THE SECOND EPISTLE To the truly Religious and Loyal GENTRY OF THE Church of England,

Written by Edmund Elys, Rector of East-Allington in the County of Devon.

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Hesiod.

Published by Permission.

LONDON, Printed for the Author, and are to be sold by the Booksellers of London and Westminster 1687.

TO THE TRULY RELIGIOUS and LOYAL GENTRY OF THE Church of England▪

My Honor'd Brethren,

SINCE the writing of my other Letter, I have seen a Book Entitled The Popish Royal Favorite; by which the Author William Prynne endeavors with might and main to expose that Blessed Prince KING CHARLES the First to the Odium of the People, for the practise of that Chri­stian Lenity towards the Papists, which (as he that searcheth the Heart and tryeth the Reins knows,) has ingag'd Me in this Design; and methinks the Blood of that Glorious Monarch Cries to Me, and to all others that venerate His Sacred Memory, to declare our Desires of the Abrogation of those Rigorous Laws: For manifest it is by this very Book, that those Laws were the occasion of the destructive Animosity of the People against their Sovereign and the Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury. That His Gracious Majesty upon a Principle of Divine Clemency, did take great care and pains to preserve not only many Priests from Death by the Execution of those Laws, but also many other [Page 4] Papists from utter Ruin, as to their Estates. This William Prynne has abundantly declar'd with an Intention to asperse but as to the Event, to the immortal Honor of that Pious Prince: But so far the intention of this Pristerian Agitator took Effect, that he strengthned the Hands of the basest of Traitors, to the shedding of the Blood of their Most Gracious Sovereign▪ ‘p 57. All the Parliaments during His Majesties Reign (says this mischievious Scribler,) till now, urging the Execution of Old Laws against Recusants, Priests, Jesuits; and endeavoring to make new strict Acts against them, have (contrary to the practice of all former Ages) been broken up, and dissolv'd in discontent.’

Such Fire-brands as this thrown amongst the People, made them run out of their wits, to the most Prodigious Enormities that the World ever saw, but when the Sun withdrew his Light. I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Our Lord Iesus Christ, to consider the Anti-Christianism of this William Prynne and his Complices, in this one instance of His Majesties Most Christian compassion towards the Papists; for which those Pha­natical Men so clamor'd against him, Viz. His Gracious An­swer to this most reasonable Petition.

The Humble Petition of Robert Courtese, &c.

MOst humbly shewing, That whereas the Petitioners have lately exhibited a Petition unto your Majesty, de­claring that for being Recusants, there are Writs out of your Highness Court of Exchequer, directed to the Sheriffs of Lon­don and Middlesex, to seize their Goods to Your Majesties use: Albeit, they have been always, and now are ready to compound according to Your Majesties most Gracious Fa­vor; and their mean Ability (being poor Trades-men,) which by reason of this contagious time, and other the weighty Af­fairs of Your Majesties Most Honorable Commission, they have not yet done, and so stand in danger to perish, unless Your Ma­jesty of your accustomed Clemency do extend your gracious [Page 5] favor towards them, in giving order that the said Writs may be staid, which they most humbly pray. Since which time they humbly shew there are no other Writs come out of the Crown-Office to arrest their Persons.

Therefore they do most humbly beseech your Majesty to take compassion of them and their poor Estates, and to give order that the said Writs may be staid, and that they may not be molested neither in their Persons or Goods, whilst they are upon composition with your Majesty, which they will endeavor to hasten with as much speed as may be:

And as by duty bound, your poor Petitioners shall daily pray for Your Majesty long to Reign most happily over us.

At the Court at Oatelands, 7 August 1637.

HIS Majesties pleasure is, that the Writs shall be staid, according to the desire of the Petitioners, &c.

Fran. Windebank.

Now let us see how this Blood-thirsty Man stirs up the Beast with many Heads, to destroy the Lord Arch-Bishop of Can­terbury.

‘They had (says he,) the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Wren, Montague, Cosin, with many other Prelates and Priests to introduce and establish their Popish Doctrins.’ To make way for the reception of this Lye, he had spoken of the Arch-Bishops endeavors to protect some Priests from the force of the Laws, which is as probably true, as what he would prove by it, is cer­tainly False. Here you see that the same Spirit which is so bloodily set against the Papists, would have all those to pass for Papists who joyn with them in a due Veneration of the Ancient Fathers, and acknowledge the Church of Rome (up­on account of their acknowledging the H. Scriptures to be the Word of God, and of their Profession to adhere to the Four General First Councils, &c.) to be a True Church. This was the Crime of those Great Men, Laud, Wren, Montague, Cosin. [Page 6] And here I shall beseech you to consider, whether if the Church of Rome be a True Church, (as all the True Sons of the Church of England have ever acknowledg'd;) we are not bound by our Christianity to exercise towards Persons of that Communion, not only Common Charity, but Brotherly Love? And since there is not a Papist in any of His Majesties Dominions, that de­nies that our Gracious Sovereign has as undoubted a Right to the Crown he possesses, as any Man living to any of his Pos­sessions; do's not the profession of Brotherly Love oblige us to desire the Abrogation of those Rigorous Laws? There are no such Laws against the HOBBISTS or SOCINIANS, neither do I desire there ever should be; and yet I am sure there is not one of you will say that we owe any Brotherly Kind­ness to those Monsters. A learned Papist (who I suppose is still living in this Kingdom,) has done that Service to the Church of England, and indeed to the Whole Church of Christ, as to publish a compleat Confutation of the Fundamental Error of the LEVIATHAN, Viz. That there can be no Idea or intellectual Representation of an Infinite Being, or (to deliver it in T. H's own words,) that ‘A Man can have no Thought representing any thing not subject to Sense.’ Now, what a grievous thing would it be to the Heart of any learned sincere Christian, to see Hobbists or Socinians insulting over so excellent a Person as a Criminal, &c. And as for the Nobility and Gentry of the Communion of the Church of Rome, we find most of them to be very ingenious and of generous Education: And is it not pity that there should be such Distance betwixt Us and Them, as to Moral Friendship and Civil Conversation, that we must be thought to desire that they should be still expos'd to the danger of being Hang'd or Banish'd; and that for what, as I have prov'd, do's not exclude them from a Right to Our Bro­therly Love? have not many of them been the instruments of the Divine Providence in suppressing the late Rebellion? And many more would have hazarded their Lives in that Service, if they had been permitted to have joyn'd themselves with Our [Page 7] Forces. And is it not a sad thing to think that Men of Tray­terous and Rebellious Principles, (for surely the Kings Pardon has not yet made them all Converts,) should live in hopes that one day they may see these Men Hang'd or Banish'd, who were so instrumental to defend Us against their Vio­lence? I said in my other Letter, that the Abrogation of those Laws would contribute to the Peace and Tranquility, the ease and comfort of the Government of a Protestant Succes­sor; that I had reason to say so▪ may be easily discern'd in the Reflections I have made upon the Seditious and Trayterous Practices of William Prynne, grounded upon the pretence of his proving the King to be a Papist, because the Lenity and Meekness of His Heroick Spirit, would not permit him to Kill or Banish, or totally to impoverish those Men whom He really thought to be some of His Loyal Subjects. Can we sup­pose that any of His Posterity will not follow the blessed Example of His Glorious Clemency, the true property of a Great Spirit? or can we suppose that those infernal Heats which instigated William Prynne and his Fellows, will be to­tally extinguish'd in the Third or Fourth Generation? And if not, may not the like Fatal Iealousies and Suspitions upon the same Grounds be rais'd against any of His Majesties Heirs or Successors that were rais'd against His Father? I do most earnestly beseech you to ponder these things in your Hearts; and to keep your Thoughts pois'd with such Equity, that up­on account of the Meanness of my Person, you may not make light of the Solidity of my Assertion. Let us of the Church of England take all occasions to make known to the World, that we are deeply sensible of His Majesties great Clemen­cy and Fatherly tenderness towards us; and let us also rejoyce in the Mercy He has shewn to His and Our Enemies; let our chief Dependence be upon the King of Kings, not hoping for Defence against the Papists by the Arm of Flesh, or the silent Threats of those dreadful Laws, but by trusting in Him, by whom Kings Reign; from whose Mercy it is that Our King [Page 8] has oblig'd us with such gracious Promises, that it cannot be but that common Ingenuity should suggest unto us, not only the inclinations to yield Him all the Obedience which His Laws require, but also the satisfaction of those Tacit Desires▪ which are so clearly and unquestionably equitable as this: That since His Majesty do's so graciously protect Us in the Exercise of our own Religion, we would do what in us lies to secure Our Fellow Subjects that are of His Religion, for ever being destroy'd by a Law for being so.

I lately receiv'd a Letter from one in London, who would fain make me asham'd of my just and charitable Design. The Man is guilty of such gross Immorality, that I do not desire to have any private Correspondence with him; but since he appears so pert and hot in his way, as to bring such false Ac­cusations against Me, who never saw or heard of Him, &c. That I am carryed in the stream of secular Interest, and that I desire our Church should fall, that the Church of Rome should stand more firm, &c. 'Tis manifest he's an over-zealous Ad­versary to my Design, and may do some mischief with such little shews of a Refutation of my Reasoning, as he has here produc'd. I shall therefore let the World see what I have to say in Reply to his pretended Refutation, tho I despise his Calumnies.

That single doughty Argument, by which you would defend your confident Proposal (if I could hope that the narrowness of an Epistle had hindred you from giving o­thers, it might have sav'd your Reputation,) comes to no more than this, That if a Man is found guilty of Murder, the Prince must not have him hang'd lest he should for­get his Filial Affection; or that the Law must indulge the wild whimsies of Adamites or Muggletonians, or any other extravagant Sect, lest (if punish'd) they shou'd not retain a Filial Affection for their Prince, the Father of their Country.

[Page 9] He has been pleased to save me the labor of Answering this, by shewing the great Disparity betwixt our Loyal Fel­low Subjects that I plead for, and those most odious Sects that he mentions: ‘For he tells me that he can assent to me in acknowledging the great Worth of many of the Popish Religion, whom I am proud (says he) to call my Friends.’ He must prove that a Man may be proud of the Friend­ship of some Adamites and Muggletonians too as Persons of Great Worth, or else his Comparison comes to nothing but Malice and Impudence: I will not say it is Ridiculous, but most Irreligious, being contrary to the Principles, not only of Christian Religion, but of Common Humanity. Seriously, I think very ill of the Man that makes sport of those words, a Filial affection for their Prince, the FATHER of their Country. I pray God to make Him and Me, and all His Ma­jesties Subjects always mindful of the Sacred Truth those words do import.

‘I cou'd very easily (says he,) and very sincerely too, give a Flourish of Rhetoric in praise of His Majesties extraordi­nary Acts of Grace towards those who so ill deserv'd of him, and can also assent, &c. but that the Church of England shou'd submit to be ridden by the Pope, to declare its meek and lowly Temper, is a Principle very obscure to me; or that we shou'd throw up our Religion out of a vitious Hu­mility, seems to be no less Ridiculous than Irreligious; but I perceive you desire our Church shou'd fall, that the Church of Rome may stand more firm.’

Submit to be ridden by the Pope, and throw up Our Re­ligion! What could be spoken more to the vilifying of Our Religion than this, That we cannot retain it if those rigorous Laws shou'd be Repeal'd? Certainly, if it be the Truth, as I assert it is, it would stand against the highest Storms of the fiercest Persecution. But what fear of suffering Violence in this Kings Reign, who do's so graciously protect Us? And surely we should not rejoyce the less in His Protection, because [Page 10] there is no Secular Punishment inflicted upon those that run from us, or will not come to us. That to take off the Laws I have mention'd, wou'd be to give up our selves to the Power of the Pope, or to throw up our Religion is an Absurdity too gross to be believ'd by any Man, that has but so much Common Sense as to distinguish betwixt that Legal Force or Authority, by which we are secur'd from the Violence of others, and that by which we may destroy them. The Papists by the Abrogation of those Laws wou'd have no more Power over us than they have now, and much less provocation to Malign us. I leave it to this Man to give a Flourish of Rhetoric; I am only for a Word to the Wise. Tho he's pleas'd to make some Sceptical Reflecti­ons on those words of mine, Divine Love, and Heavenly-mind­ed; sure I am, there is such a Thing as a Principle of Divine Love, which sways Me in this Undertaking; if upon daily and hour­ly Examination, I know any thing of the Tendency of my own Thoughts and Affections.

I have heard of some Clamors against Me, as if I undertook to vindicate the vain Pretence that some make of tender Consciences, in that Passage in my former Epistle,—‘because they cannot do what their Consciences, supported by the concurring Judg­ments of thousands of sober and learned Men, oblige them not to do.’ I shall entreat you to consider that in those words, I plainly suppose, that 'tis probable that a Man may be put to death by those Laws, meerly for following the Dictates of a real Tender Conscience, which implies such an Abhorrence from all Known Sin, and from what a Man conceits that he certainly knows to be a Sin, that he would die rather than do it. It can­not be suppos'd that a Traytor or Rebel can be such a conscienti­ous Man. That we ought to have a favorable regard to Tender Consciences; this Kingdom has been admonish'd again and again, by that incomparable Heroic Sufferer JUDGE JENKYNS. And now I shall beseech you to consider what prodigious mad Conceits those Men (who murther'd Arch-Bishop Laud upon pretence of Iustice,) were driven unto by their bloody Hatred and [Page 11] Inhumanity against the Papists, stir'd up by the confident Haran­gues of William Prynne, and other indefatigable Self-con­ceited Scriblers. Some of the Articles against the Arch-Bi­shop, the Accumulation whereof they feign'd to be High-Trea­son, were these, That his Grace enjoyn'd the saying Second Service at the Communion Table, bowing at the Name of Iesus, the setting of Rails about the Communion Table, standing up at Gloria Patri. In one of the Printed Books of the Presby­terians, they say that it is impossible that the Common-Prayer should please God, because it pleases the Papists. Being agi­tated with such furious Conceits, what Hellish Contempt have they shewn of our Sacred Liturgie! Away, they cry, with those Rags of Popery, those Scraps of Prayer! Away with their Gloria Patri! their Te Deum! their Three Creeds! their Epistles and Gospels! yea, (Horresco referens) and away with the LORDS Prayer too! the saying of the LORDS Prayer is no better than a Charm! Thus they are so affrighted with Popery, that they run out of their Wits, and out of their regular Profession of Chri­stianity; yea, some of them in plain terms defy'd the Christian Religion, by denying the Godhead of our Blessed Saviour. What a preparation was this for the reception of that most damnable Heresie of the Socinians, Viz. to teach people to abhor those Forms of sound Words, which contain the clearest Expressions that could ever be compos'd, of the Fundamental Points of Christianity, plainly and directly opposite to all the cursed Errors condemn'd by the Four First General Councils. I pray God we may all have the Grace to assent to what is True, to love what is Good, tho we find it amongst the Papists. I shall give you no further trouble at present, but to beseech you to joyn with Me in Praying con­tinually that all His Majesties Subjects may duly observe that Injunction of the Blessed Apostle, ‘Let your moderation ( [...].) be known unto all Men. The LORD is at hand.’

I am Your Affectionate Brother and faithful Servant T. E.

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