Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Monday, January 25, 1657–8.
When I came into the House, I found Sir Arthur Hazelrigge there, asking for some one to give him his oath; but a quorum could not be got till prayers were done, which were performed by Mr. Peters. (fn. 1) He said religion was left by our ancestors (as, for instance, Smithfield and latter times) hot, fiery hot; but it was now fallen into lukewarm hands.
We do no boil up our religion to the height. Other nations are seeking for a general peace, whilst we, for want of an enemy, are scratching one another. They say they will come over and choose their religion, when we have agreed of a religion; and when we use our God better, they will serve him. (fn. 2)
Prayers being done, Sir Arthur Hazelrigge, from the bar, took Mr. Francis Bacon by the hand, and said "Give me my oath." He answered, "I dare not." Sir John Thorowgood was asked, but said he might first know the sense of the House, in regard Sir Arthur was called to the other House.
He would not presume to sit till he had taken his oath; but went out, and, in his passage, said "I shall heartily take the oath. I will be faithful to my Lord Protector's person. I will murder no man."
After a little stay in the lobby, there came four commoners to swear him, viz. Colonel Purefoy, Major Templer, Mr. Bond, and Mr. Bacon,—and Mr. Smythe, the clerk; when Sir Arthur, Mr. Sicklemore, Colonel Fitzjames, and Colonel Briscoe, were sworn together.
Sir Arthur Hazlerigge did speak the words very valiantly and openly, especially the latter part, relating to the privileges of the people (fn. 3) ("of England," which he added.) That done, he went in and sate close by the chair. He had been above, a good while, with Mr. Scot, James Ashe, &c. (fn. 4)
Mr. Speaker reported Lord Fiennes' speech, delivered in the other House on Wednesday last, which was very long reading; for which see the book of speeches. (fn. 5)
Colonel Chadwick. I move from the Committee of Privileges, that two months' time more be given to bring in petitions; (fn. 6) because the bar upon your members (fn. 7) made some not to stick about your privileges.
Mr. Speaker. I move that you presently determine this cause. You will have daily occasion to use them, and you should determine who shall have the keeping of the records, whether the clerk of the other House or of this.
Colonel Shapcott. First determine what power you intend the other House; whether they be Lords, or what you will call them; and what part of the legislature they must have. If you take up the message from the Lords of the other day, it will bring all in debate. In the mean time, let the records remain where they are, and you may command the search.
Colonel Cox moved, that the Act of Parliament be read relating to Mr. Scobell, and his keeping the records; which was read accordingly. Thereby it appeared he was constituted Clerk of the Parliament for his life. All the records were to be kept in the Tower, now in the possession of Mr. Brown; and that it be appendant to the office of Clerk of the Parliament. (fn. 8)
Mr. Speaker. Anciently the two houses sat together. (fn. 9) All the records were kept together; but as soon as one divided, each clerk kept his own records.
The office being gone, the custody of the records is but the consequence of the office. There needs no Act in that case neither. There is nothing but profit in the case; and when your sense is understood by him, I hope he will be so modest as to deliver the records.
Resolved, to adhere to the former order. (fn. 10)
Mr. Speaker acquainted the House, that he had received a letter from his Highness, which was signed your loving friend, Oliver, Protector: dated Jan. 25, 1657, directed, To our right trusty (fn. 11) Sir Thomas Widdrington, Speaker of our House of Commons; and the contents, that both Houses of Parliament would meet him in the Banqueting-house, where he had something of concernment, relating to the peace of the nations, to communicate.
Mr. Darley. I move that you consider in what posture you will attend his Highness, and whether your Serjeant shall not bear his mace upon his shoulder. I rather move that, because I heard the Serjeant say that some officers of the other House took exceptions at him for carrying the mace so before his Highness and them at the last meeting. Agreed to this motion. (fn. 12)
The House did attend his Highness accordingly, when his Highness made a very long, plain, and serious speech, relating to the state of our affairs at home and abroad, and our dangers and necessities: inviting us to unite, and not stand upon circumstances. It held till night, that we could not see to write. Mr. Speaker desired me to take notes, and Mr. Smythe and I went to York House to Mr. Rushworth, that we might confer notes; but it was so long that we could not get it ready to report it next morning.
My Lord Protector's Speech. (fn. 13)
The impression of the weight of those affairs and interests for which we are met together, is such that I could not satisfy myself, with a good conscience, if I should not remonstrate to you somewhat of my apprehensions of the state of the affairs of these nations, together with the proposals of such remedy as may occur, to those dangers that are imminent upon us.
I conceive the well-being, yea, the being, of these nations is now at stake, and if God bless this meeting, our tranquillity and peace may be lengthened out to us, if otherwise, I shall offer it to your judgments and considerations by that time I have done, whether there be (as to men) a possibility of disr charging that trust that is incumbent upon us, for the safety and preservation of these nations.
I look on this to be the great duty of my place, as being set on a watch-tower, to see what may be for the good of these nations, and what may be for the preventing of evil, that so, by the advice of so great and wise a Council as this is, (that hath in it the life and spirit of these nations) that good may be attained, and that evil (whatever it is) may be obviated. We shall hardly set our shoulders to this work, unless it shall please God to work some conviction upon our hearts, that there is need of our most serious and best counsels at such a time as this is.
I have not prepared any such matter and rule of speech, to deliver myself unto you, as perhaps might have been more fitter for me to have done, and more serviceable for you to understand me in, but shall only speak plainly and honestly to you, out of such conceptions as it hath pleased God to set upon me.
We have not been now four years and upwards in this government, to be totally ignorant of the things that may be of the greatest concernment to us. Your dangers, (for that is the head of my speech) they are either with respect had to affairs abroad, and their difficulties; or to affairs at home, and their difficulties.
I had in my thoughts, to have made this the method of my speech:—to wit, to have let you see the things that hazard your being and your well-being; but when I came seriously to consider better of it, I thought (as your affairs stand) that all things would resolve themselves into very being. You are not a nation, you will not be a nation, if God strengthen you not to meet with these evils that are upon us.
First, from abroad. What are the affairs, I beseech you, abroad ? I thought the profession of the Protestant religion was a thing of well-being; and truly, in a good sense, so it is, and it is no more:—though it be a very high thing, it is but a thing of well-being. But, take it with all the complications of it, with all the concomitants of it, with respect had to the nations abroad, I do believe, that he that looks well about him, and considereth the estate of the Protestant affairs, all Christendom over, he must needs say and acknowledge, that the greatest design now on foot (in comparison of which, all other designs are but low things) is, whether the Christian world should be all popery; or whether God hath a love to, and we ought to have a brotherly fellow-feeling of, the interest of all the Protestant Christians in the world; and he that strikes at but one species of a general to make it nothing, strikes at all.
Is it not so now, that the Protestant cause and interest abroad is struck at, and is, in opinion and apprehension, quite under foot, trodden down? and judge with me, I beseech you, a little, whether it be so or no. And then, I pray you, will you consider how far we are concerned in that danger, as to being.
We have known very well that that is accounted the honest and religious interest of the nation; it was not trodden under foot all at once, but by degrees, that that interest might be consumed as with a canker insensibly, as Jonah's gourd was, till it was quite withered in a night; it is at another rate now, for certainly this, in the general, the papacy, and those that are the upholders of it, they have openly and avowedly trod God's people under foot, on that very motion and account; that they were Protestants.
The money that you parted with in that noble charity that was exercised in this nation, and the just sense that you had of those poor Piedmonts, (fn. 14) was satisfaction enough to yourselves, of that, as a precursory thing, that if all the Pro testants in Europe had had but that head, that head had been cut off, and so an end of all.
Is that all ? No. Look how the House of Austria, (fn. 15) on both sides of Christendom, are armed and prepared to make themselves able to destroy the whole Protestant interest.
Is not (to begin there) the King of Hungary, who expect eth, with his partisans, to make himself Emperor of Germany; and in the judgment of all men, not only a possibility, but a certainty of the acquisition of it. (fn. 16)
Is not he, since he hath mastered the Duke of Brandenburgh, (fn. 17) one of the electors ? and no doubt but he will have three of the Episcopal Electors, and the Duke of Bavaria. Who will he have to contest with him abroad, for taking of the empire of Germany out of his hands ? Is not he the son of a father, whose principles, interest, and personal conscience, guided him to exile all the Protestants out of his own patri monial country, out of Bohemia, (got with the sword,) out of Moravia and Silesia ? (fn. 18)
It is that which is the daily complaint that comes over to us, some of which we have but received within these two or three days, being conveyed by some godly ministers in the city, that they are tossed out of Poland into the empire, and out thence whither they can fly to get their bread, and are ready to perish for want of food. (fn. 19)
What think you of that other side of Europe, to wit, Italy, (if I may call it the other side of Europe, as I think I may,) Spain, and all those adjacent parts, with the Grisons, Piedmonts before-mentioned, the Switzers, they all: what are they but a prey of the Spanish power and interest ?
And look to that that calls itself the head of all this, a Pope, fitted, I hope indeed born, not in, but out of due time, to accomplish this bloody work, that so he may fill up his cup to the brim, and make him ripe for judgement. He doth, as always he hath done; he influenced all the powers, all the princes in Europe, to this very thing, and no man like this present man. (fn. 20)
But it may be said, this is a great way off, in the extremest parts of it, what is that to us ? If it be nothing to you, let it be nothing to you. I have told you it is somewhat to you, and it concerns all your religion, and all the good interest of Europe.
I have, I thank God, considered. I would beg of you to consider a little more with me what that resistance is that is likely to be made to this mighty current, that is like to be coming from all parts on all Protestants. Who is there that holdeth up his head to oppose this great design? a poor prince; indeed poor, but a man in his person as gallant, and truly I think I may say as good, as any these last ages have brought forth; a man that hath adventured his all against the popish interest in Poland, and made his acquisition still good for the Protestant religion. He is now reduced into a corner, and that which addeth to the grief of all, and more than all that hath been spoken of before, (I wish it may not be too truly said) is, that men of our religion forget that, and seek his ruin. (fn. 21)
Men that are not true to that religion we profess, (I am persuaded with greater truth, uprightness, and sincerity, than it is by any collected body so nearly gathered together as these nations are, in all the world,) God will find them out. I beseech you consider how things do co-operate, if this may seem but to be a design against your well-being. It is against your very being, this artifice and this complex design against the Protestant interest, wherein so many Protestants are not so right as were to be wished. If they can shut us out of the Baltic Sea, and make themselves masters of that, where is your trade ? where are your materials to preserve your shipping, or where will you be able to challenge any right by sea, or justify yourselves against a foreign invasion in your own soil.
Think upon it; this is in design. I do believe, if you will go to ask the poor mariner in his red cap and coat, as he passeth from ship to ship, you will hardly find in any ship, but they will tell you this is designed against you: so obvious is it, by this and other things, that you are the object; and, in my conscience, I know not for what else, but because of the purity of the profession amongst you; who have not yet made it your trade to prefer your profit before your godliness, but reckon godliness the greater gain.
But should it so happen, that, as contrivances stand, you should not be able to vindicate yourselves against all whatsoever, I name no one state upon this head, but I think all acknowledged states are engaged in this combination, judge you where you are!
You have accounted yourselves happy in being environed with a great ditch, from all the world beside. Truly you will not be able to keep your ditch, nor your shipping, unless you turn your ships and your shipping into troops of horse, and companies of foot, and fight to defend yourselves in terra firma. And, these things saved, liberavi animam meam, I have told you of it: and if there be no danger in this, I have satisfied myself: I have told you; you will judge if no danger. If you will think we may discourse of all things at pleasure, that it is a time of sleep; and ease, and rest, without a due sense of these things, I have this comfort to Godward, I have told you of it; and really were it not that France (give me leave to say it) is a balance to this party at this time; should there be a peace made (that heath been, and is still laboured and armed at, a general peace,) then will England be the general object of all the fury and wrath of all the enemies of God and our religion in the world.
I have nobody to accuse; but do look on the other side of the water. You have neighbours there, some that you are in amity with; some that have professed malice enough against you. I think you are fully satisfied in that. I had rather you would trust your enemy, than some friends; that is, believe your enemy, and trust him that he means your ruin, rather than have confidence in some that perhaps may be in some alliance with you. I, perhaps, could enforce all this with some particulars, nay, I could; for you know that your enemies be the same that have been accounted your enemies ever since Queen Elizabeth came to the crown: an avowed designed enemy, or wanting nothing of council, wisdom, and prudence, to rout you out of the face of the earth; and when public attempts would not do, how have they, by the Jesuits and other their emissaries, laid foundations to perplex and trouble our government, by taking away the. lives of them that they judged to be of any use to preserve bur peace. And at this time, I ask you whether you do not think they are designing, as busily as ever any people were, to prosecute the same counsels and things to the uttermost ?
The business was then, the Dutch needed Queen Elizabeth, of famous memory, for their protection. They had it; I hope they will never ill-requite it; for if they should forget either the kindness that was then showed them, which was their real safety, or the desires this nation hath had to be at peace with them, truly I believe whoever exercises any ingratitude in this sort, will hardly prosper in it. But this may awaken you. Howsoever, I hope you will be awakened upon all these considerations.
It is true; they have professed a principle that (thanks be to God !) we never knew. They will sell arms to their enemies, and lend their ships to their, enemies. (fn. 22) They will do so; and truly that principle is not a matter in dispute at this time, only let every thing weigh with your spirits as it ought, let it do so. And we must tell you, that we do know that this is true. I dare assure you of it; and that I think, if your Exchange here were but resorted to, it would let you know as much as you can desire to know, that they have hired sloops, (I think they call them, or some other name) they have hired sloops to transport upon you four thousand foot and one thousand horse, upon the pretended interest of that young man that was the late King's son. (fn. 23) And this is, I think, a thing (so far from being reckoned a suggestion to any ill end or purpose) to no other end than to awaken you to a just consideration of your danger, and to unite to a just and natural defence.
Indeed I never did, I hope I never shall, use any artifice with you to pray you to help us with money to defend ourselves; but if money be needful, I will tell you, pray help us with money, that the interest of the nation may be defended, both abroad and at home. I will use no arguments, and thereby will disappoint the artifice of false men abroad, that say it is for money; whatsoever shall think to put things out of frame upon such. a suggestion, (for you will find I will be very plain with you before. I have done,) and that with all love, and affection, and faithfulness, to you and these nations.
If this be the condition of affairs abroad, I pray a little consider what is the estate of your affairs at home; and if both these considerations have but this effect; to get a consideration among you, a due and just consideration; let God move your hearts for the answering of any thing that shall be due to the nation, as he shall please; and I hope I shall not be solicitous; I shall look up to him that hath been my God and my guide hitherto. I say, I beseech you, look to your own affairs at home, how they stand.
I am persuaded you are all, I apprehend you are all, honest and worthy good men; and that there is not a man of you but would desire to be found a good patriot. I know you would. We are apt to boast sometimes that we are Englishmen; and truly it is no. shame, to us that we are so; but it is a motive to us to do like Englishmen, and seek the real good of this nation, and the interest of it. But I beseech you, what is pur case at home ? I profess I do not know well where to begin, at this head, or where to end, I do not; but I must needs say, let a man begin where he will, he shall hardly be out of that drift I am speaking to you. We are as full of calamities and divisions among us, in respect of the spirits of men, though, through a wonderful, admirable, and never to be sufficiently admired Providence of God, in peace. And the fighting that we have had, and the success we have had, yea, we that are here, we are an astonishment to the world; and take us in that temper we are in, or rather distemper, it is the greatest miracle that ever befel the sons of men; and whosoever shall seek to break it, God Almighty rout that man out of this nation,—and he will do it, let the pretences be what they will.
He that considereth not the woman with child, the sucking children of this nation, that know not the right hand from the left, of whom, for aught I know, it may be said, this city is as full as it is said of Nineveh; he that considereth not these, and the fruit that is like to come out of the bodies of those now living added to these; he that considereth not these, must have a Cain's heart, who was marked, and made to be an enemy to all men, and all men enemies to him; for the wrath and justice of God will prosecute such a man to his grave, if not to hell. I say, look on this nation; look on it. Consider what are the varieties of interests in this nation, if they be worthy the name of interests. If God did not hinder, all would but make up a confusion; and we should find there would be more than one Cain in England if God did not restrain; and we should have another more bloody civil war than ever we had in England. For, I beseech you, what is the general spirit of this nation ?' Is it not that each sort of people (if I may call them sects) whether sects upon a religious account. or upon a civil account, is not this nation miserable in that respect ? What is that which possesseth every sect ? What is it ? That every sect may be uppermost; that every sort of men may get the power into their hands, and they would use it well; that every sect may get the power into their hands.
It were a happy thing if the nation would be content with tule; if it were but in civil things, with those that would rule worst; because misrule is better than no rule; and an ill government, a bad one, is better than none. It is not that only, but we have an appetite to variety, to be not only making wounds, but as if we should see one making wounds in a man's side, and would desire nothing more than to be groping and groveling with his fingers in those wounds. This, is that men would be at; this is the spirit of those that would trample on men's liberties in spiritual respects. They will be making wounds, and rending and tearing, and making them wider than they are. Is not this the case?
Doth there want any thing? I speak not of sects in an ill sense, but the nation is hugely made up of them; and what is the want that theses things are not done to the uttermost, but that men have more anger than strength ? They have not power to attain their ends. And I beseech you, judge what such a company of men of these sorts are doing, while they are contesting one with another. They are contesting in the midst of a. generation of men, a malignant episcopal party; I mean, contesting in the midst of these, all united. What must be the issue of such a thing as this? It is so.
And do but judge what proofs have been made of the spirits of these men, summoning men together to take, up arms, and to exhort each sort to fight for their notions, every sort thinking they are to try it out by the sword, and every sort thinking they are truly under the banner of Christ, if they but come in and oblige upon this account.
Now do but judge what a hard condition this poor nation is in. This is the state and condition we are in. Judge, I say, what a hard condition this poor nation is in, and the cause of God in the midst of such a party of men as the Cavaliers are, and their participants, not only with respect to what these are like to do among themselves, but some of these, yea some of these, they care not who carry the goal; nay, some of these have invited the Spaniard himself to assist and carry on the Cavalier cause.
And this is true; and many other things that are not fit to be suggested to you, because we should betray the interest of our intelligence. I say this is your condition; what is your defence ? What hindereth the eruption of all this upon you irresistibly, to your utter destruction ? Truly you have an army in these parts, in Scotland, in England, and Ireland. Take them away to-morrow, would not all these interests run into one another? I know you are rational, prudent men. Have you any frame or model of things that would satisfy the minds of men, if this be not the frame that you are now called together upon, and engaged in ? I mean the two Houses of Parliament and myself. What hinders this nation from being made an Aceldama, if this doth not ? It is without doubt; give the glory to God, for without this it would prove as great a plague as all that hath been spoken of; it is this, without doubt, that keeps this nation in peace and quietness.
But what is the case of this army ? a poor unpaid army, the soldiers going barefoot at this time, in this city, this weather, (fn. 24) and yet a peaceable people, seeking to serve you with their lives, judging their pains and hazards, and all, well bestowed in obeying their officers and serving you, to keep he peace of these nations. Yea, he must be a man that hath a heart as hard as the weather, that hath not a due sense of this. So that I say, it is most plain and evident this is your outward and present defence; and yet, at this day, do but you judge. The Cavalier party, the several humours of unreasonable men, in these several ways, having made batteries at this defence ever since you enjoyed your peace, what have they made their business but this ? to spread libellous books, yea, and pretend the liberty of the people, which really wiser men than they may pretend; for, let me say this to you at once, I never look to see the people of England come into a just liberty, if any other war should overtake us. I think, at least, that that likely to bring us into our liberty, is a consistency and agreement with this meeting. Therefore, all that I can say to you is this. It will be your wisdom (I do think truly) and your justice to keep this interest close to you, to uphold this settlement, which I have no cause to think but you are agreed to, and that you like it; for, I assure you, I am very greatly mistaken else to think that that which is now the settlement amdng us, is that which hath been my inducement to bear the burthen I bear, and to serve the Commonwealth in the place I am in. And therefore, if you judge that this be not argument enough to persuade you to be sensible of your danger, which, besides, good-nature and ingenuity would move a stone to be sensible of.
Therefore, give us leave to consider a little what will become of us if our spirits should go otherwise, if our spirits be dissatisfied, what will become of things ? Here is an army, five or six months behind in pay; yea, an army in Scotland near as much; an army in Ireland much more. And if these things be considered, (I cannot doubt but they will be considered) I say, judge what the case of Ireland is, should free quarter come upon the Irish people. You have a company of Scots in the north of Ireland that I hope are honest men, in the province of Galloway, almost all the Irish transported to the west. You have the interest of England newly begun to be planted. The people there are full of necessities and complaints. They bear to the uttermost; and should the soldiers run upon free quarter there, upon your English planters, as they must, the English planters must quit the country through mere beggary, and that which hath been the success of so much blood and treasure to get that country into your hands, what will be the consequence but that the English must needs run away, for pure beggary, and the Irish must possess the country for a receptacle to a popish and Spanish interest ?
And hath Scotland been long settled ? Have not they a like sense of poverty ? I speak plainly. In good earnest, I do think the Scots nation have been under as great a suffering in point of livelihood and subsistence outwardly, as any people I have yet named to you. I do think truly, they are a very ruined nation; yet in a way (I have spoken with some gentlemen come from thence) hopeful enough yet. It hath pleased God to give that plentiful encouragement to the meaner sort in Scotland. I must say, if it please God to encourage the meaner sort, the meaner sort live as well, and are likely to come into as thriving a condition, under your government as when they were under their great Lords, who made them work for their living no better than the peasants of France. I am loth to speak any thing which may reflect upon that nation; but the middle sort of this people grow up into such a substance as makes their lives comfortable, if not better than they were before.
If now, after all this, we shall not be sensible of all those designs which are in the midst of us: of the united Cavaliers; of the designs which are animated every day from Flanders and Spain: if we shall look upon ourselves as a divided people; a man cannot certainly tell where to find consistency any where in England. Certainly there is no consistency in any thing, that may be worthy the name of the body of consistency, but in this company that are met here. How should that man lay his hand upon his heart, and not talk of things neither to be made out by the light of Scripture nor reason, and draw one another off from considering these things. I dare leave them with you, and commit them to your bosom. They have a weight, a greater weight than any I have yet suggested to you, from abroad or at home. (fn. 25)
If this be our case abroad and at home, that our being and well-being (our well-being is not worth the naming comparatively), I say, if that be our case of our being abroad and at home, that through want to bear up our honour at sea, and for want to maintain that that is our defence at home, but that through our mistake we shall be led off our consideration of these things, and talk of circumstantial things, and quarrel about circumstances, and shall not with heart and soul intend and carry on these things, I confess I can look for nothing. I can say no more than what a foolish book expresseth in print, of one that having consulted every thing, he could hold to nothing, like nothing; neither Fifth Monarchy, nor Presbytery, nor Independent, nothing; but at length concludes he was for nothing but an orderly confusion. And for men that have wonderfully lost their consciences and their wits, I speak of men abroad, that cannot tell what they would have, yet are willing to kindle coals to disturb others.
And now, having said this, I have discharged my duty to God and to you, in making this demonstration, and I profess to you not as a rhetorication. My business is to prove the verity of the designs from abroad, and still unsatisfied spirits of Cavaliers at home, who, from the first of our peace to this day, have not been wanting to do what they could to kindle a fire at home in the midst of us. I say, if this be so, the truth, I pray God, affect your hearts with a due sense of it, and give you one heart and mind to carry on this work, for which we are met together. If those things be so, should you meet tomorrow, and accord in all things tending to your preservation; of your rights and liberties, really it will be feared, there is too much time elapsed to deliver yourselves from those dangers that hang upon you.
We have had now six years' peace, and have had an interruption of ten years' war. We have seen, and heard, and felt the evils of it, and now God hath given us a new taste of the comfort and benefit of peace. Have you not had such a peace in England, Ireland, and Scotland, that there is not a man tolift up his finger to put you into distemper ? Is not this a mighty blessing from the Lord of heaven ? Shall we now be prodigal of time ? Should any man, shall we listen, to delusions to break and interrupt this peace ? There is not any man that hath been true to this cause, as I believe you have been all, that can look for any thing but the greatest rending and persecution that ever was in the world. I wonder then how it can enter into the heart of man to undervalue these things; to slight peace and the gospel, the greatest mercy of God. We have peace and the gospel. Let us have one heart and soul; one mind, to maintain the honest and just rights of this nation, not to pretend them, to the destruction of our peace, to the destruction of the nation. Really, pretend what you will, if we run into another flood of blood and war, the sinews of this nation being wasted by the last, it must sink and perish utterly. I beseech you, and charge you in the name and presence of God, and as before him, be sensible of these things, and lay them to heart. You have a day of fasting coming on. I beseech God touch your hearts, and open your ears to this truth, and that you may be as deaf adders, to stop your ears to all dissension, and look upon them, whosoever they be, as Paul saith to the Church of Corinth, as I remember, (fn. 26) mark such men as cause divisions and offences, and would disturb you from that foundation of peace you are upon, upon any pretence whatsoever.
I shall conclude with this. I was free the last time of our meeting, to tell you I would discourse upon a psalm, (fn. 27) and I did. I am not ashamed of it at any time, especially, when I meet with men of such a consideration as you are. There you have one verse that I forgot. "I will hear what the Lord will speak. He will speak peace to his people and to his saints, that they turn not again to folly." Dissension, division, destruction, in a poor nation under a civil war; having all the effects of a civil war upon it. Indeed, if we return again to folly, let every man consider if it be not like our destruction. If God shall unite your hearts and bless you, and give you the blessing of union and love, one to another, and tread down every thing that riseth up in your hearts, or tendeth to deceive your own souls, with pretences of this and that thing that we speak of, and not prefer the keeping of peace, that we may see the fruit of righteousness in them that love peace and embrace peace, it will be said of this poor nation Actum est de Anglia, But I trust God will never leave it to such a spirit. And while I live, and I am able, I shall be ready to stand and fall with you in this (seeming promising) union God hath wrought among you, which I hope neither the pride nor envy of men shall be able to dissipate and make void. I have taken my oath to govern according to the laws that are now made, and I trust I shall fully answer it. And know, I sought not this place. (fn. 28) I speak it before God, angels, and men, I did not. You sought me for it, and you brought me to it, and I took my oath to be faithful to the interest of these nations, to be faithful to the government. All those things were implicit in my eye in the oath, to be faithful to this government, upon which we are now met; and I trust, by the grace of God, as I have taken my oath to serve this Commonwealth on such an account, I shall, I must, see it done according to the articles of the government; that, thereby, liberty of conscience may be secured for honest people, that they may serve God without fear; that every just interest may be preserved; that a godly ministry may be upheld, and not affronted by seducing and seduced spirits; that all men may be preserved in their just rights, whether civil or spiritual: upon, this account did I take oath, and swear to this government. And so, having declared my heart and mind to you in this, I have nothing more to say but to pray God Almighty bless you. (fn. 29)