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others; and is the chief cause why sects and schisms do so much abound, and true knowledge is kept at distance from us; besides yet a greater danger which is in it. For when God shakes a kingdom, with strong and healthful commotions, to a general reforming, it is not untrue that many fectaries and false teachers are then busiest in seducing. But yet more true it is, that God then raises to his own work men of rare abilities, and more than common industry, not only to look back and revise what hath been taught heretofore, but to gain further, and to go on fome new enlightened steps in the discovery of truth. For such is the order of God's enlightening his Church, to dispense and deal oirt by degrees his beam, so as our earthly eyes may best sustain it. Neither is God appointed and confined, where and out of what place these his chosen shall be first heard to speak; for he fees not as man sees, chooses not as man chooses, left we should devote ourselves again to set places, and assemblies, and outward callings of men ; planting our faith one while in the old convocation house, and another while in the chapel at Westminster ; when all the faith and religion that shall be there canonized, is not sufficient without plain convincement, and the charity of patient instruction, to supple the least bruise of conscience, to edify the meanest christian, who desires to walk in the spirit, and not in the letter of human trust, for all the number of voices that can be there made ; no though Harry the seventh himself there, with all his liege tombs about him, should lend them voices from the dead to swell their number. And if the men be erroneous who appear to be the leading schismatics, what witholds us but our Noth, our selfwill, and distrust in the right cause, that we do not give them gentle meetings and gentle dismissions, that we debate not and examine the matter thoroughly with liberal and frequent audience; if not for their fakes yet for our own? Seeing no man who hath tasted learning, but will confess the many ways of profiting by those who, not contented with stale receipts, are able to manage and set forth new positions to the world. And were they but as the dust and cinders of our feet, so long as in that notion they may yet serve
cient without that shall be thiniter ; when and another to polish and brighten the armory of truth, even for that respect they were not utterly to be cast away. But if they be of those whom God hath fitted for the special use of these times with eminent and ample gifts, and those perhaps neither among the priests, nor among the Pharisees, and we in the haste of a precipitant zeal shall make no distinction, but resolve to stop their mouths, because we fear they come with new and dangerous opinions, as we cominonly forejudge them ere we understand them; no less than wo to us, while, thinking thus to defend the gospel, we are found the persecutors!
There have been not a few since the beginning of this parliament, both of the presbytery and others, who by their unlicensed books to the contempt of an imprimatur first broke that triple ice clung about our hearts, and taught the people to see day : I hope that none of those were the persuaders to renew upon us this bondage, which they themselves have wrought so much good by contemning. But if neither the check that Moses gave 10 young Joshua, nor the countermand which our Saviour gave to young John, who was so ready to prohibit those whom he thought unlicensed, be not enough to admonifh our elders how unacceptable to God their testy mood of prohibiting is; if neither their own remembrance what evil hath abounded in the church by this lett of licensing, and what good they themselves have begun by tranfgreffing it, be not enough, but that they will persuade and execute the most Dominican part of the inquisition over us, and are already with one foot in the stirrup so active at suppressing, it would be no unequal distribution in the first place to suppress the suppressors themselves; whom the change of their condition hath puffed up, more than their late experience of harder times hath made wise.
And as for regulating the press, let' no man think to have the honour of advising ye better than yourselves have done in that order published next before this, “That no book be printed, unless the printer's and the author's name, or at least the printer's be registered.” Those which otherwise come forth, if they be found mischievous and libellous, the fire and the executioner will
be · be the timelieft and the most effectual remedy, that
man's prevention can use. For this authentic Spanish policy of licensing books, if I have said aught, will prove the most unlicensed book itlelf within a short while; and was the immediate image of a star-chamber decree to that purpose made in those very times when that court did the rest of those her pious works, for which she is now fallen from the stars with Lucifer. Whereby ye may guess what kind of state prudence, what love of the people, what care of religion, or good manners there was at the contriving, although-with fingular hypocrify it pretended to bind books to their good behaviour. And how it got the upper hand of your precedent order so well constituted before, if we may believe those men whose profession gives them cause to inquire moft, it may be doubted there was in it the fraud of some old patentees and monopolizers in the trade of bookselling; who under pretence of the poor in their company not to be defrauded, and the just retaining of each man his several copy, (which God forbid should be gainsaid) brought divers glossing colours to the house, which were indeed but colours, and serving to no end except it be to exercise a superiority over their neighbours; men who do not therefore labour in an honest profession, to which learning is indebted, that they should be made other men's vassals. Another end is thought was aimed at by some of them in procuring by petition this order, that having power in their hands, malignant books might the easier escape abroad, as the event shows. But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandize I skill not: This I know, that errours in a good government and in a bad are equally almolt incident ; for what magistrate may not be inisinformed, and much the sooner, if liberty of printing be reduced into the power of a few ? But to redress willingly and speedily what hath been erred, and in highest authority to esteem a plain advertisement more than others have done a sumptuous bride, is a virtue (honoured lords and commons !) answerable to your highest actions, and whereof none can participate but greatest and wileft men.
Restored to the good of both sexes, from the bondage of
canon law, and other mistakes, to the true meaning of scripture in the law and gospel compared.
Wherein also are set down the bad consequences 'of abolishing, or
condemning of fin, that which the law of God allows, and CHRIST abolished not.
Now the second time revifed, and much augmented, in two books : To
the parliament of England, with the affembly.
MATTH, xiii, 52. « Every scribe instructed in the kingdom of Hearen
is like the master of a house, which bringeth out of his treasury things new and old.”
PROV. xviii, 13. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it,
it is folly and shame unto him."
To the Parliament of England, with the Asembly.
If it were seriously asked, (and it would be no untimely question,) renowned parliament, select assembly! who of all teachers and masters, that have ever taught, hath drawn the most disciples after him, both in religion and in manners? it might be not untruly answered, Custom. Though virtue be commended for the most persuasive in her theory, and conscience in the plain demonstration of the spirit finds most evincing ; yet whether it be the secret of divine will, or the original blindness we are born in, so it happens for the most part, that custom still is filently received for the best instructor. Except it be, because her method is so glib and easy, in fome manner like to that vision of Ezekiel rolling up her sudden book
of implicit knowledge, for him that will to take and swallow down at pleasure ; which proving but of bad nourishment in the concoction, as it was heedless in the devouring, puffs up unhealthily a certain big face of pretended learning, mistaken among credulous men for the wholesome habit of soundness and good conftitution, but is indeed no other than that swoln visage of counterfeit knowledge and literature, which not only in private mars our education, but also in public is the common climber into every chair, where either religion is preached, or law reported : filling each estate of life and profession with abject and servile principles, depressing the high and heavenborn spirit of man, far beneath the condition wherein either God created him, or fin hath funk him. To pursue the allegory, custom being but a mere face, as echo is a mere voice, rests not in hèr unaccomplishment, until by secret inclination the accorporate herself with errour, who being a blind and serpentine body without a head, willingly accepts what he wants, and supplies what her incompleteness went seeking. Hence it is, that errour supports custom, custom countenances errour: and these two between them would persecute and chase away all truth and solid wisdom out of human life, were it not that God, rather than man, once in many ages calls together the prudent and religious counsels of men, deputed to repress the incroachments, and to work off the inveterate blots and obscurities wrought upon our minds by the subtle insinuating of errour and custom; who, with the numerous and vulgar train of their followers, make it their chief design to envy and cry down the industry of free reasoning, under the terms of humour and innovation; as if the womb of teeming truth were to be closed up, if the presume to bring forth aught that forts not with their unchewed notions and fuppofitions. Against which notorious injury and abuse of man's free soul, to testify and oppose the utmost that study and true labour can attain, heretofore the incitement of men reputed grave hath led me among others; and now the duty and the right of an instructed Christian calls me through the chance of good or evil report, to be the sole advocate of a discountenanced truth : a