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UPON THE REMON
STRANT'S DEFENCE AGAINST SMEC
E all know that in private or personal injuries, yea, in public sufferings for the cause of Christ, his rule and example teaches us to be so far from a readiness to speak evil, as not to answer the reviler in his language, though never so much provoked: yet in the detecting and convincing of any notorious enemy to truth and his country's peace, especially that is conceited to have a voluble and smart fluence of tongue, and in the vain confidence of that, and out of a more tenacious cling to worldly respects, stands up for all the rest to justify a long usurpation and convicted pseudepiscopy of prelates, with all their ceremonies, liturgies, and tyrannies, which God and man are now ready to explode and hiss out of the land; I suppose, and more than suppose, it will be nothing disagreeing from Christian meekness to handle such a one in a rougher accent, and to send home
his haughtiness well bespurted with his own holy water. Nor to do thus are we unautoritied either from the moral precept of Solomon, to answer him thereafter that prides him in his folly; nor from the example of Christ, and all his followers in all ages, who, in the refuting of those that resisted sound doctrine, and by subtile dissimulations corrupted the minds of men, have wrought up their zealous souls into such vehemencies, as nothing could be more killingly spoken: for who can be a greater enemy to mankind, who a more dangerous deceiver, than he who, defending a traditional corruption, uses no common arts, but with a wily stratagem of yielding to the time a greater part of his cause, seeming to forego all that man's invention hath done therein, and driven from much of his hold in Scripture; yet leaving it hanging by a twined thread, not from divine command, but from apostolical prudence or assent; as if he had the surety of some rolling trench, creeps up by this mean to his relinquished fortress of divine authority again, and still hovering between the confines of that which he dares not be openly, and that which he will not be sincerely, trains on the easy Christian insensibly within the close ambushment of worst errors, and with a sly shuffle of counterfeit principles, chopping and changing till he have gleaned all the good ones out of their minds, leaves them at last, after a slight resemblance of sweeping and garnishing, under the
sevenfold possession of a desperate stupidity? And, therefore, they that love the souls of men, which is the dearest love, and stirs up the noblest jealousy, when they meet with such collusion, cannot be blamed though they be transported with the zeal of truth to a well-heated fervency; especially, seeing they which thus offend against the souls of their brethren, do it with delight to their great gain, ease, and advancement in this world; but they that seek to discover and oppose their false trade of deceiving, do it not without a sad and unwilling anger, not without many hazards; but without all private and personal spleen, and without any thought of earthly reward, whenas this very course they take stops their hopes of ascending above a lowly and unenviable pitch in this life. And although in the serious uncasing of a grand imposture (for to deal plainly with you, readers, prelaty is no better) there be mixed here and there such a grim laughter as may appear at the same time in an austere visage, it cannot be taxed of levity or insolence, for even this vein of laughing (as I could produce out of grave authors) hath ofttimes a strong and sinewy force in teaching and confuting; nor can there be a more proper object of indignation and scorn together, than a false prophet taken in the greatest, dearest, and most dangerous cheat, the cheat of souls in the disclosing whereof, if it be harmful to be angry, and withal to cast a lowering smile,
when the properest object calls for both, it will be long enough ere any be able to say, why those two most rational faculties of human intellect, anger and laughter, were first seated in the breast of man.....
The Romans had a time, once every year, when their slaves might freely speak their minds; it were hard if the freeborn people of England, with whom the voice of truth for these many years, even against the proverb, hath not been heard but in corners, after all your monkish prohibitions, and expurgatorious indexes, your gags and snaffles, your proud Imprimaturs not to be obtained without the shallow surview, but not shallow hand of some mercenary, narrow-souled, and illiterate chaplain; when liberty of speaking, than which nothing is more sweet to man, was girded and strait-laced almost to a broken-winded phthisic, if now at a good time, our time of parliament, the very jubilee and resurrection of the state, if now the concealed, the aggrieved, and long-persecuted truth, could not be suffered to speak; and though she burst out with some efficacy of words, could not be excused after such an injurious strangle of silence, nor avoid the censure of libelling, it were hard, it were something pinching in a kingdom of free spirits. Some princes and great statists have thought it a prime piece of necessary policy to thrust themselves under disguise into a popular throng, to stand the night long under eaves of
houses, and low windows, that they might hear everywhere the utterances of private breasts, and amongst them find out the precious gem of truth, as amongst the numberless pebbles of the shore; whereby they might be the abler to discover, and avoid, that deceitful and close-couched evil of flattery that ever attends them, and misleads them, and might skilfully know how to apply the several redresses to each malady of state, without trusting the disloyal information of parasites and sycophants: whereas now this permission of free writing, were there no good else in it, yet at some times thus licensed, is such an unripping, such an anatomy of the shyest and tenderest particular truths, as makes not only the whole nation in many points the wiser, but also presents and carries home to princes, men most remote from vulgar concourse, such a full insight of every lurking evil, or restrained good among the commons, as that they shall not need hereafter, in old cloaks and false beards, to stand to the courtesy of a night-walking cudgeller for eaves-dropping. Who could be angry, therefore, but those that are guilty, with these free-spoken and plain-hearted men, that are the eyes of their country, and the prospective glasses of their prince?
But he that shall bind himself to make antiquity his rule, if he read but part, besides the difficulty of choice, his rule is deficient, and utterly unsatisfying; for there may be other writers of