Page images







HAT government, generally considered, is of divine authority, will admit of no dispute ; for whoever will seriously consider, that no man has naturally a right over his own life, so as to murder himself, will find, by consequence, that he has no right to take away another's life; and that no pact betwixt man and man, or of corporations and individuals, or of sovereigns and subjects, can intitle them to this right; so that no offender can lawfully, and without sin, be punished, unless that power be derived from God. It is He who has commissioned magistrates, and authorised them to prevent future crimes, by punishing offenders, and to redress the injured by distributive justice; subjects therefore are accountable to superiors, and the superior to Him alone. For, the sovereign being once invested with lawful authority, the subject has irrevocably given up his power, and the dependance of a monarch is alone on God. A king, at his coronation, swears to govern his subjects by the laws of the land, and to maintain the several orders of men under him, in their lawful privileges; and those orders swear allegiance and fidelity to him, but with this distinction, that the failure of the people is punishable by the king, that of the king is only punishable by the King of kings. The people then are not judges of good or ill administration in their king; for it is inconsistent with the nature of sovereignty that they should be so; and if at some times they suffer, through the irregularities of a bad prince, they enjoy more often the benefits and advantages of a good one, as God in his providence shall dispose, either for their blessing or their punishment. The advantages and disadvantages of such subjection, are supposed to have been first considered, and upon this balance they have given up their power without a capacity of resumption ; so that it is in vain for a common. wealth party to plead, that men, for example, now in being, cannot bind their posterity, or give up their power; for if subjects can swear only for themselves, when the father dies the subjection ends, and the son, who has not sworn, can be no traitor or offender, either to the king or to the laws. And at this rate, a long-lived prince may outlive his sovereignty, and be no longer lawfully a king; but in the mean time, it is evident, that the son enjoys the benefit of the laws and government, which is an implicit acknowledgment of subjection. It is endless to run through all the extravagancies of these men, and it is enough for us that we are settled under a lawful government of a most gracious prince; that our monarchy is hereditary; that it is naturally poised by our municipal laws, with equal benefit of prince and people ;

[ocr errors]

that he governs, as he has promised, by explicit laws; and what the laws are silent in, I think I may conclude to be part of his prerogative ; for what the king has not granted away, is inherent in him. The point of succession has sufficiently been discussed, both as to the right of it, and to the interest of the people: one main argument of the other side is, how often it has been removed from the right line: as in the case of King Stephen, and of Henry the Fourth, and his descendants of the house of Lancaster. But it is easy to answer them, that matter of fact, and matter of right, are different considerations : both those kings were but usurpers in effect, and the providence of God restored the posterities of those who were dispossessed. By the same argument, they might as well justify the rebellion and murder of the late king; for there was not only a prince iuhumanly put to death, but a government overturned ; and first an arbitrary commonwealth, then two usurpers set up against the lawful sovereign ; but, to our happiness, the same providence has miraculously restored the right heir, and, to their confusion, as miraculously preserved him. In this present history, to go no further, we see Henry the Third, by a decree of the Sorbonne, divested, what in them lay, of his imperial rights; a parliament of Paris, such another as our first Long Parliament, confirming their decree; a pope authorising all this by his excommunication; and an toly League and Covenant prosecuting this deposition by arms: yet an untimely death only hindered him from reseating himself in glory on the throne, after he was in manifest possession of the victory. We see also


* He was assassinated, by Jaques Clement, on the 20 August, 1589, when he had besieged Paris with every prospect of success. the same Sorbonists, the same pope, parliament, and league, with greater force opposing the undoubted right of King Henry the Fourth; and we see him in the end, surmounting all these difficulties, and triumphing over all these dangers. God Almighty taking care of his own anointed, and the true suc. cession; neither the Papist nor Presbyterian Association prevailing at the last in their attempts, but both baffled and ruined, and the whole rebellion ending, either in the submission, or destruction of the conspirators,

It is true, as my author has observed in the beginning of his history, that before the Catholic League, or Holy Union, which is the subject of this book, there was a league or combination of Huguenots, against the government of France, which produced the conspiracy of Amboise; and the Calvinist preachers (as Mezeray, a most impartial historian, informs us) gave their opinion, that they might take up arms in their own defence, and make way for a free access to the king, to present their remonstrances. But it was ordered at the same time, that they should seize on the Duke of Guise, and the Cardinal of Lorraine, his brother, who were then chief ministers, that they might be brought to trial by process before the States; but he adds immediately, who could answer for them, that the prisoners should not have been killed out of hand, and that they would not have made themselves masters of the queen-mother's person, and of the young king's, which was laid afterwards to their charge. The concealed heads of this conspiracy, were Lewis Prince of Conde, and the famous Admiral de Coligny; who being discontentedat court, because their enemies, the Guises, had the management of affairs under the Queen Regent, to their exclusion, and being before turned Calvinists, made use of that rebellious sect, and the pretence of religion, to cover their ambition and revenge. The same Mezeray tells us in one of the next pages, that the name of Huguenots or Fidnos, (from whence it was corrupted,) signifies, League or Association, in the Swiss language; and was brought, together with the sect, from Geneva into France. But from whencesoever they had their name, it is most certain that pestilent race of people cannot, by their principles, be good subjects; for whatever enforced obedience they pay to authority, they believe their class above the king; and how they would order him if they had him in their power, our most gracious sovereign has sufficiently experienced when he was in Scotland. * As for their boast that they brought him in, it is much as true as that of the Calvinists, who pretend, as my author tells you in his preface, that they seated his grandfather, Henry IV. upon the throne. For both French and English Presbyterians were fundamentally and practically rebels ; and the French have this advantage over ours, that they came in to the aid of Henry III. at his greatest need, or rather were brought over by the king of Navarre, their declared head, on a prospect of great advantage to their religion; whereas ours never inclined to the king's restoration, till themselves had been trodden underfoot by the independent party, and till the voice of three nations called aloud for him, that is to say, when they had no possibility of keeping him any longer out of England. But the beginning of leagues,

* To which kingdom Charles repaired upon the invitation of the Presbyterians, whose clergy, however, treated him with an indecent rigour, which he never forgave to the sect.


« EelmineJätka »