to change at his pleasure the very name of a parliament into the name of a faction.
The conclusion therefore must needs be quite contrary to what he concludes; that nothing can be more unhappy, more dishonourable, more unsafe for all, than when a wise, grave, and honourable parliament shall have laboured, debated, argued, consulted, and, as he himself speaks, “contributed” for the public good all their counsels in common, to be then frustrated, disappointed, denied, and repulsed by the single whiff of a negative, from the mouth of one wilful man; nay, to be blasted, to be struck as mute and motionless as a parliament of tapestry in the hangings; or else, after all their pains and travel, to be dissolved, and cast away like so many noughts in arithmetic, unless it be to turn the O of their insignificance into a lamentation with the people, who had so vainly sent them. For this is not to "enact all things by public consent,” as he would have us be persuaded; this is to enact nothing but by the private consent and leave of one not negative tyrant ; this is mischief without remedy, a stifling and obstructing evil that hath no vent, no outlet, no passage through. Grant him this, and the parliament hath no more freedom than if it sate in his noose, which when he pleases to draw together with one twitch of his negative, shall throttle a whole nation, to the wish of Caligula, in one neck.
This with the power of the militia in his own hands over our bodies and estates, and the prelates to enthral our consciences either by fraud of force, is the sum of that happiness and liberty we were to look for, whether in his own restitution, or in these precepts given to his son. Which unavoidably would have set us in the same state of misery wherein we were before; and have either compelled us to submit like bondslaves,
or put us back to a second wandering over that horrid wilderness of distraction and civil slaughter, which, not without the strong and miraculous hand of God assisting us, we have measured out, and survived. And who knows, if we make so slight of this incomparable deliverance, which God hath bestowed upon us, but that we shall, like those foolish Israelites, who deposed God and Samuel to set up a king, “cry out” one day, “because of our king,” which we have been mad upon; and then God, as he foretold them, will no more deliver us.
There now remains but little more of his discourse, whereof to take a short view will not be amiss. His words make semblance as if he were magnanimously exercising himself, and so teaching his son, “to want as well as to wear a crown;" and would seern to account it “not worth taking up or enjoying, upon sordid, dishonourable, and irreligious terms;" and yet to his very last did nothing more industriously, than strive to take up and enjoy again his sequestered crown, upon the most sordid, disloyal, dishonourable, and irreligious terms, not of making peace only, but of joining and incorporating with the murderous Irish, formerly by hiinself declared against, for “ wicked and detestable rebels, odious to God and all good men.”
And who but those rebels now are the chief strength and confidence of his son? While the presbyter Scot that woos and solicits him is neglected and put off
, as if no terms were to him sordid, irreligious, and dishonourable, but the Scottish and presbyterian, never to be complied with, till the fear of instant perishing starve him out at length to some unsound and hypocritical agreement.
He bids his son “keep to the true principles of piety, virtue, and honour, and he shall never want a kingdom.” And I say, people of England! keep ye to those principles, and ye shall never want a king. Nay, after such a fair deliverance as this, with so much fortitude and valour shewn against a tyrant, that people that should seek a king claiming what this man claims, would show themselves to be by nature slaves and arrant beasts ; not fit for that liberty which they cried out and bellowed for, but fitter to be led back again into their old servitude, like a sort of clamouring and fighting brutes, broke loose from their copyholds, that know not how to use or possess the liberty which they fought for but with the fair words
and promises of an old exasperated foe, are ready to be stroked and tamed again, into the wonted and well-pleasing state of their true Norman villanage, to them best agreeable.
The last sentence, whereon he seems to venture the whole weight, of all his former reasons and argumentations," that religion to their God, and loyalty to their king, cannot be parted, without the sin and infelicity of a people,” is contrary to the plain teaching of Christ, that “ No man can serve two masters; but, if he hold to the one, he must reject and forsake the other.” If God, then, and earthly kings be for the most part not several only, but opposite masters, it will as oft happen, that they who will serve their king must forsake their God; and they who will serve God must forsake their king: which then will neither be their sin, nor their infelicity; but their wisdom, their piety, and their true happiness; as to be deluded by these unsound and subtle ostentations here, would be their misery; and in all likelihood much greater than what they hitherto have undergone: if now again intoxicated and moped with these royal, and therefore so delicious because royal, rudiments of bondage, the cup of deception, spiced, and tempered to their bane, they should deliver up themselves to these glozing words and illusion of hirn, whose rage and utmost violence they have sustained, and overcome so nobly.
Entitled, Meditations upon Death. It might be well thought by him who reads no further than the title of this last essay, that it required no answer. For all other human things are disputed, and will be variously thought of to the world's end. But this business of death is a plain case, and admits no controversy: in that centre all opinions meet. Nevertheless, since out of those few mortifying hours that should have been entirest to themselves, and most at peace from all passion and disquiet, he can afford spare time to inveigh bitterly against that justice which was done upon him; it will be needful to say something in defence of those proceedings, though briefly, in regard so much on this subject hath been writcen lately.
It happened once, as we find in Esdras and Josephus, authors not less believed than any under sacred) to be a great and solemn debate in the court of Darius, what thing was to be counted strongest of all other. He that could resolve this, in reward of his excellent wisdom, should be clad in purple, drink in gold, sleep on a bed of gold, and sit next Darius. None but they, doubtless, who were reputed wise, had the question propounded to them; who after some respite given them by the king to consider, in full assembly of all his lords and gravest counsellors, returned severally what they thought. The first held that wine was strongest; .
; another, that the king was strongest; but Zorobabel, prince of the captive Jews, and heir to the crown of Judah, being one of them, proved women to be stronger than the king, for that he himself had seen a concubine take his crown from off his head to set it upon her own; and others beside him have likewise seen the like feat done, and not in jest. Yet he proved on, and it was so yielded by the king himself, and all his
sages, that neither wine, nor women, nor the king, but truth of all other things was the strongest.
For me, though neither asked, nor in a nation that gives such rewards to wisdom, I shall pronounce my sentence somewhat different from Zorobabel; and shall defend that either truth and justice are all one, (for truth is but justice in our knowledge, and justice is but truth in our practice;) and he indeed so explains himself, in saying that with truth is no accepting of persons, which is the property of justice, or else it there be any odds, that justice, though not stronger than truth, yet by her office, is to put forth and exhibit more strength in the affairs of mankind. For truth is properly no more than contemplation; and her utmost efficiency is but teaching: but justice in her very essence is all strength and activity; and hath a sword put into her hand, to use against all violence and oppression on the earth. She it is most truly, who accepts no person, and exempts none from the severity of her stroke. She never suffers injury to prevail, but when falsehood first prevails over truth; and that also is
kind of justice done on them who are so deluded." Though wicked kings and tyrants counterfeit her sword, as some did that buckler fabled to fall from heaven into the capitol, yet she communicates her power to none but such as, like herself,
are just, or at least will do justice. For it were extreme partiality and injustice, the flat denial and overthrow of herself, to put her own authentic sword into the hand of an unjust and wicked man, or so far to accept and exalt one mortal person above his equals, that he alone shall have the punishing of all other men transgressing, and not receive like punishment from men, when he himself shall be found the highest transgressor.
We may conclude, therefore, that justice, above all other things, is and ought to be the strongest; she is the strength, the kingdom, the power, and majesty of all ages. Truth herself would subscribe to this, though Darius and all the monarchs of the world should deny. "And if by sentence thus written it were my happiness to set free the minds of Englishmen from longing to return poorly under that captivity of kings from which the strength and supreme sword of justice hath delivered them, I shall have done a work not much inferior to that of Zorobabel; who, by well-praising and extolling the force of truth, in that contemplative strength conquered Darius, and freed his country and the people of God from the captivity of Babylon. Which I shall yet not despair to do, if they in this land, whose minds are yet captive, be but as ingenuous to acknowledge the strength and supremacy of justice, as that heathen king was to confess the strength of truth: or let them but, as he did, grant that, and they will soon perceive that truth resigns all her outward strength to justice: justice therefore must needs be strongest, both in her own, and in the strength of truth. I But if a king may do among men whatsoever is his will and pleasure, and notwithstanding be unaccountable to men, then, contrary to his magnified wisdom of Zorobabel, neither truth nor justice, but the king, is strongest of all other things, which that Persian monarch himself, in the midst of all his pride and glory, durst not assume.
Let us see, therefore, what this king hath to affirm, why the sentence of justice, and the weight of that sword, which she delivers into the hands of men, should be more partial to him offending, than to all others of human race. First, he pleads, that “no law of God or man gives to subjects any power of judicature without or against him.” Which assertion shall be proved in every part to be most untrue. The