To the gentle Reader.
DEAR friend it is slandero usly re∣ported (by reason whereof some of you may be troubled to hear) that Chamberlain the Redding man, called after the flesh, William Everard; doth hold blasphemous opinions: as to deny God, and Christ, and Scriptures, and prayer; and they call him a deceiver, and many •ilt by names; and upon this report of the raging multitude (some that call themselves Ministers, and some common people) the Bayliffs of Kingston have put him in prison, as he came through their Towne and took a nights lodging; and hath kept him there this weeke, upon these supposed scandals.
Now I was moved to write what here followes, as a vindication of the man and my selfe, being slan∣dered as well as he (by some of the Ministers) ha∣ving been in his company; that all the world may judge of his and my inn•cency in these particular scandals; and that it may appear, as it will upon tryall, that the parish Ministers themselves, and e∣very one that followes their way of worship; doth turn the Scriptures into a lye, by leaving the old Page [unnumbered] letter that the Apostles writ; and new moulding those Scriptures into their own language; walking according to their owne inferences and conjectures thereupon; and by holding forth God and Christ to be at a distance from men; they are the only men that deny God and Christ and Scriptures, and Ordinan∣ces, walking in the practise of their own invention, to which ignorant flesh closeth without examinati∣on: and so the greatest theeves cry, stop theefe first.
And here I shall adde one word as an accompt wherefore I use the word Reason, instead of the word God, in my writings, as you shall meet mith∣all: If I demand of you, who made all things? And your answer God. If I demand what is God? You answer the spirituall power; that as he made; so he governs and preserves all things; so that the sum of all is this, God is the chief Maker or Governor, & this maker & governor is God: Now I am lost in this wheel that runs round, and lies under darknes.
But if you demand of mee, why I say Reason did make, and doth governe and preserve all things: I answer, Reason is that living power of light that is in all things; it is the salt that savours all things; it is the fire that burns up drosse, and so restores what is corrupted; and preserves what is pure; he is the Lord our righteousnesse.
It lies in the bottom of love, of justice, of wis∣dome; for if the Spirit Reason did not uphold and moderate these, they would be madnesse; nay, they Page [unnumbered] could not be called by them names; for Reason guids them in order, and leads them to their right end, which is not to preserve a part, but the whole crea∣tion.
But is mans reason that which you cal God? I an∣swer, mans reasoning is a creature which fl•ws from that Spirit to this end, to draw up man into him∣selfe: it is but a candle lighted by that soul, and this light shining through flesh, is darkened by the ima∣gination of flesh; so that many times men act con∣trary to reason, though they thinke they act according to reason.
By that light of Reason that is in man, he may see a sutablenesse in many things, but not in all things; for the reason that acts in another man, may see a weaknesse of reason that asts in me: but now the Spirit Reason, which I call God, the Maker and Ru∣ler of all things, is that spirituall power, that guids all mens reasoning in right order, and to a right end: for the Spirit Reason, doth not preserve one creature and destroy onother; as many times mens reasonings doth, being blind by the imagination of the flesh: but it hath a regard to the whole creation; and knits every creature together into a onenesse; making every creature to be an upholder of his fel∣low; and so every one is an assistant to preserve •he whole: and the neerer that mans reasoning comes to •his, the more spirituall they are; the farther off they be, the more selfish and fleshy they be.
Page [unnumbered]Now this word Reason is not the alone name of this spirituall power: but every one may give him a name according to that spirituall Power that they feel and see rules in them, carrying them forth in actions to preserve their fellow creatures as well as themselves.
Therefore some may call him King of righteous∣nesse, and Prince of peace: some may call him Love, and the like: but I can, and I doe call him Reason; because I see him to be that living powerfull light that is in righteousnesse, making righteousnesse to be righteousnesse; or justice to be justice; or love to be love: for without this modera•er and ruler, they would be madnesse; nay, the selfewillednesse of the flesh; and not that which we call them.
Lastly, I am made to change the name from God to Reason; because I have been held under darknesse by that word, as I see many people are; and likewise that people may rest no longer upon words without knowledge; but hereafter may look after that spiri∣tuall p•wer; and know what it is that rules them, and which doth rule in and over all, and which they call their God and Governour or preserver. And this I hope will be a sufficient accompt why I alter the word: what here followes may give more light into the thing.
Reade and judg; let flesh be silent; let the Spirit be honored.