John Lilburne: The freeman's freedom vindicated

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The freeman's freedom vindicated
[John Lilburne, 16 June 1646]

A postscript, containing a general proposition

God, the absolute sovereign lord and king of all things in heaven and earth, the original fountain and cause of all causes; who is circumscribed, governed, and limited by no rules, but doth all things merely and only by His sovereign will and unlimited good pleasure; who made the world and all things therein for His own glory; and who by His own will and pleasure, gave him, His mere creature, the sovereignty (under Himself) over all the rest of His creatures (Genesis 1: 26, 28-9) and endued him with a rational soul, or understanding, and thereby created him after His own image (Genesis 1: 26-7; 9: 6). The first of which was Adam, a male, or man, made out of the dust or clay; out of whose side was taken a rib, which by the sovereign and absolute mighty creating power of God was made a female or woman called Eve: which two are the earthly, original fountain, as begetters and bringers-forth of all and every particular and individual man and woman that ever breathed in the world since; who are, and were by nature all equal and alike in power, dignity, authority, and majesty — none of them having (by nature) any authority, dominion or magisterial power, one over or above another. Neither have they or can they exercise any but merely by institution or donation, that is to say by mutual agreement or consent — given, derived, or assumed by mutual consent and agreement — for the good benefit and comfort each of other, and not for the mischief, hurt, or damage of any: it being unnatural, irrational, sinful, wicked and unjust for any man or men whatsoever to part with so much of their power as shall enable any of their parliament-men, commissioners, trustees, deputies, viceroys, ministers, officers or servants to destroy and undo them therewith. And unnatural, irrational, sinful, wicked, unjust, devilish, and tyrannical it is, for any man whatsoever — spiritual or temporal, clergyman or layman — to appropriate and assume unto himself a power, authority and jurisdiction to rule, govern or reign over any sort of men in the world without their free consent; and whosoever doth it — whether clergyman or any other whatsoever — do thereby as much as in them lies endeavour to appropriate and assume unto themselves the office and sovereignty of God (who alone doth, and is to rule by His will and pleasure), and to be like their creator, which was the sin of the devils', who, not being content with their first station but would be like God; for which sin they were thrown down into hell, reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgement of the great day (Jude verse 6). And Adam's sin it was, which brought the curse upon him and all his posterity, that he was not content with the station and condition that God created him in, but did aspire unto a better and more excellent — namely to be like his creator — which proved his ruin. Yea, and indeed had been the everlasting ruin and destruction of him and all his, had not God been the more merciful unto him in the promised Messiah (Genesis 3).

From my cock-loft in the Press Yard, Newgate[1] 19 June 1646. Per me[2] John Lilburne


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