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pos'd by the Philiftims, not to be allow'd the sharpning of our own axes and coulters, but we must repair from all quarters to twenty licencing forges. Had any one writt'n and divulg'd erroneous things & fcandalous to honest life, misusing and forfeiting the esteem had of his reason among men, if after convic. tion this only censure were adjudg'd him, that he should never henceforth write, but what were first examin’d by an appointed officer, whose hand should be annext to passe his credit for him, that now he might be safely read, it could not be apprehended lesse then a disgracefull punishment. Whence to in. clude the whole Nation, and those that never yet thus offended, under such a diffident and suspectfull prohibition, may plainly be understood what a disparagement it is. So much the more, when as dettors and delinquents may walk abroad without a keeper, but unoffenfive books must not stirre forth without a visible jaylor in thir title. Nor is it to the common people lefse then a reproach ; for if we be so jealous over them, as that we dare not trust them with an English pamphlet, what doe we but censure them for a giddy; vitious, and ungrounded people; in such a fick and weak estaté of faith and discrétion, as to be able to take nothing down but through the pipe of a licencer? That this is care or love of them, we cannot pretend, whenas in those. Popish places
where the Laity are most hated and dispis’d the same strictnes is us’d over them. Wisdom we cannot call it, because it stops but one breach of licence, nor that neither; when as those corruptions which it seeks to prevent, break in fafter at other dores which cannot be shut.
And in conclufion it reflects to the disrepute of our Ministers also, of whose labours we should hope better, and of the proficiencie which thir flock reaps by them, then that after all this light of the Gospel which is, and is to be, and all this continuall preaching, they should be still frequented with such an unprincipl’d, unedify'd, and laick rabble, as that the whiffe of every new pamphlet should stagger them out of thir cate
chism, 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 turn'd loose to three sheets of paper without a licencer, that all the Sermons, all the Lectures preacht, printed, vented in such numbers, and such volumes, as have now well-nigh made all other books unsalable, should not be armor anough against one fingle enikiridion, without the castle St. Angelo of an Imprimatur.
And left forn should perswade ye, Lords and Commons, that these arguments of lerned mens discouragement at this your order, are meer flourishes, and
not reall, I could recount what I have seen and heard in other Countries, where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes ; when I have fat
for that honor I had, and bin counted happy to be born in such a place of Philosophic freedom, as they suppos’d England was, while themselves did nothing but bemoan the servil condition into which Jerning amongst thein was brought; that this was it which had dampt the glory of Italian wits; that nothing had bin there writt'n now these many years but flattery and fustian. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisner to the Inquifition, for thinking in Astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican