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fore mentioned have been longest of the grand council; he that hath been longest of the grand council first, and so in order.

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IX. The cassiques; the eldest in age first, and so in order.

X. The seven remaining commoners of the grand council; he that hath been longest of the grand council first, and so in order.

XI. The male line of the proprietors.

The rest shall be determined by the chamberlain's

court.

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1

A

LETTER

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FROM A

PERSON OF QUALITY

TO HIS

FRIEND IN THE COUNTRY;

GIVING

An Account of the Debates and Resolutions of the House of Lords, in April and May, 1675, concerning a Bill, intitled, An Act to prevent the Dangers which may arise from Persons disaf"fected to the Government.'

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SIR,

THIS session being ended, and the bill of test being finished at the committee of the whole house; I can now give you a perfect account of this state masterpiece. It was first hatched (as almost all the mischiefs of the world have hitherto been) amongst the great church-men; and is a project of several years standing, but found not ministers bold enough to go through with it, until these new ones, who, wanting a better bottom to support them, betook themselves wholly to this ; which is no small undertaking, if you consider it in its whole extent.

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? First, To make a distinct party from the rest of the nation of the high episcopal men and the old cavaliers; who are to swallow the hopes of enjoying all the power and offices of the kingdom; being also tempted by the advantage they may receive from overthrowing the act of oblivion; and not a little rejoicing to think, how valiant they should prove, if they could get any to fight the old quarrel over again, now they are possessed of the arms, forts, and ammunition of the nation.

Next, they design to have the government of the church sworn to as unalterable; and so tacitly owned to be of divine right; which, though inconsistent with the oath of supremacy, yet the churchmen easily break through all obligations whatsoever, to attain this station, the advantage which the prelate of Rome hath sufficiently taught the world.

Then, in requital to the crown, they declare the government absolute and arbitrary; and allow monarchy, as well as episcopacy, to be jure divino, and not to be bounded or limited by any human laws.

And to secure all this, they resolve to take away the power and opportunity of parliaments to alter any thing in church or state; only leave them as an instrument to raise money, and to pass such laws as the court and church shall have a mind to; the attempt of any other, how necessary soever, must be no less a crime than perjury.

And as the top stone of the whole fabric, a pretence shall be taken from the jealousies they themselves have raised, and a real necessity from the smallness of their party, to increase and keep up a standing army; and then in due time the cavalier and churchman will be made greater fools, but as arránt slaves as the rest of the nation.

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In order to this, the first step was made in the act for regulating corporations, wisely beginning that, in those lesser governments, which they meant afterwards to introduce upon the government of the nation; and making them swear to a declaration and belief of such propositions as they themselves afterwards, upon debate,* were enforced to alter, and could not justify in those *

words*; so that many of the wealthiest, worthiest, and soberest men, are still kept out of the magistracy of those places.

The next step was in the act of militia †, which went for most of the chiefest nobility, and gentry, being obliged as lords-lieutenants, deputy-lieutenants, &c. to swear to the same declaration and belief; with the addition only of these words, " in pursuance of such mi"litary commissions;" which makes the matter rather worse than better. Yet this went down smoothly, as an oath in fashion, a testimony of loyalty; and none adventuring freely to debate the matter, the humour of the age, like a strong tide, carries wise and good men down before it. This act is of a piece; for it establisheth a standing army by a law, and swears us into a mi litary government.

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Immediately after this, followeth the act of uni formity, by which all the clergy of England are obliged to subscribe, and declare what the corporations, nobility, and gentry had before sworn; but with this additional clause of the militia act omitted. This the clergy readily complied with; for you know, that sort of men are taught rather to obey than understand; and to use that learning they have, to justify, not to examine what their superiors command. And yet that Bartholomew-day was fatal to our church and religion, in throwing out a very great number of worthy, learned, pious, and orthodox divines, who could not come up to this, and other things in that act. And it is upon this occasion worth your knowledge, that so great was the zeal in carrying on this church affair, and so blind

*By the act for the well governing and regulating of corporations, passed in the year 1661, all persons bearing any office of magistracy, place of trust, or other employment, relating to the government of any city, corporation, borough, &c. were ordered to take the following oath:

I A. B. do declare and believe, that it is not lawful, upon any pre"tence whatsoever, to take arms against the king; and that I do "abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority "against his person, or against those that are commissioned by " him."

V

+ The act for ordering the forces in the several counties of this kingdom.

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was the obedience required, that if you compute the, time of the passing this act, with the time allowed for the clergy to subscribe the book of Common-Prayer thereby established; you shall plainly find it could not. be printed and distributed so, as one man in forty could, have seen and read the book they did so perfectly assent and consent to *.

But this matter was not complete until the five-mile act passed at Oxford, wherein they take an opportunity to introduce the oath in the terms they would have itt. This was then strongly opposed by the lord trea-, surer Southampton, lord Wharton, lord Ashley †, and others; not only in the concern of those poor ministers that were so severely handled, but as it was in itself a most unlawful and unjustifiable oath. However, the zeal of that time against all non-conformists easily passed the act.

This act was seconded the same session at Oxford, by another bill in the house of commons, to have im

By the act of uniformity of public prayers, &c. which received the royal assent, on the 19th of May, 1662, all parsons, vicars, or other ministers, &c. were ordered to conform to the church of England, before the feast of St. Bartholomew, or the 24th of August following, upon pain of losing all their ecclesiastical preferments, &c. And it is certain, that," the Common-Prayer Book, with the alterations and amendments ... made by the convocation, did not come out of the press till a "few days before the 24th of August.' See Dr. Calamy's Abridg ment of Mr. Baxter's history of his life and times, ubi supra, p. 201.

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+ By that act, passed in the parliament held at Oxford the 9th of October, 1665, and intitled, An act for restraining non-conformists from inhabiting corporations; the non-conforming ministers were prohibited, upon a penalty of forty pounds for every offence, to come unless only in passing upon the road, within five miles of any city, corporation, borough, town, or place where they had been ministers, or had preached, after the act of uniformity; unless they first subscribed to the declara tions of the act of uniformity, and did take and subscribe the following oath:

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"I A. B. do swear, that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatsoever "to take arms against the king: and that I do abhor that traitor❝ous position of taking arms by his authority against his person,

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or against those that are commissioned by him, in pursuance of "such commissions; and that I will not at any time endeavour "any alteration of government, either in church or state." Anthony Ashley-Cooper, afterwards earl of Shaftsbury.

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