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its own freedom and fafety, but to spare, and to beftow upon the folidest and sublimest points of controverfie, and new invention, it betok'ns us not degenerated, nor drooping to a fatall decay, but cafting off the old and wrincl'd fkin of corruption to outlive these pangs and wax young again, entring the glorious waies of Truth and profperous vertue deftin'd to become great and honourable in these latter ages. Methinks I fee in my mind a noble and puissant Nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks: Methinks I fee her as an Eagle muing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazl'd eyes at the full midday beam; purging and unscaling her long abused fight at the fountain it felf of heav'nly radiance; while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about, amaz'd at what she means, and in their envious gabble would prognofticat a year of fects and fchifms.
What should ye doe then, should ye fuppreffe all this flowry crop of knowledge and new light fprung up and yet springing daily in this City, should ye fet an Oligarchy of twenty ingroffers over it, to bring a famin upon our minds again, when we shall know nothing but what is meafur'd to us by their bufhel? Beleeve it, Lords and Commons, they who counsell ye to fuch a fuppreffing, doe as good as bid ye fuppreffe your felves; and I will foon fhew how. If it be defir'd to know the immediat cause of all this free writing and free speaking, there cannot be affign'd a truer then your own mild, and free, and human government; it is the liberty, Lords and Commons, which your own valorous and happy counfels have purchaft us, liberty which is the nurse of all great wits; this is that which hath rarify'd and enlightn'd our spirits like the influence of heav'n; this is that which hath enfranchis'd, enlarg'd and lifted up our
apprehenfions degrees above themselves. Ye cannot make us now leffe capable, lesse knowing, lesse eagarly pursuing of the truth, unleffe ye first make your felves, that made us fo, leffe the lovers, leffe the founders of our true liberty. We can grow ignorant again, brutish, formall, and flavish, as ye found us; but you then must first become that which ye cannot be, oppreffive, arbitrary, and tyrannous, as they were from whom ye have free'd us. That our hearts are now more capacious, our thoughts more erected to the fearch and expectation of greatest and exactest things, is the iffue of your owne vertu propagated in us; ye cannot fuppreffe that unlesse ye reinforce an abrogated and mercileffe law, that fathers may dispatch at will their own children. And who shall then stick closest to ye, and excite others? not he who takes up armes for cote and conduct, and his four nobles of Danegelt. Although I difpraise not the defence of just immunities, yet love my peace better, if that were all. Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
What would be beft advis'd then, if it be found fo hurtfull and fo unequall to fuppreffe opinions for the newnes, or the unfutablenes to a customary acceptance, will not be my task to fay; I only fhall repeat what I have learnt from one of your own honourable number, a right noble and pious Lord, who had he not facrific'd his life and fortunes to the Church and Commonwealth, we had not now mist and bewayl'd a worthy and undoubted patron of this argument. Ye know him I am fure; yet I for honours fake, and may it be eternall to him, shall name him, the Lord Brook. He writing of Episcopacy, and by the way treating of fects and fchifms, left Ye his vote, or rather now the laft words of his dying charge, which I know will ever be of dear and honour'd re
gard with Ye, fo full of meeknes and breathing charity, that next to his last testament, who bequeath'd love and peace to his Difciples, I cannot call to mind where I have read or heard words more mild and peacefull. He there exhorts us to hear with patience and humility those, however they be miscall'd, that defire to live purely, in fuch a ufe of Gods Ordinances, as the beft guidance of their conscience gives them, and to tolerat them, though in fome difconformity to our felves. The book it felf will tell us more at large being publifht to the world, and dedicated to the Parlament by him who both for his life and for his death deferves, that what advice he left be not laid by without perusall.
And now the time in fpeciall is, by priviledge to write and speak what may help to the furder difcuffing of matters in agitation. The Temple of Janus with his two controverfal faces might now not unfignificantly be set open. And though all the windes of doctrin were let loose to play upon the earth, fo Truth be in the field, we do injurioufly by licencing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falfhood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the wors, in a free and open encounter. Her confuting is the best and fureft fuppreffing. He who hears what praying there is for light and clearer knowledge to be fent down among us, would think of other matters to be constituted beyond the discipline of Geneva, fram'd and fabric't already to our hands. Yet when the new light which we beg for fhines in upon us, there be who envy, and oppose, if it come not first in at their cafements. What a collufion is this, whenas we are exhorted by the wife man to use diligence, to feek for wisdom as for hidd'n treasures early and late, that another order fhall enjoyn us to know nothing but by ftatute. When a man hath bin labouring the hardest labour in the
deep mines of knowledge, hath furnisht out his findings in all their equipage, drawn forth his reasons as it were a battell raung'd, fcatter'd and defeated all objections in his way, calls out his adversary into the plain, offers him the advantage of wind and fun, if he please; only that he may try the matter by dint of argument, for his opponents then to fculk, to lay ambushments, to keep a narrow bridge of licencing where the challenger should paffe, though it be valour anough in fouldierfhip, is but weaknes and cowardife in the wars of Truth. For who knows not that Truth is strong next to the Almighty; she needs no policies, nor ftratagems, nor licencings to make her victorious, thofe are the shifts and the defences that error ufes against her power: give her but room, and do not bind her when the fleeps, for then she speaks not true, as the old Proteus did, who fpake oracles only when he was caught and bound, but then rather the turns herself into all fhapes, except her own, and perhaps tunes her voice according to the time, as Micaiah did before Ahab, untill fhe be adjur'd into her own likenes. Yet is it not impoffible that she may have more shapes then one. What else is all that rank of things indifferent, wherein Truth may be on this fide, or on the other, without being unlike her felf. What but a vain shadow else is the abolition of thofe ordinances, that hand writing nayl'd to the crosse, what great purchase is this Christian liberty which Paul so often boasts of. His doctrine is, that he who eats or eats not, regards a day, or regards it not, may doe either to the Lord. How many other things might be tolerated in peace, and left to confcience, had we but charity, and were it not the chief strong hold of our hypocrifie to be ever judging one another. I fear yet this iron yoke of outward conformity hath left a flavish print upon our necks; the ghost of a linnen decency
yet haunts us. We stumble and are impatient at the least dividing of one visible congregation from another, though it be not in fundamentalls; and through our forwardnes to fuppreffe, and our backwardnes to recover any enthrall'd peece of truth out of the gripe of custom, we care not to keep truth separated from truth, which is the fierceft rent and difunion of all. We doe not see that while we still affect by all means a rigid externall formality, we may as foon fall again into a groffe conforming ftupidity, a stark and dead congealment of wood and hay and ftubble forc't and frozen together, which is more to the fudden degenerating of a Church then many fubdichotomies of petty fchifms. Not that I can think well of every light separation, or that all in a Church is to be expected gold and filver and pretious ftones: it is not poffible for man to fever the wheat from the tares, the good fish from the other frie; that must be the Angels Ministery at the end of mortall things. Yet if all cannot be of one mind, as who looks they should be? this doubtles is more wholfome, more prudent, and more Chriftian that many be tolerated, rather then all compell'd. I mean not tolerated Popery, and open fuperftition, which as it extirpats all religious and civill fupremacies, so it self should be extirpat, provided first that all charitable and compaffionat means be us'd to win and regain the weak and the misled: that also which is impious or evil abfolutely either against faith or maners no law can poffibly permit, that intends not to unlaw it felf: but those neighboring differences, or rather indifferences, are what I fpeak of, whether in fome point of doctrine or of discipline, which though they may be many, yet need not interrupt the unity of Spirit, if we could but find among us the bond of peace. In the mean while if any one would write, and bring his helpfull hand to the flow-moving Reformation