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SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT.
I HAVE long held my peace, and meant to have done so still: but now, like to Cræsus's mute son, I must break silence. I humbly beseech your Lordships to give me leave, to take this too just occasion to move your Lordships, to take into your deep and serious consideration the woeful and lamentable condition of the poor Church of England, your dear Mother.
My Lords, this was not wont to be her stile. We have, hereto. fore, talked of the famous and Aourishing Church of England : but, now, your Lordships must give me leave to say, that the poor Church of England humbly prostrates herself, next after bis Sacred Majesty, at your Lordships' feet; and humbly craves your compassion and present aid.
My Lords, it is a foul and dangerous insolence, this, which is now complained of to you; but it is but one of a hundred of those, which have been of late done to this Church and Government.
The Church of England, as your Lordships cannot choose but know, hath been and is miserably infested on both sides : with Papists, on the one side; and Schismatics, on the other. The Psalmist hath, of old, distinguished the enemies of it, into wild boars out of the wood, and little foxes out of the burrows: the one whereof goes about to root up the very foundation of religion; the other, to crop the branches, and blossoms, and clusters thereof: both of them conspire the utter ruin and devastation of it.
As for the former of them, I do perceive a great deal of good zeal, for the remedy and suppression of them : and I do heartily congratulate it; and bless God for it; and beseech him to prosper it, in those hands, that shall undertake and prosecute it.
But, for the other, give me leave to say, I do not find many, that are sensible of the danger of it; which yet, in my apprehension, is very great and apparent. Alas! my Lords, I beseech you to consider what it is : That there should be in London and the Suburbs and Liberties, no fewer than fourscore congregations of several sectaries, as I have been too credibly informed ; instructed by guides fit for them, Coblers, Tailors, Feltmakers, and such like trash : which all are taught to spit in the face of their Mother, the Church of England; and to defy and revile her government. From hence have issued those dangerous assaults of our Church-Governors: from hence, that inundat on of base and scurrilous libels and pamphlets, wherewith we have been of late overborne ; in which Papists and Prelates, like oxen in a yoke, are still matched toge. ther. () my Lords, I beseech you, that you will be sensible of this great indignity. Do but look upon these reverend persons. Do not your Lordships see here, sitting upon these benches, those, that have spent their time, their strength, their bodies and lives, in preaching down, in writing down Popery ? and which would be ready, if occasion were offered, to sacrifice all their old blood that remains to the maintenance of that truth of God, which they have taught and written ? And shall we be thus despitefully ranged with them, whom we do thus professedly oppose? But, alas! this is but one of those many scandalous aspersions and intolerable affronts, that are daily cast upon us. Now whither should we, in this case, have recourse for a needful and seasonable redress? The arm of the Church is, alas! now short and sinewless : it is the interposing of your authority, that must rescue us. You are the eldest sons of your dear Mother, the Church; and, therefore, most fit and most able to vindicate her wrongs. You are amici Sponse : give me leave, therefore, in the bowels of Christ humbly to beseech your Lordships, to be tenderly sensible of these woeful and dangerous conditions of the times. And, if the Government of the Church of Erg!and be unlawful and unfit, abandon and disclaim it; but if otherwise, uphold and maintain it. Otherwise, if these lawless outrages be yet suffered to gather head, who knows where they will end? My Lords, if these men may, with impunity and freedom, thus bear down Ecclesiastical Authority, it is to be feared they will not rest there; but will be ready to affront Civil Power too. Your Lordships know, that the Jack Straws, and Cades, and Wat Tylers of former times, did not more cry down learning than nobility : and those of your Lordships, that have read the history of the Anabaptistical tumults at Munster, will need no other item : let it be enough to say, that many of these Sectaries are of the same profession. Shortly, therefore, let me humbly move your Lord.bips to take these dangers and miseries of this poor Church deeply to heart : and, upon this occasion, to give order for the speedy redressing of these horrible insolencies; and for the stopping of that deluge of libellous invectives, wherewith we are thus impetuously overflown. Which, in all due submission, I humbly present to your Lordships' wise and religious consideration.
SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT,
IN DEFENCE OF THE
CANONS MADE IN CONVOCATION.
MY LORDS :
I cannot choose but know, that whosoever rises up in this cause must speak with the disadvantage of much prejudice; and, therefore, I do humbly crave your Lordsbips' best construction. Were it, my Lords, that some few doubting persons were to be satisfied in some scruples about matter of the Canons, there might have been some life in the hope of prevailing; but, now that we are borne down with such a torrent of general and resolute contradiction, we yield: but vet, give us leave, I beseech you, so to yield, that posterity may not say we have willingly betrayed our own innocence.
First, therefore, let us plead to your Lordships and the World, that, to abate the edge of that illegality, which is objected to us; it was our obedience, that both assembled and kept us together, for the making of Synodical Acts. We bad the Great Seal of England for it; seconded by the judgments of the oracles of law and justice : and, upon these, the command of our superior, to whom we have sworn and owe canonical obedience. Now in this case, what should we do? Was it for us to judge of the Great Seal of England ? or to judge of our judges ? alas! we are not for the Law, but for the Gospel : or to disobey that authority, which was to be ever sacred to us? I beseech your Lordships, put yourselves a while into our condition. Had the case been yours, what would you have done? If we obey not, we are rebels to authority: if we obey, we are censured for illegal procedures. Where are we now, my Lords ? It is an old rule of casuists, Nemo tenetur esse perplexus. Free us, one way or other : and shew us, whether we must rather hazard censure, or incur disobedience.
In the next place, give us leave to plead our good intentions.
Since we must make new Canons, I persuade myself we all came, I am sure I can speak for one, with honest and zealous desires to do God and his Church good service, and expected to have received great thanks, both of Church and Commonwealth : for your Lordships see, that the main drift of those Canons was to repress and confine the indiscreet and lawless discourses of some either ignorant or parasitical, I am sure offensive preachers; to suppress the growth of Socinianism, Popery, Separatism ; to redress some abuses of Ecclesiastical Courts and Officers : in all which, I dare say your Lordships do heartily concur with them. And if, in the manner of expression, there have been any failings, I shall humbly. beseech your Lordships, that those may not be too much stood upon, where the main substance is well meant, and in itself profitable.
In the third place, give me leave to put your Lordships in mind of the continual practice of the Christian Church, since the first Synod of the Apostles, Acts xv, to this present day: wherein I suppose it can never be shewed, that ever any Ecclesiastical Canons made by the Bishops and Clergy in Synods, general, national, provincial, were either offered or required to be confirmed by Parliaments. Emperors and Princes, by whose authority those Synods were called, have still given their power to the ratification and execution of them; and none others : and, if you please to look into the times within the ken of memory or somewhat beyond it, Linwood's Constitutions, what Parliaments confirmed ? The Injunctions of Queen Elizabeth, the Canons of King James, were never tendered to the Parliament for confirmation; and yet have so far obtained hitherto, that the government of the Church was by them still regulated. Compare, I beseech you, those of King James with the present: your Lordships shall find them many, peremptory, resolute; standing upon their own grounds, in points much harder of digestion than these, which are but few and only seconds to former Constitutions. If, therefore, in this we have erred, surely the whole Christian Church of all places and times hath erred with us: either, therefore, we shall have too good company in the censure; or else we shall be excused.
* Fourthly, give me leave to urge the authority of these Canons. In which regard, if I might without offence speak it, I might say that the complainants have not, under correction, laid a right ground of their accusation. They say we have made Canons and Constitutions: alas ! my Lords, we have made none. We neither did nor could make Canons, more than they can make Laws. The Canons are so to the Church, as Laws are for the Commonwealth. Now they do but rogare legem : they do not ferre or sancire legem: that is only for the King to do : it is le roi le veut, that of Bills makes Laws. So was it for us to do in matter of Canons: we might propound some such Constitutions, as we should think might be useful : but, when we have done, we send them to his Majesty ; who, perusing them cum avisamento Consilii sui, and approving them, puts life into them, and of dead propositions makes them
Canons. As, therefore, the laws are the King's laws, and not ours ; so are the Canons the King's Canons, and not the Clergy's. Think thus of them; and then draw what conclusions you please.
As for that pecuniary business of our contribution, wherein we are said to have trenched upon the liberty of subjects and propriety of goods; I beseech your Lordships, do but see the difference of times. We had a precedent for it. The same thing was done in Queen Elizabeth's time, in a mulct of three shillings the pound, and that after the end of the Parliament, with the same clauses of suspension, sequestration, deprivation, without noise of any exception; which now is cried down for an unheard of encroachment. How legal it may be, I dispute not; and did then make bold to move: but, let the guide of that example, and the zeal that we had to the supply of his Majesty's necessities, excuse us a tanto at least ; if, having given these as subsidies fitting the Parliament, and the Bill being drawn up for the confirmation of the Parliament, we now, upon the unhappy dissolution of it, as loth to retract so necessary a grant, were willing to have it continued to his Majesty's use.
But, my Lords, if I may have leave to speak my own thoughts, I shall freely say, that, whereas there are three general concernments, both of persons and causes, merely Ecclesiastical, merely Temporal, or mixt of both Ecclesiastical and Temporal: as it is fit, the Church by her Synod should take cognizance of and order for the first, which is merely Ecclesiastical; so, next under his Majesty, the Parliainent should have the power of ordering the other.
But, in the mean time, my Lords, where are we? The Canons of the Church, both late and former, are pronounced to be void and forceless. The Church is a garden or vineyard enclosed: the laws and constitutions of it are as the wall or hedge: if these be cast open, in what state are we? Shall the enemies of this Church have such an advantage of us, as to say, we are a lawless Church? or shall all men be left loose to their licentious freedom ? God in heaven forbid !
Hitherto, we have been quietly and happily governed by those former Canons : the extent whereof we have not, I hope, and for some of us, I am confident we have not, exceeded. Why should we not be so still ? Let these late Canons sleep, since you will have it so, till we awake them, which shall not be till Doomsday; and let us be where we were, and regulate ourselves by those Constitutions which were quietly submitted to on all hands : and, for this, which is past, since that which we did was out of our true obedience, and with honest and godly intentions and according to the universal practice of all Christian Churches, and with the full power of his Majesty's authority, let it not be imputed to us as any way worthy of your Lordships' censure.