Mr. Andrew Marvells CHARACTER OF POPERY.
January 17. 1688/9.
This may be Printed.
LONDON, Printed for RICHARD BALDWIN, next the Black Bull, in the Old-Bailey. MDCLXXXIX.
Mr. Andrew Marvell's Character of Popery.
WE do not find that God ever owned above two Religions in the World, the one of Ceremonies, the other with∣out. The first dictated to Moses by God himself; which tho it consisted of several peculiar Rites, Oblations and Ceremonies, yet was their Institution grounded upon Reason, being ei∣ther Remembrances of their Deliverances, or Types and Significations of the great Sacrifice which was to come, insomuch that God did not re∣quire of the Jews to have any other Gods but him, but for a particular Reason.
The second Religion was that which the coequal Son of God first taught in Judea, and commanded his Disciples to spread over the World. A Religion Plain and Simple, and, as I may say, without Welt or Guard, but so full of Truth and Syncerity, so full of vertuous Precepts, all tending to make Men happy both in this and the other Life, that it may truly be said to have descended from Heaven, and to have bin the un∣tainted Doctrin of a most perfect Deity. Now as no Governtment can subsist without Religion; we thought our selves the most happy People in the World, when once reform'd, not only to the Protestant Religion, which is that which comes nearest to the Rules of Sacred Institution, but to the most refined Exercise of the Protestant Religion, now practis'd in the World; Wherein there is neither Defect of Devotion, nor redun∣dances of Superstition, a Decency with Gravity, a Decorum avoiding the Moroseness of a Clownish Behaviour to the Sovereign of Heaven. No Superstitious assuming to its self a Sanctity above others, but a Piety and Charity grounded upon and warranted by Scripture, without which all Religion is but a seeming, and no true Religion.
For this Reason it was, that the Author of this ensuing Paper, a Person of no less Piety and Learning then Sharpness of Wit and Soundness of Judgment, wrote with such an Abhorrence as he does of the Popish Reli∣gion, if it may deserve to be call'd a Religion, as the Gentleman well ob∣serves; and that he laboured to set it forth in its proper Colours, as if he had intended it as his last Legacy to this Nation, to shew how ruinous Page 4it would be to us, should we be again compell'd to imbrace it; and with the Dog be constrained to return to our former Vomit: And as it were prophetically to let us understand what a Deliverance God has bin pleased to bless us withal, in so lately freeing the Kingdom from that In∣undation of Antichristian Pomp and Vanity, and Cheats of Romish Super∣stition, which was about to have overwhelmed it. 'Tis true, the touches are bold; but it is a Description to the Life: And bold Stroaks in Paint∣ing are many times more grateful to the Eye and Master-like, than the smooth Touches of an effeminate Pencil. For which Reason it was thought expedient to abstract these few Pages from the rest of the Treatise, and to hang them up in the Face of the Nation, as the most lively Picture of the Sensuality, Vanity and Treachery of the Romish Profession. The Words themselves are these. In short, says he, there is nothing comes nearer in Government to the Divine Perfection, then where the Monarch, as with us, enjoys a Capacity of doing all the Good imaginable to Man∣kind, under disabilities to all that is evil.
And as we are thus happy in the Constitution of our State, so are we yet more blessed in that of our Church; being free from that Romish Yoak, which so great a part of Christendom do yet draw and labour under, That Popery is such a thing as cannot, but for want of a Word to express it, be called a Religion: Nor is it to be mentioned with that Civility which is otherwise decent to be used, in speaking of the Differences of Human Opinion about Divine Matters. Were it either open Judaism, or plain Turkery, or honest Paganism, there is yet a certain Bona Fides in the most extravagant Belief, and Sincerity of an erroneous Profession may render it more pardonable: But this is a Compound of all the Three, an Extract of whatsoever is most Ridiculous and Impious in them, incorporated with more peculiar Absurdities of its own, in which those were deficient; and all this deliberately contrived, knowingly carried on by the bold Im∣posture of Priests, under the Name of Christianity. The Wisdom of this fifth Religion, this last and insolentest Attempt upon the Credulity of Mankind seems to me (though not ignorant otherwise of Times, De∣grees and Methods of its Progress) principally to have confisted in their owning the Scriptures to be the Word of God, and the Rule of Faith and Manners, but in prohibiting of the same time their common Use, or the Reading of them in publick Churches, but in a Latin Translation to the Vulgar: There being no better or more rational way to frustrate the very Design of the great Institutor of Christianity, who first planted it by the extraordinary Gift of Tongues, then to forbid the use even of the ordinary Languages. For having thus a Book, which is universally avowed to be of Divine Authority, but sequestring it only into such Hands as were entrusted in the Cheat, they had the Opportunity to Viti∣ate, Suppress or Interpret to their own profit those Records by which the poor People hold their Salvation. And this necessary Point being Page 5once gained, there was thence forward nothing so monstrous to Reason, so abhorring from Morality, or so contrary to Scripture which they might not in Prudence adventure on. The Idolatry (for alas it is neither bet∣ter nor worse) of Adoring and Praying to Saints and Angels, of Wor∣shipping Pictures, Images and Relicks, incredible Miracles and palpable Fables to promote that Veneration. The whole Liturgy and Worship of the Blessed Virgin. The saying of Pater noster's and Creeds, to the honour of Saints, and of Ave Mary's too, not to her Honour, but of others. The Publick Service, which they can spare to God among so many Competitors, in an unknown Tongue; and intangled with such Vestments, Consecrations, Exorcismes, Whisperings, Sprinklings Cen∣sings and Phantastical Rites, Gesticulations, and Removals, so unbeseem∣ing a Christian Office, that it represents rather the Pranks and Ceremonies of Juglers and Conjurers, the Refusal of the Cup to the Laity. The Ne∣cessity of the Priests Intention to make any of their Sacraments effectual. Debarring their Clergy from Marriage. Interdicting of Meats. Auri∣cular Confession and Absolution, as with them practised. Penances, Pil∣grimages, Purgatory, and Prayer for the Dead. But above all their other Devices, that Transubstantial Salacisme, whereby that glorified Body, which at the same time they allow to be in Heaven, is Sold again, and Crucified daily upon all the Altars of their Communion. For God indeed may now and then do a Miracle, but a Romish Priest can, it seems, work in one Moment a thousand Impossibilities. Thus by a new and an∣tiscriptural Belief, compiled of Terrours to the Phansie, Contradictions to Sense, and Impositions on the Understanding, their Laity have turned Tenants for their Souls, and in consequence Tributary for their Estates to a more than Omnipotent Priesthood.
I must indeed do them that Right to avow, That out of equitable Con∣sideration, and recompense of so faithful a Slavery, they have discharged the People from all other Services and dependance, infranchised them from all Duty to God or Man; insomuch that their severer and more learned Divines, their Governours of Conscience, have so well instructed them in all the Arts of Circumventing their Neighbour, and of Collud∣ing with Heaven; that were the Scholars as apt as their Teachers, there would have been long since an end of all either true Piety or common Honesty; and nothing left among them but authorized Hypocrisie, Licen∣tiousness and Knavery; had not the natural Worth of the better sort, and the good Simplicity of the Meaner, in great measure preserved them. For nothing, indeed, but an extraordinary Temper and Ingenuity of Spirit, and that too assisted by a Diviner Influence, could possibly restrain those within any the Terms or Laws of Humanity, who at the same time own the Doctrine of their Casuits, or the Authority of the Pope, as it is by him claimed and exercised. He by his Indulgences delivers Souls out of the Pains of the other World: So that who would refuse to be vicious Page 6here, upon so good Security. He by his Dispensatian annuls Contracts betwixt Man and Man, dissolves Oaths between Princes, or betwixt them and their People, and gives Allowance in Cases which God and Nature pro∣hibits. He, as Clerk of the Spiritual Market, hath set a Rate upon all Crime: The more flagitious they are and abominable, the better Com∣modities, and Men pay only an higher Price as for greater Rarities. So that it seems as if the Commands of God had been invented meerly to erect an Office for the Pope; the worse Christians Men are, the better Customers: And this Rome does by the same Policy People its Church, as the Pagan Rome did the City, by opening a Sanctuary to all Malefactors. And why not, if his Power be indeed of such Virtue and Extent, as is by him challenged? That he is the Ruler over Angels Purgatory and Hell. That his Tribunal and Gods are all one. That all that God, he can do, Clave non errant, and what he does is as God, and not as Man. That he is the Universal Head of the Church, the sole Interpreter of Scripture, and Judge of Controversie. That he is above General Councils. That his Power is Absolute, and his Decrees infallible. That he can change the very Nature of things, making what is Just to be Un∣just, and what is Vice to be Virtue. That all Laws are in the Cabinet of his Breast. That he can Dispense with the New Testament to the great Injury of the Devils. That he is still Monarch of this World, and that he can dispose of Kingdoms and Empires as he pleases. Which things being granted, that Stile of Optimum, Maximum, & Supremum Numen in Terris, or that of Dominus Deus noster, Papa, was no such ex∣traordinary stroke of Courtship, as we reckoned: But it was rather a great clownishness in him that treated so mighty a Prince under the simple Title of Vice-Deus. The Exercise of his Dominion is in all Poins suit∣able to this his Pretence. He antiquates the Precepts of Christ, as things only of good Advice, not commanded: But makes it a Mortal Sin, even to doubt of any part of his own Religion, and demands, under Pain of Damnation, the Subjection of all Christians to his Papal Authority: The denying of two things so Reasonable as blind Obedience to his Power, and an Implicit Faith to his Doctrine, being the most unpardonable Crime under his Dispensation. He has indeed of late been somewhat more re∣tentive than formerly, as to his Faculty of disposing of Kingdoms, the thing not having succeeded well with him in some Instances: But he lays the same claim still, continues the same Inclination, and though Vel∣vet Headed hath the more Itch to be Pushing. And however in order to any occasion he keeps himself in breath always by cur¦sing one Prince or other upon every Maunday Thursday: Nor is there any, whether Prince or Nation, that Dissents from his Usurpations, but are marked out under the Notion of Hereticks to Ruine and Destruction, when∣soever he shall give the Signal. That Word of Heresie misapplyed, hath served him for so many Ages to justifie all the Executions, Assassmations, Page 7Warrs, Massacres and Devastations, whereby his Faith hath been propa∣gated; of which our Times also have not wanted Examples, and more is to be expected for the future. For by how much any thing is more false and unreasonable, it requires more Cruelty to establish it: And to intro∣duce that which is absurd, there must be somewhat done that is barbarous. But nothing of any Sect in Religion can be more recommended by all these Qualities than the Papacy. The Pagans are excusable by their na∣tural Darkness, without Revelation. The Jews are tolerable, who see not beyond the Old Testament. Mahomet was so honest as to own what he would be at, that he himself was the greatest Prophet, and that his was a Religion of the Sword. So that these were all, as I may say, of another Allegiance, and if Enemies, yet not Traytors: But the Pope avowing Christianity by Profession, doth in Doctrine and Practice renounce it: And presuming to be the only Catholick, does persecute those to the Death, who dare worship the Author of their Religion, instead of his pretended Vicegerent.
And yet there is nothing more evident, notwithstanding his most no∣torious Forgeries, and Falsification of all Writers, than that the Pope was for several Hundred of Years an honest Bishop, as other Men are, and never so much as dreamed upon the seven Hills, of that Universal Power, which he is now come to, Nay, was the first that opposed any such Pre∣tention. But some of them, at last, growing wiser, by foisting a coun∣terfeit Donation of Constantine, and wresting another Donation from our Saviour, advanced themselves in a Weak, Ignorant and Credulous Age, to that Temporal and Spiritual Principality that they are now seized of; Tu es Petrus, & super hanc Petram, adificabo Ecclesiam meam. Never was a Bishoprick and a Verse of Scripture so improved by good Management. Thus, by exercising in the Quality of Christs Vicar, the publick Function, under an invisible Prince, the Pope, like the Mayors of the Palace, hath set his Master aside, and delivered the Government over to a new Line of Papal Succession. But who can, unless wilfully, be ignorant what wretched Doings, what Bribery, what Ambition there are, how long the Church is without an Head, upon every Vacancy, till among the Crew of bandying Cardinals, the Holy Ghost hath declared for a Pope of the French or Spanish Faction. It is a Succession like that of the Egyptian Ox (the liv∣ing Idol of that Country) who dying, or being made away by the Priests, there was a solemn and general Mourning, for want of a Deity; until in their Conclave they had found out another Beast with the very same Marks as the former. whom they themselves adored, and with great Jubilee brought forth to the People to Worship. Nor was that Election a grosser Reproach to Human Reason than this is also to Christianity. Surely it is the greatest Miracle of the Romish Church, that it should still continue, and that in all the Time the Gates of Heaven should not prevail against it.
Page 8 It is almost unconceivable, how Princes can yet suffer a Power so Per∣nic ous, and Doctrine so destructive to all Government. That so great a part of the Land should be alienated aad condemned to, as they call it, Pious Uses. That such millions of their People, as the Clergy, should, by remaining unmarried, either frustrate Human Naiure, if they live chastly, or, if otherwise, adulterate it. That they should be priviledged from all Labour, all publick Service, and exempt from the Power of all Secular Jurisdiction. That they, being all bound by strict Oaths and Vows of Obedience to the Pope, should evacuate the Fealty due to the Sovereign. Nay, that not only the Clergy but their whole People, if of the Romish Persuasion, should be obliged to rebel at any time upon the Popes Pleasure. And yet how many of the neighbouring Princes are con∣tent, or do chuse to reign upon those Conditions; which being so disho∣nourable and dangerous, surely some great and more weighty Reason does cause them submit. Whether it be out of personal Fear, having heard perhaps of several Attempts which the blind Obedience of Popish Zelotes hath executed against their Princes. Or, whether aiming at a more absolute and tyrannical Government, they think it still to be the Case of Boniface and Phocas (an usurping Emperour, and an usurping Bishop) and that, as other Cheats, this also is best to be managed by Confederacy.
But, as far as I can apprehend, there is more of Sloth than Policy on the Princes side in this whole matter: And all that Pretence of inslaving Men, by the assistance of Religion more easily, is neither more nor less, than when the Bramine, by having the first night of the Bride, assures him∣self of her Devotion for the future, and makes her more fit for the Hus∣band.