Sr. HENRY VANE HIS SPEECH In the House of Commons, at a Committee for the Bill against Episcopall-Government, Mr. HIDE sitting in the CHAIRE. June 11. 1641.

LONDON. Printed for Francis Constable, 1641.

Sr. HENRY VANE HIS SPEECH, At a Committee for the Bill against Episcopall Government, Iune 11. 1641.

Master Hide,

THe debate we are now upon is, whether the Government by Arch-bishops, Bishops, Chancel­lors, &c. should be taken away out of the Church and Kingdome of England: for the right stating wherof, we must re­member the vote which past yesterday, not only by this Committee, but the House, which was to this effect: That this Government hath bin found [Page 2] by long experience, to be a great impediment to the perfect reformation and gowth of Reli­gion, and very prejudiciall to the civill State.

So that then the Question will lie thus before us, Whether a Government, which long expe­rience hath set so ill a Character upon, i [...]ing danger, not only to our Religion, but the civill State, should be any longer continued amongst us, or be utterly abolished? For my owne part, I am of the opinion of those, who conceive that the strength of reason already set downe, in the Preamble to this Bill, by yesterdayes vote, is a necessary decision of this Question: For one of the maine ends for which Church-govern­ment is set up, is to advance and further the per­fect reformation and growth of Religion; which wee have already voted, this Government doth contradict; so that it is destructive to the very end for which it should be, and is most necessa­ry and desireable; in which respect certainly we have cause enough to lay it aside, not one­ly as uselesse, in that it attaines not its end, but as dangerous, in that it destroy [...] and con [...] ­dicts it.

In the second place, we have voted it preju­diciall to the civill State, as having so powerfull and ill an influence upon our Laws, the Preroga­tive of the King, and liberties of the Subject, that it is like a spreading leprosie, which leaves no­thing untainted, and uninfected which it comes neere.

May we not therefore well s [...]y of this Go­vernment, no our Saviour in the fifth of Mathew speaks of salt (give me leave upon this occasion to make use of Scripture, as well as others have done in this debate) where it is said that salt is good; but if the salt hath lost its savour, wherewith will you season it? It is thenceforth good for no­thing, but to be cast out, and troden und [...]r foot of men: so Church-government, in the generall, is good, and that which is necessary, and which we all desire; but when any particular forme of it hath once lost its savour, by being destructive to its owne ends, for which it is set up, (as by our vote already passed we say this hath) then surely, Sir, we have no more to doe but to cast it out, and endevour, the best we can, to provide ourselves a better.

But to this it hath beene said that the Go­vernment now in question, may be for amended and reformed, that it needs not be pulled quite downe or abolished: because it is conceived, it hath no originall sinne, or evill in it: or if it have, it is said, regeneration will take that way.

Vnto which I answer, I doe consent that we should do with this Government, as we are done by in regeneration, in which all old things are to passe away, and all things are to become new, and this we must doe, if we desire a perfect re­formation, and growth of our Religion, or good to our civill state. For the whole Fabrick of this [Page 4] building is so rotten and corrupt, from the very foundation of it to the top, that if we pull it not down now, it will fall about the eares of all those that endevour it, within a very few yeares.

The universall rottennesse, or corruption of this government, will most evidently appeare by a disquisition into these ensuing particulars.

First, Let us consider in what soile this root growes: Is it not in the Popes Paradise? doe not one and the same principles and grounds main­taine the Papacie, or universall Bishop, as doe our Diocesan or Metropolitan Bishops? All those authorities which have beene brought us out of the Fathers and antiquity, will they not as well, if not better, support the Popedome as the order of our Bishops? So likewise all these arguments for its agreeablenesse to Monarchy, and cure of Schisme, doe they not much more strongly hold for the acknowledgement of the Pope, then for our Bishops? and yet have Monar­chies beene ever a whit the more absolute for the Popes universall Monarchy? or their Kingdomes lesse subject to schismes and seditions? whatso­ever other kingdomes have beene, I am sure our Histories can tell us, this Kingdome hath not: and therefore we have cast him off long since, as hee is forraine, though we have not beene without one in our owne bowels. For the difference be­tweene a Metropolitan, or Diocesan, or uni­versall Bishop, is not of kinds, but of degrees: and a Metropolitan or Diocesan Bishop is as ill [Page 5] able to performe the duty of a Pastor to his Dio­cesse or Province, as the Vniversall Bishop is able to doe it to the whole world: For the one cannot doe but by Deputies, and no more can the other; and therefore since we all confesse the grounds upon which the Papacy stands are rotten, how can we deny but these that maintain our Bishops are so too, since they are one and the same?

In the second place, let us consider by what hand this root of Episcopacy was planted, and how it came into the Church.

It is no difficult matter to finde this out; for is not the very spirit of this order, a spirit of pride, exalting it selfe in the Temple of God, over all that is called God? First, exalting it selfe above its fellow Presbiters, under the forme of a Bishop; then over its fellow Bishops, under the title of Archbishops, and so still mounting over those of its own profession, till it come to be Pope, and then it sticks not to tread upon the necks of Princes, Kings, and Emperours, and trample them under its feet. Also thus you may trace it from it first rise, and discerne by what spirit this order came into the Church, and by what doore; even by the back-doore of pride and ambition, not by Christ Jesus. It is not a plant which Gods right hand hath planted, but is full of rottennesse and corruption; that mystery of iniquity, which hath wrought thus long, and so fit to be plucked up, and removed out of the way.

Thirdly, Let us consider the very nature and quality of this tree, or root in its selfe, whether it be good or corrupt in its owne nature; we all know where it is said, A good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit, nor a corrupt tree good fruit: Doe men gather grapes of thornes, or sigs of thistles? By its fruit therefore we shall be sure to know it; and according as the fruits of the Govern­ment have beene amongst us, either in Church, of Common-wealth, so let it stand, or fall with us.

In the Church.

AS it selfe came in by the back doore into the Church, and was brought in by the spi­rit of Antichrist, so it selfe hath been the back-doore and in-let of all superstition and corrupti­on into the worship and doctrine of this Church, and the meanes of hastening us back againe to Rome. For proofe of this, I appeale to all our knowledges in late yeares past, the memory whereof is so fresh, I need enter into no parti­culars.

A second fruit of this Government in the Church, hath beene the displacing of the most godly and Conscientious Ministers; the vexing, punishing, and banishing out of the Kingdome, the most religious of all sorts and conditions, that would not comply with their superstitious inventions and ceremonies; in one word, the turning the edge and power of their Govern­ment, [Page 7] against the very life and power of Godli­nesse; and the favour and protection of it unto all prophane, scandalous, and superstitious per­sons tha [...] would uphold their party. Thousands of examples might be given of this, if it were not most notorious.

A third fruit hath been Scisme and Fractions within our selves, and Alienation from all the re­formed Churches abroad.

And lastly, the prodigious monster of the late Canons, whereby they had designed the whole Nation to a perpetuall slavery and bondage to themselves, and their superstitious Inventions. These are the fruits of the Government in the Church. Now let us consider these in the Civil State: As:

  • 1 The countenancing all illegall Projects and proceedings, by teaching in their pulpits the law­fulnesse of an arbitrary Power.
  • 2 The overthrowing all processe at Common Law, that reflected never so little upon their Courts.
  • 3 The kindling a warre betweene these two Nations, and blowing up the flame, as much as in them lay, by their Councels, Canons, and Subsidies they granted to that end.
  • 4 The plots, practises, and Combinations du­ring this Parliament; in all which they seeme to have beene interested more or lesse.

Thus have they not contented themselves with encroachments upon our spirituall priviledges, [Page 8] but have envied us our Civill freedome, desiring to make us grind in their mill, as the Philistims did Sampson, and to put out both our eyes. O let us be avenged of these Philistims for our two eyes!

If then the tree bee to be knowne by its fruits, I hope you see by this time plainly the nature and quality of this tree.

In the last place, give mee leave for a close of all to present to your consideration the mis­cheifes, which the continuance of this Govern­ment doth threaten us with, if by the wisdome of this Committee they be not prevented.

1 The danger our Religion must ever be in, so long as it is in the hands of such Governours, as can stand firmly in nothing more than its ru­ine; and whose affinity with the Popish Hierar­chie makes them more confident of the Papists, than the professors of the reformed Religion, for their safety and subsistence.

Secondly, the unhappy condition our civill State is in, whilst the Bishops have vote in the Lords house, being there as so many obstructi­ons, in our body Politike, to all good and whol­some Lawes tending to salvation.

Thirdly, the improbability of setling any firme or durable peace, so long as the cause of the war yet continues, and the bellowes that blow up this flame.

Lastly, and that which I will assure you goes nearest to my heart, is the check which we seem to give to Divine Providence, if we doe not at [Page 9] this time pull downe this Government. For hath not this Parliament been called, continued, pre­served, and secured, by the immediate finger of God, as it were for this work? had we not else been swallowed up in many inevitable dan­gers, by the practises and designes of these men and their party? Hath not God left them to them­selves, as well in these things, as in the evill ad­ministration of their Government, that he might lay them open unto us, and lead us, as it were, by the hand, from the finding them to be the causes of our evill, to discerne that their rooting up must be our onely cure? Let us not then halt any longer between two opinions, but with one heart and resolution give glory to God, in com­plying with his providence, and with the good safety and peace of this Church and State, which is by passing this Bill we are now upon.


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