A PROPOSAL Humbly Offered FOR THE FARMING OF LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE.

Printed in the Year, 1663.

A Proposal Humbly offered for the Farming of Liberty of Conscience

SInce nothing can be dearer unto poor Christians than Liberty, or the free exercise of their Judgements and Conscience, which hath kindled that fire in the bowels of the three King­doms, which all the precious blood that hath been shed, during those late Troubles, hath not been able totally to extin­guish: And since many of us, whose names are affixed, were so profitable instrumental in those late Combustions, as appears all a­long in our Sermons before the Honourable House of Parliament, in the Years 1642. 43.44.45.46. in exciting the good people of this Nation, to seek and maintain their Christian Liberty, against all Prelaticall and Antichristian Imposition whatsoever. And con­sidering that the Little Finger of Apostasie from our first Love, would be a greater burden upon our tender Consciences than the Loyns of Episcopacy. We being more bound in Honour than Con­science, cannot totally desist; neither need any man fear, or so much as suspect, lest any inconvenience or alteration should happen in Religion, by the great diversity of Opinions, Tongues, and Lan­guages, tolerated amongst us, unless in the great Babel of Episco­pacy, that may possibly be pulled down and destroyed by this our notable Confution; For if the Gospel was wonderfully difininated, and spread abroad by every mans speaking in his own Language, and the very Enemies thereof astonished, and miraculously wrought in­to a belief of it: how is it likely to be now obstructed in the free exercise of our Spiritual Gifts, with these our cloven and devided Tongues. And since many worthy (Persons) from whom we might little expect it, but far less deserve it, out of their goodness and clemency, are pleased to encline to some Liberty, did not some Persons, Aliens and Strangers to the Common-wealth of Israel. [Page 4]take up a reproach against us, as Persons reprobated into a unpossi­bility of submission to Principles of Concord, Peace, and Order, in Church or State, never being able hitherto to come to any con­sistency amongst our selves; The Ark of God having for twenty years together been exposed to by-wayes, streets, and worse places, for want of an agreement amongst our own Brethren where to rest it, or how to entertain it. If this be our Case, and could we be sure of so much favour as Saul once desired of Samuel, that the Bi­shops would but honour us before the people, We would in a pri­vate Christian way lay our hands upon our hearts, and acknowledge the hand of God, and the justice thereof, in turning us out of his Vineyard, as wicked and unprofitable Servants, and to suffer the iniquity of our heels to overtake us; crying out with Reverend Mr. Calamy, The Ark of God is justly departed from us; but being not yet thus assured, do hope the people will yet believe these to be on­ly Bears skins lapt about us by Episcopal hands: And therefore to the end that a Consistency, and Oneness of Judgement of the whole seperating Brethren, and their moderation may be known unto all men, and that the World may know that there is a Spirit of Rule and Government resting in us;

IT is humbly proposed that the Sole Power of granting Li­cences and Indulgences for Liberty of Conscience, with­in the Kingdom of England, Dominion of Wales, and Town of Barwick, may be vested in the Persons under na­med for the term of seven years, under the Farm Rent of an Hundred Thousand Pounds per Annum. to Com­mence from the twenty fifth day of March next, under such Rates and Qualifications as are bereafter speci­fied.

The Names of the Grand Commis­sioners and Farmers of Liberty of Conscience; proposed on yesterday, being Monday, March 2. 1662. be­ing the day of a private Fast, kept by Mr. Calamy, Mr. Baxter, and o­thers, at Mr. Beal's house, near my Lord of Ely's Chappel in Holborn.
  • Mr. Edmond Calamy
  • Mr. Tilham, late of Colchester.
  • Mr. Philip Nye
  • Mr. Feake
  • Mr. Stanley of Dorchester.
  • George Fox, Executor of the last Will and Testament of James Nailor deceased.
  • Doctor Lazarus Seaman
  • Mr. Dell, late of Cambridge.
  • Doctor Owen
  • Mr. Bryan, late of Coventry.
  • Mr. Matthew Mead
  • Mr. John Coppin
  • Doctor Manton
  • Mr. Kiffen
  • The Executor of Mr. Ven­ner, lately Executed.
  • Mr. Thomas Case
  • Mr. Reynor, late of Lin­coln.
  • Mr. Ralph Venning
  • Mr. Rogers
  • Mr. Benn, late of Dorche­ster.
  • Mr. George Griffith, late of Charter-house.
  • The Executor of Hugh Peters lately Executed.
  • Mr. George Newton, late of Taunton.
  • Mr. Dan. Lyke, late of Hert­ford-shire.
  • [Page 2]Mr. William Ienkins
  • Mr. Fisher, late of Kent.
  • Doctor Thomas Goodwin
  • Mr. Hammond, late of New­castle.
  • Mr. Peter Sterry
  • Mr. Bridges, late of Yar­mouth.
  • Mr. Joseph Carroll
  • Mr. Tombes, late of Lem­ster.
  • Mr. Leigh, late of Lumbard­street.
  • Mr. Mayo, late of Kingston.
  • Mr. Joshua Sprigg.
  • Mr. Henry Jessey.
  • Mr. Newcomen of Dedham in Essex.
  • Doctor Tuckney of Cam­bridge.
  • Doctor Cornelius Burges
  • Mr. Zarhary Croften
  • Doctor Holmes
  • Mr. John Cann
  • Mr. Thomas Brooks.

That the Persons aforesaid may be constituted Grand Commissioners, and Farmers of Liberty of Conscience within the Kingdom of England, Dominion of Wales, and Town of Berwick, and may be impowred to set up one pub­lick Office within the City of London, and to nominate and elect a convenient number of Registers Clerk, and o­ther Officers: And for the more certainty of all Certifi­cates to be granted as is hereafter appointed, The said Grand Commissioners and Farmers may form a common Seal to be known, and called by the common name of The Publique Seal of the Grand Commissioners and Farmers of Li­berty of Conscience engraven, An Ass without Ears, Braying, with this Motto encircled Stat proratione libertas: And the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers, or any 24. of them in the said Office assembled, may from time to time, compound and agree for Liberty of Conscience, with any person or persons, under such Rates and Qualifications; as are hereafter specified.

That the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers, or any 24. of them, may constitute and appoint, under the [Page 3]Publique Seal of the Office, Sub-Commissioners, and o­ther Officers, for every County within the said Kingdom, not exceeding the number of 12. for each County, where­of 7. to be a Quorum, who may compound and agree for Liberty of Conscience, with any person or persons, select Congregations, Cities, Towns Corporate, Parishes, Hamlets, and Villages, by the great, or otherwise, with­in their respective Countries, not exceeding the Rates hereafter mentioned.

Rates to be obser­ved in all Compositions for Liberty of Conscience.
 Per Annum.
A Presbyterian Minister500
A Ruling Elder400
A Deacon300
A Hearer Male or Female in Fellowship to all Ordinances200
A Common Hearer only100
A Inndependant Pastor5  
A Teaching Elder400
A Helper in Government300
A Deacon300
A Hearer male or female in Fellowship to all Ordinances200
A common Hearer only100
A Baptist admitted to the administration of all Ordinances500
A Preaching assistant400
An Elder in Office300
A Deacon200
A Hearer in Fellowship male or female to all Ordinances200
A common Hearer only100
A Fifth Monarcher admitted to hold forth500
An Elder under the same administration300
A Deacon under the same administration300
A Hearer male or female in Fellowship ac­cording to the value of his or her Estate 2 s. per l. per annum.   
A common Hearer male or female accord­ing to the value of his or her Estate 12 d. per l. per annum.   
A speaking male Quaker400
A speaking female Quaker300
A common Quaker male or female200
A Confessor600
A Seminary or Mass-Priest at large500
A private Mass-Priest400
A Roman Catholick in any other Order300
A Roman Catholick not in order Male or Female100
An Officer under any Administration not menti­oned in the rates aforesaid being a Native of England, such only excepted as stand Conform­able to the Church of England500
A common person under any Administration not mentioned in the rates aforesaid being a Na­tive of England, such only excepted as stand conformable to the Church of England200
An Officer under any Administration what so­ever not a Native of England, except conform­able to the Church of England1000
A private person under any Administration whatsoever not a Native of England, except conformable to the Church of England500
Rates to be observed in compounding for Li­berty of Conscience in the particulars fol­lowing, viz.
For Liberty to assert the Popes Supremacy1000
For Liberty to write, speak, or Preach against the Government as they shall be inwardly moved500
For liberty to keep on their Hats before Magi­strates, or in Courts of Judicature200
For liberty to rail publickly against the Bishops and Common Prayer100
For liberty to refuse all manner of Oaths, of Allegi­ance [Page 10]and Supremacy, or in cases Civil or Cri­minal200
For liberty to deny Tythes and other Church Duties100
For liberty to expound the Revelations and the Book of Daniel100
For liberty to disturb any Congregation after Sermon0100
For liberty to assert the Solemn League and Co­venant150
For liberty to instruct youth in the short Cate­chism set forth by the Assembly of Divines0100

That any person or pesons gifted for any the Particu­lars abovesaid, may have liberty therein, either as an Iti­nerate, in private or publique, at the Rates abovesaid.

That no person or persons be admitted to compound for Liberty of Conscience, until he or they have first taken and subscribed to the Solemn Protestation following, be­fore the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers, or their Sub-Commissioners respectively.

I A. B. do here solemnly protest, That I judge my self still bound by the Solemn League and Covenant, by the Engagement, by private Church-Covenant, or by any o­ther Oath which I have taken ever since the year 1641. and that so far as with safety to my person and Estate I may, I will endeavour the utter extirpation of Episcopacy, and to the utmost of my power, will abet and promote all Schism, faction, and discord, both in Church and State, according to the best form and manner, prescribed and laid open in the Sermons of many of the Grand Commissioners and Far­mers, before the Parliament, appointed to be Printed, and now called the Homilies of the separated Churches. And that I will never by what Conviction of Authority soever, whether legal or Episcopal, ever consent to the Establisht Doctrine and discipline of the Church of England.

And I do likewise believe, That Liberty of Conscience, was a Mysterious, yet profitable talent committed to the Churches, and that it may be l [...]wfully Farmed out for ad­vantage and improvement.

That no person within the Kingdom of England, Domi­nion of Wales, or Town of Barwick, may, from, and after the twenty fifth day of March next, use or exercise any manner of Liberty of Conscience, except persons standing conformable to the Church of England, untill such per­son or persons shall first take the Solemn Protestation, and shall compound with the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers, for Liberty of Conscience, nor shall he be admit­ted or permitted to be a Speaker or Hearer, in any Meet­ing or Assemblies whatsoever.

That the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers of Liberty of Conscience, may have power to constitute under the Publick Seal of the said Office, a convenient number of Spiritual Gagers, who may have and exercise all such Powers, Priviledges, and Authorities, as the Gagers for Excise of Beer and Ale, have, or ought to have and en­joy, and may at any time, in case of Suspition, enter into any house or place, publick or private, to Gage and try the Spirits and Affections of any person or per­sons; And by Praying, Preaching, or other good Ex­hortation, disswade from Episcopacy, and the Common-Prayer, the better to fit and prepare them to compound for Liberty of Conscience.

That the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers of Liberty of Conscience, may have power to fine any per­son or persons (not exceeding the sum of twenty pound for every offence, who shall after Composition for Liberty of Conscience, and subscribing the Solemn Protestation, be present in any Church or Chappel, within the Kingdom of England, Dominion of Wales, and Town of Barwick, in the time of any part of Divine Service, unless at the Funeral of his Father, or some other like occasion, he shall either respond, be uncovered, or carry himself rever­ently, in the time of Divine Service aforesaid.

That the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers of [Page 12] Liberty of Conscience, or any twenty four of them assem­bled at the Office aforesaid, may have and exercise a Jurisdiction of Appeal in all matters relating to Liberty of Conscience, within the said Kingdom of England, and shall have a conclusive power in all matters brought before them, by way of Appeal as aforesaid.

That for the better management of all such matters as shall be brought judicially before the said Grand Com­missioners and Farmers of Liberty of Conscience, by way of Appeal the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers, shall have power to constitute and appoint Mr. Oliver St. Johns, and such others as they judge fit for their said Service, to be of Standing-Councel with the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers: And the said Mr. Oliver St. Johns, being so constituted and appointed under the Pub­lick Seal of the said Office, shall, and may be exempted and discharged from being in any Publick Office, or place of Trust or Profit, for the said term of seven Years, any thing to the contrary notwithstanding.

That if any person or persons shall happen to be procee­ded against in any of the Ecclesiastical Courts of the Bishops of this Kingdome for Contumacy, for Non-Conformi­ty, for non-payment of Tythes, and other Church-Du­ties, for publick rayling against the Bishops, the Com­mon-Prayer, or the Goverment of the Church of Eng­land, or shall speak Opprobriously or Scandalously against the Doctrine or Discipline thereof, as Antichristian, or shall maintain any Positions or Doctrines contrary there­unto: Every such person producing a Cirtificate from the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers under the publick Seal of the said Office, that such person or per­sons are under Composition for Liberty of Conscience, shall actually be discharged, and all further proceedings stayed; Any thing to the contrary notwithstanding.

That if any persons shall happen to be Indicted or Cri­minally [Page 13]proceeded against in any of His Majesties Courts at Westminster, or elsewhere within the Kingdom of Eng­land, either for Treasonable Speeches or Practices, for publick rayling at the Government, or for Scandalous words against either or both Houses of Parliament, or for Transgressing any of the Penal Laws and Statutes of this Kingdom; Every such person or persons, producing a Certificate from the said Grand Commissioners and Farm­ers under the publick Seal af the said Office, that such person or persons are under Composition for Lyberty of Conscience; and that such words or practises were not spo­ken or acted malitiose, but were only the natural and pro­per effects and product of Liberty of Conscience, shall be discharged, and all further proceedings stayed; Any thing to the contrary notwithstanding.

That the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers of Liberty of Conscience, may have power from time to time to ordain Pastors, Elders, and Deacons, or any other Officers under any Administration whatsoever, by the laying on of the publick Seal of the Office: Which said Imposition of the said publick Seal being recei­ved with a Certificate, shall be as lawful an Ordina­tion, as if every such person had received Imposition from the hands of the Presbytery, Any late Usage or Cu­stome to the contrary notwithstanding.

That the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers may have power from time to time, to set apart dayes of pub­lick Fastings, and Humiliation, and Thanksgiving; on which dayes it may be lawful for any person or persons appointed to Officiate before the said Grand Commissi­oners and Farmers, to stir up the people to a holy Indig­nation against themselves, for having by their want of Zeal and Brotherly kindness one towards another, lost many precious enjoyments; and above all, the never to be forgotten Losse of the late Power and Dominion, which with the Expence of so much Blood and Rapine, [Page 14]was put into the hands of the Saints. And to take up for a Lamentation, and great thoughts of heart, the Di­visions of Ruben, That having our Sacks full, such an e­vil spirit should be found in the midst of us, as to fall out by the way; might it have been with those that abode by the Stuff, as with those that went out to the Battle, it had not been with us as at this day. Some starting aside like a broken Bow, in the Year 48. others continue to bear the burthen and heat of the day untill 60. being har­ness'd, did then turn their backs in the day of Battel; as was most sweetly handled at the Fast kept Yesterday at Mr. Beale's, by Mr. Calamy, Mr. Baxter, and others.

That the twentieth day of April next, commonly cal­led Easter-Munday, be kept as a day of Solemn Fasting and Humiliation, for a Blessing upon these Gospel—Under­takings, and that Mr. Edmond Calamy, Mr. Peter Sterry, Doctor Lazarus Seamon, and Mr. Feak, be desired to car­ry on the Work of the Day in Prayer and Preaching, be­fore the said Grand Farmers, and that the particulars following, be recommended to their consideration in the Work of the Day.

1. To Bewail,

  • 1. All our Court Sins.
  • 2. Our Bishops Sins.
  • 3. Our Monk Sins.
  • 4. Our Common-Prayer Sins.

2. To Divert.

  • 1. Westminster-Hall Judgments.
  • 2. Our Old-Bayly Judgments.
  • 3. Our Tower-Hill Judgments.
  • 4. Our Charing-Cross Judgments
  • 5. Our Tyburn Judgements.

Lastly, For deliverance from the hand of Dun, that un­circumcised Philistine.

That the said Grand Commissioners, and Farmers [Page 15]of Liberty of Conscience, may have power to build Chur­ches and Chappels in any place or places, except upon such Ground where Churches or Chappels do alreadie stand, in regard of the inconvenience of setting up Altar against Altar; And forasmuch as the custom of reading some part of the holy Bible before Sermon, commonly called 1st. & 2d. Lessons hath been found fruitless, That therefore the said Grand Commissioners & Farmers may have power to appoint instead thereof, the Annual reading of those Sermons preached by many of the said Grand Commis­sioners and Farmers, before the Parliament, Upon special Occasions of Thanksgiving and Humiliation, from the year 1641. to the year 1648. Which said Sermons may be called the Homilies of the separating Churches.

That the said Grand Commissioners and Farmers may have power to require Mr. Gilbert Millington, and Mr. Luke Robinson, the lame Evangelist, to deliver up all such Articles, Orders, Books, Papers, and other Writings, as were transacted before the late Committee for plundred Ministers; and likewise, all such as were passed and trans­acted before Mr. Philip Ney, and some others of the now Grand Commissioners and Farmers, and heretofore cal­led Commissioners of Spiritual Tryars, to the end, the said Articles, Orders, Books, and other Papers may be print­ed and published, and may be kept at the said Office upon Record for ever, and appointed to be the Book of Canons of the separated Churches.

All this being done, we may upon Scripture grounds expect, that the door of hope may yet be open to Us, and our children after Us, to see the travel of our Souls, and to set Us into the promised Land, and to reap some of those clusters of the Grapes of Canaan, which with so much labour and toyl of body and mind were planted, e­specially in the years of 1641, 42, 43, 44, 45. by many of Us, and other precious Saints and Ministers of the Gos­spel, who are since fallen asleep, and have, We hope, reap-the Fruits of those labours, the Lord having in that day [Page 16]put a mighty Spirit into Us, and set Us as Watchmen up­on the Towers of Israel, to cry mightily, Curse ye Meroze, curse ye bitterly; the Lord grant, that those heart-break­ing labours of ours, those King-destroying labours, those Kingdom-ruining labou [...], those Gospel-scandalizing la­bours, those Church-subverting labours, those soul-con­founding labours of Ours, may never be forgotten, but may be written as with the point of a Diamond, upon the heart of the King, upon the hearts of the Bishops, upon the heart of the Parliament, and upon the hearts of all the people from Dun to Beershebit, that so in Gods good time we may receive our Reward seven-fold into our own bo­soms, and that the Generations to come may hear and fear, and do no more so wickedly.

So prayes, B. G.

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