John Milton, EIKONOKLASTES In Answer To a Book Intitl’d EIKON BASILIKE, The Portrature of his Sacred Majesty in his Solitudes and Sufferings. The Author I. Milton. Published by Authority. (London, Printed by Matthew Simmons, next dore to the gilded Lyon in Aldersgate street. 1649.) The HTML comes from The Prose Works of John Milton. With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). [vol. 1 facs. PDF and facs. PDF of just Eikonoklastes]
BY JOHN MILTON.
PUBLISHED FROM THE AUTHOR’S SECOND EDITION, PRINTED IN 1650 WITH MANY ENLARGEMENTS.
with a preface
BY RICHARD BARON,
SHOWING THE TRANSCENDENT EXCELLENCY OF MILTON’S PROSE WORKS,
to which is added,
AN ORIGINAL LETTER TO MILTON, NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED.
— Morpheus, on thy dewy wing
Such fair auspicious visions bring,
As sooth’d great Milton’s injur’d age,
When in prophetic dreams he saw
The tribes unborn, with pious awe,
Imbibe each virtue from his heavenly page.
When the last impression of Milton’s prose works was committed to my care, I executed that trust with the greatest fidelity. Not satisfied with printing from any copy at hand, as editors are generally wont, my affection and zeal for the author induced me to compare every sentence, line by line, with the original edition of each treatise that I was able to obtain. Hence, errors innumerable of the former impression were corrected: besides what improvements were added from the author’s second edition of the Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, which Mr. Toland had either not seen, or had neglected to commit to the press.*
After I had endeavoured to do this justice to my favourite author, the last summer I discovered a second edition of his Eikonoklastes, with many large and curious additions, printed in the year 1650, which edition had escaped the notice both of Mr. Toland and myself.
In communicating this discovery to a few friends, I found that this edition was not unknown to some others, though from low and base motives secreted from the public. But I, who from my soul love liberty, and for that reason openly and boldly assert its principles at all times, resolved that the public should no longer be withheld from the possession of such a treasure.
I therefore now give a new impression of this work, with the additions and improvements made by the author; and I deem it a singular felicity, to be the instrument of restoring to my country so many excellent lines long lost,—and in danger of being for ever lost,—of a writer who is a lasting honour to our language and nation;—and of a work, wherein the principles of tyranny are confuted and overthrown and all the arts and cunning of a great tyrant and his adherents detected and laid open.
The love of liberty is a public affection, of which those men must be altogether void, that can suppress or smother any thing written in its defence, and tending to serve its glorious cause. What signify professions, when the actions are opposite and contradictory? Could any high-churchman, any partizan of Charles I., have acted a worse, or a different part, than some pretended friends of liberty have done in this instance? Many high-church priests and doctors have laid out considerable sums to destroy the prose works of Milton, and have purchased copies of his particular writings for the infernal pleasure of consuming them.† This practice, however detestable, was yet consistent with principle. But no apology can be made for men that espouse a cause, and at the same time conceal aught belonging to its support. Such men may tell us that they love liberty, but I tell them that they love their bellies, their ease, their pleasures, their profits, in the first place. A man that will not hazard all for liberty, is unworthy to be named among its votaries, unworthy to participate its blessings.
Many circumstances at present loudly call upon us to exert ourselves. Venality and corruption have well-nigh extinguished all principles of liberty. The bad books also, that this age hath produced, have ruined our youth. The novels and romances, which are eagerly purchased and read, emasculate the mind, and banish every thing grave and manly. One remedy for these evils is, to revive the reading of our old writers, of which we have good store, and the study whereof would fortify our youth against the blandishments of pleasure and the arts of corruption.
Milton in particular ought to be read and studied by all our young gentlemen as an oracle. He was a great and noble genius, perhaps the greatest that ever appeared among men; and his learning was equal to his genius. He had the highest sense of liberty, glorious thoughts, with a strong and nervous style. His works are full of wisdom, a treasure of knowledge. In them the divine, the statesman, the historian, the philologist, may be all instructed and entertained. It is to be lamented, that his divine writings are so little known. Very few are acquainted with them, many have never heard of them. The same is true with respect to another great writer contemporary with Milton, and an advocate for the same glorious cause; I mean Algernon Sydney, whose Discourses on Government are the most precious legacy to these nations.
All antiquity cannot show two writers equal to these. They were both great masters of reason, both great masters of expression. They had the strongest thoughts, and the boldest images, and are the best models that can be followed. The style of Sydney is always clear and flowing, strong and masculine. The great Milton has a style of his own, one fit to express the astonishing sublimity of his thoughts, the mighty vigour of his spirit, and that copia of invention, that redundancy of imagination, which no writer before or since hath equalled. In some places, it is confessed, that his periods are too long, which renders him intricate, if not altogether unintelligible to vulgar readers; but these places are not many. In the book before us his style is for the most part free and easy, and it abounds both in eloquence, and wit, and argument. I am of opinion, that the style of this work is the best and most perfect of all his prose writings. Other men have commended the style of his History as matchless and incomparable, whose malice could not see or would not acknowledge the excellency of his other works. It is no secret whence their aversion to Milton proceeds; and whence their caution of naming him as any other writer than a poet. Milton combated superstition and tyranny of every form, and in every degree. Against them he employed his mighty strength, and, like a battering ram, beat down all before him. But notwithstanding these mean arts, either to hide or disparage him, a little time will make him better known; and the more he is known, the more he will be admired. His works are not like the fugitive short-lived things of this age, few of which survive their authors: they are substantial, durable, eternal writings; which will never die, never perish, whilst reason, truth and liberty have a being in these nations.
Thus much I thought proper to say on occasion of this publication, wherein I have no resentment to gratify, no private interest to serve: all my aim is to strengthen and support that good old cause, which in my youth I embraced, and the principles whereof I will assert and maintain whilst I live.
The following letter to Milton, being very curious, and no where published perfect and entire, may be fitly preserved in this place.
Sir,—I received yours the day after you wrote, and do humbly thank you, that you are pleased to honour me with your letters. I confess I have (even in my privacy in the country) oft had thoughts of you, and that with much respect, for your friendliness to truth in your early years, and in bad times. But I was uncertain whether your relation to the court* (though I think a commonwealth was more friendly to you than a court) had not clouded your former light, but your last book resolved that doubt. You complain of the non-proficiency of the nation, and of its retrogade motion of late, in liberty and spiritual truths. It is much to be bewailed; but yet let us pity human frailty. When those who made deep protestations of their zeal for our liberty both spiritual and civil, and made the fairest offers to be assertors thereof, and whom we thereupon trusted; when those, being instated in power, shall betray the good thing committed to them, and lead us back to Egypt, and by that force which we gave them to win us liberty hold us fast in chains; what can poor people do? You know who they were, that watched our Saviour’s sepulchre to keep him from rising.†
Besides, whilst people are not free, but straitened in accommodations for life, their spirits will be dejected and servile: and conducing to that end, there should be an improving of our native commodities, as our manufactures, our fishery, our fens, forests, and commons, and our trade at sea, &c., which would give the body of the nation a comfortable subsistence; and the breaking that cursed yoke of tithes would much help thereto.
Also another thing I cannot but mention, which is, that the Norman conquest and tyranny is continued upon the nation without any thought of removing it; I mean the tenure of lands by copyhold, and holding for life under a lord, or rather tyrant of a manor; whereby people care not to improve their land by cost upon it, not knowing how soon themselves or theirs may be outed it; nor what the house is in which they live, for the same reason: and they are far more enslaved to the lord of the manor, than the rest of the nation is to a king or supreme magistrate.
We have waited for liberty, but it must be God’s work and not man’s, who thinks it sweet to maintain his pride and worldly interest to the gratifying of the flesh, whatever becomes of the precious liberty of mankind.
But let us not despond, but do our duty; and God will carry on that blessed work in despite of all opposites, and to their ruin if they persist therein.
Sir, my humble request is, that you would proceed, and give us that other member of the distribution mentioned in your book; viz. that Hire doth greatly impede truth and liberty: it is like if you do, you shall find opposers: but remember that saying, Beatus est pati quam frui: or, in the apostle’s words, James v. 11, We count them happy that endure.
I have sometimes thought (concurring with your assertion of that storied voice that should speak from heaven) when ecclesiastics were endowed with worldly preferments, hodie venenum infunditur in ecclesiam: for to use the speech of Genesis iv. ult. according to the sense which it hath in the Hebrew, then began men to corrupt the worship of God. I shall tell you a supposal of mine, which is this: Mr. Dury has bestowed about thirty years time in travel, conference, and writings, to reconcile Calvinists and Lutherans, and that with little or no success. But the shortest way were,—take away ecclesiastical dignities, honours, and preferments, on both sides, and all would soon be hushed; the ecclesiastics would be quiet, and then the people would come forth into truth and liberty. But I will not engage in this quarrel; yet I shall lay this engagement upon myself to remain
Your faithful friend and servant,
Causham, May 26, 1659.
From this letter the reader may see in what way wise and good men of that age employed themselves: in studying to remove every grievance, to break every yoke. And it is matter of astonishment, that this age, which boasts of greatest light and knowledge, should make no effort toward a reformation in things acknowledged to be wrong: but both in religion and in civil government be barbarian!
Below Blackheath, June 20, 1756.
sallust. conjurat. catilin.
Regium imperium, quod initio, conservandæ libertatis, atque augendæ reipublicæ causâ fuerat, in superbiam, dominationemque se convertit.
Regibus boni, quam mali, suspectiores sunt, semperque his aliena virtus formidolosa est Impunè quælibet facere, id est regem esse.
—idem, bell. jugurth.
published by authority.
To descant on the misfortunes of a person fallen from so high a dignity, who hath also paid his final debt, both to nature and his faults, is neither of itself a thing commendable, nor the intention of this discourse. Neither was it fond ambition, nor the vanity to get a name, present or with posterity, by writing against a king. I never was so thirsty after fame, nor so destitute of other hopes and means, better and more certain to attain it; for kings have gained glorious titles from their favourers by writing against private men, as Henry VIIIth. did against Luther; but no man ever gained much honour by writing against a king, as not usually meeting with that force of argument in such courtly antagonists, which to convince might add to his reputation. Kings most commonly, though strong in legions, are but weak at arguments; as they who ever have accustomed from the cradle to use their will only as their right hand, their reason always as their left. Whence unexpectedly constrained to that kind of combat, they prove but weak and puny adversaries: nevertheless, for their sakes, who, through custom, simplicity, or want of better teaching, have no more seriously considered kings, than in the gaudy name of majesty, and admire them and their doings as if they breathed not the same breath with other mortal men, I shall make no scruple to take up (for it seems to be the challenge both of him and all his party) to take up this gauntlet, though a king’s, in the behalf of liberty and the commonwealth.
And further, since it appears manifestly the cunning drift of a factious and defeated party, to make the same advantage of his book, which they did before of his regal name and authority, and intend it not so much the defence of his former actions, as the promoting of their own future designs, (making thereby the book their own rather than the king’s, as the benefit now must be their own more than his;) now the third time to corrupt and disorder the minds of weaker men, by new suggestions and narrations, either falsely or fallaciously representing the state of things to the dishonour of this present government, and the retarding of a general peace, so needful to this afflicted nation, and so nigh obtained; I suppose it no injury to the dead, but a good deed rather to the living, if by better information given them, or, which is enough, by only remembering them the truth of what they themselves know to be here misaffirmed, they may be kept from entering the third time unadvisedly into war and bloodshed: for as to any moment of solidity in the book itself, (save only that a king is said to be the author, a name, than which there needs no more among the blockish vulgar, to make it wise, and excellent, and admired, nay to set it next the Bible, though otherwise containing little else but the common grounds of tyranny and popery, dressed up the better to deceive, in a new protestant guise, trimly garnished over,) or as to any need of answering, in respect of staid and well-principled men, I take it on me as a work assigned rather, than by me chosen or affected: which was the cause both of beginning it so late, and finishing it so leisurely in the midst of other employments and diversions. And though well it might have seemed in vain to write at all, considering the envy and almost infinite prejudice likely to be stirred up among the common sort, against whatever can be written or gainsaid to the king’s book, so advantageous to a book it is only to be a king’s; and though it be an irksome labour, to write with industry and judicious pains, that which, neither weighed nor well read, shall be judged without industry or the pains of well-judging, by faction and the easy literature of custom and opinion; it shall be ventured yet, and the truth not smothered, but sent abroad in the native confidence of her single self, to earn, how she can, her entertainment in the world, and to find out her own readers: few perhaps, but those few, of such value and substantial worth, as truth and wisdom, not respecting numbers and big names, have been ever wont in all ages to be contented with. And if the late king had thought sufficient those answers and defences made for him in his lifetime, they who on the other side accused his evil government, judging that on their behalf enough also hath been replied, the heat of this controversy was in all likelihood drawing to an end; and the further mention of his deeds, not so much unfortunate as faulty, had in tenderness to his late sufferings been willingly foreborne; and perhaps for the present age might have slept with him unrepeated, while his adversaries, calmed and assuaged with the success of their cause, had been the less unfavourable to his memory. But since he himself, making new appeal to truth and the world, hath left behind him this book, as the best advocate and interpreter of his own actions, and that his friends by publishing, dispersing, commending, and almost adoring it, seem to place therein the chief strength and nerves of their cause; it would argue doubtless in the other party great deficience and distrust of themselves, not to meet the force of his reason in any field whatsoever, the force and equipage of whose arms they have so often met victoriously: and he who at the bar stood excepting against the form and manner of his judicature, and complained that he was not heard; neither he nor his friends shall have that cause now to find fault, being met and debated with in this open and monumental court of his erecting; and not only heard uttering his whole mind at large, but answered: which to do effectually, if it be necessary, that to his book nothing the more respect be had for being his, they of his own party can have no just reason to exclaim. For it were too unreasonable that he, because dead, should have the liberty in his book to speak all evil of the parliament; and they because living, should be expected to have less freedom, or any for them, to speak home the plain truth of a full and pertinent reply. As he, to acquit himself, hath not spared his adversaries to load them with all sorts of blame and accusation, so to him, as in his book alive, there will be used no more courtship than he uses; but what is properly his own guilt, not imputed any more to his evil counsellors, (a ceremony used longer by the parliament than he himself desired,) shall be laid here without circumlocutions at his own door. That they who from the first beginning, or but now of late, by what unhappiness I know not, are so much affatuated, not with his person only, but with his palpable faults, and doat upon his deformities, may have none to blame but their own folly, if they live and die in such a strooken blindness, as next to that of Sodom hath not happened to any sort of men more gross, or more misleading. Yet neither let his enemies expect to find recorded here all that hath been whispered in the court, or alleged openly, of the king’s bad actions; it being the proper scope of this work in hand, not to rip up and relate the misdoings of his whole life, but to answer only and refute the missayings of his book.
First, then, that some men (whether this were by him intended, or by his friends) have by policy accomplished after death that revenge upon their enemies, which in life they were not able, hath been oft related. And among other examples we find, that the last will of Cæsar being read to the people, and what bounteous legacies he had bequeathed them, wrought more in that vulgar audience to the avenging of his death, than all the art he could ever use to win their favour in his lifetime. And how much their intent, who published these overlate apologies and meditations of the dead king, drives to the same end of stirring up the people to bring him that honour, that affection, and by consequence that revenge to his dead corpse, which he himself living could never gain to his person, it appears both by the conceited portraiture before his book, drawn out to the full measure of a masking scene, and set there to catch fools and silly gazers; and by those Latin words after the end, Vota dabunt quæ bella negarunt; intimating, that what he could not compass by war, he should achieve by his meditations: for in words which admit of various sense, the liberty is ours, to choose that interpretation, which may best mind us of what our restless enemies endeavour, and what we are timely to prevent. And here may be well observed the loose and negligent curiosity of those, who took upon them to adorn the setting out of this book; for though the picture set in front would martyr him and saint him to befool the people, yet the Latin motto in the end, which they understand not, leaves him, as it were, a politic contriver to bring about that interest, by fair and plausible words, which the force of arms denied him. But quaint emblems and devices, begged from the old pageantry of some twelfthnight’s entertainment at Whitehall, will do but ill to make a saint or martyr: and if the people resolve to take him sainted at the rate of such a canonizing, I shall suspect their calendar more than the Gregorian. In one thing I must commend his openness, who gave the title to this book, Ειν Βασιλι, that is to say, The King’s Image; and by the shrine he dresses out for him, certainly would have the people come and worship him. For which reason this answer also is entitled, Iconoclastes, the famous surname of many Greek emperors, who in their zeal to the command of God, after long tradition of idolatry in the church, took courage and broke all superstitious images to pieces. But the people, exorbitant and excessive in all their motions, are prone ofttimes not to a religious only, but to a civil kind of idolatry, in idolizing their kings: though never more mistaken in the object of their worship; heretofore being wont to repute for saints those faithful and courageous barons, who lost their lives in the field, making glorious war against tyrants for the common liberty; as Simon de Momfort, earl of Leicester, against Henry the IIId; Thomas Plantagenet, earl of Lancaster, against Edward IId. But now, with a besotted and degenerate baseness of spirit, except some few who yet retain in them the old English fortitude and love of freedom, and have testified it by their matchless deeds, the rest, imbastardized from the ancient nobleness of their ancestors, are ready to fall flat and give adoration to the image and memory of this man, who hath offered at more cunning fetches to undermine our liberties, and put tyranny into an art, than any British king before him: which low dejection and debasement of mind in the people, I must confess, I cannot willingly ascribe to the natural disposition of an Englishman, but rather to two other causes; first, to the prelates and their fellow-teachers, though of another name and sect,* whose pulpit-stuff, both first and last, hath been the doctrine and perpetual infusion of servility and wretchedness to all their hearers, and whose lives the type of worldliness and hypocrisy, without the least true pattern of virtue, righteousness, or self-denial in their whole practice. I attribute it next to the factious inclination of most men divided from the public by several ends and humours of their own. At first no man less beloved, no man more generally condemned, than was the king; from the time that it became his custom to break parliaments at home, and either wilfully or weakly to betray protestants abroad, to the beginning of these combustions. All men inveighed against him; all men, except court-vassals, opposed him and his tyrannical proceedings; the cry was universal; and this full parliament was at first unanimous in their dislike and protestation against his evil government. But when they, who sought themselves and not the public, began to doubt, that all of them could not by one and the same way attain to their ambitious purposes, then was the king, or his name at least, as a fit property first made use of, his doings made the best of, and by degrees justified; which begot him such a party, as, after many wiles and strugglings with his inward fears, emboldened him at length to set up his standard against the parliament: whenas before that time, all his adherents, consisting most of dissolute swordsmen and suburb-roysters, hardly amounted to the making up of one ragged regiment strong enough to assault the unarmed house of commons. After which attempt, seconded by a tedious and bloody war on his subjects, wherein he hath so far exceeded those his arbitrary violences in time of peace, they who before hated him for his high misgovernment, nay fought against him with displayed banners in the field, now applaud him and extol him for the wisest and most religious prince that lived. By so strange a method amongst the mad multitude is a sudden reputation won, of wisdom by wilfulness and subtle shifts, of goodness by multiplying evil, of piety by endeavouring to root out true religion.
But it is evident that the chief of his adherents never loved him, never honoured either him or his cause, but as they took him to set a face upon their own malignant designs, nor bemoan his loss at all, but the loss of their own aspiring hopes: like those captive women, whom the poet notes in his Iliad, to have bewailed the death of Patroclus in outward show, but indeed their own condition.
Πάτρολον προασιν, σν δ’ τν ήδε άςη.—
Hom. Iliad. τ.
And it needs must be ridiculous to any judgment unenthralled, that they, who in other matters express so little fear either of God or man, should in this one particular outstrip all precisianism with their scruples and cases, and fill men’s ears continually with the noise of their conscientious loyalty and allegiance to the king, rebels in the meanwhile to God in all their actions besides: much less that they, whose professed loyalty and allegiance led them to direct arms against the king’s person, and thought him nothing violated by the sword of hostility drawn by them against him, should now in earnest think him violated by the unsparing sword of justice, which undoubtedly so much the less in vain she bears among men, by how much greater and in highest place the offender. Else justice, whether moral or political, were not justice, but a false counterfeit of that impartial and godlike virtue. The only grief is, that the head was not strook off to the best advantage and commodity of them that held it by the hair:* an ingrateful and perverse generation, who having first cried to God to be delivered from their king, now murmur against God that heard their prayers, and cry as loud for their king against those that delivered them. But as to the author of these soliloquies, whether it were undoubtedly the late king, as is vulgarly believed, or any secret coadjutor, and some stick not to name him; it can add nothing, nor shall take from the weight, if any be, of reason which he brings. But allegations, not reasons, are the main contents of this book, and need no more than other contrary allegations to lay the question before all men in an even balance; though it were supposed, that the testimony of one man, in his own cause affirming, could be of any moment to bring in doubt the authority of a parliament denying. But if these his fair-spoken words shall be here fairly confronted and laid parallel to his own far differing deeds, manifest and visible to the whole nation, then surely we may look on them who, notwithstanding, shall persist to give to bare words more credit than to open deeds, as men whose judgment was not rationally evinced and persuaded, but fatally stupefied and bewitched into such a blind and obstinate belief: for whose cure it may be doubted, not whether any charm, though never so wisely murmured, but whether any prayer can be available. This however would be remembered and well noted, that while the king, instead of that repentance which was in reason and in conscience to be expected from him, without which we could not lawfully readmit him, persists here to maintain and justify the most apparent of his evil doings, and washes over with a court-fucus the worst and foulest of his actions, disables and uncreates the parliament itself, with all our laws and native liberties that ask not his leave, dishonours and attaints all protestant churches not prelatical, and what they piously reformed, with the slander of rebellion, sacrilege, and hypocrisy; they, who seemed of late to stand up hottest for the covenant, can now sit mute and much pleased to hear all these opprobrious things uttered against their faith, their freedom, and themselves in their own doings made traitors to boot: the divines, also, their wizards, can be so brazen as to cry Hosanna to this his book, which cries louder against them for no disciples of Christ, but of Iscariot; and to seem now convinced with these withered arguments and reasons here, the same which in some other writings of that party, and in his own former declarations and expresses, they have so often heretofore endeavoured to confute and to explode; none appearing all this while to vindicate church or state from these calumnies and reproaches but a small handful of men, whom they defame and spit at with all the odious names of schism and sectarism. I never knew that time in England, when men of truest religion were not counted sectaries: but wisdom now, valour, justice, constancy, prudence united and embodied to defend religion and our liberties, both by word and deed, against tyranny, is counted schism and faction. Thus in a graceless age things of highest praise and imitation under a right name, to make them infamous and hateful to the people, are miscalled. Certainly, if ignorance and perverseness will needs be national and universal, then they who adhere to wisdom and to truth, are not therefore to be blamed, for being so few as to seem a sect or faction. But in my opinion it goes not ill with that people where these virtues grow so numerous and well joined together, as to resist and make head against the rage and torrent of that boisterous folly and superstition, that possesses and hurries on the vulgar sort. This therefore we may conclude to be a high honour done us from God, and a special mark of his favour, whom he hath selected as the sole remainder, after all these changes and commotions, to stand upright and stedfast in his cause; dignified with the defence of truth and public liberty; while others, who aspired to be the top of zealots, and had almost brought religion to a kind of trading monopoly, have not only by their late silence and neutrality belied their profession, but foundered themselves and their consciences, to comply with enemies in that wicked cause and interest, which they have too often cursed in others, to prosper now in the same themselves.
That which the king lays down here as his first foundation, and as it were the head stone of his whole structure, that “he called this last parliament, not more by others’ advice, and the necessity of his affairs, than by his own choice and inclination;” is to all knowing men so apparently not true, that a more unlucky and inauspicious sentence, and more betokening the downfall of his whole fabric, hardly could have come into his mind. For who knows not, that the inclination of a prince is best known either by those next about him, and most in favour with him, or by the current of his own actions? Those nearest to this king, and most his favourites, were courtiers and prelates; men whose chief study was to find out which way the king inclined, and to imitate him exactly: how these men stood affected to parliaments cannot be forgotten. No man but may remember, it was their continual exercise to dispute and preach against them; and in their common discourse nothing was more frequent, than that “they hoped the king should now have no need of parliaments any more.” And this was but the copy, which his parasites had industriously taken from his own words and actions, who never called a parliament but to supply his necessities; and having supplied those, as suddenly and ignominiously dissolved it, without redressing any one grievance of the people: sometimes choosing rather to miss of his subsidies, or to raise them by illegal courses, than that the people should not still miss of their hopes to be relieved by parliaments.
The first he broke off at his coming to the crown, for no other cause than to protect the duke of Buckingham against them who had accused him, besides other heinous crimes, of no less than poisoning the deceased king his father; concerning which matter the declaration of “No more Addresses” hath sufficiently informed us. And still the latter breaking was with more affront and indignity put upon the house and her worthiest members, than the former. Insomuch that in the fifth year of his reign, in a proclamation he seems offended at the very rumour of a parliament divulged among the people; as if he had taken it for a kind of slander, that men should think him that way exorable, much less inclined: and forbids it as a presumption to prescribe him any time for parliaments; that is to say, either by persuasion or petition, or so much as the reporting of such a rumour: for other manner of prescribing was at that time not suspected. By which fierce edict, the people, forbidden to complain, as well as forced to suffer, began from thenceforth to despair of parliaments. Whereupon such illegal actions, and especially to get vast sums of money, were put in practice by the king and his new officers, as monopolies, compulsive knighthoods, coat, conduct, and ship-money, the seizing not of one Naboth’s vineyard, but of whole inheritances, under the pretence of forest or crown-lands; corruption and bribery compounded for, with impunities granted for the future, as gave evident proof, that the king never meant, nor could it stand with the reason of his affairs, ever to recall parliaments: having brought by these irregular courses the people’s interest and his own to so direct an opposition, that he might foresee plainly, if nothing but a parliament could save the people, it must necessarily be his undoing.
Till eight or nine years after, proceeding with a high hand in these enormities, and having the second time levied an injurious war against his native country Scotland; and finding all those other shifts of raising money, which bore out his first expedition, now to fail him, not “of his own choice and inclination,” as any child may see, but urged by strong necessities, and the very pangs of state, which his own violent proceedings had brought him to, he calls a parliament; first in Ireland, which only was to give him four subsidies and so to expire; then in England, where his first demand was but twelve subsidies to maintain a Scots war, condemned and abominated by the whole kingdom: promising their grievances should be considered afterwards. Which when the parliament, who judged that war itself one of their main grievances, made no haste to grant, not enduring the delay of his impatient will, or else fearing the conditions of their grant, he breaks off the whole session, and dismisses them and their grievances with scorn and frustration.
Much less therefore did he call this last parliament by his own choice and inclination; but having first tried in vain all undue ways to procure money, his army of their own accord being beaten in the north, the lords petitioning, and the general voice of the people almost hissing him and his ill acted regality off the stage, compelled at length both by his wants and by his fears, upon mere extremity he summoned this last parliament. And how is it possible, that he should willingly incline to parliaments, who never was perceived to call them but for the greedy hope of a whole national bribe, his subsidies; and never loved, never fulfilled, never promoted the true end of parliaments, the redress of grievances; but still put them off, and prolonged them, whether gratified or not gratified; and was indeed the author of all those grievances? To say, therefore, that he called this parliament of his own choice and inclination, argues how little truth we can expect from the sequel of this book, which ventures in the very first period to affront more than one nation with an untruth so remarkable; and presumes a more implicit faith in the people of England, than the pope ever commanded from the Romish laity; or else a natural sottishness fit to be abused and ridden; while in the judgment of wise men, by laying the foundation of his defence on the avouchment of that which is so manifestly untrue, he hath given a worse soil to his own cause, than when his whole forces were at any time overthrown. They therefore, who think such great service done to the king’s affairs in publishing this book, will find themselves in the end mistaken; if sense and right mind, or but any mediocrity of knowledge and remembrance, hath not quite forsaken men.
But to prove his inclination to parliaments, he affirms here, “to have always thought the right way of them most safe for his crown, and best pleasing to his people.” What he thought, we know not, but that he ever took the contrary way, we saw; and from his own actions we felt long ago what he thought of parliaments or of pleasing his people: a surer evidence than what we hear now too late in words.
He alleges, that “the cause of forbearing to convene parliaments was the sparks, which some men’s distempers there studied to kindle.” They were indeed not tempered to his temper; for it neither was the law, nor the rule, by which all other tempers were to be tried; but they were esteemed and chosen for the fittest men, in their several counties, to allay and quench those distempers, which his own inordinate doings had inflamed. And if that were his refusing to convene, till those men had been qualified to his temper, that is to say, his will, we may easily conjecture what hope there was of parliaments, had not fear and his insatiate poverty, in the midst of his excessive wealth, constrained him.
“He hoped by his freedom and their moderation to prevent misunderstandings.” And wherefore not by their freedom and his moderation? But freedom he thought too high a word for them, and moderation too mean a word for himself: this was not the way to prevent misunderstandings. He still “feared passion and prejudice in other men;” not in himself: “and doubted not by the weight of his” own “reason, to counterpoise any faction;” it being so easy for him, and so frequent, to call his obstinacy reason, and other men’s reason faction. We in the mean while must believe that wisdom and all reason came to him by title with his crown; passion, prejudice, and faction came to others by being subjects.
“He was sorry to hear, with what popular heat elections were carried in many places.” Sorry rather, that court-letters and intimations prevailed no more, to divert or to deter the people from their free election of those men, whom they thought best affected to religion and their country’s liberty, both at that time in danger to be lost. And such men they were, as by the kingdom were sent to advise him, not sent to be cavilled at, because elected, or to be entertained by him with an undervalue and misprision of their temper, judgment, or affection. In vain was a parliament thought fittest by the known laws of our nation, to advise and regulate unruly kings, if they, instead of hearkening to advice, should be permitted to turn it off, and refuse it by vilifying and traducing their advisers, or by accusing of a popular heat those that lawfully elected them.
“His own and his children’s interest obliged him to seek, and to preserve the love and welfare of his subjects.” Who doubts it? But the same interest, common to all kings, was never yet available to make them all seek that, which was indeed best for themselves and their posterity. All men by their own and their children’s interest are obliged to honesty and justice: but how little that consideration works in private men, how much less in kings, their deeds declare best.
“He intended to oblige both friends and enemies, and to exceed their desires, did they but pretend to any modest and sober sense;” mistaking the whole business of a parliament; which met not to receive from him obligations, but justice; nor he to expect from them their modesty, but their grave advice, uttered with freedom in the public cause. His talk of modesty in their desires of the common welfare argues him not much to have understood what he had to grant, who misconceived so much the nature of what they had to desire. And for “sober sense,” the expression was too mean, and recoils with as much dishonour upon himself, to be a king where sober sense could possibly be so wanting in a parliament.
“The odium and offences, which some men’s rigour, or remissness in church and state, had contracted upon his government, he resolved to have expiated with better laws and regulations.” And yet the worst of misdemeanors committed by the worst of all his favourites in the height of their dominion, whether acts of rigour or remissness, he hath from time to time continued, owned, and taken upon himself by public declarations, as often as the clergy, or any other of his instruments, felt themselves overburdened with the people’s hatred. And who knows not the superstitious rigour of his Sunday’s chapel, and the licentious remissness of his Sunday’s theatre; accompanied with that reverend statute for Dominical jigs and maypoles, published in his own name, and derived from the example of his father James? Which testifies all that rigour in superstition, all that remissness in religion, to have issued out originally from his own house, and from his own authority. Much rather then may those general miscarriages in state, his proper sphere, be imputed to no other person chiefly than to himself. And which of all those oppressive acts or impositions did he ever disclaim or disavow, till the fatal awe of this parliament hung ominously over him? Yet here he smoothly seeks to wipe off all the envy of his evil government upon his substitutes and under-officers; and promises, though much too late, what wonders he purposed to have done in the reforming of religion: a work wherein all his undertakings heretofore declared him to have had little or no judgment: neither could his breeding, or his course of life, acquaint him with a thing so spiritual. Which may well assure us what kind of reformation we could expect from him; either some politic form of an imposed religion, or else perpetual vexation and persecution to all those that complied not with such a form. The like amendment he promises in state; not a step further “than his reason and conscience told him was fit to be desired;” wishing “he had kept within those bounds, and not suffered his own judgment to have been overborne in some things,” of which things one was the earl of Strafford’s execution. And what signifies all this, but that still his resolution was the same, to set up an arbitrary government of his own, and that all Britain was to be tied and chained to the conscience, judgment, and reason of one man; as if those gifts had been only his peculiar and prerogative, entailed upon him with his fortune to be a king? Whenas doubtless no man so obstinate, or so much a tyrant, but professes to be guided by that which he calls his reason and his judgment, though never so corrupted; and pretends also his conscience. In the mean while, for any parliament or the whole nation to have either reason, judgment, or conscience, by this rule was altogether in vain, if it thwarted the king’s will; which was easy for him to call by any other plausible name. He himself hath many times acknowledged, to have no right over us but by law; and by the same law to govern us: but law in a free nation hath been ever public reason, the enacted reason of a parliament; which he denying to enact, denies to govern us by that which ought to be our law; interposing his own private reason, which to us is no law. And thus we find these fair and specious promises, made upon the experience of many hard sufferings, and his most mortified retirements, being thoroughly sifted to contain nothing in them much different from his former practices, so cross, and so reverse to all his parliaments, and both the nations of this island. What fruits they could in likelihood have produced in his restorement, is obvious to any prudent foresight.
And this is the substance or his first section, till we come to the devout of it, modelled into the form of a private psalter. Which they who so much admire, either for the matter of the manner, may as well admire the archbishop’s late breviary, and many other as good manuals and handmaids of Devotion, the lip-work of every prelatical liturgist, clapped together and quilted out of Scripture phrase, with as much ease, and as little need of Christian diligence or judgment, as belongs to the compiling of any ordinary and saleable piece of English divinity, that the shops value. But he who from such a kind of psalmistry, or any other verbal devotion, without the pledge and earnest of suitable deeds, can be persuaded of a zeal and true righteousness in the person, hath much yet to learn; and knows not that the deepest policy of a tyrant hath been ever to counterfeit religious. And Aristole in his Politics hath mentioned that special craft among twelve other tyrannical sophisms. Neither want we examples: Andronicus Commenus the Byzantine emperor, though a most cruel tyrant, is reported by Nicetas, to have been a constant reader of Saint Paul’s epistles; and by continual study had so incorporated the phrase and style of that transcendant apostle into all his familiar letters, that the imitation seemed to vie with the original. Yet this availed not to deceive the people of that empire, who, notwithstanding his saint’s vizard, tore him to pieces for his tyranny. From stories of this nature both ancient and modern which abound, the poets also, and some English, have been in this point so mindful of decorum, as to put never more pious words in the mouth of any person, than of a tyrant. I shall not instance an abstruse author, wherein the king might be less conversant, but one whom we well know was the closet companion of these his solitudes, William Shakespeare; who introduces the person of Richard the third, speaking in as high a strain of piety and mortification as is uttered in any passage of this book, and sometimes to the same sense and purpose with some words in this place; “I intended,” saith he, “not only to oblige my friends but my enemies.” The like saith Richard, Act II. Scene 1.
“I do not know that Englishman alive,
With whom my soul is any jot at odds,
More than the infant that is born to night;
I thank my God for my humility.”
Other stuff of this sort may be read throughout the whole tragedy, where in the poet used not much license in departing from the truth of history which delivers him a deep dissembler, not of his affections only, but of religion.
In praying therefore, and in the outward work of devotion, this king we see hath not at all exceeded the worst of kings before him. But herein the worst of kings, professing Christianism, have by far exceeded him. They, for aught we know, have still prayed their own, or at least borrowed from fit authors. But this king, not content with that which, although in a thing holy, is no holy theft, to attribute to his own making other men’s whole prayers, hath as it were unhallowed and unchristened the very duty of prayer itself, by borrowing to a Christian use prayers offered to a heathen god. Who would have imagined so little fear in him of the true all-seeing Deity, so little reverence of the Holy Ghost, whose office is to dictate and present our Christian prayers, so little care of truth in his last words, or honour to himself, or to his friends, or sense of his afflictions, or of that sad hour which was upon him, as immediately before his death to pop into the hand of that great bishop who attended him, for a special relic of his saintly exercises, a prayer stolen word for word from the mouth of a heathen woman* praying to a heathen god; and that in no serious book, but the vain amatorious poem of Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia; a book in that kind full of worth and wit, but among religious thoughts and duties not worthy to be named; nor to be read at any time without good caution, much less in time of trouble and affliction to be a Christian’s prayer-book? They who are yet incredulous of what I tell them for a truth, that this philippic prayer is no part of the king’s goods, may satisfy their own eyes at leisure, in the 3d book of Sir Philip’s Arcadia, p. 248, comparing Pamela’s prayer with the first prayer of his majesty, delivered to Dr. Juxton immediately before his death, and entitled a Prayer in time of Captivity, printed in all the best editions of his book. And since there be a crew of lurking railers, who in their libels, and their fits of railing up and down, as I hear from others, take it so currishly, that I should dare to tell abroad the secrets of their Ægyptian Apis; to gratify their gall in some measure yet more, which to them will be a kind of alms, (for it is the weekly vomit of their gall which to most of them is the sole means of their feeding,) that they may not starve for me, I shall gorge them once more with this digression somewhat larger than before: nothing troubled or offended at the working upward of their salevenom thereupon, though it happen to asperse me; being, it seems, their best livelihood, and the only use or good digestion that their sick and perishing minds can make of truth charitably told them. However, to the benefit of others much more worth the gaining, I shall proceed in my assertion; that if only but to taste wittingly of meat or drink offered to an idol, be in the doctrine of St. Paul judged a pollution much more must be his sin, who takes a prayer so dedicated into his mouth, and offers it to God. Yet hardly it can be thought upon (though how sad a thing!) without some kind of laughter at the manner and solemn transaction of so gross a cozenage, that he, who had trampled over us so stately and so tragically, should leave the world at last so ridiculously in his exit, as to bequeath among his deifying friends that stood about him such a precious piece of mockery to be published by them, as must needs cover both his and their heads with shame, if they have any left. Certainly they that will may now see at length how much they were deceived in him, and were ever like to be hereafter, who cared not, so near the minute of his death, to deceive his best and dearest friends with the trumpery of such a prayer, not more secretly than shamefully purloined; yet given them as the royal issue of his own proper zeal. And sure it was the hand of God to let them fall, and be taken in such a foolish trap, as hath exposed them to all derision; if for nothing else, to throw contempt and disgrace in the sight of all men, upon this his idolized book, and the whole rosary of his prayers; thereby testifying how little he excepted them from those, who thought no better of the living God than of a buzzard idol, fit to be so served and worshiped in reversion, with the polluted arts and refuse of Arcadias and romances, without being able to discern the affront rather than the worship of such an ethnic prayer. But leaving what might justly be offensive to God, it was a trespass also more than usual against human right, which commands, that every author should have the property of his own work reserved to him after death, as well as living. Many princes have been rigorous in laying taxes on their subjects by the head, but of any king heretofore that made a levy upon their wit, and seized it as his own legitimate, I have not whom beside to instance. True it is, I looked rather to have found him gleaning out of books written purposely to help devotion. And if in likelihood he have borrowed much more out of prayerbooks than out of pastorals, then are these painted feathers, that set him off so gay among the people, to be thought few or none of them his own. But it from his divines he have borrowed nothing, nothing out of all the magazine, and the rheum of their mellifluous prayers and meditations let them who now mourn for him as for Tamuz, them who howl in their pulpits, and by their howling declare themselves right wolves, remember and consider in the midst of their hideous faces, when they do only not cut their flesh from him like those rueful priests whom Elijah mocked; that he who was once their Ahab, now their Josiah, though feigning outwardly to reverence churchmen, yet here hath so extremely set at naught both them and their praying faculty, that being at a loss himself what to pray in captivity, he consulted neither with the liturgy, nor with the directory, but neglecting the huge fardel of all their honeycomb devotions, went directly where he doubted not to find better praying to his mind with Pamela, in the Countess’s Arcadia. What greater argument of disgrace and ignominy could have been thrown with cunning upon the whole clergy, than that the king, among all his priestery, and all those numberless volumes of their theological distillations not meeting with one man or book of that coat that could befriend him with a prayer in captivity, was forced to rob Sir Philip and his captive shepherdess of their heathen orisons to supply in any fashion his miserable indigence, not of bread, but of a single prayer to God? I say therefore not of bread, for that want may befall a good man and yet not make him totally miserable: but he who wants a prayer to beseech God in his necessity, it is inexpressible how poor he is; far poorer within himself than all his enemies can make him. And the unfitness, the indecency of that pitiful supply which he sought, expresses yet further the deepness of his poverty.
Thus much be said in general to his prayers, and in special to that Arcadian prayer used in his captivity; enough to undeceive us what esteem we are to set upon the rest.
For he certainly, whose mind could serve him to seek a Christian prayer out of a pagan legend, and assume it for his own, might gather up the rest God knows from whence; one perhaps out of the French Astræa, another out of the Spanish Diana; Amadis and Palmerin could hardly scape him. Such a person we may be sure had it not in him to make a prayer of his own, or at least would excuse himself the pains and cost of his invention so long as such sweet rhapsodies of heathenism and knight-errantry could yield him prayers. How dishonourable then, and how unworthy of a Christian king, were these ignoble shifts to seem holy, and to get a saintship among the ignorant and wretched people; to draw them by this deception, worse than all his former injuries, to go a whoring after him? And how unhappy, how forsook of grace, and unbeloved of God that people, who resolve to know no more of piety or of goodness, than to account him their chief saint and martyr, whose bankrupt devotion came not honestly by his very prayers; but having sharked them from the mouth of a heathen worshipper, (detestable to teach him prayers!) sold them to those that stood and honoured him next to the Messiah, as his own heavenly compositions in adversity, for hopes no less vain and presumptuous (and death at that time so imminent upon him) than by these goodly relics to be held a saint and martyr in opinion with the cheated people!
And thus far in the whole chapter we have seen and considered, and it not but be clear to all men, how, and for what ends, what concernments and necessities, the late king was no way induced, but every way constrained, to call this last parliament; yet here in his first prayer he trembles not to avouch as in the ears of God, “That he did it with an upright intention to his glory, and his people’s good:” of which dreadful attestation, how sincerely meant, God, to whom it was avowed, can only judge, and he hath judged already, and hath written his impartial sentence in characters legible to all Christendom; and besides hath taught us, that there be some, whom he hath given over to delusion, whose very mind and conscience is defiled; of whom St. Paul to Titus makes mention.
This next chapter is a penitent confession of the king, and the strangest, if it be well weighed, that ever was auricular. For he repents here of giving his consent, though most unwillingly, to the most seasonable and solemn piece of justice, that had been done of many years in the land: but his sole conscience thought the contrary. And thus was the welfare, the safety, and within a little the unanimous demand of three populous nations, to have attended still on the singularity of one man’s opinionated conscience; if men had always been so to tame and spiritless, and had not unexpectedly found the grace to understand, that, if his conscience were so narrow and peculiar to itself, it was not fit his authority should be so ample and universal over others: for certainly a private conscience sorts not with a public calling, but declares that person rather meant by nature for a private fortune.
And this also we may take for truth, that he, whose conscience thinks it sin to put to death a capital offender, will as oft think it meritorious to kill a righteous person. But let us hear what the sin was, that lay so sore upon him, and, as one of his prayers given to Dr. Juxton testifies, to the very day of his death; it was his signing the bill of Strafford’s execution; a man whom all men looked upon as one of the boldest and most impetuous instruments that the king had, to advance any violent or illegal design. He had ruled Ireland, and some parts of England, in an arbitrary manner; had endeavoured to subvert fundamental laws, to subvert parliaments, and to incense the king against them; he had also endeavoured to make hostility between England and Scotland; he had counselled the king, to call over that Irish army of papists, which he had cunningly raised, to reduce England, as appeared by good testimony then present at the consultation: for which, and many other crimes alleged and proved against him in twenty-eight articles, he was condemned of high treason by the parliament. The commons by far the greater number cast him: the lords, after they had been satisfied in a full discourse by the king’s solicitor, and the opinions of many judges delivered in their house, agreed likewise to the sentence of treason. The people universally cried out for justice. None were his friends but courtiers and clergymen, the worst at that time, and most corrupted sort of men; and court ladies, not the best of women; who, when they grow to that insolence as to appear active in state-affairs, are the certain sign of a dissolute, degenerate, and pusillanimous commonwealth. Last of all the king, or rather first, for these were but his apes, was not satisfied in conscience to condemn him of high treason; and declared to both houses, “that no fears or respects whatsoever should make him alter that resolution founded upon his conscience:” either then his resolution was indeed not founded upon his conscience, or his conscience received better information, or else both his conscience and this his strong resolution strook sail, notwithstanding these glorious words, to his stronger fear; for within a few days after, when the judges at a privy council and four of his elected bishops had picked the thorn out of his conscience, he was at length persuaded to sign the bill for Strafford’s execution. And yet perhaps, that it wrung his conscience to condemn the earl of high treason is not unlikely; not because he thought him guiltless of highest treason, had half those crimes been committed against his own private interest or person, as appeared plainly by his charge against the six members; but because he knew himself a principal in what the earl was but his accessory, and thought nothing treason against the commonwealth, but against himself only.
Had he really scrupled to sentence that for treason, which he thought not treasonable, why did he seem resolved by the judges and the bishops? and if by them resolved, how comes the scruple here again? It was not then, as he now pretends, “the importunities of some, and the fear of many,” which made him sign, but the satisfaction given him by those judges and ghostly fathers of his own choosing. Which of him shall we believe? for he seems not one, but double; either here we must not believe him professing that his satisfaction was but seemingly received and out of fear, or else we may as well believe that the scruple was no real scruple, as we can believe him here against himself before, that the satisfaction then received was no real satisfaction. Of such a variable and fleeting conscience what hold can be taken? But that indeed it was a facile conscience, and could dissemble satisfaction when it pleased, his own ensuing actions declared; being soon after found to have the chief hand in a most detested conspiracy against the parliament and kingdom, as by letters and examinations of Percy, Goring, and other conspirators came to light; that his intention was to rescue the earl of Strafford, by seizing on the Tower of London; to bring up the English army out of the North, joined with eight thousand Irish papists raised by Strafford, and a French army to be landed at Portsmouth, against the parliament and their friends. For which purpose the king, though requested by both houses to disband those Irish papists, refused to do it, and kept them still in arms to his own purposes. No marvel then, if, being as deeply criminous as the earl himself, it stung his conscience to adjudge to death those misdeeds, whereof himself had been the chief author: no marvel though instead of blaming and detesting his ambition, his evil counsel, his violence, and oppression of the people, he fall to praise his great abilities; and with scholastic flourishes beneath the decency of a king, compares him to the sun, which in all figurative use and significance bears allusion to a king, not to a subject: no marvel though he knit contradictions as close as words can lie together, “not approving in his judgment,” and yet approving in his subsequent reason all that Strafford did, as “driven by the necessity of times, and the temper of that people;” for this excuses all his misdemeanors. Lastly, no marvel that he goes on building many fair and pious conclusions upon false and wicked premises, which deceive the common reader, not well discerning the antipathy of such connexions: but this is the marvel, and may be the astonishment, of all that have a conscience, how he durst in the sight of God (and with the same words of contrition wherewith David repents the murdering of Uriah) repent his lawful compliance to that just act of not saving him, whom he ought to have delivered up to speedy punishment; though himself the guiltier of the two. If the deed were so sinful, to have put to death so great a malefactor, it would have taken much doubtless from the heaviness of his sin, to have told God in his confession, how he laboured, what dark plots he had contrived, into what a league entered, and with what conspirators, against his parliament and kingdoms, to have rescued from the claim of justice so notable and so dear an instrument of tyranny; which would have been a story, no doubt, as pleasing in the ears of Heaven, as all these equivocal repentances. For it was fear, and nothing else, which made him feign before both the scruple and the satisfaction of his conscience, that is to say, of his mind: his first fear pretended conscience, that he might be borne with to refuse signing; his latter fear, being more urgent, made him find a conscience both to sign, and to be satisfied. As for repentance, it came not on him till a long time after; when he saw “he could have suffered nothing more, though he had denied that bill.” For how could he understandingly repent of letting that be treason which the parliament and whole nation so judged? This was that which repented him, to have given up to just punishment so stout a champion of his designs, who might have been so useful to him in his following civil broils. It was a worldly repentance, not a conscientious; or else it was a strange tyranny, which his conscience had got over him, to vex him like an evil spirit for doing one act of justice, and by that means to “fortify his resolution” from ever doing so any more. That mind must needs be irrecoverably depraved, which, either by chance or importunity, tasting but once of one just deed, spatters at it, and abhors the relish ever after. To the scribes and Pharisees woe was denounced by our Saviour, for straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel, though a gnat were to be strained at: but to a conscience with whom one good deed is so hard to pass down as to endanger almost a choking, and bad deeds without number, though as big and bulky as the ruin of three kingdoms, go down currently without straining, certainly a far greater woe appertains. If his conscience were come to that unnatural dyscrasy, as to digest poison and to keck at wholesome food, it was not for the parliament, or any of his kingdoms, to feed with him any longer. Which to conceal he would persuade us, that the parliament also in their conscience escaped not “some touches of remorse” for putting Strafford to death, in forbidding it by an after-act to be a precedent for the future. But, in a fairer construction, that act implied rather a desire in them to pacify the king’s mind, whom they perceived by this means quite alienated: in the mean while not imagining that this after-act should be retorted on them to tie up justice for the time to come upon like occasion, whether this were made a precedent or not, no more than the want of such a precedent, if it had been wanting, had been available to hinder this.
But how likely is it, that this after-act argued in the parliament their least repenting for the death of Strafford, when it argued so little in the king himself: who, notwithstanding this after-act, which had his own hand and concurrence, if not his own instigation, within the same year accused of high treason no less than six members at once for the same pretended crimes, which his conscience would not yield to think treasonable in the earl: so that this his subtle argument to fasten a repenting, and by that means a guiltiness of Strafford’s death upon the parliament, concludes upon his own head; and shows us plainly, that either nothing in his judgment was treason against the commonwealth, but only against the king’s person; (a tyrannical principle!) or that his conscience was a perverse and prevaricating conscience, to scruple that the commonwealth should punish for treasonous in one eminent offender that which he himself sought so vehemently to have punished in six guiltless persons. If this were “that touch of conscience, which he bore with greater regret” than for any sin committed in his life, whether it were that proditory aid sent to Rochel and religion abroad, or that prodigality of shedding blood at home, to a million of his subjects’ lives not valued in comparison to one Strafford; we may consider yet at last, what true sense and feeling could be in that conscience, and what fitness to be the master conscience of three kingdoms.
But the reason why he labours, that we should take notice of so much “tenderness and regret in his soul for having any hand in Strafford’s death,” is worth the marking ere we conclude: “he hoped it would be some evidence before God and man to all posterity, that he was far from bearing that vast load and guilt of blood” laid upon him by others: which hath the likeness of a subtle dissimulation; bewailing the blood of one man, his commodious instrument, put to death most justly, though by him unwillingly, that we might think him too tender to shed willingly the blood of those thousands whom he counted rebels. And thus by dipping voluntarily his finger’s end, yet with show of great remorse, in the blood of Strafford, whereof all men clear him, he thinks to scape that sea of innocent blood, wherein his own guilt inevitably hath plunged him all over. And we may well perceive to what easy satisfactions and purgations he had inured his secret conscience, who thought by such weak policies and ostentations as these to gain belief and absolutions from understanding men.
Concerning his unexcusable and hostile march from the court to the house of commons, there needs not much be said; for he confesses it to be an act, which most men, whom he calls “his enemies,” cried shame upon, “indifferent men grew jealous of and fearful, and many of his friends resented, as a motion arising rather from passion than reason:” he himself, in one of his answers to both houses, made profession to be convinced, that it was a plain breach of their privilege; yet here, like a rotten building newly trimmed over, he represents it speciously and fraudulently, to impose upon the simple reader; and seeks by smooth and supple words not here only, but through his whole book, to make some beneficial use or other even of his worst miscarriages.
“These men,” saith he, meaning his friends, “knew not the just motives and pregnant grounds with which I thought myself furnished;” to wit, against the five members, whom he came to drag out of the house. His best friends indeed knew not, nor could ever know, his motives to such a riotous act; and had he himself known any just grounds, he was not ignorant how much it might have tended to his justifying, had he named them in this place, and not concealed them. But suppose them real, suppose them known, what was this to that violation and dishonour put upon the whole house, whose very door forcibly kept open, and all the passages near it, he beset with swords and pistols cocked and menaced in the hands of about three hundred swaggerers and ruffians, who but expected, nay audibly called for, the word of onset to begin a slaughter?
“He had discovered, as he thought, unlawful correspondences, which they had used, and engagements to embroil his kingdoms;” and remembers not his own unlawful correspondences and conspiracies with the Irish army of papists, with the French to land at Portsmouth, and his tampering both with the English and Scots army to come up against the parliament: the least of which attempts, by whomsoever, was no less than manifest treason against the commonwealth.
If to demand justice on the five members were his plea, for that which they with more reason might have demanded justice upon him, (I use his own argument,) there needed not so rough assistance. If he had “resolved to bear that repulse with patience,” which his queen by her words to him at his return little thought he would have done, wherefore did he provide against it with such an armed and unusual force? but his heart served him not to undergo the hazard that such a desperate scuffle would have brought him to. But wherefore did he go at all, it behoving him to know there were two statutes, that declared he ought first to have acquainted the parliament, who were the accusers, which he refused to do, though still professing to govern by law, and still justifying his attempts against law? And when he saw it was not permitted him to attaint them but by a fair trial, as was offered him from time to time, for want of just matter which yet never came to light, he let the business fall of his own accord; and all those pregnancies and just motives came to just nothing.
“He had no temptation of displeasure or revenge against those men:” none but what he thirsted to execute upon them, for the constant opposition which they made against his tyrannous proceedings, and the love and reputation which they therefore had among the people; but most immediately, for that they were supposed the chief, by whose activity those twelve protesting bishops were but a week before committed to the Tower.
“He missed but little to have produced writings under some men’s own hands.” But yet he missed, though their chambers, trunks, and studies were sealed up and searched; yet not found guilty. “Providence would not have it so.” Good Providence! that curbs the raging of proud monarchs, as well as of mad multitudes. “Yet he wanted not such probabilities” (for his pregnant is come now to probable) “as were sufficient to raise jealousies in any king’s heart;” and thus his pregnant motives are at last proved nothing but a tympany, or a Queen Mary’s cushion; for in any king’s heart, as kings go now, what shadowy conceit or groundless toy will not create a jealousy?
“That he had designed to insult the house of commons,” taking God to witness, he utterly denies; yet in his answer to the city, maintains that “any course of violence had been very justifiable.” And we may then guess how far it was from his design: however, it discovered in him an excessive eagerness to be avenged on them that crossed him; and that to have his will, he stood not to do things never so much below him. What a becoming sight it was, to see the king of England one while in the house of commons, and by-and-by in the Guildhall among the liveries and manufacturers, prosecuting so greedily the track of five or six fled subjects; himself not the solicitor only, but the pursuivant and the apparitor of his own partial cause! And although in his answers to the parliament, he hath confessed, first, that his manner of prosecution was illegal, next “that as he once conceived he had ground enough to accuse them, so at length that he found as good cause to desert any prosecution of them;” yet here he seems to reverse all, and against promise takes up his old deserted accusation, that he might have something to excuse himself, instead of giving due reparation, which he always refused to give them whom he had so dishonoured.
“That I went,” saith he of his going to his house of commons, “attended with some gentlemen;” gentlemen indeed! the ragged infantry of stews and brothels; the spawn and shipwreck of taverns and dicing-houses: and then he pleads, “it was no unwonted thing for the majesty and safety of a king to be so attended, especially in discontented times.” An illustrious majesty no doubt, so attended! a becoming safety for the king of England, placed in the fidelity of such guards and champions! happy times, when braves and hacksters, the only contented members of his government, were thought the fittest and the faithfullest to defend his person against the discontents of a parliament and all good men! Were those the chosen ones to “preserve reverence to him,” while he entered “unassured,” and full of suspicions, into his great and faithful counsel? Let God then and the world judge, whether the cause were not in his own guilty and unwarrantable doings: the house of commons, upon several examinations of this business, declared it sufficiently proved, that the coming of those soldiers, papists, and others, with the king, was to take away some of their members, and in case of opposition or denial, to have fallen upon the house in a hostile manner. This the king here denies; adding a fearful imprecation against his own life, “if he purposed any violence or oppression against the innocent, then,” saith he, “let the enemy prosecute my soul, and tread my life to the ground, and lay my honour in the dust.” What need then more disputing? He appealed to God’s tribunal, and behold! God hath judged and done to him in the sight of all men according to the verdict of his own mouth: to be a warning to all kings hereafter how they use presumptuously the words and protestations of David, without the spirit and conscience of David. And the king’s admirers may here see their madness, to mistake this book for a monument of his worth and wisdom, whenas indeed it is his doomsday-book; not like that of William the Norman his predecessor, but the record and memorial of his condemnation; and discovers whatever hath befallen him, to have been hastened on from divine justice by the rash and inconsiderate appeal of his own lips. But what evasions, what pretences, though never so unjust and empty, will he refuse in matters more unknown, and more involved in the mists and intricacies of state, who, rather than not justify himself in a thing so generally odious, can flatter his integrity with such frivolous excuses against the manifest dissent of all men, whether enemies, neuters, or friends? But God and his judgments have not been mocked; and good men may well perceive what a distance there was ever like to be between him and his parliament, and perhaps between him and all amendment, who for one good deed, though but consented to, asks God forgiveness; and from his worst deeds done, takes occasion to insist upon his righteousness!
We have here, I must confess, a neat and well-couched invective against tumults, expressing a true fear of them in the author; but yet so handsomely composed, and withal so feelingly, that, to make a royal comparison, I believe Rehoboam the son of Solomon could not have composed it better. Yet Rehoboam had more cause to inveigh against them; for they had stoned his tribute-gatherer, and perhaps had as little spared his own person, had he not with all speed betaken him to his chariot. But this king hath stood the worst of them in his own house without danger, when his coach and horses, in a panic fear, have been to seek: which argues, that the tumults at Whitehall were nothing so dangerous as those at Sechem.
But the matter here considerable, is not whether the king or his household rhetoricians have a pithy declamation against tumults; but first, whether these were tumults or not; next, if they were, whether the king himself did not cause them. Let us examine therefore how things at that time stood. The king, as before hath been proved, having both called this parliament unwillingly, and as unwillingly from time to time condescended to their several acts, carrying on a disjoint and private interest of his own, and not enduring to be so crossed and overswayed, especially in the executing of his chief and boldest instrument, the deputy of Ireland first tempts the English army, with no less reward than the spoil of London, to come up and destroy the parliament. That being discovered by some of the officers, who, though bad enough, yet abhorred so foul a deed; the king, hardened in his purpose, tempts them the second time at Burrowbridge, promises to pawn his jewels for them, and that they should be met and assisted (would they but march on) with a gross body of horse under the earl of Newcastle. He tempts them yet the third time, though after discovery, and his own abjuration to have ever tempted them, as is affirmed in the declaration of “No more Addresses.” Neither this succeeding, he turns him next to the Scotch army, and by his own credential letters given to O Neal and Sir John Henderson, baits his temptation with a richer reward; not only to have the sacking of London, but four northern counties to be made Scottish, with jewels of great value to be given in pawn the while. But neither would the Scots, for any promise of reward, be brought to such an execrable and odious treachery: but with much honesty gave notice of the king’s design both to the parliament and city of London. The parliament moreover had intelligence, and the people could not but discern, that there was a bitter and malignant party grown up now to such a boldness, as to give out insolent and threatening speeches against the parliament itself. Besides this, the rebellion in Ireland was now broke out; and a conspiracy in Scotland had been made, while the king was there, against some chief members of that parliament; great numbers here of unknown and suspicious persons resorted to the city. The king, being returned from Scotland, presently dismisses that guard, which the parliament thought necessary in the midst of so many dangers to have about them, and puts another guard in their place, contrary to the privilege of that high court, and by such a one commanded, as made them no less doubtful of the guard itself. Which they therefore, upon some ill effects thereof first found, discharge; deeming it more safe to sit free, though without guard, in open danger, than enclosed with a suspected safety. The people therefore, lest their worthiest and most faithful patriots, who had exposed themselves for the public, and whom they saw now left naked, should want aid, or be deserted in the midst of these dangers, came in multitudes, though unarmed, to witness their fidelity and readiness in case of any violence offered to the parliament. The king, both envying to see the people’s love thus devolved on another object, and doubting lest it might utterly disable him to do with parliaments as he was wont sent a message into the city forbidding such resorts. The parliament also both by what was discovered to them, and what they saw in a malignant party, (some of which had already drawn blood in a fray or two at the court gate, and even at their own gate in Westminster-hall,) conceiving themselves to be still in danger where they sat, sent a most reasonable and just petition to the king, that a guard might be allowed them out of the city, whereof the king’s own chamberlain the earl of Essex, might have command; it being the right of inferior courts to make choice of their own guard. This the king refused to do, and why he refused the very next day made manifest: for on that day it was that he sallied out from Whitehall, with those trusty myrmidons, to block up or give assault to the house of commons. He had, besides all this, begun to fortify his court, and entertained armed men not a few; who, standing at his palace gate, reviled and with drawn swords wounded many of the people, as they went by unarmed, and in a peaceable manner, whereof some died. The passing by of a multitude, though neither to St. George’s feast, nor to a tilting, certainly of itself was no tumult; the expression of their loyalty and steadfastness to the parliament, whose lives and safeties by more than slight rumours they doubted to be in danger, was no tumult. If it grew to be so, the cause was in the king himself and his injurious retinue, who both by hostile preparations in the court, and by actual assailing of the people, gave them just cause to defend themselves.
Surely those unarmed and petitioning people needed not have been so formidable to any, but to such whose consciences misgave them how ill they had deserved of the people; and first began to injure them, because they justly feared it from them; and then ascribe that to popular tumult, which was occasioned by their own provoking.
And that the king was so emphatical and elaborate on this theme against tumults, and expressed with such a vehemence his hatred of them, will redound less perhaps than he was aware to the commendation of his government. For besides that in good governments they happen seldomest, and rise not without cause, if they prove extreme and pernicious, they were never counted so to monarchy, but to monarchical tyranny; and extremes one with another are at most antipathy. If then the king so extremely stood in fear of tumults, the inference will endanger him to be the other extreme. Thus far the occasion of this discourse against tumults: now to the discourse itself, voluble enough, and full of sentence, but that, for the most part, either specious rather than solid, or to his cause nothing pertinent.
“He never thought any thing more to presage the mischiefs that ensued, than those tumults.” Then was his foresight but short, and much mistaken. Those tumults were but the mild effects of an evil and injurious reign; not signs of mischiefs to come, but seeking relief for mischiefs past: those signs were to be read more apparent in his rage and purposed revenge of those free expostulations and clamours of the people against his lawless government. “Not any thing,” saith he, “portends more God’s displeasure against a nation, than when he suffers the clamours of the vulgar to pass all bounds of law and reverence to authority.” It portends rather his displeasure against a tyrannous king, whose proud throne he intends to overturn by that contemptible vulgar; the sad cries and oppressions of whom his loyalty regarded not. As for that supplicating people, they did no hurt either to law or authority, but stood for it rather in the parliament against those whom they feared would violate it.
“That they invaded the honour and freedom of the two houses,” is his own officious accusation, not seconded by the parliament, who, had they seen cause, were themselves best able to complain. And if they “shook and menaced any, they were such as had more relation to the court than to the commonwealth; enemies, not patrons of the people. But if their petitioning unarmed were an invasion of both houses, what was his entrance into the house of commons, besetting it with armed men? In what condition then was the honour and freedom of that house?
“They forebore not rude deportments, contemptuous words and actions, to himself and his court.”
It was more wonder, having heard what treacherous hostility he had designed against the city and his whole kingdom, that they forebore to handle him as people in their rage have handled tyrants heretofore for less offences.
“They were not a short ague, but a fierce quotidian fever.” He indeed may best say it, who most felt it; for the shaking was within him, and it shook him by his own description “worse than a storm, worse than an earthquake;” Belshazzar’s palsy. Had not worse fears, terrors, and envies made within him that commotion, how could a multitude of his subjects, armed with no other weapon than petitions, have shaken all his joints with such a terrible ague? Yet that the parliament should entertain the least fear of bad intentions from him or his party, he endures not; but would persuade us, that “men scare themselves and others without cause:” for he thought fear would be to them a kind of armour, and his design was, if it were possible, to disarm all, especially of a wise fear and suspicion; for that he knew would find weapons.
He goes on therefore with vehemence, to repeat the mischiefs done by these tumults. “They first petitioned, then protested; dictate next, and lastly overawe the parliament. They removed obstructions, they purged the houses, cast out rotten members.” If there were a man of iron, such as Talus, by our poet Spencer, is feigned to be, the page of justice, who with his iron flail could do all this, and expeditiously, without those deceitful forms and circumstances of law, worse than ceremonies in religion; I say, God send it done, whether by one Talus, or by a thousand.
“But they subdued the men of conscience in parliament, backed and abetted all seditious and schismatical proposals against government ecclesiastical and civil.”
Now we may perceive the root of his hatred, whence it springs. It was not the king’s grace or princely goodness, but this iron flail, the people, that drove the bishops out of their baronies, out of their cathedrals, out of the lords’ house, out of their copes and surplices, and all those papistical innovations, threw down the high-commission and star-chamber, gave us a triennial parliament, and what we most desired; in revenge whereof he now so bitterly inveighs against them; these are those seditious and schismatical proposals then by him condescended to as acts of grace, now of another name; which declares him, touching matters of church and state, to have been no other man in the deepest of his solitude, than he was before at the highest of his sovereignty.
But this was not the worst of these tumults; they played the hasty “midwives, and would not stay the ripening, but went straight to ripping up, and forcibly cut out abortive votes.”
They would not stay perhaps the Spanish demurring, and putting off such wholesome acts and counsels, as the politic cabinet at Whitehall had no mind to. But all this is complained here as done to the parliament, and yet we heard not the parliament at that time complain of any violence from the people, but from him. Wherefore intrudes he to plead the cause of parliament against the people, while the parliament was pleading their own cause against him; and against him were forced to seek refuge of the people? It is plain then, that those confluxes and resorts interrupted not the parliament, nor by them were thought tumultuous, but by him only and his court faction.
“But what good man had not rather want any thing he most desired for the public good, than attain it by such unlawful and irreligious means?” As much as to say, had not rather sit still, and let his country be tyrannized, than that the people, finding no other remedy, should stand up like men, and demand their rights and liberties. This is the artificialest piece of finesse to persuade men into slavery that the wit of court could have invented. But hear how much better the moral of this lesson would befit the teacher. What good man had not rather want a boundless and arbitrary power, and those fine flowers of the crown, called prerogatives, than for them to use force and perpetual vexation to his faithful subjects, nay to wade for them through blood and civil war? So that this and the whole bundle of those following sentences may be applied better to the convincement of his own violent courses, than of those pretended tumults.
“Who were the chief demagogues to send for those tumults, some alive are not ignorant.” Setting aside the affrightment of this goblin word; for the king, by his leave, cannot coin English, as he could money, to be current, (and it is believed this wording was above his known style and orthography, and accuses the whole composure to be conscious of some other author,) yet if the people were sent for, emboldened and directed by those demagogues, who, saving his Greek, were good patriots, and by his own confession “men of some repute for parts and piety,” it helps well to assure us there was both urgent cause, and the less danger of their coming.
“Complaints were made, yet no redress could be obtained.” The parliament also complained of what danger they sat in from another party, and demanded of him a guard; but it was not granted. What marvel then if it cheered them to see some store of their friends, and in the Roman, not the pettifogging sense, their clients so near about them; a defence due by nature both from whom it was offered, and to whom, as due as to their parents; though the court stormed and fretted to see such honour given to them, who were then best fathers of the commonwealth. And both the parliament and people complained, and demanded justice for those assaults, if not murders, done at his own doors by that crew of rufflers; but he, instead of doing justice on them, justified and abetted them in what they did, as in his public answer to a petition from the city may be read. Neither is it slightly to be passed over, that in the very place where blood was first drawn in this cause, at the beginning of all that followed, there was his own blood shed by the executioner: according to that sentence of divine justice, “in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.”
From hence he takes occasion to excuse that improvident and fatal error of his absenting from the parliament. “When he found that no declaration of the bishops could take place against those tumults.” Was that worth his considering, that foolish and self-undoing declaration of twelve cipher bishops, who were immediately appeached of treason for that audacious declaring? The bishops peradventure were now and then pulled by the rochets, and deserved another kind of pulling; but what amounted this to “the fear of his own person in the streets?” Did he not the very next day after his irruption into the house of commons, than which nothing had more exasperated the people, go in his coach unguarded into the city? Did he receive the least affront, much less violence, in any of the streets, but rather humble demeanors and supplications? Hence may be gathered, that however in his own guiltiness he might have justly feared, yet that he knew the people so full of awe and reverence to his person, as to dare commit himself single among the thickest of them, at a time when he had most provoked them. Besides, in Scotland they had handled the bishops in a more robustious manner; Edinburgh had been full of tumults; two armies from thence had entered England against him; yet after all this he was not fearful, but very forward to take so long a journey to Edinburgh; which argues first, as did also his rendition afterward to the Scots army, that to England he continued still, as he was indeed, a stranger, and full of diffidence, to the Scots only a native king, in his confidence; though not in his dealing towards them. It shows us next beyond doubting, that all this his fear of tumults was but a mere colour and occasion taken of his resolved absence from the parliament, for some end not difficult to be guessed. And those instances wherein valour is not to be questioned for not “scuffling with the sea, or an undisciplined rabble,” are but subservient to carry on the solemn jest of his fearing tumults; if they discover not withal the true reason why he departed, only to turn his slashing at the court-gate to slaughtering in the field; his disorderly bickering to an orderly invading; which was nothing else but a more orderly disorder.
“Some suspected and affirmed, that he meditated a war when he went first from Whitehall.” And they were not the worst heads that did so, nor did any of his former acts weaken him to that, as he alleges for himself; or if they had, they clear him only for the time of passing them, not for whatever thoughts might come after into his mind. Former actions of improvidence or fear, not with him unusual, cannot absolve him of all aftermeditations.
He goes on protesting his “no intention to have left Whitehall,” had these horrid tumults given him but fair quarter; as if he himself, his wife, and children had been in peril. But to this enough hath been answered.
“Had this parliament, as it was in its first election,” namely, with the lord and baron bishops, “sat full and free,” he doubts not but all had gone well. What warrant this of his to us, whose not doubting was all good men’s greatest doubt?
“He was resolved to hear reason, and to consent so far as he could comprehend.” A hopeful resolution: what if his reason were found by oft experience to comprehend nothing beyond his own advantages; was this a reason fit to be intrusted with the common good of three nations?
“But,” saith he, “as swine are to gardens, so are tumults to parliaments.” This the parliament, had they found it so, could best have told us. In the mean while, who knows not that one great hog may do as much mischief in a garden as many little swine?
“He was sometimes prone to think, that had he called this last parliament to any other place in England, the sad consequences might have been prevented.” But change of air changes not the mind. Was not his first parliament at Oxford dissolved after two subsidies given him, and no justice received? Was not his last in the same place, where they sat with as much freedom, as much quiet from tumults, as they could desire; a parliament, both in his account and their own, consisting of all his friends, that fled after him, and suffered for him, and yet by him nicknamed, and cashiered for a “mongrel parliament, that vexed his queen with their base and mutinous motions,” as his cabinet-letter tells us? Whereby the world may see plainly, that no shifting of place, no sifting of members to his own mind, no number, no paucity, no freedom from tumults, could ever bring his arbitrary wilfulness, and tyrannical designs, to brook the least shape or similitude, the least counterfeit of a parliament.
Finally, instead of praying for his people as a good king should do, he prays to be delivered from them, as “from wild beasts, inundations, and raging seas, that have overborne all loyalty, modesty, laws, justice, and religion.” God save the people from such intercessors!
The bill for a triennial parliament was but the third part of one good step toward that which in times past was our annual right. The other bill for settling this parliament was new indeed, but at that time very necessary; and in the king’s own words no more than what the world “was fully confirmed he might in justice, reason, honour, and conscience grant them;” for to that end he affirms to have done it.
But whereas he attributes the passing of them to his own act of grace and willingness, (as his manner is to make virtues of his necessities,) and giving to himself all the praise, heaps ingratitude upon the parliament, a little memory will set the clean contrary before us; that for those beneficial acts, we owe what we owe to the parliament, but to his granting them neither praise nor thanks. The first bill granted much less than two former statutes yet in force by Edward the Third; that a parliament should be called every year, or oftener, if need were: nay, from a far ancienter law-book called the “Mirror,” it is affirmed in a late treatise called “Rights of the Kingdom,”* that parliaments by our old laws ought twice a year to be at London. From twice in one year to once in three years, it may be soon cast up how great a loss we fell into of our ancient liberty by that act, which in the ignorant and slavish minds we then were, was thought a great purchase. Wisest men perhaps were contented (for the present, at least) by this act to have recovered parliaments, which were then upon the brink of danger to be for ever lost. And this is that which the king preaches here for a special token of his princely favour, to have abridged and overreached the people five parts in six of what their due was, both by ancient statute and originally. And thus the taking from us all but a triennial remnant of that English freedom which our fathers left us double, in a fair annuity enrolled, is set out, and sold to us here for the gracious and over-liberal giving of a new enfranchisement. How little, may we think, did he ever give us, who in the bill of his pretended givings writes down imprimis that benefit or privilege once in three years given us, which by so giving he more than twice every year illegally took from us; such givers as give single to take away sixfold, be to our enemies! for certainly this commonwealth, if the statutes of our ancestors be worth aught, would have found it hard and hazardous to thrive under the damage of such a guileful liberality. The other act was so necessary, that nothing in the power of man more seemed to be the stay and support of all things from that steep ruin to which he had nigh brought them, than that act obtained. He had by his ill stewardship, and, to say no worse, the needless raising of two armies intended for a civil war, beggared both himself and the public; and besides had left us upon the score of his needy enemies for what it cost them in their own defence against him. To disengage him and the kingdom, great sums were to be borrowed, which would never have been lent, nor could ever be repaid, had the king chanced to dissolve this parliament as heretofore. The errors also of his government had brought the kingdom to such extremes, as were incapable of all recovery without the absolute continuance of a parliament. It had been else in vain to go about the settling of so great distempers, if he, who first caused the malady, might, when he pleased, reject the remedy. Notwithstanding all which, that he granted both these acts unwillingly, and as a mere passive instrument, was then visible even to most of those men who now will see nothing.
At passing of the former act, he himself concealed not his unwillingness; and testifying a general dislike of their actions, which they then proceeded in with great approbation of the whole kingdom, he told them with a masterly brow, that “by this act he had obliged them above what they had deserved,” and gave a piece of justice to the commonwealth six times short of his predecessors, as if he had been giving some boon or begged office to a sort of his desertless grooms.
That he passed the latter act against his will, no man in reason can hold it questionable. For if the February before he made so dainty, and were so loth to bestow a parliament once in three years upon the nation, because this had so opposed his courses, was it likely that the May following he should bestow willingly on this parliament an indissoluble sitting, when they had offended him much more by cutting short and impeaching of high treason his chief favourites? It was his fear then, not his favour, which drew from him that act, lest the parliament, incensed by his conspiracies against them about the same time discovered, should with the people have resented too heinously those his doings, if to the suspicion of their danger from him he had also added the denial of this only means to secure themselves.
From these acts therefore in which he glories, and wherewith so oft he upbraids the parliament, he cannot justly expect to reap aught but dishonour and dispraise; as being both unwillingly granted, and the one granting much less than was before allowed by statute, the other being a testimony of his violent and lawless custom, not only to break privileges, but whole parliaments; from which enormity they were constrained to bind him first of all his predecessors; never any before him having given like causes of distrust and jealousy to his people. As for this parliament, how far he was from being advised by them as he ought, let his own words express.
He taxes them with “undoing what they found well done:” and yet knows they undid nothing in the church but lord bishops, liturgies, ceremonies, high-commission, judged worthy by all true protestants to be thrown out of the church. They undid nothing in the state but irregular and grinding courts, the main grievances to be removed; and if these were the things which in his opinion they found well done, we may again from hence be informed with what unwillingness he removed them; and that those gracious acts, whereof so frequently he makes mention, may be Englished more properly acts of fear and dissimulation against his mind and conscience.
The bill preventing dissolution of this parliament he calls “an unparalleled act, out of the extreme confidence that his subjects would not make ill use of it.” But was it not a greater confidence of the people, to put into one man’s hand so great a power, till he abused it, as to summon and dissolve parliaments? He would be thanked for trusting them, and ought to thank them rather for trusting him: the trust issuing first from them, not from him.
And that it was a mere trust, and not his prerogative, to call and dissolve parliaments at his pleasure; and that parliaments were not to be dissolved, till all petitions were heard, all grievances redressed, is not only the assertion of this parliament, but of our ancient law-books, which aver it to be an unwritten law of common right, so engraven in the hearts of our ancestors, and by them so constantly enjoyed and claimed, as that it needed not enrolling. And if the Scots in their declaration could charge the king with breach of their laws for breaking up that parliament without their consent, while matters of greatest moment were depending; it were unreasonable to imagine, that the wisdom of England should be so wanting to itself through all ages, as not to provide by some known law, written or unwritten, against the not calling, or the arbitrary dissolving of, parliaments; or that they who ordained their summoning twice a year, or as oft as need required, did not tacitly enact also, that as necessity of affairs called them, so the same necessity should keep them undissolved, till that were fully satisfied. Were it not for that, parliaments, and all the fruit and benefit we receive by having them, would turn soon to mere abusion. It appears then, that if this bill of not dissolving were an unparalleled act, it was a known and common right, which our ancestors under other kings enjoyed as firmly, as if it had been graven in marble; and that the infringement of this king first brought it into a written act: who now boasts that as a great favour done us, which his own less fidelity than was in former kings constrained us only of an old undoubted right to make a new written act. But what needed written acts, whenas anciently it was esteemed part of his crown oath, not to dissolve parliaments till all grievances were considered? whereupon the old “Modi of Parliament” calls it flat perjury, if he dissolve them before: as I find cited in a book mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, to which and other law-tractats I refer the more lawyerly mooting of this point, which is neither my element, nor my proper work here; since the book, which I have to answer, pretends reason, not authorities and quotations: and I hold reason to be the best arbitrator, and the law of law itself.
It is true, that “good subjects think it not just, that the king’s condition should be worse by bettering their’s.” But then the king must not be at such a distance from the people in judging what is better and what worse; which might have been agreed, had he known (for his own words condemn him) “as well with moderation to use, as with earnestness to desire, his own advantages.”
“A continual parliament, he thought, would keep the commonwealth in tune.” Judge, commonwealth, what proofs he gave, that this boasted profession was ever in his thought.
“Some,” saith he, “gave out, that I repented me of that settling act.” His own actions gave it out beyond all supposition; for doubtless it repented him to have established that by law, which he went about so soon after to abrogate by the sword.
He calls those acts, which he confesses “tended to their good, not more princely than friendly contributions.” As if to do his duty were of courtesy, and the discharge of his trust a parcel of his liberality; so nigh lost in his esteem was the birth-right of our liberties, that to give them back again upon demand, stood at the mercy of his contribution.
“He doubts not but the affections of his people will compensate his sufferings for those acts of confidence:” and imputes his sufferings to a contrary cause. Not his confidence, but his distrust, was that which brought him to those sufferings, from the time that he forsook his parliament; and trusted them never the sooner for what he tells “of their piety and religious strictness,” but rather hated them as puritans, whom he always sought to extirpate.
He would have it believed, that “to bind his hands by these acts, argued a very short foresight of things, and extreme fatuity of mind in him,” if he had meant a war. If we should conclude so, that were not the only argument: neither did it argue, that he meant peace; knowing that what he granted for the present out of fear, he might as soon repeal by force, watching his time; and deprive them the fruit of those acts, if his own designs, wherein he put his trust, took effect.
Yet he complains, “that the tumults threatened to abuse all acts of grace, and turn them into wantonness.” I would they had turned his wantonness into the grace of not abusing Scripture. Was this becoming such a saint as they would make him, to adulterate those sacred words from the grace of God to the acts of his own grace? Herod was eaten up of worms for suffering others to compare his voice to the voice of God; but the borrower of this phrase gives much more cause of jealousy, that he likened his own acts of grace to the acts of God’s grace.
From profaneness he scarce comes off with perfect sense. “I was not then in a capacity to make war,” therefore “I intended not.” “I was not in a capacity,” therefore “I could not have given my enemies greater advantage, than by so unprincely inconstancy to have scattered them by arms, whom but lately I had settled by parliament.” What place could there be for his inconstancy in that thing whereto he was in no capacity? Otherwise his inconstancy was not so unwonted, or so nice, but that it would have easily found pretences to scatter those in revenge, whom he settled in fear.
“It had been a course full of sin, as well as of hazard and dishonour.” True; but if those considerations withheld him not from other actions of like nature, how can we believe they were of strength sufficient, to withhold him from this? And that they withheld him not, the event soon taught us.
“His letting some men go up to the pinnacle of the temple, was a temptation to them to cast him down headlong.” In this simile we have himself compared to Christ, the parliament to the devil, and his giving them that act of settling, to his letting them go up to “the pinnacle of the temple.” A tottering and giddy act rather than a settling. This was goodly use made of Scripture in his solitudes: but it was no pinnacle of the temple, it was a pinnacle of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace, from whence he and monarchy fell headlong together.
He would have others see that “all the kingdoms of the world are not worth gaining by ways of sin which hazard the soul;” and hath himself left nothing unhazarded to keep three. He concludes with sentences, that, rightly scanned, make not so much for him as against him, and confesses, that “the act of settling was no sin of his will;” and we easily believe him, for it hath been clearly proved a sin of his unwillingness.
With his orisons I meddle not, for he appeals to a high audit. This yet may be noted, that at his prayers he had before him the sad presage of his ill success, “as of a dark and dangerous storm, which never admitted his return to the port from whence he set out.” Yet his prayer-book no sooner shut, but other hopes flattered him; and their flattering was his destruction.
The simile wherewith he begins I was about to have found fault with, as in a garb somewhat more poetical than for a statist: but meeting with many strains of like dress in other of his essays, and hearing him reported a more diligent reader of poets than politicians, I begun to think that the whole book might perhaps be intended a piece of poetry. The words are good, the fiction smooth and cleanly; there wanted only rhyme, and that, they say, is bestowed upon it lately. But to the argument.
“I staid at Whitehall, till I was driven away by shame more than fear.” I retract not what I thought of the fiction, yet here, I must confess, it lies too open. In his messages and declarations, nay in the whole chapter next but one before this, he affirms, that “the danger wherein his wife, his children, and his own person” were by those tumults, was the main cause that drove him from Whitehall, and appeals to God as witness: he affirms here that it was “shame more than fear.” And Digby, who knew his mind as well as any, tells his new-listed guard, “that the principal cause of his majesty’s going thence was to save them from being trod in the dirt.” From whence we may discern what false and frivolous excuses are avowed for truth, either in those declarations, or in this penitential book. Our forefathers were of that courage and severity of zeal to justice and their native liberty, against the proud contempt and misrule of their kings, that when Richard the Second departed but from a committee of lords, who sat preparing matter for the parliament not yet assembled, to the removal of his evil counsellors, they first vanquished and put to flight Robert de Vere his chief favourite; and then, coming up to London with a huge army, required the king, then withdrawn for fear, but no further off than the Tower, to come to Westminster, which he refusing, they told him flatly, that unless he came they would choose another. So high a crime it was accounted then for kings to absent themselves, not from a parliament, which none ever durst, but from any meeting of his peers and counsellors, which did but tend towards a parliament. Much less would they have suffered, that a king, for such trivial and various pretences, one while for fear of tumults, another while “for shame to see them,” should leave his regal station, and the whole kingdom bleeding to death of those wounds, which his own unskilful and perverse government had inflicted.
Shame then it was that drove him from the parliament, but the shame of what? Was it the shame of his manifold errors and misdeeds, and to see how weakly he had played the king? No; “but to see the barbarous rudeness of those tumults to demand any thing.” We have started here another, and I believe the truest cause of his deserting the parliament. The worst and strangest of that “Any thing,” which the people then demanded, was but the unlording of bishops, and expelling them the house, and the reducing of church-discipline to a conformity with other protestant churches; this was the barbarism of those tumults: and that he might avoid the granting of those honest and pious demands, as well demanded by the parliament as the people, for this very cause more than for fear, by his own confession here, he left the city; and in a most tempestuous season forsook the helm and steerage of the commonwealth. This was that terrible “Any thing,” from which his Conscience and his Reason chose to run, rather than not deny. To be importuned the removing of evil counsellors, and other grievances in church and state, was to him “an intolerable oppression.” If the people’s demanding were so burdensome to him, what was his denial and delay of justice to them?
But as the demands of his people were to him a burden and oppression, so was the advice of his parliament esteemed a bondage; “Whose agreeing votes,” as he affirms, “were not by any law or reason conclusive to his judgment.” For the law, it ordains a parliament to advise him in his great affairs; but if it ordain also, that the single judgment of a king shall out-balance all the wisdom of his parliament, it ordains that which frustrates the end of its own ordaining. For where the king’s judgment may dissent, to the destruction, as it may happen, both of himself and the kingdom, their advice, and no further, is a most insufficient and frustraneous means to be provided by law in cases of so high concernment. And where the main and principal law of common preservation against tyranny is left so fruitless and infirm, there it must needs follow, that all lesser laws are to their several ends and purposes much more weak and ineffectual. For that nation would deserve to be renowned and chronicled for folly and stupidity, that should by law provide force against private and petty wrongs, advice only against tyranny and public ruin. It being therefore most unlike a law, to ordain a remedy so slender and unlawlike, to be the utmost means of all public safety or prevention,* as advice is, which may at any time be rejected by the sole judgment of one man, the king, and so unlike the law of England, which lawyers say is the quintessence of reason and mature wisdom; we may conclude, that the king’s negative voice was never any law, but an absurd and reasonless custom, begotten and grown up either from the flattery of basest times, or the usurpation of immoderate princes. Thus much to the law of it by a better evidence than rolls and records, reason.
But is it possible he should pretend also to reason, that the judgment of one man, not as a wise or good man, but as a king, and ofttimes a wilful, proud, and wicked king, should outweigh the prudence and all the virtue of an elected parliament? What an abusive thing were it then to summon parliaments, that by the major part of voices greatest matters may be there debated and resolved, whenas one single voice after that shall dash all their resolutions?
He attempts to give a reason why it should, “Because the whole parliaments represent not him in any kind.” But mark how little he advances; for if the parliament represent the whole kingdom, as is sure enough they do, then doth the king represent only himself; and if a king without his kingdom be in a civil sense nothing, then without or against the representative of his whole kingdom, he himself represents nothing; and by consequence his judgment and his negative is as good as nothing: and though we should allow him to be something, yet not equal† or comparable to the whole kingdom, and so neither to them who represent it: much less that one syllable of his breath put into the scales should be more ponderous than the joint voice and efficacy of a whole parliament, assembled by election, and endued with the plenipotence of a free nation, to make laws, not to be denied laws; and with no more but no, a sleeveless reason, in the most pressing times of danger and disturbance to be sent home frustrate and remediless.
Yet here he maintains, “to be no further bound to agree with the votes of both houses, than he sees them to agree with the will of God, with his just rights as a king, and the general good of his people.” As to the freedom of his agreeing or not agreeing, limited with due bounds, no man reprehends it; this is the question here, or the miracle rather, why his only not agreeing should lay a negative bar and inhibition upon that which is agreed to by a whole parliament, though never so conducing to the public good or safety? To know the will of God better than his whole kingdom, whence should he have it? Certainly court-breeding and his perpetual conversation with flatterers was but a bad school. To judge of his own rights could not belong to him, who had no right by law in any court to judge of so much as felony or treason, being held a party in both these cases, much more in this; and his rights however should give place to the general good, for which end all his rights were given him. Lastly, to suppose a clearer insight and discerning of the general good, allotted to his own singular judgment, than to the parliament and all the people, and from that self-opinion of discerning, to deny them that good which they, being all freemen, seek earnestly and call for, is an arrogance and iniquity beyond imagination rude and unreasonable; they undoubtedly having most authority to judge of the public good, who for that purpose are chosen out and sent by the people to advise him. And if it may be in him to see oft “the major part of them not in the right,” had it not been more his modesty, to have doubted their seeing him more often in the wrong?
He passes to another reason of his denials, “because of some men’s hydropic unsatiableness, and thirst of asking, the more they drank, whom no fountain of regal bounty was able to overcome.” A comparison more properly bestowed on those that came to guzzle in his wine-cellar, than on a freeborn people that came to claim in parliament their rights and liberties, which a king ought therefore to grant, because of right demanded; not to deny them for fear his bounty should be exhausted, which in these demands (to continue the same metaphor) was not so much as broached; it being his duty, not his bounty, to grant these things. He who thus refuses to give us law, in that refusal gives us another law, which is his will; another name also, and another condition—of freemen to become his vassals.
Putting off the courtier, he now puts on the philosopher, and sententiously disputes to this effect, “That reason ought to be used to men, force and terror to beasts; that he deserves to be a slave, who captivates the rational sovereignty of his soul and liberty of his will to compulsion; that he would not forfeit that freedom, which cannot be denied him as a king, because it belongs to him as a man and a Christian, though to preserve his kingdom; but rather die enjoying the empire of his soul, than live in such a vassalage, as not to use his reason and conscience, to like or dislike as a king.” Which words, of themselves, as far as they are sense, good and philosophical, yet in the mouth of him, who, to engross this common liberty to himself, would tread down all other men into the condition of slaves and beasts, they quite lose their commendation. He confesses a rational sovereignty of soul and freedom of will in every man, and yet with an implicit repugnancy would have his reason the sovereign of that sovereignty, and would captivate and make useless that natural freedom of will in all other men but himself. But them that yield him this obedience he so well rewards, as to pronounce them worthy to be slaves. They who have lost all to be his subjects, may stoop and take up the reward. What that freedom is, which “cannot be denied him as a king, because it belongs to him as a man and a Christian,” I understand not. If it be his negative voice, it concludes all men, who have not such a negative as his against a whole parliament, to be neither men nor Christians: and what was he himself then, all this while that we denied it him as a king? Will he say, that he enjoyed within himself the less freedom for that? Might not he, both as a man and as a Christian, have reigned within himself in full sovereignty of soul, no man repining, but that his outward and imperious will must invade the civil liberties of a nation? Did we therefore not permit him to use his reason or his conscience, not permitting him to bereave us the use of ours? And might not he have enjoyed both as a king, governing us as freemen by what laws we ourselves would be governed? It was not the inward use of his reason and of his conscience, that would content him, but to use them both as a law over all his subjects, “in whatever he declared as a king to like or dislike.” Which use of reason, most reasonless and unconscionable, is the utmost that any tyrant ever pretended over his vassals.
In all wise nations the legislative power, and the judicial execution of that power, have been most commonly distinct, and in several hands; but yet the former supreme, the other subordinate. If then the king be only set up to execute the law, which is indeed the highest of his office, he ought no more to make or forbid the making of any law agreed upon in parliament than other inferior judges, who are his deputies. Neither can he more reject a law offered him by the commons, than he can new make a law which they reject. And yet the more to credit and uphold his cause, he would seem to have philosophy on his side; straining her wise dictates to unphilosophical purposes. But when kings come so low, as to fawn upon philosophy, which before they neither valued nor understood, it is a sign that fails not, they are then put to their last trump. And philosophy as well requites them, by not suffering her golden sayings either to become their lips, or to be used as masks and colours of injurious and violent deeds. So that what they presume to borrow from her sage and virtuous rules, like the riddle of Sphinx not understood, breaks the neck of their own cause.
But now again to politics: “He cannot think the Majesty of the crown of England to be bound by any coronation oath in a blind and brutish formality, to consent to whatever its subjects in parliament shall require.” What tyrant could presume to say more, when he meant to kick down all law, government, and bond of oath? But why he so desires to absolve himself the oath of his coronation would be worth the knowing. It cannot but be yielded, that the oath, which binds him to performance of his trust, ought in reason to contain the sum of what his chief trust and office is. But if it neither do enjoin, nor mention to him, as a part of his duty, the making or the marring of any law, or scrap of law, but requires only his assent to those laws which the people have already chosen, or shall choose; (for so both the Latin of that oath, and the old English; and all reason admits, that the people should not lose under a new king what freedom they had before;) then that negative voice so contended for, to deny the passing of any law, which the commons choose, is both against the oath of his coronation, and his kingly office. And if the king may deny to pass what the parliament hath chosen to be a law, then doth the king make himself superior to his whole kingdom; which not only the general maxims of policy gainsay, but even our own standing laws, as hath been cited to him in remonstrances heretofore, that “the king hath two superiors, the law, and his court of parliament.” But this he counts to be a blind and brutish formality, whether it be law, or oath, or his duty, and thinks to turn it off with wholesome words and phrases, which he then first learnt of the honest people, when they were so often compelled to use them against those more truly blind and brutish formalities thrust upon us by his own command, not in civil matters only, but in spiritual. And if his oath to perform what the people require, when they crown him, be in his esteem a brutish formality, then doubtless those other oaths of allegiance and supremacy, taken absolute on our part, may most justly appear to us in all respects as brutish and as formal; and so by his own sentence no more binding to us, than his oath to him.
As for his instance, in case “he and the house of peers attempted to enjoin the house of commons,” it bears no equality; for he and the peers represent but themselves, the commons are the whole kingdom.
Thus he concludes “his oath to be fully discharged in governing by laws already made,” as being not bound to pass any new, “if his reason bids him deny.” And so may infinite mischiefs grow, and he with a pernicious negative may deny us all things good, or just, or safe, whereof our ancestors, in times much differing from ours, had either no foresight, or no occasion to foresee; while our general good and safety shall depend upon the private and overweening reason of one obstinate man, who, against all the kingdom, if he list, will interpret both the law and his oath of coronation by the tenour of his own will. Which he himself confesses to be an arbitrary power, yet doubts not in his argument to imply, as if he thought it more fit the parliament should be subject to his will, than he to their advice; a man neither by nature nor by nurture wise. How is it possible, that he, in whom such principles as these were so deep rooted, could ever, though restored again, have reigned otherwise than tyrannically?
He objects, “That force was but a slavish method to dispel his error.” But how often shall it be answered him, that no force was used to dispel the error out of his head, but to drive it from off our necks? for his error was imperious, and would command all other men to renounce their own reason and understanding, till they perished under the injunction of his allruling error.
He alleges the uprightness of his intentions to excuse his possible failings, a position false both in law and divinity; yea, contrary to his own better principles, who affirms in the twelfth chapter, that “the goodness of a man’s intention will not excuse the scandal and contagion of his example.” His not knowing, through the corruption of flattery and court-principles, what he ought to have known, will not excuse his not doing what he ought to have done: no more than the small skill of him, who undertakes to be a pilot, will excuse him to be misled by any wandering star mistaken for the pole. But let his intentions be never so upright, what is that to us? what answer for the reason and the national rights, which God hath given us, if having parliaments, and laws, and the power of making more to avoid mischief, we suffer one man’s blind intentions to lead us all with our eyes open to manifest destruction?
And if arguments prevail not with such a one, force is well used; not “to carry on the weakness of our counsels, or to convince his error,” as he surmises, but to acquit and rescue our own reason, our own consciences, from the force and prohibition laid by his usurping error upon our liberties and understandings.
“Never any thing pleased him more, than when his judgment concurred with theirs.” That was to the applause of his own judgment, and would as well have pleased any self-conceited man.
“Yea, in many things he chose rather to deny himself than them.” That is to say, in trifles. For “of his own interests” and personal rights he conceives himself “master.” To part with, if he please; not to contest for, against the kingdom, which is greater than he, whose rights are all subordinate to the kingdom’s good. And “in what concerns truth, justice, the right of church, or his crown, no man shall gain his consent against his mind.” What can be left then for a parliament, but to sit like images, while he still thus either with incomparable arrogances assumes to himself the best ability of judging for other men what is truth, justice, goodness, what his own and the church’s right, or with unsufferable tyranny restrains all men from the enjoyment of any good, which his judgment, though erroneous, thinks not fit to grant them; notwithstanding that the law and his coronal oath requires his undeniable assent to what laws the parliament agree upon?
“He had rather wear a crown of thorns with our Saviour.” Many would be all one with our Saviour, whom our Saviour will not know. They who govern ill those kingdoms which they had a right to, have to our Saviour’s crown of thorns no right at all. Thorns they may find enow of their own gathering, and their own twisting; for thorns and snares, saith Solomon, are in the way of the froward: but to wear them, as our Saviour wore them, is not given to them, that suffer by their own demerits. Nor is a crown of gold his due, who cannot first wear a crown of lead; not only for the weight of that great office, but for the compliance which it ought to have with them who are to counsel him, which here he terms in scorn “An imbased flexibleness to the various and oft contrary dictates of any factions,” meaning his parliament; for the question hath been all this while between them two. And to his parliament, though a numerous and choice assembly of whom the land thought wisest, he imputes, rather than to himself, “want of reason, neglect of the public, interest of parties, and particularity of private will and passion;” but with what modesty or likelihood of truth, it will be wearisome to repeat so often.
He concludes with a sentence fair in seeming, but fallacious. For if the conscience be ill edified, the resolution may more befit a foolish than a Christian king, to prefer a self-willed conscience before a kingdom’s good; especially in the denial of that, which law and his regal office by oath bids him grant to his parliament and whole kingdom rightfully demanding. For we may observe him throughout the discourse to assert his negative power against the whole kingdom; now under the specious plea of his conscience and his reason, but heretofore in a louder note; “Without us, or against our consent, the votes of either or of both houses together, must not, cannot, shall not.” Declar. May 4, 1642.
With these and the like deceivable doctrines he leavens also his prayer.
To this argument we shall soon have said; for what concerns it to us to hear a husband divulge his household privacies, extolling to others the virtues of his wife? an infirmity not seldom incident to those who have least cause. But how good she was a wife, was to himself, and be it left to his own fancy; how bad a subject, is not much disputed. And being such, it need be made no wonder, though she left a protestant kingdom with as little honour as her mother left a popish.
That this “is the example of any protestant subjects, that have taken up arms against their king a protestant,” can be to protestants no dishonour; when it shall be heard, that he first levied war on them, and to the interest of papists more than of protestants. He might have given yet the precedence of making war upon him to the subjects of his own nation, who had twice opposed him in the open field long ere the English found it necessary to do the like. And how groundless, how dissembled is that fear, lest she who for so many years had been averse from the religion of her husband, and every year more and more, before these disturbances broke out, should for them be now the more alineated from that, to which we never heard she was inclined? But if the fear of her delinquency, and that justice which the protestants demanded on her, was any cause of her alienating the more, to have gained her by indirect means had been no advantage to religion, much less then was the detriment to lose her further off. It had been happy if his own actions had not given cause of more scandal to the protestants, than what they did against her could justly scandalize any papist.
Them who accused her, well enough known to be the parliament, he censures for “men yet to seek their religion, whether doctrine, discipline, or good manners;” the rest he soothes with the name of true English protestants, a mere schismatical name, yet he so great an enemy of schism.
He ascribes “rudeness and barbarity, worse than Indian,” to the English parliament; and “all virtue” to his wife, in strains that come almost to sonneting: how fit to govern men, undervaluing and aspersing the great council of his kingdom, in comparison of one woman! Examples are not far to seek, how great mischief and dishonour hath befallen nations under the government of effeminate and uxorious magistrates; who being themselves governed and overswayed at home under a feminine usurpation, cannot but be far short of spirit and authority without doors, to govern a whole nation.
“Her tarrying here he could not think safe among them, who were shaking hands with allegiance, to lay faster hold on religion;” and taxes them of a duty rather than a crime, it being just to obey God rather than man, and impossible to serve two masters: I would they had quite shaken off what they stood shaking hands with; the fault was in their courage, not in their cause.
In his prayer he prays, that the disloyalty of his protestant subjects may not be a hinderance to her love of the true religion; and never prays, that the dissoluteness of his court, the scandals of his clergy, the unsoundness of his own judgment, the lukewarmness of his life, his letter of compliance to the pope, his permitting agents at Rome, the pope’s nuncio, and her jesuited mother here, may not be found in the sight of God far greater hinderances to her conversion.
But this had been a subtle prayer indeed, and well prayed though as duly as a Paternoster, if it could have charmed us to sit still, and have religion and our liberties one by one snatched from us, for fear lest rising to defend ourselves we should fright the queen, a stiff papist, from turning protestant! As if the way to make his queen a protestant, had been to make his subjects more than halfway papists.
He prays next, “that his constancy may be an antidote against the poison of other men’s example.” His constancy in what? Not in religion, for it is openly known, that her religion wrought more upon him, than his religion upon her; and his open favouring of papists, and his hatred of them called puritans, (the ministers also that prayed in churches for her conversion, being checked from court,) made most men suspect she had quite perverted him. But what is it, that the blindness of hypocrisy dares not do? It dares pray, and thinks to hide that from the eyes of God, which it cannot hide from the open view of man.
Hull, a town of great strength and opportunity both to sea and land affairs, was at that time the magazine of all those arms, which the king had bought with money most illegally extorted from his subjects of England, to use in a causeless and most unjust civil war against his subjects of Scotland. The king in high discontent and anger had left the parliament, and was gone towards the north; the queen into Holland, where she pawned and set to sale the crown jewels; (a crime heretofore counted treasonable in kings;) and to what intent these sums were raised, the parliament was not ignorant. His going northward in so high a chafe they doubted was to possess himself of that strength, which the storehouse and situation of Hull might add suddenly to his malignant party. Having first therefore in many petitions earnestly prayed him to dispose and settle, with consent of both houses, the military power in trusty hands, and he as oft refusing, they were necessitated by the turbulence and danger of those times, to put the kingdom by their own authority into a posture of defence; and very timely sent Sir John Hotham, a member of the house, and knight of that county, to take Hull into his custody, and some of the trained bands to his assistance. For besides the general danger, they had, before the king’s going to York, notice given them of his private commissions to the earl of Newcastle, and to Colonel Legg, one of those employed to bring the army up against the parliament; who had already made some attempts, and the former of them under a disguise, to surprise that place for the king’s party. And letters of the Lord Digby were intercepted, wherein was wished, that the king would declare himself, and retire to some safe place; other information came from abroad, that Hull was the place designed for some new enterprise. And accordingly Digby himself not long after, with many other commanders, and much foreign ammunition, landed in those parts. But these attempts not succeeding, and that town being now in custody of the parliament, he sends a message to them, that he had firmly resolved to go in person into Ireland, to chastise those wicked rebels, (for these and worse words he then gave them,) and that towards this work he intended forthwith to raise by his commissions, in the counties near Westchester, a guard for his own person, consisting of 2000 foot, and 200 horse, that should be armed from his magazine at Hull. On the other side, the parliament, foreseeing the king’s drift, about the same time send him a petition, that they might have leave for necessary causes to remove the magazine of Hull to the Tower of London, to which the king returns his denial; and soon after going to Hull attended with about 400 horse, requires the governor to deliver him up the town: whereof the governor besought humbly to be excused, till he could send notice to the parliament, who had intrusted him; whereat the king much incensed proclaims him traitor before the town walls, and gives immediate order to stop all passages between him and the parliament. Yet himself dispatches post after post to demand justice, as upon a traitor; using a strange iniquity to require justice upon him, whom he then waylaid, and debarred from his appearance. The parliament no sooner understood what had passed, but they declare, that Sir John Hotham had done no more than was his duty, and was therefore no traitor.
This relation, being most true, proves that which is affirmed here to be most false; seeing the parliament, whom he accounts his “greatest enemies,” had “more confidence to abet and own” what Sir John Hotham had done, than the king had confidence to let him answer in his own behalf.
To speak of his patience, and in that solemn manner, he might better have forborne; “God knows,” saith he, “it affected me more with sorrow for others, than with anger for myself; nor did the affront trouble me so much as their sin.” This is read, I doubt not, and believed: and as there is some use of every thing, so is there of this book, were it but to show us, what a miserable, credulous, deluded thing that creature is, which is called the vulgar; who, notwithstanding what they might know, will believe such vainglories as these. Did not that choleric and vengeful act of proclaiming him traitor before due process of law, having been convinced so late before of his illegality with the five members declare his anger to be incensed? doth not his own relation confess as much? and his second message left him fuming three days after, and in plain words testifies “his impatience of delay” till Hotham be severely punished, for that which he there terms an insupportable affront.
Surely if his sorrow for Sir John Hotham’s sin were greater than his anger for the affront, it was an exceeding great sorrow indeed, and wonderous charitable. But if it stirred him so vehemently to have Sir John Hotham punished, and not at all, that we hear, to have him repent, it had a strange operation to be called a sorrow for his sin. He who would persuade us of his sorrow for the sins of other men, as they are sins, not as they are sinned against himself, must give us first some testimony of a sorrow for his own sins, and next for such sins of other men as cannot be supposed a direct injury to himself. But such compunction in the king, no man hath yet observed; and till then his sorrow for Sir John Hotham’s sin will be called no other than the resentment of his repulse; and his labour to have the sinner only punished, will be called by a right name, his revenge.
And “the hand of that cloud, which cast all soon after into darkness and disorder,” was his own hand. For assembling the inhabitants of Yorkshire and other counties, horse and foot, first under colour of a new guard to his person, soon after, being supplied with ammunition from Holland, bought with the crown jewels, he begins an open war by laying siege to Hull: which town was not his own, but the kingdom’s; and the arms there, public arms, bought with the public money, or not his own. Yet had they been his own by as good right as the private house and arms of any man are his own; to use either of them in a way not private, but suspicious to the commonwealth, no law permits. But the king had no propriety at all, either in Hull or in the magazine: so that the following maxims, which he cites “of bold and disloyal undertakers,” may belong more justly to whom he least meant them. After this he again relapses into the praise of his patience at Hull, and by his overtalking of it seems to doubt either his own conscience or the hardness of other men’s belief. To me, the more he praises it in himself, the more he seems to suspect that in very deed it was not in him; and that the lookers on so likewise thought.
Thus much of what he suffered by Hotham, and with what patience; now of what Hotham suffered, as he judges, for opposing him: “he could not but observe how God not long after pleaded and avenged his cause.” Most men are too apt, and commonly the worst of men, so to interpret and expound the judgments of God, and all other events of Providence or chance, as makes most to the justifying of their own cause, though never so evil; and attribute all to the particular favour of God towards them. Thus when Saul heard that David was in Keilah, “God,” saith he, “hath delivered him into my hands, for he is shut in.” But how far that king was deceived in his thought that God was favouring to his cause, that story unfolds; and how little reason this king had to impute the death of Hotham to God’s avengement of his repulse at Hull, may easily be seen. For while Hotham continued faithful to his trust, no man more safe, more successful, more in reputation than he: but from the time he first sought to make his peace with the king, and to betray into his hands that town, into which before he had denied him entrance, nothing prospered with him. Certainly had God purposed him such an end for his opposition to the king, he would not have deferred to punish him till then, when of an enemy he was changed to be the king’s friend, nor have made his repentance and amendment the occasion of his ruin. How much more likely is it, since he fell into the act of disloyalty to his charge, that the judgment of God concurred with the punishment of man, and justly cut him off for revolting to the king! to give the world an example, that glorious deeds done to ambitious ends, find reward answerable; not to their outward seeming, but to their inward ambition. In the mean while, what thanks he had from the king for revolting to his cause, and what good opinion for dying in his service, they who have ventured like him, or intend, may here take notice.
He proceeds to declare, not only in general wherefore God’s judgment was upon Hotham, but undertakes by fancies, and allusions, to give a criticism upon every particular: “that his head was divided from his body, because his heart was divided from the king; two heads cut off in one family for affronting the head of the commonwealth; the eldest son being infected with the sin of his father, against the father of his country.” These petty glosses and conceits on the high and secret judgments of God, besides the boldness of unwarrantable commenting, are so weak and shallow, and so like the quibbles of a court sermon, that we may safely reckon them either fetched from such a pattern, or that the hand of some household priest foisted them in; lest the world should forget how much he was a disciple of those cymbal doctors. But that argument, by which the author would commend them to us, discredits them the more: for if they be so “obvious to every fancy,” the more likely to be erroneous, and to misconceive the mind of those high secrecies, whereof they presume to determine. For God judges not by human fancy.
But however God judged Hotham, yet he had the king’s pity: but mark the reason how preposterous; so far he had his pity, “as he thought he at first acted more against the light of his conscience, than many other men in the same cause.” Questionless they who act against conscience, whether at the bar of human or divine justice, are pitied least of all. These are the common grounds and verdicts of nature, whereof when he who hath the judging of a whole nation is found destitute, under such a governor that nation must needs be miserable.
By the way he jerks at “some men’s reforming to models of religion, and that they think all is gold of piety, that doth but glister with a show of zeal.” We know his meaning, and apprehend how little hope there could be of him from such language as this: but are sure that the piety of his prelatic model glistered more upon the posts and pillars, which their zeal and fervency gilded over, than in the true works of spiritual edification.
“He is sorry that Hotham felt the justice of others, and fell not rather into the hands of his mercy.” But to clear that, he should have shown us what mercy he had ever used to such as fell into his hands before, rather than what mercy he intended to such as never could come to ask it. Whatever mercy one man might have expected, it is too well known the whole nation found none; though they besought it often, and so humbly; but had been swallowed up in blood and ruin, to set his private will above the parliament, had not his strength failed him. “Yet clemency, he counts a debt, which he ought to pay to those that crave it; since we pay not any thing to God for his mercy but prayers and praises.” By this reason we ought as freely to pay all things to all men; for of all that we receive from God, what do we pay for, more than prayers and praises? We looked for the discharge of his office, the payment of his duty to the kingdom, and are paid court-payment with empty sentences that have the sound of gravity, but the significance of nothing pertinent.
Yet again after his mercy past and granted, he returns back to give sentence upon Hotham; and whom he tells us he would so fain have saved alive, him he never leaves killing with a repeated condemnation, though dead long since. It was ill that somebody stood not near to whisper him, that a reiterating judge is worse than a tormentor. “He pities him, he rejoices not, he pities him” again; but still is sure to brand him at the tail of his pity with some ignominious mark, either of ambition or disloyalty. And with a kind of censorious pity aggravates rather than lessens or conceals the fault: to pity thus, is to triumph.
He assumes to foreknow, that “after-times will dispute, whether Hotham were more infamous at Hull, or at Tower-hill.” What knew he of after-times, who, while he sits judging and censuring without end, the fate of that unhappy father and his son at Tower-hill, knew not the like fate attended him before his own palace gate; and as little knew whether after-times reserve not a greater infamy to the story of his own life and reign?
He says but over again in his prayer what his sermon hath preached: how acceptably to those in heaven, we leave to be decided by that precept, which forbids “vain repetitions.” Sure enough it lies as heavy as he can lay it upon the head of poor Hotham.
Needs he will fasten upon God a piece of revenge, as done for his sake; and take it for a favour, before he know it was intended him: which in his closet had been excusable, but in a written and published prayer too presumptuous. Ecclesiastes hath a right name for such kind of sacrifices.
Going on, he prays thus, “Let not thy justice prevent the objects and opportunities of my mercy.” To folly, or to blasphemy, or to both, shall we impute this? Shall the justice of God give place, and serve to glorify the mercies of a man? All other men, who know what they ask, desire of God, that their doings may tend to his glory; but in this prayer, God is required, that his justice would forbear to prevent, and as good have said to intrench upon the glory of a man’s mercy. If God forbear his justice, it must be, sure, to the magnifying of his own mercy: how then can any mortal man, without presumption little less than impious, take the boldness to ask that glory out of his hand? It may be doubted now by them who understand religion, whether the king were more unfortunate in this his prayer, or Hotham in those his sufferings.
It were an endless work, to walk side by side with the verbosity of this chapter; only to what already hath not been spoken, convenient answer shall be given. He begins again with tumults: all demonstration of the people’s love and loyalty to the parliament was tumult; their petitioning tumult; their defensive armies were but listed tumults; and will take no notice that those about him, those in a time of peace listed into his own house, were the beginners of all these tumults; abusing and assaulting not only such as came peaceably to the parliament at London, but those that came petitioning to the king himself at York. Neither did they abstain from violence and outrage to the messengers sent from parliament; he himself either countenancing or conniving at them.
He supposes, that “his recess gave us confidence, that he might be conquered.” Other men suppose both that and all things else, who knew him neither by nature warlike, nor experienced, nor fortunate; so far was any man, that discerned aught, from esteeming him unconquerable; yet such are readiest to embroil others.
“But he had a soul invincible.” What praise is that? The stomach of a child is ofttimes invincible to all correction. The unteachable man hath a soul to all reason and good advice invincible; and he who is intractable, he whom nothing can persuade, may boast himself invincible; whenas in some things to be overcome, is more honest and laudable than to conquer.
He labours to have it thought, that “his fearing God more than man” was the ground of his sufferings; but he should have known, that a good principle not rightly understood may prove as hurtful as a bad; and his fear of God may be as faulty as a blind zeal. He pretended to fear God more than the parliament, who never urged him to do otherwise; he should also have feared God more than he did his courtiers, and the bishops, who drew him, as they pleased, to things inconsistent with the fear of God. Thus boasted Saul to have “performed the commandment of God,” and stood in it against Samuel; but it was found at length, that he had feared the people more than God, in saving those fat oxen for the worship of God, which were appointed for destruction. Not much unlike, if not much worse, was that fact of his, who, for fear to displease his court and mongrel clergy, with the dissolutest of the people, upheld in the church of God, while his power lasted, those beasts of Amalec, the prelates, against the advice of his parliament and the example of all reformation; in this more inexcusable than Saul, that Saul was at length convinced, he to the hour of death fixed in his false persuasion; and soothes himself in the flattering peace of an erroneous and obdurate conscience; singing to his soul vain psalms of exultation, as if the parliament had assailed his reason with the force of arms, and not he on the contrary their reason with his arms; which hath been proved already, and shall be more hereafter.
He twits them with “his acts of grace;” proud, and unself-knowing worde in the mouth of any king, who affects not to be a god, and such as ought to be as odious in the ears of a free nation. For if they were unjust acts, why did he grant them as of grace? If just, it was not of his grace, out of his duty and his oath to grant them.
“A glorious king he would be, though by his sufferings:” but that can never be to him, whose sufferings are his own doings. He feigns “a hard choice” put upon him, “either to kill his subjects, or be killed.” Yet never was king less in danger of any violence from his subjects, till he unsheathed his sword against them; nay, long after that time, when he had spilt the blood of thousands, they had still his person in a foolish veneration.
He complains, “that civil war must be the fruits of his seventeen years reigning with such a measure of justice, peace, plenty, and religion, as all nations either admired or envied.” For the justice we had, let the council-table, star-chamber, high-commission speak the praise of it; not forgetting the unprincely usage, and, as far as might be, the abolishing of parliaments, the displacing of honest judges, the sale of offices, bribery, and exaction, not found out to be punished, but to be shared in with impunity for the time to come. Who can number the extortions, the oppressions, the public robberies and rapines committed on the subject both by sea and land under various pretences? their possessions also taken from them, one while as forest-land, another while as crown-land; nor were their goods exempted, no not the bullion in the mint; piracy was become a project owned and authorized against the subject.
For the peace we had, what peace was that which drew out the English to a needless and dishonourable voyage against the Spaniard at Cales? Or that which lent our shipping to a treacherous and antichristian war against the poor protestants of Rochel our suppliants? What peace was that which fell to rob the French by sea, to the embarring of all our merchants in that kingdom? which brought forth that unblest expedition to the Isle of Rhee, doubtful whether more calamitous in the success or in the design, betraying all the flower of our military youth and best commanders to a shameful surprisal and execution. This was the peace we had, and the peace we gave, whether to friends or to foes abroad. And if at home any peace were intended us, what meant those Irish billetted soldiers in all parts of the kingdom, and the design of German horse to subdue us in our peaceful houses?
For our religion, where was there a more ignorant, profane, and vicious clergy, learned in nothing but the antiquity of their pride, their covetousness, and superstition? whose unsincere and leavenous doctrine, corrupting the people, first taught them looseness, then bondage; loosening them from all sound knowledge and strictness of life, the more to fit them for the bondage of tyranny and superstition. So that what was left us for other nations not to pity, rather than admire or envy, all those seventeen years, no wise man could see. For wealth and plenty in a land where justice reigns not, is no argument of a flourishing state, but of a nearness rather to ruin or commotion.
These were not “some miscarriages” only of government, “which might escape,” but a universal distemper, and reducement of law to arbitrary power; not through the evil counsels of “some men,” but through the constant course and practice of all that were in highest favour: whose worst actions frequently avowing he took upon himself; and what faults did not yet seem in public to be originally his, such care he took by professing, and proclaiming openly, as made them all at length his own adopted sins. The persons also, when he could no longer protect, he esteemed and favoured to the end; but never, otherwise than by constraint, yielded any of them to due punishment; thereby manifesting that what they did was by his own authority and approbation.
Yet here he asks, “whose innocent blood he hath shed, what widows’ or orphans’ tears can witness against him?” After the suspected poisoning of his father, not inquired into, but smothered up, and him protected and advanced to the very half of his kingdom, who was accused in parliament to be author of the fact; (with much more evidence than Duke Dudley, that false protector, is accused upon record to have poisoned Edward the Sixth;) after all his rage and persecution, after so many years of cruel war on his people in three kingdoms! Whence the author of “Truths manifest,”* a Scotsman, not unacquainted with affairs, positively affirms, “that there hath been more Christian blood shed by the commission, approbation, and connivance of King Charles, and his father James, in the latter end of their reign, than in the ten Roman persecutions.” Not to speak of those many whippings, pillories, and other corporal inflictions, wherewith his reign also before this war was not unbloody; some have died in prison under cruel restraint, others in banishment, whose lives were shortened through the rigour of that persecution, wherewith so many years he infested the true church. And those six members all men judged to have escaped no less than capital danger, whom he so greedily pursuing into the house of commons, had not there the forbearance to conceal how much it troubled him, “that the birds were flown.” If some vulture in the mountains could have opened his beak intelligibly and spoke, what fitter words could he have uttered at the loss of his prey? The tyrant Nero, though not yet deserving that name, set his hand so unwillingly to the execution of a condemned person, as to wish “he had not known letters.” Certainly for a king himself to charge his subjects with high treason, and so vehemently to prosecute them in his own cause, as to do the office of a searcher, argued in him no great aversation from shedding blood, were it but to “satisfy his anger,” and that revenge was no unpleasing morsel to him, whereof he himself thought not much to be so diligently his own caterer. But we insist rather upon what was actual, than what was probable.
He now falls to examine the causes of this war, as a difficulty which he had long “studied” to find out. “It was not,” saith he, “my withdrawing from Whitehall; for no account in reason could be given of those tumults, where an orderly guard was granted.” But if it be a most certain truth, that the parliament could never yet obtain of him any guard fit to be confided in, then by his own confession some account of those pretended tumults “may in reason be given;” and both concerning them and the guards enough hath been said already.
“Whom did he protect against the justice of parliament?” Whom did he not to his utmost power? Endeavouring to have rescued Strafford from their justice, though with the destruction of them and the city; to that end expressly commanding the admittance of new soldiers into the tower, raised by Suckling and other conspirators, under pretence for the Portugal; though that ambassador, being sent to, utterly denied to know of any such commission from his master. And yet that listing continued: not to repeat his other plot of bringing up the two armies. But what can be disputed with such a king, in whose mouth and opinion the parliament itself was never but a faction, and their justice no justice, but “the dictates and overswaying insolence of tumults and rabbles?” and under that excuse avouches himself openly the general patron of most notorious delinquents, and approves their flight out of the land, whose crimes were such, as that the justest and the fairest trial would have soonest condemned them to death. But did not Catiline plead in like manner against the Roman senate, and the injustice of their trial, and the justice of his flight from Rome? Cæsar also, then hatching tyranny, injected the same scrupulous demurs, to stop the sentence of death in full and free senate decreed on Lentulus and Cethegus, two of Catiline’s accomplices, which were renewed and urged for Strafford. He vouchsafes to the reformation, by both kingdoms intended, no better name than “innovation and ruin both in church and state.” And what we would have learned so gladly of him in other passages before, to know wherein, he tells us now of his own accord. The expelling bishops out of the house of peers, that was “ruin to the state;” 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 is 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 parliament, 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 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 on 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 establishment.
“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 the Vth, and other popish kings, that the protestants had only an intent to lay hands upon the church-revenue, 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. This 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 consequences 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.
“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 wariness 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.
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 when he sought to extort from us, by way of tribute, that which had been offered to him conditionally in parliament, as by a free people, and that those extortions were now consumed and wasted by the luxury of his court, he began then (for still the more he did wrong, the more he feared) before any tumult or insurrection of the people to take counsel how he might totally subdue them to his own will. Then was the design of German horse, while the duke reigned, and, which was worst of all, some thousands of the Irish papists were in several parts billeted upon us, while a parliament was then sitting. The pulpits resounded with no other doctrine than that which gave all property to the king, and passive obedience to the subject. After which, innumerable forms and shapes of new exactions and exactors overspread the land: nor was it enough to be impoverished, unless we were disarmed. Our trained bands, which are the trustiest and most proper strength of a free nation not at war with itself, had their arms in divers counties taken from them; other ammunition by design was ingrossed and kept in the Tower, not to be bought without a license, and at a high rate.
Thus far and many other ways were his counsels and preparations beforehand with us, either to civil war, if it should happen, or to subdue us without a war, which is all one, until the raising of his two armies against the Scots, and the latter of them raised to the most perfidious breaking of a solemn pacification: the articles whereof though subscribed with his own hand, he commanded soon after to be burned openly by the hangman. What enemy durst have done him that dishonour and affront, which he did therein to himself?
After the beginning of this parliament, whom he saw so resolute and unanimous to relieve the commonwealth, and that the earl of Strafford was condemned to die, other of his evil counsellors impeached and imprisoned; to show there wanted not evil counsel within himself sufficient to begin a war upon his subjects, though no way by them provoked, he sends an agent with letters to the king of Denmark, requiring aid against the parliament: and that aid was coming, when Divine Providence, to divert them, sent a sudden torrent of Swedes into the bowels of Denmark. He then endeavours to bring up both armies, first the English, with whom 8000 Irish papists, raised by Strafford, and a French army were to join; then the Scots at Newcastle, whom he thought to have encouraged by telling them what money and horse he was to have from Denmark. I mention not the Irish conspiracy till due place. These and many other were his counsels toward a civil war. His preparations, after those two armies were dismissed, could not suddenly be too open: nevertheless there were 8000 Irish papists, which he refused to disband, though entreated by both houses, first for reasons best known to himself, next under pretence of lending them to the Spaniard; and so kept them undisbanded till very near the month wherein that rebellion broke forth. He was also raising forces in London, pretendedly to serve the Portugal, but with intent to seize the Tower; into which divers cannoniers were by him sent with many fireworks and grenadoes; and many great battering pieces were mounted against the city. The court was fortified with ammunition, and soldiers new listed, who followed the king from London, and appeared at Kingston some hundred of horse in a warlike manner, with wagons of ammunition after them; the queen in Holland was buying more; of which the parliament had certain knowledge, and had not yet so much as demanded the militia to be settled, till they knew both of her going over sea, and to what intent. For she had packed up the crown jewels to have been going long before, had not the parliament, suspecting by the discoveries at Burrow-bridge what was intended with the jewels, used means to stay her journey till the winter. Hull and the magazine there had been secretly attempted under the king’s hand; from whom (though in his declarations renouncing all thought of war) notes were sent over sea for supply of arms; which were no sooner come, but the inhabitants of Yorkshire and other counties were called to arms, and actual forces raised, while the parliament were yet petitioning in peace, and had not one man listed.
As to the act of hostility, though not much material in whom first it began, or by whose commissions dated first, after such counsels and preparations discovered, and so far advanced by the king, yet in that act also he will be found to have had precedency, if not at London by the assault of his armed court upon the naked people, and his attempt upon the house of commons, yet certainly at Hull, first by his close practices on that town, next by his siege. Thus whether counsels, preparations, or acts of hostility be considered, it appears with evidence enough, though much more might be said, that the king is truly charged to be the first beginner of these civil wars. To which may be added as a close, that in the Isle of Wight he charged it upon himself at the public treaty, and acquitted the parliament.
But as for the securing of Hull and the public stores therein, and in other places, it was no “surprisal of his strength;” the custody whereof by authority of parliament was committed into hands most fit and most responsible for such a trust. It were a folly beyond ridiculous, to count ourselves a free nation, if the king, not in parliament, but in his own person, and against them, might appropriate to himself the strength of a whole nation as his proper goods. What the laws of the land are, a parliament should know best, having both the life and death of laws in their lawgiving power: and the law of England is, at best, but the reason of parliament. The parliament therefore, taking into their hands that whereof most properly they ought to have the keeping, committed no surprisal. If they prevented him, that argued not at all either “his innocency or unpreparedness,” but their timely foresight to use prevention.
But what needed that? “They knew his chiefest arms left him were those only, which the ancient Christians were wont to use against their persecutors, prayers and tears.” O sacred reverence of God! respect and shame of men! whither were ye fled when these hypocrisies were uttered? Was the kingdom, then, at all that cost of blood to remove from him none but prayers and tears? What were those thousands of blaspheming cavaliers about him, whose mouths let fly oaths and curses by the volley; were those the prayers? and those carouses drank to the confusion of all things good or holy, did those minister the tears? Were they prayers and tears that were listed at York, mustered on Heworth moor, and laid siege to Hull for the guard of his person? Were prayers and tears at so high a rate in Holland, that nothing could purchase them but the crown jewels? Yet they in Holland (such word was sent us) sold them for guns, carabines, mortar-pieces, cannons, and other deadly instruments of war; which, when they came to York, were all, no doubt by the merit of some great saint, suddenly transformed into prayers and tears: and, being divided into regiments and brigades, were the only arms that mischieved us in all those battles and encounters.
These were his chief arms, whatever we must call them, and yet such arms as they who fought for the commonwealth have by the help of better prayers vanquished and brought to nothing.
He bewails his want of the militia, “not so much in reference to his own protection, as the people’s, whose many and sore oppressions grieve him.” Never considering how ill for seventeen years together he had protected them, and that these miseries of the people are still his own handiwork, having smitten them, like a forked arrow, so sore into the kingdom’s sides, as not to be drawn out and cured without the incision of more flesh.
He tells us, that “what he wants in the hand of power,” he has in “the wings of faith and prayer.” But they who made no reckoning of those wings, while they had that power in their hands, may easily mistake the wings of faith for the wings of presumption, and so fall headlong.
We next meet with a comparison, how apt let them judge who have travelled to Mecca, “that the parliament have hung the majesty of kingship in airy imagination of regality, between the privileges of both houses, like the tomb of Mahomet.” He knew not that he was prophesying the death and burial of a Turkish tyranny, that spurned down those laws which gave it life and being, so long as it endured to be a regulated monarchy.
He counts it an injury “not to have the sole power in himself to help or hurt any;” and that the “militia, which he holds to be his undoubted right, should be disposed as the parliament thinks fit:” and yet confesses, that, if he had it in his actual disposing, he would defend those whom he calls “his good subjects, from those men’s violence and fraud, who would persuade the world, that none but wolves are fit to be trusted with the custody of the shepherd and his flock.” Surely, if we may guess whom he means here, by knowing whom he hath ever most opposed in this controversy, we may then assure ourselves, that by violence and fraud he means that which the parliament hath done in settling the militia, and those the wolves into whose hands it was by them intrusted: which draws a clear confession from his own mouth, that if the parliament had left him sole power of the militia, he would have used it to the destruction of them and their friends.
As for sole power of the militia, which he claims as a right no less undoubted than the crown, it hath been oft enough told him, that he hath no more authority over the sword, than over the law; over the law he hath none, either to establish or to abrogate, to interpret or to execute, but only by his courts and in his courts, whereof the parliament is highest; no more therefore hath he power of the militia, which is the sword, either to use or to dispose, but with consent of parliament; give him but that, and as good give him in a lump all our laws and liberties. For if the power of the sword were any where separate and undepending from the power of the law, which is originally seated in the highest court, then would that power of the sword be soon master of the law: and being at one man’s disposal might, when he pleased, control the law; and in derision of our Magna Charta, which were but weak resistance against an armed tyrant, might absolutely enslave us. And not to have in ourselves, though vaunting to be freeborn, the power of our own freedom, and the public safety, is a degree lower than not to have the property of our own goods. For liberty of person, and the right of self-preservation, is much nearer, much more natural, and more worth to all men, than the propriety of their goods and wealth. Yet such power as all this did the king in open terms challenge to have over us, and brought thousands to help him win it; so much more good at fighting than at understanding, as to persuade themselves, that they fought then for the subject’s liberty.
He is contented, because he knows no other remedy, to resign this power “for his own time, but not for his successors:” so diligent and careful he is, that we should be slaves, if not to him, yet to his posterity, and fain would leave us the legacy of another war about it. But the parliament have done well to remove that question: whom, as his manner is to dignify with some good name or other, he calls now a “many-headed hydra of government, full of factious distractions, and not more eyes than mouths.” Yet surely not more mouths, or not so wide, as the dissolute rabble of all his courtiers had, both hees and shees, if there were any males among them.
He would prove, that to govern by parliament hath “a monstrosity rather than perfection;” and grounds his argument upon two or three eminent absurdities: first, by placing counsel in the senses; next, by turning the senses out of the head, and in lieu thereof placing power supreme above sense and reason: which be now the greater monstrosities? Further to dispute what kind of government is best would be a long debate; it sufficeth that his reasons here for monarchy are found weak and inconsiderable.
He bodes much “horror and bad influence after his eclipse.” He speaks his wishes; but they who by weighing prudently things past foresee things to come, the best divination, may hope rather all good success and happiness, by removing that darkness, which the misty cloud of his prerogative made between us and a peaceful reformation, which is our true sun-light, and not he, though he would be taken for our sun itself. And wherefore should we not hope to be governed more happily without a king, whenas all our misery and trouble hath been either by a king, or by our necessary vindication and defence against him?
He would be thought “enforced to perjury,” by having granted the militia, by which his oath bound him to protect the people. If he can be perjured in granting that, why doth he refuse for no other cause the abolishing of episcopacy? But never was any oath so blind as to swear him to protect delinquents against justice, but to protect all the people in that order, and by those hands which the parliament should advise him to, and the protected confide in; not under the show of protection to hold a violent and incommunicable sword over us, as ready to be let fall upon our own necks, as upon our enemies; nor to make our own hands and weapons fight against our own liberties.
By his parting with the militia he takes to himself much praise of his “assurance in God’s protection;” and to the parliament imputes the fear “of not daring to adventure the injustice of their actions upon any other way of safety.” But wherefore came not this assurance of God’s protection to him till the militia was wrung out of his hands? It should seem by his holding it so fast, that his own actions and intentions had no less of injustice in them, than what he charges upon others, whom he terms Chaldeans, Sabeans, and the devil himself. But Job used no such militia against those enemies, nor such a magazine as was at Hull, which this king so contended for, and made war upon us, that he might have wherewithal to make war against us.
He concludes, that, “although they take all from him, yet can they not obstruct his way to heaven.” It was no handsome occasion, by feigning obstructions where they are not, to tell us whither he was going: he should have shut the door, and prayed in secret, not here in the high street. Private prayers in public ask something of whom they ask not, and that shall be their reward.
Of the nineteen propositions he names none in particular, neither shall the answer: But he insists upon the old plea of “his conscience, honour, and reason;” using the plausibility of large and indefinite words, to defend himself at such a distance as may hinder the eye of common judgment from all distinct view and examination of his reasoning. “He would buy the peace of his people at any rate, save only the parting with his conscience and honour.” Yet shows not how it can happen that the peace of a people, if otherwise to be bought at any rate, should be inconsistent or at variance with the conscience and honour of a king. Till then, we may receive it for a better sentence, that nothing should be more agreeable to the conscience and honour of a king, than to preserve his subjects in peace; especially from civil war.
And which of the propositions were “obtruded on him with the point of the sword,” till he first with the point of the sword thrust from him both the propositions and the propounders? He never reckons those violent and merciless obtrusions, which for almost twenty years he had been forcing upon tender consciences by all sorts of persecution, till through the multitude of them that were to suffer, it could no more be called a persecution, but a plain war. From which when first the Scots, then the English, were constrained to defend themselves, this their just defence is that which he calls here, “their making war upon his soul.”
He grudges that “so many things are required of him, and nothing offered him in requital of those favours which he had granted.” What could satiate the desires of this man, who being king of England, and master of almost two millions yearly what by hook or crook, was still in want; and those acts of justice which he was to do in duty, counts done as favours; and such favours as were not done without the avaricious hope of other rewards besides supreme honour, and the constant revenue of his place?
“This honour,” he saith, “they did him, to put him on the giving part.” And spake truer than he intended, it being merely for honour’s sake that they did so; not that it belonged to him of right: for what can he give to a parliament, who receives all he hath from the people, and for the people’s good? Yet now he brings his own conditional rights to contest and be preferred before the people’s good; and yet unless it be in order to their good, he hath no rights at all; reigning by the laws of the land, not by his own; which laws are in the hands of parliament to change or abrogate as they shall see best for the commonwealth, even to the taking away of kingship itself, when it grows too masterful and burdensome. For every commonwealth is in general defined, a society sufficient of itself, in all things conducible to well-being and commodious life. Any of which requisite things, if it cannot have without the gift and favour of a single person, or without leave of his private reason or his conscience, it cannot be thought sufficient of itself, and by consequence no commonwealth, nor free; but a multitude of vassals in the possession and domain of one absolute lord, and wholly obnoxious to his will. If the king have power to give or deny any thing to his parliament, he must do it either as a person several from them, or as one greater: neither of which will be allowed him: not to be considered severally from them; for as the king of England can do no wrong, so neither can he do right but in his courts and by his courts; and what is legally done in them, shall be deemed the king’s assent, though he as a several person shall judge or endeavour the contrary; so that indeed without his courts, or against them, he is no king. If therefore he obtrude upon us any public mischief, or withhold from us any general good, which is wrong in the highest degree, he must do it as a tyrant, not as a king of England, by the known maxims of our law. Neither can he, as one greater, give aught to the parliament which is not in their own power, but he must be greater also than the kingdom which they represent: so that to honour him with the giving part was a mere civility, and may be well termed the courtesy of England, not the king’s due.
But the “incommunicable jewel of his conscience” he will not give, “but reserve to himself.” It seems that his conscience was none of the crown jewels; for those we know were in Holland, not incommunicable, to buy arms against his subjects. Being therefore but a private jewel, he could not have done a greater pleasure to the kingdom, than by reserving it to himself. But he, contrary to what is here professed, would have his conscience not an incommunicable, but a universal conscience, the whole kingdom’s conscience. Thus what he seems to fear lest we should ravish from him, is our chief complaint that he obtruded upon us; we never forced him to part with his conscience, but it was he that would have forced us to part with ours.
Some things he taxes them to have offered him, “which, while he had the mastery of his reason, he would never consent to.” Very likely; but had his reason mastered him as it ought, and not been mastered long ago by his sense and humour, (as the breeding of most kings hath been ever sensual and most humoured,) perhaps he would have made no difficulty. Meanwhile at what a fine pass is the kingdom, that must depend in greatest exigencies upon the fantasy of a king’s reason, be he wise or fool, who arrogantly shall answer all the wisdom of the land, that what they offer seems to him unreasonable!
He prefers his “love of truth” before his love of the people. His love of truth would have led him to the search of truth, and have taught him not to lean so much upon his own understanding. He met at first with doctrines of unaccountable prerogative; in them he rested, because they pleased him; they therefore pleased him because they gave him all; and this he calls his love of truth, and prefers it before the love of his people’s peace.
Some things they proposed, “which would have wounded the inward peace of his conscience.” The more our evil hap, that three kingdoms should be thus pestered with one conscience; who chiefly scrupled to grant us that, which the parliament advised him to, as the chief means of our public welfare and reformation. These scruples to many perhaps will seem pretended; to others, upon as good grounds, may seem real; and that it was the just judgment of God, that he who was so cruel and so remorseless to other men’s consciences, should have a conscience within him as cruel to himself; constraining him, as he constrained others, and ensnaring him in such ways and counsels as were certain to be his destruction.
“Other things though he could approve, yet in honour and policy he thought fit to deny, lest he should seem to dare deny nothing.” By this means he will be sure, what with reason, honour, policy, or punctilios, to be found never unfurnished of a denial; whether it were his envy not to be overbounteous, or that the submissness of our asking stirred up in him a certain pleasure of denying. Good princes have thought it their chief happiness to be always granting; if good things, for the things’ sake; if things indifferent, for the people’s sake; while this man sits calculating variety of excuses how he may grant least; as if his whole strength and royalty were placed in a mere negative.
Of one proposition especially he laments him much, that they would bind him “to a general and implicit consent for whatever they desired.” Which though I find not among the nineteen, yet undoubtedly the oath of his coronation binds him to no less; neither is he at all by his office to interpose against a parliament in the making or not making of any law; but to take that for just and good legally, which is there decreed, and to see it executed accordingly. Nor was he set over us to vie wisdom with his parliament, but to be guided by them; any of whom possibly may as far excel him in the gift of wisdom, as he them in place and dignity. But much nearer is it to impossibility, that any king alone should be wiser than all his council; sure enough it was not he, though no king ever before him so much contended to have it thought so. And if the parliament so thought not, but desired him to follow their advice and deliberation in things of public concernment, he accounts it the same proposition, as if Samson had been moved “to the putting out his eyes, that the Philistines might abuse him.” And thus out of an unwise or pretended fear, lest others should make a scorn of him for yielding to his parliament, he regards not to give cause of worse suspicion, that he made a scorn of his regal oath.
But “to exclude him from all power of denial seems an arrogance;” in the parliament he means: what in him then to deny against the parliament? None at all, by what he argues: for “by petitioning, they confess their inferiority, and that obliges them to rest, if not satisfied, yet quieted with such an answer as the will and reason of their superior thinks fit to give.” First, petitioning, in better English, is no more than requesting or requiring; and men require not favours only, but their due; and that not only from superiors, but from equals, and inferiors also. The noblest Romans, when they stood for that which was a kind of regal honour, the consulship, were wont in a submissive manner to go about, and beg that highest dignity of the meanest plebeians, naming them man by man; which in their tongue was called petitio consulatus. And the parliament of England petitioned the king, not because all of them were inferior to him, but because he was inferior to any one of them, which they did of civil custom, and for fashion’s sake, more than of duty; for by plain law cited before, the parliament is his superior.
But what law in any trial or dispute enjoins a freeman to rest quieted, though not satisfied with the will and reason of his superior! It were a mad law that would subject reason to superiority of place. And if our highest consultations and purposed laws must be terminated by the king’s will, then is the will of one man our law, and no subtlety of dispute can redeem the parliament and nation from being slaves: neither can any tyrant require more than that his will or reason, though not satisfying, should yet be rested in, and determine all things. We may conclude therefore, that when the parliament petitioned the king, it was but merely form, let it be as “foolish and absurd” as he pleases. It cannot certainly be so absurd as what he requires, that the parliament should confine their own and all the kingdom’s reason to the will of one man, because it was his hap to succeed his father. For neither God nor the laws have subjected us to his will, nor set his reason to be our sovereign above law, (which must needs be, if he can strangle it in the birth,) but set his person over us in the sovereign execution of such laws as the parliament establish. The parliament therefore, without any usurpation, hath had it always in their power to limit and confine the exorbitancy of kings, whether they call it their will, their reason, or their conscience.
But this above all was never expected, nor is to be endured, that a king, who is bound by law and oath to follow the advice of his parliament, should be permitted to except against them as “young statesmen,” and proudly to suspend his following their advice, “until his seven years experience had shown him how well they could govern themselves.” Doubtless the law never supposed so great an arrogance could be in one man; that he whose seventeen years unexperience had almost ruined all, should sit another seven years school-master to tutor those who were sent by the whole realm to be his counsellors and teachers. And with what modesty can he pretend to be a statesman himself, who with his father’s king-craft and his own, did never that of his own accord, which was not directly opposite to his professed interest both at home and abroad; discontenting and alienating his subjects at home, weakening and deserting his confederates abroad, and with them the common cause of religion; so that the whole course of his reign, by an example of his own furnishing, hath resembled Phæton more than Phœbus, and forced the parliament to drive like Jehu; which omen taken from his own mouth, God hath not diverted?
And he on the other side might have remembered, that the parliament sit in that body, not as his subjects, but as his superiors, called, not by him, but by the law; not only twice every year, but as oft as great affairs require, to be his counsellors and dictators, though he stomach it; nor to be dissolved at his pleasure, but when all grievances be first removed, all petitions heard and answered. This is not only reason, but the known law of the land.
“When he heard that propositions would be sent him,” he sat conjecturing what they would propound; and because they propounded what he expected not, he takes that to be a warrant for his denying them. But what did he expect? He expected that the parliament would reinforce “some old laws.” But if those laws were not a sufficient remedy to all grievances, nay, were found to be grievances themselves, when did we lose that other part of our freedom to establish new? He thought “some injuries done by himself and others to the commonwealth were to be repaired.” But how could that be, while he the chief offender took upon him to be sole judge both of the injury and the reparation? “He staid till the advantages of his crown considered, might induce him to condescend to the people’s good.” When as the crown itself with all those advantages were therefore given him, that the people’s good should be first considered; not bargained for, and bought by inches with the bribe of more offertures and advantages to his crown. He looked “for moderate desires of due reformation;” as if any such desires could be immoderate. He looked for such a reformation “both in church and state, as might preserve” the roots of every grievance and abuse in both still growing, (which he calls “the foundation and essentials,”) and would have only the excrescences of evil pruned away for the present, as was plotted before, that they might grow fast enough between triennial parliaments, to hinder them by work enough besides from ever striking at the root. He alleges, “They should have had regard to the laws in force, to the wisdom and piety of former parliaments, to the ancient and universal practice of Christian churches.” As if they who come with full authority to redress public grievances, which ofttimes are laws themselves, were to have their hands bound by laws in force, or the supposition of more piety and wisdom in their ancestors, or the practice of churches heretofore; whose fathers, notwithstanding all these pretences, made as vast alterations to free themselves from ancient popery. For all antiquity that adds or varies from the Scripture, is no more warranted to our safe imitation, than what was done the age before at Trent. Nor was there need to have despaired of what could be established in lieu of what was to be annulled, having before his eyes the government of so many churches beyond the seas; whose pregnant and solid reasons wrought so with the parliament, as to desire a uniformity rather with all other protestants, than to be a schism divided from them under a conclave of thirty bishops, and a crew of irreligious priests that gaped for the same preferment.
And whereas he blames those propositions for not containing what they ought, what did they mention, but to vindicate and restore the rights of parliament invaded by cabin councils, the courts of justice obstructed, and the government of the church innovated and corrupted? All these things he might easily have observed in them, which he affirms he could not find; but found “those demanding” in parliament, who were “looked upon before as factious in the state, and schismatical in the church; and demanding not only toleration for themselves in their vanity, novelty, and confusion, but also an extirpation of that government, whose rights they had a mind to invade.” Was this man ever likely to be advised, who with such a prejudice and disesteem sets himself against his chosen and appointed counsellors? likely ever to admit of reformation, who censures all the government of other protestant churches, as bad as any papist could have censured them? And what king had ever his whole kingdom in such contempt, so to wrong and dishonour the free elections of his people, as to judge them, whom the nation thought worthiest to sit with him in parliament, few else but such as were “punishable by the laws?” yet knowing that time was, when to be a protestant, to be a Christian, was by law as punishable as to be a traitor; and that our Saviour himself, coming to reform his church, was accused of an intent to invade Cæsar’s right, as good a right as the prelate bishops ever had; the one being got by force, the other by spiritual usurpation; and both by force upheld.
He admires and falls into an ecstasy, that the parliament should send him such a “horrid proposition,” as the removal of episcopacy. But expect from him in an ecstasy no other reasons of his admiration than the dream and tautology of what he hath so often repeated, law, antiquity, ancestors, prosperity, and the like, which will be therefore not worth a second answer, but may pass with his own comparison into the common sewer of other popish arguments.
“Had the two houses sued out their livery from the wardship of tumults,” he could sooner have believed them. It concerned them first to sue out their livery from the unjust wardship of his encroaching prerogative. And had he also redeemed his overdated minority from a pupilage under bishops, he would much less have mistrusted his parliament; and never would have set so base a character upon them, as to count them no better than the vassals of certain nameless men, whom he charges to be such as “hunt after faction with their hounds the tumults.” And yet the bishops could have told him, that Nimrod, the first that hunted after faction, is reputed by ancient tradition the first that founded monarchy; whence it appears, that to hunt after faction is more properly the king’s game; and those hounds, which he calls the vulgar, have been often hallooed to from court, of whom the mongrel sort have been enticed; the rest have not lost their scent, but understood aright, that the parliament had that part to act, which he had failed in; that trust to discharge, which he had broken; that estate and honour to preserve, which was far beyond his, the estate and honour of the commonwealth, which he had embezzled.
Yet so far doth self opinion or false principles delude and transport him, as to think “the concurrence of his reason” to the votes of parliament, not only political, but natural, “and as necessary to the begetting,” or bringing forth of any one “complete act of public wisdom as the sun’s influence is necessary to all nature’s productions.” So that the parliament, it seems, is but a female, and without his procreative reason, the laws which they can produce are but wind-eggs: wisdom, it seems, to a king is natural, to a parliament not natural, but by conjunction with the king; yet he professes to hold his kingly right by law; and if no law could be made but by the great council of a nation, which we now term a parliament, then certainly it was a parliament that first created kings; and not only made laws before a king was in being, but those laws especially whereby he holds his crown. He ought then to have so thought of a parliament, if he count it not male, as of his mother, which to civil being created both him and the royalty he wore. And if it hath been anciently interpreted the presaging sign of a future tyrant, but to dream of copulation with his mother, what can it be less than actual tyranny to affirm waking, that the parliament, which is his mother, can neither conceive or bring forth “any authoritative act” without his masculine coition? Nay, that his reason is as celestial and life-giving to the parliament, as the sun’s influence is to the earth: what other notions but these, or such like, could swell up Caligula to think himself a god?
But to be rid of these mortifying propositions, he leaves no tyrannical evasion unessayed; first, “that they are not the joint and free desires of both houses, or the major part;” next, “that the choice of many members was carried on by faction.” The former of these is already discovered to be an old device put first in practice by Charles the Fifth, since the reformation: who when the protestants of Germany for their own defence joined themselves in league, in his declarations and remonstrances laid the fault only upon some few, (for it was dangerous to take notice of too many enemies,) and accused them, that under colour of religion they had a purpose to invade his and the church’s right; by which policy he deceived many of the German cities, and kept them divided from that league, until they saw themselves brought into a snare. That other cavil against the people’s choice puts us in mind rather what the court was wont to do, and how to tamper with elections: neither was there at that time any faction more potent, or more likely to do such a business, than they themselves who complain most.
But “he must chew such morsels as propositions, ere he let them down.” So let him; but if the kingdom shall taste nothing but after his chewing, what does he make of the kingdom but a great baby? “The straightness of his conscience will not give him leave to swallow down such camels of sacrilege and injustice as others do.” This is the Pharisee up and down, “I am not as other men are.” But what camels of injustice he could devour, all his three realms were witness, which was the cause that they almost perished for want of parliaments. And he that will be unjust to man, will be sacrilegious to God; and to bereave a Christian conscious of liberty for no other reason than the narrowness of his own conscience, is the most unjust measure to man, and the worst sacrilege to God. That other, which he calls sacrilege, of taking from the clergy that superfluous wealth, which antiquity as old as Constantine, from the credit of a divine vision, counted “poison in the church,” hath been ever most opposed by men, whose righteousness in other matters hath been least observed. He concludes, as his manner is, with high commendation of his own “unbiassed rectitude,” and believes nothing to be in them that dissent from him, but faction, innovation, and particular designs. Of these repetitions I find no end, no not in his prayer; which being founded upon deceitful principles, and a fond hope that God will bless him in those errors, which he calls “honest,” finds a fit answer of St. James, “Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss.” As for the truth and sincerity, which he prays may be always found in those his declarations to the people, the contrariety of his own actions will bear eternal witness, how little careful or solicitous he was, what he promised or what he uttered there.
The rebellion and horrid massacre of English protestants in Ireland, to the number of 154,000 in the province of Ulster only, by their own computation; which added to the other three, makes up the total sum of that slaughter in all likelihood four times as great; although so sudden and so violent, as at first to amaze all men that were not accessary; yet from whom and from what counsels it first sprung, neither was nor could be possibly so secret, as the contrivers thereof, blinded with vain hope, or the despair that other plots would succeed, supposed. For it cannot be imaginable, that the Irish, guided by so many subtle and Italian heads of the Romish party, should so far have lost the use of reason, and indeed of common sense, as not supported with other strength than their own, to begin a war so desperate and irreconcilable against both England and Scotland at once. All other nations, from whom they could expect aid, were busied to the utmost in their own most necessary concernments. It remains then that either some authority, or some great assistance promised them from England, was that whereon they chiefly trusted. And as it is not difficult to discern from what inducing cause this insurrection first arose, so neither was it hard at first to have applied some effectual remedy, though not prevention. And yet prevention was not hopeless, when Strafford either believed not, or did not care to believe, the several warnings and discoveries thereof, which more than once by papists and by friars themselves were brought him; besides what was brought by deposition, divers months before that rebellion, to the archbishop of Canterbury and others of the king’s council; as the declaration of “no addresses” declares. But the assurance which they had in private, that no remedy should be applied, was, it seems, one of the chief reasons that drew on their undertaking. And long it was before that assurance failed them; until the bishops and popish lords, who, while they sat and voted, still opposed the sending aid to Ireland, were expelled the house.
Seeing then the main excitement and authority for this rebellion must be needs derived from England, it will be next inquired, who was the prime author. The king here denounces a malediction temporal and eternal, not simply to the author, but to the “malicious author” of this bloodshed: and by that limitation may exempt, not himself only, but perhaps the Irish rebels themselves, who never will confess to God or man that any blood was shed by them maliciously; but either in the catholic cause, or common liberty, or some other specious plea, which the conscience from grounds both good and evil usually suggests to itself: thereby thinking to elude the direct force of that imputation, which lies upon them.
Yet he acknowledges, “it fell out as a most unhappy advantage of some men’s malice against him:” but indeed of most men’s just suspicion, by finding in it no such wide departure or disagreement from the scope of his former counsels and proceedings. And that he himself was the author of that rebellion, he denies both here and elsewhere, with many imprecations, but no solid evidence: What on the other side against his denial hath been affirmed in three kingdoms, being here briefly set in view, the reader may so judge as he finds cause.
This is most certain, that the king was ever friendly to the Irish papists, and in his third year, against the plain advice of parliament, like a kind of pope, sold them many indulgences for money; and upon all occasions advancing the popish party, and negotiating underhand by priests, who were made his agents, engaged the Irish papists in a war against the Scots protestants. To that end he furnished them, and had them trained in, arms, and kept them up, either openly or underhand, the only army in his three kingdoms, till the very burst of that rebellion. The summer before that dismal October, a committee of most active papists, all since in the head of that rebellion, were in great favour at Whitehall; and admitted to many private consultations with the king and queen. And to make it evident that no mean matters were the subject of those conferences, at their request he gave away his peculiar right to more than five Irish counties, for the payment of an inconsiderable rent. They departed not home till within two months before the rebellion; and were either from the first breaking out, or soon after, found to be the chief rebels themselves. But what should move the king besides his own inclination to popery, and the prevalence of his queen over him, to hold such frequent and close meetings with a committee of Irish papists in his own house, while the parliament of England sat unadvised with, is declared by a Scots author, and of itself is clear enough. The parliament at the beginning of that summer, having put Strafford to death, imprisoned others his chief favourites, and driven the rest to fly; the king, who had in vain tempted both the Scots and the English army to come up against the parliament and city, finding no compliance answerable to his hope from the protestant armies, betakes himself last to the Irish; who had in readiness an army of eight thousand papists, which he had refused so often to disband, and a committee here of the same religion. With them, who thought the time now come, (which to bring about they had been many years before not wishing only, but with much industry complotting, to do some eminent service for the church of Rome and their own perfidious natures, against a puritan parliament and the hated English their masters,) he agrees and concludes, that so soon as both armies in England were disbanded, the Irish should appear in arms, master all the protestants, and help the king against his parliament. And we need not doubt, that those five counties were given to the Irish for other reason than the four northern counties had been a little before offered to the Scots. The king, in August, takes a journey into Scotland; and overtaking the Scots army then on their way home, attempts the second time to pervert them, but without success. No sooner come into Scotland, but he lays a plot, so saith the Scots author, to remove out of the way such of the nobility there as were most likely to withstand, or not to further his designs. This being discovered, he sends from his side one Dillon, a papist lord, soon after a chief rebel, with letters into Ireland; and dispatches a commission under the great seal of Scotland, at that time in his own custody, commanding that they should forthwith, as had been formerly agreed, cause all the Irish to rise in arms. Who no sooner had received such command, but obeyed, and began in massacre; for they knew no other way to make sure the protestants, which was commanded them expressly; and the way, it seems, left to their discretion. He who hath a mind to read the commission itself, and sound reason added why it was not likely to be forged, besides the attestation of so many Irish themselves, may have recourse to a book, entitled, “The Mystery of Iniquity.” Besides what the parliament itself in the declaration of “no more addresses” hath affirmed, that they have one copy of that commission in their own hands, attested by the oaths of some that were eye-witnesses, and had seen it under the seal: others of the principal rebels have confessed, that this commission was the summer before promised at London to the Irish commissioners; to whom the king then discovered in plain words his great desire to be revenged on the parliament of England.
After the rebellion broke out, which in words only he detested but underhand favoured and promoted by all the offices of friendship, correspondence, and what possible aid he could afford them, the particulars whereof are too many to be inserted here; I suppose no understanding man could longer doubt who was “author or instigator” of that rebellion. If there be who yet doubt, I refer them especially to that declaration of July 1643, with that of “no addresses” 1647, and another full volume of examinations to be set out speedily concerning this matter. Against all which testimonies, likelihoods, evidences, and apparent actions of his own, being so abundant, his bare denial, though with imprecation, can no way countervail; and least of all in his own cause.
As for the commission granted them, he thinks to evade that by retorting, that “some in England fight against him, and yet pretend his authority.” But though a parliament by the known laws may affirm justly to have the king’s authority, inseparable from that court, though divided from his person, it is not credible that the Irish rebels, who so much tendered his person above his authority, and were by him so well received at Oxford, would be so far from all humanity, as to slander him with a particular commission, signed and sent them by his own hand.
And of his good affection to the rebels this chapter itself is not without witness. He holds them less in fault than the Scots, as from whom they might allege to have fetched “their imitation;” making no difference between men that rose necessarily to defend themselves which no protestant doctrine ever disallowed, against them who threatened war and those who began a voluntary and causeless rebellion, with the massacre of so many thousands, who never meant them harm.
He falls next to flashes, and a multitude of words, in all which is contained no more than what might be the plea of any guiltiest offender: He was not the author, because “he hath the greatest share of loss and dishonour by what is committed.” Who is there that offends God or his neighbour, on whom the greatest share of loss and dishonour lights not in the end? But in the act of doing evil, men use not to consider the event of these evil doings; or if they do, have then no power to curb the sway of their own wickedness: so that the greatest share of loss and dishonour to happen upon themselves, is no argument that they were not guilty. This other is as weak, that “a king’s interest, above that of any other man, lies chiefly in the common welfare of his subjects;” therefore no king will do aught against the common welfare. For by this evasion any tyrant might as well purge himself from the guilt of raising troubles or commotions among the people, because undoubtedly his chief interest lies in their sitting still.
I said but now, that even this chapter, if nothing else, might suffice to discover his good affection to the rebels, which in this that follows too notoriously appears; imputing this insurrection to “the preposterous rigour, and unreasonable severity, the covetuous zeal and uncharitable fury of some men;” (these “some men,” by his continual paraphrase, are meant the parliament;) and, lastly, “to the fear of utter extirpation.” If the whole Irishry of rebels had feed some advocate to speak partially and sophistically in their defence, he could have hardly dazzled better; yet nevertheless would have proved himself no other than a plausible deceiver. And, perhaps (nay more than perhaps, for it is affirmed and extant under good evidence, that) those feigned terrors and jealousies were either by the king himself, or the popish priests which were sent by him, put into the head of that inquisitive people, on set purpose to engage them. For who had power “to oppress” them, or to relieve them being oppressed, but the king, or his immediate deputy? This rather should have made them rise against the king, than against the parliament. Who threatened or ever thought of their extirpation, till they themselves had begun it to the English? As for “preposterous rigour, covetous zeal, and uncharitable fury,” they had more reason to suspect those evils first from his own commands, whom they saw using daily no greater argument to prove the truth of his religion than by enduring no other but his own Prelatical; and, to force it upon others, made episcopal, ceremonial, and common-prayer book wars. But the papists understood him better than by the outside; and knew that those wars were their wars. Although if the commonwealth should be afraid to suppress open idolatry, lest the papists thereupon should grow desperate, this were to let them grow and become our persecutors, while we neglected what we might have done evangelically to be their reformers: or to do as his father James did, who instead of taking heart and putting confidence in God by such a deliverance as from the powder-plot, though it went not off, yet with the mere conceit of it, as some observe, was hit into such a hectic trembling* between protestant and papist all his life after, that he never durst from that time do otherwise than equivocate or collogue with the pope and his adherents.
He would be thought to commiserate the sad effects of that rebellion, and to lament that “the tears and blood spilt there did not quench the sparks of our civil” discord here. But who began these dissensions? and what can be more openly known than those retardings and delays, which by himself were continually devised, to hinder and put back the relief of those distressed protestants? which undoubtedly, had it not been then put back, might have saved many streams of those tears and that blood, whereof he seems here so sadly to bewail the spilling. His manifold excuses, diversions, and delays, are too well known to be recited here in particular, and too many.
But “he offered to go himself in person upon that expedition,” and reckons up many surmises why he thinks they would not suffer him. But mentions not that by his underdealing to debauch armies here at home, and by his secret intercourse with the chief rebels, long ere that time every where known, he had brought the parliament into so just a diffidence of him, as that they durst not leave the public arms to his disposal, much less an army to his conduct.
He concludes, “That next the sin of those who began that rebellion, theirs must needs be who hindered the suppressing, or diverted the aids.” But judgment rashly given, ofttimes involves the judge himself. He finds fault with those “who threatened all extremity to the rebels,” and pleads much that mercy should be shown them. It seems he found himself not so much concerned as those who had lost fathers, brothers, wives, and children by their cruelty; whom in justice to retaliate is not, as he supposes, “unevangelical;” so long as magistracy and war are not laid down under the gospel. If this his sermon of affected mercy were not too pharisaical, how could he permit himself to cause the slaughter of so many thousands here in England for mere prerogatives, the toys and gewgaws of his crown, for copes and surplices, the trinkets of his priests; and not perceive his own zeal, while he taxes others, to be most preposterous and unevangelical? Neither is there the same cause to destroy a whole city for the ravishing of a sister, not done out of villainy, and recompense offered by marriage; nor the same cause for those disciples to summon fire from heaven upon the whole city where they were denied lodging; and for a nation by just war and execution to slay whole families of them, who so barbarously had slain whole families before. Did not all Israel do as much against the Benjamites for one rape committed by a few, and defended by the whole tribe? and did they not the same to Jabesh-Gilead for not assisting them in that revenge? I speak not this that such measure should be meted rigorously to all the Irish, or as remembering that the parliament ever so decreed; but to show that this his homily hath more craft and affectation in it, than of sound doctrine.
But it was happy that his going into Ireland was not consented to; for either he had certainly turned his raised forces against the parliament itself, or not gone at all; or had he gone, what work he would have made there, his own following words declare.
“He would have punished some;” no question; for some, perhaps, who were of least use, must of necessity have been sacrificed to his reputation, and the convenience of his affairs. Others he “would have disarmed;” that is to say in his own time: but “all of them he would have protected from the fury of those that would have drowned them, if they had refused to swim down the popular stream.” These expressions are too often met, and too well understood, for any man to doubt his meaning. By the “fury of those,” he means no other than the justice of parliament, to whom yet he had committed the whole business. Those who would have refused to swim down the popular stream, our constant key tells us to be papists, prelates, and their faction; these, by his own confession here, he would have protected against his puritan parliament: and by this who sees not that he and the Irish rebels had but one aim, one and the same drift, and would have forthwith joined in one body against us?
He goes on still in his tenderness of the Irish rebels, fearing lest “our zeal should be more greedy to kill the bear for his skin, than for any harm he hath done.” This either justifies the rebels to have done no harm at all, or infers his opinion that the parliament is more bloody and rapacious in the prosecution of their justice, than those rebels were in the execution of their barbarous cruelty. Let men doubt now and dispute to whom the king was a friend most—to his English parliament, or to his Irish rebels.
With whom, that we may yet see further how much he was their friend, after that the parliament had brought them every where either to famine or a low condition, he, to give them all the respite and advantages they could desire, without advice of parliament, to whom he himself had committed the managing of that war, makes a cessation; in pretence to relieve the protestants, “overborne there with numbers;” but, as the event proved, to support the papists, by diverting and drawing over the English army there, to his own service here against the parliament. For that the protestants were then on the winning hand, it must needs be plain; who notwithstanding the miss of those forces, which at their landing here mastered without difficulty great part of Wales and Cheshire, yet made a shift to keep their own in Ireland. But the plot of this Irish truce is in good part discovered in that declaration of September 30, 1643. And if the protestants were but handfuls there, as he calls them, why did he stop and waylay, both by land and sea, to his utmost power, those provisions and supplies which were sent by the parliament? How were so many handfuls called over, as for a while stood him in no small stead, and against our main forces here in England?
Since therefore all the reasons that can be given of this cessation appear so false and frivolous, it may be justly feared, that the design itself was most wicked and pernicious. What remains then? He “appeals to God,” and is cast; likening his punishment to Job’s trials, before he saw them to have Job’s ending. But how could charity herself believe there was at all in him any religion, so much as but to fear there is a God; whenas, by what is noted in the declaration of “no more addresses,” he vowed solemnly to to the parliament, with imprecations upon himself and his posterity, if ever he consented to the abolishing of those laws which were in force against papists; and, at the same time, as appeared plainly by the very date of his own letters to the queen and Ormond, consented to the abolishing of all penal laws against them both in Ireland and England? If these were acts of a religious prince what memory of man, written or unwritten, can tell us news of any prince that ever was irreligious? He cannot stand “to make prolix apologies.” Then surely those long pamphlets set out for declarations and protestations in his name were none of his; and how they should be his, indeed, being so repugnant to the whole course of his actions augments the difficulty.
But he usurps a common saying, “That it is kingly to do well, and hear ill.” That may be sometimes true: but far more frequently to do ill and hear well; so great is the multitude of flatterers, and them that deify the name of king!
Yet, not content with these neighbours, we have him still a perpetual preacher of his own virtues, and of that especially, which who knows not to be patience perforce?
He “believes it will at last appear, that they who first began to embroil his other kingdoms, are also guilty of the blood of Ireland.” And we believe so too; for now the cessation is become a peace by published articles, and commission to bring them over against England, first only ten thousand by the earl of Glamorgan,* next all of them, if possible, under Ormond, which was the last of all his transactions done as a public person. And no wonder; for he looked upon the blood spilt, whether of subjects or of rebels, with an indifferent eye, “as exhausted out of his own veins;” without distinguishing, as he ought, which was good blood and which corrupt; the not letting out whereof endangers the whole body.
And what the doctrine is, ye may perceive also by the prayer, which, after a short ejaculation for the “poor protestants,” prays at large for the Irish rebels, that God would not give them over, or “their children, to the covetousness, cruelty, fierce and cursed anger” of the parliament.
He finishes with a deliberate and solemn curse “upon himself and his father’s house.” Which how far God hath already brought to pass, is to the end, that men, by so eminent an example, should learn to tremble at his judgments, and not play with imprecations.
It must needs seem strange, where men accustom themselves to ponder and contemplate things in their first original and institution, that kings, who as all other officers of the public, were at first chosen and installed only by consent and suffrage of the people, to govern them as freemen by laws of their own making, and to be, in consideration of that dignity and riches bestowed upon them, the entrusted servants of the commonwealth, should, notwithstanding, grow up to that dishonest encroachment, as to esteem themselves masters, both of that great trust which they serve, and of the people that betrusted them; counting what they ought to do, both in discharge of their public duty, and for the great reward of honour and revenue which they receive, as done all of mere grace and favour; as if their power over us were by nature, and from themselves, or that God had sold us into their hands. Indeed, if the race of kings were eminently the best of men, as the breed at Tutbury is of horses, it would in reason then be their part only to command, ours always to obey. But kings by generation no way excelling others, and most commonly not being the wisest or the worthiest by far of whom they claim to have the governing; that we should yield them subjection to our own ruin, or hold of them the right of our common safety, and our natural freedom by mere gift, (as when the conduit pisses wine at coronations,) from the superfluity of their royal grace and beneficence, we may be sure was never the intent of God, whose ways are just and equal; never the intent of nature, whose works are also regular; never of any people not wholly barbarous, whom prudence, or no more but human sense, would have better guided when they first created kings, than so to nullify and tread to dirt the rest of mankind, by exalting one person and his lineage without other merit looked after, but the mere contingency of a begetting, into an absolute and unaccountable dominion over them and their posterity. Yet this ignorant or 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, favours, 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 tolerate 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 honour.” But being once on this side Tweed, his reason, his conscience, and his honour 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, honour, 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 lawgiver; 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 those that force the conscience. For was it not he, 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 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 large 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, schisms, 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 rigour, and without Scripture, they took upon them. Yet these the king resolves here to defend and maintain to his last, pretending, after all those 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.
He imagines his “own judicious zeal to be most concerned in his tuition of the church.” So thought Saul when he presumed to offer sacrifice, for which he lost his kingdom; so thought Uzziah when he went into the temple, but was thrust out with a leprosy for his opinioned zeal, which he thought judicious. It is not the part of a king, because he ought to defend the church, therefore to set himself supreme head over the church, or to meddle with ecclesial government, or to defend the church, otherwise than the church would be defended; for such defence is bondage: nor to defend abuses and stop all reformation, under the name of “new moulds fancied and fashioned to private designs.” The holy things of church are in the power of other keys than were delivered to his keeping. Christian liberty, purchased with the death of our Redeemer, and established by the sending of his free spirit to inhabit in us, is not now to depend upon the doubtful consent of any earthly monarch; nor to be again fettered with a presumptuous negative voice, tyrannical to the parliament, but much more tyrannical to the church of God; which was compelled to implore the aid of parliament, to remove his force and heavy hands from off our consciences, who therefore complains now of that most just defensive force, because only it removed his violence and persecution. If this be a violation to his conscience, that it was hindered by the parliament from violating the more tender consciences of so many thousand good Christians, let the usurping conscience of all tyrants be ever so violated!
He wonders, fox wonder! how we could so much “distrust God’s assistance,” as to call in the protestant aid of our brethren in Scotland; why then did he, if his trust were in God and the justice of his cause, not scruple to solicit and invite earnestly the assistance both of papists and of Irish rebels? If the Scots were by us at length sent home, they were not called to stay here always; neither was it for the people’s ease to feed so many legions longer than their help was needful.
“The government of their kirk we despised” not, but their imposing of that government upon us; not presbytery, but archpresbytery, classical, provincial, and diocesan presbytery, claiming to itself a lordly power and superintendency both over flocks and pastors, over persons and congregations no way their own. But these debates, in his judgment, would have been ended better “by the best divines in Christendom in a full and free synod.” A most improbable way, and such as never yet was used, at least with good success, by any protestant kingdom or state since the reformation: every true church having wherewithal from Heaven, and the assisting spirit of Christ implored, to be complete and perfect within itself. And the whole nation is not easily to be thought so raw, and so perpetually a novice, after all this light, as to need the help and direction of other nations, more than what they write in public of their opinion, in a matter so familiar as church-government.
In fine, he accuses piety with the want of loyalty, and religion with the breach of allegiance, as if God and he were one master, whose commands were so often contrary to the commands of God. He would persuade the Scots, that their “chief interest consists in their fidelity to the crown.” But true policy will teach them, to find a safer interest in the common friendship of England, than in the ruins of one ejected family.
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.
He next “is unsatisfied with the covenant,” not only for “some passages in it referring to himself,” as he supposes, “with very dubious and dangerous limitations,” but for binding men “by oath and covenant” to the reformation of church-discipline. First, those limitations were not more dangerous to him, than he to our liberty and religion; next, that which was there vowed, to cast out of the church an antichristian hierarchy which god had not planted, but ambition and corruption had brought in, and fostered to the church’s great damage and oppression, was no point of controversy to be argued without end, but a thing of clear moral necessity to be forthwith done. Neither was the “covenant superfluous, though former engagements, both religious and legal, bound us before;” but was the practice of all churches heretofore intending reformation. All Israel, though bound enough before by the law of Moses “to all necessary duties;” yet with Asa their king entered into a new covenant at the beginning of a reformation: and the Jews, after captivity, without consent demanded of that king who was their master, took solemn oath to walk in the commandments of God. All protestant churches have done the like, notwithstanding former engagements to their several duties. And although his aim were to sow variance between the protestation and the covenant, to reconcile them is not difficult. The protestation was but one step, extending only to the doctrine of the church of England, as it was distinct from church discipline; the covenant went further, as it pleased God to dispense his light and our encouragement by degrees, and comprehended church-government: Former with latter steps, in the progress of well-doing, need not reconcilement. Nevertheless he breaks through to his conclusion, “that all honest and wise men ever thought themselves sufficiently bound by former ties of religion;” leaving Asa, Ezra, and the whole church of God, in sundry ages, to shift for honesty and wisdom from some other than his testimony. And although after-contracts absolve not till the former be made void, yet he first having done that, our duty returns back, which to him was neither moral nor eternal, but conditional.
Willing to persuade himself that many “good men” took the covenant, either unwarily or out of fear, he seems to have bestowed some thoughts how these “good men,” following his advice, may keep the covenant and not keep it. The first evasion is, presuming “that the chief end of covenanting in such men’s intentions was to preserve religion in purity, and the kingdom’s peace.” But the covenant will more truly inform them, that purity of religion and the kingdom’s peace was not then in state to be preserved, but to be restored; and therefore binds them not to a preservation of what was, but to a reformation of what was evil, what was traditional, and dangerous, whether novelty or antiquity, in church or state. To do this, clashes with “no former oath” lawfully sworn either to God or the king, and rightly understood.
In general, he brands all “such confederations by league and covenant, as the common road used in all factious perturbations of state and church.” This kind of language reflects, with the same ignominy, upon all the protestant reformations that have been since Luther; and so indeed doth his whole book, replenished throughout with hardly other words or arguments than papists, and especially popish kings, have used heretofore against their protestant subjects, whom he would persuade to be “every man his own pope, and to absolve himself of those ties,” by the suggestion of false or equivocal interpretations too oft repeated to be now answered.
The parliament, he saith, “made their covenant, like manna, agreeable to every man’s palate.” This is another of his glosses upon the covenant; he is content to let it be manna, but his drift is that men should loath it or at least expound it by their own “relish,” and “latitude of sense;” wherein, lest any one of the simpler sort should fail to be his craftsmaster, he furnishes him with two or three laxative, he terms them “general clauses, which may serve somewhat to relieve them” against the covenant taken: intimating as if “what were lawful and according to the word of God,” were no otherwise so, than as every man fancied to himself. From such learned explications and resolutions as these upon the covenant, what marvel if no royalist or malignant refuse to take it, as having learnt from these princely instructions his many “salvoes, cautions, and reservations,” how to be a covenanter and anticovenanter, how at once to be a Scot, and an Irish rebel.
He returns again to disallow of “that reformation which the covenant” vows, “as being the partial advice of a few divines.” But matters of this moment, as they were not to be decided there by those divines, so neither are they to be determined here by essays and curtal aphorisms, but by solid proofs of Scripture.
The rest of his discourse he spends, highly accusing the parliament, “that the main reformation” by them “intended, was to rob the church,” and much applauding himself both for “his forwardness” to all due reformation, and his averseness from all such kind of sacrilege. All which, with his glorious title of the “Church’s Defender,” we leave him to make good by “Pharaoh’s divinity,” if he please, for to Joseph’s piety it will be a task unsuitable. As for “the parity and poverty of ministers,” which he takes to be so sad of “consequence,” the Scripture reckons them for two special legacies left by our Saviour to his disciples; under which two primitive nurses, for such they were indeed, the church of God more truly flourished than ever after, since the time that imparity and church revenue rushing in, corrupted and belepered all the clergy with a worse infection than Gehazi’s; some one of whose tribe, rather than a king, I should take to be compiler of that unsalted and Simoniacal prayer annexed: although the prayer itself strongly prays against them. For never such holy things as he means were given more to swine, nor the church’s bread more to dogs, than when it fed ambitious, irreligious, and dumb prelates.
To wipe off jealousies and scandals, the best way had been by clear actions, or till actions could be cleared, by evident reasons; but mere words we are too well acquainted with. Had “his honour and reputation been dearer to him” than the lust of reigning, how could the parliament of either nation have laid so often at his door the breach of words, promises, acts, oaths, and execrations, as they do avowedly in many of their petitions and addresses to him? Thither I remit the reader. And who can believe that whole parliaments, elected by the people from all parts of the land, should meet in one mind and resolution not to advise him, but to conspire against him, in a worse powder-plot than Catesbie’s, “to blow up,” as he terms it, “the people’s affection towards him, and batter down their loyalty by the engines of foul aspersions:” Water-works rather than engines to batter with, yet those aspersions were raised from the foulness of his own actions: whereof to purge himself, he uses no other argument than a general and so often iterated commendation of himself; and thinks that court holy-water hath the virtue of expiation, at least with the silly people; to whom he familiarly imputes sin where none is, to seem liberal of his forgiveness where none is asked or needed.
What ways he hath taken toward the prosperity of his people, which he would seem “so earnestly to desire,” if we do but once call to mind, it will be enough to teach us, looking on the smooth insinuations here, that tyrants are not more flattered by their slaves, than forced to flatter others whom they fear.
For the people’s “tranquillity he would willingly be the Jonah;” but lest he should be taken at his word, pretends to foresee within ken two imaginary “winds” never heard of in the compass, which threaten, if he be cast overboard, “to increase the storm;” but that controversy divine lot hath ended.
“He had rather not rule, than that his people should be ruined:” and yet, above these twenty years, hath been ruining the people about the niceties of his ruling. He is accurate “to put a difference between the plague of malice and the ague of mistakes; the itch of novelty, and the leprosy of disloyalty.” But had he as well known how to distinguish between the venerable gray hairs of ancient religion and the old scurf of superstition, between the wholesome heat of well governing and the feverous rage of tyrannizing, his judgment in state physic had been of more authority.
Much he prophesies, “that the credit of those men, who have cast black scandals on him, shall ere long be quite blasted by the same furnace of popular obloquy, wherein they sought to cast his name and honour.” I believe not that a Romish gilded portraiture gives better oracle than a Babylonish golden image could do, to tell us truly who heated that furnace of obloquy, or who deserves to be thrown in, Nebuchadnezzar or the three kingdoms. It “gave him great cause to suspect his own innocence,” that he was opposed by “so many who professed singular piety.” But this qualm was soon over, and he concluded rather to suspect their religion than his own innocence, affirming that “many with him were both learned and religious above the ordinary size.” But if his great seal, without the parliament, were not sufficient to create lords, his parole must needs be far more unable to create learned and religious men; and who shall authorize his unlearned judgment to point them out?
He guesses that “many well-minded men were by popular preachers urged to oppose him.” But the opposition undoubtedly proceeded and continues from heads far wiser, and spirits of a nobler strain; those priestled Herodians, with their blind guides, are in the ditch already; travelling, as they thought, to Sion, but moored in the Isle of Wight.
He thanks God “for his constancy to the protestant religion both abroad and at home.” Abroad, his letter to the pope; at home, his innovations in the church, will speak his constancy in religion what it was, without further credit to this vain boast.
His “using the assistance of some papists,” as the cause might be, could not hurt his religion; but, in the settling of protestantism, their aid was both unseemly and suspicious, and inferred that the greatest part of protestants were against him and his obtruded settlement.
But this is strange indeed, that he should appear now teaching the parliament what no man, till this was read, thought ever he had learned, “that difference of persuasion in religious matters may fall out where there is the sameness of allegiance and subjection.” If he thought so from the beginning, wherefore was there such compulsion used to the puritans of England, and the whole realm of Scotland, about conforming to a liturgy? Wherefore no bishop, no king? Wherefore episcopacy more agreeable to monarchy, if different persuasions in religion may agree in one duty and allegiance? Thus do court maxims, like court minions, rise or fall as the king pleases.
Not to tax him for want of elegance as a courtier, in writing Oglio for Olla the Spanish word, it might be well affirmed, that there was a greater medley and disproportioning of religions, to mix papists with protestants in a religious cause, than to entertain all those diversified sects, who yet were all protestants, one religion though many opinions.
Neither was it any “shame to protestants,” that he, a declared papist, if his own letter to the pope, not yet renounced, belie him not, found so few protestants of his religion, as enforced him to call in both the counsel and the aid of papists to help establish protestancy, who were led on, not “by the sense of their allegiance,” but by the hope of his apostacy to Rome, from disputing to warring; his own voluntary and first appeal.
His hearkening to evil counsellors, charged upon him so often by the parliament, he puts off as “a device of those men, who were so eager to give him better counsel.” That “those men” were the parliament, and that he ought to have used the counsel of none but those, as a king, is already known. What their civility laid upon evil counsellors, he himself most commonly owned; but the event of those evil counsels, “the enormities, the confusions, the miseries,” he transfers from the guilt of his own civil broils to the just resistance made by parliament; and imputes what miscarriages of his they could not yet remove for his opposing, as if they were some new misdemeanours of their bringing in, and not the inveterate diseases of his own bad government; which, with a disease as bad, he falls again to magnify and commend: and may all those who would be governed by his “retractions and concessions,” rather than by laws of parliament, admire his self-encomiums, and be flattered with that “crown of patience,” to which he cunningly exhorted them, that his monarchical foot might have the setting it upon their heads!
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 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 up 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 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 honour and reputation, that, like the sun, shall rise and recover himself to such a splendour, as owls, bats, and such fatal birds shall be unable to bear.” Poets, indeed, used to vapour much after this manner. But to bad kings, who, without cause, expect future glory from their actions, it happens, as to bad poets, who sit and starve themselves with a delusive hope to win immortality by their bad lines. For though men ought not to “speak evil of dignities” which are just, yet nothing hinders us to speak evil, as often as it is the truth, of those who in their dignities do evil. Thus did our Saviour himself, John the Baptist, and Stephen the martyr. And those black veils of his own misdeeds he might be sure would ever keep “his face from shining,” till he could “refute evil speaking with well doing,” which grace he seems here to pray for; and his prayer doubtless as it was prayed, so it was heard. But even his prayer is so ambitious of prerogative, that it dares ask away the prerogative of Christ himself, “To become the headstone of the corner.”
What to think of liturgies, both the sense of Scripture, and apostolical practice, would have taught him better, than his human reasonings and conjectures: nevertheless, what weight they have, let us consider. If it “be no news to have all innovations ushered in with the name of reformation,” sure it is less news to have all reformation censured and opposed under the name of innovation, by those who, being exalted in high place above their merit, fear all change, though of things never so ill or so unwisely settled. So hardly can the dotage of those that dwell upon antiquity allow present times any share of godliness or wisdom.
The removing of liturgy he traduces to be done only as a “thing plausible to the people;” whose rejection of it he likens, with small reverence, to the crucifying of our Saviour; next, that it was done “to please those men who gloried in their extemporary vein,” meaning the ministers. For whom it will be best to answer, as was answered for the man born blind, “They are of age, let them speak for themselves;” not how they came blind, but whether it were liturgy that held them tongue-tied.
“For the matter contained in that book,” we need no better witness than King Edward the Sixth, who to the Cornish rebels confesses it was no other than the old mass-book done into English, all but some few words that were expunged. And by this argument, which King Edward so promptly had to use against that irreligious rabble, we may be assured it was the carnal fear of those divines and politicians that modelled the liturgy no farther off from the old mass, lest by too great an alteration they should incense the people, and be destitute of the same shifts to fly to, which they had taught the young king.
“For the manner of using set forms, there is no doubt but that, wholesome” matter and good desires rightly conceived in the heart, wholesome words will follow of themselves. Neither can any true Christian find a reason why liturgy should be at all admitted, a prescription not imposed or practised by those first founders of the church, who alone had that authority: without whose precept or example, how constantly the priest puts on his gown and surplice, so constantly doth his prayer put on a servile yoke of liturgy. This is evident, that they “who use no set forms of prayer,” have words from their affections; while others are to seek affections fit and proportionable to a certain dose of prepared words; which as they are not rigorously forbid to any man’s private infirmity, so to imprison and confine by force, into a pinfold of set words, those two most unimprisonable things, our prayers, and that divine spirit of utterance that moves them, is a tyranny that would have longer hands than those giants who threatened bondage to heaven. What we may do in the same form of words is not so much the question, as whether liturgy may be forced as he forced it. It is true that we “pray to the same God;” must we, therefore, always use the same words? Let us then use but one word, because we pray to one God. “We profess the same truths,” but the liturgy comprehends not all truths: “we read the same Scriptures,” but never read that all those sacred expressions, all benefit and use of Scripture, as to public prayer, should be denied us, except what was barrelled up in a common-prayer book with many mixtures of their own, and, which is worse, without salt. But suppose them savory words and unmixed, suppose them manna itself, yet, if they shall be hearded up and enjoined us, while God every morning rains down new expressions into our hearts; instead of being fit to use, they will be found, like reserved manna, rather to breed worms and stink. “We have the same duties upon us, and feel the same wants;” yet not always the same, nor at all times alike; but with variety of circumstances, which ask variety of words: whereof God hath given us plenty; not to use so copiously upon all other occasions, and so niggardly to him alone in our devotions. As if Christians were now in a worse famine of words fit for prayer, than was of food at the siege of Jerusalem, when perhaps the priests being to remove the shewbread, as was accustomed, were compelled every sabbath day, for want of other loaves, to bring again still the same. If the “Lord’s Prayer” had been the “warrant or the pattern of set liturgies,” as is here affirmed, why was neither that prayer, nor any other set form, ever after used, or so much as mentioned by the apostles, much less commended to our use? Why was their care wanting in a thing so useful to the church? so full of danger and contention to be left undone by them to other men’s penning, of whose authority we could not be so certain? Why was this forgotten by them, who declare that they have revealed to us the whole counsel of God? who, as he left our affections to be guided by his sanctifying spirit, so did he likewise our words to be put into us without our premeditation;* not only those cautious words to be used before Gentiles and tyrants, but much more those filial words, of which we have so frequent use in our access with freedom of speech to the throne of grace. Which to lay aside for other outward dictates of men, were to injure him and his perfect gift, who is the spirit, and the giver of our ability to pray; as if his ministration were incomplete, and that to whom he gave affections, he did not also afford utterance to make his gift of prayer a perfect gift; to them especially, whose office in the church is to pray publicly.
And although the gift were only natural, yet voluntary prayers are less subject to formal and superficial tempers than set forms: for in those, at least for words and matter, he who prays must consult first with his heart, which in likelihood may stir up his affections; in these, having both words and matter ready made to his lips, which is enough to make up the outward act of prayer, his affections grow lazy, and come not up easily at the call of words not their own; the prayer also having less intercourse and sympathy with a heart wherein it was not conceived, saves itself the labour of so long a journey downward, and flying up in haste on the specious wings of formality, if it fall not back again headlong, instead of a prayer which was expected, presents God with a set of stale and empty words.
No doubt but “ostentation and formality” may taint the best duties; we are not therefore to leave duties for no duties, and to turn prayer into a kind of lurry. Cannot unpremeditated babblings be rebuked and restrained in whom we find they are, but the Spirit of God must be forbidden in all men? But it is the custom of bad men and hypocrites, to take advantage at the least abuse of good things, that under that covert they may remove the goodness of those things, rather than the abuse. And how unknowingly, how weakly is the using of set forms attributed here to “constancy,” as if it were constancy in the cuckoo to be always in the same liturgy.
Much less can it be lawful that an Englished mass-book, composed, for ought we know, by men neither learned, nor godly, should justle out, or at any time deprive us the exercise of that heavenly gift, which God by special promise pours out daily upon his church, that is to say, the spirit of prayer. Whereof to help those many infirmities, which he reckons up, “rudeness, impertinency, flatness,” and the like, we have a remedy of God’s finding out, which is not liturgy, but his own free Spirit. Though we know not what to pray as we ought, yet he with sighs unutterable by any words, much less by a stinted liturgy, dwelling in us makes intercession for us, according to the mind and will of God, both in private and in the performance of all ecclesiastical duties. For it is his promise also, that where two or three gathered together in his name shall agree to ask him any thing, it shall be granted; for he is there in the midst of them. If then ancient churches, to remedy the infirmities of prayer, or rather the infections of Arian and Pelagian heresies, neglecting that ordained and promised help of the Spirit, betook them almost four hundred years after Christ to liturgy, (their own invention,) we are not to imitate them; nor to distrust God in the removal of that truant help to our devotion, which by him never was appointed. And what is said of liturgy, is said also of directory, if it be imposed: although to forbid the service-book there be much more reason, as being of itself superstitious, offensive, and indeed, though Englished, yet still the mass-book; and public places ought to be provided of such as need not the help of liturgies or directories continually, but are supported with ministerial gifts answerable to their calling.
Lastly, that the common-prayer book was rejected because it “prayed so oft for him,” he had no reason to object: for what large and laborious prayers were made for him in the pulpits, if he never heard, it is doubtful they were never heard in heaven. We might now have expected, that his own following prayer should add much credit to set forms; but on the contrary we find the same imperfections in it, as in most before, which he lays here upon extemporal. Nor doth he ask of God to be directed whether liturgies be lawful, but presumes, and in a manner would persuade him, that they be so; praying, “that the church and he may never want them.” What could be prayed worse extempore? unless he mean by wanting; that they may never need them.
The government of church by bishops hath been so fully proved from the Scriptures to be vicious and usurped, that whether out of piety or policy maintained, it is not much material; for piety grounded upon error can no more justify King Charles, than it did Queen Mary, in the sight of God or man. This however must not be let pass without a serious observation; God having so disposed the author in this chapter as to confess and discover more of mystery and combination between tyranny and false religion, than from any other hand would have been credible. Here we may see the very dark roots of them both turned up, and how they twine and interweave one another in the earth, though above ground shooting up in two several branches. We may have learnt both from sacred history and times of reformation, that the kings of this world have both ever hated and instinctively feared the church of God. Whether it be for that their doctrine seems much to favour two things to them so dreadful, liberty and equality; or because they are the children of that kingdom, which, as ancient prophecies have foretold, shall in the end break to pieces and dissolve all their great power and dominion. And those kings and potentates who have strove most to rid themselves of this fear, by cutting off or suppressing the true church, have drawn upon themselves the occasion of their own ruin, while they thought with most policy to prevent it. Thus Pharaoh, when once he began to fear and wax jealous of the Israelites, lest they should multiply and fight against him, and that his fear stirred him up to afflict and keep them under, as the only remedy of what he feared, soon found that the evil which before slept, came suddenly upon him, by the preposterous way he took to prevent* it. Passing by examples between, and not shutting wilfully our eyes, we may see the like story brought to pass in our own land. This king, more than any before him, except perhaps his father, from his first entrance to the crown, harbouring in his mind a strange fear and suspicion of men most religious, and their doctrine, which in his own language he here acknowledges, terming it “the seditious exorbitancy” of ministers’ tongues, and doubting “lest they,” as he not Christianly expresses it, “should with the keys of heaven let out peace and loyalty from the people’s hearts;” though they never preached or attempted aught that might justly raise in him such thoughts,* he could not rest, or think himself secure, so long as they remained in any of his three kingdoms unrooted out. But outwardly professing the same religion with them, he could not presently use violence as Pharaoh did, and that course had with others before but ill succeeded. He chooses therefore a more mystical way, a newer method of antichristian fraud, to the church more dangerous; and like to Balak the son of Zippor, against a nation of prophets thinks it best to hire other esteemed prophets, and to undermine and wear out the true church by a false ecclesiastical policy. To this drift he found the government of bishops most serviceable; an order in the church, as by men first corrupted, so mutually corrupting them who receive it, both in judgment and manners. He, by conferring bishoprics and great livings on whom he thought most pliant to his will, against the known canons and universal practice of the ancient church, whereby those elections were the people’s right, sought, as he confesses, to have “greatest influence upon churchmen.” They on the other side, finding themselves in a high dignity, neither founded by Scripture, nor allowed by reformation, nor supported by any spiritual gift or grace of their own, knew it their best course to have dependence only upon him: and wrought his fancy by degrees to that degenerate and unkingly persuasion of “No bishop, no king.” When as on the contrary all prelates in their own subtle sense are of another mind; according to that of Pius the Fourth remembered in the history of Trent,† that bishops then grow to be most vigorous and potent, when princes happen to be most weak and impotent. Thus when both interest of tyranny and episcopacy were incorporate into each other, the king, whose principal safety and establishment consisted in the righteous execution of his civil power, and not in bishops and their wicked counsels, fatally driven on, set himself to the extirpating of those men whose doctrine and desire of church-discipline he so feared would be the undoing of his monarchy. And because no temporal law could touch the innocence of their lives, he begins with the persecution of their consciences, laying scandals before them; and makes that the argument to inflict his unjust penalties both on their bodies and estates. In this war against the church, if he hath sped so, as other haughty monarchs whom God heretofore hath hardened to the like enterprise, we ought to look up with praises and thanksgivings to the author of our deliverance, to whom victory and power, majesty, honour, and dominion belongs for ever.
In the mean while, from his own words we may perceive easily, that the special motives which he had to endear and deprave his judgment to the favouring and utmost defending of episcopacy, are such as here we represent them: and how unwillingly and with what mental reservation, he condescended against his interest to remove it out of the peers’ house, hath been shown already. The reasons, which he affirms wrought so much upon his judgment, shall be so far answered as they be urged.
Scripture he reports, but distinctly produces none; and next the “constant practice of all Christian churches, till of late years tumult, faction, pride and covetousness, invented new models under the title of Christ’s government.” Could any papist have spoken more scandalously against all reformation? Well may the parliament and best-affected people not now be troubled at his calumnies and reproaches, since he binds them in the same bundle with all other the reformed churches; who also may now further see, besides their own bitter experience, what a cordial and wellmeaning helper they had of him abroad, and how true to the protestant cause.
As for histories to prove bishops, the Bible, if we mean not to run into errors, vanities, and uncertainties, must be our only history. Which informs us that the apostles were not properly bishops; next, that bishops were not successors of apostles, in the function of apostleship: and that if they were apostles, they could not be precisely bishops; if bishops, they could not be apostles; this being universal, extraordinary, and immediate from God; that being an ordinary, fixed, and particular charge, the continual inspection over a certain flock. And although an ignorance and deviation of the ancient churches afterward, may with as much reason and charity be supposed as sudden in point of prelaty, as in other manifest corruptions, yet that “no example since the first age for 1500 years can be produced of any settled church, wherein were many ministers and congregations, which had not some bishops above them;” the ecclesiastical story, to which he appeals for want of Scripture, proves clearly to be a false and overconfident assertion. Sozomenus, who above twelve hundred years ago, in his seventh book, relates from his own knowledge, that in the churches of Cyprus and Arabia (places near to Jerusalem, and with the first frequented by apostles) they had bishops in every village; and what could those be more than presbyters? The like he tells of other nations; and that episcopal churches in those days did not condemn them. I add, that many western churches, eminent for their faith and good works, and settled above four hundred years ago in France, in Piemont and Bohemia, have both taught and practised the same doctrine, and not admitted of episcopacy among them. And if we may believe what the papists themselves have written of these churches, which they call Waldenses, I find it in a book written almost four hundred years since, and set forth in the Bohemian history, that those churches in Piemont* have held the same doctrine and government, since the time that Constantine with his mischievous donations poisoned Sylvester and the whole church. Others affirm they have so continued there since the apostles; and Theodorus Belvederensis in his relation of them confesseth, that those heresies, as he names them, were from the first times of Christianity in that place. For the rest I refer me to that famous testimony of Jerome, who upon that very place which he cites here,† the epistle to Titus, declares openly that bishop and presbyter were one and the same thing, till by the instigation of Satan, partialities grew up in the church, and that bishops rather by custom than any ordainment of Christ, were exalted above presbyters; whose interpretation we trust shall be received before this intricate stuff tattled here of Timothy and Titus, and I know not whom their successors, far beyond court-element, and as far beneath true edification. These are his “fair grounds both from scripturecanons and ecclesiastical examples;” how undivine-like written, and how like a worldly gospeller that understands nothing of these matters, posterity no doubt will be able to judge; and will but little regard what he calls apostolical, who in his letter to the pope calls apostolical the Roman religion.
Nor let him think to plead, that therefore, “it was not policy of state,” or obstinacy in him which upheld episcopacy, because the injuries and losses which he sustained by so doing were to him “more considerable than episcopacy itself:” for all this might Pharaoh have had to say in his excuse of detaining the Israelites, that his own and his kingdom’s safety, so much endangered by his denial, was to him more dear than all their building labours could be worth to Egypt. But whom God hardens them also he blinds.
He endeavours to make good episcopacy not only in “religion, but from the nature of all civil government, where parity breeds confusion and faction.” But of faction and confusion, to take no other than his own testimony, where hath more been ever bred than under the imparity of his own monarchical government? of which to make at this time longer dispute, and from civil constitutions and human conceits to debate and question the convenience of divine ordinations, is neither wisdom nor sobriety: and to confound Mosaic priesthood with evangelic presbytery against express institution, is as far from warrantable. As little to purpose is it, that we should stand polling the reformed churches, whether they equalize in number “those of his three kingdoms;” of whom so lately the far greater part, what they have long desired to do, have now quite thrown off episcopacy.
Neither may we count it the language or religion of a protestant, so to vilify the best reformed churches (for none of them but Lutherans retain bishops) as to fear more the scandalizing of papists, because more numerous, than of our protestant brethren, because a handful. It will not be worth the while to say what “schismatics or heretics” have had no bishops: yet, lest he should be taken for a great reader, he who prompted him, if he were a doctor, might have remembered the forementioned place in Sozomenus; which affirms, that besides the Cyprians and Arabians, who were counted orthodoxal, the Novations also, and Montanists in Phrygia, had no other bishops than such as were in every village: and what presbyter hath a narrower diocese? As for the Aërians we know of no heretical opinion justly fathered upon them, but that they held bishops and presbyters to be the same. Which he in this place not obscurely seems to hold a heresy in all the reformed churches; with whom why the church of England desired conformity, he can find no reason, with all his “charity, but the coming in of the Scots’ army;” such a high esteem he had of the English!
He tempts the clergy to return back again to bishops, from the fear of “tenuity and contempt,” and the assurance of better “thriving under the favour of princes;” against which temptations if the clergy cannot arm themselves with their own spiritual armous, they are indeed as “poor a carcass” as he terms them.
Of secular honours and great revenues added to the dignity of prelates, since the subject of that question is now removed, we need not spend time: but this perhaps will never be unseasonable to bear in mind out of Chrysostom, that when ministers came to have lands, houses, farms, coaches, horses, and the like lumber, then religion brought forth riches in the church, and the daughter devoured the mother.
But if his judgment in episcopacy may be judged by the goodly choice he made of bishops, we need not much amuse ourselves with the consideration of those evils, which by his foretelling, will “necessarily follow” their pulling down, until he prove that the apostles, having no certain diocese or appointed place of residence, were properly “bishops over those presbyters whom they ordained, or churches they planted:” wherein ofttimes their labours were both joint and promiscuous: or that the apostolic power must “necessarily descend to bishops, the use and end” of either function being so different. And how the church hath flourished under episcopacy, let the multitude of their ancient and gross errors testify, and the words of some learnedest and most zealous bishops among them; Nazianzen in a devout passion, wishing prelaty had never been; Bazil terming them the slaves of slaves; Saint Martin, the enemies of saints, and confessing that after he was made a bishop, he found much of that grace decay in him which he had before.
Concerning his “Coronation oath,” what it was, and how far it bound him, already hath been spoken. This we may take for certain, that he was never sworn to his own particular conscience and reason, but to our conditions as a free people, which required him to give us such laws as ourselves should* choose. This the Scots could bring him to, and would not be baffled with the pretence of a coronation-oath, after that episcopacy had for many years been settled there. Which concession of his to them, and not to us, he seeks here to put off with evasions that are ridiculous. And to omit no shifts, he alleges that the presbyterian manners gave him no encouragement to like their modes of government. If that were so, yet certainly those men are in most likelihood nearer to amendment, who seek a stricter church-discipline than that of episcopacy, under which the most of them learned their manners. If estimation were to be made of God’s law by their manners, who, leaving Egypt, received it in the wilderness, it could reap from such an inference as this nothing but rejection and disesteem.
For the prayer wherewith he closes, it had been good some safe liturgy, which he so commends, had rather been in his way; it would perhaps in some measure have performed the end for which they say liturgy was first invented; and have hindered him both here, and at other times, from turning his notorious errors into his prayers.
“If the way of treaties be looked upon” in general, “as retiring” from bestial force to human reason, his first aphorism here is in part deceived. For men may treat like beasts as well as fight. If some fighting were not manlike, then either fortitude were no virtue, or no fortitude in fighting: And as politicians ofttimes through dilatory purposes and emulations handle the matter, there hath been no where found more bestiality than in treating; which hath no more commendations in it, than from fighting to come to undermining, from violence to craft; and when they can no longer do as lions, to do as foxes.
The sincerest end of treating after war once proclaimed is, either to part with more, or to demand less, than was at first fought for, rather than to hazard more lives, or worse mischiefs. What the parliament in that point were willing to have done, when first after the war begun, they petitioned him at Colebrook to vouchsafe a treaty, is not unknown. For after he had taken God to witness of his continual readiness to treat, or to offer treaties to the avoiding of bloodshed, had named Windsor the place of treaty, and passed his royal word not to advance further, till commissioners by such a time were speeded towards him; taking the advantage of a thick mist, which fell that evening, weather that soon invited him to a design no less treacherous and obscure; he follows at the heels of those messengers of peace with a train of covert war; and with a bloody surprise falls on our secure forces, which lay quartering at Brentford in the thoughts and expectation of a treaty. And although in them who make a trade of war, and against a natural enemy, such an onset might in the rigour of martial* law have been excused, while arms were not yet by agreement suspended; yet by a king, who seemed so heartily to accept of treating with his subjects, and professes here, “he never wanted either desire or disposition to it, professes to have greater confidence in his reason than in his sword, and as a Christian to seek peace and ensue it,” such bloody and deceitful advantages would have been forborne one day at least, if not much longer; in whom there had not been a thirst rather than a detestation of civil war and blood, and a desire to subdue rather than to treat.
In the midst of a second treaty not long after, sought by the parliament, and after much ado obtained with him at Oxford, what subtle and unpeaceable designs he then had in chase, his own letters discovered: What attempts of treacherous hostility successful and unsuccessful he made against Bristol, Scarborough, and other places, the proceedings of that treaty will soon put us in mind; and how he was so far from granting more of reason after so much of blood, that he denied then to grant what before he had offered; making no other use of treaties pretending peace, than to gain advantages that might enable him to continue war: What marvel then if “he thought it no diminution of himself,” as oft as he saw his time, “to be importunate for treaties,” when he sought them only as by the upshot appeared “to get opportunities?” And once to a most cruel purpose, if we remember May 1643. And that messenger of peace from Oxford, whose secret message and commission, had it been effected, would have drowned the innocence of our treating, in the blood of a designed massacre. Nay, when treaties from the parliament sought out him, no less than seven times, (oft enough to testify the willingness of their obedience, and too oft for the majesty of a parliament to court their subjection,) he, in the confidence of his own strength, or of our divisions, returned us nothing back but denials, or delays, to their most necessary demands; and being at lowest, kept up still and sustained his almost famished hopes with the hourly expectation of raising up himself the higher, by the greater heap which he sat promising himself of our sudden ruin through dissension.
But he infers, as if the parliament would have compelled him to part with something of “his honour as a king.” What honour could he have, or call his, joined not only with the offence or disturbance, but with the bondage and destruction of three nations? whereof, though he be careless and improvident, yet the parliament, by our laws and freedom, ought to judge, and use prevention; our laws else were but cobweb laws. And what were all his most rightful honours, but the people’s gift, and the investment of that lustre, majesty, and honour, which for the public good, and no otherwise, redounds from a whole nation into one person? So far is any honour from being his to a common mischief and calamity. Yet still he talks on equal terms with the grand representative of that people, for whose sake he was a king; as if the general welfare and his subservient rights were of equal moment or consideration. His aim indeed hath ever been to magnify and exalt his borrowed rights and prerogatives above the parliament and kingdom, of whom he holds them. But when a king sets himself to bandy against the highest court and residence of all his regal power, he then, in the single person of a man, fights against his own majesty and kingship, and then indeed sets the first hand to his own deposing.
“The treaty at Uxbridge,” he saith, “gave the fairest hopes of a happy composure;” fairest indeed, if his instructions to bribe our commissioners with the promise of security, rewards, and places, were fair: what other hopes it gave, no man can tell. There being but three main heads whereon to be treated; Ireland, episcopacy, and the militia; the first was anticipated and forestalled by a peace at any rate to be hastened with the Irish rebels, ere the treaty could begin, that he might pretend his word and honour passed against “the specious and popular arguments” (he calls them no better) which the parliament would urge upon him for the continuance of that just war. Episcopacy he bids the queen be confident he will never quit: which informs us by what patronage it stood: and the sword he resolves to clutch as fast, as if God with his own hand had put it into his. This was the “moderation which he brought;” this was “as far as reason, honour, conscience,” and the queen, who was his regent in all these, “would give him leave.” Lastly, “for composure,” instead of happy, how miserable it was more likely to have been, wise men could then judge; when the English, during treaty were called rebels; the Irish, good and catholic subjects; and the parliament beforehand, though for fashion’s sake called a parliament, yet by a jesuitical sleight not acknowledged, though called so; but privately in the council books enrolled no parliament: that if accommodation had succeeded, upon what terms soever, such a devilish fraud was prepared, that the king in his own esteem had been absolved from all performance, as having treated with rebels and no parliament; and they, on the other side, instead of an expected happiness, had been brought under the hatchet. Then no doubt “war had ended,” that massacre and tyranny might begin. These jealousies, however raised, let all men see whether they be diminished or allayed, by the letters of his own cabinet opened. And yet the breach of this treaty is laid all upon the parliament and their commissioners, with odious names of “pertinacy, hatred of peace, faction, and covetousness,” nay, his own brat “superstition” is laid to their charge; notwithstanding his here professed resolution to continue both the order, maintenance, and authority of prelates, as a truth of God.
And who “were most to blame in the unsuccessfulness of that treaty,” his appeal is to God’s decision; believing to be very excusable at that tribunal. But if ever man gloried in an unflexible stiffness, he came not behind any; and that grand maxim, always to put something into his treaties, which might give colour to refuse all that was in other things granted, and to make them signify nothing, was his own principal maxim and particular instructions to his commissioners. Yet all, by his own verdict, must be construed reason in the king, and depraved temper in the parliament.
That the “highest tide of success,” with these principles and designs, “set him not above a treaty,” no great wonder. And yet if that be spoken to his praise, the parliament therein surpassed him; who, when he was their vanquished and their captive, his forces utterly broken and disbanded, yet offered him three several times no worse proposals or demands, than when he stood fair to be their conqueror. But that imprudent surmise that his lowest ebb could not set him “below a fight,” was a presumption that ruined him.
He presaged the future “unsuccessfulness of treaties by the unwillingness of some men to treat;” and could not see what was present, that their unwillingness had good cause to proceed from the continual experience of his own obstinacy and breach of word.
His prayer therefore of forgiveness to the guilty of “that treaty’s breaking,” he had good reason to say heartily over, as including no man in that guilt sooner than himself.
As for that protestation following in his prayer, “how oft have I entreated for peace, but when I speak thereof they make them ready to war;” unless he thought himself still in that perfidious mist between Colebrook and Hounslow, and thought that mist could hide him from the eye of Heaven as well as of man, after such a bloody recompense given to our first offers of peace, how could this in the sight of Heaven without horrors of conscience be uttered?
It is no new or unwonted thing, for bad men to claim as much part in God as his best servants; to usurp and imitate their words, and appropriate to themselves those properties, which belong only to the good and righteous. This not only in Scripture is familiarly to be found, but here also in this chapter of Apocrypha. He tells us much, why “it pleased God” to send him victory or loss, (although what in so doing was the intent of God, he might be much mistaken as to his own particular,) but we are yet to learn what real good use he made thereof in his practice.
Those numbers, which he grew to “from small beginnings,” were not such as out of love came to protect him, for none approved his actions as a king, except courtiers and prelates, but were such as fled to be protected by him from the fear of that reformation which the pravity of their lives would not bear. Such a snowball he might easily gather by rolling through those cold and dark provinces of ignorance and lewdness, where on a sudden he became so numerous. He imputes that to God’s “protection,” which, to them who persist in a bad cause, is either his long-suffering or his hardening; and that to wholesome “chastisement,” which were the gradual beginnings of a severe punishment. For if neither God nor nature put civil power in the hands of any whomsoever, but to a lawful end, and commands our obedience to the authority of law only, not to the tyrannical force of any person; and if the laws of our land have placed the sword in no man’s single hand, so much as to unsheath against a foreign enemy, much less upon the native people; but have placed it in that elective body of the parliament, to whom the making, repealing, judging, and interpreting of law itself was also committed, as was fittest, so long as we intended to be a free nation, and not the slaves of one man’s will; then was the king himself disobedient and rebellious to that law by which he reigned; and by authority of parliament to raise arms against him in defence of law and liberty, we do not only think, but believe and know, was justifiable both “by the word of God, the laws of the land, and all lawful oaths;” and they who sided with him, fought against all these.
The same allegations, which he uses for himself and his party, may as well fit any tyrant in the world: for let the parliament be called a faction when the king pleases, and that no law must be made or changed, either civil or religious, because no law will content all sides, then must be made or changed no law at all, but what a tyrant, be he protestant or papist, thinks fit. Which tyrannous assertion forced upon us by the sword, he who fights against, and dies fighting, if his other sins outweight not, dies a martyr undoubtedly both of the faith and of the commonwealth; and I hold it not as the opinion, but as the full belief and persuasion, of far holier and wiser men than parasitic preachers; who, without their dinner-doctrine, know that neither king, law, civil oaths, or religion, was ever established without the parliament: and their power is the same to abrogate as to establish: neither is any thing to be thought established, which that house declares to be abolished. Where the parliament sits, there inseparably sits the king, there the laws, there our oaths, and whatsoever can be civil in religion. They who fought for the parliament, in the truest sense, fought for all these; who fought for the king divided from his parliament, fought for the shadow of a king against all these; and for things that were not, as if they were established. It were a thing monstrously absurd and contradictory, to give the parliament a legislative power, and then to upbraid them for transgressing old establishments.
But the king and his party having lost in this quarrel their heaven upon earth, begin to make great reckoning of eternal life, and at an easy rate in forma pauperis canonize one another into heaven; he them in his book, they him in the portraiture before his book: but as was said before, stagework will not do it, much less the “justness of their cause,” wherein most frequently they died in a brutish fierceness, with oaths and other damning words in their mouths; as if such had been all “the only oaths” they fought for; which undoubtedly sent them full sail on another voyage than to heaven. In the mean while they to whom God gave victory, never brought to the king at Oxford the state of their consciences, that he should presume without confession, more than a pope presumes, to tell abroad what “conflicts and accusations,” men whom he never spoke with, have “in their own thoughts.” We never read of any English king but one that was a confessor, and his name was Edward; yet sure it passed his skill to know thoughts, as this king takes upon him. But they who will not stick to slander men’s inward consciences, which they can neither see nor know, much less will care to slander outward actions, which they pretend to see, though with senses never so vitiated.
To judge of “his condition conquered,” and the manner of “dying” on that side, by the sober men that chose it, would be his small advantage: it being most notorious, that they who were hottest in his cause, the most of them were men oftener drunk, than by their good will sober, and very many of them so fought and so died.*
And that the conscience of any man should grow suspicious, or be now convicted by any pretensions in the parliament, which are now proved false and unintended, there can be no just cause. For neither did they ever pretend to establish his throne without our liberty and religion, nor religion without the word of God, nor to judge of laws by their being established, but to establish them by their being good and necessary.
He tells the world “he often prayed, that all on his side might be as faithful to God and their own souls, as to him.” But kings, above all other men, have in their hands not to pray only, but to do. To make that prayer effectual, he should have governed as well as prayed. To pray and not to govern, is for a monk, and not a king. Till then he might be well assured, they were more faithful to their lust and rapine than to him.
In the wonted predication of his own virtues he goes on to tell us, that to “conquer he never desired, but only to restore the laws and liberties of his people.” It had been happy then he had known at last, that by force to restore laws abrogated by the legislative parliament, is to conquer absolutely both them and law itself. And for our liberties none ever oppressed them more, both in peace and war; first like a master by his arbitrary power, next as an enemy by hostile invasion.
And if his best friends feared him, and “he himself, in the temptation of an absolute conquest,” it was not only pious but friendly in the parliament, both to fear him and resist him; since their not yielding was the only means to keep him out of that temptation, wherein he doubted his own strength.
He takes himself to be “guilty in this war of nothing else, but of confirming the power of some men:” Thus all along he signifies the parliament, whom to have settled by an act, he counts to be his only guiltiness. So well he knew, that to continue a parliament, was to raise a war against himself; what were his actions then, and his government the while? For never was it heard in all our story, that parliaments made war on their kings, but on their tyrants; whose modesty and gratitude was more wanting to the parliament, than theirs to any of such kings.
What he yielded was his fear; what he denied was his obstinacy. Had he yielded more, fear might perchance have saved him; had he granted less, his obstinacy had perhaps the sooner delivered us.
“To review the occasions of this war,” will be to them never too late, who would be warned by his example from the like evils: but to wish only a happy conclusion, will never expiate the fault of his unhappy beginnings. It is true, on our side the sins of our lives not seldom fought against us: but on their side, besides those, the grand sin of their cause.
How can it be otherwise, when he desires here most unreasonably, and indeed sacrilegiously, that we should be subject to him, though not further, yet as far as all of us may be subject to God; to whom this expression leaves no precedency? He who desires from men as much obedience and subjection, as we may all pay to God, desires not less than to be a god: a sacrilege far worse than meddling with the bishops’ lands, as he esteems it.
His prayer is a good prayer and a glorious; but glorying is not good, if it know not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. It should have purged out the leaven of untruth, in telling God that the blood of his subjects by him shed, was in his just and necessary defence. Yet this is remarkable; God hath here so ordered his prayer, that as his own lips acquitted the parliament, not long before his death, of all the blood spilt in this war, so now his prayer unwittingly draws it upon himself. For God imputes not to any man the blood he spills in a just cause; and no man ever begged his not imputing of that, which he in his justice could not impute: so that now, whether purposely or unaware, he hath confessed both to God and man the blood-guiltiness of all this war to lie upon his own head.
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 the Sixth. 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 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 clergy 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, when as 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 show 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 otherwise 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.
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 Danes upon us, besides his subtleties and mysterious arts in treating; to sum up all, they showed 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 that 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 Lewis the French king had 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 Lewis, 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 shows 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 Lewis, 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 secrecy.
With much more reason then may letters 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 of idiots, whose happiness and welfare depended upon one man. The happiness of a nation consists in true religion, piety, justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude, and the contempt of avarice and ambition. They in whomsoever these virtues dwell eminently, need not kings to make them happy, but are the architects of their own happiness; and whether to themselves or others are not less than kings. But in him which of these virtues were to be found, that might extend to the making happy, or the well-governing of so much as his own household, which was the most licentious and ill-governed in the whole land?
But the opening of his letters was designed by the parliament “to make all reconciliation desperate.” Are the lives of so many good and faithful men, that died for the freedom of their country, to be so slighted as to be forgotten in a stupid reconcilement without justice done them? What he fears not by war and slaughter, should we fear to make desperate by opening his letters? Which fact he would parallel with Cham’s revealing of his father’s nakedness: when he at that time could be no way esteemed the Father of his Country, but the destroyer; nor had he ever before merited that former title.
“He thanks God he cannot only bear this with patience, but with charity forgive the doers.” Is not this mere mockery, to thank God for what he can do, but will not? For is it patience to impute barbarism and inhumanity to the opening of an enemy’s letter, or is it charity to clothe them with curses in his prayer, whom he hath forgiven in his discourse? In which prayer, to show how readily he can return good for evil to the parliament, and that if they take away his coat he can let them have his cloak also; for the dismantling of his letters he wishes “they may be covered with the cloak of confusion.” Which I suppose they do resign with much willingness, both livery, badge, and cognizance, to them who chose rather to be the slaves and vassals of his will, than to stand against him, as men by nature free; born and created with a better title to their freedom, than any king hath to his crown.
The king’s coming in, whether to the Scots or English, deserved no thanks: for necessity was his counsellor; and that he hated them both alike, his expressions everywhere manifest. Some say his purpose was to have come to London, till hearing how strictly it was proclaimed, that no man should conceal him, he diverted his course. But that had been a frivolous excuse: and besides, he himself rehearsing the consultations had, before he took his journey, shows us clearly that he was determined to adventure “upon their loyalty who first began his troubles.” And that the Scots had notice of it before, hath been long since brought to light. What prudence there could be in it, no man can imagine; malice there might be, by raising new jealousies to divide friends. For besides his diffidence of the English, it was no small dishonour that he put upon them, when rather than yield himself to the parliament of England, he yielded to a hireling army of Scots in England, paid for their service here, not in Sotch coin, but in English silver; nay, who from the first beginning of these troubles, what with brotherly assistance, and what with monthly pay have defended their own liberty and consciences at our charge. However, it was a hazardous and rash journey taken, “to resolve riddles in men’s loyalty,” who had more reason to mistrust the riddle of such a disguised yielding; and to put himself in their hands whose loyalty was a riddle to him, was not the course to be resolved of it, but to tempt it. What providence denied to force, he thought it might grant to fraud, which he styles Prudence; but Providence was not cozened with disguises, neither outward nor inward.
To have known “his greatest danger in his supposed safety, and his greatest safety, in his supposed danger,” was to him a fatal riddle never yet resolved; wherein rather to have employed his main skill, had been much more to his preservation.
Had he “known when the game was lost,” it might have saved much contest; but the way to give over fairly, was not to slip out of open war into a new disguise. He lays down his arms, but not his wiles; nor all his arms; for in obstinacy he comes no less armed than ever cap à pé. And what were they but wiles, continually to move for treaties, and yet to persist the same man, and to fortify his mind before-hand, still purposing to grant no more than what seemed good to that violent and lawless triumvirate within him, under the falsified names of his reason, honour, and conscience, the old circulating dance of his shifts and evasions?
The words of a king, as they are full of power, in the authority and strength of law, so like Samson, without the strength of that Nazarite’s lock, they have no more power in them than the words of another man.
He adores reason as Domitian did Minerva, and calls her the “Divinest power,” thereby to intimate as if at reasoning, as at his own weapon, no man were so able as himself. Might we be so happy as to know where these monuments of his reason may be seen; for in his actions and his writing they appear as thinly as could be expected from the meanest parts, bred up in the midst of so many ways extraordinary to know something. He who reads his talk, would think he had left Oxford not without mature deliberation: yet his prayer confesses, that “he knew not what to do.” Thus is verified that Psalm; “he poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way.” Psal. cvii.
That the Scots in England should “sell their king,” as he himself here affirms, and for a “price so much above that,” which the covetousness of Judas was contented with to sell our Saviour, is so foul an infamy and dishonour cast upon them, as befits none to vindicate but themselves. And it were but friendly counsel to wish them beware the son, who comes among them with a firm belief, that they sold his father. The rest of this chapter he sacrifices to the echo of his conscience, out-babbling creeds and aves: glorying in his resolute obstinacy, and as it were triumphing how “evident it is now, not that evil counsellors,” but he himself, hath been the author of all our troubles. Herein only we shall disagree to the world’s end, while he, who sought so manifestly to have annihilated all our laws and liberties, hath the confidence to persuade us, that he hath fought and suffered all this while in their defence.
But he who neither by his own letters and commissions under hand and seal, nor by his own actions held as in a mirror before his face, will be convinced to see his faults, can much less be won upon by any force of words, neither he, nor any that take after him; who in that respect are no more to be disputed with, than they who deny principles. No question then but the parliament did wisely in their decree at last, to make no more addresses. For how unalterable his will was, that would have been our lord, how utterly averse from the parliament and reformation during his confinement, we may behold in this chapter. But to be ever answering fruitless repetitions, I should become liable to answer for the same myself. He borrows David’s psalms, as he charges the assembly of divines in his twentieth discourse, “To have set forth old catechisms and confessions of faith new dressed:” had he borrowed David’s heart, it had been much the holier theft. For such kind of borrowing as this, if it be not bettered by the borrower, among good authors is accounted plagiary. However, this was more tolerable than Pamela’s prayer stolen out of Sir Philip.
A chaplain is a thing so diminutive and inconsiderable, that how he should come here among matters of so great concernment, to take such room up in the discourses of a prince, if it be not wondered, is to be smiled at. Certainly by me, so mean an argument shall not be written; but I shall huddle him, as he does prayers. The Scripture owns no such order, no such function in the church; and the church not owning them, they are left, for aught I know, to such a further examining as the sons of Sceva the Jew met with. Bishops or presbyters we know, and deacons we know, but what are chaplains? In state perhaps they may be listed among the upper serving-men of some great household, and be admitted to some such place, as may style them the sewers, or the yeomanushers of devotion, where the master is too resty or too rich to say his own prayers, or to bless his own table. Wherefore should the parliament then take such implements of the court cupboard into their consideration? They knew them to have been the main corruptors at the king’s elbow; they knew the king to have been always their most attentive scholar and imitator, and of a child to have sucked from them and their closetwork all his impotent principles of tyranny and superstition. While therefore they had any hope left of his reclaiming, these sowers of malignant tares they kept asunder from him, and sent to him such of the ministers and other zealous persons, as they thought were best able to instruct him, and to convert him. What could religion herself have done more, to the saving of a soul? But when they found him past cure, and that he to himself was grown the most evil counsellor of all, they denied him not his chaplains, as many as were fitting, and some of them attended him, or else were at his call, to the very last. Yet here he makes more lamentation for the want of his chaplains, than superstitious Micah did to the Danites, who had taken away his household priest: “Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and what have I more?” And perhaps the whole story of Micah might square not unfitly to this argument: “Now know I,” saith he, “that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest,” Micah had as great a care that his priest should be Mosaical, as the king had, that his should be apostolical; yet both in an error touching their priests. Household and private orisons were not to be officiated by priests; for neither did public prayer appertain only to their office. Kings heretofore, David, Solomon, and Jehosaphat, who might not touch the priesthood, yet might pray in public, yea in the temple, while the priests themselves stood and heard. What ailed this king then, that he could not chew his own matins without the priest’s Ore tenus? Yet is it like he could not pray at home, who can here publish a whole prayer book of his own, and signifies in some part of this chapter, almost as good a mind to be a priest himself, as Micah had to let his son be! There was doubtless therefore some other matter in it, which made him so desirous to have his chaplains about him, who were not only the contrivers, but very oft the instruments also of his designs.
The ministers which were sent him, no marvel he endured not; for they preached repentance to him: the others gave him easy confession, easy absolution, nay, strengthened his hands, and hardened his heart, by applauding him in his wilful ways. To them he was an Ahab, to these a Constantine; it must follow then, that they to him were as unwelcome as Elijah was to Ahab, these as dear and pleasing as Amaziah the priest of Bethel was to Jeroboam. These had learned well the lesson that would please; “Prophesy not against Bethel, for it is the king’s chapel, the king’s court;” and had taught the king to say of those ministers, which the parliament had sent, “Amos hath conspired against me, the land is not able to bear all his words.”
Returning to our first parallel, this king looked upon his prelates, “as orphans under the sacrilegious eyes of many rapacious reformers:” and there was as great fear of sacrilege between Micah and his mother, till with their holy treasure, about the loss whereof there was such cursing, they made a graven and a molten image, and got a priest of their own. To let go his criticising about the “sound of prayers, imperious, rude, or passionate,” modes of his own devising, we are in danger to fall again upon the flats and shallows of liturgy. Which if I should repeat again, would turn my answers into Responsories, and beget another liturgy, having too much of one already.
This only I shall add, that if the heart, as he alleges, cannot safely “join with another man’s extemporal sufficiency,” because we know not so exactly what they mean to say; then those public prayers made in the temple by those forenamed kings, and by the apostles in the congregation, and by the ancient Christians for above three hundred years before liturgies came in, were with the people made in vain.
After he hath acknowledged, that kings heretofore prayed without chaplains, even publicly in the temple itself, and that every “private believer is invested with a royal priesthood;” yet like one that relished not what he “tasted of the heavenly gift, and the good word of God,” whose name he so confidently takes into his mouth, he frames to himself impertinent and vain reasons, why he should rather pray by the officiating mouth of a closet chaplain. “Their prayers,” saith he, “are more prevalent, they flow from minds more enlightened, from affections less distracted.” Admit this true, which is not, this might be something said as to their prayers for him, but what avails it to their praying with him? If his own mind “be encumbered with secular affairs,” what helps it his particular prayer, though the mind of his chaplain be not wandering, either after new preferment, or his dinner? The fervency of one man in prayer cannot supererogate for the coldness of another; neither can his spiritual defects in that duty be made out, in the acceptance of God, by another man’s abilities. Let him endeavour to have more light in himself, and not to walk by another man’s lamp, but to get oil into his own. Let him cast from him, as in a Christian warfare, that secular encumbrance, which either distracts or overloads him; his load else will never be the less heavy, because another man’s is light. Thus these pious flourishes and colours, examined thoroughly, are like the apples of Asphaltis, appearing goodly to the sudden eye, but look well upon them, or at least but touch them, and they turn into cinders.
In his prayer he remembers what “voices of joy and gladness” there were in his chapel, “God’s house,” in his opinion, between the singing men and the organs; and this was “unity of spirit in the bond of peace;” the vanity, superstition, and misdevotion of which place, was a scandal far and near: Wherein so many things were sung and prayed in those songs, which were not understood; and yet he who makes a difficulty how the people can join their hearts to extemporal prayers, though distinctly heard and understood, makes no question how they should join their hearts in unity to songs not understood.
I believe that God is no more moved with a prayer elaborately penned, than men truly charitable are moved with the penned speech of a beggar.
Finally, O ye ministers, ye pluralists, whose lips preserve not knowledge, but the way ever open to your bellies, read here what work he makes among your wares, your gallipots, your balms and cordials, in print; and not only your sweet sippets in widows’ houses, but the huge gobbets wherewith he charges you to have devoured houses and all; the “houses of your brethren, your king, and your God.” Cry him up for a saint in your pulpits, while he cries you down for atheists into hell.
It is not hard for any man, who hath a Bible in his hands, to borrow good words and holy sayings in abundance; but to make them his own, is a work of grace, only from above. He borrows here many penitential verses out of David’s psalms. So did many among those Israelites, who had revolted from the true worship of God, “invent to themselves instruments of music like David,” and probably psalms also like his; and yet the prophet Amos complains heavily against them. But to prove how short this is of true repentance, I will recite the penitence of others, who have repented in words not borrowed, but their own, and yet by the doom of Scripture itself, are judged reprobates.
“Cain said unto the Lord, My iniquity is greater than I can bear: behold thou hast driven me this day from the face of the earth, and from thy face shall I be hid.”
“And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceeding bitter cry, and said, Bless me, even me also, O my father; yet found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Heb. xii.
“And Pharaoh said to Moses, The Lord is righteous, I and my people are wicked; I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.”
“And Balaam said, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.”
“And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord; yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people.”
“And when Ahab heard the words of Elijah, he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.”
“Jehoram also rent his clothes, and the people looked, and behold he had sackcloth upon his flesh;” yet in the very act of his humiliation he could say, “God do so, and more also to me, if the head of Elisha shall stand on him this day.”
“Therefore saith the Lord, They have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds. They return, but not to the Most High.” Hosea vii.
“And Judas said, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“And Simon Magus said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things come upon me.”
All these took the pains both to confess and to repent in their own words, and many of them in their own tears, not in David’s. But transported with the vain ostentation of imitating David’s language, not his life, observe how he brings a curse upon himself and his father’s house (God so disposing it) by his usurped and ill-imitated prayer, “Let thy anger I beseech thee be against me and my father’s house; as for these sheep, what have they done?” For if David indeed sinned in numbering the people, of which fault he in earnest made that confession, and acquitted the whole people from the guilt of that sin; then doth this king, using the same words, bear witness against himself to be the guilty person; and either in his soul and conscience here acquits the parliament and the people, or else abuses the words of David, and dissembles grossly to the very face of God; which is apparent in the next line; wherein he accuses even the church itself to God, as if she were the church’s enemy, for having overcome his tyranny by the powerful and miraculous might of God’s manifest arm: For to other strength, in the midst of our divisions and disorders, who can attribute our victories? Thus had this miserable man no worse enemies to solicit and mature his own destruction, from the hastened sentence of divine justice, than the obdurate curses which proceeded against himself out of his own mouth.
Hitherto his meditations, now his vows; which, as the vows of hypocrites used to be, are most commonly absurd, and some wicked. Jacob vowed, that God should be his God, if he granted him but what was necessary to perform that vow, life and subsistence; but the obedience proffered here is nothing so cheap. He, who took so heinously to be offered nineteen propositions from the parliament, capitulates here with God almost in as many articles.
“If he will continue that light,” or rather that darkness of the gospel, which is among his prelates, settle their luxuries, and make them gorgeous bishops;
If he will “restore” the grievances and mischiefs of those obsolete and popish laws, which the parliament without his consent had abrogated, and will suffer justice to be executed according to his sense;
“If he will suppress the many schisms in church,” to contradict himself in that which he hath foretold must and shall come to pass, and will remove reformation as the greatest schism of all, and factions in state, by which he means in every leaf the parliament;
If he will “restore him” to his negative voice and the militia, as much as to say, to arbitrary power, which he wrongfully avers to be the “right of his predecessors;”
“If he will turn the hearts of his people” to their old cathedral and parochial service in the liturgy, and their passive obedience to the king;
“If he will quench” the army, and withdraw our forces from withstanding the piracy of Rupert, and the plotted Irish invasion;
“If he will bless him with the freedom” of bishops again in the house of peers, and of fugitive delinquents in the house of commons, and deliver the honour of parliament into his hands, from the most natural and due protection of the people, that entrusted them with the dangerous enterprise of being faithful to their country against the rage and malice of his tyrannous opposition;
“If he will keep him from that great offence” of following the counsel of his parliament, and enacting what they advise him to; which in all reason, and by the known law, and oath of his coronation, he ought to do, and not to call that sacrilege, which necessity through the continuance of his own civil war hath compelled him to; necessity, which made David eat the shewbread, made Ezekiah take all the silver which was found in God’s house, and cut off the gold which overlaid those doors and pillars, and gave it to Senacherib; necessity, which ofttimes made the primitive church to sell her sacred utensils, even to the communion-chalice;
“If he will restore him to a capacity of glorifying him by doing” that both in church and state, which must needs dishonour and pollute his name;
“If he will bring him again with peace, honour, and safety, to his chief city,” without repenting, without satisfying for the blood spilt, only for a few politic concessions, which are as good as nothing;
“If he will put again the sword into his hand, to punish” those that have delivered us, and to protect delinquents against the justice of parliament;
Then, if it be possible to reconcile contradictions, he will praise him by displeasing him, and serve him by disserving him.
“His glory,” in the gaudy copes and painted windows, mitres, rochets, altars, and the chaunted service-book, “shall be dearer to him,” than the establishing his crown in righteousness, and the spiritual power of religion.
“He will pardon those that have offended him in particular,” but there shall want no subtle ways to be even with them upon another score of their supposed offences against the commonwealth; whereby he may at once affect the glory of a seeming justice, and destroy them pleasantly, while he feigns to forgive them as to his own particular, and outwardly bewails them.
These are the conditions of his treating with God, to whom he bates nothing of what he stood upon with the parliament: as if commissions of array could deal with him also.
But of all these conditions, as it is now evident in our eyes, God accepted none, but that final petition, which he so oft, no doubt but by the secret judgment of God, importunes against his own head; praying God, “That his mercies might be so toward him, as his resolutions of truth and peace were toward his people.” It follows then, God having cut him off, without granting any of these mercies, that his resolutions were as feigned, as his vows were frustrate.
To give account to royalists what was done with their vanquished king, yielded up into our hands, is not to be expected from them, whom God hath made his conquerors. And for brethren to debate and rip up their falling out in the ear of a common enemy, thereby making him the judge, or at least the well-pleased auditor of their disagreement, is neither wise nor comely. To the king therefore, were he living, or to his party yet remaining, as to this action, there belongs no answer. Emulations, all men know, are incident among military men, and are, if they exceed not, pardonable. But some of the former army, eminent enough for their own martial deeds, and prevalent in the house of commons, touched with envy to be so far outdone by a new model which they contemned, took advantage of presbyterian and independent names, and the virulence of some ministers, to raise disturbance. And the war being then ended, thought slightly to have discarded them who had faithfully done the work, without their due pay, and the reward of their invincible valour. But they who had the sword yet in their hands, disdaining to be made the first objects of ingratitude and oppression, after all that expense of their blood for justice, and the common liberty, seized upon the king their prisoner, whom nothing but their matchless deeds had brought so low as to surrender up his person: though he, to stir up new discord, chose rather to give up himself a captive to his own countrymen, who less had won him. This in likelihood might have grown to some height of mischief, partly through the strife which was kindling between our elder and our younger warriors, but chiefly through the seditious tongues of some false ministers, more zealous against schisms, than against their own simony and pluralities, or watchful of the common enemy, whose subtile insinuations had got so far in among them, as with all diligence to blow the coals. But it pleased God, not to embroil and put to confusion his whole people for the perverseness of a few. The growth of our dissension was either prevented, or soon quieted: the enemy soon deceived of his rejoicing, and the king especially disappointed of not the meanest morsel that his hope presented him, to ruin us by our division. And being now so nigh the end, we may the better be at leisure to stay a while, and hear him commenting upon his own captivity.
He saith of his surprisal, that it was a “motion eccentric and irregular.” What then? his own allusion from the celestial bodies puts us in mind, that irregular motions may be necessary on earth sometimes, as well as constantly in heaven. This is not always best, which is most regular to written law. Great worthies heretofore by disobeying law, ofttimes have saved the commonwealth; and the law afterward by firm decree hath approved that planetary motion, that unblameable exorbitancy in them.
He means no good to either independent or presbyterian, and yet his parable, like that of Balaam, is overruled to portend them good, far beside his intention. Those twins, that strove enclosed in the womb of Rebecca, were the seed of Abraham; the younger undoubtedly gained the heavenly birthright; the elder, though supplanted in his simile, shall yet no question find a better portion than Esau found, and far above his uncircumcised prelates.
He censures, and in censuring seems to hope it will be an ill omen, that they who build Jerusalem divided their tongues and hands. But his hope failed him with his example; for that there were divisions both of tongues and hands at the building of Jerusalem, the story would have certified him; and yet the work prospered; and if God will, so may this, notwithstanding all the craft and malignant wiles of Sanballat and Tobiah, adding what fuel they can to our dissensions; or the indignity of his comparison, that likens us to those seditious zealots, whose intestine fury brought destruction to the last Jerusalem.
It being now no more in his hand to be revenged on his opposers, he seeks to satiate his fancy with the imagination of some revenge upon them from above; and like one who in a drowth observes the sky, he sits and watches when any thing will drop, that might solace him with the likeness of a punishment from Heaven upon us; which he straight expounds how he pleases. No evil can befall the parliament or city, but he positively interprets it a judgment upon them for his sake: as if the very manuscript of God’s judgments had been delivered to his custody and exposition. But his reading declares it well to be a false copy which he uses; dispensing often to his own bad deeds and successes the testimony of divine favour, and to the good deeds and successes of other men divine wrath and vengeance. But to counterfeit the hand of God, is the boldest of all forgery: And he who without warrant, but his own fantastic surmise, takes upon him perpetually to unfold the secret and unsearchable mysteries of high providence, is likely for the most part to mistake and slander them; and approaches to the madness of those reprobate thoughts, that would wrest the sword of justice out of God’s hand, and employ it more justly in their own conceit. It was a small thing, to contend with the parliament about the sole power of the militia, when we see him doing little less than laying hands on the weapons of God himself, which are his judgments, to wield and manage them by the sway and bent of his own frail cogitations. Therefore “they that by tumults first occasioned the raising of armies” in his doom must needs “be chastened by their own army for new tumults.”
First, note here his confession, that those tumults were the first occasion of raising armies, and by consequence that he himself raised them first, against those supposed tumults. But who occasioned those tumults, or who made them so, being at first nothing more than the unarmed and peaceable concourse of people, hath been discussed already. And that those pretended tumults were chastised by their own army for new tumults, is not proved by a game at tic-tac with words; “tumults and armies, armies and tumults,” but seems more like the method of a justice irrational than divine.
If the city were chastened by the army for new tumults, the reason is by himself set down evident and immediate, “their new tumults.” With what sense can it be referred then to another far-fetched and imaginary cause, that happened so many years before, and in his supposition only as a cause? Manlius defended the Capitol and the Romans from their enemies the Gauls: Manlius for sedition afterward was by the Romans thrown headlong from the Capitol; therefore Manlius was punished by divine justice for defending the Capitol, because in that place punished for sedition, and by those whom he defended. This is his logic upon divine justice; and was the same before upon the death of Sir John Hotham. And here again, “such as were content to see him driven away by unsuppressed tumults, are now forced to fly to an army.” Was this a judgment? Was it not a mercy rather, that they had a noble and victorious army so near at hand to fly to?
From God’s justice he comes down to man’s justice. Those few of both houses, who at first withdrew with him for the vain pretence of tumults, were counted deserters; therefore those many must be also deserters, who withdrew afterwards from real tumults: as if it were the place that made a parliament, and not the end and cause. Because it is denied that those were tumults, from which the king made show of being driven, is it therefore of necessity implied, that there could be never any tumults for the future? If some men fly in craft, may not other men have cause to fly in earnest? But mark the difference between their flight and his; they soon returned in safety to their places, he not till after many years, and then a captive to receive his punishment. So that their flying, whether the cause be considered, or the event, or both, neither justified him, nor condemned themselves.
But he will needs have vengeance to pursue and overtake them; though to bring it in, cost him an inconvenient and obnoxious comparison, “As the mice and rats overtook a German bishop.” I would our mice and rats had been as orthodoxal here, and had so pursued all his bishops out of England; then vermin had rid away vermin, which now hath lost the lives of too many thousand honest men to do.
“He cannot but observe this divine justice, yet with sorrow and pity.” But sorrow and pity in a weak and overmastered enemy is looked upon no otherwise than as the ashes of his revenge burnt out upon himself: or as the damp of a cooled fury, when we say, it gives. But in this manner to sit spelling and observing divine justice upon every accident and slight disturbance, that may happen humanly to the affairs of men, is but another fragment of his broken revenge; and yet the shrewdest and the cunningest obloquy, that can be thrown upon their actions. For if he can persuade men, that the parliament and their cause is pursued with divine vengeance, he hath attained his end, to make all men forsake them, and think the worst that can be thought of them.
Nor is he only content to suborn divine justice in his censure of what is past, but he assumes the person of Christ himself, to prognosticate over us what he wishes would come. So little is any thing or person sacred from him, no not in heaven, which he will not use, and put on, if it may serve him plausibly to wreak his spleen, or ease his mind upon the parliament. Although, if ever fatal blindness did both attend and punish wilfulness, if ever any enjoyed not comforts for neglecting counsel belonging to their peace, it was in none more conspicuously brought to pass than in himself: and his predictions against the parliament and their adherents have for the most part been verified upon his own head, and upon his chief counsellors.
He concludes with high praises of the army. But praises in an enemy are superfluous, or smell of craft; and the army shall not need his praises, nor the parliament fare worse for his accusing prayers that follow. Wherein, as his charity can be no way comparable to that of Christ, so neither can his assurance, that they whom he seems to pray for, in doing what they did against him, “knew not what they did.” It was but arrogance therefore, and not charity, to lay such ignorance to others in the sight of God, till he himself had been infallible, like him whose peculiar words he overweeningly assumes.
What the king wrote to his son, as a father, concerns not us; what he wrote to him as king of England, concerns not him; God and the parliament having now otherwise disposed of England. But because I see it done with some artifice and labour, to possess the people, that they might amend their present condition, by his, or by his son’s restorement, I shall show point by point, that although the king had been reinstalled to his desire, or that his son admitted should observe exactly all his father’s precepts, yet that this would be so far from conducing to our happiness, either as a remedy to the present distempers, or a prevention of the like to come, that it would inevitably throw us back again into all our past and fulfilled miseries; would force us to fight over again all our tedious wars, and put us to another fatal struggling for liberty and life, more dubious than the former. In which, as our success hath been no other than our cause; so it will be evident to all posterity, that his misfortunes were the mere consequence of his perverse judgment.
First, he argues from the experience of those troubles, which both he and his son have had, to the improvement of their piety and patience; and by the way bears witness in his own words, that the corrupt education of his youth, which was but glanced at only in some former passages of this answer, was a thing neither of mean consideration, nor untruly charged upon him or his son: himself confessing here, that “court-delights are prone either to root up all true virtue and honour, or to be contented only with some leaves and withering formalities of them, without any real fruits tending to the public good.” Which presents him still in his own words another Rehoboam, softened by a far worse court than Solomon’s, and so corrupted by flatteries, which he affirms to be unseparable, to the overturning of all peace, and the loss of his own honour and kingdoms. That he came therefore thus bred up and nurtured to the throne far worse than Rehoboam, unless he be of those who equalized his father to King Solomon, we have here his own confession. And how voluptuously, how idly reigning in the hands of other men, he either tyrannized or trifled away those seventeen years of peace, without care or thought, as if to be a king had been nothing else in his apprehension, but to eat and drink, and have his will, and take his pleasure; though there be who can relate his domestic life to the exactness of a diary, there shall be here no mention made. This yet we might have then foreseen, that he who spent his leisure so remissly and so corruptly to his own pleasing, would one day or other be worse busied and employed to our sorrow. And that he acted in good earnest what Rehoboam did but threaten, to make his little finger heavier than his father’s loins, and to whip us with two-twisted scorpions, both temporal and spiritual tyranny, all his kingdoms have felt. What good use he made afterwards of his adversity, both his impenitence and obstinacy to the end, (for he was no Manasseh,) and the sequel of these his meditated resolutions, abundantly express: retaining, commending, teaching, to his son all those putrid and pernicious documents both of state and of religion, instilled by wicked doctors, and received by him as in a vessel nothing better seasoned, which were the first occasion both of his own and all our miseries. And if he, in the best maturity of his years and understanding, made no better use to himself or others of his so long and manifold afflictions, either looking up to God, or looking down upon the reason of his own affairs; there can be no probability, that his son, bred up, not in the soft effeminacies of a court only, but in the rugged and more boisterous license of undisciplined camps and garrisons, for years unable to reflect with judgment upon his own condition, and thus ill instructed by his father, should give his mind to walk by any other rules than these, bequeathed him as on his father’s death-bed, and as the choicest of all that experience, which his most serious observation and retirement in good or evil days had taught him. David indeed, by suffering without just cause, learned that meekness and that wisdom by adversity, which made him much the fitter man to reign. But they who suffer as oppressors, tyrants, violaters of law, and persecutors of reformation, without appearance of repenting; if they once get hold again of that dignity and power, which they had lost, are but whetted and enraged by what they suffered, against those whom they look upon as them that caused their sufferings.
How he hath been “subject to the sceptre of God’s word and spirit,” though acknowledged to be the best government; and what his dispensation of civil power hath been, with what justice, and what honour to the public peace; it is but looking back upon the whole catalogue of his deeds, and that will be sufficient to remember us. “The cup 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 any thing 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 freeborn 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 any thing of strength, honour, or safety to the head; but that a necessary debilitation must follow.” So that this liberty of this 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 transcendant 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 piece-meal 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 Madrid; where to execute in the basest manner, though but the smallest part of that savage and barbarous revenge, which they do nothing else but study and contemplate, they cared not to let the world know them for professed traitors and assassinators of all law both divine and human, even of that last and most extensive law kept inviolable to public persons among all fair enemies in the midst of uttermost defiance and hostility. How implacable therefore they would be, after any terms of closure or admittance for the future, or any like opportunity given them hereafter, it will be wisdom and our safety to believe rather, and prevent, than to make trial. And it will concern the multitude, though courted here, to take heed how they seek to hide or colour their own fickleness and instability with a bad repentance of their well-doing, and their fidelity to the better cause; to which at first so cheerfully and conscientiously they joined themselves.
He returns again to extol the church of England, and again requires his son by the joint authority of “a father and a king, not to let his heart receive the least check or disaffection against it.” And not without cause, for by that means, “having sole influence upon the clergy, and they upon the people, after long search and many disputes,” he could not possibly find a more compendious and politic way to uphold and settle tyranny, than by subduing first the consciences of vulgar men, with the insensible poison of their slavish doctrine: for then the body and besotted mind without much reluctancy was likeliest to admit the yoke.
He commends also “parliaments held with freedom and with honour.” 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 accountable denial, to dishonour 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 dishonourable, more unsafe for all, than when a wise, grave, and honourable parliament shall have laboured, 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 negative 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 restitution, 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 bondslaves, 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 deliver us.
There remains now but little more of his discourse, whereof to take a short view will not be amiss. His words make semblance as if he were magnanimously exercising himself, and so teaching his son, “to want as well as to wear a crown;” and would seem to account it “not worth taking up or enjoying, upon sordid, dishonourable, and irreligious terms;” and yet to his very last did nothing more industriously, than strive to take up and enjoy again his sequestered crown, upon the most sordid, disloyal, dishonourable, and irreligious terms, not of making peace only, but of joining and incorporating with the murderous Irish, formerly by himself declared against, for wicked and detestable rebels, odious to God and all good men.” And who but those rebels now are the chief strength and confidence of his son? While the presbyter Scot that woos and solicits him, is neglected and put off, as if no terms were to him sordid, irreligious, and dishonourable, but the Scottish and presbyterian, never to be complied with, till the fear of instant perishing starve him out at length to some unsound and hypocritical agreement.
He bids his son “keep to the true principles of piety, virtue, and honour, and he shall never want a kingdom.” And I say, people of England! keep ye to those principles, and ye shall never want a king. Nay, after such a fair deliverance as this, with so much fortitude and valour shown against a tyrant, that people that should seek a king, claiming what this man claims, would show themselves to be by nature slaves, and arrant beasts; not fit for that liberty, which they cried out and bellowed for, but fitter to be led back again into their old servitude, like a sort of clamouring and fighting brutes, broke loose from their copy-holds, that know not how to use or possess the liberty which they fought for; but with the fair words and promises of an old exasperated foe, are ready to be stroked and tamed again, into the wonted and well-pleasing state of their true Norman villainage, to them best agreeable.
The last sentence, whereon he seems to venture the whole weight of all his former reasons and argumentations, “That religion to their God, and loyalty to their king, cannot be parted, without the sin and infelicity of a people,” is contrary to the plain teaching of Christ, that “No man can serve two masters; but, if he hold to the one, he must reject and forsake the other.” If God, then, and earthly kings be for the most part not several only, but opposite masters, it will as oft happen, that they who will serve their king must forsake their God; and they who will serve God must forsake their king; which then will neither be their sin, nor their infelicity; but their wisdom, their piety, and their true happiness; as to be deluded by these unsound and subtle ostentations here, would be their misery; and in all likelihood much greater than what they hitherto have undergone: if now again intoxicated and moped with these royal, and therefore so delicious because royal, rudiments of bondage, the cup of deception, spiced and tempered to their bane, they should deliver up themselves to these glozing words and illusions of him, whose rage and utmost violence they have sustained, and overcome so nobly.
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 meet. Nevertheless, since out of those few mortifying hours, that should have been intirest to themselves, and most at peace from all passion and disquiet, he can afford spare time to inveigh bitterly against that justice which was done upon him; it will be needful to say something in defence of those proceedings, though briefly, in regard so much on this subject hath been written lately.
It happened once, as we find in Esdras and Josephus, authors not less believed than any under sacred, to be a great and solemn debate in the court of Darius, what thing was to be counted strongest of all other. He that could resolve this, in reward of his excellent wisdom, should be clad in purple, drink in gold, sleep on a bed of gold, and sit next Darius. None but they doubtless who were reputed wise, had the question propounded to them: who after some respite given them by the king to consider, in full assembly of all his lords and gravest counsellors, returned severally what they thought. The first held, that wine was strongest, another that the king was strongest. But Zorobabel prince of the captive Jews, and heir to the crown of Judah, being one of them, proved women to be stronger than the king, for that he himself had seen a concubine take his crown from off his head to set it upon her own: and others besides him have likewise seen the like feat done, and not in jest. Yet he proved on, and it was so yielded by the king himself, and all his sages, that neither wine, nor women, nor the king, but truth of all other things was the strongest. For me, though neither asked, nor in a nation that gives such rewards to wisdom, I shall pronounce my sentence somewhat different from Zorobabel; and shall defend that either truth and justice are all one, (for truth is but justice in our knowledge, and justice is but truth in our practice; and he indeed so explains himself, in saying that with truth is no accepting of persons, which is the property of justice,) or else if there be any odds, that justice, though not stronger than truth, yet by her office is to put forth and exhibit more strength in the affairs of mankind. For truth is properly no more than contemplation; and her utmost efficiency is but teaching: but justice in her very essence is all strength and activity; and hath a sword put into her hand, to use against all violence and oppression on the earth. She it is most truly, who accepts no person, and exempts none from the severity of her stroke. She never suffers injury to prevail, but when falsehood first prevails over truth; and that also is a kind of justice done on them who are so deluded. Though wicked kings and tyrants counterfeit her sword, as some did that buckler, fabled to fall from heaven into the capitol, yet she communicates her power to none but such as like herself are just, or at least will do justice. For it were extreme partiality and injustice, the flat denial and overthrow of herself, to put her own authentic sword into the hand of an unjust and wicked man, or so far to accept and exalt one mortal person above his equals, that he alone shall have the punishing of all other men transgressing, and not receive like punishment from men, when he himself shall be found the highest transgressor.
We may conclude therefore, that justice, above all other things, is and ought to be the strongest: she is the strength, the kingdom, the power, and majesty of all ages. Truth herself would subscribe to this, though Darius and all the monarchs of the world should deny. And if by sentence thus written, it were my happiness to set free the minds of Englishmen from longing to return poorly under that captivity of kings, from which the strength and supreme sword of justice hath delivered them, I shall have done a work not much inferior to that of Zorobabel: who by well praising and extolling the force of truth, in that contemplative strength conquered Darius; and freed his country and the people of God, from the captivity of Babylon. Which I shall yet not despair to do, if they in this land, whose minds are yet captive, be but as ingenuous to acknowledge the strength and supremacy of justice, as that heathen king was to confess the strength of truth: or let them but, as he did, grant that, and they will soon perceive, that truth resigns all her outward strength to justice: justice therefore must needs be strongest, both in her own, and in the strength of truth. But if a king may do among men whatsoever is his will and pleasure, and notwithstanding be unaccountable to men, then contrary to his magnified wisdom of Zorobabel, neither truth nor justice, but the king, is strongest of all other things, which that Persian monarch himself, in the midst of all his pride and glory, durst not assume.
Let us see therefore what this king hath to affirm, why the sentence of justice, and the weight of that sword, which she delivers into the hands of men, should be more partial to him offending, than to all others of human race. First, he pleads, that “no law of God or man gives to subjects any power of judicature without or against him.” Which assertion shall be proved in every part to be most untrue. The first express law of God given to mankind was that to Noah, as a law, in general, to all the sons of men. And by that most ancient and universal law, “Whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed;” we find here no exception. If a king therefore do this, to a king, and that by men also, the same shall be done. This in the law of Moses, which came next, several times is repeated, and in one place remarkably, Numb. xxxv. “Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, but he shall surely be put to death: the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.” This is so spoken as that which concerned all Israel, not one man alone, to see performed; and if no satisfaction were to be taken, then certainly no exception. Nay, the king, when they should set up any, was to observe the whole law, and not only to see it done, but to “do it; that his heart might not be lifted up above his brethren;” to dream of vain and useless prerogatives or exemptions, whereby the law itself must needs be founded in unrighteousness.
And were that true, which is most false, that all kings are the Lord’s anointed, it were yet absurd to think that the anointment of God should be, as it were, a charm against law, and give them privilege, who punish others, to sin themselves unpunishably. The high priest was the Lord’s anointed as well as any king, and with the same consecrated oil: yet Solomon had put to death Abiathar, had it not been for other respects than that anointment. If God himself say to kings, “touch not mine anointed,” meaning his chosen people, as is evident in that psalm, yet no man will argue thence, that he protects them from civil laws if they offend; then certainly, though David as a private man, and in his own cause, feared to lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed, much less can this forbid the law, or disarm justice from having legal power against any king. No other supreme magistrate, in what kind of government soever, lays claim to any such enormous privilege; wherefore then should any king, who is but one kind of magistrate, and set over the people for no other end than they?
Next in order of time to the laws of Moses are those of Christ, who declares professedly his judicature to be spiritual, abstract from civil managements, and therefore leaves all nations to their own particular laws, and way of government. Yet because the church hath a kind of jurisdiction within her own bounds, and that also, though in process of time much corrupted and plainly turned into a corporal judicature, yet much approved by this king; it will be firm enough and valid against him, if subjects, by the laws of church also, be “invested with a power of judicature” both without and against their king, though pretending, and by them acknowledged, “next and immediately under Christ, supreme head and governor.” Theodosius, one of the best Christian emperors, having made a slaughter of the Thessalonians for sedition, but too cruelly, was excommunicated to his face by St. Ambrose, who was his subject; and excommunion is the utmost of ecclesiastical judicature, a spiritual putting to death. But this, ye will say, was only an example. Read then the story; and it will appear, both that Ambrose avouched it for the law of God, and Theodosius confessed it of his own accord to be so; “and that the law of God was not to be made void in him, for any reverence to his imperial power.” From hence, not to be tedious, I shall pass into our own land of Britain; and show that subjects here have exercised the utmost of spiritual judicature, and more than spiritual, against their kings, his predecessors. Vortiger, for committing incest with his daughter, was by St. German, at that time his subject, cursed and condemned in a British council about the year 448; and thereupon soon after was deposed. Mauricus, a king in Wales, for breach of oath and the murder of Cynetus, was excommunicated and cursed, with all his offspring, by Oudoceus, bishop of Llandaff, in full synod, about the year 560; and not restored, till he had repented. Morcant, another king in Wales, having slain Frioc his uncle, was fain to come in person, and receive judgment from the same bishop and his clergy; who upon his penitence acquitted him, for no other cause than lest the kingdom should be destitute of a successor in the royal line. These examples are of the primitive, British, and episcopal church; long ere they had any commerce or communion with the church of Rome. What power afterwards of deposing kings, and so consequently of putting them to death, was assumed and practised by the canon law, I omit, as a thing generally known. Certainly, if whole councils of the Romish church have in the midst of their dimness discerned so much of truth, as to decree at Constance, and at Basil, and many of them to avouch at Trent also, that a council is above the pope, and may judge him, though by them not denied to be the vicar of Christ, we in our clearer light may be ashamed not to discern further, that a parliament is by all equity and right above a king, and may judge him, whose reasons and pretensions to hold of God only, as his immediate vicegerent, we know how far fetched they are, and insufficient.
As for the laws of man, it would ask a volume to repeat all that might be cited in this point against him from all antiquity. In Greece, Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, and by succession king of Argos, was in that country judged and condemned to death for killing his mother: whence escaping, he was judged again, though a stranger, before the great council of Areopagus in Athens. And this memorable act of judicature was the first, that brought the justice of that grave senate into fame and high estimation over all Greece for many ages after. And in the same city, tyrants were to undergo legal sentence by the laws of Solon. The kings of Sparta, though descended lineally from Hercules, esteemed a god among them, were often judged, and sometimes put to death, by the most just and renowned laws of Lycurgus; who, though a king, thought it most unequal to bind his subjects by any law, to which he bound not himself. In Rome, the laws made by Valerius Publicola, soon after the expelling of Tarquin and his race, expelled without a written law, the law being afterward written; and what the senate decreed against Nero, that he should be judged and punished according to the laws of their ancestors, and what in like manner was decreed against other emperors, is vulgarly known; as it was known to those heathen, and found just by nature ere any law mentioned it. And that the Christian civil law warrants like power of judicature to subjects against tyrants, is written clearly by the best and famousest civilians. For if it was decreed by Theodosius, and stands yet firm in the code of Justinian, that the law is above the emperor, then certainly the emperor being under law, the law may judge him; and if judge him, may punish him, proving tyrannous: how else is the law above him, or to what purpose? These are necessary deductions; and thereafter hath been done in all ages and kingdoms, oftener than to be here recited.
But what need we any further search after the law of other lands, for that which is so fully and so plainly set down lawful in our own? Where ancient books tell us, Bracton, Fleta, and others, that the king is under law, and inferior to his court of parliament; that although his place “to do justice” be highest, yet that he stands as liable “to receive justice” as the meanest of his kingdom. Nay, Alfred the most worthy king, and by some accounted first absolute monarch of the Saxons here, so ordained; as is cited out of an ancient law-book called the “Mirror;” in “Rights of the Kingdom,” p. 31, where it is complained on “as the sovereign abuse of all,” that “the king should be deemed above the law, whereas he ought to be the subject to it by his oath.” Of which oath anciently it was the last clause, that the king “should be as liable, and obedient to suffer right, as others of his people.” And indeed it were but fond and senseless, that the king should be accountable to every petty suit in lesser courts, as we all know he was, and not be subject to the judicature of parliament in the main matters of our common safety or destruction; that he should be answerable in the ordinary course of law for any wrong done to a private person, and not answerable in court of parliament for destroying the whole kingdom. By all this, and much more that might be added, as in an argument over-copious rather than barren, we see it manifest that all laws, both of God and man, are made without exemption of any person whomsoever; and that if kings presume to overtop the law by which they reign for the public good, they are by law to be reduced into order; and that can no way be more justly, than by those who exalt them to that high place. For who should better understand their own laws, and when they are transgrest, than they who are governed by them, and whose consent first made them? And who can have more right to take knowledge of things done within a free nation, than they within themselves?
Those objected oaths of allegiance and supremacy we swore, not to his person, but as it was invested with his authority; and his authority was by the people first given him conditionally, in law, and under law, and under oath also for the kingdom’s good, and not otherwise; the oaths then were interchanged, and mutual; stood and fell together; he swore fidelity to his trust; (not as a deluding ceremony, but as a real condition of their admitting him for king; and the conqueror himself swore it oftener than at his crowning;) they swore homage and fealty to his person in that trust. There was no reason why the kingdom should be further bound by oaths to him, than he by his coronation oath to us, which he hath every way broken: and having broken, the ancient crown oath of Alfred above mentioned conceals not his penalty.
As for the covenant, if that be meant, certainly no discreet person can imagine it should bind us to him in any stricter sense than those oaths formerly. The acts of hostility, which we received from him, were no such dear obligements, that we should owe him more fealty and defence for being our enemy, than we could before when we took him only for a king. They were accused by him and his party, to pretend liberty and reformation, but to have no other end than to make themselves great, and to destroy the king’s person and authority. For which reason they added that third article, testifying to the world, that as they were resolved to endeavour first a reformation in the church, to extirpate prelacy, to preserve the rights of parliament, and the liberties of the kingdom, so they intended, so far as it might consist with the preservation and defence of these, to preserve the king’s person and authority; but not otherwise. As far as this comes to, they covenant and swear in the sixth article, to preserve and defend the persons and authority of one another, and all those that enter into that league; so that this covenant gives no unlimitable exemption to the king’s person, but gives to all as much defence and preservation as to him, and to him as much as to their own persons, and no more; that is to say, in order and subordination to those main ends, for which we live and are a nation of men joined in society either Christian, or at least human. But if the covenant were made absolute, to preserve and defend any one whomsoever, without respect had, either to the true religion, or those other superior things to be defended and preserved however, it cannot then be doubted, but that the covenant was rather a most foolish, hasty, and unlawful vow, than a deliberate and well-weighed covenant; swearing us into labyrinths and repugnances, no way to be solved or reconciled, and therefore no way to be kept; as first offending against the law of God, to vow the absolute preservation, defence, and maintaining of one man, though in his sins and offences never so great and heinous against God or his neighbour; and to except a person from justice, whereas his law excepts none. Secondly, it offends against the law of this nation, wherein, as hath been proved, kings in receiving justice, and undergoing due trial, are not differenced from the meanest subject. Lastly, it contradicts and offends against the covenant itself, which vows in the fourth article to bring to open trial and condign punishment all those that shall be found guilty of such crimes and delinquencies, whereof the king, by his own letters and other undeniable testimonies not brought to light till afterward, was found and convicted to be chief actor in what they thought him, at the time of taking that covenant, to be overruled only by evil counsellors; and those, or whomsoever they should discover to be principal, they vowed to try, either by their own “supreme judicatories,” (for so even then they called them,) “or by others having power from them to that effect.” So that to have brought the king to condign punishment hath not broke the covenant, but it would have broke the covenant to have saved him from those judicatories, which both nations declared in that covenant to be supreme against any person whatsoever. And besides all this, to swear in covenant the bringing of his evil counsellors and accomplices to condign punishment, and not only to leave unpunished and untouched the grand offender, but to receive him back again from the accomplishment of so many violences and mischiefs, dipped from head to foot, and stained over with the blood of thousands that were his faithful subjects, forced to their own defence against a civil war by him first raised upon them; and to receive him thus, in this gory pickle, to all his dignities and honours, covering the ignominious and horrid purple robe of innocent blood, that sat so close about him, with the glorious purple of royalty and supreme rule, the reward of highest excellence and virtue here on earth; were not only to swear and covenant the performance of an unjust vow, the strangest and most impious to the face of God, but were the most unwise and unprudential act as to civil government. For so long as a king shall find by experience, that, do the worst he can, his subjects, overawed by the religion of their own covenant, will only prosecute his evil instruments, not dare to touch his person; and that whatever hath been on his part offended or transgressed, he shall come off at last with the same reverence to his person, and the same honour as for well doing, he will not fail to find them work; seeking far and near, and inviting to his court all the concourse of evil counsellors, or agents, that may be found: who, tempted with preferments and his promise to uphold them, will hazard easily their own heads, and the chance of ten to one but they shall prevail at last, over men so quelled and fitted to be slaves by the false conceit of a religious covenant. And they in that superstition neither wholly yielding, nor to the utmost resisting, at the upshot of all their foolish war and expense, will find to have done no more but fetched a compass only of their miseries, ending at the same point of slavery, and in the same distractions wherein they first begun. But when kings themselves are made as liable to punishment as their evil counsellors, it will be both as dangerous from the king himself as from his parliament, to those that evil counsel him: and they, who else would be his readiest agents in evil, will then not fear to dissuade or to disobey him, not only in respect of themselves and their own lives, which for his sake they would not seem to value, but in respect of that danger which the king himself may incur, whom they would seem to love and serve with greatest fidelity. On all these grounds therefore of the covenant itself, whether religious or political, it appears likeliest, that both the English parliament and the Scotch commissioners, thus interpreting the covenant, (as indeed at that time they were the best and most authentical interpreters joined together,) answered the king unanimously, in their letter dated January the 13th, 1645, that till security and satisfaction first given to both kingdoms for the blood spilled, for the Irish rebels brought over, and for the war in Ireland by him fomented, they could in nowise yield their consent to his return. Here was satisfaction, full two years and upward after the covenant taken, demanded of the king by both nations in parliament for crimes at least capital, wherewith they charged him. And what satisfaction could be given for so much blood, but justice upon him that spilled it? till which done, they neither took themselves bound to grant him the exercise of his regal office by any meaning of the covenant which they then declared, (though other meanings have been since contrived,) nor so much regarded the safety of his person, as to admit of his return among them from the midst of those whom they declared to be his greatest enemies; nay, from himself as from an actual enemy, not as from a king, they demanded security. But if the covenant, all this notwithstanding, swore otherwise to preserve him that in the preservation of true religion and our liberties, against which he fought, if not in arms, yet in resolution, to his dying day, and now after death still fights again in this his book, the covenant was better broken, than he saved. And God hath testified by all propitious and the most evident sign, whereby in these latter times he is wont to testify what pleases him, that such a solemn and for many ages unexampled act of due punishment was no mockery of justice, but a most grateful and well-pleasing sacrifice. Neither was it to cover their perjury, as he accuses, but to uncover his perjury to the oath of his coronation.
The rest of his discourse quite forgets the title; and turns his meditations upon death into obloquy and bitter vehemence against his “judges and accusers;” imitating therein, not our Saviour, but his grandmother Mary queen of Scots, as also in the most of his other scruples, exceptions, and evasions; and from whom he seems to have learnt, as it were by heart, or else by kind, that which is thought by his admirers to be the most virtuous, most manly, most Christian, and most martyr-like, both of his words and speeches here, and of his answers and behaviour at his trial.
“It is a sad fate,” he saith, “to have his enemies both accusers, parties, and judges.” Sad indeed, but no sufficient plea to acquit him from being so judged. For what malefactor might not sometimes plead the like? If his own crimes have made all men his enemies, who else can judge him? They of the powder-plot against his father might as well have pleaded the same. Nay, at the resurrection it may as well be pleaded, that the saints, who then shall judge the world, are “both enemies, judges, parties, and accusers.”
So much he thinks to abound in his own defence, that he undertakes an unmeasurable task, to bespeak “the singular care and protection of God over all kings,” as being the greatest patrons of law, justice, order, and religion on earth. But what patrons they be, God in the Scripture oft enough hath expressed; and the earth itself hath too long groaned under the burden of their injustice, disorder, and irreligion. Therefore “to bind their kings in chains, and their nobles with links of iron,” is an honour belonging to his saints; not to build Babel, (which was Nimrod’s work, the first king, and the beginning of his kingdom was Babel,) but to destroy it, especially that spiritual Babel; and first to overcome those European kings, which receive their power, not from God, but from the beast; and are counted no better than his ten horns. “These shall hate the great whore,” and yet “shall give their kingdoms to the beast that carries her; they shall commit fornication with her,” and yet “shall burn her with fire,” and yet “shall lament the fall of Babylon,” where they fornicated with her. Revelations chap. xvii. and xviii.
Thus shall they be to and fro, doubtful and ambiguous in all their doings, until at last, “joining their armies with the beast,” whose power first raised them, they shall perish with him by the “King of kings,” against whom they have rebelled; and “the fowls shall eat their flesh.” This is their doom written, Rev. xix. and the utmost that we find concerning them in these latter days; which we have much more cause to believe, than his unwarranted revelation here, prophesying what shall follow after his death, with the spirit of enmity, not of St. John.
He would fain bring us out of conceit with the good success, which God hath vouchsafed us. We measure not our cause by our success, but our success by our cause. Yet certainly in a good cause success is a good confirmation; for God hath promised it to good men almost in every leaf of Scripture. If it argue not for us, we are sure it argues not against us; but as much or more for us, than ill success argues for them; for to the wicked God hath denounced ill success in all they take in hand.
He hopes much of those “softer tempers,” as he calls them, and “less advantaged by his ruin, that their consciences do already” gripe them. It is true, there be a sort of moody, hotbrained, and always unedified consciences; apt to engage their leaders into great and dangerous affairs past retirement, and then upon a sudden qualm and swimming of their conscience, to betray them basely in the midst of what was chiefly undertaken for their sakes.* Let such men never meet with any faithful parliament to hazard for them; never with any noble spirit to conduct and lead them out; but let them live and die in servile condition and their scrupulous queasiness, if no instruction will confirm them! Others there be, in whose consciences the loss of gain, and those advantages they hoped for, hath sprung a sudden leak. These are they that cry out, the covenant broken! and to keep it better slide back into neutrality, or join actually with incendiaries and malignants. But God hath eminently begun to punish those, first in Scotland, then in Ulster, who have provoked him with the most hateful kind of mockery, to break his covenant under pretence of strictest keeping it; and hath subjected them to those malignants, with whom they scrupled not to be associates. In God therefore we shall not fear what their false fraternity can do against us.
He seeks again with cunning words to turn our success into our sin. But might call to mind, that the Scripture speaks of those also, who “when God slew them, then sought him;” yet did but “flatter him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongues; for their heart was not right with him.” And there was one, who in the time of his affliction trespassed more against God. This was that king Ahaz.
He glories much in the forgiveness of his enemies; so did his grandmother at her death. Wise men would sooner have believed him, had he not so often told us so. But he hopes to erect “the trophies of his charity over us.” And trophies of charity no doubt will be as glorious as trumpets before the alms of hypocrites; and more especially the trophies of such an aspiring charity, as offers in his prayer to share victory with God’s compassion, which is over all his works. Such prayers as these may haply catch the people, as was intended: but how they please God is to be much doubted, though prayed in secret, much less written to be divulged. Which perhaps may gain him after death a short, contemptible, and soon fading reward; not what he aims at, to stir the constancy and solid firmness of any wise man, or to unsettle the conscience of any knowing Christian, (if he could ever aim at a thing so hopeless, and above the genius of his cleric elocution,) but to catch the worthless approbation of an inconstant, irrational, and image-doting rabble; that like a credulous and hapless herd, begotten to servility, and enchanted with these popular institutes of tyranny, subscribed with a new device of the king’s picture at his prayers, hold out both their ears with such delight and ravishment to be stigmatized and bored through, in witness of their own voluntary and beloved baseness. The rest, whom perhaps ignorance without malice, or some error, less than fatal, hath for the time misled, on this side sorcery or obduration, may find the grace and good guidance, to bethink themselves and recover.
end of volume i
[* ] Mr. Toland first collected and published the author’s prose works in 3 vols. folio, 1697 or 1698: for which all lovers of liberty owe grateful praise to his name; but through hurry, or perhaps not having seen the different copies, he printed from the first edition of some tracts, which the author had afterwards published with considerable additions.
In 1738 Milton’s prose works were again published in 2 vols. folio; of which impression all I shall say is, that, no person being employed to inspect the press, the printer took the liberty to alter what he did not understand, and thereby defaced the author, and marred the beauty of many passages.
[† ] This hath been practised with such zeal by many of that cursed tribe, that it is a wonder there are any copies left. John Swale, a bookseller of Leeds in Yorkshire, an honest man, though of high-church, told me that he could have more money for burning Milton’s Defence of Liberty and the People of England, than I would give for the purchase of it. Some priests in that neighbourhood used to meet once a year, and after they were well warmed with strong beer, they sacrificed to the flames the author’s Defensio pro Populo Anglicano, as also this treatise against the ΕΙΚΩΝ. I have it in my power to produce more instances of the like sacerdotal spirit, with which in some future publication I may entertain the world
[* ] Milton was Latin Secretary.
[† ] Soldiers; this is a severe insinuation against a standing army.
[* ] The Presbyterians.
[* ] The author adds in the first edition, “which observation, though made by a common enemy, may for the truth of it hereafter become a proverb.”
[* ] The second edition for woman, has fiction.
[* ] Written by Mr. Sadler, of which the best edition is that of 1649, in quarto; the edition of 1687 being curtailed. It is an excellent book.
[* ] Second edition has it “of all our safety or prevention.”
[† ] Second edition has “equivalent.”
[* ] The title of the treatise here referred to, is, Truth its Manifest; or, a short and true Relation of divers main Passages of Things (in some whereof the Scots are particularly concerned) from the very first Beginning of these unhappy Troubles to this Day. Published in 12mo. 1645. A reply to this was published in quarto, 1646, entitled, Manifest Truths; or, an Inversion of Truths Manifest.
[* ] The second edition has so fain. To feign, is to dissemble; but we use the word feign for fond desire of a thing.
[* ] The second edition has “shivering.”
[* ] See this fully proved in Dr. Birch’s Inquiry into the share which King Charles I. had in the transactions of the earl of Glamorgan, 2d edition, 1756.
[* ] The second edition has “score.”
[* ] The promise of the Spirit’s assistance, here alluded to, was extraordinary, and belonged only to the first age; so that the author’s argument is in this part inconclusive.
[* ] The second edition has “to shun it.”
[* ] The second edition has “apprehensions.”
[† ] The second edition has “in the Trentine story.”
[* ] We have a very curious history of these churches, written by Samuel Morland, Esq., who went commissioner extraordinary from O. Cromwell for relief of the protestants in the valleys of Piemont. It was published in folio, 1658.
[† ] The second edition has it thus, “who upon this very place which he only roves as here.”
[* ] The second edition has “shall choose.”
[* ] The second edition has “military.”
[* ] Hear what description an historian of that party gives of those on the royal side: “Never had any good undertaking so many unworthy attendants, such horrid blasphemers and wicked wretches, as ours hath had; I quake to think, much more to speak, what mine ears have heard from some of their lips; but to discover them is not my present business.”—Symmon’s Defence of King Charles I. p. 165.
[* ] The second edition has the old word “straight.”
[* ] A severe rebuke this to the Presbyterians.