[William Walwyn], A Word in Season (18 May 1646).


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Bibliographical Information

ID Number

T.63 [1646.05.18] [William Walwyn], A Word in Season: to all sorts of wel minded people in this miserably distracted and distempered nation (18 May 1646).

Full title

[William Walwyn], A Word in Season: to all sorts of wel minded people in this miserably distracted and distempered nation. Plainly manifesting, that the safety and wel-being of the Common-wealth under God, dependeth on the fidelity, and stedfast adherence of the people, to those whom they have chosen, and on their ready compliance with them. Also, That the destruction and bondage of the Common-wealth in generall, and of every good minded man in particular cannot be avoided, if the people, through want of consideration, shall give eare to any other counsels or counsellers.

Proverb. 2.11,12. Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee, to deliver thee from the way of the evill man, from the man that speaketh froward things.

Published by Authority. London, Printed by Thomas Paine, and are to be sold by Edward Blackmoore, at his shop in Pauls Church-yard at the Signe of the Angell. 1646.

Estimated date of publication

18 May 1646.

Thomason Tracts Catalog information

TT1, p. 439; Thomason E.337 [25]

Editor’s Introduction

(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)

Text of Pamphlet

SINCE, (as the Scripture speaketh) no man hateth his own flesh, but loveth and cherisheth it; and that naturally, every man seeketh his owne good: it is very strange, (seeing we have the helpe of reason, of experience, of the Word of God) that the right way, which leadeth to that end, should be so hard, and difficult to be found, certainly, it cannot be so in it self; God hath been more good to man, then to make things necessary hard to come by.

The difficulty will rather be found to arise by our own default, from our want of a patient, setted, serious, and religious consideration of things, wherby we are continually liable upon all occasions to be misled, either by our owne evill and eager desires, or by the evill examples of others, or by evill (though long setled) customes; or by the perswasions of politique deceivers, into such wayes, which though they seeme to be strewed with Roses and perfumes, yet are the wayes of death, and when we least suspect, bring us to destruction.

Our blessed Saviour therefore bids us to be wise as Serpents, because whilst we live in this world we have to do with Serpents, and to beware to wolves that come to us in sheepes clothing; To be innocent as doves, is a most blessed temper of spirit, but very unsafe and liable to every ginne, and bird of prey, if the wisdome of the Serpent be not joyned therewith: Now all the helps of reason, of experience or the word of God, produce not this wisdom without consideration; advised, deliberate consideration, (such as few in this Nation are accustomed unto) without which that which is called knowledg or understanding, is not true knowledge nor understanding, serving to no publique use at all, except to distract and distemper, and vex and destroy a Nation. It is the voyce of God himselfe: my People will not consider, they will not understand, without consideration it is impossible to understand anything as we ought, & without understanding (true considerate understanding) man is like unto the beasts that perish: nor had this Nation ever been thus miserable as it hath bin, is, and is like to be, but for want of this kind of consideration, in the People; so that it may be as truly said of this, as of the pervers, rash, inconsiderat Nation of the Jewes; thy distruction is of thy self O England. And if ever there were a cause to study & put in practice the wisdom of the Serpent: to beware of foxes that come to us in sheeps clothing: if ever there were a time requiring the uttermost of wisdom and consideration in all sorts of people, rich and poore, high and low, one with another; now there is a cause, now is the time.

For never to this day, were those who are trusted with the care of the Common wealth, so beset and surrounded with difficulties; with unexpected appearances of strange thinges, such as no age can parralell, of so high and great concernment, as the least miscarriage therein, may in a moment of time make void all their long, their faithfull and painefull endevours, and involve us all into the most misserable bondage, that ever over-whelmed any People.

And therefore (however any sort of man may delude themselves) if we doe not all joyntly and unanimously (laying aside all disaffection for differences in Judgment in Religion) patiently, setledly and seriously, deliberate and consider what every one of us ought to doe, in reference to their preservation; abandoning all passion, and willfull prosecution of perverse and prepostrous things; all jarring and repining at their proceedings; this Nation cannot be safe or happy, nay cannot but be miserable and wretched.

For the greatest and most superlative freedome, of this Nation (and wherin the safty and well-being thereof doth reside) consisteth in this; That Lawes cannot bee made. Government (Ecclesiasticall or Civill) cannot be established or Altered: Warre cannot bee levied, nor Peace concluded, nor Monyes raised, nor any thing done, but by the Authority of those whom the people themselves doe chuse for Parliament: and entrust as their Commissioners, with full and compleat power for Their good. Had it not been by this just Authority, We had never been Freed, from the Tyranies, oppressions and cruelties of the High Commission, Star-Chamber, and Councel-board: from the burthenous Execution of the Forrest-law, Court of Honor, Commissions of Waste: from the Extortions, and Exorbitances, in the Courts of justice, Chancery, Requests: from Ship-money (for remission wherof, no lesse than Twelve Subsidies were required) and from all those other innumerable Patents, Projects, Illegall warrants, and Imprisonments: Things which the whole Land long groned under; though (now removed) the benefit be unworthily forgotten, or misattributed to an Act of grace. Had it not been for this Authority; the Court of Wards had never been abolished, and that for many Ages hath oppressed the Land.

Had not this Authority, opposed; the King had been furnished with monyes to have Warred upon our Brethern of Scotland, in his first attempt upon that Nation. This Authority, in the worst of all former Times, when the strongest Force and Power was upon them, ever stuck closest to the interest of the People, nor did the People, in the worst of Times, ever forsake them, but maintained Their power, and Priveledges, their Essence and authority, whensoever they called upon them for helpe and assistance, nor hath this just and powerfull Authority been more true to the Commons that chose them, then to those worthy Lords and Patriots, that at any time have assisted them for the common good of the Nation, preserving their Honours with as true affection as the liberties of the People; no man can name the time that (intentionally) this Authority ever did injury to any just intrest either at home or abroad, but have borne and suffered much, from those that have made an ill use of their lenity and credulity.

All which is necessary to be remembred, and seriously considered in this instant of time, because if these things be seriously laid to heart, it may happily expel those poysonous vapors, with which our ayre begins to be infected, we have a generation of forgetfull, ingratefull people, who because the Parliament cannot yeild unto all they desire, (without extreame thraldom to the people, in things Ecclesiasticall and Civill) are degenerate into a malevolent disposition, murmuring and repining at all their proceedings, and making hard constructions of their Just endevours; and by politique and subtill meanes, labour to alienate the hearts of their friends from them, and to incline them to give eare to other Connsels, laying open their infirmities (which they should rather goe backward to cover) and would (if they could) possesse the world that there is a sort of men that would settle Religion more purely, performe and interpret the Covenant more exactly, and doe justice more speedily, and more sincearely then this just Authority, whom the people themselves have chosen; nay, there are fames abroad, that there are catalogues taken of any thing that may possibly beare a bad or sinister construction, to be shewed to the people, in the day of their extremity, if such a day can be procured.

And for what end all this? Why, you shall not faile to be told it is for the glory of God, the setting up of the Kingdome of Jesus Christ, and the everlasting Good of the soules of the people, and the like: but take yee heed how yee heare or give credit to these Syren songs; these charmes of Dalilah, are but to deprive Sampson of his strength, to rob the people of their Power: It is a sad proverb, but Court Logick hath proved it so frequently true, that it may be related without suspition of blasphemy. In nomine Domini incipit omne malum; When the Devill transformes himselfe into an Angell of light, to make his delusion currant, he is necessitated to use such language: For which cause our blessed Saviour advised us to be Wise as Serpents, lest wee bee beguiled by their subtill glosing dissimulations.

But as the Apostle saith in another case, If an Angell from heaven preach any other doctrine, let him be accursed. So in this case, if any, though in the shape of an Angell of light, of strength, of powers, or dominations, shall endevour, by any meanes whatsoever, to divide you from those you have chosen, either in affection, or assistance, you are to hold them for the most accursed Traitors that ever trode upon English ground, and to use all lawfull meanes to bring them to condigne punishment; being well assured, that whatsoever is pretended; the intent can be no other then to extirpate for ever the foundation of the freedom and safety of the People: which once done, a ready way is made for any thing that can make a people wretched and miserable, without hope of remedy.

And therefore be advised in time, before you are engaged too farre, and be confident, those inconveniences you have fancyed to your selves (and wherein you are like enough to be mistaken) if they should indeed prove reall ones, yet were you better to have patience, and by loving discourses and prudent meanes endevour to worke a better information, (which time may produce, as by experience in your selves you cannot but know) rather then through impatience and violent importunity, to cast your selves upon a remedy that must necessarily be destructive to the whole people of the Land: For once suppose or admit that any (pretending whatsoever, piety or authority) may more properly judge of law (or religion so far as concerns the publick) or give interpretation of oaths or covenants, or treaties, or transactions, or any thing which is of public concernment, then those whom the people have chosen: and farewel common freedom for ever, who ever those are you would so prefer, as far as in you is, in so admitting or supposing, you betray the great freedome of the Nation, and set Masters over the Parliament, then which there can be no greater Treason.

Be not flattered and deluded out of your birthright: Consider, whatever you are, you are but a part of the whole people, it is impossible that you can give the sense and mind of all the Commons of England: Nay, if you could, it is not lawfull for you to doe it, otherwise then by a becomming information, and to rest satisfied when you have so done: You are not entrusted by the People, you are not Chosen to that end: But this just Authoritie is a power chosen, and entrusted; and you are to know, that they are absolutely Free to follow the dictate of their own Understandings and Consciences, informed by the Word of God, by principles of right reason, and all other good meanes, as is most probable to conduce to the safetie and weale of the people; which they lately and worthily have declared to be the end of the Primitive Institution of all Government.

Whosoever shall tell you, that either themselves or any others will ever doe you more good then those you have chosen; make no scruple to owne them for deceivers, that Absolon-like, kisse and wooe you, of purpose, to enslave you.

What though some things may not be done so perfectly, or so inexcusably as you could wish: Consider, they are but men, subject to the same passions and infirmities as your selves; they are not like some ancient Fradulent great Councells, that have maintained the Canons and Decrees thereof to be infallible: Nay, they are so farre from such delusion, that they have many times altered their owne Orders, Ordinances, and Acts, upon further or better information, and doe not refuse, nor reject Petitions and Informations duely offered by any peaceable persons, few, or many, and as readily follow the advices of others (which they approve) as their owne immediate apprehensions and Councells.

And, as a sure testimony of their faithfulnesse and sinceritie; doe but seriously consider, how exceedingly God hath blessed them, viz. with the affections of the people, with power and strength in the field, with deliverance from many most desperate Plots, and out of many sore and difficult exigents, that their enemies have bin as Chaffe before their Armies: What force hath beene too mightie, or place too strong for their Achievement? And now, that they have all, as it were, in their owne command (by the same good providence of God) would you now, because they cannot please you in every particular, except they shall goe against their owne Consciences, gladly see them trodden upon and brought under: Surely, if you would but open your eyes, you could not but see, that the hand of God is still with them, and will not be shortned: He hath already brought low the mightie, and reproved, vanquished even Kings for their sakes, and for theirs whom they represent: And doe you now thinke, that any shall be able to lay their honour in the dust? You cannot certainly be many, that have beene thus blinded, or deluded: Nor can you possibly long continue in so bad a mind. A little consideration must necessarily change your minds, and God I trust, will prevent you with his converting grace, and will not suffer you to be tempted above your power. However, this is most visible to all considerate men, that there are multitudes of honest Religious people that remain immaculate in their affections to this Honourable Parliament, & are truly thankful for their unwearied labors, in recovery of the long lost Liberties of this great Nation, & stand firmly resolved to maintaine and defend with their lives and estates, their just power and priviledges, against all opposition, circumvention, or delusion whatsoever; And those who shall cease to doe this, through any conceived cause or provocation, they shall esteeme them the most treacherous upon earth, and not worthy the name of true Englishmen or Christians.

This, by generall discourse & observation, is found to be a knowne truth; and therefore, it is earnestly hoped, the Honourable Parliament will no whit abate of their resolutions, to make this Nation absolutely free and happie; notwithstanding the manifold new Discoveries of strange Apparitions, if they but please to consider seriously the true Englishmans temper, they will find, they have multitudes more with them then against them; and that in times to come this shall be an English Proverb, As certaine to perish, as those that openly oppose, or would secretly undermine a Parliament.