“Howl, howl, ye nobles, howl honourable, howl ye rich men for the miseries that are coming upon you.
For our parts we that hear the Apostle preach will also have all things in common; neither will we call anything that we have our own…. Wee’l eat your bread together in singleness of heart, wee’l break bread from house to house.”
(Abiezer Coppe, A Fiery Flying Roll, 1650)
The so-called Ranters formed the extreme left wing of the sects which came into prominence during the English Revolution of the 1640s-50s. If theologically the English Revolutionary sects lay somewhere between orthodox Calvinism, (with its emphasis on the power and justice of God as illustrated in the grand scheme of election and reprobation, with its insistence upon the reality of Hell in all its most literal horrors and upon the most verbal and dogmatic acceptance of the Scriptures), and of antinomianism (stressing God’s mercy and universality, rejecting moral law and thus rejecting Hell in any but the most figurative sense, and its replacement of the authority of the Scriptures by that of the inner light).
The Ranters pushed antinomian beliefs to the extreme – their beliefs, when acted upon, soon brought them into conflict with law and authority.
Ranter theory combined both pantheistic mysticism and a plebeian materialism – seemingly contradictory, but often expressed in the same breath… Ranters rejected the belief in the literalism of biblical texts, instead plumping for their own symbolic interpretation of the Bible, or to rejecting the whole caboodle. From developing belief that the moral law no longer had authority for the people of a new age enjoying the liberty of the sons of God, many drew the conclusion for them no act was sinful – which some wasted no time putting into practice.
The political views of the Ranters followed logically from this theology. God existed in all things:
“I see that God is in all Creatures, Man and Beast, Fish and Fowle, and every green thing, from the highest Cedar to the Ivey on the wall; and that God is the life and being of them all, and that God doth really dwell, and if you will personally; if he may admit so low an expression in them all, and hath his Being no where else out of the Creatures.”
But man alone could be conscious of his Godhead and this gave to all a new and equal dignity. The poorest beggars, even
“rogues, thieves, whores, and cut purses” are “every whit as good” as the great ones of the earth.”
Many of the Ranters (unlike pretty much all the other political and religious groupings of the time), attempted to speak for and to the most wretched and submerged elements of the population, eg the slum dwellers of London and England’s other cities (though to what impact is unknown). Ranter writings share a deep concern for the poor; most denounce the rich, and several voice something like a primitive biblical communism. Like Winstanley and the Diggers (and unlike Leveller John Lilburne and his followers), they happily accepted the name of Leveller in its most radical implications – but to them, God himself was the great Leveller, who was to come shortly “to Levell with a witnesse, to Levell the Hills with the Valleyes, to lay the Mountaines low”.
The Ranters began to attract attention soon after the defeat of the Leveller-inspired mutiny of radical New Model Army elements at Burford in 1649 – this was very much a theology the of defeated and disillusioned, to some extent of activists (many ex-Levellers and civil war veterans) for whom the war had not brought the just society they had dreamed of and fought for. Levelling by sword and political activity had failed (some also refer to the failure of ‘spade levelling’, ie the Digger projects of 1649-50; many ranters now placed their faith in Levelling by miracle. God himself would confound the mighty, through the agency and in the interests of the poorest, lowest and most despised of the earth.
The Ranter movement, such as it was, came into sudden prominence towards the end of 1649, reached its peak in the following year and thereafter survived only in fragments. It was never a coherent political movement united by any political programme in any sense. It is difficult to separate the true ideas the ranters expressed from the many hostile publications that denounced them and exaggerated or misrepresented them – however, what is know about their actions and the writings they did leave suggest ideas and activities calculated to totally outrage orthodox society, particularly when puritanism was basically politically and socially triumphant.
Although many accusations of lewd behaviour and what was then considered outrageous beliefs were charged to the ranters by their many detractors, it seems genuinely true that many ranters believed that all things should be held in common, that they were beyond the moral condemnation of moral authority, and that a joyous social life should be free and easy for all.
The Ranters Last Sermon, an attack on ranting ideas, acknowledges that ‘They taught, That it was quite contrary to the end of Creation, to Appropriate anything to any Man or Woman; but that there ought to be a Community of all things.”
Ranters’ social gatherings were noted; they ate together, drank wine, smoked tobacco (generally regarded at the time as an act of doubtful morality), danced and sang. Samuel Shepherd calls them “The Joviall Crew”.
Another hostile commentator, Ephraim Pagitt, admitted:
“They are the merriest of all devils, for extempore lascivious Songs, not extempore Prayer, but as absurd and nonsensicall, for healths, musick, downright baudry and dancing, the two last of which commonly proceed and follow the conjunction of the fellow creatures, which is not done in corners.”
These festive Ranter meetings may not have been just an expression of camaraderie and having fun (important as that was) – perhaps they also embodied ritual. Was the collective meal, a sharing of bread, a kind of sacrament? The Ranters parodies of the Christian sacraments seem like a striving towards a ritual of their own.
Hostile pamphlets also printed three alleged Ranter hymns – one a drinking song, one advocating sexual liberty and a third ridiculing orthodox religion. AL Morton compares this to the importance of singing among the American IWW, 250 years later: the early 19th century IWW “were also fond of irreverent parodies of hymns. Under the Commonwealth the old laws of settlement had broken down and one of the very real if temporary freedoms the Revolution had brought was the freedom to move about in search of work. It may well be that among these migratory workers, unattached and prepared to break with tradition, the Ranters found many of their supporters. This would at least help to explain the rapidity with which they seem to have spread to all parts of the country.”
Attack on the ranters charged them with sexual promiscuity: “They say that for one man to be tied to one woman, or one woman to be tied to one man, is a fruit of the curse; but they say, we are freed from the curse; therefore it is our liberty to make use of whom we please.”
Edward Hide Junior, a hostile critic, but usually fairly accurate in his descriptions, wrote that the ranters believed “that all the women in the world are but one mans wife in unity and all the men in the world are but one womans husband in unity; so that one man may lie with all the women in the world in unity, and one woman may lie with all men in the world, for they are all her husband in unity”.
Abiezer Coppe both developed ‘Ranter’ attitudes the furthest, and became the best known and best-remembered of ranters. Coppe was born in Warwickshire and in 1636 went to Oxford, first to All Souls College, then to Merton College; here he (according, admittedly, to later detractors) became notorious for immoral behaviour: “And it was then notoriously known that he would several times entertain for one night or more a wanton huswife in his Chamber… in the little or old quadrangle, to whom carrying several times meat, at the hour of refection, he would make answer, when being asked by the way, what he would do with it, that it was a bit for his cat.”
It was later also alleged that after Coppe had turned Ranter “‘twas usual with him to preach stark-naked many blasphemies and unheard of villanies in the day-time, and in the night to be drunk and lye with a wench that had been also his hearer stark naked.”
Such accusations are typical of many that were made against Coppe – many of which he repudiated with what seems genuine indignation. Pamphlets written against the Ranters, he writes, are scandalous and “bespattered with Lyes and Forgeries, in setting me in front of such actions which I never did, which my soul abhors; such things which mine eyes never beheld, such words which my tongue never spake, and mine cars never heard.
All like that false aspersion – Viz, that I was accompanied to Coventry with two she-disciples, and that 1 lay there with two women at once. Which two she-disciples were Captain Blak, and other Souldiers, who have hurried me from Gaol to Gaol; where I sing Hallelujahs to the Righteous judge, and lie in his bosome, who is everlasting loving kindness.”
After leaving Oxford Coppe turned Presbyterian, then Anabaptist, preaching widely in Warwickshire. He was in prison in Coventry in 1646. Finally after a prolonged spiritual convulsion he became a Ranter. This crisis he has described more vividly and in greater detail than any other Ranter writer:
“First, all my strength, my forces were utterly routed, my house I dwelt in fired; my father and mother forsook me, the wife of my bosome loathed me, mine old name was rotted, perished; and I was utterly plagued, consumed, damned, rammed and sunk into nothing, into the bowels of the still Eternity (my mothers wombe) out of which I came naked, and whereto I returned again naked. And lying a while there, rapt up in silence, at length (the bodys outward forme being awake an this while) I heard with my outward eare (to my apprehension) a most terrible thunder-clap. and after that a second. And upon the second thunder-clap, which was exceeding terrible, I saw a great body of light, like the light of the Sun, and red as fire, in the forme of a drum (as it were), whereupon with exceeding trembling and amazement on the flesh, and with joy unspeakable in the Spirit, I clapt my hands, and cryed out, Amen, Halelujah, Halelujah, Amen. And so lay trembling, sweating and smoking (for the space of half an houre) at length with a loud voice (I inwardly) cryed Out, Lord what wilt thou do with me; my most excellent majesty and eternall glory (in me) answered and sayd, Fear not. I will take thee up into my everlasting Kingdom. But thou shalt (first) drink a bitter cup, a bitter cup, a bitter cup; whereupon (being filled with exceeding amazement) I was throwne into the belly of hell (and take what you can of it in these expressions, though the matter is beyond expression) I was among all the Devils in hell, even in their most hideous crew. And under all this terrour and amazement, there was a little spark of transcendent, unspeakable glory, which survived, and sustained itself, triumphing, exulting and exalting itself above all the Fiends.”
This conversion seems to have taken place in Warwickshire around mid-1649; the vision included a command, “Go up to London, to London, that great City”. Coppe, who expressed the social aspect of his teaching more than any other Ranter, began in the autumn of 1649 to wander the streets of London, giving sermons on the streets (and in the odd church), aimed at the London poor – denouncing the rich.
His pamphlet, A Fiery Flying Roll, both expresses the ideas these sermons touched on, and recounts his career preaching on the street. Coppe describes himself “charging so many Coaches, so many hundreds of men and women of the greater rank, in the open streets, with my hand stretched out, My hat cock’t up, staring on them as if I would look thorough them, gnashing with my teeth at some of them, and day and night with a huge loud voice proclaiming the day of the Lord throughout London and Southwark.”
Coppe’s sermonising in the streets, and then the publication of A Fiery Flying Roll (on January 1st, 1650) opened the period of maximum Ranter activity; quickly followed by a campaign of both official persecution and written abuse against them.
A Fiery Flying Roll described itself as “A Word from the Lord to the Great ones of the Earth”. With it was bound A Second Fiery Flying Roll, addressed “To all the Inhabitants of the Earth”. Coppe’s unconventional behaviour and violent language attracted lots of attention towards him and other ranters.
Coppe described the gospel as
“To the Scribe folly; to the Pharisee blasphemy, who hath [ad unguem] at’s fingers ends, he blasphemeth, is a friend of Publicans and Harlots, he is a glutton, and wine-bibber; and say we not well, that he hath a divil?Which Pharisee, in man, is the mother of harlots, and being the worst whore, cries whore first: and the grand blasphemer, cries out blasphemy, blasphemy, which she is brimful of . . .
But the hour is coming, yea now is, That all his carnal Outward, formal religion, (yea of Scriptural cognizance, so far as its fleshly and formal) and all his fleshly holiness, zeal and devotion shall be, and is, set upon the same account as outward drunkeness, theft, murther and adultery….
Yea the time is coming, that zealous, holy, devout, righteous, religious men shall (one way) dye, for their Holiness and Religion, as well as Thieves and Murtherers for their Theft and Murther….
But once more, the time is coming, that Thieves and Murtherers shall scape, as well as the most zealous and formal professors; and men shall be put to death (or be murthered by men) no more for the one than for the other.”
But cataclysmic as the impending Millennium may be, Coppe still maintains a marked pacifism: as he insisted, he “never drew sword, or shed one drop of any mans blood … all things are reconciled to me, the etemall God (IN HIM) yet sword levelling, or digging levelling, are neither of them his principles.
And now thus saith the Lord: Though you can as little endure the word LEVELLING as could the late slaine or dead Charles (your forerunner who is gone before you) and had as live heare the Devil named as heare of the Levellers (Men-Levellers) which is, and who (indeed) are but the shadowes of the most terrible, yet great and glorious good things to come.
Behold, behold, behold, I the eternall God the Lord of Hosts, who am that mighty Leveller am coming (yea even at the doores) to Levell in good earnest, to Levell to some purpose, to Levell with a witnesse, to Levell the Hills with the Valleyes, and to lay the Mountaines low….
For’ lo I come (saith the Lord) with a vengeance, to levell also your Honour, Riches etc. to staine the pride of all your Glory, and to bring into contempt all the Honourable (both persons and things) upon the earth, 1sa. 23. 9.
For this Honour, Nobility, Gentility, Propriety, Superfluity etc hath (without contradiction) been the Father of hellish horrid pride, arrogance, haughtinesse, loftinesse, murder, malice, of all manner of wickedness and impiety, yea, the cause of all the blood that ever hath been shed, from the blood of the righteous Abell, to the blood of the last Levellers that were shot to death. And now as I live (saith the Lord) 1 am come to make inquisition for blood…
And maugre the subtilty, and sedulity, the craft and cruelty of hell and earth: this Levelling shall up; Not by sword; we (holily) scorne to fight for anything; we had as live be dead drunk every day of the weeke, and lye with whores i’th market place; and account these as, good actions as taking the poor abused, enslaved ploughmans money from him… we had rather starve, I say, than take away his money from him, for killing of men.”
This is not only a critique of the Civil Wars that had rocked the nation, but overtly disses the Leveller attempt to push their programme through mutiny and rebellion. The revulsion to the slaughter of the past eight year is understandable; the sense of futility of achieving change by violence is coloured by the actuality of the defeat the Levellers and their allies were living through.
AL Morton saw Coppe’s ideas as positing a far greater social upheaval than the political changes advocated by John Lilburne and his party, or even Gerard Winstanley’s proposals for joint cultivation on the commons and waste land. Coppe’s writings and sermons melded a passionate attack on the rich and their wealth, looking forward to a primitive Communism which echoed early Christianity and channelled the teachings of the theorist of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, John Ball.
Coppe tried to address himself to the poorest and most depressed strata of society, at a time when the slum population of London was suffering terrible hardships as a result of the wartime dislocation of trade and industry; he declares that God, in whose name he writes, will come upon the rich like a highwayman, saying:
“Thou hast many baggs of money, and behold I [the Lord] come as a thief in the right, with my sword drawn in my hand, and like a thief as I am – I say deliver your purse, deliver sirrah! deliver or I’l cut thy throat!
I say (once more) deliver, deliver my money which thou hast to him, and to poor creeples, lazars, yea to rogues, thieves, whores, and cut purses, who are flesh of thy flesh, and every whit as good as thy self in mine eye, who are ready to starve in plaguy Gaols, and nasty dungeons….
The plague of God is in your purses, barns, houses, horses, murrain will take your hogs (0 ye fat swine of the earth) who shall shortly go to the knife, and be hung up i’th roof, except – blasting, mill-dew, locusts, caterpillars, yea, fire your houses and goods, take your corn and fruit, the moth your garments, and the rot your sheep, did you not see my hand, this last year, stretched out?
You did not see.
My hand is stretched out still.
Your gold and silver, though you can’t see it, is cankered, the rust of them is a witnesse against you, and suddainly, suddainly, suddainly, because of the Eternal God, myself, its the dreadful day of Judgement, saith the Lord, shall eat your flesh as it were fire
The rust of your silver, I say, shall cat your flesh as it were fire.”
Like many ranters, and members of the millenarian sects going back to the Brethren of the Free Spirit and beyond, Coppe felt himself one with God, to the extent that in his writing it is sometimes impossible to say whether his ‘I’ is God or Abiezer Coppe. But he was also one with all men, and especially with the poor and miserable.
Coppe had either left London shortly after the publication of A Roll, or been arrested, as he was soon in prison in Coventry. On February 1st 1650, Parliament issued an Order declaring that passages from A Roll had been read before it and contained “many horrid Blasphemies, and damnable and detestable opinions, to be abhorred by all good and godly people”. It was ordered that copies be publicly burnt “by the hand of the Hangman, at New-Pallace-Yard at Westminster, the Exchange, in Cheapside and at the Market-place in Southwark”. Search was to be made and all copies that could be found were to be destroyed.
Image from ‘The Routing of the Ranters’, a pamphlet which attacked ranterism, 1650
In June Parliament set up a Committee to enquire into the Ranters and other heretical groups. On June 21st it reported “on the several abominable Practices of a Sect called Ranters”, and a Bill was prepared which was debated on several days during June and July. On August 9th Parliament passed its Act for the Punishment of Atheistical, Blasphemous and Execrable Opinions. This Act declared a number of heresies to be punishable by six months’ imprisonment, with banishment for a second offence. These included maintaining that God “dwells in the creature and nowhere else”, that “the acts of uncleannes, Prophane Swearing, Drunkenness, and the like Filthiness and Brutishness, are not unholy and forbidden in the Word of God”, that such actions and “the like open wickedness, are in their nature as Holy and Righteous as the Duties of Prayer, Preaching or giving of Thanks to God”, “that such men and women are most perfect, or like to God or Eternity, which do commit the greatest Sins with least remorse or sense”, and that “there is no such thing really and truly as Unrighteousness, Unholiness or Sin, but as a man or woman judgeth thereof; or that there is neither Heaven nor Hell, neither Salvation nor Damnation, or that those are one and the same thing”.
This Act opened the gates for repression against ranters and their ideas. Some, like Coppe and Joseph Salmon, had already been imprisoned: systematic raids followed, often made on evidence provided by informers. The Ranters, however, were by no means silenced or quickly defeated. A Single Eye by Clarkson appeared in September 1650 and Joseph Bauthumley’s The Light and Dark sides of God in November. Opposition to the Act was also shown by William Larner’s publication in 1651 of The Petition of Divers gathered Churches, and others wel affected, in and about London, for declaring the Ordinance of the Lords and Commons for punishing Blasphemies and Heresies, null and void. This Petition was reprinted in 1655.
Soon after the passing of the Act, Coppe was brought from Coventry to London and examined by a Parliamentary Committee, as were two other prominent ramters, Laurence Clarkson and William Rainborough (an ex-New Model Army officer, brother of the more famous ‘Leveller” Colonel Thomas). Clarkson, like Lilburne and Overton before him, stood on his rights as a free citizen, refusing to answer any questions that might incriminate him. Coppe adopted different tactics. The Weekly Intelligencer for October 1st-8th mentioned “the arrogant and wild deportment of Mr Copp the great Ranter, who made the Fiery Roll, who being brought before the Committee of Examinations, refused to be uncovered, and disguised himself into a madness, flinging Apples and Pears about the roome, whereupon the Committee returned him to Newgate whence he came”.
Coppe remained in prison, and in January 1651 issued a partial recantation – A Remonstrance of the sincere and zealous Protestations of Abiezer Coppe Against the Blasphemous and Execrable Opinions recited in the Act of Aug to 1650. Apart from complaints that he had been slandered, this consisted mainly of denials that he had ever held the views attributed to him. This evidently did not satisfy the authorities and he was kept in prison for another five months till he wrote a second and fuller recantation.
How far Coppe’s enforced recantation was sincere it is difficult to say. He did not convince everyone. In September he preached a recantation sermon at Burford which was attacked by John Tickell in an appendix to The Bottomles Pit Smoking in Familisme. Tickell accused Coppe of deceit and equivocation. The Ranters “use to speak one thing and mean another…. Before the late Act they spake boldly, now they dare not.”
But Coppe seems, as far as possible, to have held to the essence of his beliefs. Thus, in his recantation, while denying that there was no sin, he expressed the view that all men are equally sinful in the eyes of God: “Thieves, little thieves, and great thieves, drunkards, adulterers, and adultresses. Murtherers, little murtherers, and great murtherers. All are sinners. Sinners All. What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise.”
Most significant of all, far from denying any of the social views advanced in A Fiery Flying Roll he reaffirmed them almost defiantly: “As for community, I own none but that Apostolical, saint-like Community, spoken of in the Scriptures. So far as I either do, or should own community, that if flesh of my flesh, be ready to perish; I either will, or should call nothing that I have, mine own. If I have bread it shall, or should be his, else all my religion is in vain. I am for dealing bread to the hungry, for cloathing the naked, for the breaking of every yoak, for the letting of the oppressed go free…. Yet, Know all men by these presents, that I am utterly against the community which is sinful, or destructive to soul or body, or the well being of a Common-wealth…. I own none other, long for none other, but that glorious (Rom. 8) liberty of the sons of God. Which God will hasten in its time.”
After his release Coppe remained in London, but it’s not clear if and how far he resumed his Ranting activities. Quaker George Fox reported a meeting with him in 1655 which suggests that there had been no great change: “During the time I was prisoner at Charing Cross abundance of professors, priests, and officers, and all sorts of people came to see me … and there came one Cobbe, and a great company of Ranters came in that time also, and they began to call for drink and tobacco…”
Following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Coppe tried to keep his head down: “the name of Coppe odious, he did at the Kings restauration change it to Higham, and practising Physick at Barnelms [Barnes] in Surrey, and sometimes preaching, went for divers years under the name of Dr Higham”. He died in August 1672 and was buried “on the south side of the church there, under the seats”.
Read a chapter on Coppe and other ranters, from A.L. Morton’s ‘The World of the Ranters, (to which this post owes pretty much everything)
A Fiery Flying Roll
Word from the Lord to all the Great Ones of the Earth, whom this may concern: Being the last WARNING PIECE of the dreadful day of JUDGMENT.
For now the Lord is come
2. Advise and warn.
4. Judge and sentence
The great ones
As also most compassionately informing, and most lovingly and pathetically advising and warning London.
With a terrible word, and fatal blow from the Lord, upon the gathered CHURCHES.
And all by his most excellent MAJESTY, dwelling in, and shining through auxilium patris, alias Coppe.
With another FLYING ROLL ensuing (to all the inhabitants of the earth). The contents of both following.
Isa. 23.9, The Lord of hosts (is) staining the pride of all glory, and bringing into contempt all the honourable (persons and things) of the Earth. O London, London, how would I gather thee, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, &c.
Know then (in this thy day) the things that belong to thy peace——
I knew the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but of the synagogue of Satan, Rev.2.9.
Imprinted at London, in the beginning of that notable day, wherein the secrets of all hearts are laid open; and wherein the worst and foulest of villainies, are discovered, under the best and fairest outsides.1649.
An inlet into the Land of Promise, the new Jerusalem, and a gate into the ensuing Discourse, worthy of serious consideration.
My Dear One.
All or none.
Everyone under the Sun.
My most excellent Majesty (in me) hath strangely and variously transformed this form.
And behold, by mine own Almightiness (in me) I have been changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the trump.
And now the Lord is descended from Heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God.
And the sea, the earth, yea, all things are now giving up their dead. And all things that ever were, are, or shall be visible―are the grave wherein the King of glory (the eternal, invisible Almightiness) hath lain as it were dead and buried.
But behold, behold, he is now risen with a witness, to save Zion with vengeance, or to confound and plague all things into himself; who by his mighty angel is proclaiming (with a loud voice) that sin and transgression is finished and ended, and everlasting righteousness be brought in with most terrible earth-quakes and heaven-quakes, and with signs and wonders following.
And it hath pleased my most excellent Majesty (who is universal love, and whose service is perfect freedom) to set this form (the writer of this Roll) as no small sign and wonder in fleshly Israel; as you may partly see in the ensuing Discourse.
And now (my dear ones!) every one under the Sun, I will only point at the gate; through which I was led into that new City, new Jerusalem, and to the spirits of just men, made perfect, and to God the Judge of all.
First, all my strength, my forces were utterly routed, my house I dwelt in fired; my father and mother forsook me, the wife of my bosom loathed me; mine old name was rotted, perished; and I was utterly plagued, consumed, damned, rammed, and sunk into nothing, into the bowels of the still eternity (my mother’s womb) out of which I came naked, and where hereto I returned again naked. And lying a while there, rapt up in silence, at length (the body or outward form being awake all this while) I heard with my outward ear (to my apprehension) a most terrible thunderclap, and after that a second. And upon the second thunderclap, which was exceeding terrible, I saw a great body of light, like the light of the Sun, and red as fire, in the form of a drum (as it were) whereupon with exceeding trembling and amazement on the flesh, and with joy unspeakable in the spirit, I clapped my hands, and cried out, Amen, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Amen. And so lay trembling, sweating, and smoking (for the space of half an hour) at length with a loud voice (I inwardly) cried out, Lord, what wilt thou do with me? My most excellent majesty and eternal glory (in me) answered & said, Fear Not, I will take thee up into mine everlasting Kingdom. But thou shalt (first) drink a bitter cup, a bitter cup, a bitter cup. Whereupon (being filled with exceeding amazement) I was thrown into the belly of hell (and take what you can of it in these expressions, though the matter is beyond expression) I was among all the devils in hell, even in their most hideous hue.
And under all this terror, and amazement, there was a little spark of transcendent, transplendent, unspeakable glory, which survived, and sustained itself, triumphing, exulting, and exalting itself above all the fiends. And, confounding all the blackness of darkness (you must take it in these terms, for it is infinitely beyond expression.) Upon this the life was taken out of the body (for a season) and it was thus resembled, as if a man with a great brush dipped in whiting, should with one stroke wipe out, or sweep off a picture upon a wall, &c. After a while, breath and life was returned into the form again. Whereupon I saw various streams of light (in the night) which appeared to the outward eye, and immediately I saw three hearts (or three appearances) in the form of hearts, of exceeding brightness; and immediately an innumerable company of hearts, filling each corner of the room where I was. And methought there was variety and distinction, as if there had been several hearts, and yet most strangely unexpressably complicated or folded up in unity. I clearly saw distinction, diversity, variety, and as clearly saw all swallowed up into unity. And it hath been my song many times since, within and without, unity, universality, universality, unity, Eternal Majesty, &c. And at this vision, a most strong, glorious voice uttered these words: The spirits of just men made perfect. The spirits, &c. with whom I had as absolute, clear, full communion, and in a twofold more familiar way, than ever I had outwardly with my dearest friends and nearest relations. The visions and revelations of God and the strong hand of eternal invisible almightiness was stretched out upon me, within me, for the space of four days and nights without intermission.
The time would fail if I would tell you all, but it is not the good will and pleasure of my most excellent Majesty in me, to declare any more (as yet) than thus much further: That amongst those various voices that were then uttered within, these were some: Blood, blood, Where, where? upon the hypocritical holy heart &c. Another thus: Vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, Plagues, plagues, upon the inhabitants of the Earth; Fire, fire, fire, Sword, sword &c. upon all that bow not down to eternal Majesty, universal love; I’ll recover, recover, my wool, my flax, my money. Declare, declare, fear thou not the faces of any; I am (in thee) ammunition of rocks &c.
Go up to London,<Note: It’s not being shown to me, what I should do, more than preach and print something, &c. Very little expecting I should be so strangely acted, as to my exceeding joy and delight, I have been, though to the utter cracking of my credit, and to the rotting of my old name of which it damned, and cut out (as a toad to the dunghill) that I might have a new name, with me, upon me, within me, which is, I am——Auxilium Patris> to London, that great City, write, write, write. And behold I writ, and lo a hand was sent to me, and a roll of a book was within, which this fleshly hand would have put wings to, before the time. Whereupon it was snatched out of my hand, & the Roll thrust into my mouth, and I eat it up, and filled my bowels with it, (Ezekiel 2:8, &. ch. 3:1,2,3) where it was bitter as wormwood; and it lay broiling, and burning in my stomach, till I brought it forth in this form.
And now I send it flying to thee, with my heart,
per AUXILIUM PATRIS
CHAP. 1. Several strange, yet true and seasonable informations to the great ones. As also an apologetical hint of the author’s principle, &c.
CHAP. 2. Several new, strange, yet seasonable and good advice, and wholesome admonitions, and the last warning to the great ones, as from the Lord.
CHAP. 3. Several dismal, doleful cries, & outcries, which Pierce the ears and heart of his excellent Majesty, and how the King of Kings, the King of Heaven charges the great ones of the Earth.
CHAP. 4. How the judge of heaven and earth, who judgeth righteous judgment, passeth sentence against all those great ones, who like sturdy Oaks & tall Cedars will not bow, and how he intends to break them, and blow them up by the roots.
CHAP. 5. A most compassionate information, and a most loving and pathetical warning and advice to London.
CHAP. 6. A terrible word and fatal blow from the Lord upon the gathered Churches, who pretend most for God, yet defy the Almighty more than the vilest.
The Second Flying Roll.
CHAP.1. The author’s commission to write. A terrible woe denounced against those that slight the roll. The Lord’s claim to all things; together with a hint of a twofold recovery, where through the most hypocritical heart shall be ripped up, &c.
CHAP. 2. How the Lord will recover his outward things (things of this life) as money, corn, wool, flax, &c., and for whom: and how they shall be plagued that detain them as their own. Wherein also are some mystical hints concerning Saint Michael’s day, and the Lord’s day following it this year; as also of the Dominical letter D, &c.
CHAP. 3. A strange, yet most true story, under which is couched that lion, whose a roaring shall make all the beasts of the field tremble, and all the kingdoms of the world quake.
Wherein also (in part) the subtlety of the well-favoured Harlot is discovered, and her flesh burnt with that fire which shall burn down all churches, except that of the firstborn, &c.
CHAP. 4. That the author hath been set as a sign and wonder, &c. as well as most of the Prophets formerly; as also what strange postures that divine majesty (that dwells in his form) hath set the form in; which is the most strange and various effects thereof upon the spectators. His communion with the spirits of just men made perfect. And with God the judge of all hinted at.
CHAP. 5. The author’s strange and lofty carriage towards great ones, and his most lowly carriage towards beggars, rogues, prisoners, gypsies, &c. Together with a large declaration what glory shall arise up from under all these ashes. The most strange and most secret and terrible, yet most glorious design of God, in choosing base things, to confound things that are: and how, a most terrible vial poured out upon the well-favoured Harlot; and how the Lord is bringing into contempt not only honourable persons (with a vengeance) but all honourable holy things also.
Wholesome advice, with a terrible threat to the Formalists: and how BASE things have confounded base things: and how base things have been a fiery chariot to mount the author up into divine glory and unspeakable Majesty: and how his wife is, & his life is in that beauty, which maketh visible beauty seem mere deformity.
CHAP. 6. Great ones must bow to the poorest peasants, or else they shall rue for it; no material sword or human power (whatsoever) but the pure spirit of universal love, who is the eternal God, can break the neck of tyranny, oppression, and abominable pride and cruel murder, &c. A catalogue of several judgments recited, as so many warring-pieces to appropriators, impropriators, and anti-free communicants.
CHAP. 7. A further discovery of the subtlety of the well-favoured Harlot, with a parley between her and the spirit. As also the horrid villainy that be hid under her smooth words, and sweet tongue (in pleading against the letter and history, and for the spirit and Mystery, and all for her own ends) detected. Also upon what account the spirit is put, and upon what account the letter, &c. And what true communion, and what the true breaking of bread is.
CHAP. 8. The well-favoured Harlots clothes stripped off, her nakedness discovered, her nose slit. Her lusting after the young man void of understanding, from corner to corner, from religion to religion: and the spirit pursuing, overtaking, and destroying her, &c.
With a terrible thunderclap in the close.
A word from the Lord to all the great ones
of the Earth (whom this may concern) being the
last warning piece, &c.
- The word of the Lord came expressly to me, saying, son of man write a roll, and these words, from my mouth, to the great ones, saying, thus saith the Lord:
Slight not this roll, neither laugh at it, lest I slight you, and cause all men to slight and scorn you; lest I destroy you, and laugh at your destruction, &c.
- This is, (and with a witness, some of you shall find it, to be) an edged tool; and there is no jesting with it, or laughing at it.
It’s a sharp sword, sharpened, and also furbished–
No sleepy dormouse shall dare to creep up the edge of it.
Thus saith the Lord, you shall find with the witness, that I am now coming
2. Advise and warn.
4. Judge and sentence
The great ones
Containing several strange, yet true and seasonable informations to the great ones. As also an apologetical hint of the author’s principle, standing in the front.–
- Thus saith the Lord, I inform you, that I overturn, overturn, overturn. And as the bishops, Charles and the Lords have had their turn, overturn, so your turn shall be next (ye surviving great ones) by what name or title soever dignified or distinguished whoever you are that oppose me, the eternal God who am UNIVERSAL LOVE and whose service is perfect freedom and pure libertinism.
- <Side Note: An apologetical hint concerning the author’s principle, the result—is negative; he speaks little in the affirmative because not one in a hundred, yea even of his former acquaintance, now know him, neither must they yet.>
But afore I proceed any further, be it known unto you, that although that excellent majesty which dwells in the writer of this Roll hath reconciled ALL THINGS to himself, yet this hand which now writes never drew sword or shed one drop of any man’s blood. I am free from the blood of all men, though (I say) all things are reconciled to me , the eternal God (IN HIM) yet sword-levelling or digging-levelling are neither of them his principle.
Both are as far from his principle as the East is from the West or the Heavens from the Earth (though, I say, reconciled to both as to all things else). And though he hath more justice, righteousness, truth and sincerity shining in those low dung-holes (as they are esteemed) than in the Sun, Moon and all the stars.
- I come not forth (in him) either with material sword or mattock, but now (in this my day―) I make him my sword bearer, to brandish the sword of the Spirit, as he hath done several days and nights together through the streets of the great City.
- And now thus saith the Lord:
Though you as little endure the word LEVELLING as you could the late slain or dead Charles(your forerunner, who is gone before you―) and had as lief hear the Devil named as hear of the Levellers (men-levellers) which is and who (indeed) are but shadows of most terrible, yet great and glorious good things to come.
- Behold, behold, behold, I the eternal God, the Lord of Hosts who am that mighty leveller and coming (yea, even at the doors) to level in good earnest , to level to some purpose, to level with a witness, to level the hills with the valleys and to lay the mountains low.
- High Mountains! Lofty Cedars! It’s high time for you to enter into the rocks, and to hide you in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his Majesty. For the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord ALONE shall be exalted in that day; for the day of the Lord of hosts, shall be upon everyone that is proud, and lofty, and upon everyone that is lifted up, and he shall be brought low. And upon all the Cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the Oaks of Bashan; and upon all the high mountains; and upon all the hills that are lifted up, and upon every High tower; and upon every fenced wall; and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures.
And the LOFTINESS of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be laid low. And the Lord ALONE shall be exalted in that day, and the idols he shall utterly abolish.
And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the Earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his Majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the Earth.
In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and idols of gold——to the bats, and to the moles. To go into the clefts of the rocks and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his Majesty. For the Lord is now RISEN to shake terribly the Earth, Isa. 2. 10. to the end of the chapter.
- Hills! Mountains! Cedars! Mighty men! Your breath is in your nostrils.
Those that have admired, adored, idolized, magnified, set you up, fought for you, ventured goods and good name, limb and life for you, shall cease from you.
You shall not at all be accounted of (not one of you) ye sturdy Oak, who bow not down before eternal majesty, universal love, whose service is perfect freedom, and who hath put down the mighty (remember, remember your forerunner) and who is putting down the mighty from their seats and exalting them of low degree.
- O let not (for your own sakes) let not the mother of Harlots in you who is very subtle of heart
Nor the beast (without you) what do you call ’em? The ministers, fat parsons, vicars, lecturers &c. (who for their own base ends, to maintain their pride and pomp, and to fill their own paunches and purses) have been the chief instruments of all those horrid abominations, hellish, cruel, devilish persecutions in this Nation, which cry for vengeance. For your own sakes (I say) let neither the one nor the other bewitch you or charm your ears, to hear them say, these things shall not befall you, these Scriptures shall not be fulfilled upon you, but upon the Pope, Turk and heathen princes &c.
- Or if any of them should (through subtlety for their own base ends) creep into that Mystery of that forementioned Scripture (Isa2.10)
And tell you, Those words are to be taken in the Mystery only, and they only point out a spiritual inward levelling. Once more for your own sakes, I say, believe them not.
- ‘Tis true, the history, or letter, (I speak comparatively) is but as it were hair cloth; the Mystery is fine flax. My flax, saith the Lord, and the thief and the robber will steal from me my flax, to cover his nakedness, that his filthiness may not appear.
But the hold, I am (now) recovering my flax out of his hand, and discovering his lewdness——verbum sat——
- ‘Tis true, the Mystery is my joy, my delight and my life.
And the prime levelling, is laying low the mountains, and levelling the hills in man.
But this is not all.
For lo I come (saith the Lord) with a vengeance, to level also your honour, riches, &c. To stain the pride of all your glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable (both persons and things) upon the earth.Isa. 23. 9
- For this honour, nobility, gentility, propriety, superfluity, &c. hath (without contradiction) been the father of hellish horrid pride, arrogance, haughtiness, loftiness, murder, malice, of all manner of wickedness and impiety. Yea, the cause of all the blood that ever hath been shed——from the blood of the righteous Abel to the blood of the last Levellers that were shot to death. And now (as I livesaith the Lord)I am come to make inquisition for blood, for murder and pride, &c.
- I see the root of it all. The axe is laid to the root of the tree(by the eternal God, Myself, saith the Lord). I will hew it down. And as I live, I will plague your Honour, Pomp, Greatness, Superfluity, and confound it into parity, equality, community; that the neck of horrid pride, murder, malice, and tyranny, &c. may be chopped off at one blow. And that myself, the Eternal God, who am Universal Love, may soon the Earth with universal Love, universal peace, and perfect freedom; which can never be by human sword or strength accomplished.
- Wherefore bow down, bow down, you sturdy Oaks, and tall Cedars; bow, or by myself I’ll break you.
He cause some of you (on whom I have compassion) to bow &c. and will terribly plague the rest.
My little finger shall be heavier on them, than my whole loins were on Pharaoh of old.
- And maugre the subtlety and sedulity, the craft and cruelty of hell and earth, this levelling shall up.
Not by sword; we (holily) scorn to fight for anything. We had as lief be dead drunk every day of the week, and lie with whores in the market place, and account these as good actions as taking the poor, abused, enslaved ploughman’s money from him (who is almost everywhere undone and squeezed to death, and not so much as that plaguy, unsupportable, hellish burden and oppression of tithes taken off his shoulders, notwithstanding all his honesty, fidelity, taxes, free quarter, petitioning &c. for the same,) we had rather starve, I say, than take away his money from him for killing of men.
Nay, if we might have Captain’s pay and a good fat parsonage or two besides, we would scorn to be swordsmen or fight with those mostly carnal weapons for anything or against anyone or for our livings.
- No, no, we’ll live in despite of our foes; and this levelling (to thy torment, O mighty man) shall up, not by sword, not by might, &c. but by my spirit, saith the Lord.
For I am risen, for I am risen, for I am risen, shake terribly the Earth, and not the Earth only, but heavens also, &c.
But here I shall cease informing you. You may for your further information (if you please) read my roll to all the rich inhabitants of the earth.
Read it if you be wise, I shall now advise you.
Containing several new, strange, yet seasonable admonitions and good advice, as the last warning to the Great Ones of the Earth, as from the Lord.
- First Admonition to great ones.Sero sapiunt Phryges, sed nunquam sera est ad bonos mores via. (“The Phrygians became wise too late, but it is never too late to live morally.”)
Thus saith the Lord: be wise now therefore, O ye rulers, &c. Be instructed, &c. Kiss the sun, &c. Yea kiss beggars, prisoners, warm them, feed them, clothe them, money them, relieve them, release them, take them into your houses, don’t serve them as dogs, without door, &c.
Own them, they are flesh of your flesh, your own brethren, your own sisters, every whit as good (and if I should stand in competition with you) in some degrees better than yourselves.
- Once more I say, own them; they are yourself, make someone with you, or else go howling into hell; howl for the miseries that are coming upon you, howl.
The very shadow of levelling, sword-levelling, man-levelling, frighted you, (and who, like yourselves, can blame you, because it shook your kingdom?) But now the substantiality of levelling is coming.
The eternal God, the mighty Leveller is coming, yea come, even at the door; and what will you do in that day.
Repent, repent, repent, bow down, bow down, bow, or howl, resign, or be damned; bow down, bow down, you sturdy Oaks, and Cedars, bow down.
Veil too, and kiss the meaner shrubs. Bow, or else (by myself saith the Lord) he break you in pieces (some of you) others I will tear up by the roots; I will suddenly deal with you all, some in one way; some in another. Wherefore
Each beggar that you meet
Fall down before him, kiss him in the street.
Once more, he is thy brother, thy fellow, flesh of thy flesh.
Turn not away thine eyes from thine own FLESH, lest I pull out thine eyes and throw thee headlong into hell.
- Mine ears are filled brimful with cries of poor prisoners, Newgate, Ludgate cries (of late) are seldom out of mine ears. Those doleful cries, bread, bread, bread for the Lord’s sake, pierce mine ears, and heart, I can no longer forbear.
Wherefore hye you apace to all prisons in the kingdom.
- Second Admonition to great ones. Bow before those poor, nasty, lousy, ragged wretches, say to them, your humble servants, Sirs, (without a compliment) we let you go free, and serve you, &c.
Do this, (or as I live saith the Lord) thine eyes (at least) shall be bored out, and thou carried captive into a strange land.
- Third admonition to great ones.Give over, give over, thy odious, nasty, abominable fasting, for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness. And instead thereof, loose the bands of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke. Deal of thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor that are cast out (both of houses and synagogues) to thy house. Cover the naked: hide not thyself from thine own flesh, from a cripple, a rogue, a beggar, he’s thine own flesh. From a whoremonger, a thief, &c. He’s flesh of thy flesh, and his theft, and whoredom is flesh of thy flesh also, thine own flesh. Thou mayest have ten times more of each within thee, than he that acts outwardly in either. Remember, turn not away thine eyes from thine OWN FLESH.
- Fourth admonition to great ones.Give over, give over thy midnight mischief.
Let branding with the letter B alone.
Be no longer so horridly, hellishly, imprudently, arrogantly, wicked, as to judge what is seen, what not, what evil, and what not, what blasphemy, and what not.
For thou and all thy Reverend Divines, so-called (who divine for Tithes, hire, and money, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ for their own bellies) are ignorant of this one thing.
- That sin and transgression is finished; it’s a mere riddle that they with all their human learning can never read.
Neither can they understand what pure honour is wrapped up in the King’s motto Honi soit qui mal y pense. Evil to him that evil thinks.
Some there are (who are accounted the off-scouring of all things) who are noble knights of the Garter. Since which——they could see no evil, think no evil, do no evil, know no evil.
ALL is religion that they speak and honour that they do.
But all you that eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and have not your evil eye picked out, you call good evil, and evil good; light darkness, and darkness light; truth blasphemy, and blasphemy truth.
And you are at this time of your father the Devil, and of your brother the Pharisee, who still say of Christ (who is now alive) say we not well that he hath a Devil.
- Take heed, take heed, take heed.
Filthy blind Sodomites called Angels men, they seeing no further than the forms of men.
- There are Angels (now) come down from heaven, in the shapes and forms of men, who are full of the vengeance of the Lord; and are to pour out the plagues of God upon the earth, and to torment the inhabitants thereof.
Some of these angels I have been acquainted withal.
And I have looked upon them as Devils, accounting them Devils incarnate, and have run from place to place, to hide myself from them, shunning their company; and have been utterly ashamed when I have been seen with them.
But for my labour, I have been plagued and tormented beyond expression. So that now I had rather behold one of these angels pouring out the plagues of God, cursing and teaching others to curse bitterly (Rev. 15, Judges 5, Revel. 10, Neh. 13.25)
And had rather hear a mighty angel (in man) swearing a full-mouthed oath, and see the spirit of Nehemiah(in any form of man, or woman) running upon an unclean Jew (a pretended Saint) and tearing the hair of his head like a mad man, cursing and making others fall a-swearing, than hear a zealous Presbyterian, Independent or spiritual Notionist pray, preach or exercise. (This will come in request with you next; you may remember that Independency, which is now so hugged, was counted blasphemy, and banishment was too good for it.)
- Well! To the pure all things are pure. God hath so cleared cursing, swearing, in some, that that which goes for swearing and cursing in them, is more glorious than praying and preaching in others.
And what God hath cleansed, call not thou unclean.
And if Peterprove a great transgressor of the law, by doing that which was odious as killing a man; if he at length (though he be loath at first) eaten that which was common and unclean &c. (I give but a hint) blame him not, much less lift up a finger against or plant a hellish ordinance–against him, lest thou be plagued, and damned to, for thy zeal, blind religion, and fleshly holiness, which now stinks above ground, though formerly it had a good savour.
- But O thou holy, zealous, devout, righteous, religious one (whoever thou art) that seest evil, or any thing unclean; do thou swear, if thou darest, if it be but (i’ faith) I’ll throw thee to hell for it (saith the Lord) and laugh at thy destruction.
While Angels (in the form of men) shall swear, Heart, Blood, Wounds, and by the eternal God, &c. in profound purity, and in high honour, and Majesty.
- Well! one hint more; there’s swearing ignorantly, i’th dark, vainly, and there is swearing i’th light, gloriously.
Well! Man of the Earth! Lord Esau! What hast thou to do with those who swear upon the former account?
Vengeance is mine, judgment, help, wrath, &c. All is mine (saith the Lord) dare not thou to set thy foot so impudently and arrogantly upon one step of my throne: I am judge myself——be wise, give over, have done——
- And as for the latter sort of swearing, thou knowest it not when thou hearest it. It’s no new thing for thee to call Christ Beelzebub and Beelzebub Christ; to call a holy angel a Devil, and a Devil an Angel.
- I charge thee (in the name of the eternal God) meddle not with either, let the tares alone, lest thou pull up the wheat also, woe be to thee if thou dost. Let both alone (I say) lest thou shouldst happen of a holy swearing angel, and take a lion by the paw to thine own destruction.
Never was there such a time since the words stood, as now is.
Thou knowest not the strange appearances of the Lord, nowadays. Take heed, know thou hast been warned.
- Fifth Admonition to great ones.And whatever thou dost, dip not thy little finger in blood any more, thou art up to the elbows already: much soap, yea much nitre cannot cleanse thee, &c.
Much more have I to say to thee (saith the Lord) but I will do it secretly; and dart a quiver full of arrows into thy heart; and I will now charge thee.
Containing several dismal, doleful cries, and outcries, which pierce the ears and heart of his Excellent Majesty, the King of Kings, and how the King of Heaven chargeth the great ones of the Earth.
- Thus saith the Lord, be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord; be silent; O lofty, haughty, great ones of the Earth.
There are so many Bills of Indictment preferred against thee, that both heaven and earth blush thereat.
How long shall I hear the sighs and groans, and see the tears of poor widows; and hear curses in every corner; and all sorts of people crying out oppression, oppression, tyranny, tyranny the worst of tyranny, unheard-of, unnatural tyranny.
——O my back, my shoulders. O tithes, excise, taxes, pollings, &c. O Lord! O Lord God Almighty!
What, a little finger heavier than former loins?
What are they engaged my goods, my life, &c., Forsook my dearest relations, and all for liberty and true freedom, for freedom from oppression, and more laid on my back, &c.
- Mine ears are filled brimful with confused noise, cries, and outcries; O the innumerable complaints and groans that pierce my heart (through and through) O astonishing complaints.
Was ever the like ingratitude heard of since the world stood? What! Best friends, surest friends, slighted, scorned, and that which cometh from them (in the basest manner) contemned, and some rewarded with prisons, some with death?
O the abominable perfidiousness, false heartedness; self-seeking, self-enriching, and kingdom-depopulating, and devastating, &c.
These, and divers of the same nature, but the cries of England.
And can I any longer forbear?
I have heard, I have heard, the groaning of my people. And now I come to deliver them saith the Lord.
Woe be to Pharaoh King of Egypt.
You Great Ones that are not tacked nor tainted, you may laugh and sing, whom this hitteth it hitteth. And it shall hit home.
And this which followeth, all whom are concerned with, by what name or title soever dignified or distinguished.
- You mostly hate those (called Levellers) who (for aught you know) acted as they did, out of the sincerity, simplicity, and fidelity of their hearts; fearing lest they should come under the notion of Covenant-breakers, if they did not so act.
Which is so, then were they most barbarously, unnaturally, hellishly murdered; and they died martyrs for God and their country.
And their blood cries vengeance, vengeance, in mine ears, saith the Lord.
- Well! Let it be how it will. These Levellers (so called) you mostly hated, though in outward declarations you owned their tenets as your own principle. (Once more, know that sword——levelling is not my principle. I only pronounce the righteous judgments of the Lord upon the Earth as I durst.)
So you mostly hate me, saith the Lord (though in outward declarations you profess me and seem to own me) more than a thousand whom you despise, who are nearer the kingdom of heaven than yourselves.
You have killed Levellers (so-called) you also (with wicked hands) have slain me the Lord of life, who am now risen, and risen indeed, (and you shall know, and feel it with a witness) to level you in good earnest. And to lay low all high hills, and every mountain that is high, and lifted up, &c.
- Well! Once more, read Jam5. 1 to 7——ye have killed the just——ye have killed, ye have killed, ye have killed the just.
The blood crieth in mine ears, vengeance, vengeance, vengeance, vengeance is mine, I will recompense.
Well! What will you do with Bray, and the poor prisoners elsewhere? You know not what you do.
You little know what will become of you.
One of you had best remember your dream about your father’s Moule——
- Neither do I forget the one hundred spent in superfluous dishes (at your late Greater London feast, for I know what——) when hundreds of poor wretches died with hunger.
I have heard a sound in mine ears, that no less than a hundred died in one week, pined, and starved with hunger.
How will you great ones, for all that feast-day’s dole, &c. hear your doom.
How the judge of heaven and earth, who judgeth righteous judgment, passeth sentence against all those great ones, who (like Oaks and tall Cedars) will not bow. And how he intends to blow them up by the roots.
- Thus saith the Lord: all you tall Cedars, and sturdy Oaks, who bow not down, who bow not down——this sentence is gone out of my mouth against you, MENE, MENE, TEKEL.
Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
And thou, and all the join with thee, or are (in the least degree) accessory to thy former, or like intended pranks, shall most terribly and most strangely be plagued.
- There is a little spark lies under (that huge heap of ashes) all thine honour, pomp, pride, wealth, and riches, which shall utterly consume all that is uppermost, as it is written.
The Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall send among his fat ones, leanness; and under his glory he should kindle a burning, like the burning of the fire, and the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his holy one for flame, and shall burn and devour his thorns, and his briars in one day.
And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body (i.e. this shall be done inwardly and outwardly, and shall be fulfilled both in the history and mystery) and the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.
And the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror, and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled. And you shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one, Isa. 10.
- Behold, behold, I have told you.
Take it to heart, else you’ll repent of every vein of your heart.
For your own sakes take heed.
It’s my last warning.
For the cries of the poor, for the oppression of the needy.
For the horrid insolency of proud man, who will dare to sit in my throne, and judge unrighteous judgment.
Who will dare to touch mine anointed, and do my prophets harm.
For these things sake (now) I am arisen, saith the Lord
In Auxilium Patris
- O London, London, my bowels are rolled together (in me) for thee, and my compassions within me are kindled towards thee.
And now I only tell thee that it was not in vain that this form hath been brought so far to thee, to proclaim the day of the Lord throughout thy streets, day and night, for twelve or thirteen days together.
And that I have made such a sign and a wonder before many of thine inhabitants’ faces.
- Many of them, (among other strange exploits,) beholding me fall down flat at the feet of cripples, beggars, lazars , kissing their feet, and resigning up my money to them; being several times over-emptied of money that I have not had one penny left, and yet have recruited again―
- And now my heart! You have been forwardly in all the appearances of God,
There is a strange one (now on foot) judge it not, lest you be judged with a vengeance.
- Turn not away your eyes from it, lest you (to your torment) hear this voice——I was a stranger, and you took me not in.
Well! Bow down before eternal Majesty, who is universal love, bow down to equality, or free community, that no more of your blood be spilt; that pride, arrogance, covetousness, malice, hypocrisy, self-seeking, &c. may live no longer. Else I tremble at what’s coming upon you.
Remember you have been warned with a witness.
Dear hearts farewell.
- He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the spirit saith against the churches.
Thus saith the Lord: woe be to thee Bethaven (The house of vanity) who call us thyself by the name Bethel (the house of God.), it shall be more tolerable (now in the day of judgment,) for Tyre and Sidon, for those whom thou accountest, and callest heathens, than from thee.
- And thou proud Lucifer, who exaltest thyself above all the stars of God in Heaven, shalt be brought down into hell; it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, for drunkards and whoremongers, than for thee. Publicans and Harlots shall, publicans and Harlots do sooner enter into the kingdom of heaven, than you.
I’ll give thee this fatal blow, and leave thee.
- Thou hast affronted, and defied the Almighty, more than the vilest of men (upon the face of the earth) and that so much the more, by how much the more thou takest upon thee the name of Saint, and assumest it to thyself only, damning all those that are not of thy Sect.
- Wherefore be it known to all tongues, kindred, nations and languages upon Earth, That my most excellent majesty, the King of glory, the eternal God, who dwelleth in the form of the writer of this Roll (among many other strange and great exploits) hath in the open streets, with his hand fiercely stretched out, his hat cocked up, his eyes set as if they would sparkle out, and with a mighty loud voice, charged 100 of coaches, 100 of men and women of the greatest rank, and many notorious, deboist, swearing, roistering, roaring Cavaliers (so called) and other wild sparks of the gentry, and have proclaimed the notable day of the Lord to them. And that through the streets of the great City and in Southwark. Many times great multitudes following him up and down, and this for the space of 12 or 13 days: And yet (all this while,) not one of them lifting up one finger, not touching one hair of his head or laying one hand on his raiment.
But many, yea, many notorious vile ones in the esteem of men (yea, of great quality among men) trembling and bowing to the God of Heaven, &c.
But when I came to proclaim (also) the great day of the Lord (among you) O ye carnal Gospellers.
The Devil (in you) roared out who was tormented to some purpose, though not before his time.
He there showed both his fangs and paws and would have torn me to pieces and have eaten me up. Thy pride, envy, malice, arrogance &c. was poured out like a river of brimstone, crying out, a blasphemer, a blasphemer, away with him: At length threatening me, and being at last raving mad, some took hold of my coat on one side, some on another, endeavouring to throw me from the place where I stood (to proclaim his Majesty’s message) making a great uproar in a great congregation of people: Till at length I wrapped up myself in silence (for a season) for the well-favoured Harlot’s confusion &c.
And to thine eternal shame and damnation (O mother of witchcraft who dwelleth in gathered churches) let this be told abroad. And let her FLESH be burnt with FIRE.
Fiery Flying Roll
All the inhabitants of the earth; specially to the rich ones.
A sharp sickle, thrust in, to gather the clusters of the vines of the Earth, because her grapes are (now) fully ripe. And the great, notable, terrible, (yet glorious and joyful) day of the LORD is come; even the Day of the Lord’s recovery and discovery. Wherein the secrets of all hearts are ripped up; and the secret of little unease of the holy whore, the well-favoured Harlot (who scorns carnal ordinances, and is mounted up into the notion of spirituals) is discovered: and even her flesh burning with unquenchable fire. And the pride of all glory staining.
Together with the narration of various, strange, yet true stories: and several secret mysteries, and mysterious secrets, which never were afore written or printed.
As also, that most strange appearance of eternal wisdom, and unlimited Almightiness, in choosing base things: and why, and how he chooseth them. And how (most miraculously) they (even base things) have been, are, and shall be made fiery chariots, to mount up some into divine glory, and unspotted beauty and majesty. And the glory that ariseth up from under them is confounding both heaven and earth. With the word (by way of preface) dropping in as an inlet to the new Jerusalem.
These being some things of what are experimented.
Per AUXILIUM PATRIS
Howl, rich men, for the miseries that are (just now) coming upon you, the rust of your silver is rising up in judgment against you, burning your flesh like fire, &c.
And now I am come to recover my corn, my wool, and my flax, which thou hast (thievishly and hoggishly) detained from me, the Lord God Almighty, in the poor and needy.
Also howl thou holy whore, thou well-favoured Harlot: for God, and I, have chosen base things to confound thee, and things that are.
And the secrets of all hearts are now revealing by my gospel, who am a stranger, and besides myself, to God, for your sakes. Wherefore receive me, &c. Else expect that dismal doom, depart from me ye cursed, I was a stranger, and ye took me not in.
Printed in the year 1649
The author’s commission to write, a terrible woe denounced against those that slight the roll. The Lord’s claim to all things; together with a hint of a two-fold recovery, wherethrough the most hypocritical heart shall be ripped up, &c.
- The word of the Lord came expressly to me, saying, write, write, write.
- And ONE stood by me, and pronounced all these words to me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in this paper.
- Wherefore in the name and power of the eternal God, I charge thee burn it not, tear it not, for if thou dost, I would tear thee to pieces (saith the Lord) and none shall be able to deliver thee; for (as I live) it is the day of my vengeance.
- Read it through, and laugh not at it, if thou dost I’ll destroy thee, and laugh at thy destruction.
- Thus saith the Lord, though I have been a great while in coming, yet I am now come to recover my corn, and I will, and my flax, &c. And to discover thy lewdness, Hos. 2.
Thou art cursed with a curse, for thou hast robbed me (saith the Lord) of my corn, my wool, my flax, &c. Thou hast robbed me of my tithes, for the tithes are mine, Mal. 3. And the beasts on a thousand hills, yea all thy bags of money, hay-ricks, horses, yea all that thou callest thine own are mine.
- And now I am come to recover them all at my hands, saith the Lord, for it is the day of my recovery, and the day of my discovery, &c. And there is a twofold recovery of 2 sorts of things, inward, and outward, or civil, and religious, and through both, and grand discovery of the secrets of the most hypocritical heart, and ripping up of the bowels of the well-favoured Harlot, the holy whore, who scorns that which is called profaneness, wickedness, looseness, or libertinism, and yet herself is the mother of witchcraft, and of all the abominations of the Earth.
But more of this hereafter.
- For the present, I say, thus saith the Lord, I am come to recover all my outward, or civil rights, or goods, which thou callest thine own.
How the Lord will recover his outward things (things of this life) as money, corn, &c., and for whom: and how they shall be plagued that detain them as their own. Wherein also are some mystical hints concerning Michaelmas day, and the Lord’s day following it this year; as also of the Dominical letter D, this year.
- And the way that I will walk in (in this great notable and terrible day of the Lord) shall be thus. I will either (strangely, & terribly, to thy torment) inwardly, or else (in a way that I will not acquaint thee with) outwardly, demand all mine, and will say on this wise.
- Thou hast many bags of money, and behold now I come as a thief in the night, with my sword drawn in my hand, and like a thief as I am,——I say deliver your purse, deliver sirrah! Deliver or I’ll cut thy throat!
- Deliver MY money to such as poor despised Maule of Dedington in Oxonshire Whom some Devils incarnate (insolently and proudly, in way of disdain) cry up for a fool, some for a knave, and madman, some for an idle fellow, and base rogue, and some (trulier than they are aware of) for a prophet, and some arrogant fools (though exceeding wise) cry up for more knave than fool, &c. when as indeed, there is pure royal blood runs through his veins, and he’s no less than a King’s son, though not one of you who are Devils incarnate; & have your eyes blinded with the God of this world, know it.
- I say (once more) deliver, deliver, my money which thou hast to him, and to poor cripples, lazars, yea to rogues, thieves, whores, and cut-purses, who are flesh of thy flesh, and every whit as good as thyself in mine eye, who are ready to starve in plaguy gaols, and nasty dungeons, or else for myself, saith the Lord, I would torment thee day and night, inwardly, or outwardly, or both ways, my little finger shall shortly be heavier on thee, especially on thee thou holy, righteous, religious Appropriator, than my loins were on Pharaoh and the Egyptians in time of old; you shall weep and howl for the miseries that suddenly coming upon you; for your riches are corrupted, &c. and whilst impropriated, appropriated the plague of God is in them.
- The plague of God is in your purses, barns, houses, horses, murrain will take your hogs, O (ye fat swine of the Earth) who shall shortly go to the knife, and be hung up i’th roof, except——blasting, mildew, locusts, caterpillars, yea fire your houses and goods, take your corn and fruit, the moth your garments, and the rots your sheep, did you not see my hand, this last year stretched out?
You did not see.
My hand is stretched out still.
Your gold and silver, though you can’t see it, is cankered, the rust of them is a witness against you, and suddenly, suddenly, suddenly, because by the eternal God, myself, it’s the dreadful day of judgment, saith the Lord, shall eat your flesh as it were fire, Jam. 5. 1. to 7.
The rust of your silver, I say, should eat your flesh as it were fire.
- As sure as it did mine the very next day after Michael the Archangel’s, that mighty angel, who just now fights that terrible battle in heaven with the great Dragon.
And is come upon the Earth also, to rip up the hearts of all bag-bearing Judases. On this day purses shall be caught, goats led out, men stabbed to the heart, women’s bellies ripped up, specially gammer Demase’s, who have forsaken us, and embraced this wicked world, and married Alexander the coppersmith, who have done me much evil. The Lord reward him, I wish him hugely well, as he did me, on the next day after Michael the Archangel.
Which was the Lord’s day I am sure on’t, look in your Almanacs, you shall find it was the Lord’s day, or else I would you could; when you must, when you see it, you will find the dominical letter to be G. and there are many words that begin with G. at this time (GIVE) begins with G. Give, give, give, give up, give up your houses, horses, goods, gold, lands, give up, account nothing your own, have ALL THINGS in common, or else the plague of God will rot and consume all that you have.
By God, by myself, saith the Lord, it’s true.
Come! Give all to the poor and follow me, and you shall have treasure in heaven. Follow me, who was numbered among transgressors, and whose village was more marred than any man’s, follow me.
A strange, yet most true story: under which is couched that lion, whose roaring shall make all the beasts of the field tremble, and all the kingdoms of the world quake. Wherein also (in part) the subtlety of the well-favoured Harlot is discovered, and her flesh burnt with that fire, which shall burn down all churches, except that of the first born, &c.
- Follow me, who, last Lord’s day Septem. 30. 1649 met him in open field, a most strange deformed man, clad with patched clouts: who looking wishly on me, mine eye pitied him; and my heart, or the day of the Lord, which burned as an oven in me, set my tongue on flame to speak to him, as followeth.
- How now friend, art thou poor?
He answered, yea master very poor.
Whereupon my bowels trembled within me, and quivering fell upon the worm eaten chest, (my corps I mean) that I could not hold a joint still.
And my great love within me, (who is the great God within that chest, or corps) was burning hot toward him; and made of the lock all of the chest, to which the mouth of the corps, again to open: thus.
Yea, very poor, said he.
Whereupon the strange woman who, flatterers with her lips, and is subtle of heart, said within me,
It’s a poor wretch, give him two-pence.
But my EXCELLENCY and MAJESTY (in me) scorned her words, confounded her language; and kicked her out of his presence.
- But immediately the WELL-FAVOURED HARLOT (whom I carried a not upon my horse behind me) but who rose up on me, said:
It’s a poor wretch give him 6d. and that’s enough for a squire or knight, to give to one poor body.
Besides (saith the holy Scripturian whore) he is worse than an infidel that provides not for his own family.
True love begins at home, &c.
Thou, and my family are fed, as the young ravens strangely, though thou hast been a constant preacher, yet thou hast abhorred both tithes and hire; and thou know us not aforehand who will give you the worth of a penny.
Have a care of the main chance.
- And thus she flattereth with her lips, and her words being smoother than oil; and her lips dropping as the honeycomb, I was fired to hasten my hand into my pocket; and pulling out a shilling, said to the poor wretch here give me sixpence, here’s a shilling for thee.
He answered, I cannot, I have never a penny.
Whereupon I said, I would fain have given thee something if thou couldest have changed my money.
Then saith he, God bless you.
Whereupon with much reluctancy, with much love, and with amazement (of the right stamp) I turned my horse head from him, riding away. But a while after I was turned back (being advised by my Demilance) to wish him called for sixpence, which I would leave at the next town at one’s house, which I thought he might know (Saphira-like) keeping back part.
But (as God judged me) I, as she, was struck down dead.
And behold the plague of God fell into my pocket; and the rust of my silver rose up in judgment against me, and consumed my flesh as with fire: so that I, and my money perished with me, I being cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.
And all the money I had about me to a penny (though I thought through the instigation of my quondam mistress to have reserved some, having rode about 8 miles, not eating one mouthful of bread that day, and had drunk but one small draught of drink; and had between 8 or 9 miles more to ride, ere I came to my journey’s end: my horse being lame, the ways dirty, it raining all the way, and I not knowing what extraordinary occasion I might have for money.) Yet (I say) the rust of my silver did so rise up in judgment against me, and burnt my flesh like fire: and the 5 of James thundered such an alarm in mine ears, that I was fain to cast all I had into the hands of him, whose visage was more marred than any man’s that ever I saw.
This is a true story, most true in the history.
It’s also true in the mystery.
And there are deep ones couched under it, for it’s a shadow of various, glorious, (though strange) good things to come.
- Well! To return——after I had thrown my rusty cankered money into the poor wretch’s hands, I rode away from him, being filled with trembling joy, and amazement, feeling the sparkles of a great glory rising up from under these ashes.
After this, I was made (by that divine power which dwellest in this Ark, or chest) to turn my horse head——whereupon I beheld this poor deformed wretch, looking earnestly after me: and upon that, was made to put off my hat, and bow to him seven times, and was (as that strange posture) filled with trembling and amazement, some sparkles of glory arising up also from under this; as also from under these ashes, yet I rode back once more to the poor wretch, saying, because I am a King, I have done this, which you need not tell any one.
The day’s our own.
This was done on the last LORD’S DAY, Septem. 30. in the year 1649, which is the year of the Lord’s recompenses for Zion, and the day of his vengeance, the dreadful day of judgment. But I have done (for the present) with this story, for it is the latter end of the year 1649.
How the author hath been set as a sign and wonder, as well as most of the Prophets formerly. As also what strange postures that divine majesty that dwells in his form, hath set the form in; which is the most strange and various effects thereof upon the spectators. His communion with the spirits of just men made perfect, and with God the judge of all, hinted at.
- It is written in your Bibles, Behold I and the children whom the Lord hath given me, or for signs and for wonders in Israel, from the Lord of Hosts, which dwellest in Mount Sion, Isa. 8. 18.
And amongst those who are set thus, Ezekiel seems to be higher than the rest by the shoulders upwards, and was more seraphical than his predecessors, yet he was the son of Buzi (Ezek. 1.) Which being interpreted is the son of contempt; it pleases me (right well) that I am his brother, a son of Buzi.
- He saw (and I in him see) various strange visions; and he was, and I am set in several strange pastures.
Amongst many of his pranks——this was one, he shaves all the hair off his head: and of his beard, then weighs them in a pair of scales; burns one part of them in the fire, another part he smites about with a knife, another part thereof he scatters in the wind, and a few he binds up in his skirts, &c. And this not in a corner, or in a chamber, but in the midst of the streets of the great city Jerusalem, and the man all this while neither mad nor drunk, &c. Ezek.5. 1.2.3,4 &c. As also in several other chapters among the rest, Chap. 12. 3. &c. Chap. 4. 3. Chap. 24. 3. to the end. This Ezekiel(to whose spirit I am come, and to an innumerable company of Angels, and to God the judge of all.)
- (I say) this great courtier in the High Court of the highest heavens, is the son of Buzi, a child of contempt on Earth, and set as a sign and wonder (as was Hosea, who went into a whore, &c.) Hos. 2. When he (I say) was playing some of his pranks, the people said to him, which though not tell us what these things are to us, but thou dost do, Ezek. 24. 19. with the 3. Verse and so forwards, when he was strangely acted by that omnipotentcy dwelling in him; and my that eternal, immortal, INVISIBLE (indeed) Majesty, the only wise God, who dwells in this invisible form, the writer of this roll, (who to his joy) is numbered among transgressors.
- The same most excellent Majesty (in this form) had set the form in many strange postures lately, to the joy and refreshment of some, both acquaintances and strangers, to the wonderment and amazement of others; and to the great torment of the chiefest of the sects of professors; who have gone about to shake off their plagues and if they could, some by crying out he’s mad, he’s drunk, he’s fallen from grace, and some by scandalising, &c. And only one, whom I was told of, by threats of caning or cudgelling, who meeting me full with face, was ashamed and afraid to look on me, &c.
- But to waive all this.
Because the Sun begins to peep out, and it’s a good while past daybreak, I’ll creep forth (a little) into the mystery of the former history, and into the inside of that strange outside business.
The author’s strange and lofty carriage towards great ones, and his most lowly carriage towards beggars, rogues, and gypsies: together with a large declaration what glory shall arise up from under all this ashes. The most strange and most secret and terrible, yet most glorious design of God, in choosing base things, to confound things that are. And how. A most terrible vial poured out upon the well-favoured Harlot; and how the Lord is bringing into contempt not only honourable persons, with a vengeance, but all honourable, holy things also. Wholesome advice, with a terrible threat to the formalists. How base things have confounded base things: and how base things have been a fiery chariot to mount the author up into divine glory &c. And how his wife is, and his life is in, that beauty, which makes all visible beauty seem mere deformity.
- And because I am found of those that sought me not. And because some say, wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou dost so?
Wherefore waiving my charging so many coaches, so many hundreds of men and women of the greater rank, in the open streets, with my hand stretched out, my hat cocked up, staring on them as if I would look through them, gnashing with my teeth at some of them, and day and night with a huge loud voice proclaiming the day of the Lord throughout London and Southwark, and leaving divers other exploits, &c. It is my goodwill and pleasure (only) to single out the former story with its parallels.
- (Viz.) In clipping, hugging, embracing, kissing a poor deformed wretch in London, who had no more knows on his face, than I have on the back of my hand, (but only two little holes in the place where the nose uses to stand.)
And no more eyes to be seen than on the back of my hand, and afterwards running back to him in a strange manner, with my money give yet to him, to the joy of some, to the affrightment and wonderment of other spectators.
- As also in falling down flat upon the ground before rogues, beggars, cripples, halt, maimed, blind, &c. kissing the feet of many, rising up again and giving them money, &c. Besides that notorious business with the gypsies and gaolbirds (mine own brethren and sisters, flesh of my flesh, and as good as the greatest Lord in England) at the prison in Southwark near St George’s Church.
Now that which arises up from under all this heap of ashes, will fire both heaven and earth; the one’s ashamed, and blushes already, the other reels to and fro, like a drunken man.
- Wherefore thus saith the Lord, Hear O heavens, and Harken O Earth, I’ll overturn, overturn, overturn, I am now astining the pride of all glory, and blinking into contempt all the honourable of the Earth, Esa. 23. 9. Not only honourable persons, (who shall come down with a vengeance, if they bow not to universal love the eternal God, whose service is perfect freedom) but honourable things, as Elderships, Pastorships, Fellowships, Churches, Ordinances, Prayers, &c. Holinesses, Righteousnesses, religions of all sorts, of the highest strains; yea, Mysterians, and Spiritualists, who scorn carnal Ordinances, &c.
I am about my act, my strange act, my work, my strange work, that whoever hears of it, both his ears shall tingle.
- I am confounding, plaguing, tormenting nice, demure, barren Mical, with David’s unseemly carriage, by skipping, leaping, dancing, like one of the fools; violent, base fellows, shamelessly, basely, and uncovered too, before handmaids,——
Which thing was S. Paul’s tutor, or else it prompted him to write, God has chosen BASE things, and things that are despised, to confound——the things are.——
Well! Family duties are no base things, they are things that ARE: Churches, Ordinances, &c. Are no BASE things,though indeed Presbyterian Churches begin to live i’th womb, but died there, and rotten stink there to the death of the mother and child. Amen. Not by the Devil, but (by God that’s a base thing) it’s true.
Grace before meat and after meat, are no BASE things; these are things that ARE. But how long Lord, holy and true, &c.
Fasting for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness,——(and not for taking off heavy burdens, breaking every yoke, Esa. 58.) And thanksgiving days for killing of men for money, I know BASE things, these are things that ARE.
Starting up into the notion of spirituals, scorning history, speaking nothing but Mystery, crying down Carnal ordinances &c. is a fine thing among many, it’s no base thing (nowadays) though it be a cloak for covetousness, yea, though it be to maintain pride and pomp; these are no base things.
- These are things that ARE, and must be confounded by BASE things, which S. Paul said, not God has connived at, winked at, permitted, tolerated, but God hath CHOSEN &c. BASE things.
What base things? Why Mical took David for a base fellow, and thought he had chosen BASE things, in dancing shamelessly uncovered before handmaids.
And a barren, demure Mical thinks (for I know her heart saith the Lord) that I chose base things when I sat down, and eat and drank around on the ground with gypsies, and clipped, hugged and kissed them, putting my hand in their bosoms, loving the gypsies dearly. O base! Saith mincing Mical, the least spark of modesty would be as red as crimson or scarlet, to hear this.
I warrant me, Mical could better have borne this if I had done it to ladies: so I can for a need, if it be my will, and that in the height of honour and Majesty, without sin. But at that time when I was hugging the gypsies, I abhorred the thoughts of ladies, their beauty could not bewitch mine eyes, or snare my lips, or entangle my hands in their bosoms; yet I can if it be my will, kiss and hug ladies, and love my neighbour’s wife as myself, without sin.
- But thou Precisian, by what name or title soever dignified, or distinguished, who would blow a kiss to thy neighbour’s wife, or dare to think of darting one glance of one of thy eyes towards her if thou darest.
It’s meat and drink to an Angel (who knows none evil, no sin) to swear a full mouthed oath, Rev.10. 6. It’s joy to Nehemiah to come in like a madman, and pluck folks’ hair off their heads, and curse like a Devil——and make them swear by God,——Nehem.13. Do thou O holy man (who knowest evil) lift up thy finger against a Jew, a church-member, call thy brother fool, and with a peasecod on him; or swear i’faith if thou darest, if thou dost, thou shalt howl in hell for it, and I will laugh at thy calamity, &c.
- But once more hear O heavens, hearken O Earth, thus saith the Lord, I have chosen such base things, to confound things that are, that the ears of those (who scorn to be below independence, yea the ears of many who scorn to be so low as Carnal Ordinances, &c.) that hear thereof shall tingle.
- Hear one word more (whom it hitteth it hitteth) give over thy base nasty thinking, formal grace before meat, and after meat (I call it so, though thou hast re-baptised it——) give over thy stinking family duties, and by Gospel Ordinances as thou callest them; for under them all there lies snapping, snarling, biting, besides covetousness, horrid hypocrisy, envy, malice, evil surmising.
- Give over, give over, or if nothing else will do it, I’ll at a time, when thou least of all thinkest of it, make thine own child the fruit of thy loins, in whom thy soul delighted, lie with a whore——before thine eyes: that that plaguy holiness and righteousness of thine might be confounded by that base thing. And thou be plagued back again into thy mother’s womb, the womb of eternity: but thou mayest become a little child, and let the mother Eternity, Almightiness, who is universal love, and whose service is perfect freedom, dress thee, and undress thee, swaddle, unswaddle, bind, loose, lay thee down, take thee up, &c.
——And to such a little child, undressing is as good as dressing, foul clothes, as good as fair clothes——he knows none evil, &c.——And shall see evil no more,——but he must first lose all his righteousness, every bit of his holiness, and every crumb of his religion, and be plagued, and confounded (by base things) into nothing.
By base things which God and I have chosen.
- And yet I show you a more excellent way, when you have passed this.——In a word, my plaguy, filthy, nasty holiness hath been confounded by base things. And then (behold I assure you a Mystery, and put forth a riddle to you) by base things, base things so-called have been confounded also; and thereby have I been confounded into eternal Majesty, unspeakable glory, my life, myself.
- There’s my riddle, but because neither all the Lords of the Philistines no nor my Delilah herself can read it,
I’ll read it myself, I’ll (only) hint it thus.
Kisses are numbered amongst transgressors——base things——well! By base hellish swearing, and cursing (as I have accounted it in the time of my fleshly holiness) and by base impudent kisses (as I then accounted them) my plaguy holiness hath been confounded, and thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone.
And then again, by wanton kisses, kissing hath been confounded; and eternal kisses, have been made fiery chariots, to mount me swiftly into the bosom of him whom my soul loves, (his excellent Majesty, the King of glory.)
Where I have been, where I have been, where I have been, hugged, embraced, and kissed with the kisses of his mouth, whose loves are better than wine, and have been utterly overcome therewith, beyond expression, beyond admiration.
- Again, lust is numbered amongst transgressors——a base thing.——
Now fair objects attract spectator’ s eyes.
And beauty is the father of lust or love.
Well! I have gone along the streets impregnant with that child (lust) which a particular beauty had begot: but coming to the place, where I expected to have been delivered, I have providentially met there a company of Devils in appearance, though Angels with golden vials, in reality, powering out full vials, of such odious abominable words, that are not lawful to be uttered.
Words enough to deafen the ears of plaguy holiness.
And such horrid abominable actions, the sight whereof were enough to put out holy man’s eyes, and strike him stark dead, &c.
These base things (I say) words and actions, have confounded and plagued to death, the child in the womb that I was so big of.
14 And by, and through these BASE things (as upon the wings of the wind) have I been carried up into the arms of my love, which is invisible glory, eternal Majesty, purity itself, and unspotted beauty, even that beauty which maketh all other beauty but mere ugliness, when set against it, &c.
Yea, could you imagine that the quintessence of all visible beauty, should be extracted and made up into one huge beauty, it would appear to be mere deformity to that beauty, which through BASE things I have been lifted up into.
Which transcendent, unspeakable, unspotted beauty, is my crowning joy, my life and love: and though I have chosen, and cannot be without BASE things to confound some in mercy, some in judgment, though also I have concubines without number, which I cannot be without, yet this is my spouse, my love, my dove, my fair one. Now I proceed to that which follows.
Great ones must bow to the poorest peasants, or else they must rue for it.
No material sword or human power whatsoever, but the pure spirit of universal love, which is the eternal God, can break the neck of tyranny, oppression, abominable pride and cruel murder, &c. A catalogue of several judgments recited——as so many warning-pieces to appropriators, impropriators, and anti-free-communicants, &c. The strongest, yea purest propriety that may plead most privilege shall suddenly be confounded.
- Again, thus saith the Lord, I in thee, who am eternal Majesty, bowed down thy form, to deformity.
And I in thee, who am durable riches, commanded thy perishable silver to the poor, &c.
Thus saith the Lord.
Kings, Princes, Lords, great ones, must bow to the poorest Peasants; which men must look to pull rogues, or else they’ll rue for it.
This must be done two ways.
You shall have one short dark hint.
Wil. Sedgewick(in me) bowed to that poor deformed ragged wretch, that he might enrich him, in impoverishing himself.
He shall gain him, and be no great loser himself, &c.
- Well! We must all bow, and bow, &c. And MEUM must be converted.——It is but yet very little while; and you shall not say that aught that you possess is your own, &c. Read Acts. 2. towards the end, CHAP. 4. 31. to the end, with CHAP. 5. 1. 2. to the 12.
It’s but yet a little while, and the strongest, yea the seemingly purest propriety, which may mostly plead privilege and prerogative from Scripture, and carnal reason; shall be confounded and plagued into community and universality. And there’s a most glorious design in it: and equality, community, and universal love; shall be in request to the utter confounding of abominable pride, murder, hypocrisy, tyranny and oppression, &c. The necks whereof can never be chopped off, or these villains ever hanged up, cut off by material sword, by human might, power, or strength, but by the pure spirit of universal love, who is the God whom all the world (of Papists, Protestants, Presbyterians, Independents, Spiritual Notionists, &c.) ignorantly worship.
- The time is coming, yea now is, that you shall not dare to say, your silver or gold is your own.
It’s the Lord’s.
You shall not say it is your own, lest the rust thereof rise up in judgment against you, and burn your flesh as it were fire.
Neither shall you dare to say, your ox, or your ass is your own.
It’s the Lord’s.
And if the Lord have a need of an ass he shall have him.
Or if 2 of his disciples should come to unloose him, I will not (for a 1000 worlds) call them thieves, lest the ass should beat my brains out, my bread is not mine own, it’s the Lord’s.
And if a poor rogue should ask for it——the Lord has need of it——he should have it, lest it should stick in my throat and choke me one way or other.
- Once more, Impropriators! Appropriators! Go to, weep and howl, &c. Jam. 5. 1. to the 7. The rust of your silver shall rise (is rising up) against you, burning your flesh as it were fire, &c.
That is (in a word) a secret, yet sharp, terrible, unexpected, and unsupportable plague, is rising up from under all, that you call your own, when you go to count your money, you shall verily think the Devil stands behind you, to tear you in pieces: you shall not put bread in your mouths, but the curse shall come along with it, and choke you one way or other. All your former sweets shall be mingled with gall and wormwood: I give you but a hint.
It’s the last days.
- Well! Do what you will or can, know you have been warned. It is not for nothing that the Lord with the strong wind cut off (as with a sickle) the fullest, fairest ears of corn this harvest, and droppeds them on purpose for the poor, who had as much right to them, as those that (impudently and wickedly, thievishly and hoggishly) style themselves the owners of the land.
- It’s not for nothing that such various strange kinds of worms, grubs, and caterpillars (my strong host, saith the Lord of Hosts) have been sent into some grain: neither is in vain, that I the Lord sent the rot among so many sheep this last year; if they had been resigned to me, and you had kept a true communion, they had not been given up to that plague.
- It’s not in vain that so many towns and houses have been lately fired over the heads of the inhabitants: neither is it in vain, that I the Lord fired the barning and ricks of a miser in Worcestershire (this year) the very same day that he brought in his own, as he accounted it.
On the very same day (I say) his barning and ricks were fired down to the very ground, though multitudes of very expert men in the employment came to quench it.
Of this the writer of this Scroll was an eye-witness.
- Impropriators! Appropriators! Misers! A fair warning. More of you shall be served with the same sauce.
Others of you I’ll deal withal in another way more terrible than this, saith the Lord till you resign.——
Misers! ‘Specially you holy Scripturian Misers, when you would say grace before and after meat, read James5. 1. to 7. & Hosea 2. 8, 9, 10.
A further discovery of the subtlety of the well-favoured Harlot, with a parley between her and the spirit: As also the horrid villainy (that lies hid under her smooth words, and sweet tongue in pleading against the Letter and History, and for the Spirit and Mystery, and all for her own ends) detected. Also upon what account the spirit is put, and upon what account the letter. Also what the true communion, and what the true breaking of bread is.
- But now me thinks (by this time) I see a brisk, spruce, neat, self-seeking, finicking fellow, (who scorns to be either Papist, Protestant, Presbyterian, Independent, or Anabaptist) I mean the Man of Sin, who worketh with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness, 2. Thess. 2.
Crying down carnal ordinances, (Note: Down they must, but no thanks to him.) And crying up the spirit: (Note: up it must, but no thanks to him.) Cunningly seeking and setting up himself thereby.
I say, I see him, and have ripped up the very secrets of his heart (saith the Lord) as also of that mother of mischief, that well-favoured Harlot, who both agree in one, and say on this wise to me.
- ‘Ah! Poor deluded man, thou hast spoken of the wisdom of God in a mystery, and thou hast seen all the history of the Bible mysterized.
‘O fool! Who hath bewitched thee, Art thou so foolish as to begin in the spirit, and wilt thou now be made perfect in the flesh? Keep thee to the spirit, go not back to the letter, keep thee to the Mystery, go not back to the history.
‘What? Why dost talk so much of James 5. and Hosea 2. Those words are to be taken in the Mystery, not the History: they are to be taken in the spirit, not as they lie in the letter.’
Thus you have a hint of the neat young man’s, and of the well-favoured Harlot’s language.
- But now behold I am filled with the Holy Ghost, and resolved (Acts 13. 8, 9, &c.) to set mine eyes on her and him, (who are no more twain, but one) and say:
‘O full of all subtlety and mischief, thou child of the Devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
‘Be it known to thee, O thou deceitful tongue, that I have begun on the spirit, and will end in the spirit: I’m joined to the Lord, and am one spirit. The Spirit’s my joy, my life, my strength; I will not let it go, it’s my delight.
‘The Mystery is mine, (mostly) that which I most delight in, that’s the jewel. The history is mine also, that’s the Cabinet. For the jewel’s sake I will not leave the Cabinet, though indeed it’s nothing to me, but when thou for thine own ends, standest in competition with me for it.
‘Strength is mine, so is weakness also.’
- I came by water and blood, not by blood only, but by blood and water also.
The inwardness is mostly mine, my prime delight is there; the outwardness is mine also, when thou for thine own ends, standest in competition with me about it, or when I would confound thee by it.
- I know there’s no Communion to the Communion of Saints, to the inward Communion, to communion with the spirits of just men made perfect, and with God the judge of all.
No other communion of saints do I know.
And this is blood-life-spirit-Communion.
- But another Communion also I do know, which is water, and but water, which I will not be without: my spirit dwells with God, the judge of all, dwells on him, sups with him, in him, feeds on him, with him, in him. My humanity shall dwell with, sup with, eat with humanity; and why not (for a need) with Publicans and Harlots? Why should I turn away mine eyes from mine own flesh? Why should I not break my bread to the hungry, whoever they be? It is written, the Lord takes care of oxen.
And when I am at home, I take great care of my horse, to feed him, dress him, water him and provide for him.
And is not poor Maul of Deddington, and the worst rogue in Newgate, or the arrantest thief or cut-purse far better, than 100 oxen, or 1000 such horses as mine?
- Do I take care of my horse, and doth the Lord take care of oxen?
And shall I hear poor rogues in Newgate, Ludgate, cry bread, bread, bread, for the Lord’s sake; and shall I not pity them, and relieve them?
Howl, howl, ye nobles, howl honourable, howl ye rich men for the miseries that are coming upon you.
For our part, we that hear the APOSTLE preach, will also have all things common; neither will we call any thing that we have our own.
Do you (if you please) till the plague of God rot and consume what you have.
We will not, we’ll eat our bread together in singleness of heart, we’ll break bread from house to house.
The well-favoured Harlot’s clothes stripped off, her nakedness discovered, her nose slit, her lusting after the young man, void of understanding, from corner to corner, from religion to religion, and the spirit pursuing, overtaking, and destroying her, with a terrible thunderclap in the close, &c.
- And we will strip off thy clothes, who hast bewitched us, and slit thy nose thou well-favoured Harlot, who hast (as in many things, so in this) made the nations of the earth drunk, with the cup of thy fornications: as thus.
Thou hast come to a poor irreligious wretch, and told him he must be of the same religion as his neighbours, he must go to church, hear the Minister, &c. and at least once a year put on his best clothes, and receive the Communion——he must eat a bit of bread, and drink a sip of wine——and then he has received, &c. And then he hath been at the Communion.
- But when he finds this religion too coarse for him, and he would fain make after another, then immediately thou huntest after him, following him from street to street, from corner to corner, from gross Protestantism to puritanism, &c. At length from cross in baptism, and common-prayer-book to Presbyterianism, where thou tellest him he may break bread, with all such believers, who believe their horses and their cows are their own; and with such believers, who have received different light from, or greater light than themselves; branded with the letter B, banished, or imprisoned 14 weeks together, without bail or main prize.
- And I could tell a large story, that would reach as far as between Oxonshire and Coventry.
But though it be in the original copy, yet it is my goodwill and pleasure, out of my great wisdom, to waive the printing of it, and I will send the contents thereof, as a charge and secret plague, secretly into their breasts, who must be plagued with a vengeance, for their villainy against the Lord.
Well! To return from this more than needful digression, to the discovery, and uncovering of the well-favoured Harlot.
Thou hast hunted the young man void of understanding, from corner to corner, from religion to religion.
We left him at the Presbyterians——where such a believer, who believes his horses and his cows are his own, may have his child christened, and may himself be admitted to the sacrament——and come to the communion.
And what’s that?
Why after a consecration in a new form, eating a bit of bread, and drinking a sip of wine perhaps once a month, why mother of mischief is this Communion?
O thou flattering and deceitful tongue, God shall root thee out of the land of the living, is this Communion? No, no, mother of witchcrafts!
- The true Communion amongst men, is to have all things common, and to call nothing one hath, one’s own.
And the true external breaking of bread, is to eat bread together in singleness of heart, and to break thy bread to the hungry, and tell them it’s their own bread &c. Else your religion is in vain.
- And by this time indeed thou seest this religion is in vain. And wilt therefore hie thee to another, to wit, to Independency, and from thence perhaps to Anabaptism so-called.
And these are the well-favoured Harlot will follow thee, and say thou must be very holy, very righteous, very religious.
All other religions are vain.
And all in the parish, or in the country, yea all in the kingdom, and all in the world (who are not of thine opinion) are without, are of the world.
Thou, and thy comrades are saints.
(O proud Devil! O Devil of devils! O Beelzebub!)
Well! (saith she) thou being a saint must be very holy, and walk in Gospel-ordinances (saith the well-favoured Harlot) aye and in envy, malice, pride, covetousness, evil surmising, censoriousness, &c. also.
And on the first day of the week, when the Saints meet together, to break bread, do not thou omit it upon pain of damnation.
By no means omitted, because thou hast Gospel Ordinances in the purity of them.
——Papists——they give wafers.——
Protestants——give——to all i’th’ parish ragg ragg, and his fellow if they come.
But we are called out of the world, none shall break bread with us, but ourselves, (the Saints together, who are in Gospel Order)
Besides the priests of England cut their bread into little square bits, but we break our bread (according to the apostolical practice) and this is the right breaking of bread (saith the well-favoured Harlot.)
Who hath stepped into this holy, righteous Gospel, religious way, (Gospel-Ordinances so-called) on purpose to dash to pieces the right breaking of bread and in the room thereof thrusting in this vain religion.
- A religion wherein Lucifer reigns, more than in any.
And next to this in the Independents (so-called) both which damn to the pit of hell, those that are 100 times nearer the kingdom of heaven than themselves: flattering themselves up in this their vain religion.
But take his hint before I leave thee.
[8.] He that hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother in want, and shutteth up the bowels of his compassion from him, the love of God dwelleth not in him; this man’s religion is in vain.
His religion is in vain, that seeth his brother in want, &c.
His brother——a beggar, a lazar, a cripple, yea a cut-purse, a thief i’th’ jail, &c.
He that seeth such a brother, flesh of his flesh (in want) and shutteth up the bowels of his compassion from him, the love of God dwelleth not in him; his religion is in vain: and he never yet broke bread——that hath not forgot his (meum.)
- The true breaking of bread——is from house to house, &c. Neighbours (in singleness of heart) saying if I have any bread, &c. It’s thine, I will not call it mine own, it’s common.
These are true communicants, and this is the true breaking of bread among men.
- And what the Lord’s supper is, none know, but those that are continually (not weekly) but daily at it.
And what the true Communion is, those and those only know, who are come to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to God the judge of all; all other religion is vain.
Aye, saith the well-favoured Harlot (in the young man void of understanding) I see Protestantism, Presbytery, Independency, Anabaptism, are all vain. These coverings are too short, too narrow, too coarse for me; the finest of these are but hardened sheets, and very narrow ones also.
I’ll get me some flax, and make me both fine and larger sheets, &c. I’ll scorn carnal Ordinances, and walk in the Spirit.
Aye, do (saith the well-favoured Harlot) speak nothing but Mystery, drink nothing but wine, but blood, thou needest not eat flesh, &c.
- And so my young man starts up into the notion of spirituals, and wraps up a deal of hypocrisy, malice, envy, deceit, dissimulation, covetousness, self-seeking in this fine linen.
Being a hundredfold worse devils than before.
But now thy villainy, hypocrisy, and self-seeking is discovering, yea discovered to many with a witness.
And though the true and pure levelling, is the eternal God’s levelling the mountains, &c. In man. Which is the
Yet the water, or weak levelling, which is base and foolish, shall confound thee.
And hereby, as also by several other strange ways, which thou art least of all acquainted withal. I’ll discover thy lewdness, and show the rottenness of thy heart.
I’ll call for all to a mite, to be cast into the outward treasury.
And will bid thee lay down all at my feet, the Apostle, the Lord, and this is a way that I am now again setting up to try, judge, and damn the well-favoured Harlot by.
Cast all into the Treasury, &c. Account nothing thine own, have all things in common.
The young man goes away sorrowful,——&c.
The well-favoured Harlot shrugs at this.——
- When this cometh to pass, a poor wretch whose very bones are gnawn with hunger, shall not go about 13 or 14 miles about thy business, and thou for a reward, when thou hast hundreds lying by thee.
I will give day but one hint more, and so will leave thee.
The dreadful day of judgment is stealing on thee, within these few hours. Thou hast secretly and cunningly lain in wait, thou hast craftily numbered me amongst transgressors, who to thy exceeding torment, and indeed a friend of Publicans and Harlots.
Thou hast accounted me a Devil, saith the Lord.
And I will rot thy name, and make it stink above ground, and make thy folly manifest to all men.
And because thou hast adjudged me, I will judge thee (with a witness) expect it suddenly, saith the Lord.
per AUXILIUM PATRIS
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