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AN EPISTLE TO
CHARLES THE SECOND,
KING OF ENGLAND,
Aud to every Individual Member of his Council. Presented to them in pure love and good-will, that they might consider of the
things herein contained, before the King was crowned, or had taken his oath; forasmuch as a necessity from the Lord was laid upon the Penman of the said Epistle, in order thereto, who is known to divers people, by the name of Christopher Cheesman.
From the Town of Reading, in Berkshire, the 15th of the second Month, 1661.
VIVE ear, O king, and hearken to counsel ; let thy heart be
inclined to understanding, and diligently consider the things that concern thy everlasting peace, and the well-being of all people, under thy government. And oh, you counsellors of the king, know you this, that the God of Israel, who governs in the heavens, and in the earth, hath appeared in these nations, in the ab. sence of the king, and since his father's days, to bring to pass his great work, in performance of his promises, and returning the captivity of his people, who have been, many ages past, most crua elly afflicted and oppressed, under Pharaoh's hard task-masters, who have exercised authority over their consciences. But, now, the Lord God is come to deliver his Israel, in the Spirit, by, the hand of the great prophet, that Moses prophesied of, saying, • The Lord your God shall raise up a prophet, like unto me; one from among your brethren; him shall you hear in all things : And whosoever shall withdraw his ear from hearing that prophet, shall be cut off from among the people. This is the prophet, o king and council, that is worthy to reign, and, by the hand of this prophet, will the Lord bring to pass the purposes of his heart, and will set up justice and righteousness in the earth ; and whoever they be, that will not bow down and hearken to this prophet, whether king, councils, parliaments, armies, synods, or others, shall assuredly be destroyed, and cut off from among the people. For this great prophet, of whom Moses spoke, is the only begotten of God, the Christ, the Saviour, the Light of the World, that enlighteneth every one that cometh into the world. This is he, o king and council, that the Lord God hath raised up in these nations, since thy father's days, and in thy absence, and he alone is worthy to reign, not synods, nor hireling ministers; and thousands there be within thy dominions, o king, that have received this great prophet and true light, and a good understanding thereby (glory, glory to the Lord God for evermore) and now are making war with the nations in righteousness, and in particular, with thee, O king, and with thy council; not with sword, nor
spear, nor plottings, nor combinations, to hurt thee, O king, or any of thy family or people, nor any ways seeking to remove thee from thy crown and dignity, but, with the Spirit of God, striving to establish thy throne in righteousness, and to crown thee with everlasting honour and dignity. And know this, 0 king and council, that the people and servants of the Lord do not strive against flesh and blood, neither are their weapons carnal, but spiritual, and mighty, through God, to make war with the Man of Sin in all his appearances and forms of governments, whether presbytery, or episcopacy, or any other anti-christian form, which must all be thrown down in this day of the Lord's mighty power, wherein he hath made bare, and will, yet more and more, make bare his arm; and his power and authority shall be known against the hierarchy of antichrist, in the utter destruction there. of; the Lord will dash to pieces all the powers and authorities of the earth that stand in his way, or, any way, seek to uphold the kingdom and authority of the beast, and of the false prophet which is full of darkness. And the Lord God will bring in his kingdom of righteousness, which he hath begun to set up, and the same will finish, though it be to the everlasting destruction of all earthly potentates and people, that stand in opposition thereto.
Therefore, O king, take heed what thou dost, in this thy day, and power :- And, O council of the king, take heed, lest you counsel the king, either to swear, or to go about to establish, or set up the kingdom of antichrist, under any form whatsoever, whether episcopacy, or presbytery, or any other; for assuredly, if you so do, it will be the utter destruction both of you, and your king. And again I say, 0 king and council, take heed; for your enemy, and the enemy of man's salvation, is very active in this day, and will not cease tempting of you, both within and without, to make you instruments to obstruct the work of the Lord, to whose temptations, if you yield, the Lord will dash you to pieces; and so you will become as miserable as those that are gone before you.
And, o king, in the fear and dread of the Lord, prize thy time, and the Lord's mercies towards thee, and thy family, for they have been very great, in this day of thy visitation, wherein the Lord hath not been wanting to thee, but hath sent his servants, time after time, to counsel thee, and to forewarn thee, of the sore judgments that are hastening upon these nations, for the wickedness thereof.
And the Lord God hath heen striving with thee, not only by his Spirit, in his ministers and servants; but his witness, in thine own conscience also, since he hath set thee upon thy father's throne.
And myself (as one of the least, to whom the Lord hath shewed mercy, in bringing me into the good land, wherein every one, that is faithful, receives of the fruits and increase thereof, and drinks of the pleasant streams that therein run, which more refresh than all the increase of earthly trcasure) do now, in obedience to the motions of God's Spirit, and in his fear and dread, give in my testimony before thee, o king, and before thy council, for the Lord God, though King of Kings, yet not obeyed by the people, out of his fear, and teachers of these nations, and for his truth, that is fallen in the gates; and, for his people, though harmless and just, yet more oppressed than any other people in the nations, by reason of the hireling ministry, which teach the people to err, and arc enemies to God's truth and people. Know this now,
therefore, O king, that, if thou wilt not regard the Lord God's striving with thee, by his servants, nor hearken to, nor return at the reproofs of God's witness, in thy own conscience, then the Lord will withhold his servants from thee, and his Spirit from striving with thee, and give thee up to hardness of heart; and then thou wilt be ruled by blood-thirsty men, enemies to God's truth, and his people, who will cause thee to do such things, which, may be, was once far from thy heart to do; and then the Lord God, who respects no man's person, will smite thee and them, with a very terrible overthrow, and utter ruin and destruction, as he hath done to those that have gone before thee, who would not hearken to God's servants, nor return at his reproofs. For known be it to thee, O king, God did not remove those men from the throne of government, in these nations, for their well-doing, but for their evil; for their unrighteous and unjust actions, because they governed not for God; and therefore, as the kingdoms of the earth are the Lord's, so he disposeth of them, as he pleaseth: Hè plucks down the governors therein, whose actions proclaim them traytors to their lord and master, who intrusted them, and set up others to try them also, whether they will obey and do his commands, and the things that he delights in: Viz. mercy and justice, true judgment and righte. ousness; and the contrary he denies, with the workers thereof, from the highest to the lowest. And so, when that wicked and perfidious generation of men would, by no means, be reformed, then the wrath of the Lord was kindled, and his decree went forth against them; and so they were dashed in pieces, even like a pot. ter's vessel ; it was their wickedness caused them to fall, and no. thing else ; for they still obstructed the Lord's work, and yet he bore with them a long time, and would not that any should break them to pieces, but disappointed all plottings and combinations against them, from time to time; and also counselled them, by his ministers and servants, which he sent unto them, and did warn them of the evil that fell upon them long before it came, and reproved them of their evil deeds, and, divers times, suffered their own servants to take their power from them, and then they lay under shame and contempt for some time, and then restored to government again; but still they went on, in their evil practices, being covetous, self-seeking men, having a form of godliness, but denied the power thereof; they were great oppressors, and hardhearted men; and imprisoned the ministers and servants of the Lord, and maintained an idle, dronish, idolatrous, hireling, tythe.
taking ministry in the nations; and suffered them to persecute, oppress, and afflict the most precious ministers and servants of God, whose estates they took away, and whose bodies they imprisoned, and some of them most cruelly abused in prison, even unto death. Mark, therefore, O king, had the Lord been pleased with such things, then, doubtless, thou and thy party had never returned to govern in these nations any more; if the Lord had seen good, that oppression, and grinding the faces of the poor, and maintaining a hireling ministry, and forcing the people of God to pay ty thes, and persccuting and imprisoning of God's ministers and servants, should have continued in these nations, then those men, which he removed to bring thee in, might have been fit instruments for such a work, and no need for thee to have been brought in, in so eminent a manner, to do the work, with which the Spirit of the Lord was burdened and grieved, from day to day, and for which his wrath broke forth against those men, whose names now rot in perpetual infamy.
Therefore, doth it not concern thee, O king, and thy council, to consider what you are doing? For the Lord is the same now, as ever he was, and regards not king, councils, parliaments, armies, protectors, so called, or any one, more than another, otherwise than they are found in the path of righteousness, mercy, and true judgment.
Therefore, awake, awake, O king; with thy council stand up, and see whereon the basis of thy kingdom stands, lest thy crown and dignity fall in the dust in these great overturnings ; for verily, verily, there is yet a greater overturning than has been, that will suddenly come upon these nations : In which overturning, O king, thou, and thy party, if you proceed, as you have begun, must be the very subject matter of the day, and must drink the very bot. tom and dregs of that cup, which all persons, that have miscarried in government for divers years past, have tasted of; for the Lord has tried you many years, by sore and grievous affliction, and now hath restored you, that all people and nations may see what you will do ; and thou, O king, and thy party, hast begun to set up and maintain that false ministry and worship, and idolatrous prac. tice, and vain sports (for which the wrath of God broke forth, about twenty years since, against thy family) that is to say, episcopacy, with all the abominations, both in worship and practice, which it brings along with it, notwithstanding the light that shines in this day of the Lord's mighty power, and this glorious day of visitation, wherein the Lord hath admitted you to stand for trial : And know this, O king, thy father and his party deceased, never saw such a day, nor received so much mercy (as thee, and thy party that now survives, have done) but were in the dark and cloudy day, folded up under the hireling ministers, and had not the ministers of Christ, the Light of the world, sent unto them, with message after message, as to thee, and thy party, hath been done, counselling thee, O king, and thy council, to fear God, and to work righteousness; and the ministers and servants of the Lord have been faithful unto thee, O king, in every thing, and in this thing in particular ; that is, thou limit not the Spirit of God, in forcing all to worship God, after the manner of the nations and heathen, nor to maintain a hireling ministry; for, where there is such a thing done by authority, there must of necessity follow great ignorance, and gross darkness will soon cover the face of such a nation ; for a forced uniformity in matters of God's worship, and the hireling ministry, are not of God, but of the devil; not of Christ, but antichrist; and such a ministry I do affirm, and shall maintain, was the cause of thy father's fall; for the hireling mini. stry, at that time, had their hearts full of war, and were divided, and so ministered death unto the people on both sides. And if thou, O king, shalt suffer religion to be established by a law, and shalt force people thereunto, it will be thy utter ruin, and thou wilt assuredly miscarry in government, as any that hath gone be. fore thee.
And this I declare to thee in tender love and pity towards thee, and likewise exhort thee in the fear and dread of the Lord God, that thou swear not at all; for, if thou dost, thou breakest the command of Christ Jesus, the Light of the World, who is the wisdom of God (by whom princes rule, and the kings of the earth decree justice) who said, Swear not at all. Consider, o king, what advantage is swearing to the just man? Will he be the more just for swearing? Or, is the command of Christ of none effect ? Nay, O king, the just man need not swear, thereby to add to his integrity ; nor doth the unjust man any ways abate or destroy the deceit or hypocrisy of his wicked heart, whereby he may become more just, by swearing. Therefore, Oking, if thou canst not do justice and right, for the people over whom God hath made thee chief ruler and magistrate, without swearing, thou wilt never be able to do it by swearing. Nay, Q king, but on the contrary, for thee to swear that thou wilt maintain such religion, or do such and such justice for the people, puts thee into an absolute incapability to do justice, forasinuch as that thou refusest that wisdom, by which kings decree justice, as aforesaid, that is, Christ Jesus, the Wisdom of God, who said, Swear not at all,' and so said his apostle James. And, under the old covenant, an oath was an end to all strife; but Christ the oath of God, and new covenant, said, • Swear not at all;' and Christ the new covenant is the prophet, that Moses prophesied of, and said, “Whosoever would not hear him, should be cut off from among the people.'
Therefore, O king and council, swear not at all, néither establish religion by a law, to force an uniformity thereunto, por maintain a hireling ministry; for such a thing was the overthrow not only of thy father, but of all that have followed after, till thyself, by the mighty hand of God, were set in the place where now thou art. The parliaments, protectors, and armies were all swearers, and high pretenders to religion in the form, but nothing in the power, but persecuted all the upright in heart, who were in the power, but out of their form; so I say, those governors who