THE Continued Cry OF THE OPPRESSED FOR JUSTICE, Being A farther Account of the late Unjust and Cruel Proceedings of Unreasonable Men against the Persons and Estates of many of the People call'd Quakers, only for their peace­able Meetings to worship God.

Presented to the Serious Consideration of the KING and both Houses of PARLIAMENT.

With a Postscript of the Nature Difference and Limits of Civil and Ecclesiastical Authority, and the inconsistency of such Severities with both.

Recommmended and submitted to the Perusal of Caesar's True Friends.

By the Author of England's Present Interest, &c.

Seek Judgment, Relieve the Oppressed, Judge the Fatherless, and Defend the Widdow,
Isa. 1. 17.

Printed in the Year 1675.

FOR THE KING AND Both Houses OF PARLIAMENT.

FOrasmuch as the Maintenance of Justice, and Preservation of the Peace of Civil So­cieties have in all Ages been the great End of Government; and since it hath pleased Al­mighty God to cast our Lot in a Kingdom, whose Constitution is more then ordinarily caresil of the Liberty and Property of its free­born Inhabitants: And because several Laws have been made upon Occasion of Dissent in Matters of Religion, to press an Uniformity [Page 4] to the Religion now established, that in the Execution of them have generally interferred with those Laws that give and preserve English Freedoms, in that Hundreds of us have been Imprisoned, and our Goods frequently spoil­ed, to the utter Ruine of many Families, with­out any Legal Process or Tryal by Peers; and This not for refusing Conformity to the State, or denying Caesar his Due, or being chargea­ble to Parishes, or useless to the Government but only because of our conscientious Dissent from the present Church: And since this seems to be an Alteration in the ancient English Government, by making an ECCLESIA­STICAL CONFORMITY the Grand and Necessary Qualification in English Men to the Peaceable Enjoyment of their NA­TURAL and CIVIL INHERITAN­CES: and forasmuch as this Course tends [...]o a manifest Decay of Trade (the Political Life or this Island) Discouragement of Strangers, Depopulation of the Country, Impoverishing of many Thousand Vseful Inhabitants, as well as that such Severities about Matters of Conscience are Inconsistent [Page 5] with the Doctrine and Example of Christ and his Followers in all Ages, and repugnant, not only to the very VVay of true Conviction, but the Doctrine of ancient Protestants, whose Protestation at the Diet at Spira against Coer­tion in Matters of Religion, was the Occasi­on of their being called Protestants. And because many malicious and covetous Persons (under Pretence of doing God, the King & Country Service) have taken advantage by these Laws to vent their Passions, act their Revenge, and pursue their VVorldly Interest, beyond all Law and Humanity, as wofully appears by the anexed Particulars, ready to be proved.

VVe therefore intreat; First, That it would please you to peruse the anexed Particulars for your better Information of the Nature of our Case and Allegations.

Secondly, That you would be pleased, for the Removal and Prevention of the like Mis­chiefs, to repeal or qualifie those Laws, where­by the Persons and Estates of many Thousands of the peaceable People of this Kingdom are hourly exposed to Ruine in this VVorld, for [Page 6] meer Conscience, about Things relating to the next VVorld, that being assured, the sweat of our Brows, and hard-gotten Bread for our Families shall not be made a Forfeit for our peaceable Consciences, we may be better en­couraged, for the Time to come, to all virtuous and industrious Living under the present Go­vernment, as hath hitherto been, through God's Grace, our daily Practice.

A few Instances out of many which might be given, of the great OPPRESSIONS and CRV­ELTIES lately acted upon Innocent Per­sons and Industrious Families, chiefly in Persu­ance (as is pretended) of the late Act against Conventicles, for their meeting in peaceable Man­ner to worship God: Read, Consider, and Redress.

A Postscript, Wherein The CIVIL and ECCLESIA­STICAL AVTHORITY is briefly considered in their Na­tures, Difference and Extents, not Vnseasonably to the present Posture of Affairs.

OUR Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ did long since distinguish the Things of Caesar from the Things of God in his plain and notable Answer unto that en­snaring Question of the Jews, about paying Tribute to Caesar; Render (saith he) unto Caesar the Things that are Caesar's, and to God the Things that are God's; that is, Divine Worship, and all Things relating to it belong unto God, Civil Obedience to Caesar: God can only be the Author of right Acts of Worship in the Mind, this is granted by all; therefore it is not in the Power of any Man or Men in the World, to sway or compel the Mind in Matters of Worship to God; where this is attempt­ed, God's Prerogative is invaded, and Caesar (by which VVord I understand the Civil Government) hath all; for he doth not only take his own Things, but the Things appertaining to God also.

[Page 17] If any should ask me, What are the Things properly belonging to Caesar? I answer in Scripture-Language, To love Justice, as Judgment, relieve the Oppressed, right the Fatherless, be a Ter­ror unto Evil-doers, and a Praise to them that do well; for this is the great End of Magistracy; but perhaps my Answer shall be reckoned too general and ambiguous, and a fresh Question started, Who are the Evil-doers, to whom the Civil Authority ought to be terrible? But this ought in my Judgment to be no Question with Men that understand the Nature of Civil Autho­rity; for those are the Evil-Doers, that violate those Laws which are necessary to the Preservation of Civil Society, as Thieves, Murderers, Adulterers, Traytors, Drunkards, Cheats, Vagabonds, and the like mischievous and dissolute Persons, Men void of Virtue, Truth and Sincerity, the Foundation of all good Government, and only firm Bond of human Society; whoever denies me this, must at the same Time say, that Virtue is less necessary to Government then Opinion, and that the most Viti­ated Men, professing but Caesar's Religion, are the best Subjects to Caesar's Authority, consequently, that other Men, living ne­ver so honestly and industriously, & having else as good a Claim to Civil Protection and Preferment, shall meerly for their Dis­sent from that Religion (a Thing they can't help; for Faith is the Gift of God) be reputed the worst of Evil-doers, which is followed with exposing their Names to Obloquie, their Estates to Ruin, and their Persons to Goals, Exiles, and Abundance of other Cruelties: What is this, but to confound the Things of Caesar with the Things of God; Divine Worship with Civil Obedience; the Church with the State, and perplex human Societies with endless Debates about Religious Differences? nay, is not this to erect new Measures to try the Members of Worldly Societies by, and give an Accession to another Power, then that which is necessary to the Constitution of Civil Go­vernment? But that which ought to deter wise Rulers from assuming and exercising such an Authority, is the Considera­tion of the pernicious Consequences of doing so.

For, First, It makes PROPERTY, which is the first [Page 18] and most fixt part of English Government, floating and uncertain; no Conformity to the Church, no Property in the State; and doubtless, the Insecurity of Property can be no Security to the Government.

2dly, It makes me owe more to the Church then to the State; for in this Case, the Anchor I ride by, is not my Obedience to Laws, relating to the Preservation of Civil Society, but Conformity to certain Things belonging to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church; to that though I may be an honest, industrious English man, a great Lover of my Country, and an Admirer of the Government I live under, yet if I refuse to pro­fess the Religion that either now is, or hereafter may be im­posed, I must neither enjoy the Liberty of my Person, nor the quiet Possesion of my Estate.

3dly, This not only alters the Government, by sacrificing Mens Properties for that which cannot be called a Sin against Pro­perty, nor an Offence to the Nature of Civil Government, if a­ny Transgression at all; but it narrows the Interest and Power of the Governours; for proportionably, what Number they cut off from their Protection, they cut off from themselves and the Government, not only rendering a great Body of People Vseless, but provoaking them to be Dangerous; to be sure it clogs the Civil Magistrate in his Administration of Government, making that necessary which is not at all necessary to him as Cae­sar; It is a Sort of DVVMVIRATESHIP in Power▪ by which the Civil Monarchy is broken; for as that was a Plurality of Men, so this is a Plurality of Powers; and to speak freely, the Civil Power is but Lackey, to run of all the unpleasant Errands the froward Zeal of the other sends it upon, and the best Preferment it receives for its Pains, is to be Infor­mer, Goaler or Executioner to some of the best Livers, and therefore the best Subjects in the Kingdom: Oh what greater Injustice to Caesar! then to make his Government vary by such Modes of Religion, and him to hold his Obedience from his People, not by their Conformity to Him, but the Church.

[Page 19] 4thly, This is so far from resembling the Universal Goodness of God, who dispenses his Light, Air, Showres, and comfor­table Seasons to all (and whom Caesar ought alwayes to imitate) and remote from increasing the Trade, Populacy and Wealth of this Kingdom, that it evidently tends to the utter Ruin of Thousands of Traders, Artificers and Husband-men and their Families, thereby increasing the Charges, by increasing the poor of the Nation.

5thly, This must needs be a great Discouragement to Stran­gers, from coming in, and setling themselves amongst us, when they have Reason to apprehend, that they, and their Children after them can be no longer secured in the Enjoyment of their Properties, then they shall be able to prevail with their Consci­ences, to believe that the Religion which our Laws do now, or shall at any Time approve and impose, is undoubtedly true; and the Way of worshipping of God, which shall at any Time be by our Laws enjoyned, is, and shall be more agreeable to the Will of God then any other Way in which God is worship­ped in the World.

6thly, The Religion we are commanded Conformity to, doth not make better Livers (that's a Demonstrative) nor better Artists; for it cannot be thought, that going to Church, hearing Common-Prayer or believing in the present Episcopacy, learns Men to build Ships or Houses, to make Clothes, Shoes, Di­als or Watches, Buy, Sell, Trade or Commerce, better then any that are of another Perswasion; and since these Things are Vseful, if not Requisite in Civil Society, is not prohibiting, nay, ruining such Men, because they will not come to hear Common-Prayer, &c. distructive of Civil Society; nor more obedient Sub­jects. If any object, Dissenters have not alwayes been so; the Answer is ready, do not expose them, protect them in their Lives, Liberties and Estates; for in their present Posture they think they can call nothing their own, and that all the Comforts they have in this World are hourly lyable to Forfeiture, for their [Page 20] Faith, Nope and Practice concerning the other World: Is not this to destroy Nature and Civil Government, when People are ruined in their Natural and Civil Capacity, not for Things relating to either, but what are of a Super-natural Import.

7thly, This deprives them of Protection that protect the Go­vernment; Dissenters have a great Share in the Trade, which is the Greatness of this Kingdom; and they make a large Pro­portion of the Taxes that maintain the Government; and is it reasonable, or can it be Christian, when they pay Tribute to Caesar, to be preserved in an Vndisturbed Poss [...]ssion of the rest, and that the rest should be continually exposed for the peaceable Exercise of their Consciences to God?

8thly, Neither is this a Conformity to True and Solid Reli­gion, such as is necessary to Eternal Salvation, wherein most Parties verbally agree, but for a Modification of Religion, some peculiar Way of Worship and Discipline: All confess One God, One Christ, One Holy Chest, and that it is indispensably requisite to live Soberly, Righteously and Godlikely in this present evil World; yet is one prosecuting the other for his Conscience, seizing Corn, driving away Cattel, breaking open Doors, taking away and spoiling of Goods; in some Places not leaving a Cow to give poor Orphans Milk, nor a B [...]d to lye on; in other Places Houses have been swept so clean, that a Stool hath not been left to fit on, nor so much as working Tools to labour for Bread. To say nothing of the Opprobrious Speeches, Bloody Blows and Tedious Imprisonments, even to Death it self, through Nastiness of Dun­geous, that many Innocent People have suffered for their peace­able Conscience only.

9thly, But this Way of proceeding for Maintenance of the National Religion, is of an ill Consequence upon this Account; Heaven is barr'd from all further Illuminations, let God send what Light he pleaseth, it must not be received by Caesar's Peo­ple, without Caesar's Licence; and if it happen that Caesar be not presently convinced it is of God, at this Rate I must either [Page 21] renounce my Conv [...]ct [...]ons, and loose my Soul to please Caesar or profess and persevere in my Perswassion, and loo [...]e my Life, Liberty or Estate to please God; this hath frequently oc [...]urr'd, and may again; therefore I would entreat Caesar to consider the sad Conseq [...]ence of Imp [...]sition, and remember, both that God did never ask Man Leave to Introduce Truth, or make fur­ther Discoveries of [...]is Mind to the World, and that it hath been a wof [...]l Snare to those Governments that have been drawn to employ their Power against his Work and People.

10thly, This Way of Proceedure endeavours to stiffle, or else to punish Sincerity; for Fear or Hopes, Frowns or Favour prevail only with base Minds, So [...]ls degenerated to the third and fourth Generation; every Spark of Integrity must be extin­guisht, where Conscience is sacrificed to Worldly Saf [...]ty and Pre­ferment; so that t [...]is Net holds no Temporizers, Honest Men are all the Fish it catches; but one would t [...]ink they should make but an ill Treat to such as reckon themselves generous Men, and what is more Christians too; but that which renders the Matter more unjustifiable, is, the Temptation such Severity puts upon Men, not hardy enough to suffer for Conscience, yet strongly perswaded they have Truth on their Side, to desert their Prin­ciples, and smo [...]her their Convictions, which in plain Terms is to make of sincere Men Hypocrites, whereas it is one great End of Government, by all laudable Means to pre [...]erve Sincerity; for without it there can be no Faith or Truth in Civ [...]l Society: nor is this all; for it is a Maxim worthy of Caesar's Notice, NEVER TO THINK HIM TRUE TO CAESAR THAT IS FALSE TO HIS OWN CONSCIENCE; besides, raped Consciences treasure up Revenge, and such Persons are not likely to be longer Friends to Caesar, then he hath Preferm [...]ts to a [...]lure them, or Power to deter them from being his most implacable Enemies.

11thly, There is not so ready a Way to [...]eism, as this of extinguishing the Sense of Conscience for Worldly Ends; destroy that Internal Rule of Faith, Worship and Pract [...] t [...]wards [Page 22] God, and the Reason of my Religion will be Civil Injunctions, and not Divine Convictions; consequently, I am to be of as many Religions as the Civil Authority shall impose, however untrue or contradictory; this Sacred Tye of Conscience thus broken, farewell to all [...]eavenly Obligations in the Soul, Scrip­ture-Authority and ancient Protesta [...]t Principles; Christ may at this Rate become what the Jews would have had him, and his Apostles be reputed Turners of the World upside down, as their Enemies represented them, and the godly Martyrs of all Ages so many Self-Murderers; for they might justly be esteem­ed Resisters of Worldly Authority, so far as that Authority concerns it self with the Imposition of Religion, because they refused the Conformity commanded, even to Death. And it may not be unworthy of Caesar's Consideration, if from these Proceedings People are tempted to infer, there is nothing in Religion but Worldly Aims and Ends, because so much Power is abus'd under the Name of Religion, to vex and destroy Men for being of another Religion, that he hazards the best Hold and Obligation he hath to Obedience, which is Conscience; for where they are taught to obey for Interest, Duty and Conviction are out of Doors: By all Means let Conscience be sacred, and Virtue and Integrity (the under dissenting Principles) cherisht; Charity is more powerful then Severity, Perswasion then Penal Laws.

Lastly, To the Reproach of this Course with wise Men it hath never yet obtain'd the End desired; for instead of Compliance, the Difference is widened, the Sufferers are pitied by Spe­ctators which only helps to increase the Number of Dissenters; for whoever is in the wrong, few think the Persecutor in the Right. This in all Ages having been the Issue of severe Prose­cution of Dissenters for Matters of Religion; what a Cruel, Troublesom, Thankless, Succesless Office is it for Caesar to be employed in; may he take better Measure of his Authority, and use his Power to the Encouragement of all the Virtuous and In­dustrious, and Just Punishment of the Lazy and Vicious in all Perswasions; so shall the Kingdom Florish, and the Government Prosper.

For Ecclesiastical Authori [...]y or in plainer English Church-Power, which makes up the other Pa [...]t of this Postscript, it will be requisite to consult Holy Scripture, wh [...]re we shall be informed of the Institution and Practice of it among the Ancient Ch [...]istians; and by that Canon all People professing Christianity, pretend a Wil­lingness to be concluded.

CHurch-Power supposeth a Church first; It will not be im­proper therefore to examine, first, What a Scripture-New-Testament-Church is; and next, what is the Scripture Power belonging to such a Church: A Scripture-Church is a Company or Society of People, believing, professing and practising according to the Doctrine and Example of Christ Jesus and his Apostles, and not according to the Scribes & Pharisees, that taught for Doctrine the Traditions of Men: They are such as are Meek in Heart, Lowly in Spirit,Mat. 11. 29 Chast in Life,1 Pet. 3. 2. 2 Cor. 11. 2. Virtuous in all Conversation,Phil. 4. 8. 1 Pet. 1. 15. full of Self-Denyal,Mat. 16. 24 Long-Suffering and Pati­ence, 2 Cor. 4. 6. not only for giving,Luke 6. 37. but loving their very Enemies;Mat. 5 44. a People so effectually redeemed from the Impieties and Vanities of the World;Rev. 14. 4. he that thought it no Robbery to be equal with God,Phil. 2. 6. thought it no Disparage­ment to be Head to, and account as his own Bo­dy: Eph. 1. 22. Col. 1. 118. It was upon a Society thus qualified, that the Holy Ghost bestows these excellent Names, [Page 24] Disciples and Friends of Christ; Job. 19. 14, 15. Heirs and [...] with Christ Rom 8. 17. Christ's Brethren and Ki [...]d [...] Heb 2. 11. A peculiar People Tit. 2. 14. The p [...]r [...] as most p [...]ci [...]us Blood Acts 20 28. the Re­deemed from [...] Earth Rev. 14. 3. A Royal Priest­hood, [...] Nation; 1 Pet. 2. 9. The Church of the First Born;Heb. 12, 23.(Christ's Body, Col. 1. 24. and the Lamb's Brid▪ Rev. 21. 9. which answers but Christ's own Cha­racter of himself, Religion and Kingdom, which is the most apt Distinction that ever can be gi­ven of the Nature of his Church and her Autho­rity, viz Joh. 18. 36. MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. which well connects with Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, Mat. 22. 2. and unto God the things that are God's,

It was an Answer to a very suspitious Question; for it was fa­miliarly bruited, that he was a King, and came to poss [...]ss his Kingdom,Luke 13. 2. and was by some called the King of the Jews.

The Jews being then subjected to the Roman Empire, it con­cerned Pilate, Caesar's Deputy to understand his pretentions, which upon better information he found to center in this, My Kingdome is not of this World, Joh. 18. 36. else would my Sub­jects fight for me: As if he had said, these Reports are a meer perversion of my Peaceable and Self-denying Inten­tions, an Infamy invented by malicious Scribes and Pharisees that they might the better prevaile with Caesar to sacrifice me to their hatred and revenge: I am Caesar's Friend, I seek none of his Kingdom from him, nor will I sow Sedition, plot or conspire his Ruin; no, let all Men render unto Caesar the Things that are Cae­sar's that's my Doctrine; for I am come to erect a Kingdom of another Nature then that of this World, to wit, a Spiritual Kingdom to be set up in the Heart:Luke 17. 21. And Con­science is my Throne, upon that will I sit, and rule the Children of Men in Righteousness;Tit. 2. 12. and who ever lives soberly, righteously and godlily in this World, [Page 25] shall be my good and [...]s, and they will certainly make no ill ones for C [...] Virtue is the end of Govern­ment, and renders hi [...] S [...] more easie & safe then before. Had I any other Des [...]g [...] then [...]is, would I suffer my Self to be reproached, traduced and per [...]ecuted by a conquered people? were it not more my [...] to suffer then revenge, would not their many provocation have drawn from me some instance of another Nature then the Forbearance and Forgiveness I teach? Certainly were I animated by another principle then the perfe­ction of Meekness and Divine Sweetness, I should not have for­biden Peter fighting,Mat. 26. 52. [...]ing, put up thy Sword, or endoctrinated my Followers to bear Wrongs, but revenge all Affronts, and by Plots and other Stra­tagems have attempted Ruin to my Enemies, and the Acquest of worldly Empire; and no doubt but they would have fought for me: Nay I am not only patiently (and with Pitty to Ene­mies) sensible of their barbarous Carriage towards me for my Good Will to them (for their Eternal Happiness I only seek) but I foresee what they further intend against me, they de­sign to crucifie me, and to do it, will rather free a Murderer then save their Saviour,Mat. 27. 20. they will perform that Cruelty with all the Agravation and Contempt they can,Ver. 27. &c. deriding me themselves, and expo­sing me to the Derision of others, for they will mock my Divine Kingship with a Crown of Thorns,Ver. 29. and in my Agonies of Soul and Body for a Cordial,ver. 48. give me Gall and Vineger to drink; but notwithstanding all this, to satisfie the World that my Religion is above Wrath and Revenge,Luke 23. 34. I can for­give them;Mat. 26. 53. and to secure Caesar and his People from all Fears of Imposition, whatever Authority I have, and how many Legions of Angels, soever, I might com­mand both to my Deliverance, and the Enforcement of my Mes­sage up [...]n Mankind; I resolve to promote neither with worldly Power; for it is not of the Nature of my Religion and Kingdom: and as I neither assume nor practise any such thing my Self that am the great Author, Promoter and Example of this Holy Way; so have I not only never taught my Disciples to live or act other­wise [Page 26] or given them a Power I refuse to use my Self; but expresly forbad them, and warn'd them in my Instructions of exercising any the least Revenge, Imposition or Coertion towards any: This is evident in my Sermon preached upon the Mount, where I freely, publickly and with much Plainness, not only prohibited Revenge, but [...]njoyned Love to Enemies making it to be a great Token of true Discipleship to suffer Wrongs,Mat. 5. 44. 45, 46, 47. and conquer Cruelty by Patience and Forgiveness, which is certainly a great Way off Imposition or Compulsion upon other Men. And when I was strongly bent for Jerusalem, and sent Messengers before to prepare some En­tertainment for me and my Company in a Village, belonging to the Samaritans, Luke 9. 53, 54, 55, 56. and it seems the People refused, because they apprehended I was going to Jerusalem; this provoakt some of my Disciples, par­ticularly James and John to that Degree, that they asked me, if I were willing that they should command Fire from Heaven to destroy those Samaritans, as Elias in another Case had done; I turned about, and rebuked them, saying, Ye know not what Manner of Spirit ye are of; for I am not come into the World to destroy Mens Lives, but by my peaceable Doctrine and Exam­ple to save them.

At another Time one of my Disciples, relating to me some Passages of their Travails, told me of a cer­tain Man they saw,Luke 9. 49, 50. that cast out Devils in my Name, and because he was not of their Company, nor followed them, said he, we forbad him; as if they had thereby served and pleased me; but I presently testified my Dislike of the Igno­rance and Narrowness of their Zeal, and to inform them better told them, they should not have forbid him; for he that is not against us is for us; my Drift is not Opinion, but Piety; they that cast out Devils, convert Sinners, and turn Men to Righte­ousness, are not against me, nor the Nature and Religion of my Kingdom, and therefore ought to be cherisht rather then forbid. That I might sufficiently declare and inculcate my Mind in this Matter, I did at an other Time, and upon a different Occasion, preach against all Coertion and Persecution for Matters of Faith and Practice towards God, in my Parable of the Sower, as my [Page 27] Words manifest, which were these; The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a Man which sowed good Seed in his Field; but while Men slept, his Enemy came, and sowed Tares among the Wheat, and went his Way; but when the Blade sprung up, and brought forth Fruit, there appeared the Tares also; so the Serv [...]nts of the House-houlder came and said, didst thou not sow good Seed in thy Field? Mat. 13. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 from whence then hath it Tares? he answered, an Enemy hath done this; the Servants said unto him, wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? but he said NAY, lest while ye gather up the Tares, ye root up also the Wheat with them, let both grow together till the Harvest, and in the Time of Harvest I will joy to the Reapers, gather ye together first the Tares, and bind them in Bundles to burn them, but gather the Wheat into my Barn.

And that I might not leave so necessary a Truth mis appre­hended of my dear Followers, or liable to any Mis-constructions, my Disciples, when together, desiring an Explanation, I inter­preted my Words thus;

He that soweth the good Seed is the Son of Man; the Field is the World;Ver. 36, 37, 38, 39. the good Seed are the Children of the Kingdom; but the Tares are the Children of the Wicked One; the Enemy that sowed them is the Devil; the Harvest is the End of the World; and the Reapers are the Angels.

This Patience, this Long-Suffering and great Forbearance belong to my Kingdom and the Subjects of it, my Doctrine speaks it, and my Example confirms it, and this can have no possible Agreement with Imposition and Persecution for Con­science: And that I might sufficiently deter my Followers from any such Thing, as I profess my self to be their Lord and Ma­ster,Joh. 15. 12. so have I commanded them to love one another in a more especial Manner; but if instead therof any grow proud, high minded, and beat or abuse their Fellow Servants in my religious Family, when I come to take account of my Houshold, he shall be cut asunder, and appointed his Po [...] ­tion among the Unbelievers; behold the Recompence I appoint to Imposing Lordly Persons, such as count others Infidels, and to make them such Believers as themselves, will exercise Violence [Page 28] towards them, and if they prevail not, will call for Fire from Heaven to devour them, and if Heaven refuse them, will fall a beating and killing, and think (it may be they do God good Service) b [...]t their Lot shall be with Unbelievers forever: Nay, I have so effe [...]ua [...]y provided against all Mastery, that I expresly charged them, not to be many Masters; for one was their Ma­ster; I told them, that the greatest amongst them was to be Ser­vant to the rest, not to impose upon the rest; nay, that to be great in my Kingdom, they must become as gentle and harm­less as little Children, and such cannot force and punish in Mat­ters of Religion. In fine, I strictly commanded them, to love one another, as I have loved them, who am ready to lay down my Life for the Ungodly, instead of taking away Godly Mens Lives for Opinions; and this is the great Maxim of my holy Religion, He that would be my Disciple, must not crucifie other Men, but take up his Cross, and follow me, who am meek and lowly, and such so enduring shall find Eternal Rest to their Souls, this is the Power I use, and this is the Power I give.

How much this agrees with the Language, Doctrine and Example of Jesus Christ, I shall leave them to consider, that read and believe Scripture; but some affected to present Church Power, and desiring their Ruine that conform not to her Worship and Discipline, will object, That Christ did give his Church Power to bind and loose, and bid any Person agrieved tell the Church.

I grant it; but what Binding was that? with outward Chains and Fetters, in nasty Holes and Dungeous? nothing less: Or was it, that his Church had that true Discerning in her, and Power with him, that what she bound, that is condemned, or loosed, that is remitted, should stand so in God's Sight and Christ's Account.

But tell the Church; and what then? observe Christ's Ex­tent in the Punishment of the Offender; If the Offender will neither receive private Admonition, nor hear the Church, then (sayes Christ) let him be to thee as an Heathen, &c. Here's no Fines, Whips, Stocks, Pillories, Goals, and the like In­struments [Page 29] of Cruelty, to punish the Heretick; for the Purport of his Words seems to be no more then this; If any Member of the Church refuse thy private Exhortation and the Church's Admonition, look upon such a Person to be no more of you; let him take his Course, thou hast done well, and the Church is clear of him.

Well, but say the Church-Fighters of our Age, Did not St. Paul wish them cut off that troubled the Church in his Time? Yes: But with what Sword think you? Such as Christ bid Peter put up, or the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God? Give him leave to explain his own Words; For the WE A­PONS of our Warfare are NOT CARNAL, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong Holds, casting down Imaginations, and every high Thing that ex [...]lteth it self against the Knowledge of God, and bringing every Thought into Obedience to Christ.

What think you of this? Here are Warfares, Weapons, Oppositions and Conformity, and not only no external Force about Matters of Religion us'd or countenanced, but the most express and pathetical Exclusion and Rejection of any such Thing that could be given.

Now observe what Sort of Church-Government he recom­mends to his beloved Timothy; Avoid foolish Questions, and Genealogies, and Contentions, and striving about the Law, for they are unprofitable and vain: A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition, reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being CONDEM­NED OF HIMSELF, or self-condemned.

It's very remarkable; first, That t [...]is is great Apostle, instead of exhorting Timothy to stand upon Niceties, and sacrifice Mens Natural Comforts and Enjoyments for Opinions of Re­ligion, injoyns him to shun Disputes about them, leaving Peo­ple to their own Thoughts and Aprehensions in those Matters, which excellently well coheres with another Passage of his. Let us therefore, Phil. 3. 15. as many as be perfect, be thus minded, and if in any Thing ye be otherwise mind­ed, [Page 30] God shall REVEAL even this unto you; he did not say, you shall be FINED, PILLAGED, EXCOMMUNICATED and FLUNG into Prison, if ye be not of our Mind.

2dly, That, in the Apostles Definition, an Heretick is a self-condemned Person, one conscious to himself of Error, and Ob­stinacy in it; but that are not conscientious Dissenters; for many Ten Thousands in this Nation act as they believe, and dissent from the National Religion, purely upon a Principle of Conscience to Almighty God; and with Men of any Tenderness or common Sense, their continual great Sufferings in Person and Estate, and their Patience under them, are a Demonstration, or there can be none in the World: Nor can their Persecutors disprove them, unless they could search Hearts, and that is a little too far for a Fallible Spirit to reach, and an infallible One they deny: So that the Apostle makes not the Heretick to lye upon the Side of misbelieving, or not coming up to his Degree of Faith & Knowledge, but upon the Side of Wilfully, Turbulently, Obstinately and Self condemnedly maintaining inconsisting Things with the Faith, Peace and, Prosperity of the Church.

Granting us then not to be obstinate and self condemned Dissenters (and you cannot reasonably refuse it us) how do you prove us Erroneous in the other Part? All Parties plead Scripture, and that for the most opposite Principles; Homousians and Arrians, Calvinists and Arminians, Papists, Jansenists and Protestants; The Scripture, you see, cannot determine the Sense of it self; it must have an Interpreter; he must either be Fallible or Infallible; If the first, we are worse then before; for Men are apt to be more confident, and yet are still upon as uncertain Grounds; If the last, this must either be an ex­ternal or an Internal Judge; If an External, you know where you are without pointing; for there stands nothing between you and Popery in that Principle; If an Internal Judge, either it is our selves, or the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us; Not our selves; for then the Rule is the Thing ruled, which cannot be; and if it be the Spirit of Christ Jesus (and the Apostle tells us, That unless we have the Spirit we are none of Christ's) then is the [Page 31] Neck of Imposition broken, and what hast thou to do to judge me? let me stand or fall to my own Master; And upon this Foot went Luther, Calvin, Melancthon, Beza abroad; And Cranmer, Ridly, Hooper, Jewel, Bradford, Philpot, &c. at home, and as good Men, and constant Martyrs in Ages before them.

But suppose Conscientious Dissenters as ill Men as the Apostle describes an Heretick to be; what is the Punish­ment?

3dly, A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonision reject, that is, deny his Communion, declare he is none of you, condemn his Proceedings by a publick Censure among your selves; what more can be strain'd by the fiercest Prosecutors of Men for Religion out of these Words.

But was this the Evangelical Rule and Practice? Yes, that it was; Oh then whence comes Imposition Force Cruelty, Spoil of Goods, Imprisonments, Knockings, Beatings, Bruisings, Stockins, Whippings, and Spilling of Blood for Religion? What Church is that, whose Officers are so far from cloathing the naked, as to strip the clothed, from feeding the hungry, that they take their Bread from them, and those poor Widdows and helpless Orphans too; and so remote from visiting the sick and imprisoned, that they drag away their Bed from under them, and cast People into Prison for Conscience sake; Nay they haled away an Honest Man from a Meeting to Goal at Reading, (but the other Day) not permitting him to TAKE LEAVE of his poor Wife, newly delivered, and in a DYING Condition, though she also desired it, and liv'd but just by the Meeting-House where they took him. In fine, what are they that for no other Cause pass such dreadful Excommunications, as render the Excommunicants little better then outlawed Persons, subjecting their Civil and Natural Rights to their Pride, Passion, Interest or Revenge, unless they will purchase their Enjoyment at the dear Rate of loosing their own Souls? For what else can be the Conseq [...]ence [Page 32] of conforming to that I do not believe? Is not this to destroy sincere Men, and make and save Hypocrites.

Oh, that such as are concern'd would soberly consider, if any Thing is so Scandalous to True Religion as FORCE; who can think that evidence Good that is extorted? And what a Church is that, which is made up of such Proselites, or that employes such Means to make them? O where is that Christian Meekness, Patience and Forbearance? How many have been ruined, that were never exhorted, and ex­comunicated before they were once admonished? This is not to serve God, but Worldly Interest: its quite contra­ry to Christ's Counsel and Doctrine: He came to save, and not to destroy Nature to magnifie his Grace. You pretend to hate J. Calvin's unconditional Reprobation, yet practise it; If you say no, Conformity is your Condition: I answer, that its as unreasonable to require an impossibillity, as cruel to damn Men for not doing it; For as you say, his Doctrine makes God to command them to repent, that cannot repent, and yet damn them if they repent not; So you injoyn Men to re­linquish their present Faith and Worship, and conform to yours, which is not in their Power to do, yet damn them in a temporal Respect if they refuse it; For you make such an unavoidable Dissent, punishable with the Destruction of Mens Liberties and Estates: You had better leave off va­luing your selves upon the Mercy and Well-Natur'dness of that Tenet of the universal Love of God to Mankind, till you love more then your selves, and abominate the Church of England's being, such an Elect to the Civil Government as utterly reprobates the rest, as you pretend to detest the like Injustice in J. Calvin's Notion of Election and Reprobation.

And the Truth of it is, this helps on Atheism as much as any Enormity in the Land, when Witty Men, not willing to take Pains to examine after the Truth and Excellency of Religion, behold Men that call themselves Christ's Ministers, and the Apostles Successors and Followers, to affect and seek Government, and yet twice deny it, when they go to receive it, that some others grow Lordly, live Voluptuously, and watch [Page 33] after the biggest Preferments, not being excited by most Service for God, but Earthly Power and Wealth for themselves, and at the same Time persecuting Men of more Self-Denyal, for Matters of Opinion about Faith and Worship towards God; so that No Conformity to this Church, No Protection from the State. Which among Protestants is so much the more un­reasonable, because they by these Courses implicitely own and assume the highest Infallibility and Perfection, and yet deny any such Thing; for it supposes that nothing is Truer, no­thing Perfecter, or else they both persecute Men to em­brace a Fallible and Imperfect Religion, and with cruel Penal­ties provide against any Thing more True or Infallible; the greatest Injury to the World that can be; for it is a plain En­deavour to frustrate all those excellent Prophesies and gracious Promises God has given, and the holy Scriptures declare of the latter Dayes. To conclude, I shall desire Men of this Unnatural, Unreasonable and Unchristian Spirit to consider:

1. What Church was that which John saw, riding upon the Powers of the Earth, employing their Authority to force CON­FESSION, TRIBUTE and SUBJECTION to her?

2. What that Church was which dyed her self in the BLOOD of them that believed not in her, against whom the poor Souls under the Altar (whose Bodies had been beheaded by her) cryed to God?

3. What Church it was that would suffer none to Buy, Sell or Traffick without having her Mark (CONFORMITY to her) in their Forehead or right Hand, that is, either those that heartily and openly confest her, or those that basely complyed for Fear?

4. What Church is that which Trades in the Souls of Men? Read Revelations, Chap. 13. 18. & 20.

5. Whether this Church reigns not, wherever Mens. [Page 34] LIBERTIES and PROPERTIES, with all the Comforts of this Life are exposed and sacrificed for Mat­ters of FAITH and WORSHIP to Almighty▪ God.

Weigh these Things, you great Church-Men of the Age, in the Fear of that God who made Heaven and Earth, and think not to make thus cheap of the Lives, Liberties and Estates of Free-born English People, and Harmless Chris­tians for their peaceable Conscience, without being accounta­ble to that Great Lord in the Terrible Day of his Judgment, that draws on upon the World: No Plea you have shall be able to justifie these things, or fence off the heavy Stroak of that Just Judge, unless you repent: 'Tis not Succession in Name, but Nature, that makes the true Christian Minister and Bishop: And where the Divine Life and Holy Qua­lifications of Christ and his Apostles are wanting, there can be no Succession, but what is as proper to the false Church as the true, the Counterfeit as the Christian: Be not deceived, God will not be mocked, such as you Sow, such shall you Reap. Remember Christ's Words; Blessed are the Poor in Spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the Pure in Heart; for they shall see God. Blessed are the Meek; for they shall inherit the Earth. Blessed are the MERCIFVL; for they shall obtain Mercy. Therefore Reform, and let your Moderation be known unto all Men, for the Lord is at hand: Even so come Lord Jesus.

ERRATA

Pag. 18. Line 33. for Injustice read Injury. p. 20. l. 11. dele and. p. 20. 31. read Heaven is hereby barr'd, as much as in Men lyes, from. p. 22. l. 22. for the read though. p. 25. l. 15. read revenged. p. 28. l. 25. read Chains.

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.