For further information see the following:
T.10 [1641.09] [William Walwyn], A New Petition of the Papists (September 1641).
[William Walwyn], A New Petition of the Papists.
Printed in the Yeare 1641.
TT1, p. 31; Thomason E. 169 (7.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
Humbly shewing, That whereas there are so many different Religions now professed in England; as your Honours well know, and that with griefe no doubt, casting your eyes upon the great confusion that thereby ariseth in the common wealth; every one hoping and expecting that theirs alone shall be received and established by this present and powefull high Court of Parliament and all others to bee cast forth abolished and prosecuted, which certainely would cause (if it be once Decreed) a farre greater confusion and discontentment.
For the timely prevention of which danger many hold it necessarie, and humbly desire, that you would take it into your deepe considerations and profound Judgements, whether it were not more convenient for this State, and more gratefull to the subjects to tollerate all professions whatsoever, every one being left to use his owne conscience, none to be punished or persecuted for it.
There is no man that professeth a Religion, but is in conscience perswaded that to be the best wherein to save his soule, & can give no doubt some reason, yea, and alleage some authority out of the word of God for it, which is an argument that not his will, but his Judgement is convinced, and therefore holds it unreasonable, to be forced to follow other mens Judgements and not his owne in a matter of so great importance as that of his salvation is, which is the onely marke his tender soule aymes at in his Religion, and for which hee reades the word daily, and hourely sucking from thence sweet and holy Doctrines as Bees doe honey from sweet flowers in the Spring time.
It may be objected that this Tolleration would breede a greater confusion, but wee which know wee have the Spirit, beleeve the contrary; for the establishing of onely one, and suppressing all others, will breede, in all a generall discontent, jarring, rayling, libelling, and consequently must needs follow a mighty confusion, where contrarywise, if all were permitted, all would bee pleased all in peace, and their obligation and love would be farre greater to the King and State for so great a benefit as the freedome of conscience, which to all men is the most gratefull thing in the world, more for the better maintaining of peace with each other, differring in Religion, how easie a matter it were considering the good natures and sweet dispositions of our English nation, who willingly would embrace a law enacted to that effect that were upon some penaltie to be imposed, should affront or upbraid the other for his Religion. This in divers well governed Countries is permitted, as Holland, Germanie, France, and Polonia, &c. where though their Religion be as opposite as Heaven to Hell, yet their concord is so great, that they say with the Prophet David, behold how good and pleasant a thing it is for Brethren to dwell together, Psal. 132.
If therefore the Brownists upon scruple of their tender conscience, and grounded upon the word, will separate themselves, and not go to the Church with Protestants, let them alone, give them free leave to exercise their Religion where they please without disturbance, the place where doth not import, they not daring to adde or diminish any thing in the written word.
If the Puritants will not use the Service Booke, Corner Cap, Surplesse, or Altar, nor bow at the name of Jesus, their pure hearts esteeming it Idolatrie, let them alone, they are great readers of Gods booke, and if they bee in errour, they will sooner finde it, having liberty of conscience, then being oppressed with the Tyranny of the High Commission Court or other kindes of persecutions which disquiet their consciences and troubles their patience.
If the Socinians will not subscribe to the 39. Articles nor credit more then by Naturall force of their best witts they can reach unto, let them alone, they professe that if any man can give them a better reason, or confute them by the word, they are ready every hower to change their opinions, of such soft and pliable natures they are.
If the Arminians will have Bishops, Altars, Lights, Organs, hold Free-will, merit of good workes, and divers other points with Papists, though as yet no sacrifice with them, upon their Altars, let them alone, let them use their ceremonies without sacrifice, let every spirit praise the Lord, Psal. 150.
If the Papists will have Altars, Priests, Sacrifice and ceremonies, and the Pope for their supreame head in Spirituall affaires, seeing they affirme so confidently they have had these Sixteene hundred and odde yeares, let them alone with their pretended prescription, and let every Religion take what Spirituall head they please, for so they will, whether wee will or no, but the matter imports not, so they obey the King as temporall head, and humbly submit to the State and civill Lawes, and live quietly together.
Let the Adamits Preach in vaults & caves as naked as their nailes, and starve themselves with cold, they thinke themselves as innocent as Adam and Eve were in their nakednesse before their fall, let them therefore alone till some innocent Eve bee so curious as to eate forbidden fruit, and then they will all make themselves aprons of figge leaves perceiving their nakednesse.
Let the Family of Love meete together in their sweet perfum’d Chambers, giving each other the sweet kisse of peace; great pitty it were to hinder their mutuall charity; let them alone: Lastly the same wee desire for all professors of the Gospel, Let every one abound in his owne sence, Rom. 14.
Now were this freedome permitted, there would not bee so many idle scandalous pamphlets daily cast abroad to the great vexation of each other, & trouble to the whole Realme, every one labouring to preferre his owne Religion.
A Tolleration therefore would hinder all this strife and discontentment, but if oppressed with persecution they will cry out of the word of God, We will render to Caesar, the things that are due to Caesar, and to God that which is due to God, Marke 12. If Tollerated, more promptly will they obey the King and State, if troubled or molested, they will cry, Wee must obey God rather then men, Acts 5. and so remaine discontented and afflicted in spirit.
Neither doth a Tolleration seeme dissonant, but rather concordant with the Doctrine of the most learned Protestants: First the Primate of Ireland Doctor Usher, in a Sermon before King James at Wansted 1624 admittes all Christians into the Church of what Religion soever, good soule! hee will have none persecuted, his tender heart drawes all to Heaven, Muscovites, Grecians, Ethiopians, all reformed Churches even from Constantinople, to the East Indies, none! none by him are excluded from Paradise, as you may reade in the 10. and 11. page of his aforecited sermon, his pitifull heart cannot passe such a bloody sentence upon so many poore soules; nay hee will pull in the very Jewes and Papists, for the Ethiopians though they baptize with us, yet they circumcise also both male and female, and in all other things joyne hands with the Pope, as in the confession of their faith sent to Gregory the 13. is manifest, this learned Doctor being so gracious and mercifully pittifull, how can wee Imagine that your clemencies will persecute those in earth which are esteemed worthy of Heaven. Master Hooker in his five bookes of Ecclesiasticall policy, page 138. affirmes the Church of Rome to be part of the house of God, a limbe of the visible Church of Christ, and page 130. he saith, we gladly acknowledge them to bee of the family of Jesus Christ: now if the family of the Roman Church bee of the family of Jesus Christ, then I hope you will not deny other professors of the Gospel to be of the family of Christ, if they be of the family of God, others are not of the family of the Divell, no, all servants of Christ, brethren of Christ, all according to Doctor Ushers doctrine shall bee saved: why then should any bee persecuted, shall the servants of the same family persecute their fellow servants, this must needes bee greatly displeasing to the Master of the family, let therefore none of the servants of the familie bee persecuted for the love and honour you beare to the Lord and Master.
Seeing therefore in the opinions of these and divers other learned Protestant Doctors which you know well, the Papists may be saved, and as Doctor Some saith, in his defence against Master Penrie. Page 164. 182. and 176. that it is absurd to thinke the contrary yee will without question thinke it more absurd to hold either professors damned, then it followes that it is most absurd to persecute any whose names are written in the book of life, never to bee blotted out, if they persevere and live the life of the righteous.
Let every one therefore follow his owne Religion so hee bee obedient to the State and temporall lawes certainely, that which is erroneous will in time appeare, and the professors of it will bee ashamed, it will perish and wither as a flower, vanish as smoake, and passe as a shadow.
The Apostles of Christ preaching (Acts. the 5.) the Jewes hearing these things it cut them to the heart, and they consulted to kill them; but as the same Chapter relates verse 34. one of the counsell rising up, a Pharisee called Gammaliell, a Doctor of the Law honorable to the people commanded the men to bee put forth a while, and then he said to them, you men of Israel what meane you to your selves for before these dayes there rose Theodus, saying he was some body, to whom consented a number of men, above 400. who was slaine, and all that beleived him were dispersed, and brought to nothing. After this fellow there rose Judas of Galilee, and drew away the people after him who were dispersed.
And therefore I say to you, depart from these men, and let them alone, for if this councell or worke be of men, it will be dissolved, but if it be of God, you are not able to dissolve them, least perhaps you bee found to resist God also. And they consented to him, here is a president, here is an example even from the Scripture it selfe, follow it wee beseech you, give your consents, agree, vote it, that every man may have freedome of conscience, let them alone; you desire nothing but the truth by this freedome and connivency truth will at last appeare, that which is of men will be dissolved, that which is of God will continue and remaine for ever, now many men are wavering what to follow, what to embrace, neither will they bee contented with any thing that shall bee established by Act of Parliament, were it never so good, onely freedome will in time cause the truth to shine upon them.
The matter therefore of so great importance and consequence, we prostrate; leaving to your honours profound and deepe Judgements, humbly requesting and imploring againe and againe, that for the quiet of the state, for the comfort of the subject, and for the love of truth, you cause and proclaime a tolleration, that for Religion none shall bee persecuted, but every one shall freely enjoy his conscience.
This is every mans case, this would bring Joy to all, discontent to none; this would breede the hartiest love, loyalty and affection to our dread Soveraigne, our gratious King, this would cause all dutifull and loving respects to you, right honorable and noble Peeres of the upper House of Parliament, and no lesse to the most noble Knights, Citizens and Burgesses of the Honorable House of Commons, the carefull watchfull, and painefull laborers, and endeavourers in this, behalfe for the good of the Common wealth, and the comfort of afflicted soules and consciences, grant therefore this Petition, and for ever you will eternize your names.
And so praying to the Lord that hee would endue your hearts with the spirit of true wisedome and clemency towards your poore servants and brethren in the Lord, and grant their humble petition, we cease.