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of God's physic," as he calls it, what alteration it wrought in him to a firm healthfulness from any surfeit, or excess whereof the people generally thought him sick, if any man would go about to prove, we have his own testimony following here, that it wrought none at all.
First, he hath the same fixed opinion and esteem of his old Ephesian goddess, called the church of England, as he had ever; and charges strictly his son after him to persevere in that antipapal schism, (for it is not much better,) as that which will be necessary both for his soul's and the kingdom's peace. But if this can be any foundation of the kingdom's peace, which was the first cause of our distractions, let common sense be judge. It is a rule and principle worthy to be known by Christians, that no scripture, no, nor so much as any ancient creed, binds our faith, or our obedience to any church whatsoever, denominated by a particular name; far less, if it be distinguished by a several government from that which is indeed catholic. No man was ever bid be subject to the church of Corinth, Rome, or Asia, but to the church without addition, as it held faithful to the rules of scripture, and the government established in all places by the apostles; which at first was universally the same in all churches and congregations; not differing or distinguished by the diversity of countries, territories, or civil bounds. That church, that from the name of a distinct place takes authority to set up a distinct faith or government, is a schism and faction, not a church. It were an injury to condemn the papist of absurdity and contradiction, for adhering to his catholic Romish religion, if we, for the pleasure of a king and his politic considerations, shall adhere to a catholic English.
But suppose the church of England were as it ought to be, how is it to us the safer by being so named and established, whenas that very name and establishment, by this contriving or approbation, served for nothing else but to delude us and amuse us, while the church of England insensibly was almost changed and translated into the church of Rome. Which as every man knows in general to be true, so the particular treaties and transactions tending to that conclusion are at large discovered in a book entitled the "English Pope." But when the people, discerning these abuses,
began to call for reformation, in order to which the parliament demanded of the king to unestablish that prelatical government, which without scripture had usurped over us; straight, as Pharaoh accused of idleness the Israelites that sought leave to go and sacrifice to God, he lays faction to their charge.
And that we may not hope to have ever anything reformed in the church either by him or his son, he forewarns him, "that the devil of rebellion doth most commonly turn himself into an angel of reformation:" and says enough to make him hate it, as the worst of evils, and the bane of his crown: nay, he counsels him to "let nothing seem little or despicable to him, so as not speedily and effectually to suppress errors and schisms.” Whereby we may perceive plainly, that our consciences were destined to the same servitude and persecution, if not worse than before, whether under him, or if it should so happen, under his son; who count all protestant churches erroneous and schismatical, which are not episcopal.
His next precept is concerning our civil liberties; which by his sole voice and predominant will must be circumscribed, and not permitted to extend a hand's breadth further than his interpretation of the laws already settled. And although all human laws are but the offspring of that frailty, that fallibility and imperfection, which was in their authors, whereby many laws in the change of ignorant and obscure ages, may be found both scandalous, and full of grievance to their posterity that made them, and no law is further good than mutable upon just occasion; yet if the removing of an old law, or the making of a new, would save the kingdom, we shall not have it, unless his arbitrary voice will so far slacken the stiff curb of his prerogative, as to grant it us; who are as free born 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 labours 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 anything of strength, honour, 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 favoured 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, demanded 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 or debilitation; and so far Turkish vassals enjoy as much liberty under Mahomet and the Grand Signior: 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 a 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 Romish 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 a martyr, what heretic dying for direct blasphemy, as some have done constantly, may not boast a martyrdom?
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, not 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, humour, 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.
As to those offered condescensions of a "charitable connivance, or toleration," if we consider what went before, and what follows, they moulder into nothing.
For, what with
not suffering ever so little to seem a despicable schism, without effectual suppression, as he warned him before, and what with no opposition of law, government, or established religion to be permitted, which is his following proviso, and wholly within his own construction, what a miserable and suspected toleration, under spies and haunting promooters, we should enjoy, is apparent. Besides that it is so far beneath the honour of a parliament and free nation, to beg and supplicate the godship of one frail man, for the bare and simple toleration of what they all consent to be both just, pious, and best pleasing to God, while that which is erroneous, unjust, and mischievous in the church or state shall by him alone against them all be kept up and established, and they censured the while for a covetous, ambitious, and sacrilegious faction.
Another bait to allure the people is the charge he lays upon his son to be tender of them. Which if we should believe in part, because they are his herd, his cattle, the stock upon his ground, as he accounts them, whom to waste and destroy would undo himself, yet the inducement, which he brings to move him, renders the motion itself something suspicious. For if princes need no palliations, as he tells his son, wherefore is it that he himself hath so often used them? Princes, of all other men, have not more change of raiment in their wardrobes, than variety of shifts and palliations in their solemn actings and pretences to the people.
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 them, 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 exhorts his son "not to study revenge." But how far he, or at least they about him, intend to follow that exhortation, was seen lately at the Hague,* and now lateliest at
* Of Dr. Dorislaus' murder at the Hague, Clarendon gives the following