First Reason against shutting Men up for the Plague, From the Communion of Saints, and the practise of the Primitive Christians.
1. WEre Men (those sociable Creatures) made thus, every Man to live by himself? and if the Principle of self-preservation may alter the course of Nature, is this the Com∣munion of Saints we believed? is this the mutual care we ought to have one of another? We can endure to read in Eusebius of Heathens, who as soon as the Pestilence was among them diver∣ted themselves, and fled from their most loving and dear friends, throw∣ing them half dead in the Streets: how they left the dead unburied to be devoured of Dogs, to the end they might avoid death, which yet they could not escape.
While we observe withal how Grace above Nature enabled the Primitive Christians by reason of their great love and brotherly Charity (they are Eusebius his own Words) not sparing themselves to cleave one to another, to visit the sick of the Plague, to attend them diligently, to Cure them in Christ though it cost them their Lives; and being full of other mens maladies took the Infection off their Neigh∣bours, and tronslated off their own accord the sorrows of their Neigh∣bours upon themselves; fulfilling indeed the common saying, that friendship is alwayes to be retained. In this sort, the best of our Bre∣thren departed this life, whereof some were Ministers, some were Deacons, in great reverence among the Common People: So that this kind of death for their great Piety and strength of Faith may seem to differ nothing from Martyrdom; for they took the dead Bodies of the Saints, whose breasts, faces, and hands lay upwards, and closed their eyes, shut their mouths, and joyntly with one accord, being like af∣fectioned, embraced them, and prepared their Funerals, their own be∣ing a little while afterward in all likelyhood prepared by others, for the Living continually traced the steps of the Dead.
Then as the Body was one, and had many Members, all those Members being one body, so was Christ; for by one Spirit were all Men Baptized into one Body, the eye said not to the hand I Page 5 have no need of thee; nor the head to the foot I have no need of thee; yea, the weaker the Members of the Church were, the more care they had of them; and there was no Schism in the Bo∣dy, each Member having an equal care one of another; and so if one Member suffered, all the Members suffered with it: they all looking on themselves as the Body of Christ, and Members in particular: Then they did not Excommunicate whole Families when it pleased God to visit them; no, then the Elders of the Church carefully attended them, prayed with them, and the effectual fervent prayer of those righteous Men availed much.
Second Reason against the shutting up of Houses infected with the Plague, From the spreading of the Infection by it.
BUt alas! a discourse of publick mindedness to private Spi∣rits looks like a fit of Melancholly; we urge not then your duty, but your Interest, not so much what concerneth us as your selves: alas! while you by this severe course would secure, you destroy your selves, and that shutting up of infected Houses, which you think would stop the Infection, spreads it: For,
1. We are acted by a Principle of self preservation, as well as you, and therefore assoon as we find our selves or any member of our Families infected, so dreadful it is to us to be shut up from all comfort and society, from free and wholsome air, from the care of the Physician, and the Divine, from the oversight of Friends and Relations, and sometimes even from the very necessi∣ties, and conveniences of Nature, that we run as far in City and Country as our feet can carry us, leaving Wives and Children to the Parishes, empty walls, and shops to Creditors, scattering the infection along the Streets as we go, and shifting it from Lodging to Lodging with our selves, till at last we drop in some Alley, Field, or neighbour Village, calling the people round a∣bout by the suddenness of our fall to stand awhile astonished at our deaths, and then take their own; each fearful man of us frighted from his own house, killing his whole Town by surpri∣zing them unprepared; whereas were we permitted to enjoy the Page 6 content and freedom of our own Habitations, we might by Anti∣dotes cure others, and be cured our selves.
See, see, we infect not our next Neighbours, and this sickness spreads not much in any one place, but we carry it from place to place, running from our home as from our places of torment, and thus the Roads are visited, and men travel the same way to the Country, and to their long home: Thus the Contagion hath reached most places round the Citty, which is now as it were be∣sieged with the judgment, and encompassed with the Visitation and desolation: We have not yet learned how to manage a sick∣ness, in all likelihood did persons prepare themselves (upon the first breaking out of the Plague) with Antidotes to visit the sick, who would be very well contented to keep within doors and converse onely with their nearest Friends, their Physicians and their ghostly fathers) and administer to them such preservatives, and other necessaries the Plague might go no further. For,
Third Reason against shutting up Houses visited with the Plague from the experience of former times, when Plagues did not cease till there was freedom of Converse allowed.
IN the years 1346. 1348. 1350. there was a great Plague all over the World, especially in Asia, such as was never remem∣bred to be in any place before, sweeping away Priests and Physi∣cians first; when Men were troubled with no other disease, when the Living were not able to bury their Dead, all lay in common, there was no distinction between Sacred and profane; the very Birds of the air were poysoned, and Men were all over sore, loo∣sing some Limb or other if they escaped with their Lives.
Assoon as the people discerned by Observation, by sight or feel∣ing whether they had this sickness or not, they hasted away, left the other helpless: Whereupon (saith the Historian) many pe∣rished for want of sucour, who might otherwise have been pre∣served. This inhumane forsaking took its rise from the Turks, and Infidels; where the Parents forsook their Children, and the Children their Parents; Brothers and Sisters forsook one ano∣ther; Page 7 nay, the Wife left the Husband, and the Husband the Wife. Nor was this monstrous cruelty wanting among Christians also, some of whom retired themselves to solitary places, others kept themselves close in their Houses or Castles to secure themselves as they thought from the outrage of the general Visitation; but all this could not any way prevail or prevent Gods Divine judg∣ment, against whom the strongest Fortification never defended: Whereupon, mark it, many became more resolute and Christian∣like; referring themselves to Gods mercy, and with a holy reso∣lution to welcome death; they became kind and serviceable to the visited, ministring to them all things necessary, and thus many recovered health, and became secure, and then yielded the like help to others: In which Christian course God so blessed their endeavours, that very many of them were healed by visit∣ing and assisting one another.
Nay, within many Mens memory now alive, when the effect of Cooping Men up was no other, than that the Sick were so many that they could not be watched or kept in by those that were well, in the year of our Lord 1625. and thereupon it being found convenient that the Sick should have their Liberty to visit and be visited, and all Men should meet and pray heartily to God to appease his wrath: What with the freedome of the Ayre, what with the accomodations Men had for necessaries, it pleased God that the Sickness which had by shutting up,
|Upon the opening of the hou∣ses it decreased thus;|
A Decrease never before known and never hereafter to be ex∣pected, but by the use of this remedy.
Fourth Reason against shutting up of houses infected with the Plague, from the condition of those houses and the inhabitants thereof.
BUt if we will not be wise by other mens experience, let us be so by our own most sad and most deplorable, whereby we have known the healthiest men shut up, and with the very thought of a sad and dismal restraint, contracting first a Melan∣choly, and then a feaver, and at last (as all diseases turn to that which is most epidemical) a Plague. Little is it considered that some spirits are so averse to the very least restraint, that the lock∣ing of their pew door puts them to a swound, and a dayes impri∣sonment to them is mortal. Neither is it a fourth part of the inconvenience of this mewing up of men, that a whole & healthy familie to day, for want of preservatives, antidotes, attendance, and (it may be) necessaries of meat and drink, is to morrow none at all. If they want meat, then the infection seizeth their empty veins, if they eat ill-dressed, or unwholsome meat, that turns to crudities, and that to distempers, and these to the prevailing one, the Plague. This shutting up would breed a Plague if there were none: Infection may have killed its thousands, but shutting Page 9 up hath killed its ten thousands. Little is it considered how careless most Nurses are in attending the Visited, and how care∣ful (being possessed with rooking avarice) they are to watch their opportunity to ransack their houses; the assured absence of friends making the sick desperate on the one hand, and them on the other unfaithful: their estates are the Plague most dye on, if they have any thing to lose, to be sure those sad creatures (for the Nurses in such cases are the off-scouring of the City) have a dose to give them; besides that, it is something beyond a Plague to an ingenious spirit to be in the hands of those dirty, ugly, and unwholsome Haggs; even a hell it self, on the one hand to hear nothing but screetches, cryes, groans, and on the other hand to see nothing but ugliness and deformity, black as night, and dark as Melancholy: Ah! to lye at the mercy of a strange woman is sad: to leave wife, children, plate, jewels, to the In∣genuity of poverty, is worse; but who can express the misery of being exposed to their rapine that have nothing of the woman left but shape?
With what art do they neglect the rich? and with what seve∣rity the poor? A world, cry they, for drink, for physick, for sweat, for cordials: by and by answereth the cunning Suecuba, till the poor patient breaths out his soul in his vain wishes, glad now to escape into a rest and quietness much happier than his fretful state wherein his disease tormented him much, but his oversees more, adding her fury from without, to the diseases rage from within, and proving the more Intollerable Plague. And now the Husbands gone, if Sorrow doth not, a Close Room, and Posset drink, shall break the good womans heart, equally divided be∣tween her grief for the husband that is gone, and her fear for the children that are left behind: a needless fear, they shall not long survive, heirs rather of the parents misfortune, than their estates; and if the blessing of God and the poor upon the devout and charitable family (according to the promise made to them and their seed) keeps up a child or two against the infection of the disease, the unwholsomness of their diet, the nastiness of their chamber, and the artifice of their tender, they are conveyed away forsooth, in order to their security, and in the mean time the well-furnished house lyeth at a beggar or Page 10 two's mercy for a quarter, of a year together.
During which time the Plague-brokers diligently attend, and there goeth a Tankard that shall infect the fifth Cupboard; here the set of Spoones that taint the hundredth dish of Broath; this man steales a bargain of the Cloak that kills ten Men; another buyeth a Suit that infects Bristol; and a third gets a fine Childs Coat that shall cut-off a first-born Son. In vain do you here ob∣ject the severe Lawes against removal of infected Goods before the 40. dayes are past, when the careful Nurse dares not stay out the 40. houres, least a right owner interpose, or cunning Lawyer seize on the house and the estate; but let the Estate go, a World cryeth the Patient for an able Physician, that might help the nature, or a serious Divine that may settle the soul; and neither must be sent for, for the doors are fast; and if the rigid overseers per∣mit that civility they dare not come on pain of being shut up themselves, and by serving the necessities of one man being made unserviceable unto all.
Fifth Reason against shutting men in infected Houses from the Condition of those Houses.
BUt if you have no bowels of compassion for us; O have a care of your selves, the shut houses killing no fewer without then within, and being as likely to breed a Plague if it were not as they are sure to encrease it, now it is: imagine Infection it self penned into a rage and fury ready upon the least passage through a door or window to break out and choak a whole street, as that will in a while a City, and that a Kingdome; and this infection growing stronger by the Leaveless despair of the poor Inhabitants, the Rooms hung with Cobweb, the Flowre having dust and rub∣bish enough to bury the Infected, the Meat stinking in the Pan∣try, and the Beer soweing in the Cellar, while the people rot in their several Chambers; the Cloaths when clean infected by the owners, and now being foul infecting them; again Doggs and Cats if alive spreading the infection abroad, if dead increa∣sing it at home; the Air they breath subtly conveying death that way it did formerly life, the water stinking and readier to pro∣voke the flame within, then to quench it: Servants formerly the Page 11 stay and honour, now the burden of the Family.
The poor peoples own endure, if they cannot, as they cannot commonly under this Pestilence expell it, killing them, and if they can, poysoning them i• their sweat is cast by them upon their Cloaths, and evaporated upon the House round them, and by those Cloaths and that House sent back again upon them. In vain are poor people shut within a House, as unless the house itself be shut within another, and that within a third, and so ad Infinitum; the wind, you say, purges the Air round about the house, hardly when so deeply infected as a close house must needs be; yet if the Wind cleareth the Infection of the House; would it not likewise clear that of the people were they admit∣ted to an open and free air?
Sixt Reason against shutting up of Infected Houses, because that keeps Men in ignorance of the nature of and remedy against the Plague.
NAy this method gives the Plague its power of being dead∣ly, all diseases were deadly till men by converse under∣stood the nature of them, their original, and the experience in their cure: What the Pestilence is now, the French Pox, the small Pox, and the spotted Fever, were in Queen Eliz. time, and had been to this hour, had men been shut up from Physicians and all other persons in the small Pox, &c. as they are now un∣der the Plague.
Discourse with the Physician in this case, and he will talk to you, out of his Books 40. receipts at a breath, but not a word can he say of the experience he or any other hath had of the cure of this disease; which is the onely safe way of practice; specula∣tive rules being at too great distance from practise before the particular circumstances of the disease, the person, and fits be perfectly understood; as they are by none but by such as con∣verse freely with the Patient as men do in Holland and most other parts of the World; where they have attained to so much fami∣liarity with the disease that (under God) observing how it grow∣eth and begins; how men take it at first, and how they recover Page 12 of it, have been able by Gods blessing in a short time to give a stop to the infection, and health to the infected.
An instance of which experience take here in the 75. wayes whereby men have got this Plague this year 1665. as upon exa∣mination of divers Families now infected by persons that have conversed with those Families and other infected persons during this Infection hath appeared.