Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

6

6

wilful mistake of the whole matter, had taken so deep root in the imagination of this king, that whether to the English or to the Scot, mentioning what acts of his regal office (though God knows how unwillingly) he had passed, he calls them, as in other places, acts of grace and bounty, so here special obligations, favors, to gratify active spirits, and the desires of that party ;' words not only sounding pride and, lordly usurpation, but injustice, partiality, and corruption. For to the Irish he so far condescended, as first to Ytolerate in private, then to covenant openly the tolerating of popery; so far to the Scot, as to remove bishops, establish presbytery, and the militia in their own hands ; 'preferring, as some thought, the desires of Scotland before his own interest and honor. But being once on this side Tweed, his reason, his conscience, and his honor became so frightened with a kind of false virginity, that to the English neither one nor other of the same demands could be granted, wherewith the Scots were gratified; as if our air and climate on a sudden had changed the property and the nature both of conscience, honor, and reason, or that he found none so fit as English to be the subjects of his arbitrary power. Ireland was as Ephraim, the

strength of his head; Scotland as Judah, was his lawV giver; but over England, as over Edom, he meant to cast his shoe ; and yet so many sober Englishmen

; not sufficiently awake to consider this, like men enchanted with the Circæan cup of servitude, will not be held back from running their own heads into the yoke of bondage.

The sum of his discourse is against settling of religion by violent means, which whether it were the Scots' design upon England, they are best able to clear themselves. But this of all may seem strangest, that the king, who, while it was permitted him, never did thing more eagerly than to molest and persecute the consciences of most religious men; he who had made a war, and lost all, rather than not uphold a hierarchy of persecuting bishops, should have the confidence here to profess himself so much an enemy of

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

who upon the English obtruded new ceremonies, upon the Scots a new liturgy, and with his sword went about to engrave a bloody rubric on their backs ? Did he not forbid and hinder all effectual search of truth, nay, like a besieging enemy, stopped all her passages both by word and writing ? Yet here can talk of fair and equal disputations ;' where notwithstanding, if all submit not to his judgment, as not being 'rationally convicted,' they must submit (and he conceals it not) to his penalty, as counted obstinate. But what if he himself, and those his learned churchmen, were the convicted or the obstinate part long ago ; should reformation suffer them to sit lording over the church in their fat bishoprics and pluralities, like the great whore that sitteth upon many waters, till they would vouchsafe to be disputed out? Or should we sit disputing, while they sat plotting and persecuting ? Those clergymen were not to be driven into the fold like sheep,' as his simile runs, but to be driven out of the fold like wolves or thieves, where they sat fleecing those flocks which they never fed.

He believes that presbytery, though proved to be the only institution of Jesus Christ, were not by the sword to be set up without his consent,' which is contrary both to the doctrine, and the known practice of all protestant churches, if his sword threaten those who of their own accord embrace it.

And although Christ and his apostles, being to civil affairs but private men, contended not with magistrates, yet when magistrates themselves, and especially

19

6

VOL. II.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

parliaments, who have greatest right to dispose of the civil sword, come to know religion, they ought in conscience to defend all those who receive it willingly, against the violence of any king or tyrant whatsoever. Neither is it therefore true, 'that Christianity is planted or watered with christian blood;' for there is a Jarge difference between forcing men by the sword to turn presbyterians, and defending those who willingly are so, from a furious inroad of bloody bishops, armed with the militia of a king, their pupil. And if covetousness and ambition be an argument that presbytery hath not much of Christ,' it argues more strongly against episcopacy, which, from the time of her first mounting to an order above the presbyters, had no other parents than covetousness and ambition. And those sects, schisins, and heresies, which he speaks of,

if they get but strength and numbers,' need no other pattern than episcopacy and himself, to set up their ways by the like method of violence.' Nor is there any thing that hath more marks of schism and sectarism, than English episcopacy; whether we look at apostolic times, or at reformed churches ; for the universal way of church government before,' may as soon lead us into gross error, as their universally corrupted doctrine. And government, by reason of ambition, was likeliest to be corrupted much the sooner of the two. However, nothing can be to us catholic or universal in religion, but what the scripture teaches; whatsoever without scripture pleads to be universal in the church, in being universal is but the more schismatical. Much less can particular laws and constitutions impart to the church of England any power of consistory or tribunal above other churches, to be the sole judge of what is sect or schism, as with much rigor, and without scripture, they took upon them. Yet these the king resolves here to defend and maintain to his last,

[ocr errors]

pretending, after all these conferences offered, or had with him, not to see more rational and religious motives than soldiers carry in their knapsacks; with one thus resolved, it was but folly to stand disputing.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Upon this theme his discourse is long, his matter little but repetition, and therefore soon answered. First, after an abusive and strange apprehension of covenants, as if men 'pawned their souls' to them with whom they covenant, he digresses to plead for bishops, first from the antiquity of their possession here, since the first plantation of Christianity in this island ;' next from a universal prescription since the apostles, till this last century.' But what avails the most primitive antiquity against the plain sense of scripture ? which if the last century have best followed, it ought in our esteem to be the first. And

yet it hath been often proved by learned men from the writings and epistles of most ancient Christians, that episcopacy crept not up into an order above the presbyters, till many years after that the apostles were deceased.

[blocks in formation]

xv. UPON THE MANY JEALOUSIES, &c.

[blocks in formation]

6

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

1

[ocr errors]

a

up

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 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 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 2 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 honor and reputation, that like the sun shall rise and recover himself to such a splendor, as owls, bats, and such fatal birds shall be unable to bear.' Poets indeed

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »