Page images

stand, she is like to be towards the whole body of people in England. Now that it may appear how she is not fuch a kind of evil, as hath any good or use in it, which many evils have, but a distilled quintessence, a pure elixir of mischief, peftilent alike to all ; I shall show briefly, ere I conclude, that the prelates, as they are to the subjects a calamity, so are they the greatest underminers and betrayers of the monarch, to whom they seem to be most favourable. I cannot better liken the state and person of a king than to that mighty Nazarite Samson ; 'who being disciplined from his birth in the precepts and the practice of temperance and sobriety, without the firong drink of injurious and excessive desires, grows up to a noble ftrength and perfection with those his illustrious and funny locks, the laws, waving and curling about his godlike shoulders. And while he keeps them

about him undiminished and unfhorn, he may with the jawbone of an afs, that is, with the word of his meanest officer, suppress and put to confusion thousands of those that rise against his just power. But laying down his head among the strumpet flatteries of prelates, while he Neeps and thinks no harm, they wickedly shaving off all those bright and weighty tresses of his laws, and just prerogatives, which were his ornament and strength, deliver him over to indirect and violent counsels, which, as those Philistines, put out the fair and far-fighted eyes of his natural discerning, and make him grind in the prisonhouse of their sinister ends and practices upon him : till he, knowing this prelatical rafor to have bereft him of his wonted might, nourish again his puissant hair, the golden beams of law and right: and they fternly shook, thunder with ruin upon the heads of those his evil counfellors, but not without great affliction to himself. This is the sum of their loyal service to kings; yet these are the men that still cry, The king, the king, the Lord's anointed.

. We grant it, and wonder how they came to light upon any thing so true; and wonder more, if kings be the Lord's anointed, how they dare thus oil over and belmear so holy an unction with the corrupt and putrid ointment of their base flatteries ; which, while they smooth the skin, ftrike inward and envenom the lifeblood.


L 3

What fidelity kings can expect from prelates, both examples past, and our present experience of their doings at this day, whereon is grounded all that hath been said, may fuffice to inform us. And if they be such clippers of regal power, and shavers of the laws, how they stand affected to the lawgiving parliament, yourselves, worthy peers and commons, can best testify; the current of whose glorious and immortal actions hath been only opposed by the obscure and pernicious designs of the prelates, until their infolence broke out to fuch a bold affront, as hath justly immured their haughty looks within firong walls, Nor have they done any thing of late with more diligence, than to hinder or break the happy affembling of parliaments, however needful to repair the shattered and disjointed frame of the commonwealth ; or if they cannot do this, to cross, to disenable, and traduce all parliamentary proceedings. And this, if nothing else, plainly accuses them to be no lawful members of the house, if they thus perpetually mutiny against their own body. And though they pretend, like Solomon's harlot, that they have right thereto, by the same judgment that Solomon gave, it cannot belong to them, whenas it is not only their assent, but their endeavour continually to divide parliaments in twain; and not only by dividing, but by all other means to aboJish and destroy the free use of them to all posterity, For the which, and for all their former misdeeds, whereof this book and many volumes more cannot contain the moiety, I shall move ye, lords, in the behalf I dare say of many thousand good christians, to let your justice and speedy sentence pass against this great malefactor prelaty. And yet in the midst of rigour I would beseech ye to think of mercy; and such a mercy, (I fear I shall overshoot with a desire to save this falling prelaty,) such a mercy (if I may venture to say it) as may exceed that which for only ten righteous persons would have faved Sodom. Not that I dare advise ye to contend with God, whether he or you shall be more merciful, but in your wise esteems to balance the offences of those peccant cities with these enormous riots of ungodly misrule, that prelaty hath wrought both in the church of Christ, and in the state of this kingdom. And


ye may with a pious prefumption strive to go beyond God in mercy, I shall not be one now that would diffuade ye. Though God for less than ten just persons would not spare Sodom, yet if you can find, after due search, but only one good thing in prelaty, either to religion or civil government, to king or parliament, to prince or people, to law, liberty, wealth, or learning, spare her, let her live, let her spread among ye, till with her 1hadow all your dignities and honours, and all the glory of the land be darkened and obscured. But on the contrary, if she be found to be malignant, hostile, destructive to all these, as nothing can be turer, then let your severe and impartial doom imitate the divine vengeance; rain down your punishing force upon this godless and oppresing government, and bring such a dead sea of subversion upon her, that she may never in this land rise more to amict the holy reformed church, and the elect people of God.


L 4








Although it be a certain truth, that they who undertake a religious cause need not care to be men-pleasers ; yet because the satisfaction of tender and mild consciences is far different from that which is called men-pleasing; to satisfy such, I shall address myself in few words to give notice beforehand of something in this book, which to some men perhaps may seem offensive, that when I have rendered a lawful reason of what is done, I may trust to have saved the labour of defending or excusing hereafter. We all know that in private or personal injuries, yea in public sufferings for the cause of Christ, his rule and example. teaches us to be so far from a readiness to speak evil, as not to answer the reviler in his language, though never so much provoked: yet in the detecting, and convincing of any notorious enemy to truth and his country's peace, especially that is conceited to have a voluble and Imart fluence of tongue, and in the vain confidence of that, and out of a more tenacious cling to worldly respects, stands


for all the rest to justify a long usurpation and convicted pseudepiscopy of prelates, with all their ceremonies, liturgies, and tyrannies, which God and man are now ready to explode and hiss out of the land; I suppose, and more than suppose, it will be nothing disagreeing from christian meekness, to handle such a one in a rougher accent, and to send home his haughtiness well bespurted with his own holy-water. Nor to do thus are we unautoritied either from the moral precept of Solomon, to answer him thereafter that prides him in his folly; ror from the example of Christ, and all his followers in all ages, who, in the refuting of those that refifted sound doctrine, and by subtile dissimulations corrupted the minds of men, have wrought up their zealous fouls into such vehemencies, as nothing could be more killingly spoken: for who can be a greater enemy to mankind, who a more dangerous deceiver, than he who, defending a traditional corruption, uses no common arts, but with a wily stratagem of yielding to the time a greater part of his cause, seeming to forego all that man's invention hath done therein, and driven from much of his hold in scriplure; yet leaving it hanging by a twined thread, not from divine cominand, but from apoftolical prudence or assent; as if he had the surety of some rolling trench, creeps up by this mean to his relinquished fortress of divine authority again, and still hovering between the confines of that which he dares not be openly, and that which he will not be sincerely, trains on the easy chriftian insensibly within the close ambushment of worst er. rours, and with a fly shuffle of counterfeit principles, chopping and changing till he have gleaned all the good ones out of their minds, leaves them at last, after a slight resemblance of sweeping and garnishing, under the sevenfold pofseflion of a desperate stupidity! And therefore they that love the souls of men, which is the dearest love, and stirs up the noblest jealousy, when they meet with such collusion, cannot be blamed though they be transported with the zeal of truth to a well heated fervency; especially, seeing they which thus offend against the fouls of their brethren, do it with delight to their great gain, ease, and advancement in this world; but they that seek to discover and oppose their false trade of deceiving, do it not without a sad and unwilling anger, not without many hazards; but without all private and personal



« PreviousContinue »