There is a Generation, whose Teeth are as Swords, and their Janteeth as Knives, to devour the Poor from off the Earth, and the Needy from among Men.
Open thy Mouth, judge Righteously, and plead the Cause of the Poor, and the Needy.
Mercy and Truth, [preserve] the King; and his Throne is upholden by Mercy.
Ecclesiastes 4.1, 2, 3. Eccles. 5.8.
Come see, and Read, and ponder well, behold,
Ile shew you Dross, that's mixt with pure Gold;
See that with care, this Gold, from dross, you sever,
Do, as I say, and you (may) live for ever.
London Printed, and Sold by the Booksellers of London and Westminster, 1700.
TO THE READER.
I Have here undertaken the doing of that, which was the Duty of some one, or other, that is much more Eminent, and better Learned, than I am: For mean was my Education, and Scholar I am none, farther than the English Tongue, and that I understand but Imperfectly. And therefore, through weakness I may err, in many of my Expressions, but (however) I hope the most Learned, and the most Ingenious, will have so much respect for me, as to deal with me, in the Examination of my following Discourses, as the upright Judge doth, in the Examination of Witnesses, who regardeth (more) the Truth of their Evidences, than the manner of their Dialect, when spoken but with a homebred Tongue: For Truth, is Truth still, as well that which is spoken in a plain Dialect, and homely Speech, as that which is spoken in the most highest Rhetorick, (or) most sweetest Eloquence. It is only Plain Truth, and Naked Truth, that I now intend to speak; and only View document image such Truth, as hath in it, true Honesty, true Christianity, and true Loyalty.
Thus refering to your Judgments, and Censures, these, and all other of these, my following Discourses or Sayings, with all humble Submission, and true Devotion, subscribe my self, as really I am, obedient to my Superiours, truly Loyal to my King, and a Wellwisher to my Country, whilst I am Yours
THE Epistle DEDICATORY.
To His Most Gratious Majesty, William the Third, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith; And also, to the most Honourable Parliament these I most humbly dedicate.
AND now with all humble Submission, say, what I have here done, I think is but my [Duty] so to do; for the strict Ties (of the Oaths) of Allegiance and Supremacy, requires me (not to conceal) any thing that may prove detrimental to my King and Country. Your Majesty is much abused, the Country most grievously injured, and opprest; their Trade is meerly lost, and in their Estates and Minds they are much decayed; and this at last (must needs) be highly Detrimental, both to Your most Gratious Majesty, and the most Honourable Parliament, and to all others, that are Your Majesty's true Loyal Subjects. And therefore, however, so illy, or foolishly, I have either managed, or worded, this my following Treatise, yet nevertheless, I hope, Your Greatness, will be pleased to accept of my Goodwill, as these are intended by me, no otherwise, than for the Advantage, Honour and Safety, of Your most Gratious Majesty; as also, for the general Good of all Your Majesty's faithful Subjects, who I fear, are now much more liable to the malice of Enemies, than otherwise Your Royal Self, or they could ever have been, had not such men, as I have herein described, done, from time to time, such things, as they always have done, yet nevertheless, by the Power of the Almighty God, and Your Assistance, it is yet an easie matter, to amend what is amiss, and thereby wholly put a stop to all the Designs of Your Enemies, which God by his infinite Power, with Your means, grant it to be done, is the earnest Prayer of him, who is Your Majesty's true Loyal Subject, and the Honourable Parliaments devoted Servant,
AND now before I proceed on the main of my Discourse, by way of Introduction, I shall give you a brief Account of the Heads of all my following Discourses.
And first of all, herein is set forth the Great Abuses, that of late hath been done, and still is done, both to Your Majesty and the Country, by means of the undue Execution, of Your Majesty's and the late Parliaments several Acts, made for the raising of the several Sums of money, from time to time, on the several Lands and Stocks, of all Your Majesty's Subjects within this our Nation.
2dly, The unspeakable Losses and Damages, that of late hath, and still doth, lie on our whole Nation, by means of the most Wicked Actions of some men, who in the time of the Revolution of our late Coin, made even as it were a meer Prey, on all Your Majesty's good and faithful Subjects, and thereby made themselves extreamly Rich, and our Nation in general very Poor. And also, herein is set forth, by what means they accomplished their wicked Designs, as also, how they Truckt, Bartered, Changed, Sold and Disposed, the greatest part of it, and where they lodged it at last.
3dly, How all manner of Trading is decayed, and even as it were meerly come to nothing; and all this is mostly occasioned, in and by the means, of the several Losses and Damages, which all sorts of honest Tradesmen, of the middle and meaner sorts of them, have received in and by the Revolution of the late Coin, which hath ever since put them to great streights, through want of money, so as that by means thereof, they are now many Thousands of them, throughout England, for ever made uncapable of a comfortable Living here on Earth, except some speedy Course be taken for their Relief.
4thly, How sorely and grievously the Taxes of Births, and Burials, do gaul and pinch, the poor and meanest sorts of Your Majesty's good Subjects. But on the contrary, herein is set forth, how desirable a thing it is, for the Rich and great Ones of our Nation, to have the opportunity to pay BirthTaxes: And also, for DeathTaxes, amongst them, how then 'tis in their own power to make themselves no losers, by any such Taxes, as shall at any time hereafter become due from they, or any of them.
5thly, What a most wicked Trade is now of late sprung up, and used amongst some Evilminded men, who Buy and Sell all sorts of Corn, in and by such Clandestine ways and means, as that thereby, they will always create a Dearth, on all sorts of Grain in the midst of the greatest Plenty; and this to the Poor, is now a present Sorrow added to their former Affliction.
6thly, That notwithstanding all those hard and dear times, that of late hath been, and now is, yet all this doth not stop or turn the Hearts of our Mobb or Vagabond sturdy Poor, who are now become more bold, impudent, prophane, and wicked, than ever yet before: Also, some Reasons are shewed why they are so now, more than heretofore in times past.
7thly, How all my several Discourses; are to my self all known Truths, by true Information given me, and by experience tryed, and by way of Observation made on mens Actions, here with us in our County of Devon. Also, herein is set forth a short Comment on our late and unfruitful Cold Summers, which we have had for some considerable time past, Year after Year; for which Causes some Astrologers, pretend to shew the true Reasons of it: But by my self, their Reasons for that are denyed, and my own Reasons in opposition to theirs, are in my following Discourses inserted.
8thly, I have contracted, the sum of all my several Discourses, in a few plain low stile English Verses, whose Sound and Dress, are easie, plain and simple: but without Compounds, of any Fraud, or Flattery; and so I most humbly offer them, hoping they may be rightly understood, and justly applyed, as they are by me (Truly) Loyally, and Innocently, set forth for the Good of all Men, here in o[...] Nation.
The Complaints of the poor, middle, and meanest sorts of English Subjects, & c.
And now may it Please Your Most Gratious Majesty, and the Honourable Parliament:
THese had been long since presented unto your Greatness, had I not been from time to time continually prevented, by being much Exercised with many Troubles, which of late Years I have labour'd hard under them; which Troubles were brought on me, partly through the means of these our late hard times, as also by a mixture of some other Calamities, which the Hand of Providence was pleas'd to cast upon me. And tho' I have good reason to complain, as to my own particular part, yet 'tis not my own Cause, that I take on me now to vindicate; but the Causes of many others, whose conditions are far more deplorable than mine. But however, as my self am a great Sufferer, therefore I cannot otherwise but commiserate the conditions of such, as are far greater Sufferers than I now am: But should this long continue, then 'tis much to be doubted, that at last, we may be all Sufferers alike; for the prevention of which I have taken upon me, after much delay of time, to offer [Page 2] you these, which had been more fit to have been presented long ago. But besides these my troubles, before mentioned, I must ingeniously confess, that I have delayed the doing of it mostly, because hitherto, until now, I had always on my Spirit a continual awe and dread, which made me cast up within my Breast many doubts, fearing lest through weakness, or ignorance, I should herein offend so great Authority, as I acknowledge Your most Gracious Majesty and the Parliament are: For when I considered with my self on the greatness of your Power and Wisdom, as also, on my own mean condition, and weak capacity, it did always make me dread the thoughts of doing of it. And thus under this great fear, I have delayed much time; and yet, I could never avoid my having much Contemplation about it; for many and often have been the times, that I have controverted in my own thoughts on the Convenience, and Unconveniencies of this Work, untill at last I came to this Resolve; first with my Heart and Tongue, to commit my works unto God; and next, with my Hands and Pen, I would offer them to the Judgments of Men: And I was encouraged so to do; after I had well considered that saying of Solomon, in Chapter 16 of Proverbs, vers. 3. 'tis there said, Commit thy Works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. In hopes of which I further say;
Great Sirs, think it not strange, that so mean a Person as I am, should take upon me to write unto you in this way and manner; for no Man can do any thing but by permission, or instigation; It is God that permitteth me, and the Spirit of [Page 3] Truth that justifieth me to say, That if ever there were a time to speak in due season for England's Good, I think now is the time; And it may be high time, yet hope not past time. Tho' great may be the Troubles of our Land, because great are the Sins of our Nation, and most grievous are the Burthens that do now lie on the poor, middle, and meanest sorts of Your Majesty's faithful and true loyal Subjects, by means of some unworthy Men, I mean some of the late and now present Assessors and Commissioners, who have abused that most noble and honourable Trust put in them, and confer'd upon them by Your Most Gracious Majesty, and the late Parliament; and instead of performing that Trust, by a just and due Execution of Your Just Laws, they have even as it were by meer Violence, oppressed Your middle and meanest sorts of Subjects; and instead of doing Justice to all Men, have eased themselves, and have laid the Burthen on such as could not, nor cannot bear it, to the utter Ruin of many Thousands throughout England: And also, have thereby lessen'd Your Majesty's Revenues from time to to time, I believe, at least, some Millions of Money, which might have been justly risen to Your Majesty's use, barely and only on the several Taxes of Four Shillings and Three Shillings the Pound on Lands and Stocks, if the Rich had but from time to time paid proportionably to their Abilities, as they always have from time to time compelled Your Majesty's poor, middle, and meaner sorts of Subjects to do.And I do aver it for a Truth, that in the Town of Tiverton in Devonshire,such Matter (...)s as aforesaid,[Page 4] said, were, and always are, so unjustly carried:And there are many Men in that Place, that then were, and now are, worth some Thousands of Pounds in their Stocks, particularly each Man of them; and yet then were, and now are rated but for Two hundred Pound Stock each particular Man. And also, there are in our said Town of Tiverton aforesaid, some Men, that then were, and now are worth in stock Ten thousand Pound each Man; And some that are reported to be worth in Stock twenty thousand pound each man, and yet were not, nor are not rated for more than a few hundred pounds Stock each man, of the Richest sort of them, as I am credibly informed. And also, in their Lands, all of them were so undervalued, as that they were, and now are Rated no higher for them, proportionably, then they were rated for their Stocks; And yet, at the same time, they Rated the several parcels of the Lands and Tenements of Your Majesty's middle, and meaner sort of Subjects, to the full height and value of all, or most of them. And this sore and grievous Oppression, is not only used and still practised in Tiverton in Devonshire, but as far as I can understand, is continually used and practised all England over: and such Evil Doings can never be wellpleasing in the Eyes of God, or in the sight of good Men; for to do Justly, and to love Mercy, is but our Duty, with humble submission, in obedience to the Laws of God. And it is the duty of every Man so to do, according to that estate or degree which he is plac'd in, here in this World; the truth of which is verified by the mouth of the Prophet Micha, as you may read it in Chap. 6. vers. 8.
He there saith,He hath shewed thee, O Man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do Justly, and to love Mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. And also, agreeable to this is that most excellent Command of our most great Lord and Master, our Saviour Jesus Christ, as we may read it in the 7th Chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, vers. 12. these his own Words, Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. And thus from Christ's own Words, we may see that the doing of Justice to our Neighbour, and upright dealing between Man and Man, is highly necessary towards every man's Salvation.
But here a Query doth necessarily arise; and the poor, middle, and meanest sorts of Your Majesty's true Loyal Subjects may say, ,Have those Men, whom we complain against, done by us as they would be done unto, had their Cause been ours?
I say No: and consequently I say again, they have not shewed themselves like true Christians, nor can I think such Men to be true Protestants, or true Loyal Subjects: And tho' they have said, and do say, that they will hazard their Lives and all that they are worth, for the sake of Your Majesty, and the Protestant Religion; yet I can not believe them: for can any Man serve God and Mammon all at one time? or can such Men be true Protestants, that will do such vild and abominable things, which the very Heathens abhor? or can such Men be truly Loyal to the King, when at the same time they do as it were meerly rob him of his just Revenues. And then by their unjust dealings, to save their own Cash, do [Page 6] even as it were meerly undermine Your Most Gracious Majesty, (out of the love of many) of your middle, and meaner sorts of Subjects, who otherwise in Your Defence, and by Your Majesty's Command, and the most Honourable Parliaments assistance, would bravely Brannish the Sword over the Heads of all Your Enemies, and stoutly fight the Battel in and for Your Majesty's defence, if any farther occasion should be for it, as already they have done; for were not Your Majesty's Armies of late mostly filled up by and with Your middle, and meaner sorts of Subjects? And was it not they that stood the violent Shocks of Your Majesty's Enemies? And again they will stand it for you, except in the mean time too much Poverty make them weak handed, or unwilling. And if their be not a speedy stop put to the current of such Actions, as I have here mentioned, then 'tis much to be feared that an Enemy in process of time may take advantage of it; and then, if occasion should be for it, to serve Your again, Your Majesty may find too many of Your poor, middle, and meaner sorts of true Loyal Subjects, feeblehearted, and weakhanded, and not capable to do Your Majesty that service, which otherwise they would do You.
And thus I have, in some measure, truly and plainly, discovered to Your Greatness, England's present Malady: But the Remedy, with all numble submission, I leave to the great Understandings and Care of Your Most Gratious Majesty and the present Parliament: And now consequently cannot otherwise but say as followeth.
He that speaks plain, hath in his Heart no guile,
But he's most false, that hates when he doth smile:
Some such perfidious Souls on Earth there be,
But such a Soul shall not be found in me.
[Prov. 14.25, 28, 34. Prov. 20.28.]
But, Secondly; There are several other Great, and Grievous Crimes, and other Wicked Actions, that of late were, and now are continually committed, done, and suffered to be done amongst us, some of them are too notoriously known, and yet go unpunished; and others of them not so publickly known, and therefore such Offenders think themselves out of all danger of punishment: But however, it may be necessary to lay open all these Crimes and Actions to more publick view, than yet perhaps they have been known; and that because it may be (in some measure) a means to abate their courage, and to stop them from running on in a full Carere of other Wickedness, which such Men will be always doing in and by, some way or other. Besides, it is some satisfaction to the loser, to know where his Goods are, and who the Thief is, altho' it be past all possibility of having them again, yet if such Offenders, after they are known, can be brought to condigne punishment, according to their several deserts, then 'twill be for the better. But however, to set forth all their Actions in perfect Colours, as they really are, I am at a loss, for my capacity cannot fathom the bottom of them; I shall want Words to express them, or if by my capacity I could paint them out to the Life, yet [Page 8] I think it not convenient to do it now, because I want both time and room: For my design now is to offer to Your Majesty and the Parliament but a few Sheets; but if I should undertake to set forth all those several Crimes, and other wicked Actions in particulars, then I must make this my Work swell to a considerable Volume.
And now finding that 'twill be too tedious to persist on all the particulars of such Crimes, and other wicked Actions, therefore I will mostly proceed on, and endeavour to set forth the generals of such horrid Crimes, and other wicked Actions, as aforesaid. And the first Crime that I shall endeavour to set forth, shall be the most horrid Frauds, Cheats, and Perjuries, that too many of our Nation were guilty of, in the time of the Revolution of our late Coin: And also, shall endeavour to set forth the manner and way, how they acted their Frauds, Cheats, and Perjuries, and the several ways and means they then took for the accomplishing of them; as also, where they lodged all their Frauds, Cheats, and Perjuries at last.
And now for the better Explanation of it, first of all, Metaphorically I say; This devilish Trade had its first Rise and Growth from Clippers, and False Coiners of Money, who laid their Heads together, and consulted how they might have a trade: And then immediately up started a subtile Fellow amongst them, and said,
Gentlemen, the People say that no manner of crack'd Money will pass any longer: But if you
will be rul'd by me, we will make it all pass one way or other.
But then says another of the Company,
How can we make all manner of crackt Money pass, for some is crack'd almost through; and
such crack'd Money as that cannot be made to pass.
But then again says that cunning subtile Fellow that first started the Question;
Pray Sir, hear me; Doth not all manner of Clipt Money pass without any objection made
against it, tho' never so small? And there is a great deal of good broad Money that is but a
little crack'd, and some of it not quite to the Ring: and what if it be crack'd home to the Ring,
all such Money we can Clip, and afterwards it will pass currently: And then all such Money as
is deeply crack'd, we can melt down, and new Coin it and Clip it afterwards
But then presently up started an expert false Coiner, and said,
What need we give our selves double trouble? Why, do ye think that a piece of Money is not to
be new made, in imitation of old clipt Money?
No, Sir, (says the Clipper)
I beg your Pardon, (says the False Coiner) He's a bad Artist to his Trade that can't do that.
Then reply'd some other of the Clippers;
believe, Sir, you your self cannot do it.
Then the False Coiner reply'd again,
Sirs, I will warrant to do it artificially and compleatly; and in the doing of it, I will not use six
pennyworth of Silver in a Shilling, and but little more than nine pennyworth in Half a Crown,
and yet he shall be a good Artist that discovers it; and if it do look somewhat courser in the
Eye of an Artist, the Country will not take notice of it: But on the whole, at such a rate as I
have told you, I will make all such Money passable, without objection. [Page 10]
Nay, (said the whole Company) if you can do so, our Business is done.
Then says that False Coiner
Gentlemen, rest your selves contented in this matter; by me you shall see it done, and
therefore let's now talk no more about it. Come, drink about, for our Trade will now and than
afford us a Glass of Sack.
Ay,(says another of the company) and a Rope to boot for some of us, if we havenot more
Tush, (says another of the same Company) we must all venture that.
And so with a merry Fit of Laughter amongst them, they all cast off the thoughts of Hanging for it: And thus they all agreed. And then by their Maker, they all swore Fidelity to one another; and then (shaking each other by the Hand) they all unanimously promised each other, never to discover one the other, if any of them were taken in the Fact. And so unanimously they went on with their Trade, some to Clipping, and some to False Coining; the latter of which 'tis supposed there was abundance of it made, and in a littie time, such sorts of Money became very plenty, and it was scattered all England over in great abundance; and for a short time it procured a very quick, brisk and vigorous Trade: But note, Trading was then encouraged, only to put off this small Money, which was then the only current running Money in our Nation. And it is supposed by some, that for the love of putting off such sorts of small Money, brought Guinnea's to so high a Price; for there came down here into the Country pretended Merchants, and gathered up all the Guinea's that they could get, and exchanged [Page 11] such Small Monies for them: And also, 'twas said, that then at that time, there were many Men with Seventy Pounds of Broad Money each particular Man, bought One Hundred Pounds of this then Small current Money, which yielded the then Buyers the full value of One Hundred Pound of Lawful Money of England: And thus those MoneyBuyers were at that rate supplyed, as often as they then had occasion for it. And was not this a cursed Trade for such Men to use, that have sworn to be true both to the King and County, and that profess themselves to be both Loyal Men, and Protestants?
But now again, before I can proceed any farther, I must Answer a Question, which seemingly sounds in my Ear, and methinks I hear some say, Where could those Clippers have all those vast and great Sums of Money to Clip; all of i could never be their own, and therefore it must be that they were supplyed by some great Monyed-Men?
To this I Answer: Undoubtedly they were so supply'd by many of our great Money Masters, who were very Rich; or such as have always to command vast and large Sums of Money, as great Bankers, great Usurers, great Merchants, and some other great Receivers of Money; and also some great Rich Tradesmen of other Callings: For all these sorts of Men have always by them, or at their commands, great and large Sums of Money. And also, they all of them, had a more commodious way, and better opportunities to put off all such Clipp'd and False Coin'd Money, than any other sorts of men could have had, if there then had been any other sorts of Men that [Page 12] then would have taken on them the like Devilish Trade. But now upon the whole, I say, I am apt to believe, that many of those Clippers, and some of those False Coiners, that have been justly executed for such Facts, were but the hired Servants of some such Men, as are before mentioned, yet trusty Servants to such Masters; for they would rather dye with a Lye in their Mouths, than confess who set them on work.
And here I cannot otherwise, but comment on th[...], [...]d say, Great pity it is, and by all good M[...], undoubtedly, it is much lamented, that we should be so unhappy to see the Devil and such wicked Men more truly served, (by these their wicked Servants) than God and our King is served by too many thousands of our Nation, that outwardly to the World profess much Zeal towards God, and much Loyalty towards our King; and yet are not in their Hearts so faithfully zealous towards God, or so loyal towards our King, as those poor Wretches, that so justly suffered, w re to their most wicked Masters; I mean such Rich men, as aforesaid, and the Devil.
But now again, I seem to hear the sound of a Voice, that doth propose to me this Question, Who are those Men that have thus wickedly done? What are their particular Names? To this Question I now Answer, and say; As for their Names, I do not readily know all of them; but some of them I think I may know: However, I must at present most humbly beg Your most Gratious Majesty and the Parliament to excuse me, tho' I do not now mention the Names of those Men that have thus done, whom [Page 13] I may know, and that for this Reason; if I should here name them particularly, and after that, I should fail of such assistance, (as I now expect) to withstand such potent Enemies, then I am apt to believe, after such failure, their Money, which answereth all things, will drive my Truth to the Wall with disdain, when such gross Offenders shall walk the broad Streets in Pomp, with praise and honour amongst Men; and then it shall pass for truth, as if they were Innocent, and my self Guilty of accusing them maliciously, and wrongfully. And by my own experience I can speak it for a truth, That I have known the like of this, which I now doubt of, done in other Causes; for with my Eyes and Ears have I seen and heard some Men for large Fees, devoutly Plead for wrong Causes, and at last, have by their sophistical and crafty Arguments, overthrown Truth; and therefore I think no Man ought to blame me for endeavouring to be as Wise as a Serpent, whilst I intend to be as harmless as a Dove.
But methinks I hear another Question ask'd of me, which is this, Were there no other sorts of Men concerned in such Frauds and Cheats, as you seemingly lay to the Charge of some great Brankers, g eat Usurers, great Merchants, great Receivers of Money, and some other great Rich Tradesmen?
To this I Answer; I am apt to believe there were then concerned in such Frauds and Cheats, about such Moneys, as aforesaid, some Men of all sorts of Trades, Occupations, or Professions, that then had Money, or drove any manner of Trade, had a snack of the Benefit of it, more or less, some way or other; and so at last, some sorts [Page 14] of all such great and small Traders on Money, as aforesaid, agreed altogether to make a clear scrable, or scramble of it, (if I may so call it,) or more plain, I mean every one of these Traders on Money, both the Sellers and Buyers of it, every one of them, catch'd what profit they could out of it, during the whole time, which they could have for so doing and so at last amongst them, they have made our Land a poor England to many thousands of Your Majesty's poor, middle, and meanest sorts of true Loyal Subjects: For by these, and some other suchlike ways as these are, such (and some other such like vile Miscreants) have made themselves extraordinary Rich, and also thereby brought the major part of Your Majesty's middle, and meanest sorts of good Subjects into great straits and extream Poverty: And is there no way to remedy this in time, e'er it be too late? Pray, great Sirs, I most humbly beg of You, for God's sake, and for Your own sakes, now take Compassion on the poor, middle, and meanest sorts of true Loyal Subjects.
But here an Objection may arise, and it may be said, I cannot think that the middle, and meanest sorts of People could be such Losers, in and by the Revolution of our late Coin; for it did not then lie s(...) much in their Hands, but most of it then lay in the Hands and Custodies of Rich Men?
To this I Answer; I acknowledge that most of the late Coin then did, as the new Coin now doth lie mostly in the Hands of Rich Men; and that the poor, middle, and meanest sorts of People then had, and always consequently must have the least share of our Coin in their custody; yet [Page 15] that doth not any way make void, or disanul my Assertion: For tho' the poor, middle, and meanest sorts of People had then the least share of it, whilst it was passable, yet by the cunning contrivances of some Rich Men, and also by the Clandestine Ways of some other such men as I have herein beforementioned, and in some measure described, they at last, some by one way, and some by other ways, cast almost the whole Loss and Burthen of it on the middle and poorer sort of People in our Nation.
And now (for the full Proof and better Manifestation of this) I must of necessity now descend into some Particulars, which I cannot well do at this time, having (as I have already said) neither time nor room to specifie them in, except I should proceed to make this my Work swell to be a considerable Volume, which I am not now willing to do, nor perhaps will Your Greatness then have time nor patience to peruse it: And therefore I must forbear to proceed on so many particulars as I could offer, and must now cut short my Work, and first of all answer the last forementioned Objection.
And now in Answer to it, I say; After that such Men (as aforesaid) had scattered all, or almost of all the such Monies, as aforesaid; then at a jump presently they cry'd it down, and would not take it in any manner of Payment, or for any manner of Commodity, long before the several Limitations of Your Majesty's then Proclamation for the taking of Clipt Monies was expired; and by that means, the greatest part of such Monies then lay in the middle and meanest sorts of [Page 16] Tradesmens Hands, and in the hands of their poor Servants; and also (much of it) lay in the Hands of some Gentlemen and their Servants; as also in the hands of Farmers, Just manholders, and the poor Servants under them. And thus, amongst all sorts of People, such small Money, as aforesaid, was scattered and then lay in their Hands for a while, until they grew weary of it, for it was then of no more use to them than Bullion: But then in a little time after that the Shopkeepers, such as were by trades Grocers, Mercers, Woollen and LinnenDrapers, and all other sorts of Dealers, in any other sorts of Commodities, gave out their Commissions, or Proclamations, by Word of Mouth, that they would then take all such sorts of small Moneys for Goods, tho' never so small; And tho' no bigger than a Grain of Wheat, was the very words of some of them, as I was then Creditably informed: And yet nevertheless, they would then take it for Goods, until such a time was past, which they then limited; And then presently after that, all sorts of People, both of Cities, Towns, Villages, Cottages, and all the remote Countrydwellings, hearing of this, were glad of such an opportunity to put off their Bad Money, and then such Tradesmen had for a while a swinging Trade indeed, and profit enough by it, far beyond all manner of good conscionable gain; for they all of them, from one to the other, then took Eighteen Pence for that Commodity, which at other times they would willingly have sold for Nine Pence, Ten Pence, or Eleven Pence; and also took Half a Crown for that Commodity, [Page 17] which at other times they would have sold for Fifteen Pence, Sixteen Pence, or Seventeen Pence: And by this way some sorts of People, did then put off their small Money; But the Poor and meanest sorts of People could not then spare their such Money to buy Commodites with it; for they Poor, Miserable, and sad Distressed Souls, then wanted it to buy Bread; and therefore they, (poor Creatures) instead of buying of Commodities, they were forced to sell their Money; and for their Shilling, each of them could then have but six pence or seven pence for it, if it were of the smaller sort; and but eight pence, nine pence, or ten pence for the very largest Shillings, after the time was over that such Old Money would not pass.
And now I could descend into particulars, had I time and room, to let Your Most Gratious Majesty and the Parliament know, how many times these poor Souls, then sold their small and larger sorts of Money from time to time, and over and over again it did then come round to their Hands, and that by means of such wicked and clandestine ways, as they the Grocers, Mercers, and other Moneybuyers then did use, only to gratifie their own base covetous Desires. And thus were the Poor then at that time most grievously opprest; for always, as often as ever this Money came to their Hands, tho' round, round and round again, yet still they the said Poor were then forced to put it off by a losing way; for then at that time, for every Shilling, they then did twelve or fourteen pennyworth of Work for it, before they had it. And then again, they must fell this Shilling for six pence or seven pence, if [Page 18] it were a small Shilling; and the Half Crowns then yielded them but sixteen pence, eighteenpence, or twenty pence: And thus the Poor then sold their Money to the then Moneybuyers, which same Moneybuyers did then constantly supply those Seargemakers with Money, who kept those poor People on work; and that in and by this way and manner, as I shall herein presently endeavour to set forth.
And first of all I say, the Seragemakers by trade, they then, by reason of the scarcity of Broad Money, were then forced to take Bills instead of Money, for their Searges; and then they (those Seargemakers) did then exchange such Bills with the Shopkeepers, as Grocers, Mercers, and other Tradesmen, who did then supply the Seargemakers with Money; and that in and by this way and manner, as followeth.
When they the Seargemakers, or any of them, had occasion to exchange a Bill, either of ten pounds, twenty pounds, or thirty pounds value; then the Seargemaker, went to one of those Grocers, Mercers, or other Tradesmen, and gives in his Bill present in Hand, to be paid in Twenty, Thirty, or Forty Shillings a Week, Week after Week, until the full value of his Bill be paid him: But now note, this Bill so given by the Seargmaker, was then presently good to the Grocer, Mercer, or any other Tradesman, as any Currant ready Money in their Pocket, tho' he the said Grocer, Mercer, or any other Tradesman, then paid the value of this Bill to the Seargemaker, but by Twenty, Thirty, or Forty Shillings by the Week. [Page 19] But now again, here lyeth the mean Query of the matter; In and with what sort of Coin did those then Mercers, Grocers, or others, then pay the Seargemakers for their Bills so given to them?
To this I Answer; They the then Grocers, Mercers, or others, did then pay such Bills to the then Seargemakers all in such Money, as they or any of them then bought from the Poor, Hourly, Daily and Weekly, which Moneys did not cost they the said Grocers, Mercers, or other buyers of Money, above eight pence, nine pence, or ten pence, (the Shilling) and yet, they (the said Grocers, Mercers, and other such Buyers of Money) had then that little Conscience within themselves, as to pay back again from time to time, to the Seargmakers in their Weekly payments, for their Bills, the same Money which they then bought up, at such cheap Rates, Hourly, Daily and Weekly from the Poor, from time to time; I say, the same Money, they the said Grocers, Mercers, and other such then buyers of Money, did then pay it unto the Seargmakers, in its full value, as it was first coined for; which same Money the then Seargmakers, were forced then to pay it unto their Poor Labouring Servants also, in its full value, as it was Coined for, and that because they the then Seargmakers so received it for their Bills, in their Weekly payments, from those said Grocers, Mercers, and other such Moneybuyers as are before mentioned, in my foregoing Discourses.
But now again, here comes the Tradegy of the matter at last, for 'twas the Poor Labouring Servants that then were the greatest Losers all the [Page 20] while; for they Poor Souls, every Week had some of the same Money came round to them again, which Moneys, they aways bought very dear; and yet then were forced always to fell it very cheap; for then when it circulated round to the said Grocers, Mercers, and other Shopkeepers hands again, then they would give the aforesaid Poor for their such Moneys, but barely their old Prices for it, which was but eight pence, nine pence or ten pence for their Shilling; and thus by such ways and means, as I have herein described, such Moneys, as aforesaid, consequently and constantly came round, and round, and round again, and again, to the sore loss and damage of Poor distressed Labours, as I have herein described, whose Gauled Backs, have yet on them putrified Sores to this very day, by means of such most grievous Burthens, as were then laid upon them, And thus by such Clandestine ways and means, as I have herein described, then did many Rich covetous Cormorants, with their Devilish Wheels of Craft, then break the Poor to pieces. O most abominable Wretches! that had then in them no more Charity for their then Poor Starving fellow Creatures: And are not such Actions as aforesaid, grand Oppressions, and such Profits and Gains, are they not most abominable Extortions? or are not such things absolute Grindings of the Faces of the Poor? And yet notwithstanding all this, such Oppressors and Grinders of the Faces of the Poor, think themselves safe, because they think within themselves, that no Law can Reach them to punish them for it; But however the Just God of Heaven will at last, give them, [Page 21] and all such as them are, their due Rewards. But yet again, I say, I cannot otherwise but admire at the Impudence of such vile Miscreants, that have done such things, and yet, at the same time have then profest themselves to be precise Christians, and true Protestants, and also devout Loyal Men; But let any Judicious Man, or Men, judge what Principles such Men then were of, or may now or hereafter be of, as to matters of Religion; and as to their Loyalty they then were, and low are, and I believe hereafter will be, pure Subjects indeed, even such as will turn any way, that either the Wind or Tide, of their own base Interest, will most easily drive them.
But again, during the whole time of the scarcity of Money amongst such poor People as aforesaid, yet Corn, and all other necessary Provisions, were then extream dear; and therefore how could it be otherwise, but hard Times with such poor Creatures. O! were not those Times meer Starving Times? yes, they were, and I believe that then at that time, many Hundreds, if not Thousand, throughout England, gradually were then nearly Starved to Death; for with my own Eyes did I then see, in our said Town of Tiverton, in Devonshire, many Poor, Weak, Languishing Creatures, then walking up and down the Street, and many of them in a short time after that Dyed, whose Distempers originally, (I believe) first proceeded from no other Causes than from the want of Necessary Food; which Food such poor Creatures, whilst alive, could no way have it, for want of Money: For Charity was then, as it is now, very Cold. But for Corn, altho' it [Page 22] was then so very dear, yet there was then enough in our Land, and the then Cornsellers could then aford their Corn at reasonable Prices, but they would not. And thus by the means of some Mens obdurate Hearts in them times, many were then mearly Starved to Death, in the midst of an indifferent Plenty; for throughout our Land one where with the other, we have always hitherto had enough of all sorts of Provision, tho' not in such great Plenty, as in times past we have had, and I do heartily wish, that at last our Sins may not bring on us a Scarcity indeed, Read the whole 5th Chap. of Jeremiah throughout, but more particularly observe, verses 4.5. and 25.
And therefore, Great Sirs. I most humbly Beseech you, for God's sake, and for Christian Charity sake, as well as for your own dear sakes now forthwith take some compassion on the Poor, Middle, and Meanest sorts of true Loyal English Subjects, who are yet driven to great straits, and many of them now, at this present time, under great Wants.
But now again, after all the then scattering abroad such (before mentioned) diminished and corrupted sorts of Coin, you may find by my discussing Arguments, and by my proposing and answering of Questions, it now seems very likely, that then at last, a great quantity of that corrupted Coin was again reduc'd into the Hands of such Buyers of Money, and other such Tradesmen, as I have already beforementioned.
And now the next Query that naturally flows from all my former Discourses, I think must be this; What did those several Shopkeepers, and all [Page 23] those other petty Buyers of Money then do with such Money (as aforesaid) at last?
To this I Answer; I believe all of them well knew, beforehand, how to put it off then at that time: And I am apt to believe also, that they (all of them) then had Commissions from some great Bankers, or great Receivers of Money, or great Merchants, or great and small CustomOfficers, or some other Officers of or belonging to the Duty of Excise; or some other great Rich Men, that could lend great Sums of Money to some other Men to buy up such small Money for them; for I am sure some of those Men that then bought up great quantities of such small corrupted Money, were then very poor in themselves, and had then no stock of Money of their own; and therefore it must be that such poor Villains as then bought up such great quantities of this then small corrupted Coin, did then buy it up, to and for the uses of such Rich Men, who would not then appear in such Actions themselves in Person; but by and with their Money, they did then appear, and then gave Commissions to such poor Villains to buy up all such small Moneys as they could get for them. And for the manifestation of the truth of this, I am apt to believe that there are some Men that can give testimony of the truth of all that I have here said: But they will not. And again, I say, I am apt to believe, that there are some other Persons, that will tell the truth of all that they do know, in, or of such matters, (as aforesaid) if at any time they are thereto called so to do. [Page 24] But now upon the whole, I say again, I am apt to believe that such sorts of great Rich Men, (as aforesaid) had at last amongst them, by some way or other, all the then such small Moneys, that the Moneybuyers, Grocers, Mercers, and other Shopkeepers, then bought up and so received from time to time: And also, I am apt to believe that some of those then Moneybuyers, and Shopkeepers, did then put off their such Monies on very good terms, and with great profit, especially such of them as could stay for their Money, until the MoneyMerchant's returns could come about: But the then petty Chapmen of the Moneybuyers, and other small Shopkeepers, that could not for bear their Money, until the great MoneyMerchant's returns could come about, such as them, were the forced to put off their such Monies for smaller profit, and that only because they could not then stay for their Money, until the said MoneyMer chant's returns could come about.
But now again, methinks I now hear a suppositive Question asked of me, and it doth now seem to sound in my Ears, as if I did now hear some one say to me, Suppose such Men, as are beforementioned, did then so get in all, or almost of all the then Monies, as aforesaid, into their own Hands or Custodies, what could they then do with it?
To this I Answer; I cannot tell all the ways that they then had for the putting off such small Monies at last: But undoubtedly they all of them had then a way for it, or otherwise they would not then have been so greedy after it, as they then were in the getting in of it then into their own Hands.
But now upon the whole of this Argument, if I may be permitted to spend my Thoughts upon it, and speak my own Opinion in and about the whole matter, as I verily believe it to be; Then I will say, that I believe some of the aforesaid such Monies, was then paid into Your Majesty's use for Customs, and some for Excise, and some for Taxes, and some by way of Lones; and so then at last, some by one way, and some by other ways, it was all, or almost all of it, lodged in Your most Gratious Majesty's Exchequer, and there (I believe) was at last found much to light. But the Perjuries of such Men, as might not then do Your Majesty and the Country right; they, for ought I know, are lodged in Hell, and there to abide until the great Day of Judgment, and then may rise again as Witnesses against them, except (in the mean time) such Men make Restitution for the great Wrongs they have done, whilst they are here living upon the Earth.
And now to conclude this second part of my Discourse, I cannot otherwise but say, that amongst all those evil and most pernitious mindedmen, (beforementioned) and in some measure escribed, there was not then amongst them, as much as one of them, that I do call here by the Name of Your Majesty's poor, middle, and meanest sorts of true Loyal Subjects, then any way concern'd in these (beforementioned) most horrid and wicked Actions: But they who were then concern'd in such aforesaid wicked Actions, were Men of ther Ranks, and Degrees, and Qualifications in heir Minds, as well as in their then such Actions: And in their Estates, they (many of them) then [Page 26] were, and now are considerably Rich; tho' not so very Rich as some in the World are; but I mean some of them then were, and now are, such a sort of Rich Men, as we poor CountryFolks here amongst us do call them rich, topping, towering Men; and such Men as have all of them taken the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy; and they do say, all of them, that they will fight for Your Majesty and the Protestant Religion, and the good of their Country. But who can believe them? if those Reasons which I shall here now offer, be but well and duly considered.
And now I say, 'tis visibly seen, and by their Actions too notoriuosly known, that such Evilminded Men, as aforesaid, have always had from time to time, base, wretched, and Selfintrested Hearts; and to save their own Money, they will do almost any thing in the world; and also, in and by a base, Hypocritical, Undermining, and Clandestine Way, they will use all manner of Fraud that their most Wicked Hearts can invent, to get Riches, altho' at the same time (in their own Hearts) they must then needs be sensible that such Actions are the ready ways and means to pull down true Religion, and overthrow the King, and ruin our Country: And therefore, I say, can any Soul believe, that such Men, as will for the Love of Money, deceive our King, and ruin our Country, that they will ever fight for the Protestant Religion, and King, and Country; no, no, for I am apt to believe that they will rather, every man of them, forsake the Protestant Religion, and leave our King and Country to the mercy of an Enemy, than fight for any Religion, King, or [Page 27] Country whatsoever: And therefore I think it not safe for any one, to put to much Trust in any such Men, that at the best are but like great Sticks, that are so much rotten, as that no man may dare venture the weight of his whole Body upon them, unless he be so careless of himself, as that he doth not value a Fall to the Ground by them. But however, amongst such men, some of them perhaps will fight with a Thief in the Night, rather than they will lose all their Money; and that only because such men adore and love their Money, more than they do love God or Religion, the King or Country; for such men seldom regard any one's good but their own: Nay, in fine, I say, if all things are but well and duly considered, such men do not at all, by doing such Actions, truly love themselves. And thus I end the second part of my Discourse.
But 3dly. There is one other fore Grievance which of late hath, and now doth continually damnifie all Your Majesty's Poor, Middle, Meanest sorts of Subjects; and that is, the loss of Trade, for ever since the time that, that most cursed Trade of Buying and Selling of Money was first set up, all other honest Trades have ever since been decaying; But if such vile Miscreants had then been such good Men, as to have then Imploy'd all their Stocks in a way of honest Trading, to keep the Poor then on Work, than for ought I know, Trading might have continued good to this Day; or if they had then at that time, but so Imploy'd their Wits in making all manner of honest shifts, to keep the Poor on work, as they then did in [Page 28] studying out all manner of knavish Ways, that ever their base covetous Hearts could then think on, to make a meer prey on the Poor, only to gratifie their own unsatiable desires, that they then had after their filthy Lucre, and most unconcionable Gain; Then certainly, their would never have been such miserable Times as then were and now are to this very day: For when Mens Actions do please God, then his Blessings do commonly attend such mens undertakings; But when Men, under pretence of doing all manner of Good, o then all manner of Evil, what then can such Men expect from the Hands of God, otherwise than his Wrath to follow them, until it hath overtaken them. And therefore, I now advise all such Men as have so done, forth with to repent them of their Evil doings, and also to make speedy Restitution, in the best way and manner, that they now can make, lest the Cries of the Poor do at last ascend up into Heaven, and from thence bring down Vengeance on Earth, and on the Heads of such Men, as have thus from time to time so opprest the Poor; for they certainly, did by their cursed Moneytrade destroy all other Trades; And therefore at their Doors it ought to be laid; tho' the sad effects of it doth yet still remain on the now living Poor to this very day.
But again, such covetous Rich Men, as aforesaid, did then so act, as if they had then been wholly bent to bring future Poverty upon our whole Nation, for they then took all advantage for their own Profit on all sorts of People, but more especially on the Poor, Middle, and Meanest sorts of People, and that because they could [Page 29] more easily then make a Prey of them, than of others; and as if Sorrow had been then on purposs added to their Afflictions. So then those great Losses came on the Poor, Midle, and Meanest sorts of People, in the very time of their greatest Need; for Taxes then were very high, and hore heavy on them, and then it was in that very nick of time, that those vile Men made their Market on them, and a Prey of them. And besides all this (sad times) it was then for the Poor, because then they had not half so much work as they could do, nor scarce half the worth of their Hire for it when they had done it; for then most of the Poor of our said Town of Tiverton in Devonshire, wrought by way of Truck; and instead of Money for Work, they had then most of them only Commodities, as Kersie, Drugget, Serge, and LinnenCloath, or the like of other Commodities: But then, after they had received such Commodities for their Work, in leu of Money, then after that they spent much of their time in going abroad to Sell such Commodities; And then when they had Sold them, many times they had for them but little more than half the Value of them; and then, with this little Money they did buy Bread, after the rate of Ten, and Eleven Shillings the Bushel for Wheat, and Four or Five Shillings the Bushel for Barley.
And now judge you, Great Sirs, were not those [...]es meer Starving times? Yes, God knows to many poor Souls then found them so, who are now in their Graves; and hard times it is still, with many of the Poor now living. And therefore, I now most humbly beseech Your most Gracious [Page 30] Majesty, and the Parliament, to believe me in what I have here said, for it is the very Truth.
But 4thly. I cannot otherwise but make known to Your Most Gracious Majesty and the Parliament, this sore Greviance also, and that is, how heavy, and sorely, the Taxes of Births and Burials, hath of late, and now doth lie on the Poor: But as for Persons of Quallity and other Gentlemen, as also (many other Rich Men) that want Children to Injoy what they have, it must needs be great comfort to them, to have the opportunity to pay BirthTaxes; and if DeathTaxes be at any time due from any of them, then they can very easily pay it without any manner of loss to themselves, if they will but observe this rule for it, first to reckon with themselves how much Money their DeathTaxes will amount to, and then so much Money as their DeathTaxes come to, they may very well keep back and save it, out of the Extravagant Expences of their Funerals; And that way they will be no Losers at all by their paying to the King DeathTaxes: But for the Poor so to pay, is to them very grievous, for there are many Thousands in England that have not the Alms of the Parish, that are in such miserable Conditions, by means of the late and present hard times, that they have scarce SwaddlingCloathes to wrap up their new Born Babes in, when they come into the World, nor scarce Money to buy Bread for such little Ones, as they had before: And then some times, it may be that some of those poor little Innocent Creatures dye meerly for want of such Necessary Food, as they [Page 31] should have; And then their comes both to one time BirthMoney and DeathMoney to be paid; and pay it they must; And this drives such Poor to great streights, for then some of them are forced to sell some of their Housholdgoods to raise Money to pay such Taxes? O (sad) it is with them, and beyond my capacity to find Words suitable to set forth all their Grievances and Troubles, which many Thousands in England of late have, and now do Labour under them.
And therefore I will trouble Your most Gratious Majesty, and the Parliament, no farther in these Discourses, but will conclude all their Complaints of this nature, in these one or two true Stories, which I heard, as it came from the Mouth of one hat was a Gatherer of the Taxes for Births and Burials.
And now, first of all, I say, in our Town of Tiverton, in Devonshire, there was a Poor Man hat buried a Child, and when the then Receiver of BurialTaxes came to him for the TaxMoney, ue on the Death of his Child, he (the poor man) paid the said Money; and then the Receiver of such Taxmoney, lookt round about the Poor man's House, to find a Place to lay his Book n, that he might then write down the said Poor Man's Name, and the Sum he then received from his poor man. But he the then Receiver of such TaxMoney, seeing in this poor man's House neither Table, Board, Chest, Bench, or Stool, or any place for him to rest his Book on; he then said to this Poor Man, I think I must go away, and not write down thy Name now; for here is no place n all thy House for me to write upon. Then this [Page 32] Poor Man hearing that, replyed, Pray Master don't you go away, and not write down my Name; for if you please Master, I will turn me about, and stoop forward, and then you may rest your Book upon my Back, and so write down my Name, and how much Money you have received from me. And so this poor man immediately so stoopt down, and the Receiver of such TaxMonies did then rest his Book on the said poor man's Back, whilst he the Receiver wrote down the poor man's Name, and the Sum he then received of him. And thus I end my first true Story.
My second true Story is this; There was also a poor Widow Woman of our said Town of Tiverton, who had buried several Children within some short time together: And when the then Receiver of such TaxMonies came to her House for such Taxes, she the poor Widow Woman had not the Money at that time to pay him: But she promised the then Receiver to bring the said Money to him at his own House, as soon as she could get it; which in some time after that, accordingly she did: But then immediately after she had paid such Monies to the then Receiver of such Taxes, she the poor Widow Woman wept betterly, and then solemnly protested to the then Receiver's Wife, That then at that time she had not one pennyworth of Provision in her House, not could she then command one Penny more in the whole World to buy Bread for her self or Children, then left living; the thoughts of which made she the poor Widow Woman, again at that time weep most bitterly; and then wringing her Hands together, with her Eyes lifted up to [Page 33] Heavenwards, she then with great grief uttered these words, Good God! was there ever any such thing as this ever done in the World before until now? And then forthwith, she the said poor Widow Woman, went homeward, bitterly Lamenting her self.
And now upon the consideration of this, I cannot otherwise but say, Undoubtedly the Cries of many of our good, poor miserable Souls have already ascended up into Heaven; and therefore, ope, their Cries will now forthwith be heard n the Ears of Men on Earth, and so speedily ave some Relief.
And now, 5thly. I cannot otherwise, but make "nown to Your Most Gracious Majesty, and the Parliament, how one other most horrid Crime ath of late been committed, and still is continu(...)ly used and practised by too many Men, in our ation, which Crime is a most wicked Trade, [...]at for some Years past, and now present, is uch used; And that is, to buy up vast and great uantities of Corn beforehand, only to Regrate pon it, and so by such means do create a Dearth, hen there is a Plenty in our Land, and their ay and manner of doing it, is this; As soon as Harvest approacheth, that the Countryman can [...]e how Corn is sped in kerning; Then presently our Rich, Covetuous, closeFisted Gentlemen, and Rich clownish grubing Farmers, and some Rich Covetuous Merchants, that neither Plow nor Sow: all those sorts of Men then take their Recreation to ride and walk abroad to overlook their Neighbours Fields, as well as their own, and then hey observe who has the best Corn, as well as [Page 34] whose is the worst; And then when they have thus fully viewed the Country round them, then in the next place they make it their Business, to go to the several Houses of their Tenants, and other Justmanholders, that are not so well stockt in Money as themselves are, and then raise a dispute about Corn, how it is kerned, and also what Fields are well kerned, and what Fields are but lightly kerned. And then after this, the next Question that those CountryGentlemen, or Farmers, or Merchants, or other Buyers of Corn do ask, is what Rate they think Corn will sell at by the Bushel the Year following? Then the poor honest Tenant or Justmanholder speaks plainly his mind, as he then thinks by the goodness of it as it then appeareth in the Fields, when Harves is just at hand, and the Corn past the danger o Rust or Canker, and very good, only left to the Mercy of God, and the Weather, and so he give his Judgment what he thinks the Price by the Bushel will be the Year following. But then replies the CountryGentleman, or Farmer, or Merchant, or other Buyers so concern'd, Tush Man, cannot go to such a Price, as thee tells of, for Corn well sped. But then says the poor honest Countryman, Indeed Master (with his Hat off, and scratching of his Head)methinks, Master, it should go the Price by the Bushel that I tell you. No, no, (saith the Rich Country Gentleman, or Rich Grubin Farmer, or Covetous Merchant,)it will not go that Price this Year. But come (say they, or an one of them)what need we any more talk about this What wot thee take for all the Corn thou hast i(...) Ground this Year; for to have all thy Money together [Page 35](perhaps)will do thee a great kindness. To which the Poor CountryMan answers with a smile, and all this while (perhaps)his Hat is off; and in his Hand, (or)he holds it behind his Poll, (or) under his Arm; and then says, Money altogether, (Master!)will do me more kindness than to carry it into the Market, to sell it out there by the Bushel. And thus such poor Country men, only reserve for themselves as much Corn as they think may be enough to serve their turn, both in Bread and Drink, and so sell away the rest all to a lump; and umping Bargains they have(many of them) that buy up Corn in this way and manner: For the poor honest Countryman reckoneth to himself now he can afford it, according to the Rent he (...)ays for his Ground; and according to the cost he hath laid out in it: And thus such poor Countrymen are very well contented with such honest Gain.
And thus, by such ways and means as these, some such Men, as aforesaid, have of late Years ought up great and vast quantities of Corn; and hen, when once such Men have got it into their Clutches, they will not suffer it to be brought nto the Markets (until) such times as their Corn is spent, that do usually bring in Corn to apply the Market. And thus, by means of such Men, and such Actions, as aforesaid, our Markets of late Years have always lookt thin of Corn, n the midst of Plenty. And if this be always uffered, for such men so to do, (then) there will ever hereafter be, a continual Dearth on Corn, let what plenty soever come, (yet) notwithstanding [Page 36]] that, we must expect it always to be very dear; for by these, and other suchlike ways as these are, such Men will get almost all the Corn in our Land, every Year, Year after Year, into their own Hands; and then they will have their own great Prices for it, or they will keep it back out of the Market from time to time, and from year to year, until it doth become Mouldy, (or Musty) and almost ready to Stink, so as that it will be then scarce fit for the use of Men, or until Rats and Mice have devoured a great part of it.
And thus those greedy Cormorants lay up Provisions for Rats and Mice, and thereby (meerly) starve many good Christians; and all this is for filthy Lucre'ssake, and to heap up to themselves the Treasures of this World, which at last they must leave it all behind them, and so depart hence with a gauled Conscience, by means thereof (or at least) have a Curse on it, unto the third and fourth Generation of their Posterity: And the truth of this I must believe, because God himself hath said in his Second Commandment, That he will visit the Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children, unto the third and fourth Generation of them that hate him. And who are they that hate God? (Why) such as grind the Faces of the Poor, and make their Prey on the Needy, and laugh when their Calamity comethy upon them. And such Actions as these, (such) Cornsellers, as aforesaid, have oftentimes used towards the Poor, when they have come into the Market to buy their Corn of them; for with my Eyes I have seen such (Cornsellers) very rude towards poor People, and because they would [Page 37] not come up presently to their great Prices, they the said Cornsellers, (some of them) have with their Hands, thrust them off from their CornTubs, and then, after such hard usage, they the poor Cornbuyers, have mildly said, (to the Cornsellers) How can you in your Conscience ask so dear for your Corn? But then that word (Conscience) hath put the said Cornsellers into such Cholerick Fits, as that then they have presently took those poor People by the Arms, and by their violent strength, have thrown them off from their CornTubs, to the very Ground it self; and then in a little time after their Cholerick Fits were over, (then) they would (Impudently) Brazen out the said Poor with Laughter, and then floutingly drive them away with their bruitish Language, saying, Go farther; away about your Business: Are you come to tell us of our Consciences? We will have our Prices for our Corn, or you shall have none of us. These, and many suchlike Actions as these, with my own Eyes and Ears, have I oftentimes seen, and heard them so do, and so speak.
And is not this a hating of God, to deal with his poor Creatures (in such) servile ways and manners, as I have herein from time to time, and from Argument to Argument, set forth and described? Look in Prov. 14.31. there Solomon saith, He that oppresseth the Poor, reproacheth his Maker: But he that Honoureth Him, hath Mercy on the Poor. Look also in Prov. 17.5. 'tis there said, Whoso mocketh the Poor, reproacheth his Maker; and he that is glad at Calamities, shall not be unpunished. Again, I say, He that is Charitable to the Poor, loveth the Lord, and his Alms are acceptible, as if it were [Page 38] done to God himself: See in 25th Chap. of Saint Matthew's Gospel, vers. 40. 'tis there said, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my Brethren, ye have done it unto me. And thus we may see from Christ's own Words, when any thing either of Mercy or Justice is either shewn or done to any of God's poor People, God takes it as done to himself: And if so, then consequently this must follow, that all manner of Wrongs, or Violences, that are any way done to God's poor distressed Ones, are by God himself, so deemed and taken, as if it were done to Himself; as may be seen in the same 25th Chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel aforesaid, beginning at the 41 verse, and so onwards to the 45th verse, which 45th verse saith, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And now again, I say, then consequently it must follow, that whosoever shall see any of God's poor distressed People Hungry, and give them no Meat; Thirsty, and give them no Drink; Naked, and cloathed them not; Sick, and in Prison, and visit them not, are guilty of the most highest Ingratitude: For was it not God himself that first gave to every Man all that he hath? Why then should any Man be so ungrateful, as to deny God, some part of his own when he thus requires it to be given to his poor distressed People, (especially) seeing by that way, God is willing to receive it, as if it were given to himself: And for the further proof of this, look (also) in the 19 Chapter of Proverbs, vers. the 17. 'tis there said,He that hath pitty upon the Poor, [Page 39] Lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given, will he pay him again.
But these things, few Men now do take into their Consideration; for in this our Age, Men are now come to that height and degrees of Cruelty, that they then were who lived in the Days of the Prophet Amos, as you may see in his 8th Chapter, vers. the 4th and 5th, 'tis there said, Hear this O ye that swallow up the Needy, even to make the Poor of the Land to fail, saying, When will the newMoon be gone, that we may sell Corn, and the Sabbath, that we may set forth Wheat, making the Ephah small, and the Shekel great, and falsifying the Ballances by deceit. And for better satisfaction, you may Read the whole 8th Chapter of the Prophet Amos, and there you may see what sore Judgments are threatned on such a People as so do.
And now last of all, I Recommended (and offer) to the serious perusal of all Men, the whole 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy, and there may be seen what Blessings the great God of Heaven and Earth, hath in store for such as do well, as may be seen in the first verse of that Chapter, and so onwards to the 15 vers. of the said Chapter, and then Read on to the end thereof, and there you may see, what (Curses) God will power down on the Heads of all those that will (continually) persist on in their Evil ways.
But again, altho' in the Eyes of most Men, the greatest loss and danger of those (Mischievous) Actions, beforementioned, are past and over; yet, I am to believe, that the most (malignant) part and direful effects of them are yet to come, [Page 40] for by Observation of things past, both in Natural and Supernatural Causes, it hath been by experience found, that when the Causes have been out of the sight of all Men, and (memory) of some Men, yet their Effects have been found and felt afterward; And to make this more plain by way of similitude, I say, with my Eyes have I seen a fair flourishing Orchard, with delicate Blossoms sprouted out with great Life and Vigour, and very likely to produce much Fruit to the Owner thereof, who (seemingly) upon the first sight of it, did then depend upon having much Fruit that Year; but then, by the means of a few Frosty Mornings, or with some Blasts of Lightning, was either withered, (or) Scorched, and so lost and gone, which when the Owner thereof saw it, he did then within himself much contemplate about it, (altho) to outward appearance, it was not then to be discern'd by his countenance, that he was so very much concern'd, at his then present loss, for after he had then well considered within himself, he then said, Come, I have a good stock of old Syder left, and for Apples, I believe we shall not want them very much, for I believe, I shall have some tho' not so many, as I was in hopes of, yet enough I hope, to make some Christmaspyes, to feast my Friends. But then afterwards it so happened, that this Gentleman's Old stock of Syder was well nigh spent before Winter came on, and when Christmas came, he had no Syder to give to his Tenants, and other Friends, that then came to visit him, nor Apples enough to make Christmas. Pyes, to feast them; and then this Gentleman began publickly to lament the loss of his Blossoms, [Page 41] and that because by means thereof; he (then) could not accommodate his Tenants, and other of his Friends, so well, as otherwise he would have done, if his said Blossoms in that Springtime before, had come to their full Perfection, as to have produced good and well ripened Fruit: For this (Gentleman) whom I mean (I say) he is a true generous spirited Gentleman, and such a one as is willing to oblige all Men, and to do right to every one, is my real belief of him.
Again, I say, there was a certain Rich Man, who had in his Possession several Mannours of Land, which were all well stockt, both with Horses, Cattle, and Sheep; and also, he had by him much Treasure; and to mannage these his Temporal Affairs, he had many Servants under him; some of those Servants were very faithful to him; but others of them were as unfaithful to him, and yet so smooth and subtil in their way, as that they could not be by any way discerned from them that were faithful Servants to him; tho' at the same time (by a fair and Friendlike smiling kind of way) they did (Clandestinely) take from him much of his Treasure: Which Losses, the said Rich Man could no way discover, or avoid hem in along time after he had received them. But at last, (in process of time) this Rich Man ound that his Treasure was much wasted, and hen he called his Servants to account for it; and hen they, (all of them) both Good and Evil, the Faithful and the Unfaithful, gave in their Accounts, which seem'd to the Rich Man, all Plain and Just; and yet at the same time, He (the Rich Man) well knew that some of them were Unfaithful [Page 42] to Him: But how to distinguish them one from the other, he could not tell, but much troubled he was about it; and Cause enough he had for it; for he then felt the Effects of such Losses (as Time) had almost worn quite out of mind.
But now, upon the whole of this matter, what can I say more of it than this, such Evildoings as these, sometimes will be; (and yet) no Man can help it. And therefore, if any Man knows himself to be abused, and cannot help himself, (so well as he would) yet nevertheless I think 'tis but Prudence in any such man, if he doth endeavour by all manner of Lawful Means to help himself as well as he can, or may, in any Equitable Way. And now in reference to this matter, I cannot otherwise but say as followeth.
Such Sharking Wits, like (Weathercocks) with the Wind,
So nimbly turn their Faults, no Man can find:
But Time will come, when All Things shall be known,
And then such Wits (shall) quite be overthrown.
[Read the first Psalm of David; but more particularly observe the sixth Verse.]
And now may it please Your most Gratious Majesty, and the now Honourable Parliament: By divers Ways and Methods, Arguments and Similitudes, both Metaphorically, and Really, I have endeavoured to set forth to Your Greatness, the several great Abuses (done) from time to time, both to Your most Gratious (Majesty) and the Country; amongst which of them, the Poor, Middle, and Meanest sorts of them, have the greatest Reason [Page 43] to complain: And to whom shall they complain, but to the Powers that are ordained to rule over them? And who are they, but Your most Gratious[Majesty] and the Parliament? And therefore I hope Your Goodness, and Greatness, (both) will be pleased (now) to lend an Ear to their Complaints, and forthwith think on some way or other, that some Speedy Course may be taken for their Relief: And in so doing, it may be, for ought I know, not only a means to Relief their great Necessities, but also (a great means) to strengthen Your most Gratious Majesty against all Your Enemies: And therefore it is, that I have now taken upon me (to offer) unto Your Greatness this Treatise, which had been more fit for some Eminent Person to have undertaken it, than for so mean a Person as I am. But I thought it an indispensible Duty, and very needful for some (one) or other to do it, and I have long waited to see whether any one would do it; and then not finding (or knowing) any one that hath so done, therefore it was that I now at last resolved on the doing of it: But whether I have done it to the content of all Persons that may have the reading of it, I cannot tell; for I know my Capacity to be such, as to want Words to please some Critical sorts of Men: But however, I am well contented (in this my low Station) and mean Degree of Knowledge: And I think my self more happy in being only able to Speak Truth Innocently, than to be able by Sophistical Arguments, to baffle Truth Eloquently.
And again, I must say, there are some Men in the World, that have in them Accute Natural [Page 44] Parts, and are endowed with sharp Understandings; and also, there is bestowed on them great Riches, and all manner of Humane Learning, and yet they Exercise their high acquired Parts, (mostly) in studying out Critical Points, and Philosophical Arguments, that thereby they may be the better enabled (only) to confound Reason, and wrest Truth: But such Men, as have only in them such Parts, and only use them to such Ends and Purposes, to such, and only such, I say as followeth.
Such Men are grown so Worldly Wise,
Good Men they hate, and them despise;
Such men now act (so) craftily,
That Good Men (must) Meer Beggars dye.
But mark the End, what comes at last,
When Earthly Days are gone and past;
Dives and Lazarus doth them tell,
Beggars have Heaven, Rich Gluttons Hell. [See Luke the 16th Chapter, vers. 22, 23.]
And now to conclude, I say, by means of my thus doing, I am very sensible of it, that thereby I have (so openly) exposed my self, that I am now as a Mark to be shot at by such Evilminded Men, as I have here in this Small Treatise of mine, in some measure described: And therefore I hope, Your most Gratious Majesty, and the Honourable Parliament, will now be pleased to accept of my goodwill, and to protect me against all such Men, as will not only Snarl at me for thus doing, but (Bite) me if they can; and after that, rend me to pieces also, if ever it shall lie [Page 45] in their power so to do. But however it be at last, yet I hope (God) by his Providence, will so far protect me in what I have done, as that he will give them no farther power over me, than to be able to chew the Cud of Envy within themselves, and keep their Malice as Prisoners within their own Breast; for the just God of Heaven doth know, that by my putting forth of this little Book, that I aim at nothing more than his Glory, and the good of all Men, of all Ranks and Degrees whatsoever.
And so I conclude this First Part of my Work, and farther say, (and now) from the very bottom of my Heart, I say, God bless Your Most Gratious Majesty, and the Honourable Parliament, and also preserve our Nation from the Malice of all our Enemies, and all other Calamities whatsoever, that are any ways likely to attend us, is the Prayer of Your Majesty's true Loyal Subject, and also the Honourable Parliament's devoted Servant,
Richard Newnam, of Tiverton in Devonshire.
And now again, I say, may it please Your Most Gratious Majesty, and the Honourable Parliament, this Second Part of my Discourse, with all humble Submission to Your Greatness, these I also Dedicate, and farther say, as followeth.
AS in my foregoing Discourses, I have endeavoured to set forth unto Your Greatness, the several Complaints and Grievances of the Poor, Middle, and Meanest sorts of Your Majesty's true Loyal Subjects, as they have relation only towards their Bodily Assi+stance: So in these my following Discourses, my whole design is now, to offer unto Your Goodness, the great Complaints and sore Grievances of all others of Your Majesty's good and true Loyal Subjects, as they have relation only to the Good and Welfare of their Soul's Health: For the Spirits of all such Good Men, are now most sorely and grievously opprest, by means of the prodigious growth of Atheism, Errors, and evil Examples, from whence springeth forth all manner of Wickedness, Filthiness, and Lewdness, as Prophanation, Swearing. Cursing, Lying, Murthers, Thefts, Sodomies, Buggeries, Incests, Drunkenness, Gluttonies, Whoredoms, Adulteries, Fornications, Chambering, Wantonness, Lasciviousness, Loose Looks, Unbecoming Behaviours, mimical (...)estures,andObscene Talks, in all manner of Communications, in these our daily Businesses. For now all chast Ears and Eyes are always (and ever) continually anoyed with [Page 47] the hearing and seeing of such most abmoniable, filthy, and frothy Discourses and Actions, so as that Good Men cannot hear them without great regret and gaul of Spirit within them.
And all those beforementioned Evils, (must needs) proceed from such Wants, as I shall now forthwith nominate unto Your Greatness.
And first of all, I say, such Evils, as aforesaid, did first proceed through Mens want of a True Faith in God, and a true Reverence of God.
2dly, Through want of Mens having within themselves, good Hearts, and good Consciences, both towards God and Men.
3dly, Through want of the due Execution of such good Laws as are already made for the Upholding of Virtue, and for the Suppressing of Vice.
And now, Great Sirs, according to the best of my capacity, as far as God shall be pleased to enable me, I shall now endeavour to set forth all these my following Discourses, nakedly, plainly, and innocently, without having in me any manner of SelfIntrest, Pride, or Vain glory, Envy or Malice, against any man or men whatsoever. And the like of this I have already said and done in my other beforementioned Discourses; for therein I have not (wittingly) or willingly, by any manner of Expression, or Expressions, that I know of in the least given any Offence, to any good man, or men, whether Prince, Potentates, or Subjects; but with an innocent open Heart, without any manner of mental Reservation, with my Pen, I have written to the best of my Knowledge, so far as I thought it might be convenient for me to do, the very naked Truth, and not otherwise.
And now again, I say, as I have in these my beforementioned Discourses, always observed such Ways and Methods to the best of my Endeavours, so likewise now in these my following Discourses, I will endeavour as much as in me lieth, to give no Offence to any man, or men whatsoever, any farther than the speaking of naked Truth may give. And therefore, however it may be resented by some me , or all men, yet nevertheless what I do now intend to speak, shall be the naked Truth, according to the best of my Knowledge, and real Belief within me, as God and my own Conscience can testifie for me.
And now I come to set forth to Your Goodness, the Sixth general Head of my Discourse, which I mentioned to Your Greatness in my beforesaid Introduction, to the main of my whole Discourse, and all the beforementioned Heads therein contain'd, I have already insisted on the Particulars of them, and in these my beforemention'd and several Discourses, have therein finished them. And now by God's assistance, I shall endeavour, to the best of my power, to set forth to Your Greatness and Goodness, the several Particulars of them, beforementioned, General Heads, which I have not yet discoursed upon at large by way of Particulars.
AND now Sixthly, I must say, such things as I now do intend to discourse of, [are] as I think, all very necessary to be thought upon, and are of a far more higher Concernment, than any thing yet, that I have offered in any of my beforegoing Discourses: And the first thing that I shall offer to the Consideration of your Greatness, is this.
That notwithstanding all those hard and dear Times, which of late have been and now are, yet nevertheless, all this doth not any way work upon the Hearts of our Prophane and Sturdy Poor, I mean such Poor, as are known by the name of the Mob, or sturdy Vagabond Poor, of our Nation, who are (now) become so notoriously Wicked; as that any one would (almost) think that Hell it self, is let loose amongst them, and the very (Fiends) thereof invisible Actors with them, if not really in them. (O!) such things as these are sad to think upon, to see, that notwithstanding all these several Calamities, which some of them have known from time to time, and have so much Muffered under them; yet all this hath not any way in the least turned them from their Evil Ways, and Prophane Living; for 'tis known that some of them that are now thus so notoriously Wicked, have been under great Wants, from time to time; and yet notwithstanding all these great Wants which they have known, yet they do not now want Hearts to conceive Mischief, nor Hands to act it, nor [Page 50] Tongues to intice others to do the like. But these are not the Poor, that I have in my beforementioned Discourses, so much lamented and pittied; and if I may now be but permitted to speak my opinion in this Cause, concerning such a Mobb of sturdy Vagabond Poor, or of some other suchlike vile and prophane Atheistical Spirits, then I will say (that I think) there can be no Laws made to severe on this side Death, to punish all such most notorious, (wicked) and prophane persons, as do now even as it were seem to swarm in this our Nation.
But here a Query may arise, and it may be said, From whence first sprung all those Vices and Wickednesses which do now even as it were reign predominant in this our Land; and that not only amongst the Mobb, and Vagabond sturdy Foor, but to much amongst (almost) all Sorts, and all Ranks, and all Degrees, and all Sexes, and (almost) all Ages of these our People (in this our Nation;) for the very Infant, even as it were, is now become (so prophane) as is the Old Man.
To this I Answer; All those wicked and prophane Actions, that are now so much used, and put in practice, both by Men, Women, and Children now amongst us, first came from Atheism Error, and Evil Examples.
But first of all I say, it first came from Atheism, for when once any one comes to deny God himself, what thing is there in the World that such a one will not do next? I say, such a one will do any thing whatsoever that his own mischievous Heart at any time conceives to do, be it what it will: And indeed, much it is to be lamented, to see Atheism in this our Age, to become such a vast and [Page 51] mighty Tree as now it is, that was but a few Years since but a young and tender Plant, and but just peept up above the Earth, after it had lain so long under Ground, and was always trodden down under Foot by all Good Men in former Ages, who would never any way permit it in the least to appear above the Earth: And altho' many of the Antient Heathen-Philosophers in their days, did plant this most pernitious Root of Atheism in most places of the World, which took deep root here in England amongst us; for their have always, and ever since that time, remained amongst us some such Atheistical Spirits, who have always, and ever since, endeavoured to the very utmost of their powers, from time to time, to cherish and nourish up the growth of this Atheistical Root, from which springeth forth that most damnable Doctrine, which teacheth such wicked Men to deny all future Beings: But yet nevertheless, notwithstanding all that, yet did the good Men of Old, by their good old Ways and Practices, walk in such good old Paths of Righteousness, which were all both plain and smooth, and they were so many of them, that then this root of Atheism had no room to spring up in this part of the World; for if at any time then it did but begin to appear, it was then presently trodden down under Foot, and spoiled. But now of late in a few Years, it hath been in this our Nation very much fostered up amongst us; and now at present, still is continually fed with that Fat and nourishing Soil of all manner of filthy Avarice, Prophaneness and Hypocrisie; by means of which this most pernicious Root of Atheism is [Page 52] now grown up, and even in these our days is now become a mighty Tree indeed, whose very Boughs spread both far and wide, and the Leaves thereof do now begin to overshadow the Glory and Brightness of the true Protestant Religion, & Gospel of our most Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which is yet by some good men's endeavours, (devoutly) upholden within this our Land, which God of his great Mercy always grant unto us, (and amongst us) to send many more such faithful Labourers, to prevent the farther growth of this now mighty Tree of Atheism, that so at last, for want of future nourishment, it may at last (perish by the root) and so at last dye evelastingly away, is my Prayer.
But 2dly, I say, from this pernitious Root of Atheism, springs forth Errors: For no sooner can a Traveller be out of his right way, but he must (inevitably) be in a wrong Path, that will lead him aside, or backwards, so that by means thereof, it may be a long time before he will be able to reach to his Journeysend. Again, I say, Natural Philosophers do hold this for a Maxim, tha(...) there is no Vacuum in the Globe of the whol World; (which if so) then comparatively I may say, that in the whole Body of Divinity, ther(...) can be no Vacuum, but it must be full of Truth or Truth mixt with Error. Again, I say, a(...) likely a thing it is, that if Truth in any Cause Matter, or Things whatsoever, fly from, or give ground to Error, then consequently Errors wil step into Truth's Ground, and so possess Truth place; which things of late Years, by sad experience, hath been found to true: For through th(...) [Page 53] Erroneous Lives of some Men, that do profess themselves to be true Church of England Men, (Truth) by means thereof, hath of late Years been a great Sufferer, (whilst) Errors in the mean time hath gained great Applauses amongst sim le and weak Ones. And no wonder is [...]made of it, if we do but consider how man(...) there be, that do profess themselves to be of, and for, and belonging to the Church of England, that can say no more in the defence of their Faith, than to say, Here is a Health to the Church of England, with confusion to all them that are of any other Opinion. But such Expressions and Sayings are not only foolish and bruitish, but they are very uncharitable also; and the Doctrine of the Church of England teacheth such Men (as so say) better Principles; for it teacheth all Men to have Charity for all Persons, and all sorts of People, as well for such (as are not of that Faith) as for those that are within the Pale of that Church: And therefore, I say, great pity it is, and much to be lamented, and I my self cannot otherwise but be much troubled for it, to see, and hear, such (a) most worthy, honourable, excellent, (and) authentick Religion, so much slighted, undervalued, and despised, as now our most honourable Church of England is, by many poor, simple, (and weak Creatures) who through want of Right Understanding, stumble at Truth, in the very plain Ways and Paths of Righteousness it self; and that only because some of the Pastors of our Church, are now become (foolish) bruitish, and very loose Livers, throughout their whole Lives and Conversations: But the greater is the shame to all [Page 54] such of them as so do, and so live; and a great Account one Day for it they must all give. (And now) with all my Heart I could wish, that all such Evil Members were cast out of our Church, for they do meerly thereby [Eclipse] the very Glory of our Religion; and such Men cannot be otherwise but like great Stumblingblocks, which still lie in the very middle way of our ChurchPaths, which leads towards our several Sanctuaries, and thereby keep back many Simple Ones from going to hear God's Word truly preach'd, by other worthy Members of the Church of England, whose Lives and Conversations, have always adorned their Preaching: But yet nevertheless, notwithstanding all this (yet) such are the weak Capacities of many People, that when they see such stumblingBlocks lie in the way before them, and just in the very ChurchPath it self, (then) rather than they will step over them, or endeavour to avoid them, by their going onward by either of the sides of them, (they) will rather go back again, (or) turn in, to some other unknown ways, wherein it may be at last, they many of them do stumble indeed, and many times thereby fall in Headlong into that most dangerous Gulf of Atheism it self: And such things as these, I my self do much lament them, as I my self am one of that Faith, which is of, and belonging to that Church, known by the Name of the Church of England; from which Faith I hope I shall never waver.
But again, it may be said, What, are there none that do live in Lewdness, and lead wicked prophane Lives, but such Men as are called by the Name of Church of England Men?
To this I Answer; There be some of all Opinions and Professions, that are altogether so vile, and as filthy in their Lives and Conversations, as any Churchmen whatsoever, (only) they have a way of carrying it off more privately to the World; for what they do, is more secretly, and more Hypocritically; so that I cannot decide the matter, (so) as to say which is the worst of them, (both of them) and all of them, are all to bad; and I heartily wish, that they may all and every one of them amend, and turn from their evil ways, (as I my self) shall endeavour to amend my own evil ways; for I acknowledge my self to be a great Sinner
And now I say to you my Native Countrymen, of our Town of Tiverton in Devonshire, spare me not, but either exclaim against me (or reprove me) in or for any thing that is Evil, that you either know (in me) or of me, or against me; and if it be true, that you lay to my Charge, I will patiently bare your Reproof, and endeavour to amend what is in me amiss, to the best of my power; and for what is wanting in my self, to be enabled so to do, I shall desire God to assist me, so as that I may be the better able to eschew all manner of Evil, and follow nothing but what is Good: And the same Resolution (in every thing) I advise all and every of you, and all other Persons whatsoever, that hope to be saved in and through the Love of God, and the Merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ) you all of you, and every of you ought to take; which Resolution so taken, and so put in Practice, then we shall all of us (at last) reap the benefit of it, and not otherwise. [Page 56] But again, something more I must say concerning Errors, and Erroneous Livers, and that is this; I say, take this for certain, that amongst all our Opinions, Sects, and Religions, their are some Errors: For their is but One true God, but One true Religion, but One true Faith, and but One true Way, to serve this true God. (Then) how can so many Ways as we profess, in and about matters of Religion, be all and every of them true? [This] to the Eye of Sense and Reason cannot be, (nor to the Eye of Faith either, can it so appear to be.) And therefore I must say again, [Errors] are crept in amongst us, and we do even as it were cherish them in our Bosoms, only to gratifie our Pride, [or] Vainglory, [or] SelfInterest, or to shew our Natural Parts: And under pretence of rooting out of this thing called Error, many do plainly shew to the World, that they aim at nothing more than what I have but just now said; for how many Volumes have some Men writ to reclaim Errors? and when they have all done, by their [Works] it hath then plainly appeared, to the Wisest and most Judicious Men of our Age, that what they have so much cavilled about, hath been at last (more) about indifferent Words, than matter tending to the Salvation of Souls: And at last, when they have all done, they have (then) committed more Errors in their several Disputations, than ever they amended with all their Epistles, (Writings) or large Volumes. And moreover, I must say, that some Men, by such Epistles, Writings, and Volumes, have thereby laid open a wide [and broad Path] only fit to lead poor weak capacitated Souls to [Page 33] destruction, for thereby they have meerly confounded the plain honest Understandings of many People,who have read all over their Cavilling Discourses, and then at last for want of a right Understanding of them, have said,We see how all those Scepticks, or Sectaries, differ in all their Points about matters of Religion, and some of them lead as loose Lives as any other People whatsoever; and therefore we will believe in none of them. And so consequently embrace all manner of Evil, and at last, believe in the Doctrine of Atheism it self, and in their Hearts then say, if not with their Mouths, That there is no God to call them to Account; for say they, (these simple poor weak ones) If such Men, of all Religions, did agree in their Opinions about God, and the ways of Godliness, we should then think there were [a God] to punishus, for our Evil Doings: But we do see (they do not agree) in such things: And besides all this (say they) in and by their Loose and Erroneous Livings, tis plainly seen that they themselves [do not believe] in (...)hat God which they teach us to believe in: For then ay those simple ones, If such Men did really believe in God, as they profess they do, then they would read the thoughts of offending that God: Or if they id in themselves really believe, that there is such an Everlasting Burning of HellFire [prepared] for all uch Men as live loosely and carlesly, then (certainly) one of them would ever live (in known Sins)nor ever [...]ve such wicked and debaucht Lives as many of them do, mongst all sorts of Professors. And then they, those (...)oor weak simple Souls say again, [Religion] that (...)ust needs be but a meer Bug-Bear, to keep the vulgar (...)ort of People in awe.
And therefore I must say again, that I think, it would be much the better way, for all such Men, as do spend (so) much time, in meer Contradictions, and many other unnecessary Controversies, [now] to spend the remaining part of their most) pretious time, in Preaching down Sin and Wickedness, and in teaching their several Flocks, the ways of Virtuous Living, [and also] by their future Lives and Conversations, [always] from time to time, endeavour to the utmost of their power, to adorn that Doctrine, which they preach to others, with their own Vertuous Living, and in all their several doings, be always striving to discharge their Consciences in their several Duties, both towards God and Man. And then all such Errors as are now crept in amongst us, (with many other Evils) will vanish, and dye away for want of future Nourishment.
But such Complaints as these [made] by so mean a Creature as I am, may be but little regarded: And therefore I will now offer unto you Solomon's own Words for it, which I think hath some relation to these Discourses of mine, (here in beforementioned) read Eccles. 12.12, 13, 14 it is there said, And further by these my Son, be admonished, of making many Books there is no end; and much Study is a weariness of the Flesh. Let us hear the Conclusion of the whole mater, Fear God, and keep his Commandments, for this is the whole Duty Man; for God shall bring every work [in to Judgment] with every secret thing, whether it be good, whether it be evil.
And thus I have endeavoured to set forth unto you, how that from Atheism comes Errors; and [Page 34] also, that loose Living doth always still enlarge the Territories of Atheism: And then, thus consequently from Atheism and Errors, must spring forth that dangerous, and most malignant Root, called Evil Examples; and this is the next thing that I shall now insist upon.
And now I say, that Evil Examples may fitly be compared to a Wildernesslike Country, that ath in it more Woods and Forrests, than good PastureGround, or TillageLand; but yet however the same Wildernesslike Ground, wherein these Woods and Trees grow in, if once they be throughly rooted out, with all the rest of the Bryars and Thorns, that grow amongst them; (...)hen that same Wildernesslike Ground in time (...)ay be as fit for good Pasturage, or Tillage-Land, (...)s any other whatsoever. But then this must be (...)one by the industry of good Husbandmen, or (...)therwise in time, such Woods and Forrests together with such Bryars and Thorns, which grow mongst them, may at last overrun and spoil that Ground next thereto belonging, which is now fit or good Pasturage, or good Tillage-Land: And (...)his I speak Metaphorically.
But now more really and plainly concerning Evil Examples, I say, too many of them there are ow in this our English Nation, for they swarm, and are now very numerous, (nay) almost beyond number, or at least, so Beastlike odious and pro(...)hane, that no Man, that is a good Christian, or ut a moral honest sober Man, but must be afraid) or ashamed to name them, [except] meet necessity, upon some extraordinary occasions, compel him so to do.
But so it is, that they now reign predominant in this our Nation, to that height and degree, so as that there are some of all Ranks, Degrees, Sexes, Ages, Professions, and Callings, corrupted by them some way or other, more or less: For instead of Virtue and Chastity, is used Chambering and Wantonness: And instead of Hospitality and Charity, is used Fraud and Oppression: And instead of Fasting and Temperance, is used Gluttony and Drukenness. And instead of Meekness with true Religion, is used Pride and Hypocrisie: And instead of Prayers and Supplications, is used Cursings and Swearings: And instead of saying, God save us, 'tis now (almost) a general saying, God D---mu-s: And instead of saying, Christ have Mercy upon us, 'tis now a general saying, The Devil confound us. O! what most horrid Sins are these! for Men to call on him that made them, to damn them; and also to call for the Devil to confound them, that is always seeking about like a Roaring Lyon to devour them, and would soon make them his Prey, if God out of his most bountiful Mercy towards poor frail Sinners, did not confine him within his Bounds, beyond which he cannot go. But however, notwithstanding God's great mercy towards all men, yet it will be the gretest Prudence in every one of us, to have great care within our selves, how wedo offend this great God, that in the first place created us, and stil hither to hath preserved us, lest we should at last provoke him to great anger. O! how would such prophane Wretches look, if God should in the very Moment of Time, given unto such Men, what they in their outragious Passions [Page 35] call for. Oh! think upon these things, all ye Black mouth'd Swearers and Cursers, that do by this most abominable way of Swearing, & Cursing thus prophane God, and would your own Souls: O! you that do so vehemently belch forth from, your bottomless Pits within you, such Burning Oaths as if the very Sulphrous Matter of Hell it self were in a Flame within your own Breasts. O! such Wickedness as these alone, are enought to pull down God's Vengeance upon us: But moreespe cially when all the other of those our Accomplicated Sins and Wickednesses, of our whole Nation are conjoin'd altogether, with those most abominable Oaths and Cursings, what then can we expect but the Viols of God's wrath, at last to be poured down upon us. Except by our true Repentance and Amendment of Life, we endeavour to prevent them; By puting a speedy stop to these our most horrid Crimes, which Daily and Hourly we commit against God, (otherwise) 'tis much to be doubted, that our Land (at last) may become a Wilderness indeed.
But again, it may be said, There are good and wholsome Laws made to prevent all manner of Wickedness; And what can there be more done to prevent such evills, than there is done already?
To this I answer; There are good and who;lsome Laws already made, and sufficient enough to punish all manner of Vices; but there are now but few Complainers against Vices, and Wickedness, for some are afraid to Complain, because (perhaps) for so doing they doubt thereby, they shall reap to themselves nothing but evilwill and disdain. And then others there are, that areas much [Page 36] ashamed to complain; and so by means of some such, and such other like things, these good and wholsome Laws are not put in due Execution, as they ought to be. But why such things as these are, should be so, I cannot tell, (except) it be, because there is a general Corruption, crept into the Natures of most Men, which makes the Wicked so concientious towards the Ungodly; or if they do accuse one the other, they will not stand the Tryal of it, but just like the Scribes and Pharisees, when they brought the Woman taken in Adultry, before our Saviour Jesus Christ, and then said to him, Moses in the Law, commanded us that such should be Stoned; But what sayest thou? The Christ answered them, He that is without Sin, amongst you, let him first cast a Stone at her; Which neither of they (the said Scribes and Pharisees) did do; because every one of them (was convicted in his own Conscience) to be as great a Sinner, as the Woman whom they had then taken in Adultry; and so their own Guilt made them at last, to leave her without prosecuting any further against her; and like guilty offenders, sneakt all away, and left the Adulterous Woman all alone; But when Christ observed that, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers; hath no Man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go and Sin no more. See in the 8th Chapter of Saint John's Gospel, beginning at the 3 d. verse, and so on ward to the 12th verse.
And now to apply these things to our selves, I think I may without giving offence to any one, (say) that it would be best of all, for all sorts of [Page 36] Men, that know themselves to be guilty of any manner of Crimes, or other Wickedneses whatsoever, first of all earnestly to seek God in Prayer, and to beg of him his assistance, that he now will be pleas'd to give them such hearts, as may be fit for true Repentance, and then also endeavour to the utmost of their power, true amendment of Life, and then undoubtedly, all such of us as are now ashamed to accuse on the other, might at last be forgiven, or at least excused, as the Woman taken in Adultry was, provided on such (conditions) that wel all of us, would fully resolve never to commit any such most ha nous Crimes or other Wickednesses any more; which if we could but so do, then we might at last, all of us, for so doing, in and through the Merits of our most blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, be justified by the Law of God, and then we should have no need to trouble, or fear the Laws of Men.
But again, I say evil Examples have been so many of them in this our Age, that their(production,) in number, are now become (almost) innumerable, for they have swarmed many a time [over,] and over again, and now many (Colonies) of them are sent abroad, to inhabit our Land all over, in every Creek and Corner of it; (O) what is it, that Example may not do, either in reference to what is Good, or to that which is Evil; for it is not observed, throughout the whole course of Nature, that every thing after his kind, endeavours to produce it's like: Doth not Love beget Love? And do not Courtesies require Kindness? (or on the Contrary) doth not hatred [Page 37] beget Hatred? and do not wronged Persons, often times seek Revenge? And then, from one quarrel another doth still arise, untill a World (almost) are all by the Ears, fallen out with one and the other; and that only by such means, as when like to like doth agree, and join with each party, and that accordingly as by their own nature within them (they are either inclin'd) to Love or Hate. And is it not further observed, that the Sober, and true Religious, and honest Plainhearted Man, delights in the company of such a one as he knows himself to be! Yes, if he can tell where to find him out, he will have his company. But farther, it is not also observ'd, and by experience found, thatDrunkards, Swearers, Whoremongers, Thieves, Lyars, secret Underminers, and Clandestine Deceivers, and all other sorts of dissembling Hypocrites whatsoever, do naturally desire each others company, and do oftentimes Flock together! And they need not seek very far for Company, for there are so many of them now in this our Age, as that they crowd together, almost as thick as Earthly Atoms in the Air, which cannot well be seen, but only when the Sun shineth in through the little Holes or Chinks of a Door, that encloseth a dark Room. And indeed and in truth, I may very well now say, that such evil Men as aforesaid, do always delight to be in dark Rooms, and they do [not] love Light, nor do they any way desire, that the Son of Righteousness should ever shine into their Rooms amongst them; for then they know that all their black Deeds will be as plainly seen by all men, as Earthly Atoms are seen in a dark [Page 37] Room, by the Power and Strength of the Sunbeams, when they are so contracted together, and sent through such little Holes, Chinks, or Craneys of such a Door, as it is beforementioned.
Again I say, Evil Examples are very malignant in their own Natures, and that many ways, as by woful experience it hath been oftentimes found, for when the Father is a common Drunkard, the Son oftentimes doth prove to be the like; and indeed, according to the course of Nature, it is not much to be admired at, for Custom is a second Nature, and some men do by Custom, bring up their Children so to do, as they love to do themselves; for when the Son goes to call his Drunken Father home from the Alehouse, or Tavern, he will then make his Child drink several times (perhaps) much against his Stomach, and then when the Lads squemish Stomach loathes the taking in of so much Liquor, then the drunken Father saith, (How) Sarrah, can't you drink? (what) you dont know what's good for your self; Come drink it all up Boy, and I'll make you love good Liquor as well as my self; for I find it to be a great Comfort to my Heart. And this way the Drunkard in time, makes his Son to become as common a Drunkard as himself; But again, sometimes if so comes to pass, that the Son of a Debauch Lascivious Father, in the days of his Infancy, makes some observations of his Father's lewd Actions, tho' at that time (perhaps) for want of Reason, he is not capable to think it to be in his Father, any way Immodest, or Evil; But then after that, when he the Son comes to see more Years in the World, and is then somewhat more Ripened in [Page 38] Age, and his own wanton desires begin to display themselves, within his own Brest. Then (perhaps) he begins to recal to mind, the former Actions that he had oftentimes seen, by his Lascivious Father, and then thinks he within himself;Why may not I my self do the like? And thus through want of good Examples, he is prone to all manner of Evil, and then he the Son, presently lets loose the Reins of his Will, to run into all manner of Wickedness. And thus such Evil Examples, are oftentimes the chief secondary Causes, that have corrupted so many Thousands, of our brave Vigorous Young Men, so as that thereby, at last many of them have paid the Debt which they owed to Nature, with their untimely Deaths, and instead of a Christian Burial in the Churchyard, they have been thrown into a most shameful Grave, under the Gallows.
Again, the same may be said concerning Mothers and Daughters, for if the Mother, throughout her whole Life and Conversation, be Vitiously given to all manner of Lewdness, and Wickedness; Then 'tis a rare thing, to see the Daughter of such a Woman truly Vertuous; tho' sometimes, now and than, 'tis known, that Wicked Parents have had good Children, and good Parents, have had Wicked Children, but much more often 'tis known, that good Education and good Examples, hath often times changed the corrupt Natures of many, so as that by mean thereof, they at last have become tollerably good that otherwise would have been most notoriously Evil, and by this also, may be seen, what Effect Good or Evil Examples, can produce. The [Page 38] like also, concerning Good and Evil Examples, may be said between Masters and Servants, for if the Master be a common Swearer, 'tis much if the Servant is not also tempted to break out now and than with an Oath, altho' originally he was otherwise taught by his Honest Parents, for did not good Joseph learn to Swear by the Life of Pharaoh, after he had been but a little while in the Egyptians Court, and it may be, he had heard many of the Egyptians oftentimes so to swear; see Genesis the 24th Chapter, verse 15.
But farther, concerning Evil Examples, I must say the greatest danger of them all, is when they are found in Magistrates,and Ministers, for they hereby do not only (corrupt) single Persons, or peculiar Families, but whole Cities, Towns, and Villages.
But again, The next thing, that will come in this my way of Discourse, I think will be to endeavour to set forth the sad and direful effects, of such Evil Examples. And now I farther say, the Evil Examples that have been to frequently shewn in this our Age, by almost all sorts of People, of all Sexs, and Ages, have been the only secondary Causes, that hath infused into our Hearts; this now general reigning Corruption, by means of which (many ways) we have highly offended God. And therefore I now (believe) that the Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, now forth with doth expect from every one of us, a true and hearty Repentance, with the amendment of our Lives, and Restitution made to those whom we have any way wronged, or otherwise we may for ought I know, (to soon) [Page 39] feel the weight of God's Wrath powered down upon us, but yet nevertheless, by experience it hath been found, that before the Almighty God, hath povered down the Viols of his Wrath upon the Heads of the most Wicked, and vilest Sinners, [he] out of his great Mercy, (hath hitherto) always given them warning before hand, by the Signs and Tokens of his displeasure, made manifest unto them both in Heaven and on Earth. And if I mistake not, I think the manifestation of such Tokens, of God's displeasure against a Nation (have) or might, of late Years been plainly seen in England: But however, when God is displeased with any Nation and People, that it is then his Good will and Pleasure, to give Warnings before he strikes, is plainly to be made manifest; and to prove this, I need not use many Arguments, for both Divine and Moral Histories are full of such Presidents:
And the first of them that I shall offer to you, for the proof hereof, shall be that of Josephus, in his Moral History, concerning the City of Jerusalem, who, if I mistake not, therein saith, That a Flaming Sword for a considerable time appeared over that City, before the Destruction of it: And if the Impenitent Jews had then at the sight thereof, truly Repented, who can tell but God might have had Mercy upon them. But they did not Repent, and therefore at last they felt the sad Effects of it.
But 2dly, Divine History saith, That the Wickedness of the Old World caused the Flood to be brought upon them; and yet God in his Mercy then gave them One Hundred and Twenty Years [Page 39] to Repent, as you may read in the 6th Chapter of Genesis, vers. 3. But they of the Old World in all that time, did not Repent; and therefore at last they were all drowned in the Flood; see in 7th Chapter of Genesis, vers. 12.
Again, I say,Nineveh was a great City, and the People thereof very Wicked; see Jonah, chap. 1. ver. 2. For their Wickedness was grown to that prodigious height, that it ascended up to Heaven before the Lord, and therefore God pronounc'd his Judgments against them, by the Mouth of the Prophet Jonah: But as soon as Jonah had Preach'd the Word of the Lord unto them, and told them, Yet forty Days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. Then they presently Believed, and Repented from the highest to the lowest of them; and therefore God shewed them Mercy, and repented of the Evil that he had said (he would do unto them;) see in Jonah, chap. 3. from the first verse to the end of that Chapter.
And thus we may see, that God doth first of all shew himself a God of Mercy, before he doth shew himself to be the God of Justice.
And thus we may see, that God doth first of all shew himself a God of Mercy, before he doth shew himself to be the God of Justice.
And therefore I may now (justly) and truly say, without giving offence to any Man, that God hath been, and still is, very Merciful to us here in England, (and that) in his forbearing of us, in all these our Infirmities, with great Patience: For is not our Land now become a very sinful Nation? (O) what Wickedness is their in the whole World, that is not (now) acted, done, and committed here in England amongst us; (for now) in this [our] Age, (home) to this very day, do not we continually (wallow) in the [Page 40] prophane, wicked, foul, filthy, shameful Sins of Sabbathbreaking, Hypocrisie, Pride, Whoredoms, Sodomy, Murthers, Blasphemy, Swearing, Cursing, Flattering, Lying, Frauds, Perjuries, Thieving, Oppression, Unjust Dealing, Covetousness, Selfintrest, with all maner of Undermining, Falshood, and with Hearts full of secret Mischief, striving by all manner of false ways, (Clandestinely) to deceive and undermine our fellow Creatures; and (yet) at the same time, with a Judaslike Kiss, or Counterfeit Smile, profess themselves real Friends [to him] or them [whom he or they] at that very time, intend to deceive. (O!) what greater Wickedness than these can there be in the whole World? And such Wickedness, as these, do not only continue amongst us, but [now] they do superabound abundantly, beyond measure, all England over.
And therefore (I say) both from Reason, and Scripture, rationally and divinely, we may all of us [think] our selves to be as great Sinners, as any were in the Old World, or in any other Nation, ever since the World began, who have been destroyed for their Sins: And therefore ['tis now] high time for us all to Repent, and Amend our Lives, for who can tell what may follow these our most great and grievous Sins? And 'tis to be questioned, whether our Sins may deserve that Mercy from God, which the Ninehvite's then received from him; for they, the Ninehvite's, immediately Repented at the Preaching of the Prophet Jonah, as you may read it in the 12th Chap. of Matthew, vers. 41. But for our selves, 'tis much to be feared, that our Impenitent Hearts, are [Page 40] now much like the Hearts of the old Jews, who were too much hardened to repent; which if so, who can tell, how soon we may feel the severe Judgments of God amongst us; for we are as great Sinners as any of they were; look in the 13th Chapter of Saint Luke's Gospel, the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5th verses, and there you will find, that when some told Christ what great Sinners the Galileans were; Jesus answered them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans? I tell you Nay: But except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the Tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye they were Sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: But except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And thus we see, the Jews had warning from Christ himself, and yet they did not Repent. And now are not we in England warned to Repentance? and that not only by Signs and Tokens from Heaven and Earth, but by the Holy Bible, the written Word of God, wherein we may see by all the Commandments of God, and Jesus Christ, and by all the sayings of the Prophets, and the Preachings of the Apostles, that all such horrid Sins as we now daily commit, and live in them, are most abominable in the Eyes of the Almighty God: And therefore, it is now high time for every one of us, from the highest to the lowest, to Repent, and turn us, every one of us, from our Evil Ways. And though we have not (now) amongst us, in these our days (personally) the Prophets, and Jesus Christ himself, and his Apostles, to teach us and reprove us, yet we have to this very day, left unto us, by divine [Page 41] Records, for our Doctrine, for our Instructions, and for our Reproof, all their Holy Sayings, and Preachings. And besides all this, we cannot to this very day, pretend to make any excuse for it, that we have not sufficient warning given us, to Repent us of all our Evil Doings; for God be thanked for it, still to this very day, there are not wanting in our Church of England, many good, devout, and most eminent Preachers, that do constantly shew themselves like good Pastors, and are faithful Shepherds over their Flocks; and every Sabbath-day, do by their most powerful and pressing Arguments, use their utmost endeavours to perswade Sinners, and to reclaim them from all their Evil Ways, exhorting them to true Repentance, and Amendment of Life; and also, to endeavour always to live in Obedience to all the Laws of God, and all the Commandments and Sayings of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: And then for the better performance of it, they are not wanting, to offer up their most devout Prayers (to Almighty God) for his Blessings to remain upon them. These Pastors, and only such good Pastors as these are (are now) the only true Moses's, & Aaron's that are now left on the Earth, to stand in the Gaps, and Ways, in which destruction cometh; and there do lift up their most devout Hearts and Hands, and interceed unto the Lord for us. And thus by their Prayers, together with the Prayers of all other true devout Christians, God's most severe Judgments, (have hither+to) been stopt from falling down upon us: But after all those Signs, and Tokens, and Warnings (if at [Page 41] last) we will be like the Impenitent Jews, and will not repent us of our Evil Ways, then our Punishments will be only from our selves: to prevent all such Evils, let us now [...]with repent us from the very bottom of our H[...]r(...)s, as the Ninevite's did (and also) that we may be the better, enabled so to do, let us now forthwith (first of all,) every one of us look into our own particular Hearts, and see what is there amiss, and amend it: And after that, to the very utmost of our power, (evermore) shun all manner of Evils, and then we may (yet) hope for Mercy at God's Hands; but otherwise, no less can be expected from him, but his most severe Judgments to be poured down upon us.
And now Seventhly, I say, from the Holy Bible, which I believe to be the written Word of God, and from the Experience of my own Actions; as also from the observation and experience of many other Men's actions, that I have known, or have heard of, from the Mouths of credible Persons, I have grounded all these my former Discourses; from which Fountain has flown all that I have said, wherein I have endeavoured to set forth the several wicked Actions, of almost all People, here within this out Land or Nation: And with these our Actions [God] is not well pleased, as doth appear by the several Signs and Tokens of his Displeasure, which may be seen plainly, if we look no farther than [this] how every Year, (Year) after Year, now of late, one part or other of our Land, hath failed of having plentiful Crops of Corn, much more than usually it hath heretofore, [Page 42] in some Years past, before these now late scanty Years for formerly I have known for many Years together, we have had plentiful Crops, Year after Year: But it is much to be doubted, that, that time of fulness of Bread, made us fat, as that we thereby only grew Wanton and Lascivious, and so consequently have run into all manner of Evils: But now, it seems to appear to [me] that God hath of late been pleased to try us with a Scanty, thereby to see how every one of us would behave our selves under it; and it may be also, to see whether the Poor would thereby become truly Penitent; as also, to see whether the Rich would be Charitable: For indeed it appears so to [me] both by the Eyes of Reason and Faith, as if God of late Years had so ordered things to be, (only) to try us in and by these Ways and Manners of dealing with us: For by observation of late Years, it hath been found, through the most part of our Land, that if in one part of our Land, their hath been an indifferent plenty (then) for that other places have so much failed. And then again, these Places of our Land, that have failed that one Year, (have had indifferent Plenty the next Year (following) that Year of scanty. [Or thus] again I say, they that have had a plentiful Crop of Corn, (when others) have had the same (Year) but a scanty Crop; then the next (Year) following, they that have had the Year before (a scanty crop) have had then their plentiful Crop: And then they that had the Year before their (plentiful Crop) have had their scanty Crop for it.--- But to explain it more short, take it thus; I say [Page 67] (generally) of late Years, by experience it hath been found, (he) that had a plentiful Crop of Corn (the one year) had a scanty Crop for it the next Year following. So that upon the whole of the matter, it doth appear to me, by Reason, as well as by Faith (to believe) that the [Almighty] hath of late, so measured out all his Blessings, only to try the Hearts of Men, that it might be seen by their Actions what their Behaviour towards God and Men would be, and how far their Charity would extend to one another. [But again,] I have observed (also) that notwithstanding the Almighty's displeasure with us, yet in the general, we have had enough, every Year throughout our Land, one where with the other, of all sorts of Grain, and of all others sorts of Provisions; but Men have not distributed it abroad in our Nation, as God would have had it done, for instead of Charity to their Neighbours, they have made a meer Prey of them, and have also sought out wicked Inventions, meerly to grind the Poor even as it were to dust: And therefore it is that I doubt, that for those things God hath yet a Controversie to be disputed with such men as have by several ways and means, before mentioned, thus oppressed the Poor and Needy; and that do put their trust more in their god (Mammon) than they do in the Great God of Heaven: But let such Men know, that, that God, that made them to that end and purpose, to do good in their Generation, can destroy them for their Wickedness in a moment; read the whole Chapter of the Prophet Obadiah, but more particularly observe these following Verses of that Chapter, [Page 43] which I have quoted at large, in the 3d and 4th Verses thereof, 'tis said, The pride of thine Heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clifts of the rock, whose habitation is high, that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thy self as the Eagle, and though thou set thy Nest among the Stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. And in the 6th, 7th and 8th Verses 'tis said, How are the things of Esau searched out? How are his hid things sought up? All the Men of thy Confederacy have brought thee even to the Border? the men that were at peace with thee, have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy Bread, have laid a Wound under thee; there is none understanding in them. Shall I not in that Day, saith the Lord, even destroy the Wise Men out of Edom, and Understanding out of the Mount of Esau? And in 10th V rss, 'tis said, For thy violence against [...] ther Jacob, shame shall cover thee, and thou sh[...] be cut off forever. And also, in the 15th Verse 'tis said, For the day of the Lord is near upon all the Heathen; as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee; thy Reward shall return upon thine own Head.
And now again, I say, if any of our Stargazers, who are called by the Name of Astrologers, shall read these my Discourses, they will say of me, He hath written like a Fool; for we know that all such disorderly seasons, as have been of late Years, comes from no other Causes, than from the natural Influences of the Heavenly Bodies, according to their own due Courses, as they were by God himself first ordained, for them to continue in, without any alteration (only) as to Time, and Motion, they vary in their several Revolutions, [Page 43] and so then consequently, it must follow, that from time, to time, the Seven wandring Planets, must be every Year, Year after Year, always variously placed, in their several Positions, and as variable in their Conjunctions, or Oppositions, or Squares: And then, as they have relation, more or less, in these their several Positions, to all those other innumerable company of Fixed Stars, (so) accordingly) they do always bestow (their several Influences) upon the Earth; or to express my self more plain (I say) that accordingly, as all the Heavenly Bodies, (are in their several Positions, and Courses, either Benignally, or Malignally inclined towards us, even so the Seasons of the Year must always be, and otherwise they cannot be: And this I take to be the Opinion of our Astrologers (in this cause) now stated.
Again, the like also, they say of any man's Nativity, That from the Influences of the Stars, all things are ordained, and appointed out for them, and what shall betide them here in this World; and therefore, whether it be good, or evil, they say, Men must be contented with their Fate. And so it appears by their (Opinion,) that every one by the Influences of the Stars, must be either Good or Evil, more or less, in their several Degrees, and Qualifications, of their Minds, as well as Rich or Poor in Fortunes; for I do not understand, that they do any of them (make any exception) in these things; and if so, then those Astrologers make room for Atheism also. And indeed, great pity it is, that so many Wise Men, in Worldly Affairs, should be so ignorant in that point, as to put any Confidence in such Lying Fops, as many of them [Page 44] are, whose very [Predictions give themselves (Contradictions) by which any Man may see, that they all of them err in their Art or Judgment, in such high degrees, as that the best of their Predictions; deserve to be despised, and contemned, for thereby they do pretend to know the very Secrets of God himself, which is impossible for any Man to know; and I question, whether the Angels in Heaven do know what shall betide every Man on Earth, until God himself is pleased to reveal such things to them, when he sends them forth as his Messengers, to execute his Will either in Mercy, or Judgment, to good or evil Men, whilst they are here upon the Earth: And therefore if such Secrets are not known to Angels, how came they to be known to such Men, (as call themselves Astrologers) who are in themselves, some of them, almost as bad as Devils; and I had no need to have said, almost as bad, for the very Devils themselves believe and tremble: But such Men as do pretend to this great Art in Astrology, some of them, have as I have been told, deny'd the very Being of God himself. But however, I will always own and honour all such Men, as have this great knowledge, of the Motions of the Heavenly Bodies (provided) they do not go beyond their Last, or Station; for they are very useful to us (all) to know the Times and Seasons of the Year. And I hope some of them do believe in the (one) and only true God, and also, do allow him to be the (only) whole and sole Creator of Heaven and Earth; and that he can and doth many times alter and change the Courses of those Heavenly Bodies, for to serve his own purpose (how) and [Page 44] when he pleaseth, (or) otherwise, it would be very sad, if all of them should be Atheistically minded: But I have more Charity for some of them, than so to think of them; but for any of their absolute Predictions, I take them to be very vain, and foolish, and think it great Folly, in any one, to fear them, or any way, in the least, to depend upon them; for certainly, no Man can tell, what shall betide a Child, by his knowing the very Minuit of the Hour that he was born into the World; for such things as these, are Secrets, which are known to none but God himself; and I do aver it, that it is above and beyond the Art of any Man in the World, to foretell punctually, every thing that shall betide any Man here in this subluminary World: And such things as these some Astrologers pretend to foretell; and some Men there be now living, that do put too must trust in them, and seem to plead for the certainty of their knowledge; for say they, Some of them do ramble very right in some of their Predictions. To which I answer, The greatest Fool in Nature, may sometimes by chance, answer aptly to some Questions; but 'tis very rare that they do so, and it is altogether so rare a thing, to see or know any of their Predictions, to fall out so patly to their purposes, as Fools do sometimes by chance so patly answer the Questions put to them. But as to the truth of any of their Predictions, they are very uncertain things, and much more uncertain, than any Lotteries whatsoever; for in them, there are certainly some Prizes, for the many Blanks that do belong to them: But there is no certainty at all, for [Page 45] the very truth of any of the Astrologers Predictions whatsoever, that they shall really come to pass, as they predicted it. But however, for Argumentsake, I think it fit to compair their Predictions, to be somewhat like unto Lotteries, as to the uncertainties of them; for a Man may loose, much Money to a Lottery, before he may get one Prize; and yet notwithstanding that now and than by the turn of an accidental Die, after many throws, there may at last turn up a Prize. And so amongst so many of their Predictions (now) and than, accidentally, some things may happen to fall out, to be somewhat like, what they had before predicted in such dark Problems as they usually utter them, which have also in them a very large relation, to many other common Accidents, that usually do fall out many times: But then if any of these Accidents agree with their Predictions, (then) the whole World is not untold of it, by themselves, (altho') at the same time, those Astrologers, by their foreknowing Skill, knew nothing of the (reality) of such things, that it should certainly come to pass: But their Predictions are so variously exprest, that they will bear several. Constructions, And (by that way) Chancemedlee, may bring to pass, now and than, some little things, something like to what they predicted, which the Astrologers will be sure to catch at,and will say, That, that was the thing they meant in their Predictions, when (perhaps) 'twas never in their thoughts bfeore, (only) they will allow it to be so, when any such thing so falls out to serve their turn. [Page 45] But again, (if I mistake not) the very Foundation of all their Art, is grounded, on no better bottom, than from the observation of Antient Astrologers, who did then, in their days, both quote, and chronicle, the several Positions, of the heavenly Bodies, and the Effects which ensued in their time, and so have left it down to our Posterity, That it was their Judgments, that when the heavenly Bodies, should be at any time, after their time, in the same Positions, that they were (then) in their time, that (then) the same like Effects would follow again, that did happen to be and fall out in their time, (whilst they were then living) which (president) is to me no sufficient Reason, nor can it, as I think, be a sufficient Reason to satisfie any rational Man; forli[...]e Causes have not always their like Effects, as may be seen in many things throughout the whole Course of Nature, (and in such things too) as is plainly within our selves known for certain Truths. For I my self have sometimes made Observation, of some red louring Evenings, just after Sunset; and such Signs as these, some say, are tokens of a very foul Rainyday, the next day following: But yet it hath not happened to be so always; tho' this I have observ'd of it, that sometimes such a very wet Day hath followed such an Evening. But then again, I have observed, that as often it hath fallen out to the contrary. Again, I have observed, that sometimes in an Evening, the Sky hath been very clear, and the Air very calm, and after that, the Sun hath set very gloriously, and some Weathermongers do say, (that) is an infallible sign of a Fair Day, next to fellow; and [Page 46] yet oftentimes it falleth out, that we have had the very next day, a very wet Rainyday. ---The like also may be said concerning the Winds, for the North and East Winds are usually cold and dry; and the South and West Winds usually more warm and moist, and more inclinable to Wet Weather: And yet sometimes, the South and West Winds, are somewhat dry and cold, as the North and East Winds are sometimes more warm and moist; and in these things, as well as in many others that I could mention, all, like Causes have not their like Effects. But again, as to the Weather, how uncertain a thing that is, every one knows, that has (Eyes) to see the variable changes of it, and yet our Astrologers will take it upon them, to foretell it to the whole Country: And indeed, I must say it, that it is a foul shame to all our Astrologers, to write so many genteel Complements, if not Lyes it self (about the Weather) for some of them, do pointblank, say wet Weather, when at the same time, the Weather proveth to be very dry: And when they say very Cold, then it doth very commonly fall out to be very Warm for the time of the Year: And when they downrightly say, Snow or Sleet; then most commonly, according to the season of the Year, it is then very fair and warm; but when they say fair Halcyon days for a long time together, then methinks I am sure of Rain, because by woful Experience, I have found it so in my Journeys on Horseback, when I have been several times, soundly Wet in through all my Cloaths, in to my very Skin, and the Rain hath then dropt out of the Elbows of my CoatSleeves in the time of their Halcyon-days; [Page 46] and therefore, I'll depend no more on their Halcyon-days, for constant Fair Weather.---But again, Astrologers will say, That there is not that certain Rule, for the Knowledge of the Weather, as their is for the Calculating of Nativities: For say they, the innumerable Company of Stars, (are fix't) and move not at all, but in their grand Motion, and the Seven Planets, keep their due Courses, (always) according to their several Motions: But as for those lower Airel Regions, they are oftentimes loaded with putrified Atoms, and much moist matter, with other combustable Stuff wich is always on where or other (huft) and (puft) to and fro, and with great violence (tost,) up and down, here and there, in those lower Regions of Air; for when the (Air) which is in it self pure, doth find it self thus burthened, then it will by course of Nature, endeavour, to free it self, and never rest quiet, until it be done: And therefore, no wonder is to be made of it (at all) altho' we Astrologers do so very much fail in these our Predictions about the Weather.
To this I Answer, (and say) you (Masters) and Astrologers, what you do now offer in your defence, concerning your Mistakes, in and about the Weather, I must confess, that it doth appear to me, to be very rationable, and I apt to believe, what you say in this matter, may be very true: But yet, however (Gentlemen) I must tell you, that you are much to be blamed, to put such Tricks upon the poor ignorant Country-men, that do put so much Trust and Confidence in you, and believe all that you say in your Almanacks about the Weather to be true. And I believe, [Page 47] many of them, do so order their Business, as to Plow and Sow their Seeds, at such times as your Almanacks, tells them that they may expect Fair Weather: But then, when those Country-men find themselves (so disappointed) with such wet Weather, as that they are hindred both from Plowing and Sowing their Seeds; then it may be some of them may be apt enough, to say their Prayers backward, on the behalf of their Almanack-Makers; for indeed, they are many of them ignorant enough, and very prophane also, for I have been credibly informed of a certain Country-man, whom I very well knew, that on a certain time (said) when he had Corn out in the Field, in Harvest-time, and when his Corn was dry, and fit to be housed, and then suddain Rain came on it again; then be, who was the Owner of the Corn, with a morose voice and frowning illlookt Countenance, cast up his Eyes to Heavenwards, and very Foolishly, Bruitishly, and Prophanely; or Atheistically then said these Words, (Ay) (do) God Almighty, do, spoil all, do so; do. And therefore, I say, you Masters, and Astrologers, if such men are so apt to blaspheme or mock at God himself, when the Weather doth not please them, what is it that they will not say of you Astrologers, when they find how often you have deceived them with your false Predictions about the Weather.
But again, I must have the other touch, with you Astrologers, about your Predictions. And now I say, I have heard, that there hath been observation made (of two Children) who were both born in one (hour) of the same Day, and as near, as it could be guest at, within a Minuit or two's [Page 47] time; and also, they were (both) equal in Parentage, and Fortune, as to their Birth, and yet, they [both] had not, equal Fortune in the World alike, for one of them, 'tis said, lived but poor and meanly; but the other grew very Rich and Wealthy, (altho') the Man whose Fortune was to be poor, was altogether so well accomplisht, as to natural parts, and every way so temperate a man, and altogether so frugal, in his Worldly business, as he could be, that was born into the World, with him that grew so rich: (And therefore) pray Mr. Astrologer, what was the Reason, why one of them was so Poor, and the other so Rich?
Mr. Astrologer.I'll answer you Sir, to this; the Reason was, because they were not Born both together in the same Minuit, or Moment of time; for one Moment may make some alteration, in such Causes; for if they had been both Born into the World (in one) and the same Minuit, or rather Moment of Time, then I do aver it, that they would both of them, have had very nearly (if not) equal success in those their Worldly Affairs.
Author. Sir, was this the very Reason, why these Men were so different, in their worldly Fortune?
Astrologer. Yes, Sir, that was the very reason of it.
Author. I do not believe it: But however, provided, it be true, that every Man's good or evil Fate, doth depend upon that very critical point of Time, pray Sir, where is that Man or Woman in the World, that is either Father or Mother, of any Child, whose Nativity you have ever calculated, that could ever tell the very Exact Minuit, or Moment of Time, of their Childs Birth?
Astrologer. Yes Sir, very well, there be them that have observed the very Minuit.
Author. By what rule, Sir?
Astrologer. By Clocks, Watches, and SunDials, or by the Courses of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.
Author. But what if the Sun, Moon, or Stars, are not to be seen, either [by Day] or by Night, by reason of dark, thick, gross Clouds, that may interpose between us and them, so as that neither of them could, or can, or may be seen at the time of the Birth of any Child? or how can you, or how will you, or how could you, ever know the very exact Minuit or Moment of Time in such Weather?
Astrologer. Why, then we must trust to Clocks, or Watches.
Author. Ay, surely, that way you must needs be deceived, in the knowing the very exact minuit, or moment of the time, of any Child's Birth: For where is that Watch, or Clock to be found in the whole World, that doth always keep the true time of the Day and Night (so exactly) as not to fail, in one minuit or moment's time? Or if there could be any such Clock, or Watch (made) that would keep time so (exactly,) where is that Man in the world, that can set any Clock or Watch, so exact to the very time, of the Day, or Night, as that he doth not err in one minuit, or moment's time, according to the very real time (of the Day or Night) and exactly agreeable, to the time, as by the Courses, and Motions of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, it is measured out (and divided?)
Astrologer. There are Men, that can make a Watch, or Clock, that will constantly carry the true [Page 48] time, of the Day or Night, when it is once but truly set by the Sun Dial, I say to a moment of time.
Author. Sir, I do not believe that; tho' for Argumentsake, if I allow it so, yet I have this to say; Pray, Sir, where is the Man to be found, in the whole World, that can measure the Heavenly Orbs so (exactly,) as from that Rule, to be able to set, any SunDial, so (exactly) true, as that it shall shew the very (exact) time of the Day, exactly, agreeing with the (exact) time measured out, by the [due] and daily, and nightly, Courses of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.
Astrologer. Sir, there be them, that can do these things, which you question the truth of it, whether you will believe it, or not.
Author. Sir, I must say still, I do not believe, that any man in the world, can make any such Clock, Watch, or Sun-Dial, that will keep true Time (exactly) and equally, not erring one moment of time, from the true time, of the day or night, as it is exactly measured out or divided out by the Courses, or Motions of the Sun, Moon and Stars. And therefore, upon the whole of this our Argument, I must say, (provided) that I could allow that there is such a thing, as Fate, or Destiny, and that it is decreed, by the Courses of the Stars, every one's Fortune, what it shall be here in this Sublunary World; yet Sir, this must needs be a thing, beyond your knowledge, and impossible for you ever to know, the certainty of it; for you your self do allow in Argument, that for the doing of it truly, without erring, in your Predictions, that you must know, the very moment, of the time, of any one's [Page 49] Birth (whose Nativity) you will pretend to calculate (exactly;) and that exact and unerring time, is not to be found out: And therefore, I say, that Art must needs fail in its perfection, which hath an Error in its Foundation; and such an Error, there is, in the foundation of your Art of Astrology. And now upon the whole of your Arguments, (I find) that you Astrologers, are as certain of your Art, in reference to your Predictions, if you could but find the very moment of the time, of any ones Birth, as that great Artist was, in the strength of his Engin, who said, That he could by an (Engin) remove the whole (mass) of Earth out of his place, provided, he could but find a firm Foundation, to rest on, or (fix) his Engin upon it.
And now to conclude our Discourses, I say, no such Foundation could ever be found, for such an Engin to rest upon; nor can I believe, that the very exact moment of time, can ever be found out, for you to work by it without Error; and therefore, it is certainly so, that you must needs err, and fail in all your Calculations and Predictions whatsoever, and there is no more truth, in any thing you say, concerning Predictions, than their is in that which you say about the Weather; and every man, that hath ever made Observation on time past, (doth know) how shamefully, you all of you, and the best of you Astrologers, have of late Years, failed in your Predictions; and you your selves do well know, that the whole Art of Astrology, is meerly fallible, only you must for Self-interest-sake, endeavour, to maintain, and uphold it, because [Page 49] (perhaps) your very livelihood much depends (upon) the using of this fallible Art; and all your Predictions in time (are found) to be meer idle, foppish, foolish, and vain Sayings; nor can I think any man wise, that doth, or will, put any trust and confidence, in the certainty of your Predictions, or in any other Sayings (of you Astrologers) in or about any such matters, as is before-mentioned,
But as for Astronomy, that I will allow, to be a noble, lawful, and honourable Science; for they plainly demonstrate, what they pretend to know, and for the most part of it, the truth of it, is, effectually found; but as to any thing concerning the Art of Astrology, I think it, not worth the while, to discourse you, any more about it; and so fair you well, Sir.
Astrologer. Pray, Sir, before we part, let me ask you a Question; What say you, is the reason, why those two Men were so unequal in their Worldly Fortunes? (seeing) they were both equal in their (Births) Parentage, Parts, Education, and in all manner of Qualifications; and also, were both born into the World, in one and the same Hour, and Minuit as it were, they both of them, came into the World together.
Author. Sir, I will Answer your Question: The reason of it (was this) God) that made them, and sent them both into the World (at) or nearly at one and the very same time, he for Reasons best known to himself, thought it not fit, to give them an equal share alike of worldly Goods, or such things as we call Riches, (altho') he was then pleased, to make them both equal in Qualifications, as to their natural temperaments of Body and Mind, [and that] because [Page 50] it was his pleasure so to do, [or] it may be [God] that foreknoweth all things, did then foresee, that a mean condition, was best for him, to whose Lot it fell to; for Riches are not always the best Gifts to some men, and (yet) there is no harm in them, if they are not abused in the ill using of them: But this I know, some men that have them, may do much more good with them, than they do, if they would but do as they are required; but their own covetous Hearts will not permit them so to do: And for ought I know, therefore it is, that God doth oftentimes, permit some Rich Men, to be ensnared, by the means of their own Riches. And what a strickt charge [Christ] himself gives to all men, to avoid Covetousness, and the Evils of it; you may read it in the 12th Chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, vers. 15. these words, And he said unto them, Take heed and beware of Covetousness, for a Man's Life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Again, I say, is it not oftentimes seen, how Riches puffs up some Men into Pride, and makes them oftentimes undertake, the doing of many unjust things, which many times, brings them into the Snares of a temporal (and shameful Death) and therefore, I say again, that (God) foresees, that Riches are not the best Temporal Gifts for some men, and for ought I know, Riches are withholden from some men, in a way of Mercy, as they may for ought I know (be given) to some other Men, in a way of Judgment: But to whomsoever they are given, (yet) they are given to them, (only) for to do good with them, in this their Generation; which if they do not so do, (then) [Page 50] it will be required at their Hands, for these things, are their several Talents, and God giveth these Talents of Riches to whom he pleaseth, to some more, and to some less: But (yet) nevertheless, he always requireth from every one, even as he hath given to him, for even so as his Talent is, even so thereafter he ought to improve it; for where much is given, much is required: read the 25th Chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, beginning at the 15th Verse, and so onwards to the 31 Verse.
And now, I say again, It is the Will and Pleasure of the Almighty, to deal with us his Creatures, as he pleaseth, and to give [us] of these worldly things, more or less, as he thinks (is) or may be best for us: And that was the reason (why) one of those two Men, which were born into the World, even as it were at one and the same time, was but poor and mean, in reference to temporal Riches, whilst the other (might,) for ought I know, superabonnd in his abundance. But who shall dare ask God, Why dost thou so? For may not God, do with his own what he pleaseth, and give to every one (more) or less, as he pleaseth. Yes, he may, and he doth bestow it (where) and (how) he pleaseth, and from his Hands alone; by his divine way of Providence, cometh all our Riches, or Poverty, [excepting] what the meer Sluggard bringeth upon himself; for he shall be cloathed with Rags, (as the Wise Man saith) for God doth require a means to be used by all men: But however, without God's Blessings, to the Means, which we use, all our Labour will be in vain; for 'tis not he that riseth in the Morning [Page 51] early, nor he that goeth to Bed late, (or) eateth the Bread of Carefulness; (Nor) can any Man, by his care, wisdom, or strength alone, procure to himself these worldly things; for see what Solomon saith concerning this matter, in the 9th Chapter of Ecclesiastes, vers. 11.---I returned, and saw under the Sun, that the Race is not to the swift, nor the Lattel to the strong, neither yet Bread to the Wise, nor yet Riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but Time and Chance happeneth to them all.
But again, you Astrologers, (perhaps) may question and say, Pray Sir, what doth the Wise Man (mean) by his saying, But Time and Chance happeneth to them all? For by these his own Words, it seems to us, as if they were spoken in favour of our Science.
Author. Sirs, this Question I will endeavour to answer you also; and now I say, Solomon, by them Words, doth not mean any such Chances, as you Astrologers do say, doth betide every man, according to his Fate, or Destiny, as it was decreed above, and that [only] from the overruling Power, which you say, the Stars have over every Man here on Earth, (accordingly) as the several Positions of them, were in the very Minuit, or Moment of timet he of every man's Birth. For Solomon, in another place of this his same Book: declares expresly against you, and in effect by his Words there exprest (to me) it doth plainly appear, as if he had there positively meaned, at that very time, when he writ them Words, that, that art of Astrology, as you now profess it, and practise it, then was, and now is altogether unattainable, and impossible to be [Page 51] known, by any Man that ever was, or ever shall be upon the Earth; look in Ecclesiastes, Chap. 8. Vers. 17. And there you will find, Solomon's words to be these as followeth; Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out, the work that is done under the Sun: Because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further, though a Wise Man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it out.
And now upon the whole of our Arguments, between us, I farther say, Away with all your Predictions, for I cannot otherwise but abominate them; for these things which you pretend to know, are the very Secrets of [God] himself, and past your finding them out. And therefore it is not worth my labour, to discourse you any more about it, [for Seeing] is Believing; and every Year, we find all your Predictions, so far from truth, that I think any of them not worth any man's Observation, (otherwise) than to laugh at them, and not to depend on them; nor can any man truly believe in God, that doth believe and put trust in any of your Predictions; for how can any man believe in [God] that will not believe in the Holy Bible, which is God's Word, and speaks directly against such ones as you are, as you may read it in the 47th Chapter of the Prophet Isaiah, vers. 12, 13, 14. It is there thus written, Stand now with thine Inchantments, and with the multitude of thy Sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy Youth, if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy Councils: Let now the Astrologers, the Stargazers, the Monthly Prognosticators, [Page 52] stand up and save thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble, the Fire shall burn them up, they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the Flame. And thus by the written Word of God, you may see what a vain thing Astrology is; for all the Prophets of the Lord exclaimed against it.
And now I say upon the whole of this my Discourse, concerning Astrology, or Astrologers, both from Reason, and Scripture, it doth plainly appear to me, that the whole Art of Astrology is fallible; and therefore it must needs be a vain and foolish thing, in any Person whatsoever, to put any trust or confidence in any of their Predictions, or in the Predictions of any other Men, that are professors of any other suchlike vain Sciences. And so for the present, I take my leave of you Astrologers, until it comes in my way to mention your Names again.
And now by the course of Argument, I think it comes again in my way, to speak something more concerning our late Unfruitful Years, and therefore I shall say farther as followeth.
Both from Reason, and Scripture, it doth appear to me, that our late Long Winters, cold Springs, cold Summers, Wet Harvests, and Unseasonable Sowing times, which hath been of late Years, [was not] wholly from the Natural Causes of the Heavenly Bodies, as they were from the Creation, first ordained in their Courses: But, that it was from the immediate hand of God; (not) but that I will allow, that the Coelestial Bodies, do bear rule and govern over all our Terrestrial Bodies; and that their several Influences, many ways, do [Page 52] either afflict, or comfort us, while we are here on the Earth, as may be Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and Yearly seen, in and by the Revolution of that most glorious Planet the Sun, which for ought I know, may be the Centre, and there placed, because it might be the better able, and more fit to distribute and send abroad his comfortable Beams; for we find by his warm Influences, that all Creatures here on Earth, both Rational, Sensative, and Vegitable, are comforted and cherished, as soon as it approacheth towards us: And so on the contrary, we see, and find, that for want of the warm Influences of the Sun, all compounded Material Bodies whatsoever, that have in them Life, and are subject to alteration, do pine and droop, when it withdraws his comfortable Beams from us.
Again, I do not say, but that all the rest of the other Heavenly Bodies, have their shares, in the bestowing of their several Influences, on all such Earthly Bodies, as aforesaid, (one way) or other; for I believe [God] might make them for that use, as well as for Signs, and for Seasons, and for Days, and Years: But the most secret use of them, is [only] known to God himself, and it is impossible for any Man, to reach to the true knowledge of such things, as Astrologers pretend to know. And therefore, I say again, it is idle and foolish, for any one to put trust in Astrologers Predictions; for it was only [God] that at first created all those Heavenly Bodies, and it is (only) he himself that governs over them, and ruleth them in their several motions, how and which way he pleaseth, and he altereth all their several Influences [Page 53] when he pleaseth, and how he pleaseth, (and that) to and for what Uses, or Purposes, he pleaseth; as we may see it made manifest in his most Holy Word in several places, and by several Presidents; and the first that I shall quote you to this purpose, shall be that of Joshua, in whose Book I find, that the Gibeonites did by a subtil way obtain their Peace with Joshua, who by his League then promised that the Gibeonites should live; and also therein I find, that the Princes of the Congregation of the Children of Israel, swore unto the Gibeonites also, that they should not be destroyed: And more I find, that after the Children of Israel understood, by what an undermining way, they had obtained their Peace; then they were in great wroth with the Gibeonites, and the Children of the Congregation of Israel, then murmured against their Princes, because they had Peace with the Gibeonites; and yet nevertheless, notwithstanding that Peace, I find that the Congregation of Israel would have destroyed the Gibionites, had not the Princes of their Congregation told them, that they might not touch the Gibeonites, because they the Princes had sworn unto them theGibeonites, that they should live; as you may read it at large in the 9th Chapter of the Book of Joshua. And from thence I observe this also, that their is a most sacred tye (in Oaths) and that God doth expect from all men, that all manner of legal Oaths, made and sworn, to good Intentions, as they have relation (only) to the Glory of God, and the Good of all Mankind, should be always performed, and kept unviolated, as we may see by this League and Oath, between [Page 53] the Children of Israel and the Gibeonites: And tho' the Gibeonites did at that time, by such a beguiling kind of way, obtain their League of Peace with the Children of Israel, yet it was somewhat excusable in them, because they did it (only) to save their Lives, and not to save their Money, for they the Gibeonites, offered up both themselves and all that they had, saying to Joshua, And now behold, we are in thine Hand, as it seemeth good and right unto thee (to do unto us) do; as you may read it in the same 9th Chapter of the Book of Joshua, vers. 24, 25, 26, 27. Again I say, that action of the Gibeonites, is to be thought somewhat the more excuseable, if we do but consider with our selves how good and faithful Abraham, did the like, when for fear of Death, he said to the Egyptians, that his Wife Sarah was his Sister, and also Abraham himself perswaded Sarah his Wife to say the like also, to the Egyptians, look in Genesis, Chap. 12. vers. 13. and so onwards to the end thereof. But again (I say) good Mens Evasions are no sufficient Warrants to allow evil Men in their most Notorious Wicked Actions; (And) there is a vast difference between Mens evading of Truth (only) to save their own Lives, and that, of being Guilty of Perjuries both towards God and Men (only) for to get (or) save a little Money; for that Sin, of evading Truth, (only) to save (Life it self) may be forgiven, in and through the Mercy of God, barely, by a true Repentance for it: But Frauds, and Perjuties, are not forgiven (by Repentance alone) for Restitution also, must be made to such People, as by their Frauds and Perjuries, they have any [Page 54] way wrouged. But I must leave this necessary digression, and now proceed onwards to set forth my now designed matter: And so I say, I also find, that when the five Kings of the Amorites, went up to Encamp before the City of Gibeon; (then) the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the Camp of Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us, for all the Kings of the Amorites, that dwell in the mountains, are gathered together against us. And then I find (immediately) upon the Gibeonites request, Joshua with all the mighty men of valour, ascended from Gilgal; and then the Lord, to encourage Joshua, said unto them, Fear them not, for I have delivered them into thine hand, there shall not a man of them stand before thee. And thus Joshua was encouraged by the Lord, and therefore he went up from Gilgal all Night, and came suddenly upon them; and then, as the ScriptureText saith, The Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way, that goeth to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. And more, the Text saith this, And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the Lord cast down great Hailstones from Heaven upon them, unto Azekah, and they died. And then the Text saith, in these words, [They were more] which died with the Hailstones, than they whom the Children of Israel slew with the Sword. And more the Text saith, Then spake Joshua to the Lord, in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the Children of Israel; and be said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still [Page 54] upon Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Ajalon. And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stayed [untill] the People had avenged themselves upon their Enemies. And then the Text saith, Is not this written in the Book of Jasher? So the Sun stood still in the midst of Heaven, and hasted not to go down, about a whole Day. And there was no Day, like that before it, or after it, that the Lord hearkened to the Voice of a Man. All this at large you may read it, in the 10th Chapter of the Book of Joshua. And now the use that I shall make of this, is as followeth.
And first of all, I find, that notwithstanding the Gibeonites several evasions, which they used in making up their League of Peace, with the Children of Israel, yet God was pleased to own them, (because) he knew, that the Gibeonites in their Hearts believed in his Word, and dreaded his People Israel, and what they then did, [God] himself (knew) that it was not to deceive the Children of Israel of any of their worldly Riches, or to do them any bodily harm; (but) that it was (only) out of an innocent fear, to save their own Lives; for they then thought with themselves, that if they should then have appeared plainly unto Joshua, that then they should not have obtained their Peace with Israel: And by this we may see, that in all things, God observes the Wills of Men, and that he takes for their Deeds, whether it be in things that are good, or whether it be in things that are evil.
2dly, I find, that at any time whatsoever, when God shall think it fit, he can then (immediately) augment, or diminish, the Forces, (or) Influences, of all the Heavenly Bodies, (or) change, or stop [Page 55] the courses of the Sun, Moon, or Stars, (or) he can continue, (or) alter the whole Frame of Nature; and from (order) turn into disorder, all the other Elementary parts of this World whatsoever, and how often soever, and that to what use or purpose soever, whether in ways of Mercy, or Judgment. And therefore, I say again, that it must by these Arguments consequently follow, that all these our late Unfruitful Years, were by the (immediate) and Providential Hand of God so ordered to be; and Not by the Natural Courses of the Heavenly Bodies (only) and accordingly to their first Ordination, as our Astrologers do affirm it so to be: But how disagreeable, such Opinions are to the Word of God, I say judge ye. But the Word of God is true, (and) thereby I have made it manifest, that the Art of Astrology is a fallible Art; and for the better Confirmation of it, I cannot well omit that President of good King Hezekiah, for when the Prophet Isaiah told him,Thus saith the Lord, Set thy House in order, for thou shalt dye, and not live. Then immediately Hezekiah turned his Face to the Wall, and with Prayers, and Tears, pleaded with God, [how] he had walked before him, in Truth, and with a perfect Heart: Which prevailed so far with the Lord, that he altered his Decrec, and before Isaiah was gone out of the middle Court of the House or Palace of King Hezekiah, the Lord commanded the Prophet Isaiah, to return back to Hezekiah, and to tell him, That the Lord had heard his Prayer, and seen his Tears, for which he would heal him of his Sickness, and also on the third day, he should be able to go up into the House of [Page 55] the Lord; as also, that the Lord would then add unto the Days of Hezekiah, Fifteen Years: But Hezekiah having on his Spirit some doubt, desired a Sign, whereby he might know, that the Lord would heal him; which desire of good Hezekiah God complyed with, and gave him a Sign, which was, that the Sun should go backwards ten Degrees; which thing was made manifest, by the Shadows going backwards ten Degrees, after it was gone down ten Degrees in the Dial of Ahaz, as you may read it at large, in the second Book of Kings, the 20th Chapter, from the beginning of that Chapter, unto the 12th Verse. And this I offer at large (only) to prove, that God can as well (now) in our days, take off the warm Beams, and most comfortable Influences of the Sun from the Earth, by way of Judgment, on the Wicked, as well as to make the Sun go backwards from his Course, by way of Mercy, for a Sign (only) to satisfie the doubt of one single Man, and that (because) he had in him an upright and perfect Heart.
And now, I say, by this place of Scripture, as well as in several other places of Scripture, we may see, that Prayers, and Tears, prevailed much with God, when they have been offered up unto him, with a true, devout, and sincere Heart; for were not David's Prayers heard by the Lord, and his desires, granted unto him, from time, to time, when he Prayed, that he might be delivered out of his Afflictions, and from the Malice of his Enemies; read all his Psalms throughout, and in many of them, you will find, how much, David depended upon Prayers, and how often from [Page 56] time to time, David's request was granted to him by Prayer. Again, I say, read the first Chapter of the first Book of Samuel, but more particularly observe the 10th verse, and so onwards to the 21st verse, and there you may find, how much the Prayers of Hannah, the Wife of Elkanah, prevailed with the Lord, when they were by her offered up with Tears, in the bitterness of her Soul; and altho' Ely the Priest, thought she had been drunken, yet at the same time, she was earnestly muttering within her self in Prayer, and tho' her Lips only moved, yet in her Heart she spake unto the Lord, and desired of him a Man-child, which God in process of time granted unto her, and not only a meer Man-child, did the Lord give unto Hannah, but such a Man-child, as afterwards became an excellent Prophet of the Lord, whose Name was Samuel: And after that, I find (besides Samuel,) Hannah had by her Husband Elkanah, several Sons and Daughters, as you may read it in the 2d. Chapter of the 1st. Book of Samuel, vers. 21. And thus we may see by those Presidents offered, and mentioned in these several Scriptures herein quoted, and also, by several other places of Scripture, the like Presidents may be found, and by all of them it may be plainly seen, how much Prayers, and Tears, have always, from time, to time, prevailed with God, when they have been offered up unto him, with true, devout, and sincere Hearts; and therefore, I think, it would not be amiss, but rather think it very necessary, and needful for us all, with true devotion, now to offer up our Prayers with Tears, and desire God to give every one of us, a [Page 56] Heart fit for true Repentance, and Amendment of Life; which if we would all of us so pray, and endeavour so to do, then no question might be made of it, but that God would yet shew us mercy, and then we should have the Blessings of the Lord return upon us, which now seems to be departing from us; Read the second Chapter of the Prophet Joel, vers. 12, 13, 14. Therefore also now saith the Lord, Turn ye even unto me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. And rent your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a Blessing behind him, even a Meatoffering, and a Drinkoffering unto the Lord your God?
But again, I say, that God doth sometimes by the disorder of the Elementary Parts of this World, bring upon the Earth, Dearths and Famine it self, (is plain) by what God himself made known to Pharaoh in his Dream, for God did not only make known unto him, that he would bring a Famine upon the Land of Egypt, but by what means the Famine should come, was also made known unto Pharaoh in his Dream, (and that to be) by means of unseasonable Weather, as violent East-Winds, which should blast and wither the Corn-Fields, so as that they should come to no perfection, to bear Corn for the Egyptians to have Bread out of them; as you may read it in the 41 Chapter of Genesis, the 6th, the 23d, and 27th verses.
Again, I say, that God [hath,] and yet [can] by his immediate Power, that he hath over all [Page 57] the Elementary Bodies, alter and change the Weather, as he seeth most fit, either by way of Mercy, or Judgment, is plain: And also, that it is mens Iniquities, that doth oftentimes provoke God, to bring upon the Earth, Dearths, and Wants, and Famine it self, is plainly to be seen, and understood, if men would but consult seriously within themselves, these following Scriptures, which I shall here quote unto you, which you may read at your leisure, Jeremiah 5th Chap. vers. 24, 25. Ezekiel 4th Chap. vers. 16, 17. Hosea 2d Chap. vers. 8, 9. Read Joel the 1st Chapter, all over from the beginning, to the end thereof.Amos 4th Chapter, vers. 6, 7. And lastly, look in the 14th Chapter of the Prophet Ezekiel, vers. 12, 13, 14. It is there thus written, The Word of the Lord came again to me, saying, Son of Man, when the Land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the Staff of the Bread thereof, and will send Famine upon it, and will cut off Man and Beast from it: Though these three Men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own Souls by their Righteousness, saith the Lord God.
And thus we may see, that when Men, by their Iniquities, do provoke God to anger, then, in his Wrath he immediately, changeth and disordereth the Heavenly Bodies, or other Elementary Parts of the World, as he pleaseth: And thus working by his own secondary Causes, as he thinks most fit, he can when he pleaseth, with hold these good things of the World from us; and also, from this last Text of Scripture, just now here quoted, we may observe, that when [Page 57] the black Deeds of the Wicked, are many, and that they are so much over-grown, that they do superabound; then, the Prayers of the Righteous can prevail with God (no longer) to prevent the pouring down of his Judgments upon the Heads of Wicked Men: For then, the Prayers of the Righteous, (only) for the deliverance of their own Souls, shall be heard, and not for the Souls of the Wicked. And now I say again, these before-mentioned Scriptures do make it out plain, That all Disorders, both in Heaven, and Earth, from time, to time, are always performed, by the immediate Hand of God, and [not] as Astrologers say (only) from the Courses of the Stars, as they were ordained to be in their first Creation.
And therefore I must now say again, that no Astrologers, (or) any other Men, of any other (vain) Sciences whatsoever, (can foretell) by the Courses of the Stars, (or) by any other way whatsoever, what shall fall out, or come to pass, either of Plague or Famine, (or) what shall be the event of Wars, (or) who shall have the Victory, (or) foreknow, by the Calculating of Nativities, what shall befall any Man, or Men, (or) what Years will be fruitful (or) unfruitful; for all these things are Secrets, and only belong to God himself, and not unto Men, except out of his own goodness, and meer pleasure (in Mercy) to some of his own chosen Ones, he is pleased to reveal these his Secrets, to such Men, as he thinks most fit, to pour out his Spirit upon them, to that purpose, and for that end, to preserve his own People, as may be seen in that [Page 58] of Pharoah; for God did not forewarn Pharoah, King of Egypt, of what he was about to do, (wholly) for the sake of Pharoah himself, or for the Egyptians sake; but (mostly) for the Advancement of Joseph, and then consequently, for the Preservation of all the Children of Israel: And therefore it was, that none of the Magicians, or any of the Wise Men of Egypt, could interpret Pharoah's Dream, for it was only God's chosen One, that could do it, who was Joseph, and that not of himself, but by the Inspiration of the Lord, as Joseph himself (acknowledgeth) in this same 41 Chapter of Genesis, and the 16 verse, It is there said; And Joseph answered Pharoah, saying, It is not in me, God shall give Pharoah an answer of Peace.
Again I say, that the Revelation of Secrets, doth only belong unto God, and not unto such Men as are called Astrologers: But when God thinks fit, [he] revealeth them to his own chosen Ones, as you may read in the third Chapter of the Prophet Amos, vers. 7. these words, Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his Servants, the Prophets. And thus you may see by this Scripture also, it is plain that all Secret Things belong only to God himself, until such times as he is pleased to make them known to some of his own chosen Ones, and that [only] upon some Extraordinary Occasions, in order, to and for, the preservation of God's Holy Ones, as may be seen also, in that of God's preserving the holy Prophet Daniel, on several occasions, and that, by several ways and means, how he was from time to time, preserved by God, and [Page 58] also made an Instrument to preserve other good Men, as you may read it in the second Chapter of the Book of Daniel, vers. 13. thus written, And the decree went forth, that the wisemen should be slain, and they sought Daniel, and his fellows, to be slain: And that only because the Magicians, and the Astrologers, and the Sorcerers, and the Caideans, could not Interpret, unto King Nebuchadnezzar, his Dream; (therefore) Daniel and his Fellows also, must be slain with them: But then, (God) for the manifestation of his own Power, as also, for the preservation of Daniel, and his Fellows, (God) was then pleased to reveal that Secret unto Daniel, which God himself had then before revealed unto King Nebuchadnezzar, and yet, at that time, God was pleased to deny unto King Nebuchadnezzar the remembrance of his Dream, and that (only) because God himself would make it more manifest, that it is himself only, that doth, (or can) reveal Secrets, and that only and immediately from himself, (or) by the Mouths of his own Chosen Ones; and this Daniel himself acknowledgeth, as you may read it in Verse 30. of this said Chapter, it is there thus said, But as for me, this Secret is not revealed to me, for any Wisdom that I have more then any living: But for their sakes that shall make known the Interpretation to the King, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. And thus you may see, how Daniel himself doth own the Power of revealing Secrets, to be in God above, (and himself) to be but the Instrument of it, as it was revealed unto him,from God, for which Daniel praised God; and also, he acknowledgeth, that all Power, all Secrets, and all Seasons, and all People, even Princes [Page 59] as well as Subjects, are in the disposing Hand of God, as you may read it, in this second Chapter of the Book of Daniel, the 19th, 20th, 21, 22, and 23 verses. And thus Daniel, and all the rest of the Prophets of the Lord, they do all agree, that it is from the (immediate) power, of God alone, that all Seasons are changed, whether to Order (or) disorder, fruitful (or) unfruitful, wet (or) dry, for it is only God that causeth it to Rain upon one Field, and not upon the other; and it is only him, that giveth a plentiful Crop of Corn to one Man, and a scanty Crop to another Man; and therefore (consequently) it must follow, that it is God alone, by his immediate Power, that hath of late changed, the smiling Influences of the Heavenly Bodies, and of late Years, hath made them look frowningly upon us; (and) him alone it is, that of late, hath even as it were changed the whole: frame of Nature, (by means of which,) we have of late had, Year, after Year, but indifferent crops of Corn, which we Men (attribute) it, to no other Cause, than from the disorderly Weather, which we have had of late Years: (And there are but few Men) that look to the Hand, from whence it came; or that it was only for our Sins, that God hath of late so disordered the Weather: But be it for what it will, it is God that hath done it, and Time will make manifest, whether it be in a way (of Mercy) or Judgment.
And now I think, it remaineth needful, that I should give some Reasons (wherefore) I have written so much against Astrologers, and other Men of vain Sciences. And (therefore) my Reasons [Page 59] for it are these: By Experience, I find, that now in our Age, there be a great many People, and some, that do think themselves Wise Men, that do now give more heed, unto what Astrologers do say, than they do to what God himself saith unto them in his Word; for it is now become a common thing, amongst them, to go to Astrologers, to have Questions and Doubts, Answered and Resolved; as also, to know what Success they shall have in their Undertakings: And also to know, what Days are good, or evil, for the undertaking, of any material business; and if so doing, be not a forsaking of God, or at least, a falling off from God, let any rational, or divine person judge. And great pity it is, that such Men, should have that liberty to act as they do, because, what they do pretend to perform, doth take with many Vitious and Simple Ones; and when once some Atheistical Wretches, that have in them but a few Thundering Eloquent Words, and that they do but affirm the truth of Astrologers skill, in such matters, then that doth much encourage others, that are but of weak Capacities, to believe in them likewise: And so by this way, more room is made for Atheism also.
And thus, by several ways, and methods, I have endeavoured to set forth unto Your Greatness, by what means Atheism, Errors, Evil Examples, and other Vices, are now grown to this most prodigious height: But the Remedy of all these things, I must leave to the great power of the Almighty God, and to the great Understanding, and Care, of Your most Gratious Majesty, and the Honourable Parliament.
And now again, before I conclude, I cannot otherwise but say, that I am apt to believe, that their will not be wanting some Men, that will be ready enough to cavil with me, or at least, rail upon me, for my undertaking this Work. and perhaps, they may say, For what Reason doth such a one as he take upon him to Discourse about Matters of Religion, and State-Affairs? For he himself confesseth, in his Epistle to the Reader, that his Education, was but mean, and Scholar he is none, farther than the English Tongue; and therefore, how dare such a one as he, take upon himself, to speak, or preach at this rate?
To these suppositive Objections, I shall endeavour to Answer.
And first of all I say, That in this Work of mine, I have done nothing at all, that hath in it, in the least, that I know of, any thing of the nature of a daring Faculty; for with all humble submission, (both) with my Heart and Tongue, I have endeavoured (always) so much as in me lieth, so to speak, as not to offend (any) in their several places of Authority, or any other honest conscientious Man or Men whatsoever. And as to StateAffairs, I have not at all concerned my self with it, any farther, than to give in unto Your Great Powers, a true Information against Frauds, Cheats, Oppression, & Vices. And now, I say (God) who is the searcher of all Hearts, doth know, that in and by the setting forth of this whole Treatise in both parts, I aim, at nothing more than the glory of God, the honour and safety of the King, and the good and welfare of all good Subjects. And according to the Apostle Paul his saying, in his 16th Chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, [Page 60] vers. 19. To the best of my Capacity I can truly say, that in the doing of this, I have only endeavoured to be wise concerning what is good, and I am simple in any thing that is or can be evil in the doing of it.And therefore, I hope all Men whatsoever, will have so much Charity for me, as to believe me, (in what I here say;) for the God of Heaven doth know that I speak the truth.
And now, 2dly, I say, as to Preaching, this Treatise of mine, (I think) hath not in it, in the least, any thing of that nature, that may any way (properly) be called Preaching; for I dare not, take upon me, to mention any particular Scriptures, (only) to raise other Discourses from them, (nor) do I take on me, to raise from them Doctrines, (or) Observations, (but) I (only) use them as (supports) to strengthen these my several Arguments; and that (only) on such several occasions (as their is) as I think) extraordinary occasion for it; and that (only) to stir up the Hearts of men, to do what is good, for I think with my self (this,) that tho' some men, may not believe these my Arguments alone (yet) my hope is, that when my Arguments, are agreeable with God's Word, that then, Men may the sooner embrace them, and believe in them, But as for Preaching, I dare not think my self, any way qualified, so to do; yet nevertheless, I think, that this my Treatise, may modestly deserve, the Name, or Title, of a Friendly Admonition; and for such a thing as that, with all humble submission, to better Judgments, I presume so to offer it: And in so doing, I hope I have not [Page 61] done any way amiss in it, for it is our Imcumbent Duty, every one of us, to advise and admonish one another, and in so doing, we ought to do it, in Word and Deed, with all our Hearts, in the name, of the Lord Jesus, without respect of Persons, as we may read it, in the 3d. Chapter of the Epistle of Paul to the Colossions, the 16, 17, 23, 24, and 25. Verses. And also to the same purpose, you may read it in the second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonins, the third Chap. the 13, 14, and 15 Verses.
And now, I most humbly Beseech, the Great God of Heaven, to bestow his Blessings, upon these my weak Endeavours, and also, to give you all a Right understanding, of this my Poor, Mean, yet, well intended Treatis (now offered unto Your Greatneses) with an Heart full of Integrity, and true Loyalty, both towards God, the Protestant Religion, my King, and Country.
I am Your Majesty's Loyal Subject, and the Honourable Parliament's devoted Servant Richard Newnam of Tiverton in Devonshire.
And now at Last,
With all Humble Submission, and true Loyalty, I here present unto Your Most Gratious Majesty, and the Parliament, the Abstract of my whole Treatise, which I have endeavoured to set forth in these plain, low stile, following Verses, whose Sound, to the most Learned, and Eloquent, (must needs) be very uncouth, (yet) are in their own simple Nature, truly Cordial: And if but rightly applyed, as they are by me (Innocently) offered then I shall gain my desired end, in hopes of which, I farther say,
From my House at Tiverton in Devonshire, June the 6th, 1698.
And Last of all,
For the good of this Great, and Honourable City of London, as well as for the Country, I cannot otherwise but offer unto Your Most Gratious Majesty's, and the Parliament's, Consideration, this one thing more.
DUring the whole time, of my now being in London, I have always taken my Victuals, from the Cooks, as many other Lodgers, Travellers, and Strangers, daily do the like. And thus, when People from all Places, both from City and Country, resort to such Houses, they are apt to complain, and tell, how extreamly Dear they pay for every thing: And such Complaints, as these, many times, from the Mouths of all sorts of People, I have oftentimes heard: And many of those People, who are altogether Strangers to me, have said in my hearing, That if it were not, for some greedyminded Men, that do make a continual Trade of it, to forestall Markets, [Provisions] would not have been (altogether) so dear here in London, as of late they have been, and now at present are. And it is now a common thing, for Country Grasiers, to take up their abode here in the City of London; and when they know of any Cattle that is coming up to this City, and that the Drivers, or Owners thereof, are not so well acquainted with the Prices of Cattel, what they will yield here in LondonMarkets. [Then] those Grasiers, which take up their abode here in London, only to make advantage of all such Opportunities, when they know of the coming up of such Cattle, then they meet them in their way, [Page 64] upon the Road, (perhaps) thirty, or forty Miles from London; and so buy up such Cattle there upon the Road; and after that, drive them to London, [and then] fell them much dearer, than the first Owners of them would have sold them, if they had drove them into London themselves: And the like Fore-stalling, or Engrossing Trade, is also continually used, in buying up beforehand all other sorts of Provisions whatsoever, here in London: And in all England over, it is now become a common Trade, so that 'tis thought that there are [now] in England more Engrossers, Hucksters, and Regrators, than of any other (one) Trade whatsoever. And in fine, to say all, in a word or too, such Doings, as these, are now become the very Bane of England; for it will always create a continual Dearth on all sorts of Provisions: And what is this otherwise, (than) a taking away the Staff of Bread, and the Stay of Provisions, from the Poor and Needy; [or] do not such things as these, (prove) to many poor People, (at last) a meer lingering Death it self; for it is they poor Creatures, that at last, pay for all. For they have neither their due Weight nor Measure, in any thing that they buy, from such Huckstring Regrators. And all such Engrossing Trades, are of no better use to England, than to make fat, and puff up in Pride, a meer Bruitish, Heathenish, and Swinish sort of People, to the meer destruction, or almost starving of many honest, sober, and temperate Christians, who have in them honest Minds, and tender Consciences, and brave generous Spirits: And such Men as these, cannot take Liberty of Conscience to shark, in those hard times, as other Irreligious and Ungodly Cormorantes, [Page 64] will always do; and therefore it is, that (now) in those days, honest poor Men, are most of all driven to the Wall with Poverty; and the days are now come, wherein an Honest Man can hardly live. And all those things are (only) through Mens want of the Grace of God, and want of Christian Charity to one another; for their is ye enough in our Land, of all things, only Men (will) to gratifie their own base Pride, and Covetousness, Overreach, Cheat, Coufen, and Starve one another. And after all this, can we think that God will not visit us for these things? Or can we, both by Reason, or Scripture, expect any farther Blessings from the Hands of God, so long as we continue to live in these known Evil Ways. (Oh) let us have a care, for tho Sentence against Evildoers, is not speedily executed, yet at last, it will surely be done upon us, unless in the mean time, we repent, and forsake our Evil Ways: See what Solomon saith in his 8th Chapter of Ecclesiastes, 9, 10, 11, 12, & 13 verses. And these things also, with all humble Submission, I leave to the Consideration of Your most Gracious Majesty, and the most Honourable Parliament.
I rest in true Love, with all Humble Obedience, Your Majesty's Loyal Subject, and the most Honourable Parliament's devoted Servant, Richard Newnam.
IN looking over this Treatise, I have observed some Letteral Faults, which will not much alter the Sence of these Discourses, if the Courteous Readers will but be pleas'd to favour these Lines, and use (rightly) their own unbyased Reasons, in their perusal of them: But however, for the better satisfaction of all People, I have printed this Errata, by which, with a little Care and Pains, you may be satisfied in any of the Faults, which you may discover in the whole work.
PAge 3. line 26. for onlv read only. pag. 9. in several placees for crack'd, read crackt. pag. 36. line 32. read buy their Corn. pag. 41. line 4. forit read if. pag. 42. line 20. for tme read time. pag. 52. line 8. for uphoden read upholden. pag. 49. with the Letter [I] at the bottom of the same Leaf, should be marked in the Folio 57, and so onwards accordingly; but this mistake is not worth your observation, because notwithstanding that, yet the Discourse of the whole Treatise leads on in its due and orderly method pag. 59. line 11. for Genesis 24 chap. 15 vers. read 42 chap. 15 vers. pag. 61. line 5. look Genesis 7 chap. vers. 12. and so read onward to the end of the Chapter. pag. 75. line 27. read I am apt. pag. 84. line 26. for timet he, read the time.