Saturday, January 10, 2015

Archbishop Laud Executed: January 10, 1645

William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury was executed on January 10, 1645 after trial in the House of Lords, although since the trial proceedings in December of 1644 failed to convict him, the House of Commons Attainted him a Traitor, even though he had certainly not committed treason against King Charles I. Among the charges John Pym made against him (my emphasis added):

That he hath endeavoured to subvert the fundamental laws of this kingdom [...].
His countenancing of books for the maintenance of his unlimited power [...]
That he traiterously went about to interrupt the judges, by his threatenings, and other means, to constrain them to give false judgment in the case of ship-money [...].
That he hath taken bribes, and sold justice in the high commission court [...].
That he hath traiterously endeavoured the incroachment of jurisdiction, institution of canons, and they are not only against law, but prejudicial, and against the liberties of the subjects [...].
That he hath traitorously assumed to himself a capital power over his Majesty's subjects, denying his power of prelacy from the King.
That, by false erroneous doctrines, and other sinister ways and means, he went about to subvert religion, established in this kingdom, and to set up popery and superstition in the church [...].
That, by divers undue means and practices, he hath gotten into his hands the power and nominating of ministers to spiritual promotions, and hath presented none but slanderous men thereunto; and that he hath presented corrupt chaplains to his Majesty.
That his own ministers, as Heywood, Layfield, and others, are notoriously disaffected to religion; and he hath given power of licencing of books to them.
That he hath traiterously endeavoured to reconcile us to the church of Rome; and to that end hath employed a Jesuit, a papist, and hath wrought with the pope's agents in several points.
That to suppress preaching, he hath suspended divers good and honest ministers, and hath used unlawful means, by letters, and otherwise, to set all bishops to suppress them.
That, he hath traiterously endeavoured to suppress the French religion here with us, being the same religion we are of, and also the Dutch church, and to set division between them and us.
That he hath traiterously endeavoured to set a division between the King and his subjects, and hath gone about to bring in innovations into the church, as by the remonstrances may appear, and hath induced the king to this war with the Scots [...].
That, to save and preserve himself from being questioned and sentenced from these and other his traiterous designs, from the first year of his now Majesty's reign, until now, he hath laboured to subvert the rights of parliamentary proceedings, and to incense his Majesty against parliaments [...].

This site recounts his last words on the scaffold:

"Good People,--This is an uncomfortable time to preach; yet I shall begin with a text of Scripture, Hebrews xii. 2: 'Let us run with patience the race that is set before us: looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.'

"I have been long in my race; and how I have looked to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, He best knows. I am now come to the end of my race; and here I find the Cross, a death of shame. But the shame must be despised, or no coining to the right hand of God. Jesus despised the shame for me, and God forbid but that I should despise the shame for Him.

"I am going apace, as you see, towards the Red Sea, and my feet are now upon the very brink of it; an argument, I hope, that God is bringing me into the Land of Promise; for that was the way through which He led His people.

"But before they came to it, He instituted a passover for them. A lamb it was, but it must be eaten with sour herbs. I shall obey, and labor to digest the sour herbs as well as the lamb. And I shall remember it is the Lord's passover. I shall not think of the herbs, nor be angry with the hand that gathereth them; but look up only to Him who instituted that, and governs these; for men can have no more power over me than what is given them from above.

"I am not in love with this passage through the Red Sea, for I have the weakness and infirmities of flesh and blood plentifully in me. And I have prayed with my Saviour, ut transiret calix iste, that this cup of red wine might pass from me. But if not, God's will, not mine, be done. And I shall most willingly drink of this cup, as deep as He pleases, and enter into this sea, yea, and pass through it, in the way that He shall lead me.".....

So the speech began. Very much that the Archbishop was greatly concerned to say to the people of England I shall pass over. He was moved to show by many examples that servants of God were very liable to suffer misrepresentation and persecution and death. He had a carefully prepared defense to offer for himself. But I am concerned here with nothing but his relations with God. So I pass on to the closing words.

"But I have done. I forgive all the world, all and every of those bitter enemies which have persecuted me; and humbly desire to be forgiven, of God first, and then of every man. And so I heartily desire you to join in prayer with me.

"O eternal God and merciful Father, look down upon me in mercy, in the riches and fulness of all Thy mercies. Look upon me, but not till Thou hast nailed my sins to the Cross of Christ, not till Thou hast bathed me in the blood of Christ, not till I have hid myself in the wounds of Christ; that so the punishment due unto my sins may pass over me. And since Thou art pleased to try me to the uttermost, I most humbly beseech Thee, give me now, in this great instant, full patience, proportionable comfort, and a heart ready to die for Thine honour, the King's happiness, and this Church's preservation. And my zeal to these (far from arrogancy be it spoken) is all the sin (human frailty excepted, and all the incidents thereto), which is yet known to me in this particular, for which I come now to suffer; I say, in this particular of treason. But otherwise, my sins are many and great; Lord, pardon them all, and those especially (whatever they are), which have drawn down this present judgment upon me. And when Thou hast given me strength to bear it, do with me as seems best in Thine own eves. Amen."

More on Archbishop Laud and his life here.

No comments:

Post a Comment