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Upon the Reformation of the Times.
THIS chapter cannot punctually be answered without more repetitions than now can be excusable; which perhaps have already been more humoured than was needful. As it presents us with nothing new, so with his exceptions against reformation pitifully old, and tattered with continual using; not only in his book, but in the words and writings of every papist and popish king. On the scene he thrusts out first an antimasque of bugbears, novelty and perturbation; that the ill looks and noise of those two may as long as possible drive off all endeavours of a reformation. Thus sought pope Adrian, by representing the like vain terrors, to divert and dissipate the zeal of those reforming princes of the age before in Germany. And if we credit Latimer's sermons, our papists here in England pleaded the same dangers and inconveniences against that which was reformed by Edward VI. Whereas if those fears had been available, Christianity itself had never been received: which Christ foretold us would not be admitted, without the censure of novelty, and many great commotions. These grants therefore are not to deter us.
He grants reformation to be "a good work," and confesses "what the indulgence of times and corruption of manners might have depraved." So did the forementioned pope, and our grandsire papists in this realm. Yet all of them agree in one song with this here, that "they are sorry to see so little regard had to laws established, and the religion settled." "Popular compliance, dissolution of all order and government in the church, schisms, opinions, undecencies, confusions, sacrilegious invasions, contempt of the elergy and their liturgy, diminution of princes;" all these complaints are to be read in the messages and speeches almost of every legate from the pope to those states and cities which began reformation. From whence he either learned the same pretences, or had them naturally in him from the same spirit. Neither was there ever so sincere a reformation that hath escaped these clamours.
He offered a "synod or convocation rightly chosen." So offered all those popish kings heretofore; a course the
most unsatisfactory, as matters have been long carried, and found by experience in the church liable to the greatest fraud and packing; no solution or redress of evil, but an increase rather; detested therefore by Nazianzen, and some other of the fathers. And let it be produced, what good hath been done by synods from the first times of reformation. Not to justify what enormities the vulgar may commit in the rudeness of their zeal, we need but only instance how he bemoans "the pulling down of crosses" and other superstitious monuments, as the effect "of a popular and deceitful reformation." How little this savours of a protestant is too easily perceived.
What he charges in defect of "piety, charity, and morality," hath been also charged by papists upon the best reformed churches; not as if they the accusers were not tenfold more to be accused, but out of their malignity to all endeavour of amendment; as we know who accused to God the sincerity of Job; an accusation of all others the most easy, whenas there lives not any mortal man so excellent, who in these things is not always deficient. But the infirmities of the best men, and the scandals of mixed hypocrites in all times of reforming, whose bold intrusion covets to be ever seen in things most sacred, as they are most specious, can lay no just blemish upon the integrity of others, much less upon the purpose of reformation itself. Neither can the evil doings of some be the excuse of our delaying or deserting that duty to the church, which for no respect of times or carnal policies can be at any time unseasonable.
He tells with great shew of piety what kind of persons public reformers ought to be, and what they ought to do. It is strange that in above twenty years, the church growing still worse and worse under him, he could neither be as he bids others be, nor do as he pretends here so well to know; nay, which is worst of all, after the greatest part of his reign spent in neither knowing nor doing aught toward a reformation either in church or state, should spend the residue in hindering those by a seven years' war, whom it concerned, with his consent or without it, to do their parts in that great performance.
It is true that the "method of reforming" may well subsist without "perturbation of the state;" but that it falls out other
wise for the most part, is the plain text of scripture. And if by his own rule he had allowed us to "fear God first," and the king in due order, our allegiance might have still followed our religion in a fit subordination. But if Christ's kingdom be taken for the true discipline of the church, and by "his kingdom" be meant the violence he used against it, and to uphold an antichristian hierarchy, then sure enough it is, that Christ's kingdom could not be set up without pulling down his and they were best Christians who were least subject to him. "Christ's government," out of question meaning it prelatical, he thought would confirm his: and this was that which overthrew it.
He professes" to own his kingdom from Christ, and to desire to rule for his glory, and the church's good." The pope and the king of Spain profess every where as much; and both by his practice and all his reasonings, all his enmity against the true church we see hath been the same with theirs, since the time that in his letter to the pope he assured them both of his full compliance. "But evil beginnings never bring forth good conclusions:" they are his own words, and he ratified them by his own ending. To the pope he engaged himself to hazard life and estate for the Roman religion, whether in compliment he did it, or in earnest; and God, who stood nearer than he for complimenting minded, wrote down those words; that according to his resolution, so it should come to pass. He prays against "his hypocrisy and pharisaical washings," a prayer to him most pertinent; but chokes it straight with other words, which pray him deeper into his old errors and delusions.
Upon his Letters taken and divulged.
THE king's letters taken at the battle of Naseby, being of greatest importance to let the people see what faith there was in all his promises and solemn protestations, were transmitted to public view by special order of the parliament. They discovered his good affection to papists and Irish rebels, the strict intelligence he held, the pernicious and dishonourable peace he made with them, not solicited, but rather soliciting,
which by all invocations that were holy he had in public abjured. They revealed his endeavours to bring in foreign forces, Irish, French, Dutch, Lorrainers, and our old invaders the Dane, upon us, besides his subtleties and mysterious arts in treating; to sum up all, they shewed him governed by a woman. All which, though suspected vehemently before, and from good grounds believed, yet by him and his adherents peremptorily denied, were by the opening of the cabinet visible to all men under his own hand.*
The parliament, therefore, to clear themselves of aspersing him without cause, and that the people might no longer be abused and cajoled, as they call it, by falsities and court impudence, in matters of so high concernment; to let them know on what terms their duty stood, and the kingdom's peace, conceived it most expedient and necessary that those letters should be made public. This the king affirms was by them done without "honour and civility;" words, which if they contain not in them, as in the language of a courtier most commonly they do not, more of substance and reality, than compliment, ceremony, court-fawning, and dissembling, enter not I suppose further than the ear into any wise man's consideration. Matters were not then between the parliament, and a king their enemy, in that state of trifling, as to observe those superficial vanities. But if honour and civility mean, as they did of old, discretion, honesty, prudence, and plain truth, it will be then maintained against any sect of those Cabalists, that the parliament, in doing what they did with those letters, could suffer in their honour and civility no diminution. The reasons are already heard.
And that it is with none more familiar than with kings, to transgress the bounds of all honour and civility, there should not want examples good store, if brevity would permit: in point of letters, this one shall suffice. The duchess of Burgundy, and heir of duke Charles, had promised to her subjects, that she intended no otherwise to govern than by advice of the three estates; but to Louis, the French king, had
* Clarendon (v. 186) complains that the king's papers, taken at Naseby, were published in a mutilated form; but the author of the Eikon Basilikè, whether the king or Dr. Gauden, makes no allusion to any mutilation, but merely indulges in a silly declamation against the parliament's breach of politeness! (chap. xxi. p. 179–184, edit. of 1681.) As if, under such circumstances, they ought to have stood upon points of etiquette.-ED.
written letters, that she had resolved to commit wholly the managing of her affairs to four persons, whom she named. The three estates, not doubting the sincerity of her princely word, send ambassadors to Louis, who then besieged Arras belonging to the duke of Burgundy. The king, taking hold of this occasion to set them at division among themselves, questioned their credence: which when they offered to produce with their instructions, he not only shews them the private letter of their duchess, but gives it them to carry home, wherewith to affront her; which they did, she denying it stoutly; till they, spreading it before her face in a full assembly, convicted her of an open lie. Which although Comines the historian much blames, as a deed too harsh and dishonourable in them who were subjects, and not at war with their princess, yet to his master Louis, who first divulged those letters, to the open shaming of that young governess, he imputes no incivility or dishonour at all, although betraying a certain confidence reposed by that letter in his royal
With much more reason then may matters not intercepted only, but won in battle from an enemy, be made public to the best advantages of them that win them, to the discovery of such important truth or falsehood. Was it not more dishonourable in himself to feign suspicions and jealousies, which we first found among those letters, touching the chastity of his mother, thereby to gain assistance from the king of Denmark, as in vindication of his sister? The damsel of Burgundy at sight of her own letter was soon blank, and more ingenuous than to stand outfacing; but this man, whom nothing will convince, thinks by talking world without end, to make good his integrity and fair dealing, contradicted by his own hand and seal. They who can pick nothing out of them but phrases, shall be counted bees: they that discern further both there and here, that constancy to his wife is set in place before laws and religion, are in his naturalities no better than spiders.
He would work the people to a persuasion, that "if he be miserable, they cannot be happy." What should hinder them? Were they all born twins of Hippocrates with him and his fortune, one birth, one burial? It were a nation miserable indeed, not worth the name of a nation, but a race