Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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The Protector's Speech, the 17th of September, 1656, at the opening of the Parliament. (fn. 1)
When I came hither, I did think that a duty was incumbent upon me, a little to pity myself, because, (this being a very extraordinary occasion) I thought I had very many things to say to you; but truly now, seeing you in such a condition as you are, I think I must turn off in this, as I hope I shall in every thing else, and reflect upon, as certainly not being able long to bear that condition and heat that you are in.
Rhetoricians, to whom I do not pretend; neither to them, nor to the things they use to speak, words. Truly, our business is to speak things. The dispensations of God that are upon us do require it, and that subject upon which we shall make our discourse, is somewhat of very great interest and concernment, both the glory of God, and with reference to his interest in the world. I mean his peculiar, his most peculiar interest, and that will not leave any of us to exclude his general interest, which is the concernment of the living people within these three nations, with all the dependencies thereupon.
I told you I should speak to things, things that concern these interests, the glory of God and his peculiar interest in the world, which is more extensive, I say more extensive, than the people of all these three nations, with the appurtenances, Or the countries and places belonging unto them:
The first thing, therefore, that I shall speak to, is, that that is the first lesson of nature, which is being and preservation. As to that of being, I do think I do not ill style it the first consideration that nature teacheth the sons of Adam, and then I hope we shall enter into a field large enough, when we come to consider that well-being; and if that first be not well laid, I think the rest will hardly follow.
Now, in order to this, to the being and subsistence of these nations, with all the dependencies; the conservation of that is either with a respect to be had to them that seek to undo it, and so make it not to be, and then with a very natural consideration to what will make it to be, will keep its being and its subsistence.
That which plainly seeks the destruction of the being of these nations, is out of doubt the endeavour and design of all the common enemies of them. I think truely it will not be hard to find out who those enemies are, nor what hath made them so. I think they are all the wicked men of the world, whether abroad or at home, that are the enemies to the very being of these nations, and that upon a common account, from that very enmity that is in them. Yet, whatsoever should serve the glory of God, and the interest of his people, which they see to be more eminently, yea more eminently patronized and professed in this nation, (we will not speak it with vanity) above all the nations in the world; this is the common ground of the common enmity had against the prosperity of these nations, against the very being of them. But we shall not, I think, take up much time in contemplating who these enemies are; what they are, in the general notion; but labour to specificate our enemies, to know who they be, and are, that seek the very destruction and being of these nations.
And, truly, I would not have laid this foundation but to this end, that I might very particularly communicate with you; for which end you are called hither at this time, that I might particularly communicate with you, of the many dangers that these nations stand in, in respect of enemies, both abroad and at home, and also to advise with you about the remedies and means to obviate these dangers; which, say I, (and I shall leave it to you whether you will join with me or no,) strike at the very being and interest of these nations. And, therefore, that I may be particular, I shall shortly represent to you the estate of your affairs in that respect, in respect of the enemies you are engaged with, and how you come to be engaged with those enemies, and how they came to be, as heartily, (I believe,) engaged against you.
Why, truly, your great enemy is the Spaniard. He is a natural enemy, he is naturally so, he is naturally so throughout, through that enmity that is in him against all that is of God, that is in you, or that which may be in you, contrary to that that his blindness and darkness, led on by superstition, and the implicitness of his faith (in submitting to the See of Rome) acts him unto.
With this King and State, I say, you are at this present in hostility. We put you into this hostility. You will give us leave to tell you how. As we are ready to excuse most of our actions, (and to justify them as well, too, as excuse them) upon the grounds of necessity; the grounds of necessity being, of justification, above all considerations of instituted law, and if this or any other state would go about (as I know they never will) to make laws against what may happen, against Providence, I think it is obvious to any man, that they will make laws against all events; events and issues of things being from God alone, to whom all issues belong.
This State is your enemy, and is your enemy (as I told you) naturally, by that antipathy that is in him providentially, and that in divers respects. You could not have an honest or honourable peace with him. It was sought by the Long Parliament. (fn. 2) It was not attained. It could not be attained with honour and honesty. I say, it could not be attained with honour and honesty. And truly, when I say that, he is naturally throughout an enemy, an enmity is put into him by God. "I will put an enmity between thy seed and her seed" (fn. 3)—which goes but for little among statesmen, but is more considerable than all things. And he that considers not the providential and accidental enmity, I think he is not well acquainted with Scripture and the things of God. And he is not only so (upon that account), but he is providentially so, God having in his wisdom disposed it to be so, when we made a breach with him.
No sooner did this nation form that which is called, unworthily, the Reformed Religion, after the death of Queen Mary, by the Queen Elizabeth of famous memory, (we need not be ashamed to say so,) but his designs were, by all unworthy, unnatural means, to destroy that person, and to seek the ruin and destruction of these kingdoms; and for me to instance in particular upon that account, were to trouble you at a very unseasonable time. There is a declaration extant, which very fully hath in it the original of the Spaniard's veuting him upon this nation, and a series of it, from those very grounds to this present day. But it was so partly upon that general account which all have agreed, the French, all the Protestants in Germany have agreed, that his design was the empire of the whole Christian world, if not more, and upon that ground he looks at this nation as his greatest obstacle. And what his attempts were to that end, I refer you to that declaration, and to the observations of men who read history. It would not be ill to remember the several assassinations designed upon that lady, that great Queen; the attempts upon Ireland, their invading it, the designs of the same nature upon this nation, public designs, private designs, all manner of designs to accomplish this great and general end.
Truly, King James made a peace, but whether this nation, any interest of all the Protestant Christians suffered not more by that peace, than ever by its hostility, I refer it to your consideration. So that a State that you can neither have peace with, or reason from, is that State with whom you have enmity at this time, and against whom you are engaged. And give me leave to say this unto you, because it is truth and most men know it, that the Long Parliament did endeavour, but could not obtain satisfaction all the time they sate; for their messenger was murthered, (fn. 4) and when they asked satisfaction for the blood of your poor people unjustly shed in the West Indies, and for the wrongs done elsewhere; when they asked liberty of conscience for your people that traded thither; satisfaction would not be given, but denied. I say, they denied satisfaction to be given, either for your messenger that was murthered, or the blood that was shed, or the damages that were done, in the West Indies; no satisfaction at all, nor any reason given, why there should not be liberty given to your people that traded thither, whose trade was very considerable there, and drew many of your people thither, and begot an apprehension in us; whether in you or no, let God judge between you and himself. I judge not, but all of us know that the people that went thither to manage the trade there, were imprisoned. We desired such a liberty, as they might keep Bibles in their pockets to exercise their liberty of religion to themselves, and not to be under restraint. But there is not liberty of conscience to be had, neither satisfaction for injuries, nor for blood. When these things were desired, the ambassador told us it was to ask his master's two eyes, to ask both his eyes, to ask these things of him.
Now, if this be so, why truly then here is some little foundation laid to justify the war that was had with the Spaniard. And not only so, but the plain truth of it is; make any peace with any State that is Popish, and subjected to the determination of Rome, and the Pope himself; you are bound and they are loose. It is in the pleasure of the Pope at any time to tell you, that though the man may be murthrered, yet he has got into the sanctuary. And it is as true, and it hath been found by common and constant experience, that peace is but to be kept, so long as the Pope saith amen to it.
We have not to do with any Popish State except France, and it is true that they do not think themselves under such a tie to the Pope; (fn. 5) but think themselves at liberty to perform honesties with nations with whom they are agreed, and protest against the obligation of such a thing as that is. They are able to give us an explicit answer to any thing reasonably demanded of them; and there is no State we can speak of (save this which is under the lash of the Pope to be determined) but will break it or keep it, when they please, upon these grounds.
In the time when Phillip II. was married to Queen Mary, and since that time, through that power and instigation 20,000 Protestants were massacred in Ireland. We thought, being denied just things, we thought it our duty to get that by the sword which we could not otherwise do. And this hath been the spirit of Englishmen, and, if so, certain it is, and ought to be, the spirit of men that have higher spirits.
With this State you are engaged, and it is a great and powerful State, though I may say, that, also, with all other States, with all other Christian States you are at peace. All these engagements were upon you before this Government was undertaken; war with France, Denmark, and, upon the matter, war with Spain. I could instance how it was said, we will have a war in the Indies, though we fight them not at home. I say, we are at peace with all other nations, and have only a war with Spain. I shall say somewhat to you that will let you see our clearness to that, by and by.
Having thus engaged with Spain, it is that party that brings all your enemies before you. It doth, for it is so now, that Spain hath espoused that interest, that you have all along hitherto been conflicting with, Charles Stuart's interest. And I would but meet that General upon a fair discourse, that is willing that that person should come back again, but I dare not believe any in this room is. (fn. 6) I say, it doth not detract at all from your cause, nor yet from your ability to make resistance, that God by his Providence hath so disposed, that the King of Spain hath espoused that person. I say, no person but would be wonderfully well satisfied, that it is not for the aversion of that person, and choosing out (as was said to-day, (fn. 7)) a captain to lead us back again into Egypt, if there be such a place, I mean metaphorically and allegorically so, that is to say, returning to all those things that we have been fighting against, and destroying of all that good, (we have had some hints to-day, (fn. 7)) we have attained unto. I am sure my speech will signify very little, if such grounds go not for good; and I must say this to you, that there is not a man in England, that is apt to comply with Papists and Cavaliers, but to them it is the greatest parable and absurdest discourse. And therefore we could wish they were all where Charles Stuart is, all that declare that they are of that spirit. I do, with all my heart, and I would help them with a boat to carry them over, that are of that mind. Yea, and if you shall think it a duty to drive them over by arms, I will help in that also.
You are engaged with this enemy, and this last said hath a little vehemency in it, but it is worth your consideration. Though I seem to be all this while upon the justice of this business; yet my desire is to let you see the dangers that this nation stands in, all the honest interests, yea all interests of the Protestants in Germany, Denmark, Helvetia, and the Cantons, and all the interests in Christendom are the same as yours. If you succeed, if you succeed well, and act well, and be convinced what is God's interest, and but prosecute it, you will find that you act for a very great many that are God's own. Therefore, I say, that as your danger is from the common enemy abroad, who is the head of the Papal interest, the head of the anti-Christian interest, that is so described in Scripture, so forespoken of, and so fully in that characteral name given him by the Apostle in his Epistle to the Thessalonians, and also expressed throughout the Revelations, which are sure plain things, except you will deny the truth of the Scriptures, you must needs see that that State is so described in Scripture to be Papal and anti-Christian. 1 say, with this enemy, and upon this account, you have the quarrel with the Spaniard.
And truly he hath an interest in your bowels, he hath so. The Papists in England, they have been accounted ever since I was born, Spaniolized. There is not a man amongst us can hold up a face against it. They never regarded France, they never regarded any other Popish state, where any interest was. Spain was their patron. It was so in England, Ireland and Scotland, no man can doubt of it. Therefore I must needs say, this interest at home is a great —of your danger. It is, and it is evidently so, and it will be more so, upon that account that I told you. He hath espoused Charles Stuart; with whom, he is fully at agreement, for. whom he hath raised 7 or 8000 men, that are now quartered at Bruges, to whom Don John of Austria hath promised, as soon as the campaign is ended, which it is conceived will be in about five or six weeks, he shall have added 4 or 5000. And the Duke of Newburgh, who is a popish state, hath promised good assistance according to his power; and other popish states, the like. (fn. 8) In this condition you are with that state, and in this condition through unavoidable necessity; because your enemy was naturally so, and is become so, providentially.
This being so, that as there is a complication of these interests, so there is a complication here. Can we think that Papists and Cavaliers shake not hands in England. It is unworthy, un-Christian, un-English-like. Therefore, I Bay, it doth serve to let you see, and for that end I tell it you, to let you see your danger, and the rise of it. It is not only thus, that we stand in this condition towards Spain, towards all that interest, (that would make void and frustrate all that are doing for you,) in respect of the popish interest, Papists and Cavaliers, but it is also, that is to say, your danger is so great, if you be sensible of it, from persons that pretend other things; yea, who (though, perhaps, they do not all suit in their hearts with the said interest) yet all men know, and must know, that discontented spirits are somewhere. They must expect back and support somewhere. They must end at the interest of the Cavalier at the long run. That must be their support. I could have reckoned this upon other, but I shall give you an account of things as they appear to be, for that I desire to clear them to you, not discoursively, but to let you see matter-of-fact, and to let you see how the state of your affairs stands.
It is true, there was, not long since, an endeavour to make an insurrection in England. It was so for some time before it broke out. It was so before the last Parliament sat. It was so from the time, not only of the undertaking of this government, but the spirit and principle of it did work in the Long Parliament. From that time to this hath there been nothing but enterprizing and designing against you, and it is no strange nor new thing to tell you, because it is true and certain, that the Papists, the Priests and Jesuits, have a great influence upon the Cavalier party. They, and the. Cavaliers, prevail upon discontented spirits of the nation, who are not all so apt to see where dangers lie, nor to what the management of affairs tends. Those do foment all things that tend to disservice, to propagate discontentments upon the minds of men. And if we would instance in particulars, those that have manifested this, we could tell you that Priests and Jesuits have insinuated themselves into the society of men, pretending the same things that they have pretended, and whose ends have been that (out of doubt) which I have told you.
We had that insurrection. (fn. 9) It was intended first to the assassination of my person, which I would not remember as any thing at all considerable to myself, or to you; for they must cut throats beyond human consideration before they had been able to effect their design. You know that very well. It is no fable; for persons were arraigned for it before the Parliament, and tried, and upon proof condemned, for their designs and endeavours to cut the throat of myself and three or four more, that they singled out, as being a little more than ordinary industrious to preserve the peace of the nation; and did think to make a very good issue, to the accomplishment of their designs. I say this was made good upon the trial. Before the Parliament sat, all the time the Parliament sat, they were about it. We did hint these things to them by several persons, that acquainted them therewith. But what fame we lay under I know not. It was conceived, it seems, we had things that rather intended to persuade agreement and consent, and monies out of the people's purses, or I know not what; but nothing was believed, though there was a series of these things, distinctly and plainly communicated to many members.
The Parliament rose about the middle of January. (fn. 10) By the 12th of March, after, they were in arms. But these were a company of mean fellows, (alas.!) not a lord, nor a gentleman, nor a man of fortune, nor this, nor that amongst them;. but it was a poor, headstrong people, a company of rash fellows, that were at the undertaking of this, and this was all; and by such things have men lost their consciences and honours, by complying upon such notions as these are.
Give me leave to tell you, we know it, we are able to prove it, and I refer you to that declaration which is for provision against Cavaliers, as I did you to those other that set down the ground of our war with Spain, whether these things were so, or no. If men will not believe, we are satisfied, we do our duty. If we let you know things, and the ground of them, it is satisfaction enough to us; but to see how men can reason themselves out of their honours and consciences, in their compliance with those sort of people, which truly I must needs say some men had compliance with, that I thought never would for all the world, I must tell you so.
These men rise in March, and that it was a general design, I think all the world must know and acknowledge; for it is as evident as the day that the King sent Sir Joseph Wagstaffe, and another, the Earl of Rochester, (fn. 11) to the North. And that it was general, we had not by suspicion and imagination, but we know individuals. We are able to make appear, that persons that carried themselves the most demurely and fairly of any men in England, were engaged in this business, and he that gave our instructions, lost his life for it, in — country, I think I may now speak of it, because he is dead; but he did discover, from time to time, a full intelligence of these things. Therefore, how men of wicked spirits may traduce us in that matter, or, notwithstanding all that hath been done, may still hold their compliances, I leave it. I think England cannot be safe, unless malignants be carried far away.
There was never any design, but we could hear of it out of the Tower. He that watched over that, (fn. 12) would give us an account, that within a fortnight, or such a thing, there would be some stirrings; for there was a great concourse of people came to them; and that they had very great elevations of spirit. It was not only there, but in all the counties of England. We have had informations, that they were upon designs all over, besides some particular places, which came to our particular assurance and knowledge we had from persons, in the several counties in England. And, if this be so, then as long as commotions can be held on foot, you are in danger by your war with Spain, with whom all the Papal interest is joined. This Pope (fn. 13) is a person all the world knows to be a person of zeal for his religion, (wherein he perhaps may shame us) and a man of contrivance, and wisdom, and policy, and his designs are known, all over; to be nothing else but endeavours to unite all the Popish interests, in all the Christian world, against this nation, above any, and against all the Protestant interest in the world.
If this be so, and if you will take a measure of these things, and we must still hold our esteem that we have had, and be ready to shake hands with them, and the Cavaliers; what doth this differ from the Bishop of Canterbury, to reconcile matters of religion, if this temper be upon us, to unite with these men in civil things. Give me leave to say, and speak what I know. If this be so, I tell you plainly, (I hope I need not,) I wish all the Cavaliers in England, and all the Papists heard me declare it, and many here besides yourselves, I tell you, there are a company of poor men, that are ready to spend their blood against such compliance, and I am persuaded the same things of you.
If this be our condition, with respect had to this, truly let. us go a little farther, for I would lay open the danger, wherein I think in my conscience we stand, and if God give not your hearts to see and discern that which is obvious, we shall sink, and the house will fall about our ears, upon such sordid attempts as these are. Truly there are a great many people in this nation, that would not reckon up every pitiful thing, (that may be like a mouse nibbling at the heel,) but of considerable dangers. I will tell you plainly, for it is not time for compliments, nor rhetorical speeches. I have none, truly, but to tell you how we find things.
There is a generation of men in this nation, that cry up nothing but righteousness, and justice, and liberty, and these are diversified in several sects, and sorts of men, and though they may be contemptible, in respect they are many, and so not like to make a solid vow to do you mischief, yet they are apt to agree in aliquo tertio they are known, yea well enough to shake hands together, I should be loth to say with Cavaliers, but with all the scum and dirt of this nation, to put you to trouble. And, therefore, when I shall come to speak to the remedies, I shall tell you, what are the most apt and proper remedies, in all these respects. I tell you, of the very time, when there was an insurrection at Salisbury, I doubt whether it be believed, whether ever there was any rising in North Wales, Shrewsbury, Rufford-Abby, where there was about five hundred horses, Marston-moor, Northumberland, &c. where all these insurrections were, at that very time. There was a party, which was very proper and apt to come between the Papists and cavaliers, and that Levelling party hath some access lately that goes under a finer name or notion. I think they would be called Commonwealth's men, who, perhaps, have reason little enough. And it is strange that men of fortune and great estates, should join with such a people; but if the fact be so, there needs no great reason to discover it to be so, it being so by demonstration.
I say, this people, at that very time, they were pretty numerous, (and do not despise them,) at that time the Cavaliers were risen, this very party had prepared a declaration against all the things that had been transacted, and called them I know not by what, tyranny, oppression, things against the liberty of the subject; and cried out for justice, and righteousness, and liberty; and what was all this business for, but to join with the Cavaliers, to carry on that design, and these are things, not words. That declaration we got, and the penner of it we got, and we have got intelligence also, how the business was laid and contrived, which was hatched in the time of the sitting of that Parliament. I do not accuse any body, but I say, that was the time of it, an unhappy time. And a plausible petition was penned, that must come to me, forsooth, to consider of these things, and to give redress and remedies; and this was so.
Now, indeed, I must tell you plainly, we suspected a great deal of violence then, and we did hunt it out. I will not tell you these are high things, but at that time that the Cavaliers were to rise, a party was to seize upon General Monk in Scotland, and to commit him to Edinburgh Castle, upon this pretence of liberty; and when they had seized upon him and clapped him by the heels, and some other true and faithful officers, they were resolved upon a number at the same time to march away for London, and to leave a party behind them, to have their throats cut by the Scots. Though I will not say they would have done it, yet it cannot be thought otherwise, but that a considerable army would have followed them, at the heels. And not only thus, but this spirit and principle designed some little fiddling things, upon some of your officers, to an assassination, and an officer was engaged, that was upon the guard, to seize me in my bed. This was true. And other foolish designs there were, as to get in a room, to get gunpowder laid in it, and to blow up the room wherein I lay. And this, we can tell you, is true. These are persons not worthy naming, but the things are really true, and this is the state wherein we have stood, with which we have conflicted since the last Parliament. And upon this account, and in this combination, it is that I say to you, that the ringleaders to all this are none but your old enemies, the Papists and Cavaliers. We have some in prison for these things.
Now we would be loth to tell you of notions more seraphical. These are poor and low conceits. We have had very seraphical notions. We have had endeavours to deal, between two interests; one that was part of the Commonwealth's interest, and another that was a notion of a Fifth-Monarchy interest. Whom I do not repeat, whose condition I do not repeat, as thinking it not worthy our trouble; but, de facto, it hath been so. That there hath been endeavours, as there were endeavours to make a reconciliation between Herod and Pilate, that Christ might be put to death; so there hath been endeavours of reconciliation between the Fifth-Monarchy's and the Commonwealth's Men, that there might be union, in order to an end, no end being so bad as that of Herod's, but in order to end in blood and confusion, and that you may know I profess, I do not believe these two last, of Commonwealth's Men and Fifth-Monarchy Men, that have stood at a distance. I think they did not participate, I would be so charitable; I would be, that they did not. But this I will tell you, that for the other, they did not only set these things on work, but sent a fellow, a wretched creature, ah apostate from religion and all honesty, they sent him to Madrid, to advise with the King of Spain, to lend forces to invade this nation, promising satisfaction, if they would comply and concur with him to have both men and monies; undertaking both to engage the fleet to mutiny, and also your army to gain a garrison; to raise a party; that if the Spaniard would say where he would land, they would be ready to assist him.
This person was sometimes a colonel in the army. He went with letters to the Archduke Leopoldus and Don John. That was an ambassador, and gave promises of much monies, and came back again, and hath been soliciting, and did obtain monies, that he sent hither by bills of exchange; and God, by his providence, we being exceeding poor, directed that we lighted on some of them and some of the monies. Now, if they be payable, let them be called for If the House shall think fit to order any, they may have an inspection into these things.
We think it our duty to tell you of these things, and we can make them good. Here is your danger, that is it; and here is a poor nation that hath wallowed in its. blood, though, thanks be to God! we have had peace these four or five years. Yet here is the condition we stand in; and I think I should be false to you, if I should not give you this true representation of it.
I am to tell you, by the way, a word to justify a thing that I hear is much spoken of. When we knew all these designs before mentioned, when we found that the Cavaliers would not be quiet, no quiet there is, "no peace to the wicked," saith the Scripture, the 57th of Isaiah. "They are like the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." They cannot rest, they have no peace with God and Jesus Christ in the remission of sins. They do not know what belongs to it, therefore they know not how to be at rest; therefore they can no more cease from their actions, than they can cease to be, nor so easily neither.
Truly, when this insurrection was, and we saw it, in all the roots and grounds of it, we did find out a little poor invention, which I hear has been much regrated. I say, there was a little thing invented, which was the erecting of your Major-generals, (fn. 14) to have a little inspection upon the people, thus divided, thus discontented, thus dissatisfied, in divers interests, by the Popish party, the Lord Taffe (fn. 15) and others, the most, consisting of natural Irish rebels, and all those men you have fought against in Ireland, and expulsed from thence, as having had a hand in that bloody massacre of those that were under his power who should have joined in this excellent business of insurrection.
And, upon such a rising as that was, truly, I think if ever any thing were justifiable to necessity, and honest in every respect, this was; and I could as soon venture my life with it, as any thing I ever undertook. We did find out, I mean myself and the Council, that if there were need, to have greater forces to carry on this work, it was a most righteous thing to put the charge upon that party, which was the cause of it, and if there be any man that hath a face looking averse to this, I dare pronounce him to be a man against the interest of England. Upon this account, and upon this ground of necessity, when we saw what game they were upon, and knew individual persons, and of the greatest rank, not a few, engaged in this business; (I knew one man that laid down his life for it, and by letters intercepted, which made it as clear as the day,) we did think it our duty to make them that were in the combination of men, as evident as any thing in the world, equally to bear their share of the charge; one with another, for the raising of the forces that were so necessary to defend us against those designs. And truly, if any man be angry at it, I am plain, and shall use an homely expression, let him turn the buckle of his girdle behind him. If this were to be done again, I would do it.
How the Major-generals have behaved themselves in that work. I hope they are men as to their persons of known integrity and fidelity, and men that have freely adventured their blood and lives, for that good cause, (if it be thought so, and it was well stated, (fn. 16) against all the humours and fancies of men). And, truly, England doth yet receive one day more of lengthening out its tranquillity by that occasion.
Well, your danger is, as you have seen, and truly I am sorry it is so great. I wish it might cause no despondency, as truly I think it will not, because we are Englishmen; that is one good account. And if God give a nation propriety of valour and courage, it is honour and mercy, and much more because you all (I hope) are Christian men, that know Jesus Christ, and know that cause that hath been mentioned to you this day.
Having declared to you my sense and my knowledge; pardon me, if I say so, my knowledge of the condition of these poor nations, for it hath an influence upon them all, it concerneth them all very palpably, I should be to blame, if I did not a little offer to you the remedies. I would comprehend them under two considerations. They are bound somewhat general. The one is, considering all things that may be done, and ought to be done, in order to security. That is one. And, truly, the other is a common head. The other is, doing all things that ought to be done, in order to reformation, and with that I shall close my discourse. And all that first hath been hinted at, was but to give you a sense of the danger that is most material and significant; for which you are principally called hither to advise of the remedies.
I do put them into this method, not but I think they are scarcely distinct. I do believe, truly, upon serious and deliberate consideration, that a true reformation, (as it may, and will, through God's acceptance, and by the endeavours of his poor servants be,) that that will be pleasing in his sight; and which will be not only that, which shall avert the present danger, but be a worthy return for all the blessings and mercies which you have received. So, in my conscience, if I were put to show it this hour, where the security of the nations will lie, forces, arms, watchings, parts, strength, your being and freedom, be as politic, and diligent, and as vigilant as you can be, I would say in my very conscience, and as before Almighty God I speak it, I think your reformation, if it be honest, and thorough, and just, it will be your best security.
First, for that of security. We shall speak a little distinctly to that. You see where your war is. It is with the Spaniard. You have peace with all nations, or the most of them, Swede, Dane, Dutch. At present, I say it is well, it is at present so; and so with the Portugal, France, the Mediterranean Sea; both those states, both Christian and Profane. The Mahometans, you have peace with them all. Only with Spain, I say, you have a difference, you have a war. I pray consider it. Do I come to tell you that I would tie you to this war? No. As you shall find your spirits and reasons grounded in what hath been said, so let you and me join in the prosecution of that war, as we are satisfied, and as the cause will appear to our consciences, in the sight of the Lord; but if you can come to prosecute it, prosecute it vigorously, or do not do it at all.
Truly, I shall speak a very great word, one may ask a very great question. Unde, whence shall it come ? Our nation is overwhelmed in debts. But I think it my duty to deal plainly. I shall speak to that which nature teacheth us. If we engage in a business, a recoiling man may, haply, recover of his enemy; but the courage of an enemy, surely, will be in the keeping of his ground. Therefore, it is that which I would advise you, that we may join together to prosecute it vigorously.
In the second place, I would advise you, that you would deal effectually, seeing there is such a complication of interests. If you believe that there is such a complication of in. terests; why then, in the name of God, that excites you the more to do it ? Give me leave to tell you, that I do not believe that in any war, that ever was in former times, nor any engagements that you have had with others, this nation had more obligations upon them to look to itself, to forbear expense of time, precious time, needlessly to mind things that are not essential; to be quibbling about words, and, comparatively, about things of no moment; and, in the mean time, being in such a case, as I suppose you know we are, to suffer ourselves to be wanting to a just defence against the enemies abroad, or not to be thoroughly sensible of the distempers that are at home. I know, perhaps, there are many considerations that may teach you, that may induce you to keep your hands tender from men of one religion, and of such an interest, as is so spread and rooted in the nation. Hence, if they seek the eradication of the nation, if they are active, as you have seen; and it hath been made manifest, so as may not be denied, to the carrying on of their designs; if England must be eradicated by persons complicated with the Spaniard; if this must be brought in through distempers, and falseness of men amongst themselves, then the question is no more but this: whether any consideration whatsoever shall lead us, for fear of eradicating of distempers, to suffer all the honest interests of this nation to be eradicated? Therefore, speak but generally of any of their distempers of all sorts, and where a member cannot be cured the rule is plain, ense rescindendum est immedicabile vulnus; and I think, it is such an advantage, as that nothing could ever be more properly used, since this or any nation was.
As to those lesser distempers of people that pretend religion, yet from the whole consideration of religion, which would fall under, one of the heads of reformation, I had rather put it under this head, and I shall the less speak to it, because you have been so well spoken to this day already. I will tell you the truth, that, that which hath been our practice since the last Parliament, hath been, to let all this nation see, that whatever pretensions be to religion, if quiet peaceable, if enjoyed conscience, and liberty to themselves, and not to make religion a pretence for arms and blood; truly, we have suffered them, and that cheerfully, so to enjoy their own liberties. Whatsoever is contrary, let the pretence be never so specious, if it tend to combination, to interests, and factions, we shall not care, by the grace of God, whom we meet withall, though never so specious, though never so quiet. And truly, I am against all liberty of conscience repugnant to this. If men will profess, be they those under baptism, be they those of the Independent judgment simply, and of the Presbyterian judgment, in the name of God, encourage them, countenance them; while they do plainly hold forth to be thankful to God, and to make use of the liberty given them, to enjoy their own consciences; for, as it was said to-day, undoubtedly, this is the peculiar interest all this while contested for.
Men that believe in Jesus Christ, (that is the form that gives the being to true religion, faith in Christ, and walking in a profession answerable to that faith;) men that believe the remission of sins, through the blood of Christ, and free justification by the blood of Christ, and live upon the grace of God; those men that are certain they are so, are members of Jesus Christ, and are to him as the apple of his eye; whoever hath this faith, let his form be what it will, he walking peaceably, without the prejudices of others, under another form, it is a debt due to God and Christ, and he will require it, if he may not enjoy this liberty.
If a man of one form will be trampling upon the heels of another form; if an Independent, for example, will despise him under baptism, and will revile him, and reproach, and provoke him, I will not suffer it in him. If, on the other side, those on the Anabaptists shall be censuring the godly ministers of the nation, that profess under that of Independency; or those that profess under Presbytery shall be reproaching or speaking evil of them, traducing and censuring of them, as I would not be willing to see the day, on which England shall be in the power of the Presbytery to impose upon the consciences of others that profess faith in Christ, so I will not indure any to reproach them. But God give us hearts and spirits to keep things equal; which, truly, I must profess to you hath been my temper.
I have had boxes and rebukes on one hand; and on the other, some envying me for Presbytery, others, as an inletter to all the sects and heresies in the nation. I have born my reproach, but I have, through God's mercy, not been unhappy in preventing any one religion to impose upon another; and truly, must needs say, I speak it experimentally. I have found it, I have, that those of the Presbyterian judgment; I speak it knowingly, as having received from very many counties; I have had petitions, and acknowledgments, and professions, from whole counties; as from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and other counties, acknowledgments that they do but desire they may have liberty and protection in the worshipping of God according to their own judgments, for the purging of their congregations, and the labouring to attain more purity of faith and repentance, that in their outward profession they will not strain themselves beyond their own line. I have had those, I have them to show; and I confess, I look at that as the blessedest thing which hath been since the adventuring upon this Government, that these times produce; and I hope I gave them fair and honest answers; and if it shall be found to be the care of the Civil Magistrate to keep thus all the professing Christians, and not to suffer all things said or done to provoke others, I think, he that would have more liberty than this, is not worthy of any. This, therefore, I think, verily, if it may be thus under consideration for reformation, if it please God to give you and me hearts to keep this even, in giving countenance to ministers, countenancing a just maintenance to them, whether by tithe, or otherwise. For my part, I should think I were very treacherous, if I should take away tithes, till I see the legislative power to settle maintenance to them another way; but whoever they be that shall contend to destroy them, that doth as really cut their throats, as it is a drift to take them away, before a way of preparation or other maintenance be had. Truly, I think, all such practices and proceedings would be discountenanced. I have heard it from as gracious a minister as any is in England; I have had it professed, that it would be a far greater satisfaction to them to have it another way, if the State will provide it. Therefore, I think, for the keeping of the Church and People of God, and professors, in their several forms in this liberty, I think, as it hath been a thing that is the root of visible profession, the upholding this, I think, you will find a blessing in it, if God keep your hearts to keep things in this posture and balance, which is so honest and so necessary.
Truly, there might be some other things offered to you, in the point of reformation, viz. a reformation of manners; but I had forgot one thing which I must remember. It is their work, you know, in some measure; yet give me leave to say, and I appeal unto your consciences, whether or no there hath not been an honest care taken for the ejecting of scandalous ministers, for the bringing in of them that have passed an approbation. I dare say such an one as never passed in England before. And, give me leave to say, it hath been with this difference, that neither Mr. Parson, nor Doctor in the University, have satisfied those that have made their approbations; (fn. 17) though, I can say so, they have a great esteem of learning, and look at grace as most useful when it falls unto men, with, rather than without it, and wish with all their hearts, the flourishing of all those institutions of learning as much as any. I think there hath been a conscience exercised, both by myself and the ministers, towards them that have been approved. I may say, such an one, as I truly believe, was never known in England; and I do verily believe, that God hath for the ministry a very great seed, in the youth in the Universities; who, instead of studying books, (fn. 18) study their own hearts. I do believe, as God hath made a very great and flourishing seed to that purpose, so this ministry of England, I think, in my very conscience, that God will bless and favour it, and hath blessed it to the gaining of very many souls. It was never so upon the thriving hand, since England was, as it is at this day. Therefore, I say in these things, that tend to the profession of the Gospel and public ministry, you will be so far from hindering, that you will further it, and I shall be willing to join with you.
I did hint to you my thoughts about the reformation of manners; and those abuses that are in this nation through disorder, is a thing that should be much in your hearts. It is that, that I am confident is a description and character of that interest you have been engaged against, the badge and character of countenancing profaneness, disorder, and wickedness, in all places, and whatever is next of kin to that, and most agrees with that which is popery, and the profane nobility and gentry of this nation. In my conscience it was a shame to be a Christian, within these fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years in this nation; either in Cæsar's house, or elsewhere. It was a shame, it was a reproach to a man; and the badge of Puritan was put upon it. We would keep up the nobility and gentry; and the way to keep them up is, not to suffer them to be patronizers, nor countenancers of debauchery or disorders, and you will hereby be as labourers in the work; and a man may tell as plainly as can be, what becomes of us, by our indifferency or lukewarmness, under I know not what weak pretensions, if it lives in us. Therefore, I say, if it be in the general, it is a thing, I am confident, that the liberty and prosperity of this nation depends upon reformation. Make it a shame to see men to be bold in sin and profaneness, and God will bless you. You will be a blessing to the nation; and by this, be more repairers of breaches than any thing in the world. Truly, these things do respect the souls of men, and the spirits, which are the men. The mind is the man, if that be kept pure, a man signifies somewhat, if not, I would very fain see what difference there is betwixt him and a beast. He hath only some activity to do some more mischief.
There are some things which respect the estates of men, and there is one general grievance in the nation. It is the law. Not that the laws are grievance, but there are laws that are a grievance, and the great grievance lies in the execution and administration. (fn. 19) I think, I may say it, I have as eminent judges in this land, as have been had, or that the nation has had for these many years. (fn. 20)
Truly, I could be particular, as to the executive part, to the administration; but that would trouble you. But the truth of it is, there are wicked and abominable laws, that will be in your power to alter. To hang a man for 6d. 3d. I know not what; to hang for a trifle, and pardon murder is in the ministration of the law, through the ill framing of it. I have known, in my experience, abominable murders quitted. And to see men lose their lives for petty matters: this is a thing that God will reckon for, and I wish it may not lie upon this nation a day longer than you have an opportunity to give a remedy, and I hope I shall cheerfully join with you in it. This hath been a great grief to many honest hearts and conscientious people, and I hope it is in all your hearts to rectify it.
I have little more to say to you, being very weary, and I know you are so. Truly, I did begin with that that I thought was to carry on this war, if you will carry it on, that we may join together in that vigorously: and I did promise an answer to an objection; but what will you prosecute it with ? The state is hugely in debt; I believe it comes to—
The treasure of the state is wasted. We shall not be an enemy to your inspection, but desire it, that you would inspect the treasury, and how monies have been expended; and we are not afraid to look the nation in the face upon this account, and therefore we will say negatively, first, no man can say we have misemployed the treasure of this nation, and embezzled it to particular and private uses. It may be, we have not (as the world terms it) been so fortunate in all our successes. Truly, if we have that mind, that God may not determine us in these things, I think we shall quarrel at that which God will answer, and we hope we are able, (it may be weakly,) I do not doubt, but to give an answer to God, and to give an answer to every man's conscience in the sight of God, of the reason of things; but we shall tell you, that it hath been a piece of that archfire, that hath been in this your time, where there are flames good store, fire enough, and it will be your wisdom and skill, and God's blessing upon you, to quench them, both here and elsewhere. I say it again, the endeavours have been, by those that have been appointed, by those that have been Major-generals, I can repeat them with comfort, that it hath been effectual for the preservation of your peace. It hath been more effectual towards the discountenancing of vice and settling religion, than any thing done these fifty years. I will abide it, notwithstanding the envy and slander of foolish men, but I say there hath been a design; I confess, I speak that to you with a little vehemency, but you had not that peace two months together. I profess, I believe it as much as ever I did any thing in the world, and how instrumental they have been to your peace, and for your preservation, by such means, which we say was necessity than from all instituted things in the world.
If you would make laws against the things that God may dispose, to meet with every thing that may happen, yea, make a law in the face of God, and you tell God you will meet with all his dispensations, and you will stay things, whether he will or no. But if you make laws of good government, that men may know how to obey and do, for government, you may make laws that have frailty and weakness, I, and good laws observed; but if nothing should be done, but what is according to law, the throat of the nation may be cut, till we send for some to make a law. Therefore, certainly, it is a pitiful, beastly notion, to think, that though it be for ordinary government to live by law and rule, yet — (fn. 21) Yet to be clamoured at, and blottered at. When matters of necessity come, inviolably, then extraordinary remedies may not be applied; who can be so pitiful a person ?
I confess, if necessity be pretended, there is so much the more sin, by laying the irregularity of men's actions upon God, who sent the necessity; who doth, indeed, send a necessity, but to prevent the end. For, as to an appeal to God, I own it, conscientiously, to God; and the principles of nature dictate the thing. If there be a supposition, I say, of that which is not, every act at that time hath the more sin. This, perhaps, is rather to be disputed, than otherwise; but I must say, I do not know one action, no, not one, but it hath been in order to the peace and safety of the nation; and the keeping of some in prison hath been upon such clear and just grounds, that no man can except against it. I know there are some imprisoned in the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, and elsewhere, and the cause of their imprisonment was, they were all found acting things that tended to the disturbance of the peace of the nation.
Now these principles made us say to them: pray live quietly, in your own countries, you shall not be urged with bonds or engagements, or to subscribe to the government. Yet they would not so much as say, we will promise to live peaceably. If others be imprisoned, it is because they have done such things, and if other particulars strike, we know what to say, as having endeavoured to walk as those that would not only give an account to God, as another magistrate, but as to give an account to men.
I confess, I have digressed much. I would not have you to be discouraged, if you think the state is exceeding poor. Give me leave to tell you, we have managed the treasury not unthriftily, nor to private uses, but for the use of the nation and government, and shall give you this short account. When the Long Parliament sat, this nation owed 700,000l. (fn. 22) We examined it, it was brought unto that, in that short meeting, that was within half a year after the government came to our hands; I believe there was rather more than less. (fn. 23) They had 120,000l. a-month; they had the King's, Queen's, Princes', Bishops' lands, all delinquents' estates, and the Dean and Chapters' lands, which was a very rich treasure. As soon as ever we came to the government, we abated 30,000l. the first half year, and 60,000l. after. We had no benefit of those estates, at all considerable, I do not think the fiftieth part of what they had, and, give me leave to toll you, you are not in so much debt, as we found you. We know it hath been maliciously dispersed, as if we had set the nation into 2,500,000l. debt; but I tell you, you are not so much in debt, by some thousands, I think, I may say, by some hundreds of thousands.
This is true, that I tell you. We have honestly, it may be not so wisely, as some others would have done, but with honest and plain hearts, laboured and endeavoured the disposal of treasure to public uses, and laboured to pull off the common charge, as you see, 60,000l. a-month; and if we had continued that charge that was left upon the nation, perhaps we could have had as much money, as now we are in debt.