網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

. .

against her majesty's sacred person; and that by the poison ELIZAwhich they spread, the humours of most Papists were altered, and that they were no more Papists in conscience, and of soft

608. ness, but Papists in faction, then were there new laws made for the punishment of such as should submit themselves to such reconcilements, or renunciations of obedience. And because it was treason carried in the clouds, and in wonderful secresy, and seldom came to light: and that there was no pre-suspicion thereof so great, as the recusancy to come to Divine service: because it was set down by their decrees, that to come to church before reconcilement, was to live in schism: but to come thither after reconcilement, was absolutely heretical and damnable: therefore there were added laws containing punishment pecuniary against such recusants, not to enforce conscience, but to enfeeble and impoverish the means of those of whom it resteth indifferent and ambiguous, whether they were reconciled or no. And when, notwithstanding all this provision, this poison was dispersed so secretly, as that there were no means to stay it, than by restraining the merchants that brought it in: then, lastly, there was added another law, whereby such seditious priests of new erection were exiled, and those that were at that time within the land shipped over, and so commanded to keep hence upon pain of treason.

“ This hath been the proceeding, though intermingled not only with sundry examples of her majesty's grace towards such as in her wisdom she knew to be Papists in conscience, and not in faction and singularity ; but also with an ordinary mitigation towards the offenders in the highest degree committed by law, if they would but protest, that in case this realm should be invaded with a foreign army by the pope's authority for the Catholic cause, as they term it, they would take party with her majesty, and not adhere to her enemies.

“ For the other part which have been offensive to this state, though in other degree, which named themselves Reformers, and we commonly call Puritans, this hath been the proceeding towards them a great while : when they inveighed against such abuses in the Church, as pluralities, non-residence, and the like, their zeal was not condemned, only their violence was sometimes censured: when they refused the use of some ceremonies and rites as superstitious, they were tolerated with much connivance and gentleness ; yea, when they called in question the superiority of bishops, and pretended to bring a

WHIT- democracy into the Church, yet their propositions were heard, Abp. Cant. considered, and by contrary writings debated and discussed.

Yet all this while it was perceived that their cause was dangerous, and very popular: as because papistry was odious, therefore it was ever in their mouths, that they sought to purge the Church from the relics of popery, a thing acceptable to the people, who love ever to run from one extreme to another. Because multitudes of rogues and poverty were an eyesore and dislike to every man, therefore they put it into the people's head, that if their discipline were used, there should be no beggars nor vagabonds; a thing very plausible. And, in like manner, they promise the people many other impossible wonders of their discipline ; besides, they opened the people a way to government by their consistory and presbytery, a thing, though in consequence no less prejudicial to the liberties of private men, than to the sovereignty of princes, yet in the first show very popular. Nevertheless this (except it were in some few that entered into extreme contempt) was borne with, because they pretended but in dutiful manner to make propositions, and to leave it to the providence of God, and the authority of the magistrate. But now of late years, when there issued from them a colony of those that affirmed that the consent of the magistrate was not to be attended; when, under pretence of a confesssion to avoid slanders and imputations, they combined themselves by classes and subscriptions; when they descended to that vile and base means of defacing the government of the Church by ridiculous pasquils; when they began to make any subjects in doubt to take an oath, which is one of the fundamental points of justice in this land, and in all places; when they began both to vaunt of their strength and number of their partizans and followers, and to use the communications that their cause would prevail, though with uproar and violence ; then it appeared to be no more zeal, no more conscience, but mere faction and division: and therefore, though the State was compelled to hold somewhat a harder hand to restrain them than before, yet it was with as great moderation as the peace of the Church and State could permit. And therefore, to conclude, consider uprightly of these matters, and you shall see her majesty is no temporizer in religion. It is not the success abroad, nor the change of servants here at home, can alter her; only as the things themselves alter, so she applies her religious wisdom to correspond unto them, still

BETH.

retaining the two rules before-mentioned, in dealing tenderly ELIZAwith consciences, and yet in discovering faction from conscience?. Farewell.

“ Your loving friend,

- FRANCIS WALSINGHAM."

92

An act

By the account Walsingham gives of the seditious pamphlets published by the Puritans, their menacing the government, and subscribing the discipline, it is plain this letter, though without date, was written not long before his death.

To proceed: secretary Knolles was another great favourer of the Dissenters, as has been observed. This gentleman was a much better statesman than divine : as to Church government, he was a downright Erastian; I shall transcribe his letter to sir Francis Walsingham upon this subject.

See Records, “ On the 4th of February the parliament met at Westmin- num. 94. ster. There was little done this sessions relating to the Church, except an act for punishing those who took bribes for electing fellows, scholars, officers, and other persons in colleges, against

simoniacal collegiate and cathedral churches, schools, hospitals, halls, &c. presentaThe statute likewise provides against simoniacal presentations: nations, &c. and here it is enacted, that the person who receives any sum of money for a presentation or collation, shall forfeit his turn, and the benefice or dignity shall lapse to the crown. And that those who either take or make any such simoniacal promise, grant, bond, covenant, or other assurance, shall forfeit the double value of any such benefice, dignity, &c. And the persons corruptly procuring, or accepting any such benefice, dignity, &c. is for ever disabled from enjoying it by any other title. And if any person shall receive any sum of money, or other benefit, for resigning a benefice with cure of souls, both 609. giver and receiver are to forfeit the double value of the sum given.

“ And, lastly, Those who receive money, or other valuable consideration, for ordaining priests or deacons, or for licenses to preach, forfeit forty pounds, and the party so corruptly ordained, ten pounds; and whatever spiritual preferment he happens to gain, within seven years after such ordination, the

1 Whatever was the amount of Elizabeth's Latinity, she seems to have understood the motto of Roman aggrandizement

Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos."

WHIT

31 Eliz.

cap. 7.

Feb. 9, 1588-9.

Puritans.

Covetousness one motive to

trine.

statute declares all such benefices or promotions void, and that Abp. Cant. the respective patrons may dispose of them as if the clerk had

been naturally dead."

That this parliament might be farther informed of the weak

pretences and foul practice of the Puritans, Dr. Richard Bancroft's ser- croft preached a very learned and significant sermon upon this mon at St. subject at Paul's-cross. This Bancroft was some few years against the forward preferred to the see of London, and at last to the see

of Canterbury. His text for the purpose above-mentioned was 1 John iv. 1 : “ Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God; for many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

In prosecuting this text, he gave a strong image of the Puritans, and painted them in glowing colours ; he set forth their intemperate language against bishops, described their ambition, and such other indirect motives that pushed them to mutiny and public disturbance. Amongst other things, he

charges the party with covetousness; he laments that filthy false doc

lucre was frequently made the pretence for reformation; and that the prospect many people had of plundering bishoprics, seizing the endowment of cathedrals, and scrambling for the remainder of the Church revenues, was the principal cause of nonconformity and schism in this Church. He adds, that had not clear evidence driven him upon this censure, he should have forborne the imputation. To explain himself farther upon this head, he divides the nonconformists into clergy and laity, and considers their plea and pretensions apart. Their clergy made a warm demand of all the livings settled on the Established Church. These estates, they pretend, ought to be conveyed to their presbyteries. And for fear of being underfurnished, they put up a claim to the abbey-lands. To this purpose, in a petition to the parliament, exhibited in the name of the commonalty, they lay it down for a maxim in divinity, that things once dedicated to religious uses, are unalienable from their original intendment: when they are thus enclosed by

vows and solemn conveyance, they ought never to be thrown Bancroft's open to the world.

The lay nonconformists were of a quite different sentiment, cross, p. 22. and ran boldly to a scandalous extreme. For this he quotes

a pamphlet, called “ An Admonition to the People of England.” Our preachers, say these lay Puritans, ought to live

Sermon at
St. Paul's-

[ocr errors]

ELIZA-
BETH.

Luke ix.

Puritans' argumer

by the example of Christ and his apostles. Now no one was more unprovided with conveniences than their Master. “He had no place where to lay his head." And as for the apostles, their predecessors, "silver and gold they had none." Why then Acts iži. should these men that go less in industry and merit be better accommodated? Why should those who are so much inferior to the apostles in their qualifications, exceed them in figure and preferment? There is no coarseness either in eating or habit, which men of their profession ought to repine at. Alas! their dignities and promotions do but hinder them in their business, and disserve their character.

And to turn these men's artillery upon them, and ruin them The lay by their own reasoning, he borrows some of the principles of the German Anabaptists: and here he directs his discourse to ajainst the

clergy turned the poorer

sort of the audience in this manner : “My brethren," says he, “these gentlemen of the laity use you extremely ill. The children of God, you know, are heirs of the world: The earth is the Lord's, and the saints are to inherit it.' The wicked therefore do but usurp the blessings of Providence, and hold their estates by a wrong title. You have an equal share with those of the best distinction in the kingdom of heaven : why then will you suffer yourselves to be thrown out of your property upon earth, and acquiesce under so unequal a distribution? In the apostles' times, the faithful had all things common: then those who had estates sold them, and laid the purchase-money at the apostles' feet, and every one had his share in proportion to his necessity; and since the Christian religion is still the same, why is the usage so very different? But, alas ! so it is : you are but little better than beasts of burthen to the wealthier sort. Your landlords make no scruple to rack your rents, to grind your faces, and exhaust your bodies. And to what end is all this oppression in liberty and livelihood? It is to maintain an unnecessary equipage, to humour their pride and feed their luxury: it is to supply their pockets for gaming, and furnish their diversions of hawking and hunting. And are these warrantable motives to keep the greatest part of the world low and uneasy? To make them wear out their lives in labour and poverty? Why do not you push for redress of these grievances, and revive the practice of the apostles' times? To attempt something of this kind,

upon them.

VOL. VII.

« 上一頁繼續 »