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of Almighty God, that can be more comfortable than your highness's favour, as to all other your faithful and dutiful subjects, so to us your majesty's most humble suppliants, who are by our calling ministers of God's holy word; and by our present condition now, and of long time, prisoners in divers prisons in and about the city of London; for which cause our most humble suit is, that it may please your most excellent majesty, graciously to understand our necessary answer to such grievous charges as we hear to be informed against us, which, if they were true, might be just cause of withdrawing for ever from us your highness's gracious protection and favour, which, above all other earthly things, we most desire to enjoy. The reason of our trouble is, a suspicion that we should be guilty of many heinous crimes; but these supposed crimes we have not been charged with in any due and ordinary course of proceeding, by open accusation and witnesses. But being called up to London by authority of some of your majesty's commissioners in causes ecclesiastical, we have been required by them to take an oath of inquisition or office, as it is called; for not taking whereof we were first committed to prison, and since have continued there a long time, notwithstanding that all of us, save one, have been deprived of our livings, and degraded of our ministry.
"Wherefore, for that the oath is the next and immediate cause of our trouble, we have made our answer first to that, and then after also to the crimes that are suggested, and secretly informed against us.
"As for the oath, the reason why we took it not, is because it is without limitation of any certain matter, infinite and general, to answer whatsoever shall be demanded of us. Of this kind of oath we find neither rule nor example in the word of God; but contrariwise, both precepts and precedents of all lawful oaths reported in the same tend to this, that an oath ought to be taken with judgment, and so as he that sweareth may see the bounds of his oath, and to what condition it does bind him, &c. But this oath is to inquire of our private speeches and conferences, with our dearest and nearest friends; yea, of the very secret thoughts and intents of our hearts, that so may we furnish both matter of accusation and evidence of proof against ourselves, which was not used to be done in causes of heresy or high treason; for these are the words of the statutes of your most noble father, Henry VIII.* For that the most expert and best learned cannot escape the danger of such captious interrogatories (as the law calleth them) which are accustomed to be administered by the ordinaries of this realm; as also that it standeth not with the right order of justice, or good equity, that any person should be convicted, or put to the loss of life, good name, or goods, unless it be by due accusation and witness, or by presentment, verdict, confession, or process of outlawry:—and farther, for the avoiding untrue accusations and presentments which might be maliciously conspired, and kept secret and unrevealed, till time might be espied to have men thereof by malice convicted,' it was ordained, that none should be put to answer but upon accusation and presentments taken in open and manifest courts, by the oath of twelve men †.
* An. 25 Hen. VIII. cap. 14.
+ An. 25 Hen. VIII. cap. 15. § 3.
"As to the charge of schism, and that we so far condemned the state of the church, that we hold it not for any true, visible church of God, as it is established by public authority within the land, and therefore refuse to have any part or communion with it in public prayers, or in the ministry of the word and sacraments: if this were true, we were of all men living the most unthankful, first to Almighty God, and next, to your excellent majesty, by whose blessed means we are partakers of that happy liberty of the profession of the gospel, and of the true service of God, that by your highness's gracious government we do enjoy. We acknowledge unfeignedly, as in the sight of God, that this our church, as it is by your highness's laws and authority established amongst us, having that faith professed and taught publicly in it, that was agreed of in the convocation of 1562, and such form of public prayers and administration of the sacraments, as in the first year of your most gracious reign was established (notwithstanding any thing that may need to be revised and farther reformed) is a true visible church of Christ, from the holy communion whereof, by way of schism, it is not lawful to depart.
"Our whole life may shew the evident proof hereof; for always before the time of our trouble, we have lived in the daily communion of it, not only as private men, but at the time of our restraint (as many years before) preached and exercised our ministry in the same; and at this present, most earnestly beseech all in authority that is set over us, especially your excellent majesty, that we may so proceed to serve God and your highness all the days of our life.
"Another crime suggested against us is, that we should practise or purpose rebelliously to procure such farther reformation of our church as we desire, by violent and undutiful means. Whereunto our answer is, that we think it not lawful to make a schism in the church for any thing that we esteem needful to be reformed in it, so do we, in all simplicity and sincerity of heart, declare, in the presence of Almighty God, to whom all secrets are known, and of your excellent majesty, to whom the sword is given of God for just vengeance and punishment of transgressors, that for procuring reformation of any thing that we desire to be redressed in the state of our church, we judge it most unlawful and damnable by the word of God to rebel, and by force of arms or any violent means to seek redress thereof: and moreover, that we never intended to use or procure any other means for the furtherance of such reformation, than only prayer to Almighty God, and most humble suit to your excellent majesty, and others in authority, with such-like dutiful and peaceable means as might give information of this our suit, and of the reasons moving us thereunto.
"The third crime misinformed against us is, that we impeach your majesty's supremacy. For answer whereunto we unfeignedly protest (God being witness, that we speak the truth herein from our hearts), that we acknowledge your highness's sovereignty and supreme power, next and immediately under God, over all persons, and in all causes, as
well ecclesiastical as civil, in as large and ample manner as it is agnized by the high court of parliament in the statute of recognition, as is set down in the oath of supremacy enacted by the same: and as it is farther declared in your majesty's injunctions, and also in the articles of religion agreed in the convocation, and in sundry books of learned men of our nation, published and allowed by public authority. We add yet hereunto, that we acknowledge the same as fully as ever it was in old time acknowledged by the prophets to belong to the virtuous kings of Judah; and as all the reformed churches in Christendom acknowledge the same to their sovereign princes, in the confessions of their faith exhibited unto them, as they are set down in a book named the Harmony of Confessions, and the observations annexed thereunto.
"And besides the protestation, we appeal to the former whole course of our lives, wherein it cannot be shewed, that we ever made question of it; and more particularly by our public doctrine, declaring the same; and by our taking the oath of supremacy as occasion hath required.
"It hath been odiously devised against us, concerning the persons subject to excommunication, and the power thereof, how far it extendeth; touching the former-we judge not otherwise herein, than all the reformed churches that are this day in the Christian world, nor than our own English church, both always heretofore hath judged, and doth still at this present, as may appear by the articles of religion agreed by the convocation, and by a book of homilies allowed by the same, and also by sundry other books of greatest credit and authority in our church; which is, that the word of God, the sacraments, and the power of binding and loosing, are all ordinances of Almighty God, graciously ordained for the comfort and salvation of the whole church; and that therefore no part or member of it is to be denied the comfortable, wholesome aid and benefit thereof, for the furtherance of their faith, and (as need may require) of their repentance, &c.
"For the other part, how far this censure extendeth, we profess that it depriveth a man only of spiritual comforts, as of being partaker of the Lord's table, and being present at the public prayers of the church, or such like, without taking away either liberty, goods, lands, government private or public whatsoever, or any other civil or earthly commodity of this life. Wherefore, from our hearts we detest and abhor that intolerable presumption of the bishop of Rome, taking upon him, in such cases, to depose sovereign princes from their highest seats of supreme government, and discharging their subjects from that dutiful obedience, that by the laws of God they ought to perform.
Concerning our conferences, we have been charged to have given orders, and made ministers, and to have administered the censures of the church, and finally to have exercised all ecclesiastical jurisdiction. To which suggestion we answer, that indeed of long time we have used, as other ministers have done (as we think in most parts of the land), to meet sometimes and confer together; which being granted to all good and dutiful subjects upon occasion to resort and meet together, we esteem it is lawful for us to do so.
"For besides the common affairs of all men, which may give them just cause to meet with their acquaintance and friends, mutually to communicate for their comfort and help one with another; men professing learning have more necessary and special use of such conferences, for their furtherance in such knowledge as they profess.But such as are professed ministers of the word have sundry great and necessary causes so to do more than others, because of the manifold knowledge both of divinity, and also of divers tongues and sciences, that are of great use for the better enabling them for their ministry; in which respect the conferences of the ministers were allowed by many bishops within their diocesses, and to our knowledge never disallowed or forbidden by any. Some late years also have given us more special cause of conferring together, where Jesuits, Seminarists, and other heretics, sought to seduce many; and wherein also some schismatics condemned the whole state of our church, as no part of the true visible church of Christ, and therefore refused to have any part or communion with it: upon which occasion, it is needful for us to advise of the best way and means we could, to keep the people that we had charge to instruct from such damnable errors.
"Farther also particularly, because some reckoned us to have part with their schism, and reported us to agree in nothing, but to differ one from another in the reformation we desire; we have special cause to confer together, that we might set down some things touching such matters, which at all times, whensoever we should be demanded, might be our true and just defence, both to clear us from partaking with the schism, and to witness for us that we agreed in the reformation we desire.
"But as touching the thing surmised of our meetings, that we exercise in them all ecclesiastical jurisdiction, in making ministers, in censuring and excommunicating, in ordaining constitutions and orders upon such censures to bind any; we protest before God and the holy angels, that we never exercised any part of such jurisdiction, nor had any purpose agreed among us to exercise the same, before we should by public law be authorized thereunto.
"Farther also, touching such our meetings, we affirm that they were only of ministers (saving in some parts where a schoolmaster, two or three, desirous to train themselves to the ministry joined with us), and the same, but of six or seven, or like small number in a conference, without all deed of appearance that might be offensive to any.
"Which though it be not subject to any punishment of law, yet is suggested against us by such as favour not our most humble desire of a farther reformation, to disgrace us, and make us odious with others, and chiefly with your excellent majesty; whereunto our answer is, that the discipline of the primitive church is ancient and so acknowledged by the book of Common Prayer-in these words, "that there was a godly discipline in the primitive church; instead whereof, until the said discipline may be restored again (which thing is much to be wished), it is thought convenient to use such a form of commination as is prescribed.
"Farther also, if it please your majesty with favour to understand it from us, we are ready to shew, that in such points of ecclesiastical discipline of our church, which we desire most humbly may be reformed, we hold no singular or private opinion, but the truth of the word of God, acknowledged to be such by all the best churches and writers of ancient time, and of this present age.
"Thus have we declared, right gracious sovereign, truly and sincerely, as we will answer it before God, and to your majesty upon our allegiance, what judgment we are of concerning the matters informed against us; and farther testify, that no minister within this land desiring a farther reformation, with whom we have had any private acquaintance or conference of these matters (whosoever may be otherwise informed), is of any other mind or opinion in these cases that have been named; by which declaration, if (according to our earnest prayers to Almighty God) your majesty shall clearly discern us to stand free from all such matters as we are charged with, our most humble suit is, that your majesty's gracious favour (which is more dear and precious to us than our lives) may be extended to us, and that by means thereof we may enjoy the comfortable liberty of our persons and ministry, as we did before our troubles; which if by your highness's special mercy and goodness we may obtain, we promise and vow to Almighty God, and your excellent majesty, to behave ourselves in so peaceable and dutiful sort in every respect, as may give no just cause of your highness's offence, but according to our callings, both in doctrine and example as heretofore, so always hereafter, to teach due obedience to your majesty among other parts of holy doctrine; and to pray for your majesty's long and blessed reign over us," &c.*
Articles of religion agreed upon by the archbishops and bishops, and the rest of the clergy of Ireland, in the convocation holden at Dublin, in the year of our Lord 1615, for the avoiding of diversities of opinions, and the establishing of consent touching true religion.
N. B. In these articles are comprehended, almost word for word, the nine articles agreed on at Lambeth, the 20th of November, 1595. This mark points at each of them, and their number.
Of the Holy Scriptures and the Three Creeds.
1. THE ground of our religion, and the rule of faith, and all saving truth, is the word of God, contained in the Holy Scripture.
2. By the name of Holy Scripture we understand all the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, viz.
* Strype's Ann. vol. ult. p. 85, &c.