A FAITHFUL TESTIMONY FOR God & my Country: OR, A Retro-spective Glass FOR THE LEGISLATORS, And the rest of the SONS OF THE Church of England, (So called) Who are found Persecuting the INNOCENT.

London, Printed for the Author, in the Year, 1664.

A faithful Testimony for God and my Country, &c.

FRiends, had you by the greatness of your Valor invaded, and Vi & Armis conquered the Nation, or were they your subdued Vassals through the puissance of your Courage, whom you now pretend to sell for slaves, You had then had the Rigidity of Infidels for your Parallel: But for you who were amicably admitted into Trust and Government, to so much as offer to banish, or sell for slaves the free-born Denizens of England, because they are Spiritu­ally-minded, and for Conscience-sake cannot conform to the Carnal Ordinances of man, contrary to the Royal Law of God written in their hearts; I say, if this be not utterly below the Heroick Spirit of all Generosity as well as Christianity, let the holy Witness of God in all Consciences judge.

But alas, poor mortals! what have you undertaken? Ye are as ca­pable to divert the course of the Sun, or impede the flux and reflux of the Seas, as ye are to stop the spreading, conquering and flourishing growth of the Truth and Gospel of our Lord Jesus; for infinitely greater is HE that is in Us, than the God of the men of your World: wherefore in vain do you think through your unnatural coercion, to cause us to forsake GOD the Living Fountain (who hath never failed us) to drink of your lifeless puddles, or so much as deign to tast of those Husks, which you call Bread; I tell you, Nay, for we know better things; and our Rock is as invincible, our Armour in the Light as im­penetrable, and our Fountain as precious and inexhaustible as when first we believed; and the holy Religion that we through the Light of Jesus in the Conscience do already conform to, and live in, is not of yesterday, as the ignorant most vainly imagine, nor the Principle leading thereto subject to change, or liable to expulsion; neither may we in the exercise thereof run shirking into holes, or skulk into cor­ners by threes or fours, as the now Pestiferous Locusts did a few years since, when the Powers of the Earth bid them be silent or took away their fleece: For through the Grace and Mercy which is infinit, we [Page 4] know and have believed in the Living God, and Jesus THE Christ, whom he hath sent to redeem and save his People from, not in their sins: And we have eaten (eternal thanks be to his holy Name) of that Flesh, and drank of that Blood which admits not of hunger or thirst after the Inventions or Traditions of man any more; and such knowing the immortal Truth through the Revelation of the Ever­lasting Gospel (for which they have an infallible Testimony to bear) cannot fly, although your Furnace were or should be made seven times hotter than it already is. Nay, nay; for our descent is legi­timated by the Generator of the Just, and the Birth of our day is more Noble, our Principle and Spirit more publick and true than so; and our mouths were not opened by, neither can they be shut in the will of man; insomuch, that what we receive in secret, that declare we openly and freely among you, for it admits of no limitation, neither fear we the gainsaying Jews of this Age; and if our Gospel and glo­rious Testimony be hid from any [in this the Lord's Day] it's onely from such who perish through their own opposition or opposing the Light in themselves and others; for the Candle-Royal, the Ever­lasting Light of the Living-God, which is lighted, brought forth and set up, in and among the Land of the Living, cannot, is not whelmed under a bushel, nor can the prevalent in-flaming power thereof be extinguished by any humane Law.

And your selves cannot rationally think by this your unnatural Act (the effect whereof is, let a million be concerned, and an hundred thousand perish, rather than the inordinate wills of a very few be crossed) to so much as influence or endear any sober man in the Nations: and for Converts you need not expect one; some few ye may divert through hypocrisie into further deceit, who with their Bodies for slavish fear or dishonest gain, may conform, and ye may also therewith gratifie the Prophane, and cause the Seed of Evil-doers for a season to rejoyce: But O! the Cryes and Prayers of the Op­pressed, with the Tears and Groans of the Captives, the Widdows and Fatherless will further prevail than many Armies of that uncir­cumcised Leaven.

But there are some so impudent to alledge that this your Act is not against Conscience, (but it's like they are such who have made ship­wrack of their own that thus babble) however the indelible characters written with the effused blood of the Innocent and truly Conscienci­ous [Page 5] (which will never cease to cry) have by woful experience mani­fested all such Allegations to be fictitious and a lye; wherefore in vain doth the Serpent go about to Hide himself there. Indeed the Tail of the Dragon is not the Head of the Serpent, neither are his Teeth and Tayl his Cloven-feet: for have you not a Law that would compell us to your Worship? and another that excommunicates us because we do not come? Is there not a third of the same species, that robs and imprisons us for Antichristian-Tythes? and a fourth that would likewise compel us, against a positive Command of Christ, to swear; and is there not a fifth and sixth, in case of refusal, that praemunires and requires us upon pain of death to abjure the Land? Interweave with the sweep of this Drag, that of your own making, prohibiting our Meetings, and requiring us also to swear upon pain of being sold for BondslavesFor who can be so inju­rious to his own reason, to pay for his being transpor­ted against his own con­sent; and then the words of your Act (so far as I re­member) are, The She­riff may distrain, and for want of distress he hath power to contract with any Merchant, &c. that is, he hath power to sell me for seven years.; and if It, with the rest, make not up a com­pleat Labyrinth of Thraldomes against Conscience, then judge thou O Righteous Judge of Heaven and Earth!

Is this the Indulgence so often promi­sed to tender Consciences? and did not the King say in his late Declaration, That he was an Enemy in his nature to Sangui­nary and Capital Punishments? If to Ba­nish an Innocent man from his Wife, or a tender mother from her innocent babes and husband, be not capital or sanguinary pu­nishment; Nay, if it be not the most ex­quisite of Cruelties, judge thou O Lord my God, for thy Judgments are, and will be just, and thy Decrees are righteous altogether, and in thy season shall most surely be fulfilled, although at the present thy Enemies rage, and the Rulers in the Earth decree the Banish­ment of thine Anointed forth of their Land.

When first I heard that such a Bill was preparing to be offered in Parliament, I said in my heart, Can, Dare, or will any, called Eng­lishmen, give their consent to the passing thereof? How! the Peoples Representatives in Parliament give their consents to punish the most [Page 6] innocent Natives with no less than Banishment, and upon their re­turn with Death, for the exercise of their pure Consciences to God!

To Death such immane Crueltyes, I shall decry,
And with my Blood I'le freely seal,
Your Act's against the Commonweal.
Also know all the Actors, by your Act unminded,
That it's no Law till Magna Charta be rescinded,
Though with't you do and may the Innocent vex,

Well, if it were possible for you to obtain your wills, and that you could rid out of the Nation all such who for Conscience sake, in obe­dience to Christ's Command, cannot swear, nor, as moved by his holy Spirit, forbear to meet often together, to wait upon and serve the Lord; neither Conform to your Church-Worship (And what man that strict­ly feareth God in any measure, doth not some of your Laws against Conscience reach?) Who should then Plow the Earth, and main­tain the Industry now used therein? It's not Prophaness, Drunk­enness, Oaths, Lyes, Lust and Persecution, and such who nourish their hearts in the Sensuality of all manner of Uncleannesses, (though Sons of your Church) that will be long able to give to Caesar, or put into the Hirelings mouths; and then to be sure, if they are not very much degenerated from their old nature, they'l prepare War and contrive Insurrections, the prevention whereof, is the alledged pretention why this your Act of Prevention was passed against the In­nocent [but it is more then palpable, it's the exercise of our holy Conscience to God that is struck at: For if really and alone to pre­vent Insurrections, was the Cause why the Act was passed, what's the reason that Women, and Men past sixty, or otherwise impotent were not excepted?] But to cut short all such pretention; I tell you plainly, it's time enough for an English-man to be impeached when really guilty, and to suffer when matter of Fact is fully and le­gally proven. I am sure that's the hereditary undoubted Right, ab­solutly due to the meanest person born within the English Nation. And that good Cilician, Paul, being ensnared for the exercise of his [Page 7] pure Conscience, as at this day we are, Pleaded the Priviledge of the Nation and City whereof he was; and those generous Heathens, Claudius Licius, Felix, Festus and Agrippa did not deny him his Birth­right, but like men of noble minds, permitted him to speak for himself to the full; ingenuously admitting his Appeal unto Caesar, who though a professed Heathen, suffered Paul, a Christian, not only to live, but also to preach Christianity in Rome, no man molesting him; so that, that great Emperour did not imploy his Souldiers (like Brutes) to pull Paul and his Friends out of his House, and break up their Meet­ings, though it's most probable he had oft-times with him an hundred times four, besides them of his Family; and yet it was not ignorantly call'd, A Seditious Conventicle, &c. But the accurs­sed High Priest of the Jews who read the Law, as your Priests do the Prayers that you call Common, and talked of the Messia to come, as yours do of Christ now he is come, insinuating with the Rulers of the Earth then, as at this day, being assisted with the baser sort then, as now, suffered Paul to be smitten and abused contrary to the Law, as at this day we are: And was it not the Hirarchy then, who sent their Armed Mercenaries, Satans Vassals, with their suborned Judas, to seize upon, and hale the Innocent Lamb of God before their Judg­ment Seat, or pretended Spiritual Court; where, by a Law incon­tinently, they condemned the Saviour of the World, prevailing (through their subtilty) with Pilate [even against the Witness of God in his conscience] to give up Jesus the Just One, to the Cru­cifiction, (in whom he found no fault) and deliver to them and their accomplices Barrabas a Murderer; and Pilate having once drank­in the Preists Sorceries, fell below the state of a man, permitting his Souldiers to Spit in his Saviours face, Crown him with Thorns, Strike, Mock and Revile him on the Cross, give him Gall and Vine­gar to drink, cast Lots for his Garments, receive the Priests Bribery to lye; all which was as far beneath the Nobility of the Romans, be­fore the Priests spirit had entered them, as our Usage at this day is beneath the spirit of True English-men, and contrary to the Funda­mental Laws of the Land whereof we are Free-born.

For in the first place, We are not only illegally seized upon, Drag'd through your Streets and Canels, knock'd down, Hair and Garments rent off, Blood drawn, bruised and beaten to excess, even [Page 8] several to death, and many other most sordid immanities (against Law) done unto us (which a large Volumn will not contain) but as illegally sent to Prison; and when Prisoners, and brought before Judicatories (so called) denied to be heard; our mouths stopp'd at the Judges command, by the hand of the Common Hangman and other assistant miscrants, with Gags, and by thrusting nasty hand­kirchifs, rouled up, into the months of the Innocent ready to sufficate them; also striking of them many dreadful Blows with great Canes or Cudgels (at least a hundred) upon their bare heads and other parts of their bodies, and this by command, and at the Bar of Justice (so called) and for no other Cause but legally pleading for their Li­berties and Estates, having been a considerable time falsly impriso­ned, and ought by the Law of the Land, at least to have been freed, nought being found or proven against them. But instead of recei­ving any manner of Justice, most rediculously and impertinantly was the Oath of Allegiance, imposed as a Snare upon them; for refu­sal whereof they were forthwith premunired, and their Estates and Liberties in this horrid manner rap'd from them.

As likewise since, at the same place, to wit, the Sessions-house in the Old-Bailey London, about forty Friends were brought from New­gate thither, and set to the Bar; a false Indictment read against some few of them, and for fashion-sake a Jury impannell'd; some Witness, such as it was, but not being sufficient to prove the Indictment, the purport whereof was, For being at an Unlawful Assembly, Seditious Meeting, Conventicle, or Worship, contrary to the Lyturgy of the Church of England, or such stuff so far as I remember. After twice going out, the Jury brought in their Verdict, That the Prisoners were not guilty of any Seditious Conventicle, Unlawful Assembly, or the like. Whereupon they were exceedingly menaced, furiously interrogated, their Verdict by the Judge (so called) refused, and by him six of them bound-over to answer it at the Kings-Bench Bar; and all this, because they could not without sufficient Witness, contrary to their Conscience, finde the Innocent Guilty. Are not the Jury Judges of matter of Fact (at least) and to give their Verdict according to their Conscience and Judgment? and is not the Judge obliged to receive the Juries Verdict, and acquit the Prisoner, or give Judgment ac­cordinglySee one of your own Presidents in that case, the substance whereof is this, so far as I remember; (viz.) An Innocent man was indicted for Felony; the Witnesses swearing a­gainst him, the Jury brought him in Guilty; and notwithstanding the Judge himself knew the man in­dicted was innocent, and likewise, knew the person that did the Felony, yet he was forced to pass Sentence upon the Innocent, because the Jury had brought him in guilty; and all the Judge could do was, to reprieve him until he had got his Pardon from the King.: [Page 9] But these Innocents were remanded to Prison (though cleared by the Jury) and there to remain. This is not all, (although so abominable, that I do believe the like hath not been done in England in any Judicatory this many hundred years) but two dayes after, twenty Friends (or there-abouts) Men and Women, were at the place aforesaid, upon the authority of sic volo sic jubeo, sentensed to Banishment without any Jury at all, or being legally heard, notwithstanding they ne­ver refused, according to their understandings and a good con­science, to plead the general Issue, the which with one voice they then affirmed to the Iudge in the face of the Court; (so called) though it be most evident (by the London Ju­ries usage) that pleading or not pleading, Iury or no Iury, is much at one. As was also somewhat manifested at Hicks's Hall the same week, where the Grand Iury, at their first and second going forth, could not find the Bill; but being check'd and threatned to be fined, at their third going forth (the Clerk of the Peace going up to help them) it was said the Bill was found; I say, it was alledged it was found, but it was not clear to many (if any) of the by-standers. How ever, with such Witness and Petty-Jury as they were, there were likewise sentenced to Banishment Twelve Innocents, to any of the Kings Plantations, Virginia and Barbados excepted: but one of the Justices (so called) informed the Judge that Virginia was one of the places excepted in the Act; then he mentioned Hispaniola, (a place that never yet belonged to England) and one that stood by and heard him, said, Oliver did not get that for you; so that at that time he did not condescend upon any particular place. Indeed the man was greatly confounded, insomuch that his lips trembled exceedingly when he pronounced his confused Sentence, which to me was an in­falible sign that God's hand was against him.

As for the illegal, absurd and cruel proceedings last Assizes and Quarter-Session holden at Hertford, where by Banishing twenty nine innocent true Men from their dear Wives and tender innocent Chil­dren (sixteen of them being married, and several of them alrea­dy shipt) hath on your part, and by vertue of the Authority deri­ved from you, in effect made sixteen Widows, and at least fourty or fifty Fatherless Children; the which being already malafama through and through the Nation, I shall but only mention it, and as dung, amongst the rest of the precited inhumane Violences, spread it before you; that so you may plainly see, if prejudice utterly blind not, how we are really enslaved, and contrary to Magna Charta and the most wholsome Laws of the Land, destroyed in our Lives, Liberties and Estates, even by the power that is derived from your late Act. Since the unnatural birth whereof (where the Magistrates through God's Mercy to them and us have not been restrain'd) have not our Persons been imprison'd, and our innocent Blood drank as freely as other cups of Vice and Pleasure? Not less than the bodies of twen­ty seven precious Souls destroyed, in and through Cruel Imprison­ment in Newgate, since your Act became in force; being taken, and Imprisoned to death, only for worshipping the Lord their Ma­ker in the Spirit and in the Truth. Is not this turning of Justice backward, and Equity into Cruelty? makes not such doings your Thrones of Justice (so called) to become Stages of Infamy, and your most legal Theaters most artificial Aceldama's? and think ye that the Living God of Heaven and of Earth will not visit for these things, and make a dreadful inquisition for the Blood and Sufferings of his Innocent Seed? YEA, YEA, YEA, as sure as he is God; and its more requisite for you, to expect the revelation of his Indigna­tion, than daily Bread. What can I say? You will as surely feel his Justice, as ever you saw his Mercy; and your whole Arm of Flesh shall be no more able to deliver you from his Vengeance, than one single Reed; wherefore, in vain do you fight against God in his Seed, or go about to limit his Holy Ones in the exercise of their holy Con­sciences, to your way, or number. Had not Christ twelve Apostles, and did the ignoble Jews go about to restrict him to the number of five? and were not oft-times several hundreds, and sometimes thou­sands conveen'd to hear him and them preach? though indeed they were, as we now are, by the same Antichristian and Hierarchical-spirit [Page 11] cast out as Evil-Doers, thought not worthy to live; comman­ded to speak no more in that Name; called Sowers of Sedition, Pesti­lent Fellows, Ring-Leaders of Sects, Perverters of the Laws, Turn­ers of the World upside down, &c. However, these our Primitive Pre­decessors fearing and obeying God, rather than man, met often to­gether, sometimes in the Field, sometimes by the Sea-side, some­times at one Friends house, and sometimes at another, or the like. And did not the Apostle incite the True Christians, to meet often to­gether, and rebuke such who forsook the Assemblies of the Saints? wherefore some grew weak, and others fell asleep. And whether do you think its juster before God, for us to obey the Spirit of Christ in Us, and follow the blessed Example of him and his holy Apostles, or your Edict? And was Daniel a Rebel, when he brake the Decree of Darius, King of the Medes and Persians, whose Statutes are said to be unalterable? Yet holy Daniel valued not the anti-conscience Law of the King his Master (whose immediate Servant he was) but boldly opened his windows, and prayed to his God as at other times. And for my part, I tell you plainly, I purpose in my heart, all the dayes of my life to wait upon, and pray to my God, as at other times, as holy Daniel did, notwithstanding your Decree to the contrary; in­fallibly knowing, my God can deliver me if he please: but as to mine own part, whether my dayes shall be many, or few, my death publick or private, O Lord, thou knowest I am not at all anxious or careful in that matter. And as I would not be profuse of my Blood, even so I abhor the very thought of being nigardly of my life, for the further Testimony of the Gospel and immortal Truth, as it is holden forth and dispens'd, by those depicable, yet precious Ones, (who trem­ble at his Word) in scorn called Quakers.

Wherefore thy Will, not mine be done, O God most Wise.
Christ's Cross I love; the Pain, the Shame, I utterly despise.
Your Banishment, your Goal and Gibbet I defie;
When you are ready so am I, for God and's Truth to die.

However, it had been but reasonable among men, before you had passed a Decree to Imprison, Fine, Banish, sell for Slaves, and upon their Return, to put to Death so considerable a part of the Nation, as we (and others concerned in your late Act) are, to have con­veen'd [Page 12] a sufficient number of your Priests (for whom you thus drudg) and Us together, and your selves have heard if they could have con­vinced us, that we held or declared any thing for Doctrine or Reli­gion derogatory to God, or Christ Jesus the Light of the World; or that we had preached for Hire, or divined for Money, handfuls of Corn or pieces of Bread, (as the false Prophets did and do) or if they could have plainly evinced to you, we had like Belly-gods, idle Drones, greedy Dumb-dogs who can never have enough, robb'd the Nation of the Tenth, or seventh part of their Estates and yearly industry, then it had been time to have cryed Away with them: for such men, as such, are indeed pernitious to the Publick-weal, a burden and a plague to our Nation.

Or rather, in the first place, immediatly after God had permitted you into outward Power and Government, It had been fitter for you to have put on sackcloth and ashes, and in humility of soul have turned inward, and waited there in brokenness of heart, at Wis­doms gate, that so ye might have come to have felt and known what the Lord had meant (considering what bad men you had been) to de­voul such undeserved Trust and Power upon you. But alas, alas, instead of doing thus, have ye not turned the Grace of God into Wantonness, Pride, Oaths, Persecution, and many other unutterable AbominationsHim that's free I neither interrogate, nor accuse, although I expect he that's most guilty should be ready to throw the first stone at me.? And can you expect ought but a sutable reward, and that God should make a dreadful decision be­twixt the Just and the Unjust, betwixt them who serve him, and them who will not serve him themselves, nor suffer others? Indeed, were I so vicious as very very many of the sons of your Church are, I should rather expect the eternal Vengeance of the dreadful God forthwith to sweep me from the face of the Earth, than his intolerably provoked Mercy should permit me to live one day longer to blaspheam. And truly, friends, the Whore­monger, Swearer, Lyar, Drunkard, Adulterer and Idolatrous, Perse­cutor be you assured God will severely judge; and the Thirsters af­ter the Blood of the Innocent shall not live out half their dayes, and the Memorial of the Wicked shall Rot.

E. B.

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