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Now must I begin either by Master Garnets leave or against his leave to rip up the false stitches of the Canon, Nos sanctorum praedecessorum, confidently vouched at his first approch to the Councell board, after justified before the Lords in Commission, and at this instant stood upon (as our owne eares can witnesse) in defense of that supposed interest of deposing or dispatching lawfull kings, which is the binding knot of the late Gordian conspiracie. For though wise men that either follow learned conscience or any certaintie of direction or rule will taxe Master Garnets haste in presupposing censures, which the Pope did never yet pronounce, in dealing worse with his owne soveragine then any other prince in his condition, running without an errand and rebelling without a colour, yet I will take this Canon for the time de bene esse [to exist well] as it lies, ut concusso fundamento arx ipsa concidat [as, its foundation shaken, the citadel itself may collapse]. This onely principle (if I erre not) hath more afflicted, discredited, and disabled the Popes meanes and instruments in working his owne ends then all the batteries that have beene bent against the Vatican for the space of five hundred yeeres. For what prince under heaven can repute his state secure, so long as every small distaste to the Popes desire may ground a chalenge, the chalenge may procure a citation, the citation may produce a sentence, the sentence either neglected or not satisfied inferres contumacy, and contumacy deprives the supposed delinquent of that honour which nature gives, conscience avowes, and consent fortified? So as in this case either Gregorie the Seventh in respecte of his ill happe, or no other person upon earth hath reason to acknowledge that rule of the Holy Ghost, that in quo peccamus, in eodem plectimur [we are stricken in that wherein we sin]. The wordes of the Canon strongly bent against the crowne imperiall of Henry the Fourth are not many, but yet heavie, and in English thus:
We, observing the statutes of our holy predecessors, doe absolve those that are bound by fidelitie and oath to persons excommunicated from their oaths, and doe forbid them to observe or keepe their fealtie toward them quousque ipsi ad satisfactionem veniant, till they come to yeelde satisfaction.
Thus farre the text of the Canon expressis verbis. But since this is that pillula aurea (or rather deaurata), that pill not of gold but gilt, which is preserved in the cabinet of the Church of Rome to purge princes of their choler in morbis acutis, in hot feavers, that is, whensoever they beginne to square with the Pope about any point of ecclesiasticall prerogative, and since Master Garnet for his owne part likes the composition so well as that he shrinkes not in defence thereof to hazard the life and state of his matchlesse soveraigne and his royal issue, supposing them to be more sicke (God be thanked) then they finde themselves, it behoveth mee out of affection and duety to my deare soveraigne (though otherwise unworthy so much as to gather herbas agrestes [rustic herbs] with that child of the Prophet in die critico, upon this day criticall), to examine the first recipe, as I finde it formally subscribed by the Popes owne hand, that by more heedfull looking into the qualitie of particular ingredients I may the better understand, by understanding judge, and out of judgement resolve how well it agrees with the prescripts melioribus aevi [of a better age], both in proportion and propertie.
The first ingredient (of observing statutes) I confesse to be of great effect in working the cure of any grievance to the Church or Commonwealth. But yet I find it not of use among the Canonists, that exempt the Pope from the regular observation of any law or statute that out of his owne election he likes not to follow. But to the matter, I would learne whose statutes they are or by whom enacted, or in what parliament, that Gregory the Seventh, intending to depose an Emperour (established by the providence of God, and taking Gods owne office into his hand, by making himselfe in this point similem altissimo [like to the Highest]) will observe thus tenderly. Surely the Prophet David was never in the number of those predecessors that promulged any such decree, condemning persons with all kindes of presumption or discontent, that shall induce a subject to lift up his hand contra unctum domini [against the Lord’s anointed]. Our Saviour was none of them, commaunding his disciples to give unto Caesar what is Caesars, and rather to endure then offer violence to any man, much lesse to magistrates. S. Peter, that ought to be the first in respect of the descent which the Popes derive, gave never any voice to any such decree, for hee enjoynes obedience even to tyrants whose authoritie was absolute. Saint Paul was none. For he commandeth prayers to be made by the faithfull pro regibus et omnibus qui in sublimitate constituti sunt, for kings and all those that are placed in sublimitie, as at that instant Nero the tyrant was. And to what end? That under them the Christians might peacably live.
Out of the rancke of these predecessours, hee must exclude Pope Xistus, who touching the rule of conscience resolved rather to obey God then man, but touching the point of obedience made no kind of resistance nor opposition to tyrannie. And Origins opinion was that omnia crimina quae vindicari vult Deus, non per antistes et principes ecclesiarum, sed per mundi iudices voluit vindicari [all the offences which God wishes to be avenged, He wants to be avenged, not by prelates or princes of the Churches, but by judges of this world]. Hee must exclude Marcellinus, that offended no magistrate any further then to make the Church of God know that Caesars decrees were no lawfull warrants, as some taught, for idolatry. He must exclude Cornelius, who being charged with a course of entertaining intelligence by letter with S. Cyprian the Bishop of Carthage (at that that time), protested at his death that the contents of those letters had no other end or drift then preservation of soules. So farre were they from derogation of obedience to authoritie, as S. Gregory had never read this statute. For unlesse they wil avow that servus may be supra dominum [servant may be above master], which Christ denies, they must confesse that Gregory acknowledging himselfe a servant to Mauritius, he could neither overtop him, nor reigne over him.
Neither is it probable that Pope Anastasius to an Emperor of that name would have written that the breast of his clemencie was the shrine of publicke happinesse, and that his height carried the place of that lieutenancie which God commanded to rule and governe upon earth, if he had held him a tenant of his crowne to the See Apostolike. And therefore with our venerable countreyman I must conclude that the master-rule of our life is ecclesiae primitivae actus imitare, to imitate the examples of the Church Primative.
But if (notwithstanding this obedience) they will enforce a man to raigne that with his owne mouth doeth professe the contrary, which is to serve, let them call to minde that observation of the wisest king that ever was, that one of the chiefe instruments per quae movetur terra, by which the earth is shaken, is servus cum regnaverit [a servant when he shall rule]. I know not what Pope can pretend a better title to the prerogative of making lawes and statutes then all or some of these which had their course and held that chaire. And yet wee finde not that all this while the case was put (much less ruled) by such lawes or statutes as might either countenance the Popes challenge, or excuse his intrusion. But why should wee thus pussell [puzzle] or afflict our spirits in turning over both the Testaments, in ransacking the volumes of the Councels, or in sounding the judgement of the learned Fathers about the names of those holy predecessors which are onely recorded in their library? In singling some of the principals from the body of the heard, and hearing them expresse their owne conceits in their owne wordes, it may perhaps be found that their reputations in this point have bene further charged then they can bee blemished. Bare wordes are not to be recorded without demonstrations of right, or impressions of acknowledgement. But in the course of my owne reading (which were sufficient to find out if a black swanne, if any were, though not so well able to resolve a doubt as many are) I may protest that I could never light upon a president of any Pope before Gregory the Seventh that tooke notice of any statute, much more enacted or approved any for the maintenance of this deposing challenge, although in case there had bin such, I would have hardly have preferred the practise of any sinner that may swarve [swerve] before the precepts of a Saviour that derives doctrine from deitie.
The civill lawes decree that si princeps causam inter partes audierit et sententiam dixerit, est lex in omnibus similibus, if a prince have heard a cause among the parties and pronounced sentence, in all like cases it shall stand for law. Much more in cases of obedience and sufferance which rex regum, the King of al kings, hath both heard and determined. For if the Schoolemen have resolved truely and advisedly that the Pope cannot remit sinnes without sacramentall ministration, nor alter formes essentiall, or ad placitum [at his pleasure] release vowes, because this absolute prerogative only appertaines to the key of Him which opens and no man shuts, much lesse can any Pope out of the strength of passion (though warped and involved within many folds of faire apparences) deprive magistrates.
Whether the chaire of Gregorie the Seventh brake or not (as one writer notes) at the pronouncing of this sentence (because the Pope or the sentence, or both Pope and sentence, were too heavy for a chaire that had not bene so farre pressed or surcharged for the space of a thousand yeeres) it is not my purpose at this present to dispute. But I am very sure that the policie, the discipline and order of the Church received a great cracke when the force of the spirit was perverted and abused to the satisfaction of inordinate desires, which mortification should rather suppresse then ambition execute. For Saint Bernard writeth with great judgement to Pope Eugenius, that episcopi et ministri ecclesiae cum tractant politica, when bishops and pastours of the Church entermedle with civill policie (I meane so farre as may put princes to their plundge), they invade the limites, they disturbe the functions, and thrust their sickle into the harvest of other men. If none of the predecessours of Gregory the Seventh (in which many were religious, regarding more internall pietie then externall pompe) were privy to the reason or the promulgation of such a law, but Gregory himselfe first undertooke the exercise duorum gladiorum, of two swords, upon a weake text in S. Luke (which is not taken in that sence by any of those fathers whom Thomas Aquinas voucheth in catena aurea [in the golden chain]). Is it not then more then probable that this law was both enacted and proclaimed in one day, without any former presedent or record, either in albo praetorum or in rubrica martyrum [in the black ink of praetors, or the black ink of martyrs]?
Trithemius a grave and learned writer, living in the yere 1005, which was about the time wherein the Pope was put into this heat, affirmes that this question was then argued, but not determined. And where? Not inter episcopos [among bishops], but inter scholasticos, among the Schoolemen, whether it belonged to the spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope to depose an Emperour from soveraigne dignity.
The Church of Liege in like manner in the same quarrel, and soone after the same time, avow by letters to Pope Paschale that none of those holy predecessors of which Gregory the Seventh speakes ever drew the sword against any Emperour before himselfe, commanding that great lady the Countesse Mawd (that in her life depended wholly upon his direction, and on her death bed left a rich legacy to the Church), and that in remissionem peccatorum [for the remission of her sins], to persecute this prince, whereas Christ Himselfe whom Gregory should imitate upon this same condition peccatorum remissionis, that is, as we forgive the trespasses, enjoyneth his disciples to forgive their enemies, and that not seven times onely (which agrees well with the number of Septimus Gregorius) but seventy times and seven, using the number finite for infinite, which agrees better with the duety of Gregorius episcopus.
Otho Frisingensis, an other author of those times, concurring formall with the two preceding witnesses, affirmes that legendo et relegendo, in reading and reading over againe the lives and actions of Emperours, he could not hit upon any one in that rancke that before Henry 4. was expelled or deposed by the Papacy. Wherefore the proofe standing very cleare and pregnant, as I take it on this side, aswell quia probatur manifestum [because the manifest thing is proved] as quia non probatur contrarium [because the contrary is unproven], that this acte of Gregory found no right antecendent whereupon to ground a reasonable consequent, I would gladly learne for my owne instruction of any writer, moderne or ancient, whether it were a just part in a judge to condemne an Emperour causa inaudita [with the cause unheard], or a wise part in an Emperour to put his crowne in manus papales, into the Popes hands, without surer hold, or a religious part in a Pope to vouch such records as are not any where set downe, if they bee not in table of yce, idque flantibus Austris, the windes blowing southerly. But it may be that I have mistaken by errour, or overshot with haste, or omitted by prejudice some such predecessor to Gregory, as was authour of some such act, without any kinde of exception made in the behalfe of the prince, either of invaliditie of the sentence or or peril of the presedent. For this Pope voucheth Zacharie a predecessor of his owne that deposed Childericke the King of France, though as Gelasius reportes to Anastasius, this heavy sentence fell not on him so much for any crime committed by himselfe, as because he was reputed inutilis, unprofitable, or of no use to so great a monarchie.
I would be loath that any man should hold me so presumptuous or undiscreet as to cary over a question of this importance with a peremptory straine, as if no author had reported this suppression of Childerick to have beene in very deed the powerfull act and execution of Zachary. For I acknowledge that some such there are (though earnestly transported with a desire to raise and improve the reputation of Rome by an effect of so forcible authoritie). My desire is therefore only to be heard in a word or two, and so farre to be credited as the waight of reasons may demonstrate, that onely the Peeres of France deprived Childerick by uniforme consent, howsoever they were providently carefully afterwards that their proceeding upon tickle [perilous] termes might passe more currantly the voyce and censure of the world by the approbation of so grave an oracle. But herein first I note that Gregory gives evidence with his owne mouth in causa propria, in a cause that concernes himselfe, which Esay did not, appealing ad legem et testimonium [to the law and evidence], nor our Saviour, excluding any mans report qui de seipso perhibet testimonium [who gives testimony about Himself], nor S. Peter upon advantage sermonis prophetici [of prophetic speech]. The civilians allow not this prerogative to Caesar, nor the bishops of Africa to Zosimus, nor Joannes de Parisiis to any Pope nisi scripturae fulciatur authoritate, unlesse he bee supported by the warrant of Holy Writ, nor the Canons themselves to any mortall man that may be subject to affections. But I will let this advantage passe, though it may seeme strange, that whereas the figure of S. Peters person was sufficient whilest he conversed upon earth to cure private men of their infirmities, it happens after his translation into the Mount that the shadow of his function should prevaile so farre as to the suppression of monarchies.
First therefore, in disproofe of absolution from oath and deprivation of regall jurisdiction ascribed to this Pope, I take hold of the glosse it selfe, expounding this word deposuit, for deponentibus consensit. For hereby it appeares that this honest man, being farre from their ambition and presumption that hold it a great honor for a Pope to depose a king, sought carefully and modestly to acquite that chaire of an imputed crime (or error, at the least), applying the text of his owne record to the testimony of the best histories. For in a storie found in the librarie of the Abbey of Fulda among the Germaines it is plaine, and by the report of a French writer very ancient, that King Pepine of France was surrogated into the place of Childericke by the whole nation of the Franckes relatione tantummodo missa ad sedem apostolicam, report being onely made to the Sea Apostolike.
It is likewise evident by the same author that before any ambassador was sent to Rome from France, this sillie cipher of a king non re, sed nomine tantummodo regnabat, was a king in title, not in trueth, and did onely fill the place of royaltie upon the stage of scourne. And therefore when the reals were all converted into nominals, let no man wonder at the voyce of ratification, but rather note the reproofe of imbecillitie. The whole sway and stroke of affaires in the state rested at that time in the hand of one person onely, that was Maire du Palais, his sole acte was authenticall, his word was law; to him they resorted for resolution; to him they gave thankes for satisfaction. And therefore if it be true that privatio praesupponit habitum [deprivation presupposed possession], it must likewise be true that Childerick could not be deprived of a state whereof he was not possessed at that instant, without new grounds of philosophy. Another author writes misisse barones ad Zachariam Papam, that the Barons of France sent to Pope Zacharie as it were to consult whether ignavum pecus, a drone that devours or a bee that labours were more sufficient to command so great a state, and that Zacharie, not unlike in this to Alexander the Great, bestowed his voyce of approbation on him that should be reputed dignissimus [most worthy]. Gagwine makes a question to be mooved by Pope Zacharie from the whole estate of France by this kinde of comparison, whether of these two persons, data electione, free choyse being given, were more capable of governement, hee that spendes his time at home nihil agens [doing nothing] idlely, or he that, bending his whole endevour to affairs, industria virtuteque publica negotia moderatur [manages public business by his industry and virtue]. But the Popes answere being (by the report of this author) as was testified, hoc adducti responso proceres sibi regem delegerunt, the Peeres induced by the same, chose Pepin King. But as we know that a question in point of fact submits no clayme of right, so the Popes answere out of discretion implies no bond or obligation of necessitie. With this opinion concurres another writer of that state, prooving by an expresse deduction of the whole cause that the choise of Pepin proceeded originally from the free consent of the French Peeres, though for prevention of all doubts and scruples, lest male-contents might ascribe the processe rather to respective faction then to single faith, there was great use of the Popes authoritie disponentis in dubio procerum, resolving the doubt which caused the Peeres to stagger. This would have bin the end, whatsoever cloudes were cast or the Pope had said, but abundans cautela non nocet [abundant caution works no harm], and the persons that either are not at all, or very litle interessed by their owne particular to the point of question are presumed by the law to regard the matters with eyes of greatest equitie. This maner of proceeding is not strange, for Joab fearing at the height of his fortune the shotte of envie, pressed David with a powerfull argument to come in person and receive the honour of the giving up of the force of Rabbath, that by his industry was brought to the last pinch, lest his owne glory in the world might swell too much by the fortunate addition of so prosperous an accident. Wee count that doctor happy that resorts to the sicke patient in declinatione morbi [as the disease is abating], and it hath ever bin accounted an effect of skill to winde in the conscience of an upright judge for the countenance of a cause humorously [in anger] undertaken by the first author, that workes under the reputation of unsuspected trueth. Wherefore though this Maior du Palais, or superintendant generall over all the French affaires, held it his best course to maske ambition with the vaile of holinesse, though Zacharie were not unwilling in the end to take hold of this offer for the grounding of a president of challenge and advantage in like causes at another time, though the Peeres were willing to leave speciem [appearances] to Zacharie, receiving vim, the strength and execution, onely to themselves, let this bee neither rule nor instrument of curbing princes of better understanding, or emboldening Popes of stronger mindes. For aswell might the poore flie sitting on the cart wheele while it was in mooving wonder at the great cloude of dust which she raised in the beaten way, as Gregory or Zacharie draw counsell to power, or make that acte their owne which was hammered in the forge of ambition, countenanced with a colour of necessitie, and executed by a minister that, being weary of subordination, resolved by this tricke, when the meanes were fitted and prepared to the plot, to make himselfe absolute. The case of kings were pitifull, if ex factis singularibus, out of speciall factes and practises, as the Chapter of Liege writeth gravely to Pope Paschal, it were lawfull to draw leaden rules in their disgrace. For some men undertake too much out of presumption, some yeeld too much out of cowardise, the greater part straine farther then they ought of right, and those weake rules lighting by mishap into the hand of power, not tempered with conscience, are sometime forced by affection, sometime bent with corruption, and for the greatest part applied with subtletie. It seemeth not (by the report of Paulus Aemilius) that this manner of proceeding against princes by the chiefe pastors of the Church (though without passion, and at the request of publike states) was usuall or ordinary in those dayes, much lesse humorous, violent, or voluntary decrees. For Zachary himselfe was at the first so moderate and mannerly ut non auderet tam magni momenti cogitationem suscipere <that he did not> so much as apprehend a conceit or thought of so great a business. And therefore, though we should dispence with Gregory the Seventh in vouching this predecessor in the point, yet the predecessor himselfe by daintinesse doth in a sort disclayme the charter which hee should pretend, without either enforcing or urging (in so plaine a spheare) any externall traverse of obliquitie.
By this author it is manifest with what tendernesse, advice and caution the Pope opened a veine that is apt to bleede above the measure which the doctors arte prescribes. For finding by equitie that Childericke was the last branch (though seare and withered) of Clowis the first Christian prince among the French, that he was sine liberis, sine ingenio, without either issue or discretion (the strongest sinewes both of succession and governement), that hee was so benummed with sloth and sensualitie that he could not feele the taking off his crowne from his head, that his suppression was not onely sought by France but applauded by the world, the Pope proceeded, having perhaps in his eye the bond whereby hee might engage the kindnesse of King Pepin to the Church of Rome against the Greekish Emperors (transported with jelousie). This makes Kransius in his historie of Saxe to wonder at the fastnesse between the French kings and the Popes (like hands that wash and helpe one another by mutuall support) in atteining those high objects which both aymed at. Antonius joynes with others in expressing the damaund comparative betweene a prince of judgement and a faict-neant [a do-nothing], an image and a man, betweene a king in deede and one qui solo nomine regio tegerentur, that was onely masked with the name and title of a king, adding that the states assembled upon the first returne of the Popes answere suppressed Childericke and raysed his competitor. Zacharie was so farre from levelling at the person or the crowne of Childericke in hypothesi (if wee give credite to our owne countremans Polychronicon) as he onely meant in thesi to set downe his judgement of the difference which a wise state ought to make between two princes qualified, not onely in a kinde of disproportion, but of a direct opposition of gifts and properties. Gotefridus Viterbiensis, striking rather at the roote then at the branches of this enterprise, affirmes not Francos Zachariae paruisse decreto, sed acquievisse consilio [the Francks did not obey Zacharias’ decree, but heeded his advice], though the difference be as great as betweene an absolute injunction and a politicke advice. Sabellicus, without so much as dreaming of a donative, avowes a counsell by these wordes, consulto potius pontifice. Nauclere yet more roundly, if if it be possible, that after the Peeres had first elected, the Pope ratified. And with him agrees Blondus in one tune, without eyther wrist of violence or inducement of affection.
Out of Aventyne I draw two reasons of conclusion against the jurisdiction of Pope Zacharie. The first, that beeing mooved by the French Peeres as before, he takes his ground of answere from the revolt of the ten Tribes (though as aptly as a man might avow the rising of Jack Cade against his anoynted soveraigne). For the sinnes of that ungodly race, the curses that were pronounced against the rebels themselves, and the censures of Gods Prophets evidently prove that the fact was exorbitant. The same reason may be drawen from Zacharies owne paradoxe at the same returne, defending that since princes holde their crownes and governements of the peoples choise, in whom it resteth absolutely constituere et destituere, to constitute and desert. For though the doctrine be as dangerous as it is damnable, yet hereby it is evident (for me) that the right of deposition (being, as the Pope himselfe avowes, invested in the people) was not in himselfe, and by consequent that the was a counsellor but no commaunder, and assistant, not a judge, and that he did only approve by admittance, not enjoyne by prerogative.
I know that Master Garnet and the rest will as unwillingly admit the judgement of the centuries in this circumstance concerning Childericke (as other would Barons of another side) further then the warrant of their proofe makes way, which mooves me with a better will to let them passe, and leave the judgement of this point upon the credit of such authors as had no reason to speake more then trueth for advantage of either part, because in those dayes not the manner, but the matter, not the circumstance, but the subject, not quo iure [by what right] but ad quem finem [to what end] came to be decided betweene the Pope and the Parliament.
But touching the Popes processe against Henry, the Chapter of the church of Liege doeth unfainedly protest that in their exact perusall of both Testaments they could finde no presedent huiusmodi praecepti apostolici, of any such injunction or writte apostolike, a good caution to make us tender in misdeeding of their reportes and testimonies which (living in the time of this distemper voyde of passion, and qualified with modesty, being learned both in the Scriptures and the civill lawes, and regarding more the peace and quiet of the Church then the partialities of humours on either side) affirmes soundly out of knowledge, and confidently upon their credite, that this Gregorie the Seventh was the first Pope that deposed any prince by the warrant of S. Peters keyes, or, to use their owne phrase, that ever lifted up the priestly launce against Caesars sword, not dreaming of any formall processe sent out by Pope Zacharie against King Childericke.
The very circle of a crown imperiall (so farre as any state or fortune beneath the moone can reach) emplies a perpetuitie of motion. For according to that principle of the mathematicks, as it beginnes from all parts alike, so in seipsa desinit, and ends absolutely in it selfe without any other point or scope objectual to move unto. That the Pope hath sometimes set the crowne imperiall upon Caesars head, since the crowning of King Pepine (whom I take to be the first) ought to be no reason of his tossing crownes from head to head like tennis-balls. For this were they way by signes to destroy substances, and to oppose formalitie to necessitie, and occasion to institution. The metropolitane of every kingdome may doe asmuch in forme non conferendo ius, sed implendo iusticiam, not conferring right, but doing what is just and right, as it is aptly sayd by one of their owne partners. For though the Pope reserve unto himselfe this finall interest of crowning an elected Emperor at Rome, and some flatters would derive a kind of necessity for consummation and establishment from thence, yet many Emperours of an elder date, and Charles the Fifth in our time, have bene ready with their swords in their hands to prove (notwithstanding filial regard and reverence to the mother Church) that the strike of power is absolute without relative formalitie. I conclude this question concerning Childericke with an argument inevitable either by invention or sophistrie, not disabling the witnesses. For Soto, both a Frier and a learned Schooleman, holds that extra causas fidei ipsi pontifices nunquam ausi sunt reges deponere, the Popes themselves durst never depose any king without the compasse of such matters as concerne faith. But Childericke was deposed not for any point of faith, but, as Pope Gelasius writes to Anastasius, because he was of no use to the common wealth. Therefore it is not possible that Childericke should be deposed by Pope Zacharie. What hue and crie hath beene made in former times against uncivill claymes varnished with religious pretence, nothing prooves more plainely then the strong opposition which as made at the Holy Land to Pelagius the Popes Legate for seeking to draw in all partes to the share of the Church, at the taking of the rich citie Damieta, not unlike to the partition which was made by the lyon to other beastes that hunted in his company. For it is true that at the first they wondered, and after complayned, that the minister of him whose office was to strengthen by advise should discourage by too much greedinesse.
To that example which is given by Gregory the Seventh of Alexander the First, another supposed predecessour, absolving Christians from oathes, it were idlenesse to shape any formall answere, since it hath neither likelihood in common sence, nor ground of antiquitie. For in a thousand yeeres after Alexander the First, this kind of releasing oathes was not hatched, much lesse practised. It is not probable that a discreete Pope voyde of humors (as in that first spring of pietie all were) would have sought to range a faithlesse prince to formall discipline, since Paul himselfe refuseth to judge those that were no sheepe of the folde, but foris, that is, without. And as unprobabile it is that when the Bishops of Rome intended most the winning of soules by obedience, they should give so great cause of distaste to those princes that by the strength of their owne lawes were most absolute in authoritie. It may be that Alexander the First might comfort and secure the conscience of some Christians that were over scrupulous and precise in observing wicked and unlawfull oaths, which are ipso iure nulla [of no consequence by the law itself] (though the Pope should not dispense), and therefore broken with a better conscience toward God, then kept. But how proves that the breach of lawfull oathes to princes that are rightly seated in their states (though perhaps not ever good), which the Church condemns and no law justifies? I hold it most absurd that the Church of Rome for greatnesse, or the Church universall for instruction, would not have kept record of such a facte, if any such had bin. But it is not hard to prove quodlibet ex quolibet [anything on the basis of anything], where men may devise to coyne their owne positions without care either to answere for presumption, or to account for ignorance, and then to grace them with protestations of pietie.
The caution which S. Peter is said to give at the ordination of S. Clement, that no man should bee favoured or kindly entertained by the true professors of religion against whom his succesors should conceive offence, may bee admitted without prejudice to this point, if wee speake of such just offences as Gods lawes punisheth. There are cases wherein a man that doeth but in a word salute and give a God-speed to a grievous sinner is said communicare operibus ipsius malignis [to partake in that man’s malign works], but this is not ever, when S. Clements successours censure more out of passion then out of reason. Christian princes were not so much as thought upon when this course was set, and therefore farre out of Pope Alexanders ayme, that is made to wound a king standing so farre off with a headlesse arrow. Reason satisfies thus farre, that the pastors of the Church (excluding us out of the fold) can bereave us onely of those things which they give us at our comming in, that is, the Kingdome of Heaven, more in value then ten millions of worlds, but no kingdome upon earth; coinheritance with Saints, not with sinners; eternall blessings, not temporall benefits. It appears the wardrobe is very beggerly (as one of Master Garnets fellowes wrote over in such another case) that affords nothing but rags in stead of robes, and the stocke goes low that would pay counters for Portagues [pebbles for gold coins].
These are all the predecessors which Gregory the Seventh presents, as it were in a mummery, to cast dice for a princes crowne, as the souldiers did for the seamlesse coat of Christ. For they come and goe out againe, without either speaking any word or giving other notice then by signes, which is nothing in effect. Their ende should rather give evidence then make appearance, dispute then dally. It is hard that the Pope should flourish in this shamelesse maner about the heades of anoynted majestie with a rusty sword, which since the time that S. Peter was commanded to put into the scabberd was never drawen, nor by the rule of Christ ought to be.
King Edgar, in an excellent oration perswading the Saxon bishops that had the sword of Peter to joyne hands with him that had the sword of Constantine for the cleansing of the Church, meant nothing lesse then that it could be in a bishops power against himselfe to make use of the materiall sword which was assigned to his custodie. Hee tells Dunstane in the same speech afterwards that it was he that committed this trust to the bishops care, that should chastise offendors in deed. But how? Episcopali censura et authoritate regia, by the episcopall censure and the Kings authoritie. Gregory the Seventh was not yet awake, who, putting two swords into one sheath, entends nothing more then to drive princes out of the field with their owne weapons.
But howsoever some weake soveraignes, that received their authoritie from God for terme of life, have notwithstanding bene content to hold it of the Pope at will, this barres not others of a quicker spirit to examine evidence concerning the point of right before they suffer themselves to be concluded in the court of equitie. Subjects that are duetifull, and not apt to be transported from their faith with every blast of ambitious spleene, cleave fast to the foundation which is the band of obedience, not voydable by strong intruders nor partiall interpreters. I confesse that a godly pastor ought chiefly to provide that Christs humble sheepe should bee foulded in due season, and safely guarded from the persecution of wolves, but the sheepe for their part also ought to be as cautious that a wolfe be not the belweather. Which hath happened as often in many Churches as the bishops out of their affections and wreakefull passions have bene authors of a farre greater effusion of blood then heretickes or infidels out of their malignitie. Further, if we may give credite to that strange vision which Sozomen in his history reports, there arose a question not onely among doctors upon earth, but even among Saints in heaven, what course was best to be taken with Julian the renegate, notwithstanding his apostacie, in respect of place. And yet, of both, I presume that Master Garnet held him a man of worse condition and affection towards God and godly men then Henry the Fourth, whom, without the least gall of conscience or supposition of doubt, the Pope deprived thus unworthily.
Touching the qualitie of this afflicted and tormented Emperour, and the true state of his cause, which was the ground and motive of the Popes sharpe choler, I neede not at this time say much, when much cannot be said for want of time, but will leave him with his opposite to their finall triall by grand-jury at the dreadfull barre where the bookes of all accountes and evidences shall be layd open, and sentence shall be rather grounded upon just deserts then partiall desire, and where no man shall be either charged out of the envy of Crassus or defended by the eloquence of Antony. I am not ignorant of that which writers on both sides (imperiall and pontificall, Guelphes and Gibellines) have set downe touching the Pope and Emperour, according to that humor which infection and distraction of parts envenomed their pens. I know that a man may erre easily, bending too much out of partialitie of prejudice to the byas of either side. And I want that just measure of discretion and distinction which should level grounds that are made unequall and uneven by distempered conceits. But whether the Pope were vexed and disquieted with Henries challenge of investiture of bishops per baculum et annulum [by staff and ring] and collation of Church preferrements, as some thinke (though many kings, and ours especially, have had and ever challenged the like prerogative in their owne estates), or with the instigation of Sigisfred the Archbishop of Mentz, to withdraw subjects overhastily from their ordinary resort to Rome, as others write, though this hath bene the case of some other princes in like sort that escaped thunderclaps, or whether Henries meane account of the Popes admonitions, or his preparation to withstand force with force put the Pope into choler, as other Emperors have done oftentimes both before and since, with more easy penance for supposed pertinacie. Whether all these or any of these occasions gave fire to the traine, though I presume not to resolve, yet I may bee bold to conceive in my owne opinion that the medicine was over sharpe and violent for the malady. True it is that the grudge of Gregory to this Emperour began first to fester in his heart a good space before, in respect of the countenance and ayd which Henry gave to Gibert Bishop of Parma, chosen Pope by the Cardinals on that side of the Alpes, with opposition unto Alexander, whom Gregory (that was then but an Archdeacon) highly favoured.
But supposing all were true that either colourably or justly hath bin given out in this cause for trueth, I desire to learne of some grave doctoure whether these poore motives were proportionable to the Popes glowing indignation, which, shutting his gate against the Emperor (I will not say uncivilly, but uncharitably, that came barefoot in a bitter frost to witnesse true contrition of heart for satisfaction of wrath), set up a competitor against him in Germany while he was labouring by this painefull pilgrimage to Rome to worke a perfect reconcilement with the Pope, and to write to the party opposite (least they might shrinke upon those shewes of friendship likely to ensue betweene the Emperour and him) that he would send him back, as he would use the matter, culpabiliorem, more culpable, and by consequent more subject to their violent advantages.
Nay, which is worst of al, after peace and friendship and absolute forgiveness of offences sworne, and the Sacrament received by the Emperour (for the better assurance of the league intended at the Popes owne hand) to arme his sonne against him in the field, under the pretence and maske of zeale, ut nomen Augusti ab haeresi vindicaret, that he might redeeme the title of Augustus from the blot of heresie. For to this center all the lines of the Popes disguised exceptions may be drawn, and in this gulfe they vanish, as if no man could embrace a sound beliefe unlesse he had a servile heart, as if all that oppose against intruders were hereticks, as if it were not lawfull for the Emperour to set up a traverse in the Church, so long as he resolved to exclude the Pope from competition to the chaire of state, or as if the supposition of heresie at large without conviction of any point hereticall against the Canons of the Church by proofe were a common goale, wherein the Popes custome is to lodge all Christian princes that by contradiction to partiall demands upon just grounds are condemned as his cast-awayes.
Last of all, I would know where the Pope learned to forgive culpam [sin], but not poenam [penalty], to a prince that in the ende was more willing to solicite union then to rankle hate, or where he learned to distinguish betweene restitution to grace and majestie by suspending that part of his favour that might put him into possession of his owne lawfull interest. I finde by Sigibert the Abbot of Gemelac, that in his time it was holden haeresis nondum in mundam emersa [a heresie not yet come forth in the world] that the chapleines of that powerfull God that often makes hypocrites to reigne propter peccata populi [for the people’s sins], should cast the rod into the fire before that faults were chastised according to deserts, or by their absolute commaunds displace those instruments that, as powerfull executioners of heavenly judgement, are to discharge the duetie which is layed upon them.
But howsoever Gregorie might in those dogge dayes scorch an Emperor by the combustion of beames that ex diametro were opposite, by the strength of a partie raysed by advantage of the time, yet by succeeding tokens I observe that God was just, though Popes were humerous. For one of those arch-traytors whome the Pope erected out of passion, and supported out of pride, was slaine afterward at the winning of a towne, another in the field, though (as one writes) not impenitent for his treachery. The Pope himselfe, worne as it seemes with vexation and strife, lived not many yeeres, and, having left his point in this prince, was never able to any great purpose to sting afterward. The mutinous and rebellious bishops (that having oppressed and resisted by the Popes direction) never held up their heads after the fatall blowe which they received at the Synodes of Mentz and Wormes, but were either slaine by their owne sheepe, or perished in the mountaines by a most hard destinie.
Walran Bishop of Megburghe, writing to a Germane Counte, gives a very just cause of this concurrence in malignitie of sharpe accidents. For since by resisting power (saith the Bishop) they resisted God, it was not possible for the successe to be better. Platina reportes that in the very interim while the Pope was as yet advising and consulting about the best course to be taken with this discontented prince, some wiser than the rest were of the minde, regem non ita cito anathematisandum, that a prince were not to bee accursed in such poste haste. But oppositions were idle, the Popes heart being wholly set upon revenge and supporting this whole processe with the commission which Christ gave to S. Peter to feede his sheepe, that is, to teach and instruct the flocke. For I make as great difference betweene instruction and destruction as betweene feeding and strangling, though by the very forme of the sentence (as it is set downe against this Emperour) it be manifest that Gregory commandeth S. Peter and S. Paul, as if they were his baliffes-errant, to execute the writts of his pontificall and privative authority.
Touching the charge of absolving subjects from their oaths, which is the chiefest instrument by which the Canon Nos sanctorum workes in seeking to subvert the seats of kings upon such grounds of quarrell and exceptions as may bee made, I will chiefly note that Gregory doeth in this case assume more to his dignitie by deputation then God Himselfe doeth to his deitie by prerogative. For admitting oathes to be lawfull, voluntary, and without derogation from right (as those are which we make to princes as becomes), he concludes al their ministers that dare presume to violate faith engaged upon those due respects within the compasse of perjury. The promise which God makes to man in swearing by Himselfe, He will not (though it tend to the quicker and the juster punishment of sinne) release unto Himselfe, and yet shall we thinke that the promise which was made by a sinner to Him can be released without Him? Frater non redimet, redimet homo? Non dabit Deo placationem suam et pretium redemptionis animae suae [His brother will not redeem, will a man redeem? He will not give God his placation and the price of the redemption of his soul], as we may conclude in this case with the Prophet. Though God were so justly mooved with displeasure against man as he seemed to repent of His owne free grace in planting an ingratefull flocke in a barren soile, et praecavens in futurum, et tactus dolore cordis intrinsecus [both taking precaution for the future and touched with grief in His inward heart], which inward wound might very far provoke the wrath of a creator against his creature, yet in respect of His word engaged from the beginning of the world that the blessed seed of a woman (whom all generations call blessed) should bruise the serpents head, which mystery was to be wrought with effect in plenitudine temporis [in the fulness of time], He would not dispense with His owne promise, but suffered the purpose of free grace to bee caried upon the wheeles of eternall providence to the prefixed periode of his owne benignitie. The grievous sinnes of the Prophet David and of his off-spring provoked Gods wrath justly to wipe both the blossomes and the root out of all grace and mercie, and yet in respect of an oath taken long before, that an heire of his line should never want to keepe his throne, it pleased Him for the making good of His owne promise to remit his displeasures.
The greatest hope of encouragement that Gods people could draw from the Prophet Samuel, when they implored his assistance in distresse, was this, that God, having by a solemne oath selected and in a sort impropriated that nation as a chose people to Himselfe, would neither exclude them out of protection, nor leave them to fury.
The rule of Gods owne direction is very strict, that if any man hath made a vow to God et se iuramento constrinxerit, and bound himselfe by oath to keepe the same, it shall no longer be in his owne election to make it voyde, but he shall performe precisely what was deliberately promised. It is not knowen to any man of understanding what the Law sets downe concerning the redemption of vowes upon just cause in the presence of the priest, and at such a rate as the votary, according to the measure and proportion of his meanes, is able (without undoing) to afford. Againe, all men understand that unlawfull vowes and oathes (as that of Jepethe, Herode, and many other rash protestors of like sort) force not the point of conscience in the least degree. But when we take an oath advisedly and freely, according to the measures and conditions limitted and expressed in the Law of God, that is, according to judgement, righteousnesse, and trueth, yea though it bee by duety to a wicked prince, Ezechiel will teach us by the warrant of the holy Spirit that God Himselfe will nayle upon the head of the perjuror the oath which he hath set light, and the covenant which hee hath perfidiously broken.
By the reason which Pope Gregorie makes his warrant of releasing the subjects oathes to Henry the Fourth, the Prophet Hananias, one of the High Priests for the time, might aswell have dispensed with the othes of Gods people to Nabuchodonosor, an infidell and an idolater. But God Himselfe condemneth all priests and Prophets that by false hopes went about to ease the peoples burthen before the time prefixed for their penance by His imposition, and the dayes of Hananias the false prophet were cut off for his flattery. Wherefore as the boldnesse and presumption is very great in any mortall man to dive so deepely into the secret mysteries of Providence, as to judge at what time, in what person, upon what condition, or by what warrant one sinner may release another of his oath, so likewise the charter which the Schoolemen in the Popes behalfe pretend upon this clayme must undoubtedly bee very weake, whensoever they shall undertake without assurance of Gods certainely revealed will to discharge the conscience of man engaged by election and obliged with solemnitie. The Schoolemen shall never be able to make cleare proofe by any ground out of either Testament, by any Canon of the Councels primative, nor any of the Fathers, living in a purer ayre then ours (howsoever they devise distinction upon distinction, rather to entangle then to settle faith) that this doctrine of accursing princes upon light occasions, of releasing oathes, of deposing magistrates, is consonant to those principles of obedience and patience which our Saviour left to his Apostles, and they like heirelomes to their successors. If it be cleare by Saint Matthew that our peace shall returne unto our selves when they to whom we wish the peace declare themselves unworthy of our wish, undoubtedly as true it is that our curses shall recoyle upon our owne heads (and that worthily) when they that are within the bosome of the Church (which is the house of God) declare themselves unworthy of the curses which without desert we cast upon them. For as it is a question well moved in this case of Balaam, quomodo maledicat ei cui non maledixit dominus? [how can he curse the man the Lord has not cursed?], so it is discreetly noted by S. Gregory that ligandi et solvendi potestate se privat qui eam iniuste exercet, he deprives himselfe of the power of binding and loosing sinnes that seekes to practise without grounds that may be justified. Origen writes excellently that where the motives of sharpe sentences are unjust, and not able to endure the touch of due regard, he that is cast out goes not, sed qui manet intus excluditur [but he that remains within is excluded].
It was not in the power of the priest by the Law of Moses to make him a leper that was cleane, but to judge (by search) whether he were cleane or not. And therefore S. Augustine may more confidently deliver his owne conclusion, that rash judgement hurtes not the person de qua temere iudicatur, sed ei qui temere iudicat [who is rashly judged, but him who rashly judges]. The reason may be drawen out of another of the same suite, quia dum volumus per iram aliena coercere, graviora committimus, in seeking to correct the faults of other men in passion, our selves commit faults that are greater for want of charity.
Therefore I conclude, and that magistraliter [in a magisterial manner], as the Schoolemen speake, out of the very Canons themselves, manere Petri privilegium ubicunque fertur ex ipsius aequitate iudicium, that Peters priviledge doth continue so long as the sentence is pronounced out of Peters equity, and not otherwise. To that caution put in by S. Gregory out of scrupulositie of conscience, vel iniquam iudicis sententiam timendam, that the sentence of a lawfull judge ought to be feared (yea though it be unjust), we may give a reasonable answere by restrayning that feare to such a kinde of modesty and tendernesse, as being ever apt to suspect frailty in it selfe, shall offend lesse by searching sinne with too deepe then too short an instrument, and by supposing out of the sense of an humble spirit that all men are more apt to flatter themselves in the wayes of their owne errors, then a learned, discreet and religious judge to censure without a just occasion.
A wise man that desires to preserve his health, receiving pilles from the hand of his phisician, who understandeth the state of his body out of knowledge and experience much better than himselfe, presumeth at the first impression that some humor may offend either in quantitie or qualitie, which deserveth correction though hee know it not. But after calling to minde upon advised observation that his appetite is ordinary, his temper perfect, his digestion strong, and all those other circumstances which the learned in that facultie regard sutable to a perfect constitution and state of health, he beginnes to apprehend (by opposing the sense of his owne parts to his doctors aime) that men, though grave and learned otherwise, may erre either by mistaking principles or giving too light care to false information, which are rightly termed the spectacles of error. For God doeth onely search the hearts and reines, and therefore onely knowes truely with what ignorance or skill the plaister is applied to the part either festered in deed, or for want of a sound judgement (in those that take upon them as his viceregents to discerne) so deemed of. God hath pronounced in His Word that spiritus hominis tantummodo, the spirit of man onely knowes those things which are in man, and the spirit of God alone those things which belong to God, and therefore de occultis vel de male intellectis [of secret or ill-understood things] that spirit which onely breathes in the nostrels of mortall men can neither discerne nor judge infallibly. But if any man object that Popes proceeding against princes arme themselves with sufficiencie of proofe, before they come to resolve to the defendants prejudice, I answere that presumptions too farre carried in the scope of passion have caused many Popes to erre against Emperours in the acte of processe. And least we stray too farre in seeking an example, even this Gregorie the Seventh condemned Henry causa inaudita, before the cause was heard, as some writers of that age testifie. That rule of equitie which warrants orderly appeales from judges ill enformed to judges grounding sentence upon proofe above exception in matters of lesse weight than this, hath bene currant in all policies [polities] and times. For lex iusto non est posita [law is not founded on right]. And howsoever for the maintenance of order outward formes are to be kept with moderation and reverence, yet to the soule of man the conscience standeth for a thousand witnesses, and is in very deed the truest touch. And therefore for my owne part I shall never taxe that patient that privily, and without disgrace to the doctour, throwes the pilles out of the window which are sent, if from certaine and undoubted knowledge of his owne inward state hee be sure that for the reparation of health, or for the cure of a supposed sickenesse, his body hath no need of them.
I stand the longer upon satisfaction to this place of Gregory, because it is opposed in defence of all erring judges, to the snaring (or at least to the frightning) of those soules that are oftentimes most timorous, because they are the most innocent. But in the meane time, note that this godly father released no subject of his oath in point of dutie. He accursed no prince in the chaire of royaltie. He confounded no state by extent of primacie, but knew very wel how easily a judge may erre by strong imagination, with Gad in the Book of Judges, mistaking capita hominum pro umbra montium, the heades of men for the shadowes of hilles, et hoc errore decipi, and by this errour be deluded and daseled.
The Chapter of Liege utterly rejecting this release of oathes and fealty, might be mooved with many grounds. First, because the breach of a lawfull oath (as hath bene justified before) falles into the compasse of a mortall sinne. Againe, because many of their predecessors were departed to God in peace of conscience, that till the last point of life observed their oath, whose example they had small reason to under-value. Furthermore, they alledged, and not without just cause, that supposing this Emperour as impious as the sentence did import, yet it became them no more then Zedechias (till the fire of correction had eaten out the rust of sinne) to withdraw their neckes presumptuously from the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar. I conclude this point with a fit example of the wisedome of our kings in former times, drawen out of the cabinet of most ancient records. For nothing could give them satisfaction touching the loyaltie and fidelitie of their owne prelats, till they had inserted into the oath of homage the wordes in verbo veritatis [in the word of the truth] (which bindes conscience) in place of former wordes of an elder date, salvo ordine [with order preserved], which left churchmen in effect to their owne libertie. For it is free, saith an old Romane Catholicke, Johannes de Parisiis, for any lawful prince to repell the violence of the spirituall sword by the best meanes hee can, finding that it tendeth to the disturbance of the civill state cuius cura incumbit regi, the care whereof belongeth to the king, or else he should beare the sword idlely.
But now to make the best use that the fitnesse of this occasion offers upon the worst motive that ever was heard of among men before this accident, and to make all men see that have either eyes of understanding in their heads, or the feare of Gods judgements in their hearts, how rashly our late undertakers (to steere Peters ship in our narrow seas, Master Garnet being one of the chiefe pilots) have run her upon the rocke of rebellion, neither looking to the card of conscience, nor regarding the compasse of faith. I desire that certaine observations may be kept in memory, as certain monuments of Gods powerfull workes were in Israel tanquam signa praedicantia, that is, forewarning signes and cautions for abstincence to giddy male-contents in future times, which otherwise upon the motives of like mischiefe may bee metamorphosed into figures of like inhumanity. For an angel said to Tobit that to publish and reveale the workes of God is laudable.
I know that strange things happen oftentimes by accident (so farre as the weakenesse of our sense is able to apprehend), though trueth assure us that without the providence of God no sparrow lights upon the ground. And Pericles justly maketh fortune to bee nothing els but verae causae ignorationem, our ignorance of the proper and true causes of all things. But yet where a wilde boare by rooting in the ground doeth not accidentally expres one A, but addes to that so many letters in due course as presents this whole word Agamemnon to the readers eye, where a man doth not cast three quaters upon three dice but three thousand quaters upon three thousand, and where order which proceeds from reason and election is kept in coherent formes, chance hath no stroak of predominance by the right grounds of philosophie. Wherefore no man can tell whether some of those confederates alive (because I dare not say that there are none) looking backe as it were from the shore upon the rockes and quicksandes which they escaped in this storme (calling to accompt the bad successe not of one or two, but of all their many counsels, labors and events in this luckles action, keeping in mind that observation among the Galenistes, that were al simples worke against their kinde or propertie the cure is desperate), finding our Hierusalem to bee built as a citie cuius participatio in idipsum [whose participation is in that very thing], marking that our gracious, our just, and best deserving King (supported by Gods angels, which are spiritus administratorii missi propter eos qui capiunt haereditatem salutis [helping spirits sent for the sake of those who receive the heritage of salvation] doth dwell in adiutorio altissimi [the helping place of the Highest], and that it is in vaine to worke upon a monarchie cuius cor est unum et anima una, whose heart and soule in the point of obedience is one and the same, wil returne to the resolution wherein they stand ingaged by the lawes of God and of their owne native soile, give eare to the voice of their owne shepheard, and acknowledge humbly with Jacob that dominus erat in loco isto, et ipsi nesciebant, God with the mightie protection of His powerfull hand was in this place, although they knew it not.
First therefore I observe that when you, Master Garnet, and your practising disciples layd a packe together for a project of invasion against the late Queene, and in her later daies with hope to put out a flush of princes with a prime of jacks, which wil never stand in this state (I trust) with our right game of primus ero [I shall be first], God tooke away this ladie in her ripe and mellowe yeeres, when her head was white with the blossomes of the almond tree, as he did Josias, ne videret mala quae eventura erant, least she should see the mischiefe which was likely to ensure and had folowed undoubtedly (as men were restrained from the certaine knowledge of the only rightfull successor) if the bonus genius of our deare soveraigne had not through the preparation of ordinary means and instruments by supernal grace established this state in the full fruition of their long lasting securitie.
The Buls which by the practise of you and your Catiline, the lively image of your heart, should (by lowd lowing) have called all his calves together with a preparation to band against our soveraigne at the first break of day, and to have cropped those sweet olive buds that envyron the regall seate, did more good then hurt as it hapned, by calling in a third Bull, which was Bull the hangman, to make a speedy riddance and dispatch of this forlorne fellowship.
In the time of Henry the Sixt, Humfrey Duke of Glouster, finding certaine Buls that came from Rome to be very prejudiciall to the Kings estate, without asking leave of any man, cast them roundly into a bonefire. The late Queene of happy memory entertaining the Bull which Felton set upon the Bishop of Londons gate with the same or greater distaste, because the drift was to embase her title and transport her crowne, gave it as quicke dispatch by like desteny. And Master Garnet thought his Buls as worthy to bee sacrificed in a quick fire as any of the rest, for their idlenesse and weakenesse in effecting what was wished and expected by the friends that invited them. These Buls, Master Garnet, were cornupetae [aggressive with their horns], you were warned by the State to shut them up in respect of the mischiefe that they meant. You regarded not the prohibitions of law, but gave them scope of grazing in certaine grounds where the markes of their impressions are visible. If this be denyed, Catesby your apt scholler and chose friend shall charge [replenish] your conscience, who drew from the direction of these Bulls that shrewd argument that, if it were lawfull to keepe a right heire from his kingdome in respect of conscience before establishment, it was as lawfull to remove him after he were established. The wisedome of the Holy Ghost ordaineth that bos lapidibus obruetur si occidetur dominus [a bull is to be stoned to death if he gores his master], though we leave all to the lawes ordinance and His Majesties good pleasure. But whatsoever happeneth in the processe, I must confesse that Bulles have little reason to require a mittimus [entry permit] into these parts, since neither their accesse is acceptable, nor their successe fortunate. The point whereat I wonder most (in revolving these strange events) is that the Bulls which were consumed into ashes at White Webbs should bee brought foorth this day to bee bayted at the Guildhall.
At the Kings first entrance into this happy State, with as great securitie and ease as if he had removed after an ordinary fashion from London to Greenewich, and from Greenewich to Hampton Court, the most expedient devise for the disturbance of the generall applause (which entertained nostrum Salomonem pacificum [our peaceful Solomon] with a kind of joy and cheerefulnesse unspeakable), as was conceived by the brotherhood, was to awake the purpose of invasion that slept in forraine partes, by a set messenger employed. But though Venus had commended this petition by letter of request to Mars, it would not have bin heard, God having then prepared and disposed the mindes of princes on both sides to such a peace as could admit neither secret operation nor open execution of hypocrisie. This was not by the method of divine processe, eligere infirma ut confundat fortia [choosing the weak to confound the strong], but this was rather by the spirit of Achitophels suggestion, abuti fortibus ut confunderentur omnia [to abuse the strong so that everything would be thrown into confusion]. But thankes bee to God, the lion is alive, out of whose mouth you must have drawen your dropping hony combe before your riddle could have had either the grace or the successe which you desire among our conspiring Philistines, so that we only finde your fixed trust in tumult and vexation (as the Prophet speaketh) in stead of that hope and silence which should have bene your shot-ancor [sheet anchor].
Your end was by possessing princes with the motives of your malice to stirre compassion, because it happeneth often that exhalations drawne up to the heighest region by the beames of the sunne are there enflamed and sent backe againe with a fiery effect. But,
A great philosopher observeth tot he same effect that prosperum scelus virtus vocatur [a successful crime is called a virtue], and tunably to this consort another, that though the fact and intent were one in both, yet
ille crucem sceleris pretium tulit, hic diadema
[This one is rewarded for his crime with the gallows, that one with a crown].
But in this case, by the goodnes of God it fell out quite contrary. For the princes, being as weary of war as you were of peace, desiring as much to spare blood as you to let it out, and regarding more the grounds of their owne discretion then the stormes of your passion, sent away your second Mercury with a flie in his eare, and in stead of procuring treasure and supplies, were content to learne (by the scope of this employment) that some professors of the Catholicke religion had other veines wherein to exercise their inventions and meditations beside the repetition of the rosarie, which without so manifest a proofe, perhaps they would either not at all, or not so easily have credited.
The conspirators could not devise more likely motive of attraction whereby to draw male-contents and boutefeaux [firebrands] into the mischiefe which their malice did intend, then by whispering into the eares of ignorant and ill advised Catholicks that His Majestie had violated a former promise, made to some of them before, of toleration in point of conscience. For eares that itch after light reports, and minds that interpret common feares in that sense which tendes to their private harme and prejudice (converting for the most part to rancke poyson whatsoever is prepared by the best affections to kindle nutriment) take hold of the first overture. But for prevention of this perill, God so wrought by disposing times and accidents to best effects, as before the poyson could pierce to the secret of mens thoughts, Watson the priest had confessed to my selfe (sent from His Majesty to the gaole at Winchester for the finding out of the first author of this lewd report), not past one day or two before his death (at which time no man is presumed by the civill lawes to lye) that hee never could receive any sparke of comfort touching ease of conscience to Catholickes from His Majestie, how unjustly soever the world had made him author of that scandale. Though withall he added how unwilling hee had bene to utter the Kings answere to the Catholicks at his returne in his owne wordes, and with those incurable obstructions (which appeared by the maner), for feare least overgreat discouragement might make them desperate and drive them to seeke other helps, as some did, which this action makes evident.
Besides, there are in England some Recusants at this day, that for a need both could and would avow the like report of Percy after his returnes out of Scotland, both before and after the Queenes death, advising no man to depend upon the least conceit or apprehension of hope from thence, but make the best shift they could devise for themselves. For in the point of conscience hee found the Kings intent and finall purpose to bee peremptory. By this plaine dealing many were deprived of their best advantage of improving this shrewd circumstance, both as a colour of exception and a maske of conspiracy.
The practise was begun with auriculat Confession, as the safest locke to which men durst adventure to commit a secret of this weight. For who could hope to draw that from a a confitent or a confessour in respect of safety (beside censures of the Church), the perill reaching and extending to the losse of life? But by the streames of Jordane running backwards to the drowning of the worst disposed part, it came to passe that by the words which passed betweene Greenwell and Bates (Catesbyes servant) in confession upon the horror of his conscience against so foule a fact, those circumstances happily fell out, which being brought to light made a faire introduction into that full discoverie which the Lords laboured. It may bee thought that God Himselfe abhorring the falshoods of a priest (that under the colour of the keyes, abusing both his person and his power, is not ashamed to contrive conspiracies so much more perillous and pestilent, as they are countenanced with a more holy shew), hath set a marke of His owne wrath both upon the matter and the minister. For the patients are oftentimes beguiled in judging by taste the qualitie of the simples and ingredients which they receive decepto sensu cum iudicio, the judgement of the senses being first deceived, et corruptis organis [and the sense-organs corrupted].
It is cleare that for the secreting and concealing of this purpose (till by progression it might be ripened for the desired end), the seale of the Sacrament of Union was sette to this contract of blood, as if God would bee put in trust with the keeping of these prophane bands and obligations of conscience against the rule and Canon of His owne written Law, quae versatur tantummodo in bonae fidei iudiciis [which only exerts itself in judgements of good faith]. But we know what desperate effectes unworthy eating of the Sacrament, and the presumption of bearing the standard of our Saviour in open fielde against Himselfe, have wrought in minds polluted with impressions of sinnes that are voluntarie and premeditate, will not greatly wonder at the badde successe of this conjunction, calling to mind that the first worke of Judas after the receiving of the soppe was to betray his Master, and the next to hang himselfe, and in such a maner ut creparet medius et effunderentur eius viscera, that he brake in the middle and his entrailes came out of him.
The purpose of these gallants in binding faith and promise one to another by solemne oath (though demens est qui fidem praestat errori [he is a fool who puts his faith in error]) stood upon the distrust that one reposed in anothers love and movelesse constancie, holding themselves as sure after such seale of the contract as Seleucus did himselfe in the speculation of a city to be built in the ayre above the reach of the capacitie or wit of man. But yet experience reveales that the hands of Madian have fought against themselves, the voyces of Babel have confounded their owne plots, and these forlorne hopes, like the knights of Cadmus (as appeareth by the scope of their own confessions) mutuis conciderunt vulneribus, have bin wounded to death one by another.
The course of mining into the strong wall of the Parliament was in very deede more laborious and slowe, but yet more sure and secret then the latter by the vault, in case the pioners had proceeded resolutely according to the plot of the first devise. For prevention of which almost inevitable stroke the cellar was set open even in the very heate of their endevour, as it were by the handie-worke of God Himselfe, and not onely set open, but almost miraculously put into the hands by a faithfull servant of the Kings, whose ordinary caution could not possibly have bin so farre overshot without an inward working and contriving favour from above, which tooke holde of the feete of sinners in that very snare that they had prepared and set for those that were most innocent. They flattered their owne conceits so idlely (but yet so farre with the facilitie of working upon this unexpected overture) as if it had bin the will of God that to them, as to Jacob hunting for his pray, occurreret quod volebant [what they wanted appeared to them]. But on the other side we may observe with joy and confort that, though they watched eagerly with Esau for those dayes of mourning wherein the death of Isaak might prepare a way for their most bloody and most violent revenge, like rats betweene the hanging and the well, suo perierunt iudicio, they were first betrayed, and afterwards perished by their owne discovery.
Their splene was even saevire in saxa, bent against the walls and house of Parliament, as an instrumental cause for producing so many sharp lawes for the space of more than fortie yeres against the religion which their owne disguised affections did eagerly embrace, with a purpose to convert Hierusalem in acervum lapidum, into a heap of stones. Thus Polymnestor striken blinde (out of rage against Hecuba) sought to murther all the women he could meet. Thus Fulvia by thrusting needles into the tongue of Cicero (after he was dead) sought revenge of his sharpe invectives against Anthonie. And thus Anthonie himselfe warred against the walles of the Senate house at Rome after Caesars death, but yet the place is as it was, the benches stand as they did, and they that sate on them have the same affections which before the had, inforced perhaps by this late more then Neronian attempt of endangering both their soules and bodies at one blast (for want of time to call for grace), to strike a deeper wound then any of their ancestors had done before into the cause which the scope and drift of these undertakers pretended by their inventions to rectifie. The Romane south-saiers had reason to divine that when Buls, bandogs [dogs] and asses (which are beasts created for obedience and use) grew mad upon a suddaine, and without a certain cause, bellum servile imminebat [a slave uprising impended], and of this composition was the late packe of rebels, that with the same barbarous inhumanitie which was well observed at the ruyne of Saguntum, nihil reliqui fecerunt ut non ipsis elementis fieret iniuria, left nothing undone for their parts to wrong to very elements. I grant that they might learne their art of building muddie walles of the swallowe, which are but Sommer birdes, and their skill in weaving cobbe-webbes of the spinners whom Minerva hated, chiefly because their workes were more labourious then durable, and most commonly swept away before they came to finishing. But this trick of subverting and demolishing they could not learne better then of the Montanists, qui non laborant (as Tertullian reports), ut aedificarent sua, quam ut destruerent aliena, to build their own as to destroy other mens. Heu genus invisum superis! [Alas for a race hateful to the gods!].
The traine of powder was layd onely for true men by wicked traitors, to this end chiefly, that after innocency had endured, malice might insult, that cum scelera prosunt, peccat qui recte facit [when crimes are advantageous, he sins who acts justly], and to conclude with the ranckest athiests of our time, a prejudice of Gods anger against faithfull subjects, out of the barbarous effects of their owne villainy. For this argument is used in defence of the slaughter of the last French King. But as wee find just cause to rejoyce thus farre with Sidrach, Misach, and Abednego, nihil potestais in nostra corpora habuisse ignem, that the rage of the fire had no force or strength against our bodies, Gods angels comming downe of purpose both to disperse the flame and to infuse in lieu thereof ventum roris flantem, a coole winde of milde aire breathing to slake wasting heat, ut neque eos contristareet ignis, nec quicquam molestiae inferret, as it could neither make them sadde nor offend them any way, so on the other side God wrought so powerfully in this particular (to give a taste and a feeling to some of the chiefe traitors of those endlesse flames that in another world shall never ease, without contrition and confession in this), as in the chiefest puzell and perplexitie of their ill thriving practises, they were blased by the rage of their owne gunpowder.
Thus Alexander the Sixt and his darling Borgia, the onely monster of that age, were poysoned by error of the cup bord keeper, out of the bottels that were kept in store (and by Caesars owne appointment) against supper for the destruction of certaine Cardinals. And thus it happens many times (Gods justice farre surmounting mans capacitie) that those instruments which wee select for execution of malice serve for the protection of innocents, et saepe fugiendo mala in maiora incurrimus [and often in fleeing evils we fall into greater ones].
These Catilines in the raging distemper of their passion (which meeteth their owne wants, et commoda aliena pari dolore [and other men’s utility, to their equal sorrow]) were so desirous to draw blood even ad animae deliquium [to the loss of their souls], of the noblest, the truest and best subjects of the State in al degrees, that had not one drop of attainted or infected blood in any veine, and to make sure worke that there might be spare of none like the Romane Triumviri, they held it safest to let out their owne, without distinction of kinsemen, allies or friends, leaving no one man of marke out of the liste which was agreed upon by the conspirators. But marke the proofe: for (as Leo writeth to Mauritius) in victoria veritatis, soli veritatis inimici perierunt, none but the enemies of trueth did perish in trueths victory. For whosoever loves to dive into the waters of contradiction, whose property is, as a learned Father notes, rather vorare [to devour] then portare [to carry], may be sure to expect in vaine that the hand of Christ, which assisted Peter in his faith, should support them in their fraud. For betweene trueth and falshood, aswell the differences as the degrees are infinite.
It was holden a safe course and of great use for advancement of this bloody project that a faculty might be granted to some persons (which in that rancke were reputed choise for their excesse in cruelty and barbarous inhumanitie above all the rest) for the calling in of such other assistants and confederats as non propter eximias virtutes [not because of their excellent virtues], but such as pares negotiis erant nec superant [were equal to their business, but did not excel], and that when the flocke grew poore might be best able to defray expences, to ease burthens, and advaunce desires. But it fell not out that any good grew to the cause by any person let in at this lowpe, however their affections were bent. For Francis Tresham, the last above, entended much, but effected little by reliefe. Onely this I note, that by his passions and words in his first answere at the Councell board before the Lords, he left so deepe impressions both of his forefeet and his hinder feete, as though wee could not evidently descry the hare, yet wee easily discerned what course she tooke, and thereupon the better with a full cry upon so hot a sent, pursued the game that hastened to get over.
No man can deny but it was in Robin Catesby the trick of a crafty pate, enrounding [encompassing] violently the ruine of our soveraigne and his royall progeny, to engage the fortunes of his deare friends Rookwood, Grant, etc. to his hungry creditors, in deepe bonds, before he would impart to them the secret of his Plot, supposing certainely that in respect of their owne danger by his fall, they would be more apt to undergoe the hazard of all events, and rather chuse to die with him (though the worst should chance) then to begge after him, having in the meane time in their eye so bright an object of enticing hopes that summa scelera incipiuntur cum periculo, peraguntur cum praemio [the worst crimes are begun with danger, but completed with reward]. So likewise in this case the successe was sutable, for one led another by the linckes of combination to the reward of cousinage. Trust was the trap, false hopes the baites, and all the fruite they could expect by trickes was of the same qualitie with the grapes and pomegranates that grew in Sodome after the ruine of the towne, as we read in Origen, (that is) smelling of sulphure, though delightfull to the eye. And even as those upon the first touch were apt to dissolve into powder, so were these upon proofe to run into gun-powder.
The scope of some chiefe actor in this tragedie (more sensitive in that point of compassion, as it seemes, then the rest) was to advise a noble gentleman (whom in respect of his approoved love and loyaltie to the King his soveraigne, he durst not trust) by an obscure letter (more resembling the riddle of an Oedipus then the counsell of a friend) that hee should abstaine from the place prefixed at the time determined. The darke figure of the writing, the strange maner of delivering, the smal likelihood of any cloud at that time gathering, might have mooved many men rather to have neglected, then apprehended so blinde a figure of discovery. But this discreet and worthy gentleman conceiving that men experienced in misteries of State were better able then himselfe both to discerne of spirits and unloose hard knots, imparted this occurrent to certaine of the Privy Councell, and they to the King, who by that spirit of true divination which is infused into the lips of the King by God (as the Proverbes saie), never gave over mining into the purpose of this admonition with due regarding circumstances and presumptions, according to the nature of the motion, till the barrels were brought into light, and order was taken to drive the divels out of their denne, the materials out of their opportunities, and the pioners from all possibilitie of effecting the powder-workes.
Go to Part VIII