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Acts xxiv. 14: After the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers,
Titus ii. 11, 12, 13, 14: For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to
1 Thes. v. 21 : Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.
Stereotyped by John Fagan.
KING OF GREAT BRITAIN,
THE DOMINIONS THEREUNTO BELONGING :
ROBERT BARCLAY, a servant of Jesus Christ, called of God to the Dis
pensation of the Gospel, now again revealed, and, after a long and dark night of apostasy, commanded to be preached to all nations, wisheth health and salvation.
As the condition of kings and princes puts them in a station more obvious to the view and observation of the world, than that of other men, of whom, as Cicero observes, neither any word or action can be obscure; so are those kings, during whose appearance upon the stage of this world it pleaseth the GREAT KING of kings singularly to make known unto men the wonderful steps of his unsearchable providence, more signally observed, and their lives and actions more diligently remarked, and enquired into by posterity; especially if those things be such as not only relate to the outward transactions of this world, but also are signalized by the manifestation or revelation of the knowledge of God in matters spiritual and religious. These are the things that rendered the lives of Cyrus, Augustus Cæsar, and Constantine the Great in former times, and of Charles the Fifth, and some other modern princes in these lasť ages, so considerable.
But among all the transactions which it hath pleased God to permit, for the glory of his power, and the manifestation of his wisdom and providence, no age furnisheth us with things so strange and marvellous, whether with respect to matters civil or religious, as these that have fallen out within the compass of thy time; who, though thou be not yet arrived at the fiftieth year of thy age, hast yet been a witness of stranger things than many ages before produced. So that whether we respect those various troubles wherein thou foundest thyself engaged while scarce got out of thy
infancy; the many different afflictions wherewith men of thy circumstances are often unacquainted; the strange and unparalleled fortune that befel thy father; thy own narrow escape, and banishment following thereupon, with the great improbability of thy ever returning, at least without very much pains and tedious combatings; or finally, the incapacity thou wert under to accomplish such a design; considering the strength of those that had possessed themselves of thy throne, and the terror they had inflicted upon foreign states; and yet that, after all this, thou shouldest be restored without stroke of sword, the help or assistance of foreign states, or the contrivance and work of human policy; all these do sufficiently declare that it is the Lord's doing; which, as it is marvellous in our eyes, so it will be justly a matter of wonder and astonishment to generations to come; and may sufficiently serve, if rightly observed, to confute and confound that atheism wherewith this age doth so much abound.
As the vindication of the liberty of conscience (which thy father, by giving way to the importunate clamours of the clergy, the answering and fulfilling of whose unrighteous wills has often proved hurtful and pernicious to princes, sought in some part to restrain) was a great occasion of those troubles and revolutions; so the pretence of conscience was that which carried it on, and brought it to that pitch it came to. And though no doubt some that were engaged in that work designed good things, at least in the beginning, albeit always wrong in the manner they took to accomplish it, viz. by carnal weapons; yet so soon as they had tasted the sweets of the possessions of them they had turned out, they quickly began to do those things themselves for which they had accused others. For their hands were found full of oppression, and they hated the reproofs of instruction, which are the way of life ;” and they evilly intreated the messengers of the Lord, and caused his prophets to be beaten and imprisoned, and persecuted his people, whom he had called and gathered out from among them, whom he had made to beat their “ swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks,” and not to learn carnal war any more: but he raised them up, and armed them with spiritual weapons, even with his own Spirit and power, whereby they testified in the streets and highways, and public markets and synagogues, against the pride, vanity, lusts, and hypocrisy of that generation, who were righteous in their own eyes; though often cruelly intreated therefor: and they faithfully prophesied and foretold them of their judgment and downfall, which came upon them, as by several warnings and epistles delivered to Oliver and Richard Cromwell, the parliament, and other then powers, yet upon record, doth appear.
And after it pleased God to restore thee, what oppressions, what banishments, and evil intreatings they have met with, by men pretending thy authority, and cloaking their mischief with thy name, is known to most men in this island; especially in England, where there is scarce a prison that hath not been filled with them, nor a judge before whom they have not been haled; though they could never yet be found guilty of any thing that might deserve that usage. Therefore the sense of their innocency did no doubt greatly contribute to move thee, three years ago, to cause some hundreds of them to be set at liberty : for indeed their sufferings are singular, and obviously distinguishable from all the rest of such as live under thee in these two respects.
First: In that among all the plots contrived by others against thee since thy return into Britain, there was never any, owned of that people, found or known to be guilty, though many of them have been taken and imprisoned upon such kind of jealousies, but were always found innocent and harmless, as became the followers of Christ; not coveting after, nor contending for, the kingdoms of this world, but “ subject to every ordinance of man, for conscience sake.”
Secondly: In that in the hottest times of persecution, and the most violent prosecution of those laws made against meetings, being clothed with innocency, they have boldly stood to their testimony for God, without creeping into holes or corners, or once hiding themselves, as all other Dissenters have done; but daily met, according to their custom, in the public places appointed for that end; so that none of thy officers can say of them, that they have surprised them in a corner, overtaken them in a private conventicle, or catched them lurking in their secret chambers; nor needed they to send out spies to get them, whom they were sure daily to find in their open assemblies, testifying for God and his truth.
By which those who have an eye to see, may observe their Christian patience and courage, constancy and suffering joined in one, more than in any other people that differ from them, or oppose them. And yet, in the midst of those troubles, thou canst bear witness, that as on the one part, they never sought to detract from thee, or to render thee and thy government odious to the people, by nameless and scandalous pamphlets and libels; so on the other hand, they have not spared to admonish, exhort, and reprove thee; and have faithfully discharged their consciences towards thee, without flattering words, as ever the true prophets in ancient times used to do to those kings and princes, under whose power, violence and oppression was acted.