« PreviousContinue »
o clearer upon us, my soul salutes you, the honest and « faithful-hearted friends of Maryland plantation, wishsing you the increases of God day by day, to the « building you more and more up into the image that • is glorious, being the express representation of Him " that hath called you to the hope that gives com<fort in the day of the Lord: Oh, my dear friends, ' up and work for the Lord God, for the defpifed - light and truth of Jesus, in your day; and let not us
be less vigilant, in the tender, diligent, fervent spi
rit for God, than the world is for their mammon, < that so we may appear men for God, not for our< selves, minding the things of Christ, and not our < own, Phil. ii. 21. So shall God's truth spread to " the utmost parts of the earth, and the heathen shall < become the inheritance of that true light, that light(eth every man that cometh into the world.
Dear friends, it fell to my lot to manage your concerns with the attorney-general of the colony, " and the lord Baltimore, about oaths: I obtained to George Fox's paper the answer endorsed on the
back-side: now my advice to you is to represent to o them,
. First, That oaths have risen from corruptions ; that falseness, distrust, and jealousies brought them s into the world, as say Polybius, Grotius, Bishop « Gawden, and others; and God having redeemed you ^ to truth-speaking, the cause is taken away, viz. falfe"hood; therefore the effect, by way of remedy, to (wit, oaths, should cease.
Secondly, Chrift expressly forbids swearing; inasmuch as he doth not only prohibit vain swearing, < which was already forbidden under the law, but that swearing which the law ALLOWED.
Thirdly, That it is not only our sense: Polycarprus, Ponticus, Blandina, Basilides, Primitive Martyrs
were of this mind; and Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Origen, Lactantius, Clemens Alexandrinus, Bafilius Magnus, Chryfoftom, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Chromatius, Euthymius, (Fathers) so read the text, r not to mention any of the Protestant Martyrs. · Therefore should they be tender.
· Fourthly, There is no injury done to the plantation to take your words; if any, to you that suffer the same penalty for a LYE, which is only due to PERJURY, and which the law, without your consent, does not infict; your caution and pledge for honesty is as large as he that swears; for, as truth
speaking fulfils the law, so equal punishment with I perjured persons, satisfies it.
i Lastly, That your coming thither as to a sanctuary, makes it reasonable that they should not drive you thence for mere conscience, so well grounded and confirmed by scripture, reason, and authorities. Let your yea and nay be all. · The lord Baltimore mentioned something about your allowing some small matter for not performing martial matters : in that be wise, deliberate and paf
five; only if they press too hard, interpose. I lup(pose they will be moderate in that, and all other
cases relating to you, at least I was told and assured <fo.
"I have no more, but that truth prospers, in meetrings and out of them: our adversaries fall before rus: and the sober people of these three nations are
open to hear, and ready both to think and speak well of, the way of the Lord. I fent you one of Edward Burrough's books, and two small ones of my own, as a token of my love, which accept. So
the Lord God of eternal strength preserve us all, livring, fresh, zealous, and wise, in that which is pure < of Himself, which he hath shed abroad in our hearts,
to his eternal praise, and our everlasting comfort. • Amen, amen, saith my soul.
"Your friend and brother, in the truth and caufe
( of Christ Jesus, the light of the world. • Anno 1673.
out of loé pect in the ages me ntlemen,
"To J. H. and his Companions, Justices in Mida
dlesex. Rickmersworth, the 31st of the ist month,
I called March, 1674. DECAUSE you are justices as well as neigh
D • bours, and reputed gentlemen, not only ciI vility, but duty, engages me to govern myself with
all due respect in this epistle: which, as it proceeds o out of love to your persons, and that hearty desire I • have your actions may not fall short of that courtesy, ( neighbourhood, conscience, and fundamental law
that becomes every man, much more a gentleman,
and he an Englishman and a justice too, but most • of all a true Chriftian, to square himself by, rather • than any sinister end; so, I beseech you, give it your • perusal and serious consideration; and then, if you o please, afford me your answer.
I offered, as you may remember, several things, to « abate your proceedings with us at Ruslipe, which ( then it did not please you to hear enough to em< brace. Perhaps à reiteration may conduce more to ( your satisfaction ; at least, it will acquit my conscicence; which, whatever you said, or think, is of « great value with me. And those that have known (me better than you do, are not ignorant how much . I have been thought to stand in my own light, merely to preserve that unblemished. :
I told you then, that since you affirmed the report r of this meeting to have reached you a month since < (which, I think, was at least a week before any such othing was intended) it had been handsome and I neighbourly, indeed but natural and just, to give i us notice of your intentions : for in a country fo
quiet as this (as where is there now any disquiet?) ( who could have expected such a sand or rock to strike ( upon? Men use to provide land-marks and such • like tokens for caution, where danger is, to prevent (it. We never heard you to be severe; on the con(trary moderate; men of more candor than to express • severity, or extend the letter of the law upon your neighbours.
For what else, I beseech you, can I call your fending for all that hould meet there to appear be
fore you, without any the least preceding informaition of your displeasure? Again, the constable could
give no evidence of a meeting, who left the people, fome in the house, some in the yard, fome in the orchard, and several walking in the highway: no more preaching or praying, then, where no people were. When you came, those that the constable
faw, were dispersed, and had been near an hour : " which we thought the thing you only aimed at: « finding some five that remained, either at some re
past, or discourse, very remote from a CONVENTICLE, in your own sense of the word, how fair an opportunity had you to clear your hands, as justices and friends, nothing offensive to the law in your hands
being present to you. Perhaps we expected to hear " that you were glad to find the people gone; and " that the occasion of any rigour, to you unpleasant,
was removed; with, it may be, some gentle caution "for the future, that you might quit yourselves as ( well like men in power, as kind neighbours. But ( truly none of us, I dare say, so inuch as conceived cone thought like your actions. Not that I think
them the harshest that were ever shown; by no means; but exceeding our expectations, the circum< stances considered, and the door that was thereby I opened for you to get out at: especially when you I would not take our words to be gone, but, after an runtoward manner, compelled us out. I farther I urged the general quiet of the season, the unplea. + fantness of these things to the king, his absolute reonunciation of all such proceedings; that his DECLA(RATION was a great instance; that though it be • cancelled, yet not the LIBERTY ; for the quarrel lay not against the indulgence, but the GRANT of it fora VOL. I.
maliter. (maliter. It was not by an act of PARLIAMENT; and ( an ill precedent, said the parliament. I further ad
ded, that the parliament had voted indulgence to the • king's diffenting protestant subjects, and intended to * ratify the former more firmly, at least to all protestant « difsenters; and that such we are.
II entreat you to perufe this short discourse against
the papists, to say nothing of the vast difparity and - antipathy of our principles and worship. To these
latter allegations, you singly and jointly answered, « that the act was in force, by the repeating or can( celling of the declaration. True, strictly taken: but « do not you know, that there be many acts never forSmally repealed, that obtain no force among us; but are ( as much neglected as if they were abrogated by new <laws? I much question if that very law, by which
the protestants were burne for their noble testimonies
against Rome, were ever revoked. This might be < sufficient to you, that the king dinikes it; that the
parliament declared their readiness to repeal the law « that countenanceth it, that all are quiet; that the r reason of the law ceasing, the law, as to its execu(cution, should cease also; that the king and couno cil, in the preamble to the declaration, have dife « claimed all pretence to better settlements, by severity < upon dissenters; that you have work enough to emoploy yourselves about, in first living, and then exeo cuting all laws, that recover and preserve morality, ( mercy, justice, fobriety, and godly living: and last
ly, that you had nothing offensive to the law before • your eyes, when you came among us.
" I farther urged, argumentum ad bominem, the king's power in ecclefiaftical matters: that if you acknow « ledged him head of the church, it seemed somewhat
unnatural, that any members ftraggle from the judge • ment and direction of the head. It was answered by & one of you, and the best thing said, “ that the king “ was head in civils too, yet he would not forbear re« covering a debt by law, though the king should in« terpose his civil headship to prevent receiving it,”
. .. or