Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Security of Ecclesiastical Order
By Robert Parsons (15461610)
From a Briefe apologie or defence of the Catholike Ecclesiastical Hierarchie and subordination in England
HERE then is our censure of the issue of this matter, that broken heads will follow of all sides, but there may perhaps be some doubt or difference of opinions, where most broken heads are likest to light. But he that on the other side will consider indifferently who they are and of what number, condition, and quality, against whom our discontented brethren (so few in number and green in credit) do make this voluntary war, he cannot greatly doubt of the event thereof. For as for the Archpriest, his assistants, and all the rest of the English clergy joined with them, being men of that virtue, learning, and approved gravity, which all the world knoweth, what great hurt can they receive at these mens hands, but only some little scratches in their names for a time (a thing of no moment) and some exercise of their patience, as before out of St. Augustine hath been touched? And much more may this be said of the Jesuits, who are a body conjoined by charity and rules of virtue, and dispersed over the world, and exercised in divers places with like contradiction to this, whereby they grow rather in perfection of life, and diligent guard over their own actions, than be overthrown, or greatly hurted. And with those two bodies are joined also, for defence of peace, order, and discipline, all higher superiors of spiritual government, so as our brethren are like to break few heads here, but only their own (if we be not deceived), but rather after they have wearied themselves, must expect the issue before mentioned in the fourth consideration, of hurts and damages to themselves and the common cause.
And albeit some of them perhaps may be encouraged to go forward in this contention, by the applause or approbation which they have found in some good men or women at this beginning, seduced or impressioned upon their own sinister informations, yet when matters shall come to more mature examination, and the evil effects before mentioned be seen and discovered, it is probable that these being good and godly Catholics and prudent people, will be of another opinion, and by little and little enter into due consideration, where authority, where obedience, that is to say, where Gods part goeth; on which side order, subordination, and discipline do consist, where and with whom the body and multitude of our Church standeth, where peaceable or passionate minds do bear rule. They will look also with time into the difference of mens lives and manners, to wit, where modesty, humility, and mortification are to be seen, what priests are given most to prayer, patience, longanimity of mind, tranquillity of spirit, and who to the contrary. They will ponder also who are most hated and pursued by the enemy for their labours and endeavours against them in the Catholic cause, and who are most favoured or tolerated by them: which is no small mark to know how matters go.