Master William Thomas Esquire His SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT, Iune 1641.

Concerning Deanes, and their Office, what it was originally, and what it is at this present, and being proved to be for little use, yea of great abuse, therefore declared not only unnecessary, but ought rather to be utterly abolished.

Printed at London by Tho Harper, 1641.

Mr. WILLIAM THOMAS his speech in Parliament.

I Have heretofore delivered the reasons, that induced me, to yeeld my severall votes touching the corruption and unsoundnes of the present Episcopacie and Church government, so for their unlawfulnesse of their intermedling in secular affaires; and using civill power, as also the harme and noxiousnesse of their sitting as members in the Lords house, and Iudges in that most honourable and high Court: Now I crave leave to doe the like in showing the reasons of my vote concerning Deanes and their office: I say that my opinion then was and now is that as the office is unnecessary, them selves use­lesse, so the subsistance of the one and continu­ance of the other needlesse; nay rather, as I will declare, most hurtfull, therefore may be easily [Page] spared, any rather ought to be abolished; my rea­sons are these, that the office of D [...]anes doth [...] ­ther tend or conduce (as some have alledged) to the honour of God, the propagation of piety, the advancement of learning, or benefit of the Common-weale, but [...] contra, that they occasion the dishonour and disservice of God, the hinde­rance, if not destruction of piety, the suppression and discouragement of learning and learned men, and the detriment and prejudice of Church and Common weale; this [...] conceive I shall make most apparent, if time and your patience will permit: But first I humbly crave leave (and I thinke it will not be impertinent) to de­clare what Deanes were originally in their first birth; secondly, what in their increase and further growth; and lastly, their present condition, be­ing at their full, and, as I thinke, their finall period.

As to their originall, it is not to be denyed but themselves and office are of great antiquity, St. Augustine declaring both; but I doe not say that it is an ancient office in the church, but what Officers Deanes then were, be pleased to heare from Saint Augustines owne delivery in his booke [...] M [...]ribus Ecclesi [...] Gatholica, if that booke, as also that of Monachoru [...] be his, which Erasmus and others have doubted: The Monks (saith he) for their more retirednesse and better contem­plation, appointed Officers which they called [Page] De [...], the office of them, and why they were so called, how delivereth in these words as [...] as I remember, Opus a [...]tem [...] quas De­canos vocant, e [...] quad sunt denis pr [...]pos [...] [...] [...] suicorpor is tangat, neque in [...] in vestimento, neque so quid [...]luid vel qu [...]tidiane ne­cessitate vel mutate (nt asso [...]e [...]) vale [...]dini, hi [...] Decani magna solicitu dine, omnia dispo [...]enses & presto facientes quicquid illa vita propter imbeci­litatem corpor is postulot.

Here wee see the office of Deanes in Saint Augustins time, antiquity sufficient, but not an­tiquity for being officers of the Church, there­fore they doe not rightly pluad antiquity, as to the point now controverted, the question being whether the office as now it is exercised, be the same that it was then, sure they shall finde it not only diff [...]rent, but in a manner quite contra­ry; they are deceived that urgo in, but alloy [...] to know that this [...] is able to discerne and distinguish and [...] face of [...] from the true, and in vaine doe they (when the Gib.) labour to deceive as by old [...]; old shoes, old garments, old [...], and old bread that is drie and [...]ould [...] [...]y therefore to no purpose, and causeles [...] [...] they charge unto [...] novel­ty; and to offer to take away Church-governors and government. What those men, I meane Deanes, were originally we had how they came to be [...] and of the Ministers, and for [Page] what cause, I shall here after declare; but we m [...]y not think this charging of us as innovators strang; when as Christ himselfe had his doctrine censu| red as new; what Doctrine is this saith the Iews; Mark 1. 17. we are not then to expect that we shall escape the like censure of innovating.

The servant is not above his Lord, nor the Disciple above his Master; and indeed so St. Paul found it, for the Grecians made the same de­mand to him: May we (say they) know what this new doctrine is where of thou speakest; Acts17. But let us liberare animas nostras; conscientiae[?] satis­faciamus, nihil infamam laboremus, consentiamus i [...] ea quod convenit, non in eo quod traditum.

But to returne where I left, granting the name and office, we finde them to be onely Caterers or Stewards to provide foode and raiment for the Monks, whose garments, as they were not cost­ly, so was not their fare dainty, being but bread and water; as witnesseth St. Hiero [...], Athanasius, Theodoret, and others. And Surius in the life of Pacho[?] mus[?], written 1200 yeare since, testifieth the same. To have the like imployment now, I neither deny nor envie them.

Well now, let us see how they increased in authoritie, and came to bee accounted offi­cers of great dignity; then thus, when for the austeritie[?] of their lives, and opinion of their sanctitie, Princes and othere did besto [...]e lands and revenues upon the Monks, then their [Page] praposits the Deans did partake of their honours and possessions, and then began the corruption and poysoning of them; Tunc venenum [...] in Decan. religio peperit divit [...] & filia [...] [...]. Answerable whereto is that of Saint Hierom, In vitas Patrum, since holy Church in­creased in possessions, it decreased in vertues; the like hath Saint Bernard, and many others.

Thus we see that the spring that was cleare in the barren mountaines, descending downe to the richer vallies, becomes thicke and muddy, and at last is swallowed by the brinish Ocean; Salsum perdulces imbibet Aequor aquas. But to deliver. It in the words of an Honourable Authour: Time, saith he, is most truly compared to a streame that conveyeth downe fresh and pure water into the salt Sea of corruption which invironeth all hu­mane actions, and therefore if a man shall not by his industry, vertue, and pol [...]cy, as it were with the oare, row against the streame and inclination of time, all institutions and ordinances be they never so pure) will corrupt and degenerate; which we shall sea verified in Deanes and their officers. For now being endowed with great possessions, it was ordained they should be cho­sen out of the Presbytery to that place, Ne sit De­canum nise Presbyter, as I finde in Saint Bernard. Well, did they test in this state and condition [...] No, they must be civill Magistrates, Chancel­lors or Keepers of the Scale, Lord Treasurers, [Page] Privie Councellors, or what have they not of lay offices dignities, and titles? I will not[?] [...] ble you with enumeration of particular Dea [...]s I will ouely cite one, though (if the time permit­ted) I might cite 21. and that is a Deane of Paule, about Anno 1197. who was made Lord Treasu­rer, who carrying that office, quickly hoorded up a great treasure; at last falling into a deadly disease past recovery, he was exhorted by the Bi­shops and great men to receive the Sacrament of Christs body and blood, which he trembling at refused to doe; whereupon the King admonish­ed and commanded him to doe it, hee promised him thereupon to doe it the next day. Being ad­monished to make his will, hee commanded all to voyd the roome but one Scribe. Who begin­ning to write his Will in the accustomed formes, In the name of the Father, of the Sonne, &c. the Deane perceiving it, commanded him in a rage to blot it out, and these words onely to be writ­ten: I bequeath all my goods to my Lord the King, my body to the grave, and my soule to the Devils; which being uttered, hee gave up the ghost. The King hereupon commanded his carcase to be carried into a cart, and drowned in the River. Good God, what a change is this from being humble servants to poore Monkes, to become proud Prelates, Peers to Princes, Quan| tum mutati ab illi [...], nunc Cigni quomodo[?] Corvi. They now forsake their Templa paupe [...], & [Page] Templa pietatis, tanqum noxia nomins and onely [...]llow and make choice of Templa honor is, & Templa fortunae. They then tooke care for the [...]oore Monastery, but now poorely care for the Ministery: and to speak no lesse truly then plain­ly, they doe either just nothing, or (what is worse) nothing that is just. But not to tra [...]e them further, let us examine what their present office is, which we finde so honoured and dignified.

In the Constitutions of H. 8. and E. 6. thus I reade, ‘Decani quoque cum in Clero amplu [...] digni­talem & locum honoratum in Bcclesia soitiantur Presbyteri sun [...]o, viri graves docti & magna pruden­tlainsignes Cathedrales Ecclesias juxta illarum Con­stitutiones regant, Collegiotam Canonicorum quam Clericorum Ecclesiae majoris praesint, neque discipli­ [...]m lab [...] sinant, providiantque s [...]rmma diligen [...]ia [...]t in [...]sna Ecclesia sacrd vitue or [...] just a rat [...]ene per­igantur [...] omni ordine & convenienti gravitat [...] a [...]fratrum [...]tilitat. agantur, [...] [...]rehidiaconi [...] [...] domi hoc est in Ecclesia Cashedrali & ejus Ca­ [...]nicis & Clericis Episcopo sint adjumento quast duo [...] membr. utilissima & necessaria. Quare [...] De­cani abesse debent asua Ecclesia [...] maxima & [...]words gentissima causa ab Episcopo approbanda.’ I have de­livered the whole Chapter intire, because I would deale clearly.

Afterwards in the ninth Chapter I read prea­ching to be part of their duty. ‘Concionens habeat hecanus in Ecclesia Cathedrali singulis diebus dominicis’

[Page]Thus their office is declared to bee these par­ticulars following.

1. To rule and order the Church, and to look to the repaire, and for the decoration thereof, as is also elsewhere enjoyned.

2. To preserve discipline and holy rites.

3. To bee adjuments or assistants to the Bi­shops in Cathedrals, as bee the Archdeacons a­broad.

Part of which assistance is, as seemeth, to preach for them, but the Bishops will excuse them that service as too painfull, nay forbid it as too dangerous; but though they will not busie themselves in preaching, yet have they leisure to bee inventive and operative in poore beggerly toyes and trifles, which neither bring honour to God nor good to the Church and people; their preaching and godly life did an­tiently win the peoples hearts to love God, and them as his Ministers, whom they received as Angels of God, Embassadors from heaven: Humilitie, piety and industrie laide the founda­tion of all those magnificent structures, digni­ties, titles, places, revenewes and priviledges wherewith the Church-men were antiently en­dowed, what hath or is likely to wast and de­molish them is easie to conjecture; King Iames hath delivered it in these words. The naturall sicknesse that hath ever troubled and beene the decay of all Churches since the beginning [Page] of the world, hath beene pride, ambition, and avarice, and these infirmities wrought the overthrow of the popish Church, in this Coun­trie and diverse others; but the reformation of Religion in Scotland was extraordinarily wrought by God, though many things were inordinatly done by such as blindly were doing the worke of God. Thus farre that wife and re­ligious Prince.

But lest I should forget a principall part of the office, Church Musick, it shall have here the first place, the rather, for that as I reade the first comming in thereof was to usher Antichrist, for Idoe finde in my reading that Anno 666. the yeare that was designed or computed, for the comming of Antichrist, Vitalian Bishop of Rome brought to the Chirch singing of service and the use of Organs, &c. as we reade in Plas, Baleus, and others, in the life of Vitalian, who therefore was called the musicall Pope, although at that time there was greater occasion of sorrow, the Longobards having entred and wasted Italy, and therefore fasting and praying had beene more proper then musicke and melodious sing­ing. Here upon (saith mine Author) ignorance arose among the people, lulled, (as it were) asleepe by the confused noixe of many voices. This carried colour of advancing devotion, al­though it was no better (as the case then stood) then the Altar erected to the unknowne God, [Page] Acts 17. Hereby the key of knowledge was hid, Luke 11. When the common people understood not what was sung. and the heat of [...] quenched in men of understanding whose eares were tickled, but hearts not touched, whilst (at St. Augustine complaineth of himselfe) so most were more moved by the sweetnesse of the long then by the sense of the matter, which was [...]ung unto them, working their bane, like the deadly touch of the Aspis in a tickling delight, or as the soft touch of the Hien [...], which doth infatuate and lull asleepe and then devoureth; if Service in the Latine or unknowne tongue, whereof the simplest people understood somewhat, was just­ly censured, certainly this manner of singing Psalmes and Service, whereof the most learned can understand nothing, is to be condemned: I dislike not singing, though by musick of Or­gans and other instruments, but I wish that what [...] sung may be understood; and as Iustinian the Emperor commanded all Bishops and Priests to celebia [...] prayer with a loud & cleare voice, [...] mode, that the minds of the hearers might be sti [...]red up with more devotion to expresse the praises of God, so wish I, that Service and Psalmes may be so read and sung that they may be understood, and so edifie the mind as well as please the eare.

Now I am to declare that this office doth neither tend to the honour of God, the propaga­tion [Page] of piety, the advancement of learning, or benefit of the common weale, but to the con­trary, as I have delivered, rather to the disho­nour, &c. But the day being so farre spent, I will not assume too much boldnes to presse up­on your patience, for further hearing therof, but will crave leave for further rendring there­of at fitter opportunity and your better co [...]ve­niency.


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