Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

self declaring, as we haue abrogated all olde popish traditions in this our realme, so, if the grace of God forsake us not, we will well foresee, that no NEWE NAUGHTIE TRADITIONS BE MADE WITH OUR CONSENT, TO BLINDE US OR OUR REÁLME. This was in 1538, but his majesty had forgotten this when he hoisted the six articles, and in 1540 put to sea again.

While a work so interesting to the properties, the morals, the religion and lives of mankind was in agitation; amidst so many touching scenes of exquisite distress; would that man have been well employed, who, instead of promoting so noble a work, had faddled away his time in exposing the supposed weaknesses of his brethren? He might have written a dissertation on buffoonery against Mr. Wishart, for saying, in his zeal against popery, that a priest at mass resembled a for wagging his tail in July. Or an essay on impatience, exemplified in a peevish siek brother, who, having repeated 20 pater-nosters before a rood at Madge Pattens for the recovery of his health, and finding himself no better, exclaimed a foule euil take you and all other images! Or he might have exercised his talent on the illustrious John Fox for profaneness, because, when the priests affirmed that the mass obtained the remission of sins, he replied, what the Masse! In the deuil's name for what intent then died Christe? He might have affected a hundred common-place sober see-saws : he might have said, “venerable father Fox, you are confessedly a great man, but you are betraying the

cause back again to the papists; the reformation hath hitherto been carried on in God's name, and do you call in the devils ? Beside father, you are inconsistent with yourself, you chafe and redden, contrary to your usual humorous jocularity, particularly that with which you pleaded bishop Hooper's cause, when you complained that he was forced to weare a mathematicall, geometriall, that is a foure squared cap, the foure angles deuiding the worlde into foure partes, albeit that his head was rounde : there is no uniformity in your conduct father, you are a traitor to the cause." Mr. Fox perhaps would have answered, brother, it is an ill bird that bewrays its own pest: there is a reason to every purpose under heaven: you cannot comprehend my views unless your capacity was equal to mine: in weakening our hands you strengthen our opponents: this is, to go over to the aduersarye and to turne the cat in the panne : but heere, in your conduct he would add, a man may see what man is of himselfe, when God's good humble spirit lacketh to be his guide."

In fine: different men according to their different capacities, prejudices, or interests, will see the subject in different lights, and, without tainting their integrity, will adopt different measures of action. If a zealot be alarmed for his creed, it is because he thinks his creed essential to the happiness of his country. If one patiently and prudently endeavors to get rid of a grievance by degrees, and another resolutely refuses to ask any relief till he can obtain all, they differ only as two creditors differ, when one will have all the debt or none; the other will take it by parts as the debtor can pay. Would it become an assignee, in a case of bankruptcy, when one creditor signs the bankrupt's certificate, and another refuses, to tax the first with destroying the nature of honesty, or the last with being void of humanity? both may aim at their country's good. It is not for this obscure though disinterested pen to determine whose is the greatest merit, yet if it be not presumptuous, it will venture to scribble, that such as consider bad but old maxims of government, as they consider bad habits of body, and apply in both cases a similar, that is, a slow relief, seem to have had the most comprehensive view of the matter. The body politic like the natural body is subject to diseases, whose disagreeable circumstances will call for a prescription; not the violent recipe of a quack, nor even of some great physician, hy him cautiously prescribed to one, by others indiscriminately vended to all; not though it be sanctified by patent, and graced with the names of a thousand recovered invalids; but, on the contrary, that relief which the cool and cautious penetration of the prudent practitioner directs.—Happy for the good people of England that medicines are mostly distasteful,or else in defiance of reason they would have been poisoned by patent before now! Happy also for their morals that violent tempers provoke, that gentle measures conciliate, otherwise they might have exchanged, but they would not have repented their crimes !

A large and comprehensive view of men and things best interprets the wise man's saying, there is a time for every purpose, and for every work! Separations in ethicks, perhaps, like dissections in anatomy, may produce queer effects, particularly in the various means used by good men to please God and to profit mankind, as in this matter of petitioning; but all that labour in the good cause of truth, viewed in their whole, each throwing some light on the subject, and all together producing at last a solid system of religious liberty, will discover a lovely symmetry. Such a view an excellent German historian had, when he praised Luther for making homely rhymes for the country people; Erasmus for the facetiousness of his colloquies; Sainte Aldegonde for the comical tales in his romish hive; and old Beza for composing a song for the people of Geneva: these men had studied human nature ; they thought that a bait which caught a fish, or in better stile, that he who winneth souls is wise; and by these they conducted their brethren to the serious and sober folios of Calvin and others; all conspiring to dethrone the barbarity and tyranny of the bishop of Rome. Should any pretend to quibble at the little escapes of such men, the bulk of the world would know no more of it than of the anatomists interscapularia, and the rest would consider it as a northcountry Lilly-Low, that is, a mere straw-fire. Heaven prosper all that love religious liberty ! May they live in peace! May the God of love and peace be with them!

B

« EdellinenJatka »