« PreviousContinue »
using and forfeiting the esteem had among men, if after conviction this onl adjudged him, that he should never he but what were first examined by an ap whose hand should be annexed to for him, that now he might be safely not be apprehended less than a disgrace! Whence to include the whole nation, never yet thus offended, under such a di
disparagement it is. So much the more
judgment? The state, sir, replies the stationer: but has a quick return, the state shall be my governors, but not my critics; they may be mistaken in the choice of a licenser, as easily as this licenser may be mistaken in an author. This is some common stuff; and he might add from Sir Francis Bacon, that "such authorized books are but the language of the times." For though a licenser should happen to be judicious more than ordinary, which will be a great jeopardy of the next succession, yet his very office and his commission enjoinspectful prohibition, may plainly be und him to let pass nothing but what is vulgarly received already. Nay, which is more lamentable, if the work of any deceased author, though never so famous in his lifetime, and even to this day, comes to their hands for licence to be printed, or reprinted, if there be found in his book one sentence of a venturous edge, uttered in the height of zeal, (and who knows whether it might not be the dictate of a divine spirit ?) yet not suiting with every low decrepit humour of their own, though it were Knox himself, the reformer of a kingdom, that spake it, they will not pardon him their dash; the sense of that great man shall to all posterity be lost, for the fearfulness, or the presumptuous rashness of a perfunctory licenser. And to what an author this violence hath been lately done, and in what book of greatest consequence to be faithfully published, I could now instance, but shall forbear till a more convenient season. Yet if these things be not resented seriously and timely by them who have the remedy in their power, but that such iron-moulds as these shall have authority to gnaw out the choicest periods of exquisitest books, and to commit such a treacherous fraud against the orphan remainders of worthiest men after death, the more sorrow will belong to that hapless race of men, whose misfortune it is to have understanding. Henceforth let no man care to learn, or care to be more than worldly wise; for certainly in higher matters to be ignorant and slothful, to be a common stedfast dunce, will be the only pleasant life, and only in request.
And as it is a particular disesteem of every knowing person alive, and most injurious to the written labours and monuments of the dead, so to me it seems an undervaluing and vilifying of the whole nation. I cannot set so light by all the invention, the art, the wit, the grave and solid judgment which is in England, as that it can be comprehended in any twenty capacities how good soever; much less that it should not pass except their superintendence be over it, except it be sifted and strained with their strainers, that it should be uncurrent without their manual stamp. Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets, and statutes, and standards. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it like our broad cloth and our woolpacks. What is it but a servitude like that imposed by the Philistines, not to be allowed the sharpening of our own axes and coulters, but we must repair from all quarters to twenty licensing forges? Had any one written and divulged erroneous things and scandalous to honest life, mis
And in conclusion it reflects to the
ministers also, of whose labours we sh and of their proficiency which their flo than that after all this light of the go is to be, and all this continual preach be still frequented with such an unprin and laic rabble, as that the whiff of phlet should stagger them out of the christian walking. This may have discourage the ministers, when such had of all their exhortations, an of their hearers, as that they are to be turned loose to three sheets of licenser; that all the sermons, all th ed, printed, vended in such numbers, as have now well-nigh made all ot able, should not be armour enough Enchiridion, without the castle of Imprimatur.
And lest some should persuade y mons, that these arguments of lear ragement at this your order are m not real, I could recount what I hay in other countries, where this kind of nizes; when I have sat among their that honour I had,) and been counte in such a place of philosophic free posed England was, while themselv bemoan the servile condition into amongst them was brought; that had damped the glory of Italian had been there written now these flattery and fustian. There it was visited the famous Galileo grown o
inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the franciscan and dominican licensers thought. And though I knew that England then was groaning loudest under the prelatical yoke, nevertheless I took it as a pledge of future happiness, that other nations were so persuaded of her liberty. Yet was it beyond my hope, that those worthies were then breathing in her air, who should be her leaders to such a deliverance, as shall never be forgotten by any revolution of time that this world hath to finish. When that was once begun, it was as little in my fear, that what words of complaint I beard among learned men of other parts uttered against the inquisition, the same I should hear by as learned men at home uttered in time of parliament against an order of licensing; and that so generally, that when I had disclosed myself a companion of their discontent, I might say, if without envy, that he whom an honest quæstorship had endeared to the Sicilians, was not more by them importuned against Verres, than the favourable opinion which I had among many who bonour ye, and are known and respected by ye, loaded me with entreaties and persuasions, that I would not despair to lay together that which just reason should bring into my mind, toward the removal of an undeserved thraldom upon learning. That this is not therefare the disburdening of a particular fancy, but the common grievance of all those who had prepared their minds and studies above the vulgar pitch to advance truth in others, and from others to entertain it, thus mech may satisfy. And in their name I shall for neither friend nor foe conceal what the general muris; that if it come to inquisitioning again, and licensing, and that we are so timorous of ourselves, and suspicious of all men, as to fear each book, and the shaking of every leaf, before we know what the contents are; if some who but of late were little better than silenced from preaching, shall come now to silence as from reading, except what they please, it cannot be guessed what is intended by some but a second tyranny Well knows he who uses to consider, that our faith over learning and will soon put it out of controversy, and knowledge thrives by exercise, as well as our limbs that bishops and presbyters are the same to us both and complexion. Truth is compared in Scripture to a me and thing. That those evils of prelaty which streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perbefore from five or six and twenty sees were distri-petual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of ively charged upon the whole people, will now conformity and tradition. A man may be a heretic in light wholly upon learning, is not obscure to us: the truth; and if he believe things only because bis whenas now the pastor of a small unlearned parish, on pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without the sudden shall be exalted archbishop over a large knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet frese of books, and yet not remove, but keep his the very truth he holds becomes his heresy. There is other cure too, a mystical pluralist. He who but of not any burden, that some would gladlier post off to late cried down the sole ordination of every novice another, than the charge and care of their religion. Bachelor of art, and denied sole jurisdiction over the There be, who knows not that there be of protestants mplest parishioner, shall now at home in his private and professors, who live and die in as errant and imhair assume both these over worthiest and excellentest plicit faith, as any lay papist of Loretto. A wealthy books, and ablest authors that write them. This is man, addicted to his pleasure and to his profits, finds Dotye covenants and protestations that we have made! religion to be a traffic so entangled, and of so many this is not to put down prelaty; this is but to chop an piddling accounts, that of all mysteries he cannot skill episcopacy; this is but to translate the palace metro- to keep a stock going upon that trade. What should politan from one kind of dominion into another; this he do? Fain he would have the name to be religious, but an old canonical slight of commuting our penance. fain he would bear up with his neighbours in that. To startle thus betimes at a mere unlicensed pamphlet, What does he therefore, but resolves to give over toilwill, after a while, be afraid of every conventicle, and ing, and to find himself out some factor, to whose care
a while after will make a conventicle of every christian meeting. But I am certain, that a state governed by the rules of justice and fortitude, or a church built and founded upon the rock of faith and true knowledge, cannot be so pusillanimous. While things are yet not constituted in religion, that freedom of writing should be restrained by a discipline imitated from the prelates, and learned by them from the inquisition to shut us up all again into the breast of a licenser, must needs give cause of doubt and discouragement to all learned and religious men who cannot but discern the fineness of this politic drift, and who are the contrivers; that while bishops were to be baited down, then all presses might be open; it was the people's birthright and privilege in time of parliament, it was the breaking forth of light. But now the bishops abrogated and voided out of the church, as if our reformation sought no more, but to make room for others into their seats under another name; the episcopal arts begin to bud again; the cruise of truth must run no more oil; liberty of printing must be enthralled again under a prelatical commission of twenty; the privilege of the people nullified; and which is worse, the freedom of learning must groan again, and to her old fetters: all this the parliament yet sitting. Although their own late arguments and defences against the prelates might remember them, that this obstructing violence meets for the most part with an event utterly opposite to the end which it drives at: instead of suppressing sects and schisms, it raises them and invests them with a reputation: "the punishing of wits enhances their authority," saith the Viscount St. Albans ; " and a forbidding writing is thought to be a certain spark of truth, that flies up in the faces of them who seek to tread it out." This order therefore may prove a nursing mother to sects, but I shall easily shew how it will be a stepdame to truth: and first by disenabling us to the maintenance of what is known already.
and credit he may commit the whole managing of his | he never need fear of pulpit provision, h religious affairs; some divine of note and estimation so plenteously to refresh his magazine. that must be. To him he adheres, resigns the whole rear and flanks be not impaled, if his bac warehouse of his religion, with all the locks and keys, secured by the rigid licenser, but that a b into his custody; and indeed makes the very person of now and then issue forth, and give the as that man his religion; esteems his associating with him of his old collections in their trenches, i a sufficient evidence and commendatory of his own him then to keep waking, to stand in wat piety. So that a man may say his religion is now no guards and sentinels about his received more within himself, but is become a dividual movable, walk the round and counter-round with and goes and comes near him, according as that good spectors, fearing lest any of his flock be man frequents the house. He entertains him, gives also then would be better instructed, be him gifts, feasts him, lodges him; his religion comes and disciplined. And God send that th home at night, prays, is liberally supped, and sump- diligence, which must then be used, do tuously laid to sleep; rises, is saluted, and after the affect the laziness of a licensing church! malmsey, or some well-spiced bruage, and better breakfasted, than he whose morning appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and Jerusalem, his religion walks abroad at eight, and leaves his kind entertainer in the shop trading all day without his religion.
Another sort there be, who when they hear that all things shall be ordered, all things regulated and settled; nothing written but what passes through the customhouse of certain publicans that have the tonnaging and poundaging of all freespoken truth; will straight give themselves up into your hands, make them and cut them out what religion ye please: there be delights, there be recreations and jolly pastimes, that will fetch the day about from sun to sun, and rock the tedious year as in a delightful dream. What need they torture their heads with that which others have taken so strictly, and so unalterably into their own purveying? These are the fruits, which a dull ease and cessation of our knowledge will bring forth among the people. How goodly, and how to be wished were such an obedient unanimity as this! What a fine conformity would it starch us all into! Doubtless a staunch and solid piece of framework, as any January could freeze together.
For if we be sure we are in the righ hold the truth guiltily, which becomes selves condemn not our own weak and f ing, and the people for an untaught gadding rout; what can be more fair. man judicious, learned, and of a consci we know as good as theirs that taug know, shall not privily from house to more dangerous, but openly by writing world what his opinion is, what his reas fore that which is now thought can Christ urged it as wherewith to justify preached in public; yet writing is mo preaching; and more easy to refutati there being so many whose business merely it is to be the champions of truth neglect, what can be imputed but their s
Thus much we are hindered and d course of licensing toward the true kn we seem to know. For how much it h the licensers themselves in the calling more than any secular employment, charge that office as they ought, so t they must neglect either the one duty insist not, because it is a particular, bu own conscience, how they will decide There is yet behind of what I purpo the incredible loss and detriment that t
Nor much better will be the consequence even among the clergy themselves: it is no new thing never heard of before, for a parochial minister, who has his reward, and is at his Hercules pillars in a warm benefice, to being puts us to, more than if some ene easily inclinable, if he have nothing else that may rouse stop up all our havens, and ports, and up his studies, to finish his circuit in an English Con- ders and retards the importation of our cordance and a topic folio, the gatherings and savings dise, truth: nay, it was first establi of a sober graduateship, a Harmony and a Catena, practice by anti-christian malice and treading the constant round of certain common doc-purpose to extinguish, if it were poss trinal heads, attended with their uses, motives, marks and means; out of which, as out of an alphabet or sol fa, by forming and transforming, joining and disjoining variously, a little bookcraft, and two hours' meditation, might furnish him unspeakably to the performance of more than a weekly charge of sermoning: not to reckon up the infinite helps of interliniaries, breviaries, synopses, and other loitering gear. But as for the multitude of sermons ready printed and piled up, on every text that is not difficult, our London trading St. Thomas in his vestry, and add to boot St. Martin and St. Hugh, have not within their hallowed limits more vendible ware of all sorts ready made: so that penury
reformation, and to settle falsehood; li that policy wherewith the Turk uph by the prohibiting of printing. It gladly confessed, we are to send our to Heaven, louder than most of natio measure of truth which we enjoy, e main points between us and the pop tenances the prelates: but he who pitch our tent here, and have attaine pect of reformation, that the mortal contemplate can shew us, till we com that man by this very opinion decla far short of truth.
Truth indeed came once into the world with her divine master, and was a perfect shape most glorious to look on: but when he ascended, and his apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked race of deceivers, who, as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down gathering up limb by limb still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, lords and commons, nor ever shall do, till her master's second coming; he shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal feature of loveliness and perfection. Suffer not these licensing prohibitions to stand at every place of opportunity forbidding and disturbing them that continue seeking, that continue to do our obsequies to the turn body of our martyred saint. We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness. Who can discern those planets that are oft combust, and those stars of brightest magnitude, that rise and set with the sun, until the opposite motian of their orbs bring them to such a place in the firmament, where they may be seen evening or morning? The light which we have gained, was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge. It is not the unfrocking of a priest, the unmitring of a bishop, and the removing him from off the presbyterian shoulders, that will make us a happy nation; no, if other things as great in the church, and in the rule of life both Economical and political, be not looked into and reformed, we have looked so long upon the blaze that Zuinglius and Calvin have beaconed up to us, that we are stark blind. There be who perpetually complain of schisms and sects, and make it such a calamity that any man dissents from their maxims. It is their own pride and ignorance which causes the disturbing, who neither will hear with meekness, nor can conVince, yet all must be suppressed which is not found their Syntagma. They are the troublers, they are the dividers of unity, who neglect and permit not others to unite those dissevered pieces, which are yet ating to the body of truth. To be still searching What we know not, by what we know, still closing up truth to truth as we find it, (for all her body is hogeneal, and proportional,) this is the golden rule theology as well as in arithmetic, and makes up the best harmony in a church; not the forced and outWard union, of cold, and neutral, and inwardly divided
have been so ancient, and so eminent among us, that writers of good antiquity and able judgment have been persuaded, that even the school of Pythagoras, and the Persian wisdom, took beginning from the old philosophy of this island. And that wise and civil Roman, Julius Agricola, who governed once here for Cæsar, preferred the natural wits of Britain, before the laboured studies of the French. Nor is it for nothing that the grave and frugal Transilvanian sends out yearly from as far as the mountainous borders of Russia, and beyond the Hercynian wilderness, not their youth, but their staid men, to learn our language and our theologic arts. Yet that which is above all this, the favour and the love of Heaven, we have great argument to think in a peculiar manner propitious and propending towards us. Why else was this nation chosen before any other, that out of her, as out of Sion, should be proclaimed and sounded forth the first tidings and trumpet of reformation to all Europe? And had it not been the obstinate perverseness of our prelates against the divine and admirable spirit of Wickliff, to suppress him as a schismatic and innovator, perhaps neither the Bohemian Husse and Jerom, no nor the name of Luther or of Calvin, had been ever known the glory of reforming all our neighbours had been completely ours. But now, as our obdurate clergy have with violence demeaned the matter, we are become hitherto the latest and the backwardest scholars, of whom God offered to have made us the teachers. Now once again by all concurrence of signs, and by the general instinct of holy and devout men, as they daily and solemnly express their thoughts, God is decreeing to begin some new and great period in his church, even to the reforming of reformation itself; what does he then but reveal himself to his servants, and as his manner is, first to his Englishmen? I say as his manner is, first to us, though we mark not the method of his counsels, and are unworthy. Behold now this vast city: a city of refuge, the mansion-house of liberty, encompassed and surrounded with his protection; the shop of war hath not there more anvils and hammers waking, to fashion out the plates and instruments of armed justice in defence of beleagured truth, than there be pens and heads there, sitting by their studious lamps, musing, searching, revolving new notions and ideas wherewith to present, as with their homage and their fealty, the approaching reformation: others as fast reading, trying all things, assenting to the force of reason and convincement. What could a man require more from a nation so pliant and so prone to seek after knowledge? What wants there to such a towardly and pregnant soil, but wise and faithful labourers, to make a knowing people, a nation of prophets, of sages, and of worthies? We reckon more than five months yet to harvest; there need not be five weeks, had we but eyes to lift up, the fields are white already. Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making. Under these fantastic terrours of sect and schism, we wrong the earnest and
Lords and commons of England! consider what natan it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the gors: a nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, genious, and piercing spirit; acute to invent, subtile and sinewry to discourse, not beneath the reach of any at the highest that human capacity can soar to. Therefore the studies of learning in her deepest scier.ces
blocked about, her navigable river infested, zealous thirst after knowledge and understanding, incursions round, defiance and battle oft r which God hath stirred up in this city. What some lament of, we rather should rejoice at, should rather be marching up, even to her walls and subu that then the people, or the greater part, praise this pious forwardness among men, to reassume other times, wholly taken up with the stud the ill-deputed care of their religion into their own hands again. A little generous prudence, a little for- and most important matters to be reforme bearance of one another, and some grain of charity disputing, reasoning, reading, inventing, even to a rarity and admiration, things no might win all these diligencies to join and unite into coursed or written of, argues first a singul one general and brotherly search after truth; could we but forego this prelatical tradition of crowding free contentedness, and confidence in your prud and safe government, lords and common consciences and christian liberties into canons and precepts of men. I doubt not, if some great and worthy thence derives itself to a gallant brav stranger should come among us, wise to discern the grounded contempt of their enemies, as no small number of as great spirits amo mould and temper of a people, and how to govern it, observing the high hopes and aims, the diligent alacrity was who, when Rome was nigh besieged of our extended thoughts and reasonings in the pur- being in the city, bought that piece of suance of truth and freedom, but that he would cry out cheap rate, whereon Hannibal himself as Pyrrhus did, admiring the Roman docility and own regiment. Next, it is a lively and courage; if such were my Epirots, I would not despair sage of our happy success and victory. body when the blood is fresh, the spirits p the greatest design that could be attempted to make a church or kingdom happy. Yet these are the men ous, not only to vital, but to rational cried out against for schismatics and sectaries, as if, those in the acutest and the pertest opo while the temple of the Lord was building, some cut- and subtlety, it argues in what good pli ting, some squaring the marble, others hewing the tution the body is; so when the chee cedars, there should be a sort of irrational men, who people is so sprightly up, as that it has could not consider there must be many schisms and with to guard well its own freedom and many dissections made in the quarry and in the timber, spare, and to bestow upon the solidest ere the house of God can be built. And when every points of controversy and new inventi stone is laid artfully together, it cannot be united into us not degenerated, nor drooping to a a continuity, it can but be contiguous in this world: casting off the old and wrinkled skin neither can every piece of the building be of one form; outlive these pangs, and wax young nay rather the perfection consists in this, that out of the glorious ways of truth and prospe many moderate varieties and brotherly dissimilitudestined to become great and honourable that are not vastly disproportional, arises the goodly ages. Methinks I see in my mind a no and the graceful symmetry that commends the whole nation rousing herself like a strong pile and structure. Let us therefore be more consider- and shaking her invincible locks: me ate builders, more wise in spiritual architecture, when as an eagle muing her mighty youth, undazzled eyes at the full midday bea great reformation is expected. For now the time seems come, wherein Moses the great prophet may sit in unscaling her long abused sight at th heaven rejoicing to see that memorable and glorious of heavenly radiance; while the whol wish of his fulfilled, when not only our seventy elders, ous and flocking birds, with those al but all the Lord's people, are become prophets. No twilight, flutter about, amazed at wha marvel then though some men, and some good men in their envious gabble would progno sects and schisms. too perhaps, but young in goodness, as Joshua then was, envy them. They fret, and out of their own weakness are in agony, lest these divisions and subdivisions will undo us. The adversary again applauds, and waits the hour; when they have branched themselves out, saith he, small enough into parties and partitions, then will be our time. Fool! he sees not the firm root, out of which we all grow, though into branches; nor will beware until he see our small divided maniples cutting through at every angle of his ill-united and unwieldy brigade. And that we are to hope better of all these supposed sects and schisms, and that we shall not need that solicitude, honest perhaps, though overtimorous, of them that vex in this behalf, but shall laugh in the end at those malicious applauders of our differences, I have these reasons to persuade
What should ye do then, should y flowery crop of knowledge and new and yet springing daily in this city? oligarchy of twenty engrossers over mine upon our minds again, whe nothing but what is measured to us Believe it, lords and commons! the to such a suppressing, do as good a yourselves; and I will soon shew sired to know the immediate cause ing and free speaking, there cannot than your own mild, and free, and hu it is the liberty, lords and common valorous and happy counsels have berty which is the nurse of all grea which hath rarified and enlightened
First, when a city shall be as it were besieged and influence of heaven; this is that