« PreviousContinue »
towards the crown; but they alleged they were to be excused when all was concerned; and without speaking thus plain, it is refused to be understood; and, however happy we are now, either in the present prince, or those we have in prospect, yet the suppositions are not extravagant, when we consider kings are but men, and compassed with more temptations than others : and as the earl of Salisbury, who stood like a rock of nobility and English principles, excellently replied to the lordkeeper, who was pleased to term them remote instances; that they would not hereafter prove so, when this declaration had made the practice of them justifiable.
These arguments enforced the lords for the bill to a change of this part of the declaration; so that they agreed the second and third parts of it should run thus, “ And I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him according to law, in time of rebellion or war, acting in pursuance of such commission." Which mends the matter very little ; for if they mean the king's authority and his lawful commission to be two things, and such as are capable of opposition, then it is as dangerous to the liberties of the nation, as when it ran in the former words, and we are only cheated by new phrasing of it. But if they understand them to be one and the same thing, as really and truly they are ; then we are only to abhor the treason of the position of taking arms by the king's authority against the king's authority, because it is nonsense, and not practicable. And so they had done little but confessed, that all the clergy, and many other persons, have been forced, by former acts of this present parliament, to make this declaration in other words, that now are found so far from being justifiable, that they are directly contrary to Magna Charta, our properties, and the established law and government of the nation.
The next thing in course was the oath itself, against which the objection lay so plain and so strong at the first entrance, viz. That there was no care taken of the doctrine, but only the discipline of the church. The papists need not scruple the taking this oath ; for episcopacy remains in its greatest lustre, though the popish religion was introduced ; but the king's supremacy is justled aside by this oath, and makes better room for an ecclesiastical one. Insomuch that, with this and much more, they were enforced to change their oath, and the next day bringeth it as followeth :
“ I do swear, that I will not endeavour to alter the
protestant religion, or the government either of church or state.”
By this they thought they had salved all, and now began to call their oath, “A security for the protestant religion, and the only good design to prevent popery," if we should have a popish prince. But the country lords wondered at their confidence in this, since they had never thought of it before ; and had been, but the last preceding day of the debate, by pure shame, compelled to this addition. For it was not unknown to them, that some of the bishops themselves had told some of the Roman catholic lords of the house, that “ care had been taken that it might be such an oath as might not bear upon them.” But let it be whatever they would have it, yet the country lords thought the addition was unreasonable, and of as dangerous consequence as the rest of the oath. And it was not to be wondered at, if the addition of the best things, wanting the authority of an express divine institution, should make an oath not to endeavour to alter, just so much worse by the addition. For, as the earl of Shaftsbury very well urged, that it is a far different thing to believe, or to be fully persuaded of the truth of the doctrine of our church, and to swear never to endeavour to alter; which last must be utterly unlawful, unless you place an infallibility either in the church or yourself; you being otherwise obliged to alter, whenever a clearer or better light comes to you. And he desired leave to ask, where are the boundaries,
or where shall we find how much is meant by the protestant religion ?
The lord-keeper, thinking he had now got an advantage, with his usual eloquence, desires, “ that it might not be told in Gath, nor published in the streets of Askalon,” that a lord of so great parts and eminence, and professing himself for the church of England, should not know what is meant by the protestant religion! This was seconded with great pleasantness by divers of the lords the bishops. But the bishop of Winchester, and some others of them, were pleased to condescend to instruct that lord, that the protestant religion was compreliended in XXXIX articles, the liturgy, the catechism, the homilies, and the canons.
To this the earl of Shaftsbury replied, that he begged so much charity of them to believe, that he knew the protestant religion so well, and was so confirmed in it, that he hoped he should burn for the witness of it, if providence should call him to it. But he might perhaps think some things not necessary, that they accounted essential ; nay, he might think some things not true, or agreeable to the scripture, that they might call doctrines of the church. Besides, when he was to swear “never to endeavour to alter,” it was certainly necessary to know “ how far the just extent of this oath was.” But since they had told him that the protestant religion was in those five tracts, he had still to ask, whether they meant those whole tracts were the protestant religion ; or only that the protestant religion was contained in all those, but that every part of these was not the protestant religion ?
If they meant the former of these, then he was extremely in the dark to find the doctrine of predestination, in the 17th and 18th articles, to be owned by so few great doctors of the church, and to find the 19th article to define the church directly, as the independents do. Besides, the 20th article, stating the authority of the church, is very dark ; and either contradicts itself, or says nothing, or what is contrary to the known laws of the land. Besides several other things in the XXXIX articles have been preached and writ against, by men of great favour, power, and preferment in the church.
He humbly conceived the liturgy was not so sacred, being made by men the other day, and thought to be more differing from the dissenting protestants, and less easy to be complied with, upon the advantage of a pretence well known unto us all, of making alterations as might the better unite us; instead whereof, there is scarce one alteration but widens the breach. And no ordination allowed by it here (as it now stands last reformed in the act of uniformity), but what is episcopal; insomuch that a popish priest is capable, when converted, of any church preferment, without re-ordination; but no protestant minister not episcopally ordained but is required to be re-ordained; as much as in us lies unchurching all the foreign protestants that have not bishops; though the contrary was both allowed and practised, from the beginning of the reformation till the time of that act, and several bishops made of such as were never ordained priests by bishops. Moreover, the uncharitableness of it was so much against the interest of the crown and church of England (casting off the dependency of the whole protestant party abroad), that it would have been bought by the pope and the French king at a vast sum of money; and it is difficult to conceive so great an advantage fell to them merely by chance, and without their help. So that he thought to endeavour to alter and restore the liturgy to what it was in queen Elizabeth's days, might consist with his being a very good protestant.
As to the catechism, he really thought it might be mended ; and durst declare to them, it was not well that there was not a better made.
For the homilies, he thought there might be a better book made; and the third homily, of “repairing and keeping clean of churches," might be omitted.
What is yet stranger than all this, the canons of our church are directly the old popish canons, which are still in force, and no other, which will appear, if
you turn to the stat. 25 Henry VIII. cap. 19, confirmed and received by 1 Elizabeth, where all those canons are established, until an alteration should be made by the king, in pursuance of that act; which thing was attempted by Edward VI, but not perfected, and let alone ever since ; for what reasons, the lords the bishops could best tell. And it was very hard to be obliged by oath “not to endeavour to alter either the English common-prayer-book, or the canon of the mass.”
But if they meant the latter, that the protestant religion is contained in all those, but that every part of those is not the protestant religion ; then he apprehended it might be in the bishops' power to declare “ ex post facto,” what is the protestant religion or not, or else they must leave it to every man to judge for himself, what parts of those books are or are not; and then their oath had been much better let alone.
Much of this nature was said by that lord and others; and the great officers and bishops were so hard put to it, that they seemed willing and convinced to admit of an expedient.
The lord Wharton, an old and expert parliamentman, of eminent piety and abilities, besides a great friend to the protestant religion, and interest of Eng. land, offered, as a cure to the whole oath, and what might make it pass in all the three parts of it, without any farther debate, the addition of these words at the latter end of the oath, viz. “ as the same is, or shall be established by act of parliament.” But this was not endured at all; when the lord Grey of Rolston, a worthy and true English lord, offered another expedient; which was the addition of these words, “ by force or fraud,” to the beginning of the oath; and then it would run thus, “ I do swear not to endeavour, by force or fraud, to alter.” This was also a cure that would have passed the whole oath, and seemed as if it would have carried the whole house; the duke of York and bishop of Rochester both seconding it; but the lord-treasurer, who had privately before consented to it, speaking against it, gave the word and sign to that party; and it being put to the question, the major vote answered all argu