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MOST REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,
WILL I A M,
BY DIVINE PROVIDENCE,
LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY,
PRIMATE OF ALL ENGLAND, AND METROPOLITAN CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, AND ONE OF HIS MAJESTY'S
MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNCIL.
MY MOST HONOURABLE GOOD LORD!
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE,
It was obedience to my superior, that engaged me upon this last anniversary commemoration of the great goodness of God Almighty to our King and Country, in the discovery of the most damnable powder-treason. It was a blessing which no tongue could express, much less mine, which had scarce learned to speak,—at least, was most unfit to speak in the schools of the prophets. “Delicata autem est illa obedientia, quæ causas quærit.” It had been no good argument of my obedience to have disputed the inconvenience of my person, and the unaptness of my parts, for such an employment. I knew God, out of the mouth of infants, could acquire his praise,
and if my heart were actually as votive as my tongue should have been, it might be one of God's ‘magnalia’ to perfect his own praise out of the weakness and imperfection of the organ. So as I was able, I endeavoured to perform it, having my obedience ever ready for my excuse to men, and my willingness to perform my duty, for the assoilment of myself before God; part of which I hope was accepted, and I have no reason to think, that the other was not pardoned.
When I first thought of the barbarism of this treason, I wondered not so much at the thing itself, as by what means it was possible for the devil to gain so strong a party in men's resolutions, as to move them to undertake a business so abhorring from Christianity, so evidently full of extreme danger to their lives, and so certainly to incur the highest wrath of God Almighty. My thoughts were thus rude at first; but, after a strict inquisition, I found it was apprehended as a business, perhaps, full of danger to their bodies, but advantageous to their souls, consonant to the obligation of all Christians, and meritorious of an exceeding weight of glory; for now it was come to pass, which our dear Master foretold, “Men should kill us, and think they did God good service in it.” I could not think this to be a part of any man's religion, nor
do I yet believe it. For it is so apparently destructive of our dear Master's royal laws of charity and obedience, that I must not be so uncharitable as to think they speak their own mind truly, when they profess their belief of the lawfulness and necessity, in some cases, of rebelling against their lawful Prince, and using all means to throw him from his kingdom, though it be by taking of his life. But it is but just that they who break the bonds of duty to their Prince, should likewise forfeit the laws of charity to themselves, and if they say not true, yet to be more uncharitable to their own persons, than I durst be, though I had their own warrant. Briefly, Most Reverend Father, I found amongst them of the Roman party such prevailing opinions, as could not consist with loyalty to their Prince, in case he were not the pope's subject; and these so generally believed, and somewhere obtruded under peril of their souls, that I could not but point at these dangerous rocks, at which, I doubt not, but the loyalty of many hath suffered shipwreck, and of thousands more might, if a higher star had not guided them better than their own pilots.
I could not, therefore, but think it very likely, that this treason might spring from the same fountain; and I had concluded so in my first medita