To the Parliament of England, and the several Members thereof.


ON the day of your last solemn Fast and Humilia­tion, which was on the third day of this [...] month 1659. I told you in the Name of God, who then moved me so to do, that you cannot possibly prosper in your Councels, nor be accepted in your sacrifices, if before him you be found guilty of forswearing your selves, which whether you are or no in that tedious Case of Tithes, I then also warned you to consider: I have since that seen such necessity laid upon me from the Lord this once more to arise and contend on the Lords behalf, who hath a Contro­versie with you, O ye mountains, and ye strong foundations of the earth, that whatever should befal me from you for so doing, yet wo is unto me from him if I do it not: in order to the clearing of my Conscience in which service, and in obe­dience to him, whose Spirit hath prest me to it, and also in bowels of true love to all your Souls, and tender compassion to this bleeding Nation, I have here presented you with these few following Queries, which you are to read in the fear of the Lord, and in the light of God, that shines into all Souls, and searches the secrets of all your hearts, to answer to God himself in your own Consciences.

1. Whether have you not said, vowed, covenanted and sworn, and caused this Nation to vow, covenant and swear with hands lifted up to the most High God, to endeavor to the utmost of your, and their power the Extirpation of all Inno­vation in Religion, Popish institution, superstition, &c. and to Reform according to the example of the best Refor­med Churches?

2 Whether Parish-Churches, Parish-Priests, and the Parish-pay by that way of Tithes (which was the Ordinance of God under the Law, which together with the Priesthood thereof is now changed be not Superstitions, Innovations and Institu­tions of the Pope, imposing the establishment thereof by their civil Laws upon simple Priest-Ridden Princes, Powers and Par­liaments, in the dark dayes of his undue dominion over [Page 2] them in this English Nation, and that so unquestionably, that none of you, but such as are willingly so, can in these times of Trying of all things be easily ignorant of it?

3. Whether it be any less then cursed Covenant breaking, and palpable Perjury in your selves, or any that have so vowed, co­venanted and sworn as aforesaid, not to endeavour the ex­tirpation aforesaid, much more in stead of removing that Popish yoke of Tithes to re-establish the payment of it with Treble dammages?

4. Whether you may not be said so to re-establish it, when­as notwithstanding the onely way and means of recovery of Tithes, that ever stood by Law in this Nation, which was that of the Spiritual Courts (there being an expess Statute yet ex­tant unrepealed, that it shall not be lawful for any man to be summoned before any Secular Iudge, or sued in any Tempo­ral Court in that matter) is (de jure) taken away already in the fall of the Bishops Hierarchy, and of the said Spiritual Courts, you nevertheless encourage the Iudges, by your Orders and Ordinances to try that Case of Tithes in their Temporal Courts, who do accordingly so strictly reinforce the payment of Tithes, that such tender consciences as because of the Oaths and Vowes to God you have bound them in, and to avoid the guilt of Perjury, dare not pay them, by such H [...]ngry Har­pies and Greedy Gatherers as the Parish-preachers make use of, have not onely Treble, but sometimes Tenfold dammages forci­bly wrested from them: which said Iud [...]es, forasmuch as they are also sworn (as Iudges) not to Act against any Sta­tute Law, whether in so acting they are not doubly forsworn, 'tis good for them timely to examine?

5. Whether the Apostles, who came after Tithes, who were to go into all Nations, Ministring the Gospel, did ever m [...]ke such complaint for Tithes, as the Ministers of the Nations now do to Magistrates? And whether was there not provision enough for them, not by compulsion, nor yet by Tithes, but as love constrained, by which they then ministred one to another, though they were scattered up and down through many Na­tions, whereas these Ministers settle themselves in Parishes, for Term-of-life? And whether is it not more according to the ex­ample of the best Resormed Churches, which are those of the Primitive times, as well as a more likely way to end that end­less [Page 3] strife, which to the stark stinking shame of their profes­sion, and to the wearying of the whole Nation the men called Ministers are together by the ears in with all manner of people, to leave all manner of people freely to chuse, and freely to main­tain the Ministers of their own chusing, and all Mini [...]ters free­ly to give out what freely they have received, according to Christs Command, to such as he sends them, then to force the Flocks of other folds to feed and cloath such Hireling shepherds, as they neither hire, nor hear, nor were ever fed by, and against their own consciences to help to uphold such Steal-Sermons, and Sell-Sermons as God neither sent nor spoke to, and such Seers concerning whom they see the Sun is already set upon them?

6. Whether it be possibly to be expected (unless God him­self be so changed as to take pleasure in iniquity) that God should take pleasure in this Nation, or that the Parliament, and people thereof should ever prosper truly into a Common-VVealth, and not rather perish at last by some Common Wo, ru­ine and calamity, if it be found before him in the cases a­foresaid, under the guilt of those gross sins of covenant breaking and perjury?

7. Whether it be possible (unlesse God be changed from what he was of old) that your many prayers should enter in­to the ears of the Lord of hosts, that your fastings and hu­miliations (which are but fa [...]ed if you turn not to him that smites you with all your hearts) should find acceptance with him, that your most solemn meetings should meet with any thing but rejection as iniquity and hypocrisie, and that he should deliver you in your callings upon him in this day of your trouble, if he find you guil [...]y of falshood, and forswear­ing your selves, if you perform not to the Lord your Oaths, & pay not your Vows unto the most high? and whether were it not much better for you to hearken then hastily to offer, or to obey then to sacrifice with your hands full of blood?

8. Whether it be a sufficient plea before God in the cases aforesaid for this Parliament to say that the land cannot bear the taking away of Tithes, as if the perfect removal of the Popes yoak from off their necks and the return of Tithes to the peo­ple, who are the right Original owners thereof, and might at first keep them to themselves, till doting Doctors deceived them [Page 4] into a bestowing thereof, or might bestow them on the poor, or on whom they pleased till P. Innocent the third imposed the paymen [...] of them to Parish priests, were insufferable to the Saints, unsafe to a Nation that perfectly protests against the Pope and all his impositions; or as if any but the blind Popishly affected party that are your flattering foes, or any of that well affected party who have been your constant friends, whom you have engaged to live and die with in so good a cause, would kick, and fling, and be impatient under the burthen of their own freedoms?

9. Whether would not the breaking of every such Popish yoke from off their Consciences encourage all the aforesaid well-affected party, so as to knit them firmly to you; And whether doth it not rather discourage and weaken their hearts and hands to youward upon any occasion, when assi­stance from them is expected, to see all their Hopes frustra­ted, all your Vows, Oaths and Covenants disregarded, your Promises falsified, and their Petitions and Propositions to you in the particular aforesaid sleighted, or at best answered with only thanks for their good affections, and assurances that the things desired are under Consideration, when yet from time to time that which by Oath and Covenant should have been long since Removed, by your new Orders and Ordinances for it stands still rather Re-established?

10. Whether the Parish Priesthood of this Nation, who are well, neither full nor fasting, do deserve that this Parliament should make such provision for them, as they do, and take so much care as they have done for their Tithes, when as both now, and upon every occasion, as well when things go well with them, as when worse, they are ready to arise up in Armes against you with any discontended, whether Kingly, Priestly or Popish party, to the eminent endangering of the whole Common-wealth, the infinite expending and exhausting of the Treasure thereof, the Imbroiling of this Nation in new War [...] till it welter in its own blood, and contrary to the Scripture, which wills all Ministers to be no Strikers, imbruing their own hands in the innocent blood thereof?

Samuel Fisher.

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