THE FREE MANS PLEA FOR FREEDOM, AGAINST The Arbitrarie unwarrantable actions and proceedings of the Apostate Associates, com­monly called by others, LEVELLERS.

VVherein is briefly discovered how un­sutable they walke to common Right and Free­dom, being more Arbitrarie and Tyrannicall then any they oppose, wanting only a power to exercise their Crueltie.

By R. L. A Member of the Army.

Job 11.3.

Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest shall no man make thee ashamed?

Psal. 50.19, 20.

Thou givest thy mouth to evill, and thy tongue frameth de­ceit, thou sittest and speakest against thy brother, thou slanderest thine own mothers son.

Job 15.5, 6.

For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquitie, and thou chusest the tongue of the craftie, thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I, yea, thine own lips testifie against thee.

London, Printed for Robert White. 1648.

IT being the grand design of all deceivers to look one way, and row another; to kisse, when they meane to betray; it cannot be judged unnecessary to trie all things, and to chuse only that which is good; and the way to judge of the ends and designes of men, is not to take notice of what they talke of, but of what they do; for Absolom pretended justice to the people, when he made war against his Father, but his design was to make himself King; so the Jews could say they were A­brahams seed, and had one Father, even God, but Christ beleeved them never the more for that, If you were Abrahams children, ye would doe the workes of Abraham, John 8.39. If God were your Father, ye would love me, ver. 42. But ye are of your father the devill, and the workes of your father ye will doe, ver. 44. He judged them by what they did, and not by what they said; Therefore it is not enough for men to say they are for our freedome and li­berties; but let us consider what they are doing; the stature of Hercules may be taken by the length of his foot; he that cannot imploy one talent well, is not to be trusted with five; therefore before we can beleeve you meane to doe as you say, we must be satisfied with these following Queries.

First whether those things you call common right, and freedome, be so common as you say they are, or no? whether every free man in the Kingdom be equally interested in them, or not if they be, whether one particular man be not as competent a judge of his owne freedome as another? and if so, whe­ther any thing can be called the agreement of the people, if you meane the whole, before every man, or at least the Major part concerned in it, hath owned it, and subscribed it? if not, whether it be not a presumptuous delu­sion, for a few men to represent any thing to the Peoples representative in the name of the whole, before the whole, or halfe, or any considerable part of the People hath intrusted, or desired them to doe it.

Quaerie. 2 If we should approve of, and [...]wne your paper, or most of those things comprised in it as those things, wh [...]ch so farre as we are able to judge, might be very much conducing to our good▪ and accordingly should desire you to represent them to the Parliament in our [...]ehalfes, as our desires, whether or no do ye intend we should leave them to the judgement of the Parliament to owne, or not owne them? if not, to what end doe we repre­sent them? if we doe, to what purpose are those resolutions annexed to it, wherein you resolve to maintaine them against all opposition whatsoever, without exception?

Quaerie. 3 In case we did fully approve of the things, and could wil­lingly desire the settlement of them, both in relation to our selves, and the Kingdome, and should doe our utmost in using all lawfull meanes for the attaining thereof, and should finde such opposition, as that they could not possibly be so accomplished, whether then or no would you with [...] rest satisfied, till God did give a further opportunitie, and make our way more plaine before us? if not, how shall we then partake with you in prosecuting a good worke, and not be insnared in the using of unlawfull meanes? we judging it not lawfull to doe evill that good may come thereon. Rom. 3.8.

Quaerie. 4 If you at this time being so inconsiderable a partie, and the things which you propound so disputable, if not dangerous, shall be so un­charitable in your judgements, so rash in your censures, and so ready to tram­ple upon, and despise all men that are not able to joyne with you in all your actions, though otherwise very forward in prosecuting all the same things you pretend; what measure can be expected from you▪ if once you become a powerfull and prevalent partie in the Kingdome, but harsh and cruell usage, if we cannot in all things joyne with you? and if so, what difference is there betwixt you and others? only we are ruined by others under the colour of prerogative and priviledges, and by you under the pretence of libertie and freedome.

Quaerie. 5 If at this time, while there is so little appearance of any con­siderable interested people in this Kingdome joynes with you, much lesse of honest godly people, you be so apt and ready to ingage any sort of people to you, and chiefly those who are most probable to joyne with you, or any others upon mercenary selfish consideration, their interest in this King­dome being no other but their owne present livelihood and subsistence, and those to ingage to you by delusive promises and false suggestions; what as­surance shall we have, that you will not by the same evill meanes, use the same instruments to destroy all our just interests, if we doe not in all things sub­mit to you, though against our owne reasons and consciences? and if so, where is our freedomes and lib [...]rties?

Quaerie. 6 If it be your p [...]nciple, that no obligation by way of ingage­ment or declaration though never so publique and peremptory, is binding longer then you have nothing to object against it, as it hath been publickly maintained [...] severall meetings, why doe you then blame the Army, for not making good their declarations and ingagements? it is possible they may have something to object against them, which if they have, how is it possible for any man to act to your satisfaction, when you will neither give [Page 3]him leave to be guided by his owne reason, nor your principles?

Quaerie. 7 If that we are the cause of your dissatisfaction in the Ar­mies proceedings, their not making good their ingagements and decla­rations, why did not you, when you were so earnestly desired by them, joyn with them in the reviewing what they were ingaged to, and where­in they had failed, to the end it might have been amended? But on the contrary, propose new things, quite beside their ingagements, and con­trary to them, except you designed a desamation, rather then a reforma­tion of the Armies proceedings.

Quaerie. 8 If the cause of Englands present misery flow from it's divisions and distractions, and no probable meanes left to prevent its present ruine, but a christian, sober, friendly compliance of all the honest interests distinguished among us by the names of Presbyterie, and Inde­pendency &c. and no such visible meanes to ruine and destroy it, as the further adding to, & increasing of the divisions and distractions already in it, how is it possible for any man to judge you desire the life of the Kingdome, that are such utter enemies to the health of it? That you desire the liberty and freedome of the People, that are such grand ene­mies to the peace and safety of them? unlesse you can convince us, the nearest way from Yorke to London, is by Barwick.

Quaerie. 9 If you affirm, that the way to stop the Gangrene of Englands distractions and divisions, and so consequently its ruine, is to propound some generall heads to be agreed on by the People, contain­ing the fundamentall rights and liberties of the Nation, we agree with you. To propound & present such things according to the fundamentall rights and freedomes of the Nation, is good, which is an orderly Par­liamentary way; but for you to propound the fundamentall rights and liberties of the People, and to prosecute the evident ruine and destructi­on of the People, is a strange way to demonstrate your good intentions; as thus, if our Brethren of Scotland should march with an Army over Tweede, and should tell us they came for our good, and to help us against the common enemy to the Covenant and cause, which formerly they have assisted us in, and in their march should p [...]nder and spoile us of our goods, [...]rison and destroy our friends, fight with and oppose our Armies, &c. we should have very little cause to [...]leeve them; or thus, if any of your houses were on fire about your eares, [...]d a company of People should come with empty buckets, and pretend they wo [...]d indeavour to quench the fire, and in the interim plunder and spoile you [Page 4]of your goods, and in stead of water, cast on pitch, or combustible mat­ter to increase the flame, you would have very small cause to thank them. And thus friends, while you are proposing to us good things, and filling our eares with many good words, consider what your actions have been: Judas could crie Haile Master, when he betrayed him. You have been telling us of a free representative of the people in Parliament, in order to which, you have used all possible meanes to bring this present Par­liament under force, to put conditions upon them, by prescribing rules, and setting bounds to them, vilifying, reviling, and reproaching of them to their faces, in such an audacious and uncivill manner, as few that have either conscience or prudence, would doe their servants, nay hardly their dogs, if they were capable of receiving a reasonable reproofe; calling them the supreame authority of England to day, and deny there is any such thing as authority remaining in them another day; as in Major White his book, Stile them the honourable house of Commons one day, the degenerate, unjust, arbitrary, tyrannicall Parliament another day; Print papers, intituled, An humble petition to the supreame authority of England, the honourable house of Commons, on the top of the sheet: appeale to the People against them, charging them with falshood, lies, tyrannie, injustice, ruling by their crooked wils, and damnable lusts, in the bottome of the same sheet, as you may see in a petition delivered to the house of Commons presently after the rendezvous at Ware, in the behalfe of the Agreement of the People. Colonell Ayres, and Captain Bray, &c. is this a demonstration of your great affections to the Peoples representatives? is it the freedome of the Peoples representative to be taunted, reviled, reproached, and scandalized, and that publickly in Print to their faces, in such a manner, as the meanest man represented would not indure, nor put up, without reparation. But the People, and the representative, may expect both to drink in one cup; the representa­tive will but swallow down the top, the People shall be sure enough of the dregs: These carriages differ much from Pauls spirit, who said, it is written, thou shalt not sp [...]ake evill of the ruler of the people, Acts 23.5. and so in Tim. 5.1. Rebuk [...] not an elder, but intreat him as a father. But the Scriptures and M [...]gna Charta are both of one authority, which most of these men, onl [...] the latter for the present is most in request; another ge [...] good which they have held before our eyes to humble us with, hath been the easing of the Kingdome of, or from those sad oppressions and burdens which they lie under, as Excises, Taxes, and free-quarter, &c. [Page 5]and in order to this, they have indeavoured to prevent and stop all meanes used for that end, the greatest visible burden which lay upon this Kingdome being the Soldiery, especially before the disbanding supernumeraries, and taking them off from free-quarter; and ever since the Parliament hath been about that worke, they have been in­deavouring by all possible means to prevent it, both by perswading the Countrey from paying their money, without which the worke could not be done, and telling the souldiers they ought not to disband, nor suffer themselves to be disbanded nor divided, &c. And if God had not prevented their attempts in opposition to this worke, the Kingdom would have sunk under the burden of free-quarter by this time, or else have broken its owne back, by indeavouring to shake its burden off by force, and the souldiery, whom they have so much indeavoured to delude by their plausible pleadings for their rights, have been wholly frustrated and prevented of all those things, which by their moderation and patience, God hath inabled the Parliament to do for them, in order to their Accounts, Arreares, pr [...]nt pay, indempnity, &c. so that what re­all pity or affection you have towards the Peoples ease from their bur­dens, let themselves and the world judge; And thus, if it were either worth the reading, or my penning; it is observable, through your whole course, you have pretended one thing, and done another; cried up the Peoples liberties with your mouthes, and destroyed them with both your hands.

Quaerie. 10 If it be the liberty of the People you would so faine be fighting, and wading in blood for, what People are they? if for the whole Kingdom, when did they chuse you? if for the Major part, how should we know it? if for the Minor part; where will you leave the finall judgement? for if it be lawfull for you, as the Minor part of this Kingdom, to force those things you judge to be just, on the Major part; without controversie, it is more lawfull for the Major part to de­fend themselves, and oppose you, if they judge the same to be unjust; therefore, if this be the liberty of the People to fight with, and destroy one another upon every apprehension of a just [...]ause, you may spare your paines in procuring a safe and well grounded p [...]ce; for according to your principles, it must last no longer then you, of [...]y ten men of your minde judge it to be just, which will be but a very little wh [...] ▪ if you change your principles twice a week, as it is easy to prove many of you have done.

Quaerie. 11 If according to your pretended principle, there is no legeslative power inherent in any person or persons, but what is deri­ved from the people and that the peoples representative alone ought to be the sole judge of their Rights and Liberties, and that all others are Tyrants and usurpers, which do not exercise their power by vertue of a trust, especially in making or repealing Lawes; by what authoritie, or from whom derived, did you take upon you to give out Orders to the Army, Rules to the Parliament, and Lawes to the Kingdom, as you have severall times done, wanting only a power to inforce them? which you likewise have indeavoured to obtain, but by an Arbytrarie, tyranni­call, usurped power; and have hereby manifested your selves to be worser Tyrants then any you oppose: Usurpation attended with violence be­ing the top of Tyrannie. Nay again, by your own pretended principles, it is not lawfull, just, nor equall for any man to be judged by a Law which he never gave his consent unto in his lawfull representative, duly chosen and elected; and yet you your selves, though you represent not the least Countie, nor the least Corporation in the Kingdome, take upon you to prescribe Rules to a Parliament now sitting, to give Lawes to a Kingdome, which is the highest piece of unequall and unjust presump­tion that ever was acted.

Object. You mistake, we do not intend to give Lawes to the King­dome, but only represent to them a paper, wherein is contained the substance of the Peoples Rights and Liberties, to which we desire a­greement, and accordingly have intituled it the Agreement of the People.

Answ. You have given it a wrong name, you might more properly have called it their disagreement, or falling out. But if it be an Agree­ment, as you call it, we hope you meane a voluntarie agreement, by free consent; which if you do, what meanes all this indeavouring to ingage men in Armes to own it? will Swords and Guns convince mens reasons, and informe their judgements of the equitie and justice of the things? or if it be an agreement that ye hold forth, what meanes those resolu­tions among you, that if you have but ten men on your side, you will make your way through the blood of all the rest? Will nothing serve to seale an ag [...]ement but blood? nay, it is probable you will be as good as our word; for those that are not tender of mens names and repu­tations, will never be tender of their blood, and I am sure you have in­deavoured already to make your way thorow the honour and reputati­on [Page 7]of such men whom God hath chiefly owned and honoured in all those chiefe deliverances he hath wrought for this poore Kingdome in the late warre; but considering, they are men who are not desirous to be praised in Print, who had rather have their owne actions demon­strate their innocencie, then other mens Pens; I shall desire them to con­sider, there was a day when Shimei cursed David, and he comforted his heart with this consideration, It may be that the Lord will look on my af­fliction, and that the Lord will requite good for his cursing this day; and his expectation was not in vaine, and therefore for men to call that an A­greement of the People, which they intend to make a Law to them by force, pretends a Paradox; for what doth this differ from that Agreement William the Conquerour made with the People, which you call the Nor­man yoake, for whatsoever men are forced and compelled to, can no more be called an Agreement, then Imprisonment can be called Liber­tie: If this be Christian Libertie, then the Spanish Inquisition is a Chri­stian priviledge. Againe, if it be freedome and libertie you contend for, why will you not give that to others, which you so highly prize your selves? if it be your libertie to devise, prepare, and propose things in the behalfe of your selves and others, before any others besides your selves, either heare, or see what you propound. Is it not as much the li­bertie of those others you speak of, to reade, consider, and judge of what is proposed by you, before they agree with you? and if so, then surely when a Paper, intituled an Agreement, or Petition is delivered to the Parliament by a small number of persons in a Kingdom, in the name of themselves and the People, it is the Parliaments libertie, as they are free Commoners of England; if you will not allow it their Priviledge as they are a Parliament, to consider, judge, and determine what answer will become them to give to such a petition presented to them by such Peti­tioners, and to deny as well as grant, if their judgements leade them for it, unlesse you intend to ingrosse the whole power of judging and de­termining the Peoples liberties to your selves, and convert the con­currence of King, Lords, and Commons into one negative voice, and lay them all aside together.

As we have little cause to judge you are so purely publique principled for common right and fredome, as you pretend by you [...] actions, so have we lesse cause to expect it from you, when we observe your dispo [...]ions and qualifications, there being naturally an inveterate dislike, and an ab­horring of all things that are not of your own creating, and of all men [Page 8]that are not of your own principle and opinion, there being no more good nature in you then in Lyons, Beares, Tigers, &c. the worst of them being friends one to another of the same kinde, which is all the ground of friendship or charitie that ever I could discover among the generali­tie of you, which is so farre from pure principles of common right and freedome, that the worst of Tyrants I have heard or read of, hath ex­ceeded you, they have out of a principle of policie commonly exercised a great deale of clemencie towards people, whom they have known did not favour these actions, thereby to delude them into subjection; nay, many of them have used much seeming indulgencie toward their open enemies, if they would but acknowledge their courtesies to be acts of grace and favour towards them; but you have been so farre from ha­ving any of these moderate humane naturall principles found in the worst of men ruling of you, that you have degenerated from a great deale of that good nature and disposition which is found in many beasts; the fiercest mastive dogge, who weares a clogge and chaine to keepe him from biting strangers will know the people in the same family with him, and especially those from whose hands he receives much of his food, and will be so far from exercising his naturall crueltie towards them, that he will run the greatest hazard in their defence: nay, it is observed in Beares, after they have received acquaintance, or have received Cour­tisies from a man, they will not hurt him, but will admit of much fami­liaritie with him, and I have some time heard, that the favour of a Lyon may be won by courtesies.

By the way you may take notice of that common story of the traveller loosing his way in the wildernesse, found a Lion who had caught a thorn in his foot, which he pulled forth, for which courtesie the cruell beast was so gratefull, as to become his protectour till he brought him past all danger; and how unworthily ungratefull many of you have been, and still are to particular persons, and whole societies of men, who hath made your condition their own, who hath and do still tender many of you as pieces of their own flesh, whose hearts and affections desires your good as their own who would joyfully live or die in any righteous cause with you, if y [...] would prosecute it only in a righteous way, and put more trust in God in the use of lawfull meanes, and lesse in your own subt [...]ty and craftinesse; yet these are the men whom the sharpest of your arrowes are shot against, whose blood you lie in waite for, as a Lion doth for his prey; it being your meat and drink to heare and de­vise [Page 9]falshoods against them, to speak and print evill of them, that they may justly take up that complaint against you which David used against some such ungratefull friends of his, Psal. 35.12. False witnesses did rise up, they laid to my charge things that I knew not, they have rewarded me evill for good, so in Psal. 109.4. For my love they are my adversaries, and they have rewarded me evill for good, and hatred for my good will: and as you are naturally ungratefull, so are you as eminently malicious and revengefull, which is another principall branch of tyranny. I never be­ing able to finde the least inclination in many of you, to put up or forgive the least personall wrong or injury, but rather to rest unsatisfied, as a bear robbed of her whelps, to be revenged, and have full reparations, and as you are thus ungratefull, malicious, and revengefull, so are you as ambitious, proud, and haughty, esteeming highly of your selves in your own things; he being a man not worth the calling a fellow-com­moner that hath not exalted his arrogant, resolute, pride and haughtinesse above his sence, reason and judgement; that hath not resolved to main­taine any cause with resolution; if he be once ingaged in it, be it good or bad, that is not able to speak great swelling words, and look mighty big looks in the face of any Authority he comes before, though for the most scandalous offence that can be committed; and if these be your vertues, the best part of you, what kind of things are the worst can we expect from such a corrupt fountaine as this wholsome waters? Doe men gather grapes of thornes, and figs of thistles? Matth. 7.16. Sirs be not deceived, God will not be mocked, For wherein thou judgest another thou condemnest thy selfe, for thou that judgest doest the same things, Rom. 2.1. Thou hypocrite, first cast the beame out of thine owne eye, and then shalt thou see clearely to cast out the mote out of thy brothers eye, Matth. 7.5.

To those private souldiers of the Armie which hath been deceived by these mens delu­sions.

FEllow Souldiers, I having had the happinesse to be a spectator of those great things God hath done for you, and by you. I am invited by that affection and duty I owe and beare to you, to represent these things to your consideration, well knowing there is not only a spirit of zeale, but of judgement in many of you, able to discerne betwixt good and evill, while you acted in the way of God to accomplish the worke of God. God then dwelt among you, his glo­ry was upon you, you were then a comfort to your friends, and a terrour to your enemies: but if you forsake his way, he will owne you no longer in his worke. Will you doe wickedly for God, and talke deceitfully for him, Job. 13.7. Let not men which make lies their refuge, falshood and deceit their strength, be our leaders into evill wayes, for when the blinde lead the blinde, then both fall into the ditch: and how wilfully blinde those men have been which hath endeavoured to lead you into irregular wayes, to the great dishonour of that God who hath so much honoured you, is visible:

What is become of the great designe your Officers had to advance the kings Interest, and thereby procure their owne greatnesse, Is Lord Generall Cromwell made Earle of Essex yet? or Captaine [Page 11]Generall Ireton Field Marshall Generall of Ireland? Is the King at White-Hall yet, without giving satisfaction to the Kingdom? is the Armie or any part of it disbanded without sufficient indem­nitie, present pay, and security for Arreares? Doe but review those delusive lying pamphlets intituled Putneys projects, a Call to the Armie, an Alarm to the Head-quarters, the grand designe, &c. And take notice with what confidence and boldnesse they ac­cused the Parliament and Armie in generall, with many particular men, who hath been eminently faithfull to the Kingdomes Interest, of treachery and basenesse of spirit, declining their principles, &c. and all grounded upon their under hand compliance with the King, their carrying on His Designes by private conferences with Him, &c. All which suggestions doth plainly appeare to all that hath not willingly given up themselves to beleeve lies, to be false and scandalous slanders; yet these and such like are the only truths that pretended infallible spirit revealed to these men at the time of the Randezvouzing at Ware, and did I not yet discover the same spirit raging in the same men, with as much boldnesse and confidence as if they had never been the authour of all these lies, I should have forborne any testimony against them, and rather have judged what they then did, might proceed from rashnesse or mistake, and not done plotting or designingly; but it hath since appeared the contrary, they continuing to this very day by the same evill meanes to prosecute the same things, which is to set you one against another, and every man else against you all, endeavou­ring to make you odious to the Kingdome, and the Parliament, and your Officers odious to you.

First, they Print petitions in the name of the People, and make you, whom God hath used to be the instruments of their deliverance, the cause of all their oppression and miseries, c [...]ing out of op­pression, violence, taxes, free-quarter, &c. all which they charge equally upon you, as you are an Armie, making the miscarriage of one man among a thousand, to reflect upon all; on purpose to ren­der [Page 12]you odious, making you the cause of the decay of trading, and of that deareness and scarcity that is in the Kingdome, as if they would have the Kingdome rise, and cut your throats to save your victuals, and make corne cheape; and yet when the Parliament is using all possible meanes to pay you off, and disband you; and the Generall with your officers using the utmost of their interest to obtaine honourable and satisfactory conditions for you: both Par­liament and Generall indeavouring to their utmost to ease the Kingdome of their burdens, and requite you for your faithfull ser­vices, then are they of another minde, then are they sending their Emissaries among you, to stirre you up to disobedience, telling of you, you ought not to divide, nor suffer your selves to be divided, nor disbanded, &c. so what they would have you to doe is worth your enquiring after, for they would not have the Countrey either pay you, nor give you victuals: neither would they have you to disband, nor suffer your selves to be disbanded; they have only left you these two things to chuse one, either to continue in your warfare upon your own charges, or else to live upon the spoile and ruine of the Kingdome: the former I feare you cannot doe, and the latter I am confident your soules abhorre to thinke; therefore consider, God hath placed you under men that have preferred your wel fare and safety above their owne; they trampled upon great gifts and high places, and were willing to stand with you, nay to fall with you, rather then to stand themselves, and see you fall: and therefore let it never be said, that an Armie of men so prin­cipled, so regulated, whom God hath so honoured under the conduct of men so eminently faithfull, honourable, and successefull, should be disobliged from their obedience, by false and scandalous sug­gestions of men, wh [...] make it their businesse to vent their rage, and their passion against all that are not approvers of their dispu­table, if not evil actions: And since you have found the power and presence of God so visible among you, while you every one acted in the same place God hath called you to, in the worke he laid [Page 13]before you, Waite upon God there still. It was the counsell Moses gave the people in the greatest straight that ever they were in, to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord: and they did take his counsell, and God did save them, and by the same hand ruined their enemies: And if you doe waite for the salva­tion of the Lord in the use of lawfull meanes, he is able and faith­full to doe you good, and to make the sea of all those dangers and difficulties that stand before you, to become a wall on the right hand, and on the left unto you: and to make those things you most feare, to be most subservient unto his end, which is his glory: and to your ends, which I hope is the settlement of this poore distracted Kingdome, in a safe and well-grounded Peace; Which, that you may be instrumentall in, is the constant prayers, and earnest desires of your faithfull servant.

R. L.

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