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KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, AND THE DOMINIONS THEREUNTO
ROBERT BARCLAY, A Servant of JESUS CHRIST, called of God to the
Dispensation of the Gospel now again revealed, and, after a long and dark Night of Apostacy, commanded to be preached to all Nations, wisheth
Health and Salvation. As the condition of kings and princes placeth 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 inquired 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 last 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 befell 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 justly be 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 reproof of instruction, which is the way of life; and they evilly entreated 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 ploughshares, 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 entreated therefore: and they faith
fully 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 entreatings 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