The Hartlib Papers

Title:Copy Letter, Henry Robinson To John Dury
Dating:8 November 1644

Reuerend Sir
     According to that small talent of vnderstanding which it pleased the eternall Dispencer from whome all good gifts proceed: to bestow vpon me: I may safely say: &that with greate ioy of harte: how amongst so many as doe argue: &Debate the present Differences of the Churches[H alters from Church] particulerly[H alters from perticulerly] botweene[H alters from boteene] the Independent &Presbyteriall Gouerment: I haue not met[altered from meet] with any: who euer yet expressed so sweete: so brotherly: so Christian: &euen so Apostolicall a spirit: as without any other perspectiue[H alters]: I clerely see inhabiting in your brest: by some letters which came forth about two monethes a goe entituled An Epistolarie Discourse etc: with others which it pleased my worthy frend Mr Hartlibe[H alters]: to fauour me withall: your proceeding with the Apologists therein I cannot better expresse then[H alters from than]: as if it were betweene your owne right hand &your left: towards which [H deletes word] <H: any> other then[H alters from than] [ar? H deletes] <H: an> equall proportion of Libertie and affection would be <H: both> vnnaturall and vniust.
    It is now eight monethes since I was bould to inquier after you: in hope you had beene in England: with an intention of importuneing you (which since I perceiued to be needlesse through your owne forwardnes) to ingage your selfe towards the Reconciling of this Clergie[H alters from Clargie]-Warr[H capitalises]; but vnderstanding you were so farr off: &withall scarce settled, or well at leisure: I forbore purposely to giue you farther trouble. Howeuer[H capitalises] because in the begininge of your letter to Mr Hartlib[H alters]: as also <left margin, H: in> the other to Mr Goodwin &Mr Nye: you seemed Desirous of a farther Correspondencie with the Apologists: or some others in theire way: whereby you might haue knowne: the State[H capitalises] of theire Case[H capitalises] in England: &as I conceiue, would gladly for the Common[H capitalises] Cause[H capitalises] sake: that some punctuall Answere[H capitalises]

were[H alters from Were] made vnto your Epistolarie Discourse: which I am fearefull will not succeed as yet: in that I apprehend that[H alters] most men of theire Way[H capitalises]: are rather[H alters] totally possessed &taken vp with an imminent Danger: &dayly expecting some sudden sentence of absolute silence or Certaine banishment: For what is said allready: through a most fierce[H alters from firce] prosequution of certaine vnquiet Presbytarian spirits: the Consideration whereof: as allso the greate Desire I haue: of being farther knowne vnto you: in the high esteeme of those admirable guifts which god hath giuen you, preuaile with me to trouble you with these few generall considerations: vpon the reading of your Epistolarie Discourse: whereby you will perceiue I take not vpon me neither to state the Controuersie: (soe much aboue my slender abilities) &yet not as one altogether without hopes: through gods mercy, (which is still most eminent when most rely'de[H alters] vpon) &the loue you haue[H deletes] <H: bare> to Truth[H alters] ( (a greater then which I know not where to finde to make an ensample vnto my selfe) but that they may in some small manner: &by degrees by conducing vnto the Publique good.
[left margin: p: 20]   Breifly then about the midle of your booke: you please to say the Apologists are not to be tolerated vnlesse they can shew theire way of Non-Communion to be the onely way of god: &Presbiteriall[H alters] Contrary etc: But I showld suppose it sufficient: if they can proue theire way to be best out[H deletes] <left margin, H: one> of the Wayes[H capitalises] of god: if but a possibility of saluation in theire Way[H capitalises]: since they professe before God[H capitalises] &man: and must be beleeued in Charity: that they cannot [H: simply] <H: complie>

[Simply? H deletes] <H: Complie> with a good Consience in any other way. Our[H capitalises] Sauiours Proclamation of: He that was not against him was on his parte Marke 9: 40 seemes not to make not a little to this purpose: &so much the rather: they<TRANS SWITCH="2"></TRANS> may<TRANS SWITCH="1"></TRANS> be tolerated, whilst they insist not so much that the Presbyteriall[H alters] Gouerment should not be reiected by the state: as that theire owne Way[H capitalises] be barely suffered[H alters] amongst them selues: but whilest the Presbeterian[H alters from Presbytarian] party: or such as will not permite a Ciuill abode but banish or expell all such as Differing in opinion Doe separate[H alters] themselues from Church society: are yet authours of a more Desperate separation[H alters from seperation], far[H alters] worse then Non[H capitalises]-Communion or the Separatists[H alters from seperatists] themselues in what soeuer sence[H alters]: because they they[H? deletes] take away all posibility of regaineing them: if they were in an errour by theire conuersation.
[left margin: p 21]   The lesse the cause of separation[H alters from seperation] is: the greater the fault is: in those that make it.
    The cause of separation[H alters] is greate in apprehension[H alters from apprehention] of the Apologists: but lesse in Iudgment of the Presbyterians: proceeding onely as these vsually <left margin, H: alleadge> allreadye[H deletes] about thinges indifferent[H alters from indifferant]: &therefore they ought the rather to giue way vnto them: since they may contriue it with a quiet Consience: all the reason they giue vnto the contrary: is the goodlynes of vniformytye in the outward comelynes: which cannot be stood vpon as necessary[H alters]: much lesse to be pressed so farre: as not to suffer such to liue amongst them: who cannot comply through tendernes of Consience[H capitalises][. H alters from :] Godly[H capitalises] reasonable &

Vnderstanding men; as they are thought to be: should not by Charitable men be Deemed to separate[H alters][,?] to theire soe greate inconveniences: if theire Consience[H capitalises] could otherwise Dispence with them: whereas the Presbiterians here: which[H alters] stand vpon theire pantoffles enioying all accommodations: may easier be supposed to keepe theire Despised[H alters from Dispised] bretheren of the Independant Way[H capitalises] to such hard taske &meanes[H deletes] <H: measure> to gratifie theire priuat Interests:
[left margin: p 23] [H: Let] For[H deletes] [written over deletion, H: vs remember that the seruants of god must not striue but be gentill to all men: cheefly vnto our nearest brethren.]
    If the Apologists can be thought to striue t'is onely in a defensiue way: to keepe there Consiences[H capitalises] from being rauished into an vniformity: whereof they [find?] themselues not able to giue an account neither to god nor man: But they are the Presbyterians which may be sayd both properly &actiuely to striue: &that with carnall Ciull weapons, whilst by theire Doctrine: instigation: or approbation: theire poore brethern which cannot with a good consience comply with them: are persecuted by Discountenanceing: turneinge out of theire ministerie: &liuelyhoods: imprisoninge &banishing: through greife &manyfold inconueniences euen vnto Death:
[left margin: p 24]   If spirituall relation cannot be settled by the wisdome &loueing affections of spirituall Office bearers within the Church <H: amongst> themselues: then it is iust that

They should forfet there spirituall right and libertie etc.
If this be so: I would gladly se it proued from euidence of scripture or good reason; for 1. I conceiue that as Christ Did only purchase: for vs our christian rights &liberties: so no state or gouerment: no body but himselfe may take vpon him to abridge vs of them; 2ly That no Ciuill misdemeanours can be iust cause to abridge vs of our christian libertie: 3ly That Diuisions in opinions or[H alters] a Church-way doe not necesarily conclude[H alters] Diuisions in a state: and Lastly such as doe actually Disturbe: the Ciuill state: the Publique peace: both [out? H deletes] <H: ought>: &may be punished euen vnto Death: without abridging such offenders: much lesse the Ciully innocent: in theire spirituall rights: &liberties: The vtmost extent &hight of Christians Differing in opinion which I euer hard of was this.
1 That they might haue leaue to search the scripturs: 2ly to try the spirits, examine the Doctrines: which were taught them: &so rejecting[H alters] errour: hold fast the truth: worshiping god in such a manner as he [requiers? altered]: with confirming &edifieing one another in all Pietie &godlynes for discharging of a good Consience: both towards god &man. If it be obiected that men may not worshipe god after a false manner

Vnder pretence of a true one: nor publish errours insted of truth: I answere: that nothing can be saueing truth: nor any kind of worshipping god proue acceptable from any man: which is not held to be such in his owne Consience &vnderstandinge: I submit myselfe to heare[H alters from here]: read: or to be informed in whatsoeuer shall be re-quiered of me: &it may on strong presumptions be/conceiued: that the sundry Disaduantages I ly vnder in disenting: with the many benefits I might receiue by conformeing: Doe make me no little willing &desireous that my very iudgment &Consience[altered from Consiences] could be brought about to approue: &agree in what the state establishes: so it might be with a good Consience towards god &man: but if after all this I shall professe in presence of the Lord that I doe not finde: euidence by all that was alleadged for conuinceing of my Consience: I Desire to see cleare grounds from scripture: on which any politicke[altered from polliticke] ends of state may any wayes proceede, to offer violence or any Degree of compulsiue meanes to worke vpon my Consience &vnderstanding, on which <H: such> spirituall as haue hitherto beene vsed were not able to preuaile: since such only we finde warrantable &santified in scripture to this effect.
[left margin: p 25] They should be so tolerated as may be no preiudice to that Church whereof the state it selfe is professedly a Nursing Mother.
I cannot aprehend how the sinilitude p. [25? altered] can can hold betweene a priuat Christian &a Publique State in many respects: I will trye onely in one: [H: vid. -- -- -- ]

Viz: a Publique state may at some tyme both haue &suffer thwarting, crosse[altered from crosses] or contrary opinions to be beleiued &yet subsist, though (if it were granted) not soe peaceably: not so securly as is obiected.[H punctuates] But[H capitalises] a priuat Christian cannot possibly at one &the same tyme beleeue two Diametrically opposite opinions to be true in the selfe same respect:
    I [with? H deletes] <H: wish> you would be pleased to state the Course and orderly Conference you/ speake of p. 26: which Doubtlesse all Independents will with you [letter deleted?] approue of.
I Doe not find it expressed in scripture that Christian maiestrats haue any thing to Doe in setting vp an outward visible worship vnder the Gospell: or that they can any wayes be furthering of it: except by giueing good example vnto others as being members of the Church: or in protecting the saints whilst they apply themselues to worship god: according to the integritye of theire owne Consiences in spirit &in truth, for since the Magistrats[H alters] weapons are coerciue: materiall, carnall,[H punctuates] if they take vpon them the vindication[altered] of spirituall neglect or defect: each State setting vp its owne, a different[H alters from differant] worship: men must from tyme to tyme take that to be the truest,[H alters from :] &subiect theire Consiences to that,[H punctuates] which has <H: the> sharpest sword to fight for it: still changeing Religion[H capitalises] according to the euent of war: with the sundry alterations of states &kingdomes. : And though I am not well satisfied with the expression you vse concerneing the Consience of a state: I suppose you will sufficiently apprehend me if I querie whether the

Consience of euery state can be accountable: &at the day of iudgment excuse all such as haue beene cast away through false worships: which they set vp in relation to theire owne consiences respectiuely: compelling the people to submit thereto: If[H capitalises] not: I querie againe if it be not an an argument of greatest indiscretion[H alters from indescretion] for reasonable men &women to resigne vp theire owne vnderstandings vnto such as cannot beare them harmelesse for so Doing: &of greatest presumption &tiranny in those who assume vnto themselues a spirituall Dominion ouer others whom they can neither giue a spirituall assurance to <H: at> present,[H alters from :] nor prouide for them if neede be a spirituall Deliuerance hereafter.
[left margin: p 28]   You say the Ciuill magistrat[H alters] may not meddle with what is spirituall: nor the spirituall Office[H capitalises] bearer with what is Ciuill: which I grant: &yet p 29: you say the Ciuill magistrat[H alters] must must haue the cognisance of the iust &orderly behauiour of those which doe administer Spirituall[H alters] ordinances: wherein I beseech you consider whether this be not a direct way of setting of the Ciuill and[H alters] spirituall[altered] Office[H capitalises] bearers at odds [letter deleted?] amongst themselues; as put the case the Ciuill magistrate[H alters] tells the spirituall that he has not well &orderly administered the Ordinances,[H capitalises and punctuates] admonishes[H alters from admonished] him to reforme,[H alters from :] &vpon refusall proceeds to punish him: on the Contrary, the spirituall magistrate[H alters] justifies himselfe: flyes to his spirituall weapons in his owne Defence: &if they prevayle not in likelihood, endeauours to stir vp the people against the Ciuill magistrat[H alters]: &how you:

: Can avoyde this greate Disturbance vpon these grounds I cannot possibly imagine; but much Desire to be informed thereof: if your leasure may permit: &that vpon further thoughts you: continue vpon the same opinion.
You make it lykewise within the Sphere of the Ciuill magistrate[H alters] to keepe people from choseing teachers according to there owne humours: theire owne vnderstandings: And Teachers from Drawing people after them: how is this I beseech you consistent[H alters from consistant] with the Liberty: nay the charge which is imposed[altered from impossed] vpon Christians for trying of the spirits: &holding fast that which is good: if they may not heare[H alters from here] such whome they apprehend to be sent from Christ: &embrace[H alters from imbrace] such Doctrines as they take to be saueing truthes: and necessary to theire saluation according to that hight of reason &vnderstanding in the scripturs: which god hath giuen them for this very purpose.
[left margin: p 36]   If those you call Common Principles (whilest you say the Apologists iustifieing[H deletes] <H: insisting> on generalities: cannot be brought to tryall) [left margin, H: NB] were Demonstratiue, as you aleadge the scriptures may be Demonstratiuely Analized[H capitalises] p: 4: I should thinke it the worke of some Angell to haue it once effected: &as well the Apologists as all others who now Differ in opinion: would quickly grow together in an vnity: of faith: but till then, shall expect: that according to the scripturs: there will be heresies: &in the meanetyme conceiue that nothing: except this demonstratiue Analizing[H capitalises] sacred truth: will sooner vanquish: then the suffereing them: to be with/all:

Possible freedome examined &Debated: which must [necessarily?] infer the most acknowledged truthes themselues: to be subiect to the same proceedings: in that what one man church or nation takes to be truth: an other perhaps accompts no lesse then heresie: &if Paule told the Galatians[H alters] that if a good Angell: an Angell from heauen should preach any other Gospell to them than what the Apostles had done before,[H punctuates] he should be accursed: I conceiue we may much more try the spirits of mortall men: of like passions &infirmitys[H alters] with our selues: consequently holding fast what we finde sound: &reiecting[H alters] what appeares to be erreoneous by the touch stone of holy writ, according to our owne reason vnderstanding &faith: since we neither may or can iudge truly of them: (no more then soe with the eyes of other men) by the reason vnderstanding &faith of others: neither can I apprehend a third or any meane betwixt those two Conditions[altered from Condittions].
[left margin: to p 30:]   I confesse a[altered from as] Disolued Gouerment: may often tymes proue dangerous &fatall to any state: both Ciuill &ecclesiasticall: &yet not so Dangerous nor fatall as a dominerring, ouer rigid, tirannicall Gouerment: especially in the spirituall state: &both of them are therefore to be regulated according to theire bounds &rules: If Church Discipline[H alters] &Censures will not preuaile on Church members: I find a[H deletes] <H: no> warrant to fly to Ciuill: but conceiue it highly condemned euen by that place of Pauls[H alters]: where he blames

The Corinthians for goeing to law with one another &that before vnbeleeuers: Besides all Ciuill states account themselues in a manner perfect for theire Ciuill condition[altered from condittion] &constitution: as first they are compleate in lawes: they haue as many as they will themselues: they pretend to vnderstand them fully euen to the least iote: &euery man is bound to know them exactly: &keepe them in the letter: But for Spirituall matters wee knowe but in parte &therefore [out? H deletes] <H: ought> to reach forth to what[altered] is wanting: not refuseing to lend an eare vnto it though tendered by a stammering illiterat tongue of some otherwise Despised soule: as all truth for the most part euen from the begining has beene Discountenanced: &reiected vppon the first Discouery[H alters] especially so much the rather in that the primitiue Christians how euer weake &ignorant in faith &knowledge: the Apostles found them: yet had they such amongst them in both respectes: as farre exceeded all others euer since: neither haue we such infallible Teachers like theirs to Confirme vnto vs what we haue for truth: or add vnto vs what is wantting.
[left margin: to p 31]   I must needes confesse the opinion of a greater light is no little Deceitfull: but Doth not god requier that we should walke according to such appeareing light; whether true or false: I must be guided by it as it appeares vnto my selfe: &how can god be angrie with me for serueing him to my power: or how can men condemne me for Differing from him: when I haue vsed

All [such rationall? altered, H underlines] <H: such rational> common principles which he could prescribe to bringe me <H: to bee> of this opinion: without preuaileing vppon my Consience: you say well with the Apostle: that if any man thinketh he knoweth any thing he knoweth nothing: yet as he ought to know: 1 Cor 8: 2 <H: and> yet a man must be ruled by that which he thus <H: but> thinkes to know: so much lesse ground has any man to impose what he knowes not (for euen his knowledge neither is no better) vpon an other who knoweing nothing: yet knows as much as himselfe: nay a Synod[H alters] Counsell or state: haue so little preheminence in this respect: as that we must not looke vppon them with[altered] respect of persons: vnlesse we will Iustifie the Church of Rome in [there? altered] implicit faith.
[left margin: p 32] You aproue: the resting[H underlines] <H: casting> of subiection &absolute obedience vnto Episcopacie: but would not haue Disolued the brotherly correspondencie in a Presbitery[H alters from presbytary]: &Certainly it should not be: but it must then continue brotherly: we must run hand in hand like brothers so long as we can keepe a good consience both towards god &man: &if afterwards vpon iust grounds in our opinions, for some respects: we are found[H deletes] <H: forced> to separate[H alters] from them: wee shall be yet Desirous to rest amonge them, that if possible they may be won by a godly conuersation: but if like a curst father: or imperous maister they indeauour with rodds &stanes to driue vs from our father: &maister which is heauen:

Or from our natiue Country: frends &liuelyhoods they doe not onely cease to be brotherly: but cast away all hopes or possibility of reclaimeing[altered] vs if wee were in an errour.
[left margin: p 34]   You make Deutyes of practise no lesse fundamentall in the profession of Christianity then the knowledge of necessary truthes according vnto which principle I suppose the Apologists ought to be permitted[altered] both to practise such Dutyes: as they apprehend requisite: ¬ to joyne in[altered] such[altered] as they esteeme superfluous, erronneous: since both may be no lesse of faith: then for one that eateth: &another that eateth not: whilst both giue thankes to god: as Paule sayes of them Rom 14: 6:
[left margin: to p. 37]   As they will not refuse subiection to theire owne pastor[altered from pastors] that has the Charge of theire soules: so much lesse when what he requiers of them be confirmed[altered] by the approbation of a Presbetery[H alters from Presbytary] other churches or brethren: but this must be in such[H alters] things as they may yeeld vnto with a good Consience: &in case they find reason for dissenting[H alters]: they are lyable only to be censured by theire owne church which has power ouer them: not by any others who haue no Iurisdiction much lesse authoritatiue[H alters from authoritiue] or [compulsiue? altered] Synods[H alters] &Assemblyes[H capitalises] may well <H: bee> convocated &take counsell: Debate &seeke to vanquish such Dificultyes as arise without a magisteriall[H alters] Iurisdiction: which neither our sauiour or his Apostles did euer make vse of: or giue command to others to practise it

It[H alters] in after ages: Christ Kingdome was not of this world his body is misticall: &such meanes only are capable to build vs vp therein.
Thus haue I presumed in as weake: as cursorie a manner to weigh the forgoeing passages of your Epistolarie Discourse in <H: the> vnequall ballance: like enough: of my owne vnderstanding: but proceeding entirely[H alters from Intirely] from a Desire of being better informed in what I am [all? H deletes] <H: at> a losse: I Doubt not but your singular[H alters] candidnes of mynd will make a good interpretation of it.
    The settling[H alters] of an Ecclesiasticall Peace I apprehend to be of such eminent weight &consideration: as that without it Christians will neuer in any comparatiue Degree be brought to a vnity in Disipline and Doctrine: &that more soules are kept[H alters] from knowledge of the truth &miscarrie through persecutinge one another: for cause of Consience: then by reason of all other such great Differences[H alters] betwixt them: whether for Disipline or Doctrine. if you
If you haue published any of your other thoughts concerning this subiect besids your Consultatio Theologica etc letter to the Lord Forbes [left margin, H: NB] &your Informatio Ecclesiis[altered] Reformatis Oblata etc &I should exceedingly reioyce to haue a sight thereof: &especially touching the Demonstratiue Analzinge[H capitalises] the Scriptures: which I conceiue would be a greater Iewell: then all that euer Salomon[H alters from Solomon] wrote[H alters] of:

From the Ceder to the Shrub[H alters]. Where <H: fore> I most humbly beseech you for the [Publique? altered] good: that you would not suffer the least Dram of your Meditations in this behalfe any longer to ly vaste[H alters from vast] or Dormant: which though it were not yet perfect &Compleate: might by Degrees: &contemplations of others well affected[H alters]: be further improued: to the eternall honour of the Almighty: to whose gratious protection I cordially recommend your most pious Indeauours: &to them most earnestly Desireing to become any wayes subseruient: doe in all humble manner remaine
                                Your most Devoted
                                frend &seruant in
                                     the Lord
                                Henry Robinson
London the 8th
  of nouember 1644
To the Reverend and much Honoured
     Mr Iohn Dury. present these

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