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writers, the ancient commonwealths had the fortune to abonnd, who left many things behind them, in favour or flattery of the governments they lived under, and disparagement of others, to whom they were in opposition, of whom we can affirm nothing certain, but that they were partial, and never meant to give a true account of things, but to make them finer or worse than they really are ; of which men, one of their own commonwealth poets gives a just character, by sorting them amongst the worst of men:
-Ιερόσυλοι ρήτορες, ,
Και συκοφάνται, και πονηροί. All which you have outgone (according to your talent) in their several ways, for you have done your feeble endeavour to rob tho church of the little which the rapine of the most sacrilegious persons hath left, in your learned work against tithes; you have slan. dered the dead, worse than envy itself, and thrown your dirty out. rage, on the memory of a murdered prince, as if the hangman were but your usher. These have been the attempts of your stiff, formal eloquence, which you arm accordingly, with any thing that lies in your way, right or wrong, not only begging, but stealing questions, and taking every thing for granted, that will serve your turn; for you are not ashamed to rob Oliver Cromwell himself, and make use of his canting, with signal assistances from heaven, and answering condescensions; the most impious Mahometan doctrine, that ever was invented among christians, and such as will serve as well to justify any prosperous villainy amongst men. He said, when God punishes a nation for sin, the executioners of his judgments are commonly but malefactors reprieved, as they are usually among men; for when he punished the Israelites for idola. try, he made use of greater idolaters then themselves: And when he afflicts a people for their disobedience to a just government, and fantastick longing after imaginary liberty, it is with infallible sla. very, for their deliverers always prove their tyrants. This the Romans found true, for they had no sooner banished their kings, but they were, in few years, glad to banish themselves, from the tyranny and oppression of their patriots, the assertors of their li. berty; and that very contest furnished their free state with sedi. tion, and civil war, for 500 years, and never ended, until they were reduced to an absolute tyranny, under the power of that fac. tion, that took upon it to vindicate their liberty. He added, that he could not but smile at one thing you said, and that is, that king and bishops will incroach upon our consciences, until we are forced to spend over again all that we have spent, and fight over again all that we have fought, &c. For if you did not look very like a cunning man, no body would believe you, nor trust your predictions of the future, that give so ill an account of things past. But he held you very unwise to blab any such thing; for that party you call We have gained so abundantly much more than they have spent, that they desire nothing more, than to fight over the same lights again, at the same rate; and if you could but make your words
good, he would undertake they should be the first men that should set bishops about your consciences. For how vile soever
make the blood of faithful Englishmen, they have made such good mar. kets of it, that they would be glad at any time to broach the whole nation at the same priče, and afford the treasure of miraculous deliverances, as you call
' it, into the bargain. This, he added, was easier to be understood, than your brand of gentilism, upon kingship, for which you wrest scripture most unmercifully, to prove, that though Christ said, His kingdom was not of this world; yet his commonwealth is. For if the text which you quote, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority over them, are called benefactors: But it shall not be so among you, &c. be to be understood of civil government (and to infer commonwealth, as you will have it right or wrong) and not to be meant of his spiritual reign, of which he was then speaking, and expressly calls so; you must prove that he erected a republick of his apostles, and that, notwithstanding the scripture every where calls his government, The kingdom of heaven, it ought to be corrected, and rendered, The commonwealth of heaven, or rather, The commonwealth of this world; and yet the text does as well prove benefactors heathenish as kings; for if our Saviour had meant to brand kingship with any evil character, he would never have stiled himself " King of the Jews, King of Hea., ven, King of Righteousness,” &c. as he frequently does; but no where a state-holder or keeper of the liberties.
To this, a young gentleman made answer, that your writings are best interpreted by themselves; and that he remembered in that book, wherein you fight with the king's picture, you call Sir Phi- ' lip Sidney's Princess Pamela (who was born and bred of christian parents in England) a heathen woman; and, therefore, he thought that by heathenish, you meant English; and that in calling kingship, heathenish, you inferred it was the only proper and natural government of the English nation, as it hath been proved in all ages. To which another objected, that such a sense was quite contrary to your purpose; to which he immediately replied, that it was no new thing with you to write that, which is as well against as for your purpose. After much debate, they agreed to put it to the ballot, and the young gentleman carried it without any con. tradiction. That done, a gentleman of good credit here, taking occasion from the former discourse, said, you had shewn yourself as able a divine, as a statesman; for you had made as politick provision for spiritual, as civil liberty, in those pious and orthodox (though seemingly absurd and contradictory) grounds you have laid down, in order thereunto, which being rightly interpreted, do say, or by consequence, infer thus much: That the church of Christ ought to have no head upon earth, but the monster of many heads, the multitude, who are the only supreme judges of all inatters that concern him; a privilege they claimed, when he was upon earth, when they took upon them to condemn him, and cried, Crum cify: 'That all christian laws and ordinances have a coercive power,
to see themselves put in execution, and yet they ought to be sub. ject to every man's will and humour (which you call his best light) and no man to them but in his own sense. That the scripture only ought to interpret itself (just as it can read itself) and every man is to take the interpretation in such a sense as best suits with his own capacity, or his occasions: That every man may do what he pleases in matters of religion, but only those that are in authority, who ought not to meddle in such matters, as being of so different a na. ture from their cognisance (or any other) that if it be their will to command the only true religion to be observed, it presently becomes unchristian, inhuman, and barbarous. That no man can serve God, nor save his own soul, but in a commonwealth ; in this certainty you go after your own invention, for no man ever heard it before: But if it should be true, it is a sad thing to think, what is become of the apostles themselves, and all the saints in the primi. tive times, when there was never a christian commonwealth in the world? That any man may turn away his wife, and take another as often as he pleases, as you have most learnedly proved upon the
iddle, and practised in your life and conversation, for which you have atchieved the honour to be stiled the Founder of a Sect. All this you call liberty of conscience, and christian liberty, which you conclude no government is more inclinable, not only to favour, but protect, than a free commonwealth. In this, he said, you say right; for it is notorious enough, that since we have been but called a commonwealth, such pious doctrines, as these, have been so wonderfully propagated, that England does now abound with new christians, no less than Spain did of late years, and of the same mungrel breed; all which agree in nothing, but the extirpation of christian religion, and subversion of government, to which your discipline does naturally conduce. For certainly, the most ready and easy way to root out religion, is to render it contemptible and ridiculous; wbich cannot be sooner done, than by giving licence. and encouragement to all manner of frenzies, that pretend to new discoveries in matters of faith; these will quickly make it become a sport and mockery to the people, until it be utterly extinct; and this, some of the church of Rome found true, who gave a greater check to the growth of reformation, by cloathing some of the new professors in fools coats, and exposing them to the derision of thc multitude, than by persecuting, and putting thousands to death. And this is the way you go, which will never fail you, as long as there are fools and mad-men to carry on the work. And with this, if you could but introduce the wholesome canons of the council of Munster, it would make an admirable model for the ecclesiastical part of the republick, if it were not for one unlucky circumstance, and that is, that Knipper Dolling proclaimed John of Leyden king, and not state-holder. This, he said, was an unlappy mistake, and no less out of your way, than that of the Fifth Monarclry men, who would have been admirable for your purpose, if they had but dreamed of a fifth free state.
By this time, they began to grow weary of your perpctual fals
hoods and mistakes, and a worthy knight of this assembly stood up and said, that, if we meant to examine all the particular fallacies and flaws in your writing, we should never have done; he would therefore, with leave, deliver his judgment upon the whole, which, in brief, was thus: That it is all windy foppery, from the beginning to the end, written to the elevation of that rabble, and meant to cheat the ignorant. That you fight always with the flat of your hand, like a rhetorician, and never contract the logical fist. That you trade altogether in universals, the region of deceits and fallacy, but never come so near particulars, as to let us know which, among divers things of the same kind, you would be at. For you admire commonwealths in general, and cry down kingship as much at large, without any regard to the particular constitutions, which only make either the one or the other good or bad, vainly supposing all slavery to be in the government of a single person, and nothing but Jiberty in that of many; which is so false, that some kingdoms have had the most perfect form of commonwealths, as ours had, and some republicks have proved the greatest tyrannies, as all have done at one time or other. For many, if they combine, have more latitude to abuse power, than a single person, and less sense of shame, conscience, or honour to restrain them; for what is wick. edly done by many, is owned by none, where no man knows upon whom in particular to fix it. And this we have found true by experience in your patriots and assertors (as you call them) for no one person could ever have done half the mischief they have donc, nor outlived the infamy they have suffered, without any sense of shame. Beside this, as all your politicks reach but the outside and circumstances of things, and never touch at realities, so you are very sollicitous about words, as if they were charms, or had more in them than what they signify. For no conjurer's devil is more concerned in a spell, than you are in a mere word, but never regard the things which it serves to express. For
believe liberty is safer under an arbitrary unlimited power, by vertue of the name Commonwealth, than under any other government, how just or restrained soever, if it be but called kingship. And therefore, very prudently you would have the name parliament abolished, because it signifies a parly of our commons with their Norman kings. But in this you are too severe a Draco, to punish one word, for holding correspondence with another, when all the liberty, you talk so much of, consists in nothing else but mere words. For though you brag much of the people's managing their own affairs, you allow them no more share of that in your Utopia, as you have ordered it, than only to set up their throats and baul, instead of every three years, which they might have done before, once in an age, or oftener, as an old member drops away, and a new one is to succeed, not for his merit or knowledge in state affairs, but be. cause he is able to bring the greatest and most deep-mouthed pack of the rabble into the field; a more and equal way, in your opinion, of chusing counsellors, than any king is capable of. But he added, you had done worst of all, where you are most like yourself, and that is in that false and malicious aspersion of Popish and Spanish counsels which you cast on the present king. For it is well known to all the world, he hath preferred his conscience before three crowns, and patiently endured to live so many years in exile, rather than change his religion; which if he would have done, or been moved with such counsels, he might long since have procured all the forces of the catholick world upon us; whereas it cannot be denied of his greatest opposers, that they are so jealous of their ill-gotten purchases bought with their crimes, that rather than be in danger of losing a pig, they would, with the Gergesenes, desire Christ to depart out of their coasts. After this said, he moved the assembly that I might be desired to deliver my judgment upon the book, as he and others had done, which being immedi. ately past, I knew not, though unwilling, how to avoid it; and therefore, I told them as briefly as I could, that that which I dis. liked most in your treatise was, that there is not one word of the balance of propriety, nor the Agrarian, nor Rotation in it, from the beginning to the end; without which, together with a Lord Archon, I thought I had sufficiently demonstrated, not only in my writings but publick exercises in that coffee house, that there is no possible foundation of a free commonwealth. To the first and se. cond of these, that is, the Balance and the Agrarian, you made no objection, and therefore, I should not need to make any answer. But for the third, I mean Rotation, which you implicitly reject in your design to perpetuate the present members, I shall only add this to what I have already said and written on this subject, that a commonwealth is like a great top, that must be kept up by being whipped round, and held in perpetual circulation, for if you discontinue the Rotation, and suffer the senate to settle, and stand still, down it falls immediately. And if you had studied this point as carefully as I have done, you could not but know, there is no such way under heaven of disposing the vicissitudes of command and obedience, and of distributing equal right and liberty among all men, as this of wheeling, by which, as Chaucer writes, a single fart hath been equally divided among a whole convent of friars, and every one hath had his just share of the savour. I told them, I could not but be sorry to find so learned a man so ignorant, in the nature of government, as to make disproportionate parallels o: councils as you do, where you compare the senate of Rome with the grand council of Venice, between which there is no analogy at all; for the senate of Rome was never the supreme power of the people, as the grand council of Venice is, but merely a council of state. But I wondered most of all, at what politick crack in any man's scull, the imagination could enter of securing liberty under an oligarchy, seized of the government for term of life, which was never yet seen in the world. The Metropolitan of all commonwealths, the Roman, did but once adventure to trust its whole power and authority, in the hands of one council, and that but for two years, and yet they had like to have lost their liberty for ever; whereas they had frequently in all ages left it wholly in the power