« 上一頁繼續 »
license it like our broadcloth and our wool-packs. What is it but a servitude like that imposed by the Philistines, not to be allowed the sharpening of our own axes and coulters, but we must repair from all quarters to twenty licensing forges ? Had any one written and divulged erroneous things and scandalous to honest life, misusing and forfeiting the esteem had of his reason among men, if after conviction this only censure were adjudged him, that he should never henceforth write but what were first examined by an appointed officer, whose hand should be annexed to pass his credit for him that now he might be safely read, it could not be apprehended less than a disgraceful punishment. Whence to include the whole nation, and those that never yet thus offended, under such a diffident and suspectful prohibition, may plainly be understood what a disparagement it is; so much the more when, as debtors and delinquents may walk abroad without a keeper, but inoffensive books must not stir forth without a visible gaoler in their title. Nor is it to the common people less than a reproach; for if we be so jealous over them as that we dare not trust them with an English pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vicious, and ungrounded people, in such a sick and weak estate of faith and discretion as to be able to take nothing down but through the pipe of a licenser ? That this is care or love of them we cannot pretend, when, as in those Popish places where the laity are most hated and despised, the same strictness is used over them. Wisdom we cannot call it, because it stops but one breach of license, nor that neither, when as those corruptions which it seeks to prevent break in faster at other doors which cannot be shut.
And in conclusion it reflects to the disrepute of our ministers also, of whose labours we should hope better, and of the proficiency which their flock reaps by them, than that after all this light of the gospel which is, and is to be, and all this continual preaching, they should be still frequented with such an unprincipled, unedified, and laic rabble, as that the whiff of every new pamphlet should stagger them out of their catechism and Christian walking. This may have much reason to discourage the ministers when such a low conceit is had of all their exhortations and the benefiting of their hearers, as that they are not thought fit to be turned loose to three sheets of paper without a licenser; that all the sermons, all the lectures preached, printed, vented in such numbers and such volumes as have now well-nigh made all other books unsalable, should not be armour enough against one single enchiridion, without the Castle St. Angelo of an imprimatur. . .
Well knows he who uses to consider, that our faith and knowledge thrives by exercise as well as our limbs and complexion. Truth is compared in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believe things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy. There is not any burden that some would gladlier post off to another than the charge and care of their religion. There be -who knows not that there be ?-Protestants and professors who live and die in as arrant an implicit faith as any lay papist of Loretto. A wealthy man, addicted to his pleasure and to his profits, finds religion to be a traffic so entangled, and of so many peddling accounts, that of all mysteries he cannot skill to keep a stock going upon that trade. What should he do? Fain he would have the name to be religious, fain he would bear up with his neighbours in that. What does he, therefore, but resolve to give over toiling, and to find himself out some factor to whose care and credit he may commit the whole managing of his religious affairs, some divine of note and estimation that must be. To him he adheres, resigns the whole warehouse of his religion, with all the locks and keys, into his custody; and, indeed, makes the very person of that man his religion, esteems his associating with him a sufficient evidence and commendatory of his own piety. So that a man may say his religion is now no more within himself, but is become a dividual movable, and goes and comes near him according as that good man frequents the house. He entertains him, gives him gifts, feasts him, lodges him; his religion comes home at night, prays, is liberally supped, and sumptuously laid to sleep; rises, is saluted, and after the malmsey, or some wellspiced brewage, better breakfasted than he whose morning appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and Jerusalem. His religion walks abroad at eight, and leaves his kind entertainer in the shop trading all day without his religion.-" Areopagitica."
Epitaph for an Old University Carrier
HERE lieth one who did most truly prove
Until his revolution was at stay.
MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN:
I told you, at our last meeting, the winter was the fittest time for business, and truly I thought so, till my lord-treasurer assured me the spring was the best season for salads and subsidies. I hope, therefore, that April will not prove so unnatural a month as not to afford some kind showers on my parched exchequer, which gapes for want of them. Some of you, perhaps, will think it dangerous to make me too rich; but I do not fear it; for I promise you faithfully, whatever you give me I will always want; and although in other things my word may be thought a slender authority, yet in that you may rely upon me. I will never break it.
My lords and gentlemen, I can bear my straits with patience; but my lord-treasurer does protest to me that the revenue, as it now stands, will not serve him and me too. One of us must pinch for it, if you do not help me. I must speak freely to you; I am under bad circumstances. Here is my lord-treasurer can tell that all the money designed for next summer's guards must of necessity be applied to the next year's cradles and swaddling-clothes. What shall we do for ships then? I hint this only to you, it being your business, not mine. I know, by experience, I can live without ships. I lived ten years abroad without, and never had my health better in my life; but how you will be without, I leave to yourselves to judge, and therefore hint this only by