A Vindication of the Late Commissioners for the Ejecting of Scandalous Ministers in the County of Wilts, (so far as it concerns Mr. Blisset, and other the Commis∣sioners of Marleborough) from the Aspersions of Wal∣ter Bushnel, Vicar of Box.
VVHen Wee consider how frequently (almost in every page) and how falsely Mr. Bushnel doth ac∣cuse and asperse so Eminent a person as Dr. Chambers, whose integrity wee thought had been beyond the reach of envy, wee suppose wee might bee silent, and leave the unprejudiced Reader to guess at the truth of his several char∣ges against us, by his impudency and rashness in attempt∣ing to fasten such Notorious Calumnies on that Reverend Doctor; but fearing lest herein hee may gratifie the Ge∣nius of such who delight in aspersing pamphlets, and are too ready to beleeve the same, wee thought fit to say some∣thing for the vindication of our selves from the odious re∣proaches which Mr. Bushnel endeavours to fasten on us.
In the first place wee shall only take notice of one pas∣sage in his Epistle dedicatory, where, in a Vaunting man∣ner hee ushers in his Narrative with plenty of reviling lan∣guage against the Commissioners, thus.
You shall finde mee charging them with such Crimes which are not onely odious in men as Christians, but with such which were looked upon as vild and odious by the most civil sort of Heathens, and yet I have not charged them with a syllable which I am not a∣ble by proofs to make good upon them.
Ans. Tis very obvious that Mr. Bushnels design herein is to prepossess those honourable Persons to whom hee dedicates his book, with prejudice against us, and to Page 29 beget in them a beleef of what he saies▪ but what lit∣tle reason hee hath to bee so confident, will appear when wee come to the tryal of his proofs, Parturiunt montes nascetur ridiculus mus.
In his Epistle to the Readers hee saith? VVent hey meet with the word Commissioners, they are not to understand mee, as intending thereby all those Gent. whose names were put into the Ordinance, as charging them with those unworthy and unjust proceedings, many whereof (as to my business) never acted: But the Commissioners which I here speak of, are those that made ejecting of Ministers a kind of Trade, and unquestionably to them∣selves it was a beneficial one, such who were constant, and frequent, and furious in the business, and were these, Mr. Blisset, Mr. Thomas Baily, and Mr. Hunt of Marlborough.
Ans. It is to bee noted again, how Mr. Bushnel doth anticipate the Reader, having not so much modesty or patience as to give him Liberty to judge upon the whole matter as hee finds it, but hee will bee (as our Accuser, so) our judge in passing sentence: The charge which hee brings against us is complicated, or made up of these two parts.
1 That wee made the ejecting of Ministers a Trade, and questionless a beneficial one.
2 That wee were constant, frequent, and furious in the business.
To the first of these wee have five several things to say by way of answer for our selves.
1 Tis sufficiently known that wee of Marlborough have ever had an indignation against that generation of men that have vilified the Ministers, as if they made a Trade of Preaching (though hapily some have been too guilty here∣of) But the Vicar of Box is the first that hath made a dis∣covery to the world of a new Trade of ejecting Ministers; But how unlikely it is that this should prove beneficial to us (whose Commission was only to remove scandalous and insufficient Persons from their livings, but had no power to settle any into either Parsonage or Vicaridge) we leave to the indifferent Reader to judge.
2 Mr. Bushnel may conceit what hee pleaseth to bee un∣questionable, Page 30 wee cannot hinder that, nevertheless wee challenge him or any other whatsoever to make proof of the least Emolument which ever did redound to us, and this from the hand of any person that either was brought before the Commissioners on a charge exhibited, and not ejected, or upon a charge proved, was ejected, or any one person that was presented and approved by the Com∣mittee of approbation in London, to the living of such per∣son as by us was removed; yea (as well knowing our own in∣nocency) wee do conjure Mr. Bushnel to perform the pro∣mise which hee makes in his Epistle, that hee would not charge us with a syllable which hee was not able by proof to make good, and let the impartial reader judge whether Mr. Bushnel who would bee taken for a faithfull Minis•er of Christ) bee not bound in point of honour to himself, and his profession▪ yea and in point of conscience to (if there bee the sense of either of these upon him) to make good by proof the foul charge which hee laies upon us (thorow out his book) of being mercinary persons, and such as have been brib'd with monyes, Plate, Horse, and hay: For to this effect h•e speaks in several places of his book, particularly in Pag. 227▪ where also our wives cannot escape his vene∣mous pen.
3 Wee were so far from making this work of ejection, a beneficial Trade (as Mr. Bushnel terms it) that in carrying on the same, wee all along, from first to last, acted upon our own private charge to the expence of above twenty pound apeece, to several of us, which monyes wee can prove (if occasion require) was spent in our several jour∣nies, and sittings, the which was never reimbursed by any persons, nor yet out of the monies raised for incident charges.
4 Wee appeal to the great God, the searcher of all hearts, to whom all our actions and waies are fully known, that wee are cleer and guiltless of the charge which Mr. Bushnel hath laid upon us, as to the value of one penny in Plate or mo∣ney, or in any other kinde whatsoever: yea further for our vindication,
Page 31 5 Wee do freely offer (if ever required thereunto) to take our oaths before any Judge of Assise, or Justice of the peace; that wee have not either directly or indirectly taken any such Bribe, Gift, or reward, or ever knew that in the work ejection wee lay under such a temptation from any person whatsoever, and therefore wee do again re∣quire Mr. Bushnel to produce any person within our Coun∣ty, or any other part of the Kingdome, that can testi∣fie the Giving, or our receiving any such Bribe or Gift, to us, or by us, in relation to this ejection work, and wee are sen∣sible (as who is not) that at this day men will not bee shy or backward to make out any such thing (if they could do it) as Mr. Bushnel in his Narrative doth accuse us of.
Now to the second part of Mr. Bushnels charge, That wee were constant, frequent, and furious in the business.
Answ. Wee shall make but a short reply to this, as be∣ing not so considerable as to require many words; It is confest that wee were more constant and frequent than some others of the County, because the sitting of the Commissioners was usually in Marlboro•gh, the place of our habitation (for of fifty four meetings there were above thirty in the said Town) and most of our work was in the Northern part of the County, below us or neer unto us (there being little to bee done in the Southern part, which was formerly purg'd of scandalous Ministers by the Commit∣tee long since appointed by Order of the house of Lords and Commons: Moreover, several of the Commissioners dwelt neer Marlborough, who did as frequently attend the meetings (for some of them) as wee our selves; and here wee would have Mr. Bushnel know that as wee can with boldness appeal unto God as to our ends and aimes, in our diligent attendance upon that imployment, that they were worthy and becoming the trust reposed in us, so to this very day (notwithstanding all his aspersions) wee do not in the least repent of being instrumental in the removal of any scandalous person, nor are wee conscious to our selves of being furiously transported at any time in the management of that work, against Mr. Bushnel or any other, but conscien∣ciouslyPage 32 made it our business to proceed secundum allegata & probata.
In the same Epistle to the Reader hee saith, The Com∣missioners did often violate that Ordinance by which they sate, and according to which they were to act, and that in many par∣ticulars. As in admitting and countenancing such to swear (if they appeared against mee) which their Ordinance excepted against, in excluding such witnesses, if appearing for mee (yea after they had been sworn) which by their Ordinance they were to admit of; and at last making a peremptory Order, that such as would, might appear against mee, but no more in my behalf; and I charge them for discountenancing, interrupting, and thwarting with many witnesses, &c.
Answ. Here is a long Chain of Calumnies that hath not one link of truth in it, and doubtless hee did on purpose set his invention on work, how to asperse us, and wee must needs acknowledge his sigular dexterity herein; But let Mr. Bushnel prove that wee did ever knowingly admit or countenance any person (by our Ordinance excepted a∣gainst) to swear, or refuse witnesses produced by him, then wee are contented to undergo his censure; if hee means, that, of our admitting Pinchin and Sanders to swear, hee cannot but remember they had given in their Depositions against him before the Crimes hee charges them with were proved unto us, and as to the making that Peremptory Or∣der, what rational man will beleeve it? it's as false a sug∣gestion, as those that follow, viz. our discountenancing, interrupting and thwarting his witnesses.
It follows in the Epistle, And I charge them all, Commis∣sioners, Ministers, and Clerk, for countenancing and incou∣raging infamous persons, such who had forsworn themselves, and touching some of themselves, in their hearing, such as ap∣peared out of malice, by their own confession, and were proved guilty of suborning, and of being suborned, to their faces; yea, and such as we should have proved guilty of forgery likewise, had not these Commissioners and Ministers by a notorious peace of in∣justice prevented it.
Answ. Here Mr. Bushnel doth exactly observe the Rule Page 33 to Machiavel, hee hopes that by calumniating lustily, some∣thing will stick: To this horrid and unjust Charge the Dr. hath sufficiently (so far as it concerns himself especially) replied, and shewed the impertinency and invalidity of the several proofs, whereby Mr. Bushnel hath indeavoured to fasten this accusation on him, and 'twill bee evident to any one who hath the patience to peruse his Book, that hee makes no conscience of what hee saies, for throughout his whole Narrative there is not one Argument or Proof suf∣ficient to ground this charge upon the Commissioners. We do therefore once more desire Mr. Bushnel to be so ingenuous, as to instance and declare which of the Commissioners did ever countenance such kind of persons as here mentions, and to shew wherein the Commissioners were so unjust as to prevent the discovery of any who were guilty (as hee saies) of Forgery: Wee do acknowledge that (amongst se∣veral substantial witnesses produced against him) there were some few whose testimonies (after some crimes al∣ledged against them) were not so authentick as others, and doubtless Mr. Bushnel means these: to conclude this, if the Articles offered by Trevers bee that which hee intends for forgery, it is well known, and Mr. Bushnel cannot but remember, that they were disowned and rejected, and hee not prosecuted thereupon, but upon others; and if this bee not it which hee strikes at, wee cannot guess at what hee means.
Page 212. But since I have heard that some body hath fur∣nisht one of the Marlborough Commissioners with a horse, yea, and that some body hath presented him with a parcel of hay since that, so that it may bee that the horse or the hay made the speech and not the master.
Answ. To this blinde story of some bodies giving these things to some body of the Commissioners, wee shall say no more, than that wee know not of any persons giving, or of any ones receiving the same, and do challenge Mr. Bushnel to discover the persons (if hee can) according to what hee declares in his Epistle dedicatory, who saith that hee hath not charg'd us with a syllable which hee is not able by proof to make good upon us.
Page 34 In pag. 249. Mr. Bushnel saies (as Mr. Stern reported it) that the Commissioners demanded fifteen pound of him for their incident charges in thrusting mee out.
Answ. How true this is that Mr. Stern reported it, wee know not, nor do wee beleeve Mr. Stern will justifie it, nay, we are sure, hee cannot, for Mr. Stern well knows that there was never more than ten pound demanded from him for incident charges for the Vicaridge of Box, but upon what ground Mr. Bushnel doth impute this demand to bee meer∣ly for thrusting him out, wee cannot imagine: Reader, see the Ordinance by which wee acted, and thou wilt perceive for what incident charges (at which Mr. Bushnel so often ca∣vils) was demanded.
In pag. 252. I have not yet done with this fifteen pound charg∣es incident (and when I have done with that I have done with all) for let mee now observe unto thee, what a beneficial Trade these Marlborough men made of it, Let the winde sit which way it would: I think in this particular out-doing the Jews themselves, for they would so far improve their opportunities, that fall out what could, they would turn it to their advantage.
Answ. What causeless Outcry doth this man make? the relation it self being false, as wee have shewed, and what was paid came from Mr. Stern, not Mr. Bushnel; Hee tels us, having done with this, hee hath done with all, and if this bee all that hee can bring by way of charge against the Marlborough Commissioners, let the Reader judge, whe∣ther it amounts to any thing? No doubt Mr. Bushnel mak∣ing it his design (as it appears) to render the Commissi∣oners odious, consulted with the rest of his brethren that had been in the same praedicament with him, to finde out what other sums came to our hands. But hee could hear of none, therefore makes the ten pound incident charges re∣ceived of Mr. Stern (to which himself invents and adds five more) as it were his Text, upon which hee raiseth an Ob∣servation what a beneficial Trade the Marlborough men made of it; this is as natural as some of those Reasons by which hee proved his doctrine at his examination before the Commissioners and Ministers.
Page 35 Mr. Bushnel having not yet sufficiently disgorged him∣self, wee finde him again at the fifteen pound, pag. 255. And (saies hee) fifteen pound they demanded for thrusting mee out; 'tis good being a hang-man upon such terms; and que∣stionless this was enough to make mee scandalous, because I would not daub, and they were resolved to get by mee, one way or other.
Answ. This as to the matter of Fact is before answered, wee shall not (with Mr. Bushnel.) reiterate, as to what follows, 'tis very unsavoury and unbecoming the mouth of a Mini∣ster; and truly the Commissioners need not bee suspected of injustice, in outing Mr. Bushnel for a scandalous person, when the very language which comes from his Pen for the vindication of himself, speaks him scandalous, and wee doubt not but the Reader will judge him so, if hee casts his eye onely upon thee 154 page of his Book, where hee discovers the froth and filth of his spirit, in comparing the Commissioners to Hang-men, Sheep-stealers, &c.
In the same page Mr. Bushnel makes sport for his Reader, in relating a story which hee heard of a theevish Miller, to whom hee compares the Commissioners, his words are these; And now one would think that they had undone mee, as much as possible, and yet Mr. Sterne hath told mee, that hee is a greater loser than myself, that I am four hundred pound the worse, but that hee is five hundred pound the worse: so that to mee hee seems to have met with some of such a disposition▪ whereof I have heard a Miller to bee, who stole five pecks out of a bushel.
Answ. This shews that Mr. Bushnel in the want of truth hath a minde to make himself merry with his own lyes, for hee was removed from Box in September, 1656. and this Vicaridge reputed worth but ninety pound, per annum, and hee entring to it again before harvest 1660. So that hee was deprived of the profits of the same, not full four years, the which Mr. Sterne took fully to his own use (excepting on∣ly the tend pound incident charges) so that what Mr. Bush∣nel lost, Mr. Sterne had and* received, how then doth it follow that these two men can bee losers of nine hundred pounds between them? This is much like the Millers Page 36 stealing five Pecks out of a Bushel.
And now as to what concernes Mr. Blisset (one of the Commissioners) in particular, the Reader is desired to ob∣serve what followes.
* As to my self in particular, whereas in page 208. he boldly chargeth me (though upon a bare report) with the receiving of xx. l. his words are, viz. These men as Godly as they are, love dearly to be fingering mony, Mr. Sterne hath said that Mr. Blisset had xx. l. of him (I believe half the mony would have made him my friend) which in all probabi∣lity he had an eye to of a long time.
* Now let the Reader judge of the spirit of this man, who is not onely void of charity, but common Ingenuity; to make such a Conclusion from a bare reported Premisses, and to pass such a positive sentence upon such a report, as will appear to be a very grand mistake between them, (I mean Mr. Bushnell and Mr. Sterne) and I refer him to Mr. Sterne for the rectifying thereof, & then I doubt not but he will quick∣ly see his over-forwardness in censuring, conjecturing and believing so much amiss of me, but more of this by and by▪
* Mr. Bushnell hath another fling at me, in page 239. hope∣ing that some of his dirt will stick. It seems (saith he) that Mr. Blisset was well acquainted with Mr. Sternes recei•••,I doubt not but he and his son William hath been well acquain∣ted with some of Mr. Sternes diflursements.
* It seems, and I doubt not, proves nothing, but is a far∣ther manifestation of his spleen, Laying the stress of all he saith, upon conjectures, and his own bare suppositions. A∣gain, he harps upon the same string, lest it should be for∣gotten, in page 249.
*Besides the xx l. Mr. Blisset had from him, of which I have spoken already.
* And so have I also.
* Again page 253. That he might be sure his Reader should not forget, yea that he might the more certainly confirm him in the beleef of that which before he affirmed barely upon the report of another, the same is now become a truth upon his own knowledge, for saith he, And here I Page 37 can speak upon my own knowledge, xx l. Mr. Blissett had, I know not for what else,*but for putting Mr. Sterne in.
Herein Mr. Bushnell doth imitate those who by often telling incredible stories come at length to believe them to be truthes; And were it true, yet it must be a lye in him, since here he affirms that to be true on his own knowledge, which in several pages before he confesseth he took up onely on the bare Report of Mr. Sterne: But however Reader for thy satisfaction, I shall farther add, for the clearing my self in this particular,
That I never saw one penny of Mr. Sternes mony in all my life, nor did I (or any other to my use) ever receive one penny, much lesse such a sum from him, or from any other by his appointment; nor was I ever under that temp∣tation from him, nor did I know or was I made acquainted with what contracts Mr. Sterne made with any person in order to his coming into Box: Though (I believe) Mr. Sterne will acknowledge he received from me as many ci∣vilities as he could in reason expect (being a stranger to me) which he hath often acknowledged to many persons, and fully expressed the same in a letter long since unto me. Therefore knowing my own innocency as to this charge, I do appeal to Mr. Sterne to Justifie the truth of this my Pro∣testation, who is quoted by Mr. Bushnell to be the Authour of this scandalous Report.
* Again in page 254. Mr. Bushnell adds, And if it be as Mr. Sterne hath reported it, Mr. Blisset hath not been wan∣ting to himself in this business; for he hath not onely made the Vicaridge of Box bring him in plentifull returns to his Treasury for the present, but also he hath so providently provided it, that it shall yield him a crop after we are dead and gone, for as Mr. Sterne told me, he hath got the next Presentation to the place, so that it is not to be wondred, that he ruined me first, and (af∣ter he had received his largess from him) cared not how soon Mr. Sterne were gone from the place, in order whereunto, it was indeavoured that he should be made weary of it, because his turn was next, and so upon Mr. Sternes avoidance, he might make use and benefit of his presentation.
*This charge against me will soon be brought to a short Page 38 issue, It consists of two parts, The one (though expressed in other termes) I have already answered, viz. Box Vi∣caridge bringing in plentifull returns to my Treasury (I sup∣pose hee means the twenty pound) I shall say▪ no more to this. The second is as false a suggestion as the first; Let this bee the issue between us: I appeal to that honourable person Sir Hugh Speak, Knight and Baronet, who is the undoubted Patron thereof; I say, I have nothing to do in the next Presentation, nor had I in the last, more than in telling Sir Hugh Speak that I thought Mr. Sterne to bee an able & honest man, & one that might deserve his favour▪ so that these premises having no foundation, I doubt not but the impartial Reader will adjudge his Conclusion, pag. 255. as rotten. I abhor that saying of his, that I ruined him, hee may very well remember my inclinations to∣wards him were otherwise*. I require Mr. Bushnel to make good (if hee can) that I indeavoured to weary Mr. Sterne of Box, that I might make my advantage upon the next Presentation*. These, Mr. Bushnel, of all assertions in your Book▪ are the most diabolical: I challenge you, or any person whatsoever, to make good these, or any other passages of the like nature upon mee throughout all the Actions of my whole Life (having been in publick im∣ployment neer fourteen years last past.)
Reader, wee thought fit to tell thee, that wee have had no greater allowance of time, than some forty eight hours, both for the reading of Mr. Bushnels Book, and composing an Answer to those Passages that seem to reflect upon us; for till within this two daies wee had no thoughts of entring upon this ungrateful work, neither did wee know of any Reply that the Doctor intended, which might give us an opportunity to annex something thereunto for our vindi∣cation, and if wee mistake not, wee do not finde any thing in his Narrative, save what the Dr. and our selves have fully answered to, that carries any matter of Reflection with it. As for his oblique charges, scurrilous expressions, and quibbles, and Mr. Blissets Circumstance so often itera∣ted and sported with, wee are resolved not to take no∣tice Page 39 of them: But if in this undertaking of his hee had had so mnch modesty and ingenuity as to have forborn his invective and satyrical language both against Commissi∣oners and Ministers, and had fairly set before the Reader the whole proceedings in the business of his Ejection, with∣out such monstrous Comments and Inferences, and not put the stress of the Truth of what hee principally chargeth on us, upon [As I conjecture] [as I think] [as I beleeve] [as I was told by some body] [as it hath been reported] [and in pro∣bability] [and it seems so] [and 'tis evident enough to mee] and as I remember] [and the like.
Risum teneatis amici? wee should have thought the judge∣ment of his Ejection (as to the Matters charged on him, and the proofs thereof made by such witnesses (as hee ren∣ders them) and the defence made by himself, and his wit∣nesses for him) would have lain with the more clearness before the Reader, as to the Sentence of his Ejection, whe∣ther it was just or unjust.