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ments, and the lord Grey's proposition was laid aside.
Having thus carried the question, relying upon their strength of votes, taking advantage that those expedients that had been offered extended to the whole oath, though but one of the three clauses in the oath had been debated, the other two not mentioned at all; they attempted strongly, at nine of the clock at night, to have the
whole oath put to the question; and though it was resolutely opposed by the lord Mohun, a lord of great courage and resolution in the public interest, and one whose own personal merits, as well as his father's, gave him a just title to the best favours of the court; yet they were not diverted, but by as great a disorder as ever was seen in that house, proceeding from the rage those unreasonable proceedings had caused in the country lords; they standing up together, and crying out with so loud a continued voice, adjourn, that when silence was obtained, fear did what reason could not do, cause the question to be put only upon the first clause, concerning the protestant religion, to which the bishops desired might be added, “ as it is now established.” And one of the eminentest of those who were for the bill, added the words, “ by law.” So that, as it was passed, it ran, “I A. B. do swear, that I will not endeavour to alter the protestant religion, now by law established in the church of England.”
And here observe the words, "by law,” do directly take in the canons, though the bishops had never mentioned them.
And now comes the consideration of the latter part of the oath, which comprehends these two clauses, viz. “ nor the government either in church or state,” wherein the church came first to be considered. And it was objected by the lords against the bill, that it was not agreeable to the king's crown and dignity, to have his subjects sworn to the government of the church equally as to himself; that for the kings of England to swear to maintain the church, was a different thing from enjoining all his officers, and both his houses of parliament, to swear to them ; it would be well understood, before the bill passed, what the “ government of the church” (we are to swear to) is, and what the boundaries of it, whether it derives no power nor authority, nor the exercise of any power, authority, or function, but from the king, as head of the church, and from God, as through him, as all his other officers do.
For no church or religion can justify itself to the government, but the state religion, that owes an entire dependency on, and is but a branch of it; or the independent congregations, whilst they claim no other power, but the exclusion of their own members from their particular communion; and endeavour not to set up a kingdom of Christ to their own use in this world, whilst our Saviour hath told us, that “his kingdom is not of it.” For otherwise there should be
imperium in imperio,” and two distinct supreme powers inconsistent with each other, in the same place
, and over the same persons. The bishops alleged that priesthood, and the power thereof, and the authorities belonging thereunto, were derived immediately from Christ, but that the licence of exercising that authority and power in any country, is derived from the civil magistrate. To which was replied, that it was a dangerous thing to secure, by oath and act of parliament, those in the exercise of an authority and power in the king's country, and over his subjects, which being received from Christ himself, cannot be altered, or limited, by the king's laws; and that this was directly to set the mitre above the crown. And it was farther offered, that this oath was the greatest attempt that had been made against the king's supremacy since the reformation; for the king, in parliament, may alter, diminish, enlarge, or take away, any bishopric; he may take any part of a diocese, or a whole diocese, and put them under deans, or other persons. For if this be not Jawful, but that episcopacy should be “ jure divino,” the maintaining the government, as it is now, is unlawful; since the deans of Hereford and Salisbury have very large tracts under their jurisdiction; and several parsons of parishes have episcopal jurisdiction; so that at best that government wants alteration, that is so imperfectly settled. The bishop of Winchester affirmed in this debate, several times, that there was no christian church before Calvin, that had not bishops; to which he was answered, that the Albigenses, a very numerous people, and the only visible known church of true believers, of some ages, had no bishops. It is very true what the bishop of Winchester replied, that they had some amongst them who alone had power to ordain ; but that was only to commit that power to the wisest and gravest men amongst them, and to secure ill and unfit men from being admitted into the ministry; but they exercised no jurisdiction over the others.
And it was said by divers of the lords, that they thought episcopal government best for the church, and most suitable for the monarchy; but they must say, with the lord of Southampton, upon the occasion of this oath in the parliament of Oxford, “ I will not be sworn not to take away episcopacy;" there being nothing that is not of divine precept, but such circumstances may come in human affairs, as may render it not eligible by the best of men. And it was also said, that if episcopacy be to be received as by divine precept, the king's supremacy is overthrown; and so is also the opinion of the parliaments both in Edward the VIth, and queen Elizabeth's time; and the constitution of our church ought to be altered, as hath been showed. But the church of Rome itself hath contradicted that opinion, when she hath made such vast tracts of ground, and great numbers of men, exempt from episcopal jurisdiction.
The lord Wharton, upon the bishop's claim to a divine right, asked a very hard question, viz. “ whether they then did not claim withal a power of excommunicating their prince?” which they evading to answer, and being pressed by some other lords, said, “ they never had done it." Upon which the lord Hallifax told them, that that might well be ; for since the reformation they had hitherto had too great a dependence on the crown, to venture on that or any other offence to it.
And so the debate passed on to the third clause, which had the same exceptions against it with the two former, of being unbounded, how far any man might meddle, and how far not; and is of that extent, that it overthrew all parliaments, and left them capable of nothing but giving money. For what is the business of parliaments, but the alteration, either by adding, or taking away, some part of the government, either in church or state? And every new act of parliament is an alteration; and what kind of government in church or state must that be, which I must swear, upon no alteration of time, emergency of affairs, nor variation of human things, never to endeavour to alter? Would it not be requisite that such a government should be given by God himself; and that with all the ceremony of thunder and lightning, and visible appearance to the whole people, which God vouchsafed to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai? And yet you shall nowhere read that they were sworn to it by any oath like this; nay, on the contrary, the princes and the rulers, even those recorded forthe best of them, did make several variations.
The Lord Stafford, a nobleman of great honour and candour, but who had been all along for the bill, yet was so far convinced with the debate, that he freely declared, there ought to be an addition to the oath, for preserving the freedom of debates in parliament. This was strongly urged by the never to be forgotten earl of Bridgewater, who gave reputation and strength to this cause of England; as did also those worthy earls, Denbigh, Clarendon, and Ailsbury, men of great worth and honour. To salve all that was said by these and the other lords, the lord-keeper and the bishops urged, that there was a proviso, which fully preserved the privileges of parliament; and, upon farther inquiry, there appearing no such, but only a previous vote, as is before mentioned, they allowed that that previous vote should be drawn into a proviso, and added to the bill ; and then, in their opinion, the exception to the oath for this cause was perfectly removed. But on the other side it was offered, that a positive absolute oath being taken, a proviso in the act could not dispense with it, without some reference in the body of the oath unto that proyiso. But this also was utterly denied, until the next day, the debate going on upon other matters; the lordtreasurer, whose authority easily obtained with the major-vote, re-assumed what was mentioned in the debates of the preceding days, and allowed a reference to the proviso; so that it then passed in these words : “ I A. B. do swear, that I will not endeavour to
alter the protestant religion now by law established in the church of England; nor the government of this kingdom in church or state, as it is now by law established ; and I do take this oath according to the meaning of this act, and the pro
viso contained in the same. So help me, God.” There was a passage of the greatest observation in the whole debate, and which with most clearness showed what the great men and bishops aimed at; and should in order have come in before, but that it deserved so particular a consideration, that I thought best to place it here by itself; which was, that upon passing of the proviso for preserving the rights and privileges of parliaments, made out of the previous votes, it was excellently observed by the earl of Bolingbroke, a man of great ability and learning in the laws of the land, and perfectly stedfast in all good English principles; that though that proviso did preserve the freedom of debates and votes in parliaments, yet the oath remained, not, withstanding that proviso, upon all men, that shall take it as a prohibition, either by speech or writing, or address, to “endeavour any alteration in religion, church, or state:” nay, also upon the members of both houses otherwise than as they speak and vote in open parliaments or committees. For this oath takes away all private converse upon any such affairs even with one another. This was seconded by the Lord De La Mer, whose name is well known, as also his worth, piety, and learning; I should mention his merits too, but I know not whether that be lawful, they lying yet unrewarded.
The lord Shaftsbury presently drew up some words for preserving the same rights, privileges, and freedoms, which men now enjoy by the laws established; so that by a side-wind we might not be deprived of the great liberty we enjoy as Englishmen ; and desired those