T.38 [1644.07.29] [William Walwyn], Good Counsell to All those that heartily desire the glory of God, the freedome of the Commonwealth, and the good of all vertuous men (29 July 1644)
[William Walwyn], Good Counsell to All those that heartily desire the glory of God, the freedome of the Commonwealth, and the good of all vertuous men.
29 July 1644
TT1, p. 335; Thomason E. 1199. (2.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.) Also contains Liberty of Conscience Asserted, And the Separatist vindicated
You are most earnestly intreated to take notice, and to be warned of a most pestilent and dangerous designe lately practised by some hellish Polititians, tending to the dividing of the honest party amongst themselves, thereby to weaken them, and to give advantages to the Common Enemies.
The ground of their designe is, The difference of judgement in matters of Religion amongst conscientious well minded people, occasion being taken from thence to make them not only to despise and hate one another, but as odious to the generality of good men as are theeves, murderers and harlots.
The means they use to promote their designe, is principally to broach some grosse and foolish errours; and then to father them on all those that are called Anabaptists, Antinomians, Brownists, Separatists or Independents:
Perswading and possessing the people:
First, concerning the Anabaptists, That they hold all government in the Commonweale to bee unlawfull; which you are to know is most pernicious delusion, for they approve of, and doe submit unto all government that is agreed on by common consent in Parliament; and disapprove only of arbitrary and tyrannicall government, usurpations and exorbitances in Magistrates and Officers; and have disbursed their monies and hazarded their lives as freely for their just government, and liberties of this Nation, as any condition of men whatsoever.
Secondly, That the Antinomians doe hold, that a Beleever may live as he list! even in all licentiousnesse: which is most grossely false: there being no Scripture more frequent in their mouthes then this, namely. The love of God bringing salvation to all men hath appeared, teaching us to deny all ungodlinesse and worldly lusts, and to live righteously and godly, and soberly in this present world.
Thirdly, That the Brownists, Separation and Independents doe hold that all other Protestants are in a damnable condition, who doe hold fellowship, Church society, and communion with grossely, vitious and wicked persons: which also is most notoriously false: for they doe not so judge of any; but doe judge that themselves having (to their apprehensions) grounds in Scripture, proving the unlawfulnesse of such mixt communions, may not, nor dare not so communicate: And as concerning others they judge (as themselves would be judged) that they exercise their Religion in that way which appeareth to them most agreeable to the Word of God.
When these sowers of division have possest the people, that these and the like absurdities are held by them: Then they advise them to flye from them as from Serpents, and not to heare them or discourse with them, as they tender the safety of their souls; & make them glad & rejoyce when they heare any of them are imprisoned or silenced; or their bookes (though slightly and absurdly) answered: and when they heare that many of them are forsaking the Kingdome, and betaking themselves to the West-Indies and other places for Liberty of their Consciences (as void of all remorse) they cry out, Let them goe, a good riddance, it will never bee well in England (say they) so long as these Sects are permitted to live amongst us; nor untill the Parliament do set up one expresse way for exercise of Religion, and compell all men to submit thereunto, and most severely to punish all such as will not.
But you will finde that this is the very voice of Prelacie, and the authours thereof to bee the very same in heart, what ever they are in deaths and outside—And that it is not the voyce of the Apostles, who required that every man should be fully perswaded in his owne minde of the lawfulnesse of that way wherein he served the Lord; and that upon such a ground as no authority on earth can ever dispence withall, namely, That whatsoever is not of faith (or full assurance of minde) is sin.
Our Saviour Christ did not use the Sadduces in so unkinde a manner, and yet they held more dangerous opinions then any that are accused in our times; for they beleeved that there was no resurrection, and that there was neither Angell nor Spirit; though they came to him in a kinde of insolent confidence in these their opinions, which he knew sufficiently. He, neverthelesse both heard and answered them gently; he did not revile them with reproachfull language, telling them that they were not worthy to live in a Commonwealth; nor did he warne others to discourse with them; hee did not command their persons to be imprisoned, nor declare their lives to be forfeited: It is likely they lived quietly, and (in all civill respects) according to the loves of the Country, and were honester men then the Scribes and Pharisees who were hypocrites: and so, as the true authour of his Apostles doctrine, he allowed them to be fully perswaded in their owne mindes, using no meanes but argument and perswasion to alter or controle their judgements: He knew that men might live peaceably and lovingly together, though they differ in judgement one from another: Himselfe was composed of love, and esteemed nothing so pretious as love; His servant and Apostle Paul was of the same minde also, affirming that though hee had all faith and al knowledge, and understood all mysteries, though he could speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, and have not love, he is nothing, a meere sounding brasse or tinckling symball: he desires that those who are strong in the faith, should beare with those that are weak, adviseth him that eateth that hee should not condemne him that eateth not: where one observed a day to the Lord, and others not (though a matter of great moment) yet he alloweth every one to be fully perswaded in his owne minde: Now if our Saviour and his Apostle, that could infallibly determine what was truth, and what was error, did neverthelesse allow every man to bee fully perswaded in his owne minde, and did not command any man upon their authority to doe any thing against judgement and conscience—What spirit are they of, whose Ministers are they, that would have all men compelled to submit to their probabilities and doubtfull determinations?
The Apostle perswadeth those whom he instructed to try all things: These allow not things to be compared, they take liberty to speake what they please in publike against opinions and judgements, under what nick-names they thinke fittest to make them odious, and write and Print, and licence the same, wresting and misapplying the Scriptures to prove their false assertions; but stop all mens mouthes from speaking, and prohibit the Printing of any thing that might be produced in way of defence and vindication; and if any thing bee attempted, spoken or published without authority or licence, Pursuivants, fines and imprisonments, are sure to wait the Authors, Printers and publishers.
And though experience of all times under Popery and Prelacie, have proved this a vaine way to bring all men to be of one minde, yet these men are not yet made wiser by the folly of others, but suffer themselves to be outwitted by the devillish policies of those that put them on in those compulsive and restrictive courses, as knowing it to be the only meanes to obstruct the truth, to multiply opinions, and cause divisions, without which they know they should in vaine attempt the bondage or destruction of the honest party.
Be you therefore wise in time, and speedily and freely unite your selves to those your brethren, though reproached with never so many nick-names, and use all lawfull meanes for their ease and freedome, and for protection from reproach, injury or violence, that they may be encouraged to abide in, and returne unto this our distressed country, and to contribute their utmost assistance to free the same from the bloudy intentions of the common enemies, and give them assurance of a comfortable freedome of conscience when a happy end shall be given to these wofull times: you cannot deny but that they are to bee trusted in any imployment equall to any condition of men, not one of them having proved false hearted or treacherous in any publike employment: sticke you therefore close to them, they will most certainly sticke close to you; which if you doe, all the Popish and malignant party in the world will not be able to circumvent you: but if you suffer your selves to be so grossely deluded as to despise or renounce their assistance and association, you shall soone perceive your selves to be over-growne with malignants (the taking of a Covenant will not change a blackamore) your bondage will be speedy and certaine: The ground upon which you renounce them is so unjust and contrary to the word of God, that God cannot prosper you; you have therefore no choice at all; but if you joyne not; you perish: Your destruction is of your selves, (complaine of none else) your pride and disdaine of them will be your mine.
Thus have you the faithfull advice of him who is neither Anabaptist, Antinomian, Brownist, Separatist or Independent: But of one that upon good ground (as he conceiveth) holdeth fellowship and communion with the Parochiall congregations, who observing with a sad heart the manifold distractions and divisions amongst his brethren about difference of judgement in matters of Religion; and finding the same fomented and made use of to the destruction of the common freedome of his deare Country: He could not forbeare to give warning thereof to all sorts of well-affected persons, hoping that they will labour to informe themselves more truly of the opinions and dispositions of those their too much despised Brethren; and (as himselfe hath done) resolve henceforward to joyne heart and hand with them in all offices of love and mutuall assistance of the Commonwealth.