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cent as you, and more than many
of their accusers.
And shall thousands suffer for other men's deeds? 3. What will wise men think of such a sort of men, as charge multitudes in general with rebellious and seditious doctrine, and have accused so few of any such these twenty years, that I know not of one publicly accused, tried and proved guilty, of all called Presbyterians in all this land ? If they are guilty prove it, and let the guilty suffer, and not the innocent; only had I my wish I would bar perjury, and condemning men unheard.
Accus. “They are an unpeaceable sort of people.'
Answ. That is soon said. Who hath these twenty-two years manifested most desires of peace? They that have begged for it again and again; pleaded and written for it; offered their oaths that they would obey any lawful commands for it, and do any thing which they did not. believe that God forbids? Or those bishops that would not have one form or ceremony, or needless subscription forborn, to save thousands of ministers from being silenced and laid in common gaols, nor to save many thousands of the people from suffering, and to heal the divisions of the church. One would think this should be as easy a controversy, as when soldiers are plundering the country, and the people on their knees entreating for their goods and lives, to determine which of them is most against war.
Accus. ' But what need they make such a stir with their religion. What need they any more than go to church and live obediently and be quiet? Why will they be righteous overmuch; will not less ado bring men to heaven? Why do they differ from their neighbours, and judge all carnal that be not as scrupulous as they? God is merciful; and will he save none but Puritans, or precise zealots ?' Answ. Now you come to the real matter of your
distaste. I did not meddle with the case of nonconformity as it is a controversy between godly men, but only as you make a pretence of it to exercise your enmity against serious godliness, and a handle to lay hold on many whom Christ will justify and save. To all beforesaid I add,
1. If you think they do too much, search the Scriptures, and see whether it be not less than God commandeth? And if so, is it not God whom you accuse and reproach?
2. If they do too much in obeying God, why do canon
makers impose such abundance on them, as if God had not imposed enough?
3. Why do you never find fault with men for being too strong, too healthful, too rich, too great, but only for being too obedient to God? When Christ saith ; if we did all that God commandeth we must say, we are unprofitable servants, we have done no more than was our duty, and the best on earth came short of duty. But this, which is the core, I answered before: and conclude, that all that be in their right wits can more easily bear all your accusations and persecutions of us, as if we did too much in obedience to God, than the accusation of conscience and the displeasure of God for doing too little : which, alas! when we have done our best would sink us into despair, had we not the merits of Christ's suffering and perfect righteousness to trust to.
A humble Expostulation with the English Papists who by In
formation and Prosecution seek our Ruin. Though it be not Popery as such that I am here reasoning against, the course that many Papists take in seeking our destruction, giveth me cause of this humble expostulation : and I speak now of no other, but of them. I mean, 1. Those that write so hotly and ragingly to provoke superiors to ruin us. 2. Those that make a trade of being delators against us for worshipping God as we do. 3. Those of them that break in upon us with greatest haughtiness and fury, to take away all our goods, and seek our imprisonment. 4. Those that seek to ruin us by those laws which were made against themselves. 5. Those that would make superiors believe that our doctrine is more rebellious than theirs. To these I offer a few modest questions.
Quest. 1. There are some among you that profess great spirituality and strictness in religion. Serenus Cressy wrote to me (commending Baker's book which he published,) that he forsook the church of England because he found no spiritual contemplation and devotion among us. Such as Nerius, Sales, Kempis, Gerson Borromæus, Renti, &c. are really the chief honour of your church. Much of that for which I am hated by the enemies of serious godliness, I acknowledge to God's praise, I was first chiefly awakened to a book written by one whom Watson and others of your party grievously accuse, I mean Parson's book of Resolution corrected by Bunny. True Christianity and godliness is the same thing in all that have it. Your priest, Mr. Hutchinson, alias Berry, writeth that the most of serious godliness among Protestants is found among those called Puritans; so that I was fain to defend the Conformists against his charge. All this being so, is it the Spirit of God that engageth and enrageth you with the most destructive bitterness against those men whom
confess to be the most religious, merely because they are stiffest against your churchgovernment and way of worship? And do you not know that it tendeth more sensibly than disputes, to persuade the people whom you thus hate and prosecute, that your religion is malignity, and enmity to real godliness?
Quest. 2. Do you think it is prudent for you as soon as ever you get up, and and before you dare openly own your name and cause, to begin with malice, rage and cruelty, and that against the most religious (as you say)? Will not this persuade the people that all is true that is said of your intended cruelty, and make them fear you, as so many leopards or wolves? Will they not say, if the young serpents can so easily sting, what will the old ones do ? And if your infancy here begin with such destructive zeal, what will you do when you are at full growth?
Quest. 3. You cannot be ignorant what cause to accuse your church with cruelty and blood, hath been given the world by your church-laws and practices: by the council at the Lateran under Innocent III. the council for damning Henrician heretics, even kings that claim investiture of bishops, and those that decree the burning of all that you call heretics : by the murder of so many thousand Albigenses, Waldenses, Bohemians, &c. By the inquisitions more inhuman cruelties in Belgium, and Spain, &c. : by the massacres in France, and the murder of Henry III. and IV. By Queen Mary's flames: by the two hundred thousand murdered in Ireland. And there be many among you who disown all this, and say it is not from the principles of your religion (when yet general councils approved are your religion itself). This being copiously opened (as I said before by Henry Fowlis, Bishop Barlow, &c.), had it not been more prudent for you to have begun with lenity and love, to have drawn men to think that you are better minded, than to persuade them that you are of your ruler's and forefather's mind, and mean to imitate them?
Quest. 4. Have •you not observed that all parties have fallen by forcing multitudes to be their enemies by seeking to destroy or hurt them ? Most men love quietness, and will live in peace, if others will give them leave; but when they see they must offend others, or not defend themselves, it sets all their wit and power to work against their intolerable enemies. There are few creatures in the world that have not some power and inclination to hurt others for their own defence. . The bee hath a sting to defend her hive and honey. And do you not remember that your sufferings in England came most by Queen Mary's flames, and the Spanish invasion, and the many treasons against Queen Elizabeth, and by the Powder Plot? And how the French massacre and murders of kings, and the horrid Inquisition set all our parliaments against you? And how the murder of 200,000 in Ireland drove many thousands into the Parliament's army that else would not have gone? And will you yet stir up the land to fear and hate you?
Quest. 5. Is it not both imprudent and unrighteous for you of all men to turn those laws against us, which were made against you, and have so much slept, and little troubled you? You will by this call people to take notice of them that did not before. For my own part, as I never hurt any of you, so I know not that any of the ministers did, whose ruin you endeavour. We hear of none of your sufferings by any such : indeed these late years many have died as for the plot so much talked of; but by whom did they die? Was it not by the accusation and witness of Papists? Were not Oats, Bedlow, Dugdale, Turbervile, Prance, Dangerfield, Jenison, Smith, alias Barry, the Yorkshire witnesses, and the rest, besides the Irish, all men of yourselves, that came out of your own bosoms? Whether the men died justly or unjustly I leave to God; but sure it was men of your own selves that did it. And will you be revenged for this on such Protestants that meddled not in it?
And you should remember that you and we have a Protestant king, who hath sworn all his kingdom against all foreign jurisdiction, and all endeavour of any alteration of government in church or state, and so much abhors Popery that he hath made a law severely to punish all that shall but raise any suspicion that he is a Papist. And you must in reason take heed of dishonouring and defaming him, by defaming Protestants in general.
And sure since Queen Elizabeth's days we have had no kings whom you can justly accuse of cruelty towards you. No not King James when the Powder-plot had provoked him, if half be true that the bishop of Ambrun saith of his conference with him, or that Rushforth and others say of the oath of the king, prince and council for toleration, you are disingenuous if you accuse them of cruelty or rigorous severity. If
your Philanax Anglicus (as formerly in the image of both churches) you make all called Protestants of sincerity, to be of rebellious principles, and their religion introduced by it; and yet profess that you honour the king, as if you would have men doubt whether he be a Protestant of sincerity or else were as bad as you describe. Had the severe laws been executed against you, especially for mere religion, no one could wonder if you desired relief; but while you live quietly, and words and paper hurt you not (that I hear of) to begin with so much hurtfulness to them that meddled not with you, will disserve your cause.
Quest. 6. And is it consistent with reasonable modesty to go about to make the world believe that the Protestant doctrine is less loyal than yours? Do you think your books are invisible, and all your practices forgotten. It is none of the business of this writing to accuse you herein, of any thing but falsely accusing others, and seeking to destroy us on such accusation. Though you may thus deceive the ignorant that know no more of
tell them, that will but turn to your dishonour at last. Are not your foresaid council canons, which are your religion, visible ? Have not the forecited writers truly cited them and multitudes of your doctrines which may better inform men? Are all the wars of Italy, Germany, &c. against princes and emperors, for the pope, fogotten? Was it not a council of your bishops that decreed that all the carcases of those bishops that were for the Henrician heresy (that is, for the emperor's power of investing bishops and his exemption from being excommunicated and deposed by the pope) should be digged