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Jan 4, 1649

A Fiery Flying Roll: The Angels of Levelling

Coppe cites the words and deeds of God’s great levelling angels as part of his own personal inspiration.

Editor’s Note

Coppe begins Chapter Two of his Fiery Flying Roll with a few pieces of advice to those who would rule over the Earth—a last warning to the Parliamentarians who usurped royal authority without any intention of dismantling it. Coppe warns of the very things Parliament’s lordly members feared most: levelling forces of all kinds. Whether by swift, bloody violence or (probably also bloody) reformist revolution, “The Eternall God, the mighty Leveller is comming.” Ultimately, no amount of elite pleading, no amount of class repentance will do, no sort of resistance is possible—God will have his due and justice will be done whether those nominally in charge like it or not. Their claims and pretensions to power are merely that, and God’s grant of individual autonomy and liberty cannot be abrogated by worldly power. Coppe laments the state of the oppressed poor, especially those confined to prisons and other state torture-centers, those weighed down by taxation, regulation, and restrictions to entry of a thousand kinds.

Coppe’s Ranter screed reflects the wide range of libertarian, commonist interests and concerns that motivated dissenters of every stripe during the English Civil Wars and Commonwealth period. Noting that, “Filthy blinde Sodomites called Angels men, they seeing no further then the forms of men,” he goes on to claim that “There are Angels (now) come downe from Heaven, in the shapes and forms of men, who are full of the vengeance of the Lord.” Angels, perhaps, like himself. These righteous antinomian lights would “poure out the plagues of God upon the Earth, and…torment the Inhabitants thereof,” or at least the genteel and aristocratic. Ranters were not raving murderers nor anyone’s sycophantic followers. “Some of these Angels I have been acquainted withal,” Coppe wrote, “And I have looked upon them as Devils, accounting them Devils incarnate, and have run from place to place, to hide my self from them, shunning their company; and have been utterly ashamed when I have been seen with them.” Denying divine truth, revealed through the actions of those devilish antinomians, brought Coppe misery and torment “beyond expression.” Early Modernity’s torturous treatment of common people was bad enough that a little plague now and then may have looked like salvation to some.

Anthony Comegna, PhD
Assistant Editor for Intellectual History

CHAP 2.

Containing severall new, strange, yet seasonable Admonitions, and good advice; as the last warning to the Great Ones of the Earth. from the Lord.

  1. Thus saith the Lord: Be wise now therefore, O ye Rulers, &c. Be instructed, &c. Kisse the Sunne, &c. Yea, kisse Beggers, Prisoners, warme them, feed them, cloathe them,  money them, relieve them, release them, take them into your houses, don’t serve them as dogs, without doore, &c.

Owne them, they are flesh of your flesh, your owne brethren, your owne Sisters, every whit as good (and if I should stand in competition with you) in some degrees better then your selves.

  1. Once more, I say, own them; they are your self, make them one with you, or else go howling into hell; howle for the miseries that are comming upon you, howle.

The very shadow of levelling, sword-levelling, man-levelling, frighted you, (and who, like your selves, can blame you, because it shook your Kingdome?) but now the substantiality of levelling is coming.

The Eternall God, the mighty Leveller is comming, yea come, even at the doors; and what will you do in that day.

Repent, repent, repent, Bow down, bow down, bow, or howle, resigne, or be damned; Bow downe, bow downe, you sturdy Oakes, and Cedars, bow downe.

Veile too, and kisse the meaner shrubs. Bow, or else (by my self saith the Lord) Ile breake you in pieces (some of you) others I will teare up by the roots; I will suddenly deale with you all, some in one way, some in another. Wherefore

                Each Begger that you meet

                Fall down before him, kisse him in the Street.

Once more, he is thy brother, thy fellow, flesh of thy flesh.

Turne not away thine eyes from thine owne FLESH, least I pull out thine eyes and throw thee headlong into hell.

  1. Mine eares are filled, brim full with cryes of poore prisoners, Newgate, Ludgate cryes (of late) are seldome out of mine eares. Those dolefull cryes, Bread, bread, bread for the Lords sake, pierce mine eares, and heart, I can no longer forbeare.

Werefore high you a pace to all prisons in the Kingdome,

  1. Bow before those poore, nasty, lousie, ragged wretches, say to them, your humble servants, Sirs, (without a complement) we let you go free, and serve you, &c.

Do this (or as I live saith the Lord) thine eyes (at least) shall be boared out; and thou carried captive into a strange Land.

  1. Give over, give over, thy odious, nasty, abominable fasting, for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickednesse. And instead thereof, loose the bands of wickednesse, undo the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and breake every yoake. Deale thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poore that are cast out (both of houses and Synagogues) to thy house. Cover the naked: Hide not thy self from thine owne flesh, from a creeple, a rogue, a begger, he’s thine own flesh. From a Whoremonger, a thief, &c. he’s flesh of thy flesh, and his theft, and whoredome is flesh of thy flesh also, thine owne flesh. Thou maist have ten, times more of each within thee, then he that acts outwardly in either. Remember, turn not away thine eyes from thine OWN FLESH.
  2. Give over, give over thy midnight mischief.

Let branding with the letter B. alone.

Be no longer so horridly, hellishly, impudently, arrogantly, wicked, as to judge what is sinne, what not, what evill, and what not, what blasphemy, and what not.

For thou and all thy reverend Divines, so called (who Divine for Tythes, hire, and money, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ for their owne bellyes) are ignorant of this one thing.

  1. That sinne and transgression is finisht, its a meere riddle, that they, with all their humane learning can never reade.

Neither can they understand what pure honour is wrapt up in the Kings Motto, Honi Soit qui Mal y Pense. Evill to him that evill thinks.

Some there are (who are accounted the off scouring of all things) who are Noble Knights of the Garter. Since which – they could see no evill, thinke no evill, doe no evill, know no evill.

ALL is Religion that they Speake, and honour that they do.

  1. But all you that eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and have not your Evill eye Pickt out, you call Good Evill, and Evill Good; Light Darknesse, and Darknesse Light; Truth Blasphemy, and Blasphemy Truth.

And you are at this time of your Father the Devill, and of your brother the Pharisee, who still say of Christ (who is now alive) say we not well that he hath a Devill.

  1. Take heed, take heed, take heed.

Filthy blinde Sodomites called Angels men, they seeing no further then the forms of men.

  1. There are Angels (now) come downe from Heaven, in the shapes and forms of men, who are full of the vengeance of the Lord; and are to poure out the plagues of God upon the Earth, and to torment the Inhabitants thereof.

Some of these Angels I have been acquainted withal.

And I have looked upon them as Devils, accounting them Devils incarnate, and have run from place to place, to hide my self from them, shunning their company; and have been utterly ashamed when I have been seen with them.

But for my labour; I have been plagued and tormented beyond expression. So that now I had rather behold one of those Angels pouring out the plagues of God, cursing; and teaching others to curse bitterly.

And had rather beare a mighty Angell (in man) swearing a full-mouthd Oath; and see the spirit of Nehemiah (in any form of man, or woman) running upon an unclean Jew (a pretended Saint) and tearing the haire of his head like a mad man, cusing, and making others fall a sweating, then heare a zealous Presbyterian, Independent, or spirituall Notionist, pray, preach, or exercise.

  1. Well! To the pure all things are pure. God hath so cleared cursing, swearing, in some, that that which goes for swearing and cursing in them, is more glorious then praying and preaching in others.

And what God hath cleaned, call not thou uncleane.

And if Peter prove a great transgressor of the Law, by doing that which was as odious as killing a man; if he at length (though he beloath at first) eat that which was common or unclean, &c. (I give but a hint) blame him not, much lesse lift up a finger against, or plant a hellish Ordinance – against him, least thou be plagued, and damned too, for thy zeale, blinde Religion, and fleshy holinesse, which now stinks above ground, though formerly it had a good favour.

  1. But O thou holy, zealous, devout, righteous, religious one (whoever thou art) that seest evill, or any thing uncleane; do thou sweare, if thou darest, if it be but (l’saith) I’le throw thee to Hell for it (saith the Lord) and laugh at thy destruction.

While Angels (in the forme of men) shall sweare, Heart, Blood, Wounds, and by the Eternall God, &c. in profound purity, and in high Honour, and Majesty.

  1. Well! one hint more; there’s swearing ignorantly, i’th darke, vainely, and there’s swearing i’th light, gloriously.

Well ! man of the earth! Lord Esau ! what has thou to do with those who sweare upon the former account?

Vengeance is mine, Judgement, Hell, Wrath, &c. all is mine (saith the Lord; dare not thou to set thy foot so impudently and arrogantly upon one step of my Throne: I am Judge my self – be wise, give over, have done –

  1. And as for the latter sort of swearing, thou knowest it not when thou hearest it. It’s no new thing for thee to call Christ Beelzebub, and Beelzebub Christ; to call a holy Angell a Devill, and a Devill an Angell.
  2. I charge thee (in the name of the Eternall God) meddle not with either, let the Trees alone, least thou pull up the Wheat also, woe be to thee if thou dost. Let both alone (I say ) least thou shouldest happen of a holy swearing Angell, and takes a Lion by the paw to thine owne destruction.

Never was there such a time since the world stood, as now is.

Thou knowest not the strange appearances of the Lord, now a daies. Take heed, know thou hast been warned.

  1. And whatever thou dost, dip not thy little finger in blood any more, thou art up to the elbowes already: Much sope, yea much nitre cannot cleanse thee, &c.

Much more have I to say to thee (saith the Lord) but I will do it secretly; and dart a quiver full of arrowes into thy heart; and I will now charge thee.

 

CHAP 3.

Containing severall dismall, dolefull cryes, and outcries, which pierce the eares and heart of his Excellent Majesty, the King of Kings. And how the King of Heaven chargeth the Great Ones of the Earth.

  1. Thus saith the Lord, Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord; be silent; O, lofty, haughty, great ones of the Earth.

There are so many Bills of Indictment preferred against thee, that both heaven and earth b[l]ush thereat.

How long shall I heare the sighs and groanes, and see the teares of poore widowes; and heare curses in every corner; and all sorts of people crying out oppression, oppression, tyranny, tyranny, the worst of tyranny, unheard of, unnaturall tyranny.

—- Oh my back, my shoulders. O Tythes, Excize, Taxes, Pollings, &c. O Lord! O Lord God Almighty!

What, a little finger heavier then former loynes?

What have I engaged my goods, my life, &c. forsook my dearest relations, and all for liberty and true freedome, for freedome from oppression, and more laid on my back, &c.

  1. Mine eares are filled brim full with confused noise, cries, and outcries; O the innumerable complaints and groanes that pierce my heart (thorow and thorow) O astonishing complaints.

Was ever the like ingratitude heard of since the world stood? What! best friends, surest friends, slighted, scorned, and that which cometh from them (in the basest manner) condemned, and some rewarded with prisons, some with death?

O the abominable persidiousnesse, falseheartednesse, self-seeking, self-inriching, and Kingdome-depopulating, and devastating, &c.

These, and divers of the same nature, are the cries of England.

And can I any longer forbeare?

I have heard, I have heard, the groaning of my people. And now I come to deliver them, saith the Lord.

Woe be to the Pharaoh King of Egypt.

You Great Ones that are not tackt nor tainted, you may laugh and sing, whom this hitteth it hitteth. And it shall hit home.

And this which followeth, all whom it concerneth, by what name or title soever dignified or distinguished.

  1. You mostly hate those (called Levellers) who (for ought you know) acted as they did out of the sincerity, simplicity, and fidelity of their hearts; fearing least they should come under the notion of Covenant breakers, if they did not so act.

Which if so, then were they most barbarously, unnaturally, hellishly murdered; and they died Martyrs for God and their Countrey.

And their blood cries vengeance, vengeance, in mine ears, saith the Lord.

  1. Well I let it be how it will; these Levellers (so called) you mostly hated, though in outward declarations you owned their Tenents as your owne Principle.

So you mostly hate me (saith the Lord) though in outward declarations your professe me, and seeme to owne me, more then a thousand whom you despise, and account worse than yourselves, who are nearer the Kingdome of Heaven then your selve.

You have killed Levellers (so called) you also (with wicked hands) have slain me the Lord of life, who am now risen, and risen indeed, (and you shall know, and feele it with a witnesse) to Levell you in good earnest. And to lay low all high hills, and every mountaine that is high, and lifted up, &c.

  1. Well! Once more, read Jam 5.1 to 7 – Ye have killed the just – Ye have killed, ye have killed, ye have killed the just.

The blood cryeth in mine eares, Vengence, vengeance, vengeance, vengeance is mine, I will recompence.

Well! What will you do with Bray, and the poore prisoners elsewhere? You know not what you do.

You little know what will become of you.

One of you had best remember your dream about your Fathers Moule –

  1. Neither do I forget the one hundred spent in superfluous dishes (at your late great London Feast, for I know what – when hundreds of poore wretches dyed with hunger.

I have heard a sound in mine eares, that no lessse then a hundred died in one week, pined, and starved with hunger.

Howle you great ones, for all that feast daies dole, &c. heare your doome.

 

Chap. IV

How the Judge of Heaven and Earth, who judgeth righteous judgement, passeth Sentence against all those Great Ones, who (like Oakes and tall Cedars) will not bow. And how he intends to blow them up by the roots.

  1. Thus saith the Lord: All you tall Cedars, and sturdy Oakes, who bow not down, who bow not down – This sentence is gone out of my mouth against you, MENE, MENE, TEKEL.

Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

God hath numbred thy Kingdome, and finished it.

And thou, and all that joyne with thee, or all (in the least degree) accessary to thy former, or like intended pranks, shall most terribly and most strangely be plagued;

  1. There is a little sparke lies under (that huge heap of ashes) all thine honour, pomp, pride, wealth, and riches, which shall utterly consume all that is uppermost, as it is written.

The Lord, the Lord of Hosts, shall send among his fat ones, lamenesse; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning, like the burning of a fire, and the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his holy one for a flame, and it shall burne and devoure his thornes, and his briers in one day.

And shall consume the glory of his Forrest, and of his fruitfull field, both soule and body (i.e. this shall be done inwardly and outwardly, and shall be fulfilled both in the history and mystery) and the rest of the trees of his Forrest shall be few, that a childe may write them.

And the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, shall lop the bough with terror, and the high ones of stature shall be hewen down, and the haughty shall be humbled, And he shall cut down the thickets of the Forrest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one, Isa. 10.

  1. Behold, behold, I have told you.

Take it to heart, else you repent every veine of your heart.

For your own sakes take heed.

Its my last warning.

For the cryes of the poore, for the oppression of the needy. For the horrid insolency of proud man, who will dare to sit in my throne, and judge unrighteous judgement.

Who will dare to touch mine Annoynted, and do my Prophets harme.

For these things sake (now) am I arisen, said the Lord,

                In Auxilum Patris.


Chap. V.

  1. O London, London, my bowels are rolled together (in me) for thee, and my compassions within me, are kindled towards thee.

And now I onely tell thee, that it was not in vaine that this forme hath been brought so farre to thee, to proclaime the day of the Lord throughout thy streets, day and night, for twelve or thirteen days together.

And that I have been made such a signe, and a wonder before many of thine Inhabitants faces.

  1. Many of them (among other strange exploits) beholding me, fall down flat at the feet of creeples, beggers, lazars, kissing their feet, and resigning up my money to them; being  severall times over emptied of money, that I have not had one penny left, and yet have recruited againe –
  2. And now my hearts! you have been fowardly in all the appearances of God,

There is a strange one (now on foot) judge it not, least you be judged with a vengeance.

  1. Turne not away your eyes from it, least you (to your torment) heare this voice – I was a Stranger, and ye tooke me not in. Well I bow down before Eternall Majesty, who is universall love, bow down to equality, or free community, that no more of your blood be spilt; that pride, arrogance, covetuousnesse, malice, hypocrisie, self-seeking, &c. may live no longer. Else I tremble at whats comming upon you.

Remember you have been warned with a witnesse.

                Deare hearts Farewell.

 

 

CHAP VI.

A terrible word, and fatall blow from the Lord, upon the gathered Churches (so called) especially upon those that are stiled Anabaptists.

  1. He that an eare to heare, let him hear what the Spirit saith against the Churches.

Thus saith the Lord: woe be to thee Bethaven, who called thy selfe by the name Bethel, it shall be more tollerable (now in the day of judgment, for Tyre and Sydon, for those whom thou accountest, and callest Heathens, then for thee.

  1. And thou proud Lucifer, who exalted thy self above all the Stars of God in heaven, shalt be brought down into hell; it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, for drunkards and whoremongers, then for thee. Publicans and Harlots shall, Publicans and Harlots do sooner enter into the Kingdome of heaven, then you.

I’le give thee this fatall blow, and leave thee.

  1. Thou hast affronted, and defied eh Almighty, more than the vilest of men (upon the face of the earth) and that so much the more, by how much the more thou takest upon thee the name of Saint, and assumes it to thy self onely, damning all those that are not of thy Sect.
  2. Wherefore be it knowne to all Tongues, Kinreds, Nations, and languages upon earth, That my most Excellent Majesty, the King of glory, the Eternall God, who dwelleth in the forme of the Writer of this Roll (among many other strange and great exploits) hath i’th open streets, with his hand fiercely stretcht out, his hat cockt up, his eyes set as if they would sparkle out, and with a mighty loud voice charged 100 of Coaches, 100 of men and women of the greater ranke, and many notorious, deboist, swearing, roystering roaring Cavalliers (so called) and other wilde sparks of the Gentry: And have proclaimed the notable day of the Lord to them, and that through the streets of the great Citie, and in Southwark; Many times great muiltitudes following him up and down, and this for the space of 12, or 13 dayes: And yet (all this while) not one of them lifting up one finger, not touching one haire of his head, or laying one hand on his raiment.

But many, yea many notorious vile ones, in the esteeme of men (yea of great quality among men) trembling and bowing to the God of heaven, &c.

But when I came to proclaim (also) the great day of the Lord (among you) O ye carnall Gospellers.

The Devill (in you) roared out, who was tormented to some purpose, though not before his time.

He there shewed both his phangs and pawes, and would have torn me to pieces, and have eaten me up. Thy pride, envy, malice, arrogance, &c. was powred out like a river of Brimstone, crying out, a Blasphemer, a Blasphemer, away with him: At length threatening me, and being at last raving mad, some tooke hold of my Cloak on one side, some on another, endeavouring to throw me from the place where I stood (to proclaime his Majesties message) making a great uproar in a great congregation of people: Till at length I wrapt up my self in Silence (for a season) for the welfavour’d harlots confusion, &c.

And to thine eternall shame and damnation (O mother of witchcrafts, who dwellest in gathered Churches) let this be told abroad: And let her FLESH be burnt with FIRE.

                                                                                                Amen, Halelujah.

 

FINIS.

This is part of a series