Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

frail man, for the bare and simple toleration of what they all consent to be both juft, pious, and best pleasing to God, while that which is erroneous, unjust, and milchievous in the church or state, lhall by him alone against them all be kept up and established, and they censured the while for a covetuous, ambitious, and facrilegious faction.

Another bait to allure the people is the charge he lays upon his son to be tender of them. Which if we should believe in part, becaufe they are his herd, his cattle, the stock upon his ground, as he accounts them, whom to waste and destroy would undo himself, yet the inducement, which he brings to move him, renders the motion itself something suspicious. For if princes need no palliations, as he tells his son, wherefore is it that he himself hath fo often used them? Princes, of all other men, have not more change of raiment in their wardrobes, than variety of shifts and palliations in their folemn actings and pretences to the people.

To try next if he can ensnare the prime men of those who have opposed him, whom, more truly than his meaning was, he calls the “ patrons and vindicators of the people,” he gives out indemnity, and offers acts of oblivion. But they who with a good conscience and upright heart did their civil duties in the fight of God, and in their leveral places, to resist tyranny and the violence of fuperftition banded both againft them; he may be sure will never seek to be forgiven that, which may be juftly attributed to their inmortal praise ; nor will affent ever to the guilty blotting out of those actions before men, by which their faith assures them they chiefly stand approved, and are had in remembrance before the throne of God.

He exhorts his fon“ not to study revenge." But how far he, or at least they about him intend to follow that exhortation, was seen lately at the Hague, and now latelieft at Madrid; where to execute in the bafest manner, though but the smallest part of that savage and barbarous revenge, which they do nothing else but study and contemplate, they cared not to let the world know them for professed traitors and assassinators of all law both divine and human, even of that last and most extensive law kept inviolable to public persons among all fair enemies in

G 3

the

L

the midst of uttermoft defiance and hoftility. How implacable therefore they would be, after any terms of closure or adınittance for the future, or any like opportunity given them hereafter, it will be wildom and our safety to believe rather, and prevent, than to make trial. And it will concern the multitude, though courted here, to take heed how they seek to hide or colour their own fickleness and instability with a bad repentance of their welldoing, and their fidelity to the better cause; to which at first fo cheerfully and conscientioully they joined themselves.

He returns again to extol the church of England, and again requires his son by, the joint authority of" a father and a king, not to let his heart receive the least check or disaffection against it.” And not without caule, for by that means having sole influence upon the clergy, and they upon the people, after long search and many ditputes,” he could not possibly find a more compendious and politic way to uphold and settle tyranny, than by lubduing first the consciences of vulgar men, with the insensible poison of their savith doctrine : for then the body and befotted mind without much reluctancy was likelieit to admit the yoke.

He commends also “parliaments held with freedom and with honour.” But I would ask how that can be, while he only must be the fole free person in that number ; and would have the power with his unaccountable denial, to dishonour them by rejecting all their counsels, to confine their lawgiving power, which is the foundation of our freedom, and to change at his pleasure the very name of a parliament into the name of a faction.

The conclusion therefore must needs be quite contrary to what he concludes; that nothing can be more unhappy, more difhonourable, more unsafe for all, than when a wife, grave, and honourable parliament shall have laboured, debated, argued, confulted, and, as he himself speaks, “ contributed” for the public good all their countels in common, to be then frustrated, disappointed, denied and repulled by the fingle whiff of a negative, from the mouth of one wilful man ; nay, to be blasted, to be ftruck as mute and motionless as a parliament of tapestry in the hangings; or else after all their pains and travel to be diffolved, and cast away like so many noughts in arithmetic, unless it be to turn the 0 of their infignificance into a lamentation with the people, who had to vainly fent them. For this is not to “enact all things by public content," as he would have us be persuaded, this is to enact nothing but by the private content and leave of one not negative tyrant; this is mischief without remedy, a stifling and obstructing evil that hath no vent, no outlet, no passage through : grant him this, and the parliament hath no more freedom than if it fate in his noosc, which when he pleates to draw together with one twitch of his negative, thall throttle a whole nation, to the with of Caligula, in one neck. This with the power of the militia in his own hands over our bodies and estates, and the prelates to enthral our consciences either by fraud or force, is the fum of that happiness and liberty we were to look for, whether in his own restitution, or in these precepts given to his son. Which unavoidably would have let us in the same state of misery, wherein we were before; and have either compelled us to fubmit like bondflaves, or put us back to a second wandering over that horrid wilderness of distraction and civil flaughter, which, not without the ftrong and miraculous hand of God aflifting us, we have measured out, and survived. And who knows, if we make fo ilight of this incomparable deliverance, which God hath bestowed upon us, but that we shall, like those foolish Ifraelites, who deposed God and Samuel to let up a king, “ cry out” one day, “because of our king,” which we have been mad upon; and then God, as he foretold them, will no more deliver us.

There remains now but little more of his discourse, whereof to take a short view will not be amiss. His words make semblance as if he were magnanimously exercising himtelf, and fo teaching his fon, “to want as well as to wear a crown; and would seem to account it “not worth taking up or enjoying, upon fordid, difhonourable, and irreligious terms ;” and yet to his very last did nothing more induftriously, than strive to take up and enjoy again his fequeftered crown, upon the most fordid, dilloyal, dishonourable, and irreligious terms, not of making peace only, but of joining and incorporating with the murderous Irish, formerly by himself declared against, for “wicked and detestable rebels, odious to God and all good men.” And who but those rebels now are the chief firength and confidence of his fon? While the prefbyter Scot that woos and folicits him, is neglected and put off, as if no terms were to him fordid, irreligious and dishonourable, but the scottish and presbyterian, never to be complied with, till the fear of instant perishing starve him out at length to fome unfound and hypocritical agreement.

He bids his son “keep to the true principles of piety, virtue, and honour, and he shall never want a kingdom. And I say, people of England ! keep ye to those principles, and

ye shall never want a king. Nay, after such a fair deliverance as this, with so much fortitude and valour shown against a tyrant, that people that should seek a king, claiming what this man claims, would show themselves to be by nature Naves, and arrant beasts; not fit for that liberty, which they cried out and bellowed for, but fitter to be led back again into their old servitude, like a fort of clamouring and fighting brutes, broke loose from their copy-holds, that know not how to use or porsess the liberty which they fought for; but with the fair words and promises of an old exasperated foe, are ready to be stroked and tamed again, into the wonted and wellpleafing state of their true norman villanage, to them best agreeable.

The laft fentence, whereon he seems to venture the whole weight of all his former reasons and argumentations, “ That religion to their God, and loyalty to their king, cannot be parted, without the fin and infelicity of a people,” is contrary to the plain teaching of Christ, that “No man can serve two masters; but, if he hold to the one, he must reject and fortake the other.” If God, then, and earthly kings be for the most part not several only, but opposite masters, it will as oft happen, that they who will ferve their king muft forsake their God; and they who will serve God must forsake their king ; which then will neither be their fin, nor their infelicity; but their wisdom, their- piety, and their true happiness; as

[ocr errors]

to be deluded by these unfound and subtle oftentations here, would be their misery; and in all likelihood much greater than what they hitherto have undergone: if now again intoxicated and moped with these royal, and therefore so delicious because royal, rudiments of bondage, the cup of deception, spiced and tempered to their bane, they should deliver up themselves to these glozing words and illusions of him, whose rage and utmost violence they have sustained, and overcome to nobly.

XXVIII. Entitled Meditations upon Death.

IT might be well thought by him, who reads no further than the title of this Jaft eflay, that it required no answer. For all other human things are disputed, and will be variously thought of to the world's end. But this business of death is a plain case, and admits no controverfy : in that centre all opinions meet. Nevertheless, fince out of those few mortifying hours, that should have been intirest to themselves, and most at peace from all passion and difquiet, he can afford spare time to inveigh bitterly against that justice which was done upon him; it will be needful to fay fomething in defence of those proceedings, though briefly, in regard so much on this lubject hath been written lately.

It happened once, as we find in Efdras and Josephus, authors not less believed than any under sacred, to be a great and folemn debate in the court of Darius, what thing was to be counted strongest of all other. He that could refolve this, in reward of his excellent wisdom, should be clad in pårple, drink in gold, fleep on a bed of gold, and sit next Darius. None but they doubtless who were reputed wise, had the question propounded to them : who after some respite given them by the king to consider, in full assembly of all his lords and gravest counsellors, returned severally what they thought. The first held, that wine was strongest

, another that the king was strongest. But Zorobabel prince of the captive Jews, and heir to the crown of Judah, being one of them, proved women to be ftronger than the king for that he himself,

had

« VorigeDoorgaan »