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solve; that so the proposing and resolving power, not being in the same assembly, all faction and private interests may be avoided, which may possibly arise in a single council, vested with the sole sovereign law-making power. This second doctrine of the levellers had been fit for all England to have asserted some years since, and then so many fatherless and widows had not now been weeping for their Jost husbands and fathers in Jamaica, and other foreign countries; nor had so many families been ruined, nor England impoverished by the loss of trade, occasioned by the Spanish war, begun and prosecuted upon private ioterests or fancies, without advice or consent of the people in parliament.
III. The levellers assert it, as another principle, that every man, of what quality or condition, place or oflice whatsoever, ought to be equally subject to the laws. Every man, say they, high and low, rich and poor, must be accountable to the laws, and either obey them, or suffer the penalties ordained for the transgressors. There ought to be no more respect of persons, in the execution of the laws, than is with God himself, if the law be transgressed. No regard should be had who is the offender, but of what kind, nature, and degree, is the offence. It is destructive to the end of a government by law, that any magistrate, or other, should be exempt from the obedience or justice of the laws. It dissolves the government, ipso facto, and exposeth all the people to rapine and oppression, without security of their persous and estates, for which the laws are intended ; therefore, say they, great thieves, and little, must alike to the gallows; and the meanest man as readily and easily obtain justice and relief of any injury and oppression, against the greatest, as he shall do against the lowest of the people; and therefore, say they, it ought not to be in the power of any single person to defend himself from the impartial stroke of the laws, or to pervert justice by force; and that brings in their fourth principle, viz.
IV. That the people ought to be formed into such a constant military posture, by and under the commands of their parliament, that, by their own strength, they may be able to compel every man to be subject to the laws, and to defend their country from foreigners, and inforce right and justice from them, upon all emergent occasions. No government can stand without force of arms, to subdue such as shall rebel against the laws, and to defend their territories from the rapine and violence of strangers; and the people must either hire mercenary soldiers, to be the guardians of their laws, and their country, or take the care upon themselves, by disposing themselves into a posture of arms, that may make them ready and able to be their own guard. Now, say the level. lers, it is peither prudent nor safe that the people's arms should be put into mercenary soldiers bands. What reason can induce any people to believe that their laws, estates, liberties, and lives, shall be more secure in the hands of inercenaries, than in their
Who can think his estate, his liberty, or his lile, io safety, when he knows they are all at the mercy and will of hirelings,
that are led by no other motive than that of profit or pay to serve them ? and may be led by any proposal, or temptation of greater profit or pay, to desert them.
All ages have afforded sad experiments of trusting their strength in the hands of mercenary armies; most nations who have kept them, at least in their own bowels, having been devoured by them. Did not the Egyptian king, by trusting the arms in hirelings hands, lose both his crown and life, and brought the people to be slaves to the Mamulakes for near two hundred years ? Was not the famous commonwealth of Rome ruined and inslaved by their neglia: gent permission of Julius Cæsar (upon his advantage of long continuing general) to form a mercenary army ? Did not the inha. bitants of Rhegium perish by the hands of the Roman legion, left to be their mercenary defenders ? And were not our neighbours of Amsterdam lately very near the loss of their estates and liberties by their own mercenary army? And, say the levellers, the people have less reason to trust to mercenaries, to defend their country from foreigners, than they have to preserve their estates and liberties from domestick oppression. How can their valour or fidelity be depended upon, when a small stipend only obligeth them to either? and, if they be conquered one day, they are ready to serve the conqueror next day, it being their professed principle to serve where they can have best and most certain pay. But, say the levellers, when the people, who are owners of a country, are disposed into a military form, they fight pro aris & focis; they are sensible that they have more at stake than a daily stipend, and are in no hopes to better their conditions, by division amongst themselves, or by betraying their country to foreigners. Thus, say they, is it prudent and safe for the people to be masters of their own arms, and to be commanded, in the use of them, by a part of themselves (that is, their parliaments) whose interest is the same with theirs.
These four foregoing maxims contain the sum of all the level. lers doctrine about our government in externals ; (whose princi. ples, without naming one of them, have been rendered so prodigious, and of such dangerous consequence) but let the reader judge, whether the liberty, happiness, and security of every Englishman be not sought in the endeavours to establish those foundations of equal justice and safety ; neither can they be charged herein with novelty or inconstancy, the same fundamentals of go. vernment having been claimed by our ancestors, as their right, for many hundred years.
And the late long parliament proposing the same to the people, as the things to be defended by the late war; alledging, that the king had set up courtiers to govern, instead of laws, by imprison. ing at pleasure, and during pleasure; and that he had attempted to make proclamations, and council-table orders, to be as binding as the laws that the people made by their parliaments; and th the king had exempted himself, and others, from subjection to the
laws, and pretended a right to the militia, to command the peo. ple's arms, without their consent; and, in confidence of the par. liament's real intentions and fidelity in what they proposed, the people spared neither treasure nor blood to preserve themselves, and their declared native rights. And, therefore those, called Levellers, do now challenge their principles of justice and freedom, as the price of their blood; and, however many of the parliament's friends, and adherents; have since deserted their first pretences, yet, the levellers say, they can give no account to the righteous God of the blood they have shed in the quarrel, nor to their own consciences, of their duty to themselves, their families, and coun. try, to preserve their laws, rights, and liberties; if they should not persist in their demands and endeavours, to establish the go. vernment in what form soever, upon the foundation of the princi. ples herein declared; and therein they would acquiesce, humbly praying the Father of all Wisdom, so to direct their law-ma.. kers and magistrates, that all God's people might enjoy their spiritual christian liberties, in worshipping God according to their consciences; and they heartily wish, that such a liberty may be settled, as another fundamental or corner-stone in the go. verament.
But the designers of oppression having also thrown dirt in the faces of those, whom they have named levellers, in the matters of religion, and aspersed them sometimes as jesuits, sometimes as notorious hereticks, and sometimes as licentious atheists, men of no religion ; it is necessary that I should acquaint the reader with their principles that relate unto religion. I do not mean to give an account of their faith; for the men, branded with the name of levellers, are, and may be under several dispensations of light and knowledge in spiritual things, in which they do not one judge the other; yet they are all professors of the christian reformed reli. gion, and do all agree in these gencral opinions about religion, and the power of men over it.
First, They say, that all true religion in men is founded upon the inward consent of their understandings and hearts, to the truths revealed; and that the understanding is so free, that it is not in the power of men to compel it to, or restrain it from a consent; nothing but the irresistible evidence of a truth can gain a consent, and, when the evidence is clear to any man's understanding, he himself, much less another howsoever potent, cannot so much as suspend an assent. Therefore, no man can compel another to be religious, or by force or terror constrain the people to be of the true religion.
Secondly, They say, that the last dictate of every man's under. standing, in matters of faith and God's worship, is the last voice of God to him, and obligeth him to practise accordingly; if a man be erroneously informed, yet the misconceptions, he hath of truth, bind him to practise erroneously, and, should he resist that seeming light, though it should be in truth darkness, his sin would
be much greater, and of worse consequence, than if he follows by
Thirdly, levellers say, that there are two parts of true reli-
The first part, being wholly built upon the foundation of revealed truths, doth in its own nature absolu'ely exclude all possi. bility of man's being lord of his brother's faith, unless the understanding or faith of a magistrate could constrain the faith or understanding of others, to be obedient to his, or rather to be transformed into the likeness of his : And therefore therein every man must stand or fall to his own master, and having done his duty, rightly to inform his neighbour, must give an account to God, of himself only.
But the second part of religion falls both under the cognisance or judgment of man, and the law-makers, or magistrates power. Christ hath taught his followers to judge of men's religion by their works: “ By their fruits,” saith he, " ye shall know them, for men do not gather grapes of thorns.” Whosoever, be it a court, or an army, or a single person, pretend to religion, and yet remain treacherous wherein they are trusted, and continue in the breach of their promises, and are not conscientious to do to others, as they would that they should do to them, but can, without regard to justice, seize by force of arms upon the people's rights, due to them by God's law of nature, and their ancestors agree. ment; and subject their persons, and estates, to their wills, or their ambition and covetousness, and make themselves great by oppressions out of the people's purses; those men's religion, men may clearly judge, being vain by the scriptures judgment, yea their prayers, and their preaching, as abominable in God's eyes, as were the fasts, new moons, and sabbaths of the Jews, which were then also God's ordinances, whilst their hands were defiled
with blood, and oppression, and the works of righteousness and mercy neglected.
It properly belongs to the governing powers, to restrain men from irreligion in this second part of religion; that is, from injustice, faith-breaking, cruelty, oppression, and all other evil works, that are plainly evil, without the divine light of truths that are only revealed; and it is the duty of governing powers, to compel men to this part of religion, that is, to the outward acts of justice and mercy; for the inward truth of men's religion, even in these, is beyond the magistrates power or judgment.
Fourthly, they say, that nothing is more destructive to true religion, nor of worse consequence to human society, than the quarrels of nations or persons, about their difference of faith and worship, and the use of force and punishments, each to compel the other to be of his belief. It cannot be denied, that God, in his infinite secret wisdom, is pleased to cause his spirit to enlighten men's minds, with several degrees of light, and to suffer many to remain in darkness, which be afterwards also enlightened ; and, therefore, their faith and worship, if it be sincere, must necessarily and unavoidably differ, according to the different root of light upon which it grows. Surely babes in Christ, and strong men, differ much in their apprehensions and comprehensions of the ob jects of faith, and much more those that are not yet born in Christ, though appointed unto regeneration, and it may be, instructed like Cornelius, in some things.
And, as to opinions about worship, the thoughts of men must naturally be different, as the mind of one exceeds another in clearness of light, and capacity of judging ; now when the most pow. erful party seeks, by force and punishments, to constrain the governed or conquered, to subscribe to their faith and opinions, without regard to their own light or understandings ; doth it not, as much as is in man's power, banjsh all dependence upon the spi. rit of God for light, out of men's minds, and constrain them to put out the candle of God within them, that is, the light of their own understandings, and induce them, for their worldly respects and safety, to profess a faith, and practise a worship, which they neither do, nor dare understand? And by continuance to contract a blindness of mind, and hardness of heart; and is it possible to practise a design more opposite to true religion, and the propaga. tion of it? And it is evident that those of false religions, under a pretence of honouring God, by forcing men to be religious, have blinded millions of thousands with false worships. And also, that such as have professed the true religion, in substance, have wickedly opposed the further inlightening work of the spirit of God, and caused thousands, for fear of punishment, to rest satisfied in the profession of a faith and worship, which they under. stand not, and therefore can have no true religion in them. And histories will tell plentifully, how pernicious the quarrels, grounded only upon difference in matters of faith, have been to mankind;