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Conſcience-Oppreſsion: OR, A COMPLAINT Of Wrong done to the PEOPLES RIGHTS, BEING A VVord neceſſary and ſeaſonable to all Pious Chriſtians in England, whether in or out of Church-way; and to all ſober minded and ra­tional men, that yet know how to value Law and Chriſtian Liberty.

2 Cor. 11.29. Is any offended, and I burn not?
Is it ingenuous to ask Liberty, and not to give it? Protector's Speech at the diſſolution of the Parliament,pag. 18.

BY I. CROOPE, a Subject of Chriſt's Kingdome, and of England's Common-wealth.

LONDON, Printed in the Yeer, 1656.

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TO THE Tranſient Reader,

Friend,

WHileſt I put my ſelf in thy ſtead, and conſider my ſelf, looking upon the Title of this little Book, I finde theſe thoughts ariſing, viz. This is ſome new Faetus of ſome hot brain, and adds to the infinite number of thoſe Libels, which the abuſe of Liberty of the Preſs hath brought forth; and it ſhall content me to read the Title, I know better how to ſpend my time then to hazard it in looking through theſe ſheets. But again, if I had a minde to recreate my ſelf in reading a new book, I would not chooſe this ſubject, (Liberty of Conſcience) which hath been ſo throughly ventilated, that to do any more in it, would be but actum agere, to labour to no purpoſe: But becauſe I know, let me tell thee in anſwer, that the Author had as little time to ſpend in recreations as thou, and was alſo as loath to be found among the Scriblers of the times; and did wel conſider what was written for the vin­dication of the truth of Liberty in Religion, from the pens of thoſe that hold it in unrighteouſneſs: But withal he perceived, that ſome who have profeſſed this truth with their mouths, have yet denyed it with their hands; therefore he goeth not about to argue with them for their conviction, (as ſuppoſing that done already;) but hiſtorically to give ſome account of the bringing forth of this Monſter Perſecution into the world; and of the ſtrength and valetude thereof amongſt us at this day, notwithſtanding all the blood ſpilt, and damage ſuſtained in conteſting againſt it. That all thoſe that reſolve to walk in the way of God, according to the perſwaſion of their own con­ſciences, may firſt ſit down, and conſider what it will coſt them, leſt the portion of that builder that had not wherewithal to finiſh become their reward. And that they that are willing to injoy liberty them­ſelves, and leave it (as a pearle of great price) to their poſterities may ſtill bee incited to make their chriſtian applications to heaven (where they ſhall not be rejected or upbraided) for this rich mercy; and to earth alſo, if yet there bee there any hope. Theſe are ſome of the principles and ends of this preſent undertaking, in which I cannot promiſe thee (whoſoever thou art) that thou ſhalt finde nothing that will diſrelliſh thee; for as much as the Author hath not ſtudied to pleaſe parties, but to ſerve truth, according to his beſt judgement. But if it be mat­ter of fact that diſpleaſeth thee, thou muſt not blame him, but the Actors; if his Judgment occaſionally given, remember he pleads for thy liberty, there­fore give him leave to take his own, while hee doth it ſoberly and peaceably. Thus having found this piece willing to travel abroad; I thought that in hu­manity due to Strangers, I ſhould not ſuffer it to go alone; therefore have giuen this Epiſtle to wait up­on it; whether it be ſutable or no, do thou judge.

Farewel.

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A Neceſſary and Seaſonable Word to all pious Chriſtians in England, whether in Church-way, or out; and to all ſober-minded and rational men, that can yet tel how to value Law and Chriſtian-Liberty.

THat this Iſland of Great Britain hath been the publike Stage upon which many admirable and notorious paſſa­ges both of Church and State, hath within theſe ſixteen yeers been acted, is an Aſſertion; the truth of which is ſo well known, and trumpeted abroad in the world, that there is no man which hath eyes and ears to ſee and hear what is done below, can eaſily be unacquainted with it: The riſe and ſwelling of either of thoſe Monarchies, ſo famous, both in ſacred and in common Hiſtory, had few more eyes attending on them, to ob­ſerve their motion and their end, then have been upon our Engliſh Re­volutions; the argument of our bloody Tragedy is dark, and for matter divers; the Actors have been found to be of divers tempers, and the E­pilogue (if yet it be) hath been as ſtrange and unexpected. They that have been ſpectators onely of theſe things, may ſtand aloof, and laugh, as ſure they do, to ſee how ſtrangely we have been abuſed and cheated, by thoſe who have put on a face, promiſing better things, whereby wee are become the ſcorn, and the by-word of our enemies: Yet I am not ſo much indulging the opinion of the Atheiſts, as to think our Engliſh affairs to be bolted thus, without the hand of a divine Providence,**No, I believe the doctrine of the Pſalmiſt to bee true, (and ſome ſhall finde it ſo) That there is a God that judgeth in the earth; nor do I ſo look upon this latter, as thereby to excuſe men from the guilt of their Treaſons, Mur­thers, Oppreſſions, Self-ſeekings, Oath, and Promiſe-breaches, &c. under pretence of ſerving the ends of Providence.

A cleer and full Narrative of the bloody travells of this Nation, would without doubt, be profitable much in the exact peruſal, and the comparing of them with the preſent iſſues, that appear as a monſtrous and unnatural off-ſpring, may teach the people how to make the place2 a Bchim, a Land of Tears, as it hath been made an Akeldama, a Field of Blood; ſuch a relation is not now my task, nor is it at any time with­in my power, to undertake; yet 'tis a work not unworthy of ſome abler man to repreſent unto the Nations view, by an Ink and Paper-Proſpect; which way, and by what fair allurements they have been led into their thraldome, that they may be the better able for the future to diſcover, and make proviſion againſt all ſuch falſe pretenders; I ſhall onely go back ſo far, as thereby to take a little tripping for the preſent diſcourſe, which ought to ſink ſo deep into the ſoul of every Chriſtian, and true Engliſh-man; for, who can hear of, and not be affected with the liber­ty of conſcience, the argument of the preſent diſcourſe of perſon, of eſtate, according to the fundamental right of all?

That the people of this Land have been a free people, many and happy, have been the attempts of late time to prove; and ſo farr have they gone therein, that they have made the truth thereof to ſhine forth through demonſtration beyond a doubtful gheſs; ſo that in this, we are not put ſo much to the invention what ſhould be in reaſon, not yet injoyed, as of what hath been the peoples birth-right, and their fun­damental Law. It hath been concluded by the State-Caluiſts, that the end of civil Government is the peoples wel-ware, and their welfare conſiſts in the preſervation of their Liberties and Eſtates from wrong and robbery, and the Governours are to watch that theſe be not inva­ded by force or fraud of any; for it can never be imagin'd that a peo­ple ſhould elect a Prince to rule them, upon any other terms, or to any other purpoſe then that of their well-being; And for this cauſe, (and only this) they pay their Tribute, and bow down them­ſelves in honour and obedience;Cook's Redinte­gratio Amoris. no Law of Nature or Reaſon binding men to chooſe or ſerve ſuch a power, that doth directly ſeek or indea­vour to procure their ruin, and deſtruction. 'Tis no need for me to diſ­pute here (if I could) the rights of a pure and downright conqueſt; for the preſent State of this Nation looks not with that face, nor is it manifeſtly profeſt, as I know. And yet there are very bold interpre­ters of State-proceedings that have confidence enough to ſpeak much this way, to inſinuate themſelves by ſuch an attribution, into the affecti­ons of the preſent Power, that they may ſleep and dream ſecurely in its boſome. Sadler's Rights of the Kingdom, &c. p. 81. of 30. after 93. whe­ther by the error of the Printer or〈◊〉, ex Beda. But I muſt not ſtand ſo far off the preſent intendment; 'tis manifeſt that the peoples Liberties have been (in former, as well as la­ter times) ſurprized, and rent, and torn from them, and in ſpecial, the Liberty of Conſcience, (the ſubject principally aimed at, and the loſs or curtailing thereof, moſt deplored in this Addreſs) that men muſt not be free to think or ſpeak their thoughts about the things of heaven, (if they differ from the Statute-Religion) without endangering of their lives, or freedome: There was a time wherein the intereſt of Chriſtianity3 was cleerly diſtinct, and carried diſtinctly from the Ci­vil.

In the primitive times, when the Government of the Church was inveſted in the perſon of the Son of God, and in him it yet reſides, and the New Teſtament was eſtabliſhed before men, the Kings and Rulers of the Nations were altogether Infidel and Paganiſh, and ſo they continued generally, till the Brit­tiſh Conſtantine ſate down in the ſeat imperial; during moſt of which time the Goſpel flouriſht much, and its worſhippers did conquer ſtill, although they ſuffered without the leaſt depen­dance on the arm of the Nations powers: The ſword of the ſpirit was then found ſharp enough to cut off Hereſie ariſing, and Hereticall men; and if it be nature and right reaſon in a Magiſtrate to cenſure and ſubdue ſuch as ſpeak againſt the God of his Nation, as tis believed, the Roman Emperors are juſtifi­ed by reaſon and the Law of nature, becauſe they perſecuted the Chriſtians, who, if they preacht the Goſpel, muſt be thought to ſpeak againſt the God of their Country; but how the Law of nature and right reaſon, which are the work, or rather are of God, as well as ought beſide can be ſet at ſo great a variance with the Goſpel, even to the point of ſword, the one piercing the very bowels of the other, by this ſtate maxime I cannot readily underſtand: But I ſuppoſe the rule muſt be qualified with a proviſion, to make it hold the better; during the inter­vall then between the firſt dawnings of the New Covenant, and the times of Conſtantine the great, there was little compliance between the ſpirituall and ſecular Intereſt, and the Church re­ceived little from the Emperors, or their Deputies, beſides the Torments and effuſion of blood.

After the time of this Conſtantine, the firſt Chriſtian Empe­ror, the minds of the Church-leaders began to flagg much in the ſpirituall Profeſſion of Chriſt, and they that were profeſt Teachers of men in Divine Truth, do contrary to the nature and ends of Chriſtianity, make their neſts in the profits and pomp of the world; whiles by their example, as well as by their doctrine, they ſhould have provokt men to heavenly-minded­neſs. Now poyſon was ſent into the Church, twas an Oracle4 they ſay, heard in the Aire, the Biſhops conſult for earthly honour, and a pompous Religion or worſhip, much in outſide and popular oſtentation: They are in conjunction with the Grandees and Rulers of the Nations, the better to effect their worldly ends; they lie down together, and between them there is, amongſt others, this baſtard, helliſh Brat of violence and perſecution begoten, to be laid at the doors of whomſoever they pleaſed, that now if any ſhall take the boldneſs to correct their errors in doctrine or worſhip, they can quickly make him hold his peace, or ſend him packing: Nay, now all the Nations un­der theſe godly Kings and Biſhops, muſt, will they, nill they, ſubmit to that worſhip and thoſe Rules they ſhall Impoſe up­on them, by the arguments of force and violence, if not by the force of their arguments. Now the beaſt with the ſeven heads and ten horns, and that with two, are fitly brought up, and joyned together, to ſupport each other mutually, and to call in their worſhippers, and to deſtroy thoſe that refuſe to come, propheſied on long before, Rev. 13. throughout; and the Apo­ſtacy of the Churches is much manifeſted, to the ſons of light, whereby they ſee the truth of Pauls doctrine about the man of ſin.

The Chriſtian Hierarchy thus degenerated and falling down to worldly Intereſts, as to an Idol they moſt adored, haſten to the ſetting of Church matters by the power of the Magiſtrate, which they have by this time in ſome good meaſure made theirs, and to bring the profeſſing Nations thereby to an uniformity in doctrine and diſcipline, under pretence of avoiding confuſi­on; when indeed nothing hath proved more banefull and poy­ſonous to the ſons of men, and more prejudiciall to the work of Chriſts Kingdome, then this very thing, of forcibly impoſing upon men in caſes of opinion and conſcience: But the Kings of the Earth have committed Fornication with the whore, and the wine thereof is ſent far abroad unto all the Nations, to the intoxicating of their minds; and here we are, more or leſs at this preſent.

This Iſland of Great Brittain was too near to that part of Chriſtendome where the pranks of this drunken Intereſt be­came firſt to be played, to eſcape the temptation, and to keep5 her ſelf unſpotted of that damned concupiſcence, that now like a devouring fire begins by little and little to conſume the marrow and the ſinews of true Chriſtian love, and Goſpel light.

It may be thought, on better grounds, then ſome are acted now, that thoſe, who ere they were, that firſt arrived at the Brit­tiſh harbors, for the ſowing of the ſeed of Chriſt, the Word of the Kindome in this peoples hearts, came not with ſword and fagot with them, to conſume and torture ſuch as would not give it entertainment: Surely the inſtruments they uſed in this work, for the plowing of the minds of the Nation that lay fal­low, upon which there grew the wilde and ſtinking weeds of Heatheniſh Idolatry, were of another, and more heavenly or ſpirituall nature, if we may ſay what they did, and how they laboured here, by what Paul did in another place, 1 Cor. 2.1. And I Brethren came not to you with excellency of ſpeech or wiſdome, much leſs with the out-ſtretched arm of humane pow­er, to force them, declaring to you the Teſtimony of God; nay, he ſhakes off the ſword of man as nothing indeed to ef­fect that conqueſt, which he and all the primitive leaders were labouring to obtain, 2 Cor. 10.4. The weapons of our war­fare are not carnall, obſerve, but mighty through God: Car­nall weapons are here excluded as heterogeneous for kind, and as ineffectuall to accompliſh and to bring about the great de­ſign of God, in converting men to the faith of the Goſpel, or in keeping them there; and when he arms the Chriſtians againſt their adverſaries, and ſuch are errors and hereſies too, he girds them not about with the civill ſword, not a little of that here, but covers them with the Helmet of ſalvation, and teaches them to buckle with the ſword of the ſpirit, Eph. 6.12, 16, 17. By this we may conclude that the inſtruments of violence were not, nor were to be promoters of the bleſſed Kingdom of the Lord Ieſus in thoſe dayes.

Who they were that firſt began the heavenly plantation here, is much uncertain, nor doth it lie much in our way to inquire. Sir HENRY SPELMAN, that great Antiqua­ry, who ſet himſelf to lay open the mouldy records of the Brit­iſh Eccleſiaſtick affairs, expoſeth much, but modeſtly concludes6 without a certain Demonſtration who ere they were as I con­ceive. But through divine providence, hither they came, and it may paſs for certain, that they found the Nation, as Paul found Athens, Acts 17.16. wholly given to Idolatry; now if it be the part of a King to cut off ſuch as ſpeak againſt the God of the Country, how came they, where they were, to ſet footing ſafely on this ſhore? or being a land, and declaring the end of their coming, as no doubt they would be working preſent­ly; what was the reaſon that they were not thruſt through with a dart, or fired at a ſtake? Did the preſent Governour neglect his duty? or ſuffer his ſword to remain aſleep, unſheath­ed in its ſcabberd, when he ſhould ſtrike? But ſome will ſay he was a Pagan; and 'twas the Goſpel that was now proclaimed, againſt which he muſt not draw;2 King. 18.4. Eſpecially the Idolatrous Prieſts if they had ground in the Law of the Land. yea, but this Goſpel ſerves the Countries gods as Hezekiah did the Images and Groves, it plucks them up root and branch, and burns them with fire; and what muſt the Magiſtrate do now? The gain-ſayers among the people, might probably complain to their Magiſtrate, that the heart-ſtrings of their Religion, and the Worſhip began to break, and the ſinews thereof crackt in theſe new flames; here be men, and ſtrangers, and foraigners too belike they were, that turn our Images upſide down, and draw away the people, yea, and ſpeak againſt thy God, O King. Now, if it be the proper office of the Magiſtrate alſo to determine, and interpoſe with his ſword, then of the preſent Magiſtrate; for in this caſe we are taught by him that hath ſet up or rather uncovered, the bound-marks of liberty of Conſcience,Antient bounds or Liberty of Conſcience, pag. 15. and excellently conten­tended for them, with a parenaetick to the then Parliament, &c. for their due obſervation and continuance; I ſay we are taught, that that which belongs to a man, as a man, belongs to every man; for quatenus & ad omne, are terms adaequate and convertible: And if the caſe be thus, what had become of thoſe poor hearts that travelled ſo far, and adventured themſelves upon the ſurges of the Sea, to bring the truth and peace home to our doors, and ſcape that danger?

Now the vengeance of the Magiſtrate muſt not ſuffer them to live; A ſad requitall for ſo great a good brought hither, on the wings of ſo much zeal and love: The Magiſtrate believed it7 then reaſonable enough for men to have their freedom about divine things, if they levelled not their opinion at the diſtur­bance of the civil peace, which he was bound to keep; but I muſt wave the handling of the point in Law and Argument, that hath been done before, beyond what I can do by far; 'tis matter of fact that I would touch at, and condole the errors there. If Sir HENRY SPELMANS glaſs be clear enough, with that he fetches in,Speeds Chron. pag. 73. to look upon theſe remote times and actions therein, and fluent Mr. SPEED inclines unto his Authors much, we may conclude we ſee the Goſpel here in ENG­LAND preacht and received in the Government of Arvira­gus; he was a ſtout and hardy Souldier, and could not well en­dure the Romans Tax and Tyranny, which coſt him many a blow. The people then were grieved much to feel the ſword of Conqueſt cut ſo ſharp into their Kingdoms liberties, and the King did ſtorm much; yet a moderate and peaceable ventilati­on of this new-ſprang Doctrine of Jeſus paſt without controule, except the Romans, when they could, grew angry; for Arvira­gus protects, and in part provides for theſe new Dogmatiſts;Sir Hnry Spel­man, pag. 4. who conculcatis Druidarum Superſtitionibus Evangelii radiis illuminarent populum, the ſuperſtitions of the Druides, ſo they called the Idolatrous Prieſts, being trodden under foot, a great provocation both to Prieſts and people, they illightened the people with the beams of the Goſpel: The King is not moved to ſtretch out his ſword, though by ſome no doubt ſollicited; but they, theſe new ſowers, had rem apud Arviragum Regem adeo promoviſſe, ut licet cauteriatum avita ſuperſtitione eum totum expedire nequeunt, quaſeum tamen reddunt & benignum, ſo promoted the matter with the King, that although they cannot wholly deliver him, being ſeared with the ſuperſtition of his forefathers, a thing that ſticks much, yet they make him quaſh & mild. The King continued Pagan ſtil, yet theſe Chriſtian labourers receive their freedom without his deadly cenſures, and his ſons become their benefactors upon the account of their ſanctimo­ny; The Law of nature and right reaſon permitting them to patronize ſuch men that deport themſelves in a peaceable and humble manner, though of another worſhip. And there is as vaſt a difference between Idolatry and Chriſtianity, as between8 Calviniſm, Arminianiſm, Socinianiſm, &c. The Heathens may be our Correctors, and ſtain our faces with ſhame, who are leſs bearing and more cruel then were they; yet we finde not the Canons or Conſtitutions of the Church uttering their voice through the guilded Image of the Civil power, nor the Magi­ſtrates Authority or arm flaſhing ſuch as acted barely upon the terms of Conſcience. LUCIUS, a Chriſtian King of Brit­tain, ſome ſay the firſt Monarch that owned that way, ſubmits to the faith here, Anno_____whereby, ſaith SPEED, leaning on his Authoritie, This Province was the firſt that received the faith by publique Ordinance; it might be by publique Ordi­nance, and yet without penalty; for the Countenance of the Magiſtrate ſhining upon the way and his proviſions for the pub­lique preaching of it,Speeds Chron. pag. 78. Spelmans An­tiq. pag. 12. might very well, in after writers, ſwell into the notion of a publique Ordinance; leſs things have come to more in latter times then theſe. And we read that Rex ipſe Lucius una cum uxore fidei imbuitur Lavacro, & exemplo ejus undique concurrentes populi; i. e. King LUCIUS himſelf to­gether with his wife and the people, coming together on all ſides by his example; note that not by any force, or at leaſt by any authoritative of Parliamentary Edict, they are Imbued, or waſhed in faith's laver. I would aſſert that there was no He­reſie or error yet determined ſo by Law; nor no legal perſecu­cution tending to death or other puniſhment lay open againſt diſſenters in ſuch caſes; nor no act of King or Parliament for uniformity in doctrine and diſcipline: And by the way, we muſt diſtinguiſh between an action lying at the Common Law a­gainſt Hereticks, &c. and a violent irruption of a Tyrant or pre­vailing party againſt or without law upon ſuch men as are made odious to them, becauſe they think or worſhip otherwiſe then they would have them: the former was not yet in Eſſe. The latter many times ſprung up and ſhed much Chriſtian blood, in England as well as other places, when the Tyrants pleaſed to gratifie themſelves or others by ſuch cruelty: But perſecution of men profeſsing Religion, though divers from the ſtate there­in in many points, was not yet eſtabliſhed by a Law, nor had yet crept into our Brittiſh Parliaments; for Parliaments we may conclude there were, imployed, and honoured much by the9 Prince, if Mr. SADLER, or whoſoever he were that wrought the book Intituled The Rights of the Kingdome, or, &c. doth ſee well through his Authorities, nor made incroachments thereby upon the people liberties: If there were no better ground, one might ſo argue from the carriages of thoſe that dealt here with PELAGIUS of Bangor,Ant. Eccl. Britt. pag. 47. of which Sir HEN­RY SPELMAN out of Matthew of Weſtminſter: He ſaith, Britanni cum neque ſuſcipere Dogma perverſum gratiam, &c. The Brittains when they would not any longer, endure His perverſe opinion in blaſpheming the name of Chriſt, neither could they in diſputation refute the ſubtilty of his wicked per­ſwaſion, they lighted on this wholeſome advice, to ſeek the aid of a ſpiritual war from the French Biſhops; which war is not called ſpiritual, becauſe they were to fight for ſpiritual things, but becauſe they muſt contend with ſpiritual weapons, the o­ther not being able to reach the underſtanding or the Conſci­ence; and for this they re-inforce a diſputation, at a Councell or a Synod, where were vulgar men and women, Laicks, to hear the buſineſs; No talk of humane Authority, or the Magiſtrates ſword: that ſerved well to keep the peace, that theſe Diſſenters might not run one upon another, but we finde it here imployed upon no other ſervice.

And a little after, upon the breaking forth of Pelagianiſm a­gain, they call for help; it comes, and praedicationis Antido­to vulnera ſanat Incredulitatis, &c. He, meaning Germarius,Ibidem pag. 49. heals the wounds by the Antidote of preaching; A proper and reaſonable application. Who had the better or the worſe in theſe conteſts I care now to know: my deſire is to ſee the ſword of the Magiſtrate in its ſheath in ſpirituall things, for it is no fit Antidote to be given againſt diſſenting Iudgements in mat­ters of Religion: and it is hitherto left out, at leaſt in Law.

But things continued not long at this rate: The Clergy be­gin to aſpire to the Civil power, to beg its help, or elſe to uſe it themſelves: they forgot the wiſdom that deſcends from above: The ſweetneſs and moderation, together with the evidence of the ſpirit is in the warre: they are willing to be great in the world, and therefore exerciſe carnall arguments and weapons10 to accompliſh what they would: and that they may the better rule, and ſatisfie themſelves in what they longed for, men muſt be obedient to them, and embrace their Impoſitions in Religi­on, or they ſhall hear on't loud enough: and to try their obe­dience, there muſt ſtill be new Sanctions and Canons made to the corrupting of the word of God, and Goſpel-ſimplicity. Nothing now will pleaſe but the confirmation of the Popes au­thority, and Conſtitutions by a Law, and then this Beaſt will cauſe the earth, and them that dwell therein, to worſhip the firſt Beaſt, Rev. 13, 12. Here is the ſtrength and hour of Temptati­on, falling on the Chriſtian Kings and World: and oh! how happy might it have been, had they reſiſted this, and refuſed to give their power, obſerve the phraſe, unto this Beaſt, Rev. 17.13. How much innocent and Chriſtian blood that hath been ſpilt as careleſly as water on the ground, and as barbarouſly as ever any tyrant acted in this world, had been preſerved? the Kings of the earth ſhould not have been branded with this deep and reproachfull ſignall, That they make war with the Lamb, Rev. 17.14. if they had kept within their ſphere, and profeſt their own faith in love and tenderneſs, inſtruments of the beſt Conqueſt unto all ſubjects under them. I will touch a little upon one act, the firſt of our Engliſh bloody Tragedy under this Head, for I wave the perſecutions that were acted by the Ro­man Emperors, ſince which there have been many, and of long continuance. Thoſe that write in favour of the Papacy, report the great father Gregory a holy man,Spelmans Antiq. pag. 56. and a great labourer to convert men to the knowledge of the truth: for which ſay they, our Brittain is much owing to him: He ſent Auguſtine hither, ſometimes called the Monke, with Sanctions and Canons, and many orders for the worſhip of the people, and the ſetting of Church Government with its face towards Rome. The Roman favourites much commend the wiſdome, the piety and ſancti­mony of this man: ſuch graces and ſuch principles, if they were his, brought forth very bad fruit, as will appear. Auſtine ar­rives with his Companions, and is entertained by Ethelbert, Anno 596. He labours to bring the Nation under the papall o­bedience: The King, though not concluding with his doctrines, gives him his liberty, and provides maintenance for him and his11 followers in Canterbury, where he was after Biſhop, and had his See, He calls a Synod, and the Biſhops meet him; He com­mands obedience to Rome and other things. They refuſe with ſuſpicion of Auſtines pride: and the Synod ended in diſlike. And tis added,Spelman's An­tiq. p. 92. That the Brittiſh Church differed from the Roman in many other things alſo; then what were propounded. The famous Monks of Bangor, reported much for Induſtry and ho­lineſs, were principally eyed it is like, in this Aſſembly. The head of their fraternity refuſing ſtill to ſubject themſelves, by ſuch Courſes, receive the interminating propheſie of this great Prelate, or rather the promulging of his pollicy;Pag. 106. Cum aliis locis. Si pacem cum fratribus accipere nolent, bellum ad Hoſtibus forent accepturi, if they would not entertain peace with their Brethren; they ſhould have war from their enemies. And not long after, it fell out accordingly; for Auſtine now was great with Ethelbert; this King in Auſtines Cauſe, provokes the King of Northumberland, to fall upon the Brittains, he enters Leiceſter; willing to pleaſe the King of Kent, and there findes a number of theſe poor praying Bangorites, and ſlaugh­ters 1200. of them with cruel butchery; Auſtine is doubted in this buſineſs, by Mr. Speed and others, to have wrought more by pride and bloody pollicy, then by the ſpirit of propheſie; The action is ſo much unlike that ſpirit which once lived in men. The Anſwer of theſe harmleſs Monkes was good, and very fair, without a merit of ſuch wages as was after payed them. Pag. 108.

And for the piety thereof, I ſhall tranſcribe it here, from Sir Henry Spelman, to ſuch as have him not by them; Be it known, and without doubt to you, that we all are obedient ſub­jects to the Church of God, and to the Pope of Rome, and to every godly Chriſtian, a practiſe now grown abſolute with moſt, to love every one in his degree in perfect Charity, and to help every one of them by word and deed, to be the children of God; and other obedience, ſaith the Abbot in the perſon of the reſt, I do not know due to him whom you name to be POPE; Nor to be the father of fathers, to be claimed, or to be demanded: And this obedience we are ready to pay to him, and to every Chriſtian continually: Beſides, we are un­der the Government of the Biſhop of Caerleon, upon Uske, who is to overſee under God, over us, to cauſe us to keep the12 the way ſpiritual; This was their anſwer, that we are yet, it ſeems, unaccuſtomed to any bruitiſh impoſitions; and one would think it not deſerving ſo heavy a cenſure from the Ro­miſh Monk, nor ſo bloody an execution by his Abbettors, but thus they periſht; And thus commonly it goes with them that make the ſword the Ruler, and the Judge over men in Caſes ſpi­rituall that do relate to conſcience. And here it is to be no­ted by the way, as it may be gueſt at by the anſwer, that theſe fa­ing Brittains make no mention of any humane ſtatute, or Par­liament decree, that did contain the parts and points of their Religion, by which they were to be guided, under pain of life or liberty; for had there been any ſuch thing in being, and had theſe Monks and Brittains known it, as they muſt needs if there had been ſuch a thing, it would without queſtion, have been ur­ged upon this great diviſion, and remembered to us as well as o­ther things: But I will haſten on.

You may by this perceive, Romans, Praelates, and their pow­er to have ſet their Iron feet of cruelty upon the neck of Brit­tiſh Chriſtians, and their Chriſtian liberty: Twelve hundred ſlain in cold blood, in the midſt of their devotions, found un­armed, ſaith the ſtory too, becauſe they would not bow their knees to Romes great power and decrees: and all occaſioned by the whoriſh compliance of the Civil power, and with its li­ſtening to thoſe religious Incendiaries; and alſo that the Kings of this fair, famous Iſland began to ſip betimes at the whores cup of fornication: ſhe was willing to ride; and the powers of the earth muſt help her up, or elſe ſhe cannot; and that they may the better do it, they muſt be drunken: ſince which time they have ſwilled themſelves with full draughts of her poyſonous liquor; and all Nations have been thereby aſtoniſhed & befooled and made to live upon the ſenſeleſs laws and notions of the beaſt and falſe Prophet, proceeding from them in this plunged eſtate: for they have lain down together in the wanton bed of worldly luſt and glory, and thence have been conceived and born thoſe helliſh-hideous monſters, that have devoured and ſwallowed up the bodies and the ſouls of men in Chriſtendome,Brittain. with a witneſs. The ſpirit ſaith, that the Ten Kings ſhall give up their power to the Beaſt; this of England is concluded to13 be one. To give their power to the Beaſt, is to ſerve its luſt, and execute its laws, according to pleaſure and command; ſince the aforeſaid Auſtine diſplayed the colours of the Romiſh pow­er in the field of this Nation, it is wonderfull to conſider how the ſecular and the Eccleſiaſtick intereſt hath combined toge­ther, and grown up in mutuall claſpings and imbraces: They have been ſo myſterially twined and interwoven, that it is feared their ſeparation will not be effected, the work is ſo ten­der and difficult, until he come in power and ſpirit, whoſe the Kingdome is.

The former perſecutions we may call violent Irruptions, or breakings in of power upon liberty without the form of Law; now the ſcale is turning, and the practiſe aſſumes another garb to appear under, the Prelates mount the chair of ſtate, and are taken in; to conſult the affairs of the Commonwealth: now they have liberty indeed to plot their own deſigne, and to get their wills and ſanctions ſtamped with the Images of law and authority; they ſit in Parliament, and have a conſiderable ſtroke with the Laick Nobles and Gentlemen, ſo that they can eaſily ſerve their own intereſt, and obtain their deſire upon all: If there ariſe any principle of light and truth, like to do their King­dome wrong, and to diſcover the darkneſs thereof, they are at hand to quaſh them preſently by bowing or breaking the fo­menters thereof; they'le make them ſtoop or ſtagger to the grave; and they can do it eaſily, either by laying open the Jus Divinum, of their holy Church, whoſe Canons are ſo ſacred, they muſt not be touched, or by inſinuating into the Magiſtrates breaſt,Clavis Apocalyp. pag. 98. which hath been commonly open enough to entertain that inthralling Maxime of the reaſon of ſtate, and then pre­ſent a ſubject to imploy it upon; as the keeping up of our inte­reſt abroad with forraign Princes, or the like, from this unhap­py marriage of theſe two fair Intereſts, that we have mentioned, have proceeded all thoſe ſtatute Laws, by which they have ta­ken cognizance of, and undertaken to determine what is hereſie and error, with the ſeverall Puniſhments for ſuch as ſhall there­by be made or found guilty. Herein they have but ſerved the deſigne of the great myſterie Babylon, The Mother of Har­lots, and abominations of the earth; for the rules were framed14 within her whoriſh heart, they did but creep out at the mouths of our Engliſh Kings and Parliaments as an unnatural vomit, occaſioned by her poyſon: the ill effect thereof is to be found upon the minds of moſt profeſſing men, though Proteſtants at this day, notwithſtanding Pope, and King, and Lords, Biſhops are ſaid to be departed hence, being kickt out and ſpurned at with a furious heel; the minds and underſtandings of moſt will yet ſhews us that they have been here, for it is hardly diſtingu­iſhable in moſt, whether that which they profeſs for truth, be ſetled upon them by the ſpiritual arm of Chriſt in light and evi­dence, or by the arm of fleſhly power, and forcing example of men. I ſay as before, that the Magiſtrates pretended legall cognizance and determination of the errors of the mind in Re­ligion, is only by the Statute Law, ſince the great confederacy betwixt Rome and England, or of the Civil and Church Inte­reſt, for the ancient Laws and Cuſtoms of this Nation look a little better then to manifeſt ſuch a rage in Conſcience-Tyran­ny; And when I mention Romes confederacy with us, let no man puff at this, and ſay that is broken long ago, I muſt confeſs like wrangling lovers they have quarrelled much and often, yet have they loved the ſame bed of luſt and lordlineſs ſtill, though ſometimes they lie not there together; and it is no hard matter to ſhew the Beaſt and falſe Prophet alive,Rev. 19. after the flames have taken hold upon Romes glory, and have burnt her down to a­ſhes; and if this be ſo, let England look about her, for ſhe is not yet delivered, as will be made appear ere long, This may be applyed to later times then of King Hen the Eight, could we but trace the footſteps of this myſtery, as it hath travelled through the Saxon, Dane, and Norman times, and obſerve the many ma­zing turnings it hath made to ſecure it ſelf, as in a laborinth, and to put its purſuers to a loſs, we ſhould finde the pavement of the way to be ſtained with blood, and their proceedings to be full of oppreſſive cruelty: yea, the deep Impreſſions that their feet have made upon our Engliſh Nations fundamental liberties by trampling on them, and by treading them down, do yet ſtand full of blood uncovered, and not dryed up unto this day, to the ſhame of the preſent Generation? which notwithſtanding all the claimes they have made, and pretences had to righteouſneſs15 and judgement; have not found in their hearts, though the pre­ſent day doth loudly call for it, to expiate and cleanſe the Land from. Ezekiel 29.The Children of Iſrael were directed by the Spirit of Pro­pheſie, to burn all the Inſtruments of Gog, and to bury all the bones of his ſlain, and to appoint men of a continual imploy­ment, that they may cleanſe the Land; yea, every paſſenger that paſt through the Land, if he ſaw a mans bone,Ver. 15. he was to ſet up a ſign at it, that the men of continual imployment might obſerve and bury it: So careful was the ſpirit that the Land might be cleanſed of ſtrange fleſh and bones. Brethren, the Rights and Liberties of this Common-wealth have been invaded and over­ſpread by cruel oppreſſive and inſinuating Principles of Tyran­nie and State-Engines, which like Gog, for I ſhall but allude, not interpret, have broken down our ancient bounds, and ſo pollu­ted and extreamly disfigured the comely feature and ſurpaſſing beauty of our Nations Rights and Laws, that an Engliſh man can hardly diſcern their native excellencie and luſtre, they are hid in ſo many clouds, and made to walk under ſo many masks of will and ſelfiſh humour, that the poor Nation cannot ſee one glimps of what they ſhould in an age, when tis our right to enjoy them all with open face continually; we do pretend, and God hath been willing I am confident, to bring it to more then an empty pretence in this age, that the heart of this invading Gog is broken, and the Arm of his power ſo ſhiveld, that every man may believe the whole body is dead, yet tis not buried, the dead Carkaſs lies in the ſtreets and fields of England, and whe­ther there be men appointed for continual imployment to bury the body or no, I ſhall not now diſpute, I fear there are not: yet pardon me if in my creeple-travels, I ſet up a ſtick by a bone that lies unburied, this ſtincking carrion perſecution, that if any ſhall at length undertake the publike Sextons charge, they may know they ſhall not want imployment: And there be more remain­ders of that Tyrant-Hoſt then this, that may teach men that have their ſenſe to put the branch to the noſe, for the ſents con­tagious not fit to be ſufferd among Chriſtian people: But I proceed: 'Thas been enough confeſt and concluded, That this Nation is a free people: The meaning is,16 that their fundamentall Laws are ſuch as do declare and keep them free from all arbitrary power, and that they cannot be inſlaved but by their own conſent in their great Parliament or Council, ſo that a ſubject of England, that by Law is not ex­empted from the Law, is free-born. How then came we to be under the yoke of bondage and ſlavery? Here is the queſtion indeed, the anſwer and unravelling of which hath coſt ſo much ink, treaſure and blood to little purpoſe; It was ſaid before, that the King and Prelates were long ſince in their great conjuncti­on, from which have proceeded thoſe malignant influences that have ſo wrought upon the Nations freedome, whereby it hath been made to labour for life, it being ſo deſperately affli­cted in its vitals. The Kings power and prerogative have been as a fretting moth, and eating Ruſt that hath been gnawing at the heart of liberty, untill they have conſumed it; And the Prelates rage, their Dragon-rage, and ſubtilty hath inſpired this boundleſs Image of the King with ſo much of their own luſt and will, that theſe have ruled the Roſt as they ſay, all along, and by theſe means have the pure freedoms of the land been ra­viſht from it, and the minds of men ſo vitiated and defild, that it requires the labour of an Hercules, or one beyond him much in ſtrength and glory, to cleanſe us from thoſe foul Abomina­tions that are committed now by pretext of Law: ſo that this way departed liberty and righteouſneſs; for the power of the King and Lords ſo over-ruled the poor Commons, or courted them into a compliance by their ſubtilty, that the Commons durſt not, or elſe will not, ſpeak or act too much in vindication of the peoples Antient Rights, for fear of raiſing ſuch a ſtorm that might ſweep them away like a devouring hail, our bulwarks thus ſhattered and ſubverted, gave a free and eaſie paſſage and entrance for thoſe wilde beaſts to make a prey of us when they liſted, to ſatiate their greedy mindes with our treaſure or our blood.

From hence have iſſued forth Patents, Commiſſions, &c. for the erecting of Spiritual Courts, and inveſting of Prelates, with power to inthral men in things of Religion againſt the li­berty of the Subject.

17

But I would not caſt a blot upon any of our Engliſh w­thies in Parliament, that have from time to time aſſerted what they could againſt Incroachments, and put forth themſelves as much as the times reſpectively would bear againſt theſe great and potent Innovators.

They have done much, upon occaſions, yet never did they do ſo much as to ſtile the Nation free thereby; ſuch are to be re­membred by us with their Honors, and their deſerved commen­dation: Neither would, or durſt, I ſay that all our Engliſh Kings and Biſhops muſt be wholly judged the Nations bane, ſince the aforeſaid great conjunction: No, we have had Kings that have been wiſe and valiant to a wonder, and have loved the people well, and acted for them; but ſtill they have dont with the remembrance and retaining of their great Prerogative, that it muſt be thought an Act of Grace, free Grace in them to give the People their due Rights, which could not be in Law or Equity detained from them; yet let ſuch have this honor, That they did no worſe. And I believe England can boaſt as much of Biſhops, ſome Biſhops, for their Learning and their Piety, as any Nation under Heaven, ſince the Apoſtacy, yea, and ſuch as withſtood the Roman Court in its foul dreſs unto the death, in the vindication and defence of what they ſaw; yet their light led them not to renounce their call from Rome, or to ſtick at the root of thoſe Proceedings nearer home; by which they, with many others, were violently carried to the ſtake, to breath forth their ſouls in the fiery flames: And there was a worldly arm, which others pious, tis like, and learn­ed too, did lean to for ſupporting of their Hierarchy, and in their Excommunications for the doing of that which was the proper office of the Spirit with and in the Church,Sir Edw. Cook, 3. part of the Inſt. cap. of He­reſie. they would by their Spiritual power Excommunicate, and the Civil Power muſt play the part of Satan for them, a ſtrange Innovation, and moſt dangerous in the New Teſtament Mini­ſtery: But yet I ſay, tis meet that all deſerving Predeceſſors ſhould be remembred by us with their due reſpects. This by the way.

The cruel Proceedings of theſe Joynt-powers, and how hea­vy18 their loins were upon the Subject, and with what Scorpions they did exerciſe the people, are, as to fact, recorded by the peinful labors of an Engliſh man. M. Foxes Acts and Monu­ments. What? hath it been the ho­nor, or rather the diſhonor of the Engliſh Nation to make Martyrs? A diſhonor and a ſhame indeed that will never be waſh't off till the world be no more: although I could, and do with my ſoul deſire, and ſay with our learned Lawyer in another caſe,Sir Ed. Cook 4 part of Inſt. pag. 37. Auferat oblivio, ſi poteſt ut cunqueſilentium tegat; let it die and be buried in forgetfulneſſe; or however let it not be remem­bred to our diſadvantage or diſgrace. 'Tis our honor that Brit­tains Womb hath been ſo fertile, to bring forth ſo many ripe for Martyrdom, if need ſhould be; but it may be of very lamen­table and ſad regreet upon our memory and thoughts, that ever her heart ſhould be ſo butcherous & cruel as to act that bloody & inhumane part upon her Sons with her own hands, that yet ſeem red with blood; and more then ſeem if ſome miſtake not; yea, and to do it with ſo much deliberation and adviſement, as a legal proceſs doth beſpeak; which way ſhe hath appeared in to be moſt cruel. If France, or Spain, or Rome, or Infidel barbarous Nati­on in the world had by their mighty and prevailing Forreigne Force bereft us thus of life and liberty, it had been the more to­lerable, we could expect but little better from ſuch hands; But it was thou O England, the Land of our Nativity; and you O En­gliſh powers, our pretended Friends and Familiars, born to a right in the ſame Laws with us, and ſworn to defend and keep thoſe Laws inviolable; this, this cutteth to the quick, and pier­ceth to the very heart and ſoul of every true Engliſh man.

Yet this hath been our caſe, whereof we have juſt reaſon to complain; no poor Chriſtian durſt lift up his head above the pal­pable darkneſs of the times; nor profeſſe he ſaw a little more, or a little otherwiſe in Spirituals, then the formal ſetled Prelates did, but it muſt be upon his utmoſt peril; Bonds and death attend him preſently: Stand to our Rules ſay they, and pin your Faith up­on our ſleeves, and think as we would have you, or you die for it. What abominations have the Children of England committed in the dark, every one in the Chamber of his Imagery? What Names have they invented and impoſed on ſuch that would not bow down and worſhip the Image that they〈…〉Names of contempt and odium, like the Skins put on the pri­mitive Saints, that the mindes of Beaſt-like people might be the more enraged, and the eaſier inclined to kindle the fire for their ſufferings if they would not own the Beaſt, even in that groſs ap­pearance that he was then in; beſides the diſtinguiſhing Names derived upon them in ſcorn from ſome principal leader in that profeſſion, they muſt be bruited a brood to be ſeditious, diſturbers of the Peace, Subverters of the Laws and Governments, Diſo­bedient to Powers, &c. although they were the moſt ſimple and plain hearted and quiet ſouls in the world; men that were wil­ling to ſerve and worſhip their God according to the dictates of their Conſcience in the Light they had of Scripture: I refer the Reader for this to S. ED. COOK, in the third Part of his Jn­ſtitutes, pag. 41. in Chap. of Hereſie; where there is the form of an Indictment for Hereſie and Lollardy, ſo the oppoſite Judge­ment to Popery was long time called, containing general Accu­ſations of Diſturbing of the Peace, &c. And though it were ad­judged inſufficient in Law, as well it might, yet this way the Pre­lates went, as might be ſhewed by a Cloud of Teſtimonies, yet ſhall this go for all.

And becauſe I am ſo near it; let me here remember one Evil, well obſerved by that great man, occaſioned by coercive and re­ſtraining courſes in matters of Conſcience, ibid. pag. 40. 'twill be ſufficient to repeat his words: There was a Statute ſuppoſed to be made in 5 R. 2. That Commiſſions ſhould be by the Lord Chancellor made and directed to Sheriffs and others to Arreſt ſuch as ſhould be certified into the Chancery by the Biſhops and Prelates Mrs. of Divinity, to be Preachers of Hereſies and noto­rious Errors, their Fautors, Maintainers and Abettors, and to hold them in ſtrong Priſon until they will juſtifie themſelves to the Law of Holy-Church, by colour of this ſuppoſed Act: Cer­tain perſons that held that Images were not to be worſhipped, &c. were holden in ſtrong Priſon until they, to redeem their vexation, miſerably yeilded before theſe Mrs. of Divinity to take an Oath, and did ſwear to worſhip Images, which was a­gainſt the Moral and Eternal Law of Almighty God. Thus far he.

20

A ſad Preſident for any men and Powers upon earth to fol­low, in taking cognizance of, and puniſhing of men for Opini­on, whereby the weight of other mens ſins is commonly laid upon their ſhoulders; and I think they have commonly enough of their own, and too much for ſome to bear; let not the preſent Boutefeaus for their own defence object twas ill done of theſe, for they themſelves were Hereticks, and the Sufferers held the Truth; but we are in the right, and therefore now there is no ſuch danger; for they may be anſwered, firſt, The former Pre­lates were as confident as any now; yea, twas their confidence and fierce zeal that put ſo many honeſt hearts from time to time into a deadly ſweat, wherein they left their blood and marrow, life and all: But, ſecondly, Admit that they or theſe are in the truth, as both would have it thought ſo in their times; yet was it not the duty of any King or Magiſtrate commanded to them by Chriſt, by whom Kings now do reign, to force men into his Worſhip or his Service; I ſay ſo now; for if it were, it has been deſired long ſince to be ſhewn, which yet no man can ſee; Nay, according to the Laws and Cuſtoms of this Engliſh Nation,Ancient Bounds pag. 23. the clear contrary may be thought to be the duty of the Magiſtrate, and that he was and is to defend the people from ſuch wrongs and infringements of their Liberties; for he is ſworn thereto; and he is to keep the Peace; ſo that the good old Laws of Eng­land, and the Magiſtrates, the Executioners of thoſe Laws, are the Forts and Towers in whom all honeſt mindes, though differ­ing in the buſineſſe of Religion, a thing not imaginable to be under cenſure of the power of man, and in reaſon and Scripture left to the deciſion of the Spirit, and to Chriſt the Judge, are to be ſafeguarded from the furious perſecution of all ſtate incendiaries Before I turn over from this Chapter of the Lord Cook concer­ning Hereſie, I ſhall obſerve theſe two things. Firſt, The bound­leſs licenſe that the Prelates uſed to take under colour of Law to ſuppreſs and quaſh the non-Conformiſts informer times, that they, Phaeton Fablelike, by their reignleſs Fury, ranged through the Region of Chriſts Kingdom, plucking the Flowers from his heavenly Crown and Dignity, uſurping his great Throne, as al­ſo running through the Thrones of Earthly Princes, ſetting them on fire as they pleaſed, whereby, with other places, the21 world of our Brittiſh Iland was often ſcorch't with their too fiery Rayes. Secondly, That the Satute concerning Hereſie, &c. made in q. Eliz. dayes, was principally intended to reſtrain thoſe Irregular Notions, and to contract their lawleſs Rage in a nar­rower compaſs; ſo the work look't backward rather then ought beſides, although the contrivers had not the heart and happineſs to cut it clean off and to caſt it out for ever, as may appear in this place to the Judicious Reader, and by the Statute it ſelf; as alſo by the ſecond Part, Inſtitutes, In Articulis cleri; eſpecially in pag. 615. But I am too tedious.

King HENRY the eighth was a bluſtering Prince, and quar­relled with the Roman Court;See the Statute, 31 Hen. 8.4. yet Lutherans and others were very odious to the Kingdoms Powers; the principle of per­ſecution was kept alive with very great offence to Chriſtianity, as all can now believe, by thoſe that loved to Lord over their Brethrens Conſcience; yea, the Inquiſition reaches to the Kings own Chamber, and takes the queen from his ſide. There were ſix bloody Articles, ſaith Mr. SPEED, enacted, that made it death to ſuch as held or taught the contrary: Who can remember and forbear to melt at Engliſh ſufferings? EDWARD the ſixt was a young, yet wiſe and tender Prince; our Iſraels Joſiah,Speed's Hiſtor. pag. 1046. he would not ſend an Heretick to Hell before his time, as may be gathered from Mr. FOX and others; yet perſecution lived, it could not die, they kept it alive that knew how to over-awe the Court by cunning Policy, for that ſate ruling ſometimes, and enveagling ſtil the civil Power to unſheath the Sword againſt diſ­ſenters in Religion: Who can repeat the Marian bloody dayes without laments? Now Rome is called in again to help the doing of what was done too much before. England can perſecute with­out the Pope, as may be ſeen above: his Spirit is here, although unto his Perſon or his Name we bid defiance. But now they flaſh and lay about indeed: The Prelates rage the more becauſe they had little check before, and like fire pent in a little, break out in deſperate flames, and the poor Proteſtants die. ELIZABETHS beginning was like water in abundance falling on the Fires all over England, it coold and brake them all, yet did it not kill or quench the Coals: they lay glowing ſtill, and were ſtirred up a­gainſt Profeſſors ſtill upon occaſion, becauſe men would not22 know their liberty: The Spirit of Violence lodging ſtill in mens breaſts, and labouring to bring the Judgements of others to their Girdle. And ſo it went from hence into K. JAMES's Reign: tis a continued Line not broken, though a little leſſen'd; for the Puritanes were as Thorns in the Prelates eyes, and they were rubbing ſtill to get them out; they could not ſee ſo well whiles theſe were neer them. King CHARLS follows and drinks in the poiſonous Wines: the Prelates are as formerly, his Cup-Bearer & the common people were too much delighted with the ſport theſe made: They raged and ſtaggered in this Spiritual Drun­kenneſs,Separatiſts. and ſtucrk at many Non-Conformiſts, till at laſt they lighted on thoſe three Gentlemen, Mr. BURTON, Mr. PRIN, and Dr. BASTWICK: The ſeat of the Biſhops is very high, their Authority great, and their mindes as cruel: They cared not for a Parliament, though they had as much room there as any, and as much honor: The Prerogative and Arbitrary Rule of this King did pleaſe them better, as being more ſerviceable to their purpoſe: you have them in their High Commiſſion, in the Star-Chamber, every where: They pleaſe the King, and he gratifies them with what they like well enough. The relation of their proceedings, with the three above named, is worth the reading;**New Diſco­very of the Pre­lates Tyranny, printed, Anno 1641. where you may ſee their Will inſtead of Law, their Ty­ranny inſtead of Piety. Before we go any further, let us look upon what is paſt, with theſe queries.

1. Whether the Magiſtracie of England hath done its Duty in taking Cognizance of things relating to Religion?

2. Whether all preſent and future proceedings to oppreſſe the Conſcience, will not juſtifie theirs, and fill up the meaſure of their iniquity?

3. Whether ſuch cruel dealings with diſſenting men, do not manifeſtly ſhew they had no better argument to convince them, or at leaſt weaken their own cauſe?

4. Whether the Common-wealth hath not been bereft of many honeſt, able and faithful Subjects by this means?

5. Whether this kinde of Perſecution which came in with Papacie, ought not in all reaſon to have taken its leave and gone with it? Or whether perſecution with colour of Law, be not a23 toleration of Popery and Prelacy in ſome part at leaſt?

Laſtly, whether ſuch a coercive power in ſuch caſes be con­ſiſtent with a right adminiſtration of law and the Nations li­berty? I am not willing to obtrude my private fancies or opi­nions on any, onely it is my deſire that all might ſee and make uſe of what is reaſon. And I could wiſh the caſe were indiffe­rently debated and decided by ſome able Lawyers, that are un­intereſſed and uncorrupted, without any awing hand of force over them: by ſuch I ſay, I wiſh it determined, whoſe honeſt and judicious hearts have not ſuffered ſhipwrack by the ſtrange blaſts and ſtorms of theſe various and dangerous times. And yet howſoever, I ſuppoſe that liberty of Conſcience hath more to plead for it ſelf then that in a Nation, under a Magiſtracy that makes profeſſion of the Chriſtian faith. But let us turn our faces again.

Whiles the condition of our Engliſh State ſtood thus, and the darkneſs of the times was witneſſed againſt through ſuffer­ings, by the providence of the All-ſeeing Jehovah, things at laſt are brought about ſo that a Parliament is called & ſettled, Anno 1640.

Now the glory and the Tyranny of Prelacy begins to be ecclipſed: The pains of the Nation begin to come upon her, and ſhe is travelling ſorely to be delivered of the man-child of law and liberty, that ſhould make the mother to rejoyce: many were the Attempts to encreaſe her throes, and to ren­der her abortive, or at leaſt, that ſhe ſhould bring forth nothing but winde.

All the policy of the Court and Prelates is called in and im­ployed to this purpoſe: but it muſt not proſper; for the day of their Judgement is dawned upon them, and it cometh up with cloudes and darkneſs, their bloody and outragious cruelty ex­erciſed upon thoſe three with others, mentioned even now, is but like the roaring of a man ſubject to the epilepſy, the fal­ing-ſickneſs, before his fall. The Parliament thus called, recalls the priſoners home, and entertains them with reſpect and ho­nour. They ſearch into their own priviledges & the ſubjects liber­ty, and aſſert them with courage and reſolution, for they are in their virgin purity and maſculine ſtrength, and nothing can24 brow-beat them. The Courtiers and Biſhops hear of them, and are affraid of their righteous eye, and oppreſſion-revenging arm. The Biſhops with their High-Commiſſion fall. The Star-Chamber is ſtruck up by the roots, and all encroachments upon the peoples rights declared againſt in general. Who ſees not but there was an Item given by this to all true Engliſh groaning hearts to lift up themſelves, becauſe the day of their redempti­on drew neer? ſuch a motion ſurely was made, and it was with joy accepted by the moſt rational and ingenuous people of the Nation: witneſs the fair and honeſt Petitions preſented to the Parliament from time to time, & witneſſe alſo thoſe gallant De­clarations, too many to be mentioned here, wherein the good old Laws of England were aſſerted and contended for, with the ſubjects liberty in all juſt things, which are of little better publique uſe at preſent then to be a Teſtimony of the Nations great Apoſtacy, or declination from the grounds of the war; unto which all honeſt meaning people were upon deep conju­ring terms engaged, either in affection in opening of the purſe, or perſonall action.

It is evident and eaſie to be remembred, as it falls out in all civil wars, that the Nation ran up into two general heads or factions, The one relating to the regal intereſt and preroga­tive, The other to the Intereſt of Parliament and the Common­wealth. The actings of the former, notorious enough, I ſhall wave now, as being exploded and excentrical to the preſent Intendment; It is the latter that I ſhall obſerve a little in its mo­tion, although my obſervation be but general, and their work be too lately done to be yet forgotten.

The ſum and ſubſtance of the Parliaments Declarations, as to the careful Reader doth appear, amounts to this, That it was their ſole deſigne and endeavor, as they hop'd to be aſſiſted and juſtified by the God of Heaven, to maintain the Laws of the Land, which they ſay were trampled upon by the King and his Party through their high and arbitrary courſes, and to preſerve the Subjects Liberty as to Perſon and Eſtate; with this Stan­dart they proceeded, extirpated Epiſcopacie, root and branch; took up Arms againſt the King and his party; and tis to be thought, that at that time they, or at leaſt the major part of25 them, really and unfeignedly intended what they then profeſt and ſo ſolemnly declared. Thus things went on though through much ſtrugling and difficulty, till they had obtained their deſi­red ends upon that Malignant Party.

I cannot ſay that there were no ſufferers for conſcience in theſe times of the Kingdoms Travels; it may be judged there were no legal ſufferers, but only what was without Law carried on by a ſtrong hand; for the Biſhops, who might and had the power to convict of Hereſie, are gone;Third part of his Inſtitut. pag. 40. ſee what Sir EDWARD COOK ſaith, That at this day no perſon can be indicted or im­peached of Hereſie before any temporal Judge, or other that hath temporal Juriſdiction, as upon the peruſual of the Statutes quoted by him he concludeth. But there was a Synod or Aſſem­bly of Divines calld or held by Authority of Parliament, that laboured as a travelling woman to get their Doctrine and their Diſcipline eſtabliſht by a Law: Many of theſe had been under the Prelates yoak, and had been ſomewhat galled thereby; yet when their wounds were healed, they forgot Smectymnuus and his cryes, they beſtir themſelves moſt buſily, to get their dear Preſbyterie into the chair, that it may Lord, and ſway the Scepter over their Brethren; for to be pinched of other mens conſciences is almoſt an Epidemick Itch.

The diſſenting Brethren then, eſpecially thoſe of the Inde­pendent-way, looking on themſelves as ſuch as were like to lie under the Altar at the mercy of the new raiſed Preſbyter,Rev 6. begin to ſend forth their preventing groans, and to endeavour the vin­dication of Juſt Freedom by uncovering the land-marks of Li­berty of Conſcience, which ſome have done to purpoſe, none daring to remove them but by a fleſhly arm, too weak and too diſproportionate for ſuch a work. But ſo loud were the thunders of the rigid Preſbyterians in their Pulpits, and their writings flaſhing forth ſo much lightning of Vengeance upon Hereſie & Sectariſm and all its fautors, that the Parliament it ſelf was al­moſt conjured to be of their Opinion, and to write and act the voices of the preſent Thunders.

This amongſt other things began to breed a difference between that great Councel and the Army under the Command of Sir THOMAS FAIRFAX, which was reported to be made up in26 much of ſectaries, and men of Heterodox Opinions, which the Scotch and Engliſh National Miniſtry could by no means brook. The Engliſh Sectarian Army is declaimed againſt by the Scottiſh Orators; and it was ſo irkſom to many Preachers here, that it led them frequently beſide their Texts; wherein they dealt not ſo much by ſolid Argument to cry Errors down, but by calling on the civil Magiſtrate to cut the erroneous off; nothing was more pleaſing to them then to think and talk of Impriſonment, Exile, Death for Sectaries: The Land of their Nativity was not fit to hold them any longer; one might have thought that the Hereſie of PYTHAGORAS his〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉or tranſmigra­tion of ſouls was revived now; for the Prelacie was, and would it were not ſtill, viſibly riſing in the Presbyterie.

Theſe clamors thus ventilating themſelves in fire and Pillars of ſmoke, began to ſuggeſt thoughts in the Army that the Parlia­ment & the Presbyterian Intereſt declined their firſt Principles for the ſecuring of their own and the Nations freedom, of which Liberty of Conſcience was no ſmall part, as will appear ere long. The Trumpets of the Army alſo begin to ſound, and they made better muſick then they have done of late; Mr. SALTMARSH puts life into SMECTYMNUUS, and groans again; he dedicates the work to the Parliament,Groans for Li­berty. ANNO 1645. Let it be read again, tis a good Leſſon for the preſent times; and becauſe it looks ſo much towards my preſent purpoſe with ſo fair an aſpect, as alſo becauſe it may probably be thought to be the then mind of more and greater then himſelf, I will here inſert one paſsage from him.

Conſider,Epiſtle to the Parl. ibid. ſpeaking to the Parliament, whether in the King­dom of Jeſus Chriſt any other Scepter ſhould be lifted up then that golden one of his own; and whether if there be a Kingdom of God, if Jeſus Chriſt be the Law-giver, and the ſpirit of Chriſt the interpreter of theſe Laws, and this Kingdom of God, with­in the throne of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Lord Jeſus, any other power ſhould rule, any other Scepter, any other Laws, or any other ſit down in that throne which is only the throne of the ſon of David, whoſe throne is for ever, the Scepter of whoſe Kingdome is an everlaſting Scepter? Thus much he. And would this have been ſpoken by him, that was27 the Generals Chaplain, in ſuch a publike manner at leaſt, except it had been the ſenſe of the Grandees of the Army, or the moſt prevalent part of them? Agen, Theſe Coer­cive courſes ſought ſtrongly to be uſed in Reformation of Religion, fill'd Mr. Dell with breath enough to ſound out his Right Reformation,Dell's Right Re­formation, An­no 1646. ſo called in oppoſition to the other way; which was preſented both to the Parliaments ears and eyes (to the houſe of Commons at leaſt) wherein the pow­er of the Magiſtrate is excluded from the work, as much as we would have it, and he is ſtyled an Attendant to both the Generals in the Army.

Theſe (with many other of the ſame Sect) did in their places in this juncture of time,Title page to his Sermons. endeavor much to counter­plead Presbyterie, and to prevent any rigorous courſe in matters of conſcience to be put in ure by the Parliament by a new Law (for the old Statutes ſmelling ſo much of Pope­ry and Prelacie were withered long ſince) I mention theſe men not ſo much for what, as when they ſpake, and whoſe they were.

The Armies Declarations and Remonſtrances themſelves (in pretence at leaſt;Armies Re­moſtrance, Auguſt 19. 164pag. 4. for what end the great God knows and will judge) gave very fair and promiſing hopes unto all men that their faces and their hearts were ſet towards the maintenance and vindication of the Kingdoms Liberties (and in ſpecial of conſcience) by which the eyes of the beſt ſeeing in the Nation, were turned towards them; in which work of theirs Mr. Cook, a man well thought on by the Grandees of the Army, as by his after-imployment doth appear. He, I ſay, gives encouragement to them, and en­deavors much to fire their Reſolutions for the effecting of this Work: I ſhall repeat ſome words of his and ſo leave this: And to the purpoſe before mentioned, he brings in the Lord Jeſus, ſpeaking to the Army, upon their jar with the Parliament:Thus (with other things) did I preſerve you from active Martyrdom that you ſhould bring your ſelves to paſſive? Redinte gratio Amories, pag. 84.Would not I have taken your lives as kindly from you at Naſby, Briſto, &c. as if, after diſband­ing,28 you ſhould be impriſon'd and put to death for Here­ticks and Schiſmaticks? Is not my Kingly Government as precious to you, and as well worthy fighting for as my Prieſtly Office? &c. And pag 85. to the ſame purpoſe; Hath God preſerved you hitherto in times of War, to be inſenſibly deſtroyed in times of Peace? Was not your Commiſſion to fight for Laws and Liberties, whereof Con­ſcience is the greateſt? Hath not the Kingdom ſufficient­ly diſhonored Religion formerly in the Biſhops time, but muſt they now under a pretence of uniformity ſeek the life of her children, and of Religion it ſelf? Do they not aim at the life of Religion which is the heart of God, and the lives of his children, which are the Apple of his eye? The Mercunaliſts at Court did but ſtrike at the Letter of the Law in ſome things; but theſe Phaëtons would ſet all on fire, and aim at the Power of Religion; the very life of our Laws, whoſe humors are ſo corrupt, that the leaſt ſcratch turns into a gangreen?

Thus much from Mr. Cook; and 'tis pity his Language is ſo adaequate unto theſe Times.

This is enough to ſhew what the (then) thoughts of the Aymy men were concerning Liberty of Conſcience. Their means (that we may go on) with other, prov'd as a hand clapt upon the mouth of that perſecuting Spirit whereby its bur­ning breath could not break forth to do much miſchief; yet in this doubtful and diſputing time, endeavours were not wanting to caſt the ſeed of perſecution into the Parliament; 'tis done, not ſo much by a forc't raviſhment ('tis thought) as by a willing proſtitution; for they had now forgotten their Virgin-dayes and glory. The Parliament grows preg­nant and at laſt brings forth that bloody and deſtroying Monſter, whoſe heart is as flint, and whoſe teeth as iron; that is able to caſt down and trample on any ſerious Chri­ſtian in the World; that ſees any thing beyond the Traditi­on of their fore-fathers (I mean) that Ordinance of Lords & Commons againſt Blaſphemy & Hereſie, &c. the unnatu­ral off-ſpring of ſuch a Parliament, that did once aſſert29 and vindicate the peoples Liberties with courage: But this proceeds from them; and it is laid principally by ſome to the Scottiſh-rigid-Presbyterian-Clamors (with whom the Engliſh then had much to do) as the Father of it, although ſome neerer home might be affraid twas theirs. This childe thus born into the world,Gen. 12.16. may be likened well to Iſhmael the ſon of Hagar, of whom the Angel ſaid, He will be a wilde man, his hand will be against every man, and every mans hand against him; but I muſt except, and hope hee will not long dwell in the preſence of the Brethren to of­fend them.

The Biſhops and that Prelatical Party living in thoſe days, who were pretendedly caſt out for their oppreſſion might laught to ſee their former cauſe ſo gratified by thoſe that caſt them down; and they might now believe that their fair houſes and their lands made them more guilty then their tyrannie: For what Prelacie in England for theſe fourſcore years could have deſired more for them to act upon againſt Diſſenters in Religion, then this Ordinance? Nay, I am confident by this, through their great ſubtility, they might have made (had they been up to act) their lit­tle fingers now heavier then their loyns were but a little before, ſo eaſie is this Ordinance like to ſit upon the neck of Engliſh Chriſtians.

Tis very likely that this new-born-Law would have ma­nifeſted it ſelf in its true colours preſently, for thoſe were not wanting that could open it, if the affairs of tſte King­dome would have permitted: But things were not yet come up to that maturity and fulneſſe that ſome deſired, and were poſting to; the Nation was but in a tottering ſtate, not yet ſetled and ſecured from common enemies both abroad and at home; therefore for the better effect­ing of the work, the Heterodox (whoſe hand had been much in the buſineſſe of the war and pretended reformati­on) are in a manner courted ſtill, and ſtill retained to plead againſt the publike Adverſary. All this while that Ordi­nance lay Dormant in the Cradle, or if it wak't a little, it30 quickly fell aſleep again; and if it had been ſtrangled there, it had been a work not worthy of repentance.

Paſſe we from this unto the tryal and the great Cata­ſtrophe of King Charls; the Biſhops and their Jnriſdicti­on were extinct before: the King now follows them, be­ing condemn'd as a Prince not fit to rule any longer. Who would not imagine now but all uſurpations tyrannies over mens perſons and conſciences, ſubverſion of Laws, and whatſoever elſe may be called State-ſinnes, I ſay who would not have thought all thoſe to be excluded and dam­ned up for ever? except it muſt be ſaid that the Agents herein ſlew the perſons to inherit their ſouls, their ſins and impieties, and ſo become ſevenfold more the ſons of op­preſſion, and arbitrary luſt and power then all before them. As to the preſent caſe of Liberty of Conſcience, I will here inſert one paſſage more from Mr. John Cook Barriſter, the Advocate of the Commonwealth againſt the King; Brook, King Charls his Caſe in page 42 ſpeak­ing concerning the Court of Juſtice,This high Court (ſaith he) hath cut off the head of a Tyrant and in ſo doing they have pronounced ſentence not onely againſt one tyrant, but tyrannie it ſelf; therefore if any of them ſhall turn tyrants, or conſent to ſet up any kinde of tyrannie by a Law, (let this be heeded) or ſuffer any unmercifull domineering over the conſciences, perſons and eſtates of the free people of this Land, they have pronounced ſentence againſt themſelves. Loe! here's the ſenſe of one concerning Liberty, who ſpeaks not [now] in his own behalf, but as the Attorney-General of the honeſt and well-affected in the whole Na­tion; and the Armies ſervant, who were the great Zea­lots for taking off the Kings head he in this capacity, ſends all kind of tyrannie (in word at ſeaſt) away with Charles Stuart; he could not be ignorant of the aforeſaid Ordi­nance, but may be ſupooſed to believe that the Parliament to whom ſo great a purge (as they cald it) was adminiſtred by the Army, or part of it, had thoſe peccant humors corrected, wherewith they did abound in paſſing of that31 Ordinance, and were rendred more healthy, and better diſpoſed unto the Nations ſervice, in clearing of their Rights and Laws, if ſo good an end could be effected by ſo bad a means.

Theſe things paſt over and gone, that long Parliament (after its many ſtrange turns) fell into an abſolute diſlike by the Grandees of the Army, and having had a part too long (tis thought) upon the Stage, it is diſmiſt and Exit. But ſuch acclamations and ſuch ecchoings of joy were made and heard throughout moſt of the gathered Churches in England, as if they meant to ſound the Trumpet to ſome great Jubilee, and as if the day of the Nations deliverance from their long ſervitude and captivity were come; ſuch ſudden hopes were generally conceived upon the rooting up of that long Parliament, that had been pruned much by the Armies ſword before, but was not likely to bring forth that fruit which ſome expected, whatſoe're it was; yet a­las poor ſouls, who did not ſee this to be the foundation to another thraldome?

Their reſoundings upon this occaſion were no ſooner paſt, but they are ſeconded by another, greater in conceit, then the former, occaſioned now by that ſtrange ſummons given for a new Parliament, which for diſtinction-ſake ſhall be called the Extraordinary Parliament, or to uſe their own phraſe in their Declaration of July 12. 1653. Then called in an extraordinary manner, who do there de­clare themſelves the Parliament of the Common-wealth of England, and ſo may I, and twenty more do, if wee have a minde to't, and all to little purpoſe and we may chance to hear more on it too another day. But the Churches look't on't as an extraordinary bleſſing indeed, that they ſhould hove the ſole (or at leaſt the chiefeſt) power to elect a Par­liament, a thing never ſo much as dreamt on in our Eng­liſh Law-books or Antiquities.

Theſe Gentlemen thus ſummoned, might have done the Commonwealth better ſervice had they ſtaid at home, and endeavor red to engage the honeſt and well-affected of the32 Nation, to remonſtrate the caſe of the Common-wealth, and how far they did aſſent unto the proceedings of the Army in their actings towards the former Parliament, and boldly to have aſſerted what they did and might juſtly ex­pect to have done in the preſent overture of Providence, that ſeemed now at laſt to call for Righteouſneſſe once more and common Juſtice, yea, ſeeing now upon the fall of the remainder of that long Parliament, the Power and Supreme Truſt returned into the hands of the people, as the Army men themſelves ſay, or conclude it would and ought, upon the diſſolution of the Parliament, in that no­table ſtratagem of theirs, their Remonſtrance, printed in Novemb. 1648. and preſented to the Commons; they might have done well to have called in queſtion The Agre­ment of the People, in order to the future Government and ſettlement of the Nation, preſented to the Commons by the Army, Jan. 20. 1649. that had lain ſo long under the aſhes of forgetfulneſſe, never ſo much as called for by the Authors of it. But theſe things wav'd, or not conſi­der'd in that preſent Juncture of providence, the Gentle­men make for Weſtminſter to declare themſelves the Parliament of England; and what need that, had they not been jealous of an innovation? For the Kingdome hath had other means then theſe to know their great counſels by, when they have been theirs; they needed not declara­tions to inform them of that: Thither, I ſay, they come, and there they ſit (with better hearts to act by, then foun­dations to act upon) untill they moſt ſtrangely and unex­pectedly divide themſelves; in one part of which fraction formally carried on, there lay the irons by which the ſtately work or engine of the following Government ſhould be pretendedly effected which partly by this means grew ſo hot, that it quickly melted and ſevered from the reſt, and fairly run into another mould prepared for it, and from hence come forth our new Mngna Charta with a Protector of the Commonwealth of, &c.

33

Whiles theſe things were thus tranſacted, that Ordinance of the Lords and Commons concerning Religion did not ſo much as whimper, that ever I heard; and Conſcience in Profeſſion might have gone free enough, for all I know, as to any legal cognizance thereof.

The Revolutions of the civil Intereſt being ſo many and ſo ſtrange, fill'd up the thoughts of moſt with ſomething or other, that they could ſcarce get a vacancie for the o­ther.

The breach of this Parliament, and the breaking out of our new Government, ſtroke many of the Churches, eſpe­cially ſuch as paſt under the notion of fifth-Monarchy men, into ſuch a damp that they knew not how to breath with patience, and their diſcontent flew very high, which coſt ſome the loſſe of their Liberty for they conceived their hopes fruſtrated, [or ſtopt at leaſt] and look't upon the Leaders of the Army to have broken their Faith and Pro­miſes which did occaſion their high diſpleaſure: VVhere I leave them with many more to condole themſelves in the midſt of their Abuſes, and proceed to what remains.

The Protector ſworn and ſetled in his Seat, endeavors to beget thoughts in all men of his moderation and his tender­neſſe; for he hath been heard to ſay, that he thought no Man in Englaud ſuffer'd purely for conſcience; ſuch a de­ſigne had he yet to keep or gain the hearts of the religious people in the Nation to himſelf, who had been not a little ſerviceable to him all along the VVar, wherein they ſup­poſed alſo that they ſerved the Common Intereſt, wherein their own was included. But the Lord ſuffer'd not this flou­riſh to ſtand long without a trial; he comes down to ſee whether it would prove altogether according to the ſound; whether the practiſe of the State would verifie their Profeſ­ſion, or whether it were ſpoken rather to ſerve themſelves upon men, then to ſerve the Intereſt of Chriſts Kingdom in men. Nothing, in my judgement, comes ſo neer to the touch of what vvas before pretended then the caſe of Mr. John Biddle, vvhich will appear in theſe two reſpects: Firſt,34 The civil deportment and converſation of the man was not in the leaſt to be excepted againſt, even in the confeſſion of his Enemies. And Secondly, The Judgement and Opinion of the man in matters of Religion, is about things not of a light but important and weighty concernment, contrary to the moſt By the former, if any diſſenting man be capable of Liberty, he is. By the latter, his Liberty is now made queſtionable, whom I mention but with this double inſtruction. Firſt; Not as if I would be underſtood to plead ſingly for him alone, or any individual perſon in the world; although the unjuſt ſufferings of any man cannot paſſe my obſerva­tion without ſome ſad regret of grief. Nor, Second­ly, I am as if I were (under the ſame predicament) Hete­rodox with him in point of Doctrine, and ſo may be ſup­poſed to groan out this from a principle of ſelf love and perſecution. No, I profeſſe were I (as for ought I know I may be) of the ſame judgement with the Court-Chaplains and Favorites in all things (excepting this of perſecution) I ſhould he willing, and ſo I am, to give all men their liber­ty in matters of conſcience; ſo that they may not be pro­ceeded againſt by any compulſive forcing means whatſoe­ver; becauſe I know Truth to be ſtrong enough to defend it ſelf, and advance its cauſe by better and more proportio­nate Weapons. The purſuit of this mans caſe then theſe things premiſed, ſhall ſerve as a mean, to finde out what Liberty the Diſſenting Brethren in England have, and up­on what bottom it ſtands; then will I ſtop this unpleaſant Journey where the perſecution of this Heterodox-Man firſt took life, I ſhall not now diſcuſſe; or by what heat it was fomented before it appeared publikely upon the Thea­tre for Action; the cognizance of that too I ſhall here paſſe by; together with the occaſion of this perſecution, this later being abroad already: Tis my wil only to obſerve how this tender thing, both in the eye of God & good men free­dom of Conſcience hath been coveted ſomewhat, but ne­ver ſincerely and truly or legally betrothed or eſpouſed to the preſent Government; notwithſtanding the Proviſion35 in the inſtrument of Government made for Liberty, which in the judgment of all that I ever heard, giving their thoughts thereupon, even of ſome that were willing enough to tread upon their brethrens conſcience, if they might ſafely do it, did tye up the hands of ſome furious men, that they could not reach that blow to their neighbors as they might: I ſay, notwithſtanding this, Mr. Biddle is ſent with a Mittimus to Newgate Priſon in London, in order to his Trial for Blaſphemy and Hereſie; upon that ruſty Ordi­nance before mentioned he is indicted thereupon for de­nying Jeſus Chriſt to be the moſt High God, &c. and excepts againſt his Bill; mean-time his Friends, with many gather­ed Churches, Petition the Protector, upon the general ac­count of Liberty, &c. to declare that Ordinance void, as being prejudicial to common Freedom, and againſt the Go­vernment. The〈◊〉is extant in Print to be read of all. The Protector rejects the Petition, and denies the Prayer thereof: The Petitioners plead that the Inſtrument gives Liberty; whereupon the Protector falls to his Gloſ­ſes and Interpretations thereof, and ſaith, That the Govern­ment gives Liberty to all that profeſs Faith in God through Jeſus Chriſt; that is, That believe as the generality of Prote­stants believe; which is as much as if the Government had ſaid juſt nothing: And moreover, he moſt affectionately inveighs againſt men of ſuch Opinions, as this man, the Priſoner, is reported to be, together with an aſſertion of the Magiſtrates duty, That he muſt not tolerate ſuch as ſpeak againſt the God of the Country; with more paſſages not here to be inſerted.

How lyable theſe expreſſions, given by way of gloſſe upon the Government, or that part of it, are to be wreſt­ed according to the advantages of will, time, and perſons, let any man that hath a minde to ſee what he ſaith, behold and judge: But theſe Interpretations will ſerve well to gratifie the intereſt of the Clergy, who many of them long to ſee their Brethrens fleſh frying at a Stake; but how ſerviceable they will prove to the Reformation of Religi­on,36 and the Kingdom of the Lord Jeſus, a little time I truſt wil manifeſt. But let us ſee in brief whether this ſenſe of his Highneſſe upon that part of the Inſtrument concern­ing Religion, doth agree with himſelf, and whether the In­ſtrument will rationally bear ſuch an interpretation.

For the firſt I will remember ſuch paſſages relating to this purpoſe, wherein he hath appear'd joyntly in concur­rence with others; and ſuch wherein he hath ſtood ſingly by himſelf; and I fear we ſhall finde the Protector fight­ing againſt Oliver Cromwell in his former reſpective capa­cities and titles. And beſides thoſe things hinted at, and referred to pag. 36. &c. that do beſpeak the Armies ſenſe, wherein the preſent Protector had no little ſway, I will with as much ſparingneſſe as is convenient, mention [but] a few more. Firſt then, not to go〈…〉backwards, let us view that Remonſtrance ſpoken of but now, pag. 20. where declaring the intereſt of the Parliament, and oppo­ſing it to that of the Kings, they ſay it isTo protect and countenance religious men, and godlineſs in the power of it, to give freedome and enlargement to the Gospell, for the increaſing and ſpreading of light amongst men, to take a­way thoſe corrupted Forms of an out ſide Religion and Church-Government, whether impoſed without Law, or rooted in the Law in times of Popiſh Ignorance, or of the Goſpels dim­mer light; by means whereof ſnares and chains were laid upon conſciencious and zealous men, and the generality of people held in darkneſs, ſuperſtition, and a blinde reverence of perſons and outward things, fit for Popery and ſlavery;[where by the way I would obſerve, firſt, that (in the judg­ment of thoſe Remonſtrants) there may be tyrannie over mens conſciences without Law: Secondly, That ſuch ty­rannie was rooted in the Law in times of Popery, or the Goſpels dimmer light, and ſo by conſequence ought to be expung'd out of the Law again, it being but an innovati­on:] They ſay further, That the intereſt of the Parliament is 'To take away or looſen that dependance of the Clergie37 and Eccleſiaſhical affairs [obſerve this well] upon the King (and ſo upon the Protector) and that intereſt of the Clergy in the Laws and civil affairs, which the craft of both in length of time had wrought for each other, which ſeveral (ſay they) were the proper ſubject of the Reformation endeavored by the Parliament, (and ſo of right ought to be endeavoured ſtill.) Dth not this manifeſtly ſay, That Liberty of Conſcience is a Legal Right which the great Councel of the Kingdom was to aſſume as their Intereſt, to maintain againſt the Kings, which they bring in afterwards in oppoſition to this: And can it be imagin'd, that the preſent Protector, who was then Lievt. General to the Army, did not conſent to this? Or could it be done without him? I will cite one paſſage more in this page 66. where they ſpeak of a cer­tainty for future annual, or Triennial Parliaments, with Pro­viſion, among other things, for future clearing and aſcertain­ing of the Power of the ſaid Repreſentatives, (to be done by an Agreement, and therein to be declar'd) that they have and ſhall have the ſupream Power and Truſt as to the higheſt and final Judgement in all civil things, without fur­ther appeal to any created ſtanding Power: Why I beſeech you is this limitation [in all civil things] put in, if we may not conceive that it was the minde of this Remonſtrance and the contrivers of it, and conſenters to it, that things ſpiritual, and relating purely to conſcience, ſhould not (at any hand) come under the cognizance of the Parliament, or any after created or eſtabliſh't Power whatſoever under it? Are we gotten out of the hearing of this? muſt it not reach us now? nor be of no uſe to us? or was it intended to draw in religious men to ſerve the turn of ſome men at a pinch, and afterwards to caſt them out, and perſecute them as thieves and robbers? doubtleſſe there is one that ruleth in the Heavens, there is a God that judgeth in the earth. I might ſay again, that, that Common Liberty and Publique Freedom, ſo much contended for in this and all the Armies, and that long Parliaments Declarations, &c. and made that the ordinary Dialect of every page (almoſt in38 them, doth indiſputably involve this of Conſcience; & I am countenanc't and juſtified in this aſſertion by theſe paſſa­ges that we made to ſpeak here out of this Remonſtrance, as may appear to any conſiderate and unbiaſt man in the world. Come we from this to the Armies Agreement of the people, mentioned erewhile; and we ſhall find it ſpeaking very plain and home to the purpoſe in hand; whereby it may be noted by the way, that thoſe paſſages of the Army con­cerning Freedom or Liberty of Conſcience, were no ſud­den raptures, or ſoon-vaniſht flaſhes; but conſtant and ſet­led thoughts, and ſo the more wonder that they ſhould be more deleted or blotted out in any. They ſay in general; pag. 24. (more plainly then before in the Remonſtrance) That the Repreſentatives have, and ſhaell be underſtoodo have the ſupreme Truſt, in order to the preſervation and government of the whole concerning all natural or civil things but not concerning things Spiritual or Evangelical; clearly intima­ting, that they conceived it no way tending to the preſerva­tion & government of the whole, but rather the clean con­trary, for the Repreſentatives Power to extend unto things Spiritual and Evangelical and to take cognizance of ſuch. How comes it to be otherwiſe now? Again, they agree, pag. 16. After an abſolute excluding of any compulſive means or courſes for the confutation of Hereſie, Error, &c. (if I underſtand what I read) That ſuch as profeſſe Faith in God by Jeſus Christ, (however differing in judgement from the Doctrine, Worſhip or Diſcipline pub­likely held forth) ſhall not be reſtrained from, but ſhall be protected in the Profeſſion of their Faith, and exerciſe of Religion according to their conſciences in any place (ex­cept ſuch as ſhall be ſet apart for the Publique Worſhip, where wprovide not for them except they have leave) ſo as they abuſe not this Liberty, to the civil injury of others, or to actual diſturbance of the publike Peace on their parts: Never­theleſs it is not intended to be hereby provided, That this Liberty ſhall neceſſarily extend to Popery or Prelacy; and that all Laws, Ordinances, Statutes and clauſes of any Law,39 Statute or Ordinance to the contrary of this Liberty, be, and are here by repealed ad made void. If the Protector were in the framing this draught of Agreement, how is it that that Ordinance on which Mr. Biddles Indictment was ground­ed, could not be declared null and void when it was ſo ho­neſtly and ſubmiſſively deſired by ſo many godly men? Is that which was lawful, yea neceſſary to be done by the a­greement; become now unlawful by this Government? Nay, doth not the Government ſpeake the ſame thing in the ſame words, Art. 36, 37, 38. with but little omiſſion? Methinks thoſe whoſe hands have been in ſuch works as this, that do now make it conſcience to perſecute for Opi­nion, as it is ſaid, ſhould by ten thouſand degrees make it their conſcience not to perſecute in ſuch caſes, but to pro­tect, according to their former Agreement; and Declara­tions; and if ſuch a Liberty be not hitherto eyed, let all the world judge and make ſenſe of what is paſt, if it be not meant, that matters of Religion only ſhould not come at any hand into the ſphere of the civil Magiſtrate, but be reſerv'd, and kept intirely and diſtinct, without any the leaſt dependance, as ſuch, upon the Powers of the world; however they may be from time to time diſtinguiſh'd or dignified, of what nature and concernment this branch in the Agreement about Religion was then judged to be; beſides what appears in the latter end of their Remon­ſtrance, is eaſie to be collected from their Petition preſixt before, and preſented to the Houſe of Commons with the Agreement it ſelf, where, pag. 1. they ſay, (ſpeaking of the draught) That we (meaning the Army) are not Apt in any wiſe to inſiſt upon circumſtantial things, or ought that is not evidently fundamental to the publike Intereſt for which you and we have declared and engaged. And further, Whether it ſhall be approved by you, and received by the peo­ple, (as it now ſtands) or not; we deſire it may yet remain up­on record before you a perpetual witneſs of our real intentions and utmost endeavours for a ſound and equal Settlement. And in their Declaration concerning that Agreement, pag. 30.40 of that Book, they ſay, ſpeaking to the Nation, in a tender thereof,We ſhall not otherwiſe commend it, then to ſay, it contains the beſt and moſt hopeful foundations for the peace and future well-Government of this Nation, that we can de­viſe or think on within the line of humane Power, &c.with many other Arguments and Inſinuations, whereby to get a good Opinion in the Nation of their good intentions to publike Liberty and Settlement; theſe paſſages are ſo plain they need no paraphraſe; and ſo pregnant to this end, to gueſſe at the Armies, and ſo the Protectors ſenſe about the buſineſſe of Religion, that I ſhall mention no more of that kinde for evidence; onely let it be remembred, that ſome are ſtill apt to think, that tyranny is tyranny whereſoever itbe, in Kings, or whomſoever; but I muſt complain and not much argue. Yet ſecondly, let us conſider the Protector ſingly in his judgement,Protectors Speech to the Parl. without the concurrence of others for the Verdict; and I'le only touch upon thoſe paſſages for the purpoſe, in his Speech to the Parliament at their diſ­ſolution, (although there might be much collected from the two former) pag. 11. God hath ſpoken very loud on the behalf of his people, by the judging their Enemies, and reſto­ring them a Liberty to worſhip, with the freedom of their conſciences, and freedom in their Eſtates and perſons when they do ſo. And this he after calls, the cauſe of God mani­feſted by the works of God, againſt which whoſoever falls, ſplits and ſuffers Ship-wrack; and I hope this cauſe of God will never be loſt; or if at any time it ſhould ſo happen, the Lord will ſoon finde it again with a witneſſe. But further, ſee pag. 17 18. Religion was not the thing at the firſt contest­ed for; but God brought it to that iſſue at laſt, and gave it touby way of redundancie, and at laſt it proved to be that which was moſt clear to us; and wherein conſiſted this more then in obtaining that Liberty from the Tyrannie of the Bi­ſhops, to all ſpecies of Proteſtants to worſhip God accor­ding to their own Light and Conſciences? [then not ac­cording the forms or impoſitions of any other.] And ſpeaking of ſuch who once beggd Liberty, 'tis queried, Is it ingenu­ous41 to ask liberty, and not to give it? what greater hypocrie then for thoſe who were oppreſt by the Biſhops, to become the greatest oppreſſors themſelves ſo ſoon as their yoke was remo­vec? I could wiſh that thoſe who call for Liberty now alſo, had not too much of that Libery-Spirit, if the Power were in their hands. How can this be interpreted otherwiſe, then com­ing from a minde reſolved to maintain the freedom of con­ſcience entire and uncurtaild, eſpecially ſeeing there is ſo fair a rule given to meaſure ſuch a ſenſe in it by that which follows;As for prophane perſons, Blaſphemers, ſuch as preach Sedition, the contentious Raylers; puniſhment from the Civil Magiſtrate ought to meet with them; for their lives b­ing open, make them the ſubects of the Magiſtrates ſword. So much hath the Protector ſingly ſpoken, and if that old ſaying be true, Index eſt animi ſerm, Who can forbear to ſay, That it hath been the Judgement of the preſent Pow­er, that all things ſingly relating to conſcience, are out of the way of the Magiſtrates Cogniſance; yet who compares theſe things thus (though but a little) opened, with the In­terpretations put upon the Inſtrument about Liberty, men­tioned before, together with the tart and fiery ſayings of many about Toleration, and can refrain himſelf from won­der and aſtoniſhment, to ſee ſuch forgetfulneſs (to ſay no more on't) falling upon mens memories, of ſuch things which they themſelves have moſt ſolemnly profeſt and pub­liſht to the worlds view, to be of an abſolute neceſſity to the general ſettlement of the common Intereſt and Peace of the Nation? What meaning to put upon theſe Tranſac­tions as they thus ſtand, I think the wiſeſt or moſt ſubtile head will never be able to invent, except it be That men are reſolved with him in the Poet, to ſay,

〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,
〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.

To have Tunes for all times, and (like Fidlers) to ſing that Song that fits the humors of the greateſt in the company, however it go with the reſt. Thus have we taken a little view of what the thoughts and workings of great men have been concerning Liberty, and what they now appear to us to be.

42

Next, for the Inſtrument of Government [our new Charter it ſelf] whether that doth not give Liberty to all Diſſenters in matters of Conſcience (excepting its own ex­ceptions.)

Shall (or can) I turne Common-Lawyer, or the Law? I ſhall not aſſume to my ſelf that Task; yet it being given for men to ſquare themſelves by, I may endeavour to know it, and for that end make a ſearch into it. To the anſwer of the queſtion then: Firſt, That thoſe Articles concerning Religion, mean a Liberty to all Diſſenters, as before is clear, and very plain if it be compared with the minde of that Draught of Agreement out of which it ſeems to be taken; I ſay, it ſeems to be takenby the indentity of voice they both ſpeak, onely the Inſtrument omits ſome few paſſages which are mentioned in the Agreement: Now the Agree­ment endeavours manifeſtly to take all Power compulſive out of the Magiſtrates hand, yea out of the hand of the Parliament it ſelf, as being inconſiſtent with publike Set­tlement and the Nations peace; and 'tis to be noted, that therein they do but declare the Indibutable Rights of the people, grounded on the Law of Nature and right Reaſon; for this kinde of Freedom of which we now ſpeak, is a little elder then our new Government. But ſecondly, The very repetition of the Articles about Liberty, is enough to an­ſwer the Queſtion to any unprejudic'd man in the world; the plainneſs whereof will be a witneſſe againſt all falſe Gloſſaries; read Art. the 36, & 37. That to the publike pro­feſſion (what is that? the Chriſtian Religion, ſaith the 35. Article) held forth, None ſhall be compell'd by any exter­nal force whatſoever to be of the Chriſtian Religion, be­cauſe the Chriſtian Religion is able to gain, through the Power of Jeſus, Diſciples to its ſelf, without any ſuch poor and beggarly Argument as the Sword of man is, compared with the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God; but that endeavors be uſed to win them (thoſe that are not of the Chriſtian Religion publikely held forth) by ſound Doc­trine and the example of a good Converſation; from43 from which later clauſe it appeareth, That in order to the finding out of Error and Hereſie, and its rational confuta­tion, there muſt be a free way open for the Diſſenters from the approved Religion, to profeſſe & publiſh their Opinions; which being publiſhed, ſhal contract no other evil to the Publiſhers, then an advantage thereby to be taken for their better inſtruction, not for their Deſtruction, Impriſon­ment, Baniſhment, or what cenſures elſe the Civil Power pleaſeth to impoſe: For this Article provides, that ſuch Er­roneous (yea Infidels, ſo far it goes) ſhall be dealt withal only by Doctrine and good example. (I do verily believe that this ſenſe is not forct, but that every ingenuous man will ſee as much in the Text.) Yet, becauſe the civil peace and common ſafety and Liberty of the good people of Eng­land have been diſturbed and taken from them by a Sect and Intereſt of men (for ſuch a tranſition I conceive there is between this 36. and the following Article) then there­fore the 37. Article doth limit, and therein expound the former thus:That ſuch as profeſs faith in God by Jeſushrist (though differing in judgement from the Doctrine, [note that ſtill] Worſhip or Diſcipline publikely held forth) ſhall not be reſtrained from, but ſhall be protected in the Pro­feſſion of their faith, and exerciſe of their Religion, ſo as they abuſe not this Liberty to the civil injury of others,[obſerve the word civil, only the civil injury of others is therby pro­vided againſt) and to the actual disturbance of the publike Peace upon their parts, provided that this Liberty bee not extended to Popery, or Prelacy;nor to ſuch as under the profeſſion of Chriſt, hold forth and practiſe licentiouſneſſe. The 38. Article appeales all Laws, Statutes and Ordinances, &c. to the contrary of this Liberty. Suppoſe now (for inſtance) that I maintained, and profeſt that there is no reſurrection of the dead, (which Doctrine my ſoul abhors) a poſition which I hope, will be contrary to the Doctrine held forth publikely yet) I ſay, ſuppoſe I did profeſſe that thing, I conceive, and that from apparent ground in theſe Articles, that I am not to be44 compelled to be of another minde, or elſe to dye, or be abridged of my Liberty by the hand of man; but to be preſerv'd and protected unto the Reformation of my mind and the confutation of my Error by ſound Doctrine, which by this Law ought to be, notwithſtanding that that Ordi­nance, May 2.1648. expreſly ſaith, That if any one ſhall maintain and publiſh, that the bodies of men ſhall not riſe again after they are dead, it ſhall be adjudged Felony; and why judge I that my protection lies in this Government? but becauſe all Ordinances made contrary to the Liberty given, are hereby repealed and made void; and this amongſt the reſt, as being one of thoſe all. Again, here is an excep­tion of, or proviſion made againſt Popery and Prelacy, and Profeſſors of licentiouſneſſe; which proviſion I humbly conceive) was made, becauſe if it had not, Popery and Pre­lacy might be adjudged to drink their portion of this de­clar'd Liberty; which that it might not do, this exception ſeems in reaſon to be put in; Nay, and I believe thus far we may go too, as to ſay, That all the Doctrines and Opinions that Papiſts and Prelates hold, are not (by this) excepted and provided againſt; for in many things, the preſent pub­like Profeſſion, and the aforeſaid Intereſts do kiſſe each o­ther in a friendly compliance; but ſuch Opinions of theirs are hereby excluded, that do give them the denomination of Papiſts and Prelates reſpectively: Now then its clear (ſee­ing that only is excepted, which otherwiſe is comprehend­ed under the general term) That no man profeſſing faith in God by Jeſus Chriſt, ſhall be reſtrained in the Profeſſion of his Faith, however differing, except they profeſſe Popery, or Prelacy, or licentiouſneſſe; ſo that as to the caſe in hand, by which (as I have ſaid the Government is tryed, Mr. Bid­dle ought not to be reſtrained from his Profeſſion, That Je­ſus Chriſt is not the Moſt High God; but to be protected therein, in order to the confutation of his Hereſie by ſound Doctrine and Argument, which is able to pierce deeper by a thouſand degrees into the heart of Error and the Devil, then the point of the Magiſtrates ſword can, though driven45 by all the ſtrength in the world united into one Arm; nei­ther am I ſingular in this Interpretation; I believe, and hope. I ſpeak the ſenſe of all moderate and ſerious Chriſti­ans in England, upon this point of Liberty of Conſcience; I am ſure I have the Atteſtation, or rather the Opinion of many hundred honeſt and profeſſing Chriſtians in the Na­tion, concurring with me in the ſame Judgement, as it doth moſt evidently appear by that Petition-ſigned by them, oc­caſioned by this Tryal ſome of whom (and I mention it to their honor) have had the happineſſe to keep conſtant and cloſe to their Principles therein, whiles others have played faſt and looſe, and ('tis to be feared) have made ſhipwrack of Faith and a good Conſcience, endeavouring to ſatisfie their own luſts in ſerving other mens wills, and the humors of the Times. Thus much for the finding out of the minde of the Government, and the ſenſe of the ſupream Admi­niſtrators thereof, as to freedom in Religion, both before and ſince the lifting up of the hand to heaven for a ſolemn and religious Execution thereof.

Notwithſtanding the clearneſſe of the caſe of Liberty, which is as manifeſt as the Sun at Noon-day, the bloody work of Perſecution is countenanc't and fomented by Court-Interpretations, put upon the aforeſaid branch of the Government; and to make it paſſe the better, 'tis ſaid, That ſuch a latitude was never in the minde of the contri­vers of that Charter; and that they had rather be ſet quick in a Pit, and to have ſtones and dirt caſt upon them to damn them up, then to tolerate men of ſuch Opinions. By means of which gloſſes and aſſeverations, the preſenters of that Petition for a further declaring of that Ordinance null and void, &c. were put out of all hopes of obtaining their de­ſires, (though never ſo honeſt) and the Priſoner left to prepare himſelf for the next Seſſions in London, unto which he had been referr'd. But in the mean time comes a party of Horſe to New-Gate, ſurprizes the Priſoner, and carries him away, who at length is ſent into the Iſland of Silly, to be there kept a cloſe Priſoner, whereby the due pro­ceedings46 and courſe of the Law was ſtopt which is (or ought to be) the ſafeguard and the fortreſſe of every honeſt,Decl of the long Pail. Ech. 17. 1647. pag. 17.21. um multis alis. 'Tis to be argued from their de­nial of the neg. voice to the K. K. Char. caſe by Cook. See Sir. Edward Cook 2. part of Inſtitutes, pag. 45. cap. 29. in­nocent, free-born Engliſh man.

Theſe ſtrange and unexpected proceedings have been moſt bitterly inveigh'd againſt, and moſt earneſtly oppoſed in the late King, which were made a great part of thoſe hai­nous evils for which he loſt his life, and were declared to be contrary to the Laws of England, and the Liberty of the Subject. And although there may not be pretences wanting to make it paſſe the better in the obſervations of men, yet hath it been conceived illegal under what pretence ſoever. All men know (that know any thing this way) that it is one branch of the great Charter of Englands Liberties con­cerning the King, that he promiſes Nulli vendimus, nulli negabimus, aut differemus Juſtitiam, vel rectum. We will not ſell, nor deny, nor delay Juſtice or right to no man. No man ſhall be taken, impriſon'd, or diſſeiſed, or out­lawed, or exiled, or by any means deſtroyed but by the legal Judgement of his Peers (or equals) or by the Law of the Land. And Sir Ed Cook in his Expoſition of this Chap­ter, ſaith, it is the worſt oppreſſion that is done by colour of Juſtice (or right, or under pretext of doing good) It is e­nough barely to read theſe words of that Charter; the Com­mentary is worthy to be in the heart of every Engliſh man. Mr. Saaler commends and cloſeth with Polydor Virgil, in his relation of the buſineſſe of the Lord Chancellor in King Richard's time,Rights of the Kingdom, pag. 153. who on pretence of the Kings Warrant, ex­ceedingly polld the people; whoſe proud injuſtice was brought down by Parliament, and to excuſe himſelf the bet­ter, he pleads the Kings Command, whereat the Hiſtorian (as Sadler brings him in) puft,