For further information see the following:
T.59 [1646.03.13] William Walwyn, A Whisper in the Eare of Mr. Thomas Edwards Minister (13 March 1646).
William Walwyn, A Whisper in the Eare of Mr. Thomas Edwards Minister. By William Walwyn marchant. Occasioned by his mentioning of him reproachfully, in his late pernitious booke, justly entitled the Gangrana.
Micah. 7.2. The good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none righteous among men : they all lie in wait for blood: every man huntesth his brother with a net.
London, Printed according to Order, by Thomas Paine, for William Ley, at Pauls-Chaine, 1646.
13 March 1646.
TT1, p. 426; E. 328. (2.)
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SIR, Your extream fury in driving on a work wherein no charitable well minded Christian takes any comfort, but rather an abundance of griefe, hath made me to conclude, that you are quite deaf on the right Christian care; deaf to all that is good: a man (I fear) altogether without Conscience, or sence of goodnesse: and that you have the use of hearing only on the left side of Machiavilian policy: just as Demetrius the silversmith, that opposed not the doctrine of Christ out of zeale to the Goddesse Diana as he pretended: nor out of any hatred to that doctrine, but as it tended to the losse of his craft and gain: even so you, (as I verily fear) do not indeavour to make odious the severall doctrines and practices of conscienscious people, out of true zeal to any thing you apprehend as truth; or out of hatred to any thing you apprehend as error: but because the doctrines and practices of those you term independents, Brownists, Anabaptists, Antinomians, and Seekers: do all tend to the losse of your craft and gain: in that they all disallow of tythes, as ceremonious and popish, and all contracted for, or enforced maintenance for ministers under the Gospel, as disagreeing to the rule thereof: nay you have further cause against them, for they spoile you not onely of your gaine, but of your glory and domination, things dearer to you then your life: of your glory, in denying your ministry to be successive from the Apostles: of your domination, by denying unto you any more authority to judge of doctrines or discipline, then any other sort of Christian men: and to speak truly, these are sore temptations to such worldly minds as yours, who in your hopes had made your selves sure of the greatest part of all that was taken from the Prelats, and thereby of a foundation of advancing the honour, and splendour, and profit of the Clergy once more in this Nation: It is confest that such provocations as these have not onely produced such reviling accusations, as you bring against conscientious well minded people, but a subversion of the calumniators: as it befell the late Prelats, whose railing, reviling, and molesting of the harmelesse faithfull puritan, under pretence of herisie, schisme, faction, sedition, and the like, being all contrary to every mans knowledge and experience of them: the issue was, the utter extirpation of their calumniators: and that so lately, as might be a warning to you, and such politique worldly men as you are; but that it is (through the wisdom and justice of God) the fate of policy and politique men not to be warned by other mens judgements, but to trust so much to the strength of their braines, that they fear not to trace those very steps that gradatim brought the last Arch bishop to the block, making no conscience of vexing, disgraceing, and undoing of any man, nay thousands of men and families, standing twixt them and their unjust ends: and this too so madly and rashly, as to make themselves adversaries of such, as really aimed at their good, and to preserve them from those precipitations their folly and malice labours to hasten. And this is your case with me, for I am confident and well assured, that amongst all those whom in this your frantick booke you have named, there is not one that opposed your waies more out of love, and seriously for your good, then I have done: for what ever you through want of an experimentall knowledge of me, or upon misreport may judge of me, I am one that do truly and heartily love all mankind, it being the unfeigned desire of my soul, that all men might be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth, it is my extream grief that any man is afflicted, molested, or punished, and cannot but most earnestly wish, that all occasion were taken away: there is no man weake, but I would strengthen: nor ignorant, but I would informe: nor erronious, but I would rectifie, nor vidous, but I would reclaim, nor cruel, but I would moderate and reduce to clemency: I am as much grieved that any man should be so unhappy as to be cruel or unjust, as that any man should suffer by cruelty or injustice: and if I could I would preserve from both; and however I am mistaken, it is from this disposition in me, that I have engaged my self in any publick affairs, and from no other, which my manner of proceeding in every particular busines wherein I have in any measure appeared, will sufficiently evince, to all that have without partiallity observed me: I never proposed any man for my enemy, but injustice, oppression, innovation, arbitrary power, and cruelty, where ever I found them I ever opposed my self against them; but so, as to destroy the evil, but to preserve the person: and therefore all the war I have made (other then what my voluntary and necessary contribution hath maintained, which I wish ten thousand times more then my ability, so really am I affected with the Parliaments just cause for the common freedom of this Nation) I say all the war I have made, hath been to get victory on the understandings of men: accompting it a more worthy and profitable labour to beget friends to the cause I loved, rather then to molest mens persons, or confiscate estates: and how many true and thorow converts have been made through my endeavours: you tempt me to boast, were I addicted to such a vanity, or were I not better pleased with the conscience of so doing. Before this Parliament I was of full years to be sensible of the oppression of the times, being now forty five years of age, having accustomed my self to all kinds of good reading, and to the consideration of all things; but so, as for a long time I took not boldnesse to judge, but upon the approbation of some authors and teachers that had captivated my understanding both in things morall, politique, and religious: in the last of which, being very serious and sincere in my application of things to my own conscience, my grounds being bad, though much applauded, I found much disconsolation therein, great uncertainty, and at last extream affliction of mind, the law and Gospel fighting for victory in me, in which conflict, the Scriptures were taken in more singly, and void of glosse, to my assistance, by the cleare light whereof, I saw the enemies I feared vanquished, which wrought a real thankfulnes in me towards Christ, which increased with the increasings of faith: insomuch as I set my self daily more and more to do his will: and that in a more publick way then formerly: Whereupon an occasion being offered by this honourable Parliament, our minister and parish (James Garlick-hill London) being quite out of order: I, with others, moved for reformation, in doing whereof, how I laboured to have preserved the continuance and well being of our minister: himself, and the ancient that opposed our endeavours, I presume will testifie, but if they should not, there is enow that will, but he was a man that trusted to policy, which in the end failed him: our next indeavours were for the whole ward, wherein after much labour, we so prevailed, that the well affected carryed the choice of Alderman and common councell men, and all other officers in the Ward: my next publike businesse was with many others, in a remonstrance to the Common Councell, to move the Parliament to confirm certain infallible maximes of free Government: wherein the power of Parliament was plainly distinguished from the Kings Office, so plainly, that had it taken effect: few men after due consideration thereof, would through error of judgement have taken part against the Parliament, or have befriended arbitrary power, as too too many did for want of light, but it was stifled in the birth. I was also interrested in all the proceedings of Salters hall, whence much good issued to the whole City and Kingdom; where I beleeve it will be testified by all, I was never heard or observed to propose or second a bad motion, nor far short of any in prosecution of any thing that was good: and when the common enemy was at the highest, and the Parliaments forces at the lowest, I with many others petitioned the Parliament for the generall raising and arming of all the well affected in the Kingdom, and though that also took not its proper effect, and came not to perfection: yet it mated the common enemy, and set all wheels at work at home, was the spring of more powerfull motions and good successes: God so ordering things that no man moves for good, but good in one kind or other comes thereof: and in all that I have at any time done, I ever associated my self with persons of known good affections to Parliament and Common-wealth: that it is my extream wonder that any well-affected person should affirm me to be a man dangerous: I have never shunned the light, all that I have had a hand in hath come to the publick view and touch, and truly there hath not been a just thing promoted or endeavoured to be promoted, that ever I was absent from, if I had a call thereunto: and whereas I have addicted my selfe to know and understand all the severall doctrines and waies of worship that are extant, and for that end have taken liberty to hear and to observe all: it is that I might be able to judge rightly of their differences, to vindicate them when they are wronged: and to advise them for their good: in doing whereof, I have gained much good, there being not any (how light esteeme soever you make of them) but have somthing worthy the observation: and this I must testify for all sorts of them, they are a people the most ready to render love for love, that ever I met withall: and not apt to render evil for evil: they are all universally faithfull to the Parliament, friends to all just government, and enemies to all unjust: but yet there is not any thing I have observed that hath prevailed with me to disclaim the publike ministry, or the parochial congregations & I have yet some hopes to see them reduced into such a condition, as that all things thereunto belonging, may without difficulty be justified: but though I am not in fellowship with those good people you call sectaries, yet I joyn heart and hand with them in any thing that I judge to be right: and tending to the publike good: and love them as heartily as those that are one with me in judgement: sometimes I contest with them somewhat vehemently in arguing, but it is as I conceive for truth, and for their good: and they take it so, and bear with me as I with them: and we meet and part in love, as becometh Christians, nor doth this hinder, but that when any difference befalleth betweene them and the publick ministers, but that I judge as clearly in such cases, as if I had no difference with them, for I esteem it a high part of true religion to promote common justice: and not to be a respecter of persons in judgement, wherein the Scripture is my rule: and that being on their side, I should take part with them therein against my father, minister, or the dearest friend I have in the world: and from hence it is, that when the question is about liberty of Conscience, the Scripture tells me, every one ought to be fully perswaded in his own mind, and that whatsoever is not of faith, is sin: it tells me I must doe as I would be done unto: I would not be enforced to the Parish Congregations, then I must not force them to them, or from their owne: God onely perswades the heart: compulsion and enforcement may make a confused masse of dissembling hypocrites, not a Congregation of beleevers, that seeing our Saviour reproached not those that denyed the resurrection, angels and spirits, nay Joh. 12: 47, 48. &c. he saith plainly (and that by authority from heaven, v 49), He that refuseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, it shall judge him in the last day. Also in Luke the 9: 54, 55, 56. Insomuch as I see no more warrant now to reproach or punish any man for Religion, but rather that we are all bound in peace and love to reclaime our brother from what wee judge an error in his way: wherein the best and most knowing amongst men in our daies, may be mistaken; being all liable to take truth for error, and error for truth, and therefore there is no cause of strife or compulsion, except for mastery: then which (as I conceive) nothing is more unchristian, neverthelesse I may see a necessary use of a publick ministry, and parish Congregations, and it is my work to perswade others therein, and not to speak reproachfully thereof, as they would not have their way reproached: but then when the question is concerning a maintenance for these publick ministers: and that any shall insist for tythes, or an enforced maintenance, truly in this case the Scripture manifesting to my understanding, tythes to be ceremoniall and Jewish, and sa to cease at the comming of Christ: and that to enforce or enjoyn a maintenance though under anv other notion, is as I apprehend contrary to the rule and practice of the Apostles, how is it possible but I must adhere to them therein: but then that our publick ministers should have no maintenance, therein I wholy dissent, and as it hath been my endeavour to assist the one party to avoid the molestation of their consciences in tythes, & all enforced contributions so have I often proposed a way for the maintenance of the publick ministers, more certain, more quiet for themselves, and lesse irksome to the people, lesse disturbant to the Common-wealth: and thus you may see how through misinformation: you have taken me for an enimy, that have alwaies approved my self your reall friend in all things I apprehended just: and thus you may see how dangerous a man I have been that in all these publick differences have done no man hurt by word or deed: nay at all the meetings I have frequented, whether at Salters hall, the wind mill, or else where, I never heard any man named reproachfully, but I openly shewed the unfitnes thereof: alwaies advising that if any man had ought against any particular person, that he should make it known to those that by law had a right to take notice thereof, and that we should be very cautious in thinking evil of any man upon report and hearsay, especially of any in authority: The truth is, I have been and am of opinion, that it is not good for the Common-wealth, that the ministers should have any power or jurisdiction put into their hands, or that it were good for the ministers themselves, the same having so often proved their ruine, and the disturbance of the people, but do conceive it more safe for them, and more for the quiet of the people, that they be freed from all other employments, except preaching and administring the publick worship of God, according as the Parliament shall ordain, for I look upon you as ministers ordained by the State, and so are to do as they conceive is most agreeable to the word of God, and most beneficiall to the generallity of the people: in setling whereof, you may advise, but are not to urge or be importunate for more power then they see good, and it lesse beseems you to grow passionate, and to move others to be importunate, and by preaching and printing to labour to make their faithfull friends odious unto them, and to magnifie your desires, above their own intentions, and so to beget emulations and parties, threaten judgements and desertions, and turning the scriptures against them and all others that oppose or fulfill not your will, as if they were opposers of the will of God, which you take upon you to know, with the same confidence as the bishops and prelates did, and in the very same manner, and application of Scripture. No interpretation was good but theirs, no ministers the ministers of Christ, but whom they ordeyned by imposition of hands, no government, discipline, or worship, agreeable to the Scriptures, but theirs, no opinion found, but what they allowed, all were sectaries and hereticks, whom they pleased so to denominate: those that opposed them were seditious: disturbers of the peace, a viperous brood, enemies to the state, and subverters of all order and government, and by all means to be extirpated: if any pleaded conscience, they conclude them obstinate, and thus it is with you expresly, so as Mr. Edwards his Gangraena, is indeed but a new edition of Prelaticall doctrine, with some additions appliable to the present times, and his Clergies immediate interest: but trust me, this is extreamly prejudidall to your party, for there is no moderate Presbyterian that can excuse this, and hath beene a hindrance to me in arguing for a publick ministry, besides you soar so high in daring expressions, as if you presumed upon some other way of obtaining your desires, then by allowance of Parliament, which may loose you many friends there, and occasion them to think they have through a mistaken compassion, fostered a frozen snake in their bosomes, that no sooner finds heat and strength, but falls into his serpentine hissing, and stinging his preserver, you have also lost many of your friends abroad, by this unchristian nominating men and women in your Gangraena, and many more you will loose, when they shall consider that you have not taken the known Gospel way of first admonishing of them, but upon bare report, as it were to post them reproachfully to the view of the world, they cannot deem this as the proceeding of a minister of Christ, but rather as a violent hast to do your owne work: trust me, I cannot but impute the great abatement of your sect, the falling from you of so many judicious persons, and the daily great increase of other sects, to no one thing more, then to your inconsiderate rashnes, violent railing, and adventuring on unheard of waies to compasse your ends, for when I have prevailed with some (through debate and argument) to come to our publike Churches, and to hear your sermons, they have found there such abundance of passion, sweat, and labour, not to beget children unto Christ, by preaching the sincere Gospel of Christ, but to revile and reproach, and make odious conscientious well affected people, because of difference in judgement, whereby they have been much discouraged from frequenting those places, affirming that all the accusations you bring against others, are expresly and visibly due to your selves if but indifferently weighed: as where you charge others with pride, ambition, covetuousnes, effeminacy, obstinacy, cruelty, delicacy of pallate, and the like; they have demanded of me with a positive vehemency, whether these were not to be found in you, rather then in those you have condemned for those vices, blaming me very much for going about to excuse the same, insomuch as I verily beleeve, you have no enemy like your self, and am perswaded if you would forsake all corrupt interests, and would consciensciously set your selfe to do the worke of Christ, to labour in his word and Gospel, out of a pure mind, and not for filthy lucre, if you would make it evident by your actions, that you seek not ours, but to win us to God, that you would thereby prevaile more in one halfe year towards your owne comfortable establishment, then you shall in an age by all your by-waies and policies, therefore leave them, and betake your self to the work of Christ, whilst it is called to day: the night of ignorance I presume is past with you: O that truth and this my plain dealing might beget or awaken Conscience in you, and provoke you to cast of the works of darknes, and to put on the armour of light, and henceforth to walk honestly, and not in strife and envying, but to walk in love as Christ hath loved nor is it meet you should esteeme your self a Christian, untill you find your soul possessed with the spirit of true Christian love, which doth no evil to his neighbour, and therefore is the fulfilling of the Law. What though you could prevail (as you endeavour) to work the ruine of all that oppose your judgement or ends? Would it be peace in the latter end? no, assure your self it would be a sulphurious bitternesse and horror of conscience, and therefore sit downe and seriously consider what you are resolved to do, weigh your intentions in the even scales of love, touch and prove them with the touch-stone of love, if you would be esteemed a disciple of Christ, it must bee knowne by love: now love suffereth long, and is kind; boasteth not it self, is not puffed up, doth not behave it seife unseemly, seeketh not her owne, is not provoked to anger, it thinketh not evil, it rejoyceth not in iniquity, but rejoyceth in the truth: beareth all things, beleeveth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, this is that I would ever whisper in your ear, this being a balsame that often, and well rub’d in, may Cure your Gangraen, and though at first your distemper may cause you to loath it, yet take a little and a little of it, use inwardly and outwardly, constantly, and you will find your disposition to alter and change from one degree unto another, until you come to be a strong and healthfull Christian: of Saul a persecutor, you will become Paul a preacher of peace and reconciliation by Jesus Christ, and bee able to lay down your life for those Brethren you have so much dispised: then will you do as you would be done unto, and in all things disputable allow every one to be fully perswaded in their own minds, and then you will bee sencible, that whatsoever is not of faith is sinne: you will acknowledge it is God only that can perswade the heart, and (doing your duty) patiently waite his leisure for the conversion of your Brethren: the same mind and meeknes will bee in you, as was in Christ Jesus, and you will be mercifull as our heavenly Father is mercifull: you will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoaking flax; then you will see what pure religion and undefiled before God, even the Father, is: you will feed the hungry, cloath the naked, visit the sick, relieve the prisoner, deliver the captive, and set the oppressed free, especially the oppressed for Conscience sake: you will then see error in judgement or misapprehension in worship, to bee but a mote in your brothers eye, compared to a persecuting or molesting, or the reproaching beame in your owne: in a word, would you seriously set your selfe to the studdy and practice of love, you would againe fill your Churches, and without the help of Jewish Tythes, or any unchristian or forced maintenance, preaching the Gospel, would live comfortably of the Gospel and draw all men after you.
As for those blemishes you labour by your Gangreen to stick upon mee, I beleeve your labour will be lost, except in the opinion of such as know me not: but to acquit my selfe farther, and to free them from prejudice, to what I have said I add thus much more.
In your 96. page, you have me in these uncharitable expressions, one Mr. Walwyn a seeker, and a dangerous man, a strong head: truely in the mind you were in, when you wrote this Gangreen, I am heartily glad I appeared not worthy of your Commendations, certainly you have been extreamly covetous of informations, you seeme to have suckt them in with greedinesse, and swallowed them without chewing; tis pitty an evil intent should be better served; your informations to my knowledge of many particulars as that of Mr. Lilburnes and others, and my self, have been such to you, as if they had been made of purpose to shame you to all the world, I a seeker, good now; whose your author? Am I one because I know many, and have been amongst them often, that I might know them fully; so have I been with all other judgements, but I carry with mee in all places a Touch-stone that tryeth all things, and labours to hold nothing but what upon plain grounds appeareth good and usefull: I abandon all nicities and uselesse things: my manner is in all disputes reasonings and discourses, to enquire what is the use: and if I find it not very materiall, I abandon it, there are plain usefull doctrines sufficient to give peace to my mind: direction and comfort to my life: and to draw all men to a consideration of things evidently usefull, hath been a speciall cause that I have applyed my selfe in a friendly manner unto all: but hence it is that some have said I am a great Anabaptist, others (upon as good ground) a great Antinomian: and you a seeker: mistake me not, I do not esteeme these as names of reproach, no more then to be called Presbyterian or Independent; nor doe I take upon me peremptorily to determine what is truth, and what is error, amongst any of them: all have a possibility of error: I judge all Conscienscious, and to hold their severall judgements upon grounds of scripture: to them appearing, and so long cannot but hold them: and why any should controule another, I cannot disceme: had I all the power or strength in the World at my disposing, in cases of religion I conceive I should sinne, if I should do more then in a loving way offer my argument, and gently perswade to what I conceive is both evidently true, and really usefull: and thus have I done amongst those my loving friends, whom you judge seekers: for though I do fully assent with them that now in these times there is no such ministry as the Apostles were, endowed with immediate power from on high, by imposition of whose hands, the Holy Ghost was conferred, enabling to speak with tongues, and do miracles, in a most wonderfull manner, and to speake to all men, the infallible word of God: and that convincingly to the Consciences of gain-sayers: yet am I not thereby of opinion that we may not make use of those things they have left unto us in the scriptures of the mind and will of God; or that it is not profitable to follow their examples so far as we are able in all things, for what though the effects are now weake, in comparison of theirs, yet are they such as bring great satisfaction with them: I have often perswaded with them that they should not reject what they may with much comfort make use of, because they cannot find what they seek, & for ought I know are not like to find in this world: see now what a seeker you have found of me: I once heard you at Christ-Church, which few seekers will do, but never but once, for I was not so blind a seeker, as to seek for Grapes of thornes, or Figgs of thistles: and why I pray you a dangerous man? indeed, by some reall dangerous men, I have been accounted so some whereof are falne into the snare they laid for all the well affected in this City; but that ever I was accounted so by any that conversed with me, that was a knowing well-affected man, I do not beleeve, and I beleeve I could produce thousands of knowing well-affected persons, that if they heare I am engaged, and doe appeare in any publick businesse, though they know no title thereof, will adventure odds; it is both just and necessary, and therefore you incline me to beleeve that you labour for beliefe onely amongst the weake, ignorant, rash, or ill affected people, with whom Credit and repute is not worth the having: well, your last appellation you bestow upon me is a strong head, and what would you have understood by this? Would you have your disciples stand aloof and not dare to hold discourse with me, lest I should open your designes, and make it appeare how much it concerns your corrupt interrest to keep their heads in ignorance and a superstitious weaknesse: is it because I know whose maxim, this is Rustica gens, optima Flens, pessima ridens: Is it because my hearing is so good as not to bee perverted by Closing doctrines, or because my smelling serves my turne to smell a Fox, or Wolfe, though in Sheeps clothing, or is my seeing so strong that it dispels the magick mists of sophisticated art: or is it because my taste discerneth the brackishnesse of flattery, from the pure sweetnesse of plain dealing: or do you mean head strong, because I am not likely nor could ever be drawn to dance after your Pipe.
Doubtlesse these are the causes that any strong head troubles you: neverthelesse, as strong as it is, you see a small knock from your hard hand hath so opened it, that I can hardly shut it again, but lie shut it presently, onely thus much, I cannot see how authority can passe over this unparaleld use of the presse which you have taken, to name in publike so many of their faithfull adherents in so reproachfull a manner, to tax their proceedings in the proceedings of their Committees, to affirme and declare to all the world, that the victorious successes of the Parliaments forces, is but the increase of errors and herisies, that sectaries of all sorts get places of profit and power, and be the men all in request for offices and employments: in the which, you make your self the judge of what is error and herisie, and who is a sectary: in all which you are as likely to be mistaken as any man: for none are such in your calender, but such (as at first I told you) who stand twixt you and your profit, glory and domination: so as a man may be a reall good Christian, and a most cordiall friend to the Parliament, and neverthelesse be exploded by you for a sectary, or an heretick: one thing more, you, and such as you are (if you be not changed since you wrote your Gangraena, as I heartily wish you were) doe extreamly abuse this Nation, in laying the main weight of the reformation (intended) upon the reduceing of mens judgements and practice in Religion to union and uniformity, whereas the main weight of all resteth, in extirpating the popish prelaticall spirit of persecution and molestation for conscience: as the main thing that oppressed all sorts of conscientious people before the Parliament, and since; and that which cannot fail to disturbe and vex any nation where it remaineth, but the truth is, without it you cannot keep your self aloft: without it you cannot compell a maintenance: distinguish a Clergy, nor have power over mens persons by their consciences, but grant you the power you desire, and you are master of all, and then see who dares open his mouth, or move his pen in this argument: your present confidence proceeds from the mist you have raised, but it is not yet thick enough, nor will our english braynes prove so muddy as to afford matter for thickning, I beleeve and hope it is now at thickest, and when your hopes are greatest, you will find your self in a fogge: to hold men in ignorance or bondage is not a work either for honest men or good Christians, but abhorred by both, and beleeve it, truth is become too strong to admit of either in this age: and we trust the honourable Parliament that are chosen to preserve us from both, will not fail to preserve us, though you should do the worst you can, and whereas you commend them to the love of God and his truth, and the hating of all sects and schismes, I in all humility and true love to all that honour God, and desire the welfare of England, do most heartily pray, that they may hate all persecuting sects with a perfect hatred: all enforcing and compulsive schismaticks, as the onely cause of all trouble and distraction.
To conclude, If you be so ill as your word, and bring forth such evill fruit once every month, and that we whose names you have blasted, can find a licencer, (as we hope we shall) that will do but so much for Christ, as yours hath done for B. We shall I doubt not, find a new way of innocculation, and produce grapes out of your thorns, and figges out of your thistles, and fetch abundance of good out of your evil: but more happy will it be for you if you repent, (once a month shall I say) once every houre, and in token thereof, use your uttermost indeavour to promote this or the like petition to the honourable Parliament, whereby you will make some amends for the evill you have done by this your book.
That as with all thankfulnes we acknowledge your unwearied labours to remove the grievances and dangers of the Common wealth, so are we exceedingly grieved to observe the manifold unexpected difficulties which at severall times have obstructed your proceedings, amongst which we conceive the differences in Religion to be the greatest, and of most importance.
In your considerations whereof, being an affair of so tender a nature, so apt to be mis-understood, and such as hath miscarried in all former Parliaments, to the great disturbance of this Nation, and to the great affliction of conscientious people, we humbly conceive you have not in any thing shewed greater regard to the glory of God or greater care of the welfare of the people, then in proceeding therein with so cautious and advised a deliberation: giving time and opportunity to your wisedoms, rightly to understand the word of God in that point which most concerneth tender consciences, to hear, try and examine all that can or may be said or writ thereof, and we trust you will in the end produce that which shall be agreeable to the will and mind of God, and to the quiet of all wel-affected people.
And although your progresse therein hath not been with so much speed, or such severity towards tender Consciences, as some importunely have desired, yet have we good cause to beleeve that you have been guided therein by the good hand of God, who in due time will (we doubt not) bring you to such an issue, as neither your selves, nor any others (well minded) shall have cause to repent, or ever to alter.
And therefore we most earnestly intreat that you will not through any importunity be induced to hasten your proceedings in this weighty cause (wherein least error may prove very prejudiciall) beyond what upon your mature deliberation shall appeare to be just and necessary: there being as we humbly conceive, no greater breach of the priviledge or abatement of the power of Parliament, then for any to do more then humbly to informe or advise you in this, or any other negotiation.
Blessed be God though the differences are many in point of judgement throughout your quarters, as they have been alwaies throughout the world, and will be so long as knowledge is imperfect: yet being amongst consdonable, quiet, well-affected people, they are not properly to be called divisions,
And though we cannot but fear there are some wicked Polititians that endeavour by all means to make them such, and thereby to distemper and distract all your undertakings, and to make the same advantagious to their unjust ends, yet are we confident (through Gods protection) their endeavours shall be fruitlesse (except to draw confusion on themselves) God having blessed the people in generall with a cooler spirit, and greater wisdom, then by dividing among themselves, or not adhering unto you, to become a prey to any enemy; and hath produced universally in them, as in us your humble Petitioners, a resolution to defend the just power and priviledge of this honourable House, against all delusion or opposition whatsoever, to the last penny of our estates, or last drop of our bloods, beseeching you to go on with the same caution and godly resolution, to perfect those just works you have undertaken, according as God shall direct you, both for the manner and the season: for his way is best, and his time most seasonable.
And as in duty bound, we shall ever pray, &c.
To conclude, if you shall do this conscionably and effectually, I am confident henceforward you will not be able to do any thing against the truth, but for the truth which is the unfeigned desire of him who cannot but earnestly desire your reformation, and eternall happinesse:
LONDON, Printed according to Order, by Thomas Paine, for William Ley, at Paules-Chaine, 1646