Front Page Titles (by Subject) General Council att Whitehall 29 December 1648. - The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
General Council att Whitehall 29 December 1648. - Sir William Clarke, The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 2 
The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, Secretary to the Council of the Army, 1647-1649, and to General Monck and the Commanders of the Army in Scotland, 1651-1660, ed. C.H. Firth (Camden Society, 1894). 4 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
General Council att Whitehall 29 December 1648.
Elizabeth Poole of Abington first spake, to this effect.b
That the businesse was committed to their trust, butt there was a great snare before them.
That God was about to breake the pottesheards of the Earth.
That there should nott bee a sheard left to carry coales now was of finer sort of mettall. I looke uppon all manner of manifestations, formes, and religions which are made uppe in any regard of—
That there might bee a pure life in death—That men might bee dead unto all their fairest images, and finde the comlinesse in truth.a
After a short speech to this effect, further declaring the presence of God with the Army, and desiring, that they would goe forward and stand uppe for the libertie of the people as itt was their liberty and God had open’d the way to them.
The Commissary Generall said: That for what was said in commendation of the Armie, that they did nott looke for the praise of men; butt for that which shee spoke otherwise, that which shee exprest itt is very good and excellent and worthy consideration.
When I had bin many dayes a Mourner for the land with great and sore lamentation, and indeed a sympathizer with your labours, I had a vision sett before mee which was this, for the end of your labours.
There was a Man, a Member of the Army, that some times had bin shewed mee, [expressing] his respect unto his Country, to its liberty and freedome, which hee should gladly bee a sacrifice for. This persone was sett before mee [on the one hand, representing the body of the Army], and a woman which should signifie the weake and imperfect distressed state of the land on the other hand. This woman was full of imperfection, crooked, weake, sickly, imperfect. I [having the gift of faith upon me for her cure] was to appeale to the body of the Army in this man that hee should improve his faithfulnesse to the Kingdome, by his diligence in the cure of this person, by the direction which I should give him for her through the guift of God in mee. There was nothing requir’d att his hand more then the act of diligence; that hee should before the Lord, act diligently and faithfully to imploy all meanes which I should by the guift of God direct for her cure; and looke how farre short hee fail’d of the meanes, soe farre short hee should bee of her cure; butt soe farre as hee should bee faithfull, soe farre hee should bee for her consolation. Neverthelesse this I was to shew him: that itt was nott the guift of God in mee, nor the act of diligence in him, butt in reference to that spiritt of eternall power which had called mee to beleive and him to act, neither was hee to bee slack in action, nor I to bee staggering in beleiving.a
I cannott butt give you that impression that is uppon my spiritt in conjunction with that testimonie which God hath manifested heere by an unexpected Providence. What shee hath said being correspondent with what I have made [known] as [manifested] to mee before. The truth is, Itt is true [there are] many thinges in which wee are to take a liberty and use the libertie in reference to the men of the world that wee have to deale withall; butt that principle which is to carry us as in consideration of ourselves before God and the world, [is] after that liberty which the world doeth nott understand. Itt is true wee may use these arguments to satisfie such as understand noe more butt such [things] as the world gives testimonie of;b butt if wee have nott another manner of testimonie, such thinges that God hath by his providence given us satisfaction of, I beleive as shee sayes the conclusion of itt will bee butt fleshly [after] having begun in the spiritt. I thinke every man is to search his owne heart, and to see what is within, and nott [to look for deliverance] from himself or from men, or from outward meanes; butt from that Kingdome which when itt comes will have noe end. And truly I have had my portion of troubles and thoughts of heart since these thinges have come to their chrysis and to their alteration, and I confesse I can finde nothing that is really and seriously an objection to them butt what does arise from the flesh, which has tempted mee all alonge that might tend to a bearing testimonie against the whole and series of the actions. Certainly these thinges are of God, and ’tis good councill and, ’tis true, that hee that will goe about in a fleshly way to save his life shall loose itt, and hee that will [loose] itt is [in] the way to save [it] . . . them butt they being purified by that fire which is from God and through which all thinges must passe . . . . I doe rejoice to heare what hath bin said, and itt meetes much with what hath bin uppon my heart heertofore and I could nott butt speake what I did to beare witnesse to the same testimonie, and shall rejoice to see itt made out more and more in others.
Itt is true that the Lord hath a controversie with the great and mighty of the earth, with the captaines and rulers.a Hee will contend for his owne name amongst them, butt beleive itt to your consolations who waite uppon him, that itt is nott with you, or with any butt as the captaines and rulers of the earth; you may bee captaines and rulers uppon the earth and maintaine his controversie, butt if you bee the captaines and rulers of the earth his controversie is against you. Wherfore greater is hee that is with you then they that are against you.
If I doe rightly observe what did fall from you, you said, that one was represented to you on behalf of the Army, and that through their acting such a thinge was to bee accomplished. Itt was given to you to beleive hee should effect [this by] following somethinge that youa ought to suggest unto him. Now that I have to offer unto you is this, whether any thinge was given to you more particularly to expresse then before?
Noe, Sir. For itt was represented to mee as the Church, nott that the Church was confined to this, or that, butt as in the body, butt by the guift and faith of the Church shall you bee guided, which spiritt is in you, which shall direct you.b
For what this woman doth speake of the vision that was sett before her and soe for the judge of spiritts, for ought that I yett see, I see nothing in her butt those [things] that are the fruites of the spiritt of God, and I am therfore apt to thinke soe att the present, being not able to judge the contrary, because mee thinkes itt comes with such a spiritt that does take and hold forth humility and selfe deniall, and that rules very much about the whole that shee hath deliver’d, which makes mee have the better apprehension of itt for the present.c Itt is only God that can judge of spiritts of men and women.
I thinke the summe of that which shee offers, that wee ought to doe for God, and you must goe on in the way, and I thinke the exhortation is very seasonable; and therfore I would have you come to the businesse that is before you, and I hope that God will lett that [counsel] goe alonge with you, that wee doe itt nott as men pleasers and men observers, butt as unto the Lord.d
[b ]A full account of this woman’s discourse to the Council is contained in the pamphlet entitled: “A Vision wherein is manifested the disease and cure of the Kingdome, being the summe of what was delivered to the Generall Councell of the Army, Decemb. 29, 1648. Together with a true copy of what was delivered in writing (the fifth of the present January) to the said Generall Councell, of divine pleasure concerning the King in reference to his being brought to triall, what they are therein to do, and what not, both concerning his office and person. By E. Poole, herein a servant to the most High God. London 1648. 4to.” In a pamphlet published in 1651 called “A brief narrative of the Mysteries of State carried on by the Spanish faction,” etc., she is represented as a “monstrous witch” provided by Cromwell in order to mould the Council to his designs.
[a ]“The great work which lieth upon you is to become dead to every pleasant picture which might present itself for your delight, that you perfectly dying in the will of the Lord, you may find your resurrection in him.” A Vision, etc.
[b ]This account of her vision stands first in Mrs. Poole’s pamphlet and was probably delivered before the fragmentary speech on p. 150, but I have preserved the order given in the MS.
[a ]The words in this speech inserted in brackets are derived from the pamphlet.
[b ]The position of this clause has been altered.
[a ]“The Lord hath a controversie with the great and mighty men of the earth, with the Captains and Rulers, and Governors. You may be great and mighty upon the earth, but against the mighty men of the earth is his controversy held: For as you are the potsherd of the earth, he will surely breake you to peeces till there be not a shred left to carry coals on.” A Vision, etc.
[a ]MS. “hee.”
[b ]“She being after demanded, Whether she had any direction to give the Councel? She answerd, No: for the present, for she was in this case presented to herself as the Church which spirit is in you, and shall guide you.” A Vision, etc.
[c ]Cf. vol. i., p. 381.
[d ]A petition from Lieut.-Col. Lilburne was read after Mr. Poole’s business was finished, and the Council then proceeded to discuss the Agreement.