Page images
PDF
EPUB

were withal no less burthened in all extraordinary assessments' and oppressions, than those whom they took to be disaffected : nor were we happier creditors to what we called the state, than to them who were sequestered as the state's enemies. : For that faith, which ought to have been kept as sacred and inviolable as any thing holy, the publick faith, after infinite sums received, and all the wealth of the church not better employed, but swallowed up into a private gulph, was not before long ashamed to confuss bankrupt. And now, besides the sweetness of bribery, and other gain, with the love of rule, their own guiltiness, and the dreaded name of just account, which the people had long called for, discovered plainly that there were of their own number, who secretly contrived and fomented those troubles and combustions in the land, which openly they sat to remedy; and would continually find such' work, as should keep them from being ever brought to that terrible stand, of laying down their authority for lack of new business, or not drawing it out to any length of time, though upon the ruin of a whole nation.

And, if the state were in this plight, religion was not in much better; to reform which, a certain number of divines were called, neither chosen by any rule or custom ecclesiastical, nor eminent for either piety or knowledge above others left out; only as each member of parliament in his private fancy thought fit, so elected one by one.

The most part of them were such, as had preached and cried down, with great shew of zeal, the avarice and pluralities of bishops and pluralities; that one cure of souls was a full employment for one spiritual pastor, how able soever, if not a charge rather above human strength.

Yet these conscientious men (before any part of the work done for which they came together, and that on the publick salary) wanted not boldness, to the ignominy and scandal of their pastor-like profession, and especially of their boasted reformation, to seize into their hands, or not unwillingly to accept (besides one, sometimes two or more of the best livings) collegiate masterships in the universities, rich lectures in the city, setting sail to all winds that might blow gain into their covetous bosoms : by which means these great rebukers of non-residence, amongst so many distant cures, were not ashamed to be seen so quickly pluralists and non-residents themselves, to a fearful condemnation doubiless by their own mouths. And yet the main doctrine for which they took such pay, and insisted upon with more vehemence than gospel, was but to tell us, in effect, that their doctrine was worth nothing, and the spiritual power of their ministry less available than bodily compulsion; persuading the magistrate to use it, as a stronger means to subdue and bring in conscience, than evangelical persuasion: distrusting the vertue of their own spiritual weapons, which were given them, if they be rightly called, with full warrant of sufficiency to pull down all thoughts and imaginations that exalt themselves against God. But, while they taught compulsion without convincement, which not long before they come plained of, as executed unchristianly, against themselves, these intents are clear to have been no better than anti-christian; setting up a spiritual tyranny by a secular power, to the advancing of their

own authority

[ocr errors]

above the magistrate, whom they would have made their executioner, to punish church delinquencies, whereof civil laws have no cognisance.

And well did their disciples manifest themselves to be no better principled than their teachers, trusted with committeeships, and other gainful offices, upon their commendations for zealous and (as they sticked not to term them) godly men, but executing their places, like children of the devil, unfaithfully, unjustly, unmercifully, and, where not corruptly, stupidly; so that, between them the teachers, and these the disciples, there hath not been a more ignominious and mortal wound to faith, to piety, to the work of reformation; nor more cause of blaspheming given to the enemies of God and truth, since the first preaching of reformation.

The people, therefore, looking one while on the statists, whom they beheld without constancy or firmness, labouring doubtfully beneath the weight of their own too high undertakings, busiest in petty things, trifling in the main, deluded and quite alienated, expressed divers ways their disaffection, some despising whom before they honoured, some deserting, some inveighing, some conspiring against them. Then, looking on the churchmen, whom they saw, under subtle bypocrisy, to have preached their own follies, most of them not the gospel; timeservers, covetous, illiterate persecutors, not lovers of the truth; like in most things, whereof they accused their predecessors: looking on all this, the people, which had been kept warm a while with the counterfeit zeal of their pulpits, after a false heat, became more cold and obdurate than before, some turning to lewdness, some to fiat atheism, put beside their old religion, and foully scandalised in what they expected should be new.

Thus they, who of late were extolled as our greatest deliverers, and had the people wholly at their devotion, by so discharging their trust, as we see, did not only weaken and unfit themselves to be dispensers of what liberty they pretended, but unfitted also the people, now grown worse and more disordinate, to receive, or to digest any liberty at all. For stories teach us, that liberty, sought out of season, in a corrupt and degenerate age, brought Rome itself into a farther slavery: for liberiy hath a sharp and double edge, fit only to be handled by just and virtuous men; to bad and dissolute it becomes a mischief unwieldy in their own hands; neither is it completely given, but by them who have the happy skill to know what is grievance and unjust to a people, and how to remove it wisely; what good laws are wanting, and how to fiame them substantially, that good men may enjoy the freedom which they merit, and the bad the curb which they need. But to do this, and to know these exquisite proportions, the heroick wisdom, which is required, surmounted far the principles of these narrow politicians: what wonder, then, if they sink, as these unfortunate Britons before them, entangled and oppressed with things too hard, and generous above their strain and temper for Britain, to speak a truth not often spoken, as it is a land fruitful enough of men stout and courageous in was, so is it, naturally, not over-fertile of men able to govern justly and prudently in peace, trusting only in their mother-wit; who con

[ocr errors]

sider not justly, that civility, prudence, love of the publiek good, more than of money or vain honour, are, to this soil, in a manner outlandish; grow not here, but in minds well implanted with solid and elaborate breeding, too impolitick else, and rude, if not headstrong and intractable to the industry and virtue either of executing, or understanding true civil government; valiant, indeed, and prosperous to win a field, but, to know the end and reason of winning, unjudicious and unwise; in good or bad success alike unteachable. For the sun, which we want, ripens wits, as well as fruits; and, as wine and oil are imported to us from abroad, so must ripe understanding, and many civil virtucs be imported into our minds from foreign writings, and examples of best ages, we shall else miscarry still, and come short in the attempts of any great enterprise. Hence did their victories prove as fruitless, as their losses dangerous, and left them, still conquering, under the same grievances, that men suffer, conquered; which was indeed unlikely to go otherwise, unless men more than vulgar bred up, as few of them were, in the knowledge of ancient and illustrious deeds, invincible against many and vain titles, impartial to friendships and relations, had conducted their affairs; but then, from the chapman to the retailer, many, whose ignorance was more audacious than the rest, were admitted, with all their sordid rudiments, to bear no mean sway among them, both in church and state.

From the confluence of all their errors, mischiefs, and misdemeanors, what in the eyes' of man could be expected, but what befell those ancient inhabitants, whom they so much resembled, confusion in the end? . But on these things, and this parallel, having enough insisted, I return to the story which gave us matter of this digression.

THE BISHOP'S POTION:

OR,

A DIALOGUE, BETWEEN THE BISHOP OF CANTERBURY

AND HIS PHYSICIAN;

Wherein he desireth the Doctor to have a Care of his Body, and to pre

serve him from being let Blood in the Neck, when the Sign is in Taurus.

Priuted in the Year 1641. Quarto, contaiping six Pagesz

Canterbury,
WELCOME, good Mr. Doctor ?

Doctor. I understand, by one of your gentlemen, your grace was pleased to send for met

Cant. Not without cause, good Mr. Doctor, for I find myself diseased in all parts, insomuch that, without some speedy remedy, I cannot long continue; I have a great desire to take physick, in case the time of the year be seasonable.

Doct. Yes, the time of the year may be seasonable, but we must have a care of the constitution of your lordship’s body, the nature of the disease, and the quality of the inedicine. Our cordials, potions, electuaries, syrups, plaisters, unguents, clysters, vomits, baths, suppositories, and the like, must be duly regarded, with a due care what planet is predominant.

Cant. I approve your learned skill, good Mr. Doctor, in having respect to the constellations, for I am of opinion, which the brethren, forsooth, call superstition, if I be let blood in the neck, when the sign is in Taurus, I shall certainly bleed to death.

Doct. That may very well be, unless your surgeon have a more saving skill than my lord deputy's had: but I pray, my Lord, let me see your Grace's water, for by it I shall casily perceive the state of your body?

Cunt. Reach that urinal there: look you, Mr. Doctor, this water I made last night, after my first sleep; what do you think by it?

Doct. My Lord, your water is a most thick, dense, solid, heavy, almost ragged, putrid, stinking, and rotten urine; your Grace hath kept a very bad diet; there are certain raw crudities, that lie heavy and undigested upon your stomach, which will, without remedy, and that speedily, ascend so high, until it stifle and suffocate your Grace.

Cant. I pray, good Mr. Doctor, use your skill, in removing them; I must confess I owe a death, which I would be loth to pay, before it be due; wherefore, if it be within your power to prolong my life, spare no cost for the effecting it.

Doct. My Lord, it is within the power of my art to prolong your life, in case iť bé not cut off untimely. I have here prepared a vomit for your Grace, which, I doubt not, but will have a speedy operation; down with it, my Lord, fear not, it will bring something up by and by, and see, it begins to work already.

Cant. Hold my head, good Mr. Doctor, oh! oh!
Doct. Well done, up with its my Lord: what is here?

A great piece of parchment, with a yellow seal to it, the writing is obscure, I cannot read it: but what is this that comes next? A root of tobacco; I protest it is pure Spanish ; how comes this to pass, had

your

Gracia any hand in the tobacco patent?

Cant. Yes, it hath stuck on my stomach these four years at least, and I could never digest it before. Hold the bason. Doct. What is this ? A book, Whosoever hath been at church

may exercise lawful recreations on the Sunday; what is the meaning of this?

Cant. It is the book for pastimes on the Sunday, which I caused to be made: but hold, here cones something, what is it?.

Doct. It is another book, the title is, Sunday no Sabbath; Did you cause this to be made also?

Cant. No, Dr. Pocklington made it, but I licensed it.

Doct. What, he that looks so like a necromancer; he that was, for his pains, preferred besides his benefices? But what is this? A paper. It is, if I be not mistaken, a Star-chamber order against Mr. Prynne, Mr. Burton, and Dr. Bastwicke; had you any hand in that?

Cant. I had, I bad, all England knoweth it: but, oh! here comes something that makes my very back ach; oh! that it were up once; now it is up, I thank Heaven ? What is it?

Doct. It is a great bundle of papers, of presentations, and suspensions; these were the instruments, my Lord, wherewith you created the tongue-tied Doctors, and gave them great benefices in the country, to preach some twice a year at the least, and, in their place, to hire some journeyman curate, who will only read a sermon in the forenoon, and in the afternoon be drunk with his parishioners for company; and, with others, you silenced the long-winded ministers.

Cant. I must confess, it is true ; but here is something that pains me extremely; oh! that it were up, this troubles me more than all the rest ; see what it is, good Doctor, for it is up.

Doct. Why, my Lord, the book of canons, charged with the horrible monster.

Cant. Now I am pretty well at ease: but I pray, Mr. Doctor, what was this made of?

Doct. Why, my Lord, three ounces of tobacco, three scruples of pillory-powder, one scruple of his brains that looked over London-bridge, and three handfuls of the herbs gathered by the apprentices, wrapped up in a high commission roll, and boiled in a pottle of holy-water, to the third part, and strained through a pair of lawn sleeves.

Cant. Nay, if this be your physick, I will take no more of it: oh! there comes something else; I protest, the mitre; alas! I had almost broke my lungs.

Doct. Nay, if the mitre be come, the devil is not far off: farewell, good my Lord.

« PreviousContinue »