Diary of Thomas Burton Esq: Volume 2, April 1657 - February 1658. Originally published by H Colburn, London, 1828.
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Wednesday, January 20,1657-8. (fn. 1)
Mr. Speaker. The clerk is gone, (fn. 2) and you could not carry on your business without one. There is one Mr. Smythe waiting at the door, that was appointed. I desire to know your pleasure.
Colonel Cox. I move first to clear our privilege; whether we shall name or approve a clerk, or both.
Mr. Lister. I move that it be considered who has power to dispose of our places.
Colonel Matthews. We have lately all taken an oath, part whereof was to maintain the privilege of Parliament. I desire it may be debated whether we may approve a clerk, or name another.
Colonel Chadwick and Colonel Rouse moved to call in Darling, the clerk-assistant, and then to debate about the naming or approving him.
Mr. Darby. I move that a Committee be appointed to inquire of your privilege, and report in the morning. I saw, in tertio Caroli, where one Wright had a patent, and it was debated whether a clerk might be appointed without doors.
Mr. Lister. I move not to part with our privileges. We must judge of our members, much more of our clerk.
Mr. Speaker. I have known the Clerk that was appointed stand where the Serjeant does, and show his patent, and then it was unbarred, and the Clerk admitted. It was Mr. Scobell's case. I desire first to clear your clerk, and then to appoint a deputy.
Mr. Thistlethwaite. It is our undoubted right to choose a Clerk as well as a Speaker. It is true, Mr. Scobell, by force of the patent, took his place without any debate; but he was checked for it.
Colonel Grosvenor. You may, without breach of privilege, call in Mr. Darling, for he has a patent to be Clerk-Assistant. I desire he may be called in first, and then debate the other gentleman.
Mr. Speaker. This is but as an adjournment from Saturday till Monday. You had Mr. Darling attending as assistant the last day. You may call him in without a question.
Mr. Darling was called in accordingly.
Mr. Solicitor-General (Ellis). I move that you call in Mr. Smythe. You have had experience of him. I know not well whether it be your privilege or not to appoint the Clerk. I would have you not to take notice of the patent, but call him in upon his now deserts. Certainly none ought to come here to know your secrets without our consent.
Mr. Lister. I move first to declare that it is the undoubted right of this House to appoint our own clerk.
Mr. Thistltthwaite. To pass any such previous vote is to call in question what is your undoubted right. I would rather second the motion of Mr. Ellis, that you would take no notice of a grant or patent, but put him to the question.
The question was put in the affirmative.
Mr. Turner. By the constitution of this House, as they are now three estates, the clerk ought to be appointed by patent.
Colonel Mildmay. I move that, now it is questioned, you would consider something of your privilege in this: otherwise, I could have been contented that the question should have passed.
It was " Resolved, that this House doth make choice of John Smythe, Esq. to be clerk of this House." (fn. 4)
Mr. Solicitor-General moved, that when Mr. Smythe is called in, he be told that the House themselves do make choice of him for their clerk; which was said accordingly. Some thought he had had instructions to have stood a little upon his patent, but that was waived on all sides, and passed sicco calamo. (fn. 5)
Colonel Mathews. I move that the clerks be sworn to secresy. The chief magistrates have formerly been acquainted with whatever passed here. The Parliament, in 1648, caused the clerks to be sworn.
Mr. Speaker moved, that the books of that year be brought in, to see the entries in that case.
The clerk went for them accordingly, but could not speak with Mr. Scobell.
Colonel Cox. Your order concerning Sir Harbottle Grim stone's Reports (fn. 6) was broken; it was a violation of your privilege. I desire the petition may be read.
The title was " To the Right Honourable the High Court of Parliament," and it was read without further debate. The substance of it was, that against the orders of the House, the book was reprinted, in bad paper, with many faults, &c. and that they called it a monopoly, and the Parliaments were so consequently.
Mr. Speaker. Upon complaint in this case, and to assert your privilege, I sent for three or four of the offenders, and bound them over. to appear here the first day. There were some of them at the door even now.
Major Beake. This is no breach of privilege; but rather a breach of the law. I would not have you to stay at the threshold, to take no order in this case. Public business must take place, and if politicians meet with such an order upon your books, it will not look well to be the Antisignartus of this House.
Mr. Speaker moved that a Bill be read; but it was called on to adjourn.
Mr. Nathaniel Bacon. I move, that a day be appointed to supplicate for a blessing upon your endeavours, and a Committee to consider of the heads.
Mr. Darby. I heartily second that motion. Religion is the first of the four pillars of a Commonwealth. The best motion must be seconded: otherwise you cannot put a question.
Resolved, that Wednesday next be a day of humiliation in this House.
Major Beake moved, that Mr. Calamy may preach.
Resolved accordingly. (fn. 7)
Mr. Speaker. The Black Rod is at the door, and has somewhat to say to you.
He was called in accordingly, but the mace was directed to lie still upon the table.
Mr. Willoughby, being come in with the black rod, came to the middle of the room, and said,
"Mr. Speaker, his Highness is in the Lords' House, and desires to speak with you." (fn. 10)
Mr. Speaker reported it " the other House," but was called to correct his mistake, and desired direction how to carry the mace, whether upon the serjeant's shoulder, or to leave the mace at the door.
Mr. Highland. It was the resolution of this House, in the former debate, to go not with cap and congee, but with your mace, as formerly. (fn. 11)
The Speech of his Highness the Lord Protector. (fn. 12)
My Lords, and Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
I meet you here, in this capacity, by the Advice and Petition of this present Parliament, after so much expence of blood and treasure, to search and try what blessings God hath in store for these nations.
I cannot, but with gladness of heart, remember and acknowledge the labour and industry that is past, which hath been spent upon a business worthy of the best men and the best Christians. It is very well known unto you all what difficulties we have passed through, and what we are now arrived at. We hope we may say we have arrived at what we aimed at, if not at that which is much beyond our expectations.
The state of this cause, and the quarrel; what that was at the first, you all very well know. I am persuaded most of you have been actors in it.
It was the maintaining of the liberty of these nations; our civil liberties as men, our spiritual liberties as Christians.
I shall not much look back, but rather say one word concerning the state and condition we are all now in.
You know very well, the first declaration after the beginning of this war, (fn. 13) that spake to the life, was a sense held forth by the Parliament, that for some succession of time, designs were laid to innovate upon the civil rights of the nations; and to innovate in matters of religion. And those very persons that a man would have thought should have had the least hand in the meddling with civil things, did justify them all; all transactions that were in pulpits, in presses, and otherwise. Which was verily thought would have been a very good shelter to them, to innovate upon us in matters of religion also; and so to innovate, as to eat out the core, and power, and heart, and life, of all religion, by bringing on us a company of poisonous popish ceremonies, and imposing them upon those that were accounted the puritans of the nation, and professors of religion among us; driving them to seek their bread in an howling wilderness, as was instanced to our friends who were forced to fly for Holland, New England, (fn. 14) almost any whither, to find liberty for their consciences.
Now, if this thing hath been the state and sum of our quarrel, and of those ten years' wars, wherein we have been exercised; and that the good hand of God (for we are to attribute it to no other) hath brought the business thus home unto us, as it is stated in the Petition and Advice, I think we have all cause to bless God, and the nations have cause to bless him.
I well remember I did a little touch upon the 85th Psalm, when I spake unto you in the beginning of this Parliament, (fn. 15) which expresseth well that we may say as truly and as well as it was said of old by the penman of that Psalm. The first verse is an acknowledgement to God, that he had been favourable to his land, and had brought back the captivity of his people; and that he had pardoned all their iniquities, and covered all their sin, and taken away all his wrath; and indeed, of these unspeakable mercies, blessings, and deliverances out of captivity, pardoning national sins and national iniquities; pardoning, as God pardons the man whom he justifieth, he breaks through, and overlooks iniquity; and pardoneth because he will pardon: and sometimes God pardoneth nations so; and if the enjoyment of our present peace, and other mercies, may be witnesses for God, we feel and we see them every day.
The greatest demonstration of his favour and love appears to us in this: that he hath given us peace, and the blessing of peace; to wit, the enjoyments of our liberties, civil and spiritual: and I remember well the church falls into prayer, and into praises, great expectations of future mercies, and much thankfulness for the enjoyment of present mercies; and breaks into this expression, " Surely salvation is nigh unto them that fear him, that glory may dwell in our land." In the beginning, he calls it his land; " Thou hast been favourable to thy land." Truly I hope this is his land; and, in some sense, it may be given out that it is God's land. And he that hath the weakest knowledge and the worst memory, can easily tell we were a redeemed people, (when first God was pleased to look favourably upon us,) out of the hands of popery, in that never-to-be-forgotten reformation, that most significant and greatest the nation hath felt or tasted.
I would but touch upon that, and but a touch: How hath God redeemed us, as it is this day, not only from trouble, and sorrow, and anger; but unto a blessed and happy estate and condition, comprehensive of all the interest of every member, of every individual of those mercies, as you very well see!
And then in what sense it is our land, through this grace and favour of God, that he hath vouchsafed unto us, and bestowed upon us, with the Gospel, with peace, and rest, out of ten years' war, and given us what we would desire ! Nay, who could have forethought, when we were plunged into the midst of our troubles, that ever the people of God should have had liberty to worship God without fear of enemies? which is the very acknowledgement of the promise of Christ, that he would deliver his from fear of enemies, that they might worship him in holiness and in righteousness all the days of their life.
This is the portion that God hath given us; and I trust we shall for ever heartily acknowledge it. The church goes on there, and makes her boast yet further: " His salvation is nigh them that fear him, that glory may dwell in our land." His glory, not carnal, nor any thing else that accompanies this glory of a free possession of the Gospel; this is that we may glory in. And he says further: " Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
And it shall be such righteousness as comes down from Heaven: " Truth shall grow out of the earth, and righteousness shall come down from Heaven." Here is the truth of all; here is the righteousness of God, under the notion of righteousness, confirming our abilities, answerable to the truth that he hath in the Gospel revealed towards us: and he closeth with this: " Righteousness shall go before him, and shall set us in the way of his steps." That righteousness, that mercy, that love, and that kindness which we have seen, and have been made partakers of from the Lord: it shall be our guide to teach us to know the right and the good way, which is to tread in the steps of mercy, righteousness, and goodness, that our God hath walked before us in.
We have a peace this day. I believe in my very heart you all think the things that I speak to you this day; I am sure you have cause. And yet we are not without the murmurings of many people, who turn all this grace and goodness into wormwood, who indeed are disappointed by the works of God. And those men are of several ranks and conditions, great ones, lesser ones, of all sorts; men that are of the episcopal spirit, with all the branches, the root and the branches, who gave themselves a fatal blow in this place, when they would needs make a protestation that no laws were good which were made by this House and. the House of Commons in their absence, and so, without injury to themselves, cut off themselves. (fn. 16)
Indeed, men that know not God, that know not how to account upon the works of God; how to measure them out; but will trouble nations for an interest which is but mixt at the best; made up of iron and clay, like the feet of Nebuchadnezzar's image; (fn. 17) whether they were more civil or spiritual, was hard to say, but their continuance was like to be known beforehand: iron and clay make no good mixtures, they are not durable at all.
You have now a godly ministry; you have a knowing ministry; such a one as, without vanity be it spoken, the world has not; men knowing the things of God, and able to search into the things of God; by that only that can fathom those things in some measure. The spirit of a beast knows not the spirit of a man: nor doth the spirit of a man know the things of God. The things of God are known by the spirit. Truly, I will remember but this one thing of those: their greatest persecution hath been of the people of God; men of the Spirit of God, as I think very experiences will sufficiently demonstrate.
Besides, what is the reason, think you, that men slip in this age wherein we live ? As I told you before, they understand not the works of God; they consider not the operation of his laws; they consider not that God resisted and broke in pieces the powers that were, that men might fear him; might have liberty to do and to enjoy all things that we have been speaking of; which certainly God hath manifested that this was the end, and that he hath brought the things to pass. Therefore it is that men yet slip, and engage themselves against God; and for that very cause, in the 28th Psalm, saith David, " He shall break them down, and not build them up." If, therefore, you would know upon what foundation you stand, own your foundation from God. He hath set you where you are; he hath set you in the enjoyment of your civil and of your spiritual liberties.
I deal clearly with you. I have been under some infirmity; therefore dare not speak further unto you, but to let you know thus much, that I have, with truth and simplicity, declared the state of our cause and attainments in it to you, by the industry and labour of this Parliament, when they last met upon this foundation, (you shall find I mean the foundation of a cause and quarrel thus attained to,) wherein we are thus estated; I should be very glad to lay my bones with your's; I would have done it with all heartiness and cheerfulness, in the meanest capacity that I was ever yet in, to serve the Parliament. (fn. 18)
If God give you, as I trust he will, he hath given it you; for what have I been speaking of but what you have done ? He hath given you strength to do what hath been done; and if God should bless you in this work, and make this meeting happy upon this account, you shall all be called the blessed of the Lord; the generations to come will bless us; you shall be the repairers of breaches, and the restorers of paths to dwell in. And if there be any work that mortals can attain to in the world, beyond this, I acknowledge my ignorance. As I told you, I have some infirmities upon me; I have not liberty to speak more unto you; but I have desired an honourable person here by me to discourse a little more particularly what may be more proper for this occasion, and this meeting.