Written by that reverend divine, Doctor Holdisworth, a little before his death; and by him desired to be brought to public view. This is set in Old English. © APM & Puritan Publications, October 2005
An Answer without a Question: Or, The Late Schismatic Petition For a Diabolical Toleration Of Several Religions Expounded
Being presented to the Juncto at Westminster, August 16, 1646 by Colonel Pride, and Lieutenant Colonel Goffe, and Others; by the Appointment of the Lord Fairfax their General
With some observations upon the mystery of their iniquity; and the Juncto’s answer thereto.
Written by that reverend divine, Doctor Holdisworth,a little before his death; and by him desired to be brought to public view.
London, printed in the blessed year of the admission of the Turkish Alcoran into this kingdom, 1649.
An Answer Without a Question: Or, the Late Schismatic Petition Expounded.
When I first looked upon the simply profane title of that impious petition which the two-horned beast presented to the seven-headed monster at Westminster, I could do no less than deride their simplicity, and condemn their insufferable demand for a diabolical toleration: Certainly it was penned by that pragmatic fellow, Colonel Pride the Devil’s secretary, who being deserted by the other six deadly sins (who are gone with Cromwell) in a melancholy, proceeding from a choleric rather than a suspicious humor, wrote this presumptuous and damnable command, disguising it with the hackney Robes of a petition, and leading Tom indifferent by the nose, let him see it through his fingers, who, poor fool (being used to it) according to his breeding, signed it: But to speak truth, Fairfax that necessary evil was a fool, and Pride that nominal and natural Devil, proved himself a knave: the one for not looking on it but with another man’s spectacles; the other for cheating him and the world by his hypocritically humble petition, and pretended spirit of faith and supplication: But he doth not only seek to cheat men, but to mock God, he would put a trick upon his Divine Majesty, by fathering that upon him, which he never intended, as that the victory (if they had one) was given by God to them in Ireland, as the fruit of that faith and supplication which God hath poured forth on the hearts of the people, to the bringing down the common enemy, etc. when it is evident, that whatever they have done since these wars, hath proceeded from our sins as the causa sine qua non, and not from their righteousness: I confess they be God’s servants, but no otherwise then Nebuchadnezzar was, to punish the Israelites, and then God will punish him: but how impudently they persevere in their profane expressions! taking the Lord’s name in vain, by dissembling that they fight under his banner, and that by the same power and presence that hath made bare his arm in the late victory, wickedly intimating that God fought for them and their Joshua at Dublin, they tender to this conventicle their annexed proposals as full of heresy and blasphemy as this exordium is of hypocrisy.
First they condemn those which sometimes they hold infallible, of a crime, in making ordinances of Parliament (which indeed were the best that ever they made) whereby many conscientious people are much molested, etc. meaning that by those ordinances, sectaries and heretics, whom they term conscientious people, were hindered from dispersing their damnable tenets: but see how they sport with God, engaging him in every business, that the spirit of Christ flowing forth in his servants for the declaring his name in the nation, may not be suppressed, but receive all due encouragement: What fair pretences these imposters have? Such as would deceive the very elect if it were possible: but their actions are so contrary to their expressions, that anyone may perceive they make heaven their pander, earth their bawdyhouse, and the Devil their servant, who hath endeavored such a toleration in many kingdoms, but could never prevail till now he found how devoted the whore of England was to him, he hath gotten what he looked for, which makes him not doubt of good success: for having once sowed this seed, he shall ever after have a great crop, besides he is in hope that these his servants by his help, may bring other countries to it in a year or two, which he in almost two thousand years could not do: But now to their second proposal.
Secondly, and because we are sensible, that through the subtlety of Satan, etc. surely the Devil gave them leave to abuse him, or else they durst not be so disobediently wicked as to speak against their own father: but if they displease him in these, they please him in the following lines: and make the worst of it, they do but break his head, and presently give him a plaster far better than a mountebank’s balsam, which comes in just as the Devil would have it, we therefore from our hearts do humbly declare, that it is not our meaning, that the liberty before desired by us should extend to the toleration of Popery, prelacy, the Book of Common-Prayer, etc. This reconciles the Devil unto them, for now he finds that all their intentions, words, and actions, tend to the exaltation of his kingdom: for although Popery be excluded, yet he is fully recompensed in the abolishing of prelacy and uniformity: Besides, one heresy is more profitable to him than a thousand Papistic fopperies: For he will suddenly bring in as many heresies as houses, and as many opinions as there be people: to add to the number, he hath got leave, that a servant of his, a saint of the last edition, should translate that academy of heresies, the Turkish Alcoran, which in the days of Queen Elizabeth, King James, and King Charles of blessed memory, was treason in anyone to transport hither, much less translate: and that it might be more vendible and acceptable, all the gross absurdities are left out, as a learned and holy man of this kingdom hath observed.
The Turkish Alcoran saith he is abroad, but that the reader may not be abused, let him know, that all the most gross, absurd, ridiculous blasphemies, and impossible fictions which were wont to make that wicked volume justly odious to the world, are left out in the English translation; for my part I know not how to construe it, but as done in too much favor to the Muhammadan misreligion: the pretence of the error must be this, the English translator follows the version of a Frenchman, too much it seems interested in the Turkish Court, for being employed from the French king as his agent at Constantinople, was likewise re-employed by the Turk into France, and taking upon him to translate this worthy work as he calls it, out of the Arabic, thought fit (for what ends he knew best) to take the best, and leave the worst: Know this reader, and resolve that thou canst not enough hate that pack of Muhammadan fopperies, which chiefly aim at the disparagement of thy Savior, and the de-crying of the blessed Trinity.
Thus far the observator gives his censure of the Alcoran: Now I will leave this to the impartial reader to judge what a medley of religions we shall have: Amsterdam must be beholding to us, as we have been formerly to them, for new opinions: we shall be as much cried-up for rarities of religion, as the Frenchmen for fashions; as for the Socinians, Nestorians, Arians, etc. they will look like old-fashioned doublets: we must have the German Anabaptist, the Scottish Presbyter, and the English Independent, the epitome of heresy.
But now they stop up this gap of iniquity with some pretended sprigs of righteousness: viz. We further desire, that through your care and zeal, all open acts of profaneness, as drunkenness, swearing, uncleanness, etc. be vigorously proceeded against and punished in all persons whatsoever. But this they do for their profit and recreation, and not out of any godly principle, for by this, the increase of the rich men’s sins will be the augmentation of the saints’ wealth; and the misdemeanors of the poor, will be the recreation of the rich; so that as heretofore they have prospered by the Devil’s help, by their own wickedness, they shall hereafter grow rich by the sins of the people.
Now that they may seem to be as merciful as severe, they desire that which the other dare not deny, and with their accustomed profaneness thus go on, that upon the sense of this great mercy lately received from God, your hearts will be moved to extend your favor so far as may stand with the safety of this present government, to those who have formerly served you, etc. Still they reiterate Monk’s lie, the great victory that the annals of the saints boasts of in Ireland, and therefore as a manifestation of their joy, they should set free the spirit of contradiction, Lilburn and his bastards the Levellers, which I wish they may do, that those firebrands may burn up all the blocks and loggerheads of the three kingdoms: But I believe foolish Jack Presbyter may wait long enough for this day of deliverance; for they mean (by those that have formerly served them) none but the generation of vipers and Levellers: but these drops of mercy end in a shower of cruelty, for after they have pleaded for their brethren in iniquity, they furiously demand, that for the future, all disturbers of the public peace be vigorously proceeded against: This thundering sentence is like a pedagogue’s menaces, you shall be whipped if you do so any more: But I dare swear, if Jack Lilburn and his Confederates once get loose, they will not fear to play truant, and perhaps before Christmas will shut their masters out of the school, and vigorously proceed against them, as the disturbers of the public peace: but now (that they may be the better thought of by the community) they like public persons desire, that speedy considerations may be had of those great oppressions which the people of this nation groan under by reason of the multiplicity of unnecessary laws, etc. This were a good request if cordial, especially if they would stand to the performance of it: For first, all those unnecessary waste papers, ads and ordinances made by this heretical Parliament, should be recalled, and then these caterpillars of the kingdom (which be the greatest oppressors that ever people groaned under) should be taken away.
But now I come to the Juncto’s answer.
The officers after the reading of the same, were called in, and master speaker in the name of the house gave them thanks, and in particular for the petition.
They durst not do otherwise: lest they undertake if they had demanded five of the most innocent in the house to be delivered to them to suffer condign punishment, they should have them with all their hearts; and therefore in such a thing as this is, they must needs consent; for they would if they durst, long before this, have voted not only diversity of religions, but variety of gods, and plurality of wives.
Thus they combine with Hell to disenthrone
The King of Heaven, as they have done their own:
Nor ever will they quiet be, until
With Lucifer, they be flung down to Hell.