Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 9. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Monday, March 25, 1689.
Mr Hampden delivered a Letter, &c. from his Majesty, to acquaint the House with his readiness to pass an Act of general Oblivion and Indemnity, with such Exceptions only as both Houses should think fit for the vindication of public justice, &c. for the future.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] This Message from the King is very gracious, and I think the House should consider it as soon as possible; and we ought to return his Majesty Thanks for his gracious favour.
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] I would express that gratitude to the King with all the solemnity imaginable.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] I would have your Thanks returned in the most solemn manner, in writing, and the Speaker to present it.
Mr Harbord.] You have received a Message from the King, &c. and it is necessary there should be an Act of Oblivion; but I hope you will take care that Posterity shall not fall under the same calamities we have done, for the future. If there be not some examples made of persons who have overturned your Laws, you will never want those to overturn your Government. Therefore, to prevent for the future, make some examples of the great offenders.
Mr Howe.] This does not surprize me, if I look upon the King's carriage; a King so gracious as to admit such persons into his presence, that have been against him. I hope their crimes are forgotten, and that we shall forget them.
Sir Henry Capel.] You are upon a method of returning the King Thanks, and you are told of a Precedent of the Convention, [by Mr John Gray.] 'Tis said, "you need not look into Books for it, because that was an irregular time." But, in that Parliament, were men of great understanding and worth, and you cannot do better than search those Precedents out of the Journals. As to what has been moved, of a Committee of the whole House, to take the Message, Paragraph by Paragraph, and debate it, when will there be an end? The King desires dispatch, and where will be the end of a Committee of the whole House? A Grand Committee will be dilatory; therefore I move for a special Committee to draw up the Thanks, &c.
Mr Howe.] We owe much of our misfortunes to that Convention; therefore I would not have that made a Precedent.
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] I am of opinion, that was a happy Parliament. I remember the perplexity the Nation was in, and the settlement they made. I would proceed according to that method, and you may rectify any errors of that Parliament by viewing the Journal. I would go into a Committee of the whole House now, and accelerate the Answer. The Afternoon is not so happy in our Proceedings as when done sedately in the Morning.
Mr Garroway.] I would have some good effect of this Debate, which may be easily obtained, if you will appoint a Committee to search the Journals, and they make you a Report of what they find, and then you may go into a Grand Committee.
The Thanks of the House were voted to his Majesty, and a Committee was appointed to draw up an Address.
The Information against Captain Motley was resumed; [and it appeared, by the Evidence, that Mr Bowtell was in drink, that he gave the Captain ill words, &c.]
Col. Birch.] I think you cannot do less than discharge the person accused, Captain Motley, and put Bowtell in his place, be he Papist or Protestant.
Mr Hampden.] This is the first thing of this kind brought before the House, that I remember. I see no reason why you should not punish this man; you have all the Evidence against the person that gave the Information, that it is possible. 'Tis his Evidence to which he appeals, and they deny any such thing. If you send them to the Lords, all Witnesses there are upon Oath. 'Tis all the reason all should be called in, and the Gentleman discharged, and the other kept in custody.
Sir William Williams.] I would have this false, malicious accusation be punished. To send them to the Lords to be sworn would be of dangerous consequence, and a lessening of your authority, but for not telling truth, he may be under the censure of this House. I would call them in, as moved.
Mr Howe.] I am something concerned in this business; it partly reflects upon me. I was informed that such words were spoken, the man writes them down, and upon so general a complaint the limbs of so many honest Gentlemen we see about the streets, were placed there upon less Evidence. There was a Gentleman, Sir Patience Ward, convicted of Perjury, for saying he did not hear Alderman Pilkington speak some words. I would have the person ask pardon of the House only. But, I believe, there is more in it, for people take great liberty in Coffee-Houses and Churches, and this looks, as if we were afraid to punish. I say, there are people in churches that pray for King James, and that is Treason [Being called to name them] Lord Wiltshire knows, that lately in the Diocese of Wincbester, they did pray for King James, and the Bishop was admonished of it in the House of Lords, and he was sent into his Diocese.
Another said,] Before the Bishop's Letter was sent down, they did pray for King James, but since, they have prayed for King William and Queen Mary, and have never prayed for King James since they were proclaimed.
Sir John Guise.] If it be for the service of the House, they may be named, &c. but pray let every Member name whom he knows out of his country.
Mr Hampden.] I would have Gentlemen consider the last thing you were upon, which was the Indemnity: But this does not put our minds in a frame to consider that, but what is meant by calling out to name them? It must mean, to clear them from imputation. I would have persons cleared or punished. If you judge this a crime, a great many will come under it; if named, you will do nothing in it in the Act of Indemnity. If it be once granted, that it is in the nature of a crime, every Gentleman must give you his knowledge. If you will enquire into it, as a crime, I believe you will have more informations than you can consider of; therefore lay it aside.
The Speaker.] I hope, Gentlemen for the future will take care how they bring you informations out of CoffeeHouses; especially what reflects upon the whole Church of England; and what they inform, to make good.
Sir Thomas Lee.] I stand up for the honour of the House. Every day we have informations of small weight. If Gentlemen complain, it ought to be true and right.— This will make people not come here but to revenge their own quarrels. You can do no less than commit this person.
Col. Birch.] You see the effects of taking men into custody here; you discharge one, and commit another. I would have the Commitment entered, "for giving untrue information to the House."
Capt. Motley was discharged, and Bowtell was committed to custody, viz. the House having information of malicious words in relation to the Government, and it appearing, upon examination, that it was a malicious information, &c."
In a Grand Committee. On the Coronation Oath.
Mr Hampden, jun.] I know not what Gentlemen may mean by the Old Coronation Oath. Some may mean the last Coronation Oath, as formerly. The Oath stands thus: The Committee looked into the old Precedents for the original of this Oath. They looked into the Statute Book, and other Law Books, but it is in none but the Roman Pontifical. Every body knows how the Clergy have usurped to themselves authorities, as of marriages, divorces, adulteries, probate of wills, &c. We find by the ceremonial and ritual in other Courts, as well as in England, they are not found, but in the ceremonials and rituals of the Roman Church. In Brackton only I find it, who informs, "that the King did swear in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to maintain, &c." (and reads the rest at large.) It was Canutus the Dane, &c. The Oaths of E. III. H. IV. E. VI. as if a woman should be married, and the man make no promise. There is an allegiance sworn by the subject, and, by Law, no Oath by the King.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I move for an addition to the Oath, "that to the utmost of his power he will maintain, &c. the Protestant Religion, established by Law."
Mr Howe.] If there was any doubt that our Religion was not established by Law, I would be for it. I think this is in opposition to Popery, but not that the King shall defend no part of the Protestant Religion, but what is established by Law.
Mr Hampden, jun.] I can add something more, than what I have said in matter of fact. In the ancient Oaths were the Laws of Edward the Confessor. They were Capitularies, of which some are expired—'Tis not said, "according to the Laws in being." By this, every Casuist will tell the King, he is obliged, in the strictest sense, never to alter them. That is always left to the Legislators to alter them—As to tryals and judgments not according to the Laws in being, this is an Oath in time to make it Perjury—You mean, "according to Laws that shall be made." As to Religion, in some things, the King, swears positively to the true profession of the Gospel, that is, the Christian Religion, no latitude in that, and then comes to the Christian Religion as it is against Popery; and this is the stress of all your Oath. Protestant is looked upon as a word honourable; and, not only the word, but the thing, to the last drop of blood. It is every body's endeavour to keep up the Reformation, and avoid returning into Popery. As to the Doctrine, it is suitable to God's word, and therefore in that matter to leave the King no sort of latitude. But, as to Discipline, many Acts have been made to alter it: I say nothing to oppose it, but I speak to that which makes the thing unsafe—That the King maintain the Church, as they may have all protection from the King, he governing according to Law, and they doing according to Law; both the higher and lower degree of the Clergy, demeaning themselves as they ought, may be protected.
Mr Garroway.] You have a great work upon your hands, upon which our future happiness must depend. You must consider what it is the King can, and what is fit for him to take. I am for "the National Church;" if you tie it up strictly "according to Law," you do not know whether the King be free to grant you what you require. I would have the Church-doors made wider, and I think it might easily be done. In order to that, I move, "That the King, in the Oath, swear to maintain the Protestant Religion, as it is, or shall be, established by Law."
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] Whenever a Bill of Comprehension shall be brought in for all our safeties, I shall be for it. To put into the Oath "by Law established," is a tautology, and hardly good sense, being already done.— You are told, "all sorts of opinions are to be governed by the Law of God;" are not all sorts that ever have been, or are like to be, pretenders to it? Look on the Protestation of Augsbourg; there is not such a correspondence as people may imagine. As to the word "reformed," all the sects pretend to be so.—Then "as by Law established," it is said, relates to Religion—Can there be any thing altered relating to Religion? The body of Religion is the Doctrine, and I shall never vary from it, and I hope no body here ever will. What do you call "Law?" It is whatever shall be done by Act of Parliament. If you can alter the Civil Government, you have the same power relating to the Discipline of the Church. Though this Oath is only of King Charles I, yet compare that Oath with all from Magna Charta, and they differ in few circumstances—Under the general word, all sects may shelter themselves. They may tell you of some points they embrace, and are erroneous in the rest, and say, "you are to maintain us, and all that call themselves Christians."
Sir Thomas Littleton.] I am as much for the Religion by Law established, as any man. I have not heard any reason yet, why the words, "as shall be established by Law," may not be in the Oath. The Religion of the Church of England, possibly, is established as no other Religion is, by Law, and we have found it changed since the Resormation. Every minute ceremony is established by Act of Parliament, because they would not leave it to the Church to return us to our former errors again. You have added, nor any other, "but by Act of Parliament."— The King has an inclination to open the doors of the Church; what harm then is there in those words "as shall be established by Law?" Formerly, it was no great matter what Coronation Oath you had; but this King may say, "I do not understand what is "by Law." And if we say, "by Act of Parliament shall be", he may say, "he never intended to bind you up." Therefore, I would have it, "as shall be established by Law."
Mr Ettrick.] If I thought this would bind up the Legislative Power, I should be against it. I would not have it extend to the essential part of Religion, but to ceremonies only. As to the word "shall be"—I doubt there is something more in the Question; several persons call themselves of the reformed Religion, as Quakers, Anabaptists, &c.
Mr Coningsby (fn. 1).] I offer you these words, "the Doctrine of the Protestant Religion established by Law."
Mr Hampden, jun.] The Protestants on all sides are like to have War; but this Coronation Oath is the very touch-stone and symbol of your Government. It is moved, that the words to be put in be "established, or shall be established, by Law." If the Doctrine be established by Law, it may be overthrown by Law again. I hope it is on a better foundation than Men can make by Law. It is by the Law of God, but as for the ceremonies, undoubtedly they are by the Law of England Parliaments have changed many things in the Discipline of the Church. It is the intention of every body, I believe, to keep up the Church and the Hierarchy of England, and I would distinguish betwixt the Doctrine and Discipline. I move, that "according to the Laws for the time being" may be inserted in the Oath, &c.
Major Wildman.] I am as ready to submit to the Church, as any Man. I second the Motion, that you will add words that may be restrained to the Doctrine established by God, and Jesus Christ, that the profession of it may be by the Laws of the Land, and when the King is to swear to the Doctrine established by Law, he swears to his Power only, and no danger of Perjury in it; but whether he swears to all as it is now established, consider whether it is seasonable, some Comprehension or Toleration being intended, and before these Acts are made, to swear so generally. Consider, the next day after the King has taken this Oath, who shall excuse him from his Oath, before the House has agreed any alteration? Suppose the Parliament be dissolved by the hand of God, or any other Act, shall the King, by his Oath, be bound to press all the ceremonies?
Sir Thomas Lee.] I think a Declaration of our Right is sufficient, and a seasonable time to take any Laws away, but not to let the King dispense with them, and they must be observed whilst the Laws are in being. I think no man has spoken against the addition, but some for that addition of "such as are, or shall be, &c." Many will be for the first with the addition, but against it without the addition. If it be meant no alteration, "as by Law established, &c." nobody will be for that; but if it be, "what is, &c. or shall be by Law established," every body will be for it.
Mr Finch.] I have attended the Debate, and the words moved for, viz. "established by Law, or that shall be, &c." I have observed, that the reasons do not well agree. It is needless, because, the words being implied, you need not add them. But I think it necessary, that the World may know we mean the established Protestant Religion. You were told, it was implied, and may be sworn to Laws not fit to be put in execution—To show that, by these words, we understand the reformed Protestant Religion established by Law, I am against the words "shall be established, &c." No man can have any colour but that still a liberty is to consent to any other Laws to preserve Religion, and those are, according to his Oath, established by Law. They signify no more than to be established, but I am against the words of "Doctrine that shall be established, &c." Those words, I believe, will not be received here. The corruptions of the Church of Rome were abolished by Law. The Protestant Religion, is a large word of great comprehension, because it looks as if some other Protestant Religion were fit to be established, instead of that we have: I suppose the Doctrine is never to be shaken, and the truth of the Christian Religion. No man of the Church of England but will be ready to comply with the weak conscience of any professor of the Protestant Religion. And no man, from the Bishop downwards, is against any comprehension or ease to tender consciences; but this is as if there were another Protestant Religion to be established by Law; as if there was intended a new Doctrine, as well as a new Discipline. I would have you retain the first, and leave the latter.
Col. Birch.] In what the learned Gentleman has said, I go a great way with him, and when I do not; I shall show the difference. There has been no new Doctrine named, and then most part of his objections are over. When I sat in that Chair, in a former Parliament, to show you how far the Dissenters were for the Church of England, all, except the Quakers, did generally agree to the Church of England; and if that House had sat, they would have been comprehended. You are told, "it will as well relate to Discipline as Doctrine," and I think it does. When people are full of expectation, that we should shut the doors of the Church to all kind of relaxation to such as hope for some!—It is said by an Honourable Person, he would not have the Church troubled—St Paul says, he knows but in part, and we are about to make ourselves infallible. Let me remind you what ill success we have had with the Scots, (which put them in Rebellion) when Archbp Laud would not have a hair bated of the Discipline of the Church; and what followed upon it? That brought on the War in England, and was mostly the cause of it. But what success have we had these twenty years, since the severe Act of Uniformity and prosecution of Dissenters? None but abatement of rents, and loss of trade; and this is such a stumbling block as we cannot avoid. I would make the Doctrine of the Church firm, and leave the Discipline at large.
Mr Finch.] Birch told me, "he would go a great way along with me," but he does not one step. I said, "the Doctrine was the true profession of Christianity," and he takes offence, as if I made an infallibility. He tells you, "all Sects agreed to the Doctrine, but the Quakers," and yet danger of altering—All his topics are out of doors, for all agree, that all Protestants ought to be united.
Col. Birch.] I know my disadvantage. The strength of Finch's arguments, and the smoothness of his discourse, have been known here before.
Mr Somers.] The Question is, to add the words "shall be established by Law." I desire the addition, for great regard to the Legislature. In the former Paragraph, it is "Statutes, and Laws, and Customs in being," in the other establishment—He that gives his consent to take away, does not maintain them. Put in "is, or shall be," and that takes in every man's consent. It is said, "that by this, we are going about to alter the government of the Church." Tho' the constitution be as good as possible for the present time, none can be good at all times. Therefore, I am for the word "may," and that will be a remedy at all times.
Mr Pollexfen.] We are all agreed, and I hope ever shall be, to the Protestant Religion "established by Law." We desire to consider, whether the latter words shall be added, or not? I see no manner of reason against it. We all agree in substance, but if by the wisdom of the Nation it shall be thought fit to alter, we are at liberty to do it. No man that maintains the Law, but maintains the whole Legislature, which alters and redresses the Law from time to time, as there is occasion. We frame an Oath, not for ourselves, but for the King, and he ought to be satisfied. The King is tender of what he promises; much more of his Oath. As on the one side it will seem broad, as if there was an intention to alter Religion, and I am sure they will look much a-squint at us, the greatest reason is, not to dishearten the King, and to put upon him a jealousy, for it must then return from him again.
Sir Henry Capel.] What makes me rise up is this; of what will be said abroad of making another Church than this of England. It is a tender thing to make a Law, but in an Oath for another person to take, it is always a rule to express the thing plain. I would know what harm there is in the words, to take in every man's apprehensions? If these words pass in the Negative, may not that startle the King, to see it upon our Books as a doubt? I have seen alterations, in this place, of the Church of England, in Charles II's time, and shall we bind up ourselves? It is argued, "this may bring in another Church," but consider how the Protestant Religion has been invaded, and how this Prince is assisted by Protestants. But should you put these words narrowly, they may say "your Parliament has limited you to a Church unalterable, and will let in nobody." In this addition, there is no intent of any hurt to the Church. If we do not comprehend, and make our entrance broad, at this time, you may create jealousies at home and abroad. I have seen, by Court-practices here, one party set up against another, and all done by the Popish party. I heard here, upon the Declaration for Liberty, promoted by Lord Clifford, both Bishops and Dissenters against it, and we threw it out. I remember Col. Strangways's story of two Deer that were always fighting, and a rascal Deer behind a tree came upon them when weary, and beat them both. Seeing we all agree that the King shall have no hardship put upon him, certainly it will be more explanatory to him, and satisfactory to us, to add the words.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] I think those words will make the World think we are about to alter the whole Religion, the true Protestant Religion established by Law. Perhaps the words may be plainer, but seeing so much weight laid upon them, makes me apprehend that something lies hid, that the Presbyterian party, the lean Deer, will take it from us both. Whilst a sort of men, that profess the Protestant Religion, joined with Popery lately in the Declaration, and write, and profess that the penal Laws ought to be taken away, now you are making an Oath honestly and plainly, to explain it to the World.
Mr Ettrick.] I doubt not but the opinion of the House will have great weight with the King. It would be of great consequence to represent to the King, that a majority of the House is inclinable to alter Religion; as will be implied by this Vote.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] Let us not impose such a hardship upon the King, especially when we all do intend a comprehension. But how will you tie up the King? This is for the protection of the whole Protestant cause, and no particular party or class. If you put scruples into the King's mind at the first step, this will be a discouragement to him: I move therefore for the words "are, or shall be established, &c."
Mr Howe] Has not this Deer lain long enough lean in jails? Did not you promise, in the Bishops Declaration, a tenderness to the Dissenters who prayed for the Bishops in their afflictions, as their Martyrs? Shall we disoblige these people? Though I think they will never go over to King James, I hope we shall keep the King's word, and the Bishops. What can be the meaning of this scruple, and to put it into the King, and make these people desperate? Let them help to protect us; indeed we shall have need of them. If you do not add these words moved, it will be thought the King has taken an Oath, without any consideration of what these men have suffered.
Mr Godolphin.] All our securities rest upon the King's conscientiousness. I would not put in the words, because I would not leave a doubt, if it is not in the intention of the House to alter the Religion established by Law. I would have tender consciences come in at the door, and not pull down the rafters of the House to come in at the roof. Those who stood to the Protestant Religion were the Bishops; those who were against it were those who managed Brent's regulation of Corporations; and I would have no countenance given to them.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] Let us not take out two words of the Oath, to blast the King, if he will deal candidly with the Declaration, with due regard to the Church of England. He tells you not who put these men upon doing what they did. It is necessary for the King's honour, and the union of all Protestants, to put in these words.
The Question being put, Whether the words shall remain in the Oath, "to preserve the Church, &c. as it is now established by Law," it passed in the Affirmative, 188 to 149.
Tuesday, March 26.
On settling a Revenue on Princess Anne.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] You cannot settle a Revenue upon any body. I remember at Oxford there was a Bill to enable the King to settle a Revenue (fn. 2) upon the Duke of York. I would have the King's Revenue inspected.
Sir William Williams.] There was a Revenue of 60,000l. for the Duke of York settled, and the Post-Office. He had power to appoint a Post-Master General by Patent; and that is a certain Revenue worth 100,000l. per annum, and the Wine Licenses. These were vested in the Duke of York. There was care then taken for the maintenance of his dignity. It is fit to consider the Princess, who did more than women in their ordinary course. She forsook her Father for the sake of the Protestant Religion, and ought to be made exemplary by us, and a monument for her for ever. I would refer it to a Committee.
Mr Hampden.] I move very tenderly. In Motions of this nature, that are acceptable, we are most subject to errors in the management of it. She may be in want of Money, but you cannot refer Money to a private Committee. But if there be any way to propose, I would hear it. When the way of raising the Money is found out, that is the proper time to have it moved. I remember at Oxford, when the Money was granted for the Duke of York, there was grumbling.
Mr Harbord.] Something has been said that reflects upon the King, as if the Princess was in want. When the King was at the Treasury, he said, "he would have the Money all go for publick Uses." For the Fleet, the Queen Dowager, and the Princess Anne, these were the uses, and they are taken care for.
Sir Henry Capel.] You do two great things in taking care for this Princess, of great honour, and virtue, and support to the Protestant Religion. Though there be no Precedent for a private Committee to consider of Money, I would not have this Debate go off without some words in your Question, viz. "That when the Revenue is stated, the Princess may be considered."
Mr Boscawen.] I would have the Princess have the Revenue of the Post-Office, but not the Office; that ought to be in the Crown, for the inspection and management of Letters.
[Resolved, That, when the matter of the Revenue shall come under consideration, the House will then consider of settling a Revenue upon the Princess Anne of Denmark.]
Wednesday, March 27.
An Amendment was made, by the Committee, to the Coronation Oath, &c. viz. "The Protestant Religion professed by the Church of England, &c." which was reported.
Sir Henry Capel.] These words added may be of great service. The Oath the King takes is to God Almighty, and he ought to satisfy his conscience. I like the words, "the Church of England established by Law." I believe not the Church in the least danger in this Parliament; and if the Protestant Religion may be established by this Oath, as well as the Church, I should be well satisfied.
Mr Finch.] Without entering into Debate of the words, I think they are brought in scarce according to the rules of Parliament. By adding these words, it is not only mending the Bill, but reversing what you have agreed upon in the whole House. It was not in the power of the Committee to alter any thing, neither can you do it here.
The Speaker.] Without doubt, the House may alter any thing in the Bill.
Mr Hampden, jun.] The Amendment offered is, "The Protestant Religion professed by the Church of England." All are persuaded, that the King will maintain the Protestant Religion. I would have it, "To maintain the Protestant Religion, an the Church of England," and that will comprehend every man's sense.
Sir John Thompson.] I am not for the words "established by Law." Lord Russel said, "he died for the Religion of the Church of England," but did not believe it, because he said not, "established by Law."
The Amendment was rejected.
Thursday, March 28.
[The Bill for establishing the Coronation Oath was read the third time.]
Mr Pelham offered a Proviso to the Bill by way of Rider.] I am sorry for the heats the other day. What I offered then was, I thought, a service to the King and the Church of England, in which Religion I was bred up. If this Proviso I shall now offer, shall meet with a general acceptation, I shall be happy. If not, I shall sit still contented. The Proviso shows, "that you do not intend to prevent the King to give his consent to change any form, or ceremony, now established, so as the Doctrine and Discipline, &c."
The Proviso was as follows: "Provided always, and be it hereby declared, That no Clause in this Act shall be understood so, to bind the Kings or Queens of this Realm, as to prevent their giving their Royal Assent to any Bill, which shall be at any time offered by the Lords and Commons, assembled in Parliament, for the taking away or altering any Form or Ceremony in the established Church, so as the Doctrines of the said Church, a publick Liturgy, and the Episcopal Government of it, be preserved."
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] There is no occasion for this Proviso. It cannot be imagined, that any Bill from hence will ever destroy the Legislative Power. Therefore, there being no need of this Proviso, pray lay it aside.
Mr Garroway.] The other day, you accepted not of an Amendment offered, because it was said, "what was offered was implied." Others thought not, because not expressed. The exception against this Proviso seems as if you had not power without it, by the Legislative Authority, to alter any thing in the Church. This Proviso puts people in hopes of grace and favour, and I would have it pass. I think it a good Proviso.
Sir Henry Goodrick.] This Proviso is brought in with a good and sincere intention; it carries an aspect of healing our divisions. Was here any thing to invalidate any particular thing, whereby the Legislative Power might be restrained, I should not concern myself. We are all of a mind, and as this is for composing and healing, and does so fully preserve the Church Doctrine, it relating to Discipline, and being only a Declaration as to Discipline, I would give it a second reading, and make it part of the Bill.
Mr Finch.] I am against this Proviso, when I consider it will not have the effect proposed, but quite the contrary. The Proviso comes in to help the Clause in the Oath, "to maintain the Religion established by Law." Now these words "established by Law" hinder not the King from passing any Bill for ease of Dissenters, and when this is passed, the Oath remains. The words now are not established by Law indefinitely—This Proviso makes the scruple, and gives the occasion for it. What says the Proviso? Unless it were in the King, "not bound to give any consent to alter the Laws, &c." When the scruple is raised, the Proviso does not clear it. When the King has taken the Oath to maintain the Protestant Religion, "as established by Law", and not" as shall be established", this Proviso does not at all cure the Oath, when he has sworn to establish it, &c. That gives occasion to the scruple; and I am against the Proviso.
Sir William Williams.] If this Proviso improves a scruple in the King rather than removes it, I am against it; but if it clears the doubt, I am for it. When the King swears to govern according to Law, if a relaxation to Dissenters, the King may do it by Law. Says the King, "I make a doubt, whether I do not swear to keep all the Laws unrepealable;" therefore, say we, though the Law be so by implication, the Lawyer cannot remove any scruple; therefore is there any hurt to speak plainly? This is argumentum ad bominem, not quoad hoc or bunc. We are to make the Oath explicit, without scruple. I see no manner of danger in the Proviso; it shows special regard to the Church of England. The Doctrine is not to be altered: All the Bishops in the world cannot do it. Though they differ in circumstances, men will differ; 'tis lawful and necessary sometimes, that the truth may appear. I take it to be for the honour of the Church of England, to comply with any Ceremony, or none—I am for the Proviso.
Sir Robert Sawyer.] This is the first Proviso of this nature that ever was in any Bill. It seems to strike at the Legislative Power. The King has both Divines and Lawyers about him, who will clear him the scruple. It will create such a doubt—Therefore whatever the pretence is, it cannot satisfy the King, only those without doors. Therefore to show a thing at this time of day, to make a Question of that consequence—I would lay it aside.
Sir Robert Cotton of Cambridgeshire.] Tho' the Proviso looks well and healing, yet it seems to imply a defect, not able to alter Laws, as occasion requires. This, instead of one scruple, raises more; as if you were so bound up to the Ecclesiastical Government, that you cannot make any new Laws without such a Proviso.
Sir George Treby.] Since this Proviso is tendered, I am for retaining it. Perhaps now 'tis brought in, 'tis more necessary to retain it, than to have brought it in at first. 'Tis agreed to be the sense of the House, that these words, &c. do not bar the King from making any alteration, &c. When you say "the Protestant Religion, &c." it must be with these Ceremonies, and Government, by Law established. Therefore that you mean the manner and form of the Government is alterable, is agreed by all. You will find, in the Preface to the Common Prayer-Book, "that all Ceremonies are indifferent and alterable," and this Proviso is, that alterable things may be altered; and no hurt done, if both Houses agree. To bind up your freedom in any thing here, you yourselves would call closeting. The late King James had made me more offers than I will speak, of Preferment, if I would consent to dispense with the penal Laws and Test. I used all the arguments I could to dissuade him against it. He said, "I was very stiff." I told him "I would not engage to take away Laws nor to keep them, but I desired to come into the Parliament with my freedom." No man ever doubted that the King was bound by any Oath not to alter the Church-Government. King Charles I thought himself bound by his Coronation Oath not to alter Episcopacy, the Government being in Episcopacy; and therefore this is no novelty, to raise such a scruple, which this Proviso may fully quiet, and satisfy the scruples of tender consciences, and such as know not our Laws. You yourselves made an Act for declaring this a Parliament, when you were satisfied, and excepted Privilege of Parliament in the Habeas Corpus, &c. 'Tis said, "This Proviso is useless, and you will not have your ends." This Proviso does not absolve the King from his Oath—But the Oath is part of the Act, and you explain that Oath. 'Tis said, "It shall not be understood to alter Episcopacy in the Church-Government;" those who love it, would be glad to see it a Monarchical Government of Episcopacy. This will amount to no more than such alteration as the Parliament has always done, and the Church has been preserved in so doing. When we are dead and gone, all these Debates will be in the air, and a greater scruple remain. We have the use of words and writing, to explain our meaning; and it being agreeable to your own meaning, pray pass it.
Mr Sacbeverell.] I have attended the Debate, and I think it does not agree with that the other day, when every body did leave the ceremonial part of Religion to the Law, so the doctrinal part were preserved. It was for the words "are, or shall be, by Law established." I did apprehend, and yet do, that point is a scrupulous matter, and may be a doubt to the King. I was one that did not see so clear as others. I cannot see why they should deny us an explication of our Oath. Learned Gentlemen do doubt: I am not so learned as they, and therefore must doubt. Certainly they have some other reason than what they tell us, or else some latent sense that hereafter they may explain. The Proviso is no more than what we said, we mean by it, and they said, they meant by it, the other day; and I must be for retaining it.
Sir Joseph Tredenham.] I am of opinion, that all ease and favour should be shown to tender consciences, consistent with the safety of the Nation, but I know not how this Proviso will answer all expectations. I cannot imagine any scruple in the King to pass this Law, 'Tis granted by all, that by "Law," is meant what is in the Legislative Power. When the King sees this Proviso in the Act, for the Coronation Oath to bind him up without it, will it not make alterations in the Government which may affect all Laws?
Sir Thomas Lee.] I was the other day of opinion, that the Oath might have been plainer by the other words offered; and now here is a Proviso to explain it. I am afraid the words, as penned in the Oath, do too much bind up the Legislature. The Oath obliges the King to maintain the Religion established by Law. The Proviso says, "The King shall be always at liberty, and, by Act of Parliament, Ceremonies may be altered at any time." All Oaths are taken in the sense of the imposer, which restriction is not to be exercised but in certain cases. It will, I fear, creep in, that other Laws cannot be made without such a Proviso. Therefore I would lay it aside.
The Proviso was withdrawn, and the Bill passed.
[Adjourned to Monday. April 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, Omitted.]