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inundation of atheism, infidelity, profaneness, and licentiousness, which was like to overwhelm us, from what mouths and hearts it first proceeded, and how the people joined with the Queen's endeavours to divert this food, I cannot but reflect on that remarkable passage in the Revelations, where the serpent with seven heads cast out of his mouth water after the WOMAN like a flood, that he might cause her to be carried awury of the flood : but the Earth helped the woman, and the earth opened ber mouth, and swallowed up the flood, which the dragon bad cast out of his mouth. For the Queen having changed her ministry suitable to her own wisdom, and the wishes of her subjects, and having called a free parliament, and at the same time summoned the convocation by her royal writ, as in all times had been accustomed; and soon after their meeting sent a most gracious letter to the archbishop of Canterbury to be communicated to the bishop and clergy of his province; taking notice of “ the loose and profane principles, which “ had been openly scattered and propagated among her subjects: that the con
« sultations of the clergy were particular
ly requisite to repress and prevent such
daring attempts, for which her subjects “ from all parts of the kingdom have “ shewn their just abhorrence: he hopes “ the endeavours of the clergy in this re
spect will not be unsuccessful; and for “ her part, is ready to give them all fit
encouragement to proceed in the difpatch of such business, as properly belongs to them; and to grant them powers
requisite to carry on so good a work : in conclusion, “ earnestly recommending “ to them to avoid disputes; and deter
mining to do all that in her lies to compose and extinguish them.”
It is to be hoped, that this last part of her majesty's letter will be the first, she will please to execute; for, it seems, this very letter created the first dispute; the fact whereof is thus related : The upper house having formed an address to the Queen, before they received her majesty's letter, sent both address and letter together to the lower house, with a message excusing their not mentioning the letter in the address, because this was formed before
the other was received. The lower house returned them with a desire, that an address might be formed with due regard and acknowledgments for the letter. After some difficulties, the same address was sent down again with a clause inserted, making some short mention of the said letter. This the lower house did not think sufficient, and sent it back again with the fame request: whereupon the archbishop, after a short consultation with some of his brethren, immediately adjourned the convocation for a month; and no address at all was sent to the Queen.
Iunderstand not ecclesiastical affairs well enough to comment upon this matter; but it seems to me, that all methods of doing service to the church and kingdom, by means of a convocation, may be at any time eluded, if there be no remedy against such an incident. And, if this proceeding be agreeable to the institution, Spiritual afsemblies must needs be strangely contrived, very different from any lay senate yet known in the world. Surely, from the nature of such a synod, it must be a very unhappy circumstance, when the majority
of of the bishops draws one way, and that of the lower clergy another. The latter, I think, are not at this time suspected for any principles bordering upon those professed by enemies to episcopacy; and if they happen to differ from the greater part of the present sett of bishops, I doubt it will call fome things to mind, that may turn the scale of general favour on the inferior clergy's side; who, with a profound duty to her majesty, are perfectly pleased with the present turn of affairs. Besides, curious people will be apt to enquire into the dates of some promotions, to call to mind what designs were then upon the anvil; and from thence make malicious dedu£tions. Perhaps they will observe the manner of voting on the bishops bench, and compare it with what shall pass in the upper
house of convocation. There is however one comfort; that under the present dispositions of the kingdom a dislike to the proceedings of any of their lordships, even to the number of a majority, will be purely personal, and not turned to the disadvantage of the order. And for my part, as I am a true lover of the church, I had rather
find the inclinations of the people favourable to episcopacy in general, than fee a majority of prelates cried up by those, who are known enemies to the character. Nor indeed hath any thing given me more offence for several years past, than to observe, how some of that bench have been caressed by certain persons; and others of them openly celebrated by the infamous pens of atheists, republicans, and fanaticks.
Time and mortality can only remedy these inconveniencies in the church, which are not to be cured, like those in the state, by a change of ministry. If we may guess the temper of a convocation from the choice of a prolocutor, as it is usual to do that of a house of commons by the speaker, we may expect great things from that reverend body, who have done themselves much reputation by pitching upon a gentleman of so much piety, wit, and learning, for that office; and one, who is fo thoroughly versed in those parts of knowledge, which are proper for it. I am sorry, that the three latin speeches delivered upon presenting the prolocutor were not made publick; they might perhaps have