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to make our own laws as our fathers were who made these we have. Where are then the English liberties which we boast to have been left us by our progenitors ? To that he answers, that our liberties consist in the enjoyment of the fruits of our industry, and the benefit of those laws to which we ourselves have consented.' First, for the enjoyment of those fruits which our industry and labors have made our own upon our own, what privilege is that above what the Turks, Jews, and Moors enjoy under the Turkish monarchy ? For without that kind of justice, which is also in Algiers, among thieves and pirates between themselves, no kind of government, no society, just or unjust, could stand; no combination or conspiracy could stick together. Which he also acknowledges in these words; that if the crown upon his head be so heavy as to oppress the whole body, the weakness of inferior members cannot return any thing of strength, honor, or safety to the head, but that a necessary debilitation must follow. So that this liberty of the subject concerns himself and the subsistence of his own regal power in the first place, and before the consideration of any right belonging to the subject. We expect therefore something more, that must distinguish free government from slavish. But instead of that, this king, though ever talking and protesting as smooth as now, suffered it in his own hearing to be preached and pleaded without control or check, by them whom he most favored and upheld, that the subject had no property of his own goods, but that all was the king's right.
Next, for the benefit of those laws to which we ourselves have consented,' we never had it under him; for not to speak of laws ill executed, when the parliament, and in them the people, have consented to divers laws, and, according to our ancient rights, de
manded them, he took upon him to have a negative will, as the transcendent and ultimate law above all our laws; and to rule us forcibly by laws to which we ourselves did not consent, but complained of. Thus these two heads, wherein the utmost of his allowance here will give our liberties leave to consist, the one of them shall be so far only made good to us, as may support his own interest and crown from ruin and debilitation; and so far Turkish vassals enjoy as much liberty under Mahomet and the Grand Seignior; the other we neither yet have enjoyed under him, nor were ever like to do under the tyranny of a negative voice, which he claims above the unanimous consent and power of a whole nation virtually in the parliament.
In which negative voice to have been cast by the doom of war, and put to death by those who vanquished him in their own defence, he reckons to himself more than a negative martyrdom. But martyrs bear witness to the truth, not to themselves. If I bear witness of myself, saith Christ, my witness is not true. He who writes himself martyr by his own inscription, is like an ill painter, who by writing on the shapeless picture which he hath drawn, is fain to tell passengers what shape it is; which else no man could imagine, no more than how a martyrdom can belong to him, who therefore dies for his religion because it is established. Certainly if Agrippa had turned Christian, as he was once turning, and had put to death scribes and pharisees for observing the law of Moses, and refusing Christianity, they had died a truer martyrdom. For those laws were established by God and Moses; these by no warrantable authors of religion, whose laws in all other best reformed churches are rejected. And if to die for an establishment of religion be martyrdom, then Romsh priests
executed for that which had so many hundred years been established in this land, are no worse martyrs than he. Lastly, if to die for the testimony of his own conscience, be enough to make him martyr, what heretic dying for direct blasphemy, as some have done constantly, may not boast a mirtyrdom?
As for the constitution or repeal of civil laws, that power lying only in the parliament, which he by the very law of his coronation was to grant them, not to debar them, nor to preserve a lesser law with the contempt and violation of a greater; it will conclude him not so much as in a civil and metaphorical sense to have died a martyr of our laws, but a plain transgressor of them.
And should the parliament, endued with legislative power, make our laws, and be after to dispute them piecemeal with the reason, conscience, humor, passion, fancy, folly, obstinacy, or other ends of one man, whose sole word and will shall baffle and unmake what all the wisdom of a parliament hath been deliberately framing ; what a ridiculous and contemptible thing a parliament would soon be, and what a base unworthy nation we, who boast our freedom, and send them with the manifest peril of their lives to preserve it, they who are not marked by destiny for slaves, may apprehend! In this servile condition to have kept us still under hatches, he both resolves here to the last, and so instructs his son.
To try next if he can ensnare the prime men of those who have opposed him, whom, more truly than his meaning was, he calls the patrons and vindicators of the people,' he gives out indemnity, and offers acts of oblivion. But they who with a good conscience and upright heart did their civil duties in the sight of God, and in their several places, to resist tyranny and
the violence of superstition banded both against theni, he
may be sure will never seek to be forgiven that, which may be justly attributed to their immortal praise ; nor will assent ever to the guilty blotting out of those actions before men, by which their faith assures them they chiefly stand approved, and are had in remembrance before the throne of God.
He commends also parliaments held with freedom and with honor. 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 dishonor 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 dishonorable, more unsafe for all, than when a wise, grave, and honorable parliament shall have labored, 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 nega
tive 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 sat 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 or force, is the sum of that happiness and liberty we were to look for, whether in his own restilution, 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 bond slaves, 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 de
XXVIII. 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 meer.