AN EPISTLE TO The Truly Religious and Loyal GENTRY OF THE Church of England.

Writtten by Edmund Ellis, Rector of East Arlington, in the County of Devon.



Greg. Nazianz. Orat. 9.

LONDON, Printed in the Year MDCLXXXVII.

An EPISTLE to the Truly Religious and Loyal GENTRY of the CHURCH of England, &c.

My Honour'd Brethren,

IF I thought the Address, I here make unto you had need of an Apologie, it would be Uncapable of any. My Confidence, I confess, is utterly Inexcusable, if it be not grounded upon Reason. What I Desire therefore is only this, That you would be Pleased to Condescend to the most Serious Consideration of what is Said by so Obscure a Person.

I Do not Pretend to any Skill in the Letter of Our Common Law, but that Law which All Mankind Ought to be, and that Law which All Chri­stians Profess they are Govern'd by, has been my Study above thirty Years: And in the prosecution of Charity, or Divine Love, to which All my Speculations naturally Tend, I find it my Duty to Endeavour with all my might to Communicate the Know­ledge I have of this Truth: that if [Page 4] the Parliament shall Comply with His Majesties most Just, and Equi­table Desire of the Abrogation of all such Laws against the Papists which are more Rigorous than any of those against the other Nonconformists, it would most certainly conduce to the Glory of God, and the Good of Men. If any men should say what Impudence is this? Is not such a Proposal Con­trary to the Present Government? I should Confidently Answer, It is not. And the Reasons of this Con­fidence I shall here (as well as I can within the compass of a Letter) in all Humility tender to your Consider­ation. By those words of the Blessed Apostle, ‘Do we then make void the Law, yea we establish the Law.’ I am prompted to say to our Adversaries in this Case, Do we subvert, yea we Establish the Present Government. That this may be clearly perceiv'd, I shall desire that it may be duly con­sider'd that whatsoever tends to the Establishing of the Rights of Our [Page 5] MONARCHIE does most certainly tend to the Establishing of Our Ci­vill Government: And what is it to Establish the Rights of MONAR­CHIE but to Secure All Due Obedi­ence to Our MONARCH and His Successors throughout All Generati­ons? Tho it be True indeed that it is the Duty of All Subjects, Enjoyn'd by the Fifth Commandment, to retain a FILIAL Affection for their PRINCE the FATHER of their Country, whatsoever he Does, or Designs, yet alas! since the Generality of men are Led more by the Love of Life and Estate than a Sense of Duty towards God and the Hopes of Glory in the World to come, and since so many of those who are Habitually Heavenly-minded often fall from their Better Temper, and are carried in the stream of Secu­lar Interest, How can it be supposed, that Subjects should be United in their Affections to their Prince, and to one another, whilst there are Laws Standing against so great a Number of Them, [Page 6] that are Persons very Ingenious, very Well bred, and of great Estates, many of them of Our most Antient Nobi­lity, and many Exceeding Learned; Laws I say, which if put in Execution, would deprive them of their Lives, or Estates? And what do those men Intimate that are so Eager against the Abrogating of such▪ Laws but that they Hope for a Time when they shall get the Bloud of some of their Loyall Fellow-subjects to be Shed, or their E­states taken from them, because they cannot Do what their Consciences, supported by the Concurring Judge­ments of Thousands of Sober, and Learned men, Oblidge them not to Do? if it shall be said what signifies an Oath to a Papist &c.? I shall most hum­bly beg that it may be considered whether such an Objection can have any thing in it of Natural Conscience, or Common Honesty, since Few, or none, that we know of the Papists, who took the Oath of Allegiance did ever Break it, but all the world know's it was [Page 7] Broken in the most haynous manner that pos­sibly could be by Thousands of that sort of Peo­ple who are, and ever have been most Bloudily set against the Papists. And as for this sort of People, who Murthered the Father of Our Gra­cious Soveraign, Attempted the Murthering of His Brother, and the Excluding of Himself from His Royal Inheritance and who were (I think, I may say All of them in their Persons, or in their Hearts and Affections) so lately in Open Rebellion against Himself, let us Ob­serve His Majesties most Mercifull and Gra­cious Dealings with Them: And Admire the Benignity of that Wisdom which has hitherto Govern'd Him since the Divine Pro­vidence brought Him to be Our Governour next, and Imemediately Under the Great and Glorious MONARCH of Heaven, and Earth. And since He is so Kind to them, how Crooked and Perverse would it seem, if we should en­deavour to Obstruct the Current of His Sacred Clemency, when it Flowes towards Persons of His own Perswasion, in a way so just and Equitable in the sight of all men? How much it would contribute to the Peace and Tran­quillity, the Ease, and Comfort of a Protestant Successor, if the Papists were freed from the Terror of those Dreadful Laws I could speak largely. But I shall hasten to my other Point, to shew that this Lenity to the Papists could be no Disadvantage to the Church of England but rather a great Advantage in as much as we [Page 8] should thereby Declare to all the world the Sincerity of Our Profession to be Meek, and Lowly in Heart, And that we will not be Affrighted by the Pharisaicall Multitude from Acknowledg­ing All the Truth we find Profest, and all the Uirtue we find Practiced by Papists. The Holy Fathers and the Four First Generall Councils, next to the Holy Scriptures, Our Church is Founded upon; And how many Learned men in this Kingdome began to make light of these Blessed Records of Christian Antiquity? which Grow­ing Evill the Course, which His Majesty has taken will most undoubtedly Suppress.

If these Dreadfull Laws were Repeal'd cer­tainly it would take off the Edge of the Ani­mosities, which cannot but be in the Hearts of some Learned Papists against the Church of England which must needs make them in their Writings more Pungent than otherwise they would be. For, (poor men) they may justly apprehend that the Standing of Our Church tends to the Destruction of their Lives if Our Church cannot stand without those Severe Laws that have been made against them.

I shall give you no further trouble at pre­sent, but shall Commend you to the the Pro­tection and Instruction of the Almighty, and Onely Wise God, the God of Peace, and Love, And shall ever remaine

Your Affectionate. Philotheus.

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