A Few words in true love written to the old long sitting PARLIAMENT, who Are yet left alive, and do sit there now in the Parliament House at VVESTMINSTER.
WHo would have thought such a thing that ever the lōg sitting Parliament of England, who appeared once bold with open face, for God and his poor suffering peo∣ple, to remove oppression and injustice, should have had so much of Gods countenance towards them, as to have full freedome to sit again to do the work for God and his people that was so long neglected, that the Lord was wearied with their long sitting to so little purpose, & so they were thrust out as a stink in his nostrils, and a burthen to the nation. Oh friends you may well remember what a cry was heard at Westminster about the time of your first sit∣ting, for Justice, Justice, and how farr the sence of this reached your hearts, and how far in the sence of it you were vigorously carried on to prosecute it by the same arm of power, that reached your hearts and gave you a sence of it, to make you willing to set your shoulder to the work of God and his people, to which end you were called thither, and therein the presence of God was with you, Page 2 as you may remember after a short time, eausing your enemies to fly before you when none persued them, who were in enmity through oppression and injustice against the God of justice, and his people that cried to him and you for it, and herein as in truth of heart you appeared united with joynt consent to throw down and root out oppression and oppressors, surely it cannot be forgotten by you; how often Gods powerful presence appeared for your protection and pre∣servation, and was a terrour to the adversaries of Justice and righ∣teousness, and then it was in your hearts to act singly for the Lord and the good of the Nation being touched with the sence of Gods dreadful presence and his fear which moving in your hearts put you upon a desire then to deny self, doubtless in the whole work, and to that end that the integrity of your hearts might appear to all that feared the Lord, that their hands and hearts might joyn with you and be strengthned against the common adversary of Justice, a self denying Ordinance was put forth by you, that it might be manifest your hearts were upright and not self seeking, which I did then believe was real in your hearts, when you were low in the time of your straits, and I remember it did refresh me to hear it, and it reached the hearts I suppose of thousands to be knit to you, and joyn with you as on man, against the known enemies of righte∣ousness: But alas friends: when your straits were over and the temptation appeared to draw you from the simplicity of truth and righteousness, to rule in your own particulars, to deny self, as you had in the time of your straits set forth, then you left looking to that which preserved your hearts single to deny self, (Gods presence) and looked to the temptation, & joyned to self & went out from the presence of God, which formerly had moved in your hearts to deny self, & so there you lost his presence, even then when I heard that you had given gifts to one another, of that which was the Kings, which was the peoples right, which in your Ordinance you had denied; I was sadded at my heart, & I know it was an ill savour over al the Nation & farther too, & here receiving gifts one of another, which you had no right to give not receive, your eye came to be blinded that should have seen the thing that was just to proceed to do it, and your hearts hardned from Gods fear, and so the sence of oppression and in justice began to be lost, and then how could you proceed to re∣move it from off the nation when you your selves were gone into it? joyned in doing the thing that was unjust, in one body that did un∣justly oppress before you, so here was no way for you to do good for the Nation, in removing of oppression except you had returned to Gods presence, that which gave you a sence of the oppression in Page 3 others, adversaries to the good Old Cause, to give you a sence of your own turning aside, from that which was just in your own particu∣lars, that so being sensible of your own evil in giving and taking that which was not your right, but the poor Nations right, to have had ease from oppression by: I say had you not shut your eye, and closed your ears, that should have seen and heard the cry of op∣pression in your own particulars, the weight of it might have been felt through the presence of God, to have moved it in your own particulars, and then the same that gave you a sence of the weight of the thing that is unjust in your selves, to remove it might have carryed you on, with your eye open and your ear open, to see and here the cry of injustice through the Nation, having the fresh sence of it upon your owne hearts, where the cry was heard in your own particulars to have removed it from off the Nation where ever, you had heard of it or seen it in the Nation. Where∣fore I charge and warn you in the dread of God, from a deep sence of the evil you are fallen into, and brought upon the Nation, by your turning aside and doing the thing that was just and right in the sight of God (to deny self) there, I say I charge you in Gods dread begin to root out the thing that is unjust in your own parti∣culars, which you have given and taken, which was and is the Nations right, and come to be lead by that righteous Principle which once moved in you to deny self, wherein the presence of God was, that it may rule in you to give up to the Nation that which you have received, which is their right, and prove the Lord with this, if in the simplicity of your hearts you shall be made willing tosu bject your selves to his will, to deny your selves, wherein self stood up and bore rule in you to take that to your selves which was not yours, but should have stood in the counsel of God cleer of it: I say if you give up this, prove if you ever find straitness in Gods presence to be with you, when you are not straitned in your own bowels, from doing the thing that is right in his sight, first in your own particulars, and then as the Lord shall discover what is un∣just and oppressive th ough the Nation, then to root out and throw down, that likewise by the same presence of Gods arm and power that hath rooted up and thrown down the unjust thing in your own particulars; here was the breach and the loss to you of the presence of God, and as in truth of heart, you be∣gin here you will feel the healing of the breach, and his pre∣sence to bless guide and preserve you as in the uprightnesse of your hearts you are willing to goe on to ease the Nation of oppression and injustice, which the cry of it is greater and Page 4 much lowder in the ears of the Lord, then it was when you were first called to fit, to consider how to case the people of this Nation from under the burthen of it.
And now bear with me a little and I shall plainly tell you how the sense of your evill doings came to be now at your first fitting fresh upon any heart, and that it was plainly good in the sight of God, I should thus lay it before you.
When the Warrs began in this Nation, through the unwil∣lingness of the Rulers of it to be subject to equity and Justice, then I desired (my trade failing) to be imployed in some service for the Common-wealth, towards maintaining my self and family, so for a season I was imployed at the fortifications about the City, my allowance as an Overseer of that work was three shillings a day, which I was glad of and well content with; for sometime but being in company with others, that would delight themselves to goe and drink sometimes, with the Workmen, more then was meet, which was other Overseers, which were corrupt, one of the Workmen told me as I re∣member, that when they spent moneys so, the Overseers he knew did not spend it upon their own charge, but upon the Common wealths, I said how, said he, do not you know, they can sometimes set down a man more then they imploy, or at lest if that cannot so well bee, to set down for some two pence a day or so, more then I gave, so here by subtilty I was betrayed, and my minde led out to desire more then my allowance which in that service wherein I was unfaithfull, as I remember it came to about six pound that I took more then my allowance in the deceit of my heart. Now all the while I was acting unrighteously, I had no peace with God, for his presence I went from, which should have preserved me out of the thing that was evill in his sight, and sometimes I had trouble in the thoughts of the evil I had proceeded in, in be∣ing unfaithfull to my trust, but I got over the trouble and went on in the deceit of my heart to do evill, so that my eye was blinded that I did not see the evill to be so great, and my heart hardned through custome of finning, that I went on without much remorse, so that work seasing, being finished, af∣ter obtained to be imployed at the Custome house, for the ex∣cise aboard on ships, which I was by oath bound to do ser∣vice in faithfulness: now when I was first passed on that service I had some dread of God upon me, and did proceed in faith∣fulness, to discharge my trust, and as I stood in his dread I Page 5 was preserved from joyning with those that were imployed with me that were unfaithful, knowing then that I reaped nothing but sadness of heart in my former unfaithfullnesse in the other imployment, so then as I stood in the Counsel and dread of God, I stood firm as an Iron Pillar in the power of God, which did preserve me out of temptations, that I could slight the bottles of Wine was brought, and what was other∣wise offered to ensnare my heart being single, but by degrees being amongst the wicked, and going out from the integrity which should have preserved me, turning from the simplicity and looking to the subtilty of the Serpentine wisdome in others, which would use arguments to perswade me, to do that for them wherein I should be false to my trust, saying what vvas my oath, vvas it not to be faithfull to the Com∣mon Wealth in the du•y of Excise; and vvas not I one of the Common Wealth, that deserved to have more allovved me then I had, and if I did take something and let others have some∣thing in taking some monyes of them to let them have it, what wrong did I to the Common-Wealth, seeing we were Members our selves of it, and had a right to it more then those that look more for less service, to inrich themselves as the Custome and Excise, Commissioners for setting some of them a few houres in a day had each of them many hundreds a yeer, not doing such service as I did.
And their Masters, meaning you, could give so much to one, and so much to another, which I appeal to your consciences, if it were not truth, so if I did not take it and let others have a part, others with you, such as you would dispose of what you pleased, to your own self-ends, and where then was the benefit of my trusty service to the Common-Wealths good. So that through your subt•l wisdom of the flesh, which is Earthly, my heart turned from its integrity, and joyned with the enemy of it, which did betray meer self joyning with the temptation, to gain something to it, I lost the wisdom which should have lead me to deny self, wherein the true gain which is durable riches, (Peace with God lost.) Thus through your evil example, the evil partie in the heart of flesh, going on in deceit, being through your evil doing encouraged, led me astray from God, for I thought then, according to my vain imagination, that if you could do such great things against your Trust and be guiltless, that I might do smaller matters with freedom: and so went on in unfaithfulness to my Trust, (and an unfruitful work of darkness) for which I tasted Gods sore displeasure, for in his Eter∣nall Page 6 Love to me, he followed me close with plagues, and his righteous judgements, whereby my hard heart might be broken, and I by h•s judgements •et up, in my heart might come to learn Righteousnes, which th ough the abundant Grace, Patience and long suffering of God, was effected in me. But before I knew this, I went on long in impenitency, under plagues and judgements, that I became even a ter•our to my self, and was full of trouble of spirit, yet hid my iniquity in my bosom, the cause of my long trou∣ble and disquietness, and a small thing would then discontent me, and so grew very peevish and froward, in so much, that when my dear wife sometimes spake but mildly to me, I should soon break forth into passion, shee not knowing what ailed me to be soon ang•y, which I then was ashamed to tell her, or any one, but still covered my iniquity in my bosome, but the Lords Eye saw it, and his hand and arm found it out, to plague me for it, so that I went a long season under the heavie weight, and burthen of his indigna∣tion: which was the Cup given by his rightcous hand to me to drink, who had long drank of the▪ Cup of Abomination, through my unfaithfulnesse, but since, I see the Lords Eternall love was wo king towards me through all this, not suffering me to have ease whilst I vvent on to dishonour him, by a Conversation full of worldly spots and defilements, and once it was in my heart to have informed the Commissioners with what I had done, in∣acting unfaithfully, and to cast my self at their feet, to deal with me as they would. Another time it was in my heart, that it was suitable to my unfaithfulness, to get the Pillory set be∣fore the Exchange, and there stand voluntarily with the Money that I had taken unjusty, that I might there have stood an ex∣ample, to be a warning to others never to do the like wicked∣ness, another time it appeared good to me to have passed to the Custome House at the 12th▪ houre, when many people would be there, and then declare to them there the evill of my do∣ings, and there to return the Money I had badly received, that they all there might take Example my me. But after a long season, I was wearied with my wickedness, and through judge∣ments was broken off from receiving moneys any longer, when any one offered it unto me, for the space of about a yeer before I left that Imployment. About the same time there came to Lon∣don some young Men out of the North, which were called Qua∣kers, one of my acquaintance askt me if I had heard them. I said I had heared them once, yea but said he, hear them five or six times, and then judge whether it be not truth that they Page 7 declare. I said to him it is like I should, or to that effect. So I passed to one meeting or two, but I had not received any thing that reached my h art, but going to another meeting, at the Place called the Bull and Mouth in Martius London. There were three of the Servants of the Lord, Ministers of the Everlast∣ing Gospell, George Fox, Francis Howgill, and Edward Bur∣rowghs; and one of them was speaking of the Crosse of Christ, which whosoever will be Christs Disciple must deny himself, and take up daily; Said one of them, that vvhich crosseth the Car∣nall minde is the Crosse of Christ, the Carnall minde said he, is Enmity against God, as any one comes to stand in the Crosse, which crosseth the Carnall minde, which is the Povver of God, the partition Wall of Enmity comes to be broken down: and recon∣siliation witnessed, the Enmity being slain by the power of God, which is (said he that spake) that which crosseth the carnall minde which the Light. Now I hearing these wo•ds spoken, the Witnesse of God in my heart answered, that this was true, for thought I in my self, the light which discovers sin and checks, for it, checks for that which the Carnall minde would run into, now as the reproof of Wisdome there is hearkned to, and turn∣ed at, vvhich is the Light, which vvord is a light to the feet of the soull▪ as it is taken heed to, to guide out of the paths of Death, and Condemnation, which the Carnall minde, would go out from God which is light into, to do the deeds of Dark∣ness. I knew as the light which is the Crosse to the carnal minde, is taken heed to and stood in, the Death must needs come upon the carnall minde, and the sin cease to be committed, and so the par∣tition wall of Enmity would be broken down by the Crosse to the carnall minde, so then, an entrance into Gods Kingdom was ministred to me, and plainly discovered before me, and my eye vvas opened, to see the working of the Mistery of Iniquity in me. My heart being in Measure turned to the Lord, desires vvere raised up in me, to vvait upon the Lord, in the light, vvhich I knew then had often convinced me of sin: that I might feel the power, God breaking down the Partition wall of Enmity in my ovvn particular, vvhich through sin and transgression I saw, was standing in me. So the first great sin mine Enlightened Eye fixed upon, was unfaithfulness to my Trust; And my trouble be∣gan afresh, in remembrance of that, and Gods Witnesse arose in me to testifie aginst me, that the partition Wall of Enmity was not broken down in me in the sin of unfaithfulness to my Trust, and that I vvas not cleer in his sight, in that particular: Though Page 8 the Judgements and Terrour of the Lord had rooted out, and driven me from the Practise of such vvickedness, yet somewhat did still remain to be removed, in that particular, and it vvas made plain to me, vvaiting in the light, that it vvould be good in the sight of God. To deny my self, and to give up to the death of the Crosse, the ground of the Partition vvall of Enmity, vvhich vvas Covetousness in me, and to give in freely vvhat I had unjustly received, to the Commissioners of the Excise in Broadstreet, under vvhom I had been imployed at the Custome∣house: that it might be given out by them, with the rest of monies that vvas there received for the service of the Common-Wealth, vvhose it vvas and not mine, so having much trouble upon me, being loath to part vvith so much; vvhich truly then, vvas neere if not full half I had in the Outvvard; having a vvife, and five children, to provide for, and not freedome to keep my Imployment any longer, being convinced it vvas oppression, the Excise then an no necessity of it; And that I ought not be a servant to any in oppression. So the tryall of my faithfulnesse to stand in the Crosse to my carnall minde, and deny self in this thing, vvas great and much trouble I vvas under for some time, through my unvvillingness, to give up self, to be slain on the Crosse to my carnall minde, and then a servant of the Lord, George Fox coming to my house, I told him in part how it was with me, and he said to me, he that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall finde mercy, and I saw his heart was lifted up to the Lord in prayer for me, which was heard, and my groaning was not hid from him, so the Lord reached down hi• right arm of Power, and touched my heart with his grace, and long suffering, and made me willing to submit to his will, deny my self, and give up to the Commissioners for Excise the sum of money I received unjustly, vvhich vvas made plain to me, waiting in the light, to be neer one hundred and fifty pound, but it lay on my heart to restore more rather then lesse, and so I was made free by the power of the Lord, and did give back, at the Excise Office London, one hundred and sixty pound. So then I felt the Truth of the words George Fox spake to me, he that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall finde mercy. For much ease, peace, and ref eshment I received into my soul from the Lord, in my obedience to the power of his Grace, in the cross to my will in that thing: Giving praises to his pure holy Name for evermore. Now knowing the terrours of the Lord for un∣faithfulness to my Trust, which let that of God in your con∣sciences Page 9 answer, if you many, or all of you are not guilty, (if not in giving and taking that which was not yours) yet in consent∣ing with them in it which did, till you declare to the Nation whom you wronged therein, your disprovement of their so doing, the sin will lye at your doore and be charged upon you, when God appeares with his terrible out-stretched arm of judgement, to give unto each of you according to the deeds done in the body, whether good or evill, which hastens a pace, therefore read through your selves, with the Light which I have written, that you may be converted and healed, that your sins may be blotted out, (confessing and forsaking of them) and a time to you of refreshment may come from the presence of the Lord, which would be more sweet to you to feel and enjoy, then now you can be sensible of; And now I could even freely unbosome my heart to you further, how the Lords presence hath gone along with me since, even to this present time: That you might see that the same g•ace of God which hath appeared unto all men, and Checks for sin, is sufficient to save from sin, as I being brought by the power of it waiting in it, to deny self in that particular have Ex∣perienced. For I being turned to it, it wrought in me an awe and dread of God least at any time I should offend with my tongue or do any evill action, and so thereby came under Gods displeasure, so reading some books of those peoples putting forth, who are called Quakers, I could not find any thing in them contrary to truth; so speaking with one that had heard those people, he asked me what I thought of them, for his part he said, he did beleive that what they declared would stand, when all else would fall, and he asked me if I believed that thee and thou to one perticular Person was truth I said yea; said he then, if I did not come into obedience to what I was convinced of to be Truth, I must come under con∣demnation, I said it was truth: So then knowing a stay to my minde, the Light it became a bridle to my tongue, and preser∣ved me in the word, Thou, in heart and tongue single to the Lord, and redeemed me out of the Worlds words into Truths Word, which is & was from the beginning, Thou to one perticular per∣son. Then loving the Light, bringing my deeds to it, to prove them whether they were wrought in God or not. I saw that I was in respect of Persons (Which whosoever doth respect persons commits sin,) in that foolish thing putting off the hat, to some, and not to others, according to a vain custome of the Page 10 World, which is evill in the sight of God. So then the same Grace, taking heed to the Light which is the Grace. I knew the crosse to my carnall minde, to give me dominion over that evill, and to redeem me out of that likewise: and this was the day of small things with me, which none is to d•spise, for it was pretious, then a strong Enemy appeared, which warred in my members to bring forth fruit unto Death, and had been of long continuance in me: which vvhilst I looked to the Light I had power over, but when a Temptation to it appeared, I looking to the Temptation, that which my carnall minde led me into, lea∣ving the Light which should have preserved me single in the sight of God, in the crosse to my carnall minde, there I fell into Temptation, and then the swift Witnesse of God in me, pur∣sued me with Judgements, and the Lords anger was kindled against me, so that I became again, a terrour to my self; and seeing what I had done, I said in my heart, in zeal for the Lord, whom I had greatly displeased: Yea I said, cursed be that hand that lifteth it self up against the Reign of Christ in my soul, for loving the Light though it did condemne me know∣ing that in it was my life, it discovered to me wherein my heart was adulterated from the pure God, and Woe, there was my portion: and the curse came on both my hands with which I had been in Rebellion, th•ough disobedience, as again•t the pure God of my life, but waiting in the Light, I was born up in Patience to wait in the Light, to receive power to st•nd in the hour of Temptation, against the Fiery Darts of the Adversary; then further I saw into se∣veral things in my calling, in the outward, that I was not a servant to the Lord Ch•ist, in who had enlightned me with h•s true light, and that improvision of Rings and toyes to sell to proud and vain people, I was a servant to the Divel, in the hearts of proud and vain people that came to my shop to buy such things, which by the power of the same grace of God that dis∣covered them to be evil, and my service evil there in selling them; I say by the sam-power I am ransomed and redeemed out of •h•• service, and this I have been made free in, to relate to you, that you may come to own Christ Jesus the Light of the World, through h•s Grace which hath appeared to all men to be taught to deny ungodliness, whereby each of you might come to witness in truth redemption out of a vain conversation, having escaped the corruptions that are in the World, through the Page 11 knowledge of him, whom to know is life eternal. Ah friends, when you went out from the truth, which would have made you and the Nation free from guilt and condemnation, and preser∣ved you free had you stood in it, so that you might have felt the blessing and presence of God with you, and so to have been a blessing and good savour to the Nation: whereas now the ill savour that went from you, spread over the whole Nation, and many poor Soldiers I heard sold their Debentures for six pence in the pound, some for one shilling, some for two shillings in the pound; and some, with that money, by the report doubling of the Debentures purch•sed Kings Lands, for what the wood was worth upon the ground: and this surely should have been seen too better by you, when this poor Nation groaned under such a weighty bu•then, and poor souldiers defrauded of their right, for the eyes of sober people looks upon these things, I mention it to provoke you to a deep sense of it, that your hearts might be broken, and you might consider, for then when I heard it I remember it was a great grief of heart to me, and as you may truely tast them words true to you, that sin is a re∣proach to any people, so that now longing desires might spring up in you to tast the other words true to you, that righteous∣nesse exalteth a Nation, by the Righteous working of Gods grace and power in you, making you willing to deny self, and to stand in the dayly Crosse to your carnall minds, that ini∣quity may be rooted out of you by it, and you through it be guided into equity, whereby Gods presence you may come to feel in the blessing of Peace to your own particulars, and may become a refreshment and blessing to the Nation, which is the desire of him who in true love flowing towards you, had it in his heart to write these lines unto you.
Tower street London.13. d. 3d. month. 1659.