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AND THE EXCELLENCE THEREOF, COMPARED WITH THE INCONVENIENCIES AND DANGERS
OF READMITTING KINGSHIP IN THIS NATION.
[FIRST PUBLISHED 166).]
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 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 oppor-king, or the king and that more supreme law, sworn
tunity 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.
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,
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 terrour 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
own longer consideration thereon, had more and more unbound us, both to himself and his posterity; as bath 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 refus ing, 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 tọ 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
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 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 bestprincipled 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, not 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 Basless obeyed or followed in the state; since in the church, who had not rather follow Iscariot or Simon the magidian, though to covetous ends, preaching, than Saul, the 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 endeaavoured 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, 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 cen
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 inferiour 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.
sured both us and all our actions as rash, rebellious, | pleasure 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 profuseWe 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 inconsider ately to a single 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
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 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 after-game of folly all the battles we have won, together with all Scotland as to our conquest, bereby 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 propor-progress among the perpetual bowings and cringings tioned equality, both human, civil, and christian, most of an abject people, on either side deifying and adoring cherishing to virtue and true religion, but also (I may him for nothing done that can deserve it. For what say it with greatest probability) plainly commended, can he more than another man? who, even in the exor rather enjoined by our Saviour himself, to all Chris-pression of a late court-poet, sits only like a great cipher tians, not without remarkable disallowance, and the set to no purpose before a long row of other significant brand of Gentilism upon kingship. God in much dis- figures. Nay, it is well and happy for the people, if
TO ESTABLISH A FREE COMMONWEALTH.
their king be but a cipher, being ofttimes a mischief, a | tedly to run their necks again into the yoke which they pest, a scourge of the nation, and which is worse, not have broken, and prostrate all the fruits of their victory to be removed, not to be controlled, much less accused for nought at the feet of the vanquished, besides our or brought to punishment, without the danger of a loss of glory, and such an example as kings or tyrants common ruin, without the shaking and almost sub- never yet had the like to boast of, will be an ignominy version of the whole land: whereas in a free common- if it befall us, that never yet befell any nation poswealth, any governor or chief counsellor offending sessed of their liberty; worthy indeed themselves, may be removed and punished, without the least com- whatsoever they be, to be for ever slaves, but that part motion. Certainly then that people must needs be of the nation which consents not with them, as I permad, or strangely infatuated, that build the chief hope suade me of a great number, far worthier than by their of their common happiness or safety on a single per- means to be brought into the same bondage. Conson; who, if he happen to be good, can do no more sidering these things so plain, so rational, I cannot but than another man; if to be bad, hath in his hands to yet further admire on the other side, how any man, do more evil without check, than millions of other men. who hath the true principles of justice and religion in The happiness of a nation must needs be firmest and him, can presume or take upon him to be a king and (certainest in full and free council of their own electing, lord over his brethren, whom he cannot but know, whewhere no single person, but reason only, sways. And ther as men or Christians, to be for the most part every what madness is it for them who might manage nobly way equal or superior to himself: how he can display their own affairs themselves, sluggishly and weakly with such vanity and ostentation his regal splendour, to devolve all on a single person; and more like boys so supereminently above other mortal men; or being under age than men, to commit all to his patronage a Christian, can assume such extraordinary honour and disposal, who neither can perform what he under- and worship to himself, while the kingdom of Christ, takes, and yet for undertaking it, though royally paid, our common king and lord, is hid to this world, and will not be their servant, but their lord! How unmanly such Gentilish imitation forbid in express words by must it needs be, to count such a one the breath of our himself to all his disciples. All protestants hold that Bostrils, to hang all our felicity on him, all our safety, Christ in his church hath left no vicegerent of his our well-being, for which if we were aught else but power; but himself, without deputy, is the only head sluggards or babies, we need depend on none but God thereof, governing it from heaven: how then can any and our own counsels, our own active virtue and in- christian man derive his kingship from Christ, but with dustry! "Go to the ant, thou sluggard," saith Solo- worse usurpation than the pope his headship over the mon; "consider her ways, and be wise; which having church, since Christ not only hath not left the least no prince, ruler, or lord, provides her meat in the sum- shadow of a command for any such vicegerence from mer, and gathers her food in the harvest:" which evi- him in the state, as the pope pretends for his in the dently shews us, that they who think the nation un-church, but bath expressly declared, that such regal done without a king, though they look grave or dominion is from the Gentiles, not from him, and hath haughty, have not so much true spirit and understand- strictly charged us not to imitate them therein ? ing in them as a pismire: neither are these diligent creatures hence concluded to live in lawless anarchy, ther that commended, but are set the examples to imprudent and ungoverned men, of a frugal and self-governng democracy or commonwealth; safer and more thriving in the joint providence and counsel of many Industrious equals, than under the single domination
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 forth
one imperious lord. It may be well wondered that with been framed, and the practice thereof immedi
any nation, styling themselves free, can suffer any man 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 glorialy for liberty; how they can change their noble words and actions, heretofore so becoming the majesty
ately 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, inter
a free people, into the base necessity of court-flat-ruptions, and dissolutions, which the parliament hath
teries and prostrations, is not only strange and ad-
had, partly from the impatient or disaffected people,
emselves; but after ten or twelve years' prosperous free commonwealth, and establish it for ever in the War and contestation with tyranny, basely and besot
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 bear, remain yet in force unrepealed, as they were formerly decreed in parliament, 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
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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 Een pot 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 re 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 land to be feared, where the wellaffected, 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 stedfast 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 immovable. So in the United Provinces, the