THE Reformed CATHOLIQUE: OR, THE True Protestant.
There shall arise FALSE CHRISTS and FALSE PROPHETS.
LONDON, Printed for Henry Brome, at the Gun in St. Pauls Church-yard, at the West-end, 1679.
THE Reformed Catholique: OR, The True Protestant.
THIS Paper should have come into the World under the form of a Letter (as most Pamphlets of quality do of late) if the Author had not made a Conscience of covering the Simplicity of his pur∣pose under any sort of Disguise; so that without so much as a single How do ye to usher it in, he comes point blank to the Business in the very Title. It may be look'd upon, I know, as a thing of Ill Omen, to begin with an Alias: But there's neither Priest nor Highway-man in our Case; and yet there may be cause enough perhaps for a kind of Hue and Cry too; for 'tis a matter of great moment that every man should both go, and be known by his right Name; and (peradventure) never more necessary than in this juncture, and in this particular: And so to my Text.
A Reformed Catholique (properly so called) is an Apo∣stolical Christian, or a Son of the Church of England: A true Page 2 Protestant may be so too; nay, and many times he is so; and many a Loyal, Orthodox, Reformed Catholique calls him∣self so; and (according to the stile of the Age) he may be well enough said and accounted so to be. But all this is only by Adoption, and without any colour for it in the Original of his Denomination. Now a Protestant, in strictness of speaking, is a Lutheran, which this Church does not in all points pretend to be, and then the Characteristical Note of a Christian is Catholique; so that the Appellation is too narrow for the Principle, and draws on the very same Implication in a Protestant-Catholique, which we make sport with in a Roman-Catholique, that is to say, the Soloecism of a Parti∣cular Vniversality.
Here is enough already (I suppose) to furnish an Extract of as much Popery out of it, as may recommend some hun∣gry Informer to a Mornings-draught; for we have a sort of people now a days, that will read a mans Heart through his Ribs, though they can hardly see his Nose on's Face; and that give more Credit to their Ears than to their Eyes. Now to ease the Reader in two or three peevish Points, if he should chance to be Over-critical and Imperious, I will tell him before-hand, in a few words, what he is to trust to.
To the first Question or Objection fairly supposed; the Author is no Disguised or Concealed Papist, but of the Com∣munion of the Church of England, train'd up in the strict∣est way of it, and standing firm to it against all sorts of Provocation, Discouragement, Temptation, and Argu∣ment; and without warping to the Jesuites, either on the right hand or on the left.
To the Second: He is not set on to write this Discourse, either directly or indirectly, by any Hint, Desire, or Ap∣pointment whatsoever; nor by any other Motive than the sense of what he owes to the Publique, and to his Con∣science, and the Consideration of some small Present from Page 3 the Book-seller, if there be any thing got by't. (A piece of Good Husbandry that he has learnt of his Superiors) He has no design upon any Place at Court in't, nor upon any Church-Lease; no not so much as a Reversion: And all this is True, by the Faith of a Poor Gentleman, that has worn his Doublet out at the Elbows in his Majesties Ser∣vice. It might be added, that he's grown Old and Care∣less, and that even Malice it self were lost upon him. Now under these Circumstances, I hope he may securely ad∣vance to tell you a little more of his mind.
So far as Catholique and Protestant serve only as two seve∣ral Names, intending the self-same thing, (though the one by Propriety, and the other but by Translation) is is all one to me whether of the two any man calls me; all the danger is, the countenancing of an Ill Thing under a Good Name.
The word Protestancy falls under a double acceptation; the one, as it denotes the Reformed Religion; the other, as it is taken for the Genus Generalissimum of all Dissenters from the Church of Rome. The former I do heartily embrace, as transmitted to us from our Fore-fathers, and Signed by the Blood of Martyrs; Authoriz'd by the Holy Gospel, and by the Law of the Land; the common Bond of our Civil Peace, and (by Gods Blessing) the Hopes and Means of our Eternal Salvation.
Now to the latter Acceptation, I am not at all satisfi'd with it, and I have both Reason and Experience to warrant me in that dislike. As to my Reason; First, It is an Agreement upon an Opposition; and next, it is an Agreement of several Parties disagreeing among themselves, which carries the face rather of a Confederacy, than a Religion: For it is not the Opposing of Error, but the asserting of a Truth, that must do the work. One Error may be opposed by another, even in a Single Person; as one man Robs his Neighbour, and a third Robs him. Here's one Injustice opposed by another: So Page 4 that as it is an Agreement in Opposition, 'tis a hundred to one there will be Error in't: But the Opposers themselves being subdivided, 'tis impossible it should be Right; for the very Essence and Soul of Religion are here wanting; that is to say, Charity and Vnity. And for the Proof of this, beyond all Contradiction; let but any man look back into the late Troubles, and see, when the Factions had destroy'd the King and the Church (which they call'd the Common Enemy) how they fell presently to the Worrying of one another; when the Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, Qua∣kers, Seekers, Ranters, Antinomians, and twenty other wild sorts of Sectaries, under the title of Protestants, and un∣der the pretence of opposing Popery, destroy'd the very Cause they Covenanted to assert; a Protestant-Church, a Protestant-Prince, and a Protestant-People, fill'd the Land with Confusion, Sacrilege, and Heresie; made the English Na∣tion a Reproach and a Scandal to the Christian World: And so soon as they had possess'd themselves of the Power and Revenue of the Kingdom, every mans hand was against his Brother for the Booty.
To proceed now to the matter of Experience: I would fain see any one Instance from the very Reformation it self, to this day, when ever there was a Clamour advanc'd up∣on this Point, of a Conjunct Opposition of Popery, that the Church of England was not struck at in the Confederacy; and that too, not by blind Inferences and tacit Presumption, but by Ouvert acts, and a Notoriety of Practice: That is to say, the Men that stickled under this Notion, did posi∣tively declare the Government by Bishops, to be Antichri∣stian; and the Discipline and Common Prayers of the Church, to be Popery and Superstition; yes, and the Civil Admini∣stration it self also to be down-right Tyranny. They did just like the Fellows in Hatton-Garden, that Stole Money and Plate, under the pretence of Searching for Priests; and for the Credit of the Exploit, they Rob'd in Red Page 5 Coats too, that they might the better pass for some of his Majesties Guards. The Similitude runs upon All Four, for it was the very case of our pretended Protestants; under colour of hunting for Priests, they seized Money and Plate, and committed Robberies in the very Livery of the Go∣vernment.
This they did in Scotland, under the Queen Regent, and King James; and in England, under Queen Elizabeth; and twice in Scotland again, under the late King; and after that, in England: Two actual Rebellions more in Scotland, under this present King, and now God Bless us from ano∣ther at Home; and all this from that sort of People that stil'd themselves Protestants. The Principles, the Methods, and the Pretences the very same, from one end to the other.
The Story of these Phanatical Conspiracies is almost as Nau∣seous as the thing it self is Detestable; only this last in Scot∣land methinks seems to Crown the Infamy of all the rest: For a Party that calls it self Protestant; a Party in full Cry upon the scent of Popery; a Popish Plot upon Oath too, at the same time upon the Life of the King, upon our Reli∣gion and Government; and that Plot, at that instant, under a strict Examination; the same Party at the same time also pressing for Justice upon the Conspirators, nay, and com∣plaining of the remissness of the Prosecution, notwith∣standing the most exemplary Rigor in the Case that ever was known in this Nation: For this Party, (I say) under these Circumstances, to flie in the face of the Government, let the World judge if ever there was a more Consummated piece of Wickedness. They raise a Rebellion, and make Religion the Ground of it; they declare a War against the King, and the Church, and yet write themselves Loyal Sub∣jects and Protestants. They cry out of the Danger of Po∣pery, and yet in the same breath, draw their Swords upon their Prince, in the very attempt of Crushing it; and all these Page 6 Aggravations complicated in one act. Is it not high time then, after an Imposture that has cost this Nation so dear, to learn at last to distinguish betwixt a Religion and a Faction? Betwixt what men are, and what they call them∣selves? Is a Renegado ever the less a Turk for putting out English Colours? Are the Blessed Spirits ever the less Pure, for the Devils transforming himself into an Angel of Light? Is the Kings Broad Seal one jot the less Valuable for being Counterfeited? So neither is our Profession. And he that dishonours Religion, or invades Authority under the Name of a Protestant, is no more to any sober man, than a Goth or a Vandal. Judas his Betraying of his Master was a most ungrateful and abominable Sin, but the doing of it with a Kiss, made it by many degrees the more execrable: And it was the height of the Prophet Davids Affliction, the Circumstance of a Familiar Friend. Where's the harm now of saying, Have a care of False Protestants? The Author and the Finisher of our Faith, is (I hope) of Authority suffici∣ent to justifie that Caution. Does not our Saviour himself tell us that there shall arise False Christs and False Prophets? and why not False Protestants? And does he not bid us take heed that no man deceive us; for many (says he) shall come in my Name, saying I am Christ, and shall deceive many? Does he not bid us beware of Woolves in Sheeps Cloathing? And in his description of the Scribes and Pharisees, give us the very Picture of our Impostors.
We have it upon the Credit of Dr. Tong and Dr. Oates, that the Sedition of 1641. was totally contriv'd and carry'd on by Popish Counsels; and that not only the Conventicles in that Bloody Revolution, but all our Separate Meetings to this day, and particularly the Scottish Commotions were and are Influenc'd by Priests and Jesuites, under the Masque of Professors of those several Persuasions. Have we not rea∣son then to use all possible Circumspection, that we may not be impos'd upon by such as these for Protestants? No Page 7 man has a greater Veneration for the memory of those Pro∣testants that suffer'd Martyrdom for their Faith; no man a greater Horrour for the Irish, the Parisian, and several other Massacres; no man a higher Esteem, or a more Ardent affection for Protestancy it self, (so far as the Profession of the Church of England is intended by it) than I have. But for those Turbulent Spirits that lay about them as if Hea∣ven were to be taken by actual Violence, whose Zeal out∣strips Christianity it self, imposing upon the World their own corrupt and impetuous passions, instead of the Healing and Pacifique Motions of the Holy Ghost: These are a dangerous sort of People, and their ways are not only a Contradiction to the undeniable Principles of our Institu∣tion, but to the common Interests of Mankind, as well In∣dividuals as Communities: For if it be true, that Charity is the great Lesson of the Gospel: If it be true, that Vnity in Faith, and Vnanimity in the things of Civil Government, would make up the most perfected Blessing that reasonable Nature is capable of in this Tabernacle of Flesh; then must it necessarily follow, that the nearer we approach to that Agreement, the better Christians we are, and the happier Men; and the further we depart from it, the more Wicked and the more Miserable we are. This is either true or false: If the former, there's no Treason in't; if the latter, we may burn our Bibles.
Before I wade any further into this Controversie, it may do well, I think, to give some Reason, why upon this Subject, and at this Time; that the World may not take that for the Leaven of an Unquiet Humour, which in great truth, is only an act of Conscience in the discharge of a sober and a seasonable duty to my Prince and Country.
To the undertaking of this Office, I have been in∣duced, by the Audacious Liberties of the Press, in Page 8 the matter of Religion and Government, endeavour∣ing to possess the Multitude with False and Pernicious Principles and Opinions, and by Artificial Hints and Scan∣dals to dispose them (now toward the meeting of this next Parliament) to a Partial and a Factious Choice: So that my Business is only to encounter and lay open the Vanity and Weakness of those Libels, and without confining my self to any one in particular, to sum up the Malice of them all, for so much as concerns our present purpose, and to submit my self to the Reader in a fair and short Reply.
It is a Note worthy of Consideration, that all the Papers here in question, (even to a single Sheet) are the Work of Men exceedingly Byass'd against the Establish'd Govern∣ment, as Republicans, Anabaptists, and other sorts of Dis∣senters from the Church; for the Publishers of these Papers are known every one of them, and most of the Authors. Now what advice toward the Honour and Safety of the Government, these People are likely to give, who are United in common Principles of Defaming, Discomposing, and even of Dissolving it, let Heaven and Earth be the Judges: And what work such a House of Commons would make, as these forward Undertakers would have, if they were to direct and influence the Election.
Now if these be the Counsellors, let us see next if the Matter of their Writings be not answerable to the Character of the Men; and if it be not most evident that it is their very scope and design (so far from endeavouring the Peace and Settlement of the Nation) to poison the People with Seditious Maxims; to create Jealousies betwixt the King and his Subjects, and to Undermine the very Foundation of the Government.
They support themselves with the Multitude, upon two General and Popular pretensions, Religion and Liberty: What Religion, or what Liberty, they do not say; but only fill the Peoples heads with a confused Notion of things, Page 9 and wild apprehensions of Popery and Tyranny: And then their next work is under colour of stating the Privileges of King and People, to Erect Seditious Positions; and after all, to prescribe Remedies infinitely worse than the Dis∣ease: We shall now make it appear that the Reli∣gion they talk of, leads to all sorts of Impiety; and that their pretended Liberty is the ready way to Slavery. First, of Religion.
As to what concerns Religion, they do all of them sing the same Song in their Quaeries and Proposals to the Free∣holders and Electors of England, and unanimously agree in the same method of Advice to the People, how they are to govern themselves in their next Choice.
Their first Caution is, To pursue the Discovery and Pu∣nishment of the Plot, (the Trojan Horse with an Army in the Belly of it.) To secure us from Popery; and that no Papist may be allowed to dwell in the Land; Nor any man chosen into the House, that shall dare to open his mouth for a Popish Suc∣cessor: And all this attended with a Dreadful Enumera∣tion of the Massacres, Fires, Treasons, and Devastations that have been wrought by the Popish Party.
To this first Point, the Replicant most willingly sub∣scribes, so far as stand• with Christian Charity, and the Law of the Land: But then he cannot forget on the other hand, that the Counterfeit Protestant Horse of 1641. had an Army in the Belly of him, as well as the Trojan; and he that would be safe, must look both ways at once.
Another Caution is, not to choose any man that is Po∣pishly affected; or (as another hath it) Ill affected. But a third proceeds a little more warily, and recommends the chusing only of Sincere Protestants, and not Disguised Pa∣pists, who are ready to pull off their Masque, when time serves, and may be known by their Laughing at the Plot, Disgracing the Evidence, Admiring the Traytors Constancy, &c.
Page 10This same Popishly and Ill affected, lies open to several Exc•ptions; for one Man is made Judge of the Thoughts of another, which is only the Prerogative of Almighty God. I have heard of a man that was Indicted for Whistling; but never, till now, of any Man that was Inca∣pacitated to serve in the House of Commons, for Thinking. Beside the Unreasonable Latitude, and the Horrible Ini∣quity of the Judgment; for if this be admitted, no man living can be secure: It involves the Innocent with the Guilty, and puts a man out of all possibility to acquit him∣self. And then forward; It is but turning the Tables, and the Blot is hit on the other side: For why should not I be as well allow'd to pronounce another man a Disguised Protestant, as he to judge me a Disguised Papist, and the same Liberty of Marking him too? You shall know him by his Shiboleth; for the Old Covenaent sticks in his Teeth still, and the whole mystery of his Profession is wrapt up in that Oracle of the Privileges of Parliament; the Kings Just Power and Greatness; the Protestant Religion against Popery, and Popish Innovations; the first point being wholly Incomprehensible, and the other two, like Jugglers Knots, fast or loose at pleasure.
This equal Freedom being granted on all sides, takes a∣way all Faith, Confidence, and Correspondence in Humane Society. I know no difference in the World betwixt one mans Infallibility and anothers; nor any (but in Terms) be∣twixt a Private mans Infallible Light, and the Popes Infalli∣ble Sentence: Nor is there any one Usurpation in Popery, that is either Grievous to the Conscience, or Dangerous to the Government; but a man may shew very near an Equivalent of it in Schism.
As to the Marks of distinction betwixt a Sincere Pro∣testant and a Disguised Papist; the Immorality of Laughing at the Plot, savours more in my opinion, of an Vnmannerly Fool, then of a Disguised Papist; though for my own part, I Page 11 am so far from Laughing at it, that it wounds my soul, the very thought on't. Disgracing of the Evidence were some∣thing indeed; but to make a man a Papist for admiring the Traytors Constancy, that, methinks is very hard, and not answerable to what one would expect from an Advocate for Liberty of Conscience. It is much easier to relinquish an Opinion, then for a man to devest himself of Natural Affections; and more unreasonable to claim a freedom in the one, than to refuse it in the other. I must confess, I do admire that Constancy, and if I were to dye for so doing, I could not but admire it still: And these Impressions are Humane, and not to be resisted.
We fall now into the Old Track of the whole Party: They call for Toleration; complain of Persecution; cast all their Sufferings upon their Worshipping according to their Consciences; and then this Lamentable Condition of theirs must be Remonstrated to the whole Nation. Of these four Points in order.
In the handling of their Plea for Protestant Dissenters, there are many things to be taken into Consideration. First, Is it in matters of Conscience, or only of Phansie, wherein they desire to be Indulg'd? If the latter, the up∣holding of a Law is certainly of much greater concern, than the gratifying of a Caprice. Now on the other side, if they demand it upon an Exigent of Conscience: First, why Plu∣rally, for Dissenters? When one man cannot honestly un∣dertake for another mans Conscience: Besides that (Secondly) They ask an Indulgence for several Parties, of divided Con∣sciences and Opinions: And in short, they would have the Magistrate favour all the Consciences, that will not endure one anothers. Again; They should do well to explain what they mean by Protestant Dissenters, upon points of Conscience; whether all in general, or only such and such Parties: If all in general, Heathens must be Tolerated as well as Christians, for they have Consciences as well as we: Page 12 Or if it be restrain'd to Christianity, it opens a door to He∣resies, more detestable then Paganism it self. So that an Vniversal Toleration is utterly Vnlawful; and a Partial Toleration on the other hand, is as Ineffectual; for upon a Plea of Conscience they may all claim alike: So that it is an Act of Vniformity still, to those that are Excluded; and it is not fair, in the Government, to favour one half, and exaspe∣rate another, where all may as well be taken in, as any. Beside, upon the supposal of a Limited Toleration, who shall judge which are fit to be admitted, and which not? If the People, every man justifies himself, and then we are upon an Vniversal Toleration again. They tell us stories of sound Faith, good Life, and of distinguishing betwixt Fun∣damentals and not Fundamentals; which is only treading of the same Ring still; for it may be every bodies Plea as well as any mans: That which the Magistrate judges one way, the People shall determine another; and one mans Funda∣mental Truth shall be anothers Fundamental Error, which will introduce as many Religions as Phansies; bring Factions into Families as well as into Governments, and make the People both Parties and Judges: And it is not to say that the Word of God shall be the judge, for that's only a Rule by which we are to judge; and by Erroneous judgments it is made the Foundation of all Heresies; For when every man may make his own Creed, there's nothing so Impious, but he'l shew you a Text for't. Moreover, the very Pretence of Liberty of Conscience is frivolous; for Conscience is out of the reach of Humane Power; and the freedom of Thought, no Law can either punish or take away.
But it is the Liberty of Acting, as well as of Thinking, that they insist upon, which upon the whole matter, is neither more nor less than a Licence to do what they please. The League in Flanders, under Maximilian; the Holy League under Henry the 3d. of France; Muncer's Outrages in Germany; the Murtherers of Henry the 4th. and the P. of Orange; and Page 13 all the Villanies of the late times here at home, were acted under the Masque of Religion. It is not for the restraining of Opinions that Laws are provided; but for the preven∣ting of Ouvert Deeds of Violence, and they are any punish'd for Action, not for Conscience. Neither have we any means of distinguishing betwixt Faction and Religion, if every mans word shall be taken for his own Conscience; and then it is a dangerous way of dividing a Kingdom against it self.
Take notice all this while, that they urge a Toleration, no body knows for whom, or for what. Where are their Articles? where is the Model of their Accommodation? or how is it possible to contrive any Common Expedient to gra∣tifie them? For nothing less than a total Liberty of doing what they list, will please them, which must inevitably pro∣duce the Dissolution of the Government. If they would have the wilder and more extravagant Sects excluded, why do they plead for All in general, and not rather particula∣rise the Opinions and Parties that they would have Indulg'd? But they dare not do this, for fear of disobliging the rest, their business being to Vnite all Factions in the Quarrel; when yet you may as soon bring Heaven and Hell together, as reconcile them in Religion; so that either they ask an Impious thing, in the allowance of all, or an Impractica∣ble thing in propounding any Limitation, upon a Plea of Conscience. But the truth is no more than this: They ask a thing which can neither be granted, nor so much as understood; and the People are transported with the sound of Loyalty and Religion, to the desire of things wholly In∣consistent with either Piety or Government.
We should do well to take notice, that against this Plea, for Liberty, there is on the one side, the Authority of a Law, and the solemn judgment of the Church for the Equity of it; and on the other, the Kings Personal and Political Consci∣ence for the Execution of it. There is also the Duty of a Subject for the Obeying of it; and the same reason that Au∣thorizes Page 14 an Invasion of this Law, may as well Invalidate all the rest. Now the Counterpoize to all this weight, is (at best) only the naked Conscience of some private Persons. The Peoples Consciences call for Liberty; and the Governors Conscience requires Order: Their Consciences will not down with this Law, nor this Law with such Consciences: Which of the two now shall yield to the other?
But what benefit might we now expect from this Indul∣gence here, if it were granted? Or rather, in the first place, what colour of Conscience, or of Reason is there in the very demand it self (all the aforesaid Exceptions over and a∣bove). Is it, first, Reasonable for them to ask what they themselves think unreasonable to grant? Or to claim such an allowance to themselves, as a point of Conscience, which they themselves, upon a point of Conscience, refuse to others? For there is not any one Party in the whole mass of Dissenters, that does not deny the same freedom to others which they do joyntly challenge to themselves: Nay, in their very Pro∣positions to his Majesty in the Isle of Wight, Mar. 1647. they Excepted the Use of the Common Prayer, when they gave Liberty to all other sorts of Worship. (To which Concession they were then Compell'd by the Circumstances of that jun∣cture.) Their Refusal must proceed either upon the Right of the thing, or upon Reason of State. If they did not like our way, neither do we approve of theirs: Or if they ex∣cluded us out of a respect to the Publique Peace, the Go∣vernment hath still the same reason against them.
But we shall better understand the Party, from their own words, wherein we shall first, take a short view of their Opinions in matter of Faith and Religion. Secondly, How they stand affected, one Party to another: And Thirdly, Their Positions and Practices, with Relation to the Civil Government.
Page 15As to their Opinions, first see some Extravagances of the Sectaries, Cited by a Presbyterian, out of their own Wri∣tings, in Edwards's Gangrena, from P. 18. to 27.
They say that the Scriptures are Insufficient and Uncertain. God the Author of Sin, even of the Sinfulness it self. That the Magistrate ought not to punish any man for denying of a God, if his Conscience be so perswaded. That every Creature is God, an E•flux only from God, and shall return to him: That there is but One Person in the Divine Nature. That the least Truth is of more worth than Jesus Christ himself. That the Doctrine of Repentance is a Soul-destroying Doctrine. That 'tis as possible for Christ himself to Sin, as for a Child of God to Sin. That the Moral Law is of no use at all to Believers. That Peters Trouble, after the denial of his Master, issu'd only from the weakness of his Faith. That Infants rise not again. Nay, he speaks of a Sectary pleading for a Tole∣ration of Witches, with several abominable Instances. And he charges the Nursery and Encrease of them upon the Presbyterians; and that it was their Indulgence, not Episcopal Connivance that wrought our Mischief in that kind. They agree (says he) with Julian the Apostate, Libertines, A∣theists, Unclean, Incestuous, Drunkards, Sabbath-breakers, Lyers, Jugglers, Slanderers, Proud and Boasting, Insolent, Outrageous, Hypo∣critical, False.
The Sectaries on the other hand call the Assembly, Antichristian, Romish, Bloody, Plagues and Pests of the Kingdom, Baal's Priests, South∣sayers: The Presbyterian Government a Limb of Antichrist, Tyran∣nical, Lordly, an Aegyptian Bondage. An Anabaptist said, He hop'd to see Heaven and Earth on fire, before Presbytery should be settled; and to see it troden under foot, as the Bishops. Sterry himself says, The Seed of God hath two Capital Enemies, Romish Papacy, and the Scotch Presby∣tery. See what the Presbyterians say now to a Toleration.
It is much (says the London Ministers Letter to the Assembly,) Jan. 1.45. that our Brethren should separate from the Church, but that they should endeavour to get a Warrant to Authorize their Separation from it; and to have Liberty (by drawing Members out of it) to weaken and dimi∣nish it, till (so far as lies in them) they have brought it to nothing. This we think to be plainly Unlawful.
And then the Harmony of the Lancashire Ministers, p. 12. Toleration would be the putting the Sword in a Mad mans hand; a Proclaiming Li∣berty to the Wolves, to come into Christs Flock to prey upon his Lambs.
Toleration makes the Scripture a Nose of Wax; a Rule of Faith to all Religions. And this is the great Rabby of the Party. Rutherfords free▪ Disp. p. 360.
Page 16Liberty of Conscience, and Toleration of all, or any Religion, is so Prodigious an Impiety, that this Religious Parliament cannot but abhor the very naming of it. Bailey's Disswasive Epist. Ded. 1645.
It is unreasonable (says the Defender of the London Ministers Letter to the Assembly, Anti-toleration, p. 16.) that Independents should desire that Toleration of Presbyters, which they would not give to Presbyters.
Let it be observed from hence, that these people do first demand of the Government that Liberty which they deny to one another. And Secondly: That they pretend to do it upon Conscience, and yet hold the thing it self to be abso∣lutely Vnlawful; so that they justifie the Conscience of our de∣nying it to them, by the Conscience of their refusing it to others. And the only way to evade this, is to discover all; by confessing, that though they now beg a Toleration from the Government, yet if they get power in their hands, they'l make a Conscience again (as they did before) of allowing any freedom to the Government.
It is a clear case, that their demands are Vnwarrantable, Impracticable, Vnreasonable, and not grounded upon Con∣science, but directly in Opposition to it; as we have it under their own hands.
Let us try now if we can discover what the design is, since it appears manifestly what it is not; and that, not on∣ly from the Reason of the thing, but from their own deeds and writings; and those matters also, and Positions, ex∣pounded by Practice.
One thing remarkable is this; That they have been still Fishing in Troubled Waters, and taking advantage of all Di∣stresses, and necessities of the Government. Did not Cartwright, Coppinger, Arthington, and Hacket, take their time for that Execrable Conspiracy against Q. Elizabeth, when she was just upon the very point of securing the Re∣formed Religion against the Power and Church of Rome? Did not the Sectaries in 1641. take the same advantage a∣gainst the late King, when his thoughts were wholly ta∣ken Page 17 up about suppressing the Irish Rebellion? And did not the latter Scotch Tumults take the same advantage of his Ma∣jesties being under many troublesome Circumstances about the Plot; and when the Peoples minds were prepar'd to take Ill Impressions in the matter of Government? So that the very Timing of this Revived Clamour for Liberty of Con∣science, looks suspiciously; and the more, because their Meetings here have of late been very little interrupted.
To run thorough those pestilent Principles, which the Heads of the Sectaries have Publish'd in their own Names, were endless. Wherefore I shall content my self with some of their General Positions, and refer the Reader to Husbands Collections, or the Authors themselves for the rest; as Milton, Goodwin, Rutherford, and a hundred more.
They make the Lords and Commons the Supream Power; nay, the People themselves, in some cases; Princes, they say, may be depos'd and put to death: They distinguish be∣twixt the Kings Person and his Authority, the Letter of the Law, and the Equity of it; and appeal from the Written Law to the Law of Nature; and according to these Maxims they govern their Proceedings.
But will you see now the price of all our Blood, and Confusion?
Upon their Petition to his Majesty for a Reformation of the Liturgy, the King most graciously issu'd out a Commission for a Review of the Book of Common Prayer: An equal number of Learned Divines, both Episcopal and Presby∣terian were appointed to meet about it, and to agree upon such Alterations as should be thought most Necessary. His Majesty earnestly desiring that the Ministers would not totally lay aside the Book of the Common Prayer, but read those parts against which there could be no Exception. Now instead of most necessary Alterations, and those to be a∣greed upon by Both Parties, they Publish'd a new Li∣turgy of their own, under the Title of the Reformation Page 18 of the Liturgy, (which was indeed the Abolition of it.) I'le give ye only a tast of some of their Important scruples that are cast into the Ballance, against the Vnity of the Church, and the Peace of the Kingdom: They turn Wedded Wife into Marryed: Dost thou Believe into do you Believe; and all this I Stedfastly Believe, into this I do Unfeignedly Believe.
Let us now suppose these People had their Askings: Let any man but shew me from the Minority of King James, to this hour, where they were not the more violent and im∣portune upon yielding (even to the hazard of a downright Rebellion) and the Author shall give any man his Head, for the President: Did not the Assembly in 1578. impose upon the Parliament in Scotland, fall foul upon the Arch-Bishop of Glasgow, and the whole Order? pass a Decree against their Votes in Parliament; command them to renounce their Temporal Titles, and Civil Jurisdiction, and set their Quarriers at work for the demolishing of Glasgow Cathe∣dral? (which had been done too, if the Trades-men had not by force prevented it.) And did they not grow bolder and bolder upon the Kings Lenity; and Command the Bishops, upon pain of Excommunication, not to Officiate as Pastors, without Licence from the General Assembly; and likewise order the Patrimony of the Church to be dispos'd of as they should see meet? And did they not after that, make a Violent and Treasonous Seizure of the King at Ruthven, and justifie it when they had done? And so on by degrees, till his Majesty was forc'd, by a Tumult at Eden∣bourgh, in 1596. and the Ministers Bond of Confederacy im∣mediately upon it, to a Resolution of Rigour and Severity; which (as Spottswood observes) gave him more quiet and security for the future.
His Majesty was no sooner enter'd upon the Govern∣ment of England, but he was Assaulted in 1604. with the same sort of People; and at a Conference at Hampton Court,Page 19 this Question was put, How far an Ordinance of the Church was Binding, without offence to Christian Liberty? Whereupon the King gave this short Answer, Let's have no more of these Questions, but Conform, at your Peril. So that they gave him no further trouble upon that subject. And this was Queen Elizabeth's Case too, to the hazard both of her Life and Government; till by that severe Act against them, of the Thirty-fifth of her Reign, she gave her self ease for the remainder of her Life.
What did the Late King gain by his Indulgence to the Scots in 1637. but farther Indignities and Contempt? First, the Service-Book and Canons were their Grievance; then the Five Articles of Perth, though establish'd both by the General Assembly and Parliament; The High-Commission next, and then the Bishops Session in Civil Judicatories. His Majesty gratifies them in every point: Insomuch, that they had nothing further to complain of, but that the King would not Abolish Episcopacy, and admit the Authority of their Lay-Elders; upon which point they brake out into an Open Rebellion. After this, upon the Interview of the two Armies at Berwick (when the King had them absolute∣ly at his Mercy) upon their Supplication for a Treaty, he Trusted them again, and concluded upon a Pacification; of which, the Covenanters did not keep so much as one Article.
Upon his Majesties Return to London, he passes the Triennial Bill; Abolishes the Star-Chamber and High-Commission-Court; Passes an Act for the Continuance of the Parliament; and in fine, denys them nothing but his Crown and his Blood; and then by Virtue of what he had given them already, they took away the rest, and stript him of his Friends, his Authority, his Revenue, and his Life.
They minister great cause of suspicion in their very stile and scruples: Why do they run so much upon Ambiguities?Page 20 As the settling of Religion in its due Latitude; a due and necessary Reformation; sound Belief; Principles Congruous to a National Settlement; the Kings Just Rights; Importance of Interests; Stated Order in the Church, &c. What is all this, but a jumbling together of so many Amusements, to pass a Colourable Pretence upon the People? And it signifies just nothing, but what Con∣struction they shall think fit to allow it. If they would offer any Pertinent, Intelligible, and Practicable Proposition; and say, what Injunctions they would have abated; what Parties they would recommend for these qualifications; where to find them, and who shall judge of them. If they would State their Demands, and say, This is all we ask; and then rest there: If, as they plead for all Dissenters, they would produce some Common Instrument, or Com∣mission, to shew that they are Authoriz'd by all to Solicite in their Names, and to treat upon such or such Points; and to go no further, the business might be brought yet to some rational Issue.
As their Stile is exceeding Dark and Mysterious, so are their Scruples of an Extraordinary Quality too. They can∣not kneel at the Sacrament, but they can hold up their hands at the Covenant; they can dispense with the Oath of Alle∣geance, and yet make a scruple of disclaiming the Solemn League: They can swallow a Schism (or worse) and yet a Ceremony choaks them. Add to all this; many of those very persons that promoted our former Troubles, this very way, are now at work again upon the same Pretension; and may, without breach of Charity, be suspected to have the same design, and to remain in a state of Impenitency, if they have not manifested their Repentance by some Open Recan∣tation: For (according to the Casuists) Publique sins require Publique Confessions.
It is an Ill sign too, for a man to leap upon the sudden, from matter of Conscience to Reason of State; and in the Page 21 same breath, of a Petitioner, to become a Reformer. It would seem a strange thing, for a man to request a special favour from the Master of a Family, and at the same time to put affronts upon his Domesticks, and to tell him that his Ser∣vants were all of them a pack of Rascals; which is not much from the point now in hand.
We have had abundance of Advice to the Free-holders of England, toward the Choice of this next Parliament; as Sober and Seasonable Quaeres; Englands great Interest; the Free holders Choice, and twenty more; and all of them a∣greeing in the general Heads one with another: They tell us who are fit to be chosen, and who not.
The former, such as will remove and bring to Justice evil Counsellors; Corrupt and Arbitrary Ministers of State; Detect and Punish the Pensioners of the former Parliament in the face of the Kingdom, and they must chuse such as will secure us from Slavery.
The People are directed on the other side, not to chuse a man that has been reputed a Pentioner, no Court-Officer, or whose Employment is durante bene placito; no Ambitious men, or Non-residents, that live here in Town, and seek Ho∣nours and Preferments above.
This is the Counsel of Englands Grand Interest: And methinks, in these Qualifications, there is both too much, and too little. As to the point of Evil Counsellors, Corrupt Ministers and Pensioners, he should have done well to have advis'd them all manner of Caution and Circumspection, for fear of mistaking their Men. This was the way that brought the Earl of Strafford, and the Arch-Bishop of Can∣terbury to their Ends, under the Notion of evil Counsellors too, though perhaps, the most necessary Instruments that ever this Nation enjoy'd, for the Common good both of King and People. So that as it is a great Service to bring Corrupt Ministers to Publick Justice, it is yet a lewd Method to make the Rabble the Executioners, and to punish Male-Ad∣ministrationPage 22 by Sedition: For in this Case the Good and the Bad fall indifferently without distinction; and instead of drawing here and there a piece of Rotten Timber toward a Reparation, they fall foul upon the main Pillars and Sup∣porters of the House; so that all falls into Ruins. And then the mark of a Reputed Pensioner goes a little too far; for it lies in the power of two or three Malevolent Tongues to make any man so. They that made the last King a Re∣puted Papist, shall much more easily make any of his Ma∣jesties Subjects pass for Reputed Pensioners.
The total Exclusion of all Court Officers, or Bene-placito∣men, is yet worse: For this sets up a direct Opposition be∣twixt the King and his People; as who should say, Trust no body that wears any Token of the Kings favour. And the same reason disables him as well to any other Trust what∣soever: So that the Kings Countenance is a kind of Incapa∣city. And it is the same thing with those he calls Ambitious Men; as if any Application to his Majesty, made a Man unfit for the Service of his Country. He should have done well to have warn'd them against the Known Ene∣mies of the Government, rather then the Suspected Servants of the King.
The Free-holders Choice is a very Martin Mar-Prelate. His Language against the Clergy is too coarse for an Honest man to repeat after him, but he has rang'd them in good Company; for he says that they lay out themselves, to ac∣commodate their Masters with the veriest Villains that can be pick'd up in all the Country; that so we may fall into the hands again of as Treacherous and Lewd a Parliament as the Wisdom of God, and Folly of Man has most miraculously freed us from. Methinks some of the Members of that Parliament should concern themselves to call for Justice upon so foul a Scandal.
The Author of the Seasonable Quaeres does not only re∣commend the same Cautions with the rest, but calls his Page 23 Majesty himself to Shrift, and puts the Question, whether Prorogation and Dissolution of Parliaments, at such a time as this, does not fill the hearts of Protestant Subjects with evi∣dent fears of destruction?
And Secondly (says he) Whether it be not high time for all the Protestants in England, to Resolve as one man, that they will stand by, and maintain the Power and Privileges of Parliament, together with the Power and Just Rights of the King, according to the Laws of the Kingdom, so as the One may not intrench upon the Other.
The former Expostulation upon the Reason of the Kings Proceedings, would have been more taken notice of per∣haps, if it had not been follow'd with one of the most Au∣dacious Challenges that this Licentious season has produc'd; for the meaning of it is, to incourage a direct Rising, as if the King and the Parliament were going together by the Ears, (forgive the Expression) and the People to interpose, to see fair Play.
This is the very Trace of the Old Covenant: They must resolve to maintain no body knows what on the one side; (for the Privileges of Parliament are past finding out:) But then they are to stand by the King, on the other side, with a Limitation; only in his Just Rights, and of those Bounds, they themselves are to be the Judges. This Epithete was apply'd to the Late Kings Case, by those very men that cut off his Head.
The Author of Englands great Interest, having directed the Good People what persons to choose for the ensuing Parliament, and whatnot. His next work is to instruct them in the Knowledge of their Powers, which he divides into three Rights or Fundamentals. The First is Property, that is, a Right and Title to their own Lives, Liberties, and E∣states. For the Law (he says) is Umpire between King, Lords, and Commons; and the Right and Property is one in kind, through all Degrees and Qualities in the King∣dom. Mark that.
Page 24Why does he not say that the King is Vmpire betwixt King, Lords, and Commons, as well as that the Law is so? For the Law is only the Kings Pleasure made known; and the whole Force and Authority of it, is but an Emanation from Soveraign Power. And then for his Three Fundamen∣tals: As I am a Commoner of England my self, I should be loth to lose any Right of an English man; and yet as I am a Loyal Subject also, I should be as unwilling to encroach upon the Privileges of the Crown. I do not know what he means by his one in Kind; with the Emphasis of Mark that upon it. If it be, that the People have as much Right to their Lives, Liberties, and Estates, as the King himself has; though it be true in some sense, it will not hold yet, as he would have it understood. For the People may forfeit their Lives, Liberties, and Estates, but the King cannot forfeit His: Wherefore Mark That too.
His Second Fundamental is Legislation: Or, the Power of making Laws; for no Law can be made or Abrogated (he says) in England without them.
It is not Candidly done, to call that the very act of Legisla∣tion, which is only Consultive and Preparative towards it. The making of Laws, is a Peculiar and Incommunicable Pre∣rogative of Soveraignty; so that to place the Legislative Power in the Commons, is to make them Supream; and to set a King of England once more at the Commons Bar. Be∣side that, his Inference is as Inconsequent, as his Assertion is Dangerous. As if a Law must necessarily be made By th•m, because it cannot be Made or Abrogated Without them. Does he that furnishes the Ingredients, therefore make the Medicine, becau•e the Medicine cannot be made without the Ingredients? What signifies the form of an In∣strument to the passing of an Authority or Obligation, with∣out Signing and Sealing? Yet the one cannot be done without the other. Does the Councel that draws the Con∣veyance,Page 25 pass away the Estate; because the Act could not have been good without him? And again, the Law in this Case, is no other then a Promise under the Kings Hand, past to the People, and partakes of the Nature of other Promises. It was made by the Promiser, and cannot be dis∣charg'd without the Consent of those to whom it was Pro∣mised.
His Third Fundamental is Executive, and holds Propor∣tion with the other two, in order to compleat both their Free∣dom and Security; and that is their share (as he says) in the Judicatory Power; in the Execution and Application of those Laws that they Agree to be made.
A Judicatory Power without Authority to Minister an Oath, is to me, I must confess, a new thing: And now for the word Agree; though it may be pertinent enough to his purpose (for there needs no more to the Undoing of the most Regular Government upon the face of the Earth, then First to turn the Peoples hearts against it, and then to possess them that they have a Legal Remedy in their Own hands.) Yet that word (I say) in this place, is very impro∣per; for it is but a Request presented to his Majesty for his Approbation. The Request or Bill, is no doubt, agreed up∣on; but it were an Uncouth kind of expression for a Peti∣tioner to say that he does Agree that his Petition shall be Granted.
The Business it fairly push'd already: But the Publisher of a Pretended Speech lately Printed, carries it a step further.
If a Prince (says he) be Born to a Kingdom, who is either Lunatique, or otherwise disabled to do the Kingdom any good, shall not the Subjects, in this Case, proceed to chuse another, who may preserve the Kingdom, when otherwise it must of necessity Perish? As lately in the Case of Portugal, they chose another to Succeed, because of the Disability of the former.
Page 26This is, in plain terms, a Deposing Principle: For if a King may be Remov'd, in such Case of Disability, the People being made Judges of the Case, it is but their saying that he is not sit to Govern, and the work is done.
There is a Sheet Printed under the Title of A Plea, &c. that has more Brains and Art in it then ordinary. He says that a King is not for his Own, but his Subjects sakes only; and that we have, in truth, rather Title, &c. to Him, then He to Us: Adding, that when Kings themselves be Ill Ones, God not only approves of their Removal, but even himself does it: This he supports upon Texts extreamly misapply'd.
Let it be agreed now that a Prince is rather Constituted for the good of the People, then the People for the advan∣tage of the Prince. But let it be granted also on the other side, that Providence has made Order so necessary to the well-being of Mankind, that Tyranny it self is yet more Tolerable then either Anarchy, or Sedition: So that in the matter of Obedience to Superiors, we find our Convenience, even in our Duty. He seems to infer, that because God himself does many times remove Ill Kings, that therefore he approves of our doing so too. But First, we are not to draw Gods Extraordinary ways into Precedent. By the same Rule, Plunder was formerly justifi'd upon a Scriptural Com∣mission for the spoyling of the Aegyptians. Secondly: The very admittance, that an Ill King may be Remov'd, makes way to the destruction of a Good one; for 'tis but saying he is so, to make him so, and it leaves him barely at the mercy of the People: And this is not all neither, for it turns up the very Root of Government, and casts Humane Affairs in∣to a Circulation of Confusion. The Two Houses Depos'd the King; the Commons, the Lords; the Multitude they De∣posed the Commons; and all upon the same Charge of Mis∣demeanor. So that the Trustee being still accomptable to those that Entrusted him, the Order of Government is In∣verted, and the last Appeal lodg'd in the Rabble.
Page 27It is a strange thing that our Protestant Dissenters should so Unanimously agree in their Methods of Opposing Au∣thority, and yet keep at so great a distance in all things else; for how scrupulous soever they may seem to be in set forms of Devotion, they are the strictest People of the World, in the observance of a set form of Wrangling with the Govern∣ment: For an Out-cry of Persecution does as naturally fol∣low a Plea for Liberty, as one foot follows another.
Doth not such a day as this (says our Quaerist) loudly call for Repentance, that Protestants have been Persecuting each other; and for Unity in affection among all Protestant Sub∣jects, whether Conforming or Dissenting in some lesser Points; and that as Brethren, they Unite in such a Combination of Conjunction, as was in Q. Elizabeths time, with good Suc∣cess to defend the Crown, Religion, and Kingdom, against the Common Enemy of Mankind?
Since the Persecution of this Age lies so heavy upon him, and that nothing will serve his turn, but the Vniting of Protestants in such a Combination as was in the days of Q. Elizabeth, it will not be amiss to look a little into the Behaviour of the Protestant Dissenters in those days, and the Indulgence which they received from that Gracious Princess.
The Non-conformists that Fled, in Q. Maries time to Frankfort, and went off from the English Reformed Catho∣liques there, to the Protestant Dissenters at Geneva, these Non-Conformists (I say) returned for England upon Q. Eli∣zabeths coming to the Crown; and for the first ten years of her Reign, ply'd her so hard with Libels, Clamours, and Seditious Consultations, that betwixt the Papists on the one hand, and the Protestant-Dissenters on the other, she had much ado to secure the Peace of her Government: And not being in Condition to venture upon any course of Rigor or Severity, the Protestant Dissenters in the 14th. year of her Reign, Erected a Model of their own; call'd it Page 28 the Church, Libell'd the Queen, Parliament, and Lords, and afterward entred into a Formal Conspiracy against her Ma∣jesty and Council; which being detected, some were Exe∣cuted, and others Imprison'd: So that, at last, by one se∣vere Law of the 35th. of her Reign, she put an end to that Confederacy.
Here was the Vnity of the Combination our Pamphleter speak of; and we'l give ye now the Provision it self that did the bus'ness, with the Prescribed form of their Submission. The Penalties were Imprisonment, without Bail or Main-prize, for being present at Unlawful Conventicles. The Offender to be dis∣charg'd, if within three months he made his Open Submission and Acknowledgment, in the Form by the said Statute appointed. But in case of Recusancy, to Conform within that time, he was re∣quir'd to Abjure the Realm; and in case of refusing to Abjure, or of not departing within a Limited time, or of Returning without Li∣cence, to be proceeded against as a Felon, without Benefit of Clergy.
Here follows the Form of Submission.
I A. B. do humbly confess and acknowledge that I have grie∣vously offended God, in Contemning her Majesties Lawful Go∣vernment and Authority, by absenting my self from Church, and from hearing Divine Service, contrary to the Godly Laws and Statutes of this Realm; and in using and frequenting disorder'd and unlawful Conventicles and Assemblies, under the pretence and colour of Exercise of Religion: And I am heartily sorry for the same, &c.
You see here what Quarter was both given and taken under Q. Elizabeth, which shews that the Quaerist was little read in History, to appeal to the Practices of those times, either for the Innocence of the Party, or the forbearance of them. But hear what Englands Interest says to this matter.
Oh 〈◊〉 lay to heart (says he) the Grievous Spoils and Ruins that have been laid upon your harmless Neighbours for near these twenty years. Sixty pounds distrain'd for Twelve. Page 29 Two Hundred for Sixty: The Flocks taken out of the Fold; the Herd from the Stall: Not a Cow left to give Milk to the Orphans, nor a Bed for the Widow to lie on: Whole Barns of Corn swept away, and not a Penny return'd. And all this, for Worshipping of God according to their Con∣science. If you (says he to the Free-holders) will either Compel or Persecute your selves, or chuse such as do, you hate the Papists, but not Popery.
This is so Errant a Cant of Begging, as if the Protestant-Dissenters had serv'd their Trade in Moor-fields; and it runs too, in the very Tone and Stile of their Petitions and Admonitions to Q. Elizabeth, and so down by a clear Suc∣cession to this Instant. There were Citations, Degradings, and Deprivations; some in the Marshalseas, some in the White-Lyon, some in the Gatehouse at Westminster, others in the Counter, or in the Clink, or in Bridewell, or in New∣gate. How many good Mens deaths have the Bishops been the Cause of? How many have they driven to leave their Mi∣nistry, and live by Physick? Men have been miserably handled with Revilings, Imprisonments, Banishments, &c. If this Persecution be not provided for, great trouble will come of it.
Under K. James, no man (they said) could be assur'd of his Lands or Life. And under the Late King, how were these poor People Oppress'd by Fines, Imprisonments, Stig∣matizings, Deprivations, Suspensions, Excommunicated, Out-law'd, Begger'd, Proceeded against with punishments Pe∣cuniary and Corporal; nay, Death it self: And now they are at the same lock again.
But what are these People (for the Love of God) that are thus miserably us'd all this while? Why truly (if we may take their own words for't) under Q. Elizabeth they were Loyal Subjects, and Gods faithful Servants; most Wor∣thy, Faithful, and Painful Ministers, Learned and Godly, Vnreproveable before all men; the Strength of the Land,Page 30 and the Sinew of her Majesties Government. Under K. James, they were men of Conscience, Preservers of the Churches Right, and Asserters of the Holy Discipline. Un∣der the Late King, they took up the Titles of Men of Tender Consciences, Well-affected; Men that had the Power of Godliness, Painful, Laborious Preachers of the Word; Faithful in their Generation, and Men Zealous in the de∣fence of the Protestant Religion, the Privileges of Parlia∣ment, and of his Majesty in his Just Rights. And in our days, they call themselves Lovers of Gods Ordinances, and Enemies of all Humane Inventions; a People Zealous of Religion; sound in the Faith, Intelligent, Sober, Numerous, Peaceable, Orthodox: The Ceremonies they look upon as an Excess; they dissent from the outward Order of Worship, (for the Conscience will Interpose in the Dictates and In∣junctions of men, in Divine Worship) All these People a∣greeing in this common Complaint, that they are Perse∣cuted for Worshipping according to Conscience. Whether they do well or ill; whether they speak true or false; whe∣ther they have Reason on their side, or not, in these Re∣monstrances let the Reader judge.
Let it be first observ'd, that the Author dates this Per∣secution from his Majesties Return; near these twenty years (he says) as if there had never been any such thing before; whereas from the time of Q. Elizabeths Act a∣bove-mention'd, to the very Act for Vniformity, (the late times excepted) the Church was never without a Legal Provision for the preventing and suppressing of Con∣venticles; and the much Law more Rigorously put in Exe∣cution. Beside that, as they were more or less Indulg'd, the Nation was still more or less at quiet.
Observe again, that there's no notice taken of the Li∣berty of the Late times, or the deplorable Effects of that Licence, though the Presbyterians little Finger was heavier then the Loyns of the Bishops, in the point of Restraint, Page 31 as we have shew'd already, from the mouths of the other Sectaries. But they are too prudent to fall foul one upon another, when their bus'ness is to joyn in a Confederate Party against the Government: So that they are now One and All, and every separate Opinion stickles for all the rest: And then comes on the Cry of the Orphans and Widdows against the Cruelty of the Oppressor: Sixty pounds Distrain'd for Twelve; Two hundred for Sixty, &c. Me∣thinks the Plaintiff should have been so ingenuous, as to have reflected upon the Persecutions that other Men suf∣fer'd even from these People that now complain of a Per∣secution; and that they suffer'd for Worshipping according to their Consciences too, and they had not only Religion on their side, but Law also; whereas the other founded a Rebellion upon a pretended scruple of Religion, and opposed the Rules of Christianity and Civil Authority, both in one: But it is a Persecution to them, to be kept from Perse∣cuting.
Neither does this Clamour keep it self within the bounds of Spiritual matters, but breaks in upon the Civil Administration, and alarms the Multitude with the terri∣ble apprehensions likewise of Tyranny and Slavery. Where∣fore we are enforced to oppose the sensible Experiment of an actual Tyranny and Slavery to the artificial and imaginary fears of it; to leave all Mortals without excuse, that shall read these plain and well-meaning Papers, if ever they should fall into the same mistakes again.
The taking away of Mens Goods and Liberties, the forcing of their Consciences, and tying them up to an Im∣plicite Obedience to the Decrees of Government, are ter∣rible things, I must confess: But yet much worse sure, where they run directly against the Stream of a Receiv'd Authority and Vsage, then where the so doing is Warranted by known Laws and uninterrupted Practice.
Page 32There are several sorts of Persecution: A Persecution in matter of Conscience, Good Name, Propriety of Goods and Estate; Freedom of Person, and that is the most odious Aggravation of Persecution, when it is set up in defiance of a Publick Law, and Introduc'd under a colour of kind∣ness to all these Interests. We will be as short in these Par∣ticulars as we can, and leave the Reader to say where the Odium of the Persecution lies.
First, to the point of Conscience. It was the judgment of the Late Royalists, that they were oblig'd in Conscience and Duty, to pay Obedience to the Laws, both Civil and Ecclesiastical; and with the hazard of their Lives and Fortunes, to endeavour the preservation both of the Church and State. The Protestant Dissenters pretended the same respect for the King and Church, with the Royal Party: And when by Popular Pretexts they had ingratiated themselves with the Multitude, they plaid their Game the contrary way, and took up Arms against the Government, which they Swore to Defend. Now see at what a rate they treated, not only the Friends of the Government, but the Government it self.
There were a hundred and fifteen Ministers Ejected, with∣in the Bills of Mortality; beside Pauls and Westminster; and in proportion, all the Nation over, for refusing to comply with the Schism; and they were not so much as suffer'd to take the Employment of either a School-master or a Chaplain, but under heavy Penalties. Several of our Divines were Choak'd up, and Poison'd in Peter-House, and other Goals, either for Worshipping according to their Consciences, or Refusing to act against them. No Man ad∣mitted to Compound, or so much as Live in the Parlia∣ments Quarters, without Swearing. Men were Sequester'd for not joyning in the Rebellion; for assisting the King according to the Law, and for not Covenanting, though in express Contradiction to the Oath of Allegeance. Upon Page 33 the Abolition of the Common Prayer, severe Penalties im∣pos'd upon any man that should use it; and their own Directory impos'd upon a Forfeiture too; nay, they would not allow the King himself, in his Distresses, the Comfort of any of his own Chaplains, nor so much as the benefit of a Common-Prayer Book: And at Fife in Scot∣land, there was an Oath given at the Communion, not to take the Kings Oath, nor any other then their Own.—Was all this an Invasion of the Liberty of Consci∣ence or not?
Touching a Persecution now, upon the point of Good Name: Though the whole course of the History is full of Virulent and Unchristian Reflections, I will only re∣fer my self to that Diabolical Libel of Whites Centuries of Scandalous Ministers; wherein, without any regard to Truth or Modesty, they have expos'd so many Reve∣rend Names to Infamy and Dishonour. In one word; Af∣ter they had represented the King himself for a Tyrant, and an Idolater, it was but Consonant that they should cast Reproaches upon his Party.
Touching the Freedom of our Persons and Estates, the whole course of the late War, was but one continu'd Usurpation upon our Rights to both: Noble mens Houses turn'd to Prisons, and People Committed, without know∣ing either their Accusers, or their Offence: Some clap'd on Shipboard to be Transported, no body knew whither; and others sold into Plantations for Slaves. To say no∣thing of those that fell by the Sword, in the Defence of their Country; or otherwise past the hand of the Executioner, in Justification of their Religion and Al∣legeance. There was no taking of Threescore pounds for Twelve, in those days; nor of Two hundred for Sixty. But they took All for nothing; and there was no Living among them for any Honest man, that would not Pro∣stitute his Conscience. And who are they now, but Page 34 either the very persons, or men however of these ve∣ry Principles, that acted these Out-rages upon Vs, and yet now complain of being Persecuted themselves? When they startle the Common People with the Notions of Cruelty and Slavery, as a matter now in Prospect; me∣thinks they should Blush at the Memory, and upon the Guilt of those Real Calamities which we have both seen and felt, wherein our Blessed Soveraign had yet a greater share then any of his Subjects.
They Abolish'd Kingly Goverment; Sold the Crown-Lands; Imprison'd and Murther'd the King; made it Treason to deny the Supremacy of the Commons; turn'd our Churches into Stables; Burnt our Communion-Tables, and profan'd the very Ashes of the Dead. Let but any man read Scobels Acts, and say, if the English were not in those times, and under these Protestant Dissenters, the most Despicable Slaves in Nature. See their Tax upon the Fifth and Twentieth part, their Excises upon Excise; their Assessments for the Maintenance of the Army, and their Monthly Taxes for the same end. Ninety thousand pounds; Sixscore thousand pounds, Sixty thousand pounds, Sequestrati∣ons, Seizing of Peoples Rents and Debts, Appropriating to themselves the profits of Tonnage and Poundage, and Com∣positions for Wards. Authorizing the breaking open of Locks, and Examining upon Oath for discovery of Delin∣quents Money and Estates. All this is as well known, as the very fact of the War it self; and if we have a mind to lie down under the same Bondage again, let us believe the Stories of Arbitrary Government and Superstition, that these People tell us of, and they shall just so help us out of it a∣gain, as they did before.
There should be something further said to their pretence of being Persecuted for Religion; but I find little to be added to what is already deliver'd. The Law stands still: They press upon the Law, and yet cry out, that the LawPage 35 persecutes them. We may lay down this, I think, for a Maxim; That whosoever tells us that he makes a Conscience of Complying with the Discipline of the Church, and yet manifestly makes none at all, of undermining, nay and of blowing up the whole frame of the Government, that man is most undoubtedly an Hypocrite.
To Conclude: What's the meaning of this Remonstrating to the People? They are no Judges of the Controversie: But they do well however, in a Cause, where Force does a great deal more then Argument, to make their Application to the Multitude, with whom Clamour and Pretence are of more Value then Modesty and Reason. It is a most Ridiculous Contradiction to common sense, to believe these men to be in earnest; for if they were, they would never Defame the Government, at the same time that they beg a Dispen∣sation from it.
Their Demand is Vnreasonable, the thing it self only No∣tional and Impracticable. By Liberty of Conscience, they mean a Freedom of doing what they please, which necessarily implies a total Dissolution of the Laws. They offer it only as a Decoy to the People; and when they have gain'd Compassion to themselves (like Beggers that move Pity by shewing Ulcers of their own making) their next business is to draw Con∣tempts upon the Government, and after that, to enter with∣out more adoe, upon the Great Work of Reformation. Let me do this Right however to the Independents: I do not find that Party to have given the Government any trouble since his Majesties Return; but that they have kept themselves clear of all these late Broils: And if Authority had the same sense of them, with the Author of this Pamphlet, they would be found both in their Principles and in their Manners, to have the most reasonable Claim of all sorts of Dissenters, to a favourable allowance from the Government. God in his Mercy open our Eyes, that we may know our Friends from our Enemies.