A Prospective Glasse: WHEREIN ENGLANDS BONDAGE Under the NORMANE yoke, with the Rise, growth, and continuation, is clearly asserted.

A Subject not yet treated upon, viz:

Shewing how the Law came to be in an unknown Tongue, and from whence the Iudges, and o­ther inferior Lawyers had their beginning: and in opposition to former Law, how the 4. Termes of the Yeer came to be kept.

As also, the corruption of this Law, bringing with it the Fines and Rents to the Lord of the Mannor for all Free­holds and Copyhold Land.

BEING A Collection from the most choise of Modern Historians.

WITH SOME Brief Observations upon Scripture, as proving from thence, that this Law is contradictory to the Nature of Gods dealing with the sons of Men, and contrary to the Nature of Freedome.

By a Lover of English-mens Freedomes.

An evill Custome be it for continuance never so ancient, is nought: else then the oldnesse of Error. Plato.

LONDON: Printed at the Authors Charge. 1649.


IN all the dealings of God with the sons of men, when judgement and righteousnes is not executed between man and man, God then brings one punishment or other upon the Land, that makes inquisition for blood that hath been spilt, wrongs that hath been done, wickednesse that hath been acted by unrighteous men.

But yet the end of Gods dealing thus with his crea­tures is love, as in Ier. 30. 17, 18. a restoring of health, an healing of wounds: though Ephraim is smitten, yet Ephraim is loved, he is a dear son, a tender childe, there is health in the latter end.

Whosoever looks upon these times outwardly, may see a poore distressed Kingdom, groaning under the hea­vie burdens, that lye upon it: and whosoever looks be­yond the outward state of the Kingdome, may see love, peace, and joy, spread into the hearts of creatures, disco­vered in severall (yet) glorious administrations.

The occasion of bondages, troubles, that hath been, and yet is, in this Nation, makes the members of this Nation to enquire for Freedome, to search and sift out the root, and foundations of bondages, of all sorts, some after this manner, some after that, as hath been evidently seen, in the Petitions of many well affected people of England, which have been presented to the Parliament at sundrie times.

[Page] Among the rest, I my self desired to know the foun­dation of some bondages, that have inslaved the Nation for almost this six hundred yeers; and by Providence I found some recorded in Records, which I now commend to the consideration of all honest hearted people, lest any should say, I speak against the persons of men: I desire them to understand, that I speak against the practise of men which is destructive to the wel being of the Nation, be they Nation or person whatsoever, it matters not to me, for honesty in a Turk, or Jew, Heathen, or Pagan, is as good, as honesty in those that are called Christians: I could wish, that the nature of Christianity was more looked upon, and the name of Christianity lesse looked upon; for it is the cunning sleight of the Man of sin to make people think themselves happy, as having the name of Christians, without looking any further unto the na­ture of Christianitie: I am not ignorant how people have been looked upon as bearing the name of Sectaries, or Independants, and so for Presbyterians, or Episcopall, the envy of the name in one anothers hearts, hath bred abun­dance of heart-burnings one toward another; My advice therefore is to all, to let names fall, let honesty and god­linesse be imbraced in any man; and let oppression, Arbi­trary power, and cruelty be looked upon in any, as de­structive to the well being of the Nation: if we do so, we shall look upon things as being acted in the center of them, and so esteemed. I leave this following Discourse, to all men to be looked upon by the eye of equity, and remain,

A lover of Freedome.

Not the respecting of persons who­soever, but in love to my Countrey, for Liberty, and Freedome; and a hating of Tyranny, Arbitrary Power, and Cruelty: I begin this ensuing Discourse.

IN the making of way to this ensuing Discourse it is requisite to shew; for satisfaction to them that shall read this Discourse, the party, by whom the bondages of this Land came in, not in any way of disgrace to his person, but rather to discover the acts that he did, which rose from his oppressing minde and will. And first of the Person.

In the lives of the three Norman Kings of England, in pag. 1. there is a relation of William the Conquerers birth, which is ex­pressed in these words.

Robert Duke of Normandy, the sixth in discent from Rollo, riding through Fallis a Town in Normandy, espied certain Dam­sels dancing near the way, among whom he fixed his eye upon a certain Damsell, whose name was Arlote, of mean parentage, a Skiners daughter, whom he procured that night to be brought unto him, of whom he begat a Son, who afterward was named William: By this relation it appears, that Will: the Conquerer was base son of Robert Duke of Normandy, as may more fully appear, in the Summary of English Chronicles, in pag. 37. Wil­liam Duke of Normandy, surnamed Conquerer, base Son of Ro­bert the sixth, Duke of that Dutchie. But lest any should think, that I make this discoverie on purpose to disgrace the Conquerer, I say I do not, for I say no more then what Chronicles do testi­fie of him.

Secondly, a bastard sometime hath been an Instrument of deliverance to the people of God, as Iephthah, Iudg. 11. 29. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Iephthah, ver. 32. the Lord delivered his Enemies into his hand: so that God made use of Iephthah to work deliverance.

[Page 2] Thirdly, a bastard is not to be blamed, as being a bastard, for it is the parents, not the childe that must be blamed, or sha­med. I shall say no more, touching William the Conquerers birth, and reasons, why I do think that Williams person is not to be despis [...]d of any, as being a base son to Robert Duke of Normandy: but proceed further to shew by what means he came to be crowned King of England: In the Summary of English Chronicles, in pag. 37. declares unto us, that William the Con­querer came to be crowned King of England, by Conquest in these words.

William Duke of Normandy, surnamed Conquerer, base Son to Robert, the sixth, Duke of that Dutchie, and Nephew unto King Edward, began his Reign over this Realm of England, the 14th of October, in the yeer of our Lord, 1066. after the battell at Hastings, Duke William came to London, where with great joy he was received, both of the Clergy and people; and was pro­claimed King, and crowned on Christmas day, by Aldred Arch­bishop of York.

It must be agreed on by all parties, that God gives the King­doms of the Earth to whomsoever he will: Dan. 4. 32. 35. So God gave all Kingdoms of the Earth unto Nebuchadnezzar; but if Nebuchadnezzar tyrannise over the people, then great Kings should serve themselves of him: Ier: 25. 13, 14. And so though Assiria did reign, yet it must be brought lowe: Even so though God did give this land into the hand of William the Conquerer, yet he setting up of such Laws as tend to the destruction of the poore, it is just with God to take the Government out of the hands of his posterity, who uphold, and maintain those Laws that were made to inslave the Commoners of England.

Before I come to declare the bondages of this Nation, that was brought upon them by William the Conquerer, I shall speak of some remarkable things of Edward the Confessor, King of England before the Conquest; as I find recorded in the Acts and Monuments of the Church, in pag. 165.

They that write the History of St. Edward the Confessor, make mention of a dream, (or revelation) that should be shewed unto him in the time of his sicknes: How that because the Peers and Bishops of the Land were not the servants of God, but of [Page 3] the devill, God would give this Land into the hand of others, and the King desired that utterance might be given him, that he might declare it to the people, whereby they might repent: here note if true, as for my part I cannot gainsay it, see the mercy of God toward this Land, as to forewarn them of the danger that should come upon them; which not long after this Kings death did come to passe, when William the Conquerer overcame this Land.

This Edward in that dark age, made such good and whol­some Laws, which were so just, so equall, and so serving the pub­lick profit, and weal of all estates, that mine Authors say, that people did long rebell against their Heads, (and Rulers) to have the same Laws again, being taken from them, could not obtain them.

William the Conquerer, at his coming in, did swear to use and practise the same good Laws of Edward, for the Common Laws of the Realm; afterward being established in the King­dome, he forswore himself, and placed his own Laws in their room, much more worse and obscurer. Also this King Edward describeth the office of a King, in the Acts and Monuments of the Church, in pa. 166. The King, because he is the Vicar of the highest King, is appointed for this purpose, to rule the Earthly Kingdom, to set up good and wholsome Laws, such as be ap­proved; such as be otherwise he ought to repeal them, and thrust them out of his Realm; he ought to do justice and judge­ment in his Kingdom.

Three servants a King ought to have under him as vassals, fleshly lusts, avarice greedie desires; whom if he keep under him, as servants, he shall reign well and honorably in his king­dome; But William the Conquerer, omitted these Laws, contra­ry to his Oath at his Coronation, inserting and placing the most part of his Laws in his own language to serve his purpose; and which as yet to this present day, in the same Normane language do remain. See here by this Declaration the difference of the two Kings, Edward making good Laws, and William changing of them, contrary to his oath at his Coronation, ma­king Laws at his own pleasure, destructive to the peoples good and freedome.

[Page 4] King Edward, surnamed Confessor, for his excellent holinesse, is untill this day, called, St. Edward; who so soon as he had got­ten his Fathers Kingdom, of his free-will, released the Kingdom of 40. thousand pound, called, Dane gilt, which the English people, even from the very beginning of the reign of the Danes was compelled to pay to their Kings every yeer; and this did King Edward in a yeer when the earth yeelded not her fruit, the tribute being gathered by the Treasurers, he commanded that the money should be restored to the owners again. Here we may see, the love that this King had to the Subjects, freely forgiving them the tribute that they had payed to other Kings before him: and this God, saith he, hath chosen, in Isa. 58. 6. to loose the bands of wickednesse, to undo the heavy burthens, to let the oppressed go free: this kingly act of Edward the Confessor, may serve for an example for all Governors to follow.

William the Conquerer did contrary to King Edward, for he sought how to inslave the people of England, by making inqui­rie what riches the people had, and then to tax them accor­dingly, as is declared in the Summary of English Chronicles, in pag. the 41. King William caused enquirie to be made, how ma­ny acres of ground were sufficient for one plough by the yeer, how many beasts to the tilling of one hide, how many Cities, Castles, Farms, Graunges, Towns, Rivers, Marshes, and woods, what rent they payed by yeer, and how many Knights (or Souldiers) were in every County of the Realm; all which was put in writing, and remaineth at Westminster, in the Kings trea­surie; afterward he took six shillings of every plough, that is, of every hide of Land throughout the Realm; and to this agrees the report, in the History of the Lives of the 3. Norman Kings of England, in pag. 98. William the Conquerer, caused the Land to be described, in one generall Roll, so that there was not one hide of Land, but both the yeerly rent, and the owner thereof was therein set down, how many plough lands, what pastures, what fennes, or marshes, what woods, Parks Farms, and tene­ments was in every Sheere, and what every man was worth; also how many Villens every man had, what beast or cattell, what fees, what other goods, what rent or commoditie, every mans possessions did yeeld: this book was called the Roll of [Page 5] Winton, because it was kept in the City of Winchester; by the English, it was called Doomes-day book, either by reason of the generalitie thereof, or else instead of Domus Dei book, for that it was layed in the Church of Winchester, in a place called, Domus Dei; according to this Roll, Taxations were imposed, some­times two shillings, sometimes six shillings upon every hide of Land, throughout the Realm; an hide containing twenty acres, besides ordinary provision for his house.

One of the punishments that was threatned against the chil­dren of Israel, was to be given into the hands of those their ene­mies whose Tongue they could not understand. Deut. 28. 49, 50, 51, 52. who should take the increase of the Land: And surely so did William the Conquerer squeese the fat of this Land unto himself, from the Commoners of England, as appears by this declaration of him.

In the Acts and Monuments of the Church, in pag. 173. it is reported of William the Conquerer, that forasmuch as he ob­tained the Kingdom by force and dent of Sword, he changed the whole state of the governance of this Common-wealth; and to this agrees the History of the Lives of the three Normane Kings of England, in pag. 91. Many heavy taxations were imposed on the English, their ancient Lords were removed, their ancient Laws and Pollicies of State were dashed to dust, all lay couched under the Conquerers Sword to be newly fashioned by him, as should be best fitting for his advantage. And in the 86. page of the same History, the stoutest of the Nobility and Gentlemen were spent either by war or banishment, or by voluntary avoid­ance out of the Realm, all these he stript of their estates, and in­stead of them he placed his Normanes, insomuch as scarce any family of the Nobilitie of England was left to bear any office, or any authoritie, within the Realm. And so likewise in the Acts of the Church, in pa. 173. he gave the Normanes the chiefest pos­sessions of the Land; he changed all the Temporall Laws of the Realm. And so in the Summary of English Chronicles, in p. 41. the Normanes accomplished their pleasure upon the English-men, that there was no Nobleman of that Nation left to bear rule over them, so that it was a reproach to be called an English-man.

In the Acts and Monuments of the Church, in pag. 173. that [Page 6] William the Conquerer ordained Laws at his own pleasure, pro­fitable to himself, but grievous and hurtfull to the people; abo­lishing the Laws of King Edward the Confessor, whereunto not­withstanding he was sworn before to observe and maintain, And so in the Acts of the Church, in pag. 44. he changed all the Temporall Laws of the Realm. And so likewise again in the Acts and Monuments of the Church, in pag. 166. contrary to his Oath at his Coronation, he abolished the Laws of Edward the Confessor, and placed the most part of his own Laws in his own language to serve his purpose, which as yet to this present day in the same Normane language do remain.

Further, to make the thing in hand clearer, I shall speak as it is declared in the Lives of the three Normane Kings of England, in pa. 101. William the Conquerer caused part of those Laws which he established, to be written in the Normane language, which was a barbarous and broken French, not well understood of the naturall French, and not at all of the vulgar English, the residue were not written at all, but left almost arbitrary, to be determined by reason and discretion at large. Hereupon it fol­lowed partly through the ignorance of the people, and partly through malice of some Officers of Justice▪ who many times are instruments of secret and particular ends, that many were ex­treamly tangled, many dangered, many rather made away, then justly executed. And in the 96. pag. of the same History of the Lives of the three Normane Kings of England, William the Conquerer, in the beginning of his Reign, ordained that the Laws of King Edward should be observed, together with other Laws that he did prescribe; but afterward he commanded that nine men out of every County should be chosen, to make a true report what were the Laws and Customes of the Realm, of these he changed the greatest part, and brought in the customes of Normandy in their stead, commanding that Causes should be pleaded, and all matters of form dispatcht in French. And in the Summary of English Chronicles, in pa. 41. there sprang up wic­ked Customes, the more the people spake of equity, the more wrong was done; the Justicers were authors of all unrighte­ousnesse.

In these words these things offer themselves to consideration.

[Page 7] First, that the end of William the Conquerers Laws was for his own profit; and that appears by the way that he took, in ma­king of his Laws in his own language, which was a barbarous and broken French, not well understood of the naturall French, and not at all of the vulgar English; so that the people of Eng­land was under a Law that they understood not, which must of necessitie be a sore and heavie yoke for the people to bear: from this Will: the Conquerer, arose the Law in an unknown tongue, which to this day is a bondage to the English Nation.

For a Nation to be under a Law that they know not, is to be under a curse: so in Deut. 28. 49, 50, 51. The Lord shall bring a Na­tion against thee as swift as the Eagle flyeth, a Nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand: A Nation of a fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young. He shall eat the fruit of thy cattell, the fruit of thy land, untill thou be destroyed: All these things have come upon this Land by the Normanes in these words. In the Acts of the Church, he gave the Normanes the chief­est possessions of the Land, he changed all the Temporall Laws of the Realm.

Secondly, the Laws of William the Conquerer, were, and are bondages to the English Nation; when as by policie he com­manded that nine men out of every County should be chosen, to make a true report what were the Laws and customes of the Realm before the Conquest, and then to change the greatest part, and bring in the customes of Normandy in their stead, com­manding that Causes should be pleaded, and all matters of form dispatcht in French.

By this it is apparent, from whom the pleading of Causes by Lawyers came up; and surely if the thing be well considered, it is a grievous burden to the Commoners of England, that must give away their money to the Lawyers to plead their Causes: by this the poore Commoner of England payes dear for coming by that which is his own, when he hath occasion to deal with the Lawyer.

By this pleading of Causes by Lawyers, the poore Commo­ner buyes his Law at a very hi [...]h and excessive rate; A poore man may work a quarter or half a yeer, to get as much money as the tryall of one Suit at Law will cost, and when the Lawyer [Page 8] hath pleaded and gotten the money, the thing at last must be ended by arbitration.

I find in the way two main things to be answered. The first is this: From what principall the Lawyers and Councellors as they now stand, did rise.

To this I answer. From an arbitrary power, profitable to themselves, but grievous and hurtfull to the people; And if the originall of their standing be looked into, it will so appear. For the Conquerer making such Laws, as that the Commoners of England could not have the benefit of the Law, but through the Normane Lawyers making merchandize of the Law to the peo­ple, and so great gains came in to the Lawyer, through this sub­tilty, and knowing well that by that craft they had their li­ving, made Laws that none should be a Lawyer, but he that took his degrees at the Universitie, or Inns of Court: so that it came to a custome, (and yet is) that parents set their children to School to study Law, that thereby they might be rich; and ha­ving learned the Art to use the silver hook they became great: the parents nor the childe consider not at all the tyranny of the rice of that custome.

And thus as a childe is bound to a mas [...]er to learn his trade, and to be a Free man of that place in which he hath served the time of his Indenture; so the Lawyers through the unjustnesse of their custome, served a time to come to be a Lawyer, whose first rice was from the will of a Tyrant.

The originall of a servant serving a time to a master is to learn a trade, that so he may make the benefit of his ware▪ even so the rice of a man being a Lawyer, is that he may sell the Law to his chapmen (otherwise called Clyants) so that the Law is bought and sold by the Lawyer and the Clyant.

Surely if this were looked into with an eye of reason, it would appear to be as unjust, (namely, the practise of Lawyers to in­groce the Law into their own hands to make merchandize of it) as the monopolizing Pattentees.

The second quaere that may be made, is how the Lawyers ap­pear to be bondages to the Commoners of England.

I answer in this, that if any one seek for the benefit of the Law, he must fee his Lawyer, or else he must loose his right: So [Page 9] that as in the time of Christ, the Jews could not have the bene­fit of their Law but by the Romane governors, and that appears about the tryall and condemning of Christ, they must lead him away to Pilate that he might condemne him, for they could not of themselves without Pilate: Even so the Commoners of Eng­land cannot have the benefit of the Law, but by feeing the Nor­mane custome-upholders.

Another quaere may be made. But how should any man come by that which is his own, but by the Lawyers?

To this I answer. That it is the Law, not the Lawyers, that gives any man his right; and if there were no Lawyers, yet per­sons might come by their own by Law. For I reason thus. That the Lawyers themselves ought to plead according to Law, and then if it be so, it must be considered, that the ground of the Lawyers plea ought not to be from themselves, but from the Law, and so consequently it must follow, that the Lawyers themselves are in no other place but to get away money from the Clyant; who might, if things were equally carried, come by his right without them.

In the History of the Lives of the three Normane Kings of Eng­land, in pa. 98. saith thus: That William the Conquerer ordain­ed also his Councell of State, his Chancery, his Exchequer, his Courts of Justice, which alway removed with his Court: these places he furnished with Officers, and assigned foure Termes in the yeer, for the determining of controversies among the peo­ple; whereas before all Suits were summarily hea [...]d and deter­mined in the gemote or monthly Convention, in every hundred without formalities or delay.

If it be looked upon in the Courts of Chancery and Exche­quer, the Officers that are in those Courts are such as stand by the Normane customes; and that appears in their customes of pleading Causes for money, making merchandize of the Law, and so consequently of other Courts of Law; the benefit of ma­king merchandize of the Law is onely in the hands of Judges, Councellers, and Lawyers And further, that the Commoners of England may be kept in ignorance from knowing the Law, that they may live under, and are judged by, all Writs are issued forth in Latin, and Causes pleaded in Latin.

[Page 10] The second thing that presents it self unto consideration, is the foure Termes in the yeer, to end controversies among the people; and the custome of this is a great bondage to the Com­moner when he hath occasion to go for Law: and the bondage consists in three things.

First, the coming from all parts of the Kingdom to Westmin­ster foure times a yeer, whereby the poore Commoner is put to great charges and pains, to get all things ready for his journey, and many times are constrained to borrow money to bear their charges, the journey being long, and chargeable; and for the experience of them that have had to come upon such designes to Westminster from all parts of the Kingdom, testifie by the fil­ling of their purses at home, and their emptying of them by the way, and at London and Westminster.

Secondly, this is not all: the laying out, and spending of their money in the long journeys from all parts of the Kingdom to Westminster; but when they come thither, there are Lawyers and Councellors to fee, which is many times as much and more twice told, then the clyants expences in his journey. Thus hath the Normane customes brought heavie burdens upon us, and up­on our fore-fathers in this thing: so that well may that speech of Christ which he spake to the Lawyers in his time, be justly applyed to the Lawyers in our time: Wo unto you also ye Lawyers, for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be born.

Thirdly, this is a bondage again in this sence, by hindering the old custome before the Conquest, (which was) to have eve­ry mans Cause tryed in the Hundred where he lived, without coming to Westminster at all, and so had justice in the Hundred once every moneth.

From the things that have been spoken, these things do offer themselves to our consideration.

First, that for persons so judged by Laws in an unknown tongue, is an arbitrary power contrary to true reason, and ho­nest plain dealing.

Secondly, for Lawyers to have money for pleading of causes, is to make merchandize of the Law to the people.

Thirdly, for the standing and custome of Lawyers, as now they are, is a representative of slavery and bondage.

[Page 11] Fourthly, for pleading of Causes in an unknown tongue, is to take away the key of knowledge: Luk. 11. 52. from the people of their liberties, birth-rights, and Laws; and to keep them in blindnesse and ignorance.

Fiftly, for coming to Westminster from all parts of the King­dom, is a spending of the Commoners money, loosing of his time, and neglect of justice done to the Commoner, as was in that short time once every moneth in every Hundred before the Conquest.

According unto that equall rule, As ye would that men should do unto you, so do you unto them: for this is the Law and the Prophets; is the practise of all Arbitrary power whatsoever condemned. And surely if ever there was an arbitrary power in any thing, it was, and is in this, to make Laws in an unknown tongue to govern and rule a people.

The unjustnesse of this custome may more fully appear, if we look into the manner of Gods giving of his Laws, unto the sons and daughters of men; if it be looked into in what manner God gave the Law unto the children of Israel, it will appear to be given in that tongue they could understand. Deut. 30. 11, 12, 13. This Law which I command thee this day, is not hid from thine eyes, nei­ther is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go up for us into heaven, and bring it unto us, and cause us to hear it, that we may do it? Neither is it beyond the Sea, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go over the Sea for us, and bring it unto us, and cause us to hear it, that we may do it? But the word is very neer thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, to do it.

God deals thus with creatures in his giving of laws unto them so plainly in that tongue, and manner of way that is known unto them, that they cannot say, We have not heard it, nor known it; but it is very neer them, in their mouthes and hearts to do it; so that they are left without excuse. Rom. 1. 20.

Gods wayes are equall wayes; and therefore he so gave the Law unto the children of Israel, that they were not to know it onely themselves, which heard the Law delivered by the hand of Moses, but they were to teach it unto their children, and to talk of them when they tarried at home, when they walked by the way, when they rose up, when they lay down, and to put [Page 12] them as frontlets between their eyes, and to write them upon the posts of their doores, and upon their gates, being publickly to be known, and declared unto all the Nation.

Also this manner of making Laws, or giving Command­ments to people in a known tongue, was practised even by Hea­then: This appears in Esther 8. 9. Then were the Kings scribes called at that time in the third moneth (that is, the moneth Sivan) on the three and twentieth day thereof, and it was written unto the Iews, and to the lievtenants, and the deputies and rulers of the Provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven Provinces, unto every Province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, and to the Iews according to their writing, and according to their language. So much equity was among the Heathen, that in this thing they are our examples for us to follow their way, to make laws according to the language of the people that are to be guided by them.

It is a signe and token of a disobedient servant, that goeth about to do things contrary to the way and minde of his Ma­ster: even so is it a signe and token of the Governors of this Na­tion, that made laws in an unknown tongue, that the people of this land understand not; to be disobedient stewards unto God. They are against the nature of God, and against the actings of God; against his wayes by which he doth manifest himself un­to the sons and daughters of men in these things.

First, God is light, and in him there is no darknesse at all. 1 Joh. 1. 5. And whatsoever the dealings of God toward the creatures are, they are light, and make known to the creature the will of God, and how to know him.

This is clear throughout all the Scripture, from Genesis to the Revelation. David saith, Psal. 119. 105. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my paths: that is, the Law, the Command­ments of God was his rule that guided his steps. But when the Law that should guide the Nation is in an unknown tongue, it is neither lamp nor light for the peoples paths.

This may fully appear, that the wayes of God are light to en­lighten the people. God sent his Son, whom he saith is light: in Isa. 49. 6. A light to lighten the Gentiles: Luk. 1. 79. Light to them that sit in darknesse: Joh. 9. 5. The light of the world. Luk. 1. 77. To give know­ledge [Page 13] of salvation unto people for the remission of sins: That which makes Princes, Rulers and People to be like God, are works of light; of which, one is to make a known Law, in a known lan­guage, that the people might understand the Law.

It is one of the works of the devill, to blinde the eyes of the understanding. 2 Cor. 4. 4. and then consider what, and whose work it was to put it into the heart of William the Conquerer to make Laws in an unknown tongue; and who it is that sits in the hearts of the Judges, Lawyers and Councellors of this king­dome, who still hold up the custome of trying the Causes of the people in an unknown tongue: I suppose it must be concluded it is the devill, by these Reasons.

First, because the works of the devill are works of darknesse, and not light; the end shews the event. Now the work to make Laws in an unknown tongue for this Nation to be guided by, is a work of darknesse, for the effect of it proves darknesse, and so brings darknesse, and keeps the people in darknesse, and so consequently is of the devill. Do men gather grapes of thorns, and figs of thistles? by their fruits ye shall know them. Matth. 7. 16.

Secondly, the works of the devil are destroying works; ther­fore he is said to be as a roaring Lion, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Pet. 5. 8. And as the devil is said to be as a roaring Lion, so likewise are tyranous Princes compared to Lions. Prov. 28. 15. As a roaring Lion, and a ranging Bear; so is a wicked Ruler over the poore people. So that both devill and cruell Princes are compared both to one thing: then it will follow, that those Laws that are cruell, and hard yokes for the people to bear, are the works of the devill in all such rulers.

Now if this thing be examined, namely, the Law in an un­known tongue, I am bold to say, that it will be found to be one of the greatest destructives to the well-being and freedome of the people, as ever was heard of in any Nation. For,

First, those people that are free Commoners of England have been by that blinded, and their eyes closed, that they have not seen their priviledge in their free birth-rights.

Secondly, they have been constrained to come from all parts of the Kingdome to Westminster, and there commit the pleading and censure of their Causes to such men as made merchandise [Page 14] of the Law, and their Causes as they pleased.

Thirdly, they have been kept, it may be, some 2, 3, 4, or 5. yeers in Law, whereby the Normane custome-upholders have greatly inriched themselves, by removing the Suit out of one Court into another, that many times it fals out that the Lawyer is enriched, but the Clyant undone. Experience proves this to be a truth.

Again, if this thing be well considered, namely, the Law in an unknown tongue, it is right opposite to the way of God.

First, in the giving of his Son to be salvation to the ends of the earth, Isa. 49. To open the blinde eyes, this was Christs work; but the Law in an unknown tongue doth not open the blinde eyes, but those that are blinde it keeps still in blindnesse: so in this it is opposite to Christs work.

Secondly, Christ was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives, Isa. 61. 1. But the Law in an unknown tongue proclaims no li­berty, no glad tydings, no freedome to the oppressed; but de­clares curse, bondage, and wo. Deut. 28. 49, 50, 51, 52. Ier. 5. 15, 16, 17.

One of the priviledges that God promises to his people, Isa. 33. 19. is, Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech then thou canst perceive; of a ridiculous or stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand. So that it is liberty and freedom to be under a Law that the people can understand. Nothing makes the go­vernment of England to be like the Church of Rome so much as this, to lead and govern people in an unknown tongue. For as the Papists keep the people in ignorance concerning their spiri­tuall estate, by an unknown tongue: even so the Judges, Law­yers, and Councellers keep the people of England in ignorance in their civill or temporall estate, by an unknown tongue.

Further, the Law in an unknown tongue is both against the way and end that God gave the Law unto the children of Israel, if we consider the way it was in that tongue they understood, Deut 30. To that it is opposite, and it is opposite also to the end, which was, first, that it should be in all their mouthes & hearts, that they might continually talk of them. 2ly, that they might teach their children. 3ly, that it might be written upon the posts of their houses, and upon their gates.

[Page 15] First, it is opposite that the Law should be in all the peoples mouthes; for it is that it should be in some of the peoples mouthes, namely, Judges, Councellors, Lawyers, they onely are to know the Law, and no other by this custome.

Secondly, the Law was given to this end, that the children might know it, but the Law in the unknown tongue to the con­trary. For whereas the children of Israel was to teach the Law unto their children; by this Law in an unknown tongue the pa­rents of the English children, are constrained to ask counsell of the Lawyers: and so in this it is directly opposite.

Thirdly, the Law was to write upon posts, and gates, that therby the people might know the Law generally, being known so openly. But the Law in an unknown tongue, causeth the Law to be kept and shewed onely at Westminster, the Inns of Court, and Universities, and Judges, Councellors, and Lawyers Cham­bers. Thus far to shew the tyranny of the Law in an unknown tongue over the people of England.

The second thing that presents it self to our consideration, is recorded in the History of the Lives of the three Normane Kings of England, in pag. 99. that in all those lands that William the Conquerer gave to any man, he reserved dominion in chief to himself; for acknowledgement whereof a yeerly rent was payed unto him, and also a Fine whensoever the tenement did allen or dye; these were bound as clyants unto him by oath of fide­litie and homage: and if any dyed his heir being in minoritie, the King received the profits of the land, and had the custodie and disposing of the heirs body untill his age of 21. yeers.

These words declare unto us two great bondages that have been in England; the one is thrown down by this Honourable Court of Parliament, called, The Court of Wards; the other bon­dage remaineth still untaken away: Of that I intend somewhat to speak.

The bondage being looked upon with a single eye, will ap­pear to be great two wayes. First, in the greatnes of it in extent. Secondly, in the heavinesse of it upon the poore man.

First, for the greatnesse of the extent of it, and that is over every one dwelling in a Town; except the Lords of the Mannor who is the yoke-master, and not a sufferer under the yoke.

[Page 16] The heavinesse of it appears in these two things. First, when a man hath bought a piece of Copyhold-land so called, when he hath payed for his Copyhold-land of the owner thereof, yet notwithstanding must pay a Fine to the Lord of the Mannor, or else he cannot enjoy it. This is a most grievous oppression upon the people.

Secondly, when the party either leaveth his Living, then an­other Fine is to be payed; and also when the party dyeth, then a Harriot, so called, is to be payed again.

Those who are Countreymen, and deal in Farmes and Land, I suppose can testifie this by wofull experience; and therefore I leave this to their consideration: onely I shall shew how the Lord complaineth of such things in Scripture.

This oppression doth reach the poore widows that hath lost their husbands, and is left poore, comfortlesse and needie, their stay, their upholdes is dead, and yet notwithstanding must loose the best goods they have for an Harriot to the Lord of the Man­nor. This or such like kinde of oppression Iob spake of, Iob 24. 9. they take a pledge of the poore. And Isa. 10. 2. turn aside the needie from judgement, and take away the right of the poore of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherlesse. What greater wrong can be done to any, then to take their goods, that which is properly the parties own?

Among the children of Israel was found such like grievous oppression: Ier. 5. 26, 27, 28. For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait as he that setteth snares, they set a trap, they catch men As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine, they overpasse the deeds of the wicked. The snares that are set by Rulers to catch the people, are those grievous Laws that are like snares, that the people by this means are brought into great bondages and slavery, under cruell masters. As witnesse when a man hath bought a piece of land before he can enjoy it, he must pay a Fine to the Lord of the Mannor; and if he come not in to take it up in the Court, he then forfeits his land.

What righteousnes is in such a law or custome, I finde very little or none at all; but against righteousnes, justnes and equi­tie, to practise such arbitrary tyrannous customes, grievous for the people to bear.

[Page 17] Now then it is not to be looked upon, whether it be not right to pay Fines or Harriots to the Lord of the Mannor, according to that Law or custome that is now in England for that purpose▪ but it ought to be known whether that Law that demandeth such unreasonable things, as Fines and Harriots to the Lord of the Mannor, be accor­ding to the rule of equitie. And then I suppose that if that be the quaere, it will be answered, that such a Law is not according to the law of equity: for these Reasons.

First, that Law that tendeth onely to that end to inslave the peo­ple in bondage under heavie burthens, cannot be concluded to be according to the Law of equitie: for God saith that this pleaseth him. Isa. 58. 6. To lo [...]se the bands of wickednesse, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke So that in this, obe­dience is better then sacrifice. For what doth it avail the people to have Fasts set up, and Humiliations observed by the great ones of the land, and have not their burdens and yokes taken off from them?

Secondly, that Law that tendeth (to this end) to oppresse the wi­dow and the fatherlesse, cannot be concluded to be according to the Law of equitie. God saith expresly in Exod. 22. 22. Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherlesse childe. And in Zach. 7. 10. God tels them that they should not oppresse the fatherles nor the widow. This was that which God alwayes exhorts the people unto by the mouthes of the Prophets: Zach. 7. 7. Isa. 58. 6. Isa. 1. 17. Then if it be considered, that the widows are not to be opprest, the Law of taking of Harriots of widows must be concluded to be Arbitrary power over the poore people. Thus far to shew the arbitrarinesse of Fines, and Rents, and Harriots that are payed to the Lord of the Mannor,

I shall apply my self to give an Exhortation to the Commoners of England, that they may see the great works of God, that the Lord hath shewed from time to time unto this Nation since these troubles began, that they might have them in their remembrance.

The Exhortation.

GLorious and great things hath the Lord the great Iehovah shew­ed unto this Nation since these troubles began; and if well con­sidered, they are the dealings of mercy toward us, even thoughts of love, and of peace and good will, If we consider the knowledge of our bondages that are now brought to light, that have of long time [Page 18] inslaved this Nation for almost six hundred yeers, that were brought upon us by Conquest, and from the wills of tyrants over the people, as the Law in an unknown tongue, the standing of the Societie of the Lawyers, the pleading of Causes in an unknown tongue in West­minster-Hall, the foure Termes in the yeer, the feeing of Lawyers, the being kept ignorant from knowing the Law, and their birth­rights, the bondage of Rents, and Fines, and Harriots to the Lord of the Mannor, the burden of Tythes: all these things have, and are looked into to be tyrannous to the Nation. And although the Land hath suffered much since these wars began, yet wars could not be avoided, but they must needs be. For as the bondages of this Nation came in by the Sword, even so by the Sword the liberties thereof must be gained: and that will appear, because the Rulers of this land having brought the people into bondage, there was no way for their greatnesse to fall, but by the Sword. This way in the eyes of God was good, and the Sword hath prevented those actings of oppression even in the same members themselves; if we do but minde it, as last Sum­mer, when they made an Ordinance for to persecute men for con­science, then presently after was the rising in Kent, and Essex; also when they would have brought home the King upon his termes, by a Treaty, they were disappointed in that also. By these actings of God it is evident, that he will destroy those things that are of the flesh in Noblemen, to hinder them in the gentry: to hinder them in others, to hinder them that he onely may be exalted.

Oh therefore look upon the work of God, rather then to look up­on men according to dignities; For as dignities are of the earth, so they must be brought lowe, even to the ground: So that men shall not be looked upon as in reference to dignities, but their actings shal be looked upon, whether they be good or evill, and so accordingly judged. Therefore now in this time of searching, let every one en­devour to know those things that are freedom and liberty, free from arbitrarinesse and ungodlinesse, that they may know that which is profitable to all the Commonaltie of the Kingdom, things good and wholsome to all the people of the Kingdom.

The end of my writing this Discourse, is, first to give the Com­moners of England knowledge, from whom the bondages that have inslaved the Nation proceeded.

Secondly, that the Commoners of England may see how clear these [Page 19] bondages are against God, against his way, and against freedom and liberty.

Thirdly, that the Commoners of England seeing of the unjustnesse of such customes, may look for customes of liberty and freedome, which is the desire of a Commoner of England.

For the further satisfaction of those that shall read and meditate upon this foregoing discourse, I shall quote some Scriptures that speaks against the wayes of men, that make, follow, and uphold the customes before mentioned, that they are against the minde of God, as he hath declared in word; and also threatneth punishments unto those that practise them.

The unknown tongue for a people to be governed under, is a curse to the Nation, and not profitable.

Deut. 28. 49, 50, 51. The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand. Jer. 5. 15. Lo, I will bring a nation upon you, it is a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither under­standest what they say. 1 Cor. 14. 4. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue, edifieth himself. 6. Now brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak unto you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by d [...]ctrine. 7. And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8. For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battell? So likewise you, except ye utter by the tongue words easie to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye speak in the air. 10. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them are without signification. 11 There­fore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he shall be a Barbarian to me.

Against gifts or unreasonable Fees, that Lawyers and others take of the Clyant, whereby many times there is neglect of Iustice.

Exod. 23. 8. And thou shalt take no gift, for the gift blindeth the eyes and perverteth the words of righteousnes. Deut. 16. 19. Isa. 1. 23. Thy Princes are rebellious, and companions of theeves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards. Micah 3. 11. The heads thereof judge for reward, the priests thereof teach for hire, the prophets thereof divine for money.

Against oppression by the Lord of Mannors in taking of Fines.

They covet fields, and take them by force; and houses, and take them away▪ so they oppresse a man and his house, even a man and his family. Amos 4. 1. Hear ye this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppresse the poore, which crush the needie Amos 8. 4. Hear ye this, O ye that swallow up the needie, even to make the poore of the land to fail.

Exhortations to amend.

Jer. 18. 11. Return ye now every one from his evill, and make your wayes and your doings good. Zach. 1. 4. Turn ye from your evill wayes, and from your evill works. Isa. 1. 17. Learn to do well, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherlesse, plead for the widow.

Blessings promised upon amendment.

If ye oppresse not the stranger, the fatherlesse and the widow, and shed no in­nocent blood: if ye throughly amend your wayes, and your doings; if ye through­ly execute judgement between a man and his neighbour, then will I cause you to dwell in the land that I gave to you. Jer. 7. 5, 6, 7. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely dye, if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawfull and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life; he shall surely live, he shall not dye. Ezek. 33. 14, 15.

Punishments threatned to them that do unjustly after admonition.

Prov. 29. 1. He that being often reproved, hardneth his neck, shall sud­denly be destroyed, and that without remedie. Prov. 1. 30, 31. They hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord, they would have none of my counsell: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

The reason why I quote these Scriptures is, that all oppressors of what sort soever may see, that God abhorreth all manner of arbi­trary power and cruelty; And if we look into the Scriptures, we may see how the Lord from time to time hath brought judgements upon them. I conclude with that in Micah 6. 8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.


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