A billion consciences sitting under the serene surface of the water.
This was enough to trouble the consciences of many excellent men; and it became necessary to devise a compromise that should set their minds at rest, by showing them that they could be at once good citizens and good Catholics.
For the Society, as befitted the great exponent of authority and the keeper of the consciences of many kings, had always been on the side of political autocracy; and therefore it became increasingly unpopular, when once the tide of French intelligence began to set in the direction of revolutionary reform.
They speak of the "breathing time" which they have had of late, and their hope that God would, as they say, "incline the magistrates' hearts so for to tender our consciences as that we might be protected by them from wrong, injury, oppression and molestation"; and then they proceed: "But if God withhold the magistrates' allowance and furtherance herein, yet we must, notwithstanding, proceed together in Christian communion, not daring to give place to suspend our practice, but to walk in obedience to Christ in the profession and holding forth this faith before mentioned, even in the midst of all trials and afflictions, not accounting our goods, lands, wives, children, fathers, mothers, brethren, sisters, yea, and our own lives, dear unto us, so that we may finish our course with joy; remembering always that we ought to obey God rather than men."
He left Brussels for Breda, and issued in April 1660, together with the letters to the council, the officers of the army and the houses of parliament and the city, the declaration of an amnesty for all except those specially excluded afterwards by parliament, which referred to parliament the settlement of estates and promised a liberty to tender consciences in matters of religion not contrary to the peace of the kingdom.