97. DECREE OF THE CLERGY ON REGAL POWER (1640)
Whereas sundry laws, ordinances, and constitutions have been formerly made for the acknowledgment and profession of the most lawful and independent authority of our dread sovereign lord, the king's most excellent majesty, over the state ecclesiastical and civil: we, as our duty in the first place binds us and so far as to us appertaineth, enjoin them all to be carefully observed by all persons whom they concern, upon the penalties in the said laws and constitutions expressed. And for the fuller and clearer instruction and information of all Christian people within this realm in their duties in this particular, we do further ordain and decree that every parson, vicar, curate, or preacher, upon some one Sunday in every quarter of the year at morning prayer, shall in the place where he serves treatably and audibly read these explanations of the regal power here inserted:
The most high and sacred order of kings is of divine right, being the ordinance of God Himself, founded in the prime laws of nature, and clearly established by express texts both of the Old and New Testaments. A supreme power is given to this most excellent order by God Himself in the Scriptures, which is that kings should rule and command in their several dominions all persons of what rank or estate soever, whether ecclesiastical or civil, and that they should restrain and punish with the temporal sword all stubborn and wicked doers.... For any person or persons to set up, maintain, or avow in any their said realms or territories respectively, under any pretence whatsoever, any independent coactive power either papal or popular, whether directly or indirectly, is to undermine their great royal office and cunningly to overthrow that most sacred ordinance which God Himself hath established; and so is treasonable against God as well as against the king. For subjects to bear arms against their kings, offensive or defensive upon any pretence whatsoever, is at the least to resist the powers which are ordained of God; and though they do not invade but only resist, St. Paul tells them plainly they shall receive to themselves damnation. And although tribute and custom, and aid and subsidy, and all manner of necessary support and supply be respectively due to kings from their subjects by the law of God, nature, and nations, for the public defence, care, and protection of them; yet, nevertheless, subjects have not only possession of, but a true and just right, title, and property to and in all their goods and estates and ought so to have. And these two are so far from crossing one another that they mutually go together for the honourable and comfortable support of both; for, as it is the duty of the subjects to supply their king, so is it part of the kingly office to support his subjects in the property and freedom of their estates.
And if any parson, vicar, curate, or preacher shall voluntarily or carelessly neglect his duty in publishing the said explications and conclusions, according to the order above prescribed, he shall be suspended by his ordinary till such time as, upon his penitence, he shall give sufficient assurance or evidence of his amendment. And in case he be of any exempt jurisdiction, he shall be censurable by his majesty's commissioners for causes ecclesiastical. And we do also hereby require all archbishops, bishops, and all other inferior priests and ministers, that they preach, teach, and exhort their people to obey, honour, and serve their king; and that they presume not to speak of his majesty's power in any other way than in this canon is expressed. And if any parson, vicar, curate, or preacher, or any other ecclesiastical person whatsoever, any dean, canon, or prebendary of any collegiate or cathedral church, any member or student of college or hall, or any reader of divinity or humanity in either of the universities, or elsewhere, shall in any sermon, lecture, commonplace, determination, or disputation, either by word or writing, publicly maintain or abet any position or conclusion in opposition or impeachment of the aforesaid explications, or any part or article of them, he shall forthwith by the power of his majesty's commissioners for causes ecclesiastical be excommunicated till he repent, and suspended two years from all the profits of his benefice, or other ecclesiastical, academical or scholastical preferments. And if he so offend a second time, he shall be deprived from all his spiritual promotions, of what nature or degree soever they be. Provided always, that if the offence aforesaid be given in either of the universities by men not having any benefice or ecclesiastical preferment, that then the delinquent shall be censured by the ordinary authority in such cases of that university respectively where the said fault shall be committed.
Laud, Works, V, pt. ii, 613 f.