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nor the blood of their nobility, nor religion, nor liberty, that made the Dutch cast off their obedience to their prince, but one penoy excise laid upon a pound of butter, that made them implacably de clare for a commonwealth. That the Venetians were banished into a free state by Atyla, and their glorious liberty was, at first, no other, than he may be said to have that is turned out of his house. That the Romans were cuckolded into their freedom, and the Pi.. sans trapanned into theirs, i by Charles the Eighth. That, as com. monwealths sprung from base originals, so they have ruined upon as slight occasions. That the same Pisans, after they had spent all they had upon a freak of liberty, were sold, like cattle, by Lewis the Twelfth. The Venetians hectored, and almost ruined, by Maximilian the First, a poor prince, for refusing to lend him mo. ney, as they were not long before, by Francesco Sforza, about a bastard. The Florentines utterly enslaved, for spoiling an ambas. sador's speech, and disparaging Pedro de Medici's fine liveries. The Genoese But, as he was going on, he was interrupted by a gentleman that came in, and told us, That Sir Arthur Hazterig, the Brutus of our republick, was in danger to be torn to pieces, like a Shrovetuesday bawd, by the boy's in Wesminster-Hall; and, if he had not shewn himself as able a footman as he that cudgelled him, he had gone the way of Dr. Lamb infallibly. This set all the company a laughing, and made the traveller forget what he was saying. After a little pause, a learned gentleman of this society stood up, and said, he could not but take notice of one absurdity in your discourse, and that is, where you speak of liberty glori. ously fought for, and kingly thraldom ahjured by the people, &c. for, if by liberty you mean commonwealth, as you do, there was never any such thing, as either the one or the other; unless you will state the quarrel at the end of the war, which is very senseless, and directly contrary to all oaths and engagements; or can prove that hanging, drawing, and quartering of some of the peo. ple, and selling others as slaves, for taking up arms, in all parts of the nation, for the king, are abjurations of his authority. And he wondered you could be so weak, or impudent, to play foul iu matters of fact, of which there are so many thousand witnesses to disprove you. But he was of opinion, that you did not believe yourself, nor those reasons you give, in defence of commonwealth; but that you are swayed by something else, as either by a stork. like fate (as a modern protector-poet calls it, because that fowl is observed to live no where but in commonwealths) or, because you have unadvisedly scribbled yourself obnoxious, or else you fear, such admirable eloquence, as yours, would be thrown away under a monarchy, as it would be, though of admirable use in a popular government, where orators carry all the rabble before them. For who knows to how cheap a rate this goodly eloquence of yours, if well managed, might bring the price of sprats; as no wiser ora. tors than yourself have done heretofore, in the petty factions, Greek republicks, whom you chiefly imitate; for all your poli. ticks are derived from the works of declaimers, with which sort of
writers, the ancient commonwealthș had the fortune to abound, who left many things behind them, in favour or flattery of the goa verninents 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 the 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 outrage, on the memory of a murdered prince, as if the hangman w but your usher. These have been the attempts of your stiff, for. mal eloquence, which you arm accordingly, with any thing that lies in your way, right or wrong, not only begging, but stealing questions, and taking everything for granted, that will serve your tum; 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 infalliblé 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, thc 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 cali We have gained so abundantly much more than they have spent, that they desire nothing more, than to fight over the same fights, 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 you make the blood of faithful Englishmen, they have made such good markets of it, that they would be glad at any time to broach the whole Aation at the same price, and afford the treasure of miraculous de. liverances, as you call it, into the bargain. This, 'he added, was easier to be understood, than your brand of gentilism, upon king. ship, 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. wbich you quote, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lord ship 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 govertiment (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 corld; and yet the text does as well prove benefactors hoathenish 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, whérein 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, yoa inferred it was the only proper and natural government of the English nation, as it hath been proved in all ages. To wbich another objected, that such a sense was quite con. trary 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 inat. ters that concern him; a privilege they claimed, when he was upon earth, when they took upon them to condemn him, and cried, Cru. 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 be. comes 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 fiddle, 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; which 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 the 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 unhappy mistake, and no less, out of your way, than that of the Fifth Monarchy 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 perpetual 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 ex. perience in your patriots and assertors (as you call them) for po 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 re. gard the things which it serves to express. - For you believe liberty is safer under an arbitrary unlimited power, by vertuc 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, be. cause 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 because he is able to bring the greatest and most deep-mouthed pack of the rabble into the field; a more wise 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