TO THE RULERS And to such as are in AUTHORITY A True and faithful testimony concer­ning Religion, and the establish­ment thereof, and how it may be established in persons and in Nations.


LONDON, Printed for Thomas Simmons at the Bull and Mouth near Aldersgate, 1659.

THere hath been a great cry of late years among the Priests and many others, for the settlement of Religion, and this they have sought after from the powers of the Earth, and the cry hath been to Parlia­ments and Rulers by the priests and profes­sors for many years, settle us Religion, settle us Reli­gion.

Now to this I answer, all this cry and this desire hath been by these Priests and professors to have Parliaments to make Lawes, to establish one sect, and throw down and limit all others, that is the chief thing that hath been eyed in the request, and not simply to have true Religion esta­blished; if we come to shew what true Religion is in it self. But people of divers sects have been requiring and desire­ing every one to have their own sect established and set up, and all others thrown down, and not to have a place nor to be tolerated, so that their cry hath not risen from the ground of true love to true religion, but their desire hath chiefly risen and sprung from selfe love to their own sect, and from malice and envy against others that were not of their way, and this hath been the end of their craving the settlement of Religion, and not simply for true religions sake. Now religion in it selfe is this, the fulfilling of the Law and the Prophets, loving God with all their hearts and the neighbour as selfe, and doing to all men as they would have men to doe to them, and not otherwise doing or speaking towards any, then they would that others should speak of or doe to them, and a walking towards God in all things, as they have received of his Grace, answering to the Lord in all things, as his spirit leads them and moves them, this is true religion towards God and towards man, and to have the conscience alwaies kept void of of­fence, & that no offence lie upon it in the sight of God, nor in the sight of man, and this is true religion in it selfe, in short declared, to wit, the leading of the spirit of God in­to [Page 3] all truth, to doe the truth, and speak the truth in all things, and this Religion is accepted in the sight of God, and to be kept unspotted in the world, from all its pollu­tions. But now tell me, can this religion be setled, or any Nation or people or any person in it, by any external pow­er or outward authority of men? or can the Laws of Kings or Parliaments settle such Religion, or make people truly religious, or establish a Nation or people, in this Religion? I say no, nor any thing, save only the teaching and leading of the holy spirit of God being received from the Father, its that onely that makes men religious, and settles a peo­ple and Nation therein. Oh ye fools and blind Priests and professors, that are doting on setling religion among un­converted people by out ward Lawes and earthly powers of men; I say no, this must not be, for the Lawes of men can but settle a sect, or some sects, and limit other sects; but true Religion can never be setled by that meanes; for before any be setled in Religion they must first be changed and created a new in Christ Jesus, and borne againe of the seed incorruptable, and they must first be changed from death to life, and from Statans power to God; this must first be witnessed before a man or a nation can be religious, & setled in true Religion, he must put off the body of sin, and be circumcised in heart; and he must have a new Na­ture planted in him, and he planted into Christ a new and living vine, before he can love God with all his heart and his neighbour as himselfe, and before he can have his conscience kept void of offence, and be without stain to­wards God and towards man, and it is onely the word of God and his power in the heart that works this, it is only the operation of Gods spirit in and upon a creature that works him unto this, it is not the Lawes made by man that doth it, nor externall powers of the Earth that can work it, & therefore true Religion cannot be setled there­by, nor a nation or a people in it; but only that which changes him, and makes him religious, that is it onely that must settle religion and Nations, and peoples therein; and as every one is turned to that of God in him, and [Page 4] thereby to feel the power and word and spirit that doth change him, and renew him as I have said, by this means cometh a man and Nations to be religious, and to be setled therein, and by no other waies nor meanes, and this is done through the preaching of the everlasting Gospell, and through the Ministry of Christ, which tur­neth the mindes of people from darknesse to light, and from Satans power to God, whereby they are changed and made religious, and also setled therein, and esta­blished thereby, and it is not by outward Lawes, and powers as I have said. But what are peoples, and the Nations yet to settle in religion? and is religion un­setled yet, that you are craving Lawes made by men to settle religion? what have you preached for this many years? what, have your preaching been all in vaine? and have you done no good this many years by your preaching, that Religion is yet to settle? Oh blind and ignorant men! this is a shame unto you, how manie thou­sands of thousand pounds have the Priests had out of this Nation for teaching religion, & preaching to people, & yet the nation remains unsetled in religion and they are beg­ing to the powers of the Earth, to constrain & compel a set­tlement of Religion, and this shames them, and shews that they are they that Paul speakes of, and that the people of this nation are them that are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, though you have been long learning, you are unsetled, and are not come to the knowledge of the truth: but had these Priests been such that were sent of the Lord, through their ministry would the nations long since have been setled in Religion, for they have been teachers long enough, and put the Na­tion to charge great enough, that people might have known ere this day the holy annointing to dwell in them, and to teach them, and to settle them in Religion, but it is manifest that they have ran and not been sent, but left peoples and nations unsetled as the waters, notwithstan­ding, all their preaching, and ministry for so many years, yet it seemes there wants still a settlement in Religion, and seeing their preaching hath had no effect to doe it, but [Page 5] their Ministry hath been all in vain, and people are not learned in Religion, nor yet established therein, where­by their Ministry is proved not to be Christs Ministry (for the Apostles did setle people, and the Churches in Re­ligion, which theirs hath done no such thing) & therefore it is that the powers of the Earth are called to, that they may force by violence and by violent Laws, that by that means a worship and Religion may be setled as they say; and their Ministry hath not drawn people by love, and therefore would they have people forced and compelled to be of such or such Religion but this is not Christs way, nor the way that his Apostles and true Churches were in; for the spirit of the Father led each one of them, to be Re­ligious, and that same spirit setled and established them in it, and not external Laws nor powers of the Earth, but that was Antichrists way, and the beasts and the false Prophets way, for when they had killed the Saints, and slain true Religion, then the beast and false prophets they established a Religion or worship by outward Lawes; and its written, that he caused and compelled all, both small and great, bond and free, to worship the beast and his image; and here was a setled people in a Religion and wor­ship by an outward compelling power. And thus it was then and is now the same, false Churches and false Religions are setled by an outward Authority; and it was Nebuchad­nezzar and his wicked Princes that setled a Religion or worship by an outward power & by an earthly authority, but that was not the worship of true Religion, but was the worship of Antichrist, and so it hath been for ages; that wor­ship that is setled, and that Religion which is established by an outward external power and the Lawes of men, is but the worship of Antichrist, and not the true Religion, nor the worship of the living God, which is in spirit and in truth, but it must all be overthrown and brought to nought, both that Religion and worship that is out of the spirit, and that power that upholds it, and now the Lord God is risen to confound the thoughts of mens hearts, and he alone will setle and establish Religion by his own power [Page 6] and by his own Law, and through his own Ministry, and as people comes to that of God in them, to feel the Spi­rit and power of the Lord God to change them; hereby will every one particularly be setled in Religion, and by no other way nor means; and this I know from the Lord. But how should people be setled in Religion? for peoples and Nations have been and are as waters, which hath been driven with the winds, this way or the other way, and the great Whore sits upon the waters, and the beast hath carried her and born her up, (false worships and Churches and an outward power) and she hath ruled and made all Nations drunk with her cup of fornication, and the true Religion hath been lost for many ages, and the Sects and false Churches hath been set up and esta­blished upon the waters; and as for true Religion, it can­not be established while Nations are waters under the Whores Dominion, and so the many Sects which hath been the many horns upon the beast, and one hath risen after another, and one diverse from another, and they have been striving one with another, and persecuting one another, and one subduing one another, and each one of them hath cryed for help from the beast, and from the powers of the Earth, to be defended from the power and malice one of another, least one should prevail against another, and get the better one of another; and so that Sect that could get authority from the powers of the earth, and have them of its side, that Sect hath thriven, and hath been setled more then another which hath not gotten the powers of the earth to defend it; and so as the powers of the Earth hath been changeable, so hath Re­ligion been changeable; and what Sect the Rulers hath been on, that have they highest tollerated, and most de­fended against all other; but all this hath not been the true establishment of true Religon.

But now some may suppose and query, whither I speak this as if I would have Religion not at all setled, and as if I were against the establishing of Religion, and so there­by may be accused, as if I were an enemy to all Re­ligion, [Page 7] and would not have Religion established, &c.

To all this I answer, I am a friend to true Religion, and seekes the establishing of it in the right way, and by the Ministery of righteousness, by turning peoples minds to the spirit, and to receive the anointing that they may be all taught of God, and true worshippers of him in spirit and truth, and may be setled in the true Religion; and this true Religion would I have established in the world, and in the Nations and would have all people there­in established by the Ministry of righteousness thereunto ordained. But I am against the establishing of Sects, and the setling of one Sect above another, by the powers of the earth, and I would not have one set up and another thrown down by the Laws of men, for that brings forth nothing but tyranny, and oppression, and strife, and wickedness in a Nation, and among people; though thus it hath been for many ages, false Sects and false Churches hath been established by the powers of the Earth and ex­ternal Laws, and that Sect which the King or Queen, or Ruler hath been of, that hath been set up and tollerated above the rest, and the rest despised, and persecuted and set at nought; for when and where a Prince or a Ruler is of the Papists Religion, then that Religion is the most established and setled in that goverment; and if at any time a Ruler change to be of the Protestant Sect, or one come to govern that is of that Religion, then that Sect was the most esta­blished and upheld, thus it is through Nations, and in England particularly within these late years, when King Henry the eighth turned from the Papists to be a Pro­testant, then that Sect was established, and all other thrown down and persecuted; and when Queen Mary rose to govern, which was a Papist, then she established that Sect and false Church, by Laws, and the rest were limited and thrown down; then when the next Queen arose be­ing a Protestant, she established that Sect again by out­ward Laws, and cast all others down, and thus it hath been for many ages throughout all Nations, of what Sect and Religion the Governor and Ruler hath been, that [Page 8] Sect was onely established and all the rest persecuted as I have said, and so the saying is fulfilled, Nations hath been waters, and peoples and multitudes waters; and as a King and governour hath changed his Religion and of what Sect as he hath been, so hath the Religion of the whole Nation or country changed, and such a Sect onely established against all others; but this I cannot call the setle­ment of true Religion, nor are the Nations and peoples hereby established in true Religion, but onely false Sects and false religions hath risen and been established by the beasts power, who hath carried the whore, yea and though many other Sects, hath risen, and many other horns ap­peared divers one from another, out of the many heads of the beast; for his heads hath been many, and his horns devided, and divers one from another, and each head ex­alting his self above another, and each horn pushing one at another, and each Sect and horn crying to the beast for power to be established, and to have others thrown down and limited, through the powers of the earth, and thus hath it been for generations, and in this Nation in particular, and many Sects hath risen besides the Papists and the Pro­testants and all these Sects hath risen one out of another, & appeared divers one from another, and each one of them hath sought to the powers of the earth for setlement and defence, & that the other that were contrary to them and of another appearance might be stopt and limited, and this hath been done by these teachers and Professors under the account of the establishment of Religion, and they have begged to Parliaments and to Rulers for the establishment of Religion, and for the stopping of heresie, that is to say, for tollerating and defending of their own Sect which they call Religion, and for the stopping and subduing of all others which they call heresie, but confusion hath come upon all this, and will upon the like for ever, and true Re­ligion never gets established by it, but as every new Sect hath appeared, that only hath sought establishment against all the rest.

But yet I say, I am not against establishing of true Re­ligion, [Page 9] though thus I speak, but would have true religion setled and established, but doth not seek to the powers of the earth, to have true Religion established by earthly Lawes; for that cannot establish true religion, neither is it at all committed of the Lord to the powers of the Earth, or to outward authorities to establish religion, or to make men religious; for that belongs to the Lord to rule over, and in mens consciences, & to exercise them in the true Religion: no Ruler by any Law whatsoever ought to to ex­ercise Lordship over the consciences of any people, either to exalt or throw down any sect, or worship of religion; for they are with their Lawes but to rule the outward man, to settle their persons and estates in security, from the wrong and unrighteous dealing of wicked men, and to li­mit all evill men and evil doers from wronging and doing violence to mens persons and estates; this is the work, and the place of Kings and Rulers of the earth, their pow­er is onely committed to them of the Lord to extend over the outward man, to defend and preserve that, and be a praise to all that do well and lives righteously, and to be a terror, and limit, and punishers of the unrighteous evil and violent doers, this is the Magistrates place, and the length and breadth & height of his authority, whether it reside in King, Queen or any other person or persons. But for the exercise of conscience, that is out of their pow­er, and over and beyond it, it is not committed of the Lord to them to compel and cause people from, or to such a worship and religion, it is not the magistrates worke, but the ministers work, that are sent of Christ to teach religion; but let all sects have their course, and every reli­gion its liberty in a nation or country (so that they doe no violence to one anothers persons and estates) and if they do, then they fall under the Magistrates power, and then let them be punished, and let every sect strive to exalt it selfe, and to overthrow others, by what authority it hath in doctrine and forceable arguments, and let them use what spiritual weapons they have, and defend them­selves thereby, and let them that have the spirit of God [Page 10] overcome, and let them alone to be established, and let all the rest be subdued before that, and let that alone be setled onely by the power and authority of the spirit of God, which overcomes all the contrary; and let all men, and all of mans power and authority be silent and quiet, and have no hand in this matter, and this is the way to establish religion in a nation; and a kingdome, let the spirit of the Lord have its liberty, and let no man what­soever limit it in them in whom it dwels, but let it have its course and its operation, and its full authority by them in whom it dwels, in whomsoever it be; and let all sects whatsoever have their liberty—in their arguments, and their practices, and their worship, and then let it be mani­fest, who it is that overcomes, and who it is that is over­come; and such as overcometh by the same spirit & power that gives them victory, by that alone let true religion be established, and the rest of all sects bow under that true Religion that overcometh all others by the power and authority of the spirit of God, and is established thereby; all other under that shall bow, and whilst this is in tryal and debate, let the powers of the earth, and the Rulers of the world be all quiet, and looke on in patience, and let their authority herein be exercised, not to limit one, or tollerate one more then an other, onely let them keep mens persons and estates in peace and defence from the injury and malice and wrong dealing one of another, as I have said, and here is the way, the true and perfect way, for the establishing of religion in a Nation among people, and if this were brought to passe, and had been in genera­tions past, then would not the Papists have been prevailed against by the Protestants, they being at the first discenting from the Church and sect of the Papist, more sincere to­wards God, and more upright to him, and in some things more true in doctrine and worship, then the other which they discented from, though still in the main but a false sect, and of a false religion, though they hated the whore in some things, and they would have prevailed against her through that sincericy towards God, that was in them, [Page 11] but they gave their power to the beast; and would not many other sects have prevailed against them, which hath risen out of this, and discented from her, who was more in the sincerity and uprightnesse towards God, than she? for God blessed that and loved that, in what measure so ever and wheresoever it be; I say, would not many sects ere this day have prevailed one against another, had not the powers of the earth stopped, and limited whom they would, and given liberty to set up whom they would? but now the light of the day is arisen, and hath appeared, and the Lord is making a way to establish his own Religion by his own Power, and he is gathering his seed, who shall wax stronger and stronger, and shall prevail through all opposi­tion, through all false sects and false worships of the earth, and they shall wax weaker and weaker, and shall never be established in righteousnesse, but they and the power that upholds them shall be broken together, and this will the Lord bring to passe in his day; And thus I have shewed you what true Religion is, and how it cann [...] be establi­shed, and how it may be, & what the authority of earthly Rulers is, and how far it extends, and doth shew that true Religion cannot be setled thereby, but by the Lord alone it must, and that it is the worke of Christs ministery, and not of earthly power by violent lawes to establish Religi­on.

And this is a testimony from the Lord God of heaven and Earth to ye Rulers, and Parliaments that makes Laws and ministers Laws; meddle not with Religion, to establish one sect or sects, and to limit and throw down others; But feare the Lord God, and wait for his wisdome, and re­member that that hath been a rock, whereupon many be­fore you have been split, and brought into confusion; even when they have gone about to limit or stop or establish Re­ligion, how have they been confounded, and never had successe from the Lord to such indeavours, for the Lord hath never shewed countenance for many generations to such as have attempted to make men religious by out­ward Laws, and to settle Nations therein by outward Lawes.

[Page 12]Wherefore now be wise ye Rulers and kisse the Son, for the wrath of the Lord is already kindled, and he will break in pieces and dash Babylons children against the stones, and confound the great Whore, (the false Church) and all false sects, her daughters who hath been brought forth, and set up in Nations ever since the woman, (the true Church) hath been fled into the wildernesse, and the beast hath carryed the whore, born her, and upheld her, and she hath journeyed through Nations upon the beast, and the Beast hath defended her; if any man hath an eare let him heare; and this is a visitation to ye Rulers, and to all that make Lawes, and ministers Laws,

By a friend to righteous men, Edward Burrough.
The End.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.