Presented To those in AUTHORITY whom it may concern.

FRiends, I have had some ferrous Considerations upon my Hear: to present to you, signifying how that an Uniformity in Matters of Worship could not be in any or most of the Ages of the World, gained and maintained, effected or established, and how that the Nations of the Earth have been upon Heaps about it; and in most Ages the best Sort of Men have been Sufferers in Things appertaining to Conscience, because their Number hath been in all (or most Ages) but small in Com­parison of the vain Multitude; and my Design here is, to sh [...]w or signifie to you, that in most, or all Ages, there have been Divisions in the Earth a­bout Religion from the very first to this Day, and this Thing called Unifor­mity, that Rulers of Nations have been striving about for some Hundreds, or as I may say, some Thousands of Years, is uneffected to this present Day, notwithstanding as much Force and Violence hath been used, as well as you or any People else can devise or invent to make Ʋse of to effect this Work: So I desire you may for the Nations Good consider of these Things; for this be assured of, I write not these Things unto you because we faint in Suffering, or grow weary of what we have taken in Hand by the constraining Power of our God, whose Presence is better to us then Life it self; but I assuredly know, there are many hundreds had rather part with Life it self, and all they have, then faint or grow weary in suffering for Christ's sake, who hath been so good and faithful a God unto them in the midst of many deep Sufferings; and I am satisfied, he that hath kept us hitherto will keep us to the End, whatever we endure for his Names sake; for we have learned to forgive our Enemies, and do Good to them that do Evil to us, and therefore do desire your Souls Good as our own, knowing that our God hath called to you by the Spirit of his Son Christ, in your Consciences, that he might deliver your Souls from Hell, and front the Horrible Pit, if you will but learn of him, and hearken to the Call of Christ, the true Light, Joh. 1.9. And so to him that searcheth the Heart, and tries the Reins, and sees every secret Thought, and is as a shining Light in your Hearts, many a Time, to give you to discern betwixt that which is good and evil, do I recoommend what here I have written.

HAving viewed many Laws by you made about Matters of Religion and Worship, and also having cast my Eye backward into the Ages past, I do find that many Endeavours have been on Foot, and many Laws made by divers and sundry Rulers of Nations and People, both Ec­cl [...]siastical and Temporal so call'd, to force Men to an Ʋniformity in Matters of Religion and Worship, for many hundreds of Years past and gone; and the Nations, and several of the Professors of the divers Sorts of Wor­shippers have been over and over again involv'd in Blood and War, through Ages and Generations, that it would make ones Heart bleed within him, to consider the Cruelty, Murther and Bloodshed that hath ensued in the Nations upon those Accounts; one while one Sort of Religion upermost, and then another; and he that hath got upermost for the most Part hath been endeavouring to force all to his Opinion or Perswasion by Cruelty and Oppression, that truly to write to you upon this Subject, I could ra­ther spend my Time in weeping and mourning for what hath hapen'd in the Earth (and Religion hath been mostly the Pretence) then d [...]p my Pen in such a Tragedy of bloody Actions and un-christian like Doings: And this Evil Spirit that hath entered the World, the Devil; the old Adversary of Man's Happiness hath been as a Mystery of Iniquity working in the World, and putting People and Nations upon, to destroy one another, and the Pro­perties and Rights of one another, and break the Holy Law of God, which saith, Do as thou wouldst be done by, from the Dayes of Persecuting Cain and Righteous Abel to this our Day and Time; for Cain he destroyed his Bro­ther Abel, the second Birth, because be was found differing in Worship, and in that in which he was accepted of God, and Cain was not, and there­fore Cain was wroth, and slew his Righteous Brother Abel, though there was a Time when God would have had him to have done well, and said, If thou dost well, shalt thou not be accepted? but if thou dost Evil, Gen. 4.6, 7. Sin lyes at thy Door; and God said unto him, Why art thou wroth? why is thy Countenance fallen? so I desire, consider God's Love and Patience to Cain: but Cain instead of doing well, broke God's Holy Law, and did not do as he would have been done by, and at the Insti­gation of the Devil, slew his Brother, for which you may read God's Curse came upon him. And in those Ages of the World; both good Men and bad Men were found Worshippers of a God, but it was mostly the good Men that suffered by bad Men, and the Righteous Worshipper by the Unrigh­teous; and how had all Flesh corrupted its Wayes in the Dayes of Righteous Noah, who was a Preacher of Righteousness, not only in Words, but Life and Conversation; and their Violence and Wickedness was so great, that God said, It repented him that he had made Man? And after those Dayes,Gen. 6.6. there was Righteous Abraham, Lot and Melchi­zedeck, [Page 3]Worshippers of the most High God; but there was the Cursed Stock of Ham in those Dayes, that walked in his Evil Wayes, like the Sodomites that evilly intreated Righteous Lot and the two Angels of God, though the Lord said to Abraham, he would not have destroy'd it if there had been found in her but Ten Righteous Persons: And in the very Family of Isaac, there was Esau, a vain Man,Gen. 18.32. not accepted of God, though once the Birth-right was in him; but Jacob was an honest, sober, plain man, and therefore God accepted of him and blest him: And what Laws were made, or how did the Kings of Israel labour to force those that dissented from them, is plainly manifest in the Books of their Chronicles, Kings and Prophets; but it was mostly the Holy Men and Prophets that suffer'd; for they durst not deny their God, and joyn with the false Worships of their Nation, but were so Conscientious, that they ventured Life and all; so that the Prophet Elijah complained in his Day, That they had thrown down God's Altars, and slain his Children or Prophets, and he only was escaped; 1 Kings 19.10. so that grievous Persecution was in the World in those Dayes about Religion, and when the Assyrians besieged Samaria, how did the then King of Israel Threaten to take off the Head of the good Prophet Elisha; he was so blind that he thought the Prophet was Occasion of this Evil that hapen'd to them, when it was their own Wickedness and Persecuting Evil Spirits that broke God's Holy Law, and did not do as they would have been done by: but I shall sum up the Substance of all their Wickedness, in Evilly entreating God's Messengers and Prophets, with the Saying of Christ Jesus, saying, He had sent unto them Prophets and Wise Men, some of them they had slain, and crucified, and Scourged in their Synagogues, and persecuted them from City to City, that upon you may come all the Righteous Blood shed upon the Earth,Mat. 23.34, 35.from the Blood of Righteous Abel to Za­charias the Son of Barachias, whom you slew betwixt the Temple and the Altar: How had these Children or People of Israel been blinded with a Spirit of Persecution? for sure, if ever they had considered with themselves, that they did not do as they would be done by, that is to say, giving the same Liberties that they would have had others to have given to them, if the other had gotten up into Authority over them, then one would not have per [...]ecuted and killed another: And how were those blind Jews carryed on with a blind persecrting Zeal, garnishing the Sepulchres of the Prophets whom their Fathers slew, and making long Prayers, and walking in long Robes, and making clean the Outside of the Cup, though the Inside be full of Rotteness and all this Mischief was done to God's Servants under a for­mal or band Zeal by a professing Sort of People in those Ages, who were so blinded by this evil, wicked Spirit, that from Abel to this Day hurries [Page 4]People on in a blind Zeal, every Man for his own Way, in such a Fierce­ness, that one Sort of People hath been making War upon another, per­secuting and killing one another about Religion; so that in most Ages God hath had but a very small Remnant that hath kept the Righteous Law of God, and done as they would another should do to them, and loved their Neigh­bours as themselves. And the Devil, the old Enemy of Mankind, which blined Cain, and then made him slay his Righteous Brother, hath from Age to Age transformed himself into most Sects and Opinions of People, and under Petence of Zeal for Religion, when he hath blinded their Eyes with Conceit of the Righteousness of their own Wayes, hath put them on in an Eager Zeal, or for some Outward Interest or other that he hath sug­gested into their Hearts, to force all Men to their Way, or to an Ʋnifor­mity of Worship, though to the utter Ruin of the Lives, Estates, Proper­ties and Rights of Hundreds and many Thousands in the Ages gone; and this evil Spirit hath with these Coverings been at work, both amongst Jews and Gentiles, and one might fill a large Volumn with the bloody Tragedies of this Evil One: I need not instance the Plurality of the Heathen Gods, and the Division amongst them, and the killing of one another about the setting up of their Idol-Worships amongst them, here being too much of this Nature done amongst the dark Worshippers (as they pretend) of the true God, who have only got the outside Form, but want the Power, and have many of them (as had the Jews, as Paul said) a Zeal, but want the true Ʋnderstanding and godly Charity, which leads to do as one would another should do to him, and love their Neighbours as themselves, and en­deavour the Preservation of one another, both in Life, Estate, Rights and Property.

And truly, whilst the State of the World stands as it doth, we cannot expect but there will be Division, as alwayes there hath been since Trans­gression entered both false Worshippers of divers Sorts; and true Wor­shippers; and the truly godly and sober Men are but a very small Number, as Christ said, Strait is the Gate that leads to Life, and few there be that en­ [...]ers therein: And many Divisions there were after the Apostles Time, and some in their Dayes; My Brethren, saith he, You have heard that Anti­christs will come, nay, saith he, they are even come already; and Christ saith, They will come in Sheeps Cloathing, but they shall be known by their Fruit, inwardly Ravening Wolves, seeking their Gain from their Quar­ters; and John said, They were gone forth into the World in his Day, 1 Joh. 4.1. and so their Works do manifest them: They are Breakers of Christ's Royal Law, which saith, Love thy Neighbour as thy self; and they are inwardly Ravening Wolves, whose Belly is their God, who seek their Gain from their Quarters, and like to the false Prophets [Page 5]of old, and formal Professors of the Law, put on Kings & Rulers to destroy Men in Life, Estate and Property, who will not, and also those who dare not for Conscience sake joyn with their dead Forms, whatever they suffer for refusing.

And I desire you, consider what Laws can either you or any Men make that have not been made; look but through the History of Times in Italy, Germany, France, England, Scotland & Ireland, &c. and the said Effects of those Laws, mostly pretending to force People to an Ʋniformity of Worship, and all hath been in vain: I desire you, consider J. Fox's Acts and Monuments, and the Tragical History of those Ages within these six­teen hundred Years; How violently did the Romans endeavour to crush down the spreading of the Gospel, that he saith in his Epistle Dedicatory to Q. Elizabeth, that when the Records were searched, there was marty­red for every Day in the Year, within the Compass of those ten bloody Per­secutions fifty THOUSAND Persons, One Day only excepted; and the more they strove with their Cruelty to force Mens Consciences, and to bring Men to one Form as it were, or to their Worship, the wider and wider was the Breach, and they were never able to effect what they inten­ded. And great Division there was in those Ages for the first six hundred Years, that it would be too tedious to mention them; for I desire rather to refer you to Eusebius and the Graecian Writers of those Times, how one while the Bishop of Constantinople strove for Superiority, and another while the Bishop of Rome, though there was for the most Part the Bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Rome, striving one against another; and as Darkness and Apostacy got in, the Strife grew greater and greater, till at last, six hundred Years being expired, the Bishop of Rome usurpt over all the rest with his Tyranny, and brought the Kings and Emperours of the Earth in Subjection to him, as doth appear by the Histories of those Times: And when he had all the Power he could desire, to make Laws, and force Men's Consciences to an Ʋniformity of Worship, and the Ru­lers of those Nations to be at his, and his Cardinals and Bishops Becks, to put in Execution what they pleased, How many then suffered divers Sorts of Cruel Torments with Fire and Faggot, Racking, Imprisoning and Torturing, as witness the Testimonies given by J. Fox in his aforesaid Act & Monuments, as the Wal [...]ienses, John Wickliff and his Followers here in England; and the Laws that were made against them are yet extant to be seen, and the Cruelty exercised upon those Godly Men at a Place called Bangar near Wales, and though they burned them, confiscated their Estates: And for all they used all the Cruelty Imaginable to suppress those godly Men that followed John Wickliff here in England they never could effect their Will; God preserved the honest-hearted, though they made many [Page 6] Hypocrites; but the more they strove, the wider and wider grew the Breach, and the Lord prospered the Ʋpright in Heart, though many of them went through the Flames of Fire, yet their faithful Sufferings reach­ed God's Witness in Peoples Hearts, who hated and abhorred those Dealings, and the Papists they made themselves stinck in the Nostrils of the Commonality, until their Faithfulness had reached those that after came into Authority, and the Romish Faction was abhorred, and had lost their Interest in the Common People also, and so the other came over their Heads; and after the same Manner came it to pass in Bohemia, and Cer­many, and Scotland, and divers other Countries, by their so vehemently striving for an Ʋniformity, they made themselves every where almost ri­diculous, and so lost all; and to relate the many and divers Sorts of Cruel Laws that were made to effect this, would be too tedious at this Time: And the most miserable suffering State of the poor oppressed consciencious People, how they were Racked, Torn, Burned, and Whipped, and Star­ved in nasty Prisons, destroyed in Life, Property, Rights, Priviledges and Estates, would also require a large Volumn to give you the Heads there­of; and what hath it all tended to, but to the provoaking God's Wrath, and heavy Indignation upon the Heads of the Oppressors, who were blin­ded with Blind Zeal, and acted to do the Drudgery and Service of the Devil, who seeks to set one Neighbour against another, and kindle Strife and Hatred one against another with his manifold Devices?

And truly, within the Remembrance of our Time, and in the Dayes of our Fathers, what strange Ruptures have hapen'd in the Land of our Na­tivity, and the chief Ground sprung from the Oppressions of Mens Con­science; each People, as they grew up into Authority, endeavour'd to set up their own Way and Form of Worship, and force others, and then those that were opprest, bonded together to supplam the other, and all or most­ly under Religious Pretences. Oh the most Dreadful Bloodsheds that have hapen'd, Brother against Brother, and nigh Kinsman against Kinsman, and Neighbour against Neighbour! And all hath hapen'd and come to pass by Mens Minds being alienated from the Spirit of God which shines in their own Hearts, reproving them for their Evil Thoughts and Deeds, which if it were but learned, and Men guided by it, it would lead Men to do as they would be done by, and seek their Neighbours and Country's Good as their own, giving to every Man as he himself would have h [...]mself the Free Liberty of his Conscience, that so one Neighbour might live quietly by another.

And truly, I might have instanced many Particulars more to you, ho [...] destructive to Nation and People, Trades and Imployments, those Attem [...] and Ʋndertaking have proved, of seeking to force an Ʋniformity in Matte [...] [Page 7]of Religion and Worship; but being perswaded in my self, that if it please God, you come but to a serious Consideration of those Things, and cast your Eye backwards into the ancient Ages of the World, to see what evil Consequences those persecuting Actions have produced, you will be with us convinced in your Hearts, that it is not a right Spirit that leads Men thus evilly to do to their Neighbours, to destroy them in Life, Liberty, Pro­perty or Estate; and that they are the Ministers of Anti-christ who thus would, and all along have put on the Magistrates to oppress and destroy their free-born Country-Men, in Life, Liberty, Property or Estates, and all for Matters of Conscience-sake, though many of them are, and have been, honest, sober, temperate and godly Livers in the midst of their Neigh­bours in this the Land of their Nativity; surely, they have never consi­dered what Christ said to his Apostles, when the Tares were grown up a­mongst the Wheat, said they, shall we pull out the Tares from amongst the Wheat? and he said, Nay, lest therewith you pull up the Wheat also: So that if you will keep those Laws in Force that oppress us for our Consciences. I will assure you, you will sooner, and assuredly hurt those that are honest, godly, sober, and conscientious, and dare not for the very Holy Fear and Re­verence they bear in their Hearts to God, do that which may grieve his good Spirit, then those that are loose, hypocritical Dissemblers both with God and Men; for those will turn every Way to save themselves, and you will never get hold of them, do what you can: But if you do by your Laws de­stroy those sober, godly, temperate and conscientious Men, that live in the midst of your Land in Life, Person, Estates or Property, as many hundreds have been, to the utter Ruin of them and their Families, within these twelve years, I am satisfied, it will provoak God's Judgments upon this our Land yet more & more: Surely, many of you sometimes cannot but be in a Sence of the most abominable Wickednesses that abound in this Land, and you may remember, that if there had been but ten Righteous Persons in Sodom, God had not destroyed them, that wicked Generation had been delivered from the Plagues and heavy Wrath of God for their sakes; but there were not, and therefore were they destroyed; and the Lord doth often defer his Judgments from a Nation, Kindred or People, for the sake of those that live soberly, godly and honestly in this present evil World: And this I desire you to observe, that in all, or most Ages, great have been the Diffe­rences amongst Men, Nations and People about Religi [...]n, and many, both before Christ and since, have been persecuting and pressing to force men to an Ʋniformity through divers Ages, to that their Worship which then they had establish [...]d that was uppermost, and in vain have men endeavou­red herein; for the Divisions are as many, and the Rent as great as ever: And do but consider, how can you expect to effect that which through all these Ages and Generations is uneffected yet, notwithstanding all the [Page 8]violent Endeavours that hitherto have been projected and put in Practice.

And my Souls Desire is, that you might consider how many formerly have been and are like to be ruin'd in Liberty, Property & Estates, if you continue those Laws in force: Are not the very Worst sort of Livers turn'd loose upon us? and have they not the Justices of Peace at command to take away our Estates in the sight of the Sun; or forfeit a hundred Pound, nay, notwithstanding we have a Witness for us, both in your Consciences, and the People of the Nation, that We are most of us Men of Honest, Sober and Temperate Lives amongst our Neighbours in the places where we live?

And for your Good do I desire you would consider it, lest in the Hour of Death you may have Cause to Mourn without Hope for it.

And truly, Friends & Countrymen, God knows my Heart, I desire your Souls real Good, as my own, and that not one of you may touch the Lord's Anointed, or do his Prophets any Harm; for he takes it as done to himself, as you may read in Mat. 25. Though I am satisfied, there are many of you, that do not desire to have a hand in hurting those you see live honestly and soberly, and therefore from a true and real Love to your Souls was I drawn by the Lord, to signifie these things to you, desiring that you may mind his good Spirit, that waits, and long hath waited to shew Mercy on you and shews and manifests what is Good, and what is Evil; and leads to Do as you and we would be done by.

And in the late little Time of Liberty, freely to exercise the Liberty of their Consciences, much quieter hath the Nation been; and more comfortably hath one Neighbour lived with another, then when one Neighbour was forced at the Information of an Informer, to spoil another in Goods, Pro­pertie and Estate, disobliging Interest and Kindreds, ruinating many sober Tenants, Tradesmen and Freeholders. And I am perswaded, make as strict Laws amongst you as you please, we shall never grudg you to keep the Government in your hands that are of that Perswasion, and to constrain men to live a Godly, Sober and Temperate Life as much as may be: For that which we desire is, only to pass quietly through our short Pilgrimage in this World, with the free Exercise as to matter of Worship of our Consciences. And so what I have here signified to you, I desire to recommend to God's Holy Spirit, Joh. 1. to ver. 11. that John, the Baptist, and John the Apostle both bore Witness of, was the True Light, which ligh­teth every man which cometh and is come into the World. And, He came into the World, but the World received him not; but to as many as received him, to them he gave Power to become the Sons of God. And is that Word of Life, and Grace of God, Tit. 2.11. whi [...]h brings Salvation, and hath plentifully appear'd to all men.

Tho. Hutchinson.

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