The Anglican Reformed Church and Her Clergy in the Days of Their Destitution and Suffering during the Great Rebellion in the Seventeenth Century.
THE following speech of Bishop Hall, addressed to the House of Lords, gives us so faithful and touching a delineation of the character of the Anglican Reformed Church, and of the miserable condition to which the Puritanical Faction had then reduced, or was then reducing her, that it cannot fail to afford a most wholesome lesson to those of the present day, who, on the one hand, are still working for her destruction, and, on the other, may be lifelessly standing by, and merely lamenting, without bestirring themselves in any energetic manner to avert the blows which are so repeatedly inflicted upon her.
"My Lords, I have long held my peace, and meant to have done so still, but now, like Croesus mute son, I must break silence. I humbly beseech your Lordships to give me leave to take this too just occasion to move your Lordships to take into your deep and serious consideration the woeful and lament able condition of the poor Church of England, your [300/301] dear Mother. My Lords, this was not wont to be her stile. We have heretofore talked of the famous and flourishing Church of England; but now your Lordships must give me leave to say, that the poor Church of England humbly prostrates herself, next after his sacred Majesty, at your Lordships feet, and humbly craves your compassion and present aid. My Lords, it is a foul and dangerous insolence this, which is now complained of to you; but it is one but of a hundred of those which have been of late done to this church and government. The Church of England, as your Lordships cannot choose but know, hath been and is miserably infested on both sides with Papists on the one, and schismatics on the other side. The Psalmist hath of old distinguished the enemies of it into 'wild boars out of the wood,' and 'little foxes out of the burrows'-- the one whereof goes about to root up the very foundation of religion; the other to crop the branches, and blossoms, and clusters thereof--both of them conspire the utter ruin and devastation of it. As for the former of them, I do perceive a great deal of good zeal for the remedy and suppression of them; and I do heartily congratulate it, and bless God for it, and beseech Him to prosper it in these hands that shall undertake and prosper it. But for the other, give me leave to say, I do not find many that are sensible of the danger [301/302] of it, which yet in my apprehension is very great and apparent. Alas! my Lords, I beseech you to consider what it is,--that there should be in London, and the suburbs and liberties, no fewer than fourscore congregations of several sectaries, as I have been too credibly informed, instructed by guides fit for them--Coblers, Tailors, Feltmakers, and such like trash--which are all taught to spit in the face of their mother, the Church of England, and to defy and revile her government. From hence have issued those dangerous assaults of our Church governours; from hence, that inundation of base and scurrilous libels and pamphlets, wherewith we have of late been overborne, and in which Papists and Prelates, like oxen in a yoke, are still matched together. O, my Lords, I beseech you that you will be sensible of this great indignity. Do but look upon these reverend persons. Do not your Lordships see here, sitting on these benches, those who have spent their time, their strength, their bodies and lives, in preaching down and writing down Popery; and who would be ready, if occasion required, where offered, to sacrifice all their old blood that remains to the maintenance of that truth of God, which they have taught and written?--And shall we be thus despitefully ranged with them, whom we do professedly oppose? But alas! this is but one of those many scandalous [302/303] aspersions and intolerable affronts which are daily cast upon us. Now whither should we in this case have recourse for a needful and seasonable redress? The arm of the Church is, alas! now short and sinewless; it is the interposing your authority that must rescue us. You are the oldest sons of your dear mother, the Church, and therefore most fit and most able to vindicate her wrongs. You are amici sponsae; give me leave, therefore, in the bowels of Christ, humbly to beseech your Lordships to be tenderly sensible of these woeful and dangerous conditions of the times. And if the government of the Church of England be unlawful and unfit, abandon and disclaim it; but if otherwise, uphold and maintain it. Otherwise, if these lawless outrages be yet suffered to gather head, who knows where they will end?
"My Lords, if these men may, with impunity and freedom, thus bear down ecclesiastical authority, it is to be feared they will not rest there, but will be ready to affront the civil power too. Your Lordships know that the Jack Straws, and Cades, and Wat Tylers of former times, did not more cry down learning than nobility; and those of your Lordships that have read the history of the Anabaptistical tumults at Munster, will need no other item;--let it be enough to say, that many of these sectaries are of the same profession.
 "Shortly, therefore, let me humbly move your Lordships to take these dangers and miseries of this poor church deeply to heart, and upon this occasion to give order for the speedy redressing of these horrible insolencies, and for stopping of that deluge of libellous invectives, wherewith we are thus impetuously overflown, which in all due submission I humbly present to your Lordships wise and religious consideration."