A Necessary and plaine Answer to
the Question of a conscientious
the Lands of the BISHOPS,
and Churches in England and
Wales may be sold ?

It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy.
Sr.Edward Coke,Inftit.2.c.I.

What ever is granted to Gods church,i.e. to Churchmen,
for his honour and maintainence of his Religion and Service,
is granted for and to God:and what is given to God,is holy.

Remove not the old Land-mark,and enter not into the field
of the Fatherless,for their Redeemer is mighty,and he shall
plead their cause with thee.

Our Law-Books teaches us,that the Church is ever under-
stood to be underage,and to be as a Pupill or Fatherless:and
that it is not agreeable to Law or Right that such should be

Printed in the Yeare,1647.



[Page 15]

1.1. CHAP. V.
That it hath been so judged by the most strict Reformers in the Protestant Churches.

IT were easie to give you the sayings of many Primitive Orthodox Fathers in this case; but conceiving that the later Divines relish better with you, I shall therefore set downe the judgement of the three Oracles, (as they are held by many) of the first, best, and strictest Reformed Churches, in Germany , France, and Scotland : And for Germany , Dr Luther , Gal.6.6 when hee saw the Clergy despised, and their lands taken away, Preached and Printed these words; [The Apostle] here closely toucheth the manners of our Countreymen, who most securely contemne our Ministery; and especially the Nobles, who make their Pasters, as their base and obnoxious servants; in so much, that if we had not so godly a Prince, (as God be thanked we have) and so great a lover of the truth, they had, ere now, driven us out of the land; and yet these would be accounted Gospellers. After this, he meets with a tacit Objection: viz. That these Revenues of the Church were given in the time of Popery; to which he answers in these words, Gram it that these goods were, by moore imposture, heaped up for Papists, yet God, spoyling the Egyptians, i. e. Papists, of their goods, transtated them to good uses in our Land.

He goes on, The Devill hath but two ordinary wayes to destrey Religion, the one is by the errors of Hereticks, (against which we [Page 16] had by Ordinance a day of Humiliation,) ..10.1646 the other by depriving of Gods Ministers of their Rights; and this saith he, is the Devils masterpiece, hereby to destroy Religion, without either the force of Tyrants, or the subtle worke of Hereticks. But know (saith he) that although God for a time defers to punish, yet in his own time he will finde you out, and plague your doglike scorne and hate to Gods Ministers: For saith he, The highest of the Gentry, and most covetous of the City, and the basest in the Countrey, when they draw neere to death, shall finde that God will not be mocked: but as they have sowne, so shall they reap for ever. Thus farre the first great publike Reformer of the Protestants Church in Germany.

Next to him, Note: De..reform.
heare Mr Calvin thus speaking; I professe, saith he, that I am much displeased that the Revenues of the Church are not imployed for those uses alone, for which they were dedicated: and that it is not so, I and all good men heartily grieve. For, saith he, it is an inexpiable Sacrilege to take the patrimony of the Church, and to wast the same on profane uses: and what hee meanes by profane uses and wasting, he explaines in these words, when he saith, I assent to this as a truth, that it is Sacrilege to convert or change the goods or revenues of the Church to any other use, then for the Church: And adds, Seldome have I found but that such Alienations of Church lands, have drawne some mischiefe after them : and hee not onely determines this kind of Sacriledge to be such a grievous sinne and dangerous to the State, but even to the persons plotting and acting in the same; for so he concludes, I confesse, saith he, that in Scripture grievous punishments are pronounced against such men, as shall spoile the Church of her goods and Revenues. And when you shall consider that Mr Calvin wrote this Treatise to the Emperour and Princes of Germany, assembled at that time in a Diet (or Parliament) for the Reformation of the Church; then well weigh how at this time, his judgement and sentence should prevaile with you in this case, who, for holinesse, learning, and judgement, is so extolled by the Protestant Churches. Will you heare but one passage for many, from Mr Beza successour to Mr Calvin in Geneva , and it shall be that which hee wrote in his answer to Dr Saravia ? [Page 17] who touching upon the dissolution, and passing away the Lands of the Religious Houses in the time of - K. Henry the Eighth, saith, We and all good men heartily bewaile that scattering of the Church Lands, accompanied with a most wicked, and detestable Sacrilege.

And from Germany and France , let us to our Polestarre in Scotland, and here Mr Knox the prime principal Reformer of that Kirk , who, with his brethren Ministers, - In the Book of Disc.
desires the Lords of the Councel, for feare of the losse of their soules, to make restitution of the Lands of the Church, and of the Friers: and in his Letter on his deathbed, - In the yeare,
he commands his Brethren to withstand the devourers of the Church Patrimony, wherein if they (the devourers) shall persist, yet communicate ye not with them by consent, or by silence. And in the Booke of Discipline, 1569 The Patrimony of the Church is declared to be all things doted to the Church: and it pronounces them to be theeves, who have taken them from the Church; and affirmes, In Second Book Of
to take away any thing which was given to the Church, to be detestable Sacrilege before God.

Moreover, the whole Church of Scotland in their Assembly, enjoynes a publike Fast throughout all the whole Kingdome, At Edinburgh,
To appease Gods wrathon the Land, for that crying sinne of Sacrilege therein committed . Now can any, who have sworne to maintaine the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of Scotland , know this, and yet Vote the selling of Church Lands? If so, why may we not pray, Lord have mercy on them? For did ever any Protestant Church maintaine, that Church lands might be taken or sold from the Church? If not, (which I perswade my selfe they have not) then why doe you not feare that you are not in the right way, or not right Protestants , but rather in this point, that you are Papists ? For that these onely of all Christian Churches have allowed the practice of it? and yet these doe it not but under the colourable and falsly pretended power, which the Pope usurps, as being Christs Vicar on earth; Whereby, he saith, he may dispense with the Church lands as he pleaseth: which title or power, I hope our Parliament doth not assume or challenge to themselves, although K. Henry the Eighth in the dissolution of the Abbies, thus argued, [Page 18] If the Pope and his Legate the Cardinal doe it, then why not I? And yet I pray note by the way, that K. Henry the Eighth, so decryed for a notorious Sacrilegist, yet never did he take away the lands of Bishops, nor Cathedrals: but on the contrary, he founded some, and enlarged others. But why in Gods name are not the Assembly of Divines at Westminster consulted with in this point? Or why doe not our conscientious Brethren read the Annotations of the Assembly, who note, that Egypt (which would not in the greatest extremity of famine, Note: Gen.47. when all other mens lands were sold, yet then that they would not sell the lands of the Priests) shall rise up in judgement against the alienators or sellors of lands, which have been dedicated to God or his Servants.

[Page 24]



That it is against the Prudence, and Justice of the King; and against his lawful Oath.

AS the selling Bishops Lands is against our Lawes, which the two Houses, and Kingdome, by their severall Declarations, Protestations, and Covenants, have solemnly bound themselves to maintain; so it is against the Kings Prudence, against his Justice, and against his lawfull and just Oath.

It is against the Kings Prudence to devest, and rob himself of those Immunities, Note: 25 Hew.8.10,
26 H...8.3
and 1.Eliz.4
14 Ed.3.4
Rights, Profits, and Revenues, which the Law of this Land hath settled in the Crown: as, Collation of Bishopricks, First-fruits, and Tenths.

It is against the Kings Justice, to take or make that away from his Heires and Successours, which by our Lawes are justly and rightly granted unto them; and these Rights the two Kingdomes of England and Scotland have sworn to maintain.

It is against his Justice, to doe, or suffer it to be done, in respect of the Bishops, to whom the King, as the fountaine of Justice, is bound to see Justice done, (as to his Subjects in general;) 2. Inst.tut.1. but then, considering, from Sr Edward Coke, that by our old Lawbooks, the Church is ever under age, and in the custody or guardianship of the King, who is bound to maintaine and defend the Rights and Inheritances of the Church, and that it cannot be agreeable to Right and Justice, that Pupils under age, through the negligence, or default of the Guardians should suffer losse, or disinheritance, I pray, well [Page 25]weigh, whether it wil not amount even to a crying sinne in the King, to doe, or suffer such an injustice to be done to his Pupil, the Church, destitute of all help on earth, save onely what she may justly expect from the King? Solomon the wisest King on earth, from the Spirit of God hath spoken it; Enter not into the fields of the Fatherlesse, for their Redeemer is mighty, and he shal plead their cause with thee. Prov.23.10,11And when you wel consider and weigh, what an Oath the King hath taken at his Coronation, you cannot, I beleeve, acquit the King of a flat perjury, if hee shall assent to the selling away of the Bishops Lands.

But what I shal urge in this point, is not so much to inform the King, (who I am verily perswaded by the illumination of Gods Spirit, his frequent reading the holy Scriptures, and by the Principles received from his most religious and learned Father, of ever blessed memory, is so fully satisfied and resolved, that neither height nor depth, nor any creature, shall be able to separate or deterr him, from the just defence of the Church;) as to let the world see, that it was not (as some ignorantly, and uncharitably may term it) pertinacity in the King, not to assent to the destruction of the Church established, but the dictate of a good conscience rightly informed. And that it may well be so, be pleased to hear and consider what, how, to whom, where, when, the King swears. For being to be Crowned King of England, in the convention or presence of his Nobles, Clergy, and People in the Church, the Bishop askes the King; Sir, will you grant, and keep, and by your Oath confirm the Lawes, Customes, and Franchises granted to the Clergy, according to the Lawes of God? The King answers, I grant and promise to keep them. Then the Bishop speakes to the King; Our Lord and King, we beseech you to grant and preserve to us, and to the Churches committed to our charge, all Canonical Privileges, and due Lawes, and Justice; and that you would protect, and defend us, as every good King ought to be a Protector and Defender of the Bishops, and Churches under his Government. The King answers, with a willing and devout heart, I promise, and grant, that I will preserve, and maintaine to you, and the[Page 26]Churches committed to your charge, all Canonical Privileges, and due Law, and Justice; and that I wil be your Protector, and Defender, to my power, by the assistance of God, as every good King in his Kingdome, by right ought to protect and defend the Bishops, and Churches under his government.

Then the King at the Communion Table, makes a solemn Oath, in the sight of all the people, laying his hand upon the holy Book, and saith: The things that I have before promised, I shall perform, and keep: So help me God, and the contents of this Booke. Now, I beseech you all good Christians, judge whether this be not an Oath, able, with feare and reverence, to bind the King to the performance? For 1. it is taken by the King, Gods Anointed. 2. In Gods House, the holy Church. 3. At Gods holy Table. 4. Upon Gods holy Book. 5. Tendered by Gods Ministers, the Bishops. 6. In the presence, sight and hearing of Gods people. 7. To defend Gods servants the Bishops, and the Church. 8. With the imprecation of Gods curses, and forfeiture of Gods blessings, in case of not performance: so that, if ever Oath could truely be called the Oath of God, this is it.

And yet, if I mistake not, there is somewhat more that adds strength to the Obligation of this Oath; and that is, That it is upon a contract betwixt the King and the Bishops; for so the Oath is tendered to the King, by, and for the Bishops: and from such a Contract and Oath, if just and lawfull, (as this is) who can absolve, but he alone, who is concerned, and to, and for whom the Oath and Contract is made, which are onely God, and the Bishops?

I have cast mine eye upon a Treatise touching the Kings Oath, published by Order, and written by Mr Geree, Preacher of Gods Word at Saint Albans: wherein hee goes about to perswade, that the King, without impeachment of his Oath at his Coronation, may assent to the abolishing of Episcopacy. I cannot, without a great digression, answer his Arguments, which might easily be done from his own words and grounds: but in stead thereof, I shall set down his own words, whence I hope it will appeare clearly, that the King cannot, saving[Page 27]that his Oath, assent to the selling away the Church Lands.

His words are these, The intention of that Oath is not against Legal wayes of change, but against invasion of the Rights of the Clergy. So that, if selling the Lands of the Church be such an invasion, then he professeth, that the King by his Oath, is bound from it: and whether it be so or no in his sense and judgement, heare himselfe speake in the same Treatise, where he expresly saith; To abolish Prelacy, and to seize the lands of Prelates to any private, or civil interest, undoubtedly, could neither want staine, nor guilt. So that by the plaine expresse verdict of this Preacher of Gods Word, the King is proclaimed before hand, to be a man of a stained and guilty conscience, if he assent to the selling ChurchLands, according to the Ordinance: And I am confident, by the discourse I have had with the most able of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, that at the least three parts, if not all of them, are of the same judgement with this Preacher; and that they would openly professe as much, if they were put to answer the question.

Object. But some perchance will say, that the King sweares all this but to his power; and therefore, his power to defend Bishops being taken away, he is absolved from perjury. Ans;wer. Too too many, I feare, there are, who by false lights have and will mislead the best of Princes and men; and that this is a light of that kind, you wil easily discerne, when you consider, that the defence of the Bishops in this case, is onely that the King give not his assent to the selling of Bishops Lands: And who can say, but that this is in the Kings power? For who can force him to speake? or to speake what another will? or that which is against his own will to speake? And therefore, if he doe assent to the selling their lands, he defends them not to his power, and thereby falls into an irreparable perjury, and becomes liable to the punishments, due and threatned in Gods Law: one place for many, Zach.5.4Perjury shal remain in the midst of the house of him that sweareth falsly, and shal consume it; by which house is not onely meant the material house of timber and stone, but (as often in Scripture) his wife, children, and posterity; it shall consume them. Yea, MrGeree,above men-[Page 28]tioned,confesseth, That the King by his Oath is bound to protect the Church, so far as he can, without sinning and being injurious: now in not assenting, against whom sins he, being not bound by any Law to assent? Whereas, if he doe assent, he is palpably injurious to the Church; and therefore this Author concludes thus, Then the King, at the worst, is to get the Clergies assent: Wherein he seemes to implie, that without that, the King justly may not give his assent; and he gives his reason for it in the same place; where he saith, The King may not engage himselfe against the Lawes, and legal Rights of others: For that were (saith he)not cedere jure suo but alieno, to give away another mans right, which is unjust.

Wil you give me leave to put you a Scripture case? The Gibeonites, (by Nation, Heathen; by Religion, Idolatrous,) by fraud and a lie, gain from Joshua, and the Princes of Israel, a promise to protect them; Josh.9.Now observe, although this promise was fraudulently obtained, and rashly made, without asking Gods counsel, or the consent of the people; yea, although it was against that which was enjoyned Israel, (which was to destroy all the Nations,) how zealous God is, that an Oath be kept, which is made in his Name, for his honour, and whereof he is a witnesse; That, because Saul brake this League or Covenant with the Gibeonites, above three hundred yeares after, when a man would hardly have conceived that King Saul had been bound to performance of it; 2 Sam.2.1I say, for the breach of that fraudulently got, and rashly made Covenant, God puisheth the whole land with a famine for three yeares, yeare after yeare; and yet would not be pacified, without the hanging up of almost all Sauls posterity. And if God be so severe a Judge, in such a case as this; what can the King, or this Land expect from heaven, if he should, after much consultation, long deliberation, and the many protestations, (as I am informed) that it is against his conscience, violate so just, so holy an Oath as this?

But, I trust, the King, though he had never taken such an Oath, will in his frequent reading Gods holy Word, consider that act (before mentioned) of King Pharaoh, who,Gen.17 in that greatest case of extremity, famine, would[Page 29]not then suffer the Priests lands to be sold; and the rather I hope the King will remember and consider that act of Pharaoh, I King.2.26because the Bishops (as K. Solomon spake of Abiathar the high Priest) have bean afflicted in all as the King.

Faith, saith our old Protestant Religion, is to be kept with Idolaters and Hereticks, whom we hold the worst of men; and must a pious Protestant King be forced to breake it with the best of his Subjects? O how will the enemies of our Religion blaspheme for this! and what King, or Nation, will hereafter trust our King, who in breaking so just, and solemne an Oath, as that at his Coronation, wil rob his God, lose his faith, forfeit his soule, destroy agoodly flourishing Church, and utterly undo them, who have hazarded all, thereby to keep loyalty, and a good conscience? I close this point with this wish, that all they who presse the King, contrary to his Oath, to assent to the alienation of Bishops Lands, would remember that JusticeTrisilian was hanged for causing, Speed Chrew in
or procuring the King to breake his Oath; as it hath beene often urged in this Parliament.


[Page 48]

That it will prove an hazard to the Church and State, unlesse these Lands be sold, I conceive is an Argument, that lies either in the opinions, or wils of them, who other wayes may remedy it, if they wil; partly by finding the true proper causes of this mischief, and necessity; or by levying the money by some general Tax on the whole Land, who so much groan under the present calamity, and oppression, that, I perswade my self, they would rather pay that debt, then longer bear this burden.

But suppose you cannot, or wil not find out any course, whereby to discharge the Publike debt, but this; then confider, how just and agreeable to Gods Word, this course is: and unlesse you can shew, by Gods Law, that you may sell these Lands, then, I dare affirme, that, be the necessity never so real, never so great, you may not sell them to any end: In which case, Saint Paul is bold and peremptory, when he saith, Some affirm, Rom.3.8that we say, Let us do evil that good may come whose damnation is just: just to them that say or teach so; and just to them who follow and practise so. Let me for your memory repeat that acts of Pharaoh, Note: Gen.17(the Heathen King, and a Tyrant) who would not in the greatest necessity, which was of famine, yet[Page 49]in that necessity he would not sell the Priests Lands; Annoi,on the
and may we not feare a famine, or some other great plague to fall on those Christians, who shall dare doe contrary?


[Page 74]

Neither doth this Curse and Snare reach and destroy individuals alone, but it lights on the whole Land, where the sin is committed; we found it before in the punishment of Achans Sacrilege,Mal.3. and now we may see as much expressed by the Prophet[Page 75] Malachi, who tels the people, that, for robbing God of what was offered to him, Ver.9. Ye are cursed with a curse, i. e. ye are certainly and heavily cursed. Andye are cursed, even ye, the whole land; and that curse no lesse, then the most dreadfull to nature, with the curse of a general, and great famine. And see how God proportions his punishment, even to the nature of the sin; for in Joshua's time, the people for Sacrilege committed in war, is punished in war by the sword of the enemy: and here in Malachi, they have robbed the Priests of their maintenance and bread, and themselves are therefore punished, and ready to starve for want of bread; where me thinks the Prophet tacitly gives a reason for this severity, when he saith, Will a man rob his God? God his Maker, his Preserver, his Redeemer? Will he be so ungracious? so unnatural? Yea, and will he rob that God, who we beleeve is coming to be our Judge? Will he be so audacious? For if this Judge will cast the unmerciful into hell, because they relieved not the poor; what torments shall be prepared for them, who so ungraciously, so unnaturally, so audaciously have robbed God their Father, their Saviour, and their Judge?

This is a selection from the original text


earth, famine, plague, religion

Source text

Title: CHURCH-LANDS NOT TO BE SOLD, OR, A Necessary and plaine Answer to the Question of a conscientious PROTESTANT; Whether the Lands of the BISHOPS, and Churches in England and Wales may be sold? Prov.20.25 It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy. Sr.Edward Coke,Inftit.2.c.I. What ever is granted to Gods church,i.e. to Churchmen, for his honour and maintainence of his Religion and Service, is granted for and to God:and what is given to God,is holy. Ezek.48. Prov.23.10,11. Remove not the old Land-mark,and enter not into the field of the Fatherless,for their Redeemer is mighty,and he shall plead their cause with thee. Coke,Ibid. Our Law-Books teaches us,that the Church is ever under- stood to be underage,and to be as a Pupill or Fatherless:and that it is not agreeable to Law or Right that such should be dis-inherited . Printed in the Yeare,1647.


Publication date: 1647

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: Wing (2nd ed.) / W900 Bibliographic name / number: Thomason / E.412[8] Physical description: [4], 81, [3] p. Copy from: British Library Reel position: Thomason / 65:E.412[8]

Digital edition

Original author(s): John Warner

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) title page,Warner 1 (whole)(chapter-V),Warner 2 (whole), Warner 3 (p.48-9: That it will prove an hazard ... who shall dare doe contrary?),Warner 4 (74-5: Neither doth this Curse ... and their Judge?)


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