Abbildungen der Seite

of brevity in this account of his interest with her Majesty, and his care of the Church's rights, if in this digression I should enlarge to particulars; and therefore my

desire is, that one example may serve for a testimony of both; and, that the reader may the better understand it, he may take notice, that not many years before his being made Archbishop, there passed an act or acts of Parliament, intending the better preservation of the Church-lands, by recalling a power which was vested in others to sell or lease them, by lodging and trusting the future care and protection of them only in the Crown: and amongst many that made a bad use of this power or trust of the Queen's, the Earl of Leicester was one; and the Bishop having, by his interest with her Majesty, put a stop to the Earl's sacrilegious designs, they two fell to an open opposition before her; after which they both quitted the room, not friends in appearance. But the Bishop made a sudden and seasonable return to her Majesty, (for he found her alone,) and spake to her with great humility and reverence, to this purpose.

“I beseech your Majesty to hear me with pa tience, and to believe that your's and the Church's safety are dearer to me than


life, but science dearer than both : and therefore give me leave to do my duty, and tell you, that Princes are deputed nursing fathers of the Church, and owe it a protection; and therefore God forbid that

you should be so much as passive in her ruin, when you may prevent it; or that I should behold it without horror and detestation; or should forbear to tell your Majesty of the sin and danger of sacrilege. And though you and myself were born in an age of frailties, when the primitive piety and care of the Church's lands and immunities are much decayed; yet, Madam, let me bey that you would first consider, that there are such sins as profaneness and

my con

sacrilege ; and that, if there were not, they could not have names in holy writ, and particularly in the New Testament. And I beseech you to consider, that though our Saviour said, He judged no man ; and, to testify it, would not judge nor divide the inheritance betwixt the two brethren, nor would judge the woman taken in adultery : yet in this point of the Church's rights he was so zealous, that he made himself both the accuser and the judge, and the executioner too, to punish those sins; witnessed, in that he himself made the whip to drive the profaners out of the Temple, overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and drove them out of it. And I beseech you to consider, that it was St. Paul who said to those Christians of his time who were offended with idolatry, and yet committed sacrilege; Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? supposing, I think, sacrilege the greater sin. This may occasion your Majesty to consider, that there is such a sin as sacrilege; and to incline you to prevent the curse that will follow it, I beseech you also to consider, that Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, and Helena his mother; that King Edgar, and Edward the Confessor; and indeed many others of your predecessors, and many private Christians, have also given to God, and to his Church, much land and many immunities, which they might have given to those of their own families, and, did not; but gave them for ever as an absolute right and sacrifice to God; and with these immunities and lands they have entailed a curse upon the alienators of them: God prevent your Majesty and your successors from being liable to that curse which will cleave unto Church-lands as the leprosy to the Jews.

66 And to make you, that are trusted with their preservation, the better to understand the danger of it, I beseech you forget not, that, to prevent

these curses, the Church's land and power have been also endeavoured to be preserved, as far as human reason and the law of this nation have been able to preserve them, by an immediate and most sacred obligation on the consciences of the Princes of this realm. For they that consult Magna Charta shall find, that as all your predecessors were at their coronation, so you also were sworn before all the nobility and bishops then present, and in the presence of God, and in his stead to him that anointed you, to maintain the Church-lands, and the rights belonging to it; and this you yourself have testified openly to God at the holy altar, by laying your hands on the Bible then lying upon it. And not only Magna Charta, but many modern statutes have denounced a curse upon those that break Magna Charta : a curse like the leprosy, that was entailed on the Jews : for as that, so these curses have and will cleave to the very stones of those buildings that have been consecrated to God; and the father's sin of įsacrilege hath and will prove to be entailed on his son and family. And now, Madam, what account can be given for the breach of this oath at the last great day, either by your Majesty, or by me, if it be wilfully or but negligently violated, I know not.

“And therefore, good Madam, let not the late Lord's exceptions against the failings of some few clergymen prevail with you to punish posterity for the errors of this present age ; let particular men suffer for their particular errors; but let God and his Church have their inheritance; and though I pretend not to prophesy, yet I beg posterity to take notice of what is already become visible in many families; that Church-land added to an ancient and just inheritance, hath proved like a motlı fretting a garment, and secretly consumed both: or like the eagle that stole a coal from the altar, and

thereby set her nest on fire, which consumed both her young eagles and herself that stole it. And though I shall forbear to speak reproachfully of your father, yet I beg you to take notice, that a part of the Church's rights, added to the vast treasures left him by his father, hath been conceived to bring an unavoidable consumption upon both, notwithstanding all his diligence to preserve them.

66 And consider, that after the violation of those laws, to which he had sworn in Magna Charta, God did so far deny him his restraining grace, that as King Saul, after he was forsaken of God, fell from one sin to another; so he, till at last he fell into greater sins than I am willing to mention. Madam, religion is the foundation and cement of human societies : and when they that serve at God's altar shall be exposed to poverty, then religion itself will be exposed to scorn, and become contemptible; as you may already observe it to be in too many poor vicarages in this nation. And therefore, as you are by a late act or acts of Parliament entrusted with a great power to preserve or waste the Church's lands; yet dispose of them, for Jesus' sake, as you have promised to men, and vowed to God, that is, as the donors intended: let neither falsehood nor flattery beguile you to do otherwise ; but put a stop to God's and the Levite's portion, I beseech you, and the approaching ruins of his Church, as you expect comfort at the last great day; for Kings must be judged. Pardon this affectionate plainness, my most dear Sovereign, and let me beg to be still continued in your favour ; and the Lord still continue you in his."

The Queen's patient hearing this affectionate speech, and her future care to preserve the Church's rights, which till then had been neglected, may appear a fair testimony, that he made hers and the Church's good the chiefest of his cares, and that she

also thought so. And of this there were such daily testimonies given, as begot betwixt them so mutual a joy and confidence, that they seemed born to believe and do good to each other; she not doubting his piety to be more than all his opposers, which were many; nor doubting his prudence to be equal to the chiefest of her council, who were then as remarkable for active wisdom, as those dangerous times did require, or this nation did ever enjoy. And in this condition he continued twenty years, in which time he saw some flowings, but many more ebbings of her favour towards all men that had opposed him, especially the Earl of Leicester: so that God seemed still to keep him in her favour, that he might preserve the remaining Church-lands and immunities from sacrilegious alienations. And this good man deserved all the honour and power with which she gratified and trusted him; for he was a pious man, and naturally of noble and grateful principles; he eased her of all her Church-cares by his wise manage of them; he gave her faithful and prudent councils in all the extremities and dangers of her temporal affairs, which were very many : he lived to be the chief comfort of her life in her declining age, and to be then most frequently with her, and her assistant at her private devotions; he lived to be the greatest comfort of her soul upon her death-bed, to be present at the expiration of her last breath, and to behold the closing of those eyes that had long looked upon

him with reverence and affection. And let this also be added, that he was the chief mourner at her sad funeral ; nor let this be forgotten, that, within a few hours after her death, he was the happy proclaimer, that King James (her peaceful successor) was heir to the


Let me beg of my reader to allow me to say a little, and but a little, more of this good Bishop,


« ZurückWeiter »