« PreviousContinue »
so are those Kings (during whose Appearance upon the Stage of this World, it pleaseth the GREAT KING of Kings fingularly to make known unto Men the wonderful Steps of his Ursearchable Providence) more signally observed, and their Lives and Actions more diligently remarked, and inquired into by Posterity; especially, if those Things be such, as not only relate to the outward Tranfactions of this World, but also are tignalized by the Manifestation or Revelation of the Knɔwledge of God in Matters Spiritual and Religious. These are the Things that rendered the Lives of Cyrus, Auguftus Cæsar, and Constantine the Great, in former Times, and of Charles the Fifth, and
some other Modern Princes in these left Ages, fo Gonfio derable.
But among all these Transactions, which it hath pleased God to permit, for the Glory of His Power, and the Manifestation of His Wisdom and Providence, no Age furnisheth us with Things To Arange and marvellous, whether avith respect to Matters Civil or Religious, as these that have fallen out within the Compass of Thy Time; who though Thou be not yet arrived at the Fiftieth Year of Thy Age, haft yet been a Witness of stranger
Things, than many Ages before produced. So that, whether we respect those yarious Troubles, wherein Thou found'it Thy self ingaged, while scarce got out of Thy Intáący, the many different Afictions, wherewith Mey of Thy Circumstances are often unacquainted; the ftrange and unparallel’d Fortune that befel Thy Father; Thy own narrow Escape, and Banishinent following thereupon, with the great Įmprobability of Thy ever Returning, (at least without very much Pains, and tedious Combạtings; ) or finally, the Incapacity thou wert under to accomplish such a Design;
considering the Strength of those that had pofféffed themselves of Thy Throne, and the Terror they had indicted upon Foreigå States į and yet that, after all this, thout thould't bo Restored withë out Stroke of Sword, the Help or Afiftance of Foreign States, or the Contrivance and Work of Humane Policy; All these do fufficiently deelare, that it is the Lord's Doing, which, as it is marvellous in our Eyeg, so it will justly be ä Matter of Wonder and Astonishment to Ger nerations to come; and may fufficiently serves if rightly observed, to confate and confound that Atheism, wherewith this Age doth so much abound.
As the Vindication of the Liberty of Conscience (which Thy Father, by giving way to the importunate Clamours of the Clergy, the anfwering and fulfilling of whofe unrighteous Wils, has often proved hurtful and pernicious to Princes, fought in some Part to restrain ) was a great Oocasion of those Troubles and Revolutions ; fo the Pretence of Conscience was that which carried it on, and brought it to that Pitch it came to. And though (no doubt) fome that were ingaged in that Work, designed good Things, at least in the Beginning, (albeit always wrong in the Matiner they took to accomplish it, vis. by Carnal Weapons ;) yet so foon as they had tatted of the Sweet of the Pof. feffions of them they had turned out, they quickly began to do those Things themselves; for which they had accused others. For their Hands were found full of Oppression, and they hated the Reproof of Instruction, which is the Way of Life: And they evilly entreated the Messengers of the Lord, and caused to beat and imprison His Prophets, and persecuted His People, whom He had called and gathered out from among them; whom he had
made to beat their Swords into Plow-pares, and their Spears into Pruning-books, and not to learn Carnai War any more : But he raised them up, and armed them with Spiritual Weapons, even with His own Spirit und Power, whereby they teftified in the Streets and High-ways, and publick Markets and Synagogues, against the Pride, Vanity, Lufts and Hypocrifie of that Generation, who were righteous in their own Eyes; though often cruelly Entreated therefore: And they faithfully prophesied and foretold them of their Judgment and Downfal, which came upon them; as
by several Warnings and Epistles, delivered to 0. liver and Richard Cromwell, the Parliament, and other then Powers, yet upon Record, doth appear
And after it pleased God to restore Thee, what Oppressions, what Banishments, and Evil Entreatingo they have met with, by Men pretending Thy Authority, and cloaking their "Mischiet with Thy Name, is known to most Men in this ffland; especially in England, where there is featce á Prison that hath not been filled with them ; nor a Judge, before whom they have not been haled: though they could never yet be found Guilty of any Thing that might deserve that Ulage. There fore the Sense of their Innoeeney did, no doubt, greatly contribute to move Thee, Three Years ago, to cause some Hundreds of them to be fet ai Liberty : For indeed their Sufferings are fingular, and obviously distinguishable from all the rest of such as live under Thee, in these two Refpccts.
First, In that among all the Plots, contrived by others against Thee, since Thy Return into Britain, there was never any, owned of that People, found or kuown to be guilty, (though many of thein have been taken and imprisoned upon such kind of Jealoufies) but were always found Innocent and Harmless, ( as became the followers of Christ) not coveting after, nor contending for the Kingdoms of this World; but fubje&t to every Ordinance of Man, for Conscience sake.
Secondly, In that, in the hottest Times of Persecution, and the moft violent Prosecution of those Laws; made against Meetings, (being cloathed with Innocency ) they have boldly food to their Teftimony for God, without creeping into Holes or Corners, or oncebiding themselves, as all other Diffenters have done; but daily mety according to their Cuftoin, in the publick Places appointed for that End; fo that none of Thy Officers can say of them, That they have surprized them in a Corner, overtaken them in a private Conventicle, or catched them lurking in their secret Chambers; nor needed they to send out Spies to get tbem, whom they were sure daily to find in their open Asemblies, testifying for God and His Trutb.
By which, those that have an Eye to see, may observe their Christian Patience and Courage, Constancy and Suffering, joined in one, more than in any other People, that differ from them, or oppose them. And yet in the midit of those Troubles, Thou canst bear Witness, That as on the one Part, they never fought to detract from Thee, or to render Thee and Thy Government odious to the People, by nameless and scandalous (b)
Pamphlets and Libels; fo on the other Hand, they have not spared to Admonish, Exhort and Reprove Thee ; and have faithfully discharged their Consciences towards Thee, without fattering Words, as ever the true Prophets in Ancient Times used to do to those Kings and Princes, under whose Power, Violence and Oppression was acted.
And albeit it is evident by Experience, to be most agreeable buth to Divine Truth and Humane Policy, to allow every one to serve God according to their Consciences; nevertheless those other Sects, who, for the most Part, durft not peep out in the Times of Persecution, while thele Innocent People ftood bold and faithful, do now combine in a joynt Confederacy (notwithstanding all the former Janglings and Contentions among themselves) to render us odious; seeking unjustly to wrest our Doctrine and Words, as if they were both inconsistent with Christianity and Civil Society : So that to effectuate this their Work of Malice against us, they have not been alhamed to take the Help, and commend the Labours of some invidious Socinians against us. So do Herod and Pontius Pilate agree to crucifie Christ.
But our Practice, known to Thee by good Experience to be more consistent with Christianity and Civil Society, and the Peace and Welfare of this Iland, than that of those that thus accuse us,
doch sufficiently guard us against this Calumny; that we may indeed appeal to the Testimony of Thy Conscience, as a Witness for us in the Face of the Nations.
These Things moved me to present the World with a Brief, but true Account of this People's