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be the timelieft and the most effectual remedy, that man's prevention can use. For this authentic Spanish policy of licenfing books, if I have faid aught, will prove the most unlicenfed book itself within a fhort while; and was the immediate image of a star-chamber decree to that purpose made in those very times when that court did the rest of those her pious works, for which the is now fallen from the ftars with Lucifer. Whereby ye may guess what kind of state prudence, what love of the people, what care of religion, or good manners there was at the contriving, although with fingular hypocrify it pretended to bind books to their good behaviour. And how it got the upper hand of your precedent order fo well conftituted before, if we may believe those men whofe profeffion gives them caufe to inquire most, it may be doubted there was in it the fraud of fome old patentees and monopolizers in the trade of bookfelling; who under pretence of the poor in their company not to be defrauded, and the juft retaining of each man his feveral copy, (which God forbid fhould be gainfaid) brought divers gloffing colours to the house, which were indeed but colours, and ferving to no end except it be to exercife a fuperiority over their neighbours; men who do not therefore labour in an honeft profeffion, to which learning is indebted, that they should be made other men's vaffals. Another end is thought was aimed at by fome of them in procuring by petition this order, that having power in their hands, malignant books might the easier elcape abroad, as the event fhows. But of thefe fophifms and elenchs of merchandize I skill not: This I know, that errours in a good government and in a bad are equally almost incident; for what magiftrate may not be mifinformed, and much the fooner, if liberty of printing be reduced into the power of a few ? But to redress willingly and fpeedily what hath been erred, and in higheft authority to efteem a plain advertisement more than others have done a fumptuous bride, is a virtue (honoured lords and commons!) anfwerable to your highest actions, and whereof none can participate but greatest and wisest men.
DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLINE
Reftored to the good of both fexes, from the bondage of canon law, and other mistakes, to the true meaning of fcripture in the law and gospel compared.
Wherein also are fet down the bad confequences of abolishing, or condemning of fin, that which the law of GoD allows, and CHRIST abolished not.
Now the fecond time revifed, and much augmented, in two books: To the parliament of England, with the assembly.
MATTH. xiii, 52. "Every scribe inftructed in the kingdom of Heaven is like the master of a house, which bringeth out of his treasury things new and old,"
PROV. xviii, 13. "He that anfwereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and fhame unto him."
To the Parliament of England, with the Affembly.
Ir it were seriously asked, (and it would be no untimely queftion,) renowned parliament, felect affembly! who of all teachers and mafters, that have ever taught, hath drawn the most disciples after him, both in religion and in manners? it might be not untruly answered, Cuftom. Though virtue be commended for the moft perfuafive in her theory, and confcience in the plain demonftration of the spirit finds moft evincing; yet whether it be the fecret of divine will, or the original blindness we are born in, so it happens for the most part, that cuftom ftill is filently received for the best inftructor. Except it be, because her method is fo glib and eafy, in fome manner like to that vifion of Ezekiel rolling up her fudden book
of implicit knowledge, for him that will to take and fwallow down at pleasure; which proving but of bad nourifhment in the concoction, as it was heedlefs in the devouring, puffs up unhealthily a certain big face of pretended learning, mistaken among credulous men for the wholesome habit of foundness and good conftitution, but is indeed no other than that fwoln vifage of counterfeit knowledge and literature, which not only in private mars our education, but also in public is the common climber into every chair, where either religion is preached, or law reported: filling each eftate of life and profeffion with abject and fervile principles, depreffing the high and heavenborn spirit of man, far beneath the condition wherein either God created him, or fin hath funk him. To pursue the allegory, custom being but a mere face, as echo is a mere voice, refts not in her unaccomplishment, until by fecret inclination fhe accorporate herself with errour, who being a blind and ferpentine body without a head, willingly accepts what he wants, and supplies what her incompleteness went feeking. Hence it is, that errour fupports cuftom, cuftom countenances errour and these two between them would perfecute and chase away all truth and folid wisdom out of human life, were it not that God, rather than man, once in many ages calls together the prudent and religious coun→ fels of men, deputed to reprefs the incroachments, and to work off the inveterate blots and obfcurities wrought upon our minds by the fubtle infinuating of errour and cuftom; who, with the numerous and vulgar train of their followers, make it their chief defign to envy and cry down the industry of free reasoning, under the terms of humour and innovation; as if the womb of teeming truth were to be closed up, if fhe prefume to bring forth aught that forts not with their unchewed notions and fuppofitions. Againft which notorious injury and abuse of man's free foul, to teftify and oppofe the utmost that study and true labour can attain, heretofore the incitement of men reputed grave hath led me among others; and now the duty and the right of an inftructed Chriftian calls me through the chance of good or evil report, to be the fole advocate of a difcountenanced truth: a
high enterprife, lords and commons! a high enterprise and a hard, and fuch as every feventh fon of a feventh fon does not venture on. Nor have I amidst the clamour of fo much envy and impertinence whither to appeal, but to the concourse of fo much piety and wisdom here affembled. Bringing in my hands an ancient and most neceffary, most charitable, and yet most injured ftatute of Mofes; not repealed ever by him who only had the authority, but thrown afide with much inconfiderate neglect, under the rubbish of canonical ignorance; as once the whole law was by fome fuch like conveyance in Jofiah's time. And he who fhall endeavour the amendment of any old neglected grievance in church or ftate, or in the daily courfe of life, if he be gifted with abilities of mind, that may raise him to fo high an undertaking, I grant he hath already much whereof not to repent him; yet let me aread him, not to be the foreman of any mifjudged opinion, unless his refolutions be firmly feated in a square and conftant mind, not conscious to itself of any deserved blame, and regardless of ungrounded suspicions. For this let him be fure he fhall be boarded presently by the ruder fort, but not by difcreet and wellnurtured men, with a thoufand idle defcants and furmifes. Who when they cannot confute the leaft joint or finew of any paffage in the book; yet God forbid that truth fhould be truth, because they have a boisterous conceit of some pretences in the writer. But were they not more busy and inquifitive than the Apostle commends, they would hear him at leaft, " rejoicing fo the truth be preached, whether of envy or other pretence whatfoever:" for truth is as impoffible to be foiled by any outward touch, as the funbeam; though this ill hap wait on her nativity, that she never comes into the world, but like a baftard, to the ignominy of him that brought her forth; till time, the midwife rather than the mother of truth, have washed and falted the infant, declared her legitimate, and churched the father of his young Minerva, from the needlefs caufes of his purgation. Yourselves can best witness this, worthy patriots! and better will, no doubt, hereafter; for who among ye of the foremost that have travailed in her behalf to the good of church or
ftate, hath not been often traduced to be the agent of his own by-ends, under pretext of reformation? So much the more I fhall not be unjust to hope, that however infamy or envy may work in other men to do her fretful will against this discourse, yet that the experience of your own uprightness mifinterpreted will put ye in mind, to give it free audience and generous conftruction. What though the brood of Belial the draff of men, to whom no liberty is pleafing, but unbridled and vagabond luft without pale or partition, will laugh broad perhaps, to fee fo great a ftrength of fcripture muftering up in favour, as they fuppofe, of their debaucheries; they will know better when they fhall hence learn, that honeft liberty is the greatest foe to dishoneft licence. And what though others, out of a waterish and queasy conscience, because ever crazy and never yet found, will rail and fancy to themselves that injury and licence is the best of this book? Did not the diftemper of their own ftomachs affect them with a dizzy megrim, they would foon tie up their tongues, and difcern themselves like that Affyrian blafphemer, all this while reproaching not man, but the Almighty, the Holy One of Ifrael, whom they do not deny to have belawgiven his own facred people with this very allowance, which they now call injury and licence, and dare cry fhame on, and will do yet a while, till they get a little cordial fobriety to fettle their qualming zeal. But this queftion concerns not us perhaps : indeed man's difpofition, though prone to fearch after vain curiofities, yet when points of difficulty are to be difcuffed, appertaining to the removal of unreasonable wrong and burden from the perplexed life of our brother, it is incredible how cold, how dull, and far from all fellow-feeling we are, without the fpur of felf concernment. Yet if the wifdom, the juftice, the purity of God be to be cleared from fouleft imputations, which are not yet avoided; if charity be not to be degraded and trodden down under a civil ordinance; if matrimony be not to be advanced like that exalted perdition written of to theTheffalonians, "above all that is called God," or goodnefs, nay against them both; then I dare affirm, there will be found in the contents of this book that which