Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 1, July 1653 - April 1657. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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September 1656 (continued)
These things being thus, I did think it my duty to give you this account, though it be wearisomeness to yourselves and me. Now, if I had the tongue of an angel, if I was so certainly inspired, as the holy men of God have been, I could rejoice for your sakes, and for these nations' sakes, and for the sake of God, and of his cause, that we have been engaged in; that I could move affections in you, to that which, if you do it, will save this nation; if not, you plunge it (in all human appearance,) and all interests, yea, and all Protestants in the world, to irrecoverable ruin.
Therefore, I pray, I beseech you, in the name of Christ, show yourselves to be men, quit yourselves like men. It doth not infer any reproach, if you do show yourselves men, Christian men, which will only make you quit yourselves. I do not think, that to that work you have in hand, a neutral spirit will do it. It is a Laodicean spirit, and we know what God said of that Church; it was lukewarm, and therefore he would spew it out of his mouth. It is not a neutral spirit that is incumbent upon you, and if not a neutral spirit, it is much less a stupified, inclining you in the least disposition the wrong way. They are, in their private consciences, every day making shipwreck, and it is no wonder, if these can shake hands with men of reprobate interests; such, (give me leave to think,) are the Popish interests, because the Apostle brands them so, having seared consciences, though I do not judge every man, but the ringleaders are such. The Scriptures foretold there should be such. It is not such a spirit, will carry the work on. It is men in a Christian state, that have works with faith, that know how to lay hold on Christ, for remission, till a man be brought to glory in hope. Such an hope kindled in men's spirits, will act them to such ends as you are tending to, and so many as are partakers of this, and own your standings, wherein the Providence of God hath set and called you to this work, will carry it on.
If men, through scruple, be opposite, you cannot take them by the hand, to carry them, because it were absurd; for if a man be scrupling the plain truth before him, it is in vain to meddle with him. He hath placed another business in his own mind, and to say, "Oh! if we could but exercise wisdom, to gain civil liberty, religion would follow." Certainly there are such men who are not maliciously blind, which God for some cause, exercises. It cannot be expected that they should do any thing. These men, they must demonstrate that they are in bonds.
Could we have carried it hitherto, if we had disputed these things ? I must profess I reckon that difficulty more than all the wrestling with flesh and blood. Doubting, hesitating men, they are not fit for your work. You must not expect that men of hesitating spirits, under the bondage of scruples; will be able to carry on this work, much less such as are merely carnal, natural, and such as having an outward profession of godliness, which the Apostle speaks of often, and are the enemies to the cross of Christ, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. Do you think these men will rise to such a spiritual heat for the nation, that shall carry you such a thing as this, that will meet with all the oppositions that the devil and wicked men can make.
Give me leave to tell you, those that are called to this work, it will not depend upon formalities, nor notions, nor speeches. I do not look the work should be done by these, but by men of honest hearts, engaged to God, strengthened by Providence, enlightened in his words, to know his word, to which he hath set his seal, sealed with the blood of his son, in the blood of his servants, and it is such a spirit as will carry on this work.
Therefore, I beseech you, do not dispute of unnecessary and unprofitable things, that may divert you from carrying on so glorious a work as this is. I think every objection that ariseth, is not to be answered, nor have I time for it. I say, look up to God; have peace amongst yourselves. Enow assuredly, that, if I have interest, I am, by the voice of the people, the Supreme Magistrate, and it may be, know somewhat, that may satisfy my conscience, if I stood in doubt. But it is an union, really it is an union, between you and me, and both of us united in faith and love to Jesus Christ, and to his peculiar interest in the world, that must ground this work, and in that, if I have any peculiar interest that is personal to myself, that is not subservient to the public end, it were no extravagant thing for me to curse myself, because I know God will curse me, if I have. And I have learned too much of God, not to dally with him, and to be bold with him in these things; and I never was, and I hope I never shall be, bold with him, though 1 can be bold with men, if Christ be pleased to assist.
I say, if there be love between us, that the nations may say, these are knit together in one bond, to promote the glory of God against the common enemy, to suppress every thing that is evil, and encourage whatsoever is of godliness; yea, the nation will bless you, and really, that and nothing else will work off these disaffections from the minds of men, which are great, if not greater than all the oppositions you can meet with. I do know what I say. When I speak of these things, I speak my heart before God; and, as I said before, I dare not be bold before him. I have a little faith. I have a little lived by faith, and therein I may be bold. If I should not speak the affections and secrets of my heart, I know he would not bear it at my hands. Therefore, in the fear and name of God, go on with love and integrity against whatever arises contrary to these ends, which you have known and been told of, and the blessing of God go with you, and the blessing of God will go with you.
I have but this one thing to say more. I know it is troublesome; but I did read a Psalm yesterday, which, truly, may not unbecome me, both to tell you of, and you to observe. It is the eighty-fifth psalm, that is very instructive and significant; and though I do but a little touch upon it, I desire your perusal at pleasure.
It begins, "Lord thou hast been very favourable to thy land; thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob; thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people; thou hast covered all their sins; thou hast taken away all thy wrath; thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger towards us to cease. Wilt thou be angry with us for ever ? Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations ? Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee ?" Then he calls upon God as the God of his salvation; and then, saith he, "I will hear what God the Lord will speak; for he will speak peace unto his people and to his saints, but let them not turn again to folly. Surely, his salvation is nigh them that fear him." Oh, "that glory may dwell in our land; mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from Heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good, and our Land shall yield its increase. Righteousness shall go before him, and shall set us in the way of his steps."
Truly, I wish that this psalm, as it is written in the book, might be better written in our hearts, that we may say as David: thou hast done this, and thou hast done that; thou hast pardoned our sins; thou hast taken away our iniquities; whither can we go to a better God, for he hath done it. It is to him any nation may come in their extremity, for the taking away of his wrath. How did he do it ? by pardoning their sins, and taking away their iniquities. If we can but cry unto him, he will turn and take away our sins. Then let us listen to him. and then consult and meet in Parliament, and ask him counsel, and hear what he saith, "for he will speak peace unto his people:" if you be the people of God, he will speak peace, and we will not again turn to folly; which is a great deal of grudging in the nation, that we cannot have our horse-races, cock-fightings, and the like. I do not think these are unlawful, but to make them recreations, that they will not endure to be abridged of them, till God hath brought us to this spirit, he will not bear with us. Ay, but he bears with them in France, they are so and so. Have they the Gospel as we have ? They have seen the sun but a little; we have great lights. If God give you a spirit of reformation, you will preserve this nation from turning again to these fooleries; and what will the end be, comfort and blessing ? Then "mercy and truth shall meet together." Here is a great deal of truth among professors, but very little mercy. They are ready to cut the throats of one another; but when we are brought into the right way, we shall be merciful as well as orthodox; and we know who it is that saith, that if a man could "speak with the tongues of men and angels," and yet want that, "he is but sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal."
Therefore, I beseech you, in the name of God, set your hearts to this, and if you give your hearts to it, then you will sing Luther's psalm. That is a rare psalm for a Christian, and if he set his heart open, and can approve it to God, we shall hear him say, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." If Pope, and Spaniard, and Devil, and all, set themselves against us, though they should compass us about like bees, as it is in the 18th Psalm, yet in the name of the Lord we should destroy them. And as it is in this psalm of Luther's, "We will not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the middle of the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved." Then he repeats, two or three times, "The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge."
I have done. All that I have to say, is to pray God, that he will bless you with his presence; and, that he that hath your hearts and mine, would show his presence in the midst of us.
I desire you will go together and choose your Speaker. (fn. 1)
The members repaired to the House, at the door whereof, some persons by his Highness's appointment attended, and received of every member a certificate from the clerk of the Commonwealth in Chancery, that he was returned to serve in this present Parliament, and approved by the Council; and thereupon, he was admitted into the House. (fn. 2)
Thursday 18. Resolved, that Wednesday next be a day appointed for fasting and humiliation to be kept by this House, and that the place shall be Margaret's Church in Westminster. (fn. 3)
Resolved, that Wednesday, the 29th day of October next, be set apart for a day of public fasting and humiliation, throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. (fn. 4) And that the Lord Broghill, Sir George Booth, Mr. Drake, General Disbrowe, and Mr. Rous, be a Committee appointed to prepare a Declaration, showing the grounds of this fast, and report the same to the House, to be presented to his Highness for his approbation.
Ordered, that the lecturers, who preach the morning lecture in the Abbey at Westminster, be desired to begin their sermon at seven of the clock, and to end at eight of the clock, (fn. 5) and then to resort to the House to pray with them daily, before they enter into their daily work.
Ordered, that the House do rise at twelve of the clock every day; (fn. 6) and that Mr. Speaker do put the House in mind thereof.
Sir George Booth presented a letter to the House, directed to the Speaker, and subscribed by several persons. Which Mr. Speaker having read privately, by the direction of the House, the names of the persons who subscribed the same were read; and the letter afterwards read (fn. 7).
Friday 19. The Bill, entituled an Act for renouncing and disannulling the pretended title of Charles Stuart to the Crown of England, &c., was read the second time, and committed to Lord Broghill, &c., and all the gentlemen of the Long Robe that are of the House.
The Serjeant acquainting the House that the Deputy to the Clerk of the Commonwealth in Chancery, did attend at the door with the returns, according to the order made yesterday, he was called in.
While he was at the bar, it was taken notice that some members of the House did walk up and down, out of their places, and speak one to another. And thereupon, it was moved and agreed for a rule, that while any stranger is in the House, no member ought to stir out of his place, nor speak unto another.
Friday 26. Ordered, that a Committee be appointed to consider of the business of the Fortugals condemned in prison; (fn. 8) another condemned for murder twenty years since; and also touching prisoners condemned, and now in Exeter gaol; or any other of the like nature for treason or murder; and to state the particular cases, and report the same, with their opinion therein, to the House.
Monday 29. Ordered, that the post letters directed to the several members of this House, be brought to the door of this House; and that they be free from postage as formerly.
That the letters of the several members of this House that go to the several parts of England, Scotland, and Ireland, be also free from postage.
That a Committee be appointed, to consider of the abuses in ale-houses, tipling-houses, inns, and taverns, tobaccoshops, and strong-water houses, and of gaming-houses, and of justices of the peace being brewers, or maltsters, or farmers, (fn. 9) or officers of the excise, or others, in undue granting licences; and to revise the laws touching ale-houses, and those made against drunkenness, and to reduce the same into one Bill, with such additions or alterations, as are necessary to supply the defects in them.
That the abuse in gold and silver lace, wearing silks and fine linen, and other excess in apparel, be referred to the Grand Committee for trade.
That it be referred to the Committee last named, to take into consideration the matter now in debate, touching undecent fashions; to prepare a Bill for the redress thereof, and report it to the House.