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tholicks and us; and examined them, as well as I could, by the holy Scripture, which though I do not pretend to be able to understand, yet, there are some things I found so easy, that I cannot but wonder I had been so long without finding them out; as the real presence in the blessed sacrament, the infallibility of the church, confession, and praying for the dead. After this, I spoke severally to two of the best * bishops we have in England, who both told me there were many things in the Roman church, which, it were, very much to be wished we had kept; as confession, which was, no doubt, commanded by God: that praying for the dead was one of the ancient things in Christianity: that, for their parts, they did it daily, though they would not own it; and, afterwards, pressing one of them + very much upon the other points, he told me, that if he had been bred a catholick, he would not change his religion; but, that being of another church, wherein, he was sure, were all things necessary to salvation, he thought it very ill to give that scandal, as to leave that church wherein he had received his baptism. All these discourses did but add more to the desire I had, to be a catholick, and gave me the most terrible agonies in the world, within myself. For all this, fearing to be rash in a matter of that weight, I did all I could to satisfy myself; made it my daily prayer to God, to settle me in the right, and so went on Christmas-day to receive in the King's chapel; after which I was more troubled than ever, and could never be in quiet, till I had told my desire to a catholick, who brought a priest to me, and that was the first I ever did converse with, upon my word. The more I spoke to him, the more I was confirmed in my design; and, as it is impossible for me to doubt of the words of our blessed Saviour, who says, The holy sacrament is his body and blood; so I cannot believe, that he who is the author of all truth, and who has promised to be with his church to the end of the world, would permit them to give that holy mystery to the laity but in one kind, if it were not lawful so to do. I am not able, or, if I were, would I enter into disputes with any body; I only, in short, say this, for the changing of my religion, which I take God to witness, I would never have done, if I had thought it possible to save my soul otherwise. I think I need not say, it is any interest in this world leads me to it: it will be plain enough to every body, that I must lose all the friends and credit I have here, by it; and have very well weighed, which I could best part with, my share in this world or the next: I thank God I found no difficulty in the choice. My only prayer is, that the poor catholicks of this nation may not suffer for my being of their religion; that God would but give me patience to bear them, and then, send me any afflictions in this world, so I may enjoy a blessed eternity hereafter.
St. James's, Aug. 20, 1670.
* Dr. Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Dr. Blandford, Bishop of worcester. $ Dr. Blandford, Bishop of Worcester.
THE DESIGNS OF FRANCE
or, the Intrigues of that Crown, for the utter ruin of both those - Nations laid open. With allowance *.
ADWERTISEMENT TO THE READER.
These papers (which were intended to be published before this time, had the press been open for such truths) plainly discover the cunning intrigues, wicked designs, and unchristian practices of the French king, for the overthrow of England and Holland, and with them the Protestant religion. If this account be (as it is hoped) approved of, a further information may be expected from the same hand.
HENRY the Eighth, king of England, did, in his time, cause a
• Supposed to be printed anno 1656. Quarto, containing twelve pages.
whatsoever, and rescue Europe from the universal slavery he prepares for it.
Would the King of England only be pleased to open his eyes, fast closed with the inchanted slumbers of the French Dalilah, to take a view of his own strength, and true interest, he should soon find himself making another figure amongst the princes of Europe, than of late years he hath done, and with ease mount that high degree of power and glory, of being the professed umpire of the universe, the sovereign mediator and decider of controversies, and the giver of peace to all Europe, which France, in a vain bravado, pretends to, when indeed he is the sole troubler of it.
To arrive at this transcendent pitch of grandeur and authority, two things only Uwhich the king of England may do when he pleases) are requisite. The first is, that his majesty do comport himself so, as to engage the love of his people, and keep a right understanding between him and his parliament. And the second, that he enter into a strict alliance with Holland, living in sincere amity, perfect union, and good correspondence with them, in order to their common defence, and security. The former of these is very easy, and the king will do it, as soon as he shall resolve to desire nothing of his Parliament, but what is agreeable with the laws of the realm, which, by his coronation-oath, he is obliged to observe and maintain; and the latter will be found to be of absolute necessity, as soon as the King of England shall please to stop his ears to the false suggestions of France, and stifle those jealousies and resentments, which his emissaries daily buz into his head; there being nothing to fear for England from the States, whose desire is not to enlarge their dominions (as France does) by invading those of their neighbours, but only to keep what God has given them, and to maintain their subjects in the liberty they now enjoy.
This France so well knows, that he leaves no stone unturned to prevent it, and continually sends forth some crafty turbulent spirits to sow the seeds of division and misunderstanding between the king and his parliament. Thus the spirit of France was at work, to exasperate the episcopal party against the Presbyterians, and again the Presbyterians, and other nonconformists, against them, making them believe that the bishops favoured popery, and would not fail to prove turncoats, as soon as a favourable opportunity should be offered them, and that the king did incline the same way, with a thousand like suggestions; which so set the people against the king, and filled the parliament with such jealousies, that they often granted his then majesty but very little of what he demanded, and gave him so much work at home, that he had no leisure to consider what was doing abroad. It was France that first kindled the civil wars in the time of Charles the First, which cost England so much blood, the French ambassador, that was then at that court, boasting at his return from thence, That he had kindled a fire in England, which should not be quenched of a long time, and that the English, for twenty years to come, would not be in a condition to claim any thing of France.”
To the kindling of this unhappy flame, one father Joseph, a Capuchine friar, did much contribte under hand, by means of the papists, especially those that were in the parliament's army. But now, since the King * of England has thought good to change his religion, France also has altered his battery, and turned all his great guns against the church of England; and so far are the minds of men irritated against one another, that his British majesty will not, this good while, be in a condition to look any where else but at home, where he is like to meet with so many crossings and thwartings of the designs he is carrying on, that he will find it a hard matter to break through them, and accomplish the thing he aims at, and so zealously affects. And, whilst these heart-burnings continue between the king and his people, he will be forced to be continually upon his guard, and to keep his forces about him, and cast about his thoughts how to raise a fund to maintain them, and thereby give an opportunity to France to possess himself of the Low Countries, and of Spaint too, in case that king should chance to die, which happy hour, France, with a great deal of impatience, looks for.
As for the second point, viz. a league with the United Provinces, and a right understanding and good correspondence between those two governments, to oppose all powers that would invade and trouble the peace of Christendom, it is certain that the States, for their parts, would most gladly embrace the proposal, if they saw any likelihood of engaging therein with safety, and being seconded upon occasion; of which, indeed, there is but little probability, as long as affairs shall continue, in the condition wherein they are at present. This indeed is the thing, which, of all others, France would be very loth to see, because the hearty union of these two governments would, in all probability, put a stop to the French king's undertakings, overturn all his designs, and put him into an utter incapacity of attempting any thing against the peace of Nimeguen, or the truce with the emperor. But France carries a watchful eye to prevent this capital inconvenience, and that by an assiduous fomenting and cherishing feuds, and animosities, between those two nations, and improving every occurrence to this purpose; of which we have a fresh instance in the business of Bantam, which had been long ago made up, but that France (who finds it best fishing in troubled waters) thinks it more for his interest, that it should remain undetermined; which is the very reason why it was never made an end of, but kept as a reserve for a quarrel upon occasion. That there can be nothing so evidently destructive of the French designs, as this union between England and Holland, is very apparent; England can, when it pleases, overturn the projects of France against the Spanish Netherlands; neither could that king ever have taken Luxemburg, if the late king of England had had the least inclination to oppose him in that attempt; but the French king so well knew how to take him by the blind side, that he did not perceive the mischief till the city was taken. It was a capital error for England to part with Dunkirk, a place that opened a passage for them to France and the Low-Countries: but it would make the matter much worse, if all those countries should be fain to submit to the tyranny of Lewis the Great, and he, by this means, should join Newport and Ostend * to Dunkirk; for then would Flushing follow by consequence, and that king be put into a condition to dispute the sovereignty of the sea with his British majesty, and destroy the navigation and commerce of this flourishing kingdom. Having got thus far, he would proceed to an intire conquest of the United Provinces; which point being once gained by him, England would have but little reason to flatter itself with the hopes of a better lot. Renowned Queen Elisabeth, of happy memory, was so sensible of what is here alledged, that she told Monsieur de Sully, the French King's ambassador ather -majesty's court, that neither France, nor England, nor any other prince, or state whatsoever, ought to lay any claim to the Low Countries, and that she would never suffer the king, his master, to make the least attempt that way. Upon which Monsieur de Sully sent word to his master, Henry the Fourth, That, notwithstanding the opposite sentiments of the queen, his majesty might, by means of great forces, keep his friends within their own bounds, and possess himself of such territories and cities in the Low-Countries, as should be necessary to join France and the United Provinces wholly and inseparably together: which was, (said he) the only way to restore France to its primitive grandeur and glory, and pitch it above the rest of Christendom; for if, by any means, the provinces of Luxemburg, Juliers, Mark, Mons, Aix, and Cleves were once united to France, there was no doubt, but the rest of the country would be forced to follow their example, being deprived of all communication and correspondence with the rest of the world.” Sure it is France has always inclined this way, since they have observed, that they could not compass their design by Italy, as the Romans of old; which conquest, tho' it be the interest of all princes of Europe to prevent, as much as in them lies; yet it is evident that these two states, who are nearer at hand, and can better do it, are the most of all concerned to put a stop to the progress of the French in the Low-Countries, which would not fail to be attended with dismal consequences to them, as before mentioned. As for Spain, it is a body deprived of the use of its limbs, and to which nothing remains but that of its tongue, viz. To pray and intreat its good friends and allies not to forsake it. But none can do more than England, towards the preservation of the Low Countries; and, if his British majesty had not promised to stand still, Luxemburg would still be in the state wherein it was formerly, and a bone for France to pick. The French king is so well aware of this, that he takes all the care he can to keep the King of England on his side, or, at least, to remain neuter, in case he will not declare himself for him. To which purpose he spares nothing, neither presents, pensions, nor arts, to keep all safe on that side. But, alas ! this money, and those presents of France, are like a snake hid under rose-leaves. This is a smiling lip, which hereafter will prove a deadly sting They are iron chains, - * As the scheme was laid by o, one king this summer, 1744. M
* King James the Second. f This came to pass in regard to Spain, as here prophesied.