Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 2. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Friday, February 14.
Mr Powle reports the Petition and Address to the King upon the above vote, as follows:
"Most gracious Sovereign, We your Majesty's most loyal and faithful subjects, the Commons assembled in Parliament, do, in the first place, as in all duty bound, return your Majesty our most humble and hearty thanks for the many gracious promises and assurances which your Majesty hath, several times, during this present Parliament, given to us, that your Majesty would secure and maintain unto us the true reformed Protestant Religion, our Liberties and Properties; which most gracious assurances your Majesty hath, out of your great goodness, been pleased to renew unto us more particularly, at the opening of this present Session of Parliament.
"And farther we crave leave humbly to represent, that we have, with all duty and expedition, taken into our consideration several parts of your Majesty's last Speech to us, and withal the Declaration therein mentioned, for indulgence to Dissenters, dated the 15th of March last; and we find ourselves bound in duty to inform your Majesty, that penal Statutes, in matters ecclesiastical, cannot be suspended but by Act of Parliament.
"We, therefore, the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses, of your Majesty's House of Commons, do most humbly beseech your Majesty, that the said Laws may have their free force, untill it shall be otherwise provided for by Act of Parliament; and that your Majesty would graciously be pleased to give such directions herein, that no apprehensions or jealousies may remain in the hearts of your Majesty's good and faithful subjects."
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Several motions were made at the Committee for an Address to the King "for ease of tender consciences." When we say this vote, we ought to do the other; but the Committee would not agree to it—Moves now for a Committee to draw such a Bill, and that the Address may be re-committed.
Mr Swynfin.] Thinks you rightly moved by Littleton. Your sense was to go no farther than to secure the Law, and preserve the true strength of the Statute-Law. Nay, farther, it seemed to all mens sense, that some consideration should be had of the indulgence; great reasons were given for the matter of it, as the war, trade, &c. as far as might be for the safety of Religion; but the Committee could not originally express it, having no authority from you, therefore no haste, it being to be sent to the Lords—We have had so ill experience of those Laws, that he hopes we shall consider them—If the Kings of France and Spain should draw their subjects to prison, and persecute them, they could not preserve unity—Sees nothing in the Declaration but you may well dispense with, but the preservation of the Laws. If you shall go so far as a Law for the Declaration, it will be no difference, only the Declaration turned into a Law, and so you have your end in it—Moves to appoint a Committee to prepare a Bill to that end, which cannot but appear well, both to King and people.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Is one of those that think "ease fit for tender consciences," in the words of Breda Declaration, "for union of the Protestant subjects;" but how shall we proceed? No Committee can do it, that is numerous—Three men of a Committee better to draw a Bill, than twelve upon the subject-matter of a vote—Would appoint to-morrow for this end, that no jealousy may be objected—Knows how matters will go when money is passed Would not have this Debate stop the Address to the King.
Sir William Hickman.] The other day, there did appear a general inclination "for uniting Protestant subjects." It is a thing much to be thought of, and would have Monday appointed.
Mr Cheney.] Would have persons withdraw, to add a few words to the Address, of uniting his Majesty's Protestant subjects.
Sir John Monson (fn. 1).] Thinks it not proper to add any thing to the Address, 'till we have passed this Address by vote—Moves for to-morrow at ten of the clock, to take this business into consideration.
Mr Crouch.] The Question is, "Agree, or not, with the Committee;" adding to the Address is but to distract things; and if you agree not with the Committee, then it is irregular to debate adding.
Mr Garroway.] It would have looked so like bargaining, if the Committee had put it in, that they waved adding any thing to it.
Sir Richard Temple.] The Committee left out the addition, because they expected some previous vote from you. Though the manner was not concluded in your Debate, yet every man agreed to the matter of the Declaration—Will it not be an abrupt Address to the King to find fault with the Declaration, and not say any way you would have the thing remedied in the matter? What difficulty do you put upon the King?—Would it not be proper for you now to speak it, that you have it under consideration to provide for relief of dissenting brethren?—Would have a vote passed, to take Dissenters into consideration, and have it put into your Address.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Would have you informed by the Chairman of the Committee, whether ever it was debated to have it part of your Address.
Mr Powle.] No sense of your Committee that it should be part of your Address.
Mr Vaughan.] Denies that it was the sense of the Committee—They thought it unparliamentary to inform the King of any such thing, and they had no ground for it; for untill you had voted the thing, they could add nothing to it.
Sir Robert Howard.] You must first put the Question of "agreeing with the Committee" before you can add any thing.
Colonel Birch.] Does not agree with those gentlemen. It is not parliamentary to add (if you intend it) after having voted the thing. The thing moved to be added, could not appear to be true at the Committee—Would always have the King thanked by Dissenters. The Committee could not do it, the House having not voted the thing of indulgence—Desires it for the honour of the King, that you make a vote for taking the thing into consideration, and then vote your Address.
Resolved, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the Petition and Address.
Sir Thomas Meres.] What will you do with this Address? The Address must go to the King, and it is usual to send to the King to know when he will command us to wait on him, by some of the Lords of the Council of our House.
Mr Garroway.] Has seen many Laws passed, with much zeal, against Nonconformists and Dissenters in this House, and much hardship upon the people, but without effect—Would have all things done with sobriety and tenderness, and for that end would have a vote from this House, that you will declare so much to his Majesty in this Message; we can make no other promise, but that we have such a thing under consideration, though we cannot see the effect upon Debate.
Sir Charles Harbord.] Usually the Lords concurrence is asked, and hopes they will agree with you.
Mr Crouch.] Would know what this Bill should be brought in for, upon what heads, what you would add, or repeal? Seconds the motion for the Lords concurrence.
Mr Seymour.] Never thought it fit to persecute or prosecute any person, that believes not as he believes; it may have the power of the sword, but not the power of godliness—When this Address is presented to the King, would have it declared to the King, that this House has it under consideration.
Sir William Coventry.] Is the same man in this to-day, as he was the other day at the Debate of the Declaration. That thing was knocked on the head at the Committee, because no order from you; and the Committee thought it not fit to promise that which we were not certain to effect, and that was the great reason at the Committee. If we promise, we must perform, though to our detriment—The Committee must have heads to work upon—Some are for indulging Protestant subjects only, and some for extending it to Catholic subjects. It may be, those great promissory words may amount to more than either you or the King means—Would have Monday set apart for the matter of Dissenters to be taken into consideration, though he believes men are, by the discourse of the thing, prepared in their opinions, though not in their judgments.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Thinks it necessary that now you do something, because possibly something in your Address to the King may startle those kind of people, the Dissenters—To pass a general vote may be so construed, that it may perhaps be too general; [such] a vote, perhaps, never passed here before—Moves for a Bill for uniting Protestant subjects. Here is ground for you, though he would be glad to see a man so happy as to comprehend all your senses in that Bill—Pass the vote, and I hope something may be done this day.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] Though the thing be of as great importance and large extent as may be, if you intend to thrive in the Address to the King, you must prepare something of such a vote, as is mentioned, to the King —Would have no Bill admitted, but upon your vote, and reasons for it.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] "Tender conscience" is of large extent; Turks, Jews, &c. have consciences—Would have "uniting Protestant subjects" added to the Question.
Sir Robert Howard.] As you would confirm the minds of some, so you would give terror to others. You must do something to indulge as well as unite; it is not fair to bind it up thus.
Sir Robert Carr.] Is pleased with Carew's motion. For aught he thinks, he that pretends to be one thing, may be a Turk in his heart, and therefore would have it general.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Does believe the word "ease" is the business which is disputable, whether toleration or comprehension. The words of his Majesty's Speech are, "ease of Protestant subjects in matters of Religion."
Colonel Birch.] If you will give indulgence in an Act of Parliament, your Question must be "for ease of Protestant subjects."—Moves for it.
Sir George Downing.] You intend this vote to be presented to the King; he should be loth you tell the King what we shall not be able to do—Would, on Monday, have the House in a Grand Committee, and stop the Address in the mean time.
Sir John Duncombe.] Upon this Debate of tender consciences, every man is for himself, and excluding others. He speaks of a tender conscience-man, such as has been born in his Religion, and lives peaceably in it—Do what is agreeable to Charity; lay not your foundation too narrow; let all have the benefit of indulgence. Not an universal ease, but you must qualify it. They all are alike to him. He would consider none of them for indulgence as opposite to the Church of England—The last Session, the motion for indulgence was diverted—Thinks no peace now without it—Would have the Debate be "for ease of tender consciences."
Sir Charles Harbord.] The King, in this business, is most troubled of all men. Something must be done, we shall else put the King upon some great necessity—Would have a Bill "for ease of tender consciences in matters of Religion," and that will be capacious enough—Has regard to the Church, as built upon the State, the Monarchy.
Mr Harwood.] Sees something at the brink of mens lips that will not come out; our aim is to bring all dissenting men into the Protestant Church, and he that is not willing to come into the Church should not have ease. Many of these persons differ not but in discipline, not in doctrine—Would have the Question "for Dissenters of the Protestant subjects only."
Mr Milward.] Is for debating this business in a Grand Committee, that persons may reply one upon another. They may be seemingly Protestants, yet not truly so—He has a great tenderness for such as have been brought up in their religion—Would have a difference between monarchical Dissenters and antimonarchical.
Sir Lancelot Lake.] Would spare tender consciences, because so few make any consciences of their ways—Before we proceed, would have us agree in the definition of "a tender conscience."
Mr Garroway.] In plain English, would not put Romanists in the Bill—Would give them some ease, but would have them publickly in all their robes; and if you might see them in all their frippery, believes you would not have so many of them—If the Papists had arrived at their end, you had not sat here now—Would have them favoured, but not as trees to bear fruit, only as pillars to be seen, they giving no such liberty in any place of the world, they having inquisitions and persecutions.
Colonel Strangways.] Conceives that the Declaration, issued out in the war, was to have peace at home—Would not have it in any man's power to hurt the Church; first consider the Protestant interest, and put that to the Question.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] Hopes you will provide something that men may not be outlawed—A preliminary vote cannot be brought in, for you are not resolved whether comprehension or toleration—Thinks it a thing of the greatest consequence in the world to bind up yourselves, and not hear reasons first.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] It was an insinuation from ill people, that the late King had an inclination to Popery—After Edgehill fight he did declare, "that the Papists in the Parliament's army were equal, if not more, in number, than in his own"—He blamed much the remissness of the Papists in that battle, that they did not their duty —Will say nothing to their estates, but to be part of this Bill will destroy all our Religion—'Till 11 Eliz. no difference in Religion; all went to Church, 'till Pius fifth's Bull came forth, dissolving all allegiance of her subjects to her. No Acts were made against the Papists 'till 22 Eliz.—In King James's time, the jealousies of that Religion were much the cause of what followed—The Duke of Ormond made a treaty with that army in Ireland, to the end he might preserve the King's person, then in danger in England, and they were, by those articles, to have liberty of open profession of their Religion, and equal numbers of officers in the army there. They fell from this, and declared for the Pope, and so they showed their loyalty; but the Parliament army, when they were better informed, laid their arms at the King's feet, under Gen. Monk—Molinos, Zuares, and many other Jesuits, held it lawful to depose Kings. One has written a book at Paris, which he is ready to publish when called for, that proves the Jesuits were the authors of the King's death. These people, out of an excellent good intention, commit High Treason every day, going to jails to convert people condemned; they get into our houses, perverting people every day; surely his Majesty's good intentions are abused.
Mr Waller.] Whether general words of inclusion?—Thinks rather general words, because he would not have an Act of despair on Papists. There are but two ways of changing Religion, by Act of Parliament, or by force; by Parliament impossible, none coming in here amongst us. If we were to make new Laws against them again, we could not do it—Has a sense of kindness for any persons that suffer. Our Saviour had some for him that suffered with him—Hopes the Papists may be capable of some favour, as well as other Dissenters.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] We ought not to make the Address partial as to Dissenters—In the King's Speech the Papists are not spoken of. It is better to reduce the Papist to something, for he is now always in fear, and yet always escapes—Would have a full answer to the King's Declaration.
Sir Thomas Meres.] What is it that makes us now so zealous in this Question, but our fears of Popery? And he hoped never to have occasion to speak to it here —Let us take care that, whilst we dispute the indulging the Protestant subjects, the third dog does not take the bone from us both.
Mr Attorney Finch.] You are labouring to put a Question in terms exclusive. It is an unnatural way to exclude ease of persons—At a Committee you have lately voted an Address to the King. The King may believe that the manner, and not the matter, does displease you. Your thinking his Declaration illegal cannot be grateful to him. Vulgarly speaking, a Protestant is a negative, viz. not a Papist, but, affirmatively, what, is difficult to define. If a Protestant, according to the Church of England, you exclude all persons that differ but in one article. We cannot consider Religion in Parliament, but as part of the Civil Government; its doctrine, God forbid we should—Does any man hope ever to see the time that there shall be never a Papist in England? He may hope never to see an error, and yet the Scripture says, "there must be errors, that they that are approved may be made perfect." In all times there were Roman Catholics, though the Bull of Pius V. in Queen Elizabeth's time, and the Powder Treason in King James's time, fired every man with indignation. Priests there will ever be. Queen Elizabeth employed Lord Clanrickard, a Papist, in highest trust. They may do good, when impossibility is taken from them of doing harm—When you go and tell the King he is mistaken, and that no temperament or relaxation, believes it will have no vote—We are masters of our vote, but not of the interpretation of standers-by. Hopes it will suit with all the ends of Piety and Christianity, if the vote be general, and it is for your honour to have it so.
Sir William Coventry.] It has been said, the word "Protestant" excludes the Papists—Would have the word "Protestant" to stand, that they may know you use some other manner of kindness, than to the Papists. The King has restrained his favours to them; I would have you do so too. Believes it is the intention of no man here to equalize them in his thoughts. [Here he stopped a while, and desired leave a little for recollection, and then proceeded.] He supposes the Declaration was to quiet persons in consideration of their numbers, so that the Papists have no claim, if few, then not considerable. If so few as we apprehend and hope, they are not considerable in the war; if many, it is time to look after them, and hinder the growth, and would not mingle them therefore, but retain the word "Protestant" in the Question.
Sir Robert Carr.] Likes neither the Papists nor Dissenters, but the Papists have fought for the King, the others have not; therefore would have more kindness for them.
Mr Powle.] Never thought of extirpating the Papists, but would not have them equal to us. Their insolence is the complaint in every street. This has filled the minds of the people with apprehensions. They have abused the King's favour. There are some good and some bad among them. Would have the nation secured of our own Religion, especially seeing that some of them have crept into commands and employments—Would have the word "Protestant" in the Question.
Sir Henry Herbert.] Is not for enlarging the Question, for the Papists at this time enjoy liberties beyond us. They are neither Sheriffs, Constables, nor Tything-men, nor are any Laws put in execution against them. Knows very well that at Edgehill battle, the late King complained that they did not their duty, and during the war they lay couchant at Worcester. Religion is to be preferred before all considerations. The best foundation of the State is Religion; it makes men more peaceable and better subjects. The Quaker and Anabaptist have no foundation. He has greater apprehensions of the Papists than of any others. Superfetations (fn. 2) of Religion are horrible. Has travelled, and (he thanks God) came home a better Protestant than he went. Their wine is the better in France by being brought into England, but our Gentry worse by going into France. The Papists are wholly excluded out of the Question; for they are not quiet and peaceable men, as others are.
Resolved, nem. con. That a Bill be brought in for the Ease of his Majesty's Protestant subjects (that are) Dissenters (in matters of Religion) from the Church of England.
[Debate on desiring the concurrence of the Lords to the Petition and Address to be presented to his Majesty.]
Mr Swynfin.] If you had voted, upon a single vote, what Laws to be suspended, and what not, you must have gone to the Lords; but now it is involved with other things, you cannot; your Message must have been singly upon the vote. It is a matter in which the Lords cannot agree with you, viz. You say you have taken the matter of the Speech into consideration; if the Lords have not, they cannot agree with you. For a single judgment uninvolved, you must go to them, and for an opinion in Law.
Sir Rich. Temple.] No precedent that ever we went single to the King in things of this nature without the Lords. You went to the King and offered him reasons for what you could not concur with in his Speech. About relaxation in the Petition of Right, you went to the Lords to join with you in petitioning the King, that the Laws might have their free course. This Address is to the same effect. We never went alone in a public concern of the Kingdom to the King. The matter of your Petition is a judgment in Law. Hopes not for a good success if you go without the Lords. If you take this course, the Lords may justly object, that you declare Law without them; the King may possibly say, he will have the advice of the Lords before he gives an answer, and will think it unreasonable to do it, without consulting the Lords and the Judges.
Mr Attorney Finch.] The former going without the Lords, about the Declaration of Breda, was no Judgment of Law. Did you ever desire a Proclamation against the Papists, but by both Speakers, hand in hand? Do you think this matter of less consequence? He granted this indulgence to Peers as well as Commons. If they shall differ from you, it lies at their doors, and you have discharged yourselves. Will not you acquaint the Lords in an universal Judgment of Law? The King may deny it because not Parliamentary. To send it to the Lords is the way to make it more easily pass, and it is for your honour to do so.
Sir William Coventry.] When you asked liberty of access to the King's person, it was for yourselves, not the Lords. In the Petition of Right there was more need than in this, for that had the force of a Law. We usually go to the Lords when things are in doubt; but may we not by ourselves claim our Laws, and that they may have a free course? Some among the Lords may be distasted with your vote. It may be, the Lords will have Conferences to delay. In all the Debates we have avoided disputes of Prerogative and Liberties; the Committee would not touch reasons for fear of offence. Will you go from your former precedents, and put hazard of Conferences, which will put us upon arguing what we would not argue here, and put ourselves upon that rock we would avoid?
Mr Milward.] In your vote you have declared the Law, and now you would avoid the Judgment of the highest Judicature. The Petition of Right is de jure to be granted, and therefore the Lords to be consulted. Before the Lords come to Addresses they will consider, and Conferences are natural, and can never be avoided in any transaction with the Lords.
The Question being put that the concurrence of the Lords be desired, &c. it passed in the negative, 125 to 110.
[Saturday, February 15.
The Speaker, Sir Job Charlton, being much indisposed (fn. 3), the House adjourned to Tuesday, February 18; when the House being met, and the Speaker's indisposition growing still more upon him, that he was not able to attend the service of the House, and having, by letters, desired leave of his Majesty and the House to resign the place of Speaker, and retire into the country, Mr Edward Seymour, eldest son of Sir Edward Seymour, Bart. being nominated and recommended, by Mr Secretary Coventry, as a fit person, both in respect of his ability and experience, as also of his constitution and health of body, for the Speaker; he was accordingly chosen, presented, and approved of by his Majesty.]
Wednesday, February 19.
Debate in a Grand Committee on the vote for granting Ease to his Majesty's Protestant subjects, &c.
Sir Lancelot Lake.] Citing a passage in St. John of those who called themselves Jews and were not, moves to have the xxxix Articles read, and would have that the test.
Mr Hale.] Moves to know what the Gentlemen concerned in the King's Declaration would move you in, for redress of their grievances.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Our Debate is from the late vote, who you would have "eased." Would have the Question to "Subscribers to the Articles of the Church of England," and thinks that a good test.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] Would have the Church of England as strong as you can against the Church of Rome. Would be loth to ask Toleration of them. Would take in "those that dissent not in matters of Doctrine."
Sir John Birkenhead.] The Leveller will not have the Minister have two Livings, nor the Gentleman two Manors, no Emperor, no King. Are such as these the men you would ease? Before you consider what Ease to give them, know from them what they would have, for one thing will not please them all; but says one, Who represents them? By Licences granted since the Declaration you may know who represents them. And made a large discourse of our Religion settled by Act of Parliament.
Mr Garroway.] We are all beholden to Birkenhead for telling us that the Parliament makes Religion, and the Articles, valid. Consider your vote and your Address. Dissenters are many, and not one vote can comprehend them all—Would make your first steps to bring in the better sort, and if you find the door too strait, make it wider to bring it more. Moves, for the least, so many "as will agree to the xxxix Articles, or as many of them as relate to the Doctrine of the Church of England." We have people that would come in—The Papists are under an anathema, and cannot come in under pain of Excommunication.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] It is a good motion, made to see what those out of the Church do desire. A man would give something to get something, but would not give something to get nothing. We confess that things of Ceremony are in themselves indifferent, and therefore they keep out, and may have the same arguments with the Papists of salvation in their Church, and not in ours, &c. It is confessed that never any Liturgy was like our Common Prayer. We may suppose that all people here are for the Common Prayer, because said in the House every day. What do we mean by "taking in?" It may be to be Bishops, and bring the Covenant upon their backs. If we take them so in, we leave ourselves out.
Mr Vaughan.] If any one asks, Who are these Dissenters Representatives? We are their Representatives, as for other people, and we must judge what is fit for them. Put some test upon them, and then we may know what to be relaxed.
Mr Crouch.] "Ease" implies a burden of some weight. Would any Physician advise with a Patient, without knowing what he ails? Would know what it is would satisfy these people, before we proceed any farther.
Sir William Coventry.] It is reasonable that you consider them to whom you would "give ease." Did not know that the Levellers, as many others, were religious, before Birkenhead called them so. And another sort he mentioned, those who believed Christianity because settled by Act of Parliament, knows not where that sort is. Moves that the persons we shall take care of, may be those that will subscribe to the Doctrine of the Church of England, and will take the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy.
Sir Thomas Doleman.] Would not have it extend to such, as allow a Dispensation for such as take the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy.
Sir William Coventry.] Does not rise to controvert what Birkenhead said, but to rectify an error. Does doubt that it may be apprehended that "such as will take the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy" shall be capable of Preferment in the Church of England. The test that must be put upon persons to make them capable of Preferment, must be a farther thing.
Resolved, at the Committee, That Ease shall be given to his Majesty's Protestant subjects that will subscribe to the Doctrine of the Church of England, and take the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy.
Sir Philip Warwick.] That you may be able to do something, moves that the Convocation may have the business to consider of it.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Thinks this "Ease," in order to taking them into the Church, may be "a great Ease to them." By this vote, they may comfortably follow their trades. Ceremonies are necessary for your House, and for the Church, as your cloaths are for your person. Would next have it taken into consideration, what shall make them capable of Preferment in the Church.
Mr Love (fn. 4).] What would satisfy them, is a Question no man here can answer, but for once desires leave to personate these people. Hopes that all, that shall reap the fruits of this Bill, will demonstrate their gratitude to the King and this House, by their quiet deportment. He confesses he has no kindness for them that desire so immodest a thing as Preferment in the Church, unless they are conformable to the Laws. Nor do they desire to be exempted from all chargeable Offices, paying of Tythes, to the Poor or Church, one Office excepted, viz. that of Church-Warden only, and not without being willing to pay a fine for the contempt. They desire that, after the test, you will permit those that are Preachers to preach, but not without the Magistrate's leave, the doors open and in the public Churches, when no Divine Service is there. (This latter motion he retracted, being generally decried.) He said he mentioned "in the Church" because they could not be thought to plot in such a place. This is the sense of most of the Dissenters, and will please them, and, he hopes, this Committee also.
Colonel Strangways.] Whatever the Parliament shall make to unite, he shall be for it, but never to set up Altar against Altar. One fort of Dissenters you hope to gain, another you never hope. Does value those Churches that have Charity, and damn not all opinions different from them. Would do this business as if he were immediately to answer it to God. If [they were] things commanded, or forbidden, by God, would not alter them. He puts no value upon Ceremonies, which are alterable, according to time and prudence. Would consider what you ordain, that things may be obeyed. We may remember what principles brought the King to the block. Those principles were never grounded upon the Church of England. Do what becomes good Christians and moderate men. Would not have these Laws of Ease made perpetual; would see how they behave themselves upon it.
Sir John Duncombe.] Hopes this House will well consider what they are about, before they make a Law—This may sway the very Government so as to overbalance it. Will never think it fit that those men should have "Ease," that, when the Church says, you must suffer or die; and they say you must fight. Invite them to you, but never form them into bodies; lose nothing yourselves. Their principles are not consistent with honest people; let them not set up a Government by themselves, for the Presbyterian will ever be for a Commonwealth. Would have tryal of them for a year, by some Law, and no longer.
Sir Thomas Lee.] In 35 Eliz. there was something of this nature—Would have the Act to be upon revival, not perpetual, but to try them during this war.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] Desires that those, that are in the Church, may be clear in the Church. Is for a temporary Toleration. In Holland they have no leave for any public Religion but that of Calvin. The Law favours none else; the rest are by connivance. Would have the indulgence here temporary.
Mr Powle.] To repeal all Laws from Queen Elizabeth's time against Dissenters would be very dangerous. Would only have the indulgence temporary. To the end of the next Session of Parliament would have freedom from all penal Laws, ecclesiastical or temporal, and then consider of qualifications for Preferment.
Sir Robert Howard.] No Laws can be suspended, unless named particularly. They bind not else. It will be a strange thing, at one blow, to execute all the Laws since Queen Elizabeth's time.
Col. Birch.] Their argument of things indifferent in Ceremonies we cannot well answer them. Till you have some experience in the thing, would not have one stone taken out of the building. If we must enumerate the Laws in this, why not in every thing else? We may say "any Law, Statute, &c. to the contrary, notwithstanding."
[In the Afternoon Mr Speaker report, That he had, according to their direction, presented their humble Petition and Address to his Majesty, who was pleased to return this answer, "That it was of importance, and he would take it into his consideration."]
Thursday, February 20.
In a Grand Committee for preparing a Bill for granting Ease to his Majesty's Protestant Dissenting subjects, &c. (fn. 5).
Sir Lionel Jenkins. (fn. 6) ] As to receiving the Communion twice a year in the Parish Churches for both lewd persons and sectaries, some persons are of no Religion at all, and may be known by being kept from the Communion till they amend. Humbly moves that, whatever you would do for these persons, you will support the Church; that a new Altar may not be erected for these persons, and that no new Law may erect them any new Churches for public worship.
Sir William Coventry.] Offers to consideration what we may do to keep persons in the Church, and to bring in such as are out; for when all is done, the preservation of Religion must be in the Church of England established by Law, and we must strengthen that, wherein our main defence does lie, against Popery and Policy. Whereas now the Dissenters have the disadvantage of their labours, for want of Preferment, by coming in they may have the benefit of them. Moves that what has been laid on them, without the Convocations, may be taken off, as those things laid on since the King came in, by Act of Parliament, as Covenant, Assent and Consent, &c.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] As for removing the Covenant, if we are to increase our garrison, would not do it with those that have the Plague. It was a brave vote the burning the Covenant, and by dispensing with the renunciation of the Covenant, you may burn your vote with the Covenant. This is a calling in other men in triumph over the Church of England.
Mr Vaughan.] If the Covenant be a false Oath, there is no need of Renunciation; taking the Oath of Allegiance and Supremacy voids all that. If we say "no man shall or can be, of the Church of England, that comes not up to all the strictness of the Ceremonies," it is to make ours as infallible as the Church of Rome makes hers.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] You have condemned the Covenant to be burnt, and will you bring it in again? Shall we be more merciful than God is, to bring in men without repenting?
Mr Garroway.] The case is altered now; we are providing that the Church of England shall not be devoured by the Papist. If we answer not our vote by an Act, wonders not that now we must fence off the the thing. Things are not so clear; we are not at the end of the war; let us reconcile persons. Shall we leave the people in confusion? Now we will neither let them out, nor in. Shall we put them out of the nation? It may be, we shall leave few in. Though our medicine may seem empirical, yet, in the danger we are in, we must make use of it. Moves to take off the Oath of Assent and Consent, and the Renunciation of the Covenant.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] Will you have them make subscription to what they neither "assent" nor "consent" to? Let one of them be taken in, either "Assent" or "Consent."
Sir Lionel Jenkins.] Does not know what the Dissenters mean by taking away the Oath of "Assent and Consent." Who are these contended for? Not the Laymen; their Ministers only. If they conform, they need not subscribe; if not, they need not contend for it.
Sir John Duncombe.] If we knew what would ease them, would willingly hear them; we know not what pains them, and therefore not what will ease them. Does to thus much agree, that he would leave the thing as you found it. If we believed that the Covenant was the only clog, would take that away, but would have the Declaration what it is.
Mr Garroway.] The Debate is mistaken. Would not let them say what they would have; but this House is to put the thing into a certain fund, that they may have the same security the rest of his Majesty's subjects have.
Sir Robert Howard.] Your Debate is, that the Church of England shall not be disrobed—This Assent and Consent is no part of the Church of England, and you may take it away; you have kept the Church entire. The Papist is the stand you make. You take off the penalty from such Acts as you have made; no man comes in without submitting to all the methods other men do. Moves to have "Assent and Consent" suspended.
Sir William Coventry.] The "Assent and Consent" is principally applied to Ceremonies, but he is not for leaving the use of the Liturgy.
Sir Philip Warwick.] Moves to have the words "other persons" in the renunciation of the Covenant left, and believes most of the Dissenters will not scruple the rest.
Mr Secr. Coventry.] Many will say they are not obliged by it, because they have not taken it. Thinks we are not to buy those persons off (that think themselves obliged by the Covenant, that have taken it) at so dear a rate.
Mr Harwood.] We are not buying these persons, but you are making an experiment but for twelve months—The Covenant will expire of itself in nine years, in regard it is but temporary.—Would have the Question put.
Sir Richard Temple.] He that does come into the Church does materially renounce the Covenant—Men will not make forcible confessions; it is voluntary that is required. Many have said "that by renouncing the Covenant they shall lose their interest with all men." It is a branch not essential to the Church; it is against the nature of a renunciation to be forced. A man would ask forgiveness for an injury done if not forced to it.
Col. Strangways.] We argue the thing now, as a civil consideration, among men of true reputation, not to do an unjust thing. These men that have done odious and abominable things—Would have no man come in that does not renounce, with his tongue and heart, this odious Covenant. King's murder, Lands sequestered, and the consequences of it.
Sir Thomas Osborne.] Would have as many Dissenters brought in as may be—Does think this most unreasonable, and cannot consent to it; it is both to the King and this House: To the King, because we should seem to encourage the wickedness of those men; to the House, because of the vote, &c. No man, he thinks, will ever come in, and he would exclude them. It is a great scandal to bring them in by special Act of Parliament. The nation groans under it, and he thinks they would return into rebellion.
Mr Streete.] Those that are still fond of the Covenant supposes you intend them not. He supposes persons will not renounce it for their reputation's fake. This K. James calls, in Conference at Hampton-court, "a Scottish argument." There were then in England but forty-nine Dissenters. You will now gratify but a few in dispensing with it. At the Savoy Debate they agreed not what they would have; in the time of the war they made use of it as a snare to such as had not taken it. They that are fond of this Idol, let them keep it, but never let it come into the Church.
Sir William Coventry.] Thinks that dispensing with the Covenant will strengthen you against such as will not take the Oath of Allegiance and Supremacy, who hold any thing lawful that the Pope commands, but would not press it under the notion of a thing that may be of scandal. They desire to speak and to swear only for themselves, and not for others; therefore would have them accept it to themselves, and not to others.
Mr Secretary Coventry.] These persons did take the Oath of Allegiance and Supremacy. In keeping out the Fox from the Flock, shall I let in the Wolf?
Mr Vaughan.] This which stands in your Act is a reproach to them that they have been traytors; if it has authority, the Declaration does lessen it already. Desires the distinction only may be removed.
Col. Birch.] Rises up, because some persons here were not old enough to see what was done formerly. After he had the honour to come into this house, some intentions were to renew the Covenant. Cromwell, Ireton, and the rest, would not have it done. He said then, that these men would alter the Government, and the House then would have sent them to the Tower—He never saw such mettle in this house; he had forty notes sent him, "Stick to the Covenant, and you shall die." This was his greatest inducement to stick to it—Not one of these men could be brought to change the Government. Love lost his life for it; the Presbyterian party declared against the King's murder. To the Restoration of the King all agreed. Had he not engaged for the King, by the Covenant, he had prevented himself twenty-one imprisonments he has suffered. When the King was restored, these were the men we only durst trust—He had never gone to the King at Worcester, but with sincere intentions. For the Engagement, he cannot find any of that persuasion that took it—It is a harder matter to make a man renounce, repent, and confess publickly, which is so much done in private confession.
Sir Robert Carr.] At the same time that the Covenant was pressed in the House, damnable Heresy was coupled with the Hierarchy—reflecting on Col. Birch.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Is loth, as they were then coupled, that now any Protestant should be joined with Popery. But wonders, in all the arguments, that reputation should be "a Scotch argument" and not an English one. The House was of opinion, when the Act of Uniformity passed, that it was a prejudice to the Kingdom that the renunciation of the Covenant should be perpetual. It is but for a few years to come.
Sir Thomas Osborne.] If there be any one that thinks himself under the obligation of this Covenant, he is no good man. Mr Calamy discoursed and pressed the bringing in the King on conditions, when he came to him that commanded next under Gen. Monk.
Mr Garroway.] Uses this as a counter-poison, and no otherwise, against those that renounce the Oath of Allegiance and Supremacy. A great many persons are not concerned in the Covenant —A few old Gentlemen. Says nothing of former things, but moves for the present pacification of England.
Mr Love.] Did hope to see yesterday some good issue. Some men may possibly think what principles he is of, which he is not ashamed to own and justify. Must give his vote, that such as will renounce the Covenant, as to their own obligation to it, without reference to others, shall be left out of the exception? But this will amount to little or no general Ease.—Moves for a general indulgence, by way of comprehension.
[To proceed on Saturday.]