Online Library of Liberty

A collection of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets. A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.

Advanced Search

John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 [1847]

0233 02 tp
Title Page
0233 02 toc
Original Table of Contents or First Page

Edition used:

John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.

Available in the following formats:
Facsimile PDF 38.8 MB This is a facsimile or image-based PDF made from scans of the original book.
Kindle 1.27 MB This is an E-book formatted for Amazon Kindle devices.
EBook PDF 2.44 MB This text-based PDF or EBook was created from the HTML version of this book and is part of the Portable Library of Liberty.
ePub 840 KB ePub standard file for your iPad or any e-reader compatible with that format
HTML 2.41 MB This version has been converted from the original text. Every effort has been taken to translate the unique features of the printed book into the HTML medium.
Simplified HTML 2.41 MB This is a simplifed HTML format, intended for screen readers and other limited-function browsers.

About this Title:

Vol. 2 of a mid-19th century 2 volume of Milton’s most significant prose works. Vol. 2 contains The Ready and Easy way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, The History of Britain, Of True Religion, and other works.

Copyright information:

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.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]

he was in his style

naked and stern; and to effeminate ears

perchance even harsh; but who will dare dispute

his strength and grandeur?


milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour.

. . . . . . . . . return to us again,

and give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.

thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart:

thou hadst a voice, whose sound was like the sea:

pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free;

so didst thou travel on life’s common way,

in cheerful godlines, and yet thy heart

the lowliest duties on herself did lay.

Edition: current; Page: [ii]

Printed by King & Baird.

Edition: current; Page: [iii]


  • A Defence of the People of England, in answer to Salmasius’s Defence of the King.......................................................... 5
  • A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes: showing, that it is not lawful for any Power on Earth to compel in Matters of Religion............. 127
  • Considerations touching the likeliest Means to remove Hirelings out the Church, &c........................................................ 145
  • A Letter to a Friend, concerning the Ruptures of the Commonwealth......... 170
  • The present Means and brief Delineation of a free Commonwealth, easy to be put in practice, and without delay. In a Letter to General Monk........ 173
  • The ready and easy Way to establish a free Commonwealth, and the Excellence thereof, compared with the Inconveniences and Dangers of readmitting Kingship in this Nation............................................. 174
  • Brief Notes upon a late Sermon, titled, “The Fear of God and the King,” preached, and since published, by Matthew Griffith, D. D. and Chaplain to the late King, wherein many notorious Wrestlings of Scripture, and other Falsities, are observed.............................................. 191
  • The History of Britain, that Part especially now called England; from the first traditional Beginning, continued to the Norman Conquest. Collected out of the ancientest and best Authors thereof. Published from a Copy corrected by the Author himself......................................... 197
  • Of true Religion, Heresy, Schism, Toleration, and what best Means may be used against the Growth of Popery. Printed in the year 1673................ 343
  • A brief History of Moscovia, and other less known Countries lying Eastward of Russia, as far as Cathay, gathered from the writings of several Eye-witnesses 350
  • A Declaration, or Letters Patents for the Election of John the Third, King of Poland, elected on the 22d of May, Anno Dom. 1674, containing the Reasons of this Election, the great Virtues and Merits of the said serene Elect, his eminent Services in War, especially in his last great Victory against the Turks and Tartars; whereof many Particulars are here related, not published before....................................................... 375
  • Letters of State to most of the Sovereign Princes and Republics of Europe, during the Administration of the Commonwealth, and the Protectors Oliver and Richard Cromwell.................................................. 380
  • Letters written in the Name of the Parliament............................ ibid.
  • Letters written in the Name of Oliver the Protector......................... 407
  • Letters written in the Name of Richard the Protector........................ 458
  • A Manifesto of the Lord Protector, against the Spaniards.................... 464
  • The Second Defence of the People of England, against an anonymous Libel, entitled, “The royal Blood crying to Heaven for Vengeance on the English Parricides”........................................................ 477
  • Familiar Epistles...................................................... 527
Edition: current; Page: [5]


[first published 1692.]


Although I fear, lest, if in defending the people of England, I should be as copious in words, and empty of matter, as most men think Salmasius has been in his defence of the king, I might seem to deserve justly to be accounted a verbose and silly defender; yet since no man thinks himself obliged to make so much haste, though in the handling but of any ordinary subject, as not to premise some introduction at least, according as the weight of the subject requires; if I take the same course in handling almost the greatest subject that ever was (without being too tedious in it) I am in hopes of attaining two things, which indeed I earnestly desire: the one, not to be at all wanting, as far as in me lies, to this most noble cause, and most worthy to be recorded to all future ages: the other, that I may appear to have avoided myself that frivolousness of matter, and redundancy of words, which I blame in my antagonist. For I am about to discourse of matters, neither inconsiderable nor common; but how a most potent king, after he had trampled upon the laws of the nation, and given a shock to its religion, and begun to rule at his own will and pleasure, was at last subdued in the field by his own subjects, who had undergone a long slavery under him; how afterwards he was cast into prison, and when he gave no ground, either by words or actions, to hope better things of him, he was finally by the supreme council of the kingdom condemned to die, and beheaded before the very gates of the royal palace. I shall likewise relate (which will much conduce to the easing men’s minds of a great superstition) by what right, especially according to our law, this judgment was given, and all these matters transacted: and shall easily defend my valiant and worthy countrymen (who have extremely well deserved of all subjects and nations in the world) from the most wicked calumnies both of domestic and foreign railers, and especially from the reproaches of this most vain and empty sophister, who sets up for a captain and ringleader to all the rest. For what king’s majesty sitting upon an exalted throne, ever shone so brightly, as that of the people of England then did, when shaking off that old superstition, which had prevailed a long time, they gave judgment upon the king himself, or rather upon an enemy who had been their king, caught as it were Edition: current; Page: [6] in a net by his own laws, (who alone of all mortals challenged to himself impunity by a divine right,) and scrupled not to inflict the same punishment upon him, being guilty, which he would have inflicted upon any other? But why do I mention these things as performed by the people, which almost open their voice themselves, and testify the presence of God throughout? who, as often as it seems good to his infinite wisdom, uses to throw down proud and unruly kings, exalting themselves above the condition of human nature, and utterly to extirpate them and all their family. By his manifest impulse being set on work to recover our almost lost liberty, following him as our guide, and adoring the impresses of his divine power manifested upon all occasions, we went on in no obscure, but an illustrious passage, pointed out and made plain to us by God himself. Which things, if I should so much as hope by any diligence or ability of mine, such as it is, to discourse of as I ought to do, and to commit them so to writing, as that perhaps all nations and all ages may read them, it would be a very vain thing in me. For what style can be august and magnificent enough, what man has parts sufficient to undertake so great a task? Since we find by experience, that in so many ages as are gone over the world, there has been but here and there a man found, who has been able worthily to recount the actions of great heroes, and potent states; can any man have so good an opinion of his own talents, as to think himself capable to reach these glorious and wonderful works of Almighty God, by any language, by any style of his? Which enterprise, though some of the eminent persons in our commonwealth have prevailed upon me by their authority to undertake, and would have it be my business to vindicate with my pen against envy and calumny, (which are proof against arms) those glorious performances of theirs, (whose opinion of me I take as a very great honour, that they should pitch upon me before others to be serviceable in this kind of those most valiant deliverers of my native country; and true it is, that from my very youth, I have been bent extremely upon such sort of studies, as inclined me, if not to do great things myself, at least to celebrate those that did,) yet as having no confidence in any such advantages, I have recourse to the divine assistance; and invoke the great and holy God, the giver of all good gifts, that I may as substantially, and as truly, discourse and refute the sauciness and lies of this foreign declamator, as our noble generals piously and successfully by force of arms broke the king’s pride, and his unruly domineering, and afterwards put an end to both by inflicting a memorable punishment upon himself, and as thoroughly as a single person did with ease but of late confute and confound the king himself rising as it were from the grave, and recommending himself to the people in a book published after his death, with new artifices and allurements of words and expressions. Which antagonist of mine, though he be a foreigner, and, though he deny it a thousand times over, but a poor grammarian; yet not contented with a salary due to him in that capacity, chose to turn a pragmatical coxcomb, and not only to intrude in state-affairs, but into the affairs of a foreign state: though he brings along with him neither modesty, nor understanding, nor any other qualification requisite in so great an arbitrator, but sauciness, and a little grammar only. Indeed if he had published here, and in English, the same things as he has now wrote in Latin, such as it is, I think no man would have thought it worth while to return an answer to them, but would partly despise them as common, and exploded over and over already, and partly abhor them as sordid and tyrannical maxims, not to be endured even by the most abject of slaves: nay, men that have sided with the king, would have had these thoughts of his book. But since he Edition: current; Page: [7] has swoln it to a considerable bulk, and dispersed it among foreigners, who are altogether ignorant of our affairs and constitution; it is fit that they who mistake them, should be better informed; and that he, who is so very forward to speak ill of others, should be treated in his own kind.

If it be asked, why we did not then attack him sooner, why we suffered him to triumph so long, and pride himself in our silence? For others I am not to answer; for myself I can boldly say, that I had neither words nor arguments long to seek for the defence of so good a cause, if I had enjoyed such a measure of health, as would have endured the fatigue of writing. And being but weak in body, I am forced to write by piecemeal, and break off almost every hour, though the subject be such as requires an unintermitted study and intenseness of mind. But though this bodily indisposition may be a hindrance to me in setting forth the just praises of my most worthy countrymen, who have been the saviours of their native country, and whose exploits, worthy of immortality, are already famous all the world over; yet I hope it will be no difficult matter for me to defend them from the insolence of this silly little scholar, and from that saucy tongue of his, at least. Nature and laws would be in an ill case, if slavery should find what to say for itself, and liberty be mute: and if tyrants should find men to plead for them, and they that can master and vanquish tyrants, should not be able to find advocates. And it were a deplorable thing indeed, if the reason mankind is endued withal, and which is the gift of God, should not furnish more arguments for men’s preservation, for their deliverance, and, as much as the nature of the thing will bear, for making them equal to one another, than for their oppression, and for their utter ruin under the domineering power of one single person. Let me therefore enter upon this noble cause with a cheerfulness, grounded upon this assurance, that my adversary’s cause is maintained by nothing but fraud, fallacy, ignorance, and barbarity; whereas mine has light, truth, reason, the practice and the learning of the best ages of the world, of its side.

But now, having said enough for an introduction, since we have to do with critics, let us in the first place consider the title of this choice piece: “Defensio Regia pro Car. Primo, ad Car. Secundum: a Royal Defence (or the king’s defence) for Charles the First, to Charles the Second.” You undertake a wonderful piece of work, whoever you are; to plead the father’s cause before his own son: a hundred to one but you carry it. But I summon you, Salmasius, who heretofore skulked under a wrong name, and now go by no name at all, to appear before another tribunal, and before other judges, where perhaps you may not hear those little applauses, which you used to be so fond of in your school. But why this royal defence dedicated to the king’s own son? We need not put him to the torture; he confesses why. “At the king’s charge,” says he. O mercenary and chargeable advocate! could you not afford to write a defence for Charles the father, whom you pretend to have been the best of kings, to Charles the son, the most indigent of all kings, but it must be at the poor king’s own charge? But though you are a knave, you would not make yourself ridiculous in calling it the king’s defence; for you having sold it, it is no longer yours, but the king’s indeed: who bought it at the price of a hundred jacobusses, a great sum for a poor king to disburse. I know very well what I say: and it is well enough known who brought the gold, and the purse wrought with beads: we know who saw you reach out greedy fists, under pretence of embracing the king’s chaplain, who brought the present, but indeed to embrace the present itself, and by accepting it to exhaust almost all the king’s treasury.

Edition: current; Page: [8]

But now the man comes himself, the door creaks, the actor comes upon the stage.

  • In silence now, and with attention wait,
  • That ye may learn what th’ Eunuch has to prate.
  • Terent.

For whatever the matter is with him, he blusters more than ordinary. “A horrible message had lately struck our ears, but our minds more, with a heinous wound concerning a parricide committed in England in the person of a king, by a wicked conspiracy of sacrilegious men.” Indeed that horrible message must either have had a much longer sword than that which Peter drew, or those ears must have been of a wonderful length, that it could wound at such a distance; for it could not so much as in the least offend any ears but those of an ass. For what harm is it to you, that are foreigners? are any of you hurt by it, if we amongst ourselves put our own enemies, our own traitors to death, be they commoners, noblemen, or kings? Do you, Salmasius, let alone what does not concern you: for I have a horrible message to bring of you too; which I am mistaken if it strike not a more heinous wound into the ears of all grammarians and critics, provided they have any learning and delicacy in them, to wit, your crowding so many barbarous expressions together in one period in the person of (Aristarchus) a grammarian; and that so great a critic as you, hired at the king’s charge to write a defence of the king his father, should not only set so fulsome a preface before it, much like those lamentable ditties that used to be sung at funerals, and which can move compassion in none but a coxcomb; but in the very first sentence should provoke your readers to laughter with so many barbarisms all at once. “Persona regis,” you cry. Where do you find any such Latin? or are you telling us some tale or other of a Perkin Warbec, who, taking upon him the person of a king, has, forsooth, committed some horrible parricide in England? which expression, though dropping carelessly from your pen, has more truth in it than you are aware of. For a tyrant is but like a king upon a stage, a man in a vizor, and acting the part of a king in a play; he is not really a king. But as for these gallicisms, that are so frequent in your book, I won’t lash you for them myself, for I am not at leisure; but shall deliver you over to your fellow-grammarians, to be laughed to scorn and whipped by them. What follows is much more heinous, that what was decreed by our supreme magistracy to be done to the king, should be said by you to have been done “by a wicked conspiracy of sacrilegious persons.” Have you the impudence, you rogue, to talk at this rate of the acts and decrees of the chief magistrates of a nation, that lately was a most potent kingdom, and is now a more potent commonwealth? Whose proceedings no king ever took upon him by word of mouth, or otherwise, to villify and set at nought. The illustrious states of Holland therefore, the genuine offspring of those deliverers of their country, have deservedly by their edict condemned to utter darkness this defence of tyrants, so pernicious to the liberty of all nations; the author of which every free state ought to forbid their country, or to banish out of it; and that state particularly that feeds with a stipend so ungrateful and so savage an enemy to their commonwealth, whose very fundamentals, and the causes of their becoming a free state, this fellow endeavours to undermine as well as ours, and at one and the same time to subvert both; loading with calumnies the most worthy asserters of liberty there, under our names. Consider with yourselves, ye most illustrious states of the United Netherlands, who it was that put this asserter of kingly power upon setting pen to paper? who it was, that but lately began to play Edition: current; Page: [9] Rex in your country? what counsels were taken, what endeavours used, and what disturbances ensued thereupon in Holland? and to what pass things might have been brought by this time? How slavery and a new master were ready prepared for you; and how near expiring that liberty of yours, asserted and vindicated by so many years war and toil, would have been ere now, if it had not taken breath again by the timely death of a certain rash young gentleman. But our author begins to strut again, and to feign wonderful tragedies; “whomsoever this dreadful news reached, (to wit, the news of Salmasius’s parricidial barbarisms,) all of a sudden, as if they had been struck with lightning, their hair stood an end, and their tongues clove to the roof of their mouth.” Which let natural philosophers take notice of, (for this secret in nature was never discovered before,) that lightning makes men’s hair stand on end. But who knows not that little effeminate minds are apt to be amazed at the news of any extraordinary great action; and that then they show themselves to be, what they really were before, no better than so many stocks? “Some could not refrain from tears;” some little women at court, I suppose, or if there be any more effeminate than they, of whose number Salmasius himself being one, is by a new metamorphis become a fountain near akin to his name, (Salmacis,) and with his counterfeit flood of tears prepared over night, endeavours to emasculate generous minds: I advise therefore, and wish them to have a care;

  • ———Infamis ne quem malè fortibus undis
  • Salmacis enervet.———
  • ———Ne, si vir cum venerit, exeat indè
  • Semivir, et tactis subitò mollescat in undis.
  • Abstain, as manhood you esteem,
  • From Salmacis’ pernicious stream:
  • If but one moment there you stay,
  • Too dear you’ll for your bathing pay.—
  • Depart nor man nor woman, but a sight
  • Disgracing both, a loath’d hermaphrodite.

“They that had more courage” (which yet he expresses in miserable bald Latin, as if he could not so much as speak of men of courage and magnanimity in proper words) “were set on fire with indignation to that degree, that they could hardly contain themselves.” Those furious Hectors we value not of a rush. We have been accustomed to rout such bullies in the field with a true sober courage; a courage becoming men that can contain themselves, and are in their right wits. “There were none that did not curse the authors of so horrible a villany.” But yet, you say, their tongues clove to the roof of their mouths; and if you mean this of our fugitives only, I wish they had clove there to this day; for we know very well, that there is nothing more common with them, than to have their mouths full of curses and imprecations, which indeed all good men abominate, but withal despise. As for others, it is hardly credible, that when they heard the news of our having inflicted a capital punishment upon the king, there should any be found, especially in a free state, so naturally adapted to slavery as either to speak ill of us, or so much as to censure what we had done. Nay, it is highly probable, that all good men applauded us, and gave God thanks for so illustrious, so exalted a piece of justice; and for a caution so very useful to other princes.

In the mean time, as for those fierce, those steel-hearted men, that, you say, take on for, and bewail so pitifully, the lamentable and wonderful death I know not who; them I say, together with their tinkling advocate, the dullest that ever appeared since the name of a king was born and known in the world, we shall even let whine on, till they cry their eyes Edition: current; Page: [10] out. But in the mean time, what schoolboy, what little insignificant monk, could not have made a more elegant speech for the king, and in better Latin, than this royal advocate has done? But it would be folly in me to make such particular animadversions upon his childishness and frenzies throughout his book, as I do here upon a few in the beginning of it; which yet I would be willing enough to do, (for we hear that he is swelled with pride and conceit to the utmost degree imaginable,) if the undigested and immethodical bulk of his book did not protect him. He was resolved to take a course like the soldier in Terence, to save his bacon; and it was very cunning in him, to stuff his book with so much puerility, and so many silly whimsies, that it might nauseate the smartest man in the world to death to take notice of them all. Only I thought it might not be amiss to give a specimen of him in the preface; and to let the serious reader have a taste of him at first, that he might guess by the first dish that is served up, how noble an entertainment the rest are like to make; and that he may imagine with himself what an infinite number of fooleries and impertinencies must needs be heaped up together in the body of the book, when they stand so thick in the very entrance into it, where, of all other places, they ought to have been shunned. His tittle-tattle that follows, and his sermons fit for nothing but to be wormeaten, I can easily pass by; as for any thing in them relating to us, we doubt not in the least, but that what has been written and published by authority of parliament, will have far greater weight with all wise and sober men, than the calumnies and lies of one single impudent little fellow; who being hired by our fugitives, their country’s enemies, has scraped together, and not scrupled to publish in print, whatever little story any one of them that employed him put into his head. And that all men may plainly see how little conscience he makes of setting down any thing right or wrong, good or bad, I desire no other witness than Salmasius himself.

In his book, entitled, “Apparatus contra Primatum Papæ,” he says, “there are most weighty reasons why the church ought to lay aside episcopacy, and return to the apostolical institution of presbyters: that a far greater mischief has been introduced into the church by episcopacy, than the schisms themselves were, which were before apprehended: that the plague which episcopacy introduced, depressed the whole body of the church under a miserable tyranny; nay, had put a yoke even upon the necks of kings and princes: that it would be more beneficial to the church, if the whole hierarchy itself were extirpated, than if the pope only, who is the head of it, were laid aside,” page 160. “That it would be very much for the good of the church, if episcopacy were taken away, together with the papacy: that if episcopacy were once taken down, the papacy would fall of itself, as being founded upon it,” page 171. He says, “he can show very good reasons why episcopacy ought to be put down in those kingdoms that have renounced the pope’s supremacy; but that he can see no reason for retaining it there: that a reformation is not entire, that is defective in this point: that no reason can be alleged, no probable cause assigned, why the supremacy of the pope being once disowned, episcopacy should notwithstanding be retained,” page 197.—Though he had wrote all this, and a great deal more to this effect, but four years ago, he is now become so vain and so impudent withal, as to accuse the parliament of England, “for not only turning the bishops out of the house of lords, but for abolishing episcopacy itself.” Nay, he persuades us to receive episcopacy, and defends it by the very same reasons and arguments, which with a great deal of earnestness he had confuted himself in that former book; to wit, Edition: current; Page: [11] “that bishops were necessary and ought to have been retained, to prevent the springing up of a thousand pernicious sects and heresies.” Crafty turncoat! are you not ashamed to shift hands thus in things that are sacred, and (I had almost said) to betray the church; whose most solemn institutions you seem to have asserted and vindicated with so much noise, that when it should seem for your interest to change sides, you might undo and subvert all again with the more disgrace and infamy to yourself? It is notoriously known, that when both houses of parliament, being extremely desirous to reform the church of England by the pattern of our reformed churches, had resolved to abolish episcopacy, the king first interposed, and afterwards waged war against them chiefly for that very cause; which proved fatal to him. Go now and boast of your having defended the king; who, that you might the better defend him, do now openly betray and impugn the cause of the church, whose defence you yourself had formerly undertaken; and whose severest censures ought to be inflicted upon you.

As for the present form of our government, since such a foreign insignificant professor as you, having laid aside your boxes and desks stuffed with nothing but trifles, which you might have spent your time better in putting into order, will needs turn busybody, and be troublesome in other men’s matters, I shall return you this answer, or rather not to you, but to them that are wiser than yourself, viz. That the form of it is such as our present distractions will admit of; not such as were to be wished, but such as the obstinate divisions, that are amongst us, will bear. What state soever is pestered with factions, and defends itself by force of arms, is very just in having regard to those only that are sound and untainted, and in overlooking or secluding the rest, be they of the nobility or the common people; nay, though profiting by experience, they should refuse to be governed any longer either by a king or a house of lords.

But in railing at that supreme council, as you call it, and at the chairman there, you make yourself very ridiculous; for that council is not the supreme council, as you dream it is, but appointed by authority of parliament, for a certain time only; and consisting of forty persons, for the most part members of parliament, any one of whom may be president if the rest vote him into the chair. And there is nothing more common, than for our parliaments to appoint committees of their own members; who, when so appointed, have power to meet where they please, and hold a kind of a little parliament amongst themselves. And the most weighty affairs are often referred to them, for expedition and secrecy; the care of the navy, the army, the treasury; in short, all things whatsoever relating either to war or peace. Whether this be called a council, or any thing else, the thing is ancient, though the name may be new; and it is such an institution, as no government can be duly administered without it. As for our putting the king to death, and changing the government, forbear your bawling, don’t spit your venom, till, going along with you through every chapter, I show, whether you will or no, “by what law, by what right and justice,” all that was done. But if you insist to know, “by what right, by what law;” by that law, I tell you, which God and nature have enacted, viz. that whatever things are for the universal good of the whole state, are for that reason lawful and just. So wise men of old used to answer such as you. You find fault with us for “repealing laws, that had obtained for so many years;” but you do not tell us whether those laws were good or bad, nor, if you did, should we heed what you said; for you, busy puppy, what have you to do with our laws? I wish our magistrates had repealed more than they have, both laws and lawyers; if they had, they would have Edition: current; Page: [12] consulted the interest of the Christian religion, and that of the people better than they have done. It frets you, that “hobgoblins, sons of the earth, scarce gentlemen at home, scarce known to their own countrymen, should presume to do such things.” But you ought to have remembered, what not only the Scriptures, but Horace would have taught you, viz.

  • ——Valet ima summis
  • Mutare, et insignem attenuat Deus,
  • Obscura promens, &c.
  • The power that did create, can change the scene
  • Of things; make mean of great, and great of mean;
  • The brightest glory can eclipse with night;
  • And place the most obscure in dazzling light.

But take this into the bargain. Some of those who, you say, be scarce gentlemen, are not at all inferior in birth to any of your party. Others, whose ancestors were not noble, have taken a course to attain to true nobility by their own industry and virtue, and are not inferior to men of the noblest descent. They had rather be called “sons of the earth,” provided it be their own earth, (their own native country,) and act like men at home, than, being destitute of house or land, to relieve the necessities of nature in a foreign country by selling of smoke, as thou dost, an inconsiderable fellow and a jack-straw, and who dependest upon the good-will of thy masters for a poor stipend; for whom it were better to dispense with thy labours, and return to thy own kindred and countrymen, if thou hadst not this one piece of cunning, to babble out some silly prelections and fooleries at so good a rate amongst foreigners. You find fault with our magistrates for admitting such “a common sewer of all sorts of sects.” Why should they not? It belongs to the church to cast them out of the communion of the faithful; not to the magistrate to banish them the country, provided they do not offend against the civil laws of the state. Men at first united into civil societies, that they might live safely, and enjoy their liberty, without being wronged or oppressed; and that they might live religiously, and according to the doctrine of Christianity, they united themselves into churches. Civil societies have laws, and churches have a discipline peculiar to themselves, and far differing from each other. And this has been the occasion of so many wars in Christendom; to wit, because the civil magistrate and the church confounded their jurisdictions. Therefore we do not admit of the popish sect, so as to tolerate papists at all; for we do not look upon that as a religion, but rather as a hierarchical tyranny, under a cloak of religion, clothed with the spoils of the civil power, which it has usurped to itself, contrary to our Saviour’s own doctrine. As for the independents, we never had any such amongst us, as you describe; they that we call independents, are only such as hold, that no classis or synods have a superiority over any particular church, and that therefore they ought all to be plucked up by the roots, as branches, or rather as the very trunk, of hierarchy itself; which is your own opinion too. And from hence it was that the name of independents prevailed amongst the vulgar. The rest of your preface is spent in endeavouring not only to stir up the hatred of all kings and monarchs against us, but to persuade them to make a general war upon us. Mithridates of old, though in a different cause, endeavoured to stir up all princes to make war upon the Romans, by laying to their charge almost just the same things that you do to ours: viz. that the Romans aimed at nothing but the subversion of all kingdoms, that they had no regard to any thing, whether sacred or civil, that from their very first rise, they never enjoyed any thing but what they had acquired by force, that Edition: current; Page: [13] they were robbers, and the greatest enemies in the world to monarchy. Thus Mithridates expressed himself in a letter to Arsaces, king of the Parthians.

But how came you, whose business it is to make silly speeches from your desk, to have the confidence to imagine, that by your persuasions to take up arms, and sounding an alarm as it were, you should be able so much as to influence a king amongst boys at play; especially, with so shrill a voice, and unsavoury breath, that I believe, if you were to have been the trumpeter, not so much as Homer’s mice would have waged war against the frogs? So little do we fear, you slug you, any war or danger from foreign princes through your silly rhetoric, who accusest us to them, just as if you were at play, “that we toss kings’ heads like balls; play at bowls with crowns; and regard sceptres no more than if they were fools’ staves with heads on:” but you in the mean time, you silly loggerhead, deserve to have your bones well thrashed with a fool’s staff, for thinking to stir up kings and princes to war by such childish arguments. Then you cry aloud to all nations, who, I know full well, will never heed what you say. You call upon that wretched and barbarous crew of Irish rebels too, to assert the king’s party. Which one thing is sufficient evidence how much you are both a fool and a knave, and how you outdo almost all mankind in villainy, impudence, and madness; who scruple not to implore the loyalty and aid of an execrable people devoted to the slaughter, whom the king himself always abhorred, or so pretended, to have any thing to do with, by reason of the guilt of so much innocent blood, which they had contracted. And that very perfidiousness and cruelty which he endeavoured as much as he could to conceal, and to clear himself from any suspicion of, you, the most villainous of mortals, as fearing neither God nor man, voluntarily and openly take upon yourself. Go on then, undertake the king’s defence at the encouragement and by the assistance of the Irish. You take care, and so you might well, lest any should imagine, that you were about to bereave Cicero or Demosthenes of the praise due to their eloquence, by telling us beforehand, that “you conceive you ought not to speak like an orator.” It is wisely said of a fool; you conceive you ought not to do what is not in your power to do: and who, that knows you never so little, ever expects any thing like an orator from you? Who neither uses, nor is able to publish, any thing that is elaborate, distinct, or has so much as sense in it; but like a second Crispin, or that little Grecian Tzetzes, you do but write a great deal, take no pains to write well; nor could write any thing well, though you took never so much pains. “This cause shall be argued (say you) in the hearing, and as it were before the tribunal, of all mankind.” That is what we like so well, that we could now wish we had a discreet and intelligent adversary, and not such a hairbrained blunderbuss as you, to deal with. You conclude very tragically, like Ajax in his raving; “I will proclaim to heaven and earth the injustice, the villainy, the perfidiousness and cruelty of these men, and will deliver them over convicted to all posterity.” O flowers! that such a witless, senseless bawler, one that was born but to spoil or transcribe good authors, should think himself able to write any thing of his own, that will reach posterity, whom together with his frivolous scribbles, the very next age will bury in oblivion; unless this defence of the king perhaps may be beholden to the answer I give to it, for being looked into now and then. And I would entreat the illustrious states of Holland, to take off their prohibition, and suffer the book to be publicly sold. For when I have detected the vanity, ignorance, and falsehood, that it is full of, the farther it spreads the more effectually it will be suppressed. Now let us hear how he convicts us.

Edition: current; Page: [14]


I persuade myself, Salmasius, that you, being a vain flashy man, are not a little proud of being the king of Great Britain’s defender, who himself was styled the “Defender of the Faith.” For my part, I think you deserve your titles both alike; for the king defended the faith, and you have defended him, so, that betwixt you, you have spoiled both your causes: which I shall make appear throughout the whole ensuing discourse, and particularly in this very chapter. You told us in the 12th page of your preface, that “so good and so just a cause ought not to be embellished with any flourishes of rhetoric; that the king needed no other defence, than by a bare narrative of his story:” and yet in your first chapter, in which you had promised us that bare narrative, you neither tell the story right, nor do you abstain from making use of all the skill you have in rhetoric to set it off. So that if we must take your own judgment, we must believe the king’s cause to be neither good nor just. But by the way I would advise you not to have so good an opinion of yourself (for nobody else has so of you) as to imagine that you are able to speak well upon any subject, who can neither play the part of an orator, nor an historian, nor express yourself in a style that would not be ridiculous even in a lawyer; but like a mountebank’s juggler, with big swelling words in your preface, you raised our expectation, as if some mighty matter were to ensue; in which your design was not so much to introduce a true narrative of the king’s story, as to make your own empty intended flourishes go off the better. For “being now about to give us an account of the matter of fact, you find yourself encompassed and affrighted with so many monsters of novelty, that you are at a loss what to say first, what next, and what last of all.” I will tell you what the matter is with you. In the first place, you find yourself affrighted and astonished at your own monstrous lies, and then you find that empty head of yours not encompassed, but carried round, with so many trifles and fooleries, that you not only now do not, but never did, know what was fit to be spoken, and in what method. “Among the many difficulties, that you find in expressing the heinousness of so incredible a piece of impiety, this one offers itself, you say, which is easily said, and must often be repeated; to wit, that the sun itself never beheld a more outrageous action.” But by your good leave, sir, the sun has beheld many things, that blind Bernard never saw. But we are content you should mention the sun over and over. And it will be a piece of prudence in you so to do. For though our wickedness does not require it, the coldness of the defence that you are making does. “The original of kings, you say, is as ancient as that of the sun.” May the gods and goddesses, Damasippus, bless thee with an everlasting solstice; that thou mayest always be warm, thou that canst not stir a foot without the sun. Perhaps you would avoid the imputation of being called a doctor Umbraticus. But alas! you are in perfect darkness, that make no difference betwixt Edition: current; Page: [15] a paternal power, and a regal: and that when you had called kings fathers of their country, could fancy that with that metaphor you had persuaded us, that whatever is applicable to a father, is so to a king. Alas! there is a great difference betwixt them. Our fathers begot us. Our king made not us, but we him. Nature has given fathers to us all, but we ourselves appointed our own king. So that the people is not for the king but the king for them. “We bear with a father, though he be harsh and severe;” and so we do with a king. But we do not bear with a father, if he be a tyrant. If a father murder his son, he himself must die for it; and why should not a king be subject to the same law, which certainly is a most just one? Especially considering that a father cannot by any possibility divest himself of that relation, but a king may easily make himself neither king nor father of his people. If this action of ours be considered according to its quality, as you call it, I, who am both an Englishman born, and was an eyewitness of the transactions of these times, tell you, who are both a foreigner and an utter stranger to our affairs, that we have put to death neither a good, nor a just, nor a merciful, nor a devout, nor a godly, nor a peaceable king, as you style him; but an enemy, that has been so to us almost ten years to an end; nor one that was a father, but a destroyer of his country. You confess, that such things have been practised; for yourself have not the impudence to deny it: but not by protestants upon a protestant king. As if he deserved the name of a protestant, that, in a letter to the pope, could give him the title of most holy father; that was always more favourable to the papists than to those of his own profession. And being such, he is not the first of his own family, that has been put to death by protestants. Was not his grandmother deposed and banished, and at last beheaded by protestants? And were not her own countrymen, that were protestants too, well enough pleased with it? Nay, if I should say they were parties to it, I should not lie. But there being so few protestant kings, it is no great wonder, if it never happened that one of them has been put to death. But that it is lawful to depose a tyrant, and to punish him according to his deserts; nay, that this is the opinion of very eminent divines, and of such as have been most instrumental in the late reformation, do you deny it if you dare.

You confess, that many kings have come to an unnatural death; some by the sword, some poisoned, some strangled, and some in a dungeon; but for a king to be arraigned in a court of judicature, to be put to plead for his life, to have sentence of death pronounced against him, and that sentence executed; this you think a more lamentable instance than all the rest, and make it a prodigious piece of impiety. Tell me, thou superlative fool, whether it be not more just, more agreeable to the rules of humanity, and the laws of all human societies, to bring a criminal, be his offence what it will, before a court of justice, to give him leave to speak for himself; and, if the law condemn him, then to put him to death as he has deserved, so as he may have time to repent or to recollect himself; than presently, as soon as ever he is taken, to butcher him without more ado? Do you think there is a malefactor in the world, that if he might have his choice, would not choose to be thus dealt withal? And if this sort of proceeding against a private person be accounted the fairer of the two, why should it not be counted so against a prince? Nay, why should we not think, that himself liked it better? You would have had him killed privately, and none to have seen it, either that future ages might have lost the advantage of so good an example; or that they that did this glorious action, might seem to have avoided the light, and to have acted contrary to law and justice. You aggravate the matter by telling us, that it was not done in an Edition: current; Page: [16] uproar, or brought about by any faction amongst great men, or in the heat of a rebellion, either of the people, or the soldiers: that there was no hatred, no fear, no ambition, no blind precipitate rashness in the case; but that it was long consulted on, and done with deliberation. You did well in leaving off being an* advocate, and turn grammarian, who from the accidents and circumstances of a thing, which in themselves considered sway neither one way nor other, argue in dispraise of it before you have proved the thing itself to be either good or bad. See how open you lie: if the action you are discoursing of be commendable and praiseworthy, they that did it deserve the greater honour, in that they were prepossessed with no passions, but did what they did for virtue’s sake. If there were great difficulty in the enterprise, they did well in not going about it rashly but upon advice and consideration. Though for my own part, when I call to mind with how unexpected an importunity and fervency of mind, and with how unanimous a consent, the whole army, and a great part of the people from almost every county in the kingdom, cried out with one voice for justice against the king, as being the sole author of all their calamities: I cannot but think, that these things were brought about by a divine impulse. Whatever the matter was, whether we consider the magistrates, or the body of the people, no men ever undertook with more courage, and, which our adversaries themselves confess, in a more sedate temper of mind, so brave an action, an action that might have become those famous heroes, of whom we read in former ages; an action, by which they ennobled not only laws, and their execution, which seem for the future equally restored to high and low against one another; but even justice, and to have rendered it, after so signal a judgment, more illustrious and greater than in its own self.

We are now come to an end of the 3d page of the first book, and have not the bare narrative he promised us yet. He complains that our principles are, that a king, whose government is burdensome and odious, may lawfully be deposed: and “by this doctrine,” says he, “if they had had a king a thousand times better than they had, they would not have spared his life.” Observe the man’s subtle way of arguing. For I would willingly be informed what consequence there is in this, unless he allows, that a king’s government may be burdensome and odious, who is a thousand times better than our king was. So that now he has brought things to this pass, to make the king that he defends a thousand times worse than some whose government notwithstanding is burdensome and odious, that is, it may be, the most monstrous tyrant that ever reigned. I wish ye joy, O ye kings, of so able a defender! Now the narrative begins. “They put him to several sorts of torments.” Give an instance. “They removed him from prison to prison;” and so they might lawfully do; for having been a tyrant, he became an open enemy, and was taken in war. “Often changing his keepers.” Lest they themselves should change. “Sometimes they gave him hopes of liberty; nay, and sometimes even of restoring him to his crown, upon articles of agreement.” It seems then the taking away his life was not done upon so much premeditation, as he talked of before; and that we did not lay hold on all opportunities and means, that offered themselves, to renounce our king. Those things that in the beginning of the war we demanded of him, when he had almost brought us under, which things if they were denied us, we could enjoy no liberty, nor live in any safety; those very things we petitioned him for when he was our prisoner, in a humble, submissive way, not once, nor twice, but thrice, Edition: current; Page: [17] and oftener, and were as often denied. When we had now lost all hopes of the king’s complying with us, then was that noble order of parliament made, that from that time forward, there should no articles be sent to the king; so that we left off applying ourselves to him, not from the time that he began to be a tyrant, but from the time that we found him incurable. But afterward some parliament-men set upon a new project, and meeting with a convenient opportunity to put it in practice, pass a vote to send further proposals once more to the king. Whose wickedness and folly nearest resembles that of the Roman senate, who contrary to the opinion of M. Tullius, and all honest men, voted to send embassadors to M. Antony; and the event had been the same, but that it pleased God Almighty, in his providence, to order it otherwise, and to assert our liberty, though he suffered them to be enslaved: for though the king did not agree to any thing that might conduce to a firm peace, and settlement of things, more than he had before, they go and vote themselves satisfied. Then the sounder part of the house finding themselves and the commonwealth betrayed, implore the aid of that valiant and always faithful army to the commonwealth. Upon which occasion I can observe only this, which yet I am loth to utter; to wit, that our soldiers understood themselves better than our senators, and that they saved the commonwealth by their arms, when the other by their votes had almost ruined it. Then he relates a great many things in a doleful, lamentable strain; but he does it so senselessly, that he seems rather to beg of his readers, that they would be sorrowful, than to stir up any such passion in them. It grieves him “to think that the king should undergo a capital punishment, after such a manner as no other king ever had done.” Though he had often told us before, that there never was a king that underwent a capital punishment at all. Do you use to compare ways and manners, ye coxcomb, when you have no things nor actions to compare with one another? “He suffered death,” says he, “as a robber, as a murderer, as a parricide, as a traitor, as a tyrant.” Is this defending the king? Or is it not rather giving a more severe sentence against him, than that that we gave? How came you so all on a sudden to be of our mind? He complains “that executioners in vizards [personati carnifices] cut off the king’s head.” What shall we do with this fellow? He told us before, of “a murder committed on one in the disguise of a king [in personâ regis]:” now he says, it was done in the disguise of an executioner. It were to no purpose, to take particular notice of every silly thing he says. He tells stories of “boxes on the ear, and kicks, that,” he says, “were given the king by common soldiers, and that it was four shillings apiece to see his dead body.” These, and such like stories, which partly are false, and partly impertinent, betray the ignorance and childishness of our poor scholar; but are far from making any reader ever a whit the sadder. In good faith his son Charles had done better to have hired some ballad-singer, to have bewailed his father’s misfortunes, than this doleful, shall I call him, or rather most ridiculous orator, who is so dry and insipid, that there is not the least spirit in any thing he says.

Now the narrative is done, and it is hard to say what he does next, he runs on so sordidly and irregular. Now he is angry, then he wonders; he neither cares what he talks, nor how; repeats the same things ten times over, that could not but look ill, though he had said them but once. And I persuade myself, the extemporary rhymes of some antic juck-pudding may deserve printing better; so far am I from thinking aught he says worthy of a serious answer. I pass by his styling the king a “protector of religion.” Edition: current; Page: [18] who chose to make war upon the church, rather than part with those church-tyrants, and enemies of all religion, the bishops; and how is it possible, that he should “maintain religion in its purity,” that was himself a slave to those impure traditions and ceremonies of theirs? And for our “sectaries, whose sacrilegious meetings,” you say, “have public allowance;” instance in any of their principles, the profession of which is not openly allowed of, and countenanced in Holland. But in the mean time, there is not a more sacrilegious wretch in nature than yourself, that always took liberty to speak ill of all sorts of people. “They could not wound the commonwealth more dangerously, than by taking off its master.” Learn, ye abject, homeborn slave; unless ye take away the master, ye destroy the commonwealth. That that has a master, is one man’s property. The word master denotes a private, not a public relation. “They persecute most unjustly those ministers, that abhorred this action of theirs.” Lest you should not know what ministers he means, I will tell you in a few words what manner of men they were; they were those very men, that by their writings and sermons justified taking up arms against the king, and stirred the people up to it: that daily cursed, as Deborah did Meroz, all such as would not furnish the parliament either with arms, or men, or money. That taught the people out of their pulpits, that they were not about to fight against a king, but a greater tyrant than either Saul or Ahab ever were; nay, more a Nero than Nero himself. As soon as the bishops, and those clergymen whom they daily inveighed against, and branded with the odious names of pluralists and nonresidents, were taken out of their way, they presently jump, some into two, some into three of their best benefices; being now warm themselves, they soon unworthily neglected their charge. Their covetousness brake through all restraints of modesty and religion, and themselves now labour under the same infamy, that they had loaded their predecessors with; and because their covetousness is not yet satisfied, and their ambition has accustomed them to raise tumults, and be enemies to peace, they cannot rest at quiet yet, but preach up sedition against the magistracy, as it is now established, as they had formerly done against the king. They now tell the people, that he was cruelly murdered; upon whom themselves having heaped all their curses, had devoted him to destruction, whom they had delivered up as it were to the parliament, to be despoiled of his royalty, and pursued with a holy war. They now complain, that the sectaries are not extirpated; which is a most absurd thing to expect the magistrates should be able to do, who never yet were able, do what they could, to extirpate avarice and ambition, those two most pernicious heresies, and more destructive to the church than all the rest, out of the very order and tribe of the ministers themselves.

For the sects which they inveigh against, I confess there are such amongst us, but they are obscure, and make no noise in the world: the sects that they are of, are public and notorious, and much more dangerous to the church of God. Simon Magus and Diotrephes were the ringleaders of them. Yet are we so far from persecuting these men, though they are pestilent enough, that though we know them to be ill-affected to the government, and desirous of and endeavouring to work a change, we allow them but too much liberty. You, that are both a Frenchman and a vagabond, seem displeased that “the English, more fierce and cruel than their own mastiffs,” as your barking eloquence has it, “have no regard to the lawful successor and heir of the crown: take no care of the king’s youngest son, nor of the queen of Bohemia.” I will make ye no answer; you Edition: current; Page: [19] shall answer yourself. “When the frame of a government is changed from a monarchy to any other, the new modellers have no regard to succession:” the application is easy; it is in your book De primatu Papæ. “The great change throughout three kingdoms,” you say, “was brought about by a small number of men in one of them.” If this were true, that small number of men would have deserved to have dominion over the rest; valiant men over fainthearted cowards. “These are they that presumptuously took upon them to change,” antiquum regni regimen, in alium qui a pluribus tyrannis teneatur. It is well for them that you cannot find fault with them, without committing a barbarous solecism; you shame all grammarians. “The English will never be able to wash out this stain.” Nay, you, though a blot and a stain to all learned men, were never yet able to stain the renown and everlasting glory of the English nation, that with so great a resolution, as we hardly find the like recorded in any history, having struggled with, and overcome, not only their enemies in the field, but the superstitious persuasions of the common people, have purchased to themselves in general amongst all posterity the name of deliverers: the body of the people having undertook and performed an enterprise, which in other nations is thought to proceed only from a magnanimity that is peculiar to heroes. What “the protestants and primitive Christians” have done, or would do upon such an occasion, I will tell ye hereafter, when we come to debate the merits of the cause: in discoursing it before, I should be guilty of your fault, who outdo the most impertinent talkers in nature.

You wonder how we shall be able to answer the Jesuits. Meddle with your own matters, you runagate, and be ashamed of your actions, since the church is ashamed of you; who, though but of late you set yourself so fiercely and with so much ostentation against the pope’s supremacy and episcopal government, are now become yourself a very creature of the bishops.

You confess, that “some protestants, whom you do not name, have asserted it lawful to depose a tyrant:” but though you do not think fit to name them, I will, because you say “they are far worse than the very Jesuits themselves;” they are no other than Luther, and Zuinglius, and Calvin, and Bucer, and Pareus, and many others. “But then,” you say, “they refer it to the judgment of learned and wise men, who shall be accounted a tyrant. But what for men were these? Were they wise men, were they men of learning? Were they anywise remarkable, either for virtue or nobility?” You may well allow a people, that has felt the heavy yoke of slavery to be wise, and learned, and noble enough, to know what is fit to be done to the tyrant that has oppressed them; though they neither consult with foreigners nor grammarians. But that this man was a tyrant, not only the parliaments of England and Scotland have declared by their actions and express words; but almost all the people of both nations assented to it, till such time as by the tricks and artifices of the bishops they were divided into two factions: and what if it has pleased God to choose such men, to execute his vengeance upon the greatest potentates on earth, as he chose to be made partakers of the benefit of the gospel? “Not many wise, not many learned, not many powerful, not many noble: that by those that are not, he might bring to nought those that are; and that no flesh might glory in his sight.” And who are you, that babble to the contrary? dare you affect the reputation of a learned man? I confess you are pretty well versed in phrase-books, and lexicons, and glossaries; insomuch that you seem to have spent your time in nothing else. But you do not make Edition: current; Page: [20] appear, that you have read any good authors with so much judgment as to have benefited by them. Other copies, and various lections, and words omitted, and corruptions of texts, and the like, these you are full of; but no footstep of any solid learning appears in all you have writ: or do ye think yourself a wise man, that quarrel and contend about the meanest trifles that may be? That being altogether ignorant in astronomy and physic, yet are always railing at the professors of both, whom all men credit in what things belong to their own sciences, that would be ready to curse them to the pit of hell, that should offer to deprive you of the vain glory of having corrected or supplied the least word or letter in any copy you have criticised upon. And yet you are mad to hear yourself called a grammarian. In certain trifling discourses of yours, you call Dr. Hammond knave in plain terms, who was one of this king’s chaplains, and one that he valued above all the rest, for no other reason but because he had called you a grammarian. And I do not question, but you would have been as ready to have thrown the same reproach upon the king himself, if you had heard that he had approved his chaplain’s judgment of you. Take notice now, how much I (who am but one of those many English, that you have the impudence to call madmen, and unlearned, and ignoble, and wicked) slight and despise you, (for that the English nation in general should take any notice in public of such a worm as you are, would be an infinite undervaluing of themselves,) who, though one should turn you topsyturvy, and inside out, are but a grammarian: nay, as if you had made a foolisher wish than Midas did, whatever you meddle with, except when you make solecisms, is grammar still. Whosoever therefore he be, though from among the dregs of that common people that you are so keen upon, (for as for those men of eminency amongst us, whose great actions evidenced to all men their nobility, and virtue, and conduct, I will not disgrace them so much, as to compare you to them, or them to you,) but whosoever, I say, among the dregs of that common people, has but sucked in this principle, that he was not born for his prince, but for God and his country; he deserves the reputation of a learned, and an honest, and a wise man more, and is of greater use in the world, than yourself. For such a one is learned without letters; you have letters, but no learning, that understand so many languages, turn over so many volumes, and yet are but asleep when all is done.


The argument that Salmasius, toward the conclusion of his first chapter, urged as irrefragable, to wit, that it was really so, because all men unanimously agreed in it; that very argument, than which, as he applied it, there is nothing more false, I, that am now about to discourse of the right of kings, may turn upon himself with a great deal of truth. For, whereas he defines “a king” (if that may be said to be defined which he makes infinite) “to be a person in whom the supreme power of the kingdom resides, who is answerable to God alone, who may do whatsoever pleases him, who is bound by no law:” I will undertake to demonstrate, not by mine, but by his own reasons and authorities, that there never was a nation or people of any account (for to ransack all the uncivilized parts of the world were to no purpose) that ever allowed this to be their king’s right, or put such exorbitant power into his hand, as “that he should not be bound by any law Edition: current; Page: [21] that he might do what he would, that he should judge all, but be judged of none.” Nor can I persuade myself, that there ever was any one person besides Salmasius of so slavish a spirit, as to assert the outrageous enormities of tyrants to be the rights of kings. Those amongst us that were the greatest royalists, always abhorred this sordid opinion: and Salmasius himself, as appears by some other writings of his before he was bribed, was quite of another mind. Insomuch, that what he here gives out, does not look like the dictates of a free subject under a free government, much less in so famous a commonwealth as that of Holland, and the most eminent university there: but seems to have been penned by some despicable slave, that lay rotting in a prison, or a dungeon. If whatever a king has a mind to do, the right of kings will bear him out in, (which was a lesson that the bloody tyrant Antoninus Caracalla, though his step-mother Julia preached it to him, and endeavoured to inure him to the practice of it, by making him commit incest with herself, yet could hardly suck in,) then there neither is, nor ever was, that king, that deserved the name of a tyrant. They may safely violate all the laws of God and man: their very being kings keeps them innocent. What crime was ever any of them guilty of? They did but make use of their own right upon their own vassals. No king can commit such horrible cruelties and outrages, as will not be within this right of kings. So that there is no pretence left for any complaints or expostulations with any of them. And dare you assert, that “this right of kings,” as you call it, “is grounded upon the law of nations, or rather upon that of nature,” you brute beast? for you deserve not the name of a man, that are so cruel and unjust towards all those of your own kind; that endeavour, as much as in your lies, so to bear down and vilify the whole race of mankind, that were made after the image of God, as to assert and maintain, that those cruel and unmerciful taskmasters, that through the superstitious whimsies, or sloth, or treachery of some persons, get into the chair, are provided and appointed by nature herself, that mild and gentle mother of us all, to be the governors of those nations they enslave. By which pestilent doctrine of yours, having rendered them more fierce and untractable, you not only enable them to make havoc of, and trample under foot, their miserable subjects; but endeavour to arm them for that very purpose with the law of nature, the right of kings, and the very constitutions of government, than which nothing can be more impious or ridiculous. By my consent, as Dionysius formerly of a tyrant became a schoolmaster, so you of a grammarian should become a tyrant; not that you may have that regal license of doing other people harm, but a fair opportunity of perishing miserably yourself: that, as Tiberius complained, when he had confined himself to the island Capreæ, you may be reduced into such a condition, as to be sensible that you perish daily. But let us look a little more narrowly into this right of kings that you talk of. “This was the sense of the eastern, and of the western part of the world.” I shall not answer you with what Aristotle and Cicero (who are both as credible authors as any we have) tell us, viz. That the people of Asia easily submit to slavery, but the Syrians and the Jews are even born to it from the womb. I confess there are but few, and those men of great wisdom and courage, that are either desirous of liberty, or capable of using it. The greatest part of the world choose to live under masters; but yet they would have them just ones. As for such as are unjust and tyrannical, neither was God ever so much an enemy to mankind, as to enjoin a necessity of submitting to them; nor was there ever any people so destitute of all sense, and sunk into such a depth of despair, as to impose so cruel a law upon themselves and their Edition: current; Page: [22] posterity. First, you produce “the words of King Solomon in his Ecclesiastes.” And we are as willing to appeal to the Scripture as you. As for Solomon’s authority, we will consider that hereafter, when perhaps we shall be better able to understand it. First, let us hear God himself speak, Deut. xvii. 14. “When thou art come into the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as the nations that are round about me.” Which passage I could wish all men would seriously consider: for hence it appears by the testimony of God himself; first, that all nations are at liberty to erect what form of government they will amongst themselves, and to change it when and into what they will. This God affirms in express terms concerning the Hebrew nation; and it does not appear but that other nations are, as to this respect, in the same condition. Another remark that this place yields us, is, that a commonwealth is a more perfect form of government than a monarchy, and more suitable to the condition of mankind, and in the opinion of God himself better for his own people; for himself appointed it, and could hardly be prevailed withal a great while after, and at their own importunate desire, to let them change it into a monarchy. But to make it appear, that he gave them their choice to be governed by a single person, or by more, so they were justly governed, in case they should in time to come resolve upon a king, he prescribes laws for this king of theirs to observe, whereby he was forbidden to multiply to himself horses and wives, or to heap up riches: whence he might easily infer, that no power was put into his hands over others, but according to law, since even those actions of his life, which related only to himself, were under a law. He was commanded therefore to transcribe with his own hand all the precepts of the law, and having writ them out, to observe and keep them, that his mind might not be lifted up above his brethren. It is evident from hence, that as well the prince as the people was bound by the law of Moses. To this purpose Josephus writes, a proper and able interpreter of the laws of his own country, who was admirably well versed in the Jewish policy, and infinitely preferable to a thousand obscure ignorant rabbins: he has it thus in the fourth book of his Antiquities, Ἁριςοϰρατία μὲν οὖν ϰράτιςον, &c. “An Aristocracy is the best form of government; wherefore do not you endeavour to settle any other; it is enough for you, that God presides over ye, but if you will have a king, let him guide himself by the law of God, rather than by his own wisdom; and lay a restraint upon him, if he offer at more power than the state of your affairs will allow of.” Thus he expresses himself upon this place in Deuteronomy. Another Jewish author, Philo Judæus, who was Josephus’s contemporary, a very studious man in the law of Moses, upon which he wrote a large commentary: when in his book concerning the creation of the king, he interprets this chapter of Deuteronomy, he sets a king loose from the law no otherwise than as an enemy may be said to be so: “They,” says he, “that to the prejudice and destruction of the people acquire great power to themselves, deserve not the name of kings, but that of enemies: for their actions are the same with those of an irreconcilable enemy. Nay, they, that under a pretence of government are injurious, are worse than open enemies. We may fence ourselves against the latter; but the malice of the former is so much the more pestilent, because it is not always easy to be discovered.” But when it is discovered, why should they not be dealt with as enemies? The same author in his second book, Allegoriar. Legis, “A king,” says he, “and a tyrant, are contraries.” And a little after, “A king ought not only to command, but also to obey.” All this is very true, you will say, a king ought to observe the laws, as well as any Edition: current; Page: [23] other man. But what if he will not, what law is there to punish him? I answer, the same law that there is to punish other men; for I find no exceptions. There is no express law to punish the priests, or any other inferior magistrates, who all of them, if this opinion of the exemption of kings from the penalties of the law would hold, might, by the same reason claim impunity, what guilt soever they contract, because there is no positive law for their punishment; and yet I suppose none of them ever challenged such a prerogative, nor would it ever be allowed them, if they should.

Hitherto we have learned from the very text of God’s own law, that a king ought to obey the laws, and not lift himself up above his brethren. Let us now consider whether Solomon preached up any other doctrine, chap. viii. ver. 2, “I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight; stand not in an evil thing; for he doth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say unto him, what dost thou?” It is well enough known, that here the preacher directs not his precepts to the Sanhedrim, or to a parliament, but to private persons; and such he commands to “keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.” But as they swear allegiance to kings, do not kings likewise swear to obey and maintain the laws of God, and those of their own country? So the Reubenites and Gadites promise obedience to Joshua, Josh. i. 17, “According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee; only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.” Here is an express condition. Hear the preacher else, ch. ix. ver. 17, “The words of wise men are heard in quiet, more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.” The next caution that Solomon gives us, is, “Be not hasty to go out of his sight; stand not in an evil thing; for he doth whatsoever pleaseth him.” That is, he does what he will to malefactors, whom the law authorizes him to punish, and against whom he may proceed with mercy or severity, as he sees occasion. Here is nothing like tyranny; nothing that a good man needs be afraid of. “Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say to him, What dost thou?” And yet we read of one, that not only said to a king, “What dost thou?” but told him, “Thou hast done foolishly.” But Samuel, you may say, was an extraordinary person. I answer you with your own words, which follow in the forty-ninth page of your book, “What was there extraordinary,” say you, “in Saul or David?” And so say I, what was there in Samuel extraordinary? He was a prophet, you will say; so are they that now follow his example; for they act according to the will of God, either his revealed or his sacred will, which yourself grant in your 50th page. The preacher therefore in this place prudently advises private persons not to contend with princes; for it is even dangerous to contend with any man, that is either rich or powerful. But what then? must therefore the nobility of a nation, and all the inferior magistrates, and the whole body of the people, not dare to mutter when a king raves and acts like a madman? Must they not oppose a foolish, wicked, and outrageous tyrant, that perhaps seeks the destruction of all good men? Must they not endeavour to prevent his turning all divine and human things upside down? Must they suffer him to massacre his people, burn their cities, and commit such outrages upon them daily; and finally, to have perfect liberty to do what he lists without control?

  • O de Cappadocis eques catastris!
  • Thou slavish knight of Cappadocia!

Whom all free people, if you can have the confidence hereafter to set Edition: current; Page: [24] your foot within a free country, ought to cast out from amongst them, and send to some remote parts of the world, as a prodigy of dire portent; or to condemn to some perpetual drudgery, as one devoted to slavery, solemnly obliging themselves, if they ever let you go, to undergo a worse slavery under some cruel, silly tyrant: no man living can either devise himself, or borrow from any other, expressions so full of cruelty and contempt, as may not justly be applied to you. But go on. “When the Israelites asked a king of God, they said, they would set up a king that should have the same rule and dominion over them, that the kings of their neighbour countries exercised over their subjects. But the kings of the East we know had an unlimited power,” as Virgil testifies,

  • “———Regem non sic Ægyptus et ingens
  • Lydia, nec populi Parthorum, et Medus Hydaspes
  • Observant.”———
  • “No Eastern nation ever did adore
  • The majesty of sovereign princes more.”

First, what is that to us, what sort of kings the Israelites desired? Especially since God was angry with them, not only for desiring such a king as other nations had, and not such a king as his own law describes, but barely for desiring a king at all? Nor is it credible, that they should desire an unjust king, and one that should be out of the reach of all laws, who could not bear the government of Samuel’s sons, though under the power of laws; but from their covetousness sought refuge in a king. And lastly, the verse that you quote out of Virgil does not prove, that the kings of the East had an absolute unlimited power; for those bees, that he there speaks of, and who reverence their kings, he says, more than the Egyptians or Medes do theirs, by the authority of the same poet:

  • “——Magnis agitant sub legibus ævum.”
  • “Live under certain fundamental laws.”

They do not live under a king then, that is tied to no law. But now I will let you see how little reason you have to think I bear you an ill-will. Most people think you a knave; but I will make it appear, that you have only put on a knave’s vizor for the present. In your introduction to your discourse of the pope’s supremacy, you say, that some divines in the council of Trent made use of the government, that is said to be amongst bees, to prove the pope’s supremacy. This fancy you borrow from them, and urge it here with the same malice that they did there. Now that very same answer that you gave them, whilst you were an honest man, now that you are become a knave, you shall give yourself and pull off with your own hand that vizor you have now put on: “The bees,” say you, “are a state, and so natural philosophers call them; they have a king, but a harmless one; he is a leader, or captain, rather than a king; he never beats, nor pulls, nor kills his subject bees.” No wonder they are so observant of him then: but in good faith, you had but ill luck to meddle with these bees; for though they are bees of Trent, they show you to be a drone. Aristotle, a most exact writer of politics, affirms that the Asiatic monarchy, which yet himself calls barbarous, was according to law, Politic. 3. And whereas he reckons up five several sorts of monarchies, four of those five he makes governments according to laws, and with the consent of the people; and yet he calls them tyrannical forms of government, because they lodge so much power in one man’s hand. But the kingdom of the Lacedemonians, he says, is most properly a kingdom, because there all power is not in the king.

Edition: current; Page: [25]

The fifth sort of monarchy, which he calls παμβασιλεία that is, where the king is all in all: and to which he refers that that you call the right of kings, which is a liberty to do what they list; he neither tells us when nor where any such form of government ever obtained. Nor seems he to have mentioned it for any other purpose, than to show how unjust, absurd, and tyrannical a government it is. You say, that when Samuel would deter the people from choosing a king, he propounded to them this right of kings. But whence had Samuel it? Had he it from the written law of God? That cannot be. We have observed already, that the Scriptures afford us a quite other scheme of sovereignty. Had Samuel it then immediately from God himself by revelation? That is not likely neither; for God dislikes it, discommends it, finds fault with it: so that Samuel does not expound to the people any right of kings appointed by God; but a corrupt and depraved manner of governing, taken up by the pride and ambition of princes. He tells not the people what their kings ought to do, but what they would do. He told them the manner of their king, as before he told us the manner of the priests, the sons of Eli; for he uses the same word in both places (which you in the thirty-third page of your book, by a Hebrew solecism too, call םׁשפח.) That manner of theirs was wicked, and odious, and tyrannical: it was no right, but great wrong. The fathers have commented upon this place too: I will instance in one, that may stand for a great many; and that is Sulpitius Severus, a contemporary and intimate friend of St. Jerome, and, in St. Augustin’s opinion, a man of great wisdom and learning. He tells us in his sacred history, that Samuel in that place acquaints the people with the imperious rule of kings, and how they used to lord it over their subjects. Certainly it cannot be the right of kings to domineer and be imperious. But according to Sallust, that lawful power and authority that kings were entrusted with, for the preservation of the public liberty, and the good of the commonwealth, quickly degenerated into pride and tyranny: and this is the sense of all orthodox divines, and of all lawyers, upon that place of Samuel. And you might have learned from Sichardus, that most of the rabbins too were of the same mind; at least, not any one of them ever asserted, that the absolute inherent right of kings is there discoursed of. Yourself in your fifth chapter, page 106, complain, that “not only Clemens Alexandrinus, but all other expositors mistake themselves upon this text:” and you, I will warrant ye, are the only man that have had the good luck to hit the mark. Now, what a peice of folly and impudence is this in you to maintain, in opposition to all orthodox expositors, that those very actions, which God so much condemns, are the right of kings, and to pretend law for them! Though yourself confess, that that right is very often exercised in committing outrages, being injurious, contumelious, and the like. Was any man ever to that degree sui juris, so much his own master, as that he might lawfully prey upon mankind, bear down all that stood in his way, and turn all things upside down? Did the Romans ever maintain, as you say they did, that any man might do these things suo jure, by virtue of some inherent right in himself? Sallust indeed makes C. Memmius, a tribune of the people, in an invective speech of his against the pride of the nobility, and their escaping unpunished, howsoever they misbehaved themselves, to use these words, viz., “To do whatever one has a mind to, without fear of punishment, is to be a king.” This saying you catched hold of, thinking it would make for your purpose; but consider it a little better, and you will find yourself deceived. Does he in that place assert the right of kings? or does he not blame the common people, and chide them for their sloth, in suffering their nobility to lord it over them, as if they were out of the Edition: current; Page: [26] reach of all law, and in submitting again to that kingly tyranny, which, together with their kings themselves, their ancestors had lawfully and justly rejected and banished from amongst them? If you had consulted Tully, you would have understood both Sallust and Samuel better. In his oration pro C. Rabirio, “There is none of us ignorant,” says he, “of the manner of kings. These are their lordly dictates: mind what I say, and do accordingly.” Many passages to this purpose he quotes out of poets, and calls them not the right, but the custom or manner of kings; and he says, we ought to read and consider them, not only for curiosity’s sake, but that we may learn to beware of them, and avoid them. You perceive how miserably you are come off with Sallust, who though he be as much an enemy to tyranny as any other author whatsoever, you thought would have patronized this tyrannical right that you are establishing. Take my word for it, the right of kings seems to be tottering, and even to further its own ruin, by relying upon such weak props for its support; and by endeavouring to maintain itself by such examples and authorities, as would hasten its downfall, if it were further off than it is.

“The extremity of right or law,” you say, “is the height of injury, Summum jus summa injuria; this saying is verified most properly in kings, who, when they go to the utmost of their right, fall into these courses, in which Samuel makes the rights of kings to consist.” And it is a miserable right, which, when you have said all you can for, you can no otherwise defend, than by confessing, that it is the greatest injury that may be. The extremity of right or law is said to be, when a man ties himself up to niceties, dwells upon letters and syllables, and in the mean time neglects the intent and equity of the law; or when a written law is cunningly and maliciously interpreted; this Cicero makes to have been the rise of that common saying. But since it is certain that all right flows from the fountain of justice, so that nothing can possibly be any man’s right that is not just; it is a most wicked thing in you to affirm, that for a king to be unjust, rapacious, tyrannical, and as ill as the worst of them ever was, is according to the right of kings; and to tell us that a holy prophet would have persuaded the people to such a senseless thing. For whether written or unwritten, whether extreme or remiss, what right can any man have to be injurious? Which, lest you should confess to be true of other men, but not of kings, I have one man’s authority to object to you, who, I think, was a king likewise, and professes that that right of kings, that you speak of, is odious both to God and himself: it is in the 94th psalm, “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, that frameth mischief by a law?” Be not therefore so injurious to God, as to ascribe this doctrine to him, viz. that all manner of wicked and flagitious actions are but the right of kings; since himself tells us, that he abhors all fellowship with wicked princes for this very reason, because, under pretence of sovereignty, they create misery and vexation to their subjects. Neither bring up a false accusation against a prophet of God; for by making him to teach us in this place what the right of kings is, you do not produce the right Samuel, but such another empty shadow as was raised by the witch of Endor. Though for my own part, I verily believe that that infernal Samuel would not have been so great a liar, but that he would have confessed, that what you call the right of kings, is tyranny. We read indeed of impieties countenanced by law, Jus datum sceleri: you yourself confess, that they are bad kings that have made use of this boundless license of theirs to do every thing. Now, this right that you have introduced for the destruction of mankind, not proceeding from God, as I have proved it does not, must needs come from the devil; and Edition: current; Page: [27] that it does really so, will appear more clearly hereafter. “By virtue of this liberty, say you, princes may if they will.” And for this, you pretend to have Cicero’s authority. I am always willing to mention your authorities, for it generally happens, that the very authors you quote them out of, give you an answer themselves. Hear else what Cicero says in his 4th Philippic, “What cause of war can be more just and warrantable than to avoid slavery? For though a people may have the good fortune to live under a gentle master, yet those are in a miserable condition, whose prince may tyrannize over them if he will.” May, that is, can; has power enough so to do. If he meant it of his right, he would contradict himself, and make that an unjust cause of war, which himself had affirmed with the same breath to be a most just one. It is not therefore the right of all kings that you describe, but the injuriousness, and force, and violence of some. Then you tell us what private men may do. “A private man,” say you, “may lie, may be ungrateful:” and so may kings, but what then? May they therefore plunder, murder, ravish, without control? It is equally prejudicial and destructive to the commonwealth, whether it be their own prince, or a robber, or a foreign enemy, that spoils, massacres, and enslaves them. And questionless, being both alike enemies of human society, the one, as well as the other, may lawfully be opposed and punished; and their own prince the rather, because he, though raised to that dignity by the honours that his people have conferred upon him, and being bound by his oath to defend the public safety, betrays it notwithstanding all. At last you grant, that “Moses prescribes laws, according to which the king that the people of Israel should choose, ought to govern, though different from this right that Samuel proposes;” which words contain a double contradiction to what you have said before. For whereas you had affirmed, that a king was bound by no law, here you confess he is. And you set up two contrary rights, one described by Moses, and another by Samuel, which is absurd. “But,” says the prophet, “you shall be servants to your king.” Though I should grant that the Israelites were really so, it would not presently follow, that it was the right of their kings to have them so; but that by the usurpation and injustice of most of them, they were reduced to that condition. For the prophet had foretold them, that that importunate petition of theirs would bring a punishment from God upon them; not because it would be their king’s right so to harass them, but because they themselves had deserved it should be so. If kings are out of the reach of the law, so as that they may do what they list, they are more absolute than any masters, and their subjects in a more despical condition than the worst of slaves The law of God provided some redress from them, though of another nation, if their masters were cruel and unreasonable towards them. And can we imagine, that the whole body of the people of a free nation, though oppressed and tyrannized over, and preyed upon, should be left remediless? That they had no law to protect them, no sanctuary to betake themselves to? Can we think, that they were delivered from the bondage they were under to the Egyptian kings, to be reduced into a worse to one of their own brethren? All which being neither agreeable to the law of God, nor to common sense, nothing can be more evident, than that the prophet declares to the people the manner, and not the right of kings; nor the manner of all kings, but of most. Then you come to the rabbins, and quote two of them, but you have as bad luck with them here, as you had before. For it is plain, that that other chapter that rabbi Joses speaks of, and which contains, he says, the right of kings, is that in Deuteronomy, and not in Samuel. For rabbi Judas says very truly, and against you, that that discourse of Edition: current; Page: [28] Samuel’s was intended only to frighten the people. It is a most pernicious doctrine, to maintain that to be any one’s right, which in itself is flat injustice, unless you have a mind to speak by contraries. And that Samuel intended to affrighten them, appears by the 18th verse, “And ye shall cry out in that day, because of your king, which ye shall have chosen you, and I will not hear you in that day, saith the Lord.” That was to be their punishment for their obstinacy in persisting to desire a king, against the mind and will of God; and yet they are not forbidden here either to pray against him, or to endeavour to rid themselves of him. For if they might lawfully pray to God against him, without doubt they might use all lawful means for their own deliverance. For what man living, when he finds himself in any calamity, betakes himself to God, so as to neglect his own duty, in order to a redress, and rely upon his lazy prayers only? But be it how it will, what is all this to the right of kings, or of the English people? who neither asked a king against the will of God, nor had one appointed us by God, but by the right that all nations have to appoint their own governors, appointed a king over us by laws of our own, neither in obedience to, nor against, any command of God? And this being the case, for aught I see, we have done well in deposing our king, and are to be commended for it, since the Israelites sinned in asking one. And this the event has made appear; for we, when we had a king, prayed to God against him, and he heard us, and delivered us: but the Jews (who not being under a kingly government, desired a king) he suffered to live in slavery under one, till, at last, after their return from the Babylonish captivity, they betook themselves to their former government again. Then you come to give us a display of your talmudical learning; but you have as ill success with that as you have had with all the rest. For, whilst you are endeavouring to prove that kings are not liable to any temporal judicature, you quote an authority out of the treatise of the Sanhedrim, “that the king neither is judged of others, nor does himself judge any.” Which is against the people’s own petition in Samuel; for they desired a king that might judge them. You labour in vain to salve this, by telling us, that it is to be understood of those kings that reigned after the Babylonish captivity. For then, what say ye to Maimonides? He makes this difference betwixt the kings of Israel and those of Juda; that the kings of the posterity of David judge, and are judged; but the kings of Israel do neither. You contradict and quarrel with yourself or your rabbins, and still do my work for me. This, say you, is not to be understood of the kings of Israel in their first institution; for in the 17th verse it is said, “you shall be his servants;” that is, he shall use you to it, not that he shall have any right to make you so. Or if you understand it of their king’s right, it is but a judgment of God upon them for asking a king; the effects of which they were sensible of under most of their kings, though not perhaps under all. But you need no antagonists, you are such a perpetual adversary to yourself. For you tell us now a story, as if you were arguing on my side, how that first Aristobulus, and after him Jannæus surnamed Alexander, did not receive that kingly right that they pretended to, from the Sanhedrim, that great treasury and oracle of the laws of that nation, but usurped it by degrees against the will of the senate. For whose sake, you say, that childish fable of the principal men of that assembly being struck dead by the angel Gabriel was first invented. And thus you confess, that this magnificent prerogative, upon which you seem mainly to rely, viz. “that kings are not to be judged by any upon earth, was grounded upon this worse than an old wife’s tale, that is, upon a rabbinical fable.” But that the Hebrew kings were liable to be called in question for their actions, Edition: current; Page: [29] and to be punished with stripes, if they were found faulty, Sichardus shows at large out of the writings of the rabbins, to which author you are indebted for all that you employ of that sort of learning, and yet you have the impudence to be thwarting with him. Nay, we read in Scripture, that Saul thought himself bound by a decree of his own making; and in obedience thereunto, that he cast lots with his son Jonathan which of them two should die. Uzzias likewise, when he was thrust out of the temple by the priests as a leper, submitted as every private person in such a case ought to do, and ceased to be a king. Suppose he should have refused to go out of the temple, and lay down the government, and live alone, and had resolved to assert that kingly right of not being subject to any law, do you think the priests, and the people of the Jews, would have suffered the temple to be defiled, the laws violated, and live themselves in danger of the infection? It seems there are laws against a leprous king, but none against a tyrant. Can any man possibly be so mad and foolish as to fancy, that the laws should so far provide for the people’s health, as though some noisome distemper should seize upon the king himself, yet to prevent the infection’s reaching them, and make no provision for the security of their lives and estates, and the very being of the whole state, against the tyranny of a cruel, unjust prince, which is incomparably the greater mischief of the two? “But,” say you, “there can be no precedent shown of any one king that has been arraigned in a court of justice, and condemned to die.” Sichardus answers that well enough. It is all one, says he, as if one should argue on this manner: The emperor of Germany never was summoned to appear before one of the prince electors: therefore, if the prince elector Palatine should impeach the emperor, he were not bound to plead to it; though it appears by the golden bull, that Charles the Fourth subjected himself and his successors to that cognizance and jurisdiction.

But no wonder if kings were indulged in their ambition, and their exorbitances passed by, when the times were so corrupt and depraved, that even private men, if they had either money or interest, might escape the law, though guilty of crimes of never so high a nature. That ἀνυπεύθυνον, that you speak of, that is to be wholly independent upon any other, and accountable to none upon earth, which you say is peculiar to the majesty of sovereign princes, Aristotle in the 4th book of his Pol. Ch. 10, calls a most tyrannical form of government, and not in the least to be endured by a free people. And that kings are not liable to be questioned for their actions, you prove by the testimony of a very worthy author, that barbarous tyrant Mark Antony; one of those that subverted the commonwealth of Rome: and yet he himself, when he undertook an expedition against the Parthians, summoned Herod before him, to answer to a charge of murder, and would have punished him, but that Herod bribed him. So that Antony’s asserting this prerogative royal, and your defence of King Charles, come both out of one and the same spring. “And it is very reasonable,” say you, “that it should be so; for kings derive their authority from God alone.” What kings are those, I pray that do so? For I deny, that there ever were any such kings in the world, that derived their authority from God alone. Saul, the first king of Israel, had never reigned, but that the people desired a king, even against the will of God; and though he was proclaimed king once at Mizpah, yet after that he lived a private life, and looked to his father’s cattle, till he was created so the second time by the people at Gilgal. And what think ye of David? Though he had been anointed once by God, he was not anointed a second time in Hebron by the tribe of Judah, and after that by all the people of Israel, and that after Edition: current; Page: [30] a mutual covenant betwixt him and them? 2 Sam. v. 1 Chron. xi. Now, a covenant lays an obligation upon kings, and restrains them within bounds. Solomon, you say, “succeeded him in the throne of the Lord, and was acceptable to all men:” 1 Chron. xxix. So that it is something to be well-pleasing in the eyes of the people. Jehoiadah the priest made Joash king, but first he made him and the people enter into a covenant to one another, 2 Kings xi. I confess that these kings, and all that reigned of David’s posterity, were appointed to the kingdom both by God and the people; but of all other kings, of what country soever, I affirm, that they are made so by the people only: nor can you make it appear, that they are appointed by God, any otherwise than as all other things, great and small, are said to be appointed by him, because nothing comes to pass without his providence. So that I allow the throne of David was in a peculiar manner called “the throne of the Lord:” whereas the thrones of other princes are no otherwise God’s than all other things in the world are his; which if you would, you might have learnt out of the same chapter, ver. 11, 12. “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, &c. for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all.” And this is so often repeated, not to puff up kings, but to put them in mind, though they think themselves gods, that yet there is a God above them, to whom they owe whatever they are and have. And thus we easily understand what the poets, and the Essenes among the Jews, mean, when they tell us, that it is by God that kings reign, and that they are of Jupiter; for so all of us are of God, we are all his offspring. So that this universal right of Almighty God’s and the interest that he has in princes, and their thrones, and all that belongs to them, does not at all derogate from the people’s right; but that notwithstanding all this, all other kings, not particularly and by name appointed by God, owe their sovereignty to the people only, and consequently are accountable to them for the management of it. The truth of which doctrine, though the common people are apt to flatter their kings, yet they themselves acknowledge, whether good ones, as Sarpedon in Homer is described to have been; or bad ones as those tyrants in the lyrick poet:

  • Γλαῦϰε, τίη δὴ νῶι τετιμήμισθα, μαλίςα, &c
  • Glaucus, in Lycia we’re ador’d like gods:
  • What makes ’twixt us and others so great odds?

He resolves the question himself: “Because, says he, we excel others in heroical virtues: Let us fight manfully then, says he, lest our countrymen tax us with sloth and cowardice.” In which words he intimates to us, both that kings derive their grandeur from the people, and that for their conduct and behaviour in war they are accountable to them. Bad kings indeed, though to cast some terror into people’s minds, and beget a reverence of themselves, they declare to the world, that God only is the author of kingly government; in their hearts and minds they reverence no other deity but that of fortune, according to that passage in Horace:

  • Te Dacus asper, te profugi Scythæ,
  • Regumque matres barbarorum, et
  • Purpurei metuunt tyranni.
  • Injurioso ne pede proruas
  • Stantem columnam, neu populus frequens
  • Ad arms oessantes, ad arma
  • Concitet, imperiumque frangat.
Edition: current; Page: [31]
  • “All barb’rous people, and their princes too,
  • All purple tyrants honour you;
  • The very wand’ring Seythians do.
  • “Support the pillar of the Roman state,
  • Lest all men be involv’d in one man’s fate,
  • Continue us in wealth and peace:
  • Let wars and tumults ever cease.”

So that if it is by God that kings now-a-days reign, it is by God too that the people assert their own liberty; since all things are of him, and by him. I am sure the Scripture bears witness to both; that by him kings reign, and that by him they are cast down from their throne. And yet experience teaches us, that both these things are brought about by the people, oftener than by God. Be this right of kings, therefore, what it will, the right of the people is as much from God as it. And whenever any people, without some visible designation of God himself, appoint a king over them, they have the same right to put him down, that they had to set him up at first. And certainly it is a more godlike action to depose a tyrant than to set up one: and there appears much more of God in the people, when they depose an unjust prince, than in a king that oppresses an innocent people. Nay, the people have a warrant from God to judge wicked princes; for God has conferred this very honour upon those that are dear to him, that celebrating the praises of Christ, their own king, “they shall bind in chains the kings of the nations, (under which appellation all tyrants under the gospel are included,) and execute the judgments written upon them that challenge to themselves an exemption from all written laws,” Psalm cxlix. So that there is but little reason left for that wicked and foolish opinion, that kings, who commonly are the worst of men, should be so high in God’s account, as that he should have put the world under them, to be at their beck, and be governed according to their humour; and that for their sakes alone he should have reduced all mankind, whom he made after his own image, into the same condition with brutes.

After all this, rather than say nothing, you produce M. Aurelius as a countenancer of tyranny; but you had better have let him alone. I cannot say whether he ever affirmed, that princes are accountable only before God’s tribunal. But Xiphiline indeed, out of whom you quote those words of M. Aurelius, mentions a certain government, which he calls an Autarchy, of which he makes God the only judge: περὶ άυταρχίας ὁ Θεὸς μόνος ϰρίνειν δυνάται. But that this word Autarchy and Monarchy are synonymous, I cannot easily persuade myself to believe. And the more I read what goes before, the less I find myself inclinable to think so. And certainly whoever considers the context, will not easily apprehend what coherence this sentence has with it, and must needs wonder how it comes so abruptly into the text; especially, since Marcus Aurelius, that mirror of princes, carried himself towards the people, as Capitolinus tells us, just as if Rome had been a commonwealth still. And we all know, that when it was so, the supreme power was in the people. The same emperor honoured the memory of Thraseas, and Helvidius, and Cato, and Dio, and Brutus; who all were tyrant-slayers, or affected the reputation of being thought so. In the first book that he writes of his own life, he says, that he proposed to himself a form of government, under which all men might equally enjoy the benefit of the law, and right and justice be equally administered to all. And in his fourth book he says, the law is master, and not he. He acknowledged the right of the senate and the people, and their interest in all things: we are so far, says he, from having any thing of our own, that Edition: current; Page: [32] we live in your houses. These things Xiphiline relates of him. So little did he arrogate aught to himself by virtue of his sovereign right. When he died, he recommended his son to the Romans, for his successor, if they should think he deserved it. So far was he from pretending to a commission from Heaven to exercise that absolute and imaginary right of sovereignty, that Autarchy, that you tell us of. “All the Latin and Greek books are full of authorities of this nature.” But we have heard none of them yet. “So are the Jewish authors.” And yet, you say, “the Jews in many things allowed but too little to their princes.” Nay, you will find that both the Greeks and the Latins allowed much less to tyrants. And how little the Jews allowed them would appear, if that book that Samuel “wrote of the manner of the kingdom” were extant; which book, the Hebrew doctors tell us, their kings tore in pieces and burnt, that they might be more at liberty to tyrannize over the people without control or fear of punishment. Now look about ye again, and catch hold of somewhat or other.

In the last place, you come to wrest David’s words in the 17th Psalm, “let my sentence come forth from thy presence.” Therefore, says Barnachmoni, “God only can judge the king.” And yet it is most likely, that David penned this psalm when he was persecuted by Saul, at which time, though himself were anointed, he did not decline being judged even by Jonathan: “Notwithstanding, if there be iniquity in me, slay me thyself,” 1 Sam. xx. At least, in this psalm he does no more than what any person in the world would do upon the like occasion; being falsely accused by men, he appeals to the judgment of God himself, “let thine eyes look upon the thing that is right; thou hast proved and visited mine heart,” &c. What relation has this to a temporal judicature? Certainly they do no good office to the right of kings, that thus discover the weakness of its foundation.

Then you come with that threadbare argument, which of all others is most in vogue with our courtiers, “Against thee, thee only have I sinned,” Psalm li. 6. As if David in the midst of his repentance, when overwhelmed with sorrow, and almost drowned in tears, he was humbly imploring God’s mercy, had any thoughts of this kingly right of his when his heart was so low, that he thought he deserved not the right of a slave. And can we think, that he despised all the people of God, his own brethren to that degree, as to believe that he might murder them, plunder them, and commit adultery with their wives, and yet not sin against them all this while? So holy a man could never be guilty of such insufferable pride, nor have so little knowledge either of himself, or of his duty to his neighbour. So without doubt when he says, “against thee only,” he meant, against thee chiefly have I sinned, &c. But whatever he means, the words of a psalm are too full of poetry, and this psalm too full of passion, to afford us any exact definitions of right and justice; nor is it proper to argue any thing of that nature from them. “But David was never questioned for this, nor made to plead for his life before the Sanhedrim.” What then? How should they know, that any such thing had been, which was done so privately, that perhaps for some years after not above one or two were privy to it, as such secrets there are in most courts? 2 Sam. xii. “Thou hast done this thing in secret.” Besides, what if the senate should neglect to punish private persons? Would any infer, that therefore they ought not to be punished at all? But the reason why David was not proceeded against as a malefactor, is not much in the dark: he had condemned himself in the 5th verse, “The man that hath done this thing shall surely Edition: current; Page: [33] die.” To which the prophet presently replies, “Thou art the man.” So that in the prophet’s judgment, as well as his own, he was worthy of death: but God, by his sovereign right over all things, and of his great mercy to David, absolves him from the guilt of his sin, and the sentence of death which he had pronounced against himself; verse 13th, “The Lord hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die.”

The next thing you do, is to rail at some bloody advocate or other, and you take a deal of pains to refute the conclusion of his discourse. Let him look to that; I will endeavour to be as short as I can in what I have undertaken to perform. But some things I must not pass by without taking notice of; as first and foremost your notorious contradictions; for in the 30th page you say, “The Israelites do not deprecate an unjust, rapacious, tyrannical king, one as bad as the worst of kings are.” And yet, page 42, you are very smart upon your advocate, for maintaining that the Israelites asked for a tyrant: “Would they have leaped out of the fryingpan into the fire,” say you, “and groan under the cruelty of the worst of tyrants, rather than live under bad judges, especially being used to such a form of government?” First, you said the Hebrews would rather live under tyrants and judges; here you say they would rather live under judges than tyrants; and that “they desired nothing less than a tyrant.” So that your advocate may answer you out of your own book. For according to your principles it is every king’s right to be a tyrant. What you say next is very true, “the supreme power was then in the people, which appears by their own rejecting their judges, and making choice of a kingly government.” Remember this, when I shall have occasion to make use of it. You say, that God gave the children of Israel a king as a thing good and profitable for them, and deny that he gave them one in his anger, as a punishment for their sin. But that will receive an easy answer; for to what purpose should they cry to God because of the king that they had chosen, if it were not because a kingly government is an evil thing; not in itself, but because it most commonly does, as Samuel forewarns the people that theirs would, degenerate into pride and tyranny? If you are not yet satisfied, hark what you say yourself; acknowledge your own hand, and blush; it is in your “Apparatus ad Primatum: God gave them a king in his anger,” say you, “being offended at their sin in rejecting him from ruling over them; and so the Christian church, as a punishment for its forsaking the pure worship of God, has been subjected to the more than kingly government of one mortal head.” So that if your own comparison holds, either God gave the children of Israel a king as an evil thing, and as a punishment, or he has set up the pope for the good of the church. Was there ever any thing more light and mad than this man is? Who would trust him in the smallest matters, that in things of so great concern says and unsays without any consideration in the world? You tell us in your twenty-ninth page, “that by the constitution of all nations, kings are bound by no law.” That “this had been the judgment both of the eastern and western part of the world.” And yet, page 43, you say, “That all the kings of the east ruled ϰατὰ νόμον, according to law, nay, that the very kings of Egypt in all matters whatsoever, whether great or small, were tied to laws.” Though in the beginning of this chapter you had undertook to demonstrate, that “kings are bound by no laws, that they give laws to others, but have none prescribed to themselves.” For my part I have no reason to be angry with you, for either you are mad, or of our side. You do not defend the king’s cause, but argue against him, and play the fool with him: or if you are in earnest, that epigram of Catullus,

Edition: current; Page: [34]
  • Tantò pessimus omnium poeta,
  • Quantò tu optimus omnium patronus.
  • The worst of poets, I myself declare,
  • By how much you the best of patrons are.

That epigram, I say, may be turned, and very properly applied to you: for there never was so good a poet as you are a bad patron. Unless that stupidity, that you complain your advocate is “immersed over head and ears in,” has blinded the eyes of your own understanding too, I will make you now sensible that you are become a very brute yourself. For now you come and confess, that “the kings of all nations have laws prescribed to them.” But then you say again, “They are not so under the power of them, as to be liable to censure or punishment of death, if they break them.” Which yet you have proved neither from Scripture, nor from any good author. Observe then in short; to prescribe municipal laws to such as are not bound by them, is silly and ridiculous: and to punish all others, but leave some one man at liberty to commit all sort of impieties without fear of punishment, is most unjust; the law being general, and not making any exception; neither of which can be supposed to hold place in the constitutions of any wise lawmaker, much less in those of God’s own making. But that all may perceive how unable you are to prove out of the writings of the Jews, what you undertook in this chapter to make appear by them, you confess of your own accord, that “there are some rabbins, who affirm that their forefathers ought not to have had any other king than God himself; and that he set other kings over them for their punishment.” And of those men’s opinion I declare myself to be. It is not fitting or decent, that any man should be a king, that does not far excel all his subjects. But where men are equals, as in all governments very many are, they ought to have an equal interest in the government, and hold it by turns. But that all men should be slaves to one that is their equal, or (as it happens most commonly) far inferior to them, and very often a fool, who can so much as entertain such a thought without indignation? Nor does “it make for the honour of a kingly government, that our Saviour was of the posterity of some kings,” more than it does for the commendation of the worst of kings, that he was the offspring of some of them too. “The Messias is a king.” We acknowledge him so to be, and rejoice that he is so; and pray that his kingdom may come, for he is worthy: nor is there any other equal, or next to him. And yet a kingly government being put into the hands of unworthy and undeserving persons, as most commonly it is, may well be thought to have done more harm than good to mankind. Nor does it follow for all this, that all kings, as such, are tyrants. But suppose it did, as for argument-sake I will allow it does, lest you should think I am too hard with ye; make you the best use of it you can. “Then, say you, God himself may properly be said to be the king of tyrants, nay, himself, the worst of all tyrants.” If the first of these conclusions does not follow, another does, which may be drawn from most parts of your book, viz. That you perpetually contradict, not only the Scriptures, but your own self. For in the very last foregoing period you had affirmed, that “God was the king of all things, having himself created them.” Now he created tyrants and devils, and consequently, by your own reason, is the king of such. The second of these conclusions we detest, and wish that blasphemous mouth of yours were stopped up, with which you affirm God to be the worst of tyrants, if he be, as you often say he is, the king and lord of such. Nor do you much advantage your cause by telling us, that “Moses was a king, and had the absolute and supreme power of a king.” For we could be content that Edition: current; Page: [35] any other were so, that could “refer our matters to God, as Moses did, and consult with him about our affairs,” Exod. xviii. 19. But neither did Moses, not withstanding his great familiarity with God, ever assume a liberty of doing what he would himself. What says he of himself; “the people come unto me to inquire of God.” They came not then to receive Moses’ own dictates and commands. Then says Jethro, ver. 19, “Be thou for the people to Godward, that thou mayst bring their causes unto God.” And Moses himself says, Deut. iv. 5, “I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me.” Hence it is that he is said to have been “faithful in all the house of God,” Numb. xii. 7. So that the Lord Jehovah himself was the people’s king, and Moses no other than as it were an interpreter or a messenger betwixt him and them. Nor can you, without impiety and sacrilege, transfer this absolute supreme power and authority, from God to a man, (not having any warrant from the word of God so to do,) which Moses used only as a deputy or substitute to God; under whose eye, and in whose presence, himself and the people always were.

But now, for an aggravation of your wickedness, though here you make Moses to have exercised an absolute and unlimited power in your “Apparat. ad Primat.” page 230, you say, that “he, together with the seventy elders, ruled the people, and that himself was the chief of the people, but not their master.” If Moses therefore were a king, as certainly he was, and the best of kings, and had a supreme and legal power, as you say he had, and yet neither was the people’s master, nor governed them alone; then, according to you, kings, though indued with the supreme power, are not by virtue of that sovereign and kingly right of theirs, lords over the people, nor ought to govern them alone; much less according to their own will and pleasure. After all this, you have the impudence to feign a command from God to that people, “to set up a king over them, as soon as they should be possessed of the Holy Land,” Deut. xvii. For you craftily leave out the former words, “and shalt say, I will set a king over me,” &c. And now call to mind what you said before, page 42, and what I said I should have occasion to make use of, viz., “That the power was then in the people, and that they were entirely free.” What follows, argues you either mad or irreligious; take whether you list: “God,” say you, “having so long before appointed a kingly government, as best and most proper for that people; what shall we say to Samuel’s opposing it, and God’s own acting, as if himself were against it? How do these things agree?” He finds himself caught; and observe now with how great malice against the prophet, and impiety against God, he endeavours to disentangle himself. “We must consider,” says he, “that Samuel’s own sons then judged the people, and the people rejected them because of their corruption; now Samuel was loth his sons should be laid aside, and God, to gratify the prophet, intimated to him, as if himself were not very well pleased with it.” Speak out, ye wretch, and never mince the matter: you mean, God dealt deceitfully with Samuel, and he with the people. It is not your advocate, but yourself, that are “frantic and distracted;” who cast off all reverence to God Almighty, so you may but seem to honour the king. Would Samuel prefer the interest of his sons, and their ambition, and their covetousness, before the general good of all the people, when they asked a thing that would be good and profitable for them? Can we think, that he would impose upon them by cunning and subtilty, and make them believe things that were not? Or if we should suppose all this true of Samuel, would God himself countenance and gratify him in it? would he dissemble Edition: current; Page: [36] with the people? So that either that was not the right of kings, which Samuel taught the people: or else that right, by the testimony both of God and the prophet, was an evil thing, was burdensome, injurious, unprofitable, and chargeable to the commonwealth: or lastly, (which must not be admitted,) God and the prophet deceived the people. God frequently protests, that he was extremely displeased with them for asking a king. Ver. 7th, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” As if it were a kind of idolatry to ask a king that would even suffer himself to be adored, and assume almost divine honour to himself. And certainly, they that subject themselves to a worldly master, and set him above all laws, come but a little short of choosing a strange god: and a strange one it commonly is; brutish, and void of all sense and reason. So 1st of Sam. chap. 10th, v. 19th, “And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulation, and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us;” &c. and chap. 12th, v. 12th, “Ye said unto me, Nay, but a king shall reign over us; when the Lord your God was your king:” and v. the 17th, “See that your wickedness is great, that ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king.” And Hosea speaks contemptibly of the king, chap. xiii. v. 10, 11, “I will be thy king; where is any other that may save in all thy cities, and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king, and princes? I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.” And Gideon, that warlike judge, that was greater than a king; “I will not rule over you,” says he, “neither shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you,” Judges, chap. viii. Intimating thereby, that it is not fit for a man, but for God only, to exercise dominion over men. And hence Josephus in his book against Appion, an Egyptian grammarian, and a foulmouthed fellow, like you, calls the commonwealth of the Hebrews a Theocracy, because the principality was in God only. In Isaiah, chap. xxvi. v. 13, the people in their repentance, complain that it had been mischievous to them, “that other lords besides God himself, had had dominion over them.” All which places prove clearly, that God gave the Israelites a king in his anger; but now who can forbear laughing at the use you make of Abimelech’s story? Of whom it is said, when he was killed, partly by a woman that hurled a piece of millstone upon him, and partly by his own armour-bearer, that “God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech.” “This history,” say you, “proves strongly, that God only is the judge and avenger of kings.” Yea, if this argument hold, he is the only judge and punisher of tyrants, villainous rascals, and bastards. Whoever can get into the saddle, whether by right or by wrong, has thereby obtained a sovereign kingly right over the people, is out of all danger of punishment, all inferior magistrates must lay down their arms at his feet, the people must not dare to mutter. But what if some great notorious robber had perished in war, as Abimelech did, would any man infer from thence, that God only is the judge and punisher of highwaymen? Or what if Abimelech had been condemned by the law, and died by an executioner’s hand, would not God then have rendered his wickedness? You never read, that the judges of the children of Israel were ever proceeded against according to law: and yet you confess, that “where the government is an aristocracy, the prince, if there be any, may and ought to be called in question, if he break the laws.” This in your 47th page. And why may not a tyrant as well be proceeded against in a kingly government? why, because God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech. So did the woman, and so did his own armour-bearer; over both which he pretended to a right of sovereignty Edition: current; Page: [37] And what if the magistrates had rendered his wickedness? Do not they bear the sword for that very purpose, for the punishment of malefactors? Having done with his powerful argument from the history of Abimelech’s death, he betakes himself, as his custom is, to slanders and calumnies; nothing but dirt and filth comes from him; but for those things that he promised to make appear, he hath not proved any one of them, either from the Scriptures or from the writings of the rabbins. He alleges no reason why kings should be above all laws, and they only of all mortal men exempt from punishment, if they deserve it. He falls foul upon those very authors and authorities that he makes use of, and by his own discourse demonstrates the truth of the opinion that he argues against. And perceiving, that he is like to do but little good with his arguments, he endeavours to bring an odium upon us, by loading us with slanderous accusations, as having put to death the most virtuous innocent prince that ever reigned. “Was King Solomon, says he, better than King Charles the First?” I confess some have ventured to compare his father King James with Solomon; nay, to make King James the better gentleman of the two. Solomon was David’s son, David had been Saul’s musician; but King James was the son of the earl of Darnley, who, as Buchanan tells us, because David the musician got into the queen’s bed-chamber at an unseasonable time, killed him a little after; for he could not get to him then, because he had bolted the door on the inside. So that King James being the son of an earl, was the better gentleman, and was frequently called a second Solomon, though it is not very certain, that himself was not the son of David the musician too. But how could it ever come into your head, to make a comparison between King Charles and Solomon? For that very King Charles whom you praise thus to the sky, that very man’s obstinacy, and covetousness, and cruelty, his hard usage of all good and honest men, the wars that he raised, the spoilings, and plunderings, and conflagrations, that he occasioned, and the death of innumerable of his subjects, that he was the cause of, does his son Charles, at this very time, whilst I am a-writing confess and bewail on the stool of repentance in Scotland, and renounces there that kingly right that you assert.

But since you delight in parallels, let us compare King Charles and King Solomon together a little: “Solomon began his reign with the death of his brother,” who justly deserved it; King Charles began with his father’s funeral, I do not say with his murder: and yet all the marks and tokens of poison that may be appeared in his dead body; but that suspicion lighted upon the duke of Buckingham only, whom the king notwithstanding cleared to the parliament, though he had killed the king and his father; and not only so, but he dissolved the parliament, lest the matter should be inquired into. “Solomon oppressed the people with heavy taxes;” but he spent that money upon the temple of God, and in raising other public buildings: King Charles spent his in extravagances. Solomon was enticed to idolatry by many wives: this man by one. Solomon, though he were seduced himself, we read not that he seduced others; but King Charles seduced and enticed others, not only by large and ample rewards to corrupt the church, but by his edicts and ecclesiastical constitutions he compelled them to set up altars, which all protestants abhor, and to bow down to crucifixes painted over them on the wall. “But yet for all this, Solomon was not condemned to die.” Nor does it follow because he was not, that therefore he ought not to have been. Perhaps there were many circumstances, that made it then not expedient. But not long after, the people both by words and actions made appear what they took to be their right, when ten tribes of Edition: current; Page: [38] twelve revolted from his son; and if he had not saved himself by flight, it is very likely they would have stoned him, notwithstanding his threats and big swelling words.


Having proved sufficiently that the kings of the Jews were subject to the same laws that the people were; that there are no exceptions made in their favour in Scripture; that it is a most false assertion grounded upon no reason, nor warranted by any authority, to say, that kings may do what they list with impunity; that God has exempted them from all human jurisdiction, and reserved them to his own tribunal only; let us now consider, whether the gospel preach up any such doctrine, and enjoin that blind obedience, which the law was so far from doing, that it commanded the contrary; let us consider, whether or no the gospel, that heavenly promulgation, as it were, of Christian liberty, reduce us to a condition of slavery to kings and tyrants, from whose imperious rule even the old law, that mistress of slavery, discharged the people of God, when it obtained. Your first argument you take from the person of Christ himself. But, alas! who does not know, that he put himself into the condition, not of a private person only, but even of a servant, that we might be made free? Nor is this to be understood of some internal spiritual liberty only; how inconsistent else would that song of his mother’s be with the design of his coming into the world, “He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart, he hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek!” How ill suited to their occasion would these expressions be, if the coming of Christ rather established and strengthened a tyrannical government, and made a blind subjection the duty of all Christians! He himself having been born, and lived, and died under a tyrannical government, has thereby purchased liberty for us. As he gives us his grace to submit patiently to a condition of slavery, if there be a necessity of it; so if by any honest ways and means we can rid ourselves, and obtain our liberty, he is so far from restraining us, that he encourages us so to do. Hence it is that St. Paul not only of an evangelical, but also of a civil liberty, says thus, 1 Cor. vii. 21. “Art thou called, being a servant? care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather; you are bought with a price, be not ye servants of men.” So that you are very impertinent in endeavouring to argue us into slavery by the example of our Saviour; who, by submitting to such a condition himself has confirmed even our civil liberties. He took upon him indeed in our stead the form of a servant, but he always retained his purpose of being a deliverer; and thence it was, that he taught us a quite other notion of the right of kings, than this that you endeavour to make good. You, I say, that preach up not kingship, but tyranny, and that in a commonwealth; by enjoining not only a necessary, but a religious, subjection to whatever tyrant gets into the chair, whether he come to it by succession or by conquest, or chance, or any how. And now I will turn your own weapons against you; and oppose you, as I use to do, with your own authorities. When the collectors of the tribute money came to Christ for tribute in Galilee, he asked Peter, Matt. xvii. “Of whom the kings of the earth took custom or tribute, of their own children, or of strangers?” Peter saith unto him, “Of strangers.” Jesus saith unto him,

Then are the children free; notwithsanding, lest we should offend them, Edition: current; Page: [39] &c. give unto them for thee and for me.” Expositors differ upon this place, whom this tribute was paid to; some say it was paid to the priests, for the use of the sanctuary; others, that it was paid to the emperor. I am of opinion, that it was the revenue of the sanctuary, but paid to Herod, who perverted the institution of it, and took it to himself. Josephus mentions divers sorts of tribute, which he and his sons exacted, all which Agrippa afterwards remitted. And this very tribute, though small in itself, yet being accompanied with many more, was a heavy burden. The Jews, even the poorest of them, in the time of their commonwealth, paid a poll; so that it was some considerable oppression that our Saviour spoke of: and from hence he took occasion to tax Herod’s injustice (under whose government, and within whose jurisdiction he then was) in that, whereas the kings of the earth, who affect usually the title of fathers of their country, do not use to oppress their own children, that is, their own natural-born subjects, with heavy and unreasonable exactions, but lay such burdens upon strangers and conquered enemies; he, quite contrary, oppressed not strangers, but his own people. But let what will be here meant by children, either natural-born subjects, or the children of God, and those of the elect only, or Christians in general, as St. Augustine understands the place; this is certain that if Peter was a child, and therefore free, then by consequence we are so too, by our Saviour’s own testimony, either as Englishmen or as Christians, and that it therefore is not the right of kings to exact heavy tributes from their own countrymen and those freeborn subjects. Christ himself professes, that he paid not this tribute as a thing that was due, but that he might not bring trouble upon himself by offending those that demanded it. The work that he came into this world to do, was quite of another nature. But if our Saviour deny, that it is the right of kings to burden their freeborn subjects with grievous exactions; he would certainly much less allow it to be their right to spoil, massacre, and torture their own countrymen, and those Christians too. He discoursed after such a manner of the right of kings, that those to whom he spoke suspected his principles as laying too great a restraint upon sovereignty, and not allowing the license that tyrants assume to themselves to be the rights of kings. It was not for nothing, that the Pharisees put such questions to him, tempting him; and that at the same time they told him, that he regarded not the person of any man: nor was it for nothing that he was angry when such questions were proposed to him, Matt. xxii. If one should endeavour to ensnare you with little questions, and catch at your answers, to ground an accusation against you upon your own principles concerning the right of kings, and all this under a monarchy, would you be angry with him? You would have but very little reason.

It is evident, that our Saviour’s principles concerning government were not agreeable to the humour of princes. His answer too implies as much; by which he rather turned them away, than instructed them. He asked for the tribute money. “Whose image and superscription is it?” says he. They tell him it was Cæsar’s, “Give then to Cæsar,” says he, “the things that are Cæsar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.” And how comes it to pass, that the people should not have given to them the things that are theirs? “Render to all men their dues,” says St. Paul, Rom. xiii. So that Cæsar must not engross all to himself. Our liberty is not Cæsar’s; it is a blessing we have received from God himself; it is what we are born to; to lay this down at Cæsar’s feet, which we derive not from him, which we are not beholden to him for, were an unworthy action, and a degrading of our very nature. If one should consider attentively the countenance of a Edition: current; Page: [40] man, and not inquire after whose image so noble a creature were framed; would not any one that heard him presently make answer, That he was made after the image of God himself? Being therefore peculiarly God’s own, and consequently things that are to be given to him, we are entirely free by nature, and cannot without the greatest sacrilege imaginable be reduced into a condition of slavery to any man, especially to a wicked, unjust cruel tyrant. Our Saviour does not take upon him to determine what things are God’s and what Cæsar’s; he leaves that as he found it. If the piece of money, which they showed him, was the same that was paid to God, as in Vespasin’s time it was; then our Saviour is so far from having put an end to the controversy, that he has but entangled it, and made it more perplexed than it was before: for it is impossible the same thing should be given both to God and to Cæsar. But, you say, he intimates to them what things were Cæsar’s; to wit, that piece of money, because it bore the emperor’s stamp: and what of all that? How does this advantage your cause? You get not the emperor, or yourself a penny by this conclusion. Either Christ allowed nothing at all to be Cæsar’s, but that piece of money that he then had in his hand, and thereby asserted the people’s interest in every thing else: or else, if (as you would have us understand him) he affirms all money that has the emperor’s stamp upon it, to be the emperor’s own, he contradicts himself, and indeed gives the magistrate a property in every man’s estate, whenas he himself paid his tribute-money with a protestation, that it was more than what either Peter or he were bound to do. The ground you rely on is very weak; for money bears the prince’s image, not as a token of its being his, but of its being good metal, and that none may presume to counterfeit it. If the writing princes’ names or setting their stamps upon a thing, vest the property of it in them, it were a good ready way for them to invade all property. Or rather, if whatever subjects have been absolutely at their prince’s disposal, which is your assertion, that piece of money was not Cæsar’s because his image was stamped on it, but because of right it belonged to him before it was coined. So that nothing can be more manifest, than that our Saviour in this place never intended to teach us our duty to magistrates, (he would have spoken more plainly if he had,) but to reprehend the malice and wickedness of the hypocritical Pharisees. When they told him that Herod laid wait to kill him; did he return an humble, submissive answer? “Go, tell that fox,” says he, &c. intimating, that kings have no other right to destroy their subjects, than foxes have to devour the things they prey upon. Say you, “he suffered death under a tyrant.” How could he possibly under any other? But from hence you conclude, that he asserted it to be the right of kings to commit murder and act injustice. You would make an excellent moralist. But our Saviour, though he became a servant, not to make us so but that we might be free; yet carried he himself so with relation to the magistracy, as not to ascribe any more to them than their due. Now, let us come at last to inquire what his doctrine was upon this subject. The sons of Zebedee were ambitious of honour and power in the kingdom of Christ, which they persuaded themselves he would shortly set up in the world; he reproves them so, as withal to let all Christians know what form of civil government he desires they should settle amongst themselves. “Ye know,” says he, “that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them; and they that are great exercise authority upon them; but it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Unless you had been distracted, you could never have imagined, that this place makes for Edition: current; Page: [41] you: and yet you urge it, and think it furnishes you with an argument to prove, that our kings are absolute lords and masters over us and ours. May it be our fortune to have to do with such enemies in war, as will fall blindfold and naked into our camp instead of their own: as you constantly do, who allege that for yourself, that of all things in the world makes most against you. The Israelites asked God for a king, such a king as other nations round about them had. God dissuaded them by many arguments, whereof our Saviour here gives us an epitome; “You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them.” But yet, because the Israelites persisted in their desire of a king, God gave them one, though in his wrath. Our Saviour, lest Christians should desire a king, such a one at least as might rule, as he says the princes of the Gentiles did, prevents them with an injunction to the contrary; “but it shall not be so among you.” What can be said plainer than this? That stately, imperious sway and dominion, that kings use to exercise, shall not be amongst you; what specious titles soever they may assume to themselves, as that of benefactors or the like. “But he that will be great amongst you,” (and who is greater than the prince?) “let him be your servant.” So that the lawyer, whoever he be, that you are so smart upon, was not so much out of the way, but had our Saviour’s own authority to back him, when he said, that Christian princes were indeed no other than the people’s servants; it is very certain that all good magistrates are so. Insomuch that Christians either must have no king at all, or if they have, that king must be the people’s servant. Absolute lordship and Christianity are inconsistent. Moses himself, by whose ministry that servile economy of the old law was instituted, did not exercise an arbitrary, haughty power and authority, but bore the burden of the people, and carried them in his bosom, as a nursing father does a sucking child, Numb. xi. and what is that of a nursing father but a ministerial employment? Plato would not have the magistrates called lords, but servants and helpers of the people; nor the people servants, but maintainers of their magistrates, because they give meat, drink, and wages to their kings themselves. Aristotle calls the magistrates, keepers and ministers of the laws. Plato, ministers and servants. The apostle calls them ministers of God; but they are ministers and servants of the people, and of the laws, nevertheless for all that; the laws and the magistrates were both created for the good of the people: and yet this is it, that you call “the opinion of the fanatic mastiffs in England.” I should not have thought the people of England were mastiff dogs, if such a mongrel cur as thou art did not bark at them so currishly. The master, if it shall please ye, of St. Lupus,* complains it seems, that the mastiffs are mad (fanatics). Germanus heretofore, whose colleague that Lupus of Triers was, deposed our incestuous king Vortigern by his own authority. And therefore St. Lupus despises thee, the master not of a Holy Wolf, but of some hunger-starved thieving little wolf or other, as being more contemptible than that master of vipers, of whom Martial makes mention, who hast by relation a barking she-wolf at home too, that domineers over thee most wretchedly; at whose instigations, as I am informed, thou hast wrote this stuff. And therefore it is the less wonder, that thou shouldst endeavour to obtrude an absolute regal government upon others, who hast been accustomed to bear a female rule so servilely at home thyself. Be therefore, in the name of God, the master of a wolf, lest a she-wolf be thy mistress; be a wolf thyself, be a monster made up of a man and a wolf; whatever thou art, the English mastiffs Edition: current; Page: [42] will but make a laughing-stock of thee. But I am not now at leisure to hunt for wolves, and will put an end therefore to this digression. You that but a while ago wrote a book against all manner of superiority in the church, now call St. Peter the prince of the apostles. How inconstant you are in your principles! But what says Peter? “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or to governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well: for so is the will of God,” &c. This epistle Peter wrote, not only to private persons, but those strangers scattered and dispersed through Asia; who, in those places where they sojourned, had no other right, than what the laws of hospitality entitled them to. Do you think such men’s case to be the same with that of natives, freeborn subjects, nobility, senates, assemblies of estates, parliaments? nay, is not the case far different of private persons, though in their own country; and senators, or magistrates, without whom kings themselves cannot possibly subsist? But let us suppose, that St. Peter had directed his epistle to the natural-born subjects, and those not private persons neither; suppose he had writ to the senate of Rome; what then? No law that is grounded upon a reason, expressly set down in the law itself, obligeth further than the reason of it extends. “Be subject,” says he, ὑποταγητε: that is, according to the genuine sense and import of the word, “be subordinate, or legally subject.” For the law, Aristotle says, is order. “Submit for the Lord’s sake.” Why so? Because a king is an officer “appointed by God for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well; for so is the will of God:” to wit, that we should submit and yield obedience to such as are here described. There is not a word spoken of any other. You see the ground of this precept, and how well it is laid. The apostle adds in the 16th verse, as free; therefore not as slaves. What now? if princes pervert the design of magistracy, and use the power that is put into their hands to the ruin and destruction of good men, and the praise and encouragement of evil-doers; must we all be condemned to perpetual slavery, not private persons only, but our nobility, all our inferior magistrates, our very parliament itself? Is not temporal government called a human ordinance? How comes it to pass then, that mankind should have power to appoint and constitute what may be good and profitable for one another; and want power to restrain or suppress things that are universally mischievous and destructive? That prince, you say, to whom St. Peter enjoins subjection, was Nero the tyrant: and from thence you infer, that it is our duty to submit and yield obedience to such. But it is not certain, that this epistle was writ in Nero’s reign: it is as likely to have been writ in Claudius’s time. And they that are commanded to submit, were private persons and strangers; they were no consuls, no magistrates: it was not the Roman senate, that St. Peter directed his epistle to. Now let us hear what use you make of St. Paul, (for you take a freedom with the apostles, I find, that you will not allow us to take with princes; you make St. Peter the chief of them to-day, and to-morrow put another in his place.)

St. Paul in his 13th chap. to the Romans, has these words: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God; the powers that be, are ordained of God.” I confess he writes this to the Romans, not to strangers dispersed, as Peter did; but, however, he writes to private persons, and those of the meaner rank; and yet he gives us a true and clear account of the reason, the original, and the design of government; and shows us the true and proper ground of our obedience, that Edition: current; Page: [43] it is far from imposing a necessity upon us of being slaves. “Let every soul, says he, that is, let every man, submit.” Chrysostom tells us, “that St. Paul’s design in this discourse, was to make it appear, that our Saviour did not go about to introduce principles inconsistent with the civil government, but such as strengthened it, and settled it upon the surest foundations.” He never intended then by setting Nero or any other tyrant out of the reach of all laws, to enslave manking under his lust and cruelty. “He intended too, (says the same author,) to dissuade from unnecessary and causeless wars.” But he does not condemn a war taken up against a tyrant, a bosom enemy of his own country, and consequently the most dangerous that may be. “It was commonly said in those days, that the doctrine of the apostles was seditious, themselves persons that endeavoured to shake the settled laws and government of the world; that this was what they aimed at in all they said and did.” The apostle in this chapter stops the mouths of such gainsayers: so that the apostles did not write in defence of tyrants as you do; but they asserted such things as made them suspected to be enemies to the government they lived under, things that stood in need of being explained and interpreted, and having another sense put upon them than was generally received. St. Chrysostom has now taught us what the apostle’s design was in this discourse; let us now examine his words: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.” He tells us not what those higher powers are, nor who they are; for he never intended to overthrow all governments, and the several constitutions of nations, and subject all to some one man’s will. Every good emperor acknowledged, that the laws of the empire, and the authority of the senate, was above himself; and the same principle and notion of government has obtained all along in civilized nations. Pindar, as he is cited by Herodotus, calls the law πάντων βασιλέα, king over all. Orpheus in his hymns calls it the king both of gods and men: and he gives the reason why it is so; because, says he, it is that that sits at the helm of all human affairs. Plato in his book de Legibus, calls it τὸ χρατο[Editor: illegible character]ν ἐν τν̃ πόλει: that that ought to have the greatest sway in the commonwealth. In his epistles he commends that form of government, in which the law is made lord and master, and no scope given to any man to tyrannize over the laws. Aristotle is of the same opinion in his Politicks; and so is Cicero in his book de Legibus, that the laws ought to govern the magistrates, as they do the people. The law therefore having always been accounted the highest power on earth, by the judgment of the most learned and wise men that ever were, and by the constitutions of the best-ordered states; and it being very certain that the doctrine of the gospel is neither contrary to reason, nor the law of nations, that man is truly and properly subject to the higher powers, who obeys the law and the magistrates, so far as they govern according to law. So that St. Paul does not only command the people, but princes themselves, to be in subjection; who are not above the laws, but bound by them, “for there is no power but of God:” that is, no form, no lawful constitution of any government. The most ancient laws that are known to us were formerly ascribed to God as their author. For the law, says Cicero in his Philippics, is no other than a rule of well-grounded reason, derived from God himself, enjoining whatever is just and right, and forbidding the contrary. So that the institution of magistracy is Jure Divino, and the end of it is, that mankind might live under certain laws, and be governed by them. But what particular form of government each nation would live under, and what persons should be intrusted with the magistracy, without doubt, was left to the choice of each nation. Hence St. Peter calls kings and deputies, Edition: current; Page: [44] human ordinances. And Hosea, in the 8th chapter of his prophecy, “they have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not.” For in the commonwealth of the Hebrews, where upon matters of great and weighty importance, they could have access to God himself, and consult with him, they could not choose a king themselves by law, but were to refer the matter to him. Other nations have received no such command. Sometimes the very form of government, if it be amiss, or at least those persons that have the power in their hands, are not of God, but of men, or of the devil, Luke iv. “All this power will I give unto thee, for it is delivered unto me, and I give it to whom I will.” Hence the devil is called the prince of this world; and in the 12th of the Revelations, the dragon gave to the beast his power, and his throne, and great authority. So that we must not understand St. Paul, as if he spoke of all sorts of magistrates in general, but of lawful magistrates; and so they are described in what follows. We must also understand him of the powers themselves; not of those men, always, in whose hands they are lodged. St. Chrysostom speaks very well and clearly upon this occasion. “What?” says he, “is every prince then appointed by God to be so? I say no such thing,” says he. “St. Paul speaks not of the person of the magistrate, but of the magistracy itself. He does not say, there is no prince but who is of God. He says there is no power but of God.” Thus far St. Chrysostom; for what powers are, are ordained of God: so that Paul speaks only of a lawful magistracy. For what is evil and amiss cannot be said to be ordained, because it is disorderly; order and disorder cannot consist together in the same subject. The apostle says, “the powers that be;” and you interpret his words as if he had said, “the powers that now be;” that you may prove, that the Romans ought in conscience to obey Nero, who you take for granted was then emperor. I am very well content you should read the words so, and draw that conclusion from them. The consequence will be, that Englishmen ought to yield obedience to the present government, as it is now established according to a new model; because you must needs acknowledge, that it is the present government, and ordained of God, as much at least as Nero’s was. And lest you should object, that Nero came to the empire by a lawful succession, it is apparent from the Roman history, that both he and Tiberius got into the chair by the tricks and artifices of their mothers, and had no right at all to the succession. So that you are inconsistent with yourself, and retract from your own principles, in affirming that the Romans owed subjection to the government that then was; and yet denying that Englishmen owe subjection to the government that now is. But it is no wonder, to hear you contradict yourself. There are no two things in the world more directly opposite and contrary to one another, than you are to yourself. But what will become of you, poor wretch? You have quite undone the young king with your witticisms, and ruined his fortunes utterly; for according to your own doctrine you must needs confess, that this present government in England is ordained of God, and that all Englishmen are bound in conscience to submit to it. Take notice, all ye critics and textuaries; do not you presume to meddle with this text. Thus Salmasius corrects that passage in the epistle to the Romans: he has made a discovery, that the words ought not to be read, “the powers that are; but, the powers that now are:” and all this to prove, that all men owed subjection and obedience to Nero the tyrant, whom he supposed to have been then emperor. This Epistle, which you say was writ in Nero’s time, was writ in his predecessor’s time, who was an honest well-meaning man: and this learned men evince by Edition: current; Page: [45] undeniable arguments. But besides, the five first years of Nero’s reign were without exception. So that this threadbare argument, which so many men have at their tongues’ end, and have been deceived by, to wit, that tyrants are to be obeyed, because St. Paul enjoins a subjection to Nero, is evident to have been but a cunning invention of some ignorant parson. He that resists the powers, to wit, a lawful power, resists the ordinance of God. Kings themselves come under the penalty of this law, when they resist the senate, and act contrary to the laws. But do they resist the ordinance of God, that resist an unlawful power, or a person that goes about to overthrow and destroy a lawful one? No man living in his right wits can maintain such an assertion. The words immediately after make it as clear as the sun, that the apostle speaks only of a lawful power; for he gives us in them a definition of magistrates, and thereby explains to us who are the persons thus authorized, and upon what account we are to yield obedience, lest we should be apt to mistake and ground extravagant notions upon his discourse. “The magistrates,” says he, “are not a terror to good works, but to evil: Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. He beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.” What honest man would not willingly submit to such a magistracy as is here described? And that not only to avoid wrath, and for fear of punishment, but for conscience sake. Without magistrates, and some form or other of civil government, no commonwealth, no human society, can subsist, there were no living in the world. But whatever power enables a man, or whatsoever magistrate takes upon him, to act contrary to what St. Paul makes the duty of those that are in authority; neither is that power nor that magistrate ordained of God. And consequently to such a magistracy no subjection is commanded, nor is any due, nor are the people forbidden to resist such authority; for in so doing they do not resist the power, nor the magistracy, as they are here excellently well described; but they resist a robber, a tyrant, an enemy; who if he may notwithstanding in some sense be called a magistrate, upon this account only, because he has power in his hands, which perhaps God may have invested him with for our punishment; by the same reason the devil may be called a magistrate. This is most certain, that there can be but one true definition of one and the same thing. So that if St. Paul in this place define what a magistrate is, which he certainly does, and that accurately well; he cannot possibly define a tyrant, the most contrary thing imaginable, in the same words. Hence I infer, that he commands us to submit to such magistrates only as he himself defines and describes, and not to tyrants, which are quite other things. “For this cause you pay tribute also:” he gives a reason together with a command. Hence St. Chrysostom; “why do we pay tribute to princes? Do we not,” adds he, “thereby reward them for the care they take of our safety? We should not have paid them any tribute, if we had not been convinced, that it was good for us to live under a government.” So that I must here repeat what I have said already, that since subjection is not absolutely enjoined, but on a particular reason, that reason must be the rule of our subjection: where that reason holds, we are rebels if we submit not; where it holds not, we are cowards and slaves if we do. “But,” say you, “the English are far from being freemen; for they are wicked and flagitious.” I will not reckon up here the vices of the French, though they live under a kingly government: neither will I excuse my own countrymen too far: but this I may safely say, whatever vices they have, they have learnt them under a Edition: current; Page: [46] kingly government; as the Israelites learnt a great deal of wickedness in Egypt. And as they, when they were brought into the wilderness, and lived under the immediate government of God himself, could hardly reform, just so it is with us. But there are good hopes of many amongst us; that I may not here celebrate those men who are eminent for their piety and virtue and love of the truth; of which sort I persuade myself we have as great a number, as where you think there are most such. “But they have laid a heavy yoke upon the English nation:” what if they have, upon those of them that endeavoured to lay a heavy yoke upon all the rest? upon those that have deserved to be put under the hatches? As for the rest, I question not but they are very well content to be at the expense of maintaining their own liberty, the public treasury being exhausted by the civil wars. Now he betakes himself to the fabulous rabbins again: he asserts frequently, that kings are bound by no laws; and yet he proves, that according to the sense of the rabbins, “a king may be guilty of treason, by suffering an invasion upon the rights of his crown.” So kings are bound by laws, and they are not bound by them; they may be criminals, and yet they may not be so.

This man contradicts himself so perpetually, that contradiction and he seem to be of kin to one another. You say that God himself put many kingdoms under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. I confess he did so for a time, Jer. xxvii. 7, but do you make appear, if you can, that he put the English nation into a condition of slavery to Charles Stuart for a minute. I confess he suffered them to be enslaved by him for some time; but I never yet heard, that himself appointed it so to be. Or if you will have it so, that God shall be said to put a nation under slavery, when a tyrant prevails; why may he not as well be said to deliver them from his tyranny, when the people prevail and get the upper hand? Shall his tyranny be said to be of God, and not our liberty? There is no evil in the city that the Lord hath not done, Amos iii. So that famine, pestilence, sedition, war, all of them are of God; and is it therefore unlawful for a people afflicted with any of these plagues, to endeavour to get rid of them? Certainly they would do their utmost, though they know them to be sent by God, unless himself miraculously from heaven should command the contrary: and why may they not by the same reason rid themselves of a tyrant, if they are stronger than he? Why should we suppose his weakness to be appointed by God for the ruin and destruction of the commonwealth, rather than the power and strength of all the people for the good of the state? Far be it from all commonwealths, from all societies of freeborn men, to maintain not only such pernicious, but such stupid and senseless principles; principles that subvert all civil society, that to gratify a few tyrants, level all mankind with brutes; and by setting princes out of the reach of human laws, give them an equal power over both. I pass by those foolish dilemmas that you now make, which that you might take occasion to propose, you feign some or other to assert, that the “superlative power of princes is derived from the people;” though for my own part I do not at all doubt, but that all the power that any magistrates have is so. Hence Cicero, in his Orat. pro Flacco, “Our wise and holy ancestors,” says he, “appointed those things to obtain for laws, that the people enacted.” And hence it is, that Lucius Crassus, an excellent Roman orator, and at that time president of the senate, when in a controversy betwixt them and the common people, he asserted their rights, “I beseech you, says he, suffer not us to live in subjection to any, but yourselves, to the entire body of whom we can and ought to submit.” For though the Roman senate governed the people, Edition: current; Page: [47] the people themselves had appointed them to be their governors, and had put that power into their hands. We read the term of Majesty more frequently applied to the people of Rome, than to their kings. Tully in Orat. pro Flancio, “it is the condition of all free people, (says he,) and especially of this people, the lord of all nations, by their votes to give or take away, to or from any, as themselves see cause. It is the duty of the magistrates patiently to submit to what the body of the people enact. Those that are not ambitious of honour, have the less obligation upon them to court the people: those that affect preferment, must not be weary of entreating them.” Should I scruple to call a king the servant of his people, when I hear the Roman senate, that reigned over so many kings, profess themselves to be but the people’s servants? You will object perhaps, and say, that all this is very true in a popular state; but the case was altered afterwards, when the regal law transferred all the people’s right unto Augustus and his successors. But what think you then of Tiberius, whom yourself confess to have been a very great tyrant, as he certainly was? Suetonius says of him, that when he was once called Lord or Master, though after the enacting of that Lex Regia, he desired the person that gave him that appellation, to forbear abusing him. How does this sound in your ears? a tyrant thinks one of his subjects abuses him in calling him Lord. The same emperor in one of his speeches to the senate, “I have said,” says he, “frequently, heretofore, and now I say it again, that a good prince, whom you have invested with so great a power as I am intrusted with, ought to serve the senate and the body of the people, and sometimes even particular persons; nor do I repent of having said so: I confess that you have been good, and just, and indulgent masters to me, and that you are yet so.” You may say, that he dissembled in all this, as he was a great proficient in the art of hypocrisy; but that is all one. No man endeavours to appear otherwise than he ought to be. Hence Tacitus tells us, that it was the custom in Rome for the emperors in the Circus, to worship the people; and that both Nero and other emperors practised it. Claudian in his panegyric upon Honorius mentions the same custom. By which sort of adoration what could possibly be meant, but that the emperors of Rome, even after the enacting of the Lex Regia, confessed the whole body of the people to be their superiors? But I find, as I suspected at first, and so I told ye, that you have spent more time and pains in turning over glossaries, and criticising upon texts, and propagating such like laborious trifles, than in reading sound authors so as to improve your knowledge by them. For had you been never so little versed in the writings of learned men in former ages, you would not have accounted an opinion new, and the product of some enthusiastic heads, which has been asserted and maintained by the greatest philosophers, and most famous politicians in the world. You endeavour to expose one Martin, who you tell us was a tailor, and one William a tanner; but if they are such as you describe them, I think they and you may very well go together; though they themselves would be able to instruct you, and unfold those mysterious riddles that you propose: as, “Whether or no they that in a monarchy would have the king but a servant to the commonwealth, will say the same thing of the whole body of the people in a popular state? And whether all the people serve in a democracy, or only some part or other serve the rest?” And when they have been an Œdipus to you, by my consent you shall be a sphinx to them in good earnest, and throw yourself headlong from some precipice or other, and break your neck; for else I am afraid you will never have done with your riddles and fooleries. You ask, “Whether or no, when St. Paul names kings, he Edition: current; Page: [48] meant the people?” I confess St. Paul commands us to pray for kings, but he had commanded us to pray for the people before, ver. 1. But there are some for all that, both among kings and common people, that we are forbidden to pray for; and if a man may not so much as be prayed for, may he not be punished? What should hinder? But, “when Paul wrote this epistle, he that reigned was the most profligate person in the world.” That is false. For Ludovicus Capellus makes it evident, that this epistle likewise was writ in Claudius’s time. When St. Paul has occasion to speak of Nero, he calls him not a king, but a lion; that is, a wild, savage beast, from whose jaws he is glad he was delivered, 2 Tim. iv. So that it is for kings, not for beasts, that we are to pray, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. Kings and their interest are not the things here intended to be advanced and secured; it is the public peace, godliness, and honesty, whose establishment we are commanded to endeavour after, and to pray for. But is there any people in the world, that would not choose rather to live an honest and careful life, though never free from war and troubles, in the defence of themselves and their families, whether against tyrants or enemies, (for I make no difference,) than under the power of a tyrant or an enemy, to spin out a life equally troublesome, accompanied with slavery and ignominy? That the latter is the more desirable of the two, I will prove by a testimony of your own; not because I think your authority worth quoting, but that all men may observe how double-tongued you are, and how mercenary your pen is. “Who would not rather,” say you, “bear with those dissensions, that through the emulation of great men often happen in an aristocratical government, than live under the tyrannical government of one, where nothing but certain misery and ruin is to be looked for? The people of Rome preferred their commonwealth, though never so much shattered with civil broils, before the intolerable yoke of their emperors. When a people, to avoid sedition, submits to a monarchy, and finds by experience, that this is the worst evil of the two, they often desire to return to their former government again.” These are your own words, and more you have to this purpose in that discourse concerning bishops, which under a feigned name you wrote against Petavius the Jesuit; though yourself are more a Jesuit than he, nay worse than any of that crew. We have already heard the sense of the Scripture upon this subject; and it has been worth our while to take some pains to find it out. But perhaps it will not be so to inquire into the judgment of the fathers, and to ransack their volumes: for if they assert any thing, which is not warranted by the word of God, we may safely reject their authority, be it never so great; and particularly that expression that you allege out of Irenæus, “that God in his providence orders it so, that such kings reign as are suitable to and proper for the people they are to govern, all circumstances considered.” That expression, I say, is directly contrary to Scripture. For though God himself declared openly, that it was better for his own people to be governed by judges, than by kings, yet he left it to them to change that form of government for a worse, if they would themselves. And we read frequently, that when the body of the people has been good, they have had a wicked king, and contrariwise that a good king has sometimes reigned, when the people have been wicked. So that wise and prudent men are to consider and see what is profitable and fit for the people in general; for it is very certain, that the same form of government is not equally convenient for all nations, nor for the same nation at all times; but sometimes one, sometimes another may be more proper, according as the industry and valour of the people may increase or decay. But Edition: current; Page: [49] if you deprive the people of this liberty of setting up what government they like best among themselves, you take that from them, in which the life of all civil liberty consists. Then you tell us of Justin Martyr, of his humble and submissive behaviour to the Antonines, those best of emperors; as if any body would not do the like to princes of such moderation as they were. “How much worse Christians are we in these days, than those were! They were content to live under a prince of another religion.” Alas! they were private persons, and infinitely inferior to the contrary party in strength and number. “But now papists will not endure a protestant prince, nor protestants one that is popish.” You do well and discreetly in showing yourself to be neither papist nor protestant. And you are very liberal in your concessions; for now you confess, that all sorts of Christians agree in that very thing, that you alone take upon you with so much impudence and wickedness, to cry down and oppose. And how unlike those fathers that you commend, do you show yourself: they wrote apologies for the Christians to heathen princes; you in defence of a wicked popish king, against Christians and protestants. Then you entertain us with a number of impertinent quotations out of Athenagoras and Tertullian: things that we have already heard out of the writings of the apostles, much more clearly and intelligibly exprest. But Tertullian was quite of a different opinion from yours, of a king’s being a lord and master over his subjects: which you either knew not, or wickedly dissembled. For he, though he were a Christian, and directed his discourse to a heathen emperor, had the confidence to tell him, that an emperor ought not to be called Lord. “Augustus himself, says he, that formed this empire, refused that appellation; it is a title proper to God only. Not but that the title of Lord and Master may in some sense be ascribed to the emperor: but there is a peculiar sense of that word, which is proper to God only; and in that sense, I will not ascribe it to the emperor. I am the emperor’s freeman. God alone is my Lord and Master.” And the same author, in the same discourse; “how inconsistent,” says he, “are those two appellations, Father of his country, and Lord and Master!”

And now I wish you much joy of Tertullian’s authority, whom it had been a great deal better you had let alone. But Tertullian calls them parricides that slew Domitian. And he does well, for so they were, his wife and servants conspired against him. And they set one Parthenius and Stephanus, who were accused for concealing part of the public treasure, to make him away. If the senate and the people of Rome had proceeded against him according to the custom of their ancestors; had given judgment of death against him, as they did once against Nero; and had made search for him to put him to death; do ye think Tertullian would have called them parricides? If he had, he would have deserved to be hanged, as you do. I give the same answer to your quotation out of Origen, that I have given already to what you have cited out of Irenæus. Athanasius indeed says, that kings are not accountable before human tribunals. But I wonder who told Athanasius this! I do not hear, that he produces any authority from Scripture, to confirm this assertion. And I will rather believe kings and emperors themselves, who deny that they themselves have any such privilege, than I will Athanasius. Then you quote Ambrosius, who after he had been a proconsul, and after that became a catechumen, at last got into a bishopric: but for his authority, I say, that his interpretation of those words of David, “against thee only I have sinned,” is both ignorant and adulatory. He was willing all others should be enthralled to the emperor, that he might enthral the emperor to himself. We all know with what a Edition: current; Page: [50] papal pride and arrogancy he treated Theodosius the emperor, how he took upon him to declare him guilty of that massacre at Thessalonica, and to forbid him coming into the church: how miserably raw in divinity, and unacquainted with the doctrine of the gospel, he showed himself upon that occasion; when the emperor fell down at his feet, he commanded him to get him out of the porch. At last, when he was received again into the communion of the church, and had offered, because he continued standing near to the altar, the magisterial prelate commanded him out of the rails: “O Emperor,” says he, “these inner places are for the priests only, it is not lawful for others to come within them!” Does this sound like the behaviour of a minister of the gospel, or like that of a Jewish high-priest? And yet this man, such as we hear he was, would have the emperor ride other people, that himself might ride him, which is a common trick of almost all ecclesiastics. With words to this purpose, he put back the emperor as inferior to himself; “You rule over men,” saith he, “that are partakers of the same nature, and fellow-servants with yourself: for there is only one Lord and King over all, to wit, the Creator of all.” This is very pretty! This piece of truth, which the craft and flattery of clergymen has all along endeavoured to suppress and obscure, was then brought to light by the furious passion, or to speak more mildly, by the ignorant indiscreet zeal, of one of them. After you have displayed Ambrose’s ignorance, you show your own, or rather, vent a heresy in affirming point blank, that “under the Old Testament, there was no such thing as forgiveness of sins upon the account of Christ’s sufferings, since David confessed his transgression, saying, against thee only have I sinned,” Psal. lviii. It is the orthodox tenet, that there never was any remission of sins, but by the blood of the Lamb that was slain from the beginning of the world. I know not whose disciple you are, that set up for a broacher of new heresies: but certain I am, that that great divine’s disciple, whom you are so angry with, did not mistake himself, when he said, that any one of David’s subjects might have said, “Against thee only have I sinned,” as properly, and with as much right, as David himself. Then you quote St. Austin, and produce a company of Hipponensian divines. What you allege out of St. Austin makes not at all against us. We confess that as the prophet Daniel has it, it is God that changeth times, sets up one kingdom, and pulls down another; we only desire to have it allowed us, that he makes use of men as his instruments. If God alone gave a kingdom to King Charles, God alone has taken it from him again, and given it to the parliament, and to the people. If therefore our allegiance was due to King Charles, because God had given him a kingdom; for the same reason it is now due to the present magistracy. For yourself confess, that God has given our magistrates such power as he uses to give to wicked princes, for the punishment of the nation. And the consequence of this will be, that according to your own opinion, our present magistrates being raised and appointed by God, cannot lawfully be deposed by any, but God himself. Thus you overthrow the opinion you pretend to maintain, which is a thing very frequent with you; your apology for the king carries its death wound in it. You have attained to such a prodigious degree of madness and stupidity, as to prove it unlawful upon any account whatsoever, to lift up one’s finger against magistrates, and with the very next breath to affirm, that is the duty of their subjects to rise up in rebellion against them.

You tell us, that St. Jerom calls Ishmael, that slew Gedaliah, a parricide or traitor: and it is very true, that he was so: for Gedaliah was deputy governor of Judæa, a good man, and slain by Ishmael without any cause. Edition: current; Page: [51] The same author in his comment upon the book of Ecclesiastes, says, that Solomon’s command to keep the king’s commandment, is the same with St. Paul’s doctrine upon the same subject; and deserves commendation for having made a more moderate construction of that text, than most of his contemporaries. You say, you will forbear inquiring into the sentiments of learned men that lived since St. Austin’s time: but to show that you had rather dispense with a lie, than not quote any author that you think makes for you, in the very next period but one you produce the authorities of Isidore, Gregory, and Otho, Spanish and Dutch authors, that lived in the most barbarous and ignorant ages of all; whose authorities, if you knew how much we despise, you would not have told a lie to have quoted them. But would you know the reason why he dares not come so low as to the present times? why he does as it were hide himself, and disappear, when he comes towards our own times? The reason is, because he knows full well, that as many eminent divines as there are of the reformed churches, so many adversaries he would have to encounter. Let him take up the cudgels, if he thinks fit; he will quickly find himself run down with innumerable authorities out of Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, Bucer, Martyr, Paræus, and the rest. I could oppose you with testimonies out of divines, that have flourished even in Leyden. Though that famous university and renowned commonwealth, which has been as it were a sanctuary for liberty, those fountains and streams of all polite learning, have not yet been able to wash away that slavish rust that sticks to you, and infuse a little humanity into you. Finding yourself destitute of any assistance or help from orthodox protestant divines, you have the impudence to betake yourself to the Sorbonists, whose college you know is devoted to the Romish religion, and consequently but of very weak authority amongst protestants. We are willing to deliver so wicked an assertor of tyranny as you, to be drowned in the Sorbonne, as being ashamed to own so despicable a slave as you show yourself to be, by maintaining that the whole body of a nation is not equal in power to the most slothful degenerate prince that may be. You labour in vain to lay that upon the pope, which all free nations, and all orthodox divines, own and assert. But the pope and his clergy, when they were in a low condition, and but of small account in the world, were the first authors of this pernicious absurd doctrine of yours; and when by preaching such doctrine they had gotten power into their own hands, they became the worst of tyrants themselves. Yet they engaged all princes to them by the closest tie imaginable, persuading the world, that was now besotted with their superstition, that it was unlawful to depose princes, though never so bad, unless the pope dispensed with their allegiance to them, by absolving them from their oaths. But you avoid orthodox writers, and endeavour to burden the truth with prejudice and calumny, by making the pope the first assertor of what is a known and a common received opinion amongst them; which if you did not do it cunningly, you would make yourself appear to be neither papist nor protestant, but a kind of mongrel Idumean Herodian. For as they of old adored one most inhuman bloody tyrant for the Messias, so you would have the world fall down and worship all. You boast, that “you have confirmed your opinion by the testimonies of the fathers that flourished in the four first centuries; whose writings only are evangelical, and according to the truth of the Christian religion.” This man is past all shame! how many things did they preach, how many things have they published, which Christ and his apostles never taught! How many things are there in their writings, in which all protestant divines differ from them! But what is that opinion that you have confirmed by their authorities? Edition: current; Page: [52] “Why, that evil princes are appointed by God.” Allow that, as all other pernicious and destructive things are. What then? why, “that therefore they have no judge but God alone, that they are above all human laws; that there is no law, written or unwritten, no law of nature, nor of God, to call them to account before their own subjects.” But how comes that to pass? Certain I am that there is no law against it: no penal law excepts kings. And all reason and justice requires, that those that offend, should be punished according to their deserts, without respect of persons. Nor have you hitherto produced any one law, either written or unwritten, of God or of nature, by which this is forbidden. What stands in the way then? Why may not kings be proceeded against? Why, “because they are appointed by God, be they never so bad.” I do not know whether I had best call you a knave, or a fool, or ignorant, unlearned barbarian. You show yourself a vile wretch, by propagating a doctrine so destructive and pernicious; and you are a fool for backing it with such silly arguments. God says in Isa. liv. “I have created the slayer to destroy.” Then by your reason a murderer is above the laws. Turn this topsyturvy, and consider it as long as you will, you will find the consequence to be the same with your own. For the pope is appointed by God, just as tyrants are, and set up for the punishment of the church, which I have already demonstrated out of your own writings. “And yet,” say you, Wal. Mes. pag. 412, “because he has raised his primacy to an insufferable height of power so as that he has made it neither better nor worse than plain downright tyranny, both he and his bishops may be put down more lawfully, than they were at first set up.” You tell us, that the pope and the bishops (though God in his wrath appointed them) may yet lawfully be rooted out of the church, because they are tyrants; and yet you deny that it is lawful to depose a tyrant in the commonwealth, and that for no other reason, than because God appointed him, though he did it in his anger. What ridiculous stuff is this! for whereas the pope cannot hurt a man’s conscience against his own will, for in the consciences of men it is that his kingdom consists, yet you are for deposing him as a grievous tyrant, in whose own power it is not to be a tyrant; and yet you maintain, that a tyrant properly and truly so called, a tyrant that has all our lives and estates within his reach, without whose assistance the pope himself could not exercise his tyranny in the church, ought for conscience sake to be borne withal and submitted to. These assertions compared with one another betray your childishness to that degree, that no man can read your books, but must of necessity take notice of your ignorance, rashness, and incogitancy. But you allege another reason, “human affairs would be turned upside down.” They would so, and be changed for the better. Human affairs would certainly be in a deplorable condition, if being once troubled and disordered, there was a necessity of their continuing always so. I say, they would be changed for the better, for the king’s power would revert to the people, from whom it was first derived, and conferred upon one of themselves; and the power would be transferred from him that abused it, to them that were prejudiced and injured by the abuse of it; than which nothing can be more just, for there could not well be an umpire in such a case; who would stand to the judgment of a foreigner? all mankind would equally be subject to the laws; there would be no gods of flesh and blood: which kind of deities whoever goes about to set up in the world, they are equally injurious to church and commonwealth. Now I must turn your own weapons upon you again. You say, “there can be no greater heresy than this, to set up one man in Christ’s seat. These two are infallible marks of Antichrist, infallibility in Edition: current; Page: [53] spirituals, and omnipotence in temporals.” Apparat. ad Prim. page 171. Do you pretend that kings are infallible? If you do not, why do you make them omnipotent? And how comes it to pass, that an unlimited power in one man should be accounted less destructive to temporal things, than it is to ecclesiastical? Or do you think, that God takes no care at all of civil affairs? If he takes none himself, I am sure he does not forbid us to take care which way they go. If he does take any care about them, certainly he would have the same reformation made in the commonwealth, that he would have made in the church, especially it being obvious to every man’s experience, that infallibility and omnipotency being arrogated to one man, are equally mischievous in both. God has not so modelled the government of the world as to make it the duty of any civil community to submit to the cruelties of tyrants, and yet to leave the church at liberty to free themselves from slavery and tyranny; nay, rather quite contrary, he has put no arms into the church’s hand but those of patience and innocence, prayer and ecclesiastical discipline; but in the commonwealth, all the magistracy are by him entrusted with the preservation and execution of the laws, with the power of punishing and revenging; he has put the sword into their hands. I cannot but smile at this man’s preposterous whimsies; in ecclesiastics he is Helvidius, Thraseas, a perfect tyrannicide. In politics no man more a lackey and slave to tyrants than he. If his doctrine hold, not we only that have deposed our king, but the protestants in general, who against the minds of their princes have rejected the pope, are all rebels alike. But I have confounded him long enough with his own arguments. Such is the nature of the beast, lest his adversary should be unprovided, he himself furnishes him with weapons. Never did any man give his antagonist greater advantages against himself than he does. They that he has to do withal, will be sooner weary of pursuing him, than he of flying.


Perhaps you think, Salmasius, that you have done enough to ingratiate yourself with princes; that you have deserved well of them: but if they consider their own interest, and take their measures according to what it really is, not according to the false gloss that your flatterers have put upon it, there never was any man in the world that deserved so ill of them as you, none more destructive and pernicious to them and their interest in the whole world than yourself. For by exalting the power of kings above all human laws, you tell all mankind that are subject to such a government, that they are no better than slaves, and make them but the more desirous of liberty by discovering to them their error, and putting that into their heads, that they never so much as dreamt of before, to wit, that they are slaves to their princes. And without doubt such a sort of government will be more irksome and unsufferable, by how much the more you persuade the world, that it is not by the allowance and submission of nations, that kings have obtained this exorbitant power; but that is absolutely essential to such a form of government, and of the nature of the thing itself. So that whether you make the world of your mind or no, your doctrine must needs be mischievous and destructive, and such as cannot but be abhorred of all princes. For if you should work men into a persuasion, that the right of kings is without all bounds, they would no longer be subject to a kingly government; if you miss of your aim, yet you make men weary of kings, Edition: current; Page: [54] by telling them that they assume such a power to themselves, as of right belonging to them. But if princes will allow of those principles that I assert; if they will suffer themselves and their own power to be circumscribed by laws, instead of an uncertain, weak, and violent government, full of cares and fears, they will reign peaceably, quietly, and securely. If they slight this counsel of mine, though wholesome in itself, because of the meanness of the author, they shall know that it is not my counsel only, but what was anciently advised by one of the wisest of kings. For Lycurgus king of Lacedemon, when he observed that his own relations that were princes of Argos and Messana, by endeavouring to introduce an arbitrary government had ruined themselves and their people; he, that he might benefit his country, and secure the succession to his own family, could think upon no better expedient, than to communicate his power to the senate, and taking the great men of the realm into part of the government with himself; and by this means the crown continued in his family for many ages. But whether it was Lycurgus, or, as some learned men are of opinion Theopompus, that introduced that mixed form of government among the Lacedemonians, somewhat more than a hundred years after Lycurgus’s time,) of whom it is recorded, that he used to boast, that by advancing the power of the senate above that of the prince, he had settled the kingdom upon a sure foundation, and was like to leave it in a lasting and durable condition to his posterity,) which of them soever it was, I say, he has left a good example to modern princes; and was as creditable a counsellor, as his counsel was safe. For that all men should submit to any one man, so as to acknowledge a power in him superior to all human laws, neither did any law ever enact, nor indeed was it possible that any such law should ever be; for that cannot be said to be a law that strikes at the root of all laws, and takes them quite away: it being apparent that your positions are inconsistent with the nature of all laws, being such as render them no laws at all. You endeavour notwithstanding, in this fourth chapter, to make good by examples, what you have not been able to do by any reasons that you have alleged hitherto. Let us consider whether your examples help your cause; for they many times make things plain, which the laws are either altogether silent in, or do but hint at.

We will begin first with the Jews, whom we suppose to have known most of the mind of God; and then, according to your own method, we will come to the times of Christianity. And first, for those times in which the Israelites being subject to kings, who, or howsoever they were, did their utmost to cast that slavish yoke from off their necks. Eglon the king of Moab had made a conquest of them; the seat of his empire was at Jericho; he was no contemner of the true God; when his name was mentioned, he rose from his seat: the Israelites had served him eighteen years; they sent a present to him, not as to an enemy, but to their own prince; notwithstanding which outward veneration and profession of subjection they killed him by a wile, as an enemy to their country. You will say perhaps, that Ehud, who did that action, had a warrant from God for so doing. He had so, it is like; and what greater argument of its being a warrantable and praiseworthy action? God uses not to put men upon things that are unjust, treacherous, and cruel, but upon such things as are virtuous and laudable. But we read no where that there was any positive command from Heaven in the case. “The Israelites called upon God;” so did we. And God stirred up a Saviour for them; so he did for us. Eglon of a neighbouring prince became a prince of the Jews; of an enemy to them he became their king. Our gentleman of an English king became an enemy to the English Edition: current; Page: [55] nation; so that he ceased to be a king. Those capacities are inconsistent. No man can be a member of the state, and an enemy to it at the same time. Antony was never looked upon by the Romans as a consul, nor Nero as an emperor, after the senate had voted them both enemies. This Cicero tells us in his Fourth Philippic: “If Antony be a consul,” says-he, “Brutus is an enemy; but if Brutus be a saviour and preserver of the commonwealth, Antony is an enemy: none but robbers count him a consul.” By the same reason, say I, who but enemies to their country look upon a tyrant as a king? So that Eglon’s being a foreigner, and King Charles a prince of our own, will make no difference in the case; both being enemies and both tyrants, they are in the same circumstances. If Ehud killed him justly, we have done so too in putting our king to death. Samson that renowned champion of the Hebrews, though his countrymen blamed him for it, “Dost thou not know,” say they, “that the Philistines have dominion over us?” Yet against those Philistines, under whose dominion he was, he himself undertook a war in his own person, without any other help; and whether he acted in pursuance of a command from Heaven, or was prompted by his own valour only, or whatsoever inducement he had, he did not put to death one, but many, that tyrannized over his country, having first called upon God by prayer, and implored his assistance. So that Samson counted it no act of impiety, but quite contrary, to kill those that enslaved his country, though they had dominion over himself too; and though the greater part of his countrymen submitted to their tyranny. “But yet David, who was both a king and a prophet, would not take away Saul’s life, because he was God’s anointed.” Does it follow, that because David refused to do a thing, therefore we are obliged not to do that very thing? David was a private person, and would not kill the king; is that a precedent for a parliament, for a whole nation? David would not revenge his own quarrel, by putting his enemy to death by stealth; does it follow, that therefore the magistrates must not punish a malefactor according to law? He would not kill a king; must not an assembly of the states therefore punish a tyrant? he scrupled the killing of God’s anointed; must the people therefore scruple to condemn their own anointed? especially one that after having so long professed hostility against his own people, and washed off that anointing of his, whether sacred or civil, with the blood of his own subjects. I confess that those kings, whom God by his prophets anointed to be kings, or appointed to some special service, as he did Cyrus, Isa. xliv., may not improperly be called the Lord’s anointed: but all other princes, according to the several ways of their coming to the government, are the people’s anointed, or the army’s, or many times the anointed of their own faction only.

But taking it for granted, that all kings are God’s anointed, you can never prove, that therefore they are above all laws, and not to be called in question, what villainies soever they commit. What if David laid a charge upon himself and other private persons, not to stretch forth their hands against the Lord’s anointed? Does not God himself command princes not so much as “to touch his anointed?” which were no other than his people, Psal. cv. He preferred that anointing, wherewith his people were anointed, before that of kings, if any such thing were. Would any man offer to infer from this place of the Psalmist, that believers are not to be called in question, though they offend against the laws, because God commands princes not to touch his anointed? King Solomon was about to put to death Abiathar the priest, though he were God’s anointed too; and did not spare him because of his anointing, but because he had been his father’s friend. If that sacred and civil anointing, wherewith the high priest of the Jews was anointed, Edition: current; Page: [56] whereby he was not only constituted high priest, but a temporal magistrate in many cases, did not exempt him from the penalty of the laws; how comes a civil anointing only to exempt a tyrant? But you say, “Saul was a tyrant, and worthy of death:” What then? It does not follow, that because he deserved it, that David in the circumstances he was then under had power to put him to death without the people’s authority, or the command of the magistracy. But was Saul a tyrant? I wish you would say so; indeed you do so, though you had said before in your Second Book, page 32, That “he was no tyrant, but a good king, and chosen of God.” Why should false accusers, and men guilty of forgery, be branded, and you escape without the like ignominious mark? For they practise their villainies with less treachery and deceit, than you write and treat of matters of the greatest moment. Saul was a good king, when it served your turn to have him so; and now he is a tyrant because it suits with your present purpose.

But it is no wonder, that you make a tyrant of a good king; for your principles look as if they were invented for no other design, than to make all good kings so. But yet David, though he would not put to death his father-in-law, for causes and reasons that we have nothing to do withal, yet in his own defence, he raised an army, took and possessed cities that belonged to Saul, and would have defended Keilah against the king’s forces, had he not understood, that the citizens would be false to him. Suppose Saul had besieged the town, and himself had been the first that had scaled the walls; do you think David would presently have thrown down his arms, and have betrayed all those that assisted him to his anointed enemy? I believe not. What reason have we to think David would have stuck to do what we have done, who when his occasions and circumstances so required, proffered his assistance to the Philistines, who were then the professed enemies of his country, and did that against Saul, which I am sure we should never have done against our tyrant? I am weary of mentioning your lies, and ashamed of them. You say, it is a maxim of the English, “That enemies are rather to be spared than friends;” and that therefore “we conceived we ought not to spare our king’s life, because he had been our friend.” You impudent liar, what mortal ever heard this whimsy before you invented it? But we will excuse it. You could not bring in that threadbare flourish, of our being more fierce than our own mastiffs, (which now comes in the fifth time, and will as oft again before we come to the end of your book,) without some such introduction. We are not so much more fierce than our own mastiffs, as you are more hungry than any dog whatsoever, who return so greedily to what you have vomited up so often. Then you tell us, that David commanded the Amalekite to be put to death, who pretended to have killed Saul. But that instance, neither in respect to the fact, nor the person, has any affinity with what we are discoursing of. I do not well understand what cause David had to be so severe upon that man, for pretending to have hastened the king’s death, and in effect to have put him out of his pain, when he was dying; unless it were to take away from the Israelites all suspicion of his own having been instrumental in it, whom they might look upon as one that had revolted to the Philistines, and was part of their army. Just such another action as this of David’s do all men blame in Domitian, who put to death Epaphroditus, because he had helped Nero to kill himself. After all this, as another instance of your impudence, you call him not only the “anointed of the Lord,” but “the Lord’s Christ,” who a little before you said was a tyrant, and acted by the impulse of some evil spirit. Such mean thoughts Edition: current; Page: [57] you have of that reverend name, that you are not ashamed to give it to a tyrant, whom you yourself confess to have been possessed with the devil. Now I come to that precedent, from which every man that is not blind, must needs infer the right of the people to be superior to that of kings. When Solomon was dead, the people assembled themselves at Sichem to make Rehoboam king. Thither himself went, as one that stood for the place, that he might not seem to claim the succession as his inheritance, nor the same right over a freeborn people, that every man has over his father’s sheep and oxen. The people propose conditions, upon which they were willing to admit him to the government. He desires three days’ time to advise; he consults with the old men; they tell him no such thing, as that he had an absolute right to succeed, but persuade him to comply with the people, and speak them fair, it being in their power whether he should reign or not. Then he advises with the young men that were brought up with him; they, as if Salmasius’s phrenzy had taken them, thunder this right of kings into his ears; persuade him to threaten the people with whips and scorpions: and he answered the people as they advised him. When all Israel saw, that the king hearkened not to them, then they openly protest the right of the people, and their own liberty; “What portion have we in David? To thy tents, O Israel! now look to thine own house, David.” When the king sent Adoram to them, they stoned him with stones, and perhaps they would not have stuck to have served the king himself so, but he made haste and got out of the way. The next news is of a great army raised by Rehoboam, to reduce the Israelites to their allegiance. God forbids him to proceed, “Go not up,” says he, “to war against your brethren the children of Israel; for this thing is of me.” Now consider, heretofore the people had desired a king; God was displeased with them for it, but yet permitted them to make a king according to that right that all nations have to appoint their own governors. Now the people reject Rehoboam from ruling them; and this God not only suffers them to do, but forbids Rehoboam to make war against them for it, and stops him in his undertaking; and teaches him withal, that those that had revolted from him were not rebels in so doing; but that he ought to look upon them as brethren. Now recollect yourself: you say, that all kings are of God, and that therefore the people ought not to resist them, be they never such tyrants. I answer you, the convention of the people, their votes, their acts, are likewise of God, and that by the testimony of God himself in this place; and consequently according to your argument, by the authority of God himself, princes ought not to resist the people. For as certain as it is, that kings are of God, and whatever argument you may draw from thence to enforce a subjection and obedience to them: so certain is it, that free assemblies of the body of the people are of God, and that naturally affords the same argument for their right of restraining princes from going beyond their bounds, and rejecting them if there be occasion; nor is their so doing a justifiable cause of war, any more than the people of Israel’s rejecting Rehoboam was. You ask why the people did not revolt from Solomon? Who but you would ask such an impertinent question? You see they did revolt from a tyrant, and were neither punished nor blamed for it. It is true, Solomon fell into some vices, but he was not therefore a tyrant; he made amends for his vices by many excellent virtues, that he was famous for, by many benefits which accrued to the nation of the Jews by his go vernment. But admit that he had been a tyrant: many times the circumstances of a nation are such that the people will not, and many times such that they cannot, depose a tyrant. You see they did it when it was in Edition: current; Page: [58] their power. “But,” say you, “Jeroboam’s act was ever had in detestation; it was looked upon as an unjust revolt from a lawful prince; he and his successors were accounted rebels.” I confess we find his revolt from the true worship of God often found fault with; but I no where find him blamed for revolting from Rehoboam; and his successors are frequently spoken of as wicked princes, but not as rebels. “Acting contrary to law and right,” say you, “cannot introduce or establish a right.” I pray, what becomes then of your right of kings? Thus do you perpetually baffle yourself. You say, “Adulteries, murders, thefts are daily committed with impunity.” Are you not aware, that here you give an answer to your own question, how it comes to pass, that tyrants do so often escape unpunished? You say, “Those kings were rebels, and yet the prophets do no where dissuade the people from their allegiance.” And why do you, you rascally false prophet, endeavour to persuade the people of England not to yield obedience to their present magistrates, though in your opinion they are rebels? “This English faction of robbers,” say you, “allege for themselves, that by some immediate voice from Heaven, they were put upon their bloody enterprise.” It is notoriously evident, that you were distracted when you wrote these lines; for as you have put the words together, they are neither Latin, nor sense. And that the English pretend to any such warrant, as a justification of their actions, is one of those many lies and fictions, that your book is full of. But I proceed to urge you with examples. Libna, a great city, revolted from Joram, because he had forsaken God: it was the king therefore that was guilty, not the city, nor is the city blamed for it. He that considers the reason that is given why that city rejected his government, must conclude, that the Holy Ghost rather approves of what they did than condemns them for it. “These kind of revolts are no precedents,” say you. But why were you then so vain, as to promise in the beginning of this chapter, that you would argue from examples, whereas all the examples that you allege, are mere negatives, which prove nothing? and when we urge examples that are solid and positive, you say they are no precedents. Who would endure such a way of arguing? You challenged us at precedents; we produced them; and what do you do? you hang back, and get out of the way. I proceed: Jehu, at the command of a prophet, slew a king; nay, he ordered the death of Ahaziah, his own liege prince. If God would not have tyrants put to death by their own subjects, if it were a wicked thing so to do, a thing of a bad example; why did God himself command it? If he commanded it, it was a lawful, commendable, and a praiseworthy action. It was not therefore lawful to kill a tyrant, because God commanded it; but God commanded it, because, antecedently to his command, it was a justifiable and a lawful action. Again, Jehoiada the high priest did not scruple to depose Athaliah, and kill her, though she had been seven years in actual possession of the crown. “But,” say you, “she took upon her the government, when she had no right to it.” And did not you say yourself, but a while ago, “that Tiberius assumed the sovereignty, when it belonged not at all to him?” And yet you then affirmed, that, according to our Saviour’s doctrine, we ought to yield obedience to such tyrants as he was. It were a most ridiculous thing to imagine, that a prince, who gets in by usurpation, may lawfully be deposed; but one that rules tyrannically may not. “But,” say you, “Athaliah could not possibly reign according to the law of the Jewish kingdom, ‘Thou shalt set over thee a king,’ says God Almighty; he does not say, Thou shalt set over thee a queen.” If this argument have any weight, I may as well say, the command of God Edition: current; Page: [59] was, that the people should set over themselves a king, not a tyrant. So that I am even with you. Amazias was a slothful idolatrous prince, and was put to death, not by a few conspirators; but rather, it should seem, by the nobility, and by the body of the people. For he fled from Jerusalem, had none to stand by him, and they pursued him to Lachish: they took counsel against him, says the history, because he had forsaken God: and we do not find that Azarias his son prosecuted those that had cut off his father. You quote a great many frivolous passages out of the rabbins, to prove that the kings of the Jews were superior to the Sanhedrim. You do not consider Zekediah’s own words, Jer. xxxviii. “The king is not he that can do any thing against you.” So that this was the prince’s own style. Thus he confessed himself inferior to the great council of the realm, “Perhaps,” say you, “he meant, that he durst not deny them any thing for fear of sedition.” But what does your perhaps signify, whose most positive asserting any thing is not worth a louse? For nothing in nature can be more fickle and inconsistent than you are. How oft you have appeared in this discourse inconsistent with yourself; unsaying with one breath what you have said with another? Here, again, you make comparisons betwixt King Charles, and some of the good kings of Judah. You speak contemptibly of David, as if he were not worthy to come in competition with him. “Consider David,” say you, “an adulterer, a murderer; King Charles was guilty of no such crimes. Solomon his son, who was accounted wise,” &c. Who can with patience hear this filthy, rascally fool, speak so irreverently of persons eminent both in greatness and piety? Dare you compare King David with King Charles; a most religious king and prophet, with a superstitious prince, and who was but a novice in the Christian religion; a most prudent wise prince with a weak one; a valiant prince with a cowardly one; finally, a most just prince with a most unjust one? Have you the impudence to commend his chastity and sobriety, who is known to have committed all manner of lewdness in company with his confidant the duke of Buckingham? It were to no purpose to inquire into the private actions of his life, who publicly at plays would embrace and kiss the ladies lasciviously, and handle virgins’ and matrons’ breasts, not to mention the rest. I advise you therefore, you counterfeit Plutarch, to abstain from such like parallels, lest I be forced to publish those things concerning King Charles, which I am willing to conceal.

Hitherto we have entertained ourselves with what the people of the Jews have acted or attempted against tyrants, and by what right they did it in those times, when God himself did immediately, as it were, by his voice from heaven govern their commonwealth. The ages that succeeded, do not afford us any authority, as from themselves, but confirm us in our opinion by their imitating the actions of their forefathers. For after the Babylonish captivity, when God did not give any new command concerning the crown, though the royal line was not extinct, we find the people return to the old Mosaical form of government again. They were one while tributaries to Antiochus, king of Syria; yet when he enjoined them things that were contrary to the law of God, they resisted him, and his deputies, under the conduct of their priests, the Maccabees, and by force regained their former liberty. After that, whoever was accounted most worthy of it, had the principality conferred upon him. Till at last, Harcanus the son of Simon, the brother of Judah, the Maccabee, having spoiled David’s sepulchre, entertained foreign soldiers, and began to invest the priesthood with a kind of regal power. After whose time his son Aristobulus was the first that assumed the crown; he was a tyrant indeed, and yet the people stirred not Edition: current; Page: [60] against him, which is no great wonder, for he reigned but one year. And he himself being overtaken with a grievous disease, and repenting of his own cruelty and wickedness, desired nothing more than to die, and had his wish. His brother Alexander succeeded him; “and against him,” you say, “the people raised no insurrection, though he were a tyrant too.” And this lie might have gone down with us, if Josephus’s history had not been extant. We should then have had no memory of those times, but what your Josippus would afford us, out of whom you transcribe a few senseless and useless apophthegms of the Pharisees. The history is thus: Alexander administered the public affairs ill, both in war and peace; and though he kept in pay great numbers of Pisidians and Cilicians, yet could he not protect himself from the rage of the people: but whilst he was sacrificing they fell upon him, and had almost smothered him with boughs of palm trees and citron trees. Afterward the whole nation made war upon him six years, during which time, when many thousands of the Jews had been slain, and he himself being at length desirous of peace, demanded of them, what they would have him to do to satisfy them; they told him nothing could do that but his blood, nay, that they should hardly pardon him after his death. This history you perceived was not for your purpose, and so you put it off with a few pharisaical sentences; when it had been much better, either to have let it quite alone, or to have given a true relation of it: but you trust to lies more than to the truth of your cause. Even those eight hundred Pharisees whom he commanded to be crucified, were of their number that had taken up arms against him. And they with the rest of the people had solemnly protested, that if they could subdue the king’s forces, and get his person into their power, they would put him to death. After the death of Alexander, his wife Alexandra took the government upon her, as Athaliah had formerly done, not according to law, (for you have confessed, that the laws of the Jews admitted not a female to wear the crown,) but she got it partly by force, for she maintained an army of foreigners; and partly by favour, for she had brought over the Pharisees to her interest, which sort of men were of the greatest authority with the people. Them she had made her own, by putting the power into their hands, and retaining to herself only the name. Just as the Scotch presbyterians lately allowed Charles the name of king, but upon condition, that he would let them be king in effect. After the death of Alexandra, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, her sons, contended for the sovereignty; Aristobulus was more industrious, and having a greater party, forced his elder brother out of the kingdom. A while after, when Pompey passed through Syria, in his return from the Mithridatic war; the Jews, supposing they had now an opportunity of regaining their liberty, by referring their cause to him, dispatch an embassy to him in their own names; they renounce both the brothers; complain that they had enslaved them. Pompey deposed Aristobulus, leaves the priesthood, and such a principality as the laws allowed, to Hyrcanus the elder. From that time forward he was called high priest, and Ethnarcha. After these times in the reign of Archelaus, the son of Herod, the Jews sent fifty ambassadors to Augustus Cæsar; accused Herod that was dead, and Archelaus his son, that then reigned; they deposed him as much as in them lay, and petitioned the emperor, that the people of the Jews might be governed without a king. Cæsar was moved at their entreaty, and did not appoint a king over them, but a governor, whom they called an ethnarch. When that governor had presided ten years over Judea, the people sent embassadors again to Rome, and accused him of tyranny. Cæsar heard them graciously; sent for the governor, condemned Edition: current; Page: [61] him to perpetual exile, and banished him to Vienna. Answer me, now, that people that accused their own princes, that desired their condemnation, that desired their punishment, would not they themselves rather, if it had been in their power, and that they might have had their choice; would not they, I say, rather have put them to death themselves; you do not deny, but that the people and the nobles often took up arms against the Roman deputies, when by their avarice, or their cruelty, their government was burdensome and oppressive. But you give a ridiculous reason for this, as all the rest of yours are. You say, “they were not yet accustomed to the yoke;” very like they were not, under Alexander, Herod, and his son. “But,” say you, “they would not raise war against Caius Cæsar, nor Petronius.” I confess they did not, and they did very prudently in abstaining, for they were not able. Will you hear their own words, on that occasion? “We will not make war,” say they, “because we cannot.” That thing, which they themselves acknowledge they refrained from for want of ability, you, false hypocrite, pretend they refrained from out of religion. Then with a great deal of toil you do just nothing at all; for you endeavour to prove out of the fathers, (though you had done it as superficially before) that kings are to be prayed for. That good kings are to be prayed for, no man denies; nay, and bad ones too, as long as there are any hopes of them: so we ought to pray for highwaymen, and for our enemies. But how? not that they may plunder, spoil, and murder us; but that they may repent. We pray both for thieves and enemies; and yet who ever dreamt, but that it was lawful to put the laws in execution against the one, and to fight against the other? I value not the Egyptian liturgy that you quote; but the priest that you mention, who prayed that Commodus might succeed his father in the empire, did not pray for any thing in my opinion, but imprecated all the mischiefs imaginable to the Roman state. You say, “that we have broken our faith, which we engaged more than once, in solemn assemblies, to preserve the authority and majesty of the king.” But because hereafter you are more large upon that subject, I shall pass it by in this place; and talk with you when you come to it again.

You return then to the fathers; concerning whom take this in short. Whatever they say, which is not warranted by the authority of the Scriptures, or by good reason, shall be of no more regard with me, than if any other ordinary man had said it. The first that you quote is Tertullian, who is no orthodox writer, notorious for many errors; whose authority, if he were of your opinion, would stand you in no stead. But what says he? He condemns tumults and rebellions. So do we. But in saying so, we do not mean to destroy all the people’s rights and privileges, all the authority of senates, the power of all magistrates, the king only excepted. The fathers declaim against seditions rashly raised by the giddy heat of the multitude; they speak not of the inferior magistrates, of senates, of parliaments encouraging the people, to a lawful opposing of a tyrant. Hence Ambrose, whom you quote; “Not to resist,” says he, “but to weep and to sigh, these are the bulwarks of the priesthood; what one is there of our little number, who dare say to the emperor, I do not like your laws? This is not allowed the priests, and shall laymen pretend to it?” It is evident of what sort of persons he speaks, viz. of the priests, and such of the people as are private men, not of the magistrates. You see by how weak and preposterous a reason he lighted a torch as it were to the dissensions that were afterwards to arise betwixt the laity and the clergy concerning even civil or temporal laws. But because you think you pressed hardest upon us with the examples of the primitive Christians; who though they were harassed as much as a Edition: current; Page: [62] people could be, yet, you say, “they never took up arms against the emperor:” I will make it appear, in the first place, that for the most part they could not: secondly, that whenever they could, they did: and thirdly, that whether they did or did not, they were such a sort of people, as that their example deserves to have little sway with us. First therefore, no man can be ignorant of this, that when the commonwealth of Rome expired, the whole and sovereign power in the empire was settled in the emperor; that all the soldiers were under his pay; insomuch that if the whole body of the senate, the equestrian order, and all the common people, had endeavoured to work a change, they might have made way for a massacre of themselves, but could not, in any probability retrieve their lost liberty: for the empire would still have continued, though they might perhaps have been so lucky as to have killed the emperor. This being so, what could the Christians do? It is true, there were a great many of them; but they were dispersed, they were generally persons of mean quality, and but of small interest in the world. How many of them would one legion have been able to keep in awe? Could so inconsiderable a body of men as they were in those days ever expect to accomplish an enterprise that many famous generals, and whole armies of tried soldiers, had lost their lives in attempting? When about 300 years after our Saviour’s nativity, which was near upon 20 years before the reign of Constantine the Great, when Dioclesian was emperor, there was but one Christian legion in the whole Roman empire; which legion, for no other reason than because it consisted of Christians, was slain by the rest of the army at a town in France called Octodurum. “The Christians,” say you, “conspired not with Cassius, with Albinus, with Niger;” and does Tertullian think they merited by not being willing to lose their lives in the quarrels of infidels? It is evident therefore, that the Christians could not free themselves from the yoke of the Roman emperors; and it could be no ways advantageous to their interest to conspire with infidels, as long as heathen emperors reigned. But that afterwards the Christians made war upon tyrants, and defended themselves by force of arms when there was occasion, and many times revenged upon tyrants their enormities, I am now about to make appear.

In the first place, Constantine, being a Christian, made war upon Licinius, and cut him off, who was his partner in the sovereign power, because he molested the eastern Christians; by which act of his he declared thus much at least, that one magistrate might punish another: for he for his subjects’ sake punished Licinius, who to all intents was as absolute in the empire as himself, and did not leave the vengeance to God alone: Licinius might have done the same to Constantine, if there had been the like occasion. So then, if the matter be not wholly reserved to God’s own tribunal, but that men have something to do in the case, why did not the parliament of England stand in the same relation to King Charles, that Constantine did to Licinius? The soldiers made Constantine what he was: but our laws have made our parliaments equal, nay, superior, to our kings. The inhabitants of Constantinople resisted Constantius an Arian emperor, by force of arms, as long as they were able; they opposed Hermogenes whom he had sent with a military power to depose Paul an orthodox bishop; the house whither he had betaken himself for security they fired about his ears, and at last killed him right out. Constans threatened to make war upon his brother Constantius, unless he would restore Paul and Athanasius to their bishoprics. You see those holy fathers, when their bishoprics were in danger, were not ashamed to stir up their prince’s own brother to make war upon him. Not long after, the Christian soldiers, who then made whom Edition: current; Page: [63] they would emperors, put to death Constans the son of Constantinus, because he behaved himself dissolutely and proudly in the government, and translated the empire to Magnentius. Nay, those very persons that saluted Julian by the name of emperor, against Constantius’s will, who was actually in possession of the empire, (for Julian was not then an apostate, but a virtuous and valiant person,) are they not amongst the number of those primitive Christians, whose example you propose to us for our imitation? Which action of theirs, when Constantius by his letters to the people very sharply and earnestly forbad, (which letters were openly read to them,) they all cried out unanimously, that themselves had but done what the provincial magistrates, the army, and the authority of the commonwealth had decreed. The same persons declared war against Constantius, and contributed as much as in them lay, to deprive him both of his government and his life. How did the inhabitants of Antioch behave themselves, who were none of the worst sort of Christians? I will warrant you they prayed for Julian, after he became an apostate, whom they used to rail at in his own presence, and scoffing at his long beard bid him make ropes of it: upon the news of whose death they offered public thanksgivings, made feasts, and gave other public demonstrations of joy. Do you think they used, when he was alive, to pray for the continuance of his life and health? Nay, is it not reported, that a Christian soldier, in his own army, was the author of his death? Sozomen, a writer of ecclesiastical history, does not deny it, but commends him that did it, if the fact were so. “For it is no wonder,” says he, “that some of his own soldiers might think within himself, that not only the Greeks, but all mankind hitherto had agreed, that it was a commendable action to kill a tyrant; and that they deserve all men’s praise, who are willing to die themselves to procure the liberty of all others: so that that soldier ought not rashly to be condemned, who in the cause of God and of religion, was so zealous and valiant.” These are the words of Sozomen, a good and religious man of that age. By which we may easily apprehend what the general opinion of pious men in those days was upon this point. Ambrose himself being commanded by the emperor Valentinian the younger, to depart from Milan, refused to obey him, but defended himself and the palace by force of arms against the emperor’s officers, and took upon him, contrary to his own doctrine, to resist the higher powers. There was a great sedition raised at Constantinople against the emperor Arcadius, more than once, by reason of Chrysostom’s exile. Hitherto I have shown how the primitive Christians behaved themselves towards tyrants; how not only the Christian soldiers, and the people, but the fathers of the church themselves, have both made war upon them, and opposed them with force, and all this before St. Austin’s time: for you yourself are pleased to go down no lower; and therefore I make no mention of Valentinian the son of Placidia, who was slain by Maximus a senator, for committing adultery with his wife; nor do I mention Avitus the emperor, whom, because he disbanded the soldiers, and betook himself wholly to a luxurious life, the Roman senate immediately deposed; because these things came to pass some years after St. Austin’s death. But all this I give you: suppose I had not mentioned the practice of the primitive Christians; suppose they never had stirred in opposition to tyrants; suppose they had accounted it unlawful so to do; I will make it appear, that they were not such persons, as that we ought to rely upon their authority, or can safely follow their example. Long before Constantine’s time the generality of Christians had lost much of the primitive sanctity and integrity both of their doctrine and manners. Afterwards, when he had vastly enriched the church, they began Edition: current; Page: [64] to fall in love with honour and civil power, and then the Christian religion went to wreck. First luxury and sloth, and then a great drove of heresies and immoralities, broke loose among them; and these begot envy, hatred, and discord, which abounded every where. At last, they that were linked together into one brotherhood by that holy band of religion, were as much at variance and strife among themselves as the most bitter enemies in the world could be. No reverence for, no consideration of, their duty was left among them: the soldiers and commanders of the army, as oft as they pleased themselves, created new emperors, and sometimes killed good ones as well as bad. I need not mention such as Verannio, Maximus, Eugenius, whom the soldiers all of a sudden advanced and made them emperors; nor Gratian, an excellent prince; nor Valentinian the younger, who was none of the worst, and yet were put to death by them. It is true, these things were acted by the soldiers, and soldiers in the field; but those soldiers were Christians, and lived in that age which you call evangelical, and whose example you propose to us for our imitation. Now you shall hear how the clergy managed themselves: pastors and bishops, and sometimes those very fathers whom we admire and extol to so high a degree, every one of whom was a leader of their several flocks; those very men, I say, fought for their bishoprics, as tyrants did for their sovereignty; sometimes throughout the city, sometimes in the very churches, sometimes at the altar, clergymen and laymen fought promiscuously; they slew one another, and great slaughters were made on both sides. You may remember Damasus and Urcisinus, who were contemporaries with Ambrose. It would be too long to relate the tumultuary insurrections of the inhabitants of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, especially those under the conduct and management of Cyrillus, whom you extol as a preacher up of obedience; when the monks in that fight, within the city, had almost slain Orestes, Theodosius’s deputy. Now who can sufficiently wonder at your impudence, or carelessness and neglect? “Till St. Austin’s time, say you, and lower down than the age that he lived in, there is not any mention extant in history, of any private person, of any commander, or of any number of conspirators, that have put their prince to death, or taken up arms against him.” I have named to you, out of known and approved histories, both private persons and magistrates, that with their own hands have slain not only bad but very good princes; whole armies of Christians, many bishops among them, that have fought against their own emperors. You produce some of the fathers, that with a great flourish of words, persuade or boast of obedience to princes: and I, on the other side, produce both those same fathers, and others besides them, that by their actions have declined obedience to their princes, even in lawful things; have defended themselves with a military force against them; others that have opposed forcibly, and wounded their deputies; and others that, being competitors for bishopries, have maintained civil wars against one another: as if it were lawful for Christians to wage war with Christians for a bishopric, and citizens with citizens; but unlawful to fight against a tyrant, in defence of our liberty, of our wives and children, and of our lives themselves. Who would own such fathers as these? You produce St. Austin, who, you say asserts, that “the power of a master over his servants, and a prince over his subjects, is one and the same thing.” But I answer; if St. Austin assert any such thing, he asserts what neither our Saviour, nor any of his apostles ever asserted; though for the confirmation of that assertion, than which nothing can be more false, he pretends to rely wholly upon their authority. The three or four last pages of this fourth chapter, are stuffed with mere lies, or Edition: current; Page: [65] things carelessly and loosely put together, that are little to the purpose: and that every one that reads them, will discover by what has been said already. For what concerns the pope, against whom you disclaim so loudly, I am content you should bawl at him, till you are hoarse. But whereas you endeavour to persuade the ignorant, that “all that called themselves Christians, yielded an entire obedience to princes, whether good or bad, till the papal power grew to that height, that it was acknowledged superior to that of the civil magistrate, and till he took upon him to absolve subjects from their allegiance:” I have sufficiently proved by many examples before and since the age that St. Augustine lived in, that nothing can be more false. Neither does that seem to have much more truth in it, which you say in the last place; viz. that pope Zachary absolved the Frenchmen from their oath of allegiance to their king. For Francis Hottoman, who was both a Frenchman and a lawyer, and a very learned man, in the 13th chapter of his Francogallia, denies that either Chilperic was deposed, or the kingdom translated to Pepin, by the pope’s authority; and he proves out of very ancient chronicles of that nation, that the whole affair was transacted in the great council of the kingdom, according to the original constitution of that government. Which being once done, the French histories, and pope Zachary himself, deny that there was any necessity of absolving his subjects from their allegiance. For not only Hottoman, but Guiccard, a very eminent historian of that nation, informs us, that the ancient records of the kingdom of France testify, that the subjects of that nation upon the first institution of kingship amongst them, reserved a power to themselves, both of choosing their princes, and of deposing them again, if they thought fit: and that the oath of allegiance, which they took, was upon this express condition; to wit, that the king should likewise perform what at his coronation he swore to do. So that if kings, by misgoverning the people committed to their charge, first broke their own oath to their subjects, there needs no pope to dispense with the people’s oaths; the kings themselves by their own perfidiousness having absolved their subjects. And finally. pope Zachary himself, in a letter of his to the French, which you yourself quote, renounces, and ascribes to the people that authority, which you say he assumes to himself: for, if a prince be accountable to the people, being beholden to them for his royalty; if the people, since they make kings, have the same right to depose them, as the very words of that pope are; it is not likely that the Frenchmen would by any oath depart in the least from that ancient right, or ever tie up their own hands, so as not to have the same right that their ancestors always had, to depose bad princes, as well as to honour and obey good ones; nor is it likely that they thought themselves obliged to yield that obedience to tyrants, which they swore to yield only to good princes. A people obliged to obedience by such an oath, is discharged of that obligation, when a lawful prince becomes a tyrant, or gives himself over to sloth and voluptuousness; the rule of justice, the very law of nature, dispenses with such a people’s allegiance. So that even by the pope’s own opinion, the people were under no obligation to yield obedience to Chilperic, and consequently had no need of a dispensation.


Though I am of opinion, Salmatius, and always was, that the law of God does exactly agree with the law of nature; so that having shown what the Edition: current; Page: [66] law of God is, with respect to princes, and what the practice has been of the people of God, both Jews and Christians, I have at the same time, and by the same discourse, made appear what is most agreeable to the law of nature: yet because you pretend “to confute us most powerfully by the law of nature,” I will be content to admit that to be necessary, which before I had thought would be superfluous; that in this chapter I may demonstrate, that nothing is more suitable to the law of nature, than that punishment be inflicted upon tyrants. Which if I do not evince, I will then agree with you, that likewise by the law of God they are exempt. I do not purpose to frame a long discourse of nature in general, and the original of civil societies; that argument has been largely handled by many learned men, both Greek and Latin. But I shall endeavour to be as short as may be; and my design is not so much to confute you, (who would willingly have spared this pains,) as to show that you confute yourself, and destroy your own positions. I will begin with that first position, which you lay down as a fundamental, and that shall be the groundwork of my ensuing discourse. “The law of nature,” say you, “is a principle imprinted on all men’s minds, to regard the good of all mankind, considering men as united together in societies. But this innate principle cannot procure that common good, unless, as there are people that must be governed, so that very principle ascertain who shall govern them.” To wit, lest the stronger oppress the weaker, and those persons, who for their mutual safety and protection have united themselves together, should be disunited and divided by injury and violence, and reduced to a bestial savage life again. This I suppose is what you mean. “Out of the number of those that united into one body,” you say, “there must needs have been some chosen, who excelled the rest in wisdom and valour; that they, either by force or by persuasion, might restrain those that were refractory, and keep them within due bounds. Sometimes it would so fall out, that one single person, whose conduct and valour was extraordinary, might be able to do this, and sometimes more assisted one another with their advice and counsel. But since it is impossible, that any one man should order all things himself, there was a necessity of his consulting with others, and taking some into part of the government with himself; so that whether a single person reign, or whether the supreme power reside in the body of the people, since it is impossible that all should administer the affairs of the commonwealth, or that one man should do all, the government does always lie upon the shoulders of many. And afterwards you say, “both forms of government, whether by many or a few, or by a single person, are equally according to the law of nature, viz. That it is impossible for any single person so to govern alone, as not to admit others into a share of the government with himself.” Though I might have taken all this out of the third book of Aristotle’s Politics, I chose rather to transcribe it out of your own book; for you stole it from him, as Prometheus did fire from Jupiter, to the ruin of monarchy, and overthrow of yourself, and your own opinion. For inquire as diligently as you can for your life into the law of nature, as you have described it, you will not find the least footstep in it of kingly power, as you explain it. “The law of nature,” say you, “in ordering who should govern others, respected the universal good of all mankind.” It did not then regard the private good of any particular person, not of a prince; so that the king is for the people, and consequently the people superior to him: which being allowed, it is impossible that princes should have any right to oppress or enslave the people; that the inferior should have right to tyrannize over the superior. So that since kings pretend to any right to do mischief, the right of the people Edition: current; Page: [67] must be acknowledged, according to the law of nature, to be superior to that of princes; and therefore, by the same right, that before kingship was known, men united their strength and counsels for their mutual safety and defence; by the same right, that for the preservation of all men’s liberty, peace, and safety, they appointed one or more to govern the rest; by the same right they may depose those very persons whom for their valour or wisdom they advanced to the government, or any others that rule disorderly, if they find them, by reason of their slothfulness, folly, or impiety, unfit for government: since nature does not regard the good of one, or of a few, but of all in general. For what sort of persons were they whom you suppose to have been chosen? You say, “they were such as excelled in courage and conduct,” to wit, such as by nature seemed fittest for government; who by reason of their excellent wisdom and valour, were enabled to undertake so great a charge. The consequence of this I take to be, that right of succession is not by the law of nature; that no man by the law of nature has right to be king, unless he excel all others in wisdom and courage; that all such as reign and want these qualifications, are advanced to the government by force or faction; have no right by the law of nature to be what they are, but ought rather to be slaves than princes. For nature appoints that wise men should govern fools, not that wicked men should rule over good men, fools over wise men: and consequently they that take the government out of such men’s hands, act according to the law of nature. To what end nature directs wise men should bear the rule, you shall hear in your own words; viz. “That by force or by persuasion, they may keep such as are unruly within due bounds.” But how should he keep others within the bounds of their duty, that neglects, or is ignorant of, or wilfully acts contrary to, his own? Allege now, if you can, any dictate of nature by which we are enjoined to neglect the wise institutions of the law of nature, and have no regard to them in civil and public concerns, when we see what great and admirable things nature herself effects in things that are inanimate and void of sense, rather than lose her end. Produce any rule of nature, or natural justice, by which inferior criminals ought to be punished, but kings and princes to go unpunished; and not only so, but though guilty of the greatest crimes imaginable, be had in reverence and almost adored. You agree, that “all forms of government, whether by many, or few, or by a single person, are equally agreeable to the law of nature.” So that the person of a king is not by the law of nature more sacred than a senate of nobles, or magistrates, chosen from amongst the common people, who you grant may be punished, and ought to be if they offend; and consequently kings ought to be so too, who are appointed to rule for the very same end and purpose that other magistrates are. “For,” say you, “nature does not allow any single person to rule so entirely, as not to have partners in the government.” It does not therefore allow of a monarch: it does not allow one single person to rule so, as that all others should be in a slavish subjection to his commands only. You that give princes such partners in the government, “as in whom,” to use your own words, “the government always resides,” do at the same time make others colleagues with them, and equal to them; nay, and consequently you settle a power in those colleagues of punishing and of deposing them. So that while you yourself go about, not to extol a kingly government, but to establish it by the law of nature, you destroy it; no greater misfortune could befall sovereign princes, than to have such an advocate as you are. Poor unhappy wretch! what blindness of mind has seized you, that you should unwittingly take so much pains to discover your knavery and folly, and make it visible to the world, Edition: current; Page: [68] (which before you concealed in some measure, and disguised,) that you should be so industrious to heap disgrace and ignominy upon yourself? What offence does Heaven punish you for, in making you appear in public, and undertake the defence of a desperate cause, with so much impudence and childishness, and instead of defending it, to betray it by your ignorance? What enemy of yours would desire to see you in a more forlorn, despicable condition than you are, who have no refuge left from the depth of misery, but in your own imprudence and want of sense, since by your unskilful and silly defence, you have rendered tyrants the more odious and detestable, by ascribing to them an unbounded liberty of doing mischief with impunity; and consequently have created them more enemies than they had before? But I return to your contradictions.

When you had resolved with yourself to be so wicked, as to endeavour to find out a foundation for tyranny in the law of nature, you saw a necessity of extolling monarchy above other sorts of government; which you cannot go about to do, without doing as you use to do, that is, contradicting yourself. For having said but a little before, “That all forms of government, whether by more or fewer, or by a single person, are equally according to the law of nature,” now you tell us, “that of all these sorts of government, that of a single person is most natural:” nay, though you had said in express terms but lately, “that the law of nature does not allow, that any government should reside entirely in one man.” Now upbraid whom you will with the putting of tyrants to death; since you yourself, by your own folly, have cut the throats of all monarchs, nay even of monarchy itself. But it is not to the purpose, for us here to dispute which form of government is best, by one single person, or by many. I confess many eminent and famous men have extolled monarchy; but it has always been upon this supposition, that the prince was a very excellent person, and one that of all others deserved best to reign; without which supposition, no form of government can be so prone to tyranny as monarchy is. And whereas you resemble a monarchy to the government of the world by one Divine Being, I pray answer me, whether you think that any other can deserve to be invested with a power here on earth that shall resemble his power that governs the world, except such a person as does infinitely excel all other men, and both for wisdom and goodness in some measure resemble the Deity? and such a person, in my opinion, none can be but the Son of God himself.—And whereas you make a kingdom to be a kind of family, and make a comparison betwixt a prince and the master of a family; observe how lame the parallel is. For a master of a family begot part of his household, at least he feeds all those that are of his house, and upon that account deserves to have the government; but the reason holds not in the case of a prince; nay, it is quite contrary. In the next place, you propose to us for our imitation the example of inferior creatures, especially of birds, and amongst them of bees, which according to your skill in natural philosophy, are a sort of birds too; “The bees have a king over them.” The bees of Trent you mean; do not you remember? all other bees you yourself confess to be commonwealths. But leave off playing the fool with bees; they belong to the Muses, and hate, and (you see) confute, such a beetle as you are. “The quails are under a captain.” Lay such snares for your own bitterns; you are not fowler good enough to catch us. Now you begin to be personally concerned. Gallus Gallinaceus, a cock, say you, “has both cocks and hens under him.” How can that be, since you yourself that are Gallus, and but too much Gallinaceus, by report cannot govern your own single hen, but let her govern you? So that if a Gallinaceus be a king over many hens, you that are a slave to one, must Edition: current; Page: [69] own yourself not to be so good as a Gallinaceus, but some Stercorarius Gallus, some dunghill-cock or other. For matter of books, there is no body publishes huger dunghills than you, and you disturb all people with your shitten cock-crow; that is the only property in which you resemble a true cock. I will throw you a great many barley-corns, if in ransacking this dung-hill book of yours, you can show me one jewel. But why should I promise you barley, that never pecked at corn, as that honest plain cock that we read of in Æsop, but at gold, as that roguey cock in Plautus, though with a different event; for you found a hundred Jacobusses, and he was struck dead with Euclio’s club, which you deserve more than he did.

But let us go on: “That same natural reason that designs the good and safety of all mankind, requires, that whoever be once promoted to the sovereignty, be preserved in the possession of it.” Whoever questioned this, as long as his preservation is consistent with the safety of all the rest? But is it not obvious to all men, that nothing can be more contrary to natural reason, than that any one man should be preserved and defended, to the utter ruin and destruction of all others? But yet (you say) “it is better to keep and defend a bad prince, nay one of the worst that ever was, than to change him for another; because his ill government cannot do the commonwealth so much harm as the disturbances will occasion, which must of necessity be raised before the people can get rid of him.” But what is this to the right of kings by the law of nature? If nature teaches me rather to suffer myself to be robbed by highwaymen, or if I should be taken captive by such, to purchase my liberty with all my estate, than to fight with them for my life, can you infer from thence, that they have a natural right to rob and spoil me? Nature teaches men to give way sometimes to the violence and outrages of tyrants, the necessity of affairs sometimes enforces a toleration with their enormities; what foundation can you find in this forced patience of a nation, in this compulsory submission, to build a right upon, for princes to tyrannize by the law of nature? That right which nature has given the people for their own preservation, can you affirm that she has invested tyrants with for the people’s ruin and destruction? Nature teaches us, of two evils to choose the least: and to bear with oppression, as long as there is a necessity of so doing; and will you infer from hence, that tyrants have some right by the law of nature to oppress their subjects, and go unpunished, because, as circumstances may fall out, it may sometimes be a less mischief to bear with them than to remove them? Remember what yourself once wrote concerning bishops against a jesuit; you were then of another opinion than you are now: I have quoted your words formerly; you there affirm “that seditious civil dissensions and discords of the nobles and common people against and amongst one another are much more tolerable, and less mischievous, than certain misery and destruction under the government of a single person, that plays the tyrant.” And you said very true. For you had not then run mad; you had not then been bribed with Charles his Jacobusses. You had not got the Kings’-evil. I should tell you perhaps, if I did not know you, that you might be ashamed thus to prevaricate. But you can sooner burst than blush, who have cast off all shame for a little profit. Did you not remember, that the commonwealth of the people of Rome flourished and became glorious when they had banished their kings? Could you possibly forget that of the Low Countries? which, after it had shook off the yoke of the king of Spain, after long and tedious wars, but crowned with success, obtained its liberty, and feeds such a pitiful grammarian as yourself with a pension: but not with a design that their youth might be so infatuated by your sophistry, as to choose Edition: current; Page: [70] rather to return to their former slavery, than to inherit the glorious liberty which their ancestors purchased for them. May those pernicious principles of yours be banished with yourself into the most remote and barbarous corners of the world. And last of all, the commonwealth of England might have afforded you an example, in which Charles, who had been their king, after he had been taken captive in war, and was found incurable, was put to death. But “they have defaced and impoverished the island with civil broils and discords, which under its kings was happy, and swam in luxury.” Yea, when it was almost buried in luxury and voluptuousness, and the more inured thereto, that it might be enthralled the more easily; when its laws were abolished, and its religion agreed to be sold, they delivered it from slavery. You are like him that published Simplicius and Epictetus in the same volume; a very grave stoic, “who call an island happy, because it swims in luxury.” I am sure no such doctrine ever came out of Zeno’s school. But why should not you, who would give kings a power of doing what they list, have liberty yourself to broach what new philosophy you please? Now begin again to act your part. “There never was in any king’s reign so much blood spilt, so many families ruined.” All this is to be imputed to Charles, not to us, who first raised an army of Irishmen against us; who by his own warrant authorized the Irish nation to conspire against the English; who by their means slew two hundred thousand of his English subjects in the province of Ulster, besides what numbers were slain in other parts of that kingdom; who solicited two armies towards the destruction of the parliament of England, and the city of London; and did many other actions of hostility before the parliament and people had listed one soldier for the preservation and defence of the government. What principles, what law, what religion ever taught men rather to consult their ease, to save their money, their blood, nay their lives themselves, than to oppose an enemy with force? for I make no difference between a foreign enemy and another, since both are equally dangerous and destructive to the good of the whole nation. The people of Israel saw very well, that they could not possibly punish the Benjamites for murdering the Levite’s wife, without the loss of many men’s lives: and did that induce them to sit still? Was that accounted a sufficient argument why they should abstain from war, from a very bloody civil war? Did they therefore suffer the death of one poor woman to be unrevenged? Certainly if nature teaches us rather to endure the government of a king, though he be never so bad, than to endanger the lives of a great many men in the recovery of our liberty; it must teach us likewise not only to endure a kingly government, which is the only one that you argue ought to be submitted to, but even an aristocracy and a democracy: nay, and sometimes it will persuade us, to submit to a multitude of highwaymen, and to slaves that mutiny. Fulvius and Rupilius, if your principles had been received in their days, must not have engaged in the servile war (as their writers call it) after the Prætorian armies were slain: Crassus must not have marched against Spartacus, after the rebels had destroyed one Roman army, and spoiled their tents: nor must Pompey have undertaken the Piratic war. But the state of Rome must have pursued the dictates of nature, and must have submitted to their own slaves, or to the pirates, rather than run the hazard of losing some men’s lives. You do not prove at all, that nature has imprinted any such notion as this of yours on the minds of men: and yet you cannot forbear boding us ill luck, and denouncing the wrath of God against us, (which may Heaven divert, and inflict it upon yourself, and all such prognosticators as you,) who have punished, as he deserved, one that had the name of our king, Edition: current; Page: [71] but was in fact our implacable enemy; and we have made atonement for the death of so many of our countrymen, as our civil wars have occasioned, by shedding his blood, that was the author and cause of them. Then you tell us, that a kingly government appears to be more according to the laws of nature, because more nations, both in our days, and of old, have submitted to that form of government than ever did to any other.” I answer, if that be so, it was neither the effect of any dictate of the law of nature, nor was it in obedience to any command from God. God would not suffer his own people to be under a king; he consented at last, but unwillingly; what nature and right reason dictates, we are not to gather from the practice of most nations, but of the wisest and most prudent. The Grecians, the Romans, the Italians, and Carthaginians, with many other, have of their own accord, out of choice, preferred a commonwealth to a kingly government; and these nations that I have named, are better instances than all the rest. Hence Sulpitius Severus says, “That the very name of a king was always very odious among a free-born people.” But these things concern not our present purpose, nor many other impertinences that follow over and over again. I will make haste to prove that by examples, which I have proved already by reason; viz. that it is very agreeable to the law of nature, that tyrants should be punished; and that all nations, by the instinct of nature, have punished them; which will expose your impudence, and make it evident, that you take a liberty to publish palpable downright lies. You begin with the Egyptians; and indeed, who does not see, that you play the gipsy yourself throughout? “Amongst them,” say you, “there is no mention extant of any king, that was ever slain by the people in a popular insurrection, no war made upon any of their kings by their subjects, no attempt made to depose any of them.” What think you then of Osiris, who perhaps was the first king that the Egyptians ever had? Was not he slain by his brother Typhon, and five and twenty other conspirators? And did not a great part of the body of the people side with them, and fight a battle with Isis and Orus, the late king’s wife and son? I pass by Sesostris, whom his brother had well nigh put to death, and Chemmis and Cephrenes, against whom the people were deservedly enraged; and because they could not do it while they were alive, they threatened to tear them in pieces after they were dead. Do you think that a people that durst lay violent hands upon good kings, had any restraint upon them, either by the light of nature or religion, from putting bad ones to death? Could they that threatened to pull the dead bodies of their princes out of their graves, when they ceased to do mischief, (though by the custom of their own country the corpse of the meanest person was sacred and inviolable,) abstain from inflicting punishment upon them in their lifetime, when they were acting all their villainies, if they had been able, and that upon some maxim of the law of nature? I know you would not stick to answer me in the affirmative, how absurd soever it be; but that you may not offer at it, I will pull out your tongue. Know then, that some ages before Cephrenes’s time, one Ammosis was king of Egypt, and was as great a tyrant, as who has been the greatest; him the people bore with. This you are glad to hear; this is what you would be at. But hear what follows, my honest Telltruth. I shall speak out of Diodorus, “They bore with him for somewhile, because he was too strong for them.” But when Actisanes king of Ethiopia made war upon him, they took that opportunity to revolt, so that being deserted, he was easily subdued, and Egypt became an accession to the kingdom of Ethiopia. You see the Egyptians, so soon as they could, took up arms against a tyrant; they joined forces with a foreign prince, to depose Edition: current; Page: [72] their own king, and disinherit his posterity; they chose to live under a moderate and good prince, as Actisanes was, though a foreigner, rather than under a tyrant of their own. The same people with a very unanimous consent took up arms against Apries, another tyrant, who relied upon foreign aids that he had hired to assist him. Under the conduct of Amasis their general they conquered, and afterwards strangled him, and placed Amasis in the throne. And observe this circumstance in the history; Amasis kept the captive king a good while in the palace, and treated him well: at last, when the people complained that he nourished his own and their enemy; he delivered him into their hands, who put him to death in the manner I have mentioned. These things are related by Herodotus and Diodorus. Where are you now? do you think that any tyrant would not choose a hatchet rather than a halter? “Afterwards,” say you, “when the Egyptians were brought into subjection by the Persians, they continued faithful to them;” which is most false; they never were faithful to them: for in the fourth year after Cambyses had subdued them, they rebelled. Afterwards, when Xerxes had tamed them, within a short time they revolted from his son Artaxerxes, and set up one Inarus to be their king. After his death they rebelled again, and created one Tachus king, and made war upon Artaxerxes Mnemon. Neither were they better subjects to their own princes, for they deposed Tachus, and conferred the government upon his son Nectanebus, till at last Artaxerxes Ochus brought them the second time under subjection to the Persian empire. When they were under the Macedonian empire, they declared by their actions, that tyrants ought to be under some restraint: they threw down the statues and images of Ptolemæus Physco, and would have killed him, but that the mercenary army, that he commanded, was too strong for them. His son Alexander was forced to leave his country by the mere violence of the people, who were incensed against him for killing his mother: and the people of Alexandria dragged his son Alexander out of the palace, whose insolent behaviour gave just offence, and killed him in the theatre: and the same people deposed Ptolemæus Auletes for his many crimes. Now since it is impossible, that any learned man should be ignorant of these things that are so generally known; and since it is an inexcusable fault in Salmasius to be ignorant of them, whose profession it is to teach them others, and whose very asserting things of this nature ought to carry in itself an argument of credibility; it is certainly a very scandalous thing (I say) either that so ignorant, illiterate a blockhead, should, to the scandal of all learning, profess himself, and be accounted a learned man, and obtain salaries from princes and states; or that so impudent and notorious a liar should not be branded with some particular mark of infamy, and for ever banished from the society of learned and honest men.

Having searched among the Egyptians for examples, let us now consider the Ethiopians their neighbours. They adore their kings, whom they suppose God to have appointed over them, even as if they were a sort of gods: and yet whenever the priests condemn any of them, they kill themselves: and on that manner, says Diodorus, they punish all their criminals; they put them not to death, but send a minister of justice to command them to destroy their own persons. In the next place, you mention the Assyrians, the Medes, and the Persians, who of all others were most observant of their princes: and you affirm, contrary to all historians that have wrote any thing concerning those nations, that “the regal power there had an unbounded liberty annexed to it, of doing what the king listed.” In the first place, the prophet Daniel tells us, how the Babylonians expelled Nebuchadnezzar Edition: current; Page: [73] out of human society, and made him graze with the beasts, when his pride grew to be insufferable. The laws of those countries were not entitled the laws of their kings, but the laws of the Medes and Persians; which laws were irrevocable, and the kings themselves were bound by them: insomuch that Darius the Mede, though he earnestly desired to have delivered Daniel from the hands of the princes, yet could not effect it. “Those nations,” say you, “thought it no sufficient pretence to reject a prince, because he abused the right that was inherent in him as he was sovereign.” But in the very writing of these words you are so stupid, as that with the same breath that you commend the obedience and submissiveness of those nations, of your own accord you make mention of Sardanapalus’s being deprived of his crown by Arbaces. Neither was it he alone that accomplished that enterprise; for he had the assistance of the priests (who of all others were best versed in the law) and of the people; and it was wholly upon this account that he deposed him, because he abused his authority and power, not by giving himself over to cruelty, but to luxury and effeminacy. Run over the histories of Herodotus Ctesias, Diodorus, and you will find things quite contrary to what you assert here; you will find that those kingdoms were destroyed for the most part by subjects, and not by foreigners; that the Assyrians were brought down by the Medes, who then were their subjects, and the Medes by the Persians who at that time were likewise subject to them. You yourself confess that “Cyrus rebelled, and that at the same time in divers parts of the empire little upstart governments were formed by those that shook off the Medes.” But does this agree with what you said before? Does this prove the obedience of the Medes and Persians to their princes, and that Jus Regium which you had asserted to have been universally received amongst those nations? What potion can cure this brainsick frenzy of yours? You say, “It appears by Herodotus how absolute the Persian kings were.” Cambyses being desirous to marry his sisters, consulted with the judges, who were the interpreters of the laws, to whose decision all difficult matters were to be referred. What answer had he from them? They told him, they knew no law which permitted a brother to marry his sister; but another law they knew, that the kings of Persia might do what they listed. Now to this I answer, if the kings of Persia were really so absolute, what need was there of any other to interpret the laws, besides the king himself? Those superfluous unnecessary judges would have had their abode and residence in any other place rather than in the palace where they were altogether useless. Again, if those kings might do whatever they would, it is not credible, that so ambitious a prince as Cambyses, should be so ignorant of that grand prerogative, as to consult with the judges, whether what he desired were according to law. What was the matter then? either they designed to humour the king, as you say they did, or they were afraid to cross his inclination, which is the account that Herodotus gives of it; and so told him of such a law, as they knew would please him, and in plain terms made a fool of him, which is no new thing with judges and lawyers now-a-days. “But,” say you, “Artabanus a Persian told Themistocles, that there was no better law in Persia, than that by which it was enacted, that kings were to be honoured and adored.” An excellent law that was without doubt, which commanded subjects to adore their princes! but the primitive fathers have long ago damned it; and Artabanus was a proper person to recommend such a law, who was the very man that a little while after slew Xerxes with his own hand. You quote regicides to assert royalty. I am afraid you have some design upon kings. In the next place, you quote the poet Claudian, to prove how obedient Edition: current; Page: [74] the Persians were. But I appeal to their histories and annals, which are full of the revolts of the Persians, the Medes, the Bactrians, and Babylonians, and give us frequent instances of the murders of their princes. The next person whose authority you cite, is Otanes the Persian, who likewise killed Smerdis then king of Persia, to whom, out of the hatred which he bore to a kingly government, he reckons up the impieties and injurious actions of kings, their violation of all laws, their putting men to death without any legal conviction, their rapes and adulteries; and all this you will have called the right of kings, and slander Samuel again as a teacher of such doctrines. You quote Homer, who says that kings derive their authority from Jupiter; to which I have already given an answer. For king Philip of Macedon, whose asserting the right of kings you make use of; I will believe that Charles his description of it, as soon as his. Then you quote some sentences out of a fragment of Diogenes a Pythagorean; but you do not tell us what sort of a king he speaks of. Observe therefore how he begins that discourse; for whatever follows must be understood to have relation to it. “Let him be king,” says he, “that of all others is most just, and so he is that acts most according to law; for no man can be king that is not just; and without laws there can be no justice.” This is directly opposite to that regal right of yours. And Ecphantas, whom you likewise quote, is of the same opinion: “Whosoever takes upon him to be a king, ought to be naturally most pure and clear from all imputation.” And a little after, “Him,” says he, “we call a king, that governs well, and he only is properly so.” So that such a king as you speak of, according to the philosophy of the Pythagoreans, is no king at all. Hear now what Plato says in his Eighth Epistle: “Let kings,” says he, “be liable to be called to account for what they do: Let the laws control not only the people but kings themselves, if they do any thing not warranted by law.” I will mention what Aristotle says in the Third Book of his Politics; “It is neither for the public good, nor is it just,” says he, “seeing all men are by nature alike and equal, that any one should be lord and master over all the rest, where there are no laws; nor is it for the public good, or just, that one man should be a law to the rest, where there are laws; nor that any one, though a good man, should be lord over other good men, nor a bad man, over bad men.” And in the Fifth Book, says he, “That king whom the people refuse to be governed by, is no longer a king, but a tyrant.” Hear what Xenophon says in Hiero: “People are so far from revenging the deaths of tyrants, that they confer great honour upon him that kills one, and erect statues in their temples to the honour of tyrannicides.” Of this I can produce an eye-witness, Marcus Tullius, in his oration pro Milone; “The Grecians,” says he, “ascribed divine worship to such as kill tyrants: what things of this nature have I myself seen at Athens, and in the other cities of Greece? how many religious observances have been instituted in honour of such men? how many hymns? They are consecrated to immortality and adoration, and their memory endeavoured to be perpetuated.” And lastly, Polybius, an historian of great authority and gravity, in the Sixth book of his History, says thus: “When princes began to indulge their own lusts and sensual appetites, then kingdoms were turned into so many tyrannies, and the subjects began to conspire the death of their governors; neither was it the profligate sort that were the authors of those designs, but the most generous and magnanimous.” I could quote many such like passages, but I shall instance in no more. From the philosophers you appeal to the poets; and I am very willing to follow you thither. Æschylus is enough to inform us, that the power of the kings of Greece was such, as not to be liable to the censure Edition: current; Page: [75] of any laws, or to be questioned before any human judicature; for he in that tragedy that is called, The Suppliants, calls the king of the Argives, “a governor not obnoxious to the judgment of any tribunal.” But you must know, (for the more you say, the more you discover your rashness and want of judgment,) you must know, I say, that one is not to regard what the poet says, but what person in the play speaks, and what that person says; for different persons are introduced, sometimes good, sometimes bad; sometimes wise men, sometimes fools; and such words are put into their mouths, as it is most proper for them to speak; not such as the poet would speak, if he were to speak in his own person. The fifty daughters of Danaus, being banished out of Egypt, became suppliants to the king of the Argives; they begged of him, that he would protect them from the Egyptians, who pursued them with a fleet of ships. The king told them he could not undertake their protection, till he had imparted the matter to the people; “For,” says he, “if I should make a promise to you, I should not be able to perform it, unless I consult with them first.” The women being strangers and suppliants, and fearing the uncertain suffrages of the people, tell him, “That the power of all the people resides in him alone; that he judges all others, but is not judged himself by any.” He answers: “I have told you already, that I cannot do this thing that you desire of me, without the people’s consent; nay, and though I could, I would not.” At last he refers the matter to the people: “I will assemble the people,” says he, “and persuade them to protect you.” The people met, and resolved to engage in their quarrel; insomuch that Danaus their father bids his daughters “be of good cheer, for the people of the country, in a popular convention, had voted their safeguard and defence.” If I had not related the whole thing, how rashly would this impertinent ignoramus have determined concerning the right of kings among the Grecians, out of the mouths of a few women that were strangers and suppliants, though the king himself, and the history, be quite contrary! The same thing appears by the story of Orestes in Euripides, who, after his father’s death, was himself king of the Argives, and yet was called in question by the people for the death of his mother, and made to plead for his life, and by the major suffrage was condemned to die. The same poet, in his play called “The Suppliants,” declares, that at Athens the kingly power was subject to the laws; where Theseus then king of that city is made to say these words: “This is a free city, it is not governed by one man; the people reign here.” And his son Demophoon, who was king after him, in another tragedy of the same poet, called Heraclidæ; “I do not exercise a tyrannical power over them, as if they were barbarians: I am upon other terms with them; but if I do them justice, they will do me the like.” Sophocles in his Œdipus shows, that anciently in Thebes the kings were not absolute neither: hence says Tiresias to Œdipus, “I am not your slave.” And Creon to the same king, “I have some right in this city,” says he, “as well as you.” And in another tragedy of the same poet, called Antigone, Æmon tells the king, “That the city of Thebes is not governed by a single person.” All men know, that the kings of Lacedemon have been arraigned, and sometimes put to death judicially. These instances are sufficient to evince what power the kings in Greece had.

Let us consider now the Romans: You betake yourself to that passage of C. Memmius in Sallust, of kings having a liberty to do what they list, and go unpunished; to which I have given an answer already. Sallust himself says in express words, “That the ancient government of Rome was by their laws, though the name and form of it was regal: which form of Edition: current; Page: [76] government, when it grew into a tyranny, you know they put down and changed.” Cicero, in his oration against Piso, “Shall I,” says he, “account him a consul, who would not allow the senate to have any authority in the commonwealth? Shall I take notice of any man as consul, if at the same time there be no such thing as a senate; when of old the city of Rome acknowledged not their kings, if they acted without or in opposition to the senate?” Do you hear; the very kings themselves at Rome signified nothing without the senate. “But,” say you, “Romulus governed as he listed;” and for that you quote Tacitus. No wonder: the government was not then established by law; they were a confused multitude of strangers, more likely than a regulated state; and all mankind lived without laws before governments were settled. But when Romulus was dead, though all the people were desirous of a king, not having yet experienced the sweetness of liberty, yet, as Livy informs us, “The sovereign power resided in the people; so that they parted not with more right than they retained.” The same author tells us, “That the same power was afterwards extorted from them by their emperors.” Servius Tullius at first reigned by fraud, and as it were a deputy to Tarquinius Priscus; but afterward he referred it to the people, Whether they would have him reign or no? At last, says Tacitus, he became the author of such laws as the kings were obliged to obey. Do you think he would have done such an injury to himself and his posterity, if he had been of opinion, that the right of kings had been above all laws? Their last king, Tarquinius Superbus, was the first that put an end to that custom of consulting the senate concerning all public affairs: for which very thing, and other enormities of his, the people deposed him, and banished him and his family. These things I have out of Livy and Cicero, than whom you will hardly produce any better expositors of the right of kings among the Romans. As for the dictatorship, that was but temporary, and was never made use of, but in great extremities, and was not to continue longer than six months. But that which you call the right of the Roman emperors, was no right, but a plain downright force; and was gained by war only. “But Tacitus,” say you, “that lived under the government of a single person, writes thus; the gods have committed the sovereign power in human affairs to princes only, and have left to subjects the honour of being obedient.” But you tell us not where Tacitus has these words, for you were conscious to yourself, that you imposed upon your readers in quoting them; which I presently smelt out, though I could not find the place of a sudden: for that expression is not Tacitus’s own, who is an approved writer, and of all others the greatest enemy to tyrants; but Tacitus relates that of M. Terentius, a gentleman of Rome, being accused for a capital crime, amongst other things that he said to save his life, flattered Tiberius on this manner. It is in the Sixth Book of his Annals, “The gods have entrusted you with the ultimate judgment in all things; they have left us the honour of obedience.” And you cite this passage as if Tacitus had said it himself; you scrape together whatever seems to make for your opinion, either out of ostentation, or out of weakness; you would leave out nothing that you could find in a baker’s or a barber’s shop; nay, you would be glad of any thing that looked like an argument, from the very hangman. If you had read Tacitus himself, and not transcribed some loose quotations out of him by other authors, he would have taught you whence that imperial right had its original. “After the conquest of Asia,” says he, “the whole state of our affairs was turned upside down; nothing of the ancient integrity of our forefathers was left amongst us; all men shook off that former equality which had been observed, and began to have reverence for Edition: current; Page: [77] the mandates of princes.” This you might have learned out of the Third Book of his Annals, whence you have all your regal right. “When that ancient equality was laid aside, and instead thereof ambition and violence took place, tyrannical forms of government started up, and fixed themselves in many countries.” The same thing you might have learned out of Dio, if your natural levity and unsettledness of judgment would have suffered you to apprehend any thing that is solid. He tells us in the Fifty-third Book of his History, out of which book you have made some quotation already, That Octavius Cæsar, partly by force, and partly by fraud, brought things to that pass, that the emperors of Rome became no longer fettered by laws. For he, though he promised to the people in public that he would lay down the government and obey the laws, and become subject to others; yet under pretence of making war in several provinces of the empire, still retained the legions, and so by degrees invaded the government, which he pretended he would refuse. This was not regularly getting from under the law, but breaking forcibly through all laws, as Spartacus the gladiator might have done, and then assuming to himself the style of prince or emperor, as if God or the law of nature had put all men and all laws into subjection under him. Would you inquire a little further into the original of the right of the Roman emperors? Marcus Antonius, whom Cæsar (when by taking up arms against the commonwealth he had got all the power into his hands) had made consul, when a solemnity called the Lupercalia was celebrated at Rome, as had been contrived beforehand, that he should set a crown upon Cæsar’s head, though the people sighed and lamented at the sight, caused it to be entered upon record, that Marcus Antonius, at the Lupercalia, made Cæsar king at the instance of the people. Of which action Cicero, in his second Philippic, says, “was Lucius Tarquinius therefore expelled, Spurius Cassius, Sp. Melius, and Marcus Manilius put to death, that after many ages Marcus Antonius should make a king in Rome, contrary to law?” But you deserve to be tortured, and loaded with everlasting disgrace, much more than Mark Antony; though I would not have you proud because he and yourself are put together; for I do not think so despicable a wretch as you fit to be compared with him in any thing but his impiety; you that in those horrible Lupercalia of yours set not a crown upon one tyrant’s head, but upon all, and such a crown as you would have limited by no laws, nor liable to any. Indeed if we must believe the oracles of the emperors themselves, (for so some Christian emperors, as Theodosius and Valens, have called their edicts, Cod. lib. 1. tit. 14,) the authority of the emperors depends upon that of the law. So that the majesty of the person that reigns, even by the judgment, or call it the oracle, of the emperors themselves, must submit to the laws, on whose authority it depends. Hence Pliny tells Trajan in his Panegyric, when the power of the emperors was grown to its height, “A principality and an absolute sovereignty are quite different things. Trajan puts down whatever looks like a kingdom; he rules like a prince, that there may be no room for a magisterial power.” And afterwards, “whatever I have said of other princes, I said that I might show how our prince reforms and corrects the manners of princes, which by long custom have been corrupted and depraved.” Are you not ashamed to call that the right of kings, that Pliny calls the corrupt and depraved customs of princes? But let this suffice to have been said in short of the right of kings, as it was taken at Rome. How they dealt with their tyrants, whether kings or emperors, is generally known. They expelled Tarquin. “But,” say you, “how did they expel him? Did they proceed against him judicially? No such matter: when he would have come into the city, Edition: current; Page: [78] they shut the gates against him.” Ridiculous fool; what could they do but shut the gates, when he was hastening to them with part of the army? And what great difference will there be, whether they banished him or put him to death, so they punished him one way or other? The best men of that age killed Cæsar the tyrant in the very senate. Which action of theirs, Marcus Tullius, who was himself a very excellent man, and publicly called the father of his country, both elsewhere, and particularly in his second Philippic, extols wonderfully. I will repeat some of his words: “All good men killed Cæsar as far as in them lay. Some men could not advise in it, others wanted courage to act in it, others an opportunity, all had a good will to it.” And afterwards, “what greater and more glorious action (ye holy gods!) ever was performed, not in this city only, but in any other country? what action more worthy to be recommended to everlasting memory? I am not unwilling to be included within the number of those that advised it, as within the Trojan horse.” The passage of Seneca may relate both to the Romans and the Grecians: “there cannot be a greater nor more acceptable sacrifice offered up to Jupiter, than a wicked prince.” For if you consider Hercules, whose words these are, they show what the opinion was of the principal men amongst the Grecians in that age. If the poet, who flourished under Nero, (and the most worthy persons in plays generally express the poet’s own sense,) then this passage shows us what Seneca himself, and all good men, even in Nero’s time, thought was fit to be done to a tyrant; and how virtuous an action, how acceptable to God, they thought it to kill one. So every good man of Rome, as far as in him lay, killed Domitian. Pliny the second owns it openly in his Panegyric to Trajan the emperor, “we took pleasure in dashing those proud looks against the ground, in piercing him with our swords, in mangling him with axes, as if he had bled and felt pain at every stroke: no man could so command his passion of joy, but that he counted it a piece of revenge to behold his mangled limbs, his members torn asunder, and after all, his stern and horrid statues thrown down and burnt.” And afterwards, “they cannot love good princes enough, that cannot hate bad ones as they deserve.” Then amongst other enormities of Domitian, he reckons this for one, that he put to death Epaphroditus, that had killed Nero: “Had we forgotten the avenging Nero’s death? Was it likely that he would suffer his life and actions to be ill spoken of, whose death he revenged?” He seems to have thought it almost a crime not to kill Nero, that counts it so great a one to punish him that did it. By what has been said, it is evident, that the best of the Romans did not only kill tyrants, as oft as they could, and howsoever they could; but that they thought it a commendable and a praiseworthy action so to do, as the Grecians had done before them. For when they could not proceed judicially against a tyrant in his lifetime, being inferior to him in strength and power, yet after his death they did it, and condemned him by the Valerian law. For Valerius Publicola, Junius Brutus his colleague, when he saw that tyrants, being guarded with soldiers, could not be brought to a legal trial, he devised a law to make it lawful to kill them any way, though uncondemned; and that they that did it, should afterwards give an account of their so doing. Hence, when Cassius had actually run Caligula through with a sword, though every body else had done it in their hearts, Valerius Asiaticus, one that had been consul, being present at that time, cried out to the soldiers, that began to mutiny because of his death, “I wish I myself had killed him.” And the senate at the same time was so far from being displeased with Cassius for what he had done, that they resolved to extirpate the memory of the emperors, and to Edition: current; Page: [79] raze the temples that had been erected in honour of them. When Claudius was presently saluted emperor by the soldiers, they forbad him by the tribune of the people to take the government upon him; but the power of the soldiers prevailed. The senate declared Nero an enemy, and made inquiry after him, to have punished him according to the law of their ancestors; which required that he should be stripped naked, and hung by the neck upon a forked stake, and whipped to death.

Consider now, how much more mildly and moderately the English dealt with their tyrant, though many are of opinion, that he caused the spilling of more blood than ever Nero himself did. So the senate condemned Domitian after his death; they commanded his statues to be pulled down and dashed to pieces, which was all they could do. When Commodus was slain by his own officers, neither the senate nor the people punished the fact, but declared him an enemy, and inquired for his dead corpse, to have made it an example. An act of the senate made upon that occasion is extant in Lampridius: “Let the enemy of his country be deprived of all his titles; let the parricide be drawn, let him be torn in pieces in the Spoliary, let the enemy of the gods, the executioner of the senate, be dragged with a hook,” &c. The same persons in a very full senate condemned Didus Julianus to death, and sent a tribune to slay him in the palace. The same senate deposed Maximinus, and declared him an enemy. Let us hear the words of the decree of the senate concerning him, as Capitolinus relates it: “The consul put the question, ‘Conscript fathers, what is your pleasure concerning the Maximines?’ They answered, ‘they are enemies, they are enemies, whoever kills them shall be rewarded.’ ” Would you know now, whether the people of Rome, and the provinces of the empire, obeyed the senate, or Maximine the emperor? Hear what the same author says: the senate wrote letters into all the provinces, requiring them to take care of their common safety and liberty; the letters were publicly read. And the friends, the deputies, the generals, the tribunes, the soldiers of Maximine, were slain in all places; very few cities were found, that kept their faith with the public enemy. Herodian relates the same thing. But what need we give any more instances out of the Roman histories? Let us now see what manner of thing the right of kings was in those days, in the nations that bordered upon the empire. Ambiorix, a king of the Gauls, confesses “the nature of his dominion to be such, that the people have as great power over him, as he over them.” And consequently, as well as he judged them, he might be judged by them. Vercingetorix, another king in Gaul, was accused of treason by his own people. These things Cæsar relates in his history of the Gallic wars. “Neither is the regal power among the Germans absolute and uncontrollable; lesser matters are ordered and disposed by the princes; greater affairs by all the people. The king or prince is more considerable by the authority of his persuasions, than by any power that he has of commanding. If his opinion be not approved of, they declare their dislike of it by a general murmuring noise.” This is out of Tacitus. Nay, and you yourself now confess, that what but of late you exclaimed against as an unheard-of thing, has been often done, to wit, that “no less than fifty Scottish kings have been either banished or imprisoned, or put to death, nay, and some of them publicly executed.” Which having come to pass in our very island, why do you, as if it were your office to conceal the violent deaths of tyrants, by burying them in the dark, exclaim against it as an abominable and unheard-of thing? You proceed to commend the Jews and Christians for their religious obedience even to tyrants, and to heap one lie upon another; in all which I have already confuted you.

Edition: current; Page: [80]

Lately you made large encomiums on the obedience of the Assyrians and Persians, and now you reckon up their rebellions; and though but of late you said they never had rebelled at all, now you give us a great many reasons why they rebelled so often. Then you resume the narrative of the manner of our king’s death, which you had broken off so long since; that if you had not taken care sufficiently to appear ridiculous and a fool then, you may do it now You said, “he was led through the members of his own court.” What you mean by the members of the court, I would gladly know. You enumerate the calamities that the Romans underwent by changing their kingdom into a commonwealth. In which I have already shown how grossly you give yourself the lie. What was it you said, when you wrote against the Jesuit? You demonstrated, that “in an aristocracy, or a popular state, there could but be seditions and tumults, whereas under a tyrant nothing was to be looked for, but certain ruin and destruction;” and dare you now say, you vain corrupt mortal, that “those seditions were punishments inflicted upon them for banishing their kings?” Forsooth, because King Charles gave you a hundred Jacobusses, therefore the Romans shall be punished for banishing their kings. But “they that killed Julius Cæsar, did not prosper afterwards.” I confess, if I would have had any tyrant spared, it should have been him. For although he introduced a monarchical government into a free state by force of arms, yet perhaps himself deserved a kingdom best; and yet I conceived that none of those that killed him can be said to have been punished for so doing, any more than Caius Antonius, Cicero’s colleague, for destroying Catiline, who when he was afterwards condemned for other crimes, says Cicero in his oration pro Flacco, “Catiline’s sepulchre was adorned with flowers.” For they that favoured Catiline, they rejoiced; they gave out then, that what Catiline did was just, to increase the people’s hatred against those that had cut him off. These are artifices, which wicked men make use of, to deter the best of men from punishing tyrants, and flagitious persons; I might as easily say the quite contrary, and instance in them that have killed tyrants, and prospered afterwards; if any certain inference might be drawn in such cases from the events of things. You object further, “that the English did not put their hereditary king to death in like manner, as tyrants used to be slain, but as robbers and traitors are executed.” In the first place I do not, nor can any wise man, understand what a crown’s being hereditary should contribute to a king’s crimes being unpunishable. What you ascribe to the barbarous cruelty of the English, proceeded rather from their clemency and moderation, and as such, deserves commendation; who, though the being a tyrant is a crime that comprehends all sorts of enormities, such as robberies, treasons, and rebellions against the whole nation, yet were contented to inflict no greater punishment upon him for being so, than they used of course to do upon any common high wayman, or ordinary traitor. You hope “some such men as Harmodius and Thrasibulus will rise up against us, and make expiation for the king’s death, by shedding their blood that were the authors of it.” But you will run mad with despair, and be detested by all good men, and put an end to that wretched life of yours, by hanging yourself, before you see men like Harmodius avenging the blood of a tyrant upon such as have done no other than what they did themselves. That you will come to such an end is most probable, nor can any other be expected of so great a rogue; but the other thing is an utter impossibility.

You mention thirty tyrants that rebelled in Gallienus’s time. And what if it fall out, that one tyrant happens to oppose another, must therefore all Edition: current; Page: [81] they that resist tyrants be accounted such themselves? You cannot persuade men into such a belief, you slave of a knight; nor your author Trebellius Pollio, the most inconsiderable of all historians that have writ. “If any of the emperors were declared enemies by the senate,” you say, “it was done by faction, but could not have been by law.” You put us in mind what it was that made emperors at first: it was faction and violence, and to speak plainer, it was the madness of Antony, that made generals at first rebel against the senate, and the people of Rome; there was no law, no right for their so doing. “Galba,” you say, “was punished for his insurrection against Nero.” Tell us likewise how Vespasian was punished for taking up arms against Vitellius. “There was as much difference,” you say, “betwixt Charles and Nero, as betwixt those English butchers, and the Roman senators of that age.” Despicable villain! by whom it is scandalous to be commended, and a praise to be evil spoken of: but a few periods before, discoursing of this very thing, you said, “that the Roman senate under the emperors was in effect but an assembly of slaves in robes:” and here you say, “that very senate was an assembly of kings;” which if it be allowed, then are kings, according to your own opinion, but slaves with robes on. Kings are blessed, that have such a fellow as you to write in their praise, than whom no man is more a rascal, no beast more void of sense, unless this one may be said to be peculiar to you, that none ever brayed so learnedly. You make the parliament of England more like to Nero, than to the Roman senate. This itch of yours of making similitudes enforces me to rectify you, whether I will or no: and I will let you see how like King Charles was to Nero; Nero, you say, “commanded his own mother to be run through with a sword.” But Charles murdered both his prince, and his father, and that by poison. For to omit other evidences; he that would not suffer a duke that was accused for it, to come to his trial, must needs have been guilty of it himself. Nero slew many thousands of Christians; but Charles slew many more. There were those, says Suetonius, that praised Nero after he was dead, that longed to have had him again, “that hung garlands of flowers upon his sepulchre,” and gave out that they would never prosper that had been his enemies. And some there are transported with the like frenzy, that wish for King Charles again, and extol him to the highest degree imaginable, of whom you, a knight of the halter, are a ringleader. “The English soldiers, more savage than their own mastiffs, erected a new and unheard-of court of justice.” Observe this ingenious symbol, or adage of Salmasius, which he has now repeated six times over, “more savage than their own mastiffs.” Take notice, orators and schoolmasters; pluck, if you are wise, this elegant flower, which Salmasius is so very fond of: commit this flourish of a man, that is so much a master of words, to your desks for safe custody, lest it be lost. Has your rage made you forget words to that degree, that like a cuckoo, you must needs say the same thing over and over again? What strange thing has befallen you? The poet tells us, that spleen and rage turned Hecuba into a dog; and it has turned you, the lord of St. Lupus, into a cuckoo. Now you come out with fresh contradictions. You had said before, page 113, that “princes were not bound by any laws, neither coercive, nor directory; that they were bound by no law at all.” Now you say, that “you will discourse by-and-by of the difference betwixt some kings and others, in point of power; some having had more, some less.” You say, “you will prove that kings cannot be judged, nor condemned by their own subjects, by a most solid argument;” but you do it by a very silly one, and it is this: You say, “There was no other difference than that betwixt the judges, and Edition: current; Page: [82] the kings of the Jews; and yet the reason why the Jews required to have kings over them, was because they were weary of their judges, and hated their government.” Do you think, that, because they might judge and condemn their judges, if they misbehaved themselves in the government, they therefore hated and were weary of them, and would be under kings, whom they should have no power to restrain and keep within bounds, though they should break through all laws? Who but you ever argued so childishly? So that they desired a king for some other reason, than that they might have a master over them, whose power should be superior to that of the law; which reason, what it was, it is not to our present purpose to make a conjecture. Whatever it was, both God and his prophets tell us, it was no piece of prudence in the people to desire a king. And now you fall foul upon your rabbins, and are very angry with them for saying, that a king might be judged and condemned to undergo stripes; out of whose writings you said before you had proved, that the kings of the Jews could not be judged. Wherein you confess, that you told a lie when you said you had proved any such thing out of their writings. Nay, you come at last to forget the subject you were upon, of writing in the king’s defence, and raise little impertinent controversies about Solomon’s stables, and how many stalls he had for his horses. Then of a jockey you become a ballad-singer again, or rather, as I said before, a raving distracted cuckoo. You complain, that in these latter ages, discipline has been more remiss, and the rule less observed and kept up to; viz. because one tyrant in not permitted, without a check from the law, to let loose the reins of all discipline, and corrupt all men’s manners. This doctrine, you say, the Brownists introduced amongst those of the reformed religion; so that Luther, Calvin, Zuinglius, Bucer, and all the most celebrated orthodox divines, are Brownists in your opinion. The English have the less reason to take your reproaches ill, because they hear you belching out the same slanders against the most eminent doctors of the church, and in effect against the whole reformed church itself.


After having discoursed upon the law of God and of nature, and handled both so untowardly, that you have got nothing by the bargain but a deserved reproach of ignorance and knavery; I cannot apprehend what you can have further to allege in defence of your royal cause, but mere trifles. I for my part hope I have given satisfaction already to all good and learned men, and done this noble cause right, should I break off here; yet lest I should seem to any to decline your variety of arguing and ingenuity, rather than your immoderate impertinence, and tittle-tattle, I will follow you wherever you have a mind to go; but with such brevity as shall make it appear, that after having performed whatever the necessary defence of the cause required, if not what the dignity of it merited, I now do but comply with some men’s expectation, if not their curiosity. “Now,” say you, “I shall allege other and greater arguments.” What! greater arguments than what the law of God and nature afforded? Help, Lucina! the mountain Salmasius is in labour! It is not for nothing that he has got a she-husband. Mortals, expect some extraordinary birth. “If he that is, and is called a king, might be accused before any other power, that power must of necessity be greater than that of the king; and if so, then Edition: current; Page: [83] must that power be indeed the kingly power, and ought to have the name of it: for a kingly power is thus defined; to wit, the supreme power in the state residing in a single person, and which has no superior.” O ridiculous birth! a mouse crept out of the mountain! help grammarians! one of your number is in danger of perishing! the law of God and of nature are safe; but Salmasius’s dictionary is undone. What if I should answer you thus? That words ought to give place to things; that we having taken away kingly government itself, do not think ourselves concerned about its name and definition; let others look to that, who are in love with kings: we are contented with the enjoyment of our liberty; such an answer would be good enough for you. But to let you see that I deal fairly with you throughout, I will answer you, not only from my own, but from the opinion of very wise and good men, who have thought, that the name and power of a king are very consistent with a power in the people and the law superior to that of the king himself. In the first place, Lycurgus, a man very eminent for wisdom, designing, as Plato says, to secure a kingly government as well as it was possible, could find no better expedient to preserve it, than by making the power of the senate, and of the Ephori, that is, the power of the people, superior to it. Theseus, in Euripides, king of Athens, was of the same opinion; for he, to his great honour, restored the people to their liberty, and advanced the power of the people above that of the king, and yet left the regal power in that city to his posterity. Whence Euripides in his play called the “Suppliants,” introduces him speaking on this manner: “I have advanced the people themselves into the throne, having freed the city from slavery, and admitted the people to a share in the government, by giving them an equal right of suffrage.” And in another place to the herald of Thebes, “in the first place,” says he, “you begin your speech, friend, with a thing that is not true, in styling me a monarch: for this city is not governed by a single person, but is a free state; the people reign here.” These were his words, when at the same time he was both called and really was king there. The divine Plato likewise, in his eighth epistle, “Lycurgus,” says he, “introduced the power of the senate and of the Ephori, a thing very preservative of kingly government, which by this means has honourably flourished for so many ages, because the law in effect was made king. Now the law cannot be king, unless there be some, who, if there should be occasion, may put the law in execution against the king. A kingly government so bounded and limited, he himself commends to the Sicilians: “Let the people enjoy their liberty under a kingly government; let the king himself be accountable; let the law take place even against kings themselves, if they act contrary to law.” Aristotle likewise, in the third book of his Politics, “of all kingdoms,” says he, “that are governed by laws, that of the Lacedemonians seems to be most truly and properly so.” And he says, all forms of kingly governments are according to settled and established laws, but one, which he calls παμβασιλεία, or Absolute Monarchy, which he does not mention ever to have obtained in any nation. So that Aristotle thought such a kingdom, as that of the Lacedemonians was to be and deserve the name of a kingdom more properly than any other; and consequently that a king, though subordinate to his own people, was nevertheless actually a king, and properly so called. Now since so many and so great authors assert, that a kingly government both in name and thing may very well subsist even where the people, though they do not ordinarily exercise the supreme power, yet have it actually residing in them, and exercise it upon occasion; be not you of so mean a soul as to fear the downfall of grammar, and Edition: current; Page: [84] the confusion of the signification of words to that degree, as to betray the liberty of mankind, and the state, rather than your glossary should not hold water. And know for the future, that words must be conformable to things, not things to words. By this means you will have more wit, and not run on in infinitum, which now you are afraid of. “It was to no purpose then for Seneca,” you say, “to describe those three forms of government, as he has done.” Let Seneca do a thing to no purpose, so we enjoy our liberty. And if I mistake us not, we are other sort of men, than to be enslaved by Seneca’s flowers. And yet Seneca, though he says, that the sovereign power in a kingly government resides in a single person, says withal, that “the power is the people’s,” and by them committed to the king for the welfare of the whole, not for their ruin and destruction; and that the people has not given him a propriety in it, but the use of it. “Kings at this rate,” you say, “do not reign by God but by the people.” As if God did not so overrule the people, that they set up such kings, as it pleases God. Since Justinian himself openly acknowledges, that the Roman emperors derived their authority from that “royal law, whereby the people granted to them and vested in them all their own power and authority.” But how oft shall we repeat these things over and over again? Then you take upon you to intermeddle with the constitution of our government, in which you are no way concerned, who are both a stranger and a foreigner; but it shows your sauciness, and want of good manners. Come then, let us hear your solecisms, like a busy coxcomb as you are. You tell us, but it is in false Latin, “that what those desperadoes say, is only to deceive the people.” You rascal! was it not for this that you, a renegado grammarian, were so forward to intermeddle with the affairs of our government, that you might introduce your solecisms and barbarisms amongst us? But say, how have we deceived the people? “The form of government which they have set up, is not popular, but military.” This is what that herd of fugitives and vagabonds hired you to write. So that I shall not trouble myself to answer you, who bleat what you know nothing of, but I will answer them that hired you. “Who excluded the lords from parliament, was it the people?” Ay, it was the people; and in so doing they threw an intolerable yoke of slavery from off their necks. Those very soldiers, who you say did it, were not foreigners, but our own countrymen, and a great part of the people; and they did it with the consent, and at the desire, of almost all the rest of the people, and not without the authority of the parliament neither. “Was it the people that cut off part of the house of commons, forcing some away?” &c. Yes, I say, it was the people. For whatever the better and sounder part of the senate did, in which the true power of the people resided, why may not the people be said to have done it? What if the greater part of the senate should choose to be slaves, or to expose the government to sale, ought not the lesser number to interpose, and endeavour to retain their liberty, if it be in their power? “But the officers of the army and their soldiers did it.” And we are beholden to those officers for not being wanting to the state, but repelling the tumultuary violence of the citizens and mechanics of London, who like that rabble that appeared for Clodius, had but a little before beset the very parliament house? Do you therefore call the right of the parliament, to whom it properly and originally belongs, to take care of the liberty of the people both in peace and war, a military power? But it is no wonder that those traitors that have dictated these passages to you, should talk at that rate; so that profligate faction of Antony and his adherents used to call the senate of Rome, when they armed themselves against the enemies Edition: current; Page: [85] of their country, The camp of Pompey. And now I am glad to understand, that they of your party envy Cromwell, that most valiant general of our army, for undertaking that expedition in Ireland, (so acceptable to Almighty God,) surrounded with a joyful crowd of his friends, and prosecuted with the well-wishes of the people, and the prayers of all good men: for I question not but at the news of his many victories there, they are by this time burst with spleen. I pass by many of your impertinencies concerning the Roman soldiers. What follows is most notoriously false: “The power of the people,” say you, “ceases where there is a king.” By what law of right is that? Since it is known, that almost all kings, of what nations soever, received their authority from the people upon certain conditions; which if the king do not perform, I wish you would inform us, why that power, which was but a trust, should not return to the people, as well from a king, as from a consul, or any other magistrate. For when you tell us, that it is necessary for the public safety, you do but trifle with us; for the safety of the public is equally concerned, whether it be from a King, or from a Senate, or from a Triumvirate, that the power wherewith they were entrusted reverts to the people, upon their abuse of it; and yet you yourself grant, that it may so revert from all sorts of magistrates, a king only excepted. Certainly, if no people in their right wits ever committed the government either to a king, or other magistrates, for any other purpose than for the common good of them all, there can be no reason why, to prevent the utter ruin of them all, they may not as well take it back again from a king, as from other governors; nay, and it may with far greater ease be taken from one, than from many. And to invest any mortal creature with a power over themselves, on any other terms than upon trust, were extreme madness; nor is it credible that any people since the creation of the world, who had freedom of will, were ever so miserably silly, as either to part with the power for ever, and to all purposes, or to revoke it from those whom they had entrusted with it, but upon most urgent and weighty reasons. If dissensions, if civil wars, are occasioned thereby, there cannot any right accrue from thence to the king, to retain that power by force of arms, which the people challenge from him as their own. Whence it follows, that what you say, and we do not deny, that “governors are not likely to be changed,” is true with respect to the people’s prudence, not the king’s right; but that therefore they ought never to be changed, upon no occasion whatsoever, that does not follow by no means; nor have you hitherto alleged any thing, or made appear any right of kings to the contrary, but that all the people concurring, they may lawfully be deposed, when unfit for government; provided it may be done, as it has been often done in your own country of France, without any tumults or civil wars.

Since therefore the safety of the people, and not that of a tyrant, is the supreme law; and consequently ought to be alleged on the people’s behalf against a tyrant, and not for him against them: you that go about to pervert so sacred and so glorious a law, with your fallacies and jugglings; you who would have this supreme law, and which of all others is most beneficial to mankind, to serve only for the impunity of tyrants; let me tell you, (since you call us Englishmen so often inspired, and enthusiasts and prophets,) let me, I say, be so far a prophet, as to tell you, that the vengeance of God and man hangs over your head for so horrid a crime; although your subjecting all mankind to tyranny, as far as in you lies, which in effect is no better than condemning them to be devoured by wild beasts, is in itself part of its own vengeance; and whithersoever you fly, and wheresoever you wander, will first or last pursue you with its furies, and overtake you, Edition: current; Page: [86] and cause you to rave worse than you do at present. I come now to your second argument, which is not unlike the first: If the people may resume their liberty, “there would be no difference,” say you, “betwixt a popular state and a kingdom; but that in a kingdom one man rules, and in a popular state many.” And what if that were true; would the state have any prejudice by it? But you yourself tell us of other differences that would be notwithstanding; to wit, of “time and succession; for in popular states, the magistrates are generally chosen yearly;” whereas kings, if they behave themselves well, are perpetual;” and in most kingdoms there is a succession in the same family. But let them differ from one another, or not differ, I regard not those petty things: in this they agree, that when the public good requires it, the people may, without doing injury to any, resume that power for the public safety, which they committed to another for that end and purpose. “But according to the royal law, by the Romans so called, which is mentioned in the institutes, the people of Rome granted all their power and authority to the prince.” They did so by compulsion; the emperor being willing to ratify their tyranny by the authority of a law. But of this we have spoken before; and their own lawyers, commenting upon this place in the institutes, confess as much. So that we make no question but the people may revoke what they were forced to grant, and granted against their wills. But most rational it is to suppose, that the people of Rome transferred no other power to the prince, than they had before granted to their own magistrates; and that was a power to govern according to law, and a revocable, not an absurd, tyrannical power. Hence it was, that the emperors assumed the consular dignity, and that of the tribunes of the people; but after Julius Cæsar, not one of them pretended to the dictatorship: in the Circus Maximus they used to adore the people, as I have said already out of Tacitus and Claudian. But “as heretofore many private persons have sold themselves into slavery, so a whole nation may.” Thou jailbird of a knight, thou day-spirit, thou everlasting scandal to thy native country! The most despicable slaves in the world ought to abhor and spit upon such a factor for slavery, such a public pander as thou art. Certainly if people had so enslaved themselves to kings, then might kings turn them over to other masters, or sell them for money, and yet we know that kings cannot so much as alienate the demesnes of the crown: and shall he, that has but the crown, and the revenues that belong to it, as an usufructuary, and those given him by the people, can he be said to have, as it were, purchased the people, and made them his propriety? Though you were bored through both ears, and went barefoot, you would not be so vile and despicable, so much more contemptible than all slaves, as the broaching such a scandalous doctrine as this makes you. But go on, and punish yourself for your rogueries as now you do, though against your will. You frame a long discourse of the law of war; which is nothing to the purpose in this place: for neither did Charles conquer us; and for his ancestors, if it were never so much granted that they did, yet have they often renounced their title as conquerors. And certain it is, that we were never so conquered, but that as we swore allegiance to them, so they swore to maintain our laws, and govern by them: which laws, when Charles had notoriously violated, taken in what capacity you will, as one who had formerly been a conqueror, or was now a perjured king, we subdued him by force, he himself having begun with us first. And according to your own opinion, “Whatever is acquired by war, becomes his property that acquired it.” So that how full soever you are of words, how impertinent soever a babbler, whatever you prate, how great a noise soever you make, what quotations soever out of Edition: current; Page: [87] the rabbins, though you make yourself never so hoarse, to the end of this chapter, assure yourself, that nothing of it makes for the king, he being now conquered; but all for us, who by God’s assistance are conquerors.


To avoid two very great inconveniencies, and, considering your own weight, very weighty ones indeed, you denied in the foregoing chapter, that the people’s power was superior to that of the king; for if that should be granted, kings must provide themselves of some other name, because the people would indeed be king, and some divisions in your system of politics would be confounded: the first of which inconveniencies would thwart with your dictionary, and the latter overthrow your politics. To these I have given such an answer as shows, that though our own safety and liberty were the principal things I aimed the preservation of, yet withal, I had some consideration of salving your dictionary, and your politics. “Now,” say you, “I will prove by other arguments, that a king cannot be judged by his own subjects; of which arguments this shall be the greatest and most convincing, that a king has no peer in his kingdom.” What! Can a king have no peer in his kingdom? What then is the meaning of those twelve ancient peers of the kings of France? Are they fables and trifles? Are they called so in vain, and in mock only? Have a care how you affront those principal men of that kingdom; who if they are not the king’s peers, as they are called, I am afraid your dictionary, which is the only thing you are concerned for, will be found more faulty in France than in England. But go to, let us hear your demonstration, that a king has no peer in his own kingdom. “Because,” say you, “the people of Rome, when they had banished their king, appointed not one, but two consuls: and the reason was, that if one should transgress the laws, his colleague might be a check to him.” There could hardly have been devised any thing more silly: how came it to pass then, that but one of the consuls had the bundles of rods carried before him, and not both, if two were appointed, that each might have a power over the other? And what if both had conspired against the commonwealth? Would not the case then be the very same that it would have been, if one consul only had been appointed without a colleague? But we know very well, that both consuls, and all other magistrates, were bound to obey the senate, whenever the senate and the people saw, that the interest of the commonwealth so required. We have a famous instance of that in the decemvirs, who though they were invested with the power of consuls, and were the chief magistrates, yet the authority of the senate reduced them all, though they struggled to retain their government. Nay, we read that some consuls, before they went out of office, had been declared enemies, and arms have been taken up against them; for in those days no man looked upon him as a consul, who acted as an enemy. So war was waged against Antony, though a consul, by authority of the senate; in which being worsted, he would have been put to death, but that Octavius, affecting the empire, sided with him to subvert the commonwealth. Now whereas you say, “that it is a property peculiar to kingly majesty, that the power resides in a single person;” that is but a loose expression, like the rest of what you say, and is contradicted by yourself a little after: “for the Hebrew judges,” you say, “ruled as long as they lived, and there was but one of them at a time; the Scripture also calls Edition: current; Page: [88] them kings: and yet they were accountable to the great council.” Thus we see, that an itch of vain glory, in being thought to have said all that can be said, makes you hardly say any thing but contradictions. Then I ask, what kind of government that was in the Roman empire, when sometimes two, sometimes three emperors, reigned all at once? Do you reckon them to have been emperors, that is, kings, or was it an aristocracy, or a triumvirate? Or will you deny, that the Roman empire under Antoninus and Verus, under Dioclesian and Maximian, under Constantine and Licinius, was still but one entire empire? If these princes were not kings, your three forms of government will hardly hold; if they were, then it is not an essential property of a kingly government, to reside in a single person. “If one of these offend,” say you, “then may the other refer the matter to the senate, or the people, where he may be accused and condemned.” And does not the senate and the people then judge, when the matter is so referred to them? So that if you will give any credit to yourself, there needs not one colleague to judge another. Such a miserable advocate as you, if you were not so wretched a fellow as you are, would deserve compassion; you lie every way so open to blows, that if one were minded for sport’s sake to make a pass at any part of you, he could hardly miss, let him aim where he would. “It is ridiculous,” say you, “to imagine, that a king will ever appoint judges to condemn himself.” But I can tell you of an emperor, that was no ridiculous person, but an excellent prince, and that was Trajan, who, when he delivered a dagger to a certain Roman magistrate, as the custom was, that being the badge of his office, frequently thus admonished him, “Take this sword, and use it for me, if I do as I ought; if otherwise, against me: for miscarriages in the supreme magistrate are less excusable.” This Dion and Aurelius Victor say of him. You see here, that a worthy emperor appointed one to judge himself, though he did not make him equal. Tiberius perhaps might have said as much out of vanity and hypocrisy; but it is almost a crime to imagine, that so good and virtuous a prince as Trajan, did not really speak as he thought, and according to what he apprehended right and just. How much more reasonable was it, that though he were superior to the senate in power, and might, if he would, have refused to yield them any obedience, yet he actually did obey them, as by virtue of his office he ought to do, and acknowledged their right in the government to be superior to his own! For so Pliny tells us in his Panegyric, “The senate both desired and commanded you to be consul a fourth time; you may know by the obedience you pay them, that this is no word of flattery, but of power.” And a little after, “This is the design you aim at, to restore our lost liberty.” And Trajan was not of that mind alone; the senate thought so too, and were of opinion, that their authority was indeed supreme: for they that could command their emperor, might judge him. So the emperor Marcus Aurelius, when Cassius governor of Syria endeavoured to get the empire from him, referred himself either to the senate, or the people of Rome, and declared himself ready to lay down the government, if they would have it so. Now how should a man determine of the right of kings better and more truly, than out of the very mouths of the best of kings? Indeed every good king accounts either the senate, or the people, not only equal, but superior to himself by the law of nature. But a tyrant being by nature inferior to all men, every one that is stronger than he, ought to be accounted not only his equal, but superior: for as heretofore nature taught men from force and violence to betake themselves to laws; so wherever the laws are set at naught, the same dictate of nature must necessarily prompt us to betake Edition: current; Page: [89] ourselves to force again. “To be of this opinion,” says Cicero pro Sestio, “is a sign of wisdom; to put it in practice argues courage and resolution; and to do both, is the effect of virtue in its perfection.” Let this stand then as a settled maxim of the law of nature, never to be shaken by any artifices of flatterers, that the senate, or the people, are superior to kings, be they good or bad: which is but what you yourself do in effect confess, when you tell us, that the authority of kings was derived from the people. For that power, which they transferred to princes, doth yet naturally, or, as I may say, virtually reside in themselves notwithstanding: for so natural causes that produce any effect by a certain eminency of operation, do always retain more of their own virtue and energy than they impart; nor do they, by communicating to others, exhaust themselves. You see, the closer we keep to nature, the more evidently does the people’s power appear to be above that of the prince. And this is likewise certain, that the people do not freely, and of choice, settle the government in the king absolutely, so as to give him a propriety in it, nor by nature can do so; but only for the public safety and liberty, which, when the king ceases to take care of, then the people in effect have given him nothing at all: for nature says, the people gave it him to a particular end and purpose; which end, if neither nature nor the people can attain, the people’s gift becomes no more valid than any other void covenant or agreement.

These reasons prove very fully, that the people are superior to the king; and so your “greatest and most convincing argument, that a king cannot be judged by his people, because he has no peer in his kingdom,” nor any superior, falls to the ground. For you take that for granted, which we by no means allow. “In a popular state,” say you, “the magistrates being appointed by the people, may likewise be punished for their crimes by the people: in an aristocracy the senators may be punished by their colleagues: but it is a prodigious thing to proceed criminally against a king in his own kingdom, and make him plead for his life.” What can you conclude from hence, but that they who set up kings over them, are the most miserable and most silly people in the world? But, I pray, what is the reason why the people may not punish a king that becomes a malefactor, as well as they may popular magistrates and senators in an aristocracy? Do you think that all they who live under a kingly government, were so strangely in love with slavery, as when they might be free, to choose vassalage, and to put themselves all and entirely under the dominion of one man, who often happens to be an ill man, and often a fool, so as whatever cause might be, to leave themselves no refuge in, no relief from, the laws nor the dictates of nature, against the tyranny of a most outrageous master, when such a one happens? Why do they then tender conditions to their kings, when they first enter upon their government, and prescribe laws for them to govern by? Do they do this to be trampled upon the more, and be the more laughed to scorn? Can it be imagined, that a whole people would ever so villify themselves, depart from their own interest to that degree, be so wanting to themselves, as to place all their hopes in one man, and he very often the most vain person of them all? To what end do they require an oath of their kings, not to act any thing contrary to law? We must suppose them to do this, that (poor creatures!) they may learn to their sorrow, that kings only may commit perjury with impunity. This is what your own wicked conclusions hold forth. “If a king, that is elected, promise any thing to his people upon oath, which if he would not have sworn to, perhaps they would not have chose him, yet if he refuse to perform that promise, he falls not under the Edition: current; Page: [90] people’s censure. Nay, though he swear to his subjects at his election, that he will administer justice to them according to the laws of the kingdom; and that if he do not, they shall be discharged of their allegiance, and himself ipso facto cease to be their king; yet if he break this oath, it is God and not man that must require it of him.” I have transcribed these lines, not for their elegance, for they are barbarously expressed; nor because I think there needs any answer to them, for they answer themselves, they explode and damn themselves by their notorious falsehood and loathsomeness: but I did it to recommend you to kings for your great merits; that among so many places as there are at a court, they may put you into some preferment or office that may be fit for you. Some are princes’ secretaries, some their cup-bearers, some masters of the revels: I think you had best be master of the perjuries to some of them. You shall not be master of the ceremonies, you are too much a clown for that; but their treachery and perfidiousness shall be under your care.

But that men may see you are both a fool and a knave to the highest degree, let us consider these last assertions of yours a little more narrowly: “A king,” say you, “though he swear to his subjects at his election, that he will govern according to law, and that if he do not, they shall be discharged of their allegiance, and he himself ipso facto cease to be their king; yet can he not be deposed or punished by them.” Why not a king, I pray, as well as popular magistrates? because in a popular state, the people do not transfer all their power to the magistrates. And do they, in the case that you have put, vest it all in the king, when they place him in the government upon those terms expressly, to hold it no longer than he uses it well? Therefore it is evident, that a king sworn to observe the laws, if he transgress them, may be punished and deposed, as well as popular magistrates. So that you can make no more use of that invincible argument of the people’s transferring all their right and power to the prince; you yourself have battered it down with your own engines.

Hear now another most powerful and invincible argument of his, why subjects cannot judge their kings, “because he is bound by no law, being himself the sole lawgiver.” Which having been proved already to be most false, this great reason comes to nothing, as well as the former. But the reason why princes have but seldom been proceeded against for personal and private crimes, as whoredom, and adultery, and the like, is not because they could not justly be punished even for such, but lest the people should receive more prejudice through disturbances that might be occasioned by the king’s death, and the change of affairs, than they would be profited by the punishment of one man or two. But when they begin to be universally injurious and insufferable, it has always been the opinion of all nations, that then, being tyrants, it is lawful to put them to death any how, condemned or uncondemned. Hence Cicero, in his Second Philippic, says thus of those that killed Cæsar, “they were the first that ran through with their swords, not a man who affected to be king, but who was actually settled in the government; which, as it was a worthy and godlike action, so it is set before us for our imitation.” How unlike are you to him! “Murder, adultery, injuries, are not regal and public, but private and personal crimes.” Well said, parasite! you have obliged all pimps and profligates in courts by this expression. How ingeniously do you act both the parasite and the pimp with the same breath! “A king that is an adulterer, or a murderer, may yet govern well, and consequently ought not to be put to death, because, together with his life; he must lose his kingdom; and it was never yet allowed by God’s laws, or man’s, Edition: current; Page: [91] that for one and the same crime, a man was to be punished twice.” Infamous foul-mouth wretch! By the same reason the magistrates in a popular state, or in an aristocracy, ought never to be put to death, for fear of double punishment; no judge, no senator must die for they must lose their magistracy too, as well as their lives. As you have endeavoured to take all power out of the people’s hands, and vest it in the king, so you would all majesty too: a delegated translatitious majesty we allow, but that majesty does chiefly and primarily reside in him, you can no more prove, than you can that power and authority does. “A king,” you say, “cannot commit treason against his people, but a people may against their king.” And yet a king is what he is for the people only, not the people for him. Hence I infer, that the whole body of the people, or the greater part of them, must needs have greater power than the king. This you deny, and begin to cast up accounts. “He is of greater power than any one, than any two, than any three, than any ten, than any hundred, than any thousand, than any ten thousand:” be it so, “he is of more power than half the people.” I will not deny that neither; “add now half of the other half, will he not have more power than all those?” Not at all. Go on, why do you take away the board? Do you not understand progression in arithmetic? He begins to reckon after another manner. “Has not the king, and the nobility together, more power?” No, Mr. Changeling, I deny that too. If by the nobility, whom you style optimates, you mean the peers only; for it may happen that amongst the whole number of them, there may not be one man deserving that appellation: for it often falls out, that there are better and wiser men than they amongst the commons, whom in conjunction with the greater or the better part of the people, I should not scruple to call by the name of, and take them for, all the people. “But if the king is not superior in power to all the people together, he is then a king but of single persons, he is not the king of the whole body of the people.” You say well, no more he is, unless they are content he should be so. Now, balance your accounts, and you will find that by miscasting, you have lost your principal. “The English say, that the right of majesty originally and principally resides in the people; which principle would introduce a confusion of all states.” What, of an aristocracy and democracy? But let that pass. What if it should overthrow a gynæocracy too? (i. e. a government of one or more women,) under which state, or form of government, they say, you are in danger of being beaten at home; would not the English do you a kindness in that, you sheepish fellow, you? But there is no hope of that. For it is most justly so ordered, since you would subject all mankind to tyranny abroad, that you yourself should live in a scandalous most unmanlike slavery at home. “We must tell you,” you say, “what we mean by the word People.” There are a great many other things, which you stand more in need of being told: for of things that more immediately concern you, you seem altogether ignorant, and never to have learnt any thing but words and letters, not to be capable of any thing else. But this you think you know, that by the word people we mean the common people only, exclusive of the nobility, because we have put down the House of Lords. And yet that very thing shows, that under the word people we comprehend all our natives, of what order and degree soever; in that we have settled one supreme senate only, in which the nobility also, as a part of the people, (not in their own right, as they did before; but representing those boroughs or counties, for which they may be chose,) may give their votes. Then you inveigh against the common people, as being “blind and brutish, ignorant of the art of governing;” you say there Edition: current; Page: [92] is “nothing more empty, more vain, more inconstant, more uncertain than they.” All which is very true of yourself, and it is true likewise of the rabble, but not of the middle sort, amongst whom the most prudent men, and most skilful in affairs, are generally found; others are most commonly diverted either by luxury and plenty, or by want and poverty, from virtue, and the study of laws and government. “There are many ways,” you say, “by which kings come to the crown, so as not to be beholden to the people at all for it;” and especially, “those tht inherit a kingdom.” But those nations must certainly be slaves, and born to slavery, that acknowledge any one to be their lord and master so absolutely, as that they are his inheritance, and come to him by descent, without any consent of their own; they deserve not the appellation of subjects, nor of freemen, nor can they justly be reputed such; nor are they to be accounted as a civil society, but must be looked on as the possessions and estate of their lord, and his family: for I see no difference as to the right of ownership betwixt them, and slaves, or beasts. Secondly, “they that come to the crown by conquest, cannot acknowledge themselves to have received from the people the power to usurp.” We are not now discoursing of a conqueror, but of a conquered king; what a conqueror may lawfully do, we will discourse elsewhere; do you keep to your subject. But whereas you ascribe to kings that ancient right, that masters of families have over their households, and take an example from thence of their absolute power; I have shown already over and over, that there is no likeness at all betwixt them. And Aristotle (whom you name so often) if you had read him, would have taught you as much in the beginning of his Politics, where he says, they judge amiss, that think there is but little difference betwixt a king, and a master of a family: “For that there is not a numerical, but a specifical difference betwixt a kingdom and a family.” For when villages grew to be towns and cities, that regal domestic right vanished by degrees, and was no more owned. Hence Diodorus, in his first book, says, that anciently kingdoms were transmitted not to the former kings’ sons, but to those that had best deserved of the people. And Justin, “Originally,” says he, “the government of nations, and of countries, was by kings, who were exalted to that height of majesty, not by popular ambition, but for their moderation, which commended them to good men.” Whence it is manifest, that, in the very beginning of nations, that fatherly and hereditary government gave way to virtue, and the people’s right: which is the most natural reason and cause, and was the true rise of kingly government. For at first men entered into societies, not that any one might insult over all the rest, but that in case any should injure another, there might be laws and judges to protect them from wrong, or at least to punish the wrong doers. When men were at first dispersed and scattered asunder, some wise and eloquent man persuaded them to enter into civil societies; “that he himself,” say you, “might exercise dominion over them, when so united.” Perhaps you meant this of Nimrod, who is said to have been the first tyrant. Or else it proceeds from your own malice only, and certainly it cannot have been true of those great and generous spirited men, but is a fiction of your own, not warranted by any authority that I ever heard of. For all ancient writers tell us, that those first instituters of communities of men had a regard to the good and safety of mankind only, and not to any private advantages of their own, or to make themselves great or powerful.

One thing I cannot pass by, which I suppose you intended for an emblem, to set off the rest of this chapter: “If a consul,” say you, “had been to be Edition: current; Page: [93] accused before his magistracy expired, there must have been a dictator created for that purpose;” though you had said before, “that for that very reason there were two of them.” Just so your positions always agree with one another, and almost every page declares how weak and frivolous whatever you say or write upon any subject is. “Under the ancient Saxon kings,” you say, “the people were never called to parliaments.” If any of our own countrymen had asserted such a thing, I could easily have convinced him that he was in an error. But I am not so much concerned at your mistaking our affairs, because you are a foreigner. This in effect is all you say of the right of kings in general. Many other things I omit, for you use many digressions, and put things down that either have no ground at all, or are nothing to the purpose, and my design is not to vie with you in impertinence.


If you had published your own opinion, Salmasius, concerning the right of kings in general, without affronting any persons in particular, notwithstanding this alteration of affairs in England, as long as you did but use your own liberty in writing what yourself thought fit, no Englishman could have had any cause to have been displeased with you, nor would you have made good the opinion you maintain ever a whit the less. For if it be a positive command both of Moses and of Christ himself, “That all men whatsoever, whether Spaniards, French, Italians, Germans, English, or Scots, should be subject to their princes, be they good or bad,” which you asserted, p. 127, to what purpose was it for you, who are a foreigner, and unknown to us, to be tampering with our laws, and to read us lectures out of them as out of your own papers and miscellanies, which, be they how they will, you have taught us already in a great many words, that they ought to give way to the laws of God? But now it is apparent, that you have undertaken the defence of this royal cause, not so much out of your own inclination, as partly because you were hired, and that at a good round price too, considering how things are with him that set you on work; and partly, it is like, out of expectation of some greater reward hereafter; to publish a scandalous libel against the English, who are injurious to none of their neighbours, and meddle with their own matters only. If there were no such thing as that in the case, is it credible, that any man should be so impudent or so mad, as though he be a stranger, and at a great distance from us, yet of his own accord to intermeddle with our affairs, and side with a party? What the devil is it to you, what the English do amongst themselves? What would you have, pragmatical puppy? What would you be at? Have you no concerns of your own at home? I wish you had the same concerns that that famous Olus, your fellow-busybody in the Epigram, had; and perhaps so you have; you deserve them, I am sure. Or did that hotspur your wife, who encouraged you to write what you have done for outlawed Charles’s sake, promise you some profitable professor’s place in England, and God knows what gratifications at Charles’s return? But assure yourselves, my mistress and my master, that England admits neither of wolves, nor owners of wolves: so that it is no wonder you spit so much venom at our English mastiffs. It were better for you to return to those illustrious titles of yours in France; first to that hunger-starved Edition: current; Page: [94] lordship of yours at St. Lou;* and in the next place, to the sacred consistory of the most Christian king. Being a counsellor to the prince, you are at too great a distance from your own country. But I see full well, that she neither desires you, nor your counsel; nor did it appear she did, when you were there a few years ago, and began to lick a cardinal’s trencher: she is in the right, by my troth, and can very willingly suffer such a little fellow as you, that are but one half of a man, to run up and down with your mistress of a wife, and your desks full of trifles and fooleries, till you light somewhere or other upon a stipend, large enough for a knight of the grammar, or an illustrious critic on horseback, if any prince or state has a mind to hire a vagabond doctor, that is to be sold at a good round price. But here is one that will bid for you; whether you are a merchantable commodity or not, and what you are worth, we shall see by and by. You say, “the parricides assert, that the government of England is not merely kingly, but that it is a mixed government.” Sir Thomas Smith, a countryman of ours in Edward the Sixth’s days, a good lawyer, and a statesman, one whom you yourself will not call a parricide, in the beginning of a book which he wrote “of the commonwealth of England,” asserts the same thing, and not of our government only, but of almost all others in the world, and that out of Aristotle; and he says that it is not possible, that any government should otherwise subsist. But as if you thought it a crime to say any thing, and not unsay it again, you repeat your former threadbare contradictions. You say, “there neither is nor ever was any nation, that did not understand by the very name of a king, a person whose authority is inferior to God alone, and who is accountable to no other.” And yet a little after you confess, “that the name of a king was formerly given to such powers and magistrates, as had not a full and absolute right of themselves, but had a dependence upon the people, as the suffetes among the Carthaginians, the Hebrew judges, the kings of the Lacedemonians, and of Arragon.” Are you not very consistent with yourself? Then you reckon up five several sorts of monarchies out of Aristotle; in one of which only that right obtained, which you say is common to all kings. Concerning which I have said already more than once, that neither doth Aristotle give an instance of any such monarchy, nor was there ever any such in being: the other four he clearly demonstrates that they were bounded by established laws, and the king’s power subject to those laws. The first of which four was that of the Lacedemonians, which in his opinion did of all others best deserve the name of a kingdom. The second was such as obtained among barbarians, which was lasting, because regulated by laws, and because the people willingly submitted to it; whereas by the same author’s opinion in his third book, what king soever retains the sovereignty against the people’s will, is no longer to be accounted a king, but a downright tyrant; all which is true likewise of his third sort of kings, which he calls Æsymnetes, who were chosen by the people, and most commonly for a certain time only, and for some particular purposes, such as the Roman dictators were. The fourth sort he makes of such as reigned in the heroical days, upon whom for their extraordinary merits the people of their own accord conferred the government, but yet bounded by laws; nor could these retain the sovereignty against the will of the people; nor do these four sorts of kingly governments differ, he says, from tyranny in any thing else, but only in that these governments are with the good liking of the people, and Edition: current; Page: [95] that against their will. The fifth sort of kingly government, which he calls παμβασίλεια, or absolute monarchy, in which the supreme power resides in the king’s person, which you pretend to be the right of all kings, is utterly condemned by the philosopher, as neither for the good of mankind, nor consonant to justice or nature, unless some people should be content to live under such a government, and withal confer it upon such as excel all others in virtue. These things any man may read in the third book of his Politics. But you, I believe, that once in your life you might appear witty and florid, pleased yourself with making a comparison “betwixt these five sorts of kingly government, and the five zones of the world; betwixt the two extremes of kingly power, there are three more temperate species interposed, as there lie three zones betwixt the torrid and the frigid.” Pretty rogue! what ingenious comparisons he always makes us! may you for ever be banished whither you yourself condemn an absolute kingdom to be, that is, to the frigid zone, which when you are there, will be doubly cold to what it was before. In the meanwhile we shall expect that new-fashioned sphere which you describe, from you our modern Archimedes, in which there shall be two extreme zones, one torrid, and the other frigid, and three temperate ones lying betwixt. “The kings of the Lacedemonians, you say, might lawfully be imprisoned, but it was not lawful to put them to death.” Why not? Because the ministers of justice, and some foreign soldiers, being surprised at the novelty of the thing, thought it not lawful to lead Agis to his execution, though condemned to die? And the people of Lacedemon were displeased at his death, not because condemned to die, though a king, but because he was a good man and popular, and had been circumvented by a faction of the great ones. Says Plutarch, “Agis was the first king that was put to death by the ephori;” in which words he does not pretend to tell us what lawfully might be done, but what actually was done. For to imagine that such as may lawfully accuse a king, and imprison him, may not also lawfully put him to death, is a childish conceit. At last you betake yourself to give an account of the right of English kings. “There never was,” you say, “but one king in England.” This you say, because you had said before, “unless a king be sole in the government, he cannot be a king.” Which if it be true, some of them, who I had thought had been kings of England, were not really so; for to omit many of our Saxon kings, who had either their sons or their brothers partners with them in the government, it is known that King Henry II., of the Norman race, reigned together with his son. “Let them show,” say you, “a precedent of any kingdom under the government of a single person, who has not an absolute power: though in some kingdoms more remiss, in others more intense.” Do you show any power that is absolute, and yet remiss, you ass? is not that power which is absolute, the supreme power of all? How can it then be both supreme and remiss? Whatsoever kings you shall acknowledge to be invested with a remiss (or a less) power, those I will easily make appear to have no absolute power; and consequently to be inferior to a people, free by nature, who is both its own lawgiver, and can make the regal power more or less intense or remiss; that is, greater or less. Whether the whole island of Britain was anciently governed by kings, or no, is uncertain. It is most likely, that the form of their government changed according to the exigencies of the times Whence Tacitus says, “the Britons anciently were under kings; now the great men amongst them divide them into parties and factions.” When the Romans left them, they were about forty years without kings; they were not always therefore under a kingly government, as you say they Edition: current; Page: [96] were. But when they were so, that the kingdom was hereditary, I positively deny; which that it was not, is evident both from the series of their kings, and their way of creating them; for the consent of the people is asked in express words.

When the king has taken the accustomed oath, the archbishop stepping to every side of the stage erected for that purpose, asks the people four several times in these words, “Do you consent to have this man to be your king?” Just as if he spoke to them in the Roman style, Vultis, Jubetis hunc Regnare? “Is it your pleasure, do you appoint this man to reign?” Which would be needless, if the kingdom were by the law hereditary. But with kings, usurpation passes very frequently for law and right. You go about to ground Charles’s right to the crown, who was so often conquered himself, upon the right of conquest. William, surnamed the Conqueror, forsooth, subdued us. But they who are not strangers to our history, know full well, that the strength of the English nation was not so broken in that one fight at Hastings, but that they might easily have renewed the war. But they chose rather to accept of a king than to be under a conqueror and a tyrant: they swear therefore to William, to be his liegemen, and he swears to them at the altar, to carry himself towards them as a good king ought to do in all respects. When he broke his word, and the English betook themselves again to their arms, being diffident of his strength, he renewed his oath upon the Holy Evangelists, to observe the ancient laws of England. And therefore, if after that he miserably oppressed the English, (as you say he did,) he did it not by right of conquest, but by right of perjury. Besides, it is certain, that many ages ago, the conquerors and conquered coalesced into one and the same people: so that that right of conquest, if any such ever were, must needs have been antiquated long ago. His own words at his death, which I give you out of a French manuscript written at Caen, put all out of doubt, “I appoint no man (says he) to inherit the kingdom of England.” By which words, both his pretended right of conquest, and the hereditary right, were disclaimed at his death, and buried together with him.

I see now that you have gotten a place at court, as I foretold you would; you are made the king’s chief treasurer and steward of his court craft: and what follows, you seem to write ex officio, as by virtue of your office, magnificent Sir.” “If any preceding kings, being thereunto compelled by factions of great men, or seditions amongst the common people, have receded in some measure from their right, that cannot prejudice the successor; but that he is at liberty to resume it.” You say well; if therefore at any time our ancestors have through neglect lost any thing that was their right, why should that prejudice us their posterity? If they would promise for themselves to become slaves, they could make no such promise for us; who shall always retain the same right of delivering ourselves out of slavery, that they had of enslaving themselves to any whomsoever. You wonder how it comes to pass that a king of Great Britain must now-a-days be looked upon as one of the magistrates of the kingdom only; whereas in all other kingly governments in Christendom, kings are invested with a free and absolute authority. For the Scots, I remit you to Buchanan: for France, your own native country, to which you seem to be a stranger, to Holloman’s Franco-Gallia, and Girardus a French historian: for the rest, to other authors, of whom none that I know of were Independents: out of whom you might have learned a quite other lesson concerning the right of kings, than what you teach. Not being able to prove that a tyrannical power belongs to the kings of England by right of conquest, you try now Edition: current; Page: [97] to do it by right of perjury. Kings profess themselves to reign “by the grace of God:” what if they had professed themselves to be gods? I believe if they had, you might easily have been brought to become one of their priests. So the archbishops of Canterbury pretended to archbishop it by “Divine Providence.” Are you such a fool, as to deny the pope’s being a king in the church, that you may make the king greater than a pope in the state? But in the statutes of the realm the king is called our lord. You are become of a sudden a wonderful Nomenclator of our statutes: but you know not that many are called lords and masters who are not really so: you know not how unreasonable a thing it is to judge of truth and right by titles of honour, not to say of flattery. Make the same inference, if you will, from the parliament’s being called the king’s parliament; for it is called the king’s bridle too, or a bridle to the king: and therefore the king is no more lord or master of his parliament, than a horse is of his bridle. But why not the king’s parliament, since the king “summons them?” I will tell you why; because the consuls used to indict a meeting of the senate, yet were they not lords over that council. When the king therefore summons or calls together a parliament, he does it by virtue and in discharge of that office, which he has received from the people, that he may advise with them about the weighty affairs of the kingdom, not his own particular affairs. Or when at any time the parliament debated of the king’s own affairs, if any could properly be called his own, they were always the last things they did; and it was in their choice when to debate of them, and whether at all or no, and depended not upon the king’s pleasure. And they whom it concerns to know this, know very well, that parliaments anciently, whether summoned or not, might by law meet twice a year: but the laws are called too, “the king’s laws.” These are flattering ascriptions; a king of England can of himself make no law; for he was not constituted to make laws, but to see those laws kept, which the people made. And you yourself here confess, that “parliaments meet to make laws;” wherefore the law is also called the law of the land, and the people’s law. Whence king Ethelstane in the preface to his laws, speaking to all the people, “I have granted you every thing,” says he, “by your own law.”—And in the form of the oath, which the kings of England used to take before they were made kings, the people stipulate with them thus: “Will you grant those just laws, which the people shall choose?” The king answers, “I will.” And you are infinitely mistaken in saying, that “when there is no parliament sitting, the king governs the whole state of the kingdom, to all intents and purposes, by a regal power.” For he can determine nothing of any moment, with respect to either peace or war: nor can he put any stop to the proceedings of the courts of justice. And the judges therefore swear, that they will do nothing judicially, but according to law, though the king by word, or mandate, or letters under his own seal, should command the contrary. Hence it is that the king is often said in our law to be an infant; and to possess his rights and dignities, as a child or a ward does his: see the Mirror, Cap. 4, sec. 22. And hence is that common saying amongst us, that “the king can do no wrong:” which you like a rascal, interpret thus, “Whatever the king does, is no injury, because he is not liable to be punished for it.” By this very comment, if there were nothing else, the wonderful impudence and villainy of this fellow discovers itself sufficiently. “It belongs to the head,” you say, “to command, and not to the members: the king is the head of the parliament.” You would not trifle thus, if you had any guts in your brains. You are mistaken again (but there is no end of your mistakes) in not distinguishing the king’s Edition: current; Page: [98] counsellors from the states of the realm: for neither ought he to make choice of all of them, nor of any of them, which the rest do not approve of; but for electing any member of the house of commons, he never so much as pretended to it. Whom the people appointed to that service, they were severally chosen by the votes of all the people in their respective cities, towns, and counties. I speak now of things universally known, and therefore I am the shorter. But you say, “it is false that the parliament was instituted by the people, as the worshippers of saint Independency assert.” Now I see why you took so much pains in endeavouring to subvert the papacy; you carry another pope in your belly, as we say. For what else should you be in labour of, the wife of a woman, a he-wolf, impregnated by a she-wolf, but either a monster, or some new sort of papacy? You now make he-saints and she-saints, at your pleasure, as if you were a true genuine pope. You absolve kings of all their sins, and as if you had utterly vanquished and subdued your antagonist the pope, you adorn yourself with his spoils. But because you have not yet profligated the pope quite, till the second and third, and perhaps the fourth and fifth part of your book of his supremacy come out, which book will nauseate a great many readers to death, sooner than you will get the better of the pope by it; let it suffice you in the mean time, I beseech you to become some antipope or other. There is another she-saint, besides that Independency that you deride, which you have canonized in good earnest; and that is, the tyranny of kings: you shall therefore by my consent be the high priest of tyranny; and that you may have all the pope’s titles, you shall be a “servant of the servants,” not of God, but of the court. For that curse pronounced upon Canaan seems to stick as close to you, as your shirt. You call the people “a beast.” What are you then yourself; for neither can that sacred consistory, nor your lordship of St. Lou, exempt you its master from being one of the people, nay, of the common people; nor can make you other than what you really are, a most loathsome beast. Indeed the writings of the prophets shadow out to us the monarchy and dominion of great kings by the name, and under the resemblance, of a great beast. You say, that “there is no mention of parliaments held under our kings, that reigned before William the Conqueror.” It is not worth while to jangle about a French word: the thing was always in being; and you yourself allow that in Saxon times, Concilia Sapientum, Wittena-gemots, are mentioned. And there are wise men among the body of the people, as well as amongst the nobility. But “in the statute of Merton made in the twentieth year of king Henry the third, the earls and barons are only named.” Thus you are always imposed upon by words, who yet have spent your whole life in nothing else but words; for we know very well that in that age, not only the guardians of the cinque-ports, and magistrates of cities, but even tradesmen are sometimes called barons; and without doubt, they might much more reasonably call every member of parliament, though never so much a commoner, by the name of baron. For that in the fifty-second year of the same king’s reign, the commoners as well as the lords were summoned, the statute of Marlbridge, and most other statutes, declare in express words; which commoners King Edward the Third, in the preface to the statute-staple, calls, “Magnates Comitatum, the great men of the counties,” as you very learnedly quote it for me; those to wit, “that came out of several counties, and served for them;” which number of men constituted the house of commons, and neither were lords, nor could be. Besides, a book more ancient than those statutes, called, “Modus habendi Parliamenta, i. e. the manner of holding parliaments,” tells us, that the king and the commons may hold a parliament, and enact Edition: current; Page: [99] laws, though the lords, the bishops are absent; but that with the lords, and the bishops, in the absence of the commons, no parliament can be held. And there is a reason given for it, viz. because kings held parliaments and councils with their people before any lords or bishops were made; besides, the lords serve for themselves only, the commons each for the county, city, or borough that sent them. And that, therefore, the commons in parliament represent the whole body of the nation; in which respect they are more worthy, and every way preferable to the house of peers. “But the power of Judicature,” you say, “never was invested in the house of commons.” Nor was the king ever possessed of it: remember though, that originally all power proceeded, and yet does proceed, from the people. Which Marcus Tullius excellently well shows in his oration, “De lege Agraria, of the Agrarian law:” “As all powers, authorities, and public administrations ought to be derived from the whole body of the people; so those of them ought in an especial manner so to be derived, which are ordained and appointed for the common benefit and interest of all, to which employments every particular person may both give his vote for the choosing such persons, as he thinks will take most care of the public, and withal by voting and making interest for them, lay such obligations upon them, as may entitle them to their friendship and good offices in time to come.” Here you see the true rise and original of parliaments, and that it was much ancienter than the Saxon chronicles. Whilst we may dwell in such a light of truth and wisdom, as Cicero’s age afforded, you labour in vain to blind us with the darkness of obscurer times. By the saying whereof I would not be understood to derogate in the least from the authority and prudence of our ancestors, who most certainly went further in the enacting of good laws, than either the ages they lived in, or their own learning or education seem to have been capable of; and though sometimes they made laws that were none of the best, yet as being conscious to themselves of the ignorance and infirmity of human nature, they have conveyed this doctrine down to posterity, as the foundation of all laws, which likewise all our lawyers admit, that if any law, or custom, be contrary to the law of God, of nature, or of reason, it ought to be looked upon as null and void. Whence it follows, that though it were possible for you to discover any statute, or other public sanction, which ascribed to the king a tyrannical power, since that would be repugnant to the will of God, to nature and to right reason, you may learn from that general and primary law of ours, which I have just now quoted, that it will be null and void. But you will never be able to find, that any such right of kings has the least foundation in our law. Since it is plain therefore, that the power of judicature was originally in the people themselves, and that the people never did by any royal law part with it to the king, (for the kings of England neither used to judge any man, nor can by the law do it, otherwise than according to laws settled and agreed to: Fleta, Book I. Cap. 17,) it follows that this power remains yet whole and entire in the people themselves. For that it was either never committed to the house of peers, or if it were, that it may lawfully be taken from them again, you yourself will not deny. But, “It is in the king’s power,” you say, “to make a village into a borough, and that into a city; and consequently the king does in effect create those that constitute the Commons House of Parliament.” But, I say, that even towns and boroughs are more ancient than kings; and that the people is the people, though they should live in the open fields. And now we are extremely well pleased with your Anglicisms, COUNTY COURT, THE TURNE HUNDREDA: You have quickly learned to count your hundred Jacobuses in English.

Edition: current; Page: [100]
  • Quis expedivit Salmasio suam HUNDREDAM?
  • Picamque docuit verba nostra conari?
  • Magister artis venter, et Jacobæi
  • Centum, exulantis viscera mar supii Regis
  • Quod si dolosi spes refulserit nummi,
  • Ipse Antichriste modò qui Primatum Papæ
  • Minatus uno est dissipare sufflatu,
  • Cantabit ultrò Cardinalitium melos.
  • Who taught Salmasius, that French chatt’ring pie,
  • To aim at English, and HUNDREDA cry?
  • The starving rascal, flush’d with just a Hundred
  • English Jacobusses, HUNDREDA blunder’d.
  • An outlaw’d king’s last stock.—A hundred more,
  • Would make him pimp for th’ Antichristian whore;
  • And in Rome’s praise employ his poisoned breath,
  • Who threat’ned once to stink the pope to death.

The next thing you do is to trouble us with a long discourse of the earls and the barons, to show that the king made them all; which we readily grant, and for that reason they were most commonly at the king’s beck; and therefore we have done well to take care, that for the future they shall not be judges of a free people. You affirm, that “the power of calling parliaments as often as he pleases, and of dissolving them when he pleases, has belonged to the king time out of mind.” Whether such a vile mercenary foreigner as you, who transcribe what some fugitives dictate to you, or the express letter of our own laws, are more to be credited in this matter, we shall inquire hereafter. But say you, “there is another argument, and an invincible one, to prove the power of the kings of England superior to that of the parliament; the king’s power is perpetual and of course, whereby he administers the government singly without the parliament; that of the parliament is extraordinary, or out of course, and limited to particulars only, nor can they enact any thing so as to be binding in law, without the king.” Where does the great force of this argument lie? In the words “of course and perpetual?” Why, many inferior magistrates have an ordinary and perpetual power, those whom we call justices of the peace. Have they therefore the supreme power? And I have said already, that the king’s power is committed to him, to take care, by interposing his authority, that nothing be done contrary to law, and that he may see to the due observation of our laws, not to top his own upon us: and consequently that the king has no power out of his courts; nay, all the ordinary power is rather the people’s, who determine all controversies themselves by juries of twelve men. And hence it is, that when a malefactor is asked at his arraignment, “How will you be tried?” he answers always, according to law and custom, “by God and my country;” not by God and the king, or the king’s deputy. But the authority of the parliament, which indeed and in truth is the supreme power of the people committed to that senate, if it may be called extraordinary, it must be by reason of its eminence and superiority; else it is known they are called ordines, and therefore cannot properly be said to be extra ordinem, out of order; and if not actually, as they say, yet virtually they have a perpetual power and authority over all courts and ordinary magistrates, and that without the king.

And now it seems our barbarous terms grate upon your critical ears, forsooth! whereas, if I had leisure, or that it were worth my while, I could reckon up so many barbarisms of yours in this one book, as if you were to be chastised for them as you deserve, all the schoolboys’ ferulas in Christendom would be broken upon you; nor would you receive so many pieces of gold as that wretched poet did of old, but a great many more boxes on Edition: current; Page: [101] the ear. You say, “It is a prodigy more monstrous than all the most absurd opinions in the world put together, that the Bedlams should make a distinction betwixt the king’s power and his person.” I will not quote what every author has said upon this subject; but if by the words Personam Regis, you mean what we call in English, the person of the king; Chrysostom, who was no Bedlam, might have taught you, that it is no absurd thing to make a distinction betwixt that and his power; for that further explains the apostle’s command of being subject to the higher powers, to be meant of the thing, the power itself, and not of the persons of the magistrates. And why may not I say that a king, who acts any thing contrary to law, acts so far forth as a private person, or a tyrant, and not in the capacity of a king invested with a legal authority? If you do not know, that there may be in one and the same man more persons or capacities than one, and that those capacities may in thought and conception be severed from the man himself, you are altogether ignorant both of Latin and common sense. But this you say to absolve kings from all sin and guilt; and that you may make us believe, that you are gotten into the chair yourself, which you have pulled the pope out of. “The king,” you say, “is supposed not capable of committing any crime, because no punishment is consequential upon any crime of his.” Whoever therefore is not punished, offends not; it is not the theft, but the punishment, that makes the thief. Salmasius the Grammarian commits no solecisms now, because he is from under the ferula; when you have overthrown the pope, let these, for God’s sake, be the canons of your pontificate, or at least your indulgencies, whether you shall choose to be called the high priest St. Tyranny, or St. Slavery. I pass by the reproachful language, which towards the latter end of the chapter you give the state of the commonwealth, and the church of England; it is common to such as you are, you contemptible varlet, to rail at those things most that are most praiseworthy. But that I may not seem to have asserted any thing rashly concerning the right of the kings of England, or rather concerning the people’s right with respect to their princes; I will now allege out of our ancient histories a few things indeed of many, but such as will make it evident, that the English lately tried their king according to the settled laws of the realm, and the customs of their ancestors. After the Romans quitted this island, the Britons for about forty years were sui juris, and without any kings at all. Of whom those they first set up, some they put to death. And for that, Gildas reprehends them, not as you do, for killing their kings, but for killing them uncondemned, and (to use his own words) “non pro veri examinatione,” without inquiring into the matter of fact. Vortigern was for his incestuous marriage with his own daughter condemned (as Nennius informs us, the most ancient of all our historians next to Gildas) by St. German, “and a general council of the Britons,” and his son Vortimer set up in his stead. This came to pass not long after St. Augustine’s death, which is enough to discover how futilous you are, to say, as you have done, that it was a pope, and Zachary by name, who first held the lawfulness of judging kings. About the year of our Lord 600, Morcantius, who then reigned in Wales, was by Oudeceus, bishop of Llandaff, condemned to exile, for the murder of his uncle, though he got the sentence off by bestowing some lands upon the church.

Come we now to the Saxons, whose laws we have, and therefore I shall quote none of their precedents. Remember, that the Saxons were of a German extract, who never invested their kings with any absolute, unlimited power, but consulted in a body of the more weighty affairs of government; whence we may perceive, that in the time of our Saxon ancestors parliaments Edition: current; Page: [102] (the name itself only excepted) had the supreme authority. The name they gave them, was “councils of wise men;” and this in the reign of Ethelbert, of whom Bebe says, “that he made laws in imitation of the Roman laws, cum concilio sapientum; by the advice, or in a council of his wise men.” So Edwin king of Northumberland, and Ina king of the west Saxons, “having consulted with their wise men, and the elders of the people,” made new laws. Other laws King Alfred made, “by the advice” in like manner of “his wise men;” and he says himself, “that it was by the consent of them all, that they were commanded to be observed.”

From these and many other like places, it is as clear as the sun, that chosen men even from amongst the common people, were members of the supreme councils, unless we must believe, that no men are wise but the nobility. We have likewise a very ancient book, called the “Mirror of Justice,” in which we are told, that the Saxons, when they first subdued the Britons, and chose themselves kings, required an oath of them, to submit to the judgment of the law, as much as any of their subjects, Cap. 1. Sect. 2. In the same place it is said, that it is but just that the king have his peers in parliament, to take cognizance of wrongs done by the king, or the queen; and that there was a law made in King Alfred’s time, that parliaments should be holden twice a year at London, or oftener, if need were: which law, when through neglect it grew into disuse, was revived by two statutes in King Edward the Third’s time. And in another ancient manuscript, called “Modus tenendi Parliamenta,” we read thus, “If the king was summoned, he is guilty of perjury; and shall be reputed to have broken his coronation oath.” For how can he be said to grant those good laws, which the people choose, as he is sworn to do, if he hinders the people from choosing them, either by summoning parliaments seldomer, or by dissolving them sooner, than the public affairs require, or admit? And that oath which the kings of England take at their coronation, has always been looked upon by our lawyers as a most sacred law. And what remedy can be found to obviate the great dangers of the whole state, (which is the very end of summoning parliaments,) if that great and august assembly may be dissolved at the pleasure many time of a silly, headstrong king? To absent himself from them, is certainly less than to dissolve them; and yet by our laws, as that Modus lays them down, the king neither can nor ought to absent himself from his parliament, unless he be really indisposed in health; nor then neither, till twelve of the peers have been with him to inspect his body, and give the parliament an account of his indisposition. Is this like the carriage of servants to a master? On the other hand the house of commons, without whom there can be no parliament held, though summoned by the king, may withdraw, and having made a secession, expostulate with the king concerning maleadministration, as the same book has it. But, which is the greatest thing of all, amongst the laws of King Edward, commonly called the Confessor, there is one very excellent, relating to the kingly office; which office, if the king do not discharge as he ought, then, says the law, “he shall not retain so much as the name of a king.” And lest these words should not be sufficiently understood, the example of Chilperic king of France is subjoined, whom the people for that cause deposed. And that by this law a wicked king is liable to punishment, that sword of King Edward, called Curtana, denotes to us, which the earl of Chester used to carry in the solemn procession at a coronation; “a token,” says Matthew Paris, “that he has authority by law to punish the king, if he will not do his duty:” and the sword is hardly ever made use of but in capital punishments. This same law, together with other laws of that good King Edward, Edition: current; Page: [103] did William the Conqueror ratify in the fourth year of his reign, and in a very full council held at Verulam, confirmed it with a most solemn oath: and by so doing, he not only extinguished his right of conquest, if he ever had any over us, but subjected himself to be judged according to the tenor of this very law. And his son Henry swore to the observance of King Edward’s laws, and of this amongst the rest; and upon those only terms it was that he was chosen king, while his elder brother Robert was alive. The same oath was taken by all succeeding kings, before they were crowned. Hence our ancient and famous lawyer Bracton, in his first book, Chap. viii., “There is no king in the case,” says he, “where will rules the roast, and law does not take place.” And in his third book, Chap. ix., “A king is a king, so long as he rules well; he becomes a tyrant when he oppresses the people committed to his charge.” And in the same chapter, “The king ought to use the power of law and right as God’s minister and vicegerent; the power of wrong is the Devil’s and not God’s; when the king turns aside to do injustice, he is the minister of the Devil.” The very same words almost another ancient lawyer has, who was the author of the book called “Fleta;” both of them remembered that truly royal law of King Edward, that fundamental maxim in our law, which I have formerly mentioned, by which nothing is to be accounted a law, that is contrary to the laws of God, or of reason; no more than a tyrant can be said to be a king, or a minister of the Devil a minister of God.

Since therefore the law is chiefly right reason, if we are bound to obey a king, and a minister of God; by the very same reason, and the very same law, we ought to resist a tyrant, and a minister of the Devil. And because controversies arise oftener about names than things, the same authors tell us, that a king of England, though he have not lost the name of a king, yet is as liable to be judged, and ought so to be, as any of the common people. Bracton, Book I. Chap. viii.; Fleta, Book I. Chap. xvii.; “No man ought to be greater than the king in the administration of justice; but he himself ought to be as little as the least in receiving justice, si peccat, if he offend.” Others read it, si petat. Since our kings therefore are liable to be judged, whether by the name of tyrants, or of kings, it must not be difficult to assign their legal judges. Nor will it be amiss to consult the same authors upon that point. Bracton, Book I. Chap. xvi.; Fleta, Book I. Chap. 17; “The king has his superiors in the government; the law, by which he is made king; and his court, to wit, the earls, and the barons: comites (earls) are as much as to say, companions; and he that has a companion, has a master; and therefore, if the king will be without a bridle, that is, not govern by law, they ought to bridle him.” That the commons are comprehended in the word barons, has been shown already; and in the books of our ancient laws they are frequently said to have been called peers of parliament: and especially in the Modus tenendi, &c. “There shall be chosen,” says that book, “out of all the peers of the realm, five and twenty persons, of whom five shall be knights, five citizens, and five burgesses; and two knights of a county have a greater vote in granting and rejecting than the greatest earl in England.” And it is but reasonable they should, for they vote for a whole county, &c., the earls for themselves only. And who can but perceive, that those patent earls, whom you call earls made by writ, (since we have now none that hold their earldoms by tenure,) are very unfit persons to try the king, who conferred their honours upon them?

Since therefore by our law, as appears by that old book called “the Mirror,” the king has his peers, who in parliament have cognizance of wrongs done by the king to any of his people; and since it is notoriously Edition: current; Page: [104] known, that the meanest man in the kingdom may even in inferior courts have the benefit of the law against the king himself, in case of any injury, or wrong sustained; how much more consonant to justice, how much more necessary is it, that in case the king oppress all his people, there should be such as have authority not only to restrain him, and keep him within bounds, but to judge and punish him! for that government must needs be very ill, and most ridiculously constituted, in which remedy is provided in case of little injuries, done by the prince to private persons, and no remedy, no redress for greater, no care taken for the safety of the whole; no provision made to the contrary, but that the king may, without any law, ruin all his subjects, when at the same time he cannot by law so much as hurt any one of them. And since I have shown, that it is neither good manners, nor expedient, that the lords should be the king’s judges; it follows, that the power of judicature in that case does wholly, and by very good right, belong to the commons, who are both peers of the realm, and barons, and have the power and authority of all the people committed to them. For since (as we find it expressly in our written law, which I have already cited) the commons together with the king made a good parliament without either lords or bishops, because before either lords or bishops had a being, kings held parliaments with their commons only; by the very same reason the commons apart must have the sovereign power without the king, and a power of judging the king himself; because before there ever was a king, they in the name of the whole body of the nation held councils and parliaments, had the power of judicature, made laws, and made the kings themselves, not to lord it over the people, but to administer their public affairs. Whom if the king, instead of so doing, shall endeavour to injure and oppress, our law pronounces him from that time forward not so much as to retain the name of a king, to be no such thing as a king: and if he be no king, what need we trouble ourselves to find out peers for him? For being then by all good men adjudged to be a tyrant, there are none but who are peers good enough for him, and proper enough to pronounce sentence of death upon him judicially. These things being so, I think I have sufficiently proved what I undertook, by many authorities and written laws; to wit, that since the commons have authority by very good right to try the king, and since they have actually tried him, and put him to death, for the mischief he had done both in church and state, and without all hope of amendment, they have done nothing therein but what was just and regular, for the interest of the state, in discharging of their trust, becoming their dignity, and according to the laws of the land. And I cannot upon this occasion, but congratulate myself with the honour of having had such ancestors, who founded this government with no less prudence, and in as much liberty as the most worthy of the ancient Romans or Grecians ever founded any of theirs: and they must needs, if they have any knowledge of our affairs, rejoice over their posterity, who, when they were almost reduced to slavery, yet with so much wisdom and courage vindicated and asserted the state, which they so wisely founded upon so much liberty, from the unruly government of a king.

Edition: current; Page: [105]


I think by this time it is sufficiently evident, that kings of England may be judged even by the laws of England; and that they have their proper judges, which was the thing to be proved. What do you do further? (for whereas you repeat many things that you have said before, I do not intend to repeat the answers I have given them.) “It is an easy thing to demonstrate, even from the nature of the things for which parliaments are summoned, that the king is above the parliament. The parliament (you say) is wont to be assembled upon weighty affairs, such as wherein the safety of the kingdom and of the people is concerned.” If therefore the king call parliaments together, not for his own concerns, but those of the nation, nor to settle those neither, but by their own consent, at their own discretion, what is he more than a minister, and as it were an agent for the people? since without their suffrages that are chosen by the people, he cannot exact the least thing whatsoever, either with relation to himself, or any body else? Which proves likewise, that it is the king’s duty to call parliaments whenever the people desire it; since the people’s and not the king’s concerns are to be treated of by that assembly, and to be ordered as they see cause. For although the king’s assent be required for fashion sake, which in lesser matters, that concerned the welfare of private persons only, he might refuse, and use that form, “the king will advise;” yet in those greater affairs, that concerned the public safety, and liberty of the people in general, he had no negative voice: for it would have been against his coronation oath to deny his assent in such cases, which was as binding to him as any law could be, and against the chief article of Magna Charta, cap. 29, “We will not deny to any man, nor will we delay to render to every man, right and justice.” Shall it not be in the king’s power to deny justice, and shall it be in his power to deny the enacting of just laws? Could he not deny justice to any particular person, and could he to all his people? Could he not do it in inferior courts, and could he in the supreme court of all? Or, can any king be so arrogant as to pretend to know what is just and profitable better than the whole body of the people? Especially, since “he is created and chosen for this very end and purpose, to do justice to all,” as Bracton says, lib. iii. c. 9, that is, to do justice according to such laws as the people agree upon. Hence is what we find in our records, 7 H. IV. Rott. Parl. num. 59, the king has no prerogative, that derogates from justice and equity. And formerly when kings have refused to confirm acts of parliament, to wit, Magna Charta and some others, our ancestors have brought them to it by force of arms. And yet our lawyers never were of opinion, that those laws were less valid, or less binding, since the king was forced to assent to no more than what he ought in justice to have assented to voluntarily, and without constraint.

Whilst you go about to prove that kings of other nations have been as much under the power of their senates or councils, as our kings were, you do not argue us into slavery, but them into liberty. In which you do but that over again, that you have from the very beginning of your discourse, and which some silly Leguleians now and then do, to argue unawares against their own clients. But you say, “We confess that the king, wherever he be, yet is supposed still to be present in his parliament by virtue of his power; insomuch, that whatever is transacted there, is supposed to be done by the king himself:” and then as if you had got some pretty bribe or small morsel, and tickled with the remembrance of your Edition: current; Page: [106] purse of gold, “we take,” say you, “what they give us;” and take a halter then, for I am sure you deserve it. But we do not give it for granted, which is the thing you thought would follow from thence, “that therefore that court acts only by virtue of a delegated power from the king.” For when we say, that the regal power, be it what it will, cannot be absent from the parliament, do we thereby acknowledge that power to be supreme? Does not the king’s authority seem rather to be transferred to the parliament, and, as being the lesser of the two, to be comprised in the greater? Certainly, if the parliament may rescind the king’s acts whether he will or no, and revoke privileges granted by him, to whomsoever they be granted: if they may set bounds to his prerogative, as they see cause; if they may regulate his yearly revenue, and the expenses of his court, his retinue, and generally all the concerns of his household; if they may remove his most intimate friends and counsellors, and, as it were, pluck them out of his bosom, and bring them to condign punishment; finally, if any subject may by law appeal from the king to the parliament, (all which things, that they may lawfully be done, and have been frequently practised, both our histories and records, and the most eminent of our lawyers, assure us,) I suppose no man in his right wits will deny the authority of the parliament to be superior to that of the king. For even in an interregnum the authority of the parliament is in being, and (than which, nothing is more common in our histories) they have often made a free choice of a successor, without any regard to an hereditary descent. In short, the parliament is the supreme council of the nation, constituted and appointed by a most free people, and armed with ample power and authority, for this end and purpose; viz. to consult together upon the most weighty affairs of the kingdom; the king was created to put their laws in execution. Which thing after the parliament themselves had declared in a public edict, (for such is the justice of their proceedings, that of their own accord they have been willing to give an account of their actions to other nations,) is it not prodigious, that such a pitiful fellow as you are, a man of no authority, of no credit, of no figure in the world, a mere Burgundian slave, should have the impudence to accuse the parliament of England, asserting by a public instrument their own and their country’s right, “of a detestable and horrid imposture?” Your country may be ashamed, you rascal, to have brought forth a little inconsiderable fellow of such profligate impudence. But perhaps you have somewhat to tell us, that may be for our good: go on, we will hear you. “What laws,” say you, “can a parliament enact, in which the bishops are not present?” Did you then, you madman, expel the order of bishops out of the church, to introduce them into the state? O wicked wretch! who ought to be delivered over to Satan, whom the church ought to forbid her communion, as being a hypocrite, and an atheist, and no civil society of men to acknowledge as a member, being a public enemy, and a plaguesore to the common liberty of mankind; who, where the gospel fails you, endeavour to prove out of Aristotle, Halicarnassæus, and then from some popish authorities of the most corrupt ages, that the king of England is the head of the church of England, to the end that you may, as far as in you lies, bring in the bishops again, his intimates and table-companions, grown so of late, to rob and tyrannize in the church of God, whom God himself has deposed and degraded, whose very order you had heretofore asserted in print that it ought to be rooted out of the world, as destructive of and pernicious to the Christian religion. What apostate did ever so shamefully and wickedly desert as this man has done, I do not say his own, which indeed never was any, but the Christian doctrine which he had formerly asserted? Edition: current; Page: [107] “The bishops being put down, who, under the king, and by his permission, held plea of ecclesiastical causes, upon whom,” say you, “will that jurisdiction devolve?” O villain! have some regard at least to your own conscience; remember before it be too late, if at least this admonition of mine come not too late, remember that this mocking the Holy Spirit of God is an inexpiable crime, and will not be left unpunished. Stop at last, and set bounds to your fury, lest the wrath of God lay hold upon you suddenly, for endeavouring to deliver the flock of God, his anointed ones that are not to be touched, to enemies and cruel tyrants, to be crushed and trampled on again, from whom himself by a high and stretched out arm had so lately delivered them; and from whom you yourself maintained, that they ought to be delivered, I know not whether for any good of theirs, or in order to the hardening of your own heart, and to further your own damnation. If the bishops have no right to lord it over the church, certainly much less have kings, whatever the laws of men may be to the contrary. For they that know any thing of the gospel know thus much, that the government of the church is altogether divine and spiritual, and no civil constitution. Whereas you say, that “in secular affairs, the kings of England have always had the sovereign power;” our laws do abundantly declare that to be false. Our courts of justice are erected and suppressed, not by the king’s authority, but that of the parliament; and yet in any of them, the meanest subject might go to law with the king; nor is it a rare thing for the judges to give judgment against him, which if the king should endeavour to obstruct by any prohibition, mandate, or letters, the judges were bound by law, and by their oaths, not to obey him, but to reject such inhibitions as null and void in law. The king could not imprison any man, or seize his estate as forfeited; he could not punish any man, not summoned to appear in court, where not the king, but the ordinary judges give sentence; which they frequently did, as I have said, against the king. Hence our Bracton, lib. 3, cap. 9, “The regal power,” says he, “is according to law; he has no power to do any wrong, nor can the king do any thing but what the law warrants.” Those lawyers that you have consulted, men that have lately fled their country, may tell you another tale, and acquaint you with some statutes, not very ancient neither, but made in King Edward IV., King Henry VI., and King Edward VIth’s days; but they did not consider, that what power soever those statutes gave the king, was conferred upon him by authority of parliament, so that he was beholden to them for it; and the same power that conferred it, might at pleasure resume it. How comes it to pass, that so acute a disputant as you, should suffer yourself to be imposed upon to that degree, as to make use of that very argument to prove the king’s power to be absolute and supreme, than which nothing proves more clearly, that it is subordinate to that of the parliament? Our records of the greatest authority with us declare, that our kings owe all their power, not to any right of inheritance, of conquest, or succession, but to the people. So in the parliament rolls of King Henry IV., numb. 108, we read, that the kingly office and power was granted by the commons to King Henry IV., and before him, to his predecessor King Richard II., just as kings use to grant commissioners’ places and lieutenantships to their deputies, by edicts and patents. Thus the house of commons ordered expressly to be entered upon record, “that they had granted to King Richard to use the same good liberty, that the kings of England before him had used:” which because that king abused to the subversion of the laws, and “contrary to his oath at his coronation,” the same persons that granted him that power, took it back again, and deposed him. The same men, as Edition: current; Page: [108] appears by the same record, declared in open parliament, “that having confidence in the prudence and moderation of King Henry the IVth, they will and enact, that he enjoy the same royal authority that his ancestors enjoyed.” Which if it had been any other than in the nature of a trust, as this was, either those houses of parliament were foolish and vain, to give what was none of their own, or those kings that were willing to receive as from them, what was already theirs, were too injurious both to themselves and their posterity; neither of which is likely. “A third part of the regal power,” say you, “is conversant about the militia; this the kings of England have used to order and govern, without fellow or competitor.” This is as false as all the rest that you have taken upon the credit of fugitives: for in the first place, both our own histories, and those of foreigners, that have been any whit exact in the relation of our affairs, declare, that the making of peace and war always did belong to the parliament. And the laws of St. Edward, which our kings were bound to swear that they would maintain, make this appear beyond all exception, in the chapter “De Heretochiis,” viz. “That there were certain officers appointed in every province and county throughout the kingdom, that were called Heretochs, in Latin, duces, commanders of armies, that were to command the forces of the several counties,” not for the honour of the crown only, “but for the good of the realm. And they were chosen by the general council, and in the several counties at public assemblies of the inhabitants, as sheriffs ought to be chosen.” Whence it is evident, that the forces of the kingdom, and the commanders of those forces, were anciently, and ought to be still, not at the king’s command, but at the people’s; and that this most reasonable and just law obtained in this kingdom of ours, no less than heretofore it did in the commonwealth of the Romans. Concerning which, it will not be amiss to hear what Cicero says, Philip. 1. “All the legions, all the forces of the commonwealth, wheresoever they are, are the people of Rome’s; nor are those legions, that deserted the consul Antonius, said to have been Antony’s, but the commonwealth’s legions.” This very law of St. Edward, together with the rest, did William the Conqueror, at the desire and instance of the people, confirm by oath, and added over and above, cap. 56, “That all cities, boroughs, castles, should be so watched every night, as the sheriffs, the aldermen, and other magistrates, should think meet for the safety of the kingdom.” And in the 6th law, “Castles, boroughs, and cities, were first built for the defence of the people, and therefore ought to be maintained free and entire, by all ways and means.” What then? Shall towns and places of strength in times of peace be guarded against thieves and robbers by common councils of the several places; and shall they not be defended in dangerous times of war, against both domestic and foreign hostility, by the common council of the whole nation? If this be not granted, there can be no freedom, no integrity, no reason, in the guarding of them: nor shall we obtain any of those ends, for which the law itself tells us, that towns and fortresses were at first founded. Indeed our ancestors were willing to put any thing into the king’s power, rather than their arms, and the garrisons of their towns; conceiving that to be neither better nor worse, than betraying their liberty to the fury and exorbitancy of their princes. Of which there are so very many instances in our histories, and those so generally known, that it would be superfluous to mention any of them here.

But “the king owes protection to his subjects; and how can he protect them, unless he have men and arms at command?” But, say I, he had all this for the good of the kingdom, as has been said, not for the destruction Edition: current; Page: [109] of his people, and the ruin of the kingdom: which in King Henry the IIId’s time, one Leonard, a learned man in those days, in an assembly of bishops, told Rustandus, the pope’s nuncio and the king’s procurator, in these words; “All churches are the pope’s, as all temporal things are said to be the king’s, for defence and protection, not his in propriety and ownership, as we say; they are his to defend, not to destroy.” The aforementioned law of St. Edward is to the same purpose; and what does this import more than a trust? Does this look like absolute power? Such a kind of power a commander of an army always has, that is, a delegated power; and yet both at home and abroad he is never the less able to defend the people that choose him. Our parliaments would anciently have contended with our kings about their liberty and the laws of St. Edward, to very little purpose; and it would have been an unequal match betwixt the kings and them, if they had been of opinion, that the power of the sword belonged to them alone: for how unjust laws soever their kings would have imposed upon them, their charter, though never so great, would have been a weak defence against force. But say you, “What would the parliament be the better for the militia, since without the king’s assent they cannot raise the least farthing from the people towards the maintaining it?” Take you no thought for that: for in the first place you go upon a false supposition, “that parliaments cannot impose taxes without the king’s assent,” upon the people that send them, and whose concerns they undertake.

In the next place, you, that are so officious an inquirer into other men’s matters, cannot but have heard, that the people of their own accord, by bringing in their plate to be melted down, raised a great sum of money towards the carrying on of this war against the king. Then you mention the largeness of our king’s revenue: you mention over and over again five hundred and forty thousands: that “those of our kings that have been eminent for their bounty and liberality have used to give large boons out of their own patrimony.” This you were glad to hear; it was by this charm, that those traitors to their country allured you, as Balaam the prophet was enticed of old, to curse the people of God, and exclaim against the judicial dispensations of his providence. You fool! what was that unjust and violent king the better for such abundance of wealth? What are you the better for it? Who have been no partaker of any part of it, that I can hear of, (how great hopes soever you may have conceived of being vastly enriched by it,) but only of a hundred pieces of gold, in a purse wrought with beads. Take that reward of thine iniquity, Balaam, which thou hast loved, and enjoy it. You go on to play the fool; “the setting up of a standard is a prerogative that belongs to the king only.” How so? Why because Virgil tells us in his Æneis, “that Turnus set up a standard on the top of the tower at Laurentum, for an ensign of war.” And do not you know Grammarian, that every general of an army does the same thing? But, says Aristotle, “The king must always be provided of a military power, that he may be able to defend the laws; and therefore the king must be stronger than the whole body of the people.” This man makes consequences just as Ocnus does ropes in hell; which are of no use but to be eaten by asses. For a number of soldiers, given to the king by the people, is one thing, and the sole power of the militia is quite another thing; the latter, Aristotle does not allow that kings ought to be masters of, and that in this very place which you have quoted; “He ought,” says he, “to have so many armed men about him, as to make him stronger than any one man, than many men got together; but he must not be stronger than all the people.” Polit. lib. 3, cap. 4. Else instead of protecting Edition: current; Page: [110] them, it would be in his power to subject both people and laws to himself. For this is the difference betwixt a king and a tyrant: a king, by consent of the senate and people, has about him so many armed men, as to enable him to resist enemies, and suppress seditions. A tyrant, against the will both of senate and people, gets as great a number as he can, either of enemies, or profligate subjects, to side with him against the senate and the people. The parliament therefore allowed the king, as they did whatever he had besides, the setting up of a standard; not to wage war against his own people, but to defend them against such as the parliament should declare enemies to the state: if he acted otherwise, himself was to be accounted an enemy; since according to the very law of St. Edward, or according to a more sacred law than that, the law of nature itself, he lost the name of a king, and was no longer such. Whence Cicero in his Philip. “He forfeits his command in the army, and interest in his government, that employs them against the state.” Neither could the king compel those that held of him by knight-service, to serve him in any other war, than such as was made by consent of parliament; which is evident by many statutes. So for customs and other subsidies for the maintenance of the navy, the king could not exact them without an act of parliament; as was resolved about twelve years ago, by the ablest of our lawyers, when the king’s authority was at the height. And long before them, Fortescue, an eminent lawyer, and chancellor to King Henry the Sixth, “The king of England,” says he, “can neither alter the laws, nor exact subsidies without the people’s consent.” Nor can any testimonies be brought from antiquity, to prove the kingdom of England to have been merely regal. “The king,” says Bracton, “has a jurisdiction over all his subjects;” that is, in his courts of justice, where justice is administered in the king’s name indeed, but according to our own laws. “All are subject to the king;” that is, every particular man is; and so Bracton explains himself in the places that I have cited. What follows is but turning the same stone over and over again, (at which sport I believe you are able to tire Sisiphus himself,) and is sufficiently answered by what has been said already. For the rest, if our parliaments have sometimes complimented good kings with submissive expressions, though neither savouring of flattery nor slavery, those are not to be accounted due to tyrants, nor ought to prejudice the people’s right: good manners and civility do not infringe liberty. Whereas you cite out of Sir Edward Coke and others, “that the kingdom of England is an absolute kingdom;” that is said with respect to any foreign prince, or the emperor: because as Camden says, “It is not under the patronage of the emperor:” but both of them affirm, that the government of England resides not in king alone, but in a body politic. Whence Fortescue, in his book de Laud. Leg. Ang. cap. 9, “The king of England,” says he, “governs his people, not by a merely regal, but a political power; for the English are governed by laws of their own making.” Foreign authors were not ignorant of this: hence Philip de Comines, a grave author, in the Fifth Book of his Commentaries, “Of all the kingdoms of the earth,” says he, “that I have any knowledge of, there is none in my opinion where the government is more moderate, where the king has less power of hurting his people, than in England.” Finally, “It is ridiculous,” say you, “for them to affirm that kingdoms were ancienter than kings; which is as much as if they should say, that there was light before the sun was created.” But with your good leave, Sir, we do not say that kingdoms, but that the people were before kings. In the mean time, who can be more ridiculous than you, who deny there was light Edition: current; Page: [111] before the sun had a being? You pretend to a curiosity in other men’s matters, and have forgot the very first things that were taught you. “You wonder how they that have seen the king sit upon his throne, at a session of parliament, (sub aureo et serico Cœlo, under a golden and silken heaven,) under a canopy of state, should so much as make a question, whether the majesty resided in him, or in the parliament?” They are certainly hard of belief, whom so lucid an argument, coming down from heaven, cannot convince. Which golden heaven, you, like a stoic, have so devoutly and seriously gazed upon, that you seem to have forgot what kind of heaven Moses and Aristotle describe to us; for you deny, that there was any light in Moses’s heaven before the sun; and in Aristotle’s you make three temperate zones. How many zones you observed in that golden and silken heaven of the king’s, I know not; but I know you got one zone (a purse) well tempered with a hundred golden stars by your astronomy.


Since this whole controversy, whether concerning the right of kings in general, or that of the king of England in particular, is rendered difficult and intricate, rather by the obstinacy of parties, than by the nature of the thing itself; I hope they that prefer truth before the interest of a faction, will be satisfied with what I have alleged out of the law of God, the laws of nations, and the municipal laws of my own country, that a king of England may be brought to trial, and put to death. As for those whose minds are either blinded with superstition, or so dazzled with the splendour and grandeur of a court, that magnanimity and true liberty do not appear so glorious to them, as they are in themselves, it will be in vain to contend with them, either by reason and arguments, or examples. But you, Salmasius, seem very absurd, as in every other part of your book, so particularly in this, who though you rail perpetually at the Independents, and revile them with all the terms of reproach imaginable, yet assert to the highest degree that can be, the independency of a king, whom you defend; and will not allow him to “owe his sovereignty to the people, but to his descent.” And whereas in the beginning of your book you complained, that he was “put to plead for his life,” here you complain “that he perished without being heard to speak for himself.” But if you have a mind to look into the history of his trial, which is very faithfully published in French, it may be you will be of another opinion. Whereas he had liberty given him for some days together, to say what he could for himself, he made use of it not to clear himself of the crimes laid to his charge, but to disprove the authority of his judges, and the judicature that he was called before. And whenever a criminal is either mute, or says nothing to the purpose, there is no injustice in condemning him without hearing him, if his crimes are notorious, and publicly known. If you say, that Charles died as he lived, I agree with you: if you say, that he died piously, holily, and at ease, you may remember that his grandmother Mary, Queen of Scots, an infamous woman, died on a scaffold with as much outward appearance of piety, sanctity, and constancy, as he did. And lest you should ascribe too much to that presence of mind, which some common malefactors have so great a measure of at their death; many times despair, and a hardened heart, puts on as it were a vizor of courage; and stupidity, a show of quiet and tranquillity of mind: sometimes the worst of men desire to appear Edition: current; Page: [112] good, undaunted, innocent, and now and then religious, not only in their life, but at their death; and in suffering death for their villainies, use to act the last part of their hypocrisy and cheats, with all the show imaginable; and like bad poets or stageplayers, are very ambitious at being clapped at the end of the play. “Now,” you say, “you are come to inquire who they chiefly were, that gave sentence against the king.” Whereas it ought first to be inquired into, how you, a foreigner, and a French vagabond, came to have any thing to do to raise a question about our affairs, to which you are so much a stranger? And what reward induced you to it? But we know enough of that, and who satisfied your curiosity in these matters of ours; even those fugitives, and traitors to their country, that could easily hire such a vain fellow as you, to speak ill of us. Then an account in writing of the state of our affairs was put into your hands by some hair-brained, half protestant, half papist chaplain or other, or by some sneaking courtier, and you were put to translate it into Latin; out of that you took these narratives, which, if you please, we will examine a little: “Not the hundred thousandth part of the people consented to this sentence of condemnation.” What were the rest of the people then, that suffered so great a thing to be transacted against their will? Were they stocks and stones, were they mere trunks of men only, or such images of Britons, as Virgil describes to have been wrought in tapestry?

  • Purpurea intexti tollant aulæa Britanni
  • And Britons, interwove, held up the purple hangings.

For you describe no true Britons, but painted ones, or rather needle-wrought men instead of them. Since therefore it is a thing so incredible, that a warlike nation should be subdued by so few, and those of the dregs of the people, (which is the first thing that occurs in your narrative,) that appears in the very nature of the thing itself to be most false. “The bishops were turned out of the house of lords by the parliament itself.” The more deplorable is your madness, (for are not you yet sensible that you rave?) to complain of their being turned out of the parliament, whom you yourself in a large book endeavour to prove ought to be turned out of the church. “One of the states of parliament, to wit, the house of lords, consisting of dukes, earls, and viscounts, was removed.” And deservedly were they removed; for they were not deputed to sit there by any town or county, but represented themselves only; they had no right over the people, but (as if they had been ordained for that very purpose) used frequently to oppose their rights and liberties. They were created by the king, they were his companions, his servants, and, as it were, shadows of him. He being removed, it was necessary they should be reduced to the same level with the body of the people, from amongst whom they took their rise. “One part of the parliament, and that the worst of all, ought not to have assumed that power of judging and condemning the king.” But I have told you already, that the house of commons was not only the chief part of our parliament, while we had kings, but was a perfect and entire parliament of itself, without the temporal lords, much more without the bishops. But, “the whole house of commons themselves were not admitted to have to do with the trial of the king.” To wit, that part of them was not admitted, that openly revolted to him in their minds and counsels; whom, though they styled him their king, yet they had so often acted against as an enemy.

The parliament of England, and the deputies sent from the parliament of Scotland, on the 13th of January, 1645, wrote to the king, in answer to Edition: current; Page: [113] a letter of his, by which he desired a deceitful truce, and that he might treat with them at London; that they could not admit him into that city, till he had made satisfaction to the state for the civil war that he had raised in the three kingdoms, and for the deaths of so many of his subjects slain by his order; and till he had agreed to a true and firm peace upon such terms as the parliaments of both kingdoms had offered him so often already, and should offer him again. He on the other hand either refused to hear, or by ambiguous answers eluded, their just and equal proposals, though most humbly presented to him seven times over. The parliament at last, after so many years’ patience, lest the king should overturn the state by his wiles and delays, when in prison, which he could not subdue in the field, and lest the vanquished enemy, pleased with our divisions, should recover himself, and triumph unexpectedly over his conquerors, vote that for the future they would have no regard to him; that they would send him no more proposals, nor receive any from him: after which vote, there were found even some members of parliament, who out of the hatred they bore that invincible army, whose glory they envied, and which they would have had disbanded, and sent home with disgrace, after they had deserved so well of their nation, and out of a servile compliance with some seditious ministers, finding their opportunity, when many, whom they knew to be otherwise minded than themselves, having been sent by the house itself to suppress the Presbyterians, who began already to be turbulent, were absent in the several counties, with a strange levity, not to say perfidiousness, vote that that inveterate enemy of the state, who had nothing of a king but the name, without giving any satisfaction or security, should be brought back to London, and restored to his dignity and government, as if he had deserved well of the nation by what he had done. So that they preferred the king before their religion, their liberty, and that very celebrated covenant of theirs. What did they do in the mean time, who were sound themselves, and saw such pernicious councils on foot? Ought they therefore to have been wanting to the nation, and not provide for its safety, because the infection had spread itself even in their own house?

But, who secluded those ill-affected members? “The English army,” you say: so that it was not an army of foreigners, but of most valiant, and faithful, honest natives, whose officers for the most part were members of parliament; and whom those good secluded members would have secluded their country, and banished into Ireland; while in the mean time the Scots, whose alliance began to be doubtful, had very considerable forces in four of our northern counties, and kept garrisons in the best towns of those parts, and had the king himself in custody; whilst they likewise encouraged the tumultuating of those of their own faction, who did more than threaten the parliament, both in city and country, and through whose means not only a civil, but a war with Scotland too shortly after broke out. If it has been always counted praiseworthy in private men to assist the state, and promote the public good, whether by advice or action; our army sure was in no fault, who being ordered by the parliament to come to town, obeyed and came, and when they were come, quelled with ease the faction and uproar of the king’s party, who sometimes threatened the house itself. For things were brought to that pass, that of necessity either we must be run down by them, or they by us. They had on their side most of the shopkeepers and handicraftsmen of London, and generally those of the ministers, that were most factious. On our side was the army, whose fidelity, moderation, and courage were sufficiently known. It being in our power by their means to retain our liberty, our state, our common safety, do you think we had not Edition: current; Page: [114] been fools to have lost all by our negligence and folly? They who had had places of command in the king’s army, after their party was subdued, had laid down their arms indeed against their wills, but continued enemies to us in their hearts: and they flocked to town, and were here watching all opportunities of renewing the war. With these men, though they were the greatest enemies they had in the world, and thirsted after their blood, did the Presbyterians, because they were not permitted to exercise a civil as well as an ecclesiastical jurisdiction over all others, hold secret correspondence, and took measures very unworthy of what they had formerly both said and done; and they came to that spleen at last, that they would rather enthral themselves to the king again, than admit their own brethren to share in their liberty, which they likewise had purchased at the price of their own blood; they chose rather to be lorded over once more by a tyrant, polluted with the blood of so many of his own subjects, and who was enraged, and breathed out nothing but revenge, against those of them that were left, than endure their brethren and friends to be upon the square with them.

The Independents, as they are called, were the only men, that from first to last kept to their point, and knew what use to make of their victory. They refused (and wisely, in my opinion) to make him king again, being then an enemy, who when he was their king, had made himself their enemy: nor were they ever the less averse to a peace, but they very prudently dreaded a new war, or a perpetual slavery under the name of a peace. To load our army with the more reproaches, you begin a silly confused narrative of our affairs; in which, though I find many things false, many things frivolous, many things laid to our charge for which we rather merit; yet I think it will be to no purpose for me to write a true relation, in answer to your false one. For you and I are arguing, not writing histories, and both sides will believe our reasons, but not our narrative; and indeed the nature of the things themselves is such, that they cannot be related as they ought to be, but in a set history; so that I think it better, as Sallust said of Carthage, rather to say nothing at all, than to say but a little of things of this weight and importance. Nay, and I scorn so much as to mention the praises of great men, and of Almighty God himself, (who in so wonderful a course of affairs ought to be frequently acknowledged,) amongst your slanders and reproaches. I will therefore only pick out such things as seem to have any colour of argument. You say, “the English and Scots promised by a solemn covenant, to preserve the majesty of the king.” But you omit upon what terms they promised it; to wit, if it might consist with the safety of their religion and their liberty. To both which, religion and liberty, that king was so averse to his last breath, and watched all opportunities of gaining advantages upon them, that it was evident that his life was dangerous to their religion, and the certain ruin of their liberty. But then you fall upon the king’s judges again: “If we consider the thing aright, the conclusion of this abominable action must be imputed to the Independents, yet so as the Presbyterians may justly challenge the glory of its beginning and progress.” Hark, ye Presbyterians, what good has it done you? How is your innocence and loyalty the more cleared by your seeming so much to abhor the putting the king to death? You yourselves, in the opinion of this everlasting talkative advocate of the king your accuser, “went more than half-way towards it; you were seen acting the fourth act and more, in this tragedy; you may justly be charged with the king’s death, since you showed the way to it; it was you and only you that laid his head upon the block.” Woe be to you in the first place, if ever Charles his posterity recover the crown of England; assure yourselves, you are like to be put in Edition: current; Page: [115] the black list. But pay your vows to God, and love your brethren who have delivered you, who have prevented that calamity from falling upon you, who have saved you from inevitable ruin, though against your wills. You are accused likewise for that “some years ago you endeavoured by sundry petitions to lessen the king’s authority, that you published some scandalous expressions of the king himself in the papers you presented him with in the name of the parliament; to wit, in that declaration of the lords and commons of the 26th of May 1642, you declared openly in some mad positions that breathed nothing but rebellion, what your thoughts were of the king’s authority: Hotham by order of parliament shut the gates of Hull against the king; you had a mind to make a trial by this first act of rebellion how much the king would bear.” What could this man say more, if it were his design to reconcile the minds of all Englishmen to one another, and alienate them wholly from the king? for he gives them here to understand, that if ever the king be brought back, they must not only expect to be punished for his father’s death, but for the petitions they made long ago, and some acts that past in full parliament, concerning the putting down the common-prayer and bishops, and that of the triennial parliament, and several other things that were enacted with the greatest consent and applause of all the people that could be; all which will be looked upon as the seditions and mad positions of the Presbyterians. But this vain fellow changes his mind all of a sudden; and what but of late, “when he considered it aright,” he thought was to be imputed wholly to the Presbyterians, now that “he considers the same thing from first to last,” he thinks the Independents were the sole actors of it. But even now he told us, “the Presbyterians took up arms against the king, that by them he was beaten, taken captive, and put in prison:” now he says, “this whole doctrine of rebellion is the Independents’ principle.” O! the faithfulness of this man’s narrative! how consistent he is with himself! what need is there of a counter narrative to this of his, that cuts its own throat?

But if any man should question whether you are an honest man or a knave, let him read these following lines of yours: “It is time to explain whence and at what time this sect of enemies to kingship first began. Why truly these rare Puritans began in Queen Elizabeth’s time to crawl out of hell, and disturb not only the church, but the state likewise; for they are no less plagues to the latter than to the former.” Now your very speech bewrays you to be a right Balaam; for where you designed to spit out the most bitter poison you could, there unwittingly and against your will you have pronounced a blessing. For it is notoriously known all over England, that if any endeavoured to follow the example of those churches, whether in France or Germany, which they accounted best reformed, and to exercise the public worship of God in a more pure manner, which our bishops had almost universally corrupted with their ceremonies and superstitions; or if any seemed either in point of religion or morality to be better than others, such persons were by the favour of episcopacy termed Puritans. These are they whose principles you say are so opposite to kingship. Nor are they the only persons, “most of the reformed religion, that have not sucked in the rest of their principles, yet seem to have approved of those that strike at kingly government.” So that while you inveigh bitterly against the Independents, and endeavour to separate them from Christ’s flock, with the same breath your praise them; and those principles which almost every where you affirm to be peculiar to the Independents, here you confess have been approved of by most of the reformed religion: Nay, you are arrived to that degree of impudence, impiety, and apostacy, that though Edition: current; Page: [116] formerly you maintained bishops ought to be extirpated out of the church root and branch, as so many pests and limbs of antichrist, here you say the king ought to protect them, for the saving of his coronation oath. You cannot show yourself a more infamous villain than you have done already, but by abjuring the protestant reformed religion, to which you are a scandal. Whereas you tax us with giving a “toleration of all sects and heresies,” you ought not to find fault with us for that; since the church bears with such a profligate wretch as you yourself, such a vain fellow, such a liar, such a mercenary slanderer, such an apostate, one who has the impudence to affirm, that the best and most pious of Christians, and even most of those who profess the reformed religion, are crept out of hell, because they differ in opinion from you. I had best pass by the calumnies that fill up the rest of this chapter, and those prodigious tenets that you ascribe to the Independents, to render them odious; for neither do they at all concern the cause you have in hand, and they are such for the most part as deserve to be laughed at and despised, rather than receive a serious answer.


You seem to begin this eleventh chapter, Salmasius, though with no modesty, yet with some sense of your weakness and trifling in this discourse. For whereas you proposed to yourself to inquire in this place, by what authority sentence was given against the king; you add immediately, which nobody expected from you, that “it is in vain to make any such inquiry; to wit, because the quality of the persons that did it leaves hardly any room for such a question.” And therefore as you have been found guilty of a great deal of impudence and sauciness in the undertaking of this cause, so since you seem here conscious of your own impertinence, I shall give you the shorter answer. To your question then; by what authority the house of commons either condemned the king themselves, or delegated that power to others; I answer, they did it by virtue of the supreme authority on earth. How they come to have the supreme power, you may learn by what I have said already, when I have refuted your impertinencies upon that subject. If you believed yourself, that you could ever say enough upon any subject, you would not be so tedious in repeating the same thing so many times over. And the house of commons might delegate their judicial power by the same reason, by which you say the king may delegate his, who received all he had from the people. Hence in that solemn league and covenant that you object to us, the parliaments of England and Scotland solemnly protest and engage to each other, to punish the traitors in such manner as “the supreme, judicial authority in both nations, or such as should have a delegated power from them,” should think fit. Now you hear the parliaments of both nations protest with one voice, that they may delegate their judicial power, which they call the supreme; so that you move a vain and frivolous controversy about delegating this power.

“But,” say you, “there were added to those judges, that were made choice of out of the house of commons, some officers of the army, and it never was known, that soldiers had any right to try a subject for his life.” I will silence you in a very few words: you may remember, that we are not now discoursing of a subject, but of an enemy; whom if a general of an army, after he has taken him prisoner, resolves to dispatch, would he be Edition: current; Page: [117] thought to proceed otherwise than according to custom and martial law, if he himself with some of his officers should sit upon him, and try and condemn him? An enemy to a state, made a prisoner of war, cannot be looked upon to be so much as a member, much less a king in that state. This is declared by that sacred law of St. Edward, which denies that a bad king is a king at all, or ought to be called so. Whereas you say, it was “not the whole, but a part of the house of commons, that tried and condemned the king,” I give you this answer: the number of them, who gave their votes for putting the king to death, was far greater than is necessary, according to the custom of our parliaments, to transact the greatest affairs of the kingdom, in the absence of the rest; who since they were absent through their own fault, (for to revolt to the common enemy in their hearts, is the worst sort of absence,) their absence ought not to hinder the rest who continued faithful to the cause, from preserving the state; which when it was in a tottering condition, and almost quite reduced to slavery and utter ruin, the whole body of the people had at first committed to their fidelity, prudence, and courage. And they acted their parts like men; they set themselves in opposition to the unruly wilfulness, the rage, the secret designs of an inveterate and exasperated king; they preferred the common liberty and safety before their own; they outdid all former parliaments, they outdid all their ancestors, in conduct, magnanimity, and steadiness to their cause. Yet these very men did a great part of the people ungratefully desert in the midst of their undertaking, though they had promised them all fidelity, all the help and assistance they could afford them. These were for slavery and peace, with sloth and luxury, upon any terms: others demanded their liberty, nor would accept of a peace that was not sure and honourable. What should the parliament do in this case? Ought they to have defended this part of the people, that was sound, and continued faithful to them and their country, or to have sided with those that deserted both? I know what you will say they ought to have done. You are not Eurylochus, but Elpenor, a miserable enchanted beast, a filthy swine, accustomed to a sordid slavery even under a woman; so that you have not the least relish of true magnanimity, nor consequently of liberty, which is the effect of it: you would have all other men slaves, because you find in yourself no generous, ingenuous inclinations; you say nothing, you breathe nothing, but what is mean and servile. You raise another scruple, to wit, “that he was the king of Scotland too, whom we condemned;” as if he might therefore do what he would in England.

But that you may conclude this chapter, which of all others is the most weak and insipid, at least with some witty quirk, “there are two little words,” say you, “that are made up of the same number of letters, and differ only in the placing of them, but whose significations are wide asunder, to wit, Vis and Jus, (might and right.)” It is no great wonder that such a three-lettered man as you, (fur, a thief,) should make such a witticism upon three letters: it is the greater wonder (which yet you assert throughout your book) that two things so directly opposite to one another as those two are, should yet meet and become one and the same thing in kings. For what violence was ever acted by kings, which you do not affirm to be their right? These are all the passages, that I could pick out of nine long pages, that I thought deserved an answer. The rest consists either of repetitions of things that have been answered more than once, or such as have no relation to the matter in hand. So that my being more brief in this chapter than in the rest is not to be imputed to want of diligence Edition: current; Page: [118] in me, which, how irksome soever you are to me, I have not slackened, but to your tedious impertinence, so void of matter and sense.


I wish, Salmasius, that you had left out this part of your discourse concerning the king’s crime, which it had been more advisable for yourself and your party to have done; for I am afraid lest in giving you an answer to it, I should appear too sharp and severe upon him, now he is dead, and hath received his punishment. But since you choose rather to discourse confidently and at large upon that subject, I will make you sensible, that you could not have done a more inconsiderate thing, than to reserve the worst part of your cause to the last, to wit, that of ripping up and inquiring into the king’s crimes; which when I shall have proved them to have been true and most exorbitant, they will render his memory unpleasant and odious to all good men, and imprint now in the close of the controversy a just hatred of you, who undertake his defence, on the reader’s minds. Say you, “his accusation may be divided into two parts, one is conversant about his morals, the other taxeth him with such faults as he might commit in his public capacity.” I will be content to pass by in silence that part of his life that he spent in banquetting, at plays, and in the conversation of women; for what can there be in luxury and excess worth relating? And what would those things have been to us, if he had been a private person? But since he would be a king, as he could not live a private life, so neither could his vices be like those of a private person. For in the first place, he did a great deal of mischief by his example: in the second place, all that time that he spent upon his lust, and his sports, which was a great part of his time, he stole from the state, the government of which he had undertaken: thirdly and lastly, he squandered away vast sums of money, which were not his own, but the public revenue of the nation, in his domestic luxury and extravagance. So that in his private life at home he first began to be an ill king. But let us rather pass over to those crimes, “that he is charged with on the account of misgovernment.” Here you lament his being condemned as a tyrant, a traitor, and a murderer. That he had no wrong done him, shall now be made appear. But first let us define a tyrant, not according to vulgar conceits, but the judgment of Aristotle, and of all learned men. He is a tyrant who regards his own welfare and profit only, and not that of the people. So Aristotle defines one in the tenth book of his Ethics, and elsewhere, and so do very many others. Whether Charles regarded his own or the people’s good, these few things of many, that I shall but touch upon, will evince.

When his rents and other public revenues of the crown would not defray the expenses of the court, he laid most heavy taxes upon the people; and when they were squandered away, he invented new ones; not for the benefit, honour, or defence of the state, but that he might hoard up, or lavish out in one house, the riches and wealth, not of one, but of three nations. When at this rate he broke loose, and acted without any colour of law to warrant his proceedings, knowing that the parliament was the only thing that could give him check, he endeavoured either wholly to lay aside the very calling of parliaments, or calling them just as often, and no oftener, than to serve his own turn, to make them entirely at his devotion. Which bridle when he had cast off himself, he put another bridle upon the people; Edition: current; Page: [119] he put garrisons of German horse and Irish foot in many towns and cities, and that in time of peace. Do you think he does not begin to look like a tyrant? In which very thing, as in many other particulars, which you have formerly given me occasion to instance, though you scorn to have Charles compared with so cruel a tyrant as Nero, he resembled him extremely much. For Nero likewise often threatened to take away the senate. Besides, he bore extreme hard upon the consciences of good men, and compelled them to the use of ceremonies and superstitious worship, borrowed from popery, and by him reintroduced into the church. They that would not conform, were imprisoned or banished. He made war upon the Scots twice for no other cause than that. By all these actions he has surely deserved the name of a tyrant once over at least.

Now I will tell you why the word traitor was put into his indictment. When he assured his parliament by promises, by proclamations, by imprecations, that he had no design against the state, at that very time did he list Papists in Ireland; he sent a private embassy to the king of Denmark to beg assistance from him of arms, horses, and men, expressly against the parliament; and was endeavouring to raise an army first in England, and then in Scotland. To the English he promised the plunder of the city of London; to the Scots, that the four northern counties should be added to Scotland, if they would but help him to get rid of the parliament, by what means soever. These projects not succeeding, he sent over one Dillon, a traitor, into Ireland with private instructions to the natives, to fall suddenly upon all the English that inhabited there. These are the most remarkable instances of his treasons, not taken up upon hearsay and idle reports, but discovered by letters under his own hand and seal. And finally I suppose no man will deny that he was a murderer, by whose order the Irish took arms, and put to death with most exquisite torments above a hundred thousand English, who lived peaceably by them, and without any apprehension of danger; and who raised so great a civil war in the other two kingdoms. Add to all this, that at the treaty in the Isle of Wight the king openly took upon himself the guilt of the war, and cleared the parliament in the confession he made there, which is publicly known. Thus you have in short why King Charles was adjudged a tyrant, a traitor, and a murderer.—“But,” say you, “why was he not declared so before, neither in that solemn league and covenant, nor afterwards when he was delivered to them, either by the Presbyterians or the Independents, but on the other hand was received as a king ought to be, with all reverence?” This very thing is sufficient to persuade any rational man, that the parliament entered not into any councils of quite deposing the king, but as their last refuge, after they had suffered and undergone all that possibly they could, and had attempted all other ways and means. You alone endeavour maliciously to lay that to their charge, which to all good men cannot but evidence their great patience, moderation, and perhaps a too long forbearing with the king’s pride and arrogance. But “in the month of August, before the king suffered, the house of commons, which then bore the only sway, and was governed by the Independents, wrote letters to the Scots, in which they acquainted them, that they never intended to alter the form of government that had obtained so long in England under king, lords, and commons.” You may see from hence, how little reason there is to ascribe the deposing of the king to the principles of the Independents. They, that never used to dissemble and conceal their tenets, even then, when they had the sole management of affairs, profess, “That they never intended to alter the government.” But if afterwards a thing came into their minds, which at first they Edition: current; Page: [120] intended not, why might they not take such a course, though before not intended, as appeared most advisable, and most for the nation’s interest?—Especially when they found, that the king could not possibly be entreated or induced to assent to those just demands, that they had made from time to time, and which were always the same from first to last. He persisted in those perverse sentiments with respect to religion and his own right, which he had all along espoused, and which were so destructive to us; not in the least altered from the man that he was, when in peace and war he did us all so much mischief. If he assented to any thing, he gave no obscure hints, that he did it against his will, and that whenever he should come into power again, he would look upon such his assent as null and void. The same thing his son declared by writing under his hand, when in those days he run away with part of the fleet, and so did the king himself by letters to some of his own party in London. In the mean time, against the avowed sense of the parliament, he struck up a private peace with the Irish, the most barbarous enemies imaginable to England, upon base dishonorable terms; but whenever he invited the English to treaties of peace, at those very times, with all the power he had, and interest he could make, he was preparing for war. In this case, what should they do, who were entrusted with the care of the government? Ought they to have betrayed the safety of us all to our most bitter adversary? Or would you have had them left us to undergo the calamities of another seven years’ war, not to say worse? God put a better mind into them, of preferring, pursuant to that very solemn league and covenant, their religion and liberties, before those thoughts they once had, of not rejecting the king; for they had not gone so far as to vote it; all which they saw at last, (though indeed later than they might have done,) could not possibly subsist, as long as the king continued king. The parliament ought and must of necessity be entirely free, and at liberty to provide for the good of the nation, as occasion requires; nor ought they so to be wedded to their first sentiments, as to scruple the altering their minds, for their own, or the nation’s good, if God put an opportunity into their hands of procuring it. But “the Scots were of another opinion; for they, in a letter to Charles, the king’s son, call his father a most sacred prince, and the putting him to death a most execrable villainy.” Do not you talk of the Scots, whom you know not; we know them well enough, and know the time when they called that same king a most execrable person, a murderer and a traitor; and the putting a tyrant to death a most sacred action.

Then you pick holes in the king’s charge, as not being properly penned; and you ask “why we needed to call him a traitor and a murderer, after we had styled him a tyrant; since the word tyrant includes all the crimes that may be;” and then you explain to us grammatically and critically, what a tyrant is. Away with those trifles, you pedagogue, which that one definition of Aristotle’s, that has lately been cited, will utterly confound; and teach such a doctor as you, that the word tyrant (for all your concern is barely to have some understanding of words) may be applied to one, who is neither a traitor nor a murderer. But “the laws of England do not make it treason in the king, to stir up sedition against himself or the people.” Nor do they say, that the parliament can be guilty of treason by deposing a bad king, nor that any parliament ever was so, though they have often done it; but our laws plainly and clearly declare, that a king may violate, diminish, nay, and wholly lose his royalty. For that expression in the law of St. Edward, of “losing the name of a king,” signifies neither more nor less, than being deprived of the kingly office and dignity; Edition: current; Page: [121] which befel Chilperic king of France, whose example for illustration sake is taken notice of in the law itself. There is not a lawyer amongst us, that can deny, but that the highest treason may be committed against the kingdom as well as against the king. I appeal to Glanville himself, whom you cite, “If any man attempt to put the king to death, or raise sedition in the realm, it is high treason.” So that attempt of some papists to blow up the parliament-house, and the lords and commons there with gunpowder, was by King James himself, and both houses of parliament, declared to be high treason, not against the king only, but against the parliament and the whole kingdom. It would be to no purpose to quote more of our statutes, to prove so clear a truth; which yet I could easily do. For the thing itself is ridiculous, and absurd to imagine, that high treason may be committed against the king, and not against the people, for whose good, nay, and by whose leave, as I may say, the king is what he is: so that you babble over so many statutes of ours to no purpose; you toil and wallow in our ancient law-books to no purpose; for the laws themselves stand or fall by authority of parliament, who always had power to confirm or repeal them; and the parliament is the sole judge of what is rebellion, what high treason, (læsa majestas,) and what not. Majesty never was vested to that degree in the person of the king, as not to be more conspicuous and more august in parliament, as I have often shown: but who can endure to hear such a senseless fellow, such a French mountebank as you, declare what our laws are? And, you English fugitives! so many bishops, doctors, lawyers, who pretend that all learning and ingenuous literature is fled out of England with yourselves, was there not one of you that could defend the king’s cause and your own, and that in good Latin also, to be submitted to the judgment of other nations, but that this brainsick, beggarly Frenchman must be hired to undertake the defence of a poor indigent king, surrounded with so many infant-priests and doctors? This very thing, I assure you, will be a great imputation to you amongst foreigners; and you will be thought deservedly to have lost that cause, you were so far from being able to defend by force of arms, as that you cannot so much as write in behalf of it.

But now I come to you again, good man Goosecap, who scribble so finely; if at least you are come to yourself again: for I find you here towards the latter end of your book in a deep sleep, and dreaming of some voluntary death or other, that is nothing to the purpose. Then you “deny, that it is possible for a king in his right wits to embroil his people in seditions, to betray his own forces to be slaughtered by enemies, and raise factions against himself.” All which things having been done by many kings, and particularly by Charles the late king of England, you will no longer doubt, I hope, especially being addicted to Stoicism, but that all tyrants, as well as profligate villains, are downright mad. Hear what Horace says, “Whoever through a senseless stupidity, or any other cause whatsoever, hath his understanding so blinded as not to discern truth, the Stoics account of him as of a madman: and such are whole nations, such are kings and princes, such are all mankind; except those very few that are wise.” So that if you would clear King Charles from the imputation of acting like a madman, you must first vindicate his integrity, and show that he never acted like an ill man. “But a king,” you say, “cannot commit treason against his own subjects and vassals.” In the first place, since we are as free as any people under heaven, we will not be imposed upon by any barbarous custom of any other nation whatsoever. In the second place, suppose we had been the king’s vassals; that relation would not have obliged us to endure Edition: current; Page: [122] a tyrant to reign and lord it over us. All subjection to magistrates, as our own laws declare, is circumscribed, and confined within the bounds of honesty, and the public good. Read Leg. Hen. I. Cap. 55. The obligation betwixt a lord and his tenants is mutual, and remains so long as the lord protects his tenant; (this is all our lawyers tell us;) but if the lord be too severe and cruel to his tenant, and do him some heinous injury, “The whole relation betwixt them, and whatever obligation the tenant is under by having done homage to his lord, is utterly dissolved and extinguished.” These are the very words of Bracton and Fleta. So that in some case, the law itself warrants even a slave, or a vassal, to oppose his lord, and allows the slave to kill him, if he vanquish him in battle. If a city or a whole nation may not lawfully take this course with a tyrant, the condition of freemen will be worse than that of slaves.

Then you go about to excuse King Charles’s shedding of innocent blood, partly by murders committed by other kings, and partly by some instances of men put to death by them lawfully. For the matter of the Irish massacre, you refer the reader to Ἐιϰων Βασιλιϰὴ; and I refer you to Eiconoclastes. The town of Rochel being taken, and the townsmen betrayed, assistance shown, but not afforded them, you will not have laid at Charles’s door; nor have I any thing to say, whether he was faulty in that business or not; he did mischief enough at home; we need not inquire into what misdemeanours he was guilty of abroad. But you in the mean time would make all the protestant churches, that have at any time defended themselves by force of arms against princes, who were professed enemies of their religion, to have been guilty of rebellion. Let them consider how much it concerns them for the maintaining their ecclesiastical discipline, and asserting their own integrity, not to pass by so great an indignity offered them by a person bred up by and amongst themselves. That which troubles us most is, that the English likewise were betrayed, in that expedition. He who had designed long ago to convert the government of England into a tyranny, thought he could not bring it to pass, till the flower and strength of the military power of the nation were cut off. Another of his crimes was, the causing some words to be struck out of the usual coronation oath, before he himself would take it. Unworthy and abominable action! The act was wicked in itself; what shall be said of him that undertakes to justify it? For by the eternal God, what greater breach of faith, and violation of all laws, can possibly be imagined? What ought to be more sacred to him, next to the holy sacraments themselves, than that oath? Which of the two do you think the more flagitious person, him that offends against the law, or him that endeavours to make the law equally guilty with himself? Or rather him who subverts the law itself, that he may not seem to offend against it? For thus that king violated that oath, which he ought most religiously to have sworn to; but that he might not seem openly and publicly to violate it, he craftily adulterated and corrupted it; and lest he himself should be accounted perjured, he turned the very oath into a perjury. What other could be expected, than that his reign would be full of injustice, craft, and misfortune, who began it with so detestable an injury to his people? And who durst pervert and adulterate that law, which he thought the only obstacle that stood in his way, and hindered him from perverting all the rest of the laws: But “that oath” (thus you justify him) “lays no other obligation upon kings, than the laws themselves do: and kings pretend, that they will be bound and limited by laws, though indeed they are altogether from under the power of the laws.” Is it not prodigious, that a man should dare to express himself so sacrilegiously Edition: current; Page: [123] and so senselessly, as to assert, that an oath sacredly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists, may be dispensed with, and set aside as a little insignificant thing, without any cause whatsoever! Charles himself refutes you, you prodigy of impiety, who, thinking that oath no light matter, choose rather by a subterfuge to avoid the force of it, or by a fallacy to elude it, than openly to violate it; and would rather falsify and corrupt the oath, than mainfestly forswear himself after he had taken it. But “The king indeed swears to his people, as the people do to him; but the people swear fidelity to the king, not the king to them.” Pretty invention! Does not he that promises, and binds himself by an oath to do any thing to or for another, oblige his fidelity to them that require the oath of him? Of a truth, every king swears Fidelity, and Service, and Obedience to the people, with respect to the performance of whatsoever he promises upon oath to do.

Then you run back to William the Conqueror, who was forced more than once to swear to perform, not what he himself would, but what the people and the great men of the realm required of him. If many kings “are crowned without the usual solemnity,” and reign without taking any oath, the same thing may be said of the people; a great many of whom never took the oath of allegiance. If the king by not taking an oath be at liberty, the people are so too. And that part of the people that has sworn, swore not to the king only, but to the realm, and the laws, by which the king came to his crown; and no otherwise to the king, than whilst he should act according to those laws, that “the common People,” that is, the house of Commons, should choose; (quas vulgus elegerit.) For it were folly to alter the phrase of our law, and turn it into more genuine Latin. This clause, (quas vulgus elegerit,) which the commons shall choose, Charles before he was crowned, procured to be razed out. “But,” say you, “without the king’s assent the people can choose no laws;” and for this you cite two statutes, viz. Anno 37 H. VI., Cap. 15, and 13 Edw. IV., Cap. 8: but these two statutes are so far from appearing in our statute-books, that in the years you mention neither of those kings enacted any laws at all. Go now and complain, that those fugitives, who pretended to furnish you with matter out of our statutes, imposed upon you in it; and let other people in the mean time stand astonished at your impudence and vanity, who are not ashamed to pretend to be thoroughly versed in such books, as it is so evident you have never looked into, nor so much as seen. And that clause in the coronation oath which such a brazen-faced brawler as you call fictitious, “The king’s friends,” you say yourself, “acknowledge, that it may possibly be extant in some ancient copies, but that it grew into disuse, because it had no convenient signification.” But for that very reason did our ancestors insert it in the oath, that the oath might have such a signification as would not be for a tyrant’s conveniency. If it had really grown into disuse, which yet is most false, there was the greater need of reviving it; but even that would have been to no purpose, according to your doctrine: “For that custom of taking an oath, as kings now-a-days generally use it, is no more,” you say, “than a bare ceremony.” And yet the king, when the bishops were to be put down, pretended that he could not do it by reason of that oath. And consequently that reverend and sacred oath, as it serves for the king’s turn, or not, must be solemn and binding, or an empty ceremony: which I earnestly entreat my countrymen to take notice of, and to consider what manner of a king they are like to have, if he ever come back. For it would never have entered into the thoughts of this rascally foreign grammarian, to write a discourse of the Edition: current; Page: [124] rights of the crown of England, unless both Charles and Stuart now in banishment, and tainted with his father’s principles, and those profligate tutors that he has along with him, had industriously suggested to him what they would have writ. They dictated to him, “That the whole parliament were liable to be proceeded against as traitors, because they declared without the king’s assent all them to be traitors, who had taken up arms against the parliament of England; and that parliaments were but the king’s vassals: that the oath, which our kings take at their coronation, is but a ceremony:” And why not that of a vassal too? So that no reverence of laws, no sacredness of an oath, will be sufficient to protect your lives and fortunes, either from the exorbitance of a furious, or the revenge of an exasperated, prince, who has been so instructed from his cradle, as to think laws, religion, nay, and oaths themselves, ought to be subject to his will and pleasure. How much better is it, and more becoming yourselves, if you desire riches, liberty, peace, and empire, to obtain them assuredly by your own virtue, industry, prudence, and valour, than to long after and hope for them in vain under the rule of a king? They who are of opinion that these things cannot be compassed but under a king, and a lord, it cannot well be expressed how mean, how base, I do not say, how unworthy, thoughts they have of themselves; for in effect, what do they other than confess, that they themselves are lazy, weak, senseless, silly persons, and framed for slavery both in body and mind? And indeed all manner of slavery is scandalous and disgraceful to a free-born ingenuous person; but for you, after you have recovered your lost liberty, by God’s assistance, and your own arms; after the performance of so many valiant exploits, and the making so remarkable an example of a most potent king, to desire to return again into a condition of bondage and slavery, will not only be scandalous and disgraceful, but an impious and wicked thing; and equal to that of the Israelites, who, for desiring to return to the Egyptian slavery, were so severely punished for that sordid, slavish temper of mind, and so many of them destroyed by that God who had been their deliverer.

But what say you now, who would persuade us to become slaves? “The king,” say you, “had a power of pardoning such as were guilty of treason, and other crimes; which evinces sufficiently, that the king himself was under no law.” The king might indeed pardon treason, not against the kingdom, but against himself; and so may any body else pardon wrongs done to themselves; and he might, perhaps, pardon some other offences, though not always. But does it follow, because in some cases he had the right of saving a malefactor’s life, that therefore he must have a right to destroy all good men? If the king be impleaded in an inferior court, he is not obliged to answer, but by his attorney: does it therefore follow, that when he is summoned by all his subjects to appear in parliament, he may choose whether he will appear or no, and refuse to answer in person? You say, “That we endeavour to justify what we have done by the Hollanders’ example;” and upon this occasion, fearing the loss of that stipend with which the Hollanders feed such a murrain and pest as you are, if by reviling the English you should consequently reflect upon them that maintain you, you endeavour to demonstrate “how unlike their actions and ours are.” The comparison that you make betwixt them I resolve to omit (though many things in it are most false, and other things flattery all over, which yet you thought yourself obliged to put down, to deserve your pension). For the English think they need not allege the examples of foreigners for their justification. They have municipal laws of their own, by which they have acted; laws with relation to the matter Edition: current; Page: [125] in hand the best in the world: they have the examples of their ancestors, great and gallant men, for their imitation, who never gave way to the exorbitant power of princes, and who have put many of them to death, when their government became insupportable. They were born free, they stand in need of no other nation, they can make what laws they please for their own good government. One law in particular they have a great veneration for, and a very ancient one it is, enacted by nature itself, That all human laws, all civil right and government, must have a respect to the safety and welfare of good men, and not be subject to the lusts of princes.

From hence to the end of your book I find nothing but rubbish and trifles, picked out of the former chapters; of which you have here raised so great a heap, that I cannot imagine what other design you could have in it, than to presage the ruin of your whole fabric. At last, after an infinite deal of tittle-tattle, you make an end, calling “God to witness, that you undertook the defence of this cause, not only because you were desired so to do, but because your own conscience told you, that you could not possibly undertake the defence of a better.” Is it fit for you to intermeddle with our matters, with which you have nothing to do, because you were desired, when we ourselves did not desire you? to reproach with contumelious and opprobrious language, and in a printed book, the supreme magistracy of the English nation, when according to the authority and power that they are intrusted with, they do but their duty within their own jurisdiction, and all this without the least injury or provocation from them? (for they did not so much as know that there was such a man in the world as you.) And I pray by whom were you desired? By your wife, I suppose, who, they say, exercises a kingly right and jurisdiction over you; and whenever she has a mind to it (as Fulvia is made to speak in that obscene epigram, that you collected some centoes out of, page 320) cries, “Either write, or let us fight;” that made you write perhaps, lest the signal should be given. Or were you asked by Charles the younger, and that profligate gang of vagabond courtiers, and like a second Balaam called upon by another Balak to restore a desperate cause by ill writing, that was lost by ill fighting? That may be; but there is this difference, for he was a wise understanding man, and rid upon an ass that could speak, to curse the people of God: thou art a very talkative ass thyself, and rid by a woman, and being surrounded with the healed heads of the bishops, that heretofore thou hadst wounded, thou seemest to represent that beast in the Revelation.

But they say, that a little after you had written this book you repented of what you had done. It is well, if it be so; and to make your repentance public, I think the best course that you can take will be, for this long book that you have writ, to take a halter, and make one long letter of yourself. So Judas Iscariot repented, to whom you are like; and that young Charles knew, which made him send you the purse, Judas his badge; for he had heard before, and found afterward by experience, that you were an apostate and a devil. Judas betrayed Christ himself, and you betray his church; you have taught heretofore, that bishops were antichristian, and you are now revolted to their party. You now undertake the defence of their cause, whom formerly you damned to the pit of hell. Christ delivered all men from bondage, and you endeavour to enslave all mankind. Never question, since you have been such a villain to God himself, his church, and all mankind in general, but that the same fate attends you that befell your equal, out of despair rather than repentance, to be weary of your life, and hang yourself, and burst asunder as he did; and to send beforehand Edition: current; Page: [126] that faithless and treacherous conscience of yours, that railing conscience at good and holy men, to that place of torment that is prepared for you. And now I think, through God’s assistance, I have finished the work I undertook, to wit, the defence of the noble actions of my countrymen at home, and abroad, against the raging and envious madness of this distracted sophister; and the asserting of the common rights of the people against the unjust domination of kings, not out of any hatred to kings, but tyrants: nor have I purposely left unanswered any one argument alleged by my adversary, nor any one example or authority quoted by him, that seemed to have any force in it, or the least colour of an argument. Perhaps I have been guilty rather of the other extreme, of replying to some of his fooleries and trifles, as if they were solid arguments, and thereby may seem to have attributed more to them than they deserved.

One thing yet remains to be done, which perhaps is of the greatest concern of all, and that is, that you, my countrymen, refute this adversary of yours yourselves, which I do not see any other means of your effecting, than by a constant endeavour to outdo all men’s bad words by your own good deeds. When you laboured under more sorts of oppression than one, you betook yourselves to God for refuge, and he was graciously pleased to hear your most earnest prayer and desires. He has gloriously delivered you, the first of nations, from the two greatest mischiefs of this life, and most pernicious to virtue, tyranny and superstition; he has endued you with greatness of mind to be the first of mankind, who after having conquered their own king, and having had him delivered into their hands, have not scrupled to condemn him judicially, and pursuant to that sentence of condemnation, to put him to death. After the performing so glorious an action as this, you ought to do nothing that is mean and little, not so much as to think of, much less to do, any thing but what is great and sublime. Which to attain to, this is your only way; as you have subdued your enemies in the field, so to make appear, that unarmed, and in the highest outward peace and tranquillity, you of all mankind are best able to subdue ambition, avarice, the love of riches, and can best avoid the corruptions that prosperity is apt to introduce, (which generally subdue and triumph over other nations,) to show as great justice, temperance and moderation in the maintaining your liberty, as you have shown courage in freeing yourselves from slavery. These are the only arguments, by which you will be able to evince, that you are not such persons as this fellow represents you, Traitors, Robbers, Murderers, Parricides, Madmen; that you did not put your king to death out of any ambitious design, or a desire of invading the rights of others, not out of any seditious principles or sinister ends; that it was not an act of fury or madness; but that it was wholly out of love to your liberty, your religion, to justice, virtue, and your country, that you punished a tyrant. But if it should fall out otherwise, (which God forbid,) if as you have been valiant in war, you should grow debauched in peace, you that have had such visible demonstrations of the goodness of God to yourselves, and his wrath against your enemies; and that you should not have learned by so eminent, so remarkable an example before your eyes, to fear God, and work righteousness; for my part, I shall easily grant and confess (for I cannot deny it) whatever ill men may speak or think of you, to be very true. And you will find in a little time, that God’s displeasure against you will be greater than it has been against your adversaries, greater than his grace and favour has been to yourselves, which you have had larger experience of than any other nation under heaven.

Edition: current; Page: [127]


[first published 1659.]


I have prepared, Supreme Council! against the much-expected time of your sitting, this treatise; which, though to all Christian magistrates equally belonging, and therefore to have been written in the common language of Christendom, natural duty and affection hath confined and dedicated first to my own nation; and in a season wherein the timely reading thereof, to the easier accomplishment of your great work, may save you much labour and interruption: of two parts usually proposed, civil and ecclesiastical, recommending civil only to your proper care, ecclesiastical to them only from whom it takes both that name and nature. Yet not for this cause only do I require or trust to find acceptance, but in a twofold respect besides: first, as bringing clear evidence of Scripture and protestant maxims to the parliament of England, who in all their late acts, upon occasion, have professed to assert only the true protestant Christian religion, as it is contained in the Holy Scriptures: next, in regard that your power being but for a time, and having in yourselves a Christian liberty of your own, which at one time or other may be oppressed, thereof truly sensible, it will concern you while you are in power, so to regard other men’s consciences, as you would your own should be regarded in the power of others; and to consider that any law against conscience is alike in force against any conscience, and so may one way or other justly redound upon yourselves. One advantage I make no doubt of, that I shall write to many eminent persons of your number, already perfect and resolved in this important article of Christianity. Some of whom I remember to have heard often for several years, at a council next in authority to your own, so well joining religion with civil prudence, and yet so well distinguishing the different power of either; and this not only voting, but frequently reasoning why it should be so, that if any there present had been before of an opinion contrary, he might doubtless have departed thence a convert in that point, and have confessed, that then both commonwealth and religion will at length, if ever, flourish in Christendom, when either they who govern discern between civil and religious, or they only who so discern shall be admitted to govern. Till then, nothing but troubles, persecutions, commotions can be expected, the inward decay of true religion among ourselves, and the utter overthrow at last by a common enemy. Of civil liberty I have written heretofore, by the appointment, and not without the approbation, of civil power: of Christian Edition: current; Page: [128] liberty I write now, which others long since having done with all freedom under heathen emperors, I should do wrong to suspect, that I now shall with less under Christian governors, and such especially as profess openly their defence of Christian liberty; although I write this, not otherwise appointed or induced, than by an inward persuasion of the Christian duty, which I may usefully discharge herein to the common Lord and Master of us all, and the certain hope of his approbation, first and chiefest to be sought: in the hand of whose providence I remain, praying all success and good event on your public councils, to the defence of true religion and our civil rights.

John Milton.


Two things there be, which have been ever found working much mischief to the church of God, and the advancement of truth; force on one side restraining, and hire on the other side corrupting, the teachers thereof. Few ages have been since the ascension of our Saviour, wherein the one of these two, or both together, have not prevailed. It can be at no time, therefore, unseasonable to speak of these things; since by them the church is either in continual detriment and oppression, or in continual danger.—The former shall be at this time my argument; the latter as I shall find God disposing me, and opportunity inviting. What I argue, shall be drawn from the Scripture only; and therein from true fundamental principles of the gospel, to all knowing Christians undeniable. And if the governors of this commonwealth, since the rooting out of prelates, have made least use of force in religion, and most have favoured Christian liberty of any in this island before them since the first preaching of the gospel, for which we are not to forget our thanks to God, and their due praise; they may, I doubt not in this treatise, find that which not only will confirm them to defend still the Christian liberty which we enjoy, but will incite them also to enlarge it, if in aught they yet straiten it. To them who yet perhaps hereafter, less experienced in religion, may come to govern or give us laws, this or other such, if they please, may be a timely instruction: however, to the truth it will be at all times no unneedful testimony, at least some discharge of that general duty, which no Christian, but according to what he hath received, knows is required of him, if he have aught more conducing to the advancement of religion, than what is usually endeavoured, freely to impart it.

It will require no great labour of exposition, to unfold what is here meant by matters of religion; being as soon apprehended as defined, such things as belong chiefly to the knowledge and service of God; and are either above the reach and light of nature without revelation from above, and therefore liable to be variously understood by human reason, or such Edition: current; Page: [129] things as are enjoined or forbidden by divine precept, which else by the light of reason would seem indifferent to be done or not done; and so likewise must needs appear to every man as the precept is understood. Whence I here mean by conscience or religion that full persuasion, whereby we are assured that our belief and practice, as far as we are able to apprehend and probably make appear, is according to the will of God and his Holy Spirit within us, which we ought to follow much rather than any law of man, as not only his word every where bids us, but the very dictate of reason tells us. Acts iv. 19, “Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken to you more than to God, judge ye.” That for belief or practice in religion, according to this conscientious persuasion, no man ought to be punished or molested by any outward force on earth whatsoever, I distrust not, through God’s implored assistance, to make plain by these following arguments.

First, it cannot be denied, being the main foundation of our protestant religion, that we of these ages, having no other divine rule or authority from without us, warrantable to one another as a common ground, but the Holy Scripture, and no other within us but the illumination of the Holy Spirit so interpreting that scripture as warrantable only to ourselves, and to such whose consciences we can so persuade, can have no other ground in matters of religion but only from the Scriptures. And these being not possible to be understood without this divine illumination, which no man can know at all times to be in himself, much less to be at any time for certain in any other, it follows clearly, that no man or body of men in these times can be the infallible judges or determiners in matters of religion to any other men’s consciences but their own. And therefore those Bereans are commended, Acts xvii. 11, who after the preaching even of St. Paul, “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Nor did they more than what God himself in many places commands us by the same apostle, to search, to try, to judge of these things ourselves: and gives us reason also, Gal. vi. 4, 5, “Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another: for every man shall bear his own burden.” If then we count it so ignorant and irreligious in the papist, to think himself discharged in God’s account, believing only as the church believes, how much greater condemnation will it be to the protestant his condemner, to think himself justified, believing only as the state believes? With good cause, therefore, it is in the general consent of all sound protestant writers, that neither traditions, councils, nor canons of any visible church, much less edicts of any magistrate or civil session, but the Scripture only, can be the final judge or rule in matters of religion, and that only in the conscience of every Christian to himself.—Which protestation made by the first public reformers of our religion against the imperial edicts of Charles the Fifth, imposing church-traditions without Scripture, gave first beginning to the name of Protestant; and with that name hath ever been received this doctrine, which prefers the Scripture before the church, and acknowledges none but the Scripture sole interpreter of itself to the conscience. For if the church be not sufficient to be implicitly believed, as we hold it is not, what can there else be named of more authority than the church but the conscience, than which God only is greater, 1 John iii. 20? But if any man shall pretend that the Scripture judges to his conscience for other men, he makes himself greater not only than the church, but also than the Scripture, than the consciences of other men: a presumption too high for any mortal, since every true Christian, able to give a reason of his faith, hath the word of God before him, the Edition: current; Page: [130] promised Holy Spirit, and the mind of Christ within him, 1 Cor. ii. 16; a much better and a safer guide of conscience, which as far as concerns himself he may far more certainly know, than any outward rule imposed upon him by others, whom he inwardly neither knows nor can know; at least knows nothing of them more sure than this one thing, that they cannot be his judges in religion. 1 Cor. ii. 15, “The spiritual man judgeth all things, but he himself is judged of no man.” Chiefly for this cause do all true protestants account the pope Antichrist, for that he assumes to himself this infallibility over both the conscience and the Scripture; “sitting in the temple of God,” as it were opposite to God, “and exalting himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped,” 2 Thess. ii. 4. That is to say, not only above all judges and magistrates, who though they be called gods, are far beneath infallible; but also above God himself, by giving law both to the Scripture, to the conscience, and to the Spirit itself of God within us. When as we find, James iv. 12, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: Who art thou that judgest another?” That Christ is the only lawgiver of his church, and that it is here meant in religious matters, no well-grounded Christian will deny. Thus also St. Paul, Rom. xiv. 4, “Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? to his own lord he standeth or falleth: but he shall stand; for God is able to make him stand.” As therefore of one beyond expression bold and presumptuous, both these apostles demand, “Who art thou,” that presumest to impose other law or judgment in religion than the only lawgiver and judge Christ, who only can save and destroy, gives to the conscience? And the forecited place to the Thessalonians, by compared effects, resolves us, that be he or they who or wherever they be or can be, they are of far less authority than the church, whom in these things as protestants they receive not, and yet no less Antichrist in this main point of antichristianism, no less a pope or popedom than he at Rome, if not much more, by setting up supreme interpreters of Scripture either those doctors whom they follow, or, which is far worse, themselves as a civil papacy assuming unaccountable supremacy to themselves, not in civil only, but in ecclesiastical causes. Seeing then that in matters of religion, as hath been proved, none can judge or determine here on earth, no not church governors themselves, against the consciences of other believers, my inference is, or rather not mine but our Saviour’s own, that in those matters they neither can command nor use constraint, lest they run rashly on a pernicious consequence, forewarned in that parable, Matt. xiii. from the 29th to the 31st verse: “Lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares,” &c. Whereby he declares, that this work neither his own ministers nor any else can discerningly enough or judgingly perform without his own immediate direction, in his own fit season, and that they ought till then not to attempt it. Which is further confirmed, 2 Cor. i. 24, “Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy.” If apostles had no dominion or constraining power over faith or conscience, much less have ordinary ministers, 1 Pet. v. 2, 3, “Feed the flock of God, &c. not by constraint, neither as being lords over God’s heritage.”

But some will object, that this overthrows all church-discipline, all censure of errors, if no man can determine. My answer is, that what they hear is plain Scripture, which forbids not church-sentence or determining, but as it ends in violence upon the conscience unconvinced. Let whoso will interpret or determine, so it be according to true church-discipline, Edition: current; Page: [131] which is exercised on them only who have willingly joined themselves in that covenant of union, and proceeds only to a separation from the rest, proceeds never to any corporal enforcement or forfeiture of money, which in all spiritual things are the two arms of Antichrist, not of the true church; the one being an inquisition, the other no better than a temporal indulgence of sin for money, whether by the church exacted or by the magistrate; both the one and the other a temporal satisfaction for what Christ hath satisfied eternally; a popish commuting of penalty, corporal for spiritual; a satisfaction to man, especially to the magistrate, for what and to whom we owe none: these and more are the injustices of force and fining in religion, besides what I most insist on, the violation of God’s express commandment in the gospel, as hath been shown. Thus then, if church-governors cannot use force in religion, though but for this reason, because they cannot infallibly determine to the conscience without convincement, much less have civil magistrates authority to use force where they can much less judge; unless they mean only to be the civil executioners of them who have no civil power to give them such commission, no, nor yet ecclesiastical, to any force or violence in religion. To sum up all in brief, if we must believe as the magistrate appoints, why not rather as the church? If not as either without convincement, how can force be lawful?

But some are ready to cry out, what shall then be done to blasphemy? Them I would first exhort, not thus to terrify and pose the people with a Greek word; but to teach them better what it is, being a most usual and common word in that language to signify any slander, any malicious or evil speaking, whether against God or man, or any thing to good belonging: Blasphemy or evil speaking against God maliciously, is far from conscience in religion, according to that of Mark ix. 39, “There is none who doth a powerful work in my name, and can lightly speak evil of me.” If this suffice not, I refer them to that prudent and well-deliberated act, August 9, 1650, where the parliament defines blasphemy against God, as far as it is a crime belonging to civil judicature, plenius ac melius Chrysippo et Crantore; in plain English, more warily, more judiciously, more orthodoxally than twice their number of divines have done in many a prolix volume: although in all likelihood they whose whole study and profession these things are, should be most intelligent and authentic therein, as they are for the most part, yet neither they nor these unerring always, or infallible. But we shall not carry it thus; another Greek apparition stands in our way, Heresy and Heretic; in like manner also railed at to the people as in a tongue unknown. They should first interpret to them, that heresy, by what it signifies in that language, is no word of evil note, meaning only the choice or following of any opinion good or bad in religion, or any other learning: and thus not only in heathen authors, but in the New Testament itself, without censure or blame; Acts xv. 5, “Certain of the heresy of the Pharisees which believed;” and xxvi. 5, “After the exactest heresy of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” In which sense presbyterian or independent may without reproach be called a heresy. Where it is mentioned with blame, it seems to differ little from schism; 1 Cor. xi. 18, 19, “I hear that there be schisms among you,” &c. for there must also heresies be among you, &c. Though some, who write of heresy after their own heads, would make it far worse than schism: whenas on the contrary, schism signifies division, and in the worst sense; heresy, choice only of one opinion before another, which may be without discord. In apostolic times, therefore, ere the Scripture was written, heresy was a doctrine maintained against the doctrine by them delivered; which in these times can be no otherwise defined Edition: current; Page: [132] than a doctrine maintained against the light which we now only have, of the Scripture. Seeing therefore, that no man, no synod, no session of men, though called the Church, can judge definitively the sense of Scripture to another man’s conscience, which is well known to be a general maxim of the protestant religion; it follows plainly, that he who holds in religion that belief, or those opinions, which to his conscience and utmost understanding appear with most evidence or probability in the Scripture, though to others he seem erroneous, can no more be justly censured for a heretic than his censurers; who do but the same thing themselves, while they censure him for so doing. For ask them, or any protestant, which hath most authority, the church or the Scripture? They will answer, doubtless, that the Scripture: and what hath most authority, that no doubt but they will confess is to be followed. He then, who to his best apprehension follows the Scripture, though against any point of doctrine by the whole church received, is not the heretic; but he who follows the church against his conscience and persuasion grounded on the Scripture. To make this yet more undeniable, I shall only borrow a plain simile, the same which our own writers, when they would demonstrate plainest, that we rightly prefer the Scripture before the church, use frequently against the papist in this manner. As the Samaritans believed Christ, first for the woman’s word, but next and much rather for his own, so we the Scripture: first on the church’s word, but afterwards and much more for its own, as the word of God; yea, the church itself we believe then for the Scripture. The inference of itself follows; if by the protestant doctrine we believe the Scripture, not for the church’s saying, but for its own, as the word of God, then ought we to believe what in our conscience we apprehend the Scripture to say, though the visible church, with all her doctors, gainsay: and being taught to believe them only for the Scripture, they who so do are not heretics, but the best protestants: and by their opinions, whatever they be, can hurt no protestant, whose rule is not to receive them but from the Scripture: which to interpret convincingly to his own conscience, none is able but himself guided by the Holy Spirit; and not so guided, none than he to himself can be a worse deceiver.

To protestants, therefore, whose common rule and touchstone is the Scripture, nothing can with more conscience, more equity, nothing more protestantly can be permitted, than a free and lawful debate at all times by writing, conference, or disputation of what opinion soever, disputable by Scripture: concluding that no man in religion is properly a heretic at this day, but he who maintains traditions or opinions not probable by Scripture, who, for aught I know, is the papist only; he the only heretic, who counts all heretics but himself. Such as these, indeed, were capitally punished by the law of Moses, as the only true heretics, idolaters, plain and open deserters of God and his known law: but in the gospel such are punished by excommunication only. Tit. iii. 10, “An heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject.” But they who think not this heavy enough, and understand not that dreadful awe and spiritual efficacy, which the apostle hath expressed so highly to be in church-discipline, 2 Cor. x., of which anon, and think weakly that the church of God cannot long subsist but in a bodily fear, for want of other proof will needs wrest that place of St. Paul, Rom. xiii., to set up civil inquisition, and give power to the magistrate both of civil judgment, and punishment in causes ecclesiastical. But let us see with what strength of argument; “let every soul be subject to the higher powers.” First, how prove they that the apostle means other powers, than such as they to whom he writes were then under; who meddled Edition: current; Page: [133] not at all in ecclesiastical causes, unless as tyrants and persecutors? And from them, I hope, they will not derive either the right of magistrates to judge in spiritual things, or the duty of such our obedience. How prove they next, that he entitles them here to spiritual causes, from whom he withheld, as much as in him lay, the judging of civil? 1 Cor. vi. 1, &c. If he himself appealed to Cæsar, it was to judge his innocence, not his religion. “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil:” then are they not a terror to conscience, which is the rule or judge of good works grounded on the Scripture. But heresy, they say, is reckoned among evil works, Gal. v. 20, as if all evil works were to be punished by the magistrate; whereof this place, their own citation, reckons up besides heresy a sufficient number to confute them; “uncleanness, wantonness, enmity, strife, emulations, animosities, contentions, envyings;” all which are far more manifest to be judged by him than heresy, as they define it; and yet I suppose they will not subject these evil works, nor many more such like, to his cognizance and punishment. “Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” This shows that religious matters are not here meant; wherein from the power here spoken of, they could have no praise; “For he is the minister of God to thee for good:” True; but in that office, and to that end, and by those means, which in this place must be clearly found, if from this place they intend to argue. And how, for thy good by forcing, oppressing, and ensnaring thy conscience? Many are the ministers of God, and their offices no less different than many; none more different than state and church government. Who seeks to govern both, must needs be worse than any lord prelate, or church pluralist: for he in his own faculty and profession, the other not in his own, and for the most part not thoroughly understood, makes himself supreme lord or pope of the church, as far as his civil jurisdiction stretches; and all the ministers of God therein, his ministers, or his curates rather in the function only, not in the government; while he himself assumes to rule by civil power things to be ruled only by spiritual: whenas this very chapter, verse 6, appointing him his peculiar office, which requires utmost attendance, forbids him this worse than church plurality from that full and weighty charge, wherein alone he is “the minister of God, attending continually on this very thing.” To little purpose will they here instance Moses, who did all by immediate divine direction; no nor yet Asa, Jehosaphat, or Josiah, who both might, when they pleased, receive answer from God, and had a commonwealth by him delivered them, incorporated with a national church, exercised more in bodily than in spiritual worship: so as that the church might be called a commonwealth, and the whole commonwealth a church: nothing of which can be said of Christianity, delivered without the help of magistrates, yea, in the midst of their opposition; how little then with any reference to them, or mention of them, save only of our obedience to their civil laws, as they countenance good, and deter evil? which is the proper work of the magistrate, following in the same verse, and shows distinctly wherein he is the minister of God, “a revenger to execute wrath on him that doth evil.” But we must first know who it is that doth evil: the heretic they say among the first. Let it be known then certainly who is a heretic; and that he who holds opinions in religion professedly from tradition, or his own inventions, and not from Scripture, but rather against it, is the only heretic: and yet though such, not always punishable by the magistrate, unless he do evil against a civil law, properly so called, hath been already proved, without need of repetition. “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid.” To do by Edition: current; Page: [134] Scripture and the gospel, according to conscience, is not to do evil; if we thereof ought not to be afraid, he ought not by his judging to give cause: causes therefore of religion are not here meant. “For he beareth not the sword in vain.” Yes, altogether in vain, if it smite he knows not what; if that for heresy, which not the church itself, much less he, can determine absolutely to be so; if truth for error, being himself so often fallible, he bears the sword not in vain only, but unjustly and to do evil. “Be subject not only for wrath, but for conscience sake.” How for conscience sake, against conscience? By all these reasons it appears plainly, that the apostle in this place gives no judgment or coercive power to magistrates, neither to those then, nor these now, in matters of religion; and exhorts us no otherwise than he exhorted those Romans.

It hath now twice befallen me to assert, through God’s assistance, this most wrested and vexed place of Scripture; heretofore against Salmasius, and regal tyranny over the state; now against Erastus, and state tyranny over the church. If from such uncertain, or rather such improbable, grounds as these, they endue magistracy with spiritual judgment, they may as well invest him in the same spiritual kind with power of utmost punishment, excommunication; and then turn spiritual into corporal, as no worse authors did than Chrysostom, Jerome, and Austin, whom Erasmus and others in their notes on the New Testament have cited, to interpret that cutting off which St. Paul wished to them who had brought back the Galatians to circumcision, no less than the amercement of their whole virility: and Grotius adds, that this concising punishment of circumcisers became a penal law thereupon among the Visigoths: a dangerous example of beginning in the spirit to end so in the flesh; whereas that cutting off much likelier seems meant a cutting off from the church, not unusually so termed in Scripture, and a zealous imprecation, not a command. But I have mentioned this passage to show how absurd they often prove, who have not learned to distinguish rightly between civil power and ecclesiastical. How many persecutions then, imprisonments, banishments, penalties, and stripes; how much bloodshed have the forcers of conscience to answer for, and protestants rather than papists! For the papist, judging by his principles, punishes them who believe not as the church believes, though against the Scripture; but the protestant, teaching every one to believe the Scripture, though against the church, counts heretical, and persecutes against his own principles, them who in any particular so believe as he in general teaches them; them who most honour and believe divine Scripture, but not against it any human interpretation though universal; them who interpret Scripture only to themselves, which by his own position, none but they to themselves can interpret: them who use the Scripture no otherwise by his own doctrine to their edification, than he himself uses it to their punishing; and so whom his doctrine acknowledges a true believer, his discipline persecutes as a heretic. The papist exacts our belief as to the church due above Scripture; and by the church, which is the whole people of God, understands the pope, the general councils, prelatical only, and the surnamed fathers: but the forcing protestant, though he deny such belief to any church whatsoever, yet takes it to himself and his teachers, of far less authority than to be called the church, and above Scripture believed: which renders his practice both contrary to his belief, and far worse than that belief, which he condemns in the papist. By all which, well considered, the more he professes to be a true protestant, the more he hath to answer for his persecuting than a papist. No protestant therefore, of what sect soever, following Scripture only, which is the common sect wherein they all agree, and the granted Edition: current; Page: [135] rule of every man’s conscience to himself, ought by the common doctrine of protestants, to be forced or molested for religion.

But as for popery and idolatry, why they also may not hence plead to be tolerated, I have much less to say. Their religion the more considered, the less can be acknowledged a religion; but a Roman principality rather, endeavouring to keep up her old universal dominion under a new name, and mere shadow of a catholic religion; being indeed more rightly named a catholic heresy against the Scripture, supported mainly by a civil, and except in Rome, by a foreign, power: justly therefore to be suspected, not tolerated by the magistrate of another country. Besides, of an implicit faith which they profess, the conscience also becomes implicit, and so by voluntary servitude to man’s law, forfeits her Christian liberty. Who then can plead for such a conscience, as being implicitly enthralled to man instead of God, almost becomes no conscience, as the will not free, becomes no will? Nevertheless, if they ought not to be tolerated, it is for just reason of state, more than of religion; which they who force, though professing to be protestants, deserve as little to be tolerated themselves, being no less guilty of popery, in the most popish point. Lastly, for idolatry, who knows it not to be evidently against all Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament, and therefore a true heresy, or rather an impiety, wherein a right conscience can have nought to do; and the works thereof so manifest, that a magistrate can hardly err in prohibiting and quite removing at least the public and scandalous use thereof?

From the riddance of these objections, I proceed yet to another reason why it is unlawful for the civil magistrate to use force in matters of religion; which is, because to judge in those things, though we should grant him able, which is proved he is not, yet as a civil magistrate he hath no right. Christ hath a government of his own, sufficient of itself to all his ends and purposes in governing his church, but much different from that of the civil magistrate; and the difference in this very thing principally consists, that it governs not by outward force; and that for two reasons. First, Because it deals only with the inward man and his actions, which are all spiritual, and to outward force not liable. 2dly, To show us the divine excellence of his spiritual kingdom, able, without worldly force, to subdue all the powers and kingdoms of this world, which are upheld by outward force only. That the inward man is nothing else but the inward part of man, his understanding and his will; and that his actions thence proceeding, yet not simply thence, but from the work of divine grace upon them, are the whole matter of religion under the gospel, will appear plainly by considering what that religion is; whence we shall perceive yet more plainly that it cannot be forced. What evangelic religion is, is told in two words, Faith and Charity, or Belief and Practice. That both these flow, either, the one from the understanding, the other from the will, or both jointly from both; once indeed naturally free, but now only as they are regenerate and wrought on by divine grace, is in part evident to common sense and principles unquestioned, the rest by Scripture: concerning our belief, Matt. xvi. 17, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Concerning our practice, as it is religious, and not merely civil, Gal. v. 22, 23, and other places, declare it to be the fruit of the spirit only. Nay, our whole practical duty in religion is contained in charity, or the love of God and our neighbour, no way to be forced, yet the fulfilling of the whole law; that is to say, our whole practice in religion. If then both our belief and practice, which comprehend our whole religion, flow from faculties of the inward man, free and unconstrainable of themselves Edition: current; Page: [136] by nature, and our practice not only from faculties endued with freedom, but from love and charity besides, incapable of force, and all these things by trangression lost, but renewed and regenerated in us by the power and gift of God alone; how can such religion as this admit of force from man, or force be any way applied to such religion, especially under the free offer of grace in the gospel, but it must forthwith frustrate and make of no effect, both the religion and the gospel? And that to compel outward profession, which they will say perhaps ought to be compelled, though inward religion cannot, is to compel hypocrisy, not to advance religion, shall yet, though of itself clear enough, be ere the conclusion further manifest. The other reason why Christ rejects outward force in the government of his church, is, as I said before, to show us the divine excellence of his spiritual kingdom, able without worldly force to subdue all the powers and kingdoms of this world, which are upheld by outward force only: by which to uphold religion otherwise than to defend the religious from outward violence, is no service to Christ or his kingdom, but rather a disparagement, and degrades it from a divine and spiritual kingdom, to a kingdom of this world: which he denies it to be, because it needs not force to confirm it: John xviii. 36. “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.” This proves the kingdom of Christ not governed by outward force, as being none of this world, whose kingdoms are maintained all by force only: and yet disproves not that a Christian commonwealth may defend itself against outward force, in the cause of religion as well as in any other: though Christ himself coming purposely to die for us, would not be so defended. 1 Cor. i. 27, “God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty.” Then surely he hath not chosen the force of this world to subdue conscience, and conscientious men, who in this world are counted weakest; but rather conscience, as being weakest, to subdue and regulate force, his adversary, not his aid or instrument in governing the church: 2 Cor. x. 3, 4, 5, 6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ: and having in a readiness to avenge all disobedience.” It is evident by the first and second verses of this chapter, and the apostle here speaks of that spiritual power by which Christ governs his church, how all-sufficient it is, how powerful to reach the conscience, and the inward man with whom it chiefly deals, and whom no power else can deal with. In comparison of which, as it is here thus magnificently described, how uneffectual and weak is outward force with all her boisterous tools, to the shame of those Christians, and especially those churchmen, who to the exercising of church-discipline, never cease calling on the civil magistrate to interpose his fleshly force? An argument that all true ministerial and spiritual power is dead within them; who think the gospel, which both began and spread over the whole world for above three hundred years, under heathen and persecuting emperors, cannot stand or continue, supported by the same divine presence and protection, to the world’s end, much easier under the defensive favour only of a Christian magistrate, unless it be enacted and settled, as they call it, by the state, a statute or state religion; and understand not that the church itself cannot, much less the state, settle or impose one tittle of religion upon our obedience implicit, but can only recommend or propound it to our free and conscientious examination: unless they mean Edition: current; Page: [137] to set the state higher than the church in religion, and with a gross contradiction give to the state in their settling petition that command of our implicit belief, which they deny in their settled confession both to the state and to the church. Let them cease then to importune and interrupt the magistrate from attending to his own charge in civil and moral things, the settling of things just, things honest, the defence of things religious, settled by the churches within themselves; and the repressing of their contraries, determinable by the common light of nature; which is not to constrain or to repress religion probable by Scripture, but the violaters and persecutors thereof: of all which things he hath enough and more than enough to do, left yet undone; for which the land groans, and justice goes to wrack the while. Let him also forbear force where he hath no right to judge, for the conscience is not his province, lest a worst wo arrive him, for worse offending than was denounced by our Saviour, Matt. xxiii. 23, against the Pharisees: Ye have forced the conscience, which was not to be forced; but judgment and mercy ye have not executed: this ye should have done, and the other let alone. And since it is the counsel and set purpose of God in the gospel, by spiritual means which are counted weak, to overcome all power which resists him; let them not go about to do that by worldly strength, which he hath decreed to do by those means which the world counts weakness, lest they be again obnoxious to that saying, which in another place is also written of the Pharisees, Luke vii. 30, “That they frustrated the counsel of God.” The main plea is, and urged with much vehemence to their imitation, that the kings of Judah, as I touched before, and especially Josiah, both judged and used force in religion: 2 Chron. xxxiv. 33, “He made all that were present in Israel to serve the Lord their God:” an argument, if it be well weighed, worse than that used by the false prophet Shemaia to the high priest, that in imitation of Jehoiada, he ought to put Jeremiah in the stocks, Jer. xxix. 24, 26, &c. for which he received his due denouncement from God. But to this besides I return a threefold answer:

First, That the state of religion under the gospel is far differing from what it was under the law; then was the state of rigour, childhood, bondage, and works, to all which force was not unbefitting; now is the state of grace, manhood, freedom, and faith, to all which belongs willingness and reason, not force: the law was then written on tables of stone, and to be performed according to the letter, willingly or unwillingly; the gospel, our new covenant, upon the heart of every believer, to be interpreted only by the sense of charity and inward persuasion: the law had no distinct government or governors of church and commonwealth, but the priests and Levites judged in all causes, not ecclesiastical only, but civil, Deut. xvii. 8, &c. which under the gospel is forbidden to all church-ministers, as a thing which Christ their master in his ministry disclaimed, Luke xii. 14, as a thing beneath them, 1 Cor. vi. 4, and by many other statutes, as to them who have a peculiar and far differing government of their own. If not, why different the governors? Why not church-ministers in state-affairs, as well as state-ministers in church-affairs? If church and state shall be made one flesh again as under the law, let it be withal considered, that God, who then joined them, hath now severed them; that which, he so ordaining, was then a lawful conjunction, to such on either side as join again what he hath severed would be nothing now but their own presumptuous fornication.

Secondly, the kings of Judah, and those magistrates under the law, might have recourse, as I said before, to divine inspiration; which our magistrates under the gospel have not, more than to the same spirit, which those whom Edition: current; Page: [138] they force have ofttimes in greater measure than themselves: and so, instead of forcing the Christian, they force the Holy Ghost; and, against that wise forewarning of Gamaliel, fight against God.

Thirdly, those kings and magistrates used force in such things only as were undoubtedly known and forbidden in the law of Moses, idolatry and direct apostacy from that national and strict enjoined worship of God; whereof the corporal punishment was by himself expressly set down: but magistrates under the gospel, our free, elective, and rational worship, are most commonly busiest to force those things which in the gospel are either left free, nay, sometimes abolished when by them compelled, or else controverted equally by writers on both sides, and sometimes with odds on that side which is against them. By which means they either punish that which they ought to favour and protect, or that with corporal punishment, and of their own inventing, which not they, but the church, had received command to chastise with a spiritual rod only. Yet some are so eager in their zeal of forcing, that they refuse not to descend at length to the utmost shift of that parabolical proof, Luke xiv. 16, &c. “Compel them to come in:” therefore magistrates may compel in religion. As if a parable were to be strained through every word or phrase, and not expounded by the general scope thereof; which is no other here than the earnest expression of God’s displeasure on those recusant Jews, and his purpose to prefer the Gentiles on any terms before them; expressed here by the word compel. But how compels he? Doubtless no other way than he draws, without which no man can come to him, John vi. 44, and that is by the inward persuasive motions of his spirit, and by his ministers; not by the outward compulsions of a magistrate or his officers. The true people of Christ, as is foretold, Psalm cx. 3, “are a willing people in the day of his power;” then much more now when he rules all things by outward weakness, that both his inward power and their sincerity may the more appear. “God loveth a cheerful giver:” then certainly is not pleased with an uncheerful worshipper: as the very words declare of his evangelical invitations, Isa. lv. 1, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come.” John vii. 37, “If any man thirsteth.” Rev. iii. 18, “I counsel thee.” And xxii. 17, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” And in that grand commission of preaching, to invite all nations, Mark xvi. 16, as the reward of them who come, so the penalty of them who come not, is only spiritual. But they bring now some reason with their force, which must not pass unanswered, that the church of Thyatira was blamed, Rev. ii. 20, for suffering the false “prophetess to teach and to seduce.” I answer, That seducement is to be hindered by fit and proper means ordained in church-discipline, by instant and powerful demonstration to the contrary; by opposing truth to error, no unequal match; truth the strong, to error the weak, though sly and shifting. Force is no honest confutation, but uneffectual, and for the most part unsuccessful, ofttimes fatal to them who use it: sound doctrine, diligently and duly taught, is of herself both sufficient, and of herself (if some secret judgment of God hinder not) always prevalent against seducers. This the Thyatirians had neglected, suffering, against church-discipline, that woman to teach and seduce among them; civil force they had not then in their power, being the Christian part only of that city, and then especially under one of those ten great persecutions, whereof this the second was raised by Domitian: force therefore in these matters could not be required of them who were under force themselves.

I have shown, that the civil power hath neither right, nor can do right, by forcing religious things: I will now show the wrong it doth, by violating Edition: current; Page: [139] the fundamental privilege of the gospel, the new birthright of every true believer, Christian liberty: 2 Cor. iii. 17, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Gal. iv. 26, “Jerusalem which is above is free; which is the mother of us all.” And ver. 31, “We are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” It will be sufficient in this place to say no more of Christian liberty, than that it sets us free not only from the bondage of those ceremonies, but also from the forcible imposition of those circumstances, place and time, in the worship of God: which though by him commanded in the old law, yet in respect of that verity and freedom which is evangelical, St. Paul comprehends both kinds alike, that is to say, both ceremony and circumstance, under one and the same contemptuous name of “weak and beggarly rudiments,” Gal. iv. 3, 9, 10; Col. ii. 8, with 16; conformable to what our Saviour himself taught, John iv. 21, 23, “Neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem. In spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him:” that is to say, not only sincere of heart, for such he sought ever; but also, as the words here chiefly import, not compelled to place, and by the same reason, not to any set time; as his apostle by the same spirit hath taught us, Rom. xiv. 5, &c. “One man esteemeth one day above another; another,” &c.; Gal. iv. 10, “Ye observe days and months,” &c.; Col. ii. 16. These and other such places in Scripture the best and learnedst reformed writers have thought evident enough to instruct us in our freedom, not only from ceremonies, but from those circumstances also, though imposed with a confident persuasion of morality in them, which they hold impossible to be in place or time. By what warrant then our opinions and practices herein are of late turned quite against all other protestants, and that which is to them orthodoxal, to us becomes scandalous and punishable by statute, I wish were once again considered; if we mean not to proclaim a schism in this point from the best and most reformed churches abroad. They who would seem more knowing, confess that these things are indifferent, but for that very cause by the magistrates may be commanded. As if God of his special grace in the gospel had to this end freed us from his own commandments in these things, that our freedom should subject us to a more grievous yoke, the commandments of men. As well may the magistrate call that common or unclean which God hath cleansed, forbidden to St. Peter, Acts x. 15; as well may he loosen that which God hath straitened, or straiten that which God hath loosened, as he may enjoin those things in religion which God hath left free, and lay on that yoke which God hath taken off. For he hath not only given us this gift as a special privilege and excellence of the free gospel above the servile law, but strictly also hath commanded us to keep it and enjoy it. Gal. v. 13, “You are called to liberty.” 1 Cor. vii. 23, “Be not made the servants of men.” Gal. v. 14, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free; and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Neither is this a mere command, but for the most part in these forecited places, accompanied with the very weightiest and inmost reasons of Christian religion: Rom. xiv. 9, 10, “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother?” &c. How presumest thou to be his lord, to be whose only lord, at least in these things, Christ both died, and rose, and lived again? “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Why then dost thou not only judge, but persecute in these things for which we are to be accountable to the tribunal of Christ only, our Lord and lawgiver? 1 Cor. vii. 23, “Ye are bought with a price; be not made the servants of men.” Some trivial price belike, and for Edition: current; Page: [140] some frivolous pretences paid in their opinion, if bought and by him redeemed, who is God, from what was once the service of God, we shall be enthralled again, and forced by men to what now is but the service of men. Gal. iv. 31, with v. 1, “We are not children of the bondwoman, &c. stand fast therefore,” &c. Col. ii. 8, “Beware lest any man spoil you, &c. after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Solid reasons whereof are continued through the whole chapter. Ver. 10, “Ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” not completed therefore or made the more religious by those ordinances of civil power, from which Christ their head hath discharged us; “blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us; and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross,” ver. 14. Blotting out ordinances written by God himself, much more those so boldly written over again by men: ordinances which were against us, that is, against our frailty, much more those which are against our conscience. “Let no man therefore judge you in respect of,” &c., ver. 16. Gal. iv. 3, &c. “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the rudiments of the world: But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, &c. to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, &c. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son, &c. But now, &c. how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days,” &c. Hence it plainly appears, that if we be not free, we are not sons, but still servants unadopted; and if we turn again to those weak and beggarly rudiments, we are not free; yea, though willingly, and with a misguided conscience, we desire to be in bondage to them; how much more then if unwillingly and against our conscience! Ill was our condition changed from legal to evangelical, and small advantage gotten by the gospel, if for the spirit of adoption to freedom promised us, we receive again the spirit of bondage to fear; if our fear, which was then servile towards God only, must be now servile in religion towards men: strange also and preposterous fear, if when and wherein it hath attained by the redemption of our Saviour to be filial only towards God, it must be now servile towards the magistrate: who, by subjecting us to his punishment in these things, brings back into religion that law of terror and satisfaction belonging now only to civil crimes; and thereby in effect abolishes the gospel, by establishing again the law to a far worse yoke of servitude upon us than before. It will therefore not misbecome the meanest Christian to put in mind Christian magistrates, and so much the more freely by how much the more they desire to be thought Christian, (for they will be thereby, as they ought to be in these things, the more our brethren and the less our lords,) that they meddle not rashly with Christian liberty, the birthright and outward testimony of our adoption; lest while they little think it, nay, think they do God service, they themselves, like the sons of that bondwoman, be found persecuting them who are freeborn of the Spirit, and by a sacrilege of not the least aggravation, bereaving them of that sacred liberty, which our Saviour with his own blood purchased for them.

A fourth reason, why the magistrate ought not to use force in religion, I bring from the consideration of all those ends, which he can likely pretend to the interposing of his force therein; and those hardly can be other than first the glory of God; next, either the spiritual good of them whom he forces, or the temporal punishment of their scandal to others. As for the promoting of God’s glory, none, I think, will say that his glory ought to be promoted in religious things by unwarrantable means, much less by means contrary to what he hath commanded. That outward force is such, and Edition: current; Page: [141] that God’s glory in the whole administration of the gospel according to his own will and counsel ought to be fulfilled by weakness, at least so refuted, not by force; or if by force, inward and spiritual, not outward and corporeal, is already proved at large. That outward force cannot tend to the good of him who is forced in religion, is unquestionable. For in religion whatever we do under the gospel, we ought to be thereof persuaded without scruple; and are justified by the faith we have, not by the work we do: Rom. xiv. 5, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” The other reason which follows necessarily is obvious, Gal. ii. 16, and in many other places of St. Paul, as the groundwork and foundation of the whole gospel, that we are “justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law.” If not by the works of God’s law, how then by the injunctions of man’s law? Surely force cannot work persuasion, which is faith; cannot therefore justify nor pacify the conscience; and that which justifies not in the gospel, condemns; is not only not good, but sinful to do: Rom. xiv. 23, “Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.” It concerns the magistrate then to take heed how he forces in religion conscientious men: lest by compelling them to do that whereof they cannot be persuaded, that wherein they cannot find themselves justified, but by their own consciences condemned, instead of aiming at their spiritual good, he force them to do evil; and while he thinks himself Asa, Josiah, Nehemiah, he be found Jeroboam, who caused Israel to sin; and thereby draw upon his own head all those sins and shipwrecks of implicit faith and conformity, which he hath forced, and all the wounds given to those little ones, whom to offend he will find worse one day than that violent drowning mentioned Matt. xviii. 6.

Lastly, as a preface to force, it is the usual pretence, that although tender consciences shall be tolerated, yet scandals thereby given shall not be unpunished, profane and licentious men shall not be encouraged to neglect the performance of religious and holy duties by colour of any law giving liberty to tender consciences. By which contrivance the way lies ready open to them hereafter, who may be so minded, to take away by little and little that liberty which Christ and his gospel, not any magistrate, hath right to give: though this kind of his giving be but to give with one hand, and take away with the other, which is a deluding, not a giving.

As for scandals, if any man be offended at the conscientious liberty of another, it is a taken scandal, not a given. To heal one conscience, we must not wound another: and men must be exhorted to beware of scandals in Christian liberty, not forced by the magistrate; lest while he goes about to take away the scandal, which is uncertain whether given or taken, he take away our liberty, which is the certain and the sacred gift of God, neither to be touched by him, nor to be parted with by us. None more cautious of giving scandal than St. Paul. Yet while he made himself “servant to all,” that he “might gain the more” he made himself so of his own accord, was not made so by outward force testifying at the same time that he “was free from all men,” 1 Cor. ix. 19; and thereafter exhorts us also, Gal. v. 13, “Ye were called to liberty, &c. but by love serve one another:” then not by force. As for that fear, lest profane and licentious men should be encouraged to omit the performance of religious and holy duties, how can that care belong to the civil magistrate, especially to his force? For if profane and licentious persons must not neglect the performance of religious and holy duties, it implies, that such duties they can perform, which no protestant will affirm. They who mean the outward performance, may so explain it; and it will then appear yet more plainly, that such performance of religious and holy duties, especially by Edition: current; Page: [142] profane and licentious persons, is a dishonouring rather than a worshipping of God; and not only by him not required, but detested: Prov. xxi. 27, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?” To compel therefore the profane to things holy in his profaneness, is all one under the gospel, as to have compelled the unclean to sacrifice in his uncleanness under the law. And I add withal, that to compel the licentious in his licentiousness, and the conscientious against his conscience, comes all to one: tends not to the honour of God, but to the multiplying and the aggravating of sin to them both. We read not that Christ ever exercised force but once; and that was to drive profane ones out of his temple, not to force them in: and if their being there was an offence, we find by many other scriptures that their praying there was an abomination: and yet to the Jewish law, that nation, as a servant, was obliged; but to the gospel each person is left voluntary, called only, as a son, by the preaching of the word; not to be driven in by edicts and force of arms. For if by the apostle, Rom. xii. 1, we are “beseeched as brethren by the mercies of God to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service” or worship, then is no man to be forced by the compulsive laws of men to present his body a dead sacrifice; and so under the gospel most unholy and unacceptable, because it is his unreasonable service, that is to say, not only unwilling but unconscionable.

But if profane and licentious persons may not omit the performance of holy duties, why may they not partake of holy things? Why are they prohibited the Lord’s supper, since both the one and the other action may be outward; and outward performance of duty may attain at least an outward participation of benefit? The church denying them that communion of grace and thanksgiving, as it justly doth, why doth the magistrate compel them to the union of performing that which they neither truly can, being themselves unholy, and to do seemingly is both hateful to God, and perhaps no less dangerous to perform holy duties irreligiously, than to receive holy signs or sacraments unworthily? All profane and licentious men, so known, can be considered but either so without the church as never yet within it, or departed thence of their own accord, or excommunicate: if never yet within the church, whom the apostle, and so consequently the church, have nought to do to judge, as he professes, 1 Cor. v. 12, then by what authority doth the magistrate judge; or, which is worse, compel in relation to the church? If departed of his own accord, like that lost sheep, Luke xv. 4, &c. the true church either with her own or any borrowed force worries him not in again, but rather in all charitable manner sends after him; and if she find him, lays him gently on her shoulders; bears him, yea, bears his burdens, his errors, his infirmities any way tolerable, “so fulfilling the law of Christ,” Gal. vi. 2. If excommunicate, whom the church hath bid go out, in whose name doth the magistrate compel to go in? The church indeed hinders none from hearing in her public congregation, for the doors are open to all: nor excommunicates to destruction; but, as much as in her lies, to a final saving. Her meaning therefore must needs be, that as her driving out brings on no outward penalty, so no outward force or penalty of an improper and only a destructive power should drive in again her infectious sheep; therefore sent out because infectious, and not driven in but with the danger not only of the whole and sound, but also of his own utter perishing.

Since force neither instructs in religion, nor begets repentance or amendment of life, but on the contrary, hardness of heart, formality, hypocrisy, Edition: current; Page: [143] and, as I said before, every way increase of sin; more and more alienates the mind from a violent religion, expelling out and compelling in, and reduces it to a condition like that which the Britons complain of in our story, driven to and fro between the Picts and the sea. If after excommunion he be found intractable, incurable, and will not hear the church, he becomes as one never yet within her pale, “a heathen or a publican,” Matt. xviii. 17, not further to be judged, no not by the magistrate, unless for civil causes; but left to the final sentence of that Judge, whose coming shall be in flames of fire; that Maranathà, 1 Cor. xvi. 22, than which to him so left nothing can be more dreadful, and ofttimes to him particularly nothing more speedy, that is to say, The Lord cometh: in the mean while delivered up to Satan, 1 Cor. v. 5, 1 Tim. i. 20, that is, from the fold of Christ and kingdom of grace to the world again, which is the kingdom of Satan; and as he was received “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God,” Acts xxvi. 18, so now delivered up again from light to darkness, and from God to the power of Satan; yet so as is in both places manifested, to the intent of saving him, brought sooner to contrition by spiritual than by any corporal severity. But grant it belonging any way to the magistrate, that profane and licentious persons omit not the performance of holy duties, which in them were odious to God even under the law, much more now under the gospel; yet ought his care both as a magistrate and a Christian, to be much more that conscience be not inwardly violated, than that license in these things be made outwardly conformable: since his part is undoubtedly as a Christian, which puts him upon this office much more than as a magistrate, in all respects to have more care of the conscientious than of the profane; and not for their sakes to take away (while they pretend to give) or to diminish the rightful liberty of religious consciences.

On these four scriptural reasons, as on a firm square, this truth, the right of Christian and evangelic liberty, will stand immovable against all those pretended consequences of license and confusion, which for the most part men most licentious and confused themselves, or such as whose severity would be wiser than divine wisdom, are ever aptest to object against the ways of God: as if God without them, when he gave us this liberty, knew not of the worst which these men in their arrogance pretend will follow: yet knowing all their worst, he gave us this liberty as by him judged best. As to those magistrates who think it their work to settle religion, and those ministers or others, who so oft call upon them to do so, I trust that having well considered what hath been here argued, neither they will continue in that intention, nor these in that expectation from them; when they shall find that the settlement of religion belongs only to each particular church by persuasive and spiritual means within itself, and that the defence only of the church belongs to the magistrate. Had he once learnt not further to concern himself with church-affairs, half his labour might be spared, and the commonwealth better tended. To which end, that which I premised in the beginning, and in due place treated of more at large, I desire now concluding, that they would consider seriously what religion is: and they will find it to be, in sum, both our belief and our practice depending upon God only. That there can be no place then left for the magistrate or his force in the settlement of religion, by appointing either what we shall we believe in divine things, or practise in religious (neither of which things are in the power of man either to perform himself, or to enable others,) I persuade me in the Christian ingenuity of all religious men, the more they examine seriously, the more they will find clearly to Edition: current; Page: [144] be true: and find how false and deviseable that common saying is, which is so much relied upon, that the Christian magistrate is “Custos utriusque Tabulæ,” Keeper of both Tables, unless is meant by keeper the defender only; neither can that maxim be maintained by any proof or argument, which hath not in this discourse first or last been refuted. For the two tables, or ten commandments, teach our duty to God and our neighbour from the love of both; give magistrates no authority to force either: they seek that from the judicial law, though on false grounds, especially in the first table, as I have shown; and both in first and second execute that authority for the most part, not according to God’s judicial laws, but their own.

As for civil crimes, and of the outward man, which all are not, no, not of those against the second table, as that of coveting; in them what power they have, they had from the beginning, long before Moses or the two tables were in being. And whether they be not now as little in being to be kept by any Christian as they are two legal tables, remains yet as undecided, as it is sure they never were yet delivered to the keeping of any Christian magistrate. But of these things perhaps more some other time; what may serve the present hath been above discoursed sufficiently out of the Scriptures: and to those produced, might be added testimonies, examples, experiences, of all succeeding ages to these times, asserting this doctrine: but having herein the Scripture so copious and so plain, we have all that can be properly called true strength and nerve; the rest would be but pomp and encumbrance. Pomp and ostentation of reading is admired among the vulgar: but doubtless in matters of religion he is learnedest who is plainest. The brevity I use, not exceeding a small manual, will not therefore, I suppose, be thought the less considerable, unless with them perhaps who think that great books only can determine great matters. I rather choose the common rule, not to make much ado, where less may serve. Which in controversies, and those especially of religion, would make them less tedious, and by consequence read oftener by many more, and with more benefit.

Edition: current; Page: [145]


[first published 1659.]


Owing to your protection, Supreme Senate! this liberty of writing, which I have used these eighteen years on all occasions to assert the best rights and freedoms both of church and state, and so far approved, as to have been trusted with the representment and defence of your actions to all Christendom against an adversary of no mean repute; to whom should I address what I still publish on the same argument, but to you, whose magnanimous councils first opened and unbound the age from a double bondage under prelatical and regal tyranny; above our own hopes heartening us to look up at last like men and Christians from the slavish dejection, wherein from father to son we were bred up and taught; and thereby deserving of these nations, if they be not barbarously ingrateful, to be acknowledged, next under God, the authors and best patrons of religious and civil liberty, that ever these islands brought forth? The care and tuition of whose peace and safety, after a short but scandalous night of interruption, is now again, by a new dawning of God’s miraculous providence among us, revolved upon your shoulders.

And to whom more appertain these considerations, which I propound, than to yourselves, and the debate before you, though I trust of no difficulty, yet at present of great expectation, not whether ye will gratify, were it no more than so, but whether ye will hearken to the just petition of many thousands best affected both to religion and to this your return, or whether ye will satisfy, which you never can, the covetous pretences and demands of insatiable hirelings, whose disaffection ye well know both to yourselves and your resolutions? That I, though among many others in this common concernment, interpose to your deliberations what my thoughts also are; your own judgment and the success thereof hath given me the confidence: which requests but this, that if I have prosperously, God so favouring me, defended the public cause of this commonwealth to foreigners, ye would not think the reason and ability, whereon ye trusted once (and repent not) your whole reputation to the world, either grown less by more maturity and longer study, or less available in English than in another tongue: but that if it sufficed some years past to convince and satisfy the unengaged of other nations in the justice of your doings, though then held paradoxal, it may as well suffice now against weaker opposition in matters, except here in Edition: current; Page: [146] England with a spirituality of men devoted to their temporal gain, of no controversy else among protestants.

Neither do I doubt, seeing daily the acceptance which they find who in their petitions venture to bring advice also, and new models of a commonwealth, but that you will interpret it much more the duty of a Christian to offer what his conscience persuades him may be of moment to the freedom and better constituting of the church: since it is a deed of highest charity to help undeceive the people, and a work worthiest your authority, in all things else authors, assertors, and now recoverers of our liberty, to deliver us, the only people of all protestants left still undelivered, from the oppressions of a simonious decimating clergy, who shame not, against the judgment and practice of all other churches reformed, to maintain, though very weakly, their popish and oft refuted positions; not in a point of conscience wherein they might be blameless, but in a point of covetousness and unjust claim to other men’s goods; a contention foul and odious in any man, but most of all in ministers of the gospel, in whom contention, though for their own right, scarce is allowable. Till which grievances be removed, and religion set free from the monopoly of hirelings, I dare affirm, that no model whatsoever of a commonwealth will prove successful or undisturbed; and so persuaded, implore divine assistance on your pious councils and proceedings to unanimity in this and all other truth.

John Milton.


The former treatise, which leads in this, began with two things ever found working much mischief, to the one side restraining, and hire on the other side corrupting, the teachers thereof. The latter of these is by much the more dangerous: for under force, though no thank to the forcers, true religion ofttimes best thrives and flourishes; but the corruption of teachers, most commonly the effect of hire, is the very bane of truth in them who are so corrupted. Of force not to be used in matters of religion, I have already spoken; and so stated matters of conscience and religion in faith and divine worship, and so severed them from blasphemy and heresy, the one being such properly as is despiteful, the other such as stands not to the rule of Scripture, and so both of them not matters of religion, but rather against it, that to them who will yet use force, this only choice can be left, whether they will force them to believe, to whom it is not given from above, being not forced thereto by any principle of the gospel, which is now the only dispensation of God to all men; or whether being protestants, they will punish in those things wherein the protestant religion denies them to be judges, either in themselves infallible, or to the consciences of other men; or whether, lastly, they think fit to punish error, supposing they can be infallible that it is so, being not wilful, but conscientious, and, according to the best light of him who errs, grounded on Scripture: which kind of error Edition: current; Page: [147] all men religious, or but only reasonable, have thought worthier of pardon, and the growth thereof to be prevented by spiritual means and church-discipline, not by civil laws and outward force, since it is God only who gives as well to believe aright, as to believe at all; and by those means, which he ordained sufficiently in his church to the full execution of his divine purpose in the gospel. It remains now to speak of hire, the other evil so mischievous in religion: whereof I promised then to speak further, when I should find God disposing me, and opportunity inviting. Opportunity I find now inviting; and apprehend therein the concurrence of God’s disposing; since the maintenance of church ministers, a thing not properly belonging to the magistrate, and yet with such importunity called for, and expected from him, is at present under public debate. Wherein lest any thing may happen to be determined and established prejudicial to the right and freedom of the church, or advantageous to such as may be found hirelings therein, it will be now most seasonable, and in these matters, wherein every Christian hath his free suffrage, no way misbecoming Christian meckness to offer freely, without disparagement to the wisest, such advice as God shall incline him and enable him to propound: since heretofore in commonwealths of most fame for government, civil laws were not established till they had been first for certain days published to the view of all men, that whoso pleased might speak freely his opinion thereof, and give in his exceptions, ere the law could pass to a full establishment. And where ought this equity to have more place, than in the liberty which is inseparable from Christian religion? This, I am not ignorant, will be a work unpleasing to some: but what truth is not hateful to some or other, as this, in likelihood, will be to none but hirelings. And if there be among them who hold it their duty to speak impartial truth, as the work of their ministry, though not performed without money, let them not envy others who think the same no less their duty by the general office of Christianity, to speak truth, as in all reason may be thought, more impartially and unsuspectedly without money.

Hire of itself is neither a thing unlawful, nor a word of any evil note, signifying no more than a due recompence or reward; as when our Saviour saith, “the labourer is worthy of his hire.” That which makes it so dangerous in the church, and properly makes the hireling, a word always of evil signification, is either the excess thereof, or the undue manner of giving and taking it. What harm the excess thereof brought to the church, perhaps was not found by experience till the days of Constantine; who out of his zeal thinking he could be never too liberally a nursing father of the church, might be not unfitly said to have either overlaid it or choked it in the nursing. Which was foretold, as is recorded in ecclesiastical traditions, by a voice heard from heaven, on the very day that those great donations and church-revenues were given, crying aloud, “This day is poison poured into the church.” Which the event soon after verified, as appears by another no less ancient observation, “That religion brought forth wealth, and the daughter devoured the mother.”

But long ere wealth came into the church, so soon as any gain appeared in religion, hirelings were apparent; drawn in, long before by the very scent thereof. Judas therefore, the first hireling, for want of present hire answerable to his coveting, from the small number or the meanness of such as then were the religious, sold the religion itself with the founder thereof, his master. Simon Magus the next, in hope only that preaching and the gifts of the Holy Ghost would prove gainful, offered beforehand a sum of money to obtain them. Not long after, as the apostle foretold, hirelings like wolves Edition: current; Page: [148] came in by herds: Acts xx. 29, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” Tit. i. 11, “Teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” 2 Pet. ii. 3, “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” Yet they taught not false doctrine only, but seeming piety: 1 Tim. vi. 5, “Supposing that gain is godliness.” Neither came they in of themselves only, but invited ofttimes by a corrupt audience: 2 Tim. iv. 3, “For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:” and they on the other side, as fast heaping to themselves disciples, Acts xx. 30, doubtless had as itching palms: 2 Pet. ii. 15, “Following the way of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” Jude 11, “They ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.” Thus we see, that not only the excess of hire in wealthiest times, but also the undue and vicious taking or giving it, though but small or mean, as in the primitive times, gave to hirelings occasion, though not intended, yet sufficient to creep at first into the church. Which argues also the difficulty, or rather the impossibility, to remove them quite, unless every minister were, as St. Paul, contented to preach gratis; but few such are to be found. As therefore we cannot justly take away all hire in the church, because we cannot otherwise quite remove all hirelings, so are we not, for the impossibility of removing them all, to use therefore no endeavour that fewest may come in; but rather, in regard the evil, do what we can, will always be incumbent and unavoidable, to use our utmost diligence how it may be least dangerous: which will be likeliest effected, if we consider, first, what recompence God hath ordained should be given to ministers of the church; (for that a recompence ought to be given them, and may by them justly be received, our Saviour himself from the very light of reason and of equity hath declared, Luke x. 7, “The labourer is worthy of his hire;”) next, by whom; and lastly, in what manner.

What recompence ought to be given to church-ministers, God hath answerably ordained according to that difference, which he hath manifestly put between those his two great dispensations, the law and the gospel. Under the law he gave them tithes; under the gospel, having left all things in his church to charity and Christian freedom, he hath given them only what is justly given. That, as well under the gospel, as under the law, say our English divines, and they only of all protestants, is tithes; and they say true, if any man be so minded to give them of his own the tenth or twentieth; but that the law therefore of tithes is in force under the gospel, all other protestant divines, though equally concerned, yet constantly deny. For although hire to the labourer be of moral and perpetual right, yet that special kind of hire, the tenth, can be of no right or necessity, but to that special labour for which God ordained it. That special labour was the Levitical and ceremonial service of the tabernacle, Numb. xviii. 21, 31, which is now abolished: the right therefore of that special hire must needs be withal abolished, as being also ceremonial. That tithes were ceremonial, is plain, not being given to the Levites till they had been first offered a heave-offering to the Lord, ver. 24, 28. He then who by that law brings tithes into the gospel, of necessity brings in withal a sacrifice, and an altar; without which tithes by that law were unsanctified and polluted, ver. 32, and therefore never thought on in the first Christian times, till ceremonies, altars, and oblations, by an ancienter corruption, were brought back long before. And yet the Jews, ever since their temple was destroyed, though they have rabbies and teachers of their law, yet pay no tithes, as having no Edition: current; Page: [149] Levites to whom, no temple where, to pay them, no altar whereon to hallow them: which argues that the Jews themselves never thought tithes moral, but ceremonial only. That Christians therefore should take them up, when Jews have laid them down, must needs be very absurd and preposterous.

Next, it is as clear in the same chapter, that the priests and Levites had not tithes for their labour only in the tabernacle, but in regard they were to have no other part nor inheritance in the land, ver. 20, 24, and by that means for a tenth, lost a twelfth. But our Levites undergoing no such law of deprivement, can have no right to any such compensation: nay, if by this law they will have tithes, can have no inheritance of land, but forfeit what they have. Besides this, tithes were of two sorts, those of every year, and those of every third year: of the former, every one that brought his tithes, was to eat his share: Deut. xiv. 23, “Thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil,” &c. Nay, though he could not bring his tithe in kind, by reason of his distant dwelling from the tabernacle or temple, but was thereby forced to turn it into money, he was to bestow that money on whatsoever pleased him, oxen, sheep, wine, or strong drink; and to eat and drink thereof there before the Lord, both he and his household, ver. 24, 25, 26. As for tithes of every third year, they were not given only to the Levite, but to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, ver. 28, 29, and chap. xxvi. 12, 13. So that ours, if they will have tithes, must admit of these sharers with them. Nay, these tithes were not paid in at all to the Levite, but the Levite himself was to come with those his fellow-guests, and eat his share of them only at his house who provided them; and this not in regard to his ministerial office, but because he had no part or inheritance in the land.

Lastly, the priests and Levites, a tribe, were of a far different constitution from this of our ministers under the gospel: in them were orders and degrees both by family, dignity, and office, mainly distinguished; the high priest, his brethren and his sons, to whom the Levites themselves paid tithes, and of the best, were eminently superior, Numb. xviii. 28, 29. No protestant, I suppose, will liken one of our ministers to a high priest, but rather to a common Levite. Unless then, to keep their tithes, they mean to bring back again bishops, archbishops, and the whole gang of prelatry, to whom will they themselves pay tithes, as by that law it was a sin to them if they did not? ver. 32. Certainly this must needs put them to a deep demur, while the desire of holding fast their tithes without sin may tempt them to bring back again bishops, as the likeness of that hierarchy that should receive tithes from them; and the desire to pay none, may advise them to keep out of the church all orders above them. But if we have to do at present, as I suppose we have, with true reformed protestants, not with papists or prelates, it will not be denied that in the gospel there be but two ministerial degrees, presbyters and deacons; which if they contend to have any succession, reference or conformity with those two degrees under the law, priests and Levites, it must needs be such whereby our presbyters or ministers may be answerable to priests, and our deacons to Levites; by which rule of proportion it will follow that we must pay our tithes to the deacons only, and they only to the ministers. But if it be truer yet, that the priesthood of Aaron typified a better reality, 1 Pet. ii. 5, signifying the Christian true and “holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifice;” it follows hence, that we are now justly exempt from paying tithes to any who claim from Aaron, since that priesthood is in us now real, which Edition: current; Page: [150] in him was but a shadow. Seeing then by all this which has been shown, that the law of tithes is partly ceremonial, as the work was for which they were given, partly judicial, not of common, but of particular right to the tribe of Levi, nor to them alone, but to the owner also and his household, at the time of their offering, and every three years to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, their appointed sharers, and that they were a tribe of priests and deacons improperly compared to the constitution of our ministry; and the tithes given by that people to those deacons only; it follows that our ministers at this day, being neither priests nor Levites, nor fitly answering to either of them, can have no just title or pretence to tithes, by any consequence drawn from the law of Moses. But they think they have a better plea in the example of Melchisedec, who took tithes of Abraham ere the law was given; whence they would infer tithes to be of moral right. But they ought to know, or to remember, that not examples, but express commands, oblige our obedience to God or man: next, that whatsoever was done in religion before the law written, is not presently to be counted moral, when as so many things were then done both ceremonial and Judaically judicial, that we need not doubt to conclude all times before Christ more or less under the ceremonial law. To what end served else those altars and sacrifices, that distinction of clean and unclean entering into the ark, circumcision, and the raising up of seed to the elder brother? Gen. xxxviii. 8. If these things be not moral, though before the law, how are tithes, though in the example of Abraham and Melchisedec? But this instance is so far from being the just ground of a law, that after all circumstances duly weighed both from Gen. xiv. and Heb. vii. it will not be allowed them so much as an example. Melchisedec, besides his priestly benediction, brought with him bread and wine sufficient to refresh Abraham and his whole army; incited to do so, first, by the secret providence of God, intending him for a type of Christ and his priesthood; next, by his due thankfulness and honour to Abraham, who had freed his borders of Salem from a potent enemy: Abraham, on the other side, honours him with the tenth of all, that is to say, (for he took not sure his whole estate with him to that war,) of the spoils, Heb. vii. 4. Incited he also by the same secret providence, to signify as grandfather of Levi, that the Levitical priesthood was excelled by the priesthood of Christ. For the giving of a tenth declared, it seems, in those countries and times, him the greater who received it. That which next incited him, was partly his gratitude to requite the present, partly his reverence to the person and his benediction: to his person, as a king and priest, greater therefore than Abraham, who was a priest also, but not a king. And who, unhired, will be so hardy as to say, that Abraham at any other time ever paid him tithes, either before or after; or had then, but for this accidental meeting and obligement; or that else Melchisedec had demanded or exacted them, or took them otherwise than as the voluntary gift of Abraham? But our ministers, though neither priests nor kings more than any other Christian, greater in their own esteem than Abraham and all his seed, for the verbal labour of a seventh day’s preachment, not bringing, like Melchisedec, bread or wine at their own cost, would not take only at the willing hand of liberality or gratitude, but require and exact as due, the tenth, not of spoils, but of our whole estates and labours; nor once, but yearly.

We then, it seems, by the example of Abraham, must pay tithes to these Melchisedecs: but what if the person of Abraham can neither no way represent us, or will oblige the ministers to pay tithes no less than other men? Abraham had not only a priest in his loins, but was himself a priest, and Edition: current; Page: [151] gave tithes to Melchisedec either as grandfather of Levi, or as father of the faithful. If as grandfather (though he understood it not) of Levi, he obliged not us, but Levi only, the inferior priest, by that homage (as the apostle to the Hebrews clearly enough explains) to acknowledge the greater. And they who by Melchisedec claim from Abraham as Levi’s grandfather, have none to seek their tithes of but the Levites, where they can find them. If Abraham, as father of the faithful, paid tithes to Melchisedec, then certainly the ministers also, if they be of that number, paid in him equally with the rest. Which may induce us to believe, that as both Abraham and Melchisedec, so tithes also in that action typical and ceremonial, signified nothing else but that subjection which all the faithful, both ministers and people, owe to Christ, our high priest and king.

In any literal sense, from this example, they never will be able to extort that the people in those days paid tithes to priests, but this only, that one priest once in his life, of spoils only, and in requital partly of a liberal present, partly of a benediction, gave voluntary tithes, not to a greater priest than himself, as far as Abraham could then understand, but rather to a priest and king joined in one person. They will reply, perhaps, that if one priest paid tithes to another, it must needs be understood that the people did no less to the priest. But I shall easily remove that necessity, by remembering them that in those days was no priest, but the father, or the first born of each family; and by consequence no people to pay him tithes, but his own children and servants, who had not wherewithal to pay him, but of his own. Yet grant that the people then paid tithes, there will not yet be the like reason to enjoin us; they being then under ceremonies, a mere laity, we now under Christ, a royal priesthood. 1 Pet. ii. 9, as we are coheirs, kings and priests with him, a priest for ever after the order or manner of Melchisedec. As therefore Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec because Levi was in him, so we ought to pay none because the true Melchisedec is in us, and we in him, who can pay to none greater, and hath freed us, by our union with himself, from all compulsive tributes and taxes in his church. Neither doth the collateral place, Heb. vii. make other use of this story, than to prove Christ, personated by Melchisedec, a greater priest than Aaron: ver. 4. “Now consider how great this man was,” &c.; and proves not in the least manner that tithes be of any right to ministers, but the contrary: first, the Levites had a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham, ver. 5. The commandment then was, it seems, to take tithes of the Jews only, and according to the law. That law changing of necessity with the priesthood, no other sort of ministers, as they must needs be another sort under another priesthood, can receive that tribute of tithes which fell with that law, unless renewed by another express command, and according to another law; no such law is extant. Next, Melchisedec not as a minister, but as Christ himself in person, blessed Abraham, who “had the promises,” ver. 6, and in him blessed all both ministers and people, both of the law and gospel: that blessing declared him greater and better than whom he blessed, ver. 7, receiving tithes from them all, not as a maintenance, which Melchisedec needed not, but as a sign of homage and subjection to their king and priest: whereas ministers bear not the person of Christ in his priesthood or kingship, bless not as he blesses, are not by their blessing greater than Abraham, and all the faithful with themselves included in him; cannot both give and take tithes in Abraham, cannot claim to themselves that sign of our allegiance due only to our eternal king and priest, cannot therefore derive tithes from Melchisedec. Edition: current; Page: [152] Lastly, the eighth verse hath thus; “Here men that die receive tithes: there he received them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.” Which words intimate, that as he offered himself once for us, so he received once of us in Abraham, and in that place the typical acknowledgment of our redemption: which had it been a perpetual annuity to Christ, by him claimed as his due, Levi must have paid it yearly, as well as then, ver. 9, and our ministers ought still, to some Melchisedec or other, as well now as they did in Abraham.

But that Christ never claimed any such tenth as his annual due, much less resigned it to the ministers, his so officious receivers, without express commission or assignment, will be yet clearer as we proceed. Thus much may at length assure us, that this example of Abraham and Melchisedec, though I see of late they build most upon it, can so little be the ground of any law to us, that it will not so much avail them as to the authority of an example. Of like impertinence is that example of Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 22, who of his free choice, not enjoined by any law, vowed the tenth of all that God should give him: which for aught appears to the contrary, he vowed as a thing no less indifferent before his vow, than the foregoing part thereof: that the stone, which he had set there for a pillar, should be God’s house. And to whom vowed he this tenth, but to God? Nor to any priest, for we read of none to him greater than himself; and to God, no doubt, but he paid what he vowed, both in the building of that Bethel, with other altars elsewhere, and the expense of his continual sacrifices, which none but he had a right to offer. However therefore he paid his tenth, it could in no likelihood, unless by such an occasion as befell his grandfather, be to any priest. But, say they, “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s, holy unto the Lord, Lev. xxvii. 30.” And this before it was given to the Levites; therefore since they ceased. No question; For the whole earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof, Psalm xxiv. 1, and the light of nature shows us no less; but that the tenth is his more than the rest, how know I, but as he so declares it? He declares it so here of the land of Canaan only, as by all circumstance appears, and passes, by deed of gift, this tenth to the Levite; yet so as offered to him first a heave-offering, and consecrated on his altar, Numb. xviii. all which I had as little known, but by that evidence. The Levites are ceased, the gift returns to the giver. How then can we know that he hath given it to any other? Or how can these men presume to take it unoffered first to God, unconsecrated, without another clear and express donation, whereof they show no evidence or writing? Besides, he hath now alienated that holy land; who can warrantably affirm, that he hath since hallowed the tenth of this land, which none but God hath power to do or can warrant? Their last proof they cite out of the gospel, which makes as little for them, Mat. xxiii. 23, where our Saviour denouncing woe to the scribes and Pharisees, who paid tithe so exactly, and omitted weightier matters, tells them, that these they ought to have done, that is, to have paid tithes. For our Saviour spake then to those who observed the law of Moses, which was yet not fully abrogated, till the destruction of the temple. And, by the way, here we may observe, out of their own proof, that the scribes and Pharisees, though then chief teachers of the people, such at least as were not Levites, did not take tithes, but paid them: so much less covetous were the scribes and Pharisees in those worse times than ours at this day. This is so apparent to the reformed divines of other countries, that when any one of ours hath attempted in Latin to maintain this argument of tithes, though a man would think Edition: current; Page: [153] they might suffer him without opposition, in a point equally tending to the advantage of all ministers, yet they forbear not to oppose him, as in a doctrine not fit to pass unopposed under the gospel. Which shows the modesty, the contentedness of those foreign pastors, with the maintenance given them, their sincerity also in the truth, though less gainful, and the avarice of ours; who, through the love of their old papistical tithes, consider not the weak arguments, or rather conjectures and surmises, which they bring to defend them.

On the other side, although it be sufficient to have proved in general the abolishing of tithes, as part of the Judaical or ceremonial law, which is abolished all, as well that before as that after Moses; yet I shall further prove them abrogated by an express ordinance of the gospel, founded not on any type, or that municipal law of Moses, but on moral and general equity, given us instead: 1 Cor. ix. 13, 14, “Know ye not, that they who minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple; and they which wait at the altar, are partakers with the altar? So also the Lord hath ordained, that they who preach the gospel, should live of the gospel.” He saith not, should live on things which were of the temple, or of the altar, of which were tithes, for that had given them a clear title: but abrogating that former law of Moses, which determined what and how much, by a later ordinance of Christ, which leaves the what and how much indefinite and free, so it be sufficient to live on: he saith, “The Lord hath so ordained, that they who preach the gospel, should live of the gospel;” which hath neither temple, altar, nor sacrifice: Heb. vii. 13, “For he of whom these things are spoken, pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar:” his ministers therefore cannot thence have tithes. And where the Lord hath so ordained, we may find easily in more than one evangelist: Luke x. 7, 8, “In the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire, &c. And into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.” To which ordinance of Christ it may seem likeliest, that the apostle refers us both here, and 1 Tim. v. 18, where he cites this as the saying of our Saviour, “That the labourer is worthy of his hire.” And both by this place of Luke, and that of Matt. x. 9, 10, 11, it evidently appears, that our Saviour ordained no certain maintenance for his apostles or ministers, publicly or privately, in house or city received; but that, whatever it were, which might suffice to live on: and this not commanded or proportioned by Abraham or by Moses, whom he might easily have here cited, as his manner was, but declared only by a rule of common equity, which proportions the hire as well to the ability of him who gives, as to the labour of him who receives, and recommends him only as worthy, not invests him with a legal right. And mark whereon he grounds this his ordinance; not on a perpetual right of tithes from Melchisedec, as hirelings pretend, which he never claimed, either for himself, or for his ministers, but on the plain and common equity of rewarding the labourer; worthy sometimes of single, sometimes of double honour, not proportionable by tithes. And the apostle in this forecited chapter to the Corinthians, ver. 11, affirms it to be no great recompence, if carnal things be reaped for spiritual sown; but to mention tithes, neglects here the fittest occasion that could be offered him, and leaves the rest free and undetermined. Certainly if Christ or his apostles had approved of tithes, they would have, either by writing or tradition, recommended them to the church; and that soon would have appeared in the practice of those primitive and the next ages. But for the first three hundred years and more, in all the ecclesiastical Edition: current; Page: [154] story, I find no such doctrine or example: though error by that time had brought back again priests, altars, and oblations; and in many other points of religion had miserably Judaized the church. So that the defenders of tithes, after a long pomp, and tedious preparation out of heathen authors, telling us that tithes were paid to Hercules and Apollo, which perhaps was imitated from the Jews, and as it were bespeaking our expectation, that they will abound much more with authorities out of Christian story, have nothing of general approbation to begin with from the first three or four ages, but that which abundantly serves to the confutation of their tithes; while they confess that churchmen in those ages lived merely upon free-will offerings. Neither can they say, that tithes were not then paid for want of a civil magistrate to ordain them, for Christians had then also lands, and might give out of them what they pleased; and yet of tithes then given we find no mention. And the first Christian emperors, who did all things as bishops advised them, supplied what was wanting to the clergy not out of tithes, which were never motioned, but out of their own imperial revenues; as is manifest in Eusebius, Theodoret, and Sozomen, from Constantine to Arcadius. Hence those ancientest reformed churches of the Waldenses, if they rather continued not pure since the apostles, denied that tithes were to be given, or that they were ever given in the primitive church, as appears by an ancient tractate in the Bohemian history. Thus far hath the church been always, whether in her prime or in her ancientest reformation, from the approving of tithes: nor without reason; for they might easily perceive that tithes were fitted to the Jews only, a national church of many incomplete synagogues, uniting the accomplishment of divine worship in one temple; and the Levites there had their tithes paid where they did their bodily work; to which a particular tribe was set apart by divine appointment, not by the people’s election: but the Christian church is universal; not tied to nation, diocese, or parish, but consisting of many particular churches complete in themselves, gathered not by compulsion, or the accident of dwelling nigh together, but by free consent, choosing both their particular church and their church-officers. Whereas if tithes be set up, all these Christian privileges will be disturbed and soon lost, and with them Christian liberty.

The first authority which our adversaries bring, after those fabulous apostolic canons, which they dare not insist upon, is a provincial council held at Cullen, where they voted tithes to be God’s rent, in the year 356; at the same time perhaps when the three kings reigned there, and of like authority. For to what purpose do they bring these trivial testimonies, by which they might as well prove altars, candles at noon, and the greatest part of those superstitions fetched from paganism or Jewism, which the papist, inveigled by this fond argument of antiquity, retains to this day? To what purpose those decrees of I know not what bishops, to a parliament and people who have thrown out both bishops and altars, and promised all reformation by the word of God? And that altars brought tithes hither, as one corruption begot another, is evident by one of those questions, which the monk Austin propounded to the pope, “concerning those things which by offerings of the faithful came to the altar;” as Beda writes, l. i. c. 27. If then by these testimonies we must have tithes continued, we must again have altars. Of Fathers, by custom so called, they quote Ambrose, Augustin, and some other ceremonial doctors of the same leaven: whose assertion, without pertinent Scripture, no reformed church can admit; and what they vouch is founded on the law of Moses, with which, every where pitifully mistaken, they again incorporate the gospel; as did the rest also of those titular Edition: current; Page: [155] fathers, perhaps an age or two before them, by many rites and ceremonies, both Jewish and heathenish, introduced; whereby thinking to gain all, they lost all: and instead of winning Jews and pagans to be Christians, by too much condescending they turned Christians into Jews and pagans. To heap such unconvincing citations as these in religion, whereof the Scripture only is our rule, argues not much learning nor judgment, but the lost labour of much unprofitable reading. And yet a late hot Querist* for tithes, whom ye may know by his wits lying ever beside him in the margin, to be ever beside his wits in the text, a fierce reformer once, now rankled with a contrary heat, would send us back, very reformedly indeed, to learn reformation from Tyndarus and Rebuffus, two canonical promoters. They produce next the ancient constitutions of this land, Saxon laws, edicts of kings, and their councils, from Athelstan, in the year 928, that tithes by statute were paid: and might produce from Ina, above two hundred years before, that Romescot or Peter’s penny was by as good statute law paid to the pope; from 725, and almost as long continued. And who knows not that this law of tithes was enacted by those kings and barons upon the opinion they had of their divine right? as the very words import of Edward the Confessor, in the close of that law: “For so blessed Austin preached and taught;” meaning the monk, who first brought the Romish religion into England from Gregory the pope. And by the way I add, that by these laws, imitating the law of Moses, the third part of tithes only was the priest’s due; the other two were appointed for the poor, and to adorn or repair churches; as the canons of Ecbert and Elfric witness: Concil. Brit. If then these laws were founded upon the opinion of divine authority and that authority be found mistaken and erroneous, as hath been fully manifested, it follows, that these laws fall of themselves with their false foundation. But with what face or conscience can they allege Moses or these laws for titles, as they now enjoy or exact them; whereof Moses ordains the owner, as we heard before, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, partakers of the Levite; and these fathers which they cite, and these though Romish rather than English laws, allotted both to priest and bishop the third part only? But these our protestant, these our new reformed English presbyterian divines against their own cited authors, and to the shame of their pretended reformation, would engross to themselves all tithes by statute; and supported more by their wilful obstinacy and desire of filthy lucre, than by these both insufficient and impertinent authorities, would persuade a Christian magistracy and parliament, whom we trust God hath restored for a happier reformation, to impose upon us a Judaical ceremonial law, and yet from that law to be more irregular and unwarrantable, more complying with a covetous clergy, than any of those popish kings and parliaments alleged. Another shift they have to plead, that tithes may be moral as well as the sabbath, a tenth of fruits as well as a seventh of days: I answer, that the prelates who urge this argument have least reason to use it, denying morality in the sabbath, and therein better agreeing with reformed churches abroad than the rest of our divines. As therefore the seventh day is not moral, but a convenient recourse of worship in fit season, whether seventh or other number; so neither is the tenth of our goods, but only a convenient subsistence morally due to ministers.

The last and lowest sort of their arguments, that men purchased not their tithe with their land, and such like pettifoggery, I omit; as refuted sufficiently by others: I omit also their violent and irreligious exactions, related Edition: current; Page: [156] no less credibly; their seizing of pots and pans from the poor, who have as good right to tithes as they; from some, the very beds; their suing and imprisoning, worse than when the canon law was in force; worse than when those wicked sons of Eli were priests, whose manner was thus to seize their pretended priestly due by force: 1 Sam. ii. 12, &c. “Whereby men abhorred the offering of the Lord.” And it may be feared, that many will as much abhor the gospel, if such violence as this be suffered in her ministers, and in that which they also pretend to be the offering of the Lord. For those sons of Belial within some limits made seizure of what they knew was their own by an undoubted law; but these, from whom there is no sanctuary, seize out of men’s grounds, out of men’s houses, their other goods of double, sometimes of treble value, for that which, did not covetousness and rapine blind them, they know to be not their own by the gospel which they preach. Of some more tolerable than these, thus severely God hath spoken: Isa. xlvi. 10, &c. “They are greedy dogs; they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.” With what anger then will he judge them who stand not looking, but under colour of a divine right, fetch by force that which is not their own, taking his name not in vain, but in violence? Nor content, as Gehazi was, to make a cunning, but a constrained advantage of what their master bids them give freely, how can they but return smitten, worse than that sharking minister, with a spiritual leprosy? And yet they cry out sacrilege, that men will not be gulled and baffled the tenth of their estates, by giving credit to frivolous pretences of divine right. Where did God ever clearly declare to all nations, or in all lands, (and none but fools part with their estates without clearest evidence, on bare supposals and presumptions of them who are the gainers thereby,) that he required the tenth as due to him or his Son perpetually and in all places? Where did he demand it, that we might certainly know, as in all claims of temporal right is just and reasonable? or if demanded, where did he assign it, or by what evident conveyance to ministers? Unless they can demonstrate this by more than conjectures, their title can be no better to tithes than the title of Gehazi was to those things which, by abusing his master’s name, he rooked from Naaman. Much less where did he command that tithes should be fetched by force, where left not under the gospel, whatever his right was, to the freewill offerings of men? Which is the greater sacrilege, to belie divine authority, to make the name of Christ accessory to violence, and robbing him of the very honour which he aimed at in bestowing freely the gospel to commit simony and rapine, both secular and ecclesiastical; or on the other side, not to give up the tenth of civil right and propriety to the tricks and impostures of clergymen, contrived with all the art and argument that their bellies can invent or suggest; yet so ridiculous and presuming on the people’s dulness and superstition, as to think they prove the divine right of their maintenance by Abraham paying tithes to Melchisedec, whenas Melchisedec in that passage rather gave maintenance to Abraham; in whom all, both priests and ministers as well as laymen, paid tithes, not received them. And because I affirmed above, beginning this first part of my discourse, that God hath given to ministers of the gospel that maintenance only which is justly given them, let us see a little what hath been thought of that other maintenance besides tithes, which of all protestants our English divines either only or most apparently both require and take. Those are fees for Christenings, marriages, and burials: which, though whoso will may give freely, yet being not of right, but of free gift, if they be exacted or established, they become unjust to them who are otherwise maintained; and Edition: current; Page: [157] of such evil note, that even the council of Trent, l. ii. p. 240, makes them liable to the laws against simony, who take or demand fees for the administering of any sacrament: “Che la sinodo volendo levare gli abusi introdotti,” &c. And in the next page, with like severity, condemns the giving or taking for a benefice, and the celebrating of marriages, Christenings, and burials, of fees exacted or demanded: nor counts it less simony to sell the ground or place of burial. And in a state-assembly at Orleans, 1561, it was decreed, “Che non si potesse essiger cosa alcuna, &c. p. 429, That nothing should be exacted for the administering of sacraments, burials, or any other spiritual function.” Thus much that council, of all others the most popish, and this assembly of papists, though by their own principles, in bondage to the clergy, were induced, either by their own reason and shame, or by the light of reformation then shining in upon them, or rather by the known canons of many councils and synods long before, to condemn of simony spiritual fees demanded. For if the minister be maintained for his whole ministry, why should he be twice paid for any part thereof? Why should he, like a servant, seek vails over and above his wages? As for Christenings, either they themselves call men to baptism, or men of themselves come: if ministers invite, how ill had it become John the Baptist to demand fees for his baptizing, or Christ for his Christenings? Far less becomes it these now, with a greediness lower than that of tradesmen calling passengers to their shop, and yet paid beforehand, to ask again for doing that which those their founders did freely. If men of themselves come to be baptized, they are either brought by such as already pay the minister, or come to be one of his disciples and maintainers: of whom to ask a fee as it were for entrance is a piece of paltry craft or caution, befitting none but beggarly artists. Burials and marriages are so little to be any part of their gain, that they who consider well may find them to be no part of their function. At burials their attendance they allege on the corpse; all the guests do as much unhired. But their prayers at the grave; superstitiously required: yet if required, their last performance to the deceased of their own flock. But the funeral sermon; at their choice, or if not, an occasion offered them to preach out of season, which is one part of their office. But something must be spoken in praise; if due, their duty; if undue, their corruption: a peculiar simony of our divines in England only. But the ground is broken, and especially their unrighteous possession, the chancel. To sell that, will not only raise up in judgment the council of Trent against them, but will lose them the best champion of tithes, their zealous antiquary, Sir Henry Spelman; who in a book written to that purpose, by many cited canons, and some even of times corruptest in the church, proves that fees exacted or demanded for sacraments, marriages, burials, and especially for interring, are wicked, accursed, simoniacal, and abominable; yet thus is the church, for all this noise of reformation, left still unreformed, by the censure of their own synods, their own favourers, a den of thieves and robbers.

As for marriages, that ministers should meddle with them, as not sanctified or legitimate, without their celebration, I find no ground in Scripture either of precept or example. Likeliest it is (which our Selden hath well observed, 1. 2, c. 28, Ux. Eb.) that in imitation of heathen priests, who were wont at nuptials to use many rites and ceremonies, and especially, judging it would be profitable, and the increase of their authority, not to be spectators only in business of such concernment to the life of man, they insinuated that marriage was not holy without their benediction, and for the better colour, made it a sacrament; being of itself a civil ordinance. a Edition: current; Page: [158] household contract, a thing indifferent and free to the whole race of mankind, not as religious, but as men: best, indeed, undertaken to religious ends, and as the apostle saith, 1 Cor. vii. “in the Lord.” Yet not therefore invalid or unholy without a minister and his pretended necessary hallowing, more than any other act, enterprise, or contract of civil life, which ought all to be done also in the Lord and to his glory: all which, no less than marriage, were by the cunning of priests heretofore, as material to their profit, transacted at the altar. Our divines deny it to be a sacrament; yet retained the celebration, till prudently a late parliament recovered the civil liberty of marriage from their encroachment, and transferred the ratifying and registering thereof from the canonical shop to the proper cognizance of civil magistrates. Seeing then, that God hath given to ministers under the gospel that only which is justly given them, that is to say, a due and moderate livelihood, the hire of their labour, and that the heave offering of tithes is abolished with the altar; yea, though not abolished, yet lawless, as they enjoy them; their Melchisedechian right also trivial and groundless, and both tithes and fees, if exacted or established, unjust and scandalous; we may hope, with them removed, to remove hirelings in some good measure, whom these tempting baits, by law especially to be recovered, allure into the church.

The next thing to be considered in the maintenance of ministers, is by whom it should be given. Wherein though the light of reason might sufficiently inform us, it will be best to consult the Scripture: Gal. vi. 6, “Let him that is taught in the word, communicate to him that teacheth, in all good things:” that is to say, in all manner of gratitude, to his ability. 1 Cor. ix. 11, “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we reap your carnal things?” To whom therefore hath not been sown, from him wherefore should be reaped? 1 Tim. v. 17, “Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour; especially they who labour in word and doctrine.” By these places we see, that recompence was given either by every one in particular who had been instructed, or by them all in common, brought into the church-treasury, and distributed to the ministers according to their several labours: and that was judged either by some extraordinary person, as Timothy, who by the apostle was then left evangelist at Ephesus, 2 Tim. iv. 5, or by some to whom the church deputed that care. This is so agreeable to reason, and so clear, that any one may perceive what iniquity and violence hath prevailed since in the church, whereby it hath been so ordered, that they also shall be compelled to recompense the parochial minister, who neither chose him for their teacher, nor have received instruction from him, as being either insufficient, or not resident, or inferior to whom they follow; wherein to bar them their choice, is to violate Christian liberty. Our law-books testify, that before the council of Lateran, in the year 1179, and the fifth of our Henry II., or rather before a decretal epistle of pope Innocent the IIId, about 1200, and the first of King John, “any man might have given his tithes to what spiritual person he would:” and as the Lord Coke notes on that place, Instit. part 2, that “this decretal bound not the subjects of this realm, but as it seemed just and reasonable.” The pope took his reason rightly from the above-cited place, 1 Cor. ix. 11, but falsely supposed every one to be instructed by his parish priest. Whether this were then first so decreed, or rather long before, as may seem by the laws of Edgar and Canute, that tithes were to be paid, not to whom he would that paid them, but to the cathedral church or the parish priest, it imports not; since the reason which they themselves bring, built on false supposition, becomes Edition: current; Page: [159] alike infirm and absurd, that he should reap from me, who sows not to me; be the cause either his defect, or my free choice. But here it will be readily objected, what if they who are to be instructed be not able to maintain a minister, as in many villages? I answer, that the Scripture shows in many places what ought to be done herein. First, I offer it to the reason of any man, whether he think the knowledge of Christian religion harder than any other art or science to attain. I suppose he will grant that it is far easier, both of itself, and in regard of God’s assisting Spirit, not particularly promised us to the attainment of any other knowledge, but of this only: since it was preached as well to the shepherds of Bethlehem by angels, as to the Eastern wise men by that star: and our Saviour declares himself anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, Luke iv. 18; then surely to their capacity. They who after him first taught it, were otherwise unlearned men: they who before Huss and Luther first reformed it, were for the meanness of their condition called, “the poor men of Lyons:” and in Flanders at this day, “le Gueus,” which is to say, Beggars. Therefore are the Scriptures translated into every vulgar tongue, as being held in main matters of belief and salvation, plain and easy to the poorest: and such no less than their teachers have the spirit to guide them in all truth, John xiv. 26, and xvi. 13. Hence we may conclude, if men be not all their lifetime under a teacher to learn logic, natural philosophy, ethics, or mathematics, which are most difficult, that certainly it is not necessary to the attainment of Christian knowledge, that men should sit all their life long at the feet of a pulpited divine; while he, a lollard indeed over his elbow cushion, in almost the seventh part of forty or fifty years teaches them scarce half the principles of religion; and his sheep ofttimes sit the while to as little purpose of benefiting, as the sheep in their pews at Smithfield; and for the most part by some simony or other bought and sold like them: or if this comparison be too low, like those women, 1 Tim. iii. 7, “Ever learning and never attaining;” yet not so much through their own fault, as through the unskilful and immethodical teaching of their pastor, teaching here and there at random out of this or that text, as his ease or fancy, and ofttimes as his stealth, guides him. Seeing then that Christian religion may be so easily attained, and by meanest capacities, it cannot be much difficult to find ways, both how the poor, yea, all men, may be soon taught what is to be known of Christianity, and they who teach them, recompensed. First, if ministers of their own accord, who pretend that they are called and sent to preach the gospel, those especially who have no particular flock, would imitate our Saviour and his disciples, who went preaching through the villages, not only through the cities, Matt. ix. 35, Mark vi. 6, Luke xiii. 22, Acts viii. 25, and there preached to the poor as well as to the rich, looking for no recompence but in heaven: John iv. 35, 36, “Look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest: and he that reapeth, receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.” This was their wages. But they will soon reply, we ourselves have not wherewithal; who shall bear the charges of our journey? To whom it may as soon be answered, that in all likelihood they are not poorer, than they who did thus; and if they have not the same faith, which those disciples had to trust in God and the promise of Christ for their maintenance as they did, and yet intrude into the ministry without any livelihood of their own, they cast themselves into miserable hazard or temptation, and ofttimes into a more miserable necessity, either to starve, or to please their paymasters rather than God; and give men just cause to suspect, that they came neither called nor sent from Edition: current; Page: [160] above to preach the word, but from below, by the instinct of their own hunger, to feed upon the church.

Yet grant it needful to allow them both the charges of their journey and the hire of their labour, it will belong next to the charity of richer congregations, where most commonly they abound with teachers, to send some of their number to the villages round, as the apostles from Jerusalem sent Peter and John to the city and villages of Samaria, Acts viii. 14, 25; or as the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch, chap. xi. 22, and other churches joining sent Luke to travel with Paul, 2 Cor. viii. 19; though whether they had their charges borne by the church or no, it be not recorded. If it be objected, that this itinerary preaching will not serve to plant the gospel in those places, unless they who are sent abide there some competent time; I answer, that if they stay there a year or two, which was the longest time usually staid by the apostles in one place, it may suffice to teach them, who will attend and learn all the points of religion necessary to salvation; then sorting them into several congregations of a moderate number, out of the ablest and zealousest among them to create elders, who, exercising and requiring from themselves what they have learned, (for no learning is retained without constant exercise and methodical repetition,) may teach and govern the rest: and so exhorted to continue faithful and steadfast, they may securely be committed to the providence of God and the guidance of his Holy Spirit, till God may offer some opportunity to visit them again, and to confirm them: which when they have done, they have done as much as the apostles were wont to do in propagating the gospel, Acts xiv. 23, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” And in the same chapter, ver. 21, 22, “When they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith.” And chap. xv. 36, “Let us go again, and visit our brethren.” And ver. 41, “He went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.” To these I might add other helps, which we enjoy now, to make more easy the attainment of Christian religion by the meanest: the entire Scripture translated into English with plenty of notes; and somewhere or other, I trust, may be found some wholesome body of divinity, as they call it, without school-terms and metaphysical notions, which have obscured rather than explained our reliligion, and made it seem difficult without cause. Thus taught once for all, and thus now and then visited and confirmed, in the most destitute and poorest places of the land, under the government of their own elders performing all ministerial offices among them, they may be trusted to meet and edify one another whether in church or chapel, or, to save them the trudging of many miles thither, nearer home, though in a house or barn. For notwithstanding the gaudy superstition of some devoted still ignorantly to temples, we may be well assured, that he who disdained not to be laid in a manger, disdains not to be preached in a barn; and that by such meetings as these, being indeed most apostolical and primitive, they will in a short time advance more in Christian knowledge and reformation of life, than by the many years’ preaching of such an incumbent, I may say, such an Incubus ofttimes, as will be meanly hired to abide long in those places. They have this left perhaps to object further; that to send thus, and to maintain, though but for a year or two, ministers and teachers in several places, would prove chargeable to the churches, though in towns and cities round about. To whom again I answer, that it was not thought so by them Edition: current; Page: [161] who first thus propagated the gospel, though but few in number to us, and much less able to sustain the expense. Yet this expense would be much less than to hire incumbents, or rather incumbrances, for lifetime; and a great means (which is the subject of this discourse) to diminish hirelings.

But be the expense less or more, if it be found burdensome to the churches, they have in this land an easy remedy in their recourse to the civil magistrate; who hath in his hands the disposal of no small revenues, left perhaps anciently to superstitious, but meant undoubtedly to good and best uses; and therefore, once made public, appliable by the present magistrate to such uses as the church, or solid reason from whomsoever, shall convince him to think best. And those uses may be, no doubt, much rather than as glebes and augmentations are now bestowed, to grant such requests as these of the churches; or to erect in greater number, all over the land, schools, and competent libraries to those schools, where languages and arts may be taught free together, without the needless, unprofitable, and inconvenient removing to another place. So all the land would be soon better civilized, and they who are taught freely at the public cost might have their education given them on this condition, that therewith content, they should not gad for preferment out of their own country, but continue there thankful for what they received freely, bestowing it as freely on their country, without soaring above the meanness wherein they were born. But how they shall live when they are thus bred and dismissed, will be still the sluggish objection. To which is answered, that those public foundations may be so instituted, as the youth therein may be at once brought up to a competence of learning and to an honest trade; and the hours of teaching so ordered, as their study may be no hindrance to their labour or other calling. This was the breeding of St. Paul, though born of no mean parents, a free citizen of the Roman empire: so little did his trade debase him, that it rather enabled him to use that magnanimity of preaching the gospel through Asia and Europe at his own charges. Thus those preachers among the poor Waldenses, the ancient stock of our reformation, without these helps which I speak of, bred up themselves in trades, and especially in physic and surgery, as well as in the study of Scripture, (which is the only true theology,) that they might be no burden to the church; and by the example of Christ might cure both soul and body; through industry joining that to their ministry, which he joined to his by gift of the spirit. Thus relates Peter Gilles in his history of the Waldenses in Piemont. But our ministers think scorn to use a trade, and count it the reproach of this age, that tradesmen preach the gospel. It were to be wished they were all tradesmen; they would not so many of them, for want of another trade, make a trade of their preaching: and yet they clamour that tradesmen preach; and yet they preach, while they themselves are the worst tradesmen of all.

As for church endowments and possessions, I meet with none considerable before Constantine, but the houses and gardens where they met, and their places of burial; and I persuade me, that from the ancient Waldenses, whom deservedly I cite so often, held, “That to endow churches is an evil thing; and, that the church then fell off and turned whore, sitting on that beast in the Revelation, when under pope Sylvester she received those temporal donations.” So the forecited tractate of their doctrine testifies. This also their own traditions of that heavenly voice witnessed, and some of the ancient fathers then living foresaw and deplored. And indeed, how could these endowments thrive better with the church, being unjustly taken by those emperors, without suffrage of the people, out of the tributes and Edition: current; Page: [162] public lands of each city, whereby the people became liable to be oppressed with other taxes. Being therefore given for the most part by kings and other public persons, and so likeliest out of the public, and if without the people’s consent, unjustly, however to public ends of much concernment, to the good or evil of a commonwealth, and in that regard made public though given by private persons, or which is worse, given, as the clergy then persuaded men, for their souls’ health, a pious gift; but as the truth was, ofttimes a bribe to God, or to Christ for absolution, as they were then taught, from murders, adulteries, and other heinous crimes; what shall be found heretofore given by kings or princes out of the public, may justly by the magistrate be recalled and reappropriated to the civil revenue: what by private or public persons out of their own, the price of blood or lust, or to some such purgatorious and superstitious uses, not only may, but ought to be taken off from Christ, as a foul dishonour laid upon him, or not impiously given, nor in particular to any one, but in general to the church’s good, may be converted to that use, which shall be judged tending more directly to that general end. Thus did the princes and cities of Germany in the first reformation; and defended their so doing by many reasons, which are set down at large in Sleidan, Lib. 6, Anno 1526, and Lib. 11, Anno 1537, and Lib. 13, Anno 1540. But that the magistrate either out of that church-revenue which remains yet in his hand, or establishing any other maintenance instead of tithe, should take into his own power the stipendiary maintenance of church ministers, or compel it by law, can stand neither with the people’s right, nor with Christian liberty, but would suspend the church wholly upon the state, and turn ministers into state pensioners. And for the magistrate in person of a nursing father to make the church his mere ward, as always in minority, the church, to whom he ought as a magistrate, Isa. xlix. 23, “to bow down with his face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of her feet;” her to subject to his political drifts or conceived opinions, by mastering her revenue; and so by his examinant committees to circumscribe her free election of ministers, is neither just nor pious; no honour done to the church, but a plain dishonour: and upon her whose only head is in heaven, yea upon him, who is only head, sets another in effect, and which is most monstrous, a human on a heavenly, a carnal on a spiritual, a political head on an ecclesiastical body; which at length by such heterogeneal, such incestuous conjunction, transforms her ofttimes into a beast of many heads and many horns. For if the church be of all societies the holiest on earth, and so to be reverenced by the magistrate; not to trust her with her own belief and integrity, and therefore not with the keeping, at least with the disposing, of what revenue shall be found justly and lawfully her own, is to count the church not a holy congregation, but a pack of giddy or dishonest persons, to be ruled by civil power in sacred affairs. But to proceed further in the truth yet more freely, seeing the Christian church is not national, but consisting of many particular congregations, subject to many changes, as well through civil accidents, as through schisms and various opinions, not to be decided by any outward judge, being matters of conscience, whereby these pretended church-revenues, as they have been ever, so are like to continue endless matter of dissension both between the church and magistrate, and the churches among themselves, there will be found no better remedy to these evils, otherwise incurable, than by the incorruptest council of those Waldenses, or first reformers, to remove them as a pest, an apple of discord in the church, (for what else can be the effect of riches, and the snare of money in religion?) and to convert them to those more profitable Edition: current; Page: [163] uses above expressed, or such as shall be judged most necessary; considering that the church of Christ was founded in poverty rather than in revenues, stood purest and prospered best without them, received them unlawfully from them who both erroneously and unjustly, sometimes impiously, gave them, and so justly was ensnared and corrupted by them. And lest it be thought that, these revenues withdrawn and better employed, the magistrate ought instead to settle by statute some maintenance of ministers, let this be considered first, that it concerns every man’s conscience to what religion he contributes; and that the civil magistrate is intrusted with civil rights only, not with conscience, which can have no deputy or representer of itself, but one of the same mind: next, that what each man gives to the minister, he gives either as to God or as to his teacher; if as to God, no civil power can justly consecrate to religious uses any part either of civil revenue, which is the people’s, and must save them from other taxes, or of any man’s propriety, but God by special command, as he did by Moses, or the owner himself by voluntary intention and the persuasion of his giving it to God. Forced consecrations out of another man’s estate are no better than forced vows, hateful to God, “who loves a cheerful giver;” but much more hateful, wrung out of men’s purses to maintain a disapproved ministry against their conscience; however unholy, infamous, and dishonourable to his ministers and the free gospel, maintained in such unworthy manner as by violence and extortion. If he give it as to his teacher, what justice or equity compels him to pay for learning that religion which leaves freely to his choice, whether he will learn it or no, whether of this teacher or another, and especially to pay for what he never learned, or approves not; whereby, besides the wound of his conscience, he becomes the less able to recompense his true teacher? Thus far hath been inquired by whom church-ministers ought to be maintained, and hath been proved most natural, most equal and agreeable with Scripture, to be by them who receive their teaching; and by whom, if they be unable. Which ways well observed can discourage none but hirelings, and will much lessen their number in the church.

It remains lastly to consider, in what manner God hath ordained that recompense be given to ministers of the gospel; and by all Scripture it will appear, that he hath given it them not by civil law and freehold, as they claim, but by the benevolence and free gratitude of such as receive them: Luke x. 7, 8, “Eating and drinking such things as they give you. If they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.” Matt. x. 7, 8, “As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of God is at hand, &c. Freely ye have received, freely give.” If God have ordained ministers to preach freely, whether they receive recompense or not, then certainly he hath forbid both them to compel it, and others to compel it for them. But freely given, he accounts it as given to himself: Phil. iv. 16, 17, 18, “Ye sent once and again to my necessity: not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit, that may abound to your account. Having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God;” which cannot be from force or unwillingness. The same is said of alms, Heb. xiii. 16, “To do good and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifice God is well pleased.” Whence the primitive church thought it no shame to receive all their maintenance as the alms of their auditors. Which they who defend tithes, as if it made for their cause, whenas it utterly confutes them, omit not to set down at large; proving to our hands out of Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, and others, that the clergy lived at first upon the mere Edition: current; Page: [164] benevolence of their hearers; who gave what they gave, not to the clergy, but to the church; out of which the clergy had their portions given them in baskets, and were thence called sportularii, basket-clerks: that their portion was a very mean allowance, only for a bare livelihood; according to those precepts of our Saviour, Matt. x. 7, &c. the rest was distributed to the poor. They cite also out of Prosper, the disciple of St. Austin, that such of the clergy as had means of their own, might not without sin partake of church maintenance; not receiving thereby food which they abound with, but feeding on the sins of other men: that the Holy Ghost saith of such clergymen, they eat the sins of my people; and that a council at Antioch, in the year 340, suffered not either priest or bishop to live on church-maintenance without necessity. Thus far tithers themselves have contributed to their own confutation, by confessing that the church lived primitively on alms. And I add, that about the year 359, Constantius the emperor having summoned a general council of bishops to Arminium in Italy, and provided for their subsistence there, the British and French bishops judging it not decent to live on the public, chose rather to be at their own charges. Three only out of Britain constrained through want, yet refusing offered assistance from the rest, accepted the emperor’s provision; judging it more convenient to subsist by public than by private sustenance. Whence we may conclude, that bishops then in this island had their livelihood only from benevolence; in which regard this relater Sulpitius Severus, a good author of the same time, highly praises them. And the Waldenses, our first reformers, both from the Scripture and these primitive examples, maintained those among them who bore the office of ministers by alms only. Take their very words from the history written of them in French, Part 3, Lib. 2, Chap. 2, “La nourriture et ce de quoy nous sommes couverts, &c. Our food and clothing is sufficiently administered and given to us by way of gratuity and alms, by the good people whom we teach.” If then by alms and benevolence, not by legal force, not by tenure of freehold or copyhold: for alms, though just, cannot be compelled; and benevolence forced is malevolence rather, violent and inconsistent with the gospel: and declares him no true minister thereof, but a rapacious hireling rather, who by force receiving it, eats the bread of violence and exaction, no holy or just livelihood, no not civilly counted honest; much less beseeming such a spiritual ministry.

But, say they, our maintenance is our due, tithes the right of Christ, unseparable from the priest, no where repealed; if then, not otherwise to be had, by law to be recovered: for though Paul were pleased to forego his due, and not to use his power, 1 Cor. ix. 12, yet he had a power, ver. 4, and bound not others. I answer first, because I see them still so loth to unlearn their decimal arithmetic, and still grasp their tithes as inseparable from a priest, that ministers of the gospel are not priests; and therefore separated from tithes by their exclusion, being neither called priests in the New Testament, nor of any order known in Scripture: not of Melchisedec, proper to Christ only; not of Aaron, as they themselves will confess; and the third priesthood only remaining, is common to all the faithful. But they are ministers of our high priest. True, but not of his priesthood, as the Levites were to Aaron; for he performs that whole office himself incommunicably. Yet tithes remain, say they, still unreleased, the due of Christ; and to whom payable, but to his ministers? I say again, that no man can so understand them, unless Christ in some place or other so claim them. That example of Abraham argues nothing but his voluntary act; honour once only done, but on what consideration, whether to a priest or to a king, Edition: current; Page: [165] whether due the honour, arbitrary that kind of honour or not, will after all contending be left still in mere conjecture; which must not be permitted in the claim of such a needy and subtle spiritual corporation, pretending by divine right to the tenth of all other men’s estates; nor can it be allowed by wise men or the verdict of common law. And the tenth part, though once declared holy, is declared now to be no holier than the other nine, by that command to Peter, Acts x. 15, 28, whereby all distinction of holy and unholy is removed from all things. Tithes therefore, though claimed, and holy under the law, yet are now released and quitted both by that command to Peter, and by this to all ministers, above-cited Luke x. “eating and drinking such things as they give you:” made holy now by their free gift only. And therefore St. Paul, 1 Cor. ix. 4, asserts his power indeed; but of what? not of tithes, but “to eat and drink such things as are given” in reference to this command; which he calls not holy things, or things of the gospel, as if the gospel had any consecrated things in answer to things of the temple, ver. 13, but he calls them “your carnal things,” ver. 11, without changing their property. And what power had he? Not the power of force, but of conscience only, whereby he might lawfully and without scruple live on the gospel; receiving what was given him, as the recompence of his labour. For if Christ the Master hath professed his kingdom to be not of this world, it suits not with that profession, either in him or his ministers, to claim temporal right from spiritual respects. He who refused to be the divider of an inheritance between two brethren, cannot approve his ministers, by pretended right from him, to be dividers of tenths and freeholds out of other men’s possessions, making thereby the gospel but a cloak of carnal interest, and to the contradiction of their master, turning his heavenly kingdom into a kingdom of this world, a kingdom of force and rapine: to whom it will be one day thundered more terribly than to Gehazi, for thus dishonouring a far greater master and his gospel; “Is this a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep and oxen?” The leprosy of Naaman, linked with that apostolic curse of perishing imprecated on Simon Magus, may be feared will “cleave to such and to their seed for ever.” So that when all is done, and belly hath used in vain all her cunning shifts, I doubt not but all true ministers, considering the demonstration of what hath been here proved, will be wise, and think it much more tolerable to hear, that no maintenance of ministers, whether tithes or any other, can be settled by statute, but must be given by them who receive instruction; and freely given, as God hath ordained. And indeed what can be a more honourable maintenance to them than such, whether alms or willing oblations, as these; which being accounted both alike as given to God, the only acceptable sacrifices now remaining, must needs represent him who receives them much in the care of God, and nearly related to him, when not by worldly force and constraint, but with religious awe and reverence, what is given to God, is given to him; and what to him, accounted as given to God. This would be well enough, say they; but how many will so give? I answer, as many, doubtless, as shall be well taught, as many as God shall so move. Why are ye so distrustful, both of your own doctrine and of God’s promises, fulfilled in the experience of those disciples first sent?—Luke xxii. 35, “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.” How then came ours, or who sent them thus destitute, thus poor and empty both of purse and faith? Who style themselves embassadors of Jesus Christ, and seem to be his tithe-gatherers, though an office of their own setting up to his dishonour, Edition: current; Page: [166] his exacters, his publicans rather, not trusting that he will maintain them in their embassy, unless they bind him to his promise by a statute-law, that we shall maintain them. Lay down for shame that magnific title, while ye seek maintenance from the people: it is not the manner of embassadors to ask maintenance of them to whom they are sent. But he who is Lord of all things, hath so ordained: trust him then; he doubtless will command the people to make good his promises of maintenance more honourably unasked, unraked for. This they know, this they preach, yet believe not: but think it as impossible, without a statute-law, to live of the gospel, as if by those words they were bid go eat their Bibles, as Ezekiel and John did their books; and such doctrines as these are as bitter to their bellies; but will serve so much the better to discover hirelings, who can have nothing, though but in appearance, just and solid to answer for themselves against what hath been here spoken, unless perhaps this one remaining pretence, which we shall quickly see to be either false or uningenuous.

They pretend that their education, either at school or university, hath been very chargeable, and therefore ought to be repaired in future by a plentiful maintenance: whenas it is well known, that the better half of them, (and ofttimes poor and pitiful boys, of no merit or promising hopes that might entitle them to the public provision, but their poverty and the unjust favour of friends,) have had the most of their breeding, both at school and university, by scholarships, exhibitions, and fellowships at the public cost, which might engage them the rather to give freely, as they have freely received. Or if they have missed of these helps at the latter place, they have after two or three years left the course of their studies there, if they ever well began them, and undertaken, though furnished with little else but ignorance, boldness, and ambition, if with no worse vices, a chaplainship in some gentleman’s house, to the frequent embasing of his sons with illiterate and narrow principles. Or if they have lived there upon their own, who knows not that seven years charge of living there, to them who fly not from the government of their parents to the license of a university, but come seriously to study, is no more than may be well defrayed and reimbursed by one year’s revenue of an ordinary good benefice? If they had then means of breeding from their parents, it is likely they have more now; and if they have, it needs must be a mechanic and uningenuous in them, to bring a bill of charges for the learning of those liberal arts and sciences, which they have learned (if they have indeed learned them, as they seldom have) to their own benefit and accomplishment. But they will say, we had betaken us to some other trade or profession, had we not expected to find a better livelihood by the ministry. This is that which I looked for, to discover them openly neither true lovers of learning, and so very seldom guilty of it, nor true ministers of the gospel. So long ago out of date is that old true saying, 1 Tim. iii. 1, “If a man desire a bishopric, he desires a good work:” for now commonly he who desires to be a minister, looks not at the work, but at the wages: and by that lure or lowbell, may be tolled from parish to parish all the town over. But what can be plainer simony, than thus to be at charges beforehand, to no other end than to make their ministry doubly or trebly beneficial? To whom it might be said, as justly as to that Simon, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought, that the gift of God may be purchased with money; thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter.”

Next, it is a fond error, though too much believed among us, to think that the university makes a minister of the gospel. What it may conduce to other arts and sciences, I dispute not now: but that which makes fit a Edition: current; Page: [167] minister, the Scripture can best inform as to be only from above, whence also we are bid to seek them; Matt. ix. 38, “Pray ye therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Acts xx. 28, “The flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.” Rom. x. 15, “How shall they preach, unless they be sent?” By whom sent? by the university, or the magistrate, or their belly? No surely, but sent from God only, and that God who is not their belly. And whether he be sent from God, or from Simon Magus, the inward sense of his calling and spiritual ability will sufficiently tell him; and that strong obligation felt within him, which was felt by the apostle, will often express from him the same words: 1 Cor. ix. 16, “Necessity is laid upon me, yea, wo is me if I preach not the gospel.” Not a beggarly necessity, and the woe feared otherwise of perpetual want, but such a necessity as made him willing to preach the gospel gratis, and to embrace poverty, rather than as a woe to fear it. 1 Cor. xii. 28, “God hath set some in the church, first apostles,” &c. Ephes. iv. 11, &c. “He gave some apostles, &c. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith.” Whereby we may know, that as he made them at the first, so he makes them still, and to the world’s end. 2 Cor. iii. 6, “Who hath also made us fit or able ministers of the New Testament.” 1 Tim. iv. 14, “The gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” These are all the means, which we read of, required in Scripture to the making of a minister. All this is granted, you will say; but yet that it is also requisite he should be trained in other learning: which can be no where better had than at universities. I answer, that what learning, either human or divine, can be necessary to a minister, may as easily and less chargeably be had in any private house. How deficient else, and to how little purpose, are all those piles of sermons, notes, and comments on all parts of the Bible, bodies and marrows of divinity, besides all other sciences, in our English tongue; many of the same books which in Latin they read at the university? And the small necessity of going thither to learn divinity I prove first from the most part of themselves, who seldom continue there till they have well got through logic, their first rudiments; though to say truth, logic also may much better be wanting in disputes of divinity, than in the subtile debates of lawyers, and statesmen, who yet seldom or never deal with syllogisms. And those theological disputations there held by professors and graduates are such, as tend least of all to the edification or capacity of the people, but rather perplex and leaven pure doctrine with scholastic trash, than enable any minister to the better preaching of the gospel. Whence we may also compute, since they come to reckonings, the charges of his needful library; which, though some shame not to value at 600l. may be competently furnished for 60l. If any man for his own curiosity or delight be in books further expensive, that is not to be reckoned as necessary to his ministerial, either breeding or function. But papists and other adversaries cannot be confuted without fathers and councils, immense volumes, and of vast charges. I will show them therefore a shorter and a better way of confutation: Tit. i. 9, “Holding fast the faithful word, as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convince gainsayers:” who are confuted as soon as heard, bringing that which is either not in Scripture, or against it. To pursue them further through the obscure and entangled wood of antiquity, fathers and councils fighting one against another, is needless, endless, not requisite Edition: current; Page: [168] in a minister, and refused by the first reformers of our religion. And yet we may be confident, if these things be thought needful, let the state but erect in public good store of libraries, and there will not want men in the church, who of their own inclinations will become able in this kind against papists or any other adversary.

I have thus at large examined the usual pretences of hirelings, coloured over most commonly with the cause of learning and universities; as if with divines learning stood and fell, wherein for the most part their pittance is so small; and, to speak freely, it were much better there were not one divine in the universities, no school-divinity known, the idle sophistry of monks, the canker of religion; and that they who intended to be ministers, were trained up in the church only by the Scripture, and in the original languages thereof at school; without fetching the compass of other arts and sciences, more than what they can well learn at secondary leisure, and at home.—Neither speak I this in contempt of learning, or the ministry, but hating the common cheats of both; hating that they, who have preached out bishops, prelates, and canonists, should, in what serves their own ends, retain their false opinions, their pharisaical leaven, their avarice, and closely their ambition, their pluralities, their nonresidences, their odious fees, and use their legal and popish arguments for tithes: that independents should take that name, as they may justly from the true freedom of Christian doctrine and church-discipline, subject to no superior judge but God only, and seek to be dependents on the magistrates for their maintenance; which two things, independence and state-hire in religion, can never consist long or certainly together. For magistrates at one time or other, not like these at present our patrons of Christian liberty, will pay none but such whom by their committees of examination they find conformable to their interests and opinions: and hirelings will soon frame themselves to that interest, and those opinions which they see best pleasing to their paymasters; and to seem right themselves, will force others as to the truth. But most of all they are to be reviled and shamed, who cry out with the distinct voice of notorious hirelings; that if ye settle not our maintenance by law, farewell the gospel; than which nothing can be uttered more false, more ignominious, and I may say, more blasphemous against our Saviour; who hath promised without this condition, both his Holy Spirit, and his own presence with his church to the world’s end: nothing more false, (unless with their own mouths they condemn themselves for the unworthiest and most mercenary of all other ministers,) by the experience of three hundred years after Christ, and the churches at this day in France, Austria, Polonia, and other places, witnessing the contrary under an adverse magistrate, not a favourable; nothing more ignominious, levelling, or rather undervaluing Christ beneath Mahomet. For if it must be thus, how can any Christian object it to a Turk, that his religion stands by force only; and not justly fear from him this reply, Yours both by force and money, in the judgment of your own preachers? This is that which makes atheists in the land, whom they so much complain of: not the want of maintenance, or preachers, as they allege, but the many hirelings and cheaters that have the gospel in their hands; hands that still crave, and are never satisfied. Likely ministers indeed, to proclaim the faith, or to exhort our trust in God, when they themselves will not trust him to provide for them in the message whereon, they say, he sent them; but threaten, for want of temporal means, to desert it; calling that want of means, which is nothing else but the want of their own faith: and would force us to pay the hire of building our faith Edition: current; Page: [169] to their covetous incredulity. Doubtless, if God only be he who gives ministers to his church till the world’s end; and through the whole gospel never sent us for ministers to the schools of philosophy, but rather bids us beware of such “vain deceit,” Col. ii. 8, (which the primitive church, after two or three ages not remembering, brought herself quickly to confusion,) if all the faithful be now “a holy and a royal priesthood,” 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9, not excluded from the dispensation of things holiest, after free election of the church, and imposition of hands, there will not want ministers elected out of all sorts and orders of men, for the gospel makes no difference from the magistrate himself to the meanest artificer, if God evidently favour him with spiritual gifts, as he can easily, and oft hath done, while those bachelor divines and doctors of the tippet have been passed by.

Heretofore in the first evangelic times, (and it were happy for Christendom if it were so again,) ministers of the gospel were by nothing else distinguished from other Christians, but by their spiritual knowledge and sanctity of life, for which the church elected them to be her teachers and overseers, though not thereby to separate them from whatever calling she then found them following besides; as the example of St. Paul declares, and the first times of Christianity. When once they affected to be called a clergy, and became, as it were, a peculiar tribe of Levites, a party, a distinct order in the commonwealth, bred up for divines in babbling schools, and fed at the public cost, good for nothing else but what was good for nothing, they soon grew idle: that idleness, with fulness of bread, begat pride and perpetual contention with their feeders the despised laity, through all ages ever since; to the perverting of religion, and the disturbance of all Christendom. And we may confidently conclude, it never will be otherwise while they are thus upheld undepending on the church, on which alone they anciently depended, and are by the magistrate publicly maintained a numerous faction of indigent persons, crept for the most part out of extreme want and bad nurture, claiming by divine right and freehold the tenth of our estates, to monopolize the ministry as their peculiar, which is free and open to all able Christians, elected by any church. Under this pretence exempt from all other employment, and enriching themselves on the public, they last of all prove common incendiaries, and exalt their horns against the magistrate himself that maintains them, as the priest of Rome did soon after against his benefactor the emperor, and the presbyters of late in Scotland. Of which hireling crew, together with all the mischiefs, dissensions, troubles, wars merely of their kindling, Christendom might soon rid herself and be happy, if Christians would but know their own dignity, their liberty, their adoption, and let it not be wondered if I say, their spiritual priesthood, whereby they have all equally access to any ministerial function, whenever called by their own abilities, and the church, though they never came near commencement or university. But while protestants, to avoid the due labour of understanding their own religion, are content to lodge it in the breast, or rather in the books, of a clergyman, and to take it thence by scraps and mammocks, as he dispenses it in his Sunday’s dole; they will be always learning and never knowing; always infants; always either his vassals, as lay papists are to their priests; or at odds with him, as reformed principles give them some light to be not wholly conformable; whence infinite disturbances in the state, as they do, must needs follow. Thus much I had to say; and, I suppose, what may be enough to them who are not avariciously bent otherwise, touching the likeliest means to remove hirelings out of the church; than which nothing can more conduce Edition: current; Page: [170] to truth, to peace and all happiness both in church and state. If I be not heard nor believed, the event will bear me witness to have spoken truth; and I in the meanwhile, have borne my witness, not out of season, to the church and to my country.


published from the manuscript.

Sir,—Upon the sad and serious discourse which we fell into last night, concerning these dangerous ruptures of the Commonwealth, scarce yet in her infancy, which cannot be without some inward flaw in her bowels; I began to consider more intensely thereon than hitherto I have been wont, resigning myself to the wisdom and care of those who had the government; and not finding that either God or the public required more of me, than my prayers for them that govern. And since you have not only stirred up my thoughts, by acquainting me with the state of affairs, more inwardly than I knew before; but also have desired me to set down my opinion thereof, trusting to your ingenuity, I shall give you freely my apprehension, both of our present evils, and what expedients, if God in mercy regard us, may remove them. I will begin with telling you how I was overjoyed, when I heard that the army, under the working of God’s Holy Spirit, as I thought, and still hope well, had been so far wrought to Christian humility, and self-denial, as to confess in public their backsliding from the good old cause, and to show the fruits of their repentance, in the righteousness of their restoring the old famous parliament, which they had without just authority dissolved: I call it the famous parliament, though not the harmless, since none well-affected, but will confess, they have deserved much more of these nations, than they have undeserved. And I persuade me, that God was pleased with their restitution, signing it, as he did, with such a signal victory, when so great a part of the nation were desperately conspired to call back again their Ægyptian bondage. So much the more it now amazes me, that they, whose lips were yet scarce closed from giving thanks for that great deliverance, should be now relapsing, and so soon again backsliding into the same fault, which they confessed so lately and so solemnly to God and the world, and more lately punished in those Cheshire rebels; that they should now dissolve that parliament, which they themselves re-established, and acknowledged for their supreme power in their other day’s humble representation: and all this, for no apparent cause of public concernment to the church or commonwealth, but only for discommissioning nine great officers in the army; which had not been done, as is reported, but upon notice of their intentions against the parliament. I presume not to give my censure on this action, not knowing, as yet I do not, the bottom of it. I speak only what it appears to us without doors, till better cause be declared, and I am sure to all other nations most illegal and scandalous, I fear me Edition: current; Page: [171] barbarous, or rather scarce to be exampled among any barbarians, that a paid army should, for no other cause, thus subdue the supreme power that set them up. This, I say, other nations will judge to the sad dishonour of that army, lately so renowned for the civilest and best ordered in the world, and by us here at home, for the most conscientious. Certainly, if the great officers and soldiers of the Holland, French, or Venetian forces, should thus sit in council, and write from garrison to garrison against their superiors, they might as easily reduce the king of France, or duke of Venice, and put the United Provinces in like disorder and confusion. Why do they not, being most of them held ignorant of true religion? because the light of nature, the laws of human society, the reverence of their magistrates, covenants, engagements, loyalty, allegiance, keeps them in awe. How grievous will it then be! how infamous to the true religion which we profess! how dishonourable to the name of God, that his fear and the power of his knowledge in an army professing to be his, should not work that obedience, that fidelity to their supreme magistrates, that levied them and paid them; when the light of nature, the laws of human society, covenants and contracts, yea common shame, works in other armies, among the worst of them! Which will undoubtedly pull down the heavy judgment of God among us, who cannot but avenge these hypocrisies, violations of truth and holiness; if they be indeed so as they yet seem. For neither do I speak this in reproach to the army, but as jealous of their honour, inciting them to manifest and publish with all speed, some better cause of these their late actions, than hath hitherto appeared, and to find out the Achan amongst them, whose close ambition in all likelihood abuses their honest natures against their meaning to these disorders; their readiest way to bring in again the common enemy, and with him the destruction of true religion, and civil liberty.

But, because our evils are now grown more dangerous and extreme, than to be remedied by complaints, it concerns us now to find out what remedies may be likeliest to save us from approaching ruin. Being now in anarchy, without a counselling and governing power; and the army, I suppose, finding themselves insufficient to discharge at once both military and civil affairs, the first thing to be found out with all speed, without which no commonwealth can subsist, must be a senate or general council of state, in whom must be the power, first, to preserve the public peace; next, the commerce with foreign nations; and lastly, to raise moneys for the management of these affairs: this must either be the parliament re-admitted to sit, or a council of state allowed of by the army, since they only now have the power. The terms to be stood on are, liberty of conscience to all professing Scripture to be the rule of their faith and worship; and the abjuration of a single person. If the parliament be again thought on, to salve honour on both sides, the well-affected part of the city, and the congregated churches, may be induced to mediate by public addresses, and brotherly beseechings; which, if there be that saintship among us which is talked of, ought to be of highest and undeniable persuasion to reconcilement. If the parliament be thought well dissolved, as not complying fully to grant liberty of conscience, and the necessary consequence thereof, the removal of a forced maintenance from ministers, then must the army forthwith choose a council of state, whereof as many to be of the parliament, as are undoubtedly affected to these two conditions proposed. That which I conceive only able to cement, and unite for ever the army, either to the parliament recalled, or this chosen council, must be a mutual league and oath, private or public, not to desert one another till death: that is to say, that the Edition: current; Page: [172] army be kept up, and all these officers in their places during life, and so likewise the parliament or counsellors of state; which will be no way unjust, considering their known merits on either side, in council or in field, unless any be found false to any of these two principles, or otherwise personally criminous in the judgment of both parties. If such a union as this be not accepted on the army’s part, be confident there is a single person underneath. That the army be upheld, the necessity of our affairs and factions will constrain long enough perhaps, to content the longest liver in the army. And whether the civil government be an annual democracy, or a perpetual aristocracy, is not to me a consideration for the extremities wherein we are, and the hazard of our safety from our common enemy, gaping at present to devour us. That it be not an oligarchy, or the faction of a few, may be easily prevented by the numbers of their own choosing, who may be found infallibly constant to those conditions fore-named, full liberty of conscience, and the abjuration of monarchy proposed: and the well-ordered committees of their faithfullest adherents in every county, may give this government the resemblance and effects of a perfect democracy. As for the reformation of laws, and the places of judicature, whether to be here, as at present, or in every county, as hath been long aimed at, and many such proposals, tending no doubt to public good, they may be considered in due time, when we are past these pernicious pangs, in a hopeful way of health, and firm constitution. But unless these things, which I have above proposed, one way or other, be once settled, in my fear, which God avert, we instantly ruin; or at best become the servants of one or other single person, the secret author and fomenter of these disturbances. You have the sum of my present thoughts, as much as I understand of these affairs, freely imparted; at your request, and the persuasion you wrought in me, that I might chance hereby to be some way serviceable to the Commonwealth, in a time when all ought to be endeavouring what good they can, whether much or but little.

With this you may do what you please, put out, put in, communicate, or suppress: you offend not me, who only have obeyed your opinion, that in doing what I have done, I might happen to offer something which might be of some use in this great time of need. However, I have not been wanting to the opportunity which you presented before me, of showing the readiness which I have in the midst of my unfitness, to whatever may be required of me, as a public duty.

October 20, 1659.

Edition: current; Page: [173]



published from the manuscript.

First, All endeavours speedily to be used, that the ensuing election be of such as are already firm, or inclinable to constitute a free commonwealth, (according to the former qualifications decreed in parliament, and not yet repealed, as I hear,) without single person, or house of lords. If these be not such, but the contrary, who foresees not, that our liberties will be utterly lost in this next parliament, without some powerful course taken, of speediest prevention? The speediest way will be to call up forthwith the chief gentlemen out of every county; to lay before them (as your excellency hath already, both in your published letters to the army, and your declaration recited to the members of parliament) the danger and confusion of readmitting kingship in this land; especially against the rules of all prudence and example, in a family once ejected, and thereby not to be trusted with the power of revenge: that you will not longer delay them with vain expectation, but will put into their hands forthwith the possession of a free commonwealth; if they will first return immediately and elect them, by such at least of the people as are rightly qualified, a standing council in every city and great town, which may then be dignified with the name of city, continually to consult the good and flourishing state of that place, with a competent territory adjoined; to assume the judicial laws, either those that are, or such as they themselves shall new make severally, in each commonalty, and all judicatures, all magistracies, to the administration of all justice between man and man, and all the ornaments of public civility, academies, and such like, in their own hands. Matters appertaining to men of several counties or territories, may be determined, as they are here at London, or in some more convenient place, under equal judges.

Next, That in every such capital place, they will choose them the usual number of ablest knights and burgesses, engaged for a commonwealth, to make up the parliament, or (as it will from henceforth be better called) the Grand or General Council of the Nation: whose office must be, with due caution, to dispose of forces, both by sea and land, under the conduct of your excellency, for the preservation of peace, both at home and abroad; must raise and manage the public revenue, but with provident inspection of their accompts; must administer all foreign affairs, make all general laws, peace or war, but not without assent of the standing council in each city, or such other general assembly as may be called on such occasion, from the whole territory, where they may, without much trouble, deliberate on all things fully, and send up their suffrages within a set time, by deputies appointed. Though this grand council be perpetual, (as in that book I Edition: current; Page: [174] proved would be best and most conformable to best examples,) yet they will then, thus limited, have so little matter in their hands, or power to endanger our liberty; and the people so much in theirs, to prevent them, having all judicial laws in their own choice, and free votes in all those which concern generally the whole commonwealth; that we shall have little cause to fear the perpetuity of our general senate; which will be then nothing else but a firm foundation and custody of our public liberty, peace, and union, through the whole commonwealth, and the transactors of our affairs with foreign nations.

If this yet be not thought enough, the known expedient may at length be used, of a partial rotation.

Lastly, If these gentlemen convocated refuse these fair and noble offers of immediate liberty, and happy condition, no doubt there be enough in every county who will thankfully accept them; your excellency once more declaring publicly this to be your mind, and having a faithful veteran army so ready and glad to assist you in the prosecution thereof. For the full and absolute administration of law in every county, which is the difficultest of these proposals, hath been of most long desired; and the not granting it held a general grievance. The rest, when they shall see the beginnings and proceedings of these constitutions proposed, and the orderly, the decent, the civil, the safe, the noble effects thereof, will be soon convinced, and by degrees come in of their own accord, to be partakers of so happy a government.


[first published 1660.]

------------------ Et nos

Consilium dedimus Syllæ, demus populo nunc.

Although, since the writing of this treatise, the face of things hath had some change, writs for new elections have been recalled, and the members at first chosen re-admitted from exclusion; yet not a little rejoicing to hear declared the resolution of those who are in power, tending to the establishment of a free commonwealth, and to remove, if it be possible, this noxious humour of returning to bondage, instilled of late by some deceivers, and nourished from bad principles and false apprehensions among too many of the people; I thought best not to suppress what I had written, hoping that it may now be of much more use and concernment to be freely published, in the midst of our elections to a free parliament, or their sitting to consider freely of the government; whom it behoves to have all things represented to them that may direct their judgment therein; and I never read of any state, scarce of any tyrant, grown so incurable, as to refuse counsel from Edition: current; Page: [175] any in a time of public deliberation, much less to be offended. If their absolute determination be to inthrall us, before so long a Lent of servitude, they may permit us a little shroving-time first, wherein to speak freely, and take our leaves of liberty. And because in the former edition, through haste, many faults escaped, and many books were suddenly dispersed, ere the note to mend them could be sent, I took the opportunity from this occasion to revise and somewhat to enlarge the whole discourse, especially that part which argues for a perpetual senate. The treatise thus revised and enlarged, is as follows.

The Parliament of England, assisted by a great number of the people who appeared and stuck to them faithfullest in defence of religion and their civil liberties, judging kingship by long experience a government unnecessary, burdensome, and dangerous, justly and magnanimously abolished it, turning regal bondage into a free commonwealth, to the admiration and terror of our emulous neighbours. They took themselves not bound by the light of nature or religion to any former covenant, from which the king himself, by many forfeitures of a latter date or discovery, and our longer consideration thereon, had more and more unbound us, both to himself and his posterity; as hath been ever the justice and the prudence of all wise nations, that have ejected tyranny. They covenanted “to preserve the king’s person and authority, in the preservation of the true religion, and our liberties;” not in his endeavouring to bring in upon our consciences a popish religion; upon our liberties, thraldom; upon our lives, destruction, by his occasioning, if not complotting, as was after discovered, the Irish massacre; his fomenting and arming the rebellion; his covert leaguing with the rebels against us; his refusing, more than seven times, propositions most just and necessary to the true religion and our liberties, tendered him by the parliament both of England and Scotland. They made not their covenant concerning him with no difference between a king and a God; or promised him, as Job did to the Almighty, “to trust in him though he slay us:” they understood that the solemn engagement, wherein we all forswore kingship, was no more a breach of the covenant, than the covenant was of the protestation before, but a faithful and prudent going on both in words well weighed, and in the true sense of the covenant “without respect of persons,” when we could not serve two contrary masters, God and the king, or the king and that more supreme law, sworn in the first place to maintain our safety and our liberty. They knew the people of England to be a free people, themselves the representers of that freedom; and although many were excluded, and as many fled (so they pretended) from tumults to Oxford, yet they were left a sufficient number to act in parliament, therefore not bound by any statute of preceding parliaments, but by the law of nature only, which is the only law of laws truly and properly to all mankind fundamental; the beginning and the end of all government; to which no parliament or people that will throughly reform, but may and must have recourse, as they had, and must yet have, in church-reformation (if they throughly intend it) to evangelic rules; not to ecclesiastical canons, though never so ancient, so ratified and established in the land by statutes which for the most part are mere positive laws, neither natural nor moral: and so by any parliament, for just and serious considerations, without scruple to be at any time repealed. If others of their number in these things were under force, they were not, but under free conscience; if others were excluded by a power which they could not resist, they were not therefore to leave the helm of government in no hands, to discontinue their care of the public peace and safety, to desert the people in anarchy and confusion, no Edition: current; Page: [176] more than when so many of their members left them, as made up in outward formality a more legal parliament of three estates against them.

The best-affected also, and best-principled of the people, stood not numbering or computing, on which side were most voices in parliament, but on which side appeared to them most reason, most safety, when the house divided upon main matters. What was well motioned and advised, they examined not whether fear or persuasion carried it in the vote, neither did they measure votes and counsels by the intentions of them that voted; knowing that intentions either are but guessed at, or not soon enough known; and although good, can neither make the deed such, nor prevent the consequence from being bad: suppose bad intentions in things otherwise well done; what was well done, was by them who so thought, not the less obeyed or followed in the state; since in the church, who had not rather follow Iscariot or Simon the magician, though to covetous ends, preaching, than Saul, though in the uprightness of his heart persecuting the gospel? Safer they therefore judged what they thought the better counsels, though carried on by some perhaps to bad ends, than the worse by others, though endeavoured with best intentions: and yet they were not to learn, that a greater number might be corrupt within the walls of a parliament, as well as of a city; whereof in matters of nearest concernment all men will be judges; nor easily permit, that the odds of voices in their greatest council shall more endanger them by corrupt or credulous votes, than the odds of enemies by open assaults; judging, that most voices ought not always to prevail, where main matters are in question. If others hence will pretend to disturb all counsels; what is that to them who pretend not, but are in real danger; not they only so judging, but a great, though not the greatest, number of their chosen patriots, who might be more in weight than the others in numbers: there being in number little virtue, but by weight and measure wisdom working all things, and the dangers on either side they seriously thus weighed. From the treaty, short fruits of long labours, and seven years war; security for twenty years, if we can hold it; reformation in the church for three years: then put to shift again with our vanquished master. His justice, his honour, his conscience declared quite contrary to ours; which would have furnished him with many such evasions, as in a book entitled, “An Inquisition for Blood,” soon after were not concealed: bishops not totally removed, but left, as it were, in ambush, a reserve, with ordination in their sole power; their lands already sold, not to be alienated, but rented, and the sale of them called “sacrilege;” delinquents, few of many brought to condign punishment; accessories punished, the chief author, above pardon, though, after utmost resistance, vanquished; not to give, but to receive, laws; yet besought, treated with, and to be thanked for his gracious concessions, to be honoured, worshipped, glorified. If this we swore to do, with what righteousness in the sight of God, with what assurance that we bring not by such an oath, the whole sea of blood-guiltiness upon our heads? If on the other side we prefer a free government, though for the present not obtained, yet all those suggested fears and difficulties, as the event will prove, easily overcome, we remain finally secure from the exasperated regal power, and out of snares; shall retain the best part of our liberty, which is our religion, and the civil part will be from these who defer us, much more easily recovered, being neither so subtle nor so awful as a king reinthroned. Nor were their actions less both at home and abroad, than might become the hopes of a glorious rising commonwealth: nor were the expressions both of army and people, whether in their public declarations, or several writings, Edition: current; Page: [177] other than such as testified a spirit in this nation, no less noble and well fitted to the liberty of a commonwealth, than in the ancient Greeks or Romans. Nor was the heroic cause unsuccessfully defended to all Christendom, against the tongue of a famous and thought invincible adversary; nor the constancy and fortitude, that so nobly vindicated our liberty, our victory at once against two the most prevailing usurpers over mankind, superstition and tyranny, unpraised or uncelebrated in a written monument, likely to outlive detraction, as it hath hitherto convinced or silenced not a few of our detractors, especially in parts abroad. After our liberty and religion thus prosperously fought for, gained, and many years possessed, except in those unhappy interruptions, which God hath removed; now that nothing remains, but in all reason the certain hopes of a speedy and immediate settlement for ever in a firm and free commonwealth, for this extolled and magnified nation, regardless both of honour won, or deliverances vouchsafed from heaven, to fall back, or rather to creep back so poorly, as it seems the multitude would, to their once abjured and detested thraldom of kingship, to be ourselves the slanderers of our own just and religious deeds, though done by some to covetous and ambitious ends, yet not therefore to be stained with their infamy, or they to asperse the integrity of others; and yet these now by revolting from the conscience of deeds well done, both in church and state, to throw away and forsake, or rather to betray, a just and noble cause for the mixture of bad men who have ill-managed and abused it, (which had our fathers done heretofore, and on the same pretence deserted true religion, what had long ere this become of our gospel and all protestant reformation so much intermixed with the avarice and ambition of some reformers?) and by thus relapsing, to verify all the bitter predictions of our triumphing enemies, who will now think they wisely discerned and justly censured both us and all our actions as rash, rebellious, hypocritical, and impious; not only argues a strange, degenerate contagion suddenly spread among us, fitted and prepared for new slavery, but will render us a scorn and derision to all our neighbours. And what will they at best say of us, and of the whole English name, but scoffingly, as of that foolish builder mentioned by our Saviour, who began to build a tower, and was not able to finish it? Where is this goodly tower of a commonwealth, which the English boasted they would build to overshadow kings, and be another Rome in the west? The foundation indeed they lay gallantly, but fell into a worse confusion, not of tongues, but of factions, than those at the tower of Babel; and have left no memorial of their work behind them remaining, but in the common laughter of Europe! Which must needs redound the more to our shame, if we but look on our neighbours the United Provinces, to us inferior in all outward advantages; who notwithstanding, in the midst of greater difficulties, courageously, wisely, constantly went through with the same work, and are settled in all the happy enjoyments of a potent and flourishing republic to this day.

Besides this, if we return to kingship, and soon repent, (as undoubtedly we shall, when we begin to find the old encroachments coming on by little and little upon our consciences, which must necessarily proceed from king and bishop united inseparably in one interest,) we may be forced perhaps to fight over again all that we have fought, and spend over again all that we have spent, but are never like to attain thus far as we are now advanced to the recovery of our freedom, never to have it in possession as we now have it, never to be vouchsafed hereafter the like mercies and signal assistances from Heaven in our cause, if by our ingrateful backsliding we Edition: current; Page: [178] make these fruitless; flying now to regal concessions from his divine condescensions, and gracious answers to our once importuning prayers against the tyranny which we then groaned under; making vain and viler than dirt the blood of so many thousand faithful and valiant Englishmen, who left us in this liberty, bought with their lives; losing by a strange aftergame of folly all the battles we have won, together with all Scotland as to our conquest, hereby lost, which never any of our kings could conquer, all the treasure we have spent, not that corruptible treasure only, but that far more precious of all our late miraculous deliverances; treading back again with lost labour all our happy steps in the progress of reformation, and most pitifully depriving ourselves the instant fruition of that free government, which we have so dearly purchased, a free commonwealth, not only held by wisest men in all ages the noblest, the manliest, the equallest, the justest government, the most agreeable to all due liberty and proportioned equality, both human, civil, and Christian, most cherishing to virtue and true religion, but also (I may say it with greatest probability) plainly commended, or rather enjoined by our Saviour himself, to all Christians, not without remarkable disallowance, and the brand of Gentilism upon kingship. God in much displeasure gave a king to the Israelites, and imputed it a sin to them that they sought one: but Christ apparently forbids his disciples to admit of any such heathenish government; “The kings of the Gentiles,” saith he, “exercise lordship over them;” and they that “exercise authority upon them are called benefactors: but ye shall not be so; but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he that is chief, as he that serveth.” The occasion of these his words was the ambitious desire of Zebedee’s two sons, to be exalted above their brethren in his kingdom, which they thought was to be ere long upon earth. That he speaks of civil government, is manifest by the former part of the comparison, which infers the other part to be always in the same kind. And what government comes nearer to this precept of Christ, than a free commonwealth; wherein they who are the greatest, are perpetual servants and drudges to the public at their own cost and charges, neglect their own affairs, yet are not elevated above their brethren; live soberly in their families, walk the street as other men, may be spoken to freely, familiarly, friendly, without adoration? Whereas a king must be adored like a demigod, with a dissolute and haughty court about him, of vast expense and luxury, masks and revels, to the debauching of our prime gentry both male and female; not in their pastimes only, but in earnest, by the loose employments of court-service, which will be then thought honourable. There will be a queen of no less charge; in most likelihood outlandish and a papist, besides a queen-mother such already; together with both their courts and numerous train: then a royal issue, and ere long severally their sumptuous courts; to the multiplying of a servile crew, not of servants only, but of nobility and gentry, bred up then to the hopes not of public, but of court-offices, to be stewards, chamberlains, ushers, grooms, even of the close-stool; and the lower their minds debased with court-opinions, contrary to all virtue and reformation, the haughtier will be their pride and profuseness. We may well remember this not long since at home; nor need but look at present into the French court, where enticements and preferments daily draw away and pervert the protestant nobility.

As to the burden of expense, to our cost we shall soon know it; for any good to us deserving to be termed no better than the vast and lavish price of our subjection, and their debauchery, which we are now so greedily cheapening, and would so fain be paying most inconsiderately to a single Edition: current; Page: [179] person; who for any thing wherein the public really needs him, will have little else to do, but to bestow the eating and drinking of excessive dainties, to set a pompous face upon the superficial actings of state, to pageant himself up and down in progress among the perpetual bowings and cringings of an abject people, on either side deifying and adoring him for nothing done that can deserve it. For what can he more than another man? who, even in the expression of a late court-poet, sits only like a great cipher set to no purpose before a long row of other significant figures. Nay, it is well and happy for the people, if their king be but a cipher, being ofttimes a mischief, a pest, a scourge of the nation, and which is worse, not to be removed, not to be controlled, much less accused or brought to punishment, without the danger of a common ruin, without the shaking and almost subversion of the whole land: whereas in a free commonwealth, any governor or chief counsellor offending may be removed and punished, without the least commotion. Certainly then that people must needs be mad, or strangely infatuated, that build the chief hope of their common happiness or safety on a single person; who, if he happen to be good, can do no more than another man; if to be bad, hath in his hands to do more evil without check, than millions of other men.

The happiness of a nation must needs be firmest and certainest in full and free council of their own electing, where no single person, but reason only, sways. And what madness is it for them who might manage nobly their own affairs themselves, sluggishly and weakly to devolve all on a single person; and more like boys under age than men, to commit all to his patronage and disposal, who neither can perform what he undertakes, and yet for undertaking it, though royally paid, will not be their servant, but their lord! How unmanly must it needs be, to count such a one the breath of our nostrils, to hang all our felicity on him, all our safety, our well-being, for which if we were aught else but sluggards or babies, we need depend on none but God and our own counsels, our own active virtue and industry! “Go to the ant, thou sluggard,” saith Solomon; “consider her ways, and be wise; which having no prince, ruler, or lord, provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest:” which evidently shows us, that they who think the nation undone without a king, though they look grave or haughty, have not so much true spirit and understanding in them as a pismire: neither are these diligent creatures hence concluded to live in lawless anarchy, or that commended, but are set the examples to imprudent and ungoverned men, of a frugal and self-governing democracy or commonwealth; safer and more thriving in the joint providence and counsel of many industrious equals, than under the single domination of one imperious lord. It may be well wondered that any nation, styling themselves free, can suffer any man to pretend hereditary right over them as their lord; whenas by acknowledging that right, they conclude themselves his servants and his vassals, and so renounce their own freedom. Which how a people and their leaders especially can do, who have fought so gloriously for liberty; how they can change their noble words and actions, heretofore so becoming the majesty of a free people, into the base necessity of court-flatteries and prostrations, is not only strange and admirable, but lamentable to think on. That a nation should be so valorous and courageous to win their liberty in the field, and when they have won it, should be so heartless and unwise in their counsels, as not to know how to use it, value it, what to do with it, or with themselves; but after ten or twelve years’ prosperous war and contestation with tyranny, basely and besottedly to run their necks again into the yoke which they have broken, and pros; Edition: current; Page: [180] trate all the fruits of their victory for nought at the feet of the vanquished, besides our loss of glory, and such an example as kings or tyrants never yet had the like to boast of, will be an ignominy if it befall us, that never yet befell any nation possessed of their liberty; worthy indeed themselves, whatsoever they be, to be for ever slaves, but that part of the nation which consents not with them, as I persuade me of a great number, far worthier than by their means to be brought into the same bondage. Considering these things so plain, so rational, I cannot but yet further admire on the other side, how any man, who hath the true principles of justice and religion in him, can presume or take upon him to be a king and lord over his brethren, whom he cannot but know, whether as men or Christians, to be for the most part every way equal or superior to himself: how he can display with such vanity and ostentation his regal splendor, so supereminently above other mortal men; or being a Christian, can assume such extraordinary honour and worship to himself, while the kingdom of Christ, our common king and lord, is hid to this world, and such Gentilish imitation forbid in express words by himself to all his disciples. All protestants hold that Christ in his church hath left no vicegerent of his power; but himself, without deputy, is the only head thereof, governing it from heaven: how then can any Christian man derive his kingship from Christ, but with worse usurpation than the pope his headship over the church, since Christ not only hath not left the least shadow of a command for any such vicegerence from him in the state, as the pope pretends for his in the church, but hath expressly declared, that such regal dominion is from the Gentiles, not from him, and hath strictly charged us not to imitate them therein?

I doubt not but all ingenuous and knowing men will easily agree with me, that a free commonwealth without single person or house of lords is by far the best government, if it can be had; but we have all this while, say they, been expecting it, and cannot yet attain it. It is true indeed, when monarchy was dissolved, the form of a commonwealth should have forthwith been framed, and the practice thereof immediately begun; that the people might have soon been satisfied and delighted with the decent order, ease, and benefit thereof: we had been then by this time firmly rooted past fear of commotions or mutations, and now flourishing: this care of timely settling a new government instead of the old, too much neglected, hath been our mischief. Yet the cause thereof may be ascribed with most reason to the frequent disturbances, interruptions, and dissolutions, which the parliament hath had, partly from the impatient or disaffected people, partly from some ambitious leaders in the army; much contrary, I believe, to the mind and approbation of the army itself, and their other commanders, once undeceived, or in their own power. Now is the opportunity, now the very season, wherein we may obtain a free commonwealth, and establish it for ever in the land, without difficulty or much delay. Writs are sent out for elections, and, which is worth observing, in the name, not of any king, but of the keepers of our liberty, to summon a free parliament: which then only will indeed be free, and deserve the true honour of that supreme title, if they preserve us a free people. Which never parliament was more free to do; being now called not as heretofore, by the summons of a king, but by the voice of liberty: and if the people, laying aside prejudice and impatience, will seriously and calmly now consider their own good, both religious and civil, their own liberty and the only means thereof, as shall be here laid down before them, and will elect their knights and burgesses able men, and according to the just and necessary qualifications, (which, for aught I hear, remain yet in force unrepealed, as they were formerly decreed in parliament,) Edition: current; Page: [181] men not addicted to a single person or house of lords, the work is done; at least the foundation firmly laid of a free commonwealth, and good part also erected of the main structure. For the ground and basis of every just and free government, (since men have smarted so oft for committing all to one person,) is a general council of ablest men, chosen by the people to consult of public affairs from time to time for the common good. In this grand council must the sovereignty, not transferred, but delegated only, and as it were deposited, reside; with this caution, they must have the forces by sea and land committed to them for preservation of the common peace and liberty; must raise and manage the public revenue, at least with some inspectors deputed for satisfaction of the people, how it is employed; must make or propose, as more expressly shall be said anon, civil laws, treat of commerce, peace, or war with foreign nations, and, for the carrying on some particular affairs with more secrecy and expedition, must elect, as they have already out of their own number and others, a council of state.

And, although it may seem strange at first hearing, by reason that men’s minds are prepossessed with the notion of successive parliaments, I affirm, that the grand or general council, being well chosen, should be perpetual: for so their business is or may be, and ofttimes urgent; the opportunity of affairs gained or lost in a moment. The day of council cannot be set as the day of a festival; but must be ready always to prevent or answer all occasions. By this continuance they will become every way skilfullest, best provided of intelligence from abroad, best acquainted with the people at home, and the people with them. The ship of the commonwealth is always under sail; they sit at the stern, and if they steer well, what need is there to change them, it being rather dangerous? Add to this, that the grand council is both foundation and main pillar of the whole state; and to move pillars and foundations, not faulty, cannot be safe for the building. I see not therefore, how we can be advantaged by successive and transitory parliaments; but that they are much likelier continually to unsettle rather than to settle a free government, to breed commotions, changes, novelties, and uncertainties, to bring neglect upon present affairs and opportunities, while all minds are in suspense with expectation of a new assembly, and the assembly for a good space taken up with the new settling of itself. After which, if they find no great work to do, they will make it, by altering or repealing former acts, or making and multiplying new; that they may seem to see what their predecessors saw not, and not to have assembled for nothing: till all law be lost in the multitude of clashing statutes. But if the ambition of such as think themselves injured, that they also partake not of the government, and are impatient till they be chosen, cannot brook the perpetuity of others chosen before them; or if it be feared that long continuance of power may corrupt sincerest men, the known expedient is, and by some lately propounded, that annually (or if the space be longer, so much perhaps the better) the third part of senators may go out according to the precedence of their election, and the like number be chosen in their places, to prevent their settling of too absolute a power, if it should be perpetual: and this they call “partial rotation.” But I could wish, that this wheel or partial wheel in state, if it be possible, might be avoided, as having too much affinity with the wheel of Fortune. For it appears not how this can be done, without danger and mischance of putting out a great number of the best and ablest: in whose stead new elections may bring in as many raw, unexperienced, and otherwise affected, to the weakening and much altering for the worse of public transactions. Neither do I think a perpetual senate, especially chosen or entrusted by the people, much in this Edition: current; Page: [182] land to be feared, where the well-affected, either in a standing army, or in a settled militia, have their arms in their own hands. Safest therefore to me it seems, and of least hazard or interruption to affairs, that none of the grand council be moved, unless by death, or just conviction of some crime: for what can be expected firm or steadfast from a floating foundation? however, I forejudge not any probable expedient, any temperament that can be found in things of this nature, so disputable on either side. Yet lest this which I affirm be thought my single opinion, I shall add sufficient testimony. Kingship itself is therefore counted the more safe and durable because the king, and for the most part his council, is not changed during life: but a commonwealth is held immortal, and therein firmest, safest, and most above fortune: for the death of a king causeth ofttimes many dangerous alterations: but the death now and then of a senator is not felt, the main body of them still continuing permanent in greatest and noblest commonwealths, and as it were eternal. Therefore among the Jews, the supreme council of seventy, called the Sanhedrim, founded by Moses, in Athens that of Areopagus, in Sparta that of the ancients, in Rome the senate, consisted of members chosen for term of life; and by that means remained as it were still the same to generations. In Venice they change indeed oftener than every year some particular council of state, as that of six, or such other: but the true senate, which upholds and sustains the government, is the whole aristocracy immoveable. So in the United Provinces, the states general, which are indeed but a council of state deputed by the whole union, are not usually the same persons for above three or six years; but the states of every city, in whom the sovereignty hath been placed time out of mind, are a standing senate, without succession, and accounted chiefly in that regard the main prop of their liberty. And why they should be so in every well-ordered commonwealth, they who write of policy give these reasons; “That to make the senate successive, not only impairs the dignity and lustre of the senate, but weakens the whole commonwealth, and brings it into manifest danger; while by this means the secrets of state are frequently divulged, and matters of greatest consequence committed to inexpert and novice counsellors, utterly unfit to seek in the full and intimate knowledge of affairs past.” I know not therefore what should be peculiar in England, to make successive parliaments thought safest, or convenient here more than in other nations, unless it be the fickleness, which is attributed to us as we are islanders: but good education and acquisite wisdom ought to correct the fluxible fault, if any such be, of our watery situation.

It will be objected, that in those places where they had perpetual senates, they had also popular remedies against their growing too imperious: as in Athens, besides Areopagus, another senate of four or five hundred; in Sparta, the Ephori; in Rome, the tribunes of the people. But the event tells us, that these remedies either little avail the people, or brought them to such a licentious and unbridled democracy, as in fine ruined themselves with their own excessive power. So that the main reason urged why popular assemblies are to be trusted with the people’s liberty, rather than a senate of principle men, because great men will be still endeavouring to enlarge their power, but the common sort will be contented to maintain their own liberty, is by experience found false; none being more immoderate and ambitious to amplify their power, than such popularities, which were seen in the people of Rome; who at first contented to have their tribunes, at length contented with the senate that one consul, then both, soon after, that the censors and prætors also should be created plebian, and the whole empire put into their hands; adoring lastly those, who most were adverse Edition: current; Page: [183] to the senate, till Marius, by fulfilling their inordinate desires, quite lost them all the power, for which they had so long been striving, and left them under the tyranny of Sylla: the balance therefore must be exactly so set, as to preserve and keep up due authority on either side, as well in the senate as in the people. And this annual rotation of a senate to consist of three hundred, as is lately propounded, requires also another popular assembly upward of a thousand, with an answerable rotation. Which besides that it will be liable to all those inconveniences found in the aforesaid remedies, cannot but be troublesome and chargeable, both in their motion and their session, to the whole land, unwidely with their own bulk, unable in so great a number to mature their consultations as they ought, if any be alloted them, and that they meet not from so many parts remote to sit a whole year lieger in one place, only now and then to hold up a forest of fingers, or to convey each man his bean or ballot into the box, without reason shown or common deliberation; incontinent of secrets, if any be imparted to them; emulous and always jarring with the other senate. The much better way doubtless will be, in this wavering condition of our affairs, to defer the changing or circumscribing of our senate, more than may be done with ease, till the commonwealth be throughly settled in peace and safety, and they themselves give us the occasion. Military men hold it dangerous to change the form of battle in view of an enemy; neither did the people of Rome bandy with their senate, while any of the Tarquins lived, the enemies of their liberty; nor sought by creating tribunes, to defend themselves against the fear of their patrician, till sixteen years after the expulsion of their kings, and in full security of their state, they had or thought they had just cause given them by the senate. Another way will be, to well qualify and refine elections: not committing all to the noise and shouting of a rude multitude, but permitting only those of them who are rightly qualified, to nominate as many as they will; and out of that number others of a better breeding, to choose a less number more judiciously, till after a third or fourth sifting and refining of exactest choice, they only be left chosen who are the due number, and seem by most voices the worthiest. To make the people fittest to choose, and the chosen fittest to govern, will be to mend our corrupt and faulty education, to teach the people faith, not without virtue, temperance, modesty, sobriety, parsimony, justice; not to admire wealth or honour; to hate turbulence and ambition; to place every one his private welfare and happiness in the public peace, liberty, and safety. They shall not then need to be much mistrustful of their chosen patriots in the grand council; who will be then rightly called the true keepers of our liberty, though the most of their business will be in foreign affairs. But to prevent all mistrust, the people then will have their several ordinary assemblies (which will henceforth quite annihilate the odious power and name of committees) in the chief towns of every country, without the trouble, charge, or time lost of summoning and assembling from far in so great a number, and so long residing from their own houses, or removing of their families, to do as much at home in their several shires, entire or subdivided, toward the securing of their liberty, as a numerous assembly of them all formed and convened on purpose with the wariest rotation. Whereof I shall speak more ere the end of this discourse: for it may be referred to time, so we be still going on by degrees to perfection The people well weighing and performing these things, I suppose would have no cause to fear, though the parliament abolishing that name, as originally signifying but the parley of our lords and commons with the Norman king when he pleased to call them, should, with certain limitations of Edition: current; Page: [184] their power, sit perpetual, if their ends be faithful and for a free commonwealth, under the name of a grand or general council. Till this be done, I am in doubt whether our state will be ever certainly and throughly settled; never likely till then to see an end of our troubles and continual changes, or at least never the true settlement and assurance of our liberty. The grand council being thus firmly constituted to perpetuity, and still, upon the death or default of any member, supplied and kept in full number, there can be no cause alleged, why peace, justice, plentiful trade, and all prosperity should not thereupon ensue throughout the whole land; with as much assurance as can be of human things, that they shall so continue (if God favour us, and our wilful sins provoke him not) even to the coming of our true and rightful, and only to be expected King, only worthy as he is our only Saviour, the Messiah, the Christ, the only heir of his eternal Father, the only by him anointed and ordained since the work of our redemption finished, universal Lord of all mankind. The way propounded is plain, easy, and open before us; without intricacies, without the introducement of new or absolute forms or terms, or exotic models; ideas that would effect nothing; but with a number of new injunctions to manacle the native liberty of mankind; turning all virtue into prescription, servitude, and necessity, to the great impairing and frustrating of Christian liberty. I say again, this way lies free and smooth before us; is not tangled with inconveniences; invents no new incumbrances; requires no perilous, no injurious alteration or circumscription of men’s lands and properties; secure, that in this commonwealth, temporal and spiritual lords removed, no man or number of men can attain to such wealth or vast possession, as will need the edge of an agrarian law (never successful, but the cause rather of sedition, save only where it began seasonably with first possession) to confine them from endangering our public liberty. To conclude, it can have no considerable objection made against it, that it is not practicable; lest it be said hereafter, that we gave up our liberty for want of a ready way or distinct form proposed of a free commonwealth. And this facility we shall have above our next neighboring commonwealth, (if we can keep us from the fond conceit of something like a duke of Venice, put lately into many men’s heads by some one or other subtly driving on under that notion his own ambitious ends to lurch a crown,) that our liberty shall not be hampered or hovered over by any engagement to such a potent family as the house of Nassau, of whom to stand in perpetual doubt and suspicion, but we shall live the clearest and absolutest free nation in the world.

On the contrary, if there be a king, which the inconsiderate multitude are now so mad upon, mark how far short we are like to come of all those happinesses, which in a free state we shall immediately be possessed of.—First, the grand council, which, as I showed before, should sit perpetually, (unless their leisure give them now and then intermissions or vacations, easily manageable by the council of state left sitting,) shall be called, by the king’s good will and utmost endeavour, as seldom as may be. For it is only the king’s right, he will say, to call a parliament; and this he will do most commonly about his own affairs rather than the kingdom’s as will appear plainly so soon as they are called. For what will their business then be, and the chief expense of their time, but an endless tugging between petition of right and royal prerogative, especially about the negative voice, militia, or subsidies, demanded and ofttimes extorted without reasonable cause appearing to the commons, who are the only true representatives of the people and their liberty, but will be then mingled with a court-faction; besides which, within their own wall, the sincere part of them who stand Edition: current; Page: [185] faithful to the people will again have to deal with two troublesome counter-working adversaries from without, mere creatures of the king, spiritual, and the greater part, as is likeliest, of temporal lords, nothing concerned with the people’s liberty. If these prevail not in what they please, though never so much against the people’s interest, the parliament shall be soon dissolved, or sit and do nothing; not suffered to remedy the least grievance, or enact aught advantageous to the people. Next, the council of state shall not be chosen by the parliament, but by the king, still his own creatures, courtiers, and favourers; who will be sure in all their councils to set their master’s grandeur and absolute power, in what they are able, far above the people’s liberty.

I deny not but that there may be such a king, who may regard the common good before his own, may have no vicious favourite, may hearken only to the wisest and incorruptest of his parliament: but this rarely happens in a monarchy not elective; and it behoves not a wise nation to commit the sum of their well-being, the whole state of their safety to fortune. What need they; and how absurd would it be, whenas they themselves, to whom his chief virtue will be but to hearken, may with much better management and dispatch, with much more commendation of their own worth and magnanimity, govern without a master? Can the folly be paralleled, to adore and be the slaves of a single person, for doing that which it is ten thousand to one whether he can or will do, and we without him might do more easily, more effectually, more laudably ourselves? Shall we never grow old enough to be wise, to make seasonable use of gravest authorities, experiences, examples? Is it such an unspeakable joy to serve, such felicity to wear a yoke? to clink our shackles, locked on by pretended law of subjection, more intolerable and hopeless to be ever shaken off, than those which are knocked on by illegal injury and violence? Aristotle our chief instructor in the universities, lest this doctrine be thought sectarian, as the royalists would have it thought, tells us in the third of his politics, that certain men at first, for the matchless excellence of their virtue above others, or some great public benefit, were created kings by the people, in small cities and territories, and in the scarcity of others to be found like them; but when they abused their power, and governments grew larger, and the number of prudent men increased, that then the people, soon deposing their tyrants, betook them, in all civilest places, to the form of a free commonwealth. And why should we thus disparage and prejudicate our own nation, as to fear a scarcity of able and worthy men united in council to govern us, if we will but use diligence and impartiality, to find them out and choose them, rather yoking ourselves to a single person, the natural adversary and oppressor of liberty; though good, yet far easier corruptible by the excess of his single power and exaltation, or at best, not comparably sufficient to bear the weight of government, nor equally disposed to make us happy in the enjoyment of our liberty under him?

But admit, that monarchy of itself may be convenient to some nations; yet to us who have thrown it out, received back again, it cannot but prove pernicious. For kings to come, never forgetting their former ejection, will be sure to fortify and arm themselves sufficiently for the future against all such attempts hereafter from the people: who shall be then so narrowly watched and kept so low, that though they would never so fain, and at the same rate of their blood and treasure, they never shall be able to regain what they now have purchased and may enjoy, or to free themselves from any yoke imposed upon them: nor will they dare to go about it; utterly disheartened for the future, if these their highest attempts prove unsuccessful; Edition: current; Page: [186] which will be the triumph of all tyrants hereafter over any people that shall resist oppression; and their song will then be, to others, How sped the rebellious English? to our posterity, How sped the rebels your fathers? This is not my conjecture, but drawn from God’s known denouncement against the gentilizing Israelites, who, though they were governed in a commonwealth of God’s own ordaining, he only their king, they his peculiar people, yet affecting rather to resemble heathen, but pretending the misgovernment of Samuel’s sons, no more a reason to dislike their commonwealth, than the violence of Eli’s sons was imputable to that priesthood or religion, clamoured for a king. They had their longing, but with this testimony of God’s wrath; “Ye shall cry out in that day, because of your king whom ye shall have chosen, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” Us if he shall hear now, how much less will he hear when we cry hereafter, who once delivered by him from a king, and not without wonderous acts of his providence, insensible and unworthy of those high mercies, are returning precipitantly, if he withhold us not, back to the captivity from whence he freed us! Yet neither shall we obtain or buy at an easy rate this new gilded yoke, which thus transports us: a new royal revenue must be found, a new episcopal; for those are individual: both which being wholly dissipated, or bought by private persons, or assigned for service done, and especially to the army, cannot be recovered without general detriment and confusion to men’s estates, or a heavy imposition on all men’s purses; benefit to none but to the worst and ignoblest sort of men, whose hope is to be either the ministers of court riot and excess, or the gainers by it; but not to speak more of losses and extraordinary levies on our estates, what will then be the revenges and offences remembered and returned, not only by the chief person, but by all his adherents; accounts and reparations that will be required, suits, indictments, inquiries, discoveries, complaints, informations, who knows against whom or how many, though perhaps neuters, if not to utmost infliction, yet to imprisonment, fines, banishment, or molestation? if not these, yet disfavour, discountenance, disregard, and contempt on all but the known royalist, or whom he favours, will be plenteous. Nor let the new royalized presbyterians persuade themselves, that their old doings, though now recanted, will be forgotten; whatever conditions be contrived or trusted on. Will they not believe this; nor remember the pacification, how it was kept to the Scots; how other solemn promises many a time to us? Let them but now read the diabolical forerunning libels, the faces, the gestures, that now appear foremost and briskest in public places, as the harbingers of those, that are in expectation to reign over us; let them but hear the insolencies, the menaces, the insultings, of our newly animated common enemies crept lately out of their holes, their hell I might say, by the language of their infernal pamphlets, the spew of every drunkard, every ribald; nameless, yet not for want of license, but for very shame of their own vile persons, not daring to name themselves, while they traduce others by name; and give us to foresee, that they intend to second their wicked words, if ever they have power, with more wicked deeds. Let our zealous backsliders forethink now with themselves how their necks yoked with these tigers of Bacchus, these new fanatics of not the preaching, but the sweating tub, inspired with nothing holier than the venereal pox, can draw one way under monarchy to the establishing of church discipline with these new disgorged atheisms: yet shall they not have the honour to yoke with these, but shall be yoked under them; these shall plough on their backs. And do they among them, who are so forward to bring in the single person, think to be by him trusted Edition: current; Page: [187] or long regarded? So trusted they shall be, and so regarded, as by kings are wont reconciled enemies; neglected, and soon after discarded, if not persecuted for old traitors; the first inciters, beginners, and more than to the third part actors, of all that followed. It will be found also, that there must be then, as necessary as now, (for the contrary part will be still feared,) a standing army; which for certain shall not be this, but of the fiercest cavaliers, of no less expense, and perhaps again under Rupert. But let this army be sure they shall be soon disbanded and likeliest without arrear or pay; and being disbanded, not be sure but they may as soon be questioned for being in arms against their king: the same let them fear who have contributed money; which will amount to no small number, that must then take their turn to be made delinquents and compounders. They who past reason and recovery are devoted to kingship perhaps will answer, that a greater part by far of the nation will have it so, the rest therefore must yield. Not so much to convince these, which I little hope, as to confirm them who yield not, I reply, that this greatest part have both in reason, and the trial of just battle, lost the right of their election what the government shall be: of them who have not lost that right, whether they for kingship be the greater number, who can certainly determine? Suppose they be, yet of freedom they partake all alike, one main end of government: which if the greater part value not, but will degenerately forego, is it just or reasonable, that most voices against the main end of government should enslave the less number that would be free? more just if is, doubtless, if it come to force, that a less number compel a greater to retain, which can be no wrong to them, their liberty, than that a greater number, for the pleasure of their baseness, compel a less most injuriously to be their fellowslaves. They who seek nothing but their own just liberty, have always right to win it and to keep it, whenever they have power, be the voices never so numerous that oppose it. And how much we above others are concerned to defend it from kingship, and from them who in pursuance thereof so perniciously would betray us and themselves to most certain misery and thraldom, will be needless to repeat.

Having thus far shown with what ease we may now obtain a free commonwealth, and by it, with as much ease, all the freedom, peace, justice, plenty, that we can desire; on the other side, the difficulties, troubles, uncertainties, nay rather impossibilities, to enjoy these things constantly under a monarch: I will now proceed to show more particularly wherein our freedom and flourishing condition will be more ample and secure to us under a free commonwealth, than under kingship.

The whole freedom of man consists either in spiritual or civil liberty. As for spiritual, who can be at rest, who can enjoy any thing in this world with contentment, who hath not liberty to serve God, and to save his own soul, according to the best light which God hath planted in him to that purpose, by the reading of his revealed will, and the guidance of his Holy Spirit? That this is best pleasing to God, and that the whole protestant church allows no supreme judge or rule in matters of religion, but the Scriptures; and these to be interpreted by the Scriptures themselves, which necessarily infers liberty of conscience; I have heretofore proved at large in another treatise; and might yet further, by the public declarations, confessions, and admonitions of whole churches and states, obvious in all histories since the reformation.

This liberty of conscience, which above all other things ought to be to all men dearest and most precious, no government more inclinable not to favour only, but to protect, than a free commonwealth; as being most magnanimous, Edition: current; Page: [188] most fearless, and confident of its own fair proceedings. Whereas kingship, though looking big, yet indeed most pusillanimous, full of fears, full of jealousies, startled at every umbrage, as it hath been observed of old to have ever suspected most and mistrusted them who were in most esteem for virtue and generosity of mind, so it is now known to have most in doubt and suspicion them who are most reputed to be religious. Queen Elizabeth, though herself accounted so good a protestant, so moderate, so confident of her subjects’ love, would never give way so much as to presbyterian reformation in this land, though once and again besought, as Camden relates, but imprisoned and persecuted the very proposers thereof; alleging it as her mind and maxim unalterable, that such reformation would diminish regal authority. What liberty of conscience can we then expect of others, far worse principled from the cradle, trained up and governed by popish and Spanish counsels, and on such depending hitherto for subsistence? Especially what can this last parliament expect, who having revived lately and published the covenant, have re-engaged themselves, never to readmit episcopacy? Which no son of Charles returning but will most certainly bring back with him, if he regard the last and strictest charge of his father, “to persevere in, not the doctrine only, but government of the church of England, not to neglect the speedy and effectual suppressing of errors and schisms;” among which he accounted presbytery one of the chief. Or if, notwithstanding that charge of his father, he submit to the covenant, how will he keep faith to us, with disobedience to him; or regard that faith given, which must be founded on the breach of that last and solemnest paternal charge, and the reluctance, I may say the antipathy, which is in all kings, against presbyterian and independent discipline? For they hear the gospel speaking much of liberty; a word which monarchy and her bishops both fear and hate, but a free commonwealth both favours and promotes; and not the word only, but the thing itself. But let our governors beware in time, lest their hard measure to liberty of conscience be found the rock whereon they shipwreck themselves, as others have now done before them in the course wherein God was directing their steerage to a free commonwealth; and the abandoning of all those whom they call sectaries, for the detected falsehood and ambition of some, be a wilful rejection of their own chief strength and interest in the freedom of all protestant religion, under what abusive name soever calumniated.

The other part of our freedom consists in the civil rights and advancements of every person according to his merit: the enjoyment of those never more certain, and the access to these never more open, than in a free commonwealth. Both which, in my opinion, may be best and soonest obtained, if every country in the land were made a kind of subordinate commonalty or commonwealth, and one chief town or more, according as the shire is in circuit, made cities, if they be not so called already; where the nobility and chief gentry, from a proportionable compass of territory annexed to each city, may build houses or palaces befitting their quality, may bear part in the government, make their own judicial laws, or use these that are, and execute them by their own elected judicatures and judges without appeal, in all things of civil government between man and man; so they shall have justice in their own hands, law executed fully and finally in their own counties and precincts, long wished and spoken of, but never yet obtained; they shall have none then to blame but themselves, if it be not well administered; and fewer laws to expect or fear from the supreme authority; or to those that shall be made, of any great concernment to public liberty they may, without much trouble in these commonalties, or in more general Edition: current; Page: [189] assemblies called to their cities from the whole territory on such occasion, declare and publish their assent or dissent by deputies, within a time limited, sent to the grand council; yet so as this their judgment declared shall submit to the greater number of other counties or commonalties, and not avail them to any exemption of themselves, or refusal of agreement with the rest, as it may in any of the United Provinces, being sovereign within itself, ofttimes to the great disadvantage of that union. In these employments they may, much better than they do now, exercise and sit themselves till their lot fall to be chosen into the grand council, according as their worth and merit shall be taken notice of by the people.

As for controversies that shall happen between men of several counties, they may repair, as they do now, to the capital city, or any other more commodious, indifferent place, and equal judges. And this I find to have been practised in the old Athenian Commonwealth, reputed the first and ancientest place of civility in all Greece; that they had in their several cities a peculiar, in Athens a common government; and their right, as it befel them, to the administration of both. They should have here also schools and academies at their own choice, wherein their children may be bred up in their own sight to all learning and noble education; not in grammar only, but in all liberal arts and exercises. This would soon spread much more knowledge and civility, yea, religion, through all parts of the land, by communicating the natural heat of government and culture more distributively to all extreme parts, which now lie numb and neglected, would soon make the whole nation more industrious, more ingenious at home; more potent, more honourable abroad. To this a free commonwealth may easily assent; (nay, the parliament hath had already some such thing in design;) for of all governments a commonwealth aims most to make the people flourishing, virtuous, noble, and high-spirited. Monarchs will never permit; whose aim is to make the people wealthy indeed perhaps, and well fleeced, for their own shearing, and the supply of regal prodigality; but otherwise softest, basest, viciousest, servilest, easiest to be kept under: and not only in fleece, but in mind also sheepishest; and will have all the benches of judicature annexed to the throne, as a gift of royal grace, that we have justice done us; whenas nothing can be more essential to the freedom of a people, than to have the administration of justice, and all public ornaments, in their own election, and within their own bounds, without long travelling or depending upon remote places to obtain their right, or any civil accomplishment; so it be not supreme, but subordinate to the general power and union of the whole republic. In which happy firmness, as in the particular above-mentioned, we shall also far exceed the United Provinces, by having, not as they, (to the retarding and distracting ofttimes of their counsels or urgentest occasions,) many sovereignties united in one commonwealth, but many commonwealths under one united and intrusted sovereignty. And when we have our forces by sea and land, either of a faithful army, or a settled militia, in our own hands, to the firm establishing of a free commonwealth, public accounts under our own inspection, general laws and taxes, with their causes in our own domestic suffrages, judicial laws, offices, and ornaments at home in our own ordering and administration, all distinction of lords and commoners, that may any way divide or sever the public interest, removed; what can a perpetual senate have then, wherein to grow corrupt, wherein to encroach upon us, or usurp? or if they do, wherein to be formidable? Yet if all this avail not to remove the fear or envy of a perpetual sitting, it may be easily provided, to change a third part of them yearly, or every two or three years, as was above mentioned; Edition: current; Page: [190] or that it be at those times in the people’s choice, whether they will change them, or renew their power, as they shall find cause.

I have no more to say at present: few words will save us, well considered; few and easy things, now seasonably done. But if the people be so affected as to prostitute religion and liberty to the vain and groundless apprehension, that nothing but kingship can restore trade, not remembering the frequent plagues and pestilences that then wasted this city, such as through God’s mercy we never have felt since; and that trade flourishes no where more than in the free commonwealths of Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries, before their eyes at this day; yet if trade be grown so craving and importunate through the profuse living of tradesmen, that nothing can support it but the luxurious expenses of a nation upon trifles or superfluities; so as if the people generally should betake themselves to frugality, it might prove a dangerous matter, lest tradesmen should mutiny for want of trading; and that therefore we must forego and set to sale religion, liberty, honour, safety, all concernments divine or human, to keep up trading: if, lastly, after all this light among us, the same reason shall pass for current, to put our necks again under kingship, as was made use of by the Jews to return back to Egypt and to the worship of their idol queen, because they falsely imagined that they then lived in more plenty and prosperity; our condition is not sound but rotten, both in religion and all civil prudence; and will bring us soon, the way we are marching, to those calamities, which attend always and unavoidably on luxury, all national judgments under foreign and domestic slavery: so far we shall be from mending our condition by monarchising our government, whatever new conceit now possesses us. However, with all hazard I have ventured what I thought my duty to speak in season, and to forewarn my country in time; wherein I doubt not but there be many wise men in all places and degrees, but am sorry the effects of wisdom are so little seen among us. Many circumstances and particulars I could have added in those things whereof I have spoken: but a few main matters now put speedily in execution, will suffice to recover us, and set all right; and there will want at no time who are good at circumstances; but men who set their minds on main matters, and sufficiently urge them, in these most difficult times I find not many. What I have spoken, is the language of that which is not called amiss “The good old Cause:” if it seem strange to any, it will not seem more strange, I hope, than convincing to backsliders. Thus much I should perhaps have said, though I were sure I should have spoken only to trees and stones; and had none to cry to, but with the prophet, “O earth, earth, earth!” to tell the very soil itself, what her perverse inhabitants are deaf to. Nay, though what I have spoke should happen (which thou suffer not, who didst create mankind free! nor thou next, who didst redeem us from being servants of men!) to be the last words of our expiring liberty. But I trust I shall have spoken persuasion to abundance of sensible and ingenuous men; to some perhaps, whom God may raise to these stones to become children of reviving liberty; and may reclaim, though they seem now choosing them a captain back for Egypt, to bethink themselves a little, and consider whither they are rushing; to exhort this torrent also of the people, not to be so impetuous, but to keep their due channel; and at length recovering and uniting their better resolutions, now that they see already how open and unbounded the insolence and rage is of our common enemies, to stay these ruinous proceedings, justly and timely fearing to what a precipice of destruction the deluge of this epidemic madness would hurry us, through the general defection of a misguided and abused multitude.

Edition: current; Page: [191]



wherein many motorious wrestings of scripture, and other falsities, are observed,

[first published 1660.]

I affirmed in the preface of a late discourse, intitled, “The ready Way to establish a Free Commonwealth, and the Dangers of re-admitting Kingship in this Nation,” that the humour of returning to our old bondage was instilled of late by some deceivers; and to make good, that what I then affirmed was not without just ground, one of those deceivers I present here to the people: and if I prove him not such, refuse not to be so accounted in his stead.

He begins in his epistle to the General,* and moves cunningly for a license to be admitted physician both to church and state; then sets out his practice in physical terms, “a wholesome electuary to be taken every morning next our hearts;” tells of the opposition which he met with from the college of state physicians, then lays before you his drugs and ingredients; “Strong purgatives in the pulpit, contempered of the myrrh of mortification, the aloes of confession and contrition, the rhubarb of restitution and satisfaction;” a pretty fantastic dose of divinity from a pulpit mountebank, not unlike the fox, that turning pedlar opened his pack of ware before the kid; though he now would seem, “to personate the good Samaritan,” undertaking to “describe the rise and progress of our national malady, and to prescribe the only remedy;” which how he performs, we shall quickly see.

First, he would suborn St. Luke as his spokesman to the General, presuming, it seems, “to have had as perfect understanding of things from the very first,” as the evangelist had of his gospel; that the General, who hath so eminently borne his part in the whole action, “might know the certainty of those things” better from him a partial sequestered enemy; for so he presently appears, though covertly, and like the tempter, commencing his address with an impudent calumny and affront to his excellence, that he would be pleased “to carry on what he had so happily begun in the name and cause” not of God only, which we doubt not, but “of his anointed,” meaning the late king’s son; to charge him most audaciously and falsely with the renouncing of his own public promises and declarations, both to the parliament and the army, and we trust his actions ere long will deter such insinuating slanderers from thus approaching him for the future Edition: current; Page: [192] But the General may well excuse him; for the Comforter himself scapes not his presumption, avouched as falsely, to have empowered to those designs “him and him only,” who hath solemnly declared the contrary. What fanatic, against whom he so often inveighs, could more presumptuously affirm whom the Comforter hath empowered, than this anti-fanatic, as he would be thought?


Prov. xxiv. 21.—My son, fear God and the king, and meddle not with them that be seditious, or desirous of change, &c.

Letting pass matters not in controversy, I come to the main drift of your sermon, the king; which word here is either to signify any supreme magistrate or else your latter object of fear is not universal, belongs not at all to many parts of Christendom, that have no king; and in particular not to us. That we have no king since the putting down of kingship in this commonwealth, is manifest by this last parliament, who, to the time of their dissolving, not only made no address at all to any king, but summoned this next to come by the writ formerly appointed of a free commonwealth, without restitution or the least mention of any kingly right or power; which could not be, if there were at present any king of England. The main part therefore of your sermon, if it mean a king in the usual sense, is either impertinent and absurd, exhorting your auditory to fear that which is not; or if king here be, as it is understood, for any supreme magistrate, by your own exhortation they are in the first place not to meddle with you, as being yourself most of all the seditious meant here, and the “desirous of change,” in stirring them up to “fear a king,” whom the present government takes no notice of.

You begin with a vain vision, “God and the king at the first blush” (which will not be your last blush) “seeming to stand in your text like those two cherubims on the mercy-seat, looking on each other.” By this similitude, your conceited sanctuary, worse than the altar of Ahaz, patterned from Damascus, degrades God to a cherub, and raises your king to be his collateral in place, notwithstanding the other differences you put; which well agrees with the court-letters, lately published, from this lord to the other lord, that cry him up for no less than angelical and celestial.

Your first observation, page 8, is, “That God and the king are coupled in the text, and what the Holy Ghost hath thus firmly combined, we may not, we must not dare to put asunder;” and yourself is the first man who puts them asunder by the first proof of your doctrine immediately following, Judg. vii. 20, which couples the sword of the Lord and Gideon, a man who not only was no king, but refused to be a king or monarch, when it was offered him, in the very next chapter, ver. 22, 23, “I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.” Here we see, that this worthy heroic deliverer of his country thought it best governed, if the Lord governed it in that form of a free commonwealth, which they then enjoyed, without a single person. And thus is your first scripture abused, and most impertinently cited, nay, against yourself, to prove, that “kings at their coronation have a sword given them,” which you interpret “the militia, the power of life and death put into their hands,” against the declared judgment of our parliaments, nay, of all our laws, which reserve to themselves only the power of life and death, and render you in their just resentment of this boldness another Dr. Manwaring.

Edition: current; Page: [193]

Your next proof is as false and frivolous, “The king,” say you, “is God’s sword-bearer;” true, but not the king only: for Gideon, by whom you seek to prove this, neither was nor would be a king; and as you yourself confess, page 40, “There be divers forms of government.” “He bears not the sword in vain,” Rom. xiii. 4: This also is as true of any lawful rulers, especially supreme; so that “Rulers,” ver. 3, and therefore this present government, without whose authority you excite the people to a king, bear the sword as well as kings, and as little in vain. “They fight against God, who resist his ordinance, and go about to wrest the sword out of the hands of his anointed.” This is likewise granted: but who is his anointed? Not every king, but they only who were anointed or made kings by his special command; as Saul, David, and his race, which ended in the Messiah, (from whom no kings at this day can derive their title,) Jehu, Cyrus, and if any other were by name appointed by him to some particular service: as for the rest of kings, all other supreme magistrates are as much the Lord’s anointed as they; and our obedience commanded equally to them all; “for there is no power but of God,” Rom. xiii. 1: and we are exhorted in the gospel to obey kings, as other magistrates, not that they are called any where the Lord’s anointed, but as they are the “Ordinance of man,” 1 Pet. ii. 13. You therefore and other such false doctors, preaching kings to your auditory, as the Lord’s only anointed, to withdraw people from the present government, by your own text are self-condemned, and not to be followed, not to be “meddled with,” but to be noted, as most of all others the “seditious and desirous of change.”

Your third proof is no less against yourself. Psal. cv. 15, “Touch not mine anointed.” For this is not spoken in behalf of kings, but spoken to reprove kings, that they should not touch his anointed saints and servants, the seed of Abraham, as the verse next before might have taught you, he reproved kings for their sakes, saying, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm;” according to that, 2 Cor. i. 21, “He who hath anointed us, is God.” But how well you confirm one wrested scripture with another! 1 Sam. viii. 7, “They have not rejected thee, but me:” grossly misapplying these words, which were not spoken to any who had “resisted or rejected” a king, but to them who much against the will of God had sought a king, and rejected a commonwealth, wherein they might have lived happily under the reign of God only, their king. Let the words interpret themselves; ver. 6, 7, “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us: and Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” Hence you conclude, “so indissoluble is the conjunction of God and the king.” O notorious abuse of Scripture! whenas you should have concluded, so unwilling was God to give them a king, so wide was the disjunction of God from a king. Is this the doctrine you boast of, to be “so clear in itself, and like a mathematical principle, that needs no farther demonstration?” Bad logic, bad mathematics, (for principles can have no demonstration at all,) but worse divinity. O people of an implicit faith, no better than Romish, if these be thy prime teachers, who to their credulous audience dare thus juggle with Scripture, to allege those places for the proof of their doctrine, which are the plain refutation: and this is all the Scripture which he brings to confirm his point.

The rest of his preachment is mere groundless chat, save here and there a few grains of corn scattered to entice the silly fowl into his net, interlaced here and there with some human reading, though slight, and not without Edition: current; Page: [194] geographical and historical mistakes: as page 29, Suevia the German dukedom, for Suecia, the Northern kingdom: Philip of Macedon, who is generally understood of the great Alexander’s father only, made contemporary, page 31, with T. Quintus the Roman commander, instead of T. Quintius, and the latter Philip: and page 44, Tully cited “in his third oration against Verres,” to say of him, “that he was a wicked consul,” who never was a consul: nor “Trojan sedition ever portrayed” by that verse of Virgil, which you cite page 47, as that of Troy: schoolboys could have told you, that there is nothing of Troy in that whole portraiture, as you call it, of Sedition. These gross mistakes may justly bring in doubt your other loose citations, and that you take them up somewhere at the second or third hand rashly, and without due considering.

Nor are you happier in the relating or the moralizing your fable, “The frogs” (being once a free nation, saith the fable) “petitioned Jupiter for a king: he tumbled among them a log: they found it insensible; they petitioned then for a king that should be active; he sent them a crane” (a Stork, saith the fable) “which straight fell to pecking them up.” This you apply to the reproof of them who desire change: whereas indeed the true moral shows rather the folly of those who being free seek a king; which for the most part either as a log lies heavy on his subjects, without doing aught worthy of his dignity and the charge to maintain him, or as a stork, is ever pecking them up, and devouring them.

But “by our fundamental laws, the king is the highest power,” page 40. If we must hear mooting and law lectures from the pulpit, what shame is it for a doctor of divinity not first to consider, that no law can be fundamental, but that which is grounded on the light of nature or right reason, commonly called moral law: which no form of government was ever counted, but arbitrary, and at all times in the choice of every free people, or their representers. This choice of government is so essential to their freedom, that longer than they have it, they are not free. In this land not only the late king and his posterity, but kingship itself, hath been abrogated by a law; which involves with as good reason the posterity of a king forfeited to the people, as that law heretofore of treason against the king, attainted the children with the father. This law against both king and kingship they who most question, do not less question all enacted without the king and his antiparliament at Oxford, though called mongrel by himself. If no law must be held good, but what passes in full parliament, then surely in exactness of legality no member must be missing: for look how many are missing, so many counties or cities that sent them want their representers. But if, being once chosen, they serve for the whole nation, then any number, which is sufficient, is full, and most of all in times of discord, necessity, and danger. The king himself was bound by the old mode of parliaments, not to be absent, but in case of sickness, or some extraordinary occasion, and then to leave his substitute; much less might any member be allowed to absent himself. If the king then and many of the members with him, without leaving any in his stead, forsook the parliament upon a mere panic fear, as was at that time judged by most men, and to levy war against them that sat, should they who were left sitting, break up, or not dare enact aught of nearest and presentest concernment to public safety, for the punctilio wanting of a full number, which no law-book in such extraordinary cases hath determined? Certainly if it were lawful for them to fly from their charge upon pretence of private safety, it was much more lawful for these to set and act in their trust what was necessary for the public. By a law therefore of parliament, and of a parliament that Edition: current; Page: [195] conquered both Ireland, Scotland, and all their enemies in England, defended their friends, were generally acknowledged for a parliament both at home and abroad, kingship was abolished: this law now of late hath been negatively repealed; yet kingship not positively restored, and I suppose never was established by any certain law in this land, nor possibly could be: for how could our forefathers bind us to any certain form of government, more than we can bind our posterity? If a people be put to war with their king for his misgovernment, and overcome him, the power is then undoubtedly in their own hands how they will be governed. The war was granted just by the king himself at the beginning of his last treaty, and still maintained to be so by this last parliament, as appears by the qualification prescribed to the members of this next ensuing, that none shall be elected, who have borne arms against the parliament since 1641. If the war were just, the conquest was also just by the law of nations. And he who was the chief enemy, in all right ceased to be the king, especially after captivity, by the deciding verdict of war; and royalty with all her laws and pretensions yet remains in the victor’s power, together with the choice of our future government. Free commonwealths have been ever counted fittest and properest for civil, virtuous, and industrious, nations, abounding with prudent men worthy to govern; monarchy fittest to curb degenerate, corrupt, idle, proud, luxurious people. If we desire to be of the former, nothing better for us, nothing nobler than a free commonwealth: if we will needs condemn ourselves to be of the latter, despairing of our own virtue, industry, and the number of our able men, we may then, conscious of our own unworthiness to be governed better, sadly betake us to our befitting thraldom: yet choosing out of our number one who hath best aided the people, and best merited against tyranny, the space of a reign or two we may chance to live happily enough, or tolerably. But that a victorious people should give up themselves again to the vanquished, was never yet heard of, seems rather void of all reason and good policy, and will in all probability subject the subduers to the subdued, will expose to revenge, to beggary, to ruin, and perpetual bondage, the victors under the vanquished: than which what can be more unworthy?

From misinterpreting our law, you return to do again the same with Scripture, and would prove the supremacy of English kings from 1 Pet. ii. 13, as if that were the apostle’s work: wherein if he saith that “the king is supreme,” he speaks so of him but as an “ordinance of man,” and in respect of those “governors that are sent by him,” not in respect of parliaments, which by the law of this land are his bridle; in vain his bridle, if not also his rider: and therefore hath not only co-ordination with him, which you falsely call seditious, but hath superiority above him, and that neither “against religion,” nor “right reason:” no nor against common law; for our kings reigned only by law. But the parliament is above all positive law, whether civil or common, makes or unmakes them both; and still the latter parliament above the former, above all the former lawgivers, then certainly above all precedent laws, entailed the crown on whom it pleased; and as a great lawyer saith, “is so transcendent and absolute, that it cannot be confined either for causes or persons, within any bounds.” But your cry is, no parliament without a king. If this be so, we have never had lawful kings, who have all been created kings either by such parliaments, or by conquest: if by such parliaments, they are in your allowance none; if by conquest, that conquest we have now conquered. So that as well by your own assertion as by ours, there can at present be no king. And how could that person be absolutely supreme, who reigned, not under Edition: current; Page: [196] law only, but under oath of his good demeanor, given to the people at his coronation, ere the people gave him his crown? and his principal oath was to maintain those laws, which the people should choose. If then the law itself, much more he who was but the keeper and minister of law, was in their choice, and both he subordinate to the performance of his duty sworn, and our sworn allegiance in order only to his performance.

You fall next on the consistorian schismatics; for so you call Presbyterians, page 40, and judge them to have “enervated the king’s supremacy by their opinions and practice, differing in many things only in terms from popery;” though some of those principles, which you there cite concerning kingship, are to be read in Aristotle’s Politics, long ere popery was thought on. The presbyterians therefore it concerns to be well forewarned of you betimes; and to them I leave you.

As for your examples of seditious men, page 54, &c. Cora, Absalom, Zimri, Sheba, to these you might with much more reason have added your own name, who “blow the trumpet of sedition” from your pulpit against the present government: in reward whereof they have sent you by this time, as I hear, to your “own place,” for preaching open sedition, while you would seem to preach against it.

As for your Appendix annexed of the “Samaritan revived,” finding it so foul a libel against all the well-affected of this land, since the very time of ship-money, against the whole parliament, both lords and commons, except those that fled to Oxford, against the whole reformed church, not only in England and Scotland, but all over Europe, (in comparison whereof you and your prelatical party are more truly schismatics and sectarians, nay, more properly fanatics in your fanes and gilded temples, than those whom you revile by those names,) and meeting with no more Scripture or solid reason in your “Samaritan wine and oil,” than hath already been found sophisticated and adulterate, I leave your malignant narrative, as needing no other confutation, than the just censure already passed upon you by the council of state.

Edition: current; Page: [197]


published from a copy corrected by the author himself, [1670.]


The beginning of nations, those excepted of whom sacred books have spoken, is to this day unknown. Nor only the beginning, but the deeds also of many succeeding ages, yea, periods of ages, either wholly unknown, or obscured and blemished with fables. Whether it were that the use of letters came in long after, or were it the violence of barbarous inundations, or they themselves, at certain revolutions of time, fatally decaying, and degenerating into sloth and ignorance; whereby the monuments of more ancient civility have been some destroyed, some lost. Perhaps disesteem and contempt of the public affairs then present, as not worth recording, might partly be in cause. Certainly ofttimes we see that wise men, and of best ability, have foreborne to write the acts of their own days, while they beheld with a just loathing and disdain, not only how unworthy, how perverse, how corrupt, but often how ignoble, how petty, how below all history, the persons and their actions were; who, either by fortune or some rude election, had attained, as a sore judgment and ignominy upon the land, to have chief sway in managing the commonwealth. But that any law, or superstition of our philosophers, the Druids, forbad the Britons to write their memorable deeds, I know not why any out of Cæsar* should allege: he indeed saith, that their doctrine they thought not lawful to commit to letters; but in most matters else, both private and public, among which well may history be reckoned, they used the Greek tongue; and that the British Druids, who taught those in Gaul, would be ignorant of any language known and used by their disciples, or so frequently writing other things, and so inquisitive into highest, would for want of recording be ever children in the knowledge of times and ages, is not likely. Whatever might be the reason, this we find, that of British affairs, from the first peopling of the island to the coming of Julius Cæsar, nothing certain, either by tradition, history, or ancient fame, hath hitherto been left us. That which we have of oldest seeming, hath by the greater part of judicious antiquaries been long rejected for a modern fable.

Nevertheless there being others, besides the first supposed author, men not unread, nor unlearned in antiquity, who admit that for approved story, which the former explode for fiction; and seeing that ofttimes relations heretofore accounted fabulous have been after found to contain in them many footsteps and reliques of something true, as what we read in poets of the flood, and giants little believed, till undoubted witnesses taught us, that Edition: current; Page: [198] all was not feigned; I have therefore determined to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales; be it for nothing else but in favour of our English poets and rhetoricians, who by their art will know how to use them judiciously.

I might also produce example, as Diodorus among the Greeks, Livy and others among the Latins, Polydore and Virunnius accounted among our own writers. But I intend not with controversies and quotations to delay or interrupt the smooth course of history; much less to argue and debate long who were the first inhabitants, with what probabilities, what authorities each opinion hath been upheld; but shall endeavour that which hitherto hath been needed most, with plain and lightsome brevity, to relate well and orderly things worth the noting, so as may best instruct and benefit them that read. Which, imploring divine assistance, that it may redound to his glory, and the good of the British nation, I now begin.

That the whole earth was inhabited before the flood, and to the utmost point of habitable ground from those effectual words of God in the creation, may be more than conjectured. Hence that this island also had her dwellers, her affairs, and perhaps her stories, even in that old world those many hundred years, with much reason we may infer. After the flood, and the dispersing of nations, as they journeyed leisurely from the east, Gomer the eldest son of Japhet, and his offspring, as by authorities, arguments, and affinity of divers names is generally believed, were the first that peopled all these west and northern climes. But they of our own writers, who thought they had done nothing, unless with all circumstance they tell us when, and who first set foot upon this island, presume to name out of fabulous and counterfeit authors a certain Samothes or Dis, a fourth or sixth son of Japhet, (who they make, about 200 years after the flood, to have planted with colonies, first the continent of Celtica or Gaul, and next this island; thence to have named it Samothea,) to have reigned here, and after him lineally four kings, Magus, Saron, Druis, and Bardus. But the forged Berosus, whom only they have to cite, no where mentions that either he, or any of those whom they bring, did ever pass into Britain, or send their people hither. So that this outlandish figment may easily excuse our not allowing it the room here so much as of a British fable.

That which follows, perhaps as wide from truth, though seeming less impertinent, is, that these Samotheans under the reign of Bardus were subdued by Albion, a giant, son of Neptune; who called the island after his own name, and ruled it forty-four years. Till at length passing over into Gaul, in aid of his brother Lestrygon, against whom Hercules was hasting out of Spain into Italy, he was there slain in fight, and Bergion also his brother.

Sure enough we are, that Britain hath been anciently termed Albion, both by the Greeks and Romans. And Mela, the geographer, makes mention of a stony shore in Languedoc, where by report such a battle was fought. The rest, as his giving name to the isle, or even landing here, depends altogether upon late surmises. But too absurd, and too unconscionably gross is that fond invention, that wafted hither the fifty daughters of a strange Dioclesian king of Syria; brought in, doubtless, by some illiterate pretender to something mistaken in the common poetical story of Danaus king of Argos, while his vanity, not pleased with the obscure beginning which truest antiquity affords the nation, laboured to contrive us a pedigree, as he thought, more noble. These daughters by appointment of Danaus on the marriage-night having murdered all their husbands, except Linceus, whom Edition: current; Page: [199] his wife’s loyalty saved, were by him, at the suit of his wife their sister, not put to death, but turned out to sea in a ship unmanned; of which whole sex they had incurred the hate: and as the tale goes, were driven on this island. Where the inhabitants, none but devils, as some write, or as others, a lawless crew left here by Albion, without head or governor, both entertained them, and had issue by them a second breed of giants, who tyrannized the isle, till Brutus came.

The eldest of these dames in their legend they call Albina; and from thence, for which cause the whole scene was framed, will have the name Albion derived. Incredible it may seem so sluggish a conceit should prove so ancient, as to be authorized by the elder Ninnius, reputed to have lived above a thousand years ago. This I find not in him: but that Histion, sprung of Japhet, had four sons; Francus, Romanus, Alemannus, and Britto, of whom the Britains;* as true, I believe, as that those other nations, whose names are resembled, came of the other three; if these dreams give not just occasion to call in doubt the book itself, which bears that title.

Hitherto the things themselves have given us a warrantable dispatch to run them soon over. But now of Brutus and his line, with the whole progeny of kings, to the entrance of Julius Cæsar, we cannot so easily be discharged; descents of ancestry long continued, laws and exploits not plainly seeming to be borrowed, or devised, which on the common belief have wrought no small impression; defended by many, denied utterly by few. For what though Brutus and the whole Trojan pretence were yielded up; (seeing they who first devised to bring us from some noble ancestor, were content at first with Brutus the consul; till better invention, although not willing to forego the name, taught them to remove it higher into a more fabulous age, and by the same remove lighting on the Trojan tales in affectation to make the Briton of one original with the Roman, pitched there;) yet those old and inborn names of successive kings, never any to have been real persons, or done in their lives at least some part of what so long hath been remembered, cannot be thought without too strict an incredulity.

For these, and those causes above mentioned, that which hath received approbation from so many, I have chosen not to omit. Certain or uncertain, be that upon the credit of those whom I must follow; so far as keeps aloof from impossible and absurd, attested by ancient writers from books more ancient, I refuse not, as the due and proper subject of story. The principal author is well known to be Geoffrey of Monmouth; what he was, and whence his authority, who in his age, or before him, have delivered the same matter, and such like general discourses, will better stand in a treatise by themselves. All of them agree in this, that Brutus was the son of Silvius; he of Ascanius; whose father was Eneas, a Trojan prince, who at the burning of that city, with his son Ascanius, and a collected number that escaped, after long wandering on the sea, arrived in Italy. Where at length by the assistance of Latinus king of Latiam, who had given him his daughter Lavinia, he obtained to succeed in that kingdom, and left it to Ascanius, whose son Silvius (though Roman histories deny Silvius to be the son of Ascanius) had married secretly a niece of Lavinia.

She being with child, the matter became known to Ascanius. Who commanding his “magicians to inquire by art, what sex the maid had conceived,” had answer, “that it was one who should be the death of both his parents; and banished for the fact, should after all, in a far country, attain the highest honour.” The prediction failed not, for in travail the Edition: current; Page: [200] mother died. And Brutus (the child was so called) at fifteen years of age, attending his father to the chase, with an arrow unfortunately killed him.

Banished therefore by his kindred, he retires into Greece. Where meeting with the race of Helenus king Priam’s son, held there in servile condition by Pandrasus then king, with them he abides. For Pyrrhus, in revenge of his father slain at Troy, had brought thither with him Helenus, and many others into servitude. There Brutus among his own stock so thrives in virtue and in arms, as renders him beloved to kings and great captains above all the youth of that land. Whereby the Trojans not only began to hope, but secretly to move him, that he would lead them the way to liberty. They allege their numbers, and the promised help of Assaracus a noble Greekish youth, by the mother’s side a Trojan; whom for that cause his brother went about to dispossess of certain castles bequeathed him by his father. Brutus considering both the forces offered him, and the strength of those holds, not unwillingly consents.

First therefore having fortified those castles, he with Assaracus and the whole multitude betake them to the woods and hills as the safest place from whence to expostulate; and in the name of all sends to Pandrasus this message, “That the Trojans holding it unworthy their ancestors to serve in a foreign kingdom had retreated to the woods; choosing rather a savage life than a slavish: if that displeased him, that then with his leave they might depart to some other soil.”

As this may pass with good allowance that the Trojans might be many in these parts, (for Helenus was by Pyrrhus made king of the Chaonians, and the sons of Pyrrhus by Andromache Hector’s wife, could not but be powerful through all Epirus,) so much the more it may be doubted, how these Trojans could be thus in bondage, where they had friends and countrymen so potent. But to examine these things with diligence, were but to confute the fables of Britain, with the fables of Greece or Italy; for of this age, what we have to say, as well concerning most other countries, as this island, is equally under question. Be how it will, Pandrasus not expecting so bold a message from the sons of captives, gathers an army; and marching towards the woods, Brutus who had notice of his approach nigh to the town called Sparatinum, (I know not what town, but certain of no Greek name,) over night planting himself there with good part of his men, suddenly sets upon him, and with slaughter of the Greeks pursues him to the passage of a river, which mine author names Akalon, meaning perhaps Achelous or Acheron; where at the ford he overlays them afresh. This victory obtained, and a sufficient strength left in Sparatinum, Brutus with Antigonus, the king’s brother, and his friend Anacletus, whom he had taken in the fight, returns to the residue of his friends in the thick woods; while Pandrasus with all speed recollecting, besieges the town. Brutus to relieve his men besieged, who earnestly called him, distrusting the sufficiency of his force, bethinks himself of this policy. Calls to him Anacletus, and threatening instant death else, both to him and his friend Antigonus, enjoins him, that he should go at the second hour of night to the Greekish leagre, and tell the guards he had brought Antigonus by stealth out of prison to a certain woody vale, unable through the weight of his fetters to move him further, entreating them to come speedily and fetch him in.—Anacletus to save both himself and his friend Antigonus swears this, and at a fit hour sets on alone toward the camp; is met, examined, and at last unquestionably known. To whom, great profession of fidelity first made, he frames his tale, as had been taught him; and they now fully assured, with a credulous rashness leaving their stations, fared accordingly by the ambush Edition: current; Page: [201] that there awaited them. Forthwith Brutus divided his men into three parts, leads on in silence to the camp; commanding first each part at a several place to enter, and forbear execution, till he with his squadron possessed of the king’s tent, gave signal to them by trumpet. The sound whereof no sooner heard, but huge havoc begins upon the sleeping and unguarded enemy, whom the besieged also now sallying forth, on the other side assail. Brutus the while had special care to seize and secure the king’s person; whose life still within his custody, he knew was the surest pledge to obtain what he should demand. Day appearing, he enters the town, there distributes the king’s treasury, and leaving the place better fortified, returns with the king his prisoner to the woods. Straight the ancient and grave men he summons to council, what they should now demand of the king.

After long debate Mempricius, one of the gravest, utterly dissuading them from thought of longer stay in Greece, unless they meant to be deluded with a subtle peace, and the awaited revenge of those whose friends they had slain, advises them to demand first the king’s eldest daughter Innogen in marriage to their leader Brutus with a rich dowry, next shipping, money, and fit provision for them all to depart the land.

This resolution pleasing best, the king now brought in, and placed in a high seat, is briefly told, that on these conditions granted, he might be free; not granted he must prepare to die.

Pressed with fear of death, the king readily yields; especially to bestow his daughter on whom he confessed so noble and so valiant: offers them also the third part of his kingdom, if they like to stay; if not, to be their hostage himself, till he had made good his word.

The marriage therefore solemnized, and shipping from all parts got together, the Trojans in a fleet, no less written than three hundred four and twenty sail, betake them to the wide sea: where with a prosperous course, two days and a night bring them on a certain island long before dispeopled and left waste by sea-rovers, the name whereof was then Leogecia, now unknown. They who were sent out to discover, came at length to a ruined city, where was a temple and image of Diana that gave oracles: but not meeting first or last, save wild beasts, they return with this notice to their ships; wishing their general would inquire of that oracle what voyage to pursue.

Consultation had, Brutus taking with him Gerion his diviner, and twelve of the ancientest, with wanton ceremonies before the inward shrine of the goddess, in verse (as it seems the manner was) utters his request, “Diva potens nemorum,” &c.

  • Goddess of shades, and huntress, who at will
  • Walk’st on the rolling sphere, and through the deep
  • On thy third reign the earth look now, and tell
  • What land, what seat of rest thou bid’st me seek,
  • What certain seat, where I may worship thee
  • For aye, with temples vow’d, and virgin choirs.

To whom sleeping before the altar, Diana in a vision that night thus answered, “Brute sub occasum solis,” &c.

  • Brutus, far to the west, in th’ ocean wide,
  • Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies,
  • Seagirt it lies, where giants dwelt of old,
  • Now void, it fits thy people; thither bend
  • Thy course, there shalt thou find a lasting seat,
  • Where to thy sons another Troy shall rise;
  • And kings be born of thee, whose dreaded might
  • Shall awe the world, and conquer nations bold.
Edition: current; Page: [202]

These verses originally Greek, were put in Latin, saith Virunnius, by Gildas a British poet and him to have lived under Claudius. Which granted true, adds much to the antiquity of this fable; and indeed the Latin verses are much better, than of the age for Geoffrey ap Arthur, unless perhaps Joseph of Exeter, the only smooth poet of those times, befriended him. In this, Diana overshot her oracle thus ending, “Ipsis totius terræ subditus orbis erit,” That to the race of Brute, kings of this island, the whole earth shall be subject.

But Brutus, guided now, as he thought, by divine conduct, speeds him towards the west; and after some encounters on the Afric side, arrives at a place on the Tyrrhene sea; where he happens to find the race of those Trojans, who with Antenor came into Italy; and Corineus, a man much famed, was their chief: though by surer authors it be reported, that those Trojans with Antenor were seated on the other side of Italy, on the Adriatic, not the Tyrrhene shore. But these joining company, and past the Herculean Pillars, at the mouth of Ligeris in Aquitania cast anchor: where after some discovery made of the place, Corineus, hunting nigh the shore with his men, is by messengers of the king Goffarius Pictus met, and questioned about his errand there. Who not answering to their mind, Imbertus, one of them, lets fly an arrow at Corineus, which he avoiding, slays him: and the Pictavian himself hereupon levying his whole force, is overthrown by Brutus and Corineus; who with the battle-axe which he was wont to manage against the Tyrrhene giants, is said to have done marvels. But Goffarius having drawn to his aid the whole country of Gaul, at that time governed by twelve kings, puts his fortune to a second trial; wherein the Trojans, overborne by multitude, are driven back, and besieged in their own camp, which by good foresight was strongly situate. Whence Brutus unexpectedly issuing out, and Corineus in the meanwhile, whose device it was, assaulting them behind from a wood, where he had conveyed his men the night before: the Trojans are again victors, but with the loss of Turon a valiant nephew of Brutus: whose ashes, left in that place, gave name to the city of Tours, built there by the Trojans. Brutus finding now his powers much lessened, and this yet not the place foretold him, leaves Aquitain, and with an easy course arriving at Totness in Devonshire, quickly perceives here to be the promised end of his labours.

The island, not yet Britain but Albion, was in a manner desert and inhospitable; kept only by a remnant of giants, whose excessive force and tyranny had consumed the rest. Them Brutus destroys, and to his people divides the land, which with some reference to his own name he thenceforth calls Britain. To Corineus, Cornwall, as now we call it, fell by lot; the rather by him liked, for that the hugest giants in rocks and caves were said to lurk still there; which kind of monsters to deal with was his old exercise.

And here with leave bespoken to recite a grand fable, though dignified by our best poets: while Brutus, on a certain festival day solemnly kept on that shore, where he first landed, was with the people in great jollity and mirth, a crew of these savages breaking in upon them, began on a sudden another sort of game, than at such a meeting was expected. But at length by many hands overcome, Goemagog the hugest, in height twelve cubits, is reserved alive, that with him Corineus, who desired nothing more, might try his strength; whom in a wrestle the giant catching aloft, with a terrible hug broke three of his ribs: nevertheless Corineus enraged, heaving him up by main force, and on his shoulders bearing him to the next high rock, Edition: current; Page: [203] threw him headlong, all shattered, into the sea, and left his name on the cliff, called ever since Langoemagog, which is to say, the giant’s leap.

After this, Brutus in a chosen place builds Troja Nova, changed in time to Trinovantum, now London: and began to enact laws; Heli being then high priest in Judæa: and having governed the whole isle twenty-four years, died, and was buried in his new Troy. His three sons, Locrine, Albanact, and Camber, divide the land by consent. Locrine had the middle part Lœgria; Camber possessed Cambria, or Wales; Albanact, Albania, now Scotland. But he in the end by Humber king of the Hunds, who with a fleet invaded that land, was slain in fight, and his people drove back into Lœgria. Locrine and his brother go out against Humber; who now marching onward, was by them defeated, and in a river drowned, which to this day retains his name. Among the spoils of his camp and navy, were found certain young maids, and Estrildis above the rest, passing fair, the daughter of a king in Germany; from whence Humber, as he went wasting the sea coast, had led her captive: whom Locrine, though before contracted to the daughter of Corineus, resolves to marry. But being forced and threatened by Corineus, whose authority and power he feared, Guendolen the daughter he yields to marry, but in secret loves the other: and ofttimes retiring, as to some private sacrifice, through vaults and passages made under ground, and seven years thus enjoying her, had by her a daughter equally fair, whose name was Sabra. But when once his fear was off by the death of Corineus, not content with secret enjoyment, divorcing Guendolen, he makes Estrildes now his queen. Guendolen, all in a rage, departs into Cornwall, where Madan, the son she had by Locrine, was hitherto brought up by Corineus his grandfather. And gathering an army of her father’s friends and subjects, gives battle to her husband by the river Sture; wherein Locrine, shot with an arrow, ends his life. But not so ends the fury of Guendolen; for Estrildis, and her daughter Sabra, she throws into a river: and, to leave a monument of revenge, proclaims that the stream be thenceforth called after the damsel’s name; which, by length of time, is changed now to Sabrina, or Severn.

Fifteen years she governs in behalf of her son; then resigning to him at age, retires to her father’s dominion. This, saith my author, was in the days of Samuel. Madan hath the praise to have well and peacefully ruled the space of forty years, leaving behind him two sons, Mempricius, and Malim. Mempricius had first to do with the ambition of his brother, aspiring to share with him in the kingdom; whom therefore, at a meeting to compose matters, with a treachery, which his cause needed not, he slew.

Nor was he better in the sole possession, whereof he could so ill endure a partner, killing his nobles, and those especially next to succeed him; till lastly, given over to unnatural lust, in the twentieth of his reign, hunting in a forest, he was devoured by wolves.

His son Ebranc, a man of mighty strength and stature, reigned forty years. He first, after Brutus, wasted Gaul; and returning rich and prosperous, builded Caerebranc, now York; in Albania, Alclud, Mount Agned, or the Castle of Maidens, now Edinburg. He had twenty sons and thirty daughters by twenty wives. His daughters he sent to Silvius Alba into Italy, who bestowed them on his peers of the Trojan line. His sons, under the leading of Assaracus their brother, won them lands and signiories in Germany; thence called from these brethren, Germania; a derivation too hastily supposed, perhaps before the word Germanus, or the Latin tongue was in use. Some who have described Henault, as Jacobus Bergamas, and Edition: current; Page: [204] Lassabeus, are cited to affirm, that Ebranc, in his war there, was by Brunchildis, lord of Henault, put to the worse.

Brutus, therefore, surnamed Greenshield, succeeding, to repair his father’s losses, as the same Lessabeus reports, fought a second battle in Henault, with Brunchild, at the mouth of Scaldis, and encamped on the river Hania. Of which our Spencer also thus sings:

  • Let Scaldis tell, and let tell Hania,
  • And let the marsh of Esthambruges tell
  • What colour were their waters that same day,
  • And all the moor ’twixt Elversham and Dell,
  • With blood of Henalois, which therein fell;
  • How oft that day did sad Brunchildis see
  • The Greenshield dyed in dolorous vermeil, &c.

But Henault, and Brunchild, and Greenshield, seem newer names than for a story pretended thus ancient.

Him succeeded Leil, a maintainer of peace and equity; but slackened in his latter end, whence arose some civil discord. He built, in the North, Cairliel;* and in the days of Solomon.

Rudhuddibras, or Hudibras, appeasing the commotions which his father could not, founded Caerkeynt or Canterbury, Caerguent or Winchester, and Mount Paladur, now Septonia or Shaftesbury: but this by others is contradicted.

Bladud his son built Caerbadus or Bath, and those medical waters he dedicated to Minerva; in whose temple there he kept fire continually burning. He was a man of great invention, and taught necromancy; till having made him wings to fly, he fell down upon the temple of Apollo in Trinovant, and so died after twenty year’s reign.

Hitherto, from father to son, the direct line hath run on: but Leir, who next reigned, had only three daughters, and no male issue: governed laudably, and built Caerleir, now Leicester, on the bank of Sora. But at last, falling through age, he determines to bestow his daughters, and so among them to divide his kingdom. Yet first, to try which of them loved him best, (a trial that might have made him, had he known as wisely how to try, as he seemed to know how much the trying behooved him,) he resolves a simple resolution, to ask them solemnly in order; and which of them should profess largest, her to believe. Gonorill the eldest, apprehending too well her father’s weakness, makes answer, invoking Heaven, “That she loved him above her soul.” “Therefore,” quoth the old man, overjoyed, “since thou so honourest my declining age, to thee and the husband whom thou shalt choose, I give the third part of my realm.” So fair a speeding, for a few words soon uttered, was to Regan, the second, ample instruction what to say. She, on the same demand, spares no protesting; and the gods must witness, that otherwise to express her thoughts she knew not, but that “She loved him above all creatures;” and so receives an equal reward with her sister. But Cordeilla, the youngest, though hitherto best loved, and now before her eyes the rich and present hire of a little easy soothing, the danger also, and the loss likely to betide plain dealing, yet moves not from the solid purpose of a sincere and virtuous answer. “Father,” saith she, “my love towards you is as my duty bids: what should a father seek, what can a child promise more? They, who pretend beyond this, flatter.” When the old man, sorry to hear this, and wishing her to recall those words, persisted asking; with a loyal sadness at her father’s Edition: current; Page: [205] infirmity, but something, on the sudden, harsh, and glancing rather at her sisters than speaking her own mind, “Two ways only,” saith she, “I have to answer what you require me: the former, your command is, I should recant; accept then this other which is left me; look how much you have, so much is your value, and so much I love you.” “Then hear thou,” quoth Leir, now all in passion, “what thy ingratitude hath gained thee; because thou hast not reverenced thy aged father equal to thy sisters, part in my kingdom, or what else is mine, reckon to have none.” And, without delay, gives in marriage his other daughters, Gonorill to Maglaunus duke of Albania, Regan to Henninus duke of Cornwall; with them in present half his kingdom; the rest to follow at his death. In the meanwhile, fame was not sparing to divulge the wisdom and other graces of Cordeilla, insomuch that Aganippus, a great king in Gaul, (however he came by his Greek name, not found in any register of French kings,) seeks her to wife; and nothing altered at the loss of her dowry, receives her gladly in such manner as she was sent him. After this, King Leir, more and more drooping with years, became an easy prey to his daughters and their husbands; who now, by daily encroachment, had seized the whole kingdom into their hands: and the old king is put to sojourn with his eldest daughter attended only by threescore knights. But they in a short while grudged at, as too numerous and disorderly for continual guests, are reduced to thirty. Not brooking that affront, the old king betakes him to his second daughter: but there also, discord soon arising between the servants of differing masters in one family, five only are suffered to attend him. Then back again he returns to the other; hoping that she his eldest could not but have more pity on his gray hairs: but she now refuses to admit him, unless he be content with one only of his followers. At last the remembrance of his youngest, Cordeilla, comes to his thoughts; and now acknowledging how true her words had been, though with little hope from whom he had so injured, be it but to pay her the last recompense she can have from him, his confession of her wise forewarning, that so perhaps his misery, the proof and experiment of her wisdom, might something soften her, he takes his journey into France. Now might be seen a difference between the silent, or downright spoken affection of some children to their parents, and the talkative obsequiousness of others; while the hope of inheritance overacts them, and on the tongue’s end enlarges their duty. Cordeilla, out of mere love, without the suspicion of expected reward, at the message only of her father in distress, pours forth true filial tears. And not enduring either that her own, or any other eye should see him in such forlorn condition as his messenger declared, discreetly appoints one of her trusted servants first to convey him privately towards some good seatown, there to array him, bathe him, cherish him, furnish him with such attendance and state as beseemed his dignity; that then, as from his first landing, he might send word of his arrival to her husband Aganippus. Which done, with all mature and requisite contrivance, Cordeilla, with the king her husband, and all the barony of his realm, who then first had news of his passing the sea, go out to meet him; and after all honourable and joyful entertainment, Aganippus, as to his wife’s father, and his royal guest, surrenders him, during his abode there, the power and disposal of his whole dominion: permitting his wife Cordeilla to go with an army, and set her father upon his throne. Wherein her piety so prospered, as that she vanquished her impious sisters, with those dukes; and Leir again, as saith the story, three years obtained the crown. To whom, dying, Cordeilla, with all regal solemnities, gave burial in the town of Leicester: and then, as Edition: current; Page: [206] right heir succeeding, and her husband dead, ruled the land five years in peace. Until Marganus and Cunedagius, her two sisters’ sons, not bearing that a kingdom should be governed by a woman, in the unseasonablest time to raise that quarrel against a woman so worthy, make war against her, depose her, and imprison her; of which impatient, and now long unexercised to suffer, she there, as is related, killed herself. The victors between them part the land; but Merganus, the eldest sister’s son, who held, by agreement, from the north side of Humber to Cathness, incited by those about him, to invade all as his own right, wars on Cunedagius, who soon met him, overcame, and overtook him in a town of Wales, where he left his life, and ever since his name to the place.

Cunedagius was now sole king, and governed with much praise many years, about the time when Rome was built.

Him succeeded Rivallo his son, wise also and fortunate; save what they tell us of three days raining blood and swarms of stinging flies, whereof men died. In order then Gurgustius, Jago or Lago, his nephew; Sisilius, Kinmarcus. Then Gorbogudo, whom others name Gorbodego, and Gorbodion, who had two sons, Ferrex, and Porrex. They, in the old age of their father, falling to contend who should succeed, Porrex, attempting by treachery his brother’s life, drives him into France; and in his return, though aided with the force of that country, defeats and slays him. But by his mother Videna, who less loved him, is himself, with the assistance of her women, soon after slain in his bed: with whom ended, as is thought, the line of Brutus. Whereupon the whole land, with civil broils, was rent into five kingdoms, long time waging war each on other; and some say fifty years. At length Dunwallo Molmutius, the son of Cloten king of Cornwal, one of the foresaid five, excelling in valour and goodliness of person, after his father’s decease, found means to reduce again the whole island into a monarchy; subduing the rest at opportunities. First, Ymner king of Loegria, whom he slew; then Rudaucus of Cambria, Staterius of Albania, confederate together. In which fight Dunwallo is reported, while the victory hung doubtful, to have used this art. He takes with him 600 stout men, bids them put on the armour of their slain enemies; and so unexpectedly approaching the squadron, where those two kings had placed themselves in fight, from that part which they thought securest, assaults and dispatches them. The displaying his own ensigns, which before he had concealed, and sending notice to the other part of his army what was done, adds to them new courage, and gains a final victory. This Dunwallo was the first in Britain that wore a crown of gold; and therefore by some reputed the first king. He established the Molmutine laws, famous among the English to this day; written long after in Latin by Gildas, and in Saxon by King Alfred: so saith Geoffrey, but Gildas denies to have known ought of the Britons before Cæsar; much less knew Alfred. These laws, whoever made them, bestowed on temples the privilege of sanctuary; to cities also, and the ways thither leading, yea to plows, granted a kind of like refuge; and made such riddance of thieves and robbers, that all passages were safe. Forty years he governed alone, and was buried nigh to the temple of Concord; which he, to the memory of peace restored, had built in Trinovant.

His two sons, Belinus and Brennus, contending about the crown, by decision of friends, came at length to an accord: Brennus to have the north of Humber, Belinus the sovereignty of all. But the younger not long so contented, that he, as they whispered to him, whose valour had so oft repelled the invasions of Ceulphus the Morine duke, should now be subject Edition: current; Page: [207] to his brother, upon new design sails into Norway; enters league and affinity with Elsing that king: which Belinus perceiving, in his absence dispossesses him of all the north. Brennus, with a fleet of Norwegians, makes towards Britain; but encountered by Guithlac, the Danish king, who, laying claim to his bride, pursued him on the sea, his haste was retarded, and he bereft of his spouse; who, from the fight, by a sudden tempest, was with the Danish king driven on Northumberland, and brought to Belinus. Brennus, nevertheless, finding means to recollect his navy, lands in Albania, and gives battle to his brother in the wood Calaterium; but losing the day, escapes, with one single ship, into Gaul. Meanwhile the Dane, upon his own offer to become tributary, sent home with his new prize, Belinus returns his thoughts to the administering of justice, and the perfecting of his father’s law. And to explain what highways might enjoy the foresaid privileges, he caused to be drawn out and paved four main roads to the utmost length and breadth of the island, and two others athwart; which are since attributed to the Romans. Brennus, on the other side, soliciting to his aid the kings of Gaul, happens at last on Seginus duke of the Allobroges; where his worth, and comeliness of person, won him the duke’s daughter and heir. In whose right he shortly succeeding, and, by obtained leave, passing with a great host through the length of Gaul, gets footing once again in Britain. Now was Belinus unprepared: and now the battle ready to join, Conuvenna, the mother of them both, all in a fright, throws herself between, and calling earnestly to Brennus her son, whose absence had so long deprived her of his sight, after embracements and tears, assails him with such a motherly power, and the mention of things so dear and reverend, as irresistibly wrung from him all his enmity against Belinus.

Then are hands joined, reconciliation made firm, and counsel held to turn their united preparations on foreign parts. Thence that by these two all Gallia was overrun, the story tells; and what they did in Italy, and at Rome, (if these be they, and not Gauls, who took that city,) the Roman authors can best relate. So far from home I undertake not for the Monmouth Chronicle; which here, against the stream of history, carries up and down these brethren, now into Germany, then again to Rome, pursuing Gabius and Porsena, two unheard-of consuls. Thus much is more generally believed, that both this Brennus, and another famous captain, Britomarus, whom the epitomist Florus and others mention, were not Gauls, but Britons; the name of the first in that tongue signifying a king, and of the other a great Briton. However, Belinus, after a while, returning home, the rest of his days ruled in peace, wealth, and honour, above all his predecessors; building some cities, of which one was Caerose upon Osca, since Caerlegion; beautifying others, as Trinovant, with a gate, haven, and a tower, on the Thames, retaining yet his name; on the top whereof his ashes are said to have been laid up in a golden urn.

After him Gurguntius Barbirus was king, mild and just; but yet, inheriting his father’s courage, he subdued the Dacian, or Dane, who refused to pay the tribute covenanted to Belinus for his enlargement. In his return, finding about the Orkneys thirty ships of Spain, or Biscay, fraught with men and women for a plantation, whose captain also Bartholinus, wrongfully banished, as he pleaded, besought him that some part of his territory might be assigned them to dwell in, he sent with them certain of his own men to Ireland which then lay unpeopled, and gave them that island, to hold of him as in homage. He was buried in Caerlegion, a city which he had walled about.

Guitheline his son is also remembered as a just and good prince; and Edition: current; Page: [208] his wife Martia to have excelled so much in wisdom, as to venture upon a new institution of laws. Which King Alfred translating, called Marchen Leage; but more truly thereby is meant the Mercian law, not translated by Alfred, but digested or incorporated with the West-Saxon. In the minority of her son she had the rule; and then, as may be supposed, brought forth these laws, not herself, for laws are masculine births, but by the advice of her sagest counsellors; and therein she might do virtuously, since it befell her to supply the nonage of her son; else nothing more awry from the law of God and nature, than that a woman should give laws to men.

Her son Sisilius coming to years, received the rule; then, in order, Kimarus; then Danius, or Elanius, his brother. Then Morindus, his son by Tanguestela, a concubine, who is recorded a man of excessive strength, valiant, liberal, and fair of aspect, but immanely cruel; not sparing, in his anger, enemy or friend, if any weapon were in his hand. A certain king of the Morines, or Picards, invaded Northumberland; whose army this king, though not wanting sufficient numbers, chiefly by his own prowess overcame; but dishonoured his victory by the cruel usage of his prisoners, whom his own hands, or others in his presence, put all to several deaths: well fitted to such a bestial cruelty was his end; for hearing of a huge monster, that from the Irish sea infested the coast, and, in the pride of his strength, foolishly attempting to set manly valour against a brute vastness, when his weapons were all in vain, by that horrible mouth he was catched up and devoured.

Gorbonian, the eldest of his five sons, than whom a juster man lived not in his age, was a great builder of temples, and gave to all what was their due: to his gods, devout worship; to men of desert, honour and preferment; to the commons, encouragement in their labours and trades, defence and protection from injuries and oppressions; so that the land flourished above her neighbours; violence and wrong seldom was heard of. His death was a general loss: he was buried in Trinovant.

Archigallo, the second brother, followed not his example; but depressed the ancient nobility; and, by peeling the wealthier sort, stuffed his treasury, and took the right way to be deposed.

Elidure, the next brother, surnamed the Pious, was set up in his place: a mind so noble, and so moderate, as almost is incredible to have been ever found. For, having held the sceptre five years, hunting one day in the forest of Calater, he chanced to meet his deposed brother, wandering in a mean condition; who had been long in vain beyond the seas, importuning foreign aids to his restorement; and was now, in a poor habit, with only ten followers, privately returned to find subsistence among his secret friends. At the unexpected sight of him, Elidure himself also then but thinly accompanied, runs to him with open arms; and, after many dear and sincere welcomings, conveys him to the city Alclud; there hides him in his own bedchamber. Afterwards feigning himself sick, summons all his peers, as about greatest affairs; where admitting them one by one, as if his weakness endured not the disturbance of more at once, causes them, willing or unwilling, once more to swear allegiance to Archigallo. Whom, after reconciliation made on all sides, he leads to York; and, from his own head, places the crown on the head of his brother. Who thenceforth, vice itself dissolving in him, and forgetting her firmest hold, with the admiration of a deed so heroic, became a true converted man; ruled worthily ten years, died, and was buried in Caerleir. Thus was a brother saved by a brother, to whom love of a crown, the thing that so often dazzles and vitiates mortal Edition: current; Page: [209] men, for which thousands of nearest blood have destroyed each other, was in respect of brotherly dearness, a contemptible thing.

Elidure now in his own behalf re-assumes the goverement, and did as was worthy such a man to do. When Providence, that so great a virtue might want no sort of trial to make it more illustrious, stirs up Vigenius and Peredure, his youngest brethren, against him who had deserved so nobly of that relation, as least of all by a brother to be injured. Yet him they defeat, him they imprison in the tower of Trinovant, and divide his kingdom; the North to Peredure, the South to Vigenius. After whose death Peredure obtaining all, so much the better used his power, by how much the worse he got it: so that Elidure now is hardly missed. But yet, in all right owing to his elder the due place whereof he had deprived him, fate would that he should die first: and Elidure, after many years’ imprisonment, is now the third time seated on the throne; which at last he enjoyed long in peace, finishing the interrupted course of his mild and just reign, as full of virtuous deeds as days to his end.

After these five sons of Morindus, succeeded also their sons in order. *Regin of Gorbonian, Marganus of Archigallo, both good kings. But Enniaunus, his brother, taking other courses, was after six years deposed. Then Idwallo, taught by a near example, governed soberly. Then Runno, then Geruntius, he of Peredure, this last the son of Elidure. From whose loins (for that likely is the durable and surviving race that springs of just progenitors) issued a long descent of kings, whose names only for many successions, without other memory, stand thus registered: Catellus, Coillus, Porrex, Cherin, and his three sons, Fulgenius, Eldadus, and Andragius, his son Urianus; Eliud, Eledaucus, Clotenus, Gurguntius, Merianus, Bleduno, Capis, Oenus, Sisillius; twenty kings in a continued row, that either did nothing, or lived in ages that wrote nothing; at least, a foul pretermission in the author of this, whether story or fable; himself weary, as seems, of his own tedious tale.

But to make amends for this silence, Blegabredus next succeeding, is recorded to have excelled all before him in the art of music; opportunely, had he but left us one song of his twenty predecessors’ doings.

Yet after him nine more succeeded in name; his brother Archimailus, Eldol, Redion, Rederchius, Samulius, Penissel, Pir, Capoirus; but Cliguellius, with the addition of modest, wise, and just.

His son Heli reigned forty years, and had three sons, Lud, Cassibelan, and Nennius. This Heli seems to be the same whom Ninius, in his Fragment, calls Minocan; for him he writes to be the father of Cassibelan. Lud was he who enlarged and walled about Trinovant; there kept his court, made it the prime city, and called it from his own name Caerlud, or Lud’s town, now London. Which, as is alleged out of Gildas, became matter of great dissension betwixt him and his brother Nennius; who took it heinously that the name of Troy, their ancient country, should be abolished for any new one. Lud was hardy, and bold in war; in peace a jolly feaster. He conquered many islands of the sea, saith Huntingdon, and was buried by the gate, which from thence we call Ludgate. His two sons, Androgeus and Tenuantius, were left to the tuition of Cassibelan; whose bounty and high demeanor so wrought with the common people, as got him easily Edition: current; Page: [210] the kingdom transferred upon himself. He nevertheless, continuing to favour and support his nephews, confers freely upon Androgeus London with Kent; upon Tenuantius, Cornwal; reserving a superiority both over them, and all the other princes to himself, till the Romans for awhile circumscribed his power. Thus far, though leaning only on the credit of Geoffrey Monmouth, and his assertors, I yet, for the specified causes, have thought it not beneath my purpose to relate what I found. Whereto I neither oblige the belief of other person, nor overhastily subscribe mine own. Nor have I stood with others computing or collating years and chronologies, lest I should be vainly curious about the time and circumstance of things, whereof the substance is so much in doubt. By this time, like one who had set out on his way by night, and travelled through a region of smooth or idle dreams, our history now arrives on the confines, where daylight and truth meet us with a clear dawn, representing to our view, though at a far distance, true colours and shapes. For albeit Cæsar, whose authority we are now first to follow, wanted not who taxed him of misrepresenting in his Commentaries, yea in his civil war against Pompey, much more, may we think, in the British affairs, of whose little skill in writing he did not easily hope to be contradicted; yet now, in such variety of good authors, we can hardly miss, from one hand or other, to be sufficiently informed, as of things past so long ago. But this will better be referred to a second discourse.


I am now to write of what befel the Britons from fifty and three years before the birth of our Saviour, when first the Romans came in, till the decay and ceasing of that empire; a story of much truth, and for the first hundred years and somewhat more, collected without much labour. So many and so prudent were the writers, which those two, the civilest and the wisest of European nations, both Italy and Greece, afforded to the actions of that puissant city. For worthy deeds are not often destitute of worthy relators: as by a certain fate, great acts and great eloquence have most commonly gone hand in hand, equalling and honouring each other in the same ages. It is true, that in obscurest times, by shallow and unskilful writers, the indistinct noise of many battles and devastations of many kingdoms, overrun and lost, hath come to our ears. For what wonder, if in all ages ambition and the love of rapine hath stirred up greedy and violent men to bold attempts in wasting and ruining wars, which to posterity have left the work of wild beasts and destroyers, rather than the deeds and monuments of men and conquerors? But he whose just and true valour uses the necessity of war and dominion not to destroy, but to prevent destruction, to bring in liberty against tyrants, law and civility among barbarous nations, knowing that when he conquers all things else, he cannot conquer Time or Detraction, wisely conscious of this his want, as well as of his worth not to be forgotten or concealed, honours and hath recourse to the aid of eloquence, his friendliest and best supply; by whose immortal record his noble deeds, which else were transitory, become fixed and durable against the force of years and generations, he fails not to continue through all posterity, over Envy, Death, and Time also victorious. Therefore when the esteem of science and liberal study waxes low in the commonwealth, we may presume that also there all civil virtue and worthy action is grown Edition: current; Page: [211] as low to a decline: and then eloquence as it were consorted in the same destiny, with the decrease and fall of virtue, corrupts also and fades; at least resigns her office of relating to illiterate and frivolous historians, such as the persons themselves both deserve, and are best pleased with; whilst they want either the understanding to choose better, or the innocence to dare invite the examining and searching style of an intelligent and faithful writer to the survey of their unsound exploits, better befriended by obscurity than fame. As for these, the only authors we have of British matters, while the power of Rome reached hither, (for Gildas affirms that of the Roman times no British writer was in his days extant, or if any were, either burnt by enemies or transported with such as fled the Pictish and Saxon invasions,) these therefore only Roman authors there be, who in the Latin tongue have laid together as much, and perhaps more than was requisite to a history of Britain. So that were it not for leaving an unsightly gap so near to the beginning, I should have judged this labour, wherein so little seems to be required above transcription, almost superfluous. Notwithstanding since I must through it, if aught by diligence may be added or omitted, or by other disposing may be more explained or more expressed, I shall assay.

Julius Cæsar (of whom, and of the Roman free state more than what appertains, is not here to be discoursed) having subdued most part of Gallia, which by a potent faction he had obtained of the senate as his province for many years, stirred up with a desire of adding still more glory to his name, and the whole Roman empire to his ambition; some* say, with a far meaner and ignobler, the desire of British pearls, whose bigness he delighted to balance in his hand; determines, and that upon no unjust pretended occasion, to try his force in the conquest also of Britain. For he understood that the Britons in most of his Gallian wars had sent supplies against him; had received fugitives of the Bellovaci his enemies; and were called over to aid the cities of Armorica, which had the year before conspired all in a new rebellion. Therefore Cæsar, though now the summer well nigh ending, and the season unagreeable to transport a war, yet judged it would be great advantage, only to get entrance into the isle, knowledge of men, the places, the ports, the accesses; which then, it seems, were even to the Gauls our neighbours almost unknown. For except merchants and traders, it is not oft, saith he, than any use to travel thither; and to those that do, besides the sea-coast, and the ports next to Gallia, nothing else is known. But here I must require, as Pollio did, the diligence, at least the memory, of Cæsar: for if it were true, as them of Rhemes told him, that Divitiacus, not long before a puissant king of the Soissons, had Britain also under his command, besides the Belgian colonies which he affirms to have named, and peopled many provinces there; if also the Britons had so frequently given them aid in all their wars; if lastly, the Druid learning, honoured so much among them, were first taught them out of Britain, and they who soonest would attain that discipline, sent hither to learn;§ it appears not how Britain at that time should be so utterly unknown in Gallia, or only known to merchants, yea to them so little, that being called together from all parts, none could be found to inform Cæsar of what bigness the isle, what nations, how great, what use of war they had, what laws, or so much as what commodious havens for bigger vessels. Of all which things as it were then first to make discovery, he sends Caius Volusenus, in a long galley, with command to return as soon as this could be effected. He in Edition: current; Page: [212] the meantime with his whole power draws nigh to the Morine coast, whence the shortest passage was into Britain. Hither his navy, which he used against the Armoricans, and what else of shipping can be provided, he draws together.

This known in Britain, the embassadors are sent from many of the states there, who promise hostages and obedience to the Roman empire. Them, after audience given, Cæsar as largely promising and exhorting to continue in that mind, sends home, and with them Comius of Arras, whom he had made king of that country, and now secretly employed to gain a Roman party among the Britons, in as many cities as he found inclinable, and to tell them that he himself was speeding thither. Volusenus, with what discovery of the island he could make from aboard his ship, not daring to venture on the shore, within five days returns to Cæsar. Who soon after, with two legions, ordinarily amounting, of Romans and their allies, to about 25,000 foot, and 4500 horse, the foot in 80 ships of burden, the horse in 18, besides what galleys were appointed for his chief commanders, sets off, about the third watch of night, with a good gale to sea; leaving behind him Sulpitius Rufus to make good the port with a sufficient strength. But the horse, whose appointed shipping lay windbound eight mile upward in another haven, had much trouble to embark.

Cæsar, now within sight of Britain, beholds on every hill multitudes of armed men ready to forbid his landing; and *Cicero writes to his friend Atticus, that the accesses of the island were wondrously fortified with strong works or moles. Here from the fourth to the ninth hour of day he awaits at anchor the coming up of his whole fleet. Meanwhile, with his legates and tribunes, consulting and giving order to fit all things for what might happen in such a various and floating water-fight as was to be expected. This place, which was a narrow bay, close environed with hills, appearing no way commodious, he removes to a plain and open shore eight miles distant; commonly supposed about Deal in Kent. Which when the Britons perceived, their horse and chariots, as then they used in fight scowering before, their main power speeding after, some thick upon the shore, others not tarrying to be assailed, ride in among the waves to encounter, and assault the Romans even under their ships, with such a bold and free hardihood, that Cæsar himself between confessing and excusing that his soldiers were to come down from their ships, to stand in water heavy armed, and to fight at once, denies not but that the terror of such new and resolute opposition made them forget their wonted valour. To succour which he commands his galleys, a sight unusual to the Britons, and more apt for motion, drawn from the bigger vessels, to row against the open side of the enemy, and thence with slings, engines, and darts, to beat them back. But neither yet, though amazed at the strangeness of those new seacastles, bearing up so near, and so swiftly as almost to overwhelm them, the hurtling of oars, the battering of fierce engines against their bodies barely exposed, did the Britons give much ground, or the Romans gain; till he who bore the eagle of the tenth legion, yet in the galleys, first beseeching his gods, said thus aloud, “Leap down soldiers, unless you mean to betray your ensign; I for my part will perform what I owe to the commonwealth and my general.” This uttered, overboard he leaps, and with his eagle fiercely advanced runs upon the enemy; the rest heartening one another not to admit the dishonour of so nigh losing their chief standard, follow him resolutely. Now was fought eagerly on both sides. Ours who Edition: current; Page: [213] well knew their own advantages, and expertly used them, now in the shallows, now on the sand, still as the Romans went trooping to their ensigns, received them, dispatched them, and with the help of their horse, put them every where to great disorder. But Cæsar causing all his boats and shallops to be filled with soldiers, commanded to ply up and down continually with relief where they saw need; whereby at length all the foot now disembarked, and got together in some order on firm ground, with a more steady charge put the Britons to flight: but wanting all their horse, whom the winds yet withheld from sailing, they were not able to make pursuit. In this confused fight,* Scæva a Roman soldier having pressed too far among the Britons, and beset round, after incredible valour shown, single against a multitude, swam back safe to his general; and in the place that rung with his praises, earnestly besought pardon for his rash adventure against discipline; which modest confessing after no bad event, for such a deed, wherein valour and ingenuity so much outweighed transgression, easily made amends and preferred him to be a centurion. Cæsar also is brought in by Julian, attributing to himself the honour (if it were at all an honour to that person which he sustained) of being the first that left his ship, and took land: but this were to make Cæsar less understand what became him that Scæva.

The Britons finding themselves mastered in fight, forthwith send ambassadors to treat of peace, promising to give hostages, and to be at command. With them Comius of Arras also returned; whom hitherto, since his first coming from Cæsar, they had detained in prison as a spy: the blame whereof they lay on the common people; for whose violence, and their own imprudence, they crave pardon. Cæsar complaining they had first sought peace, and then without cause had begun war, yet content to pardon them, commands hostages: whereof part they bring in straight, others, far up in the country to be sent for, they promise in a few days. Meanwhile the people disbanded and sent home, many princes and chief men from all parts of the isle submit themselves and their cities to the dispose of Cæsar, who lay then encamped, as is thought, on Barham down. Thus had the Britons made their peace; when suddenly an accident unlooked for put new counsels into their minds.

Four days after the coming of Cæsar, those eighteen ships of burden, which from the upper haven had taken in all the Roman horse, borne with a soft wind to the very coast, in sight of the Roman camp, were by a sudden tempest scattered and driven back, some to the port from whence they loosed, others down into the west country; who finding there no safety either to land or to cast anchor, chose rather to commit themselves again to the troubled sea; and, as Orosius reports, were most of them cast away. The same night, it being full moon, the galleys left upon dry land, were, unaware to the Romans, covered with a springtide, and the greater ships, that lay off at anchor, torn and beaten with waves, to the great perplexity of Cæsar, and his whole army; who now had neither shipping left to convey them back, nor any provision made to stay here, intending to have wintered in Gallia. All this the Britons well perceiving, and by the compass of his camp, which without baggage appeared the smaller, guessing at his numbers, consult together, and one by one slyly withdrawing from the camp, where they were waiting the conclusion of a peace, resolve to stop all provisions, and to draw out the business till winter. Cæsar, though ignorant of what they intended, yet from the condition wherein he was, and Edition: current; Page: [214] their other hostages not sent, suspecting what was likely, begins to provide apace, all that might be, against what might happen; lays in corn, and with materials fetched from the continent, and what was left of those ships which were past help, he repairs the rest. So that now by the incessant labour of his soldiers, all but twelve were again made serviceable.

While these things are doing, one of the legions being sent out to forage, as was accustomed, and no suspicion of war, while some of the Britons were remaining in the country about, others also going and coming freely to the Roman quarters, they who were in station at the camp gates sent speedily word to Cæsar, that from that part of the country, to which the legion went, a greater dust than usual was seen to rise. Cæsar guessing the matter, commands the cohorts of guard to follow him thither, two others to succeed in their stead, the rest all to arm and follow. They had not marched long, when Cæsar discerns his legion sore overcharged: for the Britons not doubting but that their enemies on the morrow would be in that place, which only they had left unreaped of all their harvest, had placed an ambush; and while they were dispersed and busiest at their labour, set upon them, killed some, and routed the rest. The manner of their fight was from a kind of chariots; wherein riding about and throwing darts, with the clutter of their horse, and of their wheels, they ofttimes broke the rank of their enemies; then retreating among the horse, and quitting their chariots, they fought on foot. The charioteers in the meanwhile somewhat aside from the battle, set themselves in such order that their masters at any time oppressed with odds, might retire safely thither, having performed with one person both the nimble service of a horseman, and the steadfast duty of a foot soldier. So much they could with their chariots by use and exercise, as riding on the speed down a steep hill, to stop suddenly, and with a short rein turn swiftly, now running on the beam, now on the yoke, then in the seat. With this sort of new skirmishing the Romans now over-matched and terrified, Cæsar with opportune aid appears; for then the Britons make a stand: but he considering that now was not fit time to offer battle, while his men were scarce recovered of so late a fear, only keeps his ground, and soon after leads back his legions to the camp. Further action for many days following was hindered on both sides by foul weather; in which time the Britons dispatching messengers round about, learn to how few the Romans were reduced, what hope of praise and booty, and now, if ever, of freeing themselves from the fear of like invasions hereafter, by making these an example, if they could but now uncamp their enemies; at this intimation multitudes of horse and foot coming down from all parts, make towards the Romans. Cæsar foreseeing that the Britons, though beaten and put to flight, would easily evade his foot, yet with no more than thirty horse, which Comius had brought over, draws out his men to battle, puts again the Britons to flight, pursues with slaughter, and returning burns and lays waste all about. Whereupon embassadors the same day being sent from the Britons to desire peace, Cæsar as his affairs at present stood, for so great a breach of faith, only imposes on them double the former hostages to be sent after him into Gallia: and because September was nigh half spent, a season not fit to tempt the sea with his weather-beaten fleet, the same night with a fair wind he departs towards Belgia; whither two only of the British cities sent hostages, as they promised, the rest neglected. But at Rome when the news came of Cæsar’s acts here, whether it were esteemed a conquest or a fair escape, supplication of twenty days is decreed by the senate, as either for an exploit done, or a discovery made, wherein Edition: current; Page: [215] both Cæsar and the Romans gloried not a little, though it brought no benefit either to him or to the commonwealth.

The winter following,* Cæsar, as his custom was, going into Italy, whenas he saw that most of the Britons regarded not to send their hostages, appoints his legates whom he left in Belgia, to provide what possible shipping they could either build, or repair. Low built they were to be, as thereby easier both to freight, and to haul ashore; nor needed to be higher, because the tide so often changing, was observed to make the billows less in our sea than those in the Mediterranean: broader likewise they were made, for the better transporting of horses, and all other freightage, being intended chiefly to that end. These all about six hundred in a readiness, with twenty-eight ships of burden, and what with adventurers, and other hulks about two hundred, Cotta one of the legates wrote them, as Athenæus affirms, in all one thousand; Cæsar from port Iccius, a passage of some thirty mile over, leaving behind him Labienus to guard the haven, and for other supply at need, with five legions, though but two thousand horse, about sunset hoisting sail with a slack south-west, at midnight was becalmed. And finding when it was light, that the whole navy lying on the current, had fallen off from the isle, which now they could descry on their left hand; by the unwearied labour of his soldiers, who refused not to tug the oar, and keep course with ships under sail, he bore up as near as might be, to the same place where he had landed the year before; where about noon arriving, no enemy could be seen. For the Britons, which in great number, as was after known, had been there, at sight of so huge a fleet durst not abide. Cæsar forthwith landing his army, and encamping to his best advantage, some notice being given him by those he took, where to find his enemy; with the whole power, save only ten cohorts, and three hundred horse, left to Quintus Atrius for the guard of his ships, about the third watch of the same night, marches up twelve miles into the country. And at length by a river, commonly thought the Stowre in Kent, espies embattled the British forces. They with their horses and chariots advancing to the higher banks, oppose the Romans in their march, and begin the fight; but repulsed by the Roman cavalry, give back into the woods to a place notably made strong both by art and nature; which, it seems, had been a fort, or hold of strength raised heretofore in time of wars among themselves. For entrance, and access on all sides, by the felling of huge trees overthwart one another, was quite barred up; and within these the Britons did their utmost to keep out the enemy. But the soldiers of the seventh legion locking all their shields together like a roof close over head, and others raising a mount, without much loss of blood took the place, and drove them all to forsake the woods. Pursuit they made not long, as being through ways unknown; and now evening came on, which they more wisely spent in choosing out where to pitch and fortify their camp that night.

The next morning Cæsar had but newly sent out his men in three bodies to pursue, and the last no further gone than yet in sight, when horsemen all in post from Quintus Atrius bring word to Cæsar, that almost all his ships in a tempest that night had suffered wreck, and lay broken upon the shore. Cæsar at this news recalls his legions, himself in all haste riding back to the seaside, beheld with his eyes the ruinous prospect. About forty vessels were sunk and lost, the residue so torn and shaken, as not to be new-rigged without much labour. Straight he assembles what number Edition: current; Page: [216] of shipwrights either in his own legions or from beyond sea could be summoned; appoints Labienus on the Belgian side to build more; and with a dreadful industry of ten days, not respiting the soldiers day or night, drew up all his ships, and intrenched them round within the circuit of his camp. This done, and leaving to their defence the same strength as before, he returns with his whole forces to the same wood, where he had defeated the Britons; who preventing him with greater powers than before, had now repossessed themselves of the place, under Cassibelan their chief leader: whose territory from the states bordering on the sea was divided by the river Thames about eighty miles inward. With him formerly other cities had continual war; but now in the common danger had all made choice of him to be their general. Here the British horse and charioteers meeting with the Roman cavalry fought stoutly; and at first, something overmatched, they retreat to the near advantage of their woods and hills, but still followed by the Romans, made head again, cut off the forwardest among them, and after some pause, while Cæsar, who thought the day’s work had been done, was busied about the intrenching of his camp, march out again, give fierce assault to the very stations of his guards and sentries; and while the main cohorts of two legions, that were sent to the alarm, stood within a small distance of each other, terrified at the newness and boldness of their fight, charged back again through the midst, without loss of a man. Of the Romans that day was slain Quintus Laberius Durus a tribune; the Britons having fought their fill at the very entrance of Cæsar’s camp, and sustained the resistance of his whole army intrenched, gave over the assault. Cæsar here acknowledges, that the Roman way both of arming, and of fighting, was not so well fitted against this kind of enemy; for that the foot in heavy armour could not follow their cunning flight, and durst not by ancient discipline stir from their ensign; and the horse alone disjoined from the legions, against a foe that turned suddenly upon them with a mixed encounter both of horse and foot, were in equal danger both following and retiring. Besides their fashion was, not in great bodies, and close order, but in small divisions and open distances to make their onset; appointing others at certain spaces, now to relieve and bring off the weary, now to succeed and renew the conflict; which argued no small experience, and use of arms. Next day the Britons afar off upon the hills begin to show themselves here and there, and though less boldly than before, to skirmish with the Roman horse. But at noon Cæsar having sent out three legions, and all his horse, with Trebonius the legate, to seek fodder, suddenly on all sides they set upon the foragers, and charge up after them to the very legions, and their standards. The Romans with great courage beat them back, and in the chase, being well seconded by the legions, not giving them time either to rally, to stand, or to descend from their chariots as they were wont, slew many. From this overthrow, the Britons that dwelt farther off betook them home, and came no more after that time with so great a power against Cæsar. Whereof advertised, he marches onward to the frontiers of Cassibelan,* which on this side was bounded by the Thames, not passable except in one place, and that difficult, about Coway-stakes near Oatlands, as is conjectured. Hither coming he descries on the other side great forces of the enemy, placed in good array; the bank set all with sharp stakes, others in the bottom, covered with water; whereof the marks, in Beda’s time, were to be seen, as he relates. This having learned by such as were taken, or had run to him, he first commands Edition: current; Page: [217] his horse to pass over; then his foot, who wading up to the neck, went on so resolutely and so fast, that they on the other side, not enduring the violence, retreated and fled. Cassibelan no more now in hope to contend for victory, dismissing all but four thousand of those charioteers, through woods and intricate ways attends their motion; where the Romans are to pass, drives all before him; and with continual sallies upon the horse, where they least expected, cutting off some and terrifying others, compels them so close together, as gave them no leave to fetch in prey or booty without ill success. Whereupon Cæsar strictly commanding all not to part from the legions, had nothing left him in his way but empty fields and houses, which he spoiled and burnt.

Meanwhile the Trinobantes, a state or kingdom, and perhaps the greatest then among the Britons, less favouring Cassibelan, send embassadors, and yield to Cæsar upon this reason. Immanuentius had been their king; him Cassibelan had slain, and purposed the like to Mandubratius his son, whom Orosius calls Androgorius, Beda Androgius; but the youth escaping by flight into Gallia, put himself under the protection of Cæsar. These entreat, that Mandubratius may be still defended, and sent home to succeed in his father’s right. Cæsar sends him, demands forty hostages and provision for his army, which they immediately bring in, and have their confines protected from the soldiers. By their example the Cenimagni, Segontiaci, Ancalites, Bibroci, Cassi (so I write them, for the modern names are but guessed) on like terms make their peace. By them he learns that the town of Cassibelan, supposed to be Verulam, was not far distant; fenced about with woods and marshes, well stuffed with men and much cattle. For towns then in Britain were only woody places ditched round, and with a mud wall encompassed against the inroads of enemies. Thither goes Cæsar with his legions, and though a place of great strength both by art and nature, assaults it in two places. The Britons after some defence fled out all at another end of the town; in the flight many were taken, many slain, and great store of cattle found there. Cassibelan for all these losses yet deserts not himself; nor was yet his authority so much impaired, but that in Kent, though in a manner possessed by the enemy, his messengers and commands find obedience enough to raise all the people. By his direction, Cingetorix, Carvilius, Taximagulus, and Segonax, four kings reigning in those countries which lie upon the sea, lead them on to assault that camp, wherein the Romans had entrenched their shipping; but they whom Cæsar left there issuing out slew many, and took prisoner Cingetorix a noted leader, without loss of their own. Cassibelan after so many defeats, moved especially by revolt of the cities from him, their inconstancy and falsehood one to another, uses mediation by Comius of Arras to send embassadors about treaty of yielding. Cæsar, who had determined to winter in the continent, by reason that Gallia was unsettled, and not much of the summer now behind, commands him only hostages, and what yearly tribute the island should pay to Rome, forbids him to molest the Trinobantes, or Mandubratius; and with his hostages, and a great number of captives, he puts to sea, having at twice embarked his whole army. At his return to Rome, as from a glorious enterprise, he offers to Venus, the patroness of his family, a corslet of British pearls.*

Howbeit other ancient writers have spoken more doubtfully of Cæsar’s victories here; and that in plain terms he fled from hence; for which the common verse in Lucan, with divers passages here and there in Tacitus, Edition: current; Page: [218] is alleged. Paulus Orosius,* who took what he wrote from a history or Suetonius now lost, writes, that Cæsar in his first journey, entertained with a sharp fight, lost no small number of his foot, and by tempest nigh all his horse. Dion affirms, that once in the second expedition all his foot were routed; Orosius that another time all his horse. The British author, whom I use only then when others are all silent, hath many trivial discourses of Cæsar’s being here, which are best omitted. Nor have we more of Cassibelan, than what the same story tells, how he warred soon after with Androgeus, about his nephew slain by Evelinus nephew to the other; which business at length composed, Cassibelan dies, and was buried in York, if the Monmouth book fable not. But at Cæsar’s coming hither, such likeliest were the Britons, as the writers of those times, and their own actions represent them; in courage and warlike readiness to take advantage by ambush or sudden onset, not inferior to the Romans, nor Cassibelan to Cæsar; in weapons, arms, and the skill of encamping, embattling, fortifying, overmatched; their weapons were a short spear and light target, a sword also by their side, their fight sometimes in chariots fanged at the axle with iron sithes, their bodies most part naked, only painted with woad in sundry figures, to seem terrible, as they thought; but, pursued by enemies, not nice of their painting to run into bogs worse than wild Irish up to the neck, and there to stay many days holding a certain morsel in their mouths no bigger than a bean, to suffice hunger;§ but that receipt, and the temperance it taught, is long since unknown among us: their towns and strong holds were spaces of ground fenced about with a ditch, and great trees felled overthwart each other, their buildings within were thatched houses for themselves and their cattle: in peace the upland inhabitants, besides hunting, tended their flocks and herds, but with little skill of country affairs; the making of cheese they commonly knew not, wool or flax they spun not, gardening and planting many of them knew not; clothing they had none, but what the skins of beasts afforded them, and that not always; yet gallantry they had, painting their own skins with several portraitures of beast, bird or flower, a vanity which hath not yet left us, removed only from the skin to the skirt behung now with as many coloured ribands and gewgaws: towards the seaside they tilled the ground and lived much after the manner of the Gauls their neighbors, or first planters:** their money was brazen pieces or iron rings, their best merchandize tin, the rest trifles of glass, ivory, and such like:†† yet gems and pearls they had, saith Mela, in some rivers: their ships of light timber wickered with ozier between, and covered over with leather, served not therefore to transport them far, and their commodities were fetched away by foreign merchants: their dealing, saith Diodorus, plain and simple without fraud; their civil government under many princes and states,‡‡ not confederate or consulting in common, but mistrustful, and ofttimes warring one with the other, which gave them up one by one an easy conquest to the Romans: their religion was governed by a sort of priests or magicians, called Druids, from the Greek name of an oak, which tree they had in great reverence, and the mistletoe especially growing thereon. Pliny writes them skilled in magic no less than those of Persia; by their abstaining from a hen, a hare, and a goose, from fish also saith Dion, and their opinion of the soul’s passing after death into other bodies,§§ they may be thought to have studied Pythagoras; yet philosophers I cannot Edition: current; Page: [219] call them, reported men factious and ambitious, contending sometimes about the archpriesthood not without civil war and slaughter; nor restrained they the people under them from a lewd, adulterous, and incestuous life, ten or twelve men, absurdly against nature, possessing one woman as their common wife, though of nearest kin, mother, daughter, or sister; progenitors not to be gloried in. But the gospel, not long after preached here, abolished such impurities, and of the Romans we have cause not to say much worse, than that they beat us into some civility; likely else to have continued longer in a barbarous and savage manner of life. After Julius (for Julius before his death tyrannously had made himself emperor of the Roman commonwealth, and was slain in the senate for so doing) he who next obtained the empire, Octavianus Cæsar Augustus, either contemning the island, as Strabo* would have us think, whose neither benefit was worth the having nor enmity worth the fearing; or out of a wholesome state-maxim, as some say to moderate and bound the empire from growing vast and unwieldy, made no attempt against the Britons. But the truer cause was party civil war among the Romans, partly other affairs more urging. For about twenty years after, all which time the Britons had lived at their own dispose, Augustus, in imitation of his uncle Julius, either intending or seeming to intend an expedition hither, was come into Gallia, when the news of a revolt in Pannonia diverted him: about seven years after in the same resolution, what with the unsettledness of Gallia, and what with embassadors from Britain which met him there, he proceeded not. The next year, difference arising about covenants, he was again prevented by other new commotions in Spain. Nevertheless some of the British potentates omitted not to seek his friendship by gifts offered in the Capitol, and other obsequious addresses. Insomuch that the whole island§ became even in those days well known to the Romans; too well perhaps for them, who from the knowledge of us were so like to prove enemies. But as for tribute, the Britons paid none to Augustus, except what easy customs were levied on the slight commodities wherewith they traded into Gallia.

After Cassibelan, Tenantius the younger son of Lud, according to the Monmouth story, was made king. For Androgeus the elder, conceiving himself generally hated for siding with the Romans, forsook his claim here, and followed Cæsar’s fortune. This king is recorded just and warlike.

His son Kymbeline, or Cunobeline, succeeding, was brought up, as is said, in the court of Augustus, and with him held friendly correspondences to the end; was a warlike prince; his chief seat Camalodunum, or Maldon, as by certain of his coins, yet to be seen, appears. Tiberius, the next emperor, adhering always to the advice of Augustus, and of himself less caring to extend the bounds of his empire, sought not the Britons; and they as little to incite him, sent home courteously the soldiers of Germanicus, that by shipwreck had been cast on the British shore. But Caligula, his successor, a wild and dissolute tyrant, having passed the Alps with intent to rob and spoil those provinces, and stirred up by Adminius the son of Cunobeline; who, by his father banished, with a small number fled thither to him, made semblance of marching toward Britain; but being come to the ocean, and there behaving himself madly and ridiculously, went back the same way: yet sent before him boasting letters to the senate, as if all Britain had been yielded him. Cunobeline now dead, Adminius the eldest by his Edition: current; Page: [220] father banished from his country, and by his own practice against it from the crown, though by an old coin seeming to have also reigned; Togodumnus, and Caractacus the two younger, uncertain whether unequal or subordinate in power, were advanced into his place. But through civil discord, Bericus (what he was further, is not known) with others of his party flying to Rome,* persuaded Claudius the emperor to an invasion. Claudius now consul the third time, and desirous to do something, whence he might gain the honour of a triumph, at the persuasion of these fugitives, whom the Britons demanding, he had denied to render, and they for that cause had denied further amity with Rome, makes choice of this island for his province: and sends before him Aulus Plautius the prætor, with this command, if the business grew difficult, to give him notice. Plautius with much ado persuaded the legions to move out of Gallia, murmuring that now they must be put to make war beyond the world’s end, for so they counted Britain; and what welcome Julius the dictator found there, doubtless they had heard. At last prevailed with, and hoisting sail from three several ports, lest their landing should in any one place be resisted, meeting cross winds, they were cast back and disheartened; till in the night a meteor shooting flames from the East, and as they fancied directing their course, they took heart again to try the sea, and without opposition landed. For the Britons, having heard of their unwillingness to come, had been negligent to provide against them; and retiring to the woods and moors, intended to frustrate and wear them out with delays, as they had served Cæsar before.

Plautius, after much trouble to find them out, encountering first with Caractacus, then with Togodumnus, overthrew them; and receiving into conditions part of the Boduni, who were then subject to the Catuellani, and leaving there a garrison, went on toward a river: where the Britons not imagining that Plautius without a bridge could pass, lay on the further side careless and secure. But he sending first the Germans, whose custom was, armed as they were to swim with ease the strongest current, commands them to strike especially at the horses, whereby the chariots, wherein consisted their chief art of fight, became unserviceable. To second them he sent Vespasian, who in his latter days obtained the empire, and Sabinus his brother; who unexpectedly assailing those who were least aware, did much execution. Yet not for this were the Britons dismayed; but reuniting the next day, fought with such a courage, as made it hard to decide which way hung the victory: till Caius Sidius Geta, at point to have been taken, recovered himself so valiantly, as brought the day on his side; for which at Rome he received high honours. After this the Britons drew back towards the mouth of Thames, and, acquainted with those places, crossed over; where the Romans following them through bogs and dangerous flats, hazarded the loss of all. Yet the Germans getting over, and others by a bridge at some place above, fell on them again with sundry alarms and great slaughter; but in the heat of pursuit running themselves again into bogs and mires, lost as many of their own. Upon which ill success, and seeing the Britons more enraged at the death of Togodumnus, who in one of these battles had been slain, Plautius fearing the worst, and glad that he could hold what he held, as was enjoined him, sends to Claudius. He who waited ready with a huge preparation, as if not safe enough amidst the flower of all his Romans, like a great Eastern king, with armed elephants marches through Gallia. So full of peril was this enterprise esteemed, as not without all this equipage, and stranger terrors Edition: current; Page: [221] than Roman armies, to meet the native and the naked British valour defending their country. Joined with Plautius, who encamping on the bank of Thames attended him, he passes the river. The Britons who had the courage, but not the wise conduct of old Cassibelan, laying all stratagem aside, in downright manhood scruple not to affront in open field almost the whole power of the Roman empire. But overcome and vanquished, part by force, others by treaty come in and yield. Claudius therefore, who took Camalodunum, the royal seat of Cunobeline, was often by the army saluted Imperator; a military title which usually they gave their general after any notable exploit; but to others, not above once in the same war; as if Claudius, by these acts, had deserved more than the laws of Rome had provided honour to reward. Having therefore disarmed the Britons, but remitted the confiscation of their goods,* for which they worshipped him with sacrifice and temple as a god, leaving Plautius to subdue what remained; he returns to Rome, from whence he had been absent only six months, and in Britain but sixteen days; sending the news before him of his victories, though in a small part of the island. By which is manifestly refuted that which Eutropius and Orosius write of his conquering at that time also the Orcades islands, lying to the North of Scotland; and not conquered by the Romans (for aught found in any good author) till above forty years after, as shall appear. To Claudius the senate, as for achievements of highest merit, decreed excessive honours; arches, triumphs, annual solemnities, and the surname of Britannicus both to him and his son.

Suetonius writes, that Claudius found here no resistance, and that all was done without stroke: but this seems not probable. The Monmouth writer names these two sons of Cunobeline, Guiderius and Arviragus; that Guiderius being slain in fight, Arviragus, to conceal it, put on his brother’s habiliments, and in his person held up the battle to a victory; the rest, as of Hano the Roman captain, Genuissa the emperor’s daughter, and such like stuff, is too palpably untrue to be worth rehearsing in the midst of truth. Plautius after this, employing his fresh forces to conquer on, and quiet the rebelling countries, found work enough to deserve at his return a kind of triumphant riding into the Capitol side by side with the emperor. Vespasian also under Plautius had thirty conflicts with the enemy; in one of which encompassed, and in great danger, he was valiantly and piously rescued by his son Titus: two powerful nations he subdued here, above twenty towns and the Isle of Wight; for which he received at Rome triumphal ornaments, and other great dignities. For that city in reward of virtue was ever magnificent; and long after when true merit was ceased among them, lest any thing resembling virtue should want honour, the same rewards were yet allowed to the very shadow and ostentation of merit. Ostorius in the room of Plautius viceprætor met with turbulent affairs;§ the Britons not ceasing to vex with inroads all those countries that were yielded to the Romans; and now the more eagerly, supposing that the new general, unacquainted with his army, and on the edge of winter, would not hastily oppose them. But he weighing that first events were most available to breed fear or contempt, with such cohorts as were next at hand, sets out against them: whom having routed, so close he follows, as one who meant not to be every day molested with the cavils of a slight peace, or an emboldened enemy. Lest they should make head again, he Edition: current; Page: [222] disarms whom he suspects; and to surround them, places many garrisons upon the rivers of Antona and Sabrina. But the Icenians, a stout people, untouched yet by these wars, as having before sought alliance with the Romans, were the first that brooked not this. By their example others rise; and in a chosen place, fenced with high banks of earth and narrow lanes to prevent the horse, warily encamp. Ostorius though yet not strengthened with his legions, causes the auxiliar bands, his troops also alighting, to assault the rampart. They within, though pestered with their own number, stood to it like men resolved, and in a narrow compass did remarkable deeds. But overpowered at last, and others by their success quieted, who till then wavered, Ostorius next bends his force upon the Cangians, wasting all even to the sea of Ireland, without foe in his way, or them, who durst, ill handled; when the Brigantes, attempting new matters drew him back to settle first what was unsecure behind him. They, of whom the chief were punished, the rest forgiven, soon gave over; but the Silures, no way tractable, were not to be repressed without a set war. To further this, Camalodunum was planted with a colony of veteran soldiers; to be a firm and ready aid against revolts, and a means to teach the natives Roman law and civility. Cogidunus also a British king, their fast friend, had to the same intent certain cities given him:* a haughty craft, which the Romans used, to make kings also the servile agents of enslaving others. But the Silures, hardy of themselves, relied more on the valour of Caractacus; whom many doubtful, many prosperous successes had made eminent above all that ruled in Britain. He, adding to his courage policy, and knowing himself to be of strength inferior, in other advantages the better, makes the seat of his war among the Ordovices; a country wherein all the odds were to his own party, all the difficulties to his enemy. The hills and every access he fortified with heaps of stones, and guards of men; to come at whom a river of unsafe passage must be first waded. The place, as Camden conjectures, had thence the name of Caer-caradoc on the west edge of Shropshire. He himself continually went up and down, animating his officers and leaders, that “this was the day, this the field, either to defend their liberty, or to die free;” calling to mind the names of his glorious ancestors, who drove Cæsar the dictator out of Britain, whose valour hitherto had preserved them from bondage, their wives and children from dishonour. Inflamed with these words, they all vow their utmost, with such undaunted resolution as amazed the Roman general; but the soldiers less weighing, because less knowing, clamoured to be led on against any danger. Ostorius, after wary circumspection, bids them pass the river: the Britons no sooner had them within reach of their arrows, darts, and stones, but slew and wounded largely of the Romans. They on the other side closing their ranks, and over head closing their targets, threw down the loose rampires of the Britons, and pursue them up the hills, both light and armed legions; till what with galling darts and heavy strokes, the Britons, who wore neither helmet nor cuirass to defend them, were at last overcome. This the Romans thought a famous victory; wherein the wife and daughter of Caractacus were taken, his brothers also reduced to obedience; himself escaping to Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, against faith given was to the victors delivered bound; having held out against the Romans nine years, saith Tacitus, but by truer computation, seven. Whereby his name was up through all the adjoining provinces, even to Italy and Rome; many desiring to see who Edition: current; Page: [223] he was, that could withstand so many years the Roman puissance: and Cæsar, to extol his own victory, extolled the man whom he had vanquished.

Being brought to Rome, the people as to a solemn spectacle were called together, the emperor’s guard stood in arms. In order came first the king’s servants, bearing his trophies won in other wars, next his brothers, wife, and daughter, last himself. The behaviour of others, through fear, was low and degenerate; he only neither in countenance, word, or action submissive, standing at the tribunal of Claudius, briefly spake to this purpose: “If my mind, Cæsar, had been as moderate in the height of fortune, as my birth and dignity was eminent, I might have come a friend rather than a captive into this city. Nor couldst thou have disliked him for a confederate, so noble of descent, and ruling so many nations. My present estate to me disgraceful, to thee is glorious. I had riches, horses, arms, and men; no wonder then if I contended, not to lose them. But if by fate, yours only must be empire, then of necessity ours among the rest must be subjection. If I sooner had been brought to yield, my misfortune had been less notorious, your conquest had been less renowned; and in your severest determining of me, both will be soon forgotten. But if you grant that I shall live, by me will live to you for ever that praise which is so near divine, the clemency of a conqueror.” Cæsar moved at such a spectacle of fortune, but especially at the nobleness of his bearing it, gave him pardon, and to all the rest. They all unbound, submissly thank him, and did like reverence to Agrippina the emperor’s wife, who sat by in state; a new and disdained sight to the manly eyes of Romans, a woman sitting public in her female pride among ensigns and armed cohorts. To Ostorius triumph is decreed; and his acts esteemed equal to theirs, that brought in bonds to Rome famousest kings. But the same prosperity attended not his later actions here; for the Silures, whether to revenge their loss of Caractacus, or that they saw Ostorious, as if now all were done, less earnest to restrain them, beset the prefect of his camp, left there with legionary bands to appoint garrisons: and had not speedy aid come in from the neighbouring holds and castles, had cut them all off; notwithstanding which, the prefect with eight centurions, and many their stoutest men, were slain: and upon the neck of this, meeting first with Roman foragers, then with other troops hasting to their relief, utterly foiled and broke them also. Ostorius sending more after, could hardly stay their flight; till the weighty legions coming on, at first poised the battle, at length turned the scale: to the Britons without much loss, for by that time it grew night. Then was the war shivered, as it were, into small frays and bickerings; not unlike sometimes to so many robberies, in woods, at waters, as chance or valour, advice or rashness, led them on, commanded or without command. That which most exasperated the Silures, was a report of certain words cast out by the emperor, “That he would root them out to the very name.” Therefore two cohorts more of auxiliars, by the avarice of their leaders too securely pillaging, they quite intercepted; and bestowing liberally the spoils and captives, whereof they took plenty, drew other countries to join with them.

These losses falling so thick upon the Romans, Ostorius with the thought and anguish thereof ended his days; the Britons rejoicing, although no battle, that yet adverse war had worn out so great a soldier. Cæsar in his place ordains Aulus Didius: but ere his coming, though much hastened, that the province might not want a governor, the Silures had given an overthrow to Manlius Valens with his legion, rumoured on both sides Edition: current; Page: [224] greater than was true, by the Silures to animate the new general; by him in a double respect, of the more praise if he quelled them, or the more excuse if he failed. Meantime the Silures forgot not to infest the Roman pale with wide excursions; till Didius marching out, kept them somewhat more within bounds. Nor were they long to seek who, after Caractacus, should lead them; for next to him in worth and skill of war, Venutius, a prince of the Brigantes, merited to be their chief. He at first faithful to the Romans, and by them protected, was the husband of Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, himself perhaps reigning elsewhere. She who had betrayed Caractacus and her country to adorn the triumph of Claudius, thereby grown powerful and gracious with the Romans, presuming on the hire of her treason, deserted her husband; and marrying Vellocatus one of his squires, confers on him the kingdom also. This deed so odious and full of infamy, disturbed the whole state; Venutius with other forces, and the help of her own subjects, who detested the example of so foul a fact, and withal the uncomeliness of their subjection to the monarchy of a woman, a piece of manhood not every day to be found among Britons, though she had got by subtile train his brother with many of his kindred into her hands, brought her soon below the confidence of being able to resist longer. When imploring the Roman aid, with much ado, and after many a hard encounter, she escaped the punishment which was ready to have seized her. Venutius thus debarred the authority of ruling his own household, justly turns his anger against the Romans themselves: whose magnanimity not wont to undertake dishonourable causes, had arrogantly intermeddled in his domestic affairs, to uphold the rebellion of an adulteress against her husband. And the kingdom he retained against their utmost opposition; and of war gave them their fill; first in a sharp conflict of uncertain event, then against the legion of Cæsius Nasica. Insomuch that Didius growing old, and managing the war by deputies, had work enough to stand on his defence, with the gaining now and then of a small castle. And Nero* (for in that part of the isle things continued in the same plight to the reign of Vespasian) was minded but for shame to have withdrawn the Roman forces out of Britain: in other parts whereof, about the same time other things befel. Verannius, whom Nero sent hither to succeed Didius, dying in his first year, save a few inroads upon the Silures, left only a great boast behind him, “That in two years, had he lived, he would have conquered all.” But Suetonius Paulinus, who next was sent hither, esteemed a soldier equal to the best in that age, for two years together went on prosperously, both confirming what was got, and subduing onward. At last over-confident of his present actions, and emulating others, of whose deeds he heard from abroad, marches up as far as Mona, the isle of Anglesey, a populous place. For they, it seems, had both entertained fugitives, and given good assistance to the rest that withstood him. He makes him boats with flat bottoms, fitted to the shallows which he expected in that narrow frith; his foot so passed over, his horse waded or swam. Thick upon the shore stood several gross bands of men well weaponed, many women like furies running to and fro in dismal habit, with hair loose about their shoulders, held torches in their hands. The Druids (those were their priests, of whom more in another place) with hands lift up to Heaven uttering direful prayers, astonished the Romans; who at so strange a sight stood in amaze, though wounded: at length awakened and encouraged by their general, not to fear a barbarous and lunatic rout, fall on, and beat them down scorched and rolling in Edition: current; Page: [225] their own fire. Then were they yoked with garrisons, and the places consecrate to their bloody superstitions destroyed. For whom they took in war, they held it lawful to sacrifice; and by the entrails of men used divination. While thus Paulinus had his thought still fixed before to go on winning, his back lay broad open to occasion of losing more behind: for the Britons, urged and oppressed with many unsufferable injuries, had all banded themselves to a general revolt. The particular causes are not all written by one author; Tacitus who lived next those times of any to us extant, writes that Prasutagus king of the Icenians, abounding in wealth, had left Cæsar coheir with his two daughters; thereby hoping to have secured from all wrong both his kingdom and his house; which fell out far otherwise. For under colour to oversee and take possession of the emperor’s new inheritance, his kingdom became a prey to centurions, his house to ravening officers, his wife Boadicea violated with stripes, his daughters with rape, the wealthiest of his subjects, as it were, by the will and testament of their king thrown out of their estates, his kindred made little better than slaves. The new colony also at Camalodunum took house or land from whom they pleased, terming them slaves and vassals; the soldiers complying with the colony, out of hope hereafter to use the same license themselves. Moreover the temple erected to Claudius as a badge of their eternal slavery, stood a great eyesore; the priests whereof, under pretext of what was due to the religious service, wasted and embezzled each man’s substance upon themselves. And Catus Decianus the procurator endeavoured to bring all their goods within the compass of new confiscation,* by disavowing the remitment of Claudius. Lastly, Seneca, in his books a philosopher, having drawn the Britons unwillingly to borrow of him vast sums upon fair promises of easy loan, and for repayment to take their own time, on a sudden compels them to pay in all at once with great extortion. Thus provoked by heaviest sufferings, and thus invited by opportunities in the absence of Paulinus, the Icenians, and by their examples the Trinobantes, and as many else as hated servitude, rise up in arms. Of these ensuing troubles many foregoing signs appeared; the image of victory at Camalodunum fell down of itself with her face turned, as it were, to the Britons; certain women, in a kind of ecstacy, foretold of calamities to come: in the council-house were heard by night barbarous noises; in the theatre hideous howlings, in the creek horrid sights, betokening the destruction of that colony; hereto the ocean seeming of a bloody hue, and human shapes at low ebb, left imprinted on the sand, wrought in the Britons new courage, in the Romans unwonted fears. Camalodunum, where the Romans had seated themselves to dwell pleasantly, rather than defensively, was not fortified; against that therefore the Britons make first assault. The soldiers within were not very many. Decianus the procurator could send them but two hundred, those ill armed: and through the treachery of some among them, who secretly favoured the insurrection, they had deferred both to entrench, and to send out such as bore not arms; such as did, flying to the temple, which on the second day was forcibly taken, were all put to the sword, the temple made a heap, the rest rifled and burnt. Petilius Cerealis coming to his succour, is in his way met and overthrown, his whole legion cut to pieces; he with his horse hardly escaping to the Roman camp. Decianus, whose rapine was the cause of all this, fled into Gallia. But Suetonius at these tidings not dismayed, through the midst of his enemy’s country, marches to London (though not termed a Edition: current; Page: [226] colony, yet full of Roman inhabitants, and for the frequency of trade, and other commodities, a town even then of principal note) with purpose to have made there the seat of war. But considering the smallness of his numbers, and the late rashness of Petilius, he chooses rather with the loss of one town to save the rest. Nor was he flexible to any prayers or weeping of them that besought him to tarry there; but taking with him such as were willing, gave signal to depart; they who through weakness of sex or age, or love of the place, went not along, perished by the enemy; so did Verulam, a Roman free town. For the Britons omitting forts and castles, flew thither first where richest booty and the hope of pillaging tolled them on.

In this massacre about seventy thousand Romans and their associates, in the places above mentioned, of certain lost their lives. None might be spared, none ransomed, but tasted all either a present or a lingering death; no cruelty that either outrage or the insolence of success put into their heads, was left unacted. The Roman wives and virgins hanged up all naked,* had their breasts cut off, and sewed to their mouths; that in the grimness of death they might seem to eat their own flesh; while the Britons fell to feasting and carousing in the temple of Andate their goddess of victory. Suetonius adding to his legion other old officers and soldiers thereabout, which gathered to him, were near upon ten thousand; and purposing with those not to defer battle, had chosen a place narrow, and not to be overwinged, on his rear a wood; being well informed that his enemy were all in front on a plain unapt for ambush: the legionaries stood thick in order, empaled with light armed; the horse on either wing. The Britons in companies and squadrons were every where shouting and swarming, such a multitude as at other time never; no less reckoned than two hundred and thirty thousand: so fierce and confident of victory, that their wives also came in wagons to sit and behold the sports, as they made full account of killing Romans: a folly doubtless for the serious Romans to smile at, as a sure token of prospering that day: a woman also was their commander in chief. For Boadicea and her daughters ride about in a chariot, telling the tall champions as a great encouragement, that with the Britons it was usual for women to be their leaders. A deal of other fondness they put into her mouth not worth recital; how she was lashed, how her daughters were handled, things worthier silence, retirement, and a vail, than for a woman to repeat, as done to her own person, or to hear repeated before a host of men. The Greek historian sets her in the field on a high heap of turves, in a loose-bodied gown, declaiming, a spear in her hand, a hare in her bosom, which after a long circumlocution, she was to let slip among them for luck’s sake; then praying to Andate the British goddess, to talk again as fondly as before. And this they do out of a vanity, hoping to embellish and set out their history with the strangeness of our manners, not caring in the meanwhile to brand us with the rankest note of barbarism, as if in Britain women were men, and men women. I affect not set speeches in a history, unless known for certain to have been so spoken in effect as they are written, nor then, unless worth rehearsal: and to invent such, though eloquently, as some historians have done, is an abuse of posterity, raising in them that read other conceptions of those times and persons than were true. Much less therefore do I purpose here or elsewhere to copy out tedious orations without decorum, though in their authors composed ready to my hand. Hitherto what we have heard of Cassibelan, Edition: current; Page: [227] Togadumnus, Venusius, and Caractacus, hath been full of magnanimity, soberness, and martial skill: but the truth is, that in this battle and whole business the Britons never more plainly manifested themselves to be right barbarians: no rule, no foresight, no forecast, experience, or estimation, either of themselves or of their enemies; such confusion, such impotence, as seemed likest not to a war, but to the wild hurry of a distracted woman, with as mad a crew at her heels. Therefore Suetonius, contemning their unruly noises and fierce looks, heartens his men but to stand close awhile, and strike manfully this headless rabble that stood nearest, the rest would be a purchase rather than a toil. And so it fell out; for the legion, when they saw their time, bursting out like a violent wedge, quickly broke and dissipated what opposed them; all else only held out their necks to the slayer; for their own carts and wagons were so placed by themselves, as left them but little room to escape between. The Romans slew all: men, women, and the very drawing horses lay heaped along the field in a gory mixture of slaughter. About fourscore thousand Britons are said to have been slain on the place; of the enemy scarce four hundred, and not many more wounded. Boadicea poisoned herself, or, as others say, sickened and died. *She was of stature big and tall, of visage grim and stern, harsh of voice, her hair of a bright colour flowing down to her hips; she wore a plaited garment of divers colours, with a great golden chain; buttoned over all a thick robe. Gildas calls her the crafty lioness, and leaves an ill fame upon her doings.

Dion sets down otherwise the order of this fight, and that the field was not won without much difficulty, nor without intention of the Britons to give another battle, had not the death of Boadicea come between. Howbeit Seutonius, to preserve discipline, and to dispatch the relies of war, lodged with all the army in the open field; which was supplied out of Germany with a thousand horse and ten thousand foot; thence dispersed to winter, and with incursions to waste those countries that stood out. But to the Britons famine was a worse affliction; having left off, during this uproar, to till the ground, and made reckoning to serve themselves on the provisions of their enemy. Nevertheless those nations that were yet untamed, hearing of some discord risen between Suetonius and the new procurator Classicianus, were brought but slowly to terms of peace; and the rigour used by Suetonius on them that yielded, taught them the better course to stand on their defence. For it is certain that Suetonius, though else a worthy man, overproud of his victory, gave too much way to his anger against the Britons. Classician therefore sending such word to Rome, that these severe proceedings would beget an endless war, Polycletus, no Roman but a courtier, was sent by Nero to examine how things went. He admonishing Suetonius to use more mildness, awed the army, and to the Britons gave matter of laughter. Who so much even till then were nursed up in their native liberty, as to wonder that so great a general with his whole army should be at the rebuke and ordering of a court-servitor. But Suetonius a while after, having lost a few galleys on the shore, was bid resign his command to Petronius Turpilianus, who not provoking the Britons, nor by them provoked, was thought to have pretended the love of peace to what indeed was his love of ease and sloth. Trebellius Maximus followed his steps, usurping the name of gentle government to any remissness or neglect of discipline; which brought in first license, next disobedience into his camp; incensed against him partly for his covetousness, partly by the incitement Edition: current; Page: [228] of Roscius Cælius, legate of a legion; with whom formerly disagreeing, now that civil war began in the empire, he fell to open discord;* charging him with disorder and sedition, and him Cælius with peeling and defrauding the legions of their pay; insomuch that Trebellius, hated and deserted of the soldiers, was content a while to govern by base entreaty, and forced at length to flee the land. Which notwithstanding remained in good quiet, governed by Cælius and the other legate of a legion, both faithful to Vitellius then emperor; who sent hither Vectius Bolanus; under whose lenity, though not tainted with other fault against the Britons nothing was done, nor in their own discipline reformed. Petilius Cerealis by appointment of Vespasian succeeding, had to do with the populous Brigantes in many battles, and some of those not unbloody. For as we heard before, it was Venusius who even to these times held them tack, both himself remaining to the end unvanquished, and some part of his country not so much as reached. It appears also by several passages in the histories of Tacitus,§ that no small matter of British forces were commanded over sea the year before to serve in those bloody wars between Otho and Vitellius, Vitellius and Vespasian contending for the empire. To Cerealis succeeded Julius Frontinus in the government of Britain, who by taming the Silures, a people warlike and strongly inhabiting, augmented much his reputation. But Julius Agricola, whom Vespasian in his last year sent hither, trained up from his youth in the British wars, extended with victories the Roman limit beyond all his predecessors. His coming was in the midst of summer; and the Ordivices to welcome the new general had hewn in pieces a whole squadron of horse which lay upon their bounds, few escaping. Agricola, who perceived that the noise of this defeat had also in the province desirous of novelty stirred up new expectations, resolves to be beforehand with the danger: and drawing together the choice of his legions with a competent number of auxiliaries, not being met by the Ordovices, who kept the hills, himself at the head of his men, hunts them up and down through difficult places, almost to the final extirpating of that whole nation. With the same current of success, what Paulinus had left unfinished, he conquers in the isle of Mona: for the islanders altogether fearless of his approach, whom they knew to have no shipping, when they saw themselves invaded on a sudden by the auxiliars, whose country-use had taught them to swim over with horse and arms, were compelled to yield. This gained Agricola much opinion: who at his very entrance, a time which others bestowed of course in hearing compliments and gratulations, had made such early progress into laborious and hardest enterprises. But by far not so famous was Agricola in bringing war to a speedy end, as in cutting off the causes from whence war arises. For he knowing that the end of war was not to make way for injuries in peace, began reformation from his own house; permitted not his attendants and followers to sway, or have to do at all in public affairs: lays on with equality the proportions of corn and tribute that were imposed; takes off exactions, and the fees of encroaching officers, heavier than the tribute itself. For the countries had been compelled before, to sit and wait the opening of public granaries, and both to sell and to buy their corn at what rate the publicans thought fit; the purveyors also commanding when they pleased to bring it in, not to the nearest, but still to the remotest places, either by the compounding of such as would be excused, or by causing a dearth, where none was, made a particular gain. Edition: current; Page: [229] These grievances and the like, he in the time of peace removing, brought peace into some credit; which before, since the Romans coming, had as ill a name as war.

The summer following, Titus then emperor,* he so continually with inroads disquieted the enemy over all the isle, and after terror so allured them with his gentle demeanor, that many cities which till that time would not bend, gave hostages, admitted garrisons, and came in voluntarily. The winter he spent all in worthy actions; teaching and promoting like a public father the institutes and customs of civil life. The inhabitants rude and scattered, and by that the proner to war, he so persuaded to build houses, temples, and seats of justice; and by praising the forward, quickening the slow, assisting all, turned the name of necessity into an emulation. He caused moreover, the noblemen’s sons to be bred up in liberal arts; and by preferring the wits of Britain before the studies of Gallia, brought them to affect the Latin eloquence, who before hated the language. Then were the Roman fashions imitated, and the gown; after a while the incitements also and materials of vice, and voluptuous life, proud buildings, baths, and the elegance of banqueting; which the foolisher sort called civility, but was indeed a secret art to prepare them for bondage. Spring appearing, he took the field, and with a prosperous expedition wasted as far northward as frith of Taus all that obeyed not, with such a terror, as he went, that the Roman army, though much hindered by tempestuous weather, had the leisure to build forts and castles where they pleased, none daring to oppose them. Besides, Agricola had this excellence in him, so providently to choose his places where to fortify, as not another general then alive. No sconce or fortress of his raising was ever known either to have been forced, or yielded up or quitted. Out of these impregnable by siege, or in that case duly relieved, with continual irruptions he so prevailed, that the enemy, whose manner was in winter to regain what in summer he had lost, was now alike in both seasons kept short and straitened. For these exploits, then esteemed so great and honourable, Titus, in whose reign they were achieved, was the fifteenth time saluted imperator; and of him Agricola received triumphal honours. The fourth summer, Domitian then ruling the empire, he spent in settling and confirming what the year before he had travelled over with a running conquest. And had the valour of his soldiers been answerable, he had reached that year, as was thought, the utmost bounds of Britain. For Glota and Bodotria, now Dunbritton, and the frith of Edinburgh, two opposite arms of the sea, divided only by a neck of land, and all the creeks and inlets on this side, were held by the Romans, and the enemy driven as it were into another island. In his fifth year he passed over into the Orcades, as we may probably guess, and other Scotch isles; discovering and subduing nations, till then unknown. He gained also with his forces that part of Britain which faces Ireland, as aiming also to conquer that island; where one of the Irish kings driven out by civil wars coming to him, he both gladly received, and retained him as against a fit time. The summer ensuing, on mistrust that the nations beyond Bodotria would generally rise, and forelay the passages by land, he caused his fleet, making a great show, to bear along the coast, and up the friths and harbours; joining most commonly at night on the same shore both land and sea forces, with mutual shouts and loud greetings. At sight whereof, the Britons, not wont to see their sea so ridden, were much daunted. Howbeit the Caledonians§ with great preparation, and by rumor, as of things Edition: current; Page: [230] unknown much greater, taking arms, and of their own accord beginning war by the assault of sundry castles, sent back some of their fear to the Romans themselves: and there were of the commanders who, cloaking their fear under show of sage advice, counselled the general to retreat back on this side Bodotria. He in the mean while having intelligence, that the enemy would fall on in many bodies, divided also his army into three parts. Which advantage the Britons quickly spying, and on a sudden uniting what before they had disjointed, assail by night with all their forces that part of the Roman army which they knew to be the weakest; and breaking in upon the camp, surprised between sleep and fear, had begun some execution. When Agricola, who had learnt what way the enemies took, and followed them with all speed, sending before him the lightest of his horse, and foot to charge them behind, the rest as they came on to affright them with clamour, so plied them without respite, that by approach of day the Roman ensigns glittering all about, had encompassed the Britons: who now after a sharp fight in the very ports of the camp, betook them to their wonted refuge, the woods and fens, pursued a while by the Romans; that day else in all appearance had ended the war. The legions reincouraged by this event, they also now boasting, who but lately trembled, cry all to be led on as far as there was British ground. The Britons also not acknowledging the loss of that day to Roman valour, but to the policy of their captain, abated nothing of their stoutness; but arming their youth, conveying their wives and children to places of safety, in frequent assemblies, and by solemn covenants bound themselves to mutual assistance against the common enemy. About the same time a cohort of Germans having slain their centurion with other Roman officers in a mutiny, and for fear of punishment fled on shipboard, launched forth in three light galleys without pilot;* and by tide or weather carried round about the coast, using piracy where they landed, while their ships held out, and as their skill served them, with various fortune, were the first discoverers to the Romans that Britain was an island.

The following summer, Agricola having before sent his navy to hover on the coast, and with sundry and uncertain landings to divert and disunite the Britons, himself with a power best appointed for expedition, wherein also were many Britons, whom he had long tried, both valiant and faithful, marches onward to the mountain Grampius, where the British, above thirty thousand, were now lodged, and still increasing; for neither would their old men, so many as were yet vigorous and lusty, be left at home, long practised in war, and every one adorned with some badge, or cognizance of his warlike deeds long ago. Of whom Galgacus, both by birth and merit the prime leader to their courage, though of itself hot and violent, is by his rough oratory, in detestation of servitude and the Roman yoke, said to have added much more eagerness of fight, testified by their shouts and barbarous applauses. As much did on the other side Agricola exhort his soldiers to victory and glory; as much the soldiers by his firm and well-grounded exhortations were all on a fire to the onset. But first he orders them on this sort: Of eight thousand auxiliary foot he makes his middle ward, on the wings three thousand horse, the legions as a reserve, stood in array before the camp; either to seize the victory won without their own hazard, or to keep up the battle if it should need. The British powers on the hill side, as might best serve for show and terror, stood in their battalions; the first on even ground, the next rising behind, as the hill ascended. The field between rung with Edition: current; Page: [231] the noise of horsemen and chariots ranging up and down. Agricola doubting to be overwinged, stretches out his front, though somewhat with the thinnest, insomuch that many advised to bring up the legions; yet he not altering, alights from his horse, and stands on foot before the ensigns. The fight began aloof, and the Britons had a certain skill with their broad swashing swords and short bucklers either to strike aside, or to bear off the darts of their enemy; and withal to send back showers of their own. Until Agricola discerning that those little targets and unwieldy glaves ill pointed, would soon become ridiculous against the thrust and close, commanded three Batavian cohorts, and two of the Tungrians exercised and armed for close fight, to draw up, and come to handy strokes. The Batavians, as they were commanded, running in upon them, now with their long tucks thrusting at the face, now with their piked targets bearing them down, had made good riddance of them that stood below; and for haste omitting further execution, began apace to advance up hill, seconded now by all the other cohorts. Meanwhile the horsemen flee, the charioteers mix themselves to fight among the foot, where many of their horse also fallen in disorderly, were now more a mischief to their own, than before a terror to their enemies. The battle was a confused heap, the ground unequal; men, horses, chariots, crowded pellmell; sometimes in little room, by and by in large, fighting, rushing, felling, overbearing, overturning. They on the hill, which were not yet come to blows, perceiving the fewness of their enemies, came down amain; and had enclosed the Romans unawares behind, but that Agricola with a strong body of horse, which he reserved for such a purpose, repelled them back as fast; and others drawn off the front, were commanded to wheel about and charge them on the backs. Then were the Romans clearly masters; they follow, they wound, they take, and to take more, kill whom they take: the Britons, in whole troops with weapons in their hands one while fleeing the pursuer, anon without weapons desperately running upon the slayer. But of all them, when once they got the woods to their shelter, with fresh boldness made head again, and the forwardest on a sudden they turned and slew, the rest so hampered, as had not Agricola, who was every where at hand, sent out his readiest cohorts, with a part of his horse to alight and scour the woods, they had received a foil in the midst of victory; but following with a close and orderly pursuit, the Britons fled again, and were totally scattered; till night and weariness ended the chase. And of them that day ten thousand fell; of the Romans three hundred and forty, among whom Aulus Atticus the leader of a cohort; carried with heat of youth and the fierceness of his horse too far on.

The Romans jocund of this victory, and the spoil they got, spent the night; the vanquished wandering about the field, both men and women, some lamenting, some calling their lost friends, or carrying off their wounded; others forsaking, some burning their own houses; and it was certain enough, that there were who with a stern compassion laid violent hands on their wives and children, to prevent the more violent hands of hostile injury. Next day appearing, manifested more plainly the greatness of their loss received; every where silence, desolation, houses burning afar off, not a man seen, all fled, and doubtful whither: such word the scouts bringing in from all parts, and the summer now spent, no fit season to disperse a war, the Roman general leads his army among the Horestians; by whom hostages being given, he commands his admiral with a sufficient navy to sail round the coast of Britain; himself with slow marches, that his delay in passing might serve to awe those new conquered nations, bestows his army in their winter-quarters. The fleet also having fetched a prosperous and speedy compass Edition: current; Page: [232] about the isle, put in at the haven Trutulensis, now Richburg near Sandwich, from whence it first set out:* and now likeliest, if not two years before, as was mentioned, the Romans might discover and subdue the isles of Orkney; which others with less reason, following Eusebius and Orosius, attribute to the deeds of Claudius. These perpetual exploits abroad won him wide fame: with Domitian, under whom great virtue was as punishable as open crime, won him hatred. For he maligning the renown of these his acts, in show decreed him honours, in secret devised his ruin. Agricola§ therefore commanded home for doing too much of what he was sent to do, left the province to his successor quiet and secure. Whether he, as is conjectured, were Salustius Lucullus, or before him some other, for Suetonius only names him legate of Britain under Domitian; but further of him, or aught else done here until the time of Hadrian, is no where plainly to be found. Some gather by a preface in Tacitus to the book of his histories, that what Agricola won here, was soon after by Domitian either through want of valour lost, or through envy neglected. And Juvenal the poet speaks of Arviragus in these days, and not before, king of Britain; who stood so well in his resistance, as not only to be talked of at Rome, but to be held matter of a glorious triumph, if Domitian could take him captive, or overcome him. Then also Claudia Rufina the daughter of a Briton, and wife of Pudence a Roman senator, lived at Rome famous by the verse of Martial for beauty, wit and learning. The next we hear of Britain, is, that when Trajan was emperor, it revolted, and was subdued. But Hadrian next entering on the empire, they soon unsubdued themselves. Julius Severus, saith Dion, then governed the island, a prime soldier of that age: he being called away to suppress the Jews then in tumult left things at such a pass, as caused the emperor in person to take a journey hither; where many things he reformed, and as Augustus and Tiberius counselled, to gird the empire within moderate bounds, he raised a wall with great stakes driven in deep, and fastened together, in manner of a strong mound, fourscore mile in length, to divide what was Roman from Barbarian; as his manner was to do in other frontiers of his empire, where great rivers divided not the limits. No ancient author names the place, but old inscriptions, and the ruin itself, yet testifies where it went along between Solway frith by Carlisle, and the mouth of Tine.** Hadrian having quieted the island, took it for honour to be titled on his coin, “The restorer of Britain.” In his time also Priscus Licinius, as appears by an old inscription, was lieutenant here. Antoninus Pius reigning,†† the Brigantes ever least patient of foreign servitude, breaking in upon Genounia (which Camden guesses to be Guinethia or North Wales) part of the Roman province, were with the loss of much territory driven back by Lollius Urbicus, who drew another wall of turves; in likelihood much beyond the former, and as Camden proves, between the frith of Dunbritton, and of Edinburgh; to hedge out incursions from the north. And Seius Saturninus, as is collected from the digests,‡‡ had charge here of the Roman navy. With like success did Marcus Aurelius,§§ next emperor, by his legate Calphurnius Agricola, finish here a new war: Commodus after him obtaining the empire. In his time, as among so many different accounts may seem most probable, Lucius∥∥ a supposed king in some part of Britain, the first of any king in Europe, that we read of, received the Christian faith, and this nation the first by public Edition: current; Page: [233] authority professed it: a high and singular grace from above, if sincerity and perseverance went along, otherwise an empty boast, and to be feared the verifying of that true sentence, “The first shall be last.” And indeed the praise of this action is more proper to King Lucius, than common to the nation; whose first professing by public authority was no real commendation of their true faith, which had appeared more sincere and praiseworthy, whether in this or other nation, first professed without public authority or against it, might else have been but outward conformity. Lucius in our Monmouth story is made the second by descent from Marius; Marius the son of Arviragus is there said to have overthrown the Picts then first coming out of Scythia, slain Roderic their king; and in sign of victory to have set up a monument of stone in the country since called Westmaria; but these things have no foundation. Coilus the son of Marius, all his reign, which was just and peaceable, holding great amity with the Romans, left it hereditary to Lucius. He (if Beda err not, living near five hundred years after, yet our ancientest author of this report) sent to Elutherius, then bishop of Rome,* an improbable letter, as some of the contents discover, desiring that by his appointment he and his people might receive Christianity. From whom two religious doctors, named in our chronicles Faganus and Deruvianus, forthwith sent, are said to have converted and baptized well nigh the whole nation: thence Lucius to have had the surname of Levermaur, that is to say, great light. Nor yet then first was the Christian faith here known, but even from the latter days of Tiberius, as Gildas confidently affirms, taught and propagated, and that as some say by Simon Zelotes, as others by Joseph of Arimathea, Barnabas, Paul, Peter, and their prime disciples.

But of these matters, variously written and believed, ecclesiastic historians can best determine; as the best of them do, with little credit given to the particulars of such uncertain relations. As for Lucius, they write, that after a long reign he was buried in Gloucester; but dying without issue, left the kingdom in great commotion. By truer testimony§ we find that the greatest war which in those days busied Commodus, was in this island. For the nations northward, notwithstanding the wall raised to keep them out, breaking in upon the Roman province, wasted wide; and both the army and the leader that came against them wholly routed, and destroyed; which put the emperor in such a fear, as to dispatch hither one of his best commanders, Ulpius Marcellus. He a man endowed with all nobleness of mind, frugal and temperate, mild and magnanimous, in war bold and watchful, invincible against lucre, and the assault of bribes; what with his valour, and these his other virtues, quickly ended this war that looked so dangerous, and had himself like to have been ended by the peace which he brought home for presuming to be so worthy and so good under the envy of so worthless and so bad an emperor. After whose departure the Roman legions fell to sedition among themselves; fifteen hundred of them went to Rome in name of the rest, and were so terrible to Commodus himself, as that to please them he delivered up to their care Perennis the captain of his guard, for having in the British war removed their leaders, who were senators, and in their places put those of the equestrian order. Notwithstanding which compliance, they endeavoured here to set up another emperor against him; and Helvius Pertinax,** who succeeded governor, found it a work so difficult to appease them, that once in Edition: current; Page: [234] a mutiny he was left for dead among many slain; and though afterwards he severely punished the tumulters, was fain at length to seek a dismission from his charge. After him Clodius Albinus* took the government; but he, for having to the soldiers made an oration against monarchy, by the appointment of Commodus was bid resign to Junius Severus.

But Albinus in those troublesome times ensuing under the short reign of Pertinax and Didius Julianus, found means to keep in his hands the government of Britain; although Septimius Severus,§ who next held the empire, sent hither Heraclitus to displace him; but in vain, for Albinus with all the British powers and those of Gallia met Severus about Lyons in France, and fought a bloody battle with him for the empire, though at last vanquished and slain. The government of Britain Severus divided between two deputies; till then one legate was thought sufficient; the north he committed to Virius Lupus. Where the Meatæ rising in arms,** and the Caledonians, though they had promised the contrary to Lupus,†† preparing to defend them, so hard beset, he was compelled to buy his peace, and a few prisoners with great sums of money. But hearing that Severus had now brought to an end his other wars, he writes him plainly the state of things here,‡‡ “the Britons of the north made war upon him, broke into the province, and harassed all the countries nigh them, that there needed suddenly either more aid, or himself in person.”

Severus, though now much weakened with age and the gout, yet desirous to leave some memorial of his warlike achievements here, as he had done in other places, and besides to withdraw by this means his two sons from the pleasures of Rome, and his soldiers from idleness, with a mighty power, far sooner than could be expected, arrives in Britain.§§ The northern people much daunted with the report of so great forces brought over with him, and yet more preparing, send embassadors to treat of peace, and to excuse their former doings. The emperor now loth to return home without some memorable thing done, whereby he might assume to his other titles the addition of Britannicus, delays his answer, and quickens his preparations; till in the end, when all things were in readiness to follow them, they are dismissed without effect. His principal care was to have many bridges laid over bogs and rotten moors, that his soldiers might have to fight on sure footing. For it seems through lack of tillage, the northern parts were then, as Ireland is at this day; and the inhabitants in like manner wanted to retire, and defend themselves in such watery places half naked. He also being past Adrian’s wall,∥∥ cut down woods, made ways through hills, fastened and filled up unsound and plashy fens. Notwithstanding all this industry used, the enemy kept himself so cunningly within his best advantages, and seldom appearing, so opportunely found his times to make irruption upon the Romans, when they were most in straits and difficulties, sometimes training them on with a few cattle turned out, and drawn within ambush cruelly handling them, that many a time enclosed in the midst of sloughs and quagmires, they chose rather themselves to kill such as were faint and could not shift away, than leave them there a prey to the Caledonians.¶¶ Thus lost Severus, and by sickness in those noisome places, no less than fifty thousand men: and yet desisted not, though for weakness carried in a litter, till he had marched through with his army to the utmost northern verge of the isle: and the Britons offering peace, were Edition: current; Page: [235] compelled to lose much of their country not before subject to the Romans.* Severus on the frontiers of what he had firmly conquered, builds a wall cross the island from sea to sea; which one author judges the most magnificent of all his other deeds; and that he thence received the style of Britannicus; in length a hundred and thirty-two miles. Orosius adds it fortified with a deep trench, and between certain spaces many towers or battlements. The place whereof some will have to be in Scotland, the same which Lollius Urbicus had walled before. Others affirm it only Hadrian’s work re-edified; both plead authorities and the ancient track yet visible: but this I leave among the studious of these antiquities to be discussed more at large. While peace held, the empress Julia meeting on a time certain British ladies, and discoursing with the wife of Argentocoxus a Caledonian, cast out a scoff against the looseness of our island women; whose manner then was to use promiscuously the company of divers men. Whom straight the British woman boldly thus answered: “Much better do we Britons fulfil the work of nature than you Romans; we with the best men accustom openly: you with the basest commit private adulteries.” Whether she thought this answer might serve to justify the practice of her country, as when vices are compared, the greater seems to justify the less; or whether the law and custom wherein she was bred, had whipped out of her conscience the better dictate of nature, and not convinced her of the shame, certain it is, that whenas other nations used a liberty not unnatural for one man to have many wives, the Britons§ altogether as licentious, but more absurd and preposterous in their license, had one or many wives in common among ten or twelve husbands; and those for the most part incestuously. But no sooner was Severus returned into the province, than the Britons take arms again. Against whom Severus, worn out with labours and infirmity, sends Antoninus his eldest son, expressly commanding him to spare neither sex nor age. But Antoninus, who had his wicked thoughts taken up with the contriving of his father’s death, a safer enemy than a son, did the Britons not much detriment. Whereat Severus, more overcome with grief than any other malady, ended his life at York. After whose decease Antoninus Caracalla his impious son, concluding peace with the Britons, took hostages and departed to Rome. The conductor of all this northern war Scottish writers name Donaldus, he of Monmouth Fulgenius, in the rest of his relation nothing worth. From hence the Roman empire declining apace, good historians growing scarce, or lost, have left us little else but fragments for many years ensuing. Under Gordian the emperor we find, by the inscription of an altar-stone, that Nonius Philippus governed here. Under Galienus we read there was a strong and general revolt from the Roman legate. Of the thirty tyrants which not long after took upon them the style of emperor,** by many coins found among us, Lollianus, Victorinus, Posthumus, the Tetrici, and Marius are conjectured to have risen or borne great sway in this island.†† Whence Porphyrius, a philosopher then living, said that Britain was a soil fruitful of tyrants; and is noted to be the first author that makes mention of the Scottish nation. While Probus was emperor,‡‡ Bonosus the son of a rhetorician, bred up a Spaniard, though by descent a Briton, and a matchless drinker; nor much to be blamed, if, as they write, he were still wisest in his cups; having attained in warfare to high honours, and lastly in his Edition: current; Page: [236] charge over the German shipping, willingly, as was thought, miscarried, trusting on his power with the western armies, and joined with Proculus, bore himself awhile for emperor; but after a long and bloody fight at Cullen, vanquished by Probus, he hanged himself, and gave occasion of a ready jest made on him for his much drinking:* “Here hangs a tankard, not a man.” After this, Probus with much wisdom prevented a new rising here in Briton by the severe loyalty of Victorinus a Moor, at whose entreaty he had placed here that governor which rebelled. For the emperor upbraiding him with the disloyalty of whom he had commended, Victorinus undertaking to set all right again, hastes thither, and finding indeed the governor to intend sedition, by some contrivance not mentioned in the story, slew him, whose name some imagine to be Cornelius Lelianus. They write also that Probus gave leave to the Spaniards, Gauls, and Britons to plant vines, and to make wine; and having subdued the Vandals and Burgundians in a great battle, sent over many of them hither to inhabit, where they did good service to the Romans, when any insurrection happened in the isle. After whom Carus emperor going against the Persians, left Carinus§ one of his sons to govern among other western provinces this island with imperial authority; but him Dioclesian, saluted emperor by the eastern arms, overcame and slew. About which time Carausius, a man of low parentage, born in Menapia, about the parts of Cleves and Juliers, who through all military degrees was made at length admiral of the Belgic and Armoric seas, then much infested by the Franks and Saxons, what he took from the pirates, neither restoring to the owners nor accounting to the public, but enriching himself, and yet not scouring the seas, but conniving rather at those sea robbers, was grown at length too great a delinquent to be less than an emperor; for fear and guiltiness in those days made emperors oftener than merit: and understanding that Maximianus Herculius,** Dioclesian’s adopted son, was come against him into Gallia, passed over with the navy, which he had made his own, into Britain, and possessed the island. Where he built a new†† fleet after the Roman fashion, got into his power the legion that was left here in garrison, other outlandish cohorts detained, listed the very merchants and factors of Gallia, and with the allurement of spoil invited great numbers of other barbarous nations to his part, and trained them to sea service, wherein the Romans at that time were grown so out of skill, that Carausius with his navy did at sea what he listed, robbing on every coast; whereby Maximilian, able to come no nearer than the shore of Boloigne, was forced to conclude a peace with Carausius, and yield him Britain;‡‡ as one fittest to guard the province there against inroads from the North. But not long after§§ having assumed Constantius Chlorus to the dignity of Cæsar, sent him against Carausius; who in the meanwhile had made himself strong both within the land and without.∥∥ Galfred of Monmouth writes, that he made the Picts his confederates; to whom, lately come out of Scythia, he gave Albany to dwell in: and it is observed, that before his time the Picts are not known to have been any where mentioned, and then first by Eumenius a rhetorician.¶¶ He repaired and fortified the wall of Severus with seven castles, and a round house of smooth stone on the bank of Carron, which river, saith Ninnius, was of his name so called; he built also a triumphal arch in remembrance of some victory there obtained.*** In France Edition: current; Page: [237] he held Gessoriacum, or Boloigne; and all the Franks, which had by his permission seated themselves in Belgia, were at his devotion. But Constantius hasting into Gallia, besieges Boloigne, and with stones and timber obstructing the port, keeps out all relief that could be sent in by Carausius. Who ere Constantius, with the great fleet which he had prepared, could arrive hither, was slain treacherously* by Alectus one of his friends, who longed to step into his place; when he seven years, and worthily as some say, as others tyrannically, had ruled the island. So much the more did Constantius prosecute that opportunity, before Alectus could well strengthen his affairs: and though in ill weather, putting to sea with all urgency from several havens to spread the terror of his landing, and the doubt where to expect him, in a mist passing the British fleet unseen, that lay scouting near the isle of Wight, no sooner got ashore, but fires his own ships, to leave no hope of refuge but in victory. Alectus also, though now much dismayed, transfers his fortune to a battle on the shore; but encountered by Asclepiodotus, captain of the prætorian bands, and desperately rushing on, unmindful both of ordering his men, or bringing them all to fight, save the accessories of his treason, and his outlandish hirelings, is overthrown, and slain with little or no loss to the Romans, but great execution on the Franks. His body was found almost naked in the field, for his purple robe he had thrown aside, lest it should descry him, unwilling to be found. The rest taking flight to London, and purposing with the pillage of that city to escape by sea, are met by another part of the Roman army, whom the mist at sea disjoining had by chance brought thither, and with a new slaughter chased through all the streets. The Britons, their wives also and children, with great joy go out to meet Constantius, as one whom they acknowledge their deliverer from bondage and insolence.

All this seems by Eumenius, who then lived, and was of Constantius’s household, to have been done in the course of one continued action; so also thinks Sigonius, a learned writer: though all others allow three years to the tyranny of Alectus. In these days were great store of workmen, and excellent builders in this island, whom, after the alteration of things here, the Æduans in Burgundy entertained to build their temples, and public edifices. Dioclesian having hitherto successfully used his valour against the enemies of his empire, uses now his rage in a bloody persecution against his obedient and harmless Christian subjects: from the feeling whereof neither was this island, though most remote, far enough removed.§ Among them here who suffered gloriously, Aron, and Julius of Caerleon upon Usk, but chiefly Alban of Verulam, were most renowned; the story of whose martyrdom soiled, and worse martyred with the fabling zeal of some idle fancies, more fond of miracles, than apprehensive of truth, deserves not longer digression. Constantius, after Dioclesian, dividing the empire with Galerius, had Britain among his other provinces; where either preparing or returning with a victory from an expedition against the Caledonians, he died at York. His son Constantine, who happily came post from Rome to Boloigne, just about the time, saith Eumenius, that his father was setting sail his last time hither, and not long before his death, was by him on his death-bed named, and after his funeral, by the whole army saluted emperor.

There goes a fame, and that seconded by most of our own historians, though not those the ancientest, that Constantine was born in this island, Edition: current; Page: [238] his mother Helena the daughter of Coilus a British prince, not sure the father of king Lucius, whose sister she must then be, for that would detect her too old by a hundred years to be the mother of Constantine. But to salve this incoherence, another Coilus is feigned to be then earl of Colchester. To this therefore the Roman authors give no testimony, except a passage or two in the Panegyrics, about the sense whereof much is argued: others* nearest to those times clear the doubt, and write him certainly born of a mean woman, Helena, the concubine of Constantius, at Naisus in Dardania. Howbeit, ere his departure hence, he seems to have had some bickerings in the North, which by reason of more urgent affairs composed, he passes into Gallia; and after four years returns either to settle or to alter the state of things here, until a new war against Maxentius called him back, leaving Pacatianus his vicegerent. He deceasing, Constantine his eldest son enjoyed for his part of the empire, with all the provinces that lay on this side the Alps, this island also. But falling to civil war with Constans his brother, was by him slain;§ who with his third brother Constantius coming into Britain, seized it as victor. Against him rose Magnentius, one of his chief commanders, by some affirmed the son of a Briton, he having gained on his side great forces, contested with Constantius in many battles for the sole empire; but vanquished, in the end slew himself. Somewhat before this time Gratianus Funarius, the father of Valentinian, afterwards emperor, had chief command of those armies which the Romans kept here. And the Arian doctrine** which then divided Christendom, wrought also in this island no small disturbance; a land, saith Gildas, greedy of every thing new, stedfast in nothing. At last†† Constantius appointed a synod of more than four hundred bishops to assemble at Ariminum on the emperor’s charges, which the rest all refusing, three only of the British, poverty constraining them, accepted; though the other bishops among them offered to have borne their charges; esteeming it more honourable to live on the public, than to be obnoxious to any private purse. Doubtless an ingenuous mind, and far above the presbyters of our age; who like well to sit in assembly on the public stipend, but liked not the poverty that caused these to do so. After this Martinus was deputy of the province; who being offended with the cruelty which Paulus, an inquisitor sent from Constantius, exercised in his inquiry after those military officers who had conspired with Magnentius, was himself laid hold on as an accessory: at which enraged he runs at Paulus with his drawn sword; but failing to kill him, turns it on himself. Next to whom, as may be guessed, Alipius was made deputy. In the mean time Julian,‡‡ whom Constantius had made Cæsar, having recovered much territory about the Rhine, where the German inroads before had long insulted, to relieve those countries almost ruined, causes eight hundred pinnaces to be built; and with them, by frequent voyages, plenty of corn to be fetched in from Britain; which even then was the usual bounty of this soil to those parts, as oft as French and Saxon pirates hindered not the transportation.§§ While Constantius yet reigned,∥∥ the Scots and Picts breaking in upon the Northern confines, Julian, being at Paris, sends over Lupicinus, a well-tried soldier, but a proud and covetous man, who with a power of light-armed Edition: current; Page: [239] Herulians, Batavians, and Mæsians, in the midst of winter sailing from Boloigne, arrives at Rutupiæ, seated on the opposite shore, and comes to London, to consult there about the war; but soon after was recalled by Julian, then chosen emperor. Under whom we read not of aught happening here, only that Palladius, one of his great officers, was hither banished. This year,* Valentinian being emperor, the Atticots, Picts, and Scots, roving up and down, and last the Saxons with perpetual landings and invasions harried the south coast of Britain; slew Nectaridius who governed the sea borders, and Bulchobaudes with his forces by an ambush. With which news Valentinian not a little perplexed, sends first Severus high steward of his house, and soon recalls him; then Jovinus, who intimating the necessity of greater supplies, he sends at length Theodosius, a man of tried valour and experience, father to the first emperor of that name. He with selected numbers out of the legions, and cohorts, crosses the sea from Boloigne to Rutupiæ; from whence with the Batavians, Herulians, and other legions that arrived soon after, he marches to London; and dividing his forces into several bodies, sets upon the dispersed and plundering enemy, laden with spoil; from whom recovering the booty which they led away, and were forced to leave there with their lives, he restores all to the right owners, save a small portion to his wearied soldiers, and enters London victoriously; which, before in many straits and difficulties, was now revived as with a great deliverance. The numerous enemy with whom he had to deal, was of different nations, and the war scattered: which Theodosius, getting daily some intelligence from fugitives and prisoners, resolves to carry on by sudden parties and surprisals, rather than set battles; nor omits he to proclaim indemnity to such as would lay down arms, and accept of peace, which brought in many. Yet all this not ending the work, he requires that Civilis, a man of much uprightness, might be sent him, to be as deputy of the island, and Dulcitius a famous captain. Thus was Theodosius busied, besetting with ambushes the roving enemy, repressing his roads, restoring cities and castles to their former safety and defence, laying every where the firm foundation of a long peace, when Valentinus a Pannonian, for some great offence banished into Britain, conspiring with certain exiles and soldiers against Theodosius, whose worth he dreaded as the only obstacle to his greater design of gaining the isle into his power, is discovered, and with his chief accomplices delivered over to condign punishment: against the rest, Theodosius with a wise lenity suffered not inquisition to proceed too rigorously, lest the fear thereof appertaining to so many, occasion might arise of new trouble in a time so unsettled. This done, he applies himself to reform things out of order, raises on the confines many strong holds; and in them appoints due and diligent watches: and so reduced all things out of danger, that the province, which but lately was under command of the enemy, became now wholly Roman, new named Valentia of Valentinian, and the city of London, Augusta. Thus Theodosius nobly acquitting himself in all affairs, with general applause of the whole province, accompanied to the sea-side returns to Valentinian. Who about five years after sent hither Fraomarius, a king of the Almans,§ with authority of a tribune over his own country forces; which then, both for number and good service, were in high esteem. Against Gratian, who succeeded in the Western empire, Maximus a Spaniard, and one who had served in the British wars with younger Edition: current; Page: [240] Theodosius,* (for he also, either with his father, or not long after him, seems to have done something in this island,) and now general of the Roman armies here, either discontented that Theodosius was preferred before him to the empire, or constrained by the soldiers who hated Gratian, assumes the imperial purple; and having attained victory against the Scots and Picts, with the flower and strength of Britain, passes into France; there slays Gratian, and without much difficulty, the space of five years obtains his part of the empire, overthrown at length, and slain by Theodosius. With whom perishing most of his followers, or not returning out of Armorica, which Maximus had given them to possess, the south of Britain by this means exhausted of her youth, and what there was of Roman soldiers on the confines drawn off, became a prey to savage invasions;§ of Scots from the Irish seas, of Saxons from the German, of Picts from the North. Against them, first Chrysanthus the son of Marcian a bishop, made deputy of Britain by Theodosius, demeaned himself worthily: then Stilicho a man of great power, whom Theodosius dying left protector of his son Honorius, either came in person, or sending over sufficient aid, repressed them, and as it seems new fortified the wall against them. But that legion being called away, when the Roman armies from all parts hasted to relieve Honorius, then besieged in Asta of Piemont, by Alaric the Goth, Britain was left exposed as before, to those barbarous robbers.

Lest any wonder how the Scots came to infest Britain from the Irish sea, it must be understood, that the Scots not many years before had been driven all out of Britain by Maximus;** and their king Eugenius slain in fight, as their own annals report: whereby, it seems, wandering up and down without certain seat, they lived by scumming those seas and shores as pirates. But more authentic writers confirm us, that the Scots, whoever they be originally, came first into Ireland, and dwelt there, and named it Scotia long before the north of Britain took that name. Orosius,†† who lived at this time, writes that Ireland was then inhabited by Scots. About this time,‡‡ though troublesome, Pelagius a Briton found the leisure to bring new and dangerous opinions into the church, and is largely writ against by St. Austin. But the Roman powers which were called into Italy, when once the fear of Alaric was over, made return into several provinces; and perhaps Victorinus of Tolosa, whom Rutilius the poet much commends, might be then prefect of this island; if it were not he whom Stilicho sent hither. Buchanan writes, that endeavouring to reduce the Picts into a province, he gave the occasion of their calling back Fergusius and the Scots, whom Maximus with their help had quite driven out of the island: and indeed the verses of that poet speak him to have been active in those parts. But the time which is assigned him later by Buchanan after Gratianus Municeps, by Camden after Constantine the tyrant, accords not with that which follows in the plain course of history.§§ For the Vandals having broke in and wasted all Belgia, even to those places from whence easiest passage is into Britain, the Roman forces here, doubting to be suddenly invaded, were all in uproar, and in tumultuous manner set up Marcus, who it may seem was then deputy. But him not found agreeable to their heady courses, they as hastily kill;∥∥ for the giddy favour of a mutinying rout is as dangerous as Edition: current; Page: [241] their fury. The like they do by Gratian a British Roman,* in four months advanced, adored, and destroyed. There was among them a common soldier whose name was Constantine, with him on a sudden so taken they are, upon the conceit put in them of the luckiness in his name, as without other visible merit to create him emperor. It fortuned that the man had not his name for nought; so well he knew to lay hold, and make good use of an unexpected offer. He therefore with a wakened spirit, to the extent of his fortune dilating his mind, which in his mean condition before lay contracted and shrunk up, orders with good advice his military affairs: and with the whole force of the province, and what of British was able to bear arms, he passes into France, aspiring at least to an equal share with Honorius in the empire. Where, by the valour of Edobecus a Frank, and Gerontius a Briton, and partly by persuasion, gaining all in his way, he comes to Arles. With like felicity by his son Constans, whom of a monk he had made a Cæsar, and by the conduct of Gerontius he reduces all Spain to his obedience. But Constans after this displacing Gerontius, the affairs of Constantine soon went to wreck; for he by this means alienated, set up Maximus one of his friends against him in Spain; and passing into France, took Vienna by assault, and having slain Constans in that city, calls on the Vandals against Constantine; who by him incited, as by him before they had been repressed, breaking forward, overrun most part of France. But when Constantius Comes, the emperor’s general, with a strong power came out of Italy,§ Gerontius, deserted by his own forces, retires into Spain; where also growing into contempt with the soldiers, after his flight out of France, by whom his house in the night was beset, having first with a few of his servants defended himself valiantly, and slain above three hundred, though when his darts and other weapons were spent he might have escaped at a private door, as all his servants did, not enduring to leave his wife Nonnichia, whom he loved, to the violence of an enraged crew, he first cuts off the head of his friend Alanus, as was agreed; next his wife, though loth and delaying, yet by her entreated and importuned, refusing to outlive her husband, he dispatched: for which her resolution, Sozomenus, an ecclesiastical writer gives her high praise, both as a wife, and as a Christian. Last of all, against himself he turns his sword; but missing the mortal place, with his poniard finishes the work. Thus far is pursued the story of a famous Briton, related negligently by our other historians.

As for Constantine, his ending was not answerable to his setting out; for he with his other son Julian besieged by Constantius in Arles, and mistrusting the change of his wonted success, to save his head, poorly turns priest; but that not availing him, is carried into Italy, and there put to death; having four years acted the emperor. While these things were doing, the Britons at home, destitute of Roman aid, and the chief strength of their own youth, that went first with Maximus, then with Constantine, not returning home, vexed and harassed by their wonted enemies, had sent messages to Honorius; but he at that time not being able to defend Rome itself, which the same year was taken by Alaric, advises them by his letter to consult how best they might for their own safety, and acquits them of the Roman jurisdiction.** They therefore thus relinquished, and by all right the government relapsing into their own hands, thenceforth betook themselves to live after their own laws, defending their bounds as well as they were able; Edition: current; Page: [242] and the Armoricans, who not long after were called the Britons of France, followed their example. Thus expired this great empire of the Romans; first in Britain, soon after in Italy itself: having borne chief sway in this island, though never thoroughly subdued, or all at once in subjection, if we reckon from the coming in of Julius to the taking of Rome by Alaric, in which year Honorius wrote those letters of discharge into Britain, the space of 462 years.* And with the empire fell also what before in this Western world was chiefly Roman; learning, valour, eloquence, history, civility, and even language itself, all these together, as it were, with equal pace, diminishing and decaying. Henceforth we are to steer by another sort of authors; near enough to the things they write, as in their own country, if that would serve; in time not much belated, some of equal age; in expression barbarous, and to say how judicious, I suspend a while: this we must expect; in civil matters to find them dubious relaters, and still to the best advantage of what they term Holy Church, meaning indeed themselves: in most other matters of religion, blind, astonished, and struck with superstition as with a planet; in one word, monks. Yet these guides, where can be had no better, must be followed; in gross, it may be true enough; in circumstances each man, as his judgment gives him, may reserve his faith, or bestow it. But so different a state of things requires a several relation.


This third book having to tell of accidents as various and exemplary as the intermission or change of government hath any where brought forth, may deserve attention more than common, and repay it with like benefit to them who can judiciously read: considering especially that the late civil broils had cast us into a condition not much unlike to what the Britons then were in when the imperial jurisdiction departing hence left them to the sway of their own councils; which times by comparing seriously with these latter, and that confused anarchy with this interreign, we may be able from two such remarkable turns of state, producing like events among us, to raise a knowledge of ourselves both great and weighty, by judging hence what kind of men the Britons generally are in matters of so high enterprise; how by nature, industry, or custom, fitted to attempt or undergo matters of so main consequence: for if it be a high point of wisdom in every private man, much more is it in a nation, to know itself; rather than puffed up with vulgar flatteries and encomiums, for want of self-knowledge, to enterprise rashly and come off miserably in great undertakings.

[Of these who swayed most in the late troubles, few words as to this point may suffice. They had arms, leaders, and successes to their wish; but to make use of so great an advantage was not their skill.

To other causes therefore, and not to the want of force, to warlike manhood in the Britons, both those, and these lately, we must impute the ill husbanding of those fair opportunities, which might seem to have put liberty so long desired, like a bridle, into their hands. Of which other causes equally belonging to ruler, priest, and people, above hath been related: Edition: current; Page: [243] which, as they brought those ancient natives to misery and ruin, by liberty, which, rightly used, might have made them happy; so brought they these of late, after many labours, much bloodshed, and vast expense, to ridiculous frustration: in whom the like defects, the like miscarriages notoriously appeared, with vices not less hateful or inexcusable.

For a parliament being called, to address many things, as it was thought, the people with great courage, and expectation to be eased of what discontented them, chose to their behoof in parliament, such as they thought best affected to the public good, and some indeed men of wisdom and integrity; the rest, (to be sure the greater part,) whom wealth or ample possessions, or bold and active ambition (rather than merit) had commended to the same place.

But when once the superficial zeal and popular fumes that acted their new magistracy were cooled, and spent in them, straight every one betook himself (setting the commonwealth behind, his private ends before) to do as his own profit or ambition led him. Then was justice delayed, and soon after denied: spite and favour determined all: hence faction, thence treachery, both at home and in the field: every where wrong, and oppression: foul and horrid deeds committed daily, or maintained, in secret, or in open. Some who had been called from shops and warehouses, without other merit, to sit in supreme councils and committees, (as their breeding was,) fell to huckster the commonwealth. Others did thereafter as men could soothe and humour them best; so he who would give most, or, under covert of hypocritical zeal, insinuate basest, enjoyed unworthily the rewards of learning and fidelity; or escaped the punishment of his crimes and misdeeds. Their votes and ordinances, which men looked should have contained the repealing of bad laws, and the immediate constitution of better, resounded with nothing else but new impositions, taxes, excises; yearly, monthly, weekly. Not to reckon the offices, gifts, and preferments bestowed and shared among themselves: they in the meanwhile, who were ever faithfullest to this cause, and freely aided them in person, or with their substance, when they durst not compel either, slighted and bereaved after of their just debts by greedy sequestrations, were tossed up and down after miserable attendance from one committee to another with petitions in their hands, yet either missed the obtaining of their suit, or though it were at length granted, (mere shame and reason ofttimes extorting from them at least a show of justice,) yet by their sequestrators and subcommittees abroad, men for the most part of insatiable hands, and noted disloyalty, those orders were commonly disobeyed: which for certain durst not have been, without secret compliance, if not compact with some superiors able to bear them out. Thus were their friends confiscate in their enemies, while they forfeited their debtors to the state, as they called it, but indeed to the ravening seizure of innumerable thieves in office: yet were withal no less burdened in all extraordinary assessments and oppressions, than those whom they took to be disaffected: nor were we happier creditors to what we called the state, than to them who were sequestered as the state’s enemies.

For that faith which ought to have been kept as sacred and inviolable as any thing holy, “the Public Faith,” after infinite sums received, and all the wealth of the church not better employed, but swallowed up into a private gulf, was not ere long ashamed to confess bankrupt. And now besides the sweetness of bribery, and other gain, with the love of rule, their own guiltiness and the dreaded name of Just Account, which the people had long called for, discovered plainly that there were of their own number, Edition: current; Page: [244] who secretly contrived and fomented those troubles and combustions in the land, which openly they sat to remedy; and would continually find such work, as should keep them from being ever brought to that Terrible Stand of laying down their authority for lack of new business, or not drawing it out to any length of time, though upon the ruin of a whole nation.

And if the state were in this plight, religion was not in much better; to reform which, a certain number of divines were called, neither chosen by any rule or custom ecclesiastical, nor eminent for either piety or knowledge above others left out; only as each member of parliament in his private fancy thought fit, so elected one by one. The most part of them were such, as had preached and cried down, with great show of zeal, the avarice and pluralities of bishops and prelates; that one cure of souls was a full employment for one spiritual pastor how able soever, if not a charge rather above human strength. Yet these conscientious men (ere any part of the work done for which they came together, and that on the public salary) wanted not boldness, to the ignominy and scandal of their pastorlike profession, and especially of their boasted reformation, to seize into their hands, or not unwillingly to accept (besides one, sometimes two or more of the best livings) collegiate masterships in the universities, rich lectures in the city, setting sail to all winds that might blow gain into their covetous bosoms: by which means these great rebukers of nonresidence, among so many distant cures, were not ashamed to be seen so quickly pluralists and nonresidents themselves, to a fearful condemnation doubtless by their own mouths. And yet the main doctrine for which they took such pay, and insisted upon with more vehemence than gospel, was but to tell us in effect, that their doctrine was worth nothing, and the spiritual power of their ministry less available than bodily compulsion; persuading the magistrate to use it, as a stronger means to subdue and bring in conscience, than evangelical persuasion: distrusting the virtue of their own spiritual weapons, which were given them, if they be rightly called, with full warrant of sufficiency to pull down all thoughts and imaginations that exalt themselves against God. But while they taught compulsion without convincement, which not long before they complained of as executed unchristianly against themselves; these intents are clear to have been no better than antichristian: setting up a spiritual tyranny by a secular power, to the advancing of their own authority above the magistrate, whom they would have made their executioner, to punish church-delinquencies, whereof civil laws have no cognizance.

And well did their disciples manifest themselves to be no better principled than their teachers, trusted with committeeships, and other gainful offices, upon their commendations for zealous, (and as they sticked not to term them,) godly men; but executing their places like children of the devil, unfaithfully, unjustly, unmercifully, and where not corruptly, stupidly. So that between them the teachers, and these the disciples, there hath not been a more ignominious and mortal wound to faith, to piety, to the work of reformation, nor more cause of blaspheming given to the enemies of God and truth, since the first preaching of reformation.

The people therefore looking one while on the statists, whom they beheld without constancy or firmness, labouring doubtfully beneath the weight of their own too high undertakings, busiest in petty things, trifling in the main, deluded and quite alienated, expressed divers ways their disaffection; some despising whom before they honoured, some deserting, some inveighing, some conspiring against them. Then looking on the churchmen, Edition: current; Page: [245] whom they saw under subtle hypocrisy to have preached their own follies, most of them not the gospel, time servers, covetous, illiterate persecutors, not lovers of the truth, like in most things whereof they accused their predecessors: looking on all this, the people which had been kept warm a while with the counterfeit zeal of their pulpits, after a false heat, became more cold and obdurate than before, some turning to lewdness, some to flat atheism, put beside their old religion, and foully scandalized in what they expected should be new.

Thus they who of late were extolled as our greatest deliverers, and had the people wholly at their devotion, by so discharging their trust as we see, did not only weaken and unfit themselves to be dispensers of what liberty they pretended, but unfitted also the people, now grown worse and more disordinate, to receive or to digest any liberty at all. For stories teach us, that liberty sought out of season, in a corrupt and degenerate age, brought Rome itself to a farther slavery: for liberty hath a sharp and double edge, fit only to be handled by just and virtuous men; to bad and dissolute, it becomes a mischief unwieldy in their own hands: neither is it completely given, but by them who have the happy skill to know what is grievance and unjust to a people, and how to remove it wisely; what good laws are wanting, and how to frame them substantially, that good men may enjoy the freedom which they merit, and the bad the curb which they need. But to do this, and to know these exquisite proportions, the heroic wisdom which is required, surmounted far the principles of these narrow politicians: what wonder then if they sunk as these unfortunate Britons before them, entangled and oppressed with things too hard and generous above their strain and temper? For Britain, to speak a truth not often spoken, as it is a land fruitful enough of men stout and courageous in war, so it is naturally not over fertile of men able to govern justly and prudently in peace, trusting only in their mother-wit; who consider not justly, that civility, prudence, love of the public good, more than of money or vain honour, are to this soil in a manner outlandish; grow not here, but in minds well implanted with solid and elaborate breeding, too impolitic else and rude, if not headstrong and intractable to the industry and virtue either of executing or understanding true civil government. Valiant indeed, and prosperous to win a field; but to know the end and reason of winning, unjudicious, and unwise: in good or bad success, alike unteachable. For the sun, which we want, ripens wits as well as fruits; and as wine and oil are imported to us from abroad, so must ripe understanding, and many civil virtues, be imported into our minds from foreign writings, and examples of best ages; we shall else miscarry still, and come short in the attempts of any great enterprise. Hence did their victories prove as fruitless, as their losses dangerous; and left them still conquering under the same grievances, that men suffer conquered: which was indeed unlikely to go otherwise, unless men more than vulgar bred up, as few of them were, in the knowledge of ancient and illustrious deeds, invincible against many and vain titles, impartial to friendships and relations, had conducted their affairs: but then from the chapman to the retailer, many whose ignorance was more audacious than the rest, were admitted with all their sordid rudiments to bear no mean sway among them, both in church and state.

From the confluence of all their errors, mischiefs, and misdemeanors, what in the eyes of man could be expected, but what befell those ancient inhabitants, whom they so much resembled, confusion in the end?

But on these things, and this parallel, having enough insisted, I return to the story, which gave us matter of this digression.]

Edition: current; Page: [246]

The Britons thus, as we heard, being left without protection from the empire, and the land in a manner emptied of all her youth, consumed in wars abroad, or not caring to return home, themselves, through long subjection, servile in mind,* slothful of body, and with the use of arms unacquainted, sustained but ill for many years the violence of those barbarous invaders, who now daily grew upon them. For although at first greedy of change, and to be thought the leading nation to freedom from the empire, they seemed awhile to bestir them with a show of diligence in their new affairs, some secretly aspiring to rule, others adoring the name of liberty, yet so soon as they felt by proof the weight of what it was to govern well themselves, and what was wanting within them, not stomach or the love of license, but the wisdom, the virtue, the labour, to use and maintain true liberty, they soon remitted their heat, and shrunk more wretehedly under the burden of their own liberty, than before under a foreign yoke. Insomuch that the residue of those Romans, which had planted themselves here, despairing of their ill deportment at home, and weak resistance in the field by those few who had the courage or the strength to bear arms, nine years after the sacking of Rome removed out of Britain into France, hiding for haste great part of their treasure, which was never after found.§ And now again the Britons, no longer able to support themselves against the prevailing enemy, solicit Honorius to their aid, with mournful letters, embassages, and vows of perpetual subjection to Rome, if the northern foe were but repulsed. He at their request spares them one legion, which with great slaughter of the Scots and Picts, drove them beyond the borders, rescued the Britons, and advised them to build a wall across the island, between sea and sea, from the place where Edinburgh now stands to the frith of Dunbritton, by the city Alcluith.** But the material being only turf, and by the rude multitude unartificially built up without better direction, availed them little.†† For no sooner was the legion departed, but the greedy spoilers returning, land in great numbers from their boats and pinnaces, wasting, slaying, and treading down all before them. Then are messengers again posted to Rome in lamentable sort, beseeching that they would not suffer a whole province to be destroyed, and the Roman name, so honourable yet among them, to become the subject of Barbarian scorn and insolence.‡‡ The emperor, at their sad complaint, with what speed was possible, sends to their succour. Who coming suddenly on those ravenous multitudes that minded only spoil, surprise them with a terrible slaughter. They who escaped fled back to those seas, from whence yearly they were wont to arrive, and return laden with booties. But the Romans, who came not now to rule, but charitably to aid, declaring that it stood not longer with the ease of their affairs to make such laborious voyages in pursuit of so base and vagabond robbers, of whom neither glory was to be got, nor gain, exhorted them to manage their own warfare; and to defend like men their country, their wives, their children, and what was to be dearer than life, their liberty, against an enemy not stronger than themselves, if their own sloth and cowardice had not made them so: if they would but only find hands to grasp defensive arms, rather than basely stretch them out to receive bonds.§§ They gave them also their help to build a new wall, not of earth as the former, but of stone, (both at the public cost, and by particular contributions,) traversing the isle in a direct line from east to west, between Edition: current; Page: [247] certain cities placed there as frontiers to bear off the enemy, where Severus had walled once before. They raised it twelve feet high, eight broad. Along the south shore, because from thence also like hostility was feared, they place towers by the sea-side at certain distances, for safety of the coast. Withal they instruct them in the art of war, leaving patterns of their arms and weapons behind them; and with animating words, and many lessons of valour to a faint-hearted audience, bid them finally farewell, without purpose to return. And these two friendly expeditions, the last of any hither by the Romans, were performed, as may be gathered out of Beda and Diaconus, the two last years of Honorius. Their leader,* as some modernly write, was Gallio of Ravenna; Buchanan, who departs not much from the fables of his predecessor Boethius, names him Maximianus, and brings against him to this battle Fergus first king of Scots, after their second supposed coming into Scotland, Durstus, king of Picts, both there slain, and Dioneth an imaginary king of Britain, or duke of Cornwall, who improbably sided with them against his own country, hardly escaping. With no less exactness of particular circumstances he takes upon him to relate all those tumultuary inroads of the Scots and Picts into Britain, as if they had but yesterday happened, their order of battle, manner of fight, number of slain, articles of peace, things whereof Gildas and Beda are utterly silent, authors to whom the Scotch writers have none to cite comparable in antiquity; no more therefore to be believed for bare assertions, however quaintly drest, than our Geoffrey of Monmouth, when he varies most from authentic story. But either the inbred vanity of some, in that respect unworthily called historians, or the fond zeal of praising their nations above truth, hath so far transported them, that where they find nothing faithfully to relate, they fall confidently to invent what they think may either best set off their history, or magnify their country.

The Scots and Picts in manners differing somewhat from each other, but still unanimous to rob and spoil, hearing that the Romans intended not to return, from their gorroghs or leathern frigates pour out themselves in swarms upon the land more confident than ever; and from the north end of the isle to the very wall’s side, then first took possession as inhabitants; while the Britons with idle weapons in their hands stand trembling on the battlements, till the half-naked barbarians with their long and formidable iron hooks pull them down headlong. The rest not only quitting the wall, but towns and cities, leave them to the bloody pursuer, who follows killing, wasting, and destroying all in his way. From these confusions arose a famine, and from thence discord and civil commotion among the Britons; each man living by what he robbed or took violently from his neighbour. When all stores were consumed and spent where men inhabited, they betook them to the woods, and lived by hunting, which was their only sustainment.§ To the heaps of these evils from without were added new divisions within the church. For Agricola the son of Severianus, a Pelagian bishop, had spread his doctrine wide among the Britons, not uninfected before. The sounder part, neither willing to embrace his opinion to the overthrow of divine grace, nor able to refute him, crave assistance from the churches of France: who send them Germanus bishop of Auxerre, and Lupus of Troyes. They by continual preaching in churches, in streets, in fields, and not without miracles, as is written, confirmed some, regained others, and at Verulam in a public disputation put to silence their chief adversaries. This reformation Edition: current; Page: [248] in the church was believed to be the cause of their success a while after in the field. For the Saxons and Picts with joint force,* which was no new thing before the Saxons at least had any dwelling in this island, during the abode of Germanus here, had made a strong impression from the north. The Britons marching out against them, and mistrusting their own power, send to Germanus and his colleague, reposing more in the spiritual strength of those two men, than in their own thousands armed. They came, and their presence in the camp was not less than if a whole army had come to second them. It was then the time of Lent, and the people, instructed by the daily sermons of these two pastors, came flocking to receive baptism. There was a place in the camp set apart as a church, and tricked up with boughs upon Easter-day. The enemy understanding this, and that the Britons were taken up with religions more than with feats of arms, advances after the paschal feast, as to a certain victory. German, who also had intelligence of their approach, undertakes to be captain that day; and riding out with selected troops to discover what advantages the place might offer, lights on a valley compassed about with hills, by which the enemy was to pass. And placing there his ambush, warns them, that what word they heard him pronounce aloud, the same they should repeat with universal shout. The enemy passes on securely, and German thrice aloud cries Hallelujah; which answered by the soldiers with a sudden burst of clamour, is from the hills and valleys redoubled. The Saxons and Picts on a sudden supposing it the noise of a huge host, throw themselves into flight, casting down their arms, and great numbers of them are drowned in the river which they had newly passed. This victory, thus won without hands, left to the Britons plenty of spoil, and the person and the preaching of German greater authority and reverence than before. And the exploit might pass for current, if Constantius, the writer of his life in the next age, had resolved us how the British army came to want baptizing; for of any paganism at that time, or long before, in the land we read not, or that Pelagianism was rebaptized. The place of this victory, as is reported, was in Flintshire, by a town called Guidcruc, and the river Allen, where a field retains the name of Maes German to this day. But so soon as German was returned home,§ the Scots and Picts, (though now so many of them Christians, that Palladius a deacon was ordained and sent by Celestine the pope to be a bishop over them,) were not so well reclaimed, or not so many of them, as to cease from doing mischief to their neighbours, where they found no impeachment to fall in yearly as they were wont. They therefore of the Britons who perhaps were not yet wholly ruined, in the strongest and south-west parts of the isle, send letters to Ætius, then third time consul of Rome, with this superscription; “To Ætius thrice consul, the groans of the Britons.” And after a few words thus: “The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us back to the barbarians: thus bandied up and down between two deaths, we perish either by the sword or by the sea.” But the empire, at that time overspread with Huns and Vandals, was not in condition to lend them aid. Thus rejected and wearied out with continual flying from place to place, but more afflicted with famine, which then grew outrageous among them, many for hunger yielded to the enemy; others either more resolute, or less exposed to wants, keeping within woods and mountainous places, not only Edition: current; Page: [249] defended themselves, but sallying out, at length gave a stop to the insulting foe, with many seasonable defeats; led by some eminent person, as may be thought, who exhorted them not to trust in their own strength, but in divine assistance. And perhaps no other here is meant than the foresaid deliverance by German, if computation would permit, which Gildas either not much regarded, or might mistake; but that he tarried so long here, the writers of his life assent not.* Finding therefore such opposition, the Scotch or Irish robbers, for so they are indifferently termed, without delay get them home. The Picts, as before was mentioned, then first began to settle in the utmost parts of the island, using now and then to make inroads upon the Britons. But they in the mean while thus rid of their enemies, begin afresh to till the ground; which after cessation yields her fruit in such abundance, as had not formerly been known, for many ages. But wantonness and luxury, the wonted companions of plenty, grow up as fast; and with them, if Gildas deserve belief, all other vices incident to human corruption. That which he notes especially to be the chief perverting of all good in the land, and so continued in his days, was the hatred of truth, and all such as durst appear to vindicate and maintain it. Against them, as against the only disturbers, all the malice of the land was bent. Lies and falsities, and such as could best invent them, were only in request. Evil was embraced for good, wickedness honoured and esteemed as virtue. And this quality their valour had, against a foreign enemy to be ever backward and heartless; to civil broils eager and prompt. In matters of government, and the search of truth, weak and shallow; in falsehood and wicked deeds, pregnant and industrious. Pleasing to God, or not pleasing, with them weighed alike; and the worse most an end was the weigher. All things were done contrary to public welfare and safety; nor only by secular men, for the clergy also, whose example should have guided others, were as vicious and corrupt. Many of them besotted with continual drunkenness, or swollen with pride and wilfulness, full of contention, full of envy, indiscreet, incompetent judges to determine what in the practice of life is good or evil, what lawful or unlawful. Thus furnished with judgment, and for manners thus qualified both priest and lay, they agree to choose them several kings of their own; as near as might be, likest themselves; and the words of my author import as much. Kings were anointed, saith he, not of God’s anointing, but such as were cruellest; and soon after as inconsiderately, without examining the truth, put to death by their anointers, to set up others more fierce and proud. As for the election of their kings, (and that they had not all one monarch, appears both in ages past and by the sequel,) it began, as nigh as may be guessed, either this year or the following, when they saw the Romans had quite deserted their claim. About which time also Pelagianism again prevailing by means of some few, the British clergy too weak, it seems, at dispute, entreat the second time German to their assistance; who coming with Severus, a disciple of Lupus, that was his former associate, stands not now to argue, for the people generally continued right; but inquiring those authors of new disturbance, adjudges them to banishment. They therefore by consent of all were delivered to German; who carrying them over with him, disposed of them in such place where neither they could infect others, and were themselves under cure of better instruction. But Germanus the same year died in Italy; and the Britons not long after found themselves again in much perplexity, with no slight rumour that their old troublers the Scots and Picts Edition: current; Page: [250] had prepared a strong invasion, purposing to kill all, and dwell themselves in the land from end to end. But ere their coming in, as if the instruments of divine justice had been at strife, which of them first should destroy a wicked nation, the pestilence, forestalling the sword, left scarce alive whom to bury the dead; and for that time, as one extremity keeps off another, preserved the land from a worse incumbrance of those barbarous dispossessors, whom the contagion gave not leave now to enter far.* And yet the Britons, nothing bettered by these heavy judgments, the one threatened, the other felt, instead of acknowledging the hand of Heaven, run to the palace of their king Vortigern with complaints and cries of what they suddenly feared from the Pictish invasion. Vortigern, who at that time was chief rather than sole king, unless the rest had perhaps left their dominions to the common enemy, is said by him of Monmouth, to have procured the death first of Constantine, then of Constance his son, who of a monk was made king, and by that means to have usurped the crown. But they who can remember how Constantine, with his son Constance the monk, the one made emperor, the other Cæsar, perished in France, may discern the simple fraud of this fable. But Vortigern however coming to reign, is deciphered by truer stories a proud unfortunate tyrant, and yet of the people much beloved, because his vices sorted so well with theirs. For neither was he skilled in war, nor wise in counsel, but covetous, lustful, luxurious, and prone to all vice; wasting the public treasure in gluttony and riot, careless of the common danger, and through a haughty ignorance unapprehensive of his own. Nevertheless importuned