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treasonous plots against them, all the rumours either of rebellion or invasion, they have not been yet brought to change their constant resolution, ever to think fearlessly of their own safeties, and hopefully of the commonwealth : which hath gained them such an admiration from all good men, that now they hear it as their ordinary surname, to be saluted the fathers of their country, and sit as gods among daily petitions and public thanks flowing in upon them. Which doth so little yet exalt them in their own thoughts, that, with all gentle affability and courteous acceptance, they both receive and return that tribute of thanks which is tendered them; testifying their zeal and desire to spend themselves as it were piece-meal upon the grievances and wrongs of their distressed nation; insomuch that the meanest artisans and labourers, at other times also women, (48) and often the younger sort of servants assembling with their complaints, and that sometimes in a less humble guise than for petitioners, havegone with confidence, that neither their meanness would be rejected, nor
distasted either by the dignity, wisdom or moderation of that supreme senate; nor did they depart unsatisfied.
62. And indeed, if we consider the general concourse of suppliants, the free and ready admittance, the willing and speedy redress in what is possible, it will not seem much otherwise, than as if some
(48) This trait in the character of the Long Parliament must always belong to a genuine republican government.
divine commission from heaven were descended to take into hearing and commiseration the long and remediless afflictions of this kingdom; were it not that none more than themselves labour to remove and divert such thoughts, lest men should place too much confidence in their persons, still referring us and our prayers to him that can grant all, and appointing the monthly return of public fasts and supplications. Therefore the more they seek to humble themselves, the more does God, by manifest signs and testimonies, visibly honour their proceedings; and sets them as the mediators of this his covenant, which he offers us to renew. Wicked men daily conspire their hurt, and it comes to nothing; rebellion rages in our Irish province, but, with miraclous and lossless victories of few against many, is daily discomfited and broken; if we neglect not this early pledge of God's inclining towards us, by the slackness of our needful aids. And whereas at other times we count it ample honour when God vouchsafes to make man the instrument and subordinate worker of his gracious will, such acceptation have their prayers found with him, that to them he hath been pleased to make himself the agent, and immediate performer of their desires; dissolving their difficulties when they are thought inexplicable, cutting out ways for them where no passage could be seen; as who is there so regardless of divine Providence, that from late occurrences will not confess? If therefore it be so high a grace when men are preferred to be but the inferior officers of good things from God, what is it
when God himself condescends, and works with his own hands to fulfil the requests of men ? Which I leave with them as the greatest praise that can belong to human nature: not that we should think they are at the end of their glorious progress, but that they will go on to follow his Almighty leading, who seems to have thus covenanted with them ; that if the will and the endeavour shall be theirs, the performance and the perfecting shall he his. Whence only it is that I have not feared, though many wise men have miscarried in praising great designs before the utmost event, because I see who is their assistant, who is their confederate, who hath engaged his omnipotent arm to support and crown with success their faith, their fortitude, their just and magnanimous actions, till he have brought to pass all that expected good which, his servants trust, is in his thoughts to bring upon this land in the full and perfect reformation of his church.
63. Thus far I have digressed, readers, from my former subject; but into such a path, as I doubt not ye will agree with me, to be much fairer and more delightful than the roadway I was in. And how to break off suddenly into those jarring notes which this confuter hath set me, I must be wary, unless I can provide against offending the ear, as some musicians are wont skilfully to fall out of one key into another, without breach of harmony. By good luck therefore his ninth section is spent in mournful elegy, certain passionate soliloquies, and two whole pages of interrogatories that praise the Remonstrant even to the sonneting of “ his fresh cheek, quick eyes, round tongue, agile hand, and nimble invention.”
64. In his tenth section he will needs erect figures, and tell fortunes: “I am no bishop," he says; “ I was never born to it.” Let me tell therefore this wizard, since he calculates so right, that he may know there be in the world, and I among those, who nothing admire his idol-a bishopric; and hold that it wants so much to be a blessing, as that I rather deem it the merest, the falsest, the most unfortunate gift of fortune. And were the punishment and misery of being a prelate bishop terminated only in the person, and did not extend to the affliction of the whole diocess, if I would wish any thing in the bitterness of soul to mine enemy, I would wish him the biggest and fattest bishopric. But he proceeds; and the familiar belike informs him, that" a rich widow, or a lecture, or both, would content me:” whereby I perceive him to be more ignorant in his art of divining than any gipsy. For this I cannot omit without ingratitude to that Providence above, who hath ever bred me up in plenty, although my life hath not been unexpensive in learning, and voyaging about; so long as it shall please him to lend me what he hath hitherto thought good, which is enough to serve me in all honest and liberal occasions, and something over besides, I were unthankful to that highest bounty, if I should make myself so poor, as to solicit needily any such kind of rich hopes as this fortune-teller dreams of. And that he may further learn how his astrology is wide all the houses of heaven in spelling marriages, I care not if I tell him thus much professedly, though it be the losing of my rich hopes, as he calls them, that I think with them who, both in prudence and elegance of spirit, would choose a virgin of mean fortunes, honestly bred, before the wealthiest widow. (19) The fiend therefore that told our Chaldean the contrary, was a lying fiend.
65. His next venom he utters against a prayer, which he found in the Animadversions, angry it seems to find any prayers but in the service-book; he dislikes it, and I therefore like it the better. “It was theatrical,” he says; and yet it consisted most of Scripture language; it had no rubric to be sung in an antic cope upon the stage of a high altar. “ It was big-mouthed,” he says; no marvel, if it were framed as the voice of three kingdoms; neither was it a prayer, so much as a hymn in prose, frequent both in the prophets, and in human authors; therefore the style was greater than for an
(49) Milton's three wives were virgins. " Mr. Todd,” says Mr. Mitford, “ considers it worthy of observation, that Milton chose his three wives out of the virgin state; while Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, selected his three from that of widowhood: but what inference the learned biographer would draw from their respective choices, is, from an entire ignorance on these subjects, to me unknown !” This is the amiable simplicity of a bachelor. Mr. Todd would evidently draw this in. ference:—that the poet was a man of delicacy, the duke alto
is not amiss : “Sheffield was probably looking out for a splendid jointure, and Milton for a gentle, virtuous, and attached companion.”—Life of Milton, p. 70.