Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

the "removing" them "root and branch," this was ruin to the church." How happy could this nation be in such a governor, who counted that their ruin, which they thought their deliverance; the ruin both of church and state, which was the recovery and the saving of them both?

To the passing of those bills against bishops how is it likely that the house of peers gave so hardly their consent, which they gave so easily before to the attaching them of high-treason, twelve at once, only for protesting that the parliament could not act without them? Surely if their rights and privileges were thought so undoubted in that house, as here maintained; then was that protestation, being meant and intended in the name of their whole spiritual order, no treason; and so that house itself will become liable to a just construction either of injustice to appeach them for so consenting, or of usurpation, representing none but themselves, to expect that their voting or not voting should obstruct the commons: who not for "five repulses of the lords," no, not for fifty, were to desist from what in the name of the whole kingdom they demanded, so long as those lords were none of our lords. And for the bill against root and branch, though it passed not in both houses till many of the lords and some few of the commons, either enticed away by the king, or overawed by the sense of their own malignancy not prevailing, deserted the pariament, and made a fair riddance of themselves; that was no warrant for them who remained faithful, being far the greater number, to lay aside that bill of root and branch, till the return of their fugitives; a bill so necessary and so much desired by themselves as well as by the people.

This was the partiality, this degrading of the bishops, a thing so wholesome in the state, and so orthodoxal in the church, both ancient and reformed; which the king rather than assent to “will either hazard both his own and the kingdom's ruin," by our just defence against his force of arms; or prostrate our consciences in a blind obedience to himself, and those men, whose superstition, zealous or unzealous, would enforce upon us an antichristian tyranny in the church, neither primitive, apostolical, nor more anciently universal than some other manifest corruptions.

But "he was bound, besides his judgment, by a most strict and indispensable oath, to preserve the order and the rights 2 c

VOL. I.

on

of the church." If he mean that oath of his coronation, and that the letter of that oath admit not to be interpreted either by equity, reformation, or better knowledge, then was the king bound by that oath, to grant the clergy all those customs, franchises, and canonical privileges granted to them by Edward the Confessor; and so might one day, under pretence of that oath and his conscience, have brought us all again to popery. But had he so well remembered as he ought the words to which he swore, he might have found himself no otherwise obliged there, than "according to the laws of God, and true profession of the gospel." For if those following words, "established in this kingdom," be set there to limit and lay prescription on the laws of God and truth of the gospel by man's establishment, nothing can be more absurd or more injurious to religion. So that however, the German emperors or other kings have levied all those wars their protestant subjects under the colour of a blind and literal observance to an oath, yet this king had least pretence of all; both sworn to the laws of God and evangelic truth, and disclaiming, as we heard him before, "to be bound by any coronation oath, in a blind and brutish formality." Nor is it to be imagined, if what shall be established come in question, but that the parliament should oversway the king and not he the parliament. And by all law and reason that which the parliament will not is no more established in this kingdom, neither is the king bound by oath to uphold it as a thing established. And that the king (who of his princely grace, as he professes, hath so oft abolished things that stood firm by law, as the star-chamber and high commission) ever thought himself bound by oath to keep them up, because established; he who will believe, must at the same time condemn him of as many perjuries, as he is well known to have abolished both laws and jurisdictions that wanted no establish

ment.

"Had he gratified," he thinks, "their antiepiscopal faction with his consent, and sacrificed the church-government and revenues to the fury of their covetousness," &c. an army had not been raised. Whereas it was the fury of his own hatred to the professors of true religion, which first incited him to prosecute them with the sword of war, when whips, pillories, exiles, and imprisonments were not thought sufficient. To

colour which he cannot find wherewithal, but that stale pretence of Charles V., and other popish kings, that the protestants had only an intent to lay hands upon the church revenues, a thing never in the thoughts of this parliament, till, exhausted by his endless war upon them, their necessity seized on that for the commonwealth, which the luxury of prelates had abused before to a common mischief.

His consent to the unlording of bishops, (for to that he himself consented, and at Canterbury the chief seat of their pride, so God would have it!)" was from his firm persuasion of their contentedness to suffer a present diminution of their rights." Can any man reading this, not discern the pure mockery of a royal consent, to delude us only for " the present," meaning, it seems, when time should serve, to revoke all? By this reckoning, his consents and his denials come all to one pass and we may hence perceive the small wisdom and integrity of those votes, which voted his concessions of the Isle of Wight for grounds of a lasting peace. Thus he alleges this controversy about bishops, " to be the true state” of that difference between him and the parliament. For he held episcopacy "both very sacred and divine; with this judgment, and for this cause, he withdrew from the parliament, and confesses that some men knew "he was like to bring again the same judgment which he carried with him:" A fair and unexpected justification from his own mouth afforded to the parliament, who, notwithstanding what they knew of his obstinate mind, omitted not to use all those means and that patience to have gained him.

As for delinquents," he allows them to be but the necessary consequence of his and their withdrawing and defending:" a pretty shift! to mince the name of a delinquent into a necessary consequent. What is a traitor, but the necessary consequence of his treason? What a rebel, but of his rebellion? From his conceit he would infer a pretext only in the parliament "to fetch in delinquents," as if there had indeed been no such cause, but all the delinquency in London tumults. Which is the overworn theme and stuffing of all his discourses.

This he thrice repeats to be the true state and reason of all that war and devastation in the land; and that" of all the treaties and propositions" offered him, he was resolved" never

to grant the abolishing of episcopal, or the establishment of presbyterian, government." I would demand now of the Scots and covenanters, (for so I call them, as misobservers of the covenant,) how they will reconcile "the preservation of religion and their liberties, and the bringing of delinquents to condign punishment," with the freedom, honour, and safety of this avowed resolution here, that esteems all the zeal of their prostituted covenant no better than " a noise and show of piety, a heat for reformation, filling them with prejudice, and obstructing all equality and clearness of judgment in them?" With these principles who knows but that at length he might have come to take the covenant, as others, whom they brotherly admit, have done before him? And then all, no doubt, had gone well, and ended in a happy peace.

His prayer is most of it borrowed out of David; but what if it be answered him as the Jews, who trusted in Moses, were answered by our Saviour: "There is one that accuseth you, even David, whom you misapply." He tells God, "that his enemies are many;" but tells the people, when it serves his turn, they are but " a faction of some few, prevailing over the major part of both houses." "God knows he had no passion, design, or preparation to embroil his kingdom in a civil war." True; for he thought his kingdom to be Issachar, a strong ass that would have couched down between two burdens," the one of prelatical superstition, the other of civil tyranny: but what passion and design, what close and open preparation he had made, to subdue us to both these by terror and preventive force, all the nation knows.

[ocr errors]

"The confidence of some men had almost persuaded him to suspect his own innocence." As the words of Saint Paul had almost persuaded Agrippa to be a Christian. But almost, in the works of repentance, is as good as not at all. "God," saith he, " will find out bloody and deceitful men, many of whom have not lived out half their days." It behoved him to have been more cautious how he tempted God's finding out of blood and deceit, till his own years had been further spent, or that he had enjoyed longer the fruits of his own violent counsels.

But instead of weariness he adds another temptation, charging God "to know, that the chief design of this war was either to destroy his person, or to force his judgment."

And thus his prayer, from the evil practice of unjust accusing men to God, arises to the hideous rashness of accusing God before men, to know that for truth which all men know to be most false. He prays "that God would forgive the people, for they know not what they do." It is an easy matter to say over what our Saviour said; but how he loved the people other arguments than affected sayings must demonstrate. He who so oft hath presumed rashly to appeal to the knowledge and testimony of God in things so evidently untrue, may be doubted what belief or esteem he had of his forgiveness, either to himself, or those for whom he would so feign that men should hear he prayed.

CHAPTER X.

Upon their seizing the Magazines, Forts, &c.

To put the matter soonest out of controversy who was the first beginner of this civil war, since the beginning of all war may be discerned not only by the first act of hostility, but by the counsels and preparations foregoing, it shall evidently appear that the king was still foremost in all these. No king had ever at his first coming to the crown more love and acclamation from a people; never any people found worse requital of their loyalty and good affection: first, by his extraordinary fear and mistrust, that their liberties and rights were the impairing and diminishing of his regal power, the true original of tyranny; next, by his hatred to all those who were esteemed religious; doubting that their principles too much asserted liberty. This was quickly seen by the vehemence, and the causes alleged of his persecuting, the other by his frequent and opprobrious dissolution of parliaments; after he had demanded more money of them, and they to obtain their rights had granted him, than would have bought the Turk out of Morea, and set free all the Greeks.†

* But this is nothing remarkable. Nearly all princes are at first popular, because the people always hope the best from them, and are but slowly undeceived. No good king, however, has ever been known to lose the affections of his people and many bad ones have retained them, long after they had ceased to deserve either love or respect.-ED.

† See among the Familiar Letters those two (Nos. 12 and 15) addressed to Leonard Philaras, a noble Athenian, in which he gives vent to his en

« PreviousContinue »