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HOME > Library > Books > A Seasonable Discourse in Opposition to Popery, printed for Henry Brome, 1673 Pamphlet
"A Seasonable Discourse
A Pamphlet Printed For Henry Brome in 1673
Edited and Updated: HAIL & FIRE, 2008
1. His Majesty having found it necessary for the good of his affairs by his declaration to grant a freedom to all sorts of dissenters from the Church of England to exercise their Religion and to suspend the execution of all penal laws against them, none can doubt but that the Papists against whom the penal laws were most sharp, are and will be watchful to improve it to their advantage, so much the more industriously setting themselves to seduce Protestants, since they may now securely own and defend their persuasions, and even their priests openly act in all parts their function, which was before no less than capital in any of his Majesty's subjects. If the industry we expect from them meet not with a proportionable zeal in all true Protestants, it will not be hard to conjecture the success of a vigorous and industrious attack, and a faint and negligent defence. And therefore I think it cannot be unseasonable to offer a few motives to the stirring up the zeal, and awakening the prudence of all such Protestants as fear God, and love the king, the Church, or themselves, as well as to arm them with some arguments for their own confirmation in the grounds of Protestancy, in opposition to Popery.
2. The first consideration shall be that of duty to almighty God, who has made us members of a Christian Church, in which we may assuredly find salvation if we continue in it, and live according to its rules and precepts. This Christian Church our Holy Mother has no other rule of faith and practice than the holy Scripture, of which, when less was written than we have now in our hands, St. Paul said then, they were able to make men wise unto salvation (2 Tim 3:15). It receives for canonical Scripture neither less nor more than those books of whose authority there was never any doubt in the Church, giving herein as much deference to universal tradition as any Church in the world: much more than the Roman does, who obtrudes her particular dictates and most notorious innovations for the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. It professes the same faith and no more than what all Christians have made the badge and symbol of their profession, namely that which is briefly comprized in the Apostles Creed, explained in those others which is called the Nicene and Athanasian, and proved by the holy Scriptures taken in that sense which is evident in the text to any indifferent judgment, and approved by the consent of the universal Church, the decrees of the first General Councils and Writings of the Fathers.
We are members of a Church where are used the same sacraments which Christ expressly left in his Church, and no other. We worship the only God, as we are taught to believe in him, and no other. Our administration of this worship and of these sacraments is in a language understood by all those that are concerned in them, being performed with such rites as are agreeable to the Word of God, being for decency and order; and we use them not as necessary in themselves, but in obedience to that authority which God has given to every particular Church over its own members. Our discipline likewise is according to the Scripture rule, and primitive patterns, as far as the looseness of this age will bear; and if this has weakened the discipline of our Church, we believe it has the same effect even in those of the Roman communion, and had no less in the Church of Corinth in the Apostle's times.
And for the persons who are employed in the Ministry of Gods worship and sacraments, and in the feeding and governing of the Flock of Christ, they are lawfully called to their office and ministry, and are consecrated and ordained according to the Scriptures, and Canons of the Universal Church: and we show the succession of our bishops to the Apostles of Christ, as fully as it can be shown in any other Church at this day.
Lastly, we are members of a Church, which above all other Constitutions in the Christian world enforces the great duties of obedience and submission to the magistrate, and teaches to be subject not only for wrath, but conscience sake.
In all these respects our Church holds a communion with all true Churches of Christ that are or have been in the world, and is together with them a true member of that holy Catholic Apostolic Church which was from the begining, and will be to the end.
As we pass not severe censures on other Churches, though exceedingly erroneous, and are for that charity unworthily repaid by the most criminal, that of Rome: So are we excommunicated by none that we know of, but Her; the Pope herein dealing with us as he does with all other Christians in the world namely, with most of the European Churches, and all in other parts, except those few whom he has gained of late by his Missionaries.
The common cause for which we suffer is nothing else but the defence of the faith which was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), and of that liberty wherewith Christ has made us free (Gal 5:1); against those additional articles which he would intrude into the one. And that anti-christian yoke which he would impose on the other.
The difference between our case and that of our fellow Christians who suffer with us is only this; that they are shut out from heaven as far as the Popes censures can do it, for they know not what, many of them, even millions in the remoter parts having never so much as heard of him, or his pretensions, whereas we know them too well by woeful experience.
It is not much more than an hundred years since that our ancestors were under his tyranny, which as their fathers had insensibly drawn upon themselves, by their deference to the See of Rome, from whence the Saxons had partly their conversion; so they having endured it as long as they were able, after many fruitless endeavours to make it tolerable, at last with one consent threw the yoke off their necks.
Our Church being thus freed from the usurpations of Rome by them who were deeply immersed in the errors and corruptions of it, the best use they could make of their liberty was this, to restore the primitive purity of the Christian Faith and worship, which ignorance and interest had fatally depraved. Indeed, 'twas morally impossible that they should pass untainted through so many ages of darkness, when the Popes given up to profligate vice seemed to drive on no other design but for wealth and dominion, when scarce any in their communion understood the originals of Scripture; when those that governed were so jealous of it, that they would not suffer any translation, but the Latin which was overgrown the meanwhile (as they now confess) with many thousands of corruptions.
3. Having considered the obligation we have to the religion we profess, it may be seasonable next to reflect on the religion to which we are invited.
One that recalls us to the idolatrous practice of the heathen world, to pray unto our fellow creatures canonized to saints and heroes, to worship images, and fall down to the stock of a tree: nay, what in the confession of Coster the Jesuit, and some others, in case Transubstantiation be not made out, a more stupid idolatry than the worst of
We are invited to a religion that takes from us contrary to the express words of our Saviour's institution half of the sacrament of the eucharist. To a Church that revives the heathen persecution of taking away our Bibles, and would involve every layman in the guilt of being a Traditor, the next step in the account of the primitive Church to apostacy from the Christian Faith. We are invited to a Church, that as it takes away the Scriptures and half the communion, robs likewise of the benefit of the public prayers, putting the offices in an unknown tongue; insomuch that when about thirteen years ago some of the prelates of the Church of France, had taken care to translate the liturgy and Scripture into the vulgar tongue, Pope Alexander the seventh damns the attempt, and under pain of excommunication commands all persons to bring in their books to be publicly burnt. We are tempted to a religion, which contrary to the command of trying all things, and holding fast that which is good, and paying to God a reasonable service, enjoins an implicite faith and blind obedience: to a religion that instead of the guidance of the Word of God, sets up an infallible Judge and Arbitrator of all doctrines, the Pope of Rome: Which instead of the faith once delivered to the saints adds new articles of faith, which instead of that one propitiation made by Christ, and the condition thereof faith and repentance, sets remission of sins upon terms, and proposes that gift of God to be bought with money in the vile market of Indulgences; for instance sacriledge is valued at seven grosses, incest five, simony seven, perjury six, murder five, and so on in the Tax of the Apostolic Chancery.
We are invited to a Church where we must be schismatics that we may be Catholics, and adhere to the Roman in opposition to all other; that is to the Catholic Church.
'Twere endless by retail to reckon up the errors and the guilts to which we are invited; the fond ridiculous rites, the superstitious burdensome and heathenish ceremonies, the exorcisms and conjurations, the blasphemies and forged miracles, cheats and pious frauds, the lies and stories stupid and impossible as Amadis de Gaul, the Knight of the Sun, or the Seven Champions, witness the Golden Legend, the Lives of the Saints, of St. Francis, Bruno, St. Dominic and infinite others, or if we have a mind to a romance of our own, the long Tale of a Tub which Fath. Serenus Cressy has lately put out borrowed from Father Alford; the improbable, that is, the greater miracles, as he tells us, being omitted because of the unbelief of the heretics; and yet enow are left to weary the credulity of the most sanguine Catholic: wherein also, as he tells us, we may see the faith of our forefathers, and truly we have great reason to thank him for the prospect, which gives us strong inducements in so unjust a competition, to retain our own.
Notwithstanding all that has been said, there is a sort of pacific writers, who represent the doctrines of the Church of Rome under a fairer light, and would have us believe they have a better meaning than is usually suggested. And God forbid that we should take things by the worst handle, or make that breach wider, whose closure we should endeavour to make up with a zeal equal to that of the gallant Roman, who threw himself on behalf of his country into the gaping gulf. Indeed no price can be too great for peace, but only truth; the which we may not part with for all the tempting charms of charity and love: and God knows, in the present case 'tis evident, that the excuses which are framed in the Romanists behalf are short and frivolous; nor besides can any man be esteemed a Roman Catholic by admitting the doctrines of that Church in his own private or some more probable doctors, but in the public sense. And had these undertakers in the Catholic cause power to dispense therein according to that candor which many of them make show of, we might attend to what is said; but we are well assured, that all these fair words can signify nothing but are merely a bait and snare laid to draw in the easy proselyte: for when he's reconciled and brought into the bosom of the Church, these painted shows are presently washed off; and all concessions immediately retracted; the convert must then learn the Colliers Creed, believe as the Church believes, and St. Peter's Key which threw the gate open to admit into the Church, will shut the prisoner in: and the child which had a piece of money given him to keep him quiet, shall soon after have it called for back again, and be awed with the rod, if he repine or murmur. So that 'twill be a frivolous project to talk of a reconcilement with the Church of Rome, till she first conform herself to Truth; and a conviction, and much more a Reformation must here be impossible, where the grossest errors are joined with an assurance of being free from any; nay, a persuasion of being infallible.
4. The motive which deserves the next place is the safety of the King's person, and the prerogative of the crown, which hath no higher or more necessary appendent than his supremacy in his dominions in all causes ecclesiastical and secular, according to the powers invested in the Jewish kings under the Law, and exercised by the first Christian Emperors.
'Tis obviously known how destructive both to itself and the community is the partnership of regal power; but this must be infinitely mischievous when shared by a foreigner, whose interests are necessarily contrary to those of our prince and nation, as the Popes certainly are. But this mischief stays not within the aforesaid bounds; for the Pope is not content with a bare coordination, but demands the preference for his spiritual sword, and claims a power to depose kings and dispose of kingdoms.
This we learn at large from Bellarmine, Suarez, Turrecremata, Card. Perron, Thom. Aquin. Ledesma, Malderius, to pass by innumerable others, all whose works were published by authority, and so owned as consonant to the doctrines of the Church, to which may be added the Pope's definition, who makes it authentic Law in these words, We say and define and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Bishop of Rome, and this Law of Pope Boniface the Eighth's making he effectually commented on himself, of whom Platina says, that he made it his busiess to give and take away kingdoms, to expel men and restore them at his pleasure. All which, that it might want no sanction or authority to render it the doctrine of in the Church, is justified in the third and fourth Lateran Council, the Council of Lions, the Council of Constance, all which call themselves general, and therefore speak the doctrine of the Church.
What has been done in this kind since the days of Gregory VII throughout Europe would fill a large volume, in the bare narration, whoever has a mind to see those black annals need not consult Protestant writers, but read Baronius or Platina, and there he will satisfy himself. Behold at large the last and greater triumphs of the capitol: crowns and scepters and the necks of emperors and kings trampled upon in great self-denial by Christ's humble Vicar, their realms and countries taken from them and involved in blood by the lieutenant of the Prince of Peace: subjects discharged from their allegiance in the right of him, who himself disowned the being a divider and a judge; and in a word, the whole world made his kingdom, who pretends his interest derived from our Lord Jesus, who disclaimed the having a kingdom of this world. So that it was not said amiss by Passavantius, that the Devil made tender of all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them to our Lord Christ, but he refused them; afterwards he made the same offer to his Vicar the Pope, and he presently accepted; with the condition annext of falling down and worshipping. The English Reader who desires to be satisfied in matter of fact may please to consult the History of Popish Treasons and Usurpations not long since written by Mr. Foulis, to pass by others who have also dealt in that Subject.
At present I shall only add that although our neighbouring Princes have difficulty enough given them by this Universal Monarch, who like his Predecessors in Heathen Rome, makes it a piece of his Prerogative to have Kings his Vassals, yet they often help themselves by some advantages which our Sovereign is not allowed. The most Christian King has his Capitularies, Pragmatic Sanctions, Concordats, and the Priviledge of the Gallican Church to plead upon occasion. And his Catholic Majesty as the eldest Son of the Church has several Rights of Primogeniture, especially in the Kingdom of Sicily. But the Crown of England is not to be treated with such respect: it alas ever since the days of Henry the Second or at least King John is held in see of the Pope, and we are in hazard to be called unto account for the Arrear of 1000 Marks per An. payable ever since that time: And Cardinal Allen has given it for good Canon Law, that without the approbation of the See Apostolic none can be lawful King or Queen of England by reason of the antient accord made between Alexander the Third in the year 1171. and Henry the Second then King,
But to all this the Roman Catholics have one short reply, that they are the most Loyal Subjects of his Majesty: and have signally approved their duty by their service and fidelity in the last War. To this I say in short, that as bad as Popery is, I do not think it can eradicate in all its Votaries their natural conscience; no Plague was ever so fatal as to leave no Person uninfected that seapt its fury. The.case is fully stated by King James of famous memory, as on one part, many honest men, seduced with some Errors of Popery, may yet remain good and faithful Subjects; so on the other part, none of those that truly know and believe the whole grounds and School conclusions of their Doctrines, can ever prove either good Christians, or good Subjects. To speak the plain truth, and what the insolent boasts of Papists makes necessary to be told them; whatever was done then, was no trial at all of Loyalty. The late Rebels found it necessary for the countenancing their cause to make a loud pretence against Popery, and to have the benefit of spoiling them: So that the Roman Catholics did not so much give assistance to the King, as receive Protection from him. When they shall have adhered to their Prince inspite of the commands of their holy Father the Pope, and defended their Sovereign and his Rights, when it was not their interest to do it, they will have somewhat worth the boasting; As the case now stands, they had better hold their peace, and remember that the Sons of another Church served their King as faithfully as they, though they talk less of it. But since they will needs have the World know what good Subjects they have been, let them take this short account from the Answer to the Apology for the Papists, Printed An. 1667. In Ireland there were whole Armies of Irish and English that sought against his Majesty solely upon the account of your Religion. In England it is true some came in voluntarily to assist him, but many more of you were hunted into his Garrisons by them that knew you would bring him little help, and much hatred. And of those that sought far him as long as his Fortune flood, when that once declined, a great part even of them fell from him. And from that time forward you that were always all deemed Cavaliers where were you? In all those weak efforts of gasping Loyalty what did you? You complied, and flattered, and gave suggared words to the Rebels then, as you do to the Royallists now; You addressed your Petitions to the Supreme Authority of this Nation the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England. You affirmed that you had generally taken, and punctually kept the Engagement. You promised, that if you might but enjoy your Religion, you would be the most quiet and useful Subjects of England. You proved it in these words: The Papists of England would be bound by their own interest, the strongest Obligation amongst wise men, to live peaceably and thankfully in the private exercise of their Conscience, and becoming gainers by such compassions, they could not so reasonably be distrusted as the Prelatic Party which were loosers. If this be not enough to evidence the singular loyalty of Papists in the late War, they may hear a great deal more of their virtue celebrated from their Petitions and public Writings in my Lord Orrerys answer to Peter Welsh his Letter. And because in those Writings they are so ready to throw the first stone against the late Regicides, they would do well to clear themselves from the guilt of that Sacred blood which is charged home upon them by the Answerer of Philanax Anglicus, who has not yet been controuled for that accusation.
5. To this barbarous insolence of Excommunicating and Deposing Kings may succeed the usual consequent of that, but greater prodigy of Tyranny, the putting whole Nations under Interdict, and depriving them of all the Offices and comforts of Religion, and that generally without any other provocation, than that the Prince has insisted on his just rights, or the people performed their necessary duty.
Description of the six year long Papal Interdict during the reign of King John, by Matthew Paris.
Description of the six year long Papal Interdict during the reign of King John, by Matthew Paris.
6. A farther consideration may be the Laws of the Land, which in case of Popery must be content to truckle under the Canon Law, and occasional Bulls of his Holiness, or Legantine Commissions, the proceedings of the Courts in Westminster veiling to Prohibitions and Appeals to Rome, against which a Premunire will be a weak fence in bar to the plenitude of the Apostolic Power; and to murmur or dispute anything will be especially to new Converts, interpreted Heresy, a word of so sharp an importance, as not to need a Comment. There is a Tradition that heretofore the Gentlemen of the long Robe were in that mean estate as to ply at Hall Gate as now Watermen do at the Stairs for a Fare, let the practitioners in that noble profession consider whether some such thing would not in earnest be the consequent of Popery. And the rest of the People of England would do well to think whether they are fitted for a Journey to Rome, as often as they shall be called thither: I do not mean the divertisement of Travel, or devotion of Pilgrimage, but the compulsion of Citations from that Court, where the attendance and expence is not likely to be less than formerly it was, when it occasioned the groans and sad complaints of our Forefathers; which though they have escaped our experimental knowledge sufficiently appear in all our Histories. Or should the English Law have some quarter given it, and be allowed a little Chamber practise, this must be only in reference to the Layty. All Ecclesiastics are under a more perfect dispensation, and only accountable to the Apostolic See either for their Actions or concerns, the benefits of which though the Secular Priests share in some proportion, the Regulars much more liberally enjoy, being owned by the Pope as his Soldiers and Prætorian bands, listed under the Generals of their several Orders, maintained indeed at the cost of the Countries where they live, but for the service of their Sovereign abroad, to whom they owe an entire and blind obedience: And that they may give no Hostages to the State where they reside, are forbid to marry. So that if Popery should prevail, we must, besides all charges necessary to secure ourselves from foreign enemies both by Land and Sea, constantly maintain a vast; Army of possibly an hundred thousand men, for such were the old numbers, to assure our slavery to the Roman Yoke. Nor are these Priviledges of the Church only personal, the places themselves which these religious men possess are hallowed into Sanctuaries, and give protection unto any criminal that treads within their thresholds, the most horrid murder or barbarous villany is to have the benefit of the Clergy, and if the Malefactor have but time to step into a Cloister, he fears no farther prosecution.
7. But besides the inconvenience of submitting to a foreign Law, that certain mark of slavery, and the intolerable burdens that attend its execution, it will be of moment to advise how well our property and interest in our estates will stand secured: And though when Princes are upon their good behaviour, to be disseized of their dominions, whenever they offend his Holiness of Rome, the Peasant or the Gentleman have no great reason to expect indemnity: yet should the Farm or Mannor house be too low a mark for the Roman Thunderer to level at, 'tis not to be imagined the Lord Abbots and the Lands of all religious houses will be past by as trifles. The Church is ever a Minor, and cannot be prescribed against by time, or barred in her claims, and our holy Father out of his Paternal care will find himself concerned to vindicate the Orphan committed to his trust. Some perchance who enjoy those Lands think they need not apprehend anything, because they hold under Acts of Parliament: But they who imagine this should consider, that the same strength that can repeal those Laws that establish Protestancy, may also do as much for those which supress Religious houses: and no body can tell what the force and swing of a violent turn, especially in England, may produce, where we seldom proceed with coldness or reserve. Acts of resumption are not things unheard of in ours, or in foreign stories. Nor is the consent of the Pope in Queen Mary's days a better security; for in case of a change of Religion all those grants will be interpreted a bare permission, and that conditional in order to the great end of reclaiming an heretical kingdom, which not being then accepted of, and finally submitted to, will not be thought obligatory when Papists by their own skill or interest have gotten the power into their hands. King Charles the First yielded at the Isle of Wight that the Church Lands should be leased out for 99 years, in order to a present peace and settlement of all things, through the interposition of a powerful and violent faction it was not then accepted of: Does any man think the Obligation of leasing for 99 years remains now? Let our Lay-Abbots apply this to their case, and then judge whether they upon a revolution will be more secure of their Possessions than the late Purchasers were; or whether those Purchasers were not as confident of transmitting their Acquisitions to their posterity as any possessor of Church Lands now is or has been. The King of France, not long since has redeemed back to the Crown those Demesnes which belonged to it, paying back such sums as were really laid out by the Purchasers; and allowing the mean profits as interest for the money so laid out: Which method of procedure has been defended by very considerable Arguments to be just and equitable. If the money expended on the Church penniworths at the dissolution of religious houses were now refunded, and the advantage of above 100 years profit already received were thrown into the bargain, though the present proprietaries would have an ill exchange, yet there would be so much plausibleness in the grounds of it, as in the zeal and heat of a turn would not be easily controuled: especially if it be farther pressed, that the first claim from the Acts of Parliament supressing Church Lands appear to be not full and peremptory, the Lands of the first supression in the 27th year of Henry 8. not seeming to intend an alienation to common and secular uses, but to have been vested in the King in trust, that the revenues might be employed to the pleasure of Almighty God, and to the honour and profit of this Realm. As to the second in 31 year of Henry 8. The Act supposes, and is built upon the alienations legally made by the respective religious Houses and Corporations, who are said of their own voluntary minds, good wills and assents without constraint, co-action, or compulsion of any manner of person or persons by the due order and course of the common Laws of this Realm of England, and by their sufficient Writings of Record under their Covent and common Seals, &c. Now to the verifying of these particulars a great many doubtful Circumstances and nice Points of Law are easily drawn in as requisite, the suggesting whereof in the forementioned cases however flight and frivolous they may be, no body can tell what force they will have when dilated on by a Roman Catholic Advocate, and interpreted by an infallible Legislator. That all this is not an idle dream, suggested to make Popery odious will be manifest to any one who will take pains to read what a French Marquess of that Religion has lately written on this very subject, who having represented us as a people without Friends, without Faith, without Religion, without probity, without any justice, mistrustful, inconstant to the utmost extremity, cruel, impatient, gurmandizers, proud, audacious, covetous, fit only for handy-strokes and ready execution; but incapable of managing a War with discretion. After this friendly character he proceeds to show by what ways and methods we are to be destroyed, which are first to put us to the expences of a War, and by raising of forces create a jealousy between the King and his people. Then to amuse us with fears of invasion. Thirdly, To stir up the several Parties among us, and to favour one sect against another, especially the Catholics, promising secretly to the Benedictines as from the King of England, which they will easily believe, that they shall be restored to all that they formerly possest according to the Monasticon lately printed there: Whereupon, says this worthy Author, the Monks will move heaven and earth, and the Catholics will declare themselves. It will not be material to transcribe the whole design laid down for our destruction by this bold Writer, which with all other Machinations, the providence of God, and the prudence of his Sacred Majesty will we hope frustrate. This is enough to show that there are persons in the world, who can yet nourish hopes of destroying the Nation, and repossessing the Lands of the Church; and in printed books make a public profession of them.
But if one general Act of Resumption should not disseize at one stroke all the lay possessors of Church Lands, 'tis plain that in case of Popery by retail they will be all drawn in, for what Papist in his last Agonies will obtain absolution without satisfaction first made to Holy Church, for the goods sacrilegiously detained? Or how will he escape the lying in Purgatory at least, and frying there for several thousands of years, who instead of having benifit from the Indulgences of the Church, is solemnly cursed and anathematized with the worst of Heretics in the Bulla Cænæ, as also the Declaration of the Council of Trent, upon the score of being robbers of the Church? 'Tis not to be hoped they should have any benefit from the Treasure of the Church, who have enriched themselves with that real and material treasure belonging to her, which is the only price that buys the other. Indeed, they who without the plea of a precedent right in few centuries gained to themselves a fifth part of the whole Kingdom, will not doubt in a much shorter time, having the forementioned pretences to recover it again, even the six hundred forty five Abbeys, whereof twenty seven had their Abbots Peers of England: The ninety Colledges, two thousand three hundred seventy four Chanteries and free Chappels, and one hundred and ten Hospitals, which (besides the lesser dissolutions of Templars, Hospitalers, Friers Alien, and others that preceded) fell together under the hands of King Henry VIII.
8. It would be farther weighed in reference to the wealth and flourishing of the Kingdom, and what is necessarily required thereto, the preservation of trade, and the value of lands and rents that the more Popery grows, the more will idleness increase, the more Abbey-Lubbers, that is, persons exempted from contributing in any kind to the uses of a state either in war or peace, and yet maintained as drones on others sweat and labours. The more it encreases, the more will cælibate or single life prevail; the more daughters will be sent to nunneries abroad, till they can be fixed at home, the more men will turn priests and friars, and so less people in the nation, which already has too few. And that the numbers in those societies may be sure to be full, it is a known and customary practice to entice and spirit away children from their parents into their covents, from whence they cannot be withdrawn without sacriledge. Of this abuse complaint was made long ago in behalf of the English nation, to the Pope by Rich. Fitz-Ralph, called Armachanus, Anno 1360, though without redress. Laymen, says he, refrain from sending their sons to the universities fearing to have them taken away from them, choosing rather to keep their sons at home, and breed them to husbandry, than to lose them by sending them to the schools: In my time there were thirty thousand students in Oxford, and now there are not six thousand, and the great cause of this decrease in numbers is the aforesaid circumventing of youth. To this accusation William Widford, a begging friar, makes answer in his Apology for his Order, by undertaking to prove, That it is very lawful to entice children into their covents without their parents consent. Since the Reformation, what arts have been used to people the seminaries abroad, is a thing too notorious to need an account, if any desire satisfaction therein, he may have it from Mr. Wadworths English Spanish Pilgrim. By this engaging of the youth in monasteries and nunneries there will be as many more idle hands, so by the more Holy-days which will be kept, there will be the less work done; consequently what is done will be so much the dearer, an ill expedient for promoting of trade, for four days work must perhaps, maintain a man and his family seven. The more Popery encreases, the less flesh will be eaten, a third part of the year being one way or other fasting days, besides particular penances, as good an expedient for rents, as the former was for trade. To salve this, I expect the Papists should tell us, that great numbers of foreigners of that religion will come and live among us, and supply by their numbers the other inconveniences: but the English artificers and merchants are already sensible of the mischiefs which those interloping strangers which are here already do among us, and desire no new colonies: Besides, 'tis obvious to any common understanding, that if the admission of Popery bring in foreigners, the discouragement of Protestancy will in greater and more disadvantageous proportions drive out natives: and though it be not certain who will gain by the change, 'tis manifest that the true English Interest will be a loser by it.
9. But to proceed, Popery will bring in to private persons a vast expence in masses, diriges, mortuaries, penances, commutations, pilgrimages, indulgences, tenths, first fruits, appeals, investitures, palls, peter-pence, provisions, exemptions, collations, devolutions, revocations, unions, commendams, tolerations, pardons, jubilees, etc. paid to priests, the Pope and his officers; which upon computation amounted to three millions per annum, a great part thereof carried out of the Kingdom in a time when the Indies had not filled it with gold and silver. The tyranny was so intolerable, that the whole nation protested against it in their Letter to the Council of Lyons, Anno 1245. wherein among other things they declare that the Italians received hence yearly above sixty tbousand marks, besides all other payments to the See of Rome, and carried out of the Kingdom a greater revenue than had the King, who was Tutor to the Church, and was to support the charge of the State. Which complaint yet had no other answer than delays, and a severe example to terrify them, immediately made upon the Emperour Frederick, the Second, against whom his Holiness Innocent the IV, then Pope, to use the words of the Acts of the Council, pronounced and thundred out the Sentence of Excommunication, not without the horrour and amazement of all hearers and by-standers. Only the Annats or First Fruits of Bishopricks as they were computed in Parliament, Anno 1532. in a few years came to an hundred fixty thousand pound sterling; it would be endless to audit the whole account. As England was by the Popes stiled an inexhaustible pit, so was there no bounds set to the industry of them who attempted to drain it. After a sad complaint of the rapine, avarice, and tyranny of the Pope and his officers among us, Matthew Paris breaks out into these words, We might there see heart-breaking grief, the cheeks of pious persons drown'd in tears, the doleful moan that they made, and the sighs which they multiplied, saying with bleeding groans, It were better for us to die, than behold the calamity of our country and pious people of it. Woe to England, who heretofore was Princess of Provinces, and Ruler of Nations, the mirror of excellence, and pattern of piety, is now become tributary, vile persons have trampled upon her, and she is a prey to the ignoble: but our manifold sins have procured these judgments from God, who in his anger for the iniquity of his people has made a hypocrite and tyrant to rule over them. If Almighty God should for the like provocations put us again under the same Egyptian task-masters, we need not doubt of the self-same usage. But now, for all this expence, 'tis pleasant to examine what is to come back to us in exchange; even Parchments full of Benedictions and Indulgences, store of leaden seals, beads, and tickets; medals, Agnus-Dei's, rosaries, hallowed grains, and wax-candles, such traffic that an Indian would scarce barter for; such pitiful gauds, that would hardly bribe a child of a year old; and yet this is the goodly price they offer for all the wealth of a whole nation.
10. After this tyranny over our estates in the particulars rehearsed, there is a very remarkable one behind, which will well deserve to be considered: It is Auricular Confession, where not to mention its ill aspect upon government, as being made an engine of state, and picklock of the cabinets of Princes, sealing up all things from the notice of the magistrate; but making liberal discoveries against him; hereby not only the estate, but soul and conscience of every private man are subjected to the avarice and rapine, and withal the humor and caprice, the insolence and pride, nay, lust and villany of a debauched Confessor; every mortal sin upon pain of damnation must be confessed, and when the penitent after great anxieties has freed himself from this disquiet, he must submit to the penance, however rigorous, or chargeable, or foolish, which the Priest enjoins; he and his family are entirely in the power of this master of their secrets.
And if this awe and empire however grievous, were the whole inconvenience 'twere something tolerable, it being to be hoped, that so severe a remedy would affright from guilt; but the very contrary happens, vices of the foulest kinds are hereby procured to: the Priest takes often benefit of the sin which he absolves from, and having the advantage of these two points, that the person whose Confession he has taken has lost modesty, and that he can absolve from the crime, it will be easy to persuade the repetition of that sin, which his breath can easily blow away and render none. I shall not here mention on the other part the perfunctory penances, which seem only imposed to invite to sin again, and those authorized by a most authentic pattern, that of the Popes themselves, for what markets may we not expect from a poor Priest, when his Holiness in his Tax of the Apostolic Chancery has valued the most horrid crimes at so easy rates as a few grosses, or a Julio, and eighteen pence or half a Crown compounds for the foulest most abominable guilt. Nay, when a visit to a privileged shrine or altar, and the bare recital of a short prayer purchases pardon for 100, 500, 546, 6646 days. Nay, for 7500, 10000, 1000000 years according to the grants of several Popes, to be seen for our great comfort and edification in the Horæ B. Virginis. So that the story of that plump Confessor, who for six acts of adultery is said to have enjoyned the repetition of six poenitential Psalms, and when 'twas told him that there were seven of them advised the votary to commit adultery once more, and repeat the whole number, may seem a very severe act of discipline, and besides a full attonement for past sins supererogation for future ones.
So that vice being brought to this easy rate, besides all other misadventures, unless we will stand for the honor of being cuckolds, and have our posterity share the title which is proverbial in Popish countrys, to be fils de Prestre; it will concern us to look about us, while 'tis time, and prevent these vile difhonors which are preparing for us. If it shall be said, that 'tis not imaginable men should pervert so sacred an action, as the receiving of Confessions to those purposes of villany that are suggested. I answer first, that we may without breach of charity suppose that thing possibly to be done, which is notoriously known to have been done: as also, that the horror of the crime is competently allayed by their doctrine, who think only marriage, and not fornication inconsistent with the dignity of a clergy-man. And therefore the nephews of great clergy-men and Popes have in all ages been owned and preferred, and moreover, fornication has been allowed to Priests and Friers in compensation for their reflraint from marriage, three or four whores as part of their spiritual preferment I say, all this being put together, there will be little hopes to preserve honor in families, where so many circumstances concur together to betray it.
II. After all this there still remains a farther reason why we should resist the growth of Popery, even the most pressing that can be urged, self-preservation, to avoid imprisonment and Inquisition, fire and fagot, massacres, racks, and gibbets, the known methods by which the Romanists support their cause, and propagate their faith. Should that sect prevail, the nonconformist shall no longer complain of a Bartholomew day, the Parisian Vespers, which bore that date, will be resumed again, and silence all complaints of them or us: and as his Holiness thought fit to celebrate that barbarous villany, calling together, as Thuanus tells us, his Cardinals solemnly to give tbanks to Almighty God for so great a blessing conferred upon the Roman See, and the Chrstian world; nay, a Jubilee was to be proclaimed through the Christian World, whereof the cause was expressed to give thanks to God for destroying in France the enema of the truth and of the Church; there may be found on this side the sea men who will imitate the Princes of the holy League, who upon such encouragements from the See of Rome, and for the greater glory of God, will be ready to consecrate their hands in a massacre here with us. It is vulgarly known what was done to the poor Albigenses and Waldenses: how many hundred thousand of lives the planting of the Roman Gospel in the Indies cost. What cruelties were practised in the Low-Countries by the Duke D'Alva, what blood in this Island in the days of Queen Mary, what designed to be shed in the Powder Treason and that by the privity and direction of the Pope himself as Delrio informs us in spight of all the palliations that are now suggested: who withal adds, that his Holiness Clement 8 by his Bull a little before that time, gave order that no Priest should discover anything that came to his knowledge in confession to the benefit of the secular government: it seeming safer to these good men. to break all the obligations of duty and allegiance, though bound by oaths, than violate the seal of Confession, or put a stop to that meritorious work at one moment to destroy their soveraign, with all his royal family, his whole nobility and Senate, and subvert the government of their native country. But we need not seek for instances without our own memories, the carriage of the Irish Rebellion, where the Papists in a few months cut the throats of about two hundred thousand innocent Protestants of all sexes and ages, cannot be yet forgotten. Which act was so meritorious as to deserve from his Holiness a most plenary indulgence for all that were concerned in it, even absolution from excommunication, suspension, and all other ecclesiastical sentences and censures by whomsoever, or what cause soever pronounced or inflicted upon them, as also from all sins, trespasses, transgressions, crimes, and delinquences how hainous and atrocious soever they be, etc.
Nor let any man be so fond to hope for better terms, or Liberty of Conscience, if Popery should now prevail. Let us look into the world, and we shall see on all hands, that nothing is anywhere suffered to grow either under or near that sect. Where Protestantism has been so strongly fixed as not to be battered down at once, it has by degrees been perpetually undermined: witness the proceedings against them in Poland and Hungary and several parts of Germany, the late persecutions in the Vallies of Piedmont, and the methods used in France to demolish their temples, and disable from employments, and almost exclude them from common trades. I need not enquire what is now done in Utrecht and other acquisitions of the French upon the Hollanders; this we are sure of; whatever articles are, or can be made of favor and compliance, 'tis somewhat more than a probable doctrine, that faith is not to be kept with Heretics. The Jesuited Romanist is at large by equivocations to say anything, and by directing of intention to do anything; they can with a very good conscience dissemble their own, and pretend to the Protestant Profession, come to the devotions of heathen idolaters, and that from express licence from his Holiness Pope Clement VIII upon account of which We may, says Tho. a Jesu, be present without any scruple at the rites and divine offices of infidels, Heretics and schismatics. Nay Peter Masseius makes it his boast, that Ignatius Loyola imitated the Devil in all his tricks, cheats and cunning, to convert souls: and how his followers have transcribed that pattern the world does know.
Yet farther they some of them at least can set up a new Gospel, where there is not one word of the Cross of Christ, can worship Heathen idols with that pitiful reserve of having in their sleeve a crucifix, to which they privately direct their adoration: all which, as they are notorious for, being complained of to the Pope, so are they uncontrolled for ought appears and permitted by him. Indeed what conversation can there be with these men who are under no obligations of society, no character of notice or distinction; who at the same time are Priests and Hectors, Casuists and Artificers, Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Quakers, Theists, Atheists, and amidst all this, very good Catholics. Let any honest sober man judge what kind of religion this is, in itself, and how fit to be encouraged and submitted to.
12. To close up all that has been said; from uncontrollable testimonies and proofs, we have seen the influence which Popery has either heretofore or may hereafter have amongst us in all the great concerns of our religion, our Prince, out laws, our property, our country, our families and lives; and found it evidently destructive unto all: the inference from whence can be no other, but that if we have any love of our religion, any abhorrence of the grossest superftition, error or idolatry, any regard for the safety of his Majesty, any care of our laws or our estates, any concernment for the strength, the wealth or numbers of our nation; any desire to hold the Freedom of our Conscience, the virtue and the honor of our families; and lastly, any care of self-preservation, to escape Massacres, and the utmost rage of persecution; it will behoove us to beware of the prevailing of that sect, in whose successes we have reason to expect to forfeit all these interests, perish ourselves, and bequeath idolatry and beggary and servitude to our posterity.
"Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" Eph 5:11 KJV
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