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SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT,
POWER OF BISHOPS
This is the strangest Bill, that ever I heard, since I was admitted to sit under this roof: for it strikes at the very fabric and composi. tion of this house; at the style of all laws: and, therefore, were it not that it comes from such a recommendation, it would not, I suppose, undergo any long consideration; but, coming to us from such hands, it cannot but be worthy of your best thoughts.
And, truly, for the main scope of the Bill, I shall yield it most willingly, that ecclesiastical and sacred persons should not ordinarily be taken up with secular affairs. The Minister is called Vir Dei, “ a Man of God;" he may not be l'ir Seculi. He may lend himself to them, upon occasion: he may not give himself over purposely to them. Shortly, he may not so attend worldly things, as that he do neglect divine things. This we gladly yield. Matters of justice, therefore, are not proper, as in an ordinary trade, for our function; and, by my consent, shall be, as in a generality, waved and deserted : which, for my part, I never have meddled with, but in a charitable way; with no profit, but some charge to myself, whereof I shall be glad to be eased. Tractent fabrilia fabri; as the old word is.
But, if any man shall hence think to infer, that some spiritual person may not occasionally be in a special service of his King or Country; and, when he is so required by his Prince, give his advice in the urgent affairs of the Kingdom, which I suppose is the main point driven at; it is such an inconsequence, as I dare boldly say cannot be made good, either by divinity or reason; by the laws either of God or man: whereas the contrary may be proved and enforced by both.
As for the grounds of this Bill, that the Minister's duty is so great, that it is able to take up the whole man, and the Apostle saith tig inavós, Who is sufficient for these things ? and that he, who warfares to God, should not entangle himself with this world; it is a sufficient and just conviction of those, who would divide themselves betwixt God and the World, and bestow any main part of their time upon secular affairs : but it hath no operation at all upon this tenet, which we have in hand; That a man, dedicate to God, may not so much as, when he is required, cast a glance of his eye, or some'mi. nutes of time, or some motions of his tongue, upon the public busi. ness of his King and Country. Those, that expect this from us, may as well, and upon the same reason, hold that a Minister must have no family at all; or, if he have one, must not care for it: yea, that he must have no body to tend; but be all spirit.
My Lords, we are men of the same composition with others; and our breeding hath been accordingly. We cannot have lived in the world, but we haye seen it, and observed it too; and our long experience and conversation, both in men and in books, connot but have put something into us for the good of others : and now, having a double capacity, quà Cives, quà Ecclesiastici ; as members of the Commonwealth, as Ministers and Governors of the Church; we are ready to do our best service in both. One of them is no way incompatible with the other: yea, the subjects of them both are so united with the Church and Commonwealth, that they cannot be severed: yea so, as that, not the one is in the other, but one is the other, is both: so as the services, which we do, upon these occa. sions, to the Commonwealth, are inseparable from our good offices to the Church : so as, upon this ground, there is no reason of our exclusion.
If ye say that our sitting in Parliament takes up much time, which we might have employed in our studies or pulpits; consider, I beseech you, that, while you have a Parliament, we must have a Convocation; and that our attendance upon that will call for the same expence of time, which we afford to this service : so as, herein, we have neither got nor lost.
But, I fear it is not, on some hands, the tender regard of the full scope to our calling, that is so much here stood upon; as the conceit of too much honour, that is done us, in taking up the room of Peers, and voting in this High Court: for, surely, those that are averse from our votes, yet could be content we should have place upon the woolsacks; and could allow us ears, but not tongues.
If this be the matter, I beseech your Lordships to consider, that this honour is not done to us, but our profession; which, whatever we be in our several persons, cannot easily be capable of too much respect from your Lordships. Non tibi, sed Isidi; as he said of old.
Neither is this any new grace, that is put upon our calling; which if it were now to begin might perhaps be justly grudged to our unworthiness: but it is an ancient right and inheritance, inherent in our station: no less ancient than these walls, wherein we sit: yea, more: before ever there were Parliaments, in the Magna Concilia
of the kingdom we had our places. And, as for my predecessors, ever since the Conqueror's time, I can shew your Lordships a just catalogue of them, that have sat before me here: and, truly, though I have just cause to be mean in mine own eyes, yet why or wherein there should be more unworthiness in me than the rest, that I should be stripped of that privilege which they so long enjoyed, though there were no law to hold me here, I cannot see or confess.
What respects of honour have been put upon the prime Clergy of old, both by Pagans, and Jews, and Christians, and what are still both within Christendom and without, I shall not need to urge: it is enough to say, this of ours is not merely arbitrary; but stands so firmly established by law and custom, that I hope it neither will nor can be removed, except you will shake those foundations, which I believe you desire to hold firm and inviolable.
Shortly, then, my Lords, the Church craves no new honour from you; and justly hopes you will not be guilty of pulling down the old. As you are the eldest sons, and, next under his Majesty, the honourable patrons of the Church: so she expects and beseeches you to receive her into your tenderest care; so to order her affairs, that ye leave her to posterity in no worse case than you found her.
It is a true word of Damasus, Uti vilescit nomen Episcopi, omnis statua perturbatur Ecclesiæ. If this be suffered, the misery will be the Church's: the dishonour and blur of the act in future ages will be yours.
To shut up, therefore, let us be taken off from all ordinary trade of secular employments; and, if you please, abridge us of intermeddling with matters of common justice: but leave us possessed of those places and privileges in Parliament, which our predeces. sors have so long and peaceably enjoyed.
PERSON OF QUALITY,
A SCANDALOUS AND MALICIOUS PASSAGE, IN A CONFERENCE LATELY
HELD BETWIXT AN INQUISITOR AT WHITEHALL, AND MR. ANTHONY SADLER; PUBLISHED IN HIS“ INQUISITIO ANGLICANA.”
JOSEPH HALL, BISHOP OF NORWICH,
IN VINDICATION OF HIMSELF.