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may concern us all. You it concerns chiefly, worthies in parliament! on whom as on our deliverers, all our grievances and cares, by the merit of your eminence and fortitude, are devolved. Me it concerns next, having with much labour and faithful diligence firft found out, or at leaft with a fearless and communicative candour firft published to the manifeft good of christendom, that which, calling to witnefs every thing mortal and immortal, I believe unfeignedly to be true. Let not other men think their confcience bound to fearch continually after truth, to pray for enlightening from above, to publish what they think they have fo obtained, and debar me from conceiving myself tied by the fame duties. Ye have now, doubtlefs, by the favour and appointment of God, ye have now in your hands a great and populous nation to reform; from what corruption, what blindness in religion, ye know well; in what a degenerate and fallen fpirit from the apprehenfion of native liberty, and true manlinefs, I am fure ye find; with what unbounded licence rushing to whoredoms and adulteries, needs not long inquiry: infomuch that the fears, which men have of too ftrict a difcipline, perhaps exceed the hopes, that can be in others, of ever introducing it with any great fuccefs. What if I fhould tell ye now of difpenfations and indulgences, to give a little the reins, to let them play and nibble with the bait a while; a people as hard of heart as that Egyptian colony that went to Canaan. This is the common doctrine that adulterous and injurious divorces were not connived only, but with eye open allowed of old for hardness of heart. But that opinion, I truft, by then this following argument hath been well read, will be left for one of the myfteries of an indulgent Antichrift, to farm out inceft by, and thofe his other tributary pollutions. What middle way can be taken then, may fome interrupt, if we muft neither turn to the right, nor to the left, and that the people hate to be reformed? Mark then, judges and lawgivers, and ye whofe office it is to be our teachers, for I will utter now a doctrine, if ever any other, though neglected or not underfood, yet of great and powerful importance to the governing of mankind. He who wifely would reftrain the reason
able foul of man within due bounds, must first himself know perfectly, how far the territory and dominion extends of juft and honeft liberty. As little must he offer to bind that which God hath loosened, as to loosen that which he hath bound. The ignorance and mistake of this high point hath heaped up one huge half of all the mifery, that hath been fince Adam. In the gospel we fhall read a fupercilious crew of mafters, whose holiness, or rather whofe evil eye, grieving that God should be fo facil to man, was to fet ftraiter limits to obedience, than God hath fet, to enflave the dignity of man, to put a garrifon upon his neck of empty and over dignified precepts: and we fhall read our Saviour never more grieved and troubled, than to meet with fuch a peevish madness among men againft their own freedom. How can we expect him to be lefs offended with us, when much of the fame folly fhall be found yet remaining where it leaft ought, to the perifhing of thousands? The greatest burden in the world is fuperftition, not only of ceremonies in the church, but of imaginary and fcarecrow fins at home. What greater weakening, what more fubtle ftratagem against our chriftian warfare, when befides the grofs body of real tranfgreffions to encounter, we fhall be terrified by a vain and fhadowy menacing of faults that are not: When things indifferent shall be set to overfront us under the banners of fin, what wonder if we be routed, and by this art of our adversary, fall into the fubjection of worst and deadlieft offences? The fuperftition of the papift is, "touch not, taste not," when God bids both; and ours is, "part not, feparate not," when God and charity both permits and commands. "Let all your things be done with charity," faith St. Paul; and his mafter faith, "She is the fulfilling of the law." Yet now a civil, an indifferent, a fometime diffuaded law of marriage, muft be forced upon us to fulfil, not only without charity, but against her. No place in Heaven or earth, except Hell, where charity may not enter: yet marriage, the ordinance of our folace and contentment, the remedy of our loneliness, will not admit now either of charity or mercy, to come in and mediate, or pacify the fierceness of this gentle ordinance, VOL. I,
the unremedied lonelilefs of this remedy. Advife ye well, fupreme fenate, if charity be thus excluded and expulfed, how ye will defend the untainted honour of your own actions and proceedings. He who marries, intends as little to confpire his own ruin, as he that fwears allegiance: and as a whole people is in proportion to an ill government, fo is one man to an ill marriage. If they, against any authority, covenant, or ftatute, may by the fovereign edict of charity, fave not only their lives, but honeft liberties from unworthy bondage, as well may he against any private covenant, which he never entered to his mifchief, redeem himself from unfupportable difturbances to honeft peace, and just contentment: And much the rather, for that to refift the higheft magiftrate though tyrannizing, God never gave us exprefs allowance, only he gave us reafon, charity, nature, and good example to bear us out; but in this economical misfortune thus to demean ourfelyes, befides the warrant of those four great directors, which doth as juftly belong hither, we have an exprefs law of God, and fuch a law, as whereof our Saviour with a folemn threat forbid the abrogating. For no effect of tyranny can fit more heavy on the commonwealth, than this household unhappiness on the family. And farewell all hope of true reformation in the ftate, while fuch an evil as this lies undifcerned or unregarded in the house: on the redrefs whereof depends not only the fpiritful and orderly life of our grown men, but the willing and careful education of our children. Let this therefore be new examined, this tenure and freehold of mankind, this native and domeftic charter given us by a greater lord than that Saxon king the confeffor. Let the ftatutes of God be turned over, be fcanned anew, and confidered not altogether by the narrow intellectuals of quotationists and common places, but (as was the ancient right of councils) by men of what liberal profeffion foever, of eminent fpirit and breeding, joined with a diffuse and various knowledge of divine and human things; able to balance and define good and evil, right and wrong, throughout every state of life; able to fhow us the ways of the Lord flraight and faithful as they are, not full of cranks and contradictions,
contradictions, and pitfalling difpenfes, but with divine infight and benignity measured out to the proportion of each mind and fpirit, each temper and difpofition created fo different each from other, and yet by the skill of wife conducting, all to become uniform in virtue. To expe dite these knots, were worthy a learned and memorable fynod; while our enemies expect to fee the expectation of the church tired out with dependencies and independencies how they will compound, and in what calends. Doubt not, worthy fenators! to vindicate the facred honour and judgment of Mofes your predeceffor, from the fhallow commenting of fcholaftics and canonifts. Doubt not after him to reach out your fteady hands to the misinformed and wearied life of man; to restore this his loft heritage, into the household ftate; wherewith be fure that peace and love, the beft fubfiftence of a christian family, will return home from whence they are now banished; places of proftitution will be lefs haunted, the neighbour's bed lefs attempted, the yoke of prudent and manly difcipline will be generally fubmitted to; fober and well ordered living will foon fpring up in the commonwealth. Ye have an author great beyond exception, Mofes; and one yet greater, he who hedged in from abolishing every fmalleft jot and tittle of precious equity contained in that law, with a more accurate and lafting Maforeth, than either the fynagogue of Ezra or the Galilæan fchool at Tiberias hath left us. Whatever elfe ye can enact, will scarce concern a third part of the British name: but the benefit and good of this your magnanimous example, will eafily fpread far beyond the banks of Tweed and the Norman ifles. It would not be the first or fecond time, fince our ancient Druids, by whom this ifland was the cathedral of philofophy to France, left off their pagan rites, that England hath had this honour vouchfafed from Heaven, to give out refor mation to the world. Who was it but our English Conftantine that baptized the Roman empire? Who but the Northumbrian Willibrode, and Winifride of Devon, with their followers, were the first apoftles of Germany? Who but Alcuin and Wickliff our countrymen opened of Europe, the one in arts, the other in reli
gion? Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations how to live.
Know, worthies; and exercise the privilege of your honoured country. A greater title I here bring ye, than is either in the power or in the policy of Rome to give her Monarchs; this glorious act will style ye the defenders of charity. Nor is this yet the highest inscription that will adorn so religious and fo holy a defence as this: behold here the pure and facred law of God and his yet purer and more facred name offering themselves to you, firft of all chriftian reformers to be acquitted from the long fuffered ungodly attribute of patronizing adultery. Defer not to wipe off inftantly these imputative blurs and ftains caft by rude fancies upon the throne and beauty itself of inviolable holiness: left fome other people more devout and wife than we bereave us this offer ed immortal glory, our wonted prerogative, of being the firft afferters in every great vindication.. For me, as far as my part leads me, I have already my greatest gain, affurance and inward fatisfaction to have done in this nothing unworthy of an honeft life, and ftudies well em ployed. With what event, among the wife and right understanding handful of men, I am fecure. But how among the drove of cuftom and prejudice this will be relished by fuch whofe capacity, fince their youth run ahead into the eafy creek of a fyftem or a medulla, fails there at will under the blown phyfiognomy of their unlaboured rudiments; for them, what their tafte will be, I have alfo furety fufficient, from the entire league that hath ever been between formal ignorance and grave obftinacy. Yet when I remember the little that our Saviour could prevail about this doctrine of charity against the crabbed textuifts of his time, I make no wonder, but rest confident, that whofo prefers either matrimony or other ordinance before the good of man and the plain exigence of charity, let him profefs papift, or proteftant, or what he will, he is no better than a pharifee, and understands not the gofpel: whom as a mifinterpreter of Chrift I openly proteft againft; and provoke him to the trial of this truth before all the world: and let him bethink him withal how he will fodder up the shifting flaws of