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19. The multitude of canons formerly made, wherein among other things excommunication, ipso facto, is denounced for speaking of a word against the devices abovesaid, or subscription thereunto, though no law enjoined a restraint from the ministry without subscription, and appeal is denied to any that should refuse subscription or unlawful conformity, though he be never so much wronged by the inferior judges. Also the canons made in the late Sacred Synod, as they call it, wherein are many strange and dangerous devices to undermine the Gospel and the subjects' liberties, to propagate Popery, to spoil God's people, ensnare ministers, and other
students, and so to draw all into an absolute subjection and thraldom to them and their government, spoiling both the King and the Parliament of
20. The countenancing plurality of benefices, prohibiting of marriages without their license, at certain times almost half the year, and licensing of marriages without banns asking.
21. Profanation of the Lord's Day, pleading for it, and enjoining ministers to read a Declaration set forth (as it is thought) by their procurement for tolerating of sports upon that day, suspending and depriving many godly ministers for not reading the same only out of conscience, because it was against the law of God so to do, and no law of the land to enjoin it.
22. The pressing of the strict observation of the saints' days, whereby great sums of money are drawn out of men's purses for working on them ; a very high burthen on most people, who getting their living on their daily employments, must either omit them, and be idle, or part with their money, whereby many poor families are undone, or brought behindhand; yet many churchwardens are sued, threatened to be sued by their troublesome ministers, as perjured persons, for not presenting their parishioners who failed in observing holy-days.
23. The great increase and frequency of whoredoms and adulteries, occasioned by the prelates' corrupt administration of justice in such cases, who taking upon them the punishment of it, do turn all into monies for the filling of their purses ; and lest their officers should defraud them of their gain, they have in their late canon, instead of remedying these vices, decreed that the commutation of penance shall not be without the bishops' privity.
24. The general abuse of that great ordinance of excommunication, which God hath left in His Church as the last and greatest punishment which the Church can inflict upon obstinate and great offenders; and the prelates and their officers, who of right have nothing to do with it, do daily excommunicate men, either for doing that which is lawful, or for vain, idle, and trivial matters, as working, or opening a shop on a holy-day, for not appearing at every beck upon their summons, not paying a fee, or the like ; yea, they have made it, as they do all other things, a hook or instrument wherewith to empty men's purses, and to advance their own greatness ; and so that sacred ordinance of God, by their perverting of it, becomes contemptible to all men, and is seldom or never used against notorious offenders, who for the most part are their favourites.
25. Yea further, the pride and ambition of the prelates being boundless, unwilling to be subject either to man or laws, they claim their office and jurisdiction to be Jure Divino, exercise ecclesiastical authority in their own names and rights, and under their own seals, and take upon them temporal dignities, places and offices in the Commonwealth, that they may sway both swords.
26. Whence follows the taking Commissions in their own Courts and Consistories, and where else they sit in matters determinable of right at Common Law, the putting of ministers upon parishes, without the patron's and people's consent. i 27. The imposing of oaths of various and trivial articles yearly upon churchwardens and sidesmen, which they cannot take without perjury, unless they fall at jars continually with their ministers and neighbours, and wholly neglect their own calling.
28. The exercising of the oath ex officio, and other proceedings by way of inquisition, reaching even to men's thoughts, the apprehending and detaining of men by pursuivants, the frequent suspending and depriving of ministers, fining and imprisoning of all sorts of people, breaking up of men's houses and studies, taking away men's books, letters, and other writings, seizing upon their estates, removing them from their callings, separating between them and their wives against both their wills, the rejecting of prohibitions with threatenings, and the doing of many other outrages, to the utter infringing the laws of the realm and the subjects' liberties, and ruining of them and their families;
and of later time the judges of the land are so awed with the power and greatness of the prelates, and other ways promoted, that neither prohibition, Habeas Corpus, nor any other lawful remedy can be had, or take place, for the distressed subjects in most cases; only Papists, Jesuits, Priests, and such others as propagate Popery or Arminianism, are countenanced, spared, and have much liberty ; and from hence followed amongst others these dangerous consequences.
1. The general hope and expectation of the Romish party, that their superstitious religion will ere long be fully planted in this kingdom again, and so they are encouraged to persist therein, and to practise the same openly in divers places, to the high dishonour of God, and contrary to the laws of the realm.
2. The discouragement and destruction of all good subjects, of whom are multitudes, both clothiers, merchants and others, who being deprived of their ministers, and overburthened with these pressures, have departed the kingdom to Holland, and other parts, and have drawn with them a great manufacture of cloth and trading out of the land into other places where they reside, whereby wool, the great staple of the kingdom, is become of small value, and vends not ; trading is decayed, many poor people want work, seamen lose employment, and the whole land is much impoverished, to the great dishonour of this kingdom and blemishment to the government thereof.
3. The present wars and commotions happened between His Majesty and his subjects of Scotland, wherein His Majesty and all his kingdoms are endangered, and suffer greatly, and are like to become a prey to the common enemy in case the wars go on, which we exceedingly fear will not only go on, but also increase to an utter ruin of all, unless the prelates with their dependences be removed out of England, and also they and their practices, who, as we under your Honour's favours, do verily believe and conceive have occasioned the quarrel. All which we humbly refer to the consideration of this
Honourable Assembly, desiring the Lord of heaven to direct you in the right way to redress all these evils.
18. THE TRIENNIAL ACT. [February 15, 1641. 16 Car. I. cap. I. Statutes of the Realm, v. 54
See Hist. of Engl. ix. 253, 262, 290.] An Act for the preventing of inconveniences happening by
the long intermission of Parliaments. I. Whereas by the laws and statutes of this realm the Parliament ought to be holden at least once every year for the redress of grievances, but the appointment of the time and place for the holding thereof hath always belonged, as it ought, to His Majesty and his royal progenitors : and whereas it is by experience found that the not holding of Parliaments accordingly hath produced sundry and great mischiefs and inconveniences to the King's Majesty, the Church and Commonwealth ; for the prevention of the like mischiefs and inconveniences in time to come :
II. Be it enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty, with the consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, that the said laws and statutes be from henceforth duly kept and observed ; and your Majesty's loyal and obedient subjects, in this present Parliament now assembled, do humbly pray that it be enacted : and be it enacted accordingly, by the authority of this present Parliament, that in case there be not a Parliament summoned by writ under the Great Seal of England, and assembled and held before the roth of September, which shall be in the third year next after the last day of the last meeting and sitting in this present Parliament, the beginning of the first year to be accounted from the said last day of the last meeting and sitting in Parliament, and so from time to time, and in all times hereafter, if there shall not be a Parliament assembled and held before the 10th day of September, which shall be in the third year next after the last day of the last meeting and sitting in Parliament before the time assembled and held; the beginning of the first year to be accounted from the said last day of the last meeting and sitting in Parliament; that then in every such case as aforesaid, the Parliament shall assemble and be held in the usual place at Westminster, in such manner, and by such means only, as is hereafter in this present Act declared and enacted, and not otherwise, on the second Monday, which shall be in the month of November, then next ensuing. And in case this present Parliament now assembled and held, or any other Parliament which shall at any time hereafter be assembled and held by writ under the Great Seal of England, or in case any Parliament shall be assembled and held by authority of this present Act; and such Parliaments, or any of them, shall be prorogued, or adjourned, or continued by prorogation or adjournment, until the 10th day of September, which shall be in the third year next after the last day of the last meeting and sitting in Parliament, to be accounted as aforesaid ; that then in every such case, every such Parliament so prorogued or adjourned, or so continued by prorogation or adjournment, as aforesaid, shall from the said oth day of September be thenceforth clearly and absolutely dissolved, and the Lord Chancellor of England, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and every Commissioner and Commissioners, for the keeping of the Great Seal of England, for the time being, shall within six days after the said 10th day of September, in every such third year as aforesaid, in due form of law and without any further warrant or direction from His Majesty, his heirs or successors, seal, issue forth, and send abroad several and respective writs to the several and respective peers of this realm, commanding every such peer that he personally be at the Parliament to be held at Westminster on the second Monday which shall be in November next following the said 10th day of September, then and there to treat concerning the high and urgent affairs concerning His Majesty, the state and defence of the kingdom and Church of England ; and shall also seal and issue forth, and send abroad several and respective writs to the several and respective sheriffs of the several and respective counties, cities and boroughs of England and Wales, and to the Constable of the Castle of Dover, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, or his lieutenant for the time being, and to the Mayor and Bailiffs of Berwick upon Tweed, and to all and every other officers and persons to whom writs have used to be directed, for the electing of the knights, citizens, barons and burgesses of and for the said Counties, Cities, Cinque Ports and Boroughs of England and Wales respectively, in the accustomed form, to appear and serve in the Parliament to be held at Westminster on the said second Monday, which shall be in November aforesaid ; which said peers, after the said writs received, and which said knights, citizens, barons and burgesses chosen by virtue of the said writs, shall then and there appear and serve in Parliament accord