Page images
PDF
EPUB

*

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 the same Sorbonnists, 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 succession; 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 Ambois; 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 discontented at 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 author

in

ity, 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 boasts that they brought him in, it is as much as true that of the Calvinists, who pretended, as my author tells you 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 under foot by the independent party, and till the voice of three nations called aloud for him; that is to say, when they had no possibility keeping him any longer out of England. But the beginning of leagues, unions, and associations, by those who called themselves God's people, for reformation of religious worship, and for the redress of pretended grievances in the state, is of a higher rise, and is justly to be dated from Luther's time; and the private spirit, or the gift of interpreting scriptures by private persons without learning, was certainly the original cause of such cabals in the reformed churches; so dangerous an instrument of rebellion is the holy scriptures in the hands of ignorant and bigoted men.

He was assassinated, by Jaques Clement, on the 2d August. 1589, when he had besieged Paris with every prospect of success.

The Anabaptists of Germany led up the dance, who had always in their mouths, faith, charity, the fear of God, and mortifications of the flesh: prayers, fastings, meditations, contempt of riches and honours, were their first specious practices. From thence they grew up, by little and little, to a separation from other men, who, according to their pharisaical account, were less holy than themselves; and decency, civility, neatness of attire, good furniture, and order in their houses, were the brands of carnal-minded men. Then they proceeded to nickname the days of the weeks, and Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, &c. as heathen names, must be rejected for the first, second, and third days, distinguishing only by their numbers. Thus they began to play, as it were, at cross-purposes with mankind; and to do every thing by contraries, that they might be esteemed more godly and more illuminated. It had been

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

a wonder, considering their fanciful perfections, if they had stopped here. They were now knowing and pure enough to extend their private reformation to the church and state; for God's people love always to be dealing as well in temporals as spirituals; or rather, they love to be fingering spirituals, in order to their grasping temporals. Therefore they had the impudence to pretend to inspiration in the exposition of scriptures; a trick which since that time has been familiarly used by every sect in its turn, to advance their interests. Not content with this, they assumed to themselves a more particular intimacy with God's holy spirit; as if it guided them, even beyond the power of the scriptures, to know more of him than was therein taught. For now the Bible began to be a dead letter of itself; and no virtue was attributed to the reading of it, but all to the inward man, the call of the Holy Ghost, and the ingrafting of the word, opening their understanding to hidden mysteries by faith. And here the mountebank way of canting words came first in use; as if there were something more in religion than could be expressed in intelligible terms, or nonsense were the way to heaven. This of necessity must breed divisions amongst them; for every man's inspiration being particular to himself, must clash with another's, who set up for the same qualification; the Holy Ghost be ing infallible in all alike, though he spoke contradictions in several mouths. But they had a way of licking one another whole; mistakes were to be forgiven to weak brethren; the failing was excused for the right intention; who was more illuminated, would allow some light to be in the less, and degrees were made in contradictory propositions. But godfathers and godmothers, by common consent, were already set aside, together with the observation of festivals, which they said were of antichristian institution. They began at last to preach openly, that they had no other king but Christ, and by consequence earthly magistrates were out of doors. All the gracious promises in scripture they applied to themselves, as God's chosen, and all the judgments were the portion of their ene mies. These impieties were at first unregard ed, and afterwards tolerated by their sovereigns; and Luther himself made request to the Duke of Saxony, to deal favourably with them, as honestmeaning men, who were misled. But in the end, when, by these specious pretences, they had gathered strength, they who had before concluded that Christ was the only king on earth, and at the same time assumed to themselves that Christ was theirs, inferred by good con

sequence, that they were to maintain their king, and not only so, but to propagate that belief in others; for what God wills, man must obey; and for that reason, they entered into a league of association amongst themselves, to deliver their Israel out of Egypt; to seize Canaan, and 10 turn the idolaters out of possession. Thus you see by what degrees of saintship they grew up into rebellion, under their successive heads, Muncer, Phifer, John of Leyden, and Knipperdolling, where what violences, impieties, and sacrileges they committed, those who are not satisfied may read in Sleidan. The general tradition is, that after they had been besieged in Munster, and were forced by assault, their ringleaders being punished, and they dispersed, two ship's-lading of these precious saints was disembogued in Scotland, where they set up again, and broached anew their pernicious principles. If this be true, we may easily perceive on what a noble stock presbytery was grafted. From Scotland they had a blessed passage into England; or at least arriving here from other parts, they soon came to a considerable increase. Calvin, to do him right, wrote to King Edward VI. a sharp letter against these people; but, our Presbyterians after him have been content to make use of them in the late civil wars, where they and all the rest of the sectaries were joined in the good old cause of rebellion against his late majesty; though they could not agree about dividing the spoils, when they had obtained the victory and it is impossible they ever should, for all claiming to the spirit, no party will suffer another to be uppermost, nor indeed will they tolerate each other; because the scriptures, interpreted by each to their own purpose, is always the best weapon in the strongest hand: observe them all along, and Providence is still the prevailing argument. They who happen to be in power, will ever urge it against those who are undermost; as they who are depressed, will never fail to call it persecution. They are never united but in adversity, for cold gathers together bodies of contrary natures, and warmth divides them.

How Presbytery was transplanted into England, I have formerly related out of good authors. The persecution arising in Queen Mary's reign, forced many Protestants out of their native country into foreign parts, where Calvinism having already taken root (as at Frankfort, Strasburg, and Geneva,) those exiles grew tainted with that new discipline; and returning in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, spread the contagion of it both amongst the clergy and laity of this nation. Any man who will look into the tenets of the

first sectaries, will find these to be more or less imbued with them: Here they were supported underhand by great men for private interests. What trouble they gave that queen, and how she curbed them, is notoriously known to all who are conversant in the histories of those times. How King James was plagued with them, is known as well to any man who has read the reverend and sincere Spottiswoode:* And how they were baffled by the Church of England, in a disputation which he allowed them at Hampton-Court,† even to "the conversion of Dr. Sparks, who was one of the two disputants of their party, and afterwards writ against them, any one who pleases may be satisfied.

The agreement of their principles with the fiercest Jesuits, is as easy to be demonstrated, and has already been done, by several hands. I will only mention some few of them, to show how well prepared they came to that solemn covenant of theirs, which they borrowed first from the Holy League of France, and have

⚫ John Spottiswoode, archbishop of St. Andrews, who wrote a valuable, and, the times considered, a moderate history of the Church of Scotland, with a bias, as was natural, to the interests of episcopacy. It is a valuable record of Scottish history. James's harassing disputes with the Presbyterian clergymen, of course make a great figure in his annals. Spottiswoode was born in 1565, and died in 1639, just about the breaking out of those troubles which ruined the Scottish episcopal church.

In 1603, when the king heard, at Hampton-Court, the bishops dispute against Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Sparks, Mr. Knewstubs, and Mr. Chadderton, James, infinitely better skilled in the subtleties of polemical divinity, than in the arts of ruling a great kingdom, threw his influence into the scale of episcopacy with such ingenuity, that even the pious Whitegift, then primate of England, did not hesitate to avow his persuasion, that "the king spoke by the very spirit of God." It was therefore no wonder, that Dr. Thomas Sparks, although so learned as to be called the Pillar of Puritanism, and so zealous a despiser of forms, as to appear in a Turkey merchant's gown at the conference, instead of canonicals, should be so melted and overcome by the king's eloquence and argument, as to become in future a strict conformist. He died in 1616, after having experienced the favour of James, which indeed was due to a proselyte of his own making. Sparks wrote several tracts in favour of the establishment; as, "A Brotherly Persuasion to Unity and Uniformity," &c.

Robert Bellarmine, one of the most able controversialists whom the church of Rome has produced, and whose very name became a sort of war-cry of polemical divinity. He was born at Monte Pulciano, in 1542, and entered, in 1560, the order of Jesuits, of which he soon became a distinguished ornament. In the year 1599 he was honoured with a cardinal's hat, but not till he had carried the principle of "Nolo Episcopari" so far, that the pope was obliged to threaten an anathema should be persist in declining the proffered honour. Bellarmine died 17th September, 1621, leaving behind him sundry huge volumes of polemical divinity.

VOL. II.-21

lately copied out again in their intended association against his present majesty.

Bellarmine, as the author of this history has told you, was himself a preacher for the League in Paris during the rebellion there, in the reign of King Henry the Fourth. Some of his principles are these following:

"In the kingdoms of men, the power of the king is from the people, because the people make the king." Observing that he says, "In the kingdoms of men," there is no doubt but he restrains this principle to the subordination of the pope; for his Holiness, in that rebellion, as you have read, was declared Protector of the League: So that the pope first excommunicates, (which is the outlawry of the church,) and, by virtue of this excommunication, the people are left to their own natural liberty, and may, without farther process from Rome, depose him.

Accordingly, you see it practised in the same instance: Pope Sixtus first thunderstruck King Henry the Third and the King of Navarre; then the Sorbonne make decrees, that they have successively forfeited the crown; the parliament verifies these decrees, and the pope titioned to confirm the sense of the nation, that is, of the rebels.

is pe

But I have related this too favourably for Bellarmine; for we hear him, in another place, positively affirming it as matter of faith, "If any Christian prince shall depart from the Catholic religion, and shall withdraw others from it, he immediately forfeits all power and dignity, even before the pope has pronounced sentence on him; and his subjects, in case they have power to do it, may and ought to cast out such a heretic from his sovereignty over Christians."

Now, consonant to this is Buchanan's principle, "That the people may confer the government on whom they please;" and the maxim of Knox, "That if princes be tyrants against God and his truth, their subjects are released from their oath of obedience." And Goodman's, "That when magistrates cease to do their duties, God gives the sword into the people's hands: evil princes ought to be deposed by inferior magistrates; and a private man, having an inward call, may kill a tyrant." .""*

It is the work of a scavenger to rake together and carry off all these dunghills: they

• Queen Elizabeth was very much startled by these and other similar reasons which John Knox assigned persuade the nobility to depose the queen-regent, Mary of Lorraine; and the reformer was obliged to humble himself before he could obtain her forgiveness for broaching doctrines so deeply fraught with danger to monarchy.

are easy to be found at the doors of all our sects, and all our atheistical commonwealth's men. And, besides, it is a needless labour; they are so far from disowning such positions, that they glory in them: and wear them like marks of honour, as an Indian does a ring in his nose, or a Soldanian a belt of garbage. In the mean time, I appeal to any impartial man, whether men of such principles can reasonably expect any favour from the government in which they live, and which, viper-like, they would devour. What I have remarked of them is no more than necessary to show how aptly their principles are suited to their practices: the history itself has sufficiently discovered to the unbiassed reader, that both the last rebellion, and this present conspiracy, (which is the mystery of iniquity still working in the three nations,) were originally founded on the French League: that was their model, according to which they built their Babel. You have seen how warily the first association in Picardy was worded; nothing was to be attempted but for the king's service; and an acknowledgment was formally made, that both the right and power of the government was in him: but it was pretended, that, by occasion of the true Protestant rebels, the crown was not any longer in condition, either of maintaining itself, or protecting them; and that therefore, in the name of God, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, they joined together in their own defence, and that of their religion. But all this while, though they would seem to act by the king's authority, and under him, the combination was kept as secret as possibly they could, and even without the participation of the sovereign; a sure sign that they intended him no good at the bottom. Nay, they had an evasion ready too against his authority; for it is plain they joined Humieres, the gov ernor of the province, in commission with him, and only named the king for show; but engaged themselves at the same time to his lieutenant, to be obedient to all his commands; levying men and money, without the king's knowledge, or any law, but what they made amongst themselves. So that, in effect, the rebellion and combination of the Huguenots* was only a leading card, and an example to the Papists to rebel on their side. And there was only this difference in the cause, that the Calvinists set up for their reformation, by the superior power

• Dryden alludes to the conspiracy of Amboise, in 1559, by which the Huguenots, under direction of the Prince of Conde, and Coligni, meditated to surprise the court, possess themselves of the person of the king, and drive from his councils the family of Guise. It was dissipated by the policy of Catherine of Medicis, and the bravery of the Duke of Guise.

of religion, and inherent right of the people, against the king and pope. The Papists pretended the same popular right for their rebellion against the king, and for the same end of reformation, only they faced it with church and pope.

Our sectaries, and long parliament of fortyone, had certainly these French precedents in their eye. They copied their methods of rebellion, at first with great professions of duty and affection to the king: all they did was in order to make him glorious; all that was done against him was pretended to be under his authority, and in his name; and even the war they raised was pretended for the king and parliament. But those proceedings are so notoriously known, and have employed so many pens, that it would be a nauseous work for me to dwell on them. To draw the likeness of the French transactions and ours, were, in effect, to transcribe the history I have translated; every page is full of it; every man has seen the parallel of the Holy League and our Covenant; and cannot but observe, that, besides the names of the countries, France and England, and the names of religions, Protestant and Papist, there is scarcely to be found the least difference in the project of the whole, and in the substance of the articles. In the mean time I cannot but take notice, that our rebels have left this eternal brand upon their memories, that, while all their pretence was for the setting up the Protestant religion, and pulling down of popery, they have borrowed from Papists both the model of their design, and their arguments to defend it; and not from loyal, well-principled Papists, but from the worst, the most bigoted, and most violent of that religion; from some of the Jesuits, an order founded on purpose to combat Lutheranism and Calvinism. The matter of fact is so palpably true, and so notorious, that they cannot have the impudence to deny it. But some of the Jesuits are the shame of the Roman church, as the sectaries are of ours. Their tenets in politics are the same; both of them hate monarchy, and love democracy; both of them are superlatively violent; they are inveterate haters of each other in religion, and yet agree in the principles of government. And if, after so many advices to a painter, I might advise a Dutch maker of emblems,* he should draw a Presbyterian in arms on one side, a Jesuit on

* This passage affords Tom Brown grounds for a flat sneer at our author. The "Advices to a Painter," to which Dryden alludes, were a series of satires upon Charles II. and his court, published under the name of Denham, but which, in reality, were written by Andrew Marvell. They are printed in the State Poems.

the other, and a crowned head betwixt them; for it is perfectly a battle-royal. Each of them is endeavouring the destruction of his adversary; but the monarch is sure to get blows on both sides. But for those sectaries and commonwealth's men of forty-one, before I leave them, I must crave leave to observe of them, that, generally, they were a sour sort of thinking men, grim, and surly hypocrites; such as could cover their vices with an appearance of great devotion and austerity of manners; neither profaneness nor luxury were encouraged by them, nor practised publicly, which gave them a great opinion of sanctity amongst the multitude; and by that opinion, principally, they did their business. Though their politics were taken from the Catholic League, yet their Christianity much resembled those Anabaptists who were their original in doctrine; and these, indeed, were formidable instruments of a religious rebellion. But our new conspirators of these last seven years are men of quite another make: I speak not of their non-conformist preachers, who pretend to enthusiasm, and are as morose in their worship as were those first sectaries, but of their leading men, the heads of their faction, and the principal members of it; what greater looseness of life, more atheistical discourse, more open lewdness, was ever seen, than generally was and is to be observed in those men? I am neither making a satire nor a sermon here; but I would remark a little the ridiculousness of their management. The strictness of religion is their pretence: and the men who are to set it up, have theirs to choose. The long-parliament rebels frequented sermons, and observed prayers and fastings with all solemnity; but these new reformers, who ought, in prudence, to have trodden in their steps, because their end was the same, to gull the people by an outside of devotion, never used the means of insinuating themselves into the opinion of the multitude. Swearing, drunkenness, blasphemies, and worse sins than adultery, are the badges of the party: nothing but liberty in their mouths, nothing but license in their practice.

For which reason, they were never esteemed by the zealots of their faction but as their tools; and had they got uppermost, after the royalists had been crushed, they would have been blown off as too light for their society. For my own part, when I had once observed this fundamental error in their politics, I was no longer afraid of their success. No government was ever ruined by the open scandal of its opposers. This was just a Catiline's conspiracy, of profligate, debauched, and bankrupt men: The wealthy amongst them were the fools of the party, drawn

in by the rest, whose fortunes were desperate; and the wits of the cabal sought only their private advantages. They had either lost their preferments, and consequently were piqued, or were in hope to raise themselves by the general disturbance; upon which account, they never could be true to one another. There was neither honour nor conscience in the foundation of their league, but every man, having an eye to his own particular advancement, was no longer a friend than while his interest was carrying on: So that treachery was at the bottom of their design, first against the monarchy, and, if that failed, against each other; in which, be it spoken to the honour of our nation, the English are not behind any other country. In few words, just as much fidelity might be expected from them in a common cause, as there is amongst a troop of honest murdering and ravishing bandits: while the booty is in prospect, they combine heartily and faithfully; but when a proclamation of pardon comes out, and a good reward into the bargain, for any one who brings in another's head, the scene is changed, and they are in more danger of being betrayed, every man by his companion, than they were formerly by the joint forces of their enemies. It is true, they are still to be accounted dangerous, because, though they are dispersed at present, and without a head, yet time and lenity may furnish them again with a commander; and all men are satisfied, that the debauched party of them have no principle o. godliness to restrain them from violence and murders; nor the pretended saints any principle of charity, for it is an action of piety in them to destroy their enemies, having first pronounced them enemies of God. What my author says, in general, of the Huguenots, may justly be applied to all our sectaries: They are a malicious and bloody generation; they bespatter honest men with their pens when they are not in power; and when they are uppermost, they hang them up like dogs. To such kind of people, all means of reclaiming, but only severity, are useless, while they continue obstinate in their designs against church and government; for though now their claws are pared, they may grow again to be more sharp. They are still lions in their nature, and may profit so much by their own errors in late managements, that they may become more sanctified traitors another time.

In the former part of our history, we see what Henry III. gained from them by his remissness and concessions. Though our last king was not only incomparably more pious than that prince, but also was far from being taxed with any of his vices, yet in this they may be compared, without the least manner of reflection,

« EelmineJätka »