September 1656 (continued)
These things being thus, I did think it my duty to give
you this account, though it be wearisomeness to yourselves
and me. Now, if I had the tongue of an angel, if I was so
certainly inspired, as the holy men of God have been, I could
rejoice for your sakes, and for these nations' sakes, and for
the sake of God, and of his cause, that we have been engaged
in; that I could move affections in you, to that which, if you
do it, will save this nation; if not, you plunge it (in all human appearance,) and all interests, yea, and all Protestants in
the world, to irrecoverable ruin.
Therefore, I pray, I beseech you, in the name of Christ,
show yourselves to be men, quit yourselves like men. It
doth not infer any reproach, if you do show yourselves men,
Christian men, which will only make you quit yourselves. I
do not think, that to that work you have in hand, a neutral
spirit will do it. It is a Laodicean spirit, and we know what
God said of that Church; it was lukewarm, and therefore he
would spew it out of his mouth. It is not a neutral spirit
that is incumbent upon you, and if not a neutral spirit, it is
much less a stupified, inclining you in the least disposition
the wrong way. They are, in their private consciences, every
day making shipwreck, and it is no wonder, if these can
shake hands with men of reprobate interests; such, (give me
leave to think,) are the Popish interests, because the Apostle
brands them so, having seared consciences, though I do not
judge every man, but the ringleaders are such. The Scriptures foretold there should be such. It is not such a spirit,
will carry the work on. It is men in a Christian state, that
have works with faith, that know how to lay hold on Christ,
for remission, till a man be brought to glory in hope.
Such an hope kindled in men's spirits, will act them to such
ends as you are tending to, and so many as are partakers of
this, and own your standings, wherein the Providence of God
hath set and called you to this work, will carry it on.
If men, through scruple, be opposite, you cannot take
them by the hand, to carry them, because it were absurd; for
if a man be scrupling the plain truth before him, it is in vain
to meddle with him. He hath placed another business in his
own mind, and to say, "Oh! if we could but exercise wisdom,
to gain civil liberty, religion would follow." Certainly there
are such men who are not maliciously blind, which God for
some cause, exercises. It cannot be expected that they should
do any thing. These men, they must demonstrate that they
are in bonds.
Could we have carried it hitherto, if we had disputed these
things ? I must profess I reckon that difficulty more than
all the wrestling with flesh and blood. Doubting, hesitating
men, they are not fit for your work. You must not expect
that men of hesitating spirits, under the bondage of scruples;
will be able to carry on this work, much less such as are
merely carnal, natural, and such as having an outward profession of godliness, which the Apostle speaks of often, and are
the enemies to the cross of Christ, whose god is their belly,
and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
Do you think these men will rise to such a spiritual heat for
the nation, that shall carry you such a thing as this, that
will meet with all the oppositions that the devil and wicked
men can make.
Give me leave to tell you, those that are called to this
work, it will not depend upon formalities, nor notions, nor
speeches. I do not look the work should be done by these,
but by men of honest hearts, engaged to God, strengthened
by Providence, enlightened in his words, to know his word,
to which he hath set his seal, sealed with the blood of his son,
in the blood of his servants, and it is such a spirit as will carry
on this work.
Therefore, I beseech you, do not dispute of unnecessary
and unprofitable things, that may divert you from carrying
on so glorious a work as this is. I think every objection
that ariseth, is not to be answered, nor have I time
for it. I say, look up to God; have peace amongst yourselves. Enow assuredly, that, if I have interest, I am, by
the voice of the people, the Supreme Magistrate, and it may
be, know somewhat, that may satisfy my conscience, if I
stood in doubt. But it is an union, really it is an union, between you and me, and both of us united in faith and love
to Jesus Christ, and to his peculiar interest in the world, that
must ground this work, and in that, if I have any peculiar
interest that is personal to myself, that is not subservient to
the public end, it were no extravagant thing for me to curse
myself, because I know God will curse me, if I have. And
I have learned too much of God, not to dally with him, and
to be bold with him in these things; and I never was, and I
hope I never shall be, bold with him, though 1 can be bold
with men, if Christ be pleased to assist.
I say, if there be love between us, that the nations may
say, these are knit together in one bond, to promote the
glory of God against the common enemy, to suppress every
thing that is evil, and encourage whatsoever is of godliness;
yea, the nation will bless you, and really, that and nothing else will work off these disaffections from the minds of
men, which are great, if not greater than all the oppositions
you can meet with. I do know what I say. When I speak of
these things, I speak my heart before God; and, as I said before, I dare not be bold before him. I have a little faith. I
have a little lived by faith, and therein I may be bold. If I
should not speak the affections and secrets of my heart, I
know he would not bear it at my hands. Therefore, in the
fear and name of God, go on with love and integrity against
whatever arises contrary to these ends, which you have
known and been told of, and the blessing of God go with
you, and the blessing of God will go with you.
I have but this one thing to say more. I know it is troublesome; but I did read a Psalm yesterday, which, truly,
may not unbecome me, both to tell you of, and you to observe. It is the eighty-fifth psalm, that is very instructive
and significant; and though I do but a little touch upon it,
I desire your perusal at pleasure.
It begins, "Lord thou hast been very favourable to thy
land; thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob;
thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people; thou hast
covered all their sins; thou hast taken away all thy wrath;
thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.
Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger towards us to cease. Wilt thou be angry with us for ever ?
Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations ? Wilt
thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee ?"
Then he calls upon God as the God of his salvation; and
then, saith he, "I will hear what God the Lord will speak;
for he will speak peace unto his people and to his saints, but
let them not turn again to folly. Surely, his salvation is
nigh them that fear him." Oh, "that glory may dwell in our
land; mercy and truth have met together; righteousness
and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of
the earth, and righteousness shall look down from Heaven.
Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good, and our Land
shall yield its increase. Righteousness shall go before him,
and shall set us in the way of his steps."
Truly, I wish that this psalm, as it is written in the book,
might be better written in our hearts, that we may say as
David: thou hast done this, and thou hast done that; thou
hast pardoned our sins; thou hast taken away our iniquities;
whither can we go to a better God, for he hath done it. It
is to him any nation may come in their extremity, for the
taking away of his wrath. How did he do it ? by pardoning
their sins, and taking away their iniquities. If we can but
cry unto him, he will turn and take away our sins. Then let
us listen to him. and then consult and meet in Parliament,
and ask him counsel, and hear what he saith, "for he will
speak peace unto his people:" if you be the people of God,
he will speak peace, and we will not again turn to folly;
which is a great deal of grudging in the nation, that we
cannot have our horse-races, cock-fightings, and the like.
I do not think these are unlawful, but to make them recreations, that they will not endure to be abridged of them, till
God hath brought us to this spirit, he will not bear with us.
Ay, but he bears with them in France, they are so and
so. Have they the Gospel as we have ? They have seen the
sun but a little; we have great lights. If God give you
a spirit of reformation, you will preserve this nation from
turning again to these fooleries; and what will the end be,
comfort and blessing ? Then "mercy and truth shall meet
together." Here is a great deal of truth among professors,
but very little mercy. They are ready to cut the throats of
one another; but when we are brought into the right way, we
shall be merciful as well as orthodox; and we know who it is
that saith, that if a man could "speak with the tongues
of men and angels," and yet want that, "he is but sounding
brass and a tinkling cymbal."
Therefore, I beseech you, in the name of God, set your
hearts to this, and if you give your hearts to it, then you will
sing Luther's psalm. That is a rare psalm for a Christian,
and if he set his heart open, and can approve it to God, we
shall hear him say, "God is our refuge and strength, a very
present help in trouble." If Pope, and Spaniard, and Devil,
and all, set themselves against us, though they should compass us about like bees, as it is in the 18th Psalm, yet in
the name of the Lord we should destroy them. And as it is
in this psalm of Luther's, "We will not fear though the
earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into
the middle of the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be
troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling
thereof. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make
glad the city of God. God is in the midst of her, she shall not
be moved." Then he repeats, two or three times, "The Lord
of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge."
I have done. All that I have to say, is to pray God, that
he will bless you with his presence; and, that he that hath your
hearts and mine, would show his presence in the midst of us.
I desire you will go together and choose your Speaker. (fn. 1)
The members repaired to the House, at the door
whereof, some persons by his Highness's appointment attended, and received of every member a certificate from
the clerk of the Commonwealth in Chancery, that he was
returned to serve in this present Parliament, and approved
by the Council; and thereupon, he was admitted into the
House. (fn. 2)
Thursday 18. Resolved, that Wednesday next be a day
appointed for fasting and humiliation to be kept by this
House, and that the place shall be Margaret's Church in
Westminster. (fn. 3)
Resolved, that Wednesday, the 29th day of October next,
be set apart for a day of public fasting and humiliation,
throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. (fn. 4) And that the
Lord Broghill, Sir George Booth, Mr. Drake, General Disbrowe, and Mr. Rous, be a Committee appointed to prepare
a Declaration, showing the grounds of this fast, and report
the same to the House, to be presented to his Highness for
Ordered, that the lecturers, who preach the morning
lecture in the Abbey at Westminster, be desired to begin
their sermon at seven of the clock, and to end at eight of the
clock, (fn. 5) and then to resort to the House to pray with them
daily, before they enter into their daily work.
Ordered, that the House do rise at twelve of the clock
every day; (fn. 6) and that Mr. Speaker do put the House in mind
Sir George Booth presented a letter to the House, directed to the Speaker, and subscribed by several persons.
Which Mr. Speaker having read privately, by the direction
of the House, the names of the persons who subscribed the
same were read; and the letter afterwards read (fn. 7) .
Friday 19. The Bill, entituled an Act for renouncing and
disannulling the pretended title of Charles Stuart to the Crown
of England, &c., was read the second time, and committed
to Lord Broghill, &c., and all the gentlemen of the Long
Robe that are of the House.
The Serjeant acquainting the House that the Deputy
to the Clerk of the Commonwealth in Chancery, did attend at
the door with the returns, according to the order made
yesterday, he was called in.
While he was at the bar, it was taken notice that some
members of the House did walk up and down, out of their
places, and speak one to another. And thereupon, it was
moved and agreed for a rule, that while any stranger is in the
House, no member ought to stir out of his place, nor speak
Friday 26. Ordered, that a Committee be appointed to
consider of the business of the Fortugals condemned in
prison; (fn. 8) another condemned for murder twenty years since;
and also touching prisoners condemned, and now in Exeter
gaol; or any other of the like nature for treason or murder;
and to state the particular cases, and report the same, with
their opinion therein, to the House.
Monday 29. Ordered, that the post letters directed to the
several members of this House, be brought to the door of
this House; and that they be free from postage as formerly.
That the letters of the several members of this House that
go to the several parts of England, Scotland, and Ireland, be
also free from postage.
That a Committee be appointed, to consider of the abuses
in ale-houses, tipling-houses, inns, and taverns, tobaccoshops, and strong-water houses, and of gaming-houses, and of
justices of the peace being brewers, or maltsters, or farmers, (fn. 9)
or officers of the excise, or others, in undue granting licences;
and to revise the laws touching ale-houses, and those made
against drunkenness, and to reduce the same into one Bill,
with such additions or alterations, as are necessary to supply
the defects in them.
That the abuse in gold and silver lace, wearing silks and
fine linen, and other excess in apparel, be referred to the
Grand Committee for trade.
That it be referred to the Committee last named, to take
into consideration the matter now in debate, touching undecent fashions; to prepare a Bill for the redress thereof, and
report it to the House.