The recently discovered papers in the State Paper Office, confirm all the charges advanced against Garnet and the other conspirators at their trial. In these documents there is an account of Garnet's examination. He is asked whether he took Greenwell's discovery of the plot to be in confession or not? he answered, "Not in confession, but by way of confession."
It has already been proved that, by the ancient laws even, it was treason to bring in a bull from Rome; yet Garnet acknowledged that he held three such documents at King James's accession. And on his trial, he justified himself, or rather palliated his offence, by stating, that he had shown them to very few of his own party, when he understood that the king was peaceably put in possession of the throne. He committed the bulls to the flames, but not till he had ascertained that they could not be executed, and that it would be dangerous to retain them, lest they should be discovered in the event of his being taken.
I have already alluded to the mode, in which the continuator of Sir James Mackintosh's History of England in Lardner's Cyclopaedia, writes the history of his country. Another short sentence respecting Garnet, will show how utterly regardless the writer is of truth in his statements: "His guilt or innocence is a question of dispute to this day." He gives a reference to Lingard; but the words are not given as a quotation. Yet Garnet acknowledged his guilt, and it was clearly proved on the trial. Thus, in a history intended for popular use, the guilt of a notorious offender is questioned, and the principles of the church of Rome indirectly defended. The writer further remarks,—"that Garnet's admissions were obtained by the most perfidious and cruel acts of the inquisition; that conviction under the circumstances of his trial, is scarcely a presumption of guilt." This is exactly the strain in which Romanists are accustomed to speak of the plot. In short, the writer has written as a Romanist, and appears to have followed Lingard in every particular. Is such a man qualified to write a history for popular use? But to disprove all his assertions on this point, I simply quote a passage from the Trial, which will prove that no cruel means were resorted to in the case of Garnet. In addressing Garnet, the earl of Salisbury said: "You do best know that since your apprehension, even till this day, you have been as Christianly, as courteously, and as carefully used, as ever man could be, of any quality, or any profession; yea, it may truly be said, that you have been as well attended for health or otherwise, as a nurse-child. Is it true or no?" said the earl. "It is most true, my lord," said Garnet, "I confess it." Now, I ask, what dependence can be placed on the continuator of the history in question? Yet such men are employed in the present day to write books for popular use.
THE PRINCIPLES ON WHICH THE CONSPIRATORS ACTED.
In this chapter I purpose to give a short account of those principles, on which the conspirators acted, and which were regarded by them as those of their church. I am ready to allow, that many Roman Catholics deprecated the plot and the course taken by the conspirators; but still it is by no means easy to defend the church of Rome from the guilt of the transaction, since she then entertained principles, which appeared to justify the attempt of the parties who were implicated in the treason. That the jesuits were the life and soul of the conspiracy has already been shown in the narrative. They animated the conspirators when they were dispirited,—warranted the proposed action when they were in doubt,—and absolved them from its guilt after the discovery. Nay, they pronounced the deed to be meritorious. They swore them to secresy, and bound them together to the performance of the treason by means of the sacrament. The great wheels, therefore, by which the whole was set in motion, were the jesuits; but the arch-traitor was the pope himself, who had sent his bulls into England, to endeavour to prevent the accession of King James; for it has been shown that the treason originated in those bulls.
I shall first briefly state the principles of the church of Rome, on the question of heresy and heretical sovereigns; and secondly, examine their practices prior to, and at the period in question, to show how they corresponded exactly with the principles then publicly avowed and defended.
It is an acknowledged principle of the church of Rome, that the decisions of general councils are binding on all. There are disputes amongst her divines respecting some of the councils, whether they were general, or not; but concerning the decisions of those councils which have never been disputed, there is no question with Romanists. Now some of the undisputed councils enforce doctrines at variance with Scripture, and destructive, not merely of the welfare, but of the very existence, of Protestant states and Protestant sovereigns, provided the papal see is sufficiently powerful to carry out her principles into action. No king was completely master in his own dominions, when the papacy was at its height.
The first council to which I refer the reader is The Third Council of Lateran, convened by Pope Alexander III., A.D. 1179. Its efforts were directed especially against the Albigenses and Waldenses, who were guilty of no crime, except the unpardonable one of opposing the errors of the church of Rome. Twenty-seven canons were framed by this council; all of them on matters of trivial importance with the exception of the last, which is directed against the poor exiles who were bold enough to prefer their own salvation to a blind submission to the church. The Twenty-seventh canon imposes a curse on all those who maintained or favoured the Waldensian opinions. In the event of dying in their alleged errors, they were not even to receive Christian burial.
[Footnote 24: "Although ecclesiastical discipline, being content with the judgment of the priests, does not take sanguinary revenge, yet it is assisted by the decrees of Catholic princes, that men may often seek a saving remedy, through fear of corporal punishment. On this account we decree to subject them (the heretics) and their defenders to anathema: and, under pain of anathema, we forbid that any receive them into his house, or have any dealings with them. Nor let them receive burial among Christians." See the original, Labb. et Coss., Tom. x. 1518-9.]
The fourth council of Lateran was held A.D. 1215. One of its canons, the Third, is even more horrible than the preceding. All heretics are excommunicated, and delivered over to the secular arm for punishment; while temporal princes are enjoined to extirpate heresy by all means in their power. This exterminating canon is still unrepealed, and may be acted on whenever the church of Rome may have the power to enforce it. It has been attempted in modern times to deny the genuineness of the Third Canon; but the attempt was unsuccessful. It has also been pronounced obsolete. It is undoubtedly inoperative, simply because the church cannot carry it into execution; but it is still the law of the Roman church.
[Footnote 25: "We excommunicate and condemn every heresy, which exalteth itself against this holy and Catholic Faith. Let such persons, when condemned, be left to the secular powers, to be punished in a fitting manner. And let the secular powers be admonished, and, if need be, compelled, that they should set forth an oath, that to the utmost of their power, they will strive to exterminate all heretics, who shall be denounced by the church. But if any temporal lord shall neglect to cleanse his country of this heretical filth, let him be bound by the chain of excommunication. If he shall scorn to make satisfaction, let it be signified to the supreme pontiff, that he may declare his vassals to be absolved from their fidelity." Labb. et Coss. Tom. xi. 147-9. This canon was also received into the Canon Law, by Gregory IX. It was carried into effect against the Albigenses.]
The council of Constance, A.D. 1415, decided that faith was not to be kept with heretics to the prejudice of the church; and, therefore, John Huss was committed to the flames, in violation of the solemn promise of the emperor.
By these councils all heretics are devoted to destruction. They proclaim principles exactly similar to those on which the conspirators acted;—in other words, the conspirators acted on the principles promulgated by these councils, as those of the church of Rome. On these principles did the jesuits justify the treason, and declare the traitors innocent.
Attempts are made in modern times to prove that the canons alluded to are not binding on the church; but the hand of Providence has made the church of Rome set her seal to her own condemnation in this matter; for by the decrees of the council of Trent every papist is pledged to receive the decisions of all general councils. The only question, therefore, to be decided is this, namely, whether these councils are regarded as general by the church of Rome. Respecting the third and fourth Lateran councils there never was any doubt; and the creed of Pope Pius IV., as well as the council of Trent, expressly enjoins the reception of the decrees of all general councils. It is very remarkable, nay, I may say providential, that the Fourth Lateran council is especially alluded to by the council of Trent. One of the decisions of this very council is specified and renewed by the Trent decrees. The church of Rome has declared, therefore, by her last council,—a council, too, by which all her doctrines were unalterably fixed,—that the Lateran council is to be received by all her members; and, as if to prevent all cavil on the subject, and also to prevent any Romanist from saying that this council was not a general one, and consequently not binding on the church, the council of Trent has expressly designated it a general council. And still further, as if to remove all doubt on the subject, the council of Trent has particularly specified one of the Lateran decrees, by quoting the first two words. The language of the council is remarkable: "All other decrees made by Julius the Third, as also the constitution of Pope Innocent the Third, in a general council, which commences Qualiter et Quando, which this holy synod renews, shall be observed by all." Two things are here to be noted. First, the council held under Innocent III. is expressly termed a general council; and this council was the Fourth Lateran. Secondly, a particular canon of the council is specified and renewed, so that no doubt can possibly exist as to the particular council to which the reference is made. It is not possible to establish any point with greater precision than this, that the charge of holding persecuting and exterminating doctrines is fastened upon the church of Rome, by these decrees of the council of Trent.
[Footnote 26: "The holy synod decrees and commends, that the holy canons, and all general councils, and also all constitutions of the Apostolic See, which have been made in favour of ecclesiastical persons and of ecclesiastical liberty, and against the infringers of it, (all of which it revives by this present decree,) be exactly observed by all, as they ought to be." Conc. Trent., Sess. xxv., De Ref., Can. 20. It is observable, too, that emperors and kings are commanded to observe these canons. This is surely a revival of the Lateran canon.]
[Footnote 27: The creed is most explicit on this subject: "I do undoubtedly receive and profess all other things which have been delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred canons, and oecumenical councils, and especially by the holy synod of Trent; and all other things contrary thereto, and all heresies condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the church, I do likewise condemn, reject, and anathematize."]
[Footnote 28: Council of Trent, sess. xxiv., cap. 5. It is therefore vain for any papist to pretend, in the face of such authority, that there is a doubt whether the Lateran was a general council. In all the editions of the councils it is so designated; it is found in the list of councils appended to the editions of the canon law; and in the canon law itself it is thus reckoned. It is recognised by the council of Constance; and last, though not least, by the council of Trent itself.]
The reader will also perceive that the council of Trent revives and confirms all the constitutions of the apostolic see; that is, all the determinations of the canon law. It would be easy to justify persecution and death from innumerable portions of the canon law. And how can any Romanist allege that the canon law is not binding, when it is expressly confirmed by the council of Trent? It includes all the bulls and decrees of the popes. None of the persecuting decrees have been repealed; and until the church of Rome renounces them by a solemn and public act, she will be obnoxious to the charge of maintaining the duty of persecuting heretics. None of the laws respecting heresy have ever been relaxed; no sovereign was ever censured for punishing heretics; no council has ever relieved the papal sovereigns from the execution of the laws to which I have alluded; nor was any one ever condemned by the head of the church for putting Protestants to death. Until, therefore, Rome repeals her exterminating decrees, she must submit to the heavy charge of maintaining the right to persecute men for their religious belief.
It is well known that the BULL IN COENA DOMINI is read in the hearing of the pope every Maunday Thursday. By that bull all Protestants are excommunicated and anathematized; and will any one say that the church of Rome would not execute the sentence of excommunication if she possessed the power? To assert the contrary assuredly argues either great obstinacy or egregious folly.
To the bull In Coena Domini may be added the oath to the pope taken by every bishop on his elevation to the episcopal dignity, by which he engages to persecute and attack heretics.
Such are the principles of the Romish church as embodied in her councils and her canon law. If they are true, then the gunpowder conspirators were justified in their proceedings, nay, they were acting a meritorious part in the prosecution of that design.
Nor have the doctors and eminent supporters of that church hesitated to avow the same principles in days that are past, though in modern times, it has been attempted to deny them, or explain them away. How modern Romanists can consistently deny that such doctrines are enjoined by their church, appears to me inexplicable, except on the jesuitical principle of equivocation, which will enable them to pursue any course calculated to advance the interests of the apostolic see; and though Romanists generally repudiate such doctrines, yet it is asserted in the theology of Dens, and taught at Maynooth, and doubtless in other similar institutions, that heretics are the subjects of the church of Rome. A host of writers might be alleged, who assert that it is lawful to punish heretics with death. So numerous are the passages in Romish authors on this topic, and so well known, that I abstain from any quotations. Still I will meet an objection not unfrequently alleged by Romanists, when pressed in an argument by the authority of names in high repute in their church, namely, that "the church is not bound by the views of particular individuals." The views of these individuals, however, are those of the church, as I have already proved. But further, why are not these views censured if the church does not maintain them? The church of Rome has published an Index Prohibitorum, in which all Protestant works are included; and an Index Expurgatorius, in which many passages in the works of well known Romanists are marked for erasure as containing sentiments akin to those of the Protestant churches. As, therefore, the church of Rome has not hesitated to expunge passages from the writings of her own members, when she has deemed them at variance with her principles, why, if she views those portions of the works to which I allude, and which enforce the persecution of heretics even to death, to be erroneous, does she not adopt the same process respecting them? As she has not done so, the undoubted inference is, that these writings are not disapproved of by the church. It is not possible for any Romanist to object to this line of argument; nor can it be charged with unfairness.
[Footnote 29: DENS. ii. 288. Reiffenstuel quotes the third canon of the fourth Lateran no less than eighteen times in one chapter, and he declares that impenitent heretics are to be put to death. This work is a class-book at Maynooth.]
Nearly allied to the punishment of heresy is the question of the pope's deposing power. It is asserted in the canons already quoted, and which cannot be disputed; and it is also asserted by numerous writers, whose works have never been censured in an Index Expurgatorius. Bellarmine says, "It is agreed upon amongst all, that the pope may lawfully depose heretical princes and free their subjects from yielding obedience to them." Can it be denied, therefore, that such was the doctrine of the church of Rome in the time of Bellarmine? And if such was the doctrine of that church then, it must be the doctrine of the same church now, since none of her articles of faith have been changed, none of her doctrines have been repudiated. It is true that the doctrine is not insisted on by modern Romanists; but what security have we that the claim would not be revived if the church of Rome should ever possess sufficient power to enforce it? We must therefore insist on charging these and similar doctrines on the church of Rome, until she renounces them by a solemn and public decision.
Tillotson's observations on this question, in his sermon on the fifth of November, are so just that I shall make no apology for quoting them. "Indeed, this doctrine hath not been at all times alike frankly and openly avowed; but it is undoubtedly theirs, and hath frequently been put in execution, though they have not thought it so convenient at all times to make profession of it. It is a certain kind of engine, which is to be screwed up or let down as occasion serves: and is commonly kept like Goliah's sword in the sanctuary behind the ephod, but yet so that the high-priest can lend it out upon an extraordinary occasion. And for practices consonant to these doctrines, I shall go no further than the horrid and bloody design of this day."
It is singular that there is no express mention of the deposing power in the council of Trent. The pope and the fathers perceived that times were already altered, that sovereigns were not likely to submit tamely to such an assumption of authority, and that their proceedings must be managed with more craft than formerly. Still the deposing power was established by implication, in the ratification of the decrees of the Lateran council; and we know that it was exercised at a subsequent period against Queen Elizabeth. Parsons declared, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, that it was the doctrine of all learned men, and agreeable to the apostolic injunctions; and that the power of deposing kings has not only been claimed, but acted upon, may easily be proved. It was not always treated as a speculative doctrine. History shows that many wars have been waged through this very principle. In some cases the papal sentence has been carried into effect, and in others it has led to war and bloodshed, some states having always been ready to attempt to carry the sentence into effect.
The following list will show how frequently the Roman pontiffs in the days of their glory, claimed and exercised the power of deposing sovereigns.
A.D. 1075. Gregory VII. deposed Henry IV. the emperor. 1088. Urban II. deposed Philip, king of France. 1154. Adrian IV. deposed William, king of Sicily. 1198. Innocent III. deposed the Emperor Philip, and King John of England. 1227. Gregory IX. deposed the Emperor Frederic II. 1242. Innocent IV. deposed the emperor. 1261. Urban IV. deposed Manphred, king of Sicily. 1277. Nicholas III. deposed Charles, king of Sicily. 1281. Martin IV. deposed Peter of Arragon. 1284. Boniface VIII. deprived Philip the Fair. 1305. Clement V. deposed the Emperor Henry V. 1316. John XXII. deprived the Emperor Lodovic. 1409. Alexander V. deposed the king of Naples. 1538. Paul III. deprived Henry VIII. of England. 1570. Pius V. deprived Queen Elizabeth, as did also some of his successors.
[Footnote 30: This pope in his bull says, "We declare and pronounce it as necessary to salvation, that all mankind be subject to the Roman pontiff." This bull is a part of the canon law.]
This is a sample of papal attempts against kings; and it proves that the popes have always lost sight of St. Peter's character, though acting as his successors. Our own sovereigns have often felt the weight of the papal power. King Edgar was enjoined by Dunstan, the abbot of Glastonbury, not to wear his crown for seven years, to which he was compelled to submit. Henry II. was forced to walk barefooted three miles to visit Becket's shrine, and there to receive fourscore lashes from the monks on his bare back. King John was compelled to resign his crown to the pope's legate, and take it back on condition of paying a yearly sum of a thousand marks to the pope.
The pages of history are pregnant with proofs that, from the period of the Reformation, down to the time when the papacy became shorn of much of its strength, the practices of the church have exactly corresponded with the principles asserted in the canons already specified, in the canon law, and in the works of their eminent writers. I have alluded to the bulls issued against Elizabeth, and to the attempts of nations, and of individuals, to enforce them. Elizabeth escaped; but several continental sovereigns fell a sacrifice to the fury of the church of Rome. Henry III., of France, was murdered in 1589, by a Dominican friar, who was encouraged to the commission of the act by the prior of his convent. Henry was a member of the church of Rome; but he was not so zealous as the pope wished, in executing the laws against heretics. On account, therefore, of his supposed want of zeal, he was devoted to destruction by the church. The deed was lauded in sermons and in books, throughout the French territories; while the murderer, who was destroyed on the spot, was deemed a martyr in the cause of the church. At Rome, the fact was applauded by the pope in a set speech to the cardinals. The act was contrasted by his holiness, with those of Eleazar and Judith, and the palm was given to the friar. Nay, it was compared in greatness to the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. I give the following extract from this most blasphemous speech:—
"Considering seriously with myself, and applying myself to these things which are now come to pass, I may use the words of the prophet Habbakuk: 'Behold, ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously; for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you;' i. 5. The French king is slain by the hands of a friar. For unto this it may be compared, though the prophet spake of our Lord's incarnation. This is a memorable and almost incredible thing, not accomplished without the particular providence of God. A friar has killed a king. That the king is dead, is credible; but that he is killed in such a manner is hardly credible: even as we assert that Christ is born of a woman; but if we add of a virgin; then, according to human reason, we cannot assent to it. This great work is to be ascribed to a particular providence."
In this strain did the head of the Roman church laud the murder of Henry III. of France. The deed was reckoned by his holiness as glorious a work as the incarnation of the Saviour, and his resurrection from the dead. Surely, the principles and practices of the church, were in exact correspondence at that time. The principles have never been relinquished; but circumstances control the actions of the church, so that she cannot kill and slay with impunity.
Henry IV. of France also fell a sacrifice to the same principles. He had been an advocate of Protestant doctrines; but from motives of human policy he united himself with the church of Rome. Still, as he did not persecute his Protestant subjects, the sincerity of his conversion was called in question by the church. In less than one month after his public profession of the papal faith, an attempt was made on his life by an assassin, who had been encouraged by the reasonings of certain friars and jesuits. After several escapes, he was stabbed in the street, by a man who had formerly been a monk. His death was not celebrated publicly by the pope, as was that of Henry III., but the jesuits and the friars justified the act, and proved that, on the principles of the church, it was lawful to put him to death, though a Romanist, since he was not zealous against heresy, and in the cause of the papal see. King Henry had also communicated secret information to Cecil, prior to the discovery of the Gunpowder Treason, respecting the machinations of the jesuits and seminary priests. The particulars of their treason were unknown; but the very fact that the French monarch should convey intelligence to King James, was a deadly crime in the eyes of the jesuits. It was supposed at the time, and nothing has since transpired to lead to a different conclusion, that the part he acted, in communicating information to the English court, hastened his tragical end. I have remarked, that the pope did not publicly applaud the act of the assassin; but it is a fact, that his memory was in consequence held in great veneration at Rome, for a considerable period after the event. Henry was supposed to be lukewarm in the cause, and therefore it was determined to remove him out of the way. The assassins of both these monarchs acknowledged, that they were prompted to commit the murders, by the instigation of two jesuits, and the reading of the works of a third.
The massacre of St. Bartholomew is too well known to need the recital of its horrid particulars. I allude to it merely to show how the principles and practices of the church of Rome correspond, whenever she has the power to act. The deed was applauded at Rome, by the head of the church. The crime was consecrated by the pope, who went in grand procession to church, to return thanks to God for so great a blessing as the destruction of the heretics.
It appears that the tidings of the massacre reached Rome on the 6th of September, 1572. The consistory of cardinals was immediately assembled, when the letter from the papal legate, containing the particulars of the massacre, was read. It was immediately determined to repair to the church of St. Mark, where their solemn thanks were offered up to God for this great blessing. Two days after, the pope and cardinals went in procession to the church of Minerva, when high mass was celebrated. The pope also granted a jubilee to all Christendom, and one reason assigned was, that they should thank God for the slaughter of the enemies of the church, lately executed in France. Two days later, the cardinal of Lorraine headed another great procession of cardinals, clergy, and ambassadors, to the chapel of St. Lewis, where he himself celebrated mass. In the name of the king of France, the cardinal thanked the pope and the cardinals, for the aid they had afforded his majesty by their counsels and prayers, of which he had experienced the happy effects. On his own part, and on the part of the church, the pope sent a legate to thank the king for his zeal in the extirpation of the heretics, and to beseech him to persevere in the great and holy work. The legate, in passing through France, gave a plenary absolution to all who had been actors in the massacre. On the evening of the day on which the news arrived at Rome, the guns were fired from the castle of St. Angelo; and the same rejoicings were practised as were common on receiving the intelligence of an important victory. The pope looked upon the massacre, as one of the greatest felicities which could have happened at the beginning of his papacy.
In addition to these public rejoicings on the part of the pope and his cardinals at Rome, other means were adopted to indicate the sense of the church on the massacre. Medals were struck to commemorate the event. On the one side was a representation of the slaughter, an angel cutting down the heretics, and on the other, the head of the pope, Gregory XIII. On these medals, was this inscription, "Ugonottorum Strages, 1572." The slaughter was also deemed worthy of being commemorated on tapestry, which was placed in the pope's chapel. In the paintings which were executed, the slaughter of the Huguenots was depicted, "Colignii et Sociorum caedes;" and in another part, "Rex Colignii caedam probat."
Let it be remembered that the principles of the church of Rome are unchanged, and, as the Romanists themselves aver, unchangeable. The circumstances of Europe are widely different from what they were in the sixteenth century; and Romanists themselves are under the restraint of wholesome laws and public opinion; but were the popes of modern days to be supported by sovereigns like Charles IX. of France, or were they possessed of the same power as was once enjoyed by their predecessors, is it reasonable to suppose, that the principles which are still retained, would not be carried out into practice; or that the same scenes, which then disgraced the civilized world, would not again be enacted in every country, in which the jesuits and other active emissaries of the papacy could obtain a footing?
Is it not clear from the preceding facts, that the murderers of Henry III. and IV. and the actors in the massacre of St. Bartholomew considered that they were acting a meritorious part? They were taught that the pope could depose kings and grant their kingdoms to others; and they knew that the pope had often exercised that power. The Gunpowder conspirators were men of the same class and influenced by the same views. Knowing that all heretics are annually excommunicated, they believed that they were authorized to carry the sentence into effect; and having been taught that heretical princes might lawfully be deposed, they considered themselves at liberty to attempt their destruction. The assassins of the French monarchs and the Gunpowder traitors, being encouraged by the authority of the church, as explained by their spiritual directors, entered upon their deeds of darkness, with an assurance, that they were merely obeying the commands of their ghostly fathers.
The pope endeavoured to clear himself from the guilt of being privy to the Gunpowder Treason; yet some of the planners and contrivers of the plot were protected at Rome. Had his holiness been sincere in his professions to King James, he would have delivered up those jesuits who were implicated in the treason, and who escaped to Rome. The surrender of the conspirators would have been the strongest proof of his sincerity. But not only did he not give them up to the sovereign, whose life they had sought; he did not even call them to account for the part which they had taken in the conspiracy. I would not charge the guilt of that conspiracy on the members of the church of Rome indiscriminately, for there were many who were horror-struck at the deed, and there always have been many who did not receive all the principles maintained by the church; but I contend, that the head of the church, the pope of that day, approved of the act, or he would never have adopted the course which he then pursued; and in his guilt all the leading members of the conclave were also implicated. We can only judge of men by their actions; which, if they mean any thing, certainly involve the church of Rome of that period in the guilt of the treason. Garnet was regarded as a martyr, not as a traitor; and the absurd miracle of the Straw, was sanctioned at Rome. These facts certainly involve the then church of Rome in the treason; and as her principles are unchanged, there would be no security against the same practices, were circumstances to favour her ascendency.
[Footnote 31: Hallam remarks, "There seems, indeed, some ground for suspicion, that the Nuncio at Brussels was privy to the conspiracy; though this ought not to be asserted as an historical fact." Const. Hist. i. 554.]
It is also worthy of remark, that the jesuits who were privy to the design, and who escaped from the knife of the executioner, never expressed the least remorse for the part they had taken; on the contrary, they never failed to speak of the treason as a glorious and meritorious deed. When Hall the jesuit, alias Oldcorne, was reminded of the ill success of the treason as a proof that it was displeasing to God, he immediately replied, that the justice of the cause must not be determined by the event, for that the eleven tribes were commanded by God himself to fight against Benjamin, and were twice overthrown; and that Lewis of France was conquered by the Turks. By reminding some of his dispirited companions of many glorious enterprises, which had failed in the first instance, he hoped to encourage them to persevere, and to induce them to expect that God would, in the end, enable them to accomplish their purposes. Who can deny, after these facts, that the church of Rome was deeply involved in the gunpowder treason? Or who can exculpate her, even at present, from the charge of maintaining principles subversive of Christian liberty and Protestant governments? When one of the conspirators, who was received by the governor of Calais, was condoled with, on being banished his country, he replied, "It is the least part of our grief that we are banished our native country; this doth truly and heartily grieve us, that we could not bring so generous and wholesome a design to perfection."
Sir Everard Digby was a mild and amiable man, and, with the exception of his participation in the plot, no stain rests upon his character; yet he seems to have considered that, by engaging in this treason, he was really doing God service. His letters, written during his imprisonment, and published by Bishop Barlow in 1679, illustrate the influence of the principles of the church of Rome on the mind of an otherwise excellent individual. They were written with the juice of lemon, or something of the same kind: written, too, when he had time to reflect in his solitary cell, yet it is evident that he thought he was advancing the cause of true religion in the part which he took; and, further, that he was never convinced that the deed was sinful, so completely had the jesuitical principles of the prime actors in the conspiracy warped his judgment and influenced his views. The papers were discovered in the house of Charles Cornwallis, Esq., who was the executor of Sir Kenelm Digby, the son and heir of Sir Everard. They were once in the possession of Archbishop Tillotson, as he testifies in one of his sermons.
The letters were by some secret means conveyed to his lady, and were preserved in the family as sacred relics. "Sir Everard Digby," says Archbishop Tillotson in his sermon on the fifth of November, "whose very original papers and letters are now in my hands, after he was in prison, and knew he must suffer, calls it the best cause, and was extremely troubled to hear it censured by Catholics and priests, contrary to his expectations, for a great sin." The letters were also, once in the possession of Bishop Burnet, as he himself informs us. From him we learn how they were discovered. "The family being ruined upon the death of Sir Kenelm's son, when the executors were looking out for writings to make out the titles of the estates they were to sell, they were directed by an old servant to a cupboard that was very artificially hid, in which some papers lay that she had observed Sir Kenelm was oft reading. They, looking into it, found a velvet bag, within which, there were two other silk bags, (so carefully were those relics kept) and there was within these a collection of all the letters that Sir Everard writ during his imprisonment."
A few extracts will show what his sentiments were concerning the plot.
"Now, for my intention let me tell you, that if I had thought there had been the least sin in the plot, I would not have been of it for all the world; and no other cause drew me to hazard my fortune and life, but zeal to God's religion. For my keeping it secret, it was caused by certain belief, that those which were best able to judge of the lawfulness of it, had been acquainted with it, and given way unto it."
"Now, let me tell you, what a grief it hath been to me, to hear that so much condemned, which I did believe would have been otherwise thought on by Catholics."
"Oh! how full of joy should I die, if I could do any thing for the cause which I love more than my life."
On the proceedings which were to have been adopted in the event of the success of the plot, Sir Everard remarks:
"There was also a course taken to have given present notice to all princes, and to associate them with an oath, answerable to the league in France."
Respecting the pope's concurrence he has the following passage:
"Before that I knew any thing of the plot, I did ask Mr. Farmer, what the meaning of the pope's brief was: he told me that they were not (meaning priests) to undertake or procure stirs; but yet they would not hinder any, neither was it the pope's mind they should, that should be undertaken for Catholic good. I did never utter thus much, nor would not but to you; and this answer, with Mr. Catesby's proceedings with him and me, gave me absolute belief that the matter in general was approved, though every particular was not known."
Then alluding to the presence of some Romanist peers at the opening of parliament, he adds:
"I do not think there would have been three worth saving that should have been lost."
In another letter he observes:
"I could give unanswerable reasons, both for the good that this would have done for the Catholic cause, and my being from home, but I think it now needless, and for some respects unfit."
The last letter is a long one, and is addressed to his sons; but though he exhorts them to continue in the faith of the church of Rome, yet he does not express any sorrow for his crime; nor does he caution them against being engaged in similar conspiracies. It is, therefore, clear, that he viewed the deed as laudable and meritorious, even at the close of his career.
It appears certain that many of the Romanists, both at home and abroad, were aware that some extensive conspiracy was on foot. A particular prayer was used, it is said, by numbers in England, for the success of the conspiracy; it was couched in the following terms: "Prosper, Lord, their pains, that labour in thy cause day and night; let heresy vanish like smoke; let the memory of it perish with a crack, like the ruin and fall of a broken house." It would appear that this prayer was framed by one who was privy to the conspiracy; nor can it be doubted that it was intended to convey some intimation of the nature of the treason. I am, aware, that no Romanist would in the present day justify the deed; but the preceding facts prove, that the act was applauded and justified at the time by the whole church almost, and for a considerable period afterwards. To justify the treason now, would be to expose the parties who did so, to the execration of an indignant public. The principles of Rome, however, are exactly what they were when the bulls of the pope were sent to Garnet, and when the gunpowder treason was planned. Tillotson forcibly observes, "I would not be understood to charge every particular person, who is, or hath been in the Roman communion, with the guilt of those or the like practices; but I must charge their doctrines and principles with them. I must charge the heads of their church, and the prevalent teaching and governing part of it, who are usually the contrivers and abettors, the executioners and applauders of these cursed designs."
[Footnote 32: TILLOTSON'S Works, 12mo., Vol. i., 349.]
It was decided by Pope Urban II. that it was neither treason nor murder to kill those, who were excommunicated by the church. So that any treason or murder could be justified on such principles. Nor has any change been effected in the principles of the church of Rome. "Popery," says Burnet, "cannot change its nature, and cruelty and breach of faith to heretics, are as necessary parts of that religion, as transubstantiation and the pope's supremacy." Andrew Marvel wittily remarks of the pope's claim, "He has, indeed, of late, been somewhat more retentive than formerly as to his faculty of disposing of kingdoms, the thing not having succeeded well with him in some instances, but he lays the same claim still, continues the same inclinations, and though velvet-headed hath the more itch to be pushing. And, however, in order to any occasion he keeps himself in breath, always by cursing one prince or other upon every Maundy Thursday."
[Footnote 33: BURNET'S Eighteen Papers, 84.]
[Footnote 34: The Growth of Popery, p. 9.]
THE ACT FOR THE OBSERVANCE OF THE DAY—A SERVICE PREPARED FOR THE OCCASION—ALTERATIONS IN THE SERVICE TO SUIT THE LANDING OF KING WILLIAM—REFLECTIONS.
As the Act of Parliament which enjoins the observance of the Fifth of November is not generally known, or at all events is not within the reach of ordinary readers, I shall insert in this place. It was couched in the following terms:—
"Forasmuch as Almighty God hath in all ages shewed his power and mercy, in the miraculous and gracious deliverance of his Church, and in the protection of religious kings and states, and that no nation of the earth hath been blessed with greater benefits than this nation now enjoyeth, having the true and free profession of the Gospel under our most gracious Sovereign Lord King James, the most great, learned, and religious king that ever reigned therein, enriched with a most hopeful and plentiful progeny, proceeding out of his royal loins, promising continuance of this happiness and profession to all posterity: the which many malignant and devilish papists, jesuits, and seminary priests, much envying and fearing, conspired most horribly when the king's most excellent majesty, the queen, the prince, and all the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, should have been assembled in the Upper House of Parliament upon the Fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord 1605, suddenly to have blown up the said whole house with gunpowder: an invention so inhuman, barbarous, and cruel, as the like was never before heard of, and was (as some of the principal conspirators thereof confess) purposely devised and concluded to be done in the said house, that when sundry necessary and religious laws for preservation of the church and state were made, which they falsely and slanderously call cruel laws, enacted against them and their religion, both place and person should be all destroyed and blown up at once, which would have turned to the utter ruin of this whole kingdom, had it not pleased Almighty God, by inspiring the king's most excellent majesty with a divine spirit, to interpret some dark phrases of a letter shewed to his majesty, above and beyond all ordinary construction, thereby miraculously discovering this hidden treason not many hours before the appointed time for the execution thereof: therefore the king's most excellent majesty, the lords spiritual and temporal, and all his majesty's faithful and loving subjects, do most justly acknowledge this great and infinite blessing to have proceeded merely from God his great mercy, and to his most holy name do ascribe all honour, glory, and praise: and to the end this unfeigned thankfulness may never be forgotten, but be had in a perpetual remembrance, that all ages to come may yield praises to his Divine Majesty for the same, and have in memory this joyful day of deliverance:
"Be it therefore enacted, by the king's most excellent majesty, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that all and singular ministers in every cathedral, and parish-church, or other usual place for common prayer, within this realm of England, and the dominions of the same, shall always upon the Fifth day of November say morning prayer, and give unto Almighty God thanks for this most happy deliverance: and that all and every person and persons inhabiting within this realm of England, and the dominions of the same, shall always upon that day diligently and faithfully resort to the parish-church or chapel accustomed, or to some usual church or chapel, where the said morning prayer, preaching, or other service of God, shall be used, and then and there to abide orderly and soberly during the time of the said prayers, preaching, or other service of God there to be used and ministered.
"And because all and every person may be put in mind of his duty, and be there better prepared to the said holy service, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that every minister shall give warning to his parishioners, publicly in the church at morning prayer, the Sunday before every such Fifth day of November, for the due observation of the said day. And that after morning prayer or preaching on the said Fifth day of November, they read publicly, distinctly, and plainly, the present Act."
[Footnote 35: I give the Act entire, because I am not aware that it is to be found in any popular form; and it is desirable that the present generation should know how this treason was viewed by their ancestors.]
A particular service was prepared to be used on the Fifth of November, and was published in 1606. I have not been able to ascertain whether it was framed by the convocation; but I am disposed to think that it was arranged by the bishops, as is still the case in particular prayers on special occasions, and then set forth by the authority of the crown. In my copy of the original service printed by Barker and Bill, printers to the king, the words "Set forth by authority," stand on the title-page. The authority of the crown is evidently intended, and not that of convocation.
The original service was used on this day until the alterations were effected in 1662, except during the period of the Commonwealth, when forms of prayer were altogether discarded. It appears, however, from Fuller, that in his time, the observance of the day was very much neglected. "If this plot," says he, "had taken effect, the papists would have celebrated this day with all solemnity; and it would have taken the upper hand of all other festivals. The more, therefore, the shame and pity, that amongst Protestants the keeping of this day (not yet full fifty years old) begins already to wax weak and decay; so that the red letters, wherever it is written, seem to grow dimmer and paler in our English calendar. God forbid that our thankfulness for this great deliverance, formerly so solemnly observed, should hereafter be like the squibs which the apprentices in London make on this day; and which give a great flash and crack at first, but soon go out in a stink."
[Footnote 36: FULLER, book x. 38. From several of the incidental notices in the works of writers of the times of James I. and Charles I., we learn that the observance of the day was gradually neglected. In a curious work of the date of 1618, there is a notice to the effect that the people were cold in praising God for their deliverance. See GAREY'S Amphitheatrum Scelerum. 4to. 1618. In the reigns of Charles II. and James II., when the dread of popery was general, the people universally observed the Fifth of November as a day of thanksgiving to God.]
This was written, or, at all events, the work was published, during the Commonwealth; and it would seem that the various religious parties of the period, though hostile to popery, did not pay much attention to the observance of the day, probably because it had been set apart as a holy day by the church of England. The fact that the day was observed by the Anglican church, was quite sufficient to induce the presbyterians and sectaries to disregard it. On no other ground can I account for the omission or neglect of which Fuller speaks; for the religious parties of that period, were all animated with feelings of the bitterest hostility towards the church of Rome.
After the restoration, the day was again solemnly observed in all the churches of the kingdom; and when the Book of Common Prayer was revised and set forth, the service for the Fifth of November was revised also, and published with the Liturgy. The original service was submitted to the convocation, by whom several alterations were made, which may be seen by comparing the service published in 1606 with that which is annexed to the Common Prayer subsequent to 1662, and which continued in that state until after the Revolution. The title of the original service is, "Prayers and Thanksgiving to be used by all the King's Majestie's loving Subjects, for the happy deliverance of his Majesty, the Queen, Prince, and States of Parliament, from the most traiterous and bloody intended massacre by gunpowder, the 5 of November, 1605." In the service as it was revised in 1662, some few alterations were made in the title. They may be seen by any one, who compares the above with the title in the service at present in use, for in this particular it has undergone no change since 1662. In the commencement of the original service are two verses from 1 Timothy ii. 1, 2: in the revised form of 1662 they are omitted. The rubrics, also, in the service of 1662, respecting the method to be adopted when the day falls upon a Sunday or holy-day, are not found in the service of 1606. The psalms appointed to be read are also different in the two services. In the service as altered in 1662, and as it stands at present, one of the homilies against rebellion is appointed to be read, whenever there is no sermon, while in that of 1606, no mention is made of anything of the kind.
[Footnote 37: I notice these alterations, because the original service is very rare, and consequently accessible only to a few.]
The service of 1662, like the original, was framed to commemorate one event only, namely, the deliverance from the gunpowder plot; but when King William came to the throne, it was deemed desirable, as he had landed on the same day, to commemorate that event also. It became necessary, therefore, to alter the service so as to make it suit both events; first, the deliverance from the gunpowder treason; and secondly, the deliverance of the country from popish tyranny and superstition by the arrival of King William. It has been supposed, that the service was altered into its present state by the convocation in 1689; but there is no evidence to prove that such was the case. It seems pretty certain that it was altered by the authority of the crown. A twofold deliverance, therefore, is commemorated in the present service for the Fifth of November; first, from the powder plot, and next, from popery coming in upon the country in a manner more insidious, but not less dangerous in 1688, when the king on the throne was a papist, and all possible means were used to establish the papal ascendancy.
It was very natural, that the country should have been struck with the circumstance of King William's landing on the Fifth of November,—a day so remarkable in the calendar of the English church. To the Roman Catholics the observance of this day is anything but agreeable; but they can scarcely censure Englishmen for commemorating an event so favourable to Protestantism. Had such a conspiracy been discovered against the church of Rome, all papists would regard the day with special reverence. Protestants are surely to be permitted to enjoy the same liberty, in celebrating the merciful interposition of Providence in rescuing the country from destruction.
By some modern writers, the Revolution of 1688 is designated a Rebellion! It is astonishing, that any Protestant should speak of that event in such terms; since Queen Victoria must be an usurper, if the revolution was a rebellion. To the principles then established, our queen is indebted for her crown; and we are indebted to the same principles, for our civil and religious liberties. The men, who can call the revolution a rebellion, cannot be members of the church of England; for had not King James been expelled from the throne, the Anglican church would have been destroyed. Rebellions can never be lawful; but revolutions, similar to that in 1688, are perfectly just. Such men can never read the Service appointed for the Fifth of November; at all events, they cannot read the following passages:—"Accept also, most gracious God, of our unfeigned thanks, for filling our hearts again with joy and gladness, after the time that thou hadst afflicted us, and putting a new song into our mouths, by bringing his majesty King William, upon this day, for the deliverance of our church and nation from popish tyranny and arbitrary power." And again, "And didst likewise upon this day, wonderfully conduct thy servant King William, and bring him safely into England, to preserve us from the attempts of our enemies to bereave us of our religion and laws." And the following, "We bless thee for giving his late majesty King William a safe arrival here, and for making all opposition fall before him, till he became our king and governor." It is not possible that the men, who can call the revolution a rebellion, should concur in those prayers. Had these individuals lived at the time, they would have quitted the church with the nonjurors; and with such views, respecting the revolution settlement, I cannot conceive how they can conscientiously remain in a church connected with, and supported by a government which owes its very existence to that event, which they designate a rebellion. Is it not high time for such men to quit the pale of the Anglican church?
The dangers which threatened the country during the reign of James II. were very great; and their removal can only be ascribed to Him, in whose hands are the issues of life. James was determined to reduce the country into subjection to the papal see, or lose all in the attempt. William III. was the destined instrument under God, to secure the liberties, which James laboured with all his might to destroy. The revolution of 1688 was a bloodless one; yet it was complete. It is always dangerous to alter the succession to the crown; it is a expedient never to be resorted to except in extreme danger. In 1688, the departure from the direct line was an act of necessity; for unless such a course had been adopted, the liberties of England, both temporal and spiritual, would have been sacrificed. Nor can any one say how long the country would have been in recovering them from the grasp of the papacy. In such an emergency the nation looked to the prince of Orange, who responded to the call, and came to our rescue. When King James quitted the country, and all hope of his being prevailed upon to govern justly was lost, the people saw the necessity of departing from the direct line of succession. Still they were resolved to depart as little as possible. They looked therefore to the next Protestant heir, being determined to exclude papists from the throne for ever. That heir was the princess of Orange, the daughter of King James; and as the prince had been so instrumental in rescuing the nation from the yoke, he was associated with her in the government. James, therefore, would not have been rejected if he had governed righteously; but when he had deserted the throne, it was determined that it should never again be filled with a papist. Such were the principles on which the revolution was conducted.
When the prince of Orange set sail from Holland, he was driven back by contrary winds; and it was feared that the attempt would fail, and that King James would succeed in his designs. A second time, however, were the sails unfurled, and a propitious wind bore the fleet to the coast of Devon, where a landing was effected on the Fifth of November, 1688.
The Fifth of November, 1605, and the Fifth of November, 1688, are remarkable days in the annals of England—days never to be forgotten by a grateful people. Had not the prince of Orange arrived, James would have imposed his yoke upon the English nation. Had he not been resisted, the laws and liberties of the country must have been prostrated in the dust, and the church of England sacrificed to popery.
King James, as a papist, felt himself bound to make every effort to restore popery, and root out Protestantism. All his actions tended to this point. Motives of policy even did not restrain him in the course upon which he had entered. His proceedings, therefore, were against the liberties of the people, and the laws of the land; and on this account alone was he set aside. The parliament acted as a Protestant parliament, and enacted a law, that none but a Protestant should ever occupy the British throne. The parliament of that day well knew that the same principles would be productive of similar results, and that Protestantism, and the civil liberties of the nation, would be endangered by a popish king. Now, had not King William arrived, James would have been able to execute all his projects respecting the church and nation; so that every Protestant has reason to be thankful for the success, which attended the efforts of William III., and to observe the Fifth of November as a day of thanksgiving to God for his gracious interposition.
Never was a people less disposed to rise against their sovereign than were the English against James II. Yet, as he was trampling upon their liberties, and preparing a yoke of spiritual bondage, what could they do? Their rights as men and as Christians were at stake; nor could the danger by which they were threatened, be averted, but by the expulsion of that sovereign, who had broken his solemn promise, and proved himself unworthy of being trusted again by his subjects. Our ancestors at the period of the revolution, acted on the principle of self-defence. It was necessary to deprive him of his royal power, when that power would have been employed in depriving the people of their civil and religious liberties.
It was admitted by an illustrious statesman in France, in the seventeenth century, that it was the true interest of England to maintain and defend her Protestant church against popery. As his observations are so striking, and also so applicable to our present circumstances, I shall not hesitate to quote them. The book bears this title, The Interest of the Princes and States of Christendom, and consists of several chapters, in each of which he treats of The Interest of a particular country. There is a chapter on The Interest of England, from which I quote the following passages: "Queen Elizabeth (who by her prudent government hath equalled the greatest kings of Christendom), knowing well the disposition of her state, believed that the true interest thereof consisted, first in holding a firm union in itself, deeming (as it is most true) that England is a mighty animal, which can never die except it kill itself. She grounded this fundamental maxim, to banish thence the exercise of the Roman religion, as the only means to break all the plots of the Spaniards, who under this pretext, did there foment rebellion." Alluding to some other particulars of that reign he adds:—"By all these maxims, this wise princess has made known to her successors that besides the interest which the king of England has with all princes, he has yet one particular, which is that, he ought thoroughly to acquire the advancement of the Protestant religion, even with as much zeal as the King of Spain appears protector of the Catholic." This was the language of a statesman. King James, therefore, did not seek the interest of his country, but that of the papacy.
[Footnote 38: See The Interest of the Princes and States of Christendom, by the Duke De Rohan, translated into English by H. H. Page 53, 12mo. 1641.]
A few words will suffice to shew that King James intended to subvert the liberties of his subjects, to root out Protestantism, and to re-establish popery.
In his first speech to his parliament, he promised to support the church of England as by law established; yet, two days after his accession, he went publicly to mass. The very same year he appointed several popish officers to posts in the army, in direct violation of the statute passed in the late reign on this subject. In 1686, he endeavoured to induce the twelve judges to declare the legality of the dispensing power. While under the direction of a jesuit, his confessor, a majority of papists were introduced into his council; and at the same period several popish bishops were publicly consecrated in St. James's Chapel, contrary to the laws of the land. Many of his nobles were removed from their offices of trust and honour, simply for refusing to embrace popery, while the clergy were commanded not to introduce controversial topics into their sermons; and because Sharp, subsequently archbishop of York, refused to comply with the royal order, he was prosecuted in the courts of justice, and his diocesan, the bishop of London, was actually suspended for refusing to censure him contrary to law. In 1687, under the pretence of relieving the dissenters, he dispensed with the penal laws, in order that popery might be propagated under cover of a toleration. In 1688, seven bishops were committed to the Tower, for no other crime than that of petitioning his majesty in favour of the civil and religious liberties of the country. At length, when the king's designs were obvious to all men, the prince of Orange was applied to by the general consent of the English nation. That great prince responded to the call, and, after some little delay at sea, landed on our shores on the Fifth of November, 1688, and completed the deliverance of the country from the yoke of bondage. Well, therefore, may this event be coupled with the deliverance of this nation from the Gunpowder Treason of 1605.
It must strike the reader as very strange, that in matters of religion, we should not be left at liberty to act for ourselves, without the interference of the pope and the Roman church. This very fact shows, that her claim of supremacy is an essential part of her system. The church of England, the papists allege, has made a departure from the church of Christ. This would be a grievous charge, if it could be proved. The church of Christ commands nothing but what is comformable to the Saviour's will; nor does she require her children to believe anything, which is not expressly contained in the Scriptures, or by evident consequence deduced from those sacred oracles. It is, therefore, false to assert, that the church of England has made a separation from the church of Christ. She merely opposes those dogmas, which cannot be proved from sacred scripture. So far from separating from the church of Christ, she did not even separate from the church of Rome. The church of England, in a lawful synod, assembled early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, declared certain opinions, which were held by some in her communion, to be contrary to the word of God. This power the church of England ever possessed; and ages before the Reformation she had often exercised it. This power had been wrested from the church of England by force; and at the Reformation she recovered it. William the Conqueror, and many of his successors, though sons of the Roman church, yet acted as independently as Queen Elizabeth. For ages our kings did not permit letters to be received from Rome without being submitted to their inspection: they did not permit any councils to be held without their permission; so that ecclesiastical councils were at length termed convocations, and were always assembled by the authority of the crown. They did not permit any synodical decree to take effect, but with their concurrence, and confirmation. Bishops could not excommunicate any baron or great officer without the royal precept; or if they did, they were called to account for their conduct in the courts of law. They never permitted a legate from the pope to enter England, but by express consent; nor did they suffer appeals to Rome, as was the case when the encroachments of the papacy were further advanced. Frequently they would not permit bishops to be confirmed in their sees by the pope, but commanded the archbishop of Canterbury to give possession to the individuals appointed to fill them. These are a few instances in which our kings in ancient times exercised a power in ecclesiastical affairs independent of the pope; and, therefore, Queen Elizabeth had a full right to act as her predecessors had done for so many ages. The same power had been possessed and exercised by every national church from the earliest times. She proceeded, therefore, to correct abuses; and the pope and his followers, without even examining the matter, and setting at nought the ancient privileges of the kingdom, designated this procedure a departure from the church. The pope wished to impose, as articles of belief, certain doctrines, which had no foundation in Scripture: the English church refused to receive them; and the pope condemned us as schismatics and heretics. Yet, in all reason those who depart from the Bible, not those who adhere to it, must be the heretics. To impose these same articles of belief the Gunpowder Treason was planned! To impose the same, James II. resorted to those means, which are so well known as having caused him the loss of his crown. To commemorate our deliverance from such an authority—from such a yoke of bondage—and from such cruel tyranny, the Fifth of November was ordered by act of parliament to be for ever kept holy. That act is still in force; and I am convinced that it will remain in force; for no minister of the crown, however inclined to favour and conciliate the Papists, will ever be so rash as to call for a repeal of that act. Such an attempt would rouse the Protestant feeling of the empire: it would be viewed as a precursor of the complete ascendency of popery. I am convinced that the repeal of the act, if such a thing were carried, would cause the Protestants of England to observe the day with more solemnity than has ever been practised since the passing of the act. Our churches would be opened for worship; our pulpits would resound with the full declaration of the truths of our holy religion against the devices and the corruptions of popery; and the loud song of praise and thanksgiving would be offered up from England's twelve thousand parishes, with such ardour and devotional zeal, that no attempt to crush the expression of public feeling would succeed. If, therefore, a popishly affected ministry should ever venture to repeal the act, they will be under the necessity, if they would repress the demonstration of popular feeling, of passing another act to prevent the doors of our churches from being opened, and the people from assembling together to praise God on the "Fifth of November."
In alluding to the observance of the day, Burnet remarks, "Now our Fifth of November is to be enriched by a second service, since God has ennobled it so far, as to be the beginning of that which we may justly hope shall be our complete deliverance from all plots and conspiracies; and that this second day shall darken, if not quite wear out the former." To us in the present day both deliverances may be recalled with equal advantage. Both were wonderful! Both demand a tribute of gratitude from all who love the religion of the Bible. Burnet observes in the same sermon, "You who saw the state of things three months ago, could never have thought that so total a revolution could have been brought about so easily as if it had been only the shifting of scenes. These are speaking instances to let you see of what consequence it is to a nation to have the Lord for its God. We have seen it hitherto in so eminent a manner, that we are forced to conclude that we are under a special influence of heaven: and since in God there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning, we must confess that, if there comes any change in God's methods towards us, it arises only out of our ingratitude and unworthiness." He then states that, if the advantages so conferred are not duly appreciated and improved, more dreadful calamities than those lately expected will overtake the country. When addressing the Commons on their duties relative to religious matters, he tells them that one important duty is, "to secure us for ever, as far as human wisdom and the force of law can do it, from ever falling under the just apprehensions of the return of idolatry any more amongst us, and the making the best provision possible against those dangers that lay on us so lately."
[Footnote 39: BURNET'S Thanksgiving Sermon before the Commons, Jan. 31, 1688-1689.]
[Footnote 40: Ibid. pp. 31, 32.]
I am disposed to think, that the act of parliament by which the observance of the day is enjoined, is not read, in the present day, in our churches: some of the clergy have never even seen it. The present work is intended to call the attention of churchmen, and especially of the clergy, to this important subject. Should I be assured, that any of my brethren have been led, by the perusal of this volume, to regard the day with more solemnity than usual, I shall feel myself amply recompensed for my labours. At the period of the Revolution, and for many years after, the act, as we learn from incidental notices of contemporary writers, was always read by the clergy from the pulpits. The people were then fully sensible of the deliverance, which had been completed on that day; while the clergy invariably directed the attention of their parishioners to the subject; and both clergy and people presented their tribute of gratitude to that gracious Being from whom all good things proceed. And why should the present generation be less mindful of the great deliverance than their ancestors? We have just as much reason to be thankful as the men of that generation; for if the papists had succeeded in their designs, not only would the liberties of that age have been sacrificed, but those also of succeeding periods. May the Protestants of this kingdom never be forgetful of the glorious Arm by which our salvation from papal thraldom and error was alone effected! It is generally allowed that a retrospection into the transactions of past ages is as a glass, in which the clearest view of future events may be obtained: for, by comparing things together, we shall arrive at this conclusion, that men of the same principles will always, either directly or indirectly, aim at the same ends. The end, which all Romanists have in view, is the destruction of the church of England as the greatest bulwark of Protestantism. In past ages this end was sought to be accomplished directly by treason and murder; in the present day the end is attempted by secret means, by an affectation of moderation, and by an avowal of sentiments which are not in reality maintained. Let Protestants ever bear in mind, that the same causes will generally produce the same effects, though the means employed may be varied according to times and circumstances. Ever since the revolution in 1688, popery, in this country, has worn a mask; but the papal party are now venturing to cast it aside, and to appear in their real character. Within the last few years scenes have been exhibited in this Protestant land, which our ancestors would never for one moment have tolerated. Many Protestants are lukewarm amid these ominous proceedings. May they be aroused from their present apathy into a spirit worthy of the men, by whom our deliverance from papal tyranny was effected in ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHT.
By the same Author, in One Vol. 12mo. 6s.
THE STATE OF POPERY AND JESUITISM IN ENGLAND, from the Reformation to the Period of the Roman Catholic Relief Bill in 1829.
"We consider this little book to be exceedingly well timed, and highly deserving of perusal by all who are willing to understand the machinery which the Church of Rome puts in motion for the advancement of its cause."—Times.
"A clear and practical development of the subtle workings of Popery."—Church of England Quarterly Review.
"An opportune and very interesting work."—Conservative Journal and Church of England Gazette.
"A useful volume of reference for the series of historical events connected with the subject."—British Critic.
"We do not know a modern work of the same size more opportune or more valuable."—Frazer's Magazine.
By the same, One Vol. 8vo. Price 12s.
A HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH EPISCOPACY, from 1640 to 1662, &c.
"The author has executed his task with very creditable skill, with very laborious research, and with a moderation and impartiality, which entitle him to unqualified commendation. Mr. L. has been abused and misrepresented by one of the organs of that faction which seems to think, that to subvert the constitution, the shortest and most effectual method is by beginning with the Established Church; but will any person of veracity, any person of ordinary decency, say that he has deserved the accusation which the Edinburgh reviewer, with a want of decency peculiarly his own, has brought against him?"—Times.
"A very valuable addition to the ecclesiastical literature of the day."—British Magazine.
"He tells the tale perspicuously and dispassionately."—British Critic.
"A book of much interest, and an important addition to our historical knowledge."—Literary Gazette.
"An admirable and well-digested history."—Frazer's Magazine.
"Mr. L. has our thanks for endeavouring to illustrate in a popular form a most interesting period of our church annals."—Church of England Magazine.
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"An interesting and valuable history."—Christian Observer.
Also, Price 3d., or 25 for 5s.
PROTESTANTISM THE OLD RELIGION, POPERY THE NEW. (Sixth Thousand).
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"A tract which ought to be distributed in tens of thousands."—Felix Farley's Bristol Journal.
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Transcriber's Note: The table below lists all corrections applied to the original text.
p. 049: [punctuation] on the subject by Catesby, -> Catesby. p. 059: apparent at Chring-cross -> Charing-cross p. 075: [added period] proceeded to pronounce judgment. p. 096: [added period] publicly avowed and defended. p. 111: were twice overthown -> overthrown p. 132: I shall fell myself -> feel