Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX C: Corresponding Passages of Mercurius Politicus - Excellencie of a Free-State
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APPENDIX C: Corresponding Passages of Mercurius Politicus - Marchamont Nedham, Excellencie of a Free-State 
Excellencie of a Free-State: Or, The Right Constitution of a Commonwealth, edited and with an Introduction by Blair Worden (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Corresponding Passages of Mercurius Politicus
The endnotes that follow are signaled in the text of this edition (see p. cvii). They reproduce the words and passages of Mercurius Politicus (MP) that were altered in the 1656 edition of The Excellencie (E). (Politicus does not have the headings of the sections into which The Excellencie is divided.)
In the cause of intelligibility, all the English-language material from Politicus is given in roman type, even though much of the original is in italic. The print of Politicus is not always clear, and occasionally the transcription of the text has to be conjectural.
[MP 71, 9-16 Oct. 1651]
[MP 73, 23-30 Oct. 1651]
[MP 72, 16-23 Oct. 1651]
[MP 70, 2-9 Oct. 1651]
[MP 68, 18-25 Sep. 1651]
[MP 37, 13-20 Feb. 1651]
[MP 77, 20-27 Nov. 1651]
[MP 78, 27 Nov.-4 Dec. 1651]
[MP 79, 4-11 Dec. 1651]
[MP “79” (80), 11-18 Dec. 1651]
[MP 81, 18-25 Dec. 1651]
[MP 82, 25 Dec. 1651-1 Jan. 1652]
[MP 83, 1-8 Jan. 1652]
[MP 84, 8-15 Jan. 1652]
[MP 85, 15-22 Jan. 1652]
[MP 86, 22-29 Jan. 1652]
[MP 87, 29 Jan.-5 Feb. 1652]
[MP 88, 5-12 Feb. 1652]
[MP 91, 26 Feb.-4 Mar. 1652]
[MP 92, 4-11 Mar. 1652]
[MP 93, 11-18 Mar. 1652]
[MP 94: 18-25 Mar. 1652]
[MP 95, 25 Mar.-1 Apr. 1652]
[MP 96, 1-8 Apr. 1652]
[MP 97, 8-15 Apr. 1652]
[MP 98, 15-22 Apr. 1652]
[MP 99, 22-29 Apr. 1652]
[MP 100, 29 Apr.-6 May 1652]
[MP 101, 6-13 May 1652]
[MP 102, 13-20 May 1652]
[MP 103, 20-27 May 1652]
[MP 104, 27 May-3 June 1652]
[MP 105, 3-10 June 1652]
[MP 106, 10-17 June 1652]
[MP 107, 17-24 June 1652]
[MP 108, 24 June-1 July 1652]
[MP 109, 1-8 July 1652]
[MP 110, 8-15 July 1652]
[MP 111, 15-22 July 1652]
[MP 112, 22-29 July 1652]
[MP 113, 29 July-5 Aug. 1652]
In what manner Princes ought to keep their words.
[MP 74, 30 Oct.-6 Nov. 1651]
THREE OTHER EDITORIALS
The following editorials, written during the period of the sequence from which The Excellencie was mostly taken, were omitted from it.
[MP 89, 12-19 Feb. 1652]
To prove the second part of that Reason, which was produced in our last, we shall (according to promise) proceed, to shew that the permitting of any Sort, Ranke, or Order of Men, to assume unto themselves the State and Title of Nobility, is altogether inconvenient in a Commonwealth, and must needs occasion many dangerous opp[o]rtunities of introducing Tyranny into a Free-State. The principal caus (as was then declared) is this, in regard such petty Titular Tyrants alwayes bear a naturall and implacable hatred against the People: so that if at any time it happen, that any great Man or Men whatsoever arrive to so much power and confidence as to think of usurping, or to be in a condition to bee tempted thereunto, these are the first will set them on, mingle Interests with them, and become the prime Instruments in heaving them up into the seat of Tyranny. And the main reason lies in this, That it is their Interest so to doe, because being seated in a higher degree and station then ordinary above the People, they will bee then in the fairer way of satisfying their hereditary Appetites of Covetousness, Pride, Ambition, and Luxury; and with the greater Impunity exercise and ease those passions of the Spleen, which usually break out into all extreames upon the People, for the maintenance of their Lordly interest and dignity.
Now for the evidencing of this Truth by example, the whole world affords variety in every corner. In Greece wee finde, that in the island of Cous, in Rhodes, and Megara (which were al free-States) they might have bin a free People indeed, had they but taken care to knock off those golden Fetters, wherein they were held bound by a titular Nobility: For, the People being prest under them, were forced once to drive them out, but afterwards most foolishly letting them in again into their former State and Order, they soon improved their Return to an undermining, and an utter extinction of the Peoples Freedom. We read too that in the free-State of the Argives, the standing titular Nobility would never be at rest, but always broaching one design or other, and at length the State having occasion of war against the Lacedemonians, did very foolishly intrust many of those Nobles with Commands in the Army: But what followed, the war being over, and they by this means gotten into Arms, immediately made use of the present opportunity to attempt the ruin of the Peoples Liberty, and the Republick. The innate Treachery in the same order of men was the ruin of the Syracusan Freedome too; For, they never left pecking at the poor people, til they were reduced to such extremity, that they were forced to put more power into the hands of Dionysius than ever they could get back again, which proved an occasion for his introducing an absolute Tyranny; wherein all the Nobility that formerly had been his Enemies, did side with him, after hee was once seated, because they saw their own interest provided for by his establishment in a Tyranny. In the Isle also of Corcyra they never left, till they brought that State to the utmost hazard, at which time that free and generous People made a shift to surprize them in their design, and give them the bloody reward of their Treason. In Athens, they destroyd that generous Free-State, first under their Τριάκοντα Τύραννοι, by ingrossing all power into the hands of their own Order, which was afterwards usurpt by thirty of their fellows; and when that Tyranny could hold no longer, then in process of time they erected a new one, called ’Άρχοντες, the Decennall Governors, which swayed all, for Ten years; and with no less Tyranny than the former, because they had an Interest distinct, being of a rank Superior to the People. In Heraclea likewise it is very memorable, that the Great ones were the men that drove out the Tyrant Clearchus, but with an Intent (it seems) to set up themselves in his Tyranny; wherein the People preventing them by making the State free, they were so impatient of the Peoples freedom, that rather than suffer it they called home the Tyrant againe, which nevertheless turn’d afterwards to the destruction of their owne persons, though not of their Interest and Families.
From Greece let us travell to Rome, where after the expulsion of Kingly Tyranny, a new one was substituted in its place by permitting those that called themselves the Nobility, to arrogate all authority unto themselves. This wrought so disastrous an effect, that the people allowing of a standing Titular Order of Nobility, soon lost all other enjoyments, as well as their Liberty; for, those grand Tituladoes made it their business every way to vex and keep them under, insomuch that they were forced into continuall mutinies for remedy; one while against the usury and exaction of their Nobles; another while for Land, & sometimes for Bread; sometimes also for liberty of Marriage, and lastly for the liberty of the whole State, when they procured the Tribunes and free Suffrages, with power of electing and calling their supreme Assemblies; but yet for all this, they could never enjoy any thing in quiet, but that they were still plagued with the subtilties and encroachments of their Nobles, all along, from before Appius Claudius; but especially then, and afterwards downe to Caesar; yea, and after him too, til the memory of the Roman liberty was buried in an odious Tyranny, which was erected first by force, but afterwards established by the Treachery and compliance of the Nobility in the Senate.
For Modern Instances, the truth of this hath been alwayes evident in the Republick of Genoa, where the People could never be quiet nor secure, till they puld down the pride of those hereditary petty Tyrants that were among them, and opened the Senate dores to the free Suffrages of the People in the election of their Duke, even out of themselves (if they pleased) and in all other affairs of concernment. But the Case is far otherwise in Venice, where the People are not in any capacity to elect, or be elected to the Dukedom, nor any other office of Dignity. But all Officers and affairs of State and Authority are imbezled in the Senate, by an hereditary Titular Nobility; for which caus, though the State be called Free, yet if you please to proportion your Judgement by the Schemes of true Policy, you will finde it hath not so much as a face of Freedom, nor so much as the Forme of a reall Republick, as the people have ever found in all their Territories by sad experience.
And that you may Perceive what an Inconsistency there is between Liberty and those Titular toyes, it is very observable, that in many Parts of the world they have been the only obstacles to Freedom; witness the Countries of Latium, Aemilia, Flaminia, Insubria, Milain, Sicily, and Naples, in all which Places the multitude of Titular Powers and dignities, hath been the only cause wherefore the People have ever had so much difficulty to attain, or preserve themselves in the state of a Republick; and in Naples now, we see it is the Spaniards policy to uphold an innumerable frie of Hereditary Nobility, for the more sure bridling of the People; which cours was taken also by the Medicean family, first to weaken the Peop[l]es Interest, then to banish it, and ever since to extinguish the very hope of Liberty, in those quondam -free states of Florence, Siena, and Luca; as the People, and other Princes have don in the rest of Italy.
In France also, they were main Instruments in the loss of that Nation’s Liberty: For, it so hapned, that when the most part of France was possest by the English, there was a necessity to discontinue the Assembly of the 3. Estates, which was the Bulwark of the French Liberty, and to put an absolute power into the hands of Charls the 7th during the war; which Lewis the eleventh, having a minde to continue in his own hands after the war was don, took care to oblige the nobility unto himselfe by large Immunities, so that they were easily drawn to betray the Peoples Liberties, and leave them to the mercy of the King, since when an absolute Tyranny hath been continued there to this very day, wherein the nobility having a share allowed joyn issue ever with the King, to a miserable inslaving of the poor People.
We know the Case hath been the same here with us too in England, all along since the Conquest, and in Holland, it may be observed as one principall Cause of their long subsistence against the Spaniard, that the main authority hath been reserved in the peoples hands, and not much allotted to the Nobility, so that they have been the less considerabl[e] for effecting any designe against the publick Liberty, their power being small, and they but few in number. But the Switzers took a surer course for the preservation of their Liberty, and banish’d them; which had they not done, it had been almost impossible for them (as things then stood) to stand against that shock of Fury wherewith they were assailed on every side, by the French, Burgundian, and Austrian Tyrants.
Now, what we have here said of a Titular Nobility, extends likewise to all Hereditary or Standing Powers whatsoever, because they are in effect equivalent, and have the same influences and interests to the prejudice of Freedom, being concerned to preserve themselves in a Station above the ordinary standard of the People, and therefore are naturally inclined to side any way (as they see occasion) with any powerful persons whatsoever that are able to gratifie them in the increase of their Lordly Interest and domination. And therefore, from all these Instances and Examples, as we may easily conclude our Position; that a Titular Nobility, or Hereditary Powers, are not only inconvenient, but altogether inconsistent with a Common-wealth, because of their implacable animosity, and natural compliance with any Power against the Peoples Interest; so it cannot but make mightily for the honour of all Founders of Free States, that have or shall provide for the Peoples Interest, and block up the way against Tyranny, in keeping a due proportion, equability, or harmony of condition among all the Members, by placing the Authority in the Peoples hands; that is, in a due and orderly succession of their Supream Assemblies.
[MP 90, 19-26 Feb. 1652]
That a Free State, or Government by the People, setled in a due and orderly succession of their suprem Assemblies, is more excellent than any other form, we shall more clearly Evidence by Reason.
A 14th Reason is, because all new Acquisitions in this form, made by Conquest tend not only to the ease & benefit of the People Themselves, but also to the content of the conquer’d Party; whereas under Monarchs and Grandees it hath been ever seen that in such cases they arrogate all unto themselves, and take Advantage by every new Conquest, for the inslaving of all the rest that are under their Power. For in Story we seldom find them upon Terms of Indulgence to their Subjects, nor do they use to naturalise, incorporate or imbody them into an Enjoyment of the same Privileges with their Natives, but rather use the one as Instruments to oppress the other, and in the end to deprive them all of their Immunities.
But in States governed by the People, the case is much otherwise; for they ever deale more nobly with their Neighbors upon the like occasion, admiting them into a participation of the same Liberties and Privileges with themselves, by which means they hold them the more Fast in the bonds of affection and obedience. As for Example, in all the free States of Greece they ever did so, except only in Sparta, who being governed by a standing senate erred in this Point of State so far as to denie an Incorporation, not only to their conquer’d Neighbors, but even to all the Pelopenesians that were their Confederates and Associats: But what followed? nothing but loss and Vexation; for within a few years, upon the first occasion given, which was no more than a Suprisall of the Castle of Thebes by certain desperate Conspirators, there ensued immediatly a generall Revolt & defection of all their neighbors and Associats, which was the ruin of their state, never after to be recovered by any Art or Industry: Now the Athenians took another cours during the time that they were under the government of the People; for, by naturalising and incorporating those that were conquer’d by them, or confederated with them, & letting them partake of the same Liberty with Themselves, they were bound so fast, being involved in the same Interest, that they stuck close in the midst of all storms, & never flinch’t, when the poor Athenians were assailed by the united Powers, of the Lacedemonian and Persian Forces.
If we observe the actions of King Philip the Macedonian, we find that after he had got footing in Greece, first by confederacy, and after by Conquest, he, instead of indulging the People after the fore-mentioned manner took away their old Liberties and allowed them no new ones, but after he crush’t one Commonweal, made use of it to suppress another till in the end having master’d them all, he improved his Conquests abroad to an increase of Tyranny both there & at home, & left both his old & new Subjects ful of discontent, and dissatisfaction. But what was the Consequence? Story will tell you the People never forgot it, but waited for an opportunity; and after the death of his son Alexander, having a fair one to be revenged, they were the first that cast offthe Family of Philip; and submitted to Cassander, when he and his 3 Fellow Captains shared their Masters Conquests between them.
In old Rome, as long as Liberty was in fashion, it was their constant custom to admit such as they conquer’d into the Priviledges of their City, making them free Denisens. The first Instance I shall give is of that memorable union which was made between them and the Latins, which continued a long time, till some question arising between the Romans, and them, and some other of the Incorporated Nations, about this very point of Incorporation, it occasioned that War which was called Bellum Sociale, being the most bloudy and pernicious War that ever the Roman State endured, wherein after infinit Battels, Sieges, and surprises of Towns, the Romans with much ado made a shift to prevail, and master the Latins: But then looking back, and considering into what perdition and confusion they had like to have been brought, they naturalised them all, and confirmed their Incorporation, as the only means to extinguish the seeds of future enmity for ever.
Thus also saith Cicero, Offic . 1. did our Ancestors, and for the same cause, receive the Tuscu’ans, the Aequans, the Volsci, the Hernicini, and the Sabins, into a participation of the priviledges of their City, as succeeding Times did others afterwords that were willing to imbrace them, at Carthaginem, & Numantiam funditus sustulerunt, but as for such as refused, or scorned the Favor, and by an implacability of spirit rendred themselves incapable of it, those they utterly opprest or destroyed, as they did in Carthage and Numantia. This course of indulgence was ever practised (we observe) in the Roman State, even under Kings, and also under their standing Senate, so long as those For[ce]s were in their Infancy, and kept honest through necessity; but in a short time increasing their Dominion abroad, they soon forgot to propagate the Interest of Liberty, but made use of their growing Conquests only to heighten their Power at home, up to a Tyranny over their own people, and to an inslaving of the world; as is evident in the continued practises of the Senators, and their Lieutenants in the Provinces. S[ti]ll, as that State lost its Liberty, first under the standing Form of Senators, and afterwards under Emperours, so all new Conquests and Acquisitions served only to bring in People, to serve as fewel for the Covetousness and Luxury of particular persons, and to fill the world with Combustion and misery.
There was, in these latter days, a time in Italy, when all Conquerors made no other use of their Counquests, than to maintain the common Interest of Liberty, as Castuccio of Luca, and Soderino of Florence, with others, till Caesar Borgia in Romania, and the Medicean Family in Florence, set the Italian Commanders to learn a new L[e]sson, which way to improve their new Conquests, by grandising and garbing many petty States into a formal Tyranny, without any allowance of Priviledge, more than what depended upon their own particular favor, to those whom they subdued and conquered: The effect of which hath been only this, that all the new Acquests of Borgia soon came to nothing, and while he possest them they were very uncertain; And as for the Mediceans, it was long ere they could sit easie in the saddle, by reason of the frequent Revolts of the Florentines. It is observed too, that the City of Pisa having been united to the State of Florence, the Grandees there not conceiving it would be for their Interest, to naturalise or allow them the benefit of Incorporation, the People thereupon being little satisfied with their condition, did upon the sight of Forein Assistance, by the Expedition of Charls the 8 of France into Italy, immediately revolt.
In Venice, where the Power is lodged in a standing Senat, there is little of Liberty left wherewith to indulge their own, or other people, so that if they chance at any time to make a Conquest of any Place, the People not being obliged upon the Score of Common Liberty, take so little content, that they either revolt, or yield up themselves, upon the first oportuinity.
In Spain, there is indeed a mutuall incorporation of Leon, Castil, Valentia, Andaluzia, and Granada, but this is not done upon the Account of propagating Liberty, but rather out of designe to hold them together, that the King may be the better inabled to domineer, and maintain an absolute power over the divided parcels of his new Conquests up and down in Milain, Sicily, Naples, and his new Inheritance in the low Countries; so that if ever those States finde an oportunity, they will soon bid him far-well, and follow the Example of Portugall and Catalonia. Arragon may after them too in time, for the same cause, because the Arragonians are not only despoiled of their old famous Liberties, but totally disobliged, not being gratified with the benefit of an Incorporation.
In France it was not the Act of their Kings, but of the Assembly of the three Estates of the People, that there was an Incorporation of those Conquests made in Britany, Normandy, Guien, Aquitain, and Burgundy. The Supream power in those days, was deposited in the hands of the People in that Assembly; the King was then but a Cipher, or otherwise it would hardly have been effected, it being the reputed Interest of Kings, wheresoever they have the power, to straiten, and not inlarge the Immunities of such as are reduced under their Obedience.
In England it was a long time ere our Kings would yeild to an Incorporating of Wales. Edward the first, having extinguisht the Line of the Princess, and utterly subdued the Nation, did indeed give them leave to send Deputies to our Parliaments, who had liberty of Voting there, yet only in order to the Interests of their own Countrey; but this did no good, for, as long as they were abridged in a distinct way of Voting there, it put them still in minde, that once they were a distinct Nation, and therefore they were never quiet, but ever and anon breaking out, till after long experienc[e] of the many inconveniences hapning thereby, it was at last thought fit by Henry the 8. to take away all marks of distinction by Incorporating them with England; since which time they have ever been quiet, being brought under the same Laws, and made partakers of the same Liberties and immunities with the English Nation.
And as the incorporating of that People was neglected by Edward the first, so he neglected it also in Scotland, after his Conquests there, where (according to the Custom of all Monarchs and standing Powers) seeking to rule rather with a Rod of Iron, than a Golden Scepter, and taking no course to oblige or alter the disposition of the People, by an Incorporation with us, or any other way, the consequence was, that all the time he held them (which was but short) they put him to a perpetual expence and trouble by continual Insurrections, and afterwards taking an occasion of Vertue by his son Edwards Infirmity, they soon cast off all Respects and obedience to the English—I might inlarge (were I not too large already) to shew, that all standing Powers (whether Monarchs or others) are so far from propagating, that they ever make it their studie to obstruct the common Interest of Liberty, upon new Acquisitions of Power, as well as all other occasions; which Inconvenience being provided for, and the common cause of Liberty ever promoted by the People in their Government, by Indulgence to other Nations, upon the same opportunity, must needs conclude it, as in all other Particulars, so likewise in this, much more excellent th[an] an[y] other Form whatsoever.
[MP 114, 5-12 Aug. 1652]
I Am now come to set a Period to this Discourse; the Ninth and last Error in Policie, observable from the Practise of most Times and Nations, hath been the persecuting and punishing of men for their opinions in Religion.
This Error is grounded upon another, asserted in al times by the Furious drivers of the Clergy, under every transition and Revolution of outward Forms, viz[.], that there ought to be an establishment of some certain chief heads, Articles, and Principles of Faith, as Fundamentall and Orthodox, which all men must be bound to hold and beleeve, or els incurr the Censure of Hereticks, Sectarians, and Schismaticks, &c. This Position (I say) under what disguise so ever it come, with whatever Pretences it be clothed, or by what Persons so ever it be owned, is ipsa Ratio formalis, the very Spirit and Principle of the Pope and Antichrist; It hath been the dam of that white-Devill called Eccelesiasticall Politie, or Nationall Uniformity, a device subservient to that inveterated Project of Nationall Churches; which is in a word the Interest, not of Christ, but the Clergy; for these Errors depend upon one another, as Links of the same Chain of darkness, which hitherto hath shackled Truth in its progress, bound up all the Christian world in ignorance, and hinder’d the propagation of the Gospel, in it’s more glorious degrees and discoveries of Light, life, and Power.
This unreasonable Position was it which set on the Edg of Papall Fury and persecution against that light which brake out among the Albingenses and Waldenses in France; against that also which was professed by the Hussites, the Wicklevists, the Lutherans and Protestants in Germany and England, who all successively received the Brands of Hereticks and schismaticks, being deliver’d up to fire and destruction, because they held forth greater measures of Trueth, than would fit the size of that state Religion which was established in their respective Countries. And when all other Forms had fulfill’d their Periods of Domination, and laid down, then at last the Presbytery came in Play, and took up the Cudgels, laying about them with as much Fury as any of their Predecessors; so that you see this Papall Spirit and Principall hath run down through all these Times and Forms, since the very first dawnings of Reformation, to the great Impediment of the Gospel. And truly, it were to be wished, this Spirit might be at a stand in this last form of Presbytery, and not wind it self into any other more refined. For, as a Godly Preacher saith in an Epistle to a printed sermon of his, which he preached to the Parliament, on Novemb. 5 1651 [ Peter Sterry, England’s Deliverance from the Northern Presbytery (London, 1652). Until the final paragraph, the rest of this editorial reproduces material from the epistle dedicatory, with minor abbreviations and adjustments, and pp. 8-18 of Sterry’s text. ] I have desired in my Prayers to work with God, even for the opening of the eies of men to see; that the same spirit which lay in the polluted Bed of Papacy, may meet them in the perfumed bed of Presbytery; that the Fornications and sorceries of this whore are then greatest when they are most Mysterious; that she is able by her Sorceries to bewitch those that have atteined to a great degree of Spirituality, as the Galatians. To this purpose have I represented the same spirit, which dwells in the Papacy when it enters into the purer Form of Presbytery, as fuller of mystery, so fuller of Despight, of danger, not to make the Form or Persons, but that Principle, that Spirit unfit to be cherish’t by any Person in any Form. The highest Godlinesses, and the highest wickednesses, are those which are most Spirituall.
In his sermon he proceeds thus, most excellently. I profess not at all to speak against the Form of Presbytery, if consider’d in its simplicity, as a way, and order, in which saints have Communion with God, and each with other, according to their present light; as it kisses the golden sceptre of the spirit, submitting, and subordinating it self to the Rule of that spirit, being desirous of no more, no other power, authority, or esteem, than what the spirit shall put forth upon it, by putting forth it self in it. Much lesse would I grieve or cast contempt upon any little one, that walks in that Form with humility and Integrity: believing that so it ought to worship God. But that Presbytery which I compare with the Papacy, is such as appropriateth to the Outward forme, those things which pertain onely to the Power of the Spirit: such as by vertue of an Outward Church forme, assumes a Spirituall and Civill power to it self; such as out of the Golden cup of a glorious profession, makes it selfe drunk with the wine of Fornications with Earthly powers and Interests: such as takes to it self the Iron Mace of fleshly force and fury, to break in pieces at pleasure, Common-welths, Crownes, Consciences, Estates, and Hearts of men. This is that Presbytery, on which those Enemies, whom the Lord hath last of all subdued before you, had founded, and built up that Interest and Strength, by which they opposed the Glorious out-goings of God before you, and endeavoured your Ruin. This is that, which I call the Scotch-Presbytery, and now compare with the Romish Papacy.
1. The Comparison is first to be made in those things which I call Agreements between them, and these are Six.
1. Agreem. Both join setting up the Scriptures the Word of God outwardly exprest, as the Letter of that Law, by which all things of Christianity and Religion are to be judged. So Scotus himself teacheth in his Preface to his Disputes upon the sentences, that Religion must be grounded upon a Revelation. In this, not only the Romish-Papist, and Scotch-Presbyter, but all who pretend with any face to any thing of God or Christ, do concurre. But there are two things in a Revelation. There is Lex Revelata: and Lumen Revelationis, that is the Law Revealed, and the Light of Revelation. One is the Subject, or Matter: but the other is the Form, the Life, the Essence of a Revelation. Now these two parties meet in this, to magnifie the first of these, the Law Revealed. This they make the foundation of their Throne, the Scepter of their Government, which as taken singly by it selfe is but a breathlesse Carkasse, or a Dead Letter. Herein a Living Member of Jesus Christ is in this point distinguished from all others; He receiveth, ownes, bowes down to the Law revealed upon this account, because it comes down from Heaven into his heart in a Light of Divine Revelation.
2. Agreement. These two of whom we speak, do Both assert a visible Judge on Earth, upon whom all Particular Persons are to depend for the Determining of those two Grand Questions; First, what is scripture; Secondly, what the sense of that Scripture is. The Romanists say, That this Judge is the Pope, or an Oecumenical Councell. The Scotch Presbyter is for a Nationall Assembly, or rather an Oecumenicall Assembly, if the Civil Government would bear it. This Presbyter condemnes the Papist justly because he suffereth not the People to read the Scriptures, in their own Tongu[e]. But who art thou, O man, who condemnest another, and dost thy self the same thing, while thou forbiddest private persons to read the Scriptures with their own eys? Thou confinest them to Spectacles of the Assemblies making, while thou permittest the reading, but prohibitest the interpreting of the Scriptures according to that sense, which the holy Spirit brings forth to every man in his own spirit, if it be not stampt for currant by the spirit of the Generall Assembly. Why dost thou judge the Papist for exalting unwritten Traditions to an equall Authority with the Scriptures, when thy way maketh the Scripture it selfe in the letter and meaning of it, a Tradition of the Elders.
3. Agreement. Both these Sects have a very great jealousie over the Spirit of God. As the Pharisees said Concerning Jesus Christ, John 11. 48. If we let this man alone, all men will believe on him, and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and Nation: So say these two, the Romish and Scotch principles in the hearts of men: If we yeeld to this, to let the Spirit alone, & to suffer all men to believe on the holy Ghost, as the only witness and evidence of divine truth: If we give way to this, as sound doctrine, that it is the proper office of the third Person, the Spirit, and of him alone, to apply truth authoritatively, as it is of the second Person to act, of the first Person to decree that it belongs to this Spirit alone authoritatively to testifie in the spirits of Men, what those words are which himself hath taught, what the meaning of the spirit is in those words: if this be once granted, that nothing is to be received, as Divine Truth, but that which brings an Epistle of commendations along with it, written by this finger of the living God upon the heart, then farewell all Religion: All manner of Sects, Heresies, Heathenisme, will break in upon us, and take way the very face of a Church from amongst us. It is said of Jesus Christ, that He was numbred amongst transgressors in his death. Such usage as our Saviour himselfe found on earth from Pilate, and the Priests, such doth his Spirit find to this day from the Papacy, & that Presbytery of which we speak. The holy Ghost, as he appears, and gives forth his Oracles in his Temples, which are his Saints, is numbred amongst whimsies, fansies, fanatick furies, enthusiasmes; and so is condemned, is suppressed.
4. Agreement. A watchfull Opposition to all Growths of truth above the pitch and stature of opinions commonly received. Nothing is accounted so dangerous in things pertaining to the Gospel, as Innovation; although St. Paul command us still, to be transformed in the renewing of our Minds, that we may prove what the good and acceptable will of God is; and this to Saints already converted, as a continuall duty, in which they are ever to be exercising themselves, that they may have new minds to day, in comparison with those which they had yesterday, and new minds again to morrow, in comparison with their minds to day; yet the same Jesus, yesterday, to day, and for ever. As in some places of the River Thames you have Wyers set up quite crosse the River, and basket-nets laid in those Wyers, to catch those Lampries that come swimming up against the streame: so both in Papacy, and in rigid Presbytery; all Constitutions, Methods, Frames of Doctrin and Discipline seem to be as wyers with nets in them, set cross the whole stream of civil and religious conversation, to catch every discovery of Christ, every manifestation of the Gospel, which comes up against the present Tyde, the general current of Principles and Positions. They labour as to hedg in the winde, to binde up the sweet influences of the Spirit, they will not suffer it to blow where it lists, because they know not whence it comes, or whither it goes.
5. Agreement in annexing the Spirit to outward formalities. Like Simon Magus, both seem to believe, that the Gifts, and Ministry of the Spirit may be purchased by the coyn of Education, Parts, Morall honesty, formall qualifications, Ceremonious Observations of outward Rites. So is their way laid, so are all their practises managed, as if by a kind of Simoniacall Magick, that power which alone can awe, or secure us from, the devil, were shut up within the circle of their customary, and solemn Forms. When the Lord saith, Neither on this Mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in spirit and truth shall all men worship the Father: Yea, say they, but Spirit and truth dispense themselves within the Jerusalem of this Church-order, on the Mountain of these rituall observations, these consecrated forms.
6. Agreement in making Religion a rise to civil pomp, and power. Jesus Christ saith, My Kingdom is not of this world. But say these two Factions, Our Kingdom is over this world. We rule in earthly things, by an earthly strength, though not from an earthly title. The Heavenly power of the Spirit is the Scepter in our Hand: but the fleshly power of the Magistrate is the Sword in the hand of our Minister, and Guard, which is to be subordinate to our Scepter. By this means they bring all manner of civil affairs within the compass of their Cognisance, by vertue of their spiritual Judicatories: They dispose of Governments, Nations, Crowns by vertue of their Ecclesiastick censures.
Now what hath been said of this form of Presbytery, by that pious man, is apliable to any other form, or forms, though never so refined, that shall admit the same Papall and Antichristian Principle.—So here is an end of the whole discourse, having with sincerity run over all the principall points of Policy, in fortifying you with Reasons, refuting Objections, prescribing Rules, and Cautions, and noting the prime Errors; whereby suppose that all being put together have made a sufficient proof of my Position, which was this; that a Free-State, or Government by the People; setled in a due and orderly Succession of their Supream Assemblies, is much more excellent then any other Form whatsoever.—And yet, being confined to a few pages weekly, I have been able to give you but the bare hints of things done in haste, which may (perhaps) appear abroad in a more accomplished manner hereafter.
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