« PreviousContinue »
He may conjecture it, but that is a lame Evidence in Law: It might as well have been sworn, That he was speaking of Law, Physick, Trade, or any other matter of Civil Cancerne ment. Besides, There is no Law against Preaching what is Truth, whether it be in the Street, or in any other place : Nor is it possible, that any man can truly swear, That he preach'd Sedition, Heresy, doc. unless he so heard him, that he could tell what he said.
Sect. 5. The Evidence further faith, That W. Mead was there ; but till being in Gracechurch-ftreet be a Fault, and hearing a Man speak the Witness knows not what, be contrary to Law, the whole Evidence is useless and impertinent: but what they want of that, they endeavour to supply with Indictment; whose parts we proceed to consider.
Exceptions against the Inditment.
Sect. 6. It faith, That the Prisoners (were met upon the 15th Day of August, 1670.] whereas their own Evidence attirms it tu be upon the 14th Day of August, 70.
Sect. 7. [That they met with Force and Arms] which is fo great à Lye, that the Court had no better cover for it, than to tell the Jury, it was only a piece of Form, urging that 'the man tried for clipping of Mony this present Sellions had the same words used in his Indictment.
But that this Answer is too scanty, as well as it was too weak to prevait with the Jury; we desire it may be confider'd, that the same words may be used more of course, and out of form at one time, than at another. And tho we grant they can have little force with any Jury in a Clipper's case, for mere Clipping; yet they are words that give to just a ground of Jealousy, nay that carry so clear an Evidence of Illegality, where they are truly prov'd and affirm'd of any Meeting, as that they are the proper Roots from whence do spring those Branches which render an Indictment terrible, andan Affembly truly the Terror of the People.
Sect. 8. (Unlawfully and tumultuously to disturb the Peace] which is as true as what is said before, that is as false. This will evidently appear to all that consider how lawful it is to ar. Temble with no other delign than to worship God: and their calling a lawful Affembly an unlawful one, no more makes it fo, than to fay Light is Darkness, Black is White, concludes fo impudent a Fality true.
In Thort, because to worship God can never be a Crime, *no Meeting or Assembly deligning to worship God, can be unlawful. Such as go about to prove an unlawful Affembly,
must prove the Assemblers intent not to worship God, bu that no man can do, because no man can know another man's Intentions, and therefore it's impossible that any should prove such an Assembly unlawful. That is properly an unlawful Affembly, according to the Definition of the Law, when several Persons are met together, with design to use violence, and to do mischief; but that Diflenters meet with no such Intention, is manifeft to the whole world, therefore their Assemblies are not unlawful. He that hath only Right to be worship’d, which is Go:1, hath only Right to inftitute how he will be worship'd ; and such as worship him in that way they apprehend him to have instituted, are so far from being unlawful Affemblers, that therein they do but express the Duty they owe to God.
(Tumultuously] imports as much as Disorderly, or an Affembly full of Noise, Bustle, and Confusion, uting Force and Violence, to the injury of Persons, Houses, or Grounds. But whether Religious Dissenters, in their peaceable Meetings, therein deliring, and seeking nothing more than to express that Duty they owe to God Almighty, be a tumultuous Action, or Meeting in the Sense expreft (and which is the very Definition of the Law) will be the question. Certainly such as call these Meetings tumultuous, as to break the Peace, offer the greatest violence to common words, that can be well imagin'd, for they may as rightly fay, such Persons meet adulterously, thievishly, &c. as to affirm they meet tumultuoully, because they are as truly applicable. In short, such Particulars as are required to prove them such Meetings in Law, are wholly wanting.
Seit. 9. (To the Disturbance of the Peace.]
If thé Disturbance of the Peace be but matter of form with the rest, as is usually pleaded; leave out this matter of form, and then fee what great matter will be left.
Certainly such Assemblies, as are not to the breach and disturbance of the Peace, are far from being unlawful or tu. multuary: But if the Peace be broken by them, how comes it the Evidence was so short ? We cannot believe it was in favour of the Prisoners. This may lew to all the reasonable World how forward some are, to brant Innocency with hate ful Names, to bring a Suspicion, where there was none deferved.
Sect. 10. (That the said Penn and Mead met by agreement beforehand made.)
But if Persons that never saw cach other, nor converse together, neither ha:: Correspondence by any other hand, cannot be said to be agreed to any Action, before it be done ;
then the Prisoners were far from an Agreement, for they had never seen, conversod, nor corresponded, directly nor indirectly, before the Officers came to difturb the Assembly; We well know how far they would have stretch'd the word Agreement or Conspiracy ; but God, who brings to nought the Counsels of the Wicked, prevented their cruel Designs.
Sect. 11. [That William Mead did abet the said William Penn in Preaching.)
No man can be said to abet another, whilst they are both unknown to each other, especially in this case, where abet. ting follows agreeing, and agreeing supposes Foreknowledg. Nay the word abet in Law fignifies to command, procure, or counsel a Person, which W. Mead could not be faid to do, in reference to W. Penn, they being so great Strangers one to another, and at so great a distance: for the Evidence proves
that he was with Lieutenant Cook; and Lieutenant Cook Twears F he could not make his way to W. Penn, for the Croud. Sect. 12. (That W. Penn's Preaching and Speaking caused a great
. Concourse and Tumult of people, to remain and continue a long time in the Street.)
But this is so improbable to believe, that the very nature of a Tumult admits of no such thing as Preaching; but in. plies a disorderly Multitude, where all may be said to speak, rather than any to hear.
Sect. 1. [In contempt of the King and his Laws.]
They are so far from contemning the King and his Laws, that they are oblig'd and constraind by their own Principles, to obey every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's sake, but not Against the Lord for Man's fake; which is the question in hand. Besides, their continuance there, was not in contempt, but by the permission of the chief Oificer present, that came there by the King's Authority; nor is it for the Honour of the King, that such Persons should be said to act in contempt of his Laws, as only meet to honour God and his Laws.
Sect. 2. [And to the great disturbance of the King's Peace.]
It is far from disturbing and breaking the King's Peace, for men peaccably to meet to worship God ; for it is theu properly broken and invaded, when Force and Violence are used, to the hurt and prejudice of Persons and Estates; or when any thing is done that tends to the ftirring up of Sedition, and begetting in People a dislike of the Civil Government: But that such things are not practis’d by us in our Assemblies, either to offer violence to mens Persons and Eftates, or to ftir up People to Sedition, or dillike to the Civil Government, is obvious to all that visit our Affemblies,
Sect. 3. (To the great terror and disturbance of the King's liege People and Subjects, and to the evil Example of all others in the like case offending, against the King's Peace, his Crown, and Dignity.]
Were these black Criminations as true as they are wretchedly false, we should give as just an occasion to lose our Liberties, as our cruel Adversaries are ready to take any to deprive us unjulely of them. O how notorious is it to all sober People, that our manner of Life is far from terrifying any; and how absurd to think that naked Men (in the generality of their Conversation known to be harınless and quiet) should prove a terror or disturbance to the People? Certainly, if any such thing should be in the time of our Meetings, it is brought with the Cruelty and barbarous Actions of your own Soldiers; they never learnt by our example to beat, hale before Ma. giftrates, fine, and imprison for matters relating to God's Worship; neither can they say, we are their Precedents for all those Adulterous, Prodigal, Lascivious, Drunken, Swcaring, and Profane Acts they daily commit, and esteem rather occasion of Brag and Boaft, than Sorrow and Repentance: No, they need not go so far, they have too many (God Almighty knows) of their own Superiors for their example.
šect. 4. But we can never pass over with filence, nor enough observe the detestable juggle of such Indictments, which we require all English and conscientious Men to mind, as they value themselves in the like occasions. How little a grain of fact was provod, yet how specious an Indi&tment was made? Had it related to the Evidence, the bulk had been excusable ; but when it only swelld with malicious scaring Phrases, to suggest to the People that they were the mereit Villains, the most dangerous Persons, and designing mutually the Subversion of the Laws, and Breach of the Peace, to the terrifying of the People, Gr.
Who can chuse but tell them of their Romance-Indi&tment, that is fo forgd, as it truly merits another againft it felf. This they childishly call Form ; but had an Italian, or other Stranger been in Court, he would have judg'd it matter of fact, as thinking it unworthy of a King's Court, to accuse men in terms, not legally, truly, or probably due to the Fact they really had committed; as well as that no Court wouli practise it, but that which lov'd to deprive Men of their Liberties and Lives, rather than to save them ; Noleas Volens.
Sect. 5. Had their Cruelty and suggle ended here it felf, they would have spar'd us the pains of any further Observation. But that which we have to adil, on the Prisoners be. half, renders their Actions fo abominable in the light of
Justice, that all honest and ingenuous Hearts must needs abhor their bare Snares.
They tell the Jury, That being but Judges of Fałt only, they were to bring the Prisoners in guilty (that is, of the fact) at their peril ; and it was the part of the Bench, to judg what was Law. So that if the Jury had brought them in Guilty, without any furtlier additional Explanation (thio intentionally they meant only of the Fact proved by Evidence) yet the Bench would have extended it to every part of the Indictinent; and by this inpious Delufion to have perjur'd a well-meaning jury, and have had their barbarous ends upon the innocent Prisoners. But the Jury better understanding themselves, brought in Will. Penn guilty of the Fact proved, namely, Thut he was Speaking to some people met in Grace-Church-ftreet, but not of an unlawful Assembly, so circumftantiated (the mention of which ftab’d their Delign of moulding the general Answer of Guilty, to their own ends, to the heart) nor in:leed could they do otherwise; for as well the Jury as Prisoners, were deny'd to have any Law produced, by which they might ineafure the Truth of the Indiet ment, and Guilt of the Fait. But because the Recorder would or could not (perhaps ’tis fo long since he read Law that he may have forgotten it) we shall perform his part, in fhewing what is that Common Law of the Land, which in general, he said, they were indicted for the Breach of, and which indeed, if rightly understood, is the undoubted Birthright of every Englifliman; yea, the Inheritance of Inheritances : Major Hereditas venit unicuique noftrum a fure do Legibus, quam a Parentibies. Coke Inftit. 2. 56.
Seit. 6. All the various kinds or models of Government that are in the world, stand either upon Will and Power, or Condition and Contract : The first rule by Men, the second hy Laws. It is our happiness to be born under such a Constitution, as is most abhorrent in it self of all arbitrary Government, and which is, and ever has been most choice and careful of her Laws, by which all Right is preferv'd.
Sect. 7. All Laws are either Fundamental, and so immutable; or Superficial, and so alterable. By the firfi we understand such Laws, as injoin men to be just, honeit, vertuous; to do no wrong, to kill, rob, deceive, prejudice none; but to do as one would be done unto; to cherih good, and to terrify wicked Men: In short, universal Reason, which are not subjekt to any Revolutions, because no Emergency, Time, or Occafion can ever jujtify a Suspension of their Execution, much less their utter Abrogation.
Sect. 8. By Superficial Laws, we understand such Aets, Laws, or Statutes, as are suted to present Occurrences; and Y4