essays

This is part of a series

Jan 4, 1649

The Second Fiery Flying Roll: Base Things

For Coppe’s second rant, he targets the notion that some behaviors are innately sinful. All creation, he says, leads the faithful closer to God.

Editor’s Note

For his second fiery, flying rant, Abiezer Coppe launches another attack against “carnall Ordinances,” the rich and powerful, state authorities, and rulers of all kinds. His first chapter presents a simple point: all things belong to the Lord, and any taxation insults God’s ultimate proprietorship. Coppe and his fellow spontaneously organizing Ranters throughout England signaled the Lord’s “day of [recovery]” was at hand—recovery of the material wealth stolen by some, selfishly hoarded from the rest and recovery of those souls lost to “the holy Whore” of organized religion. For Coppe, “that which is called prophanesse, wickednesse, loosenesse, or libertinisme” was in fact a path toward God. It’s the poor and the wretched, the sinful and base who cry out for a prophet and savior in the most genuine of tones. Coppe knew this from the time he personally spent among England’s “Masterless Men and Women,” the victims of early modern enclosure, impressment, marginalization, and state terrorism.

To radical antinomians like the Ranters, God was the benevolent, loving, wise creator of all things, and nothing within creation could contradict God’s goodness. “Base things” like fornication, “wanton kissing,” “externall kisses,” and “hellish swearing and cursing,” were not sins (forgiveness of which could be purchased at your local Catholic Church!); they were guideposts placed throughout life by God that we might better experience His world and come to understand our Covenant. Coppe warmly recounts lustful memories and notes that while looking to relieve his lust he found the Lord. Amongst the Angels occupying urban gutters, Coppe discovered true, antinomian religion, a spiritual life without rulers and ruled, without rules and ruled. In a strikingly modern presentation of non-monogamy, Coppe concludes Chapter Five: “Though also I have concubines without number, which I cannot be without, yet this is my spouse, my love, my dove, my fair one.” God sent “base things” to “confound” our notions of right and wrong, to mystify and bewilder us into questioning that which was taught at us, and to force us to genuinely choose between right and wrong.

Anthony Comegna, PhD
Assistant Editor for Intellectual History

A SECOND FIERY FLYING ROULE, TO All the Inhabitants of the earth; specially to the rich ones.

OR,

A sharp sickle, thrust in, to gather the clusters of the vines of the earth, because her grapes are (now) fully ripe. And the great, notable, terrible, (yet glorious and joyfull) day of the LORD is come; even the Day of the Lords Recover and Discovery. Wherein the secrets of all hearts are ripped up; and the secret villanies of the holy Whore, the well-favoured Harlot (who scornes carnall Ordinances…) is discovered: And even her flesh burning with unquenchable fire. And the pride of all glory staining.

Together with a narration of various, strange, yet true stories; and severall secret mysteries, and mysterious secrets, which never were afore written or printed.

As also, That most Strange Appearance of eternall Wisdome, and unlimited Almightinesse, in choosing base things: And why, and how he chooseth them. And how (most miraculously) they (even base things) have been, are, and shall be made fiery Chariots, to mount up some into divine glory, and unspotted beauty and majesty. And the glory that ariseth up from under them is confounding both Heaven and Earth. With a word (by way of preface) dropping in as an in-let to the new Hierusalem…

Per Auxilum Patris

 

Howle, rich men, for the miseries that are (just now) coming upon you, the rust of your silver is rising up in judgment against you, burning your flesh like fire, &c.

And now I am come to recover my corn, my wooll, and my flax, which thou haft (thievishly and hoggishly) detained from me, the Lord God Almighty, in the poore and needy.

Also howle thou holy Whore, thou well-favor’d Harlot: for God, and I, have chosen base things to confound thee, and things that are.

And the secrets of all hearts are now revealing by my Gospell, who am a stranger, and besides my selfe, to God, for your sakes. Wherefore receive me, &c. else expect that dismall doom. Depart from me ye cursed, I was a stranger, and ye took me not in.

Printed in the Year 1649.

 

 

Chap. 1

  1. The Word of the Lord came expressly to me, saying, write, write, write.
  2. And ONE stood by me, and pronounced all these words to me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in this paper.
  3. Wherefore in the Name and Power of the eternall God, I charge thee burn it not, tear it not, for if thou dost, I will tear thee to pieces (saith the Lord) and none shall be able to deliver thee; for (as I live) it is the day of my vengeance.
  4. Read it through, and laugh not at it; if thou dost I’l destroy thee, and laugh at thy destruction.
  5. Thus saith the Lord, though I have been a great while in coming, yet I am now come to recover my corn, and my wool, and my flax, &c. and to discover thy lewdnesse, Hos. 2.

Thou art cursed with a curse, for thou hast robbed me (saith the Lord) of my corn, my wool, my flax, &c. Thou hast robbed me of my Tythes, for the Tythes are mine, Mal. 3. And the beasts on a thousand hills, yea all thy baggs of money, hay-ricks, horses, yea all that thou callest thine own are mine.

  1. And now I am come to recover them all at thy hands, saith the Lord, for it is the day of my recovery, and the day of my discovery, &c. And there is a two-fold recovery of two sorts of things, inward, and outward, or civil, and religious, and through both, a grand discovery of the secrets of the most hypocriticall heart, and a ripping up of the bowels of the wel-favoured Harlot, the holy Whore, who scorns that which is called prophanesse, wickednesse, loosenesse, or libertinisme, and yet her self is the mother of witchcrafts, and of all the abominations of the earth.

But more of this hereafter.

  1. For the present, I say, Thus saith the Lord, I am come to recover all my outward, or civill rights, or goods, which thou callest thine own.

 

 

Chap. II

  1. And the way that I will walk in (in this great notable and terrible day of the Lord) shall be thus. I will either (strangely, & terribly, to thy torment) inwardly, or els (in a way that I will not acquaint thee with) outwardly, demand all mine, and will say on this wise.
  2. Thou hast many baggs of money, and behold now I come as a thief in the night, with my sword drawn in my hand, and like a thief as I am, —- I say deliver your purse, deliver sirrah! Deliver or I’l cut thy throat!
  3. Deliver MY money to such as poor despised Maul of Dedington in Oxonshire, whom some devils incarnate (insolently and proudly, in way of disdaine) cry up for a fool, some for a knave, and mad-man, some for an idle fellow, and base rogue, and some (true lier then they are aware of) cry up for a Prophet, and some arrant fools (though exceeding wise) cry up for more knave then foole, &c. when as indeed, ther’s pure royall blood runs through his veins, and he’s no lesse then a Kings Son, though not one of you who are devils incarnate; & have your eyes blinded with the God of this world, know it.
  4. I say (once more) deliver, deliver, my money which thou hast to him, and to poor creeples, lazars, yea to rogues, thieves, whores, and cut-purses, who are flesh of thy flesh, and every whit as good as thy self in mine eye, who are ready to starve in plaguy Goals, and nasty dungeons, or els by my selfe, saith the Lord, I will torment thee day and night, inwardly, or outwardly, or both waies, my little finger shall shortly be heavier on thee, especially on thee thou holy, righteous, religious Appropriator, then my loynes were on Pharoah of the Egyptians in time of old; you shall weep and howl for the miseries that are suddenly coming upon you; for your riches are corrupted, &c. and whilst impropriated, appropriated the plague of God is in them.
  5. The plague of God is in your purses, barns, houses, horses, murrain will take your hogs, O (ye fat swine of the earth) who shall shortly go to the knife, and be hung up i’th roof, except —- blasting, mill-dew, locusts, caterpillars, yea fire your houses and goods, take your corn and fruit, the moth your garments and the rot your sheep, did you not see my hand, this last year, stretched out?

You did not see.

My hand is stretched out still.

Your gold and silver, though you can’t see it, is cankered, the rust of them is a witnesse against you, and suddainly, suddainly, suddainly, because by the eternall God, my self, it’s the dreadful day of Judgement, saith the Lord, shall eat your flesh as it were fire, Jam. 5.1 to 7.

The rust of your silver, I say, shall eat your flesh as it were fire.

  1. As sure as it did mine the very next day after Michael the Arch-Angel’s, that mighty Angel, who just now fights that terrible battell in heaven with the great Dragon.

And is come upon the earth also, to rip up the hearts of all bag-bearing Judges. On this day purses shall be cut, guts let out, men stabb’d to the heart, womens bellies ript up, specially gammer Demases, who have forsaken us, and imbraced this wicked world, and married Alexander the Coppersmith, who hath done me much evill. The Lord reward him, I wish him hugely well as he did me, on the next day after Michael the Arch-Angel.

Which was the Lords day I am sure on’t, look in your Almanacks, you shall find it was the Lords day, or else I would you could; when you must, when you see it, you will find the Dominicall letter to be G. and there are many words that begin with G. at this time [GIVE] begins with G. give, give, give, give up, give up your houses, horses, goods, gold, Lands, give up, account nothing your own, have ALL THINGS common, or els the plague of God will rot and consume all that you have.

By God, by myself, saith the Lord, its true.

Come! Give all to the poore and follow me, and you shall have treasure in heaven. Follow me, who was numbred among transgressors, and whose visage was more marr’d than any mans, follow me.

 

 

CHAP. III.

A strange, yet most true story: under which is couched that Lion, whose roaring shall make all the beasts of the field tremble, and all the Kingdoms of the earth quake. Wherein also (in part) the subtility of the wel-favoured Harlot is discovered, and her flesh burning with that fire, which shall burne down all Churches, except that of the first Born, &c.

  1. Follow me, who, last Lords day Septem. 30. 1649. met him in open field, a most strange deformed man, clad with patcht clouts: who looking wishly on me, mine eye pitied him; and my heart, or the day of the Lord, which burned as an oven in me, set my tongue on flame to speak to him, as followeth.
  2. How now friend, art thou poore?

He answered, yea Master very poore.

Whereupon my bowels trembled within me, and quivering fell upon the worm-eaten chest, [my corps I mean] that I could not hold a joynt still.

And my great love within me, (who is the great God within that chest, or corps) was burning hot toward him; and made the lock-hole of the chest, to wit, the mouth of the corps, again to open: Thus.

                Art poor?

                Yea, very poor, said he.

Whereupon the strange woman, who flattereth with her lips, and is subtill of heart, said within me,

                It’s a poor wretch, give him two-pence.

But my EXCELLENCY and MAJESTY (in me) scorn’d her words, confounded her language; and kickt her out of his presence.

  1. But immediately the WEL-FAVOURED HARLOT [whom I carried not upon my horse behind me] but who rose up in me, said:

,It’s a poor wretch give him 6.d. and that’s enough for a Squire or Knight, to give to one poor body.

                Besides [saith the holy Scripturian Whore] hee’s worse then an Infidell that provides not for his own Family.

                True love begins at home, &c.

                Thou, and thy Family are fed, as the young ravens strangely, though thou hast been a constant Preacher, yet thou hast abhorred both tythes and hire; and thou knowest not aforehand, who will give thee the worth of a penny.

Have a care of the main chance.

  1. And thus she flattereth with her lips, and her words being smoother then oile; and her lips dropping as the honey comb, I was fired to hasten my hand into my pocket; and pulling out shilling, said to the poor wretch, give me six pence, here’s a shilling for thee.

He answered, I cannot, I have never a penny.

Whereupon I said, I would fain have given thee something if thou couldst have changed my money.

Then saith he, God blesse you.

Whereupon with much reluctancy, with much love, and with amazement [ of the right stamp] I turned my horse head from him, riding away. But a while after I was turned back [ being advised by my Demilance] to wish him cal for six pence, which I would leave at the next Town at ones house, which I thought he might know [Saphira like]  keeping back part.

But [as God judged me] I, as she, was struck down dead.

And behold the plague of God fell into my pocket; and the rust of my silver rose up in judgement against me, and consumed my flesh as with fire: so that I, and my money perish with me.

I being cast into that lake of fire and brimstone.

And all the money I had about me to a penny [ though I thought through the instigation of my quondam Mistris to have reserved some, having rode about 8 miles, not eating one mouth-full of bread that day, and had drunk but one small draught of drink; and had between 8. or 9. Miles to ride, ere I came to my journeys end: my horse being lame, the waies dirty, it raining all the way, and I not knowing what extraordinary occasion I might have for money.] Yet [I say] the rust of my silver did so rise up in judgment against me, and burnt my flesh like fire: and the 5. of James thundered such an alarm in mine ears, that I was fain to cast all I had into the hands of him, whose visage was more marr’d then any mans that I ever saw.

This is a true story, most true in the history.

Its true also in the mystery.

And there are deep ones coucht under it, for its a shadow of various, glorious, [though strange] good things to come.

  1. Wel! To return —- after I had thrown my rusty canker’d money into the poor wretches hands, I rode away from him, being filled with trembling, joy, and amazement, feeling the sparkles of a great glory arising up from under these ashes.

After this, I was made [by that divine power which dwelleth in this Ark, or chest] to turn my horse head —- whereupon I beheld this poor deformed wretch, looking earnestly after me: and upon that, was made to put off my hat, and bow to him seven times, and was [ at that strange posture] filled with trembling and amazement, some sparkles of glory arising up also from under this; as also from under these ashes, yet I rode back once more to the poor wretch, saying, because I am a King, I have done this, but you need not tell any one.

                The day’s our own.

This was done on the last LORDS DAY, Septem. 30. in the year 1649, which is the year of the Lords recompences for Zion, and the day of his vengeance, the dreadfull day of Judgement. But I have done [for the present] with this story, for it is the later end of the year 1649.

 

 

CHAP. V.

Wherefore thus saith the Lord, Hear O heavens, and hearken O earth, Ile overturne, overturne, overturne, I am now astining the pride of all glory, and bringing into contempt all the honourable of the earth, Esa 23.9 not only honourable persons, (who shall come down with a vengeance, if they bow not to universall love the eternall God, whose service is perfect freedome) but honorable things, as Elderships, Pastorships, Fellowships, Churches, Ordinances, Prayers, &c. Holinesses, Righteousnesses, Religions of all sorts, of the highest strains; yea, Mysterians, and Spirituallists, who scorne carnall Ordinances, &c.

I am about my act, my strange act, my worke, my strange work, that whosoever hears of it, both his ears shall tingle.

I am confounding, plaguing, tormenting nice, demure, barren Mical, with Davids unseemly carriage, by skipping, leaping, dancing, like one of the fools, vile, base fellowes, shamelessely, basely, and uncovered too before handmaids, —-

Which thing was S. Pauls Tutor, or else it prompted him to write, God hath chosen BASE things, and things that are despised, to confound —- the things are —-

Well! Family duties are no base things, they are things that ARE: Churches, Ordinances, &c. are no BASE things, though indded Presbyterian Churches begun to live i’th womb, but died there, and rot and stink there to the death of the mother and child. Amen. Not by the Devill, by [ by God] it’s true.

Grace before meat and after meat, are no BASE things: these are things that ARE. But how long Lord, holy and true, &c.

Fasting for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickednesse, —- (and not for taking off heavy burthens, breaking every yoke, Esa. 58) and Thanksgiving daies for killing of men for money, are no BASE things, these are things that ARE.

Starting up into the notion of spirituals, scorning History, speaking nothing but Mystery, crying down carnall ordinances, &c. is a fine thing among many, it’s no base thing (now adaies) though it be a cloak for covetousness, yea, though it be to maintain pride and pomp; these are no base things.

These are things that ARE, and must be confounded by BASE things, which S. Paul saith, not God hath connived at, winked at, permitted, tolerated, but God hath CHOSEN &c. BASE things…

But once more hear O heavens, hearken O earth, Thus saith the Lord, I have chosen such base things, to confound things that are, that the ears of those [who scorn to be below Independents, yea the ears of many who scorn to be so low as carnall Ordinances, &c.] that hear thereof shall tingle.

…Give over, give over, or if nothing els will do it, I’l at a time, when thou least of all thinkest of it, make thine own child the fruit of thy loines, in whom thy soul delighted, lie with a whore – before thine eyes: That the plaguy holinesse and righteouesnesse of thine might be confounded by that base thing. And thou be plagued back again into thy mothers womb, the womb of eternity: That thou maist become a little child, and let the mother Eternity, Almightinesse, who is universall love, and whose service is perfect freedome, dresse thee, and undresse the, swaddle, unswadle, bind, loose, lay thee down, take thee up, &c.

—-And to such a little child, undressing is as good as dressing, foul cloaths, as good as fair cloaths – he knows no evill, &c. – and shall see evill no more, — but he must first lose all his righteousnesse, every bit of his holinesse, and every crum of his Religion, and be plagued, and confounded [by base things] into nothing.

                                By base things which God and I have chosen.

And yet I shew you a more excellent way, when you have past this. —-In a word, my plaguy, filthy, nasty holinesse hath been confounded by base things. And then [behold I shew you a mystery, and put forth a riddle to you] by base things, base things so called have been confounded also; and thereby have I been confounded into eternall Majesty, unspeakable glory, my life, myself.

Ther’s my riddle, but because neither all the Lords of the Philistins, no nor my Delilah her self can read it,

I’ll read it my self, I’l [only] hint it thus.

Kisses are numbered amongst transgressors –base things—well! By base hellish swearing and cursing, [as I have accounted it in the time of my fleshly holinesse] and by base impudent kisses [as I then accounted them] my plaguy holinesse hath been confounded, and thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone.

And then again, by wanton kissing, kissing hath been confounded, and externall kisses, have been made the fiery chariots, to mount me swiftly into the bosom of him whom my soul loves, [his excellent Majesty, the King of glory.]

Where I have been, where I have been, where I have been, hug’d, imbrac’t, and kis’t with the kisses of his mouth, whose loves are better then wine, and have been utterly overcome therewith, beyond expression, beyond admiration.

Again, Lust is numbered amongst transgressors —- a base thing.—

Now faire objects attract Spectators eyes.

And beauty is the father of lust or love.

Well! I have gone along the streets impregnant with that child [lust] which a particular beauty had begot: but coming to the place, where I expected to have been delivered, I have providentially met there a company of devils in appearance, though Angels with golden vialls, in reality, powring out full vialls, of such odious abominable words, that are not lawfull to be uttered.

Words enough to deafen the ears of plaguy holinesse. And such horrid abominable actions, the sight whereof were enough to put out holy mans eyes, and to strike him stark dead, &c.

These base things (I say) words and actions, have confounded and plagued to death, the child in the womb that I was so big of.

And by, and through these BASE things [as upon the wings of the wind] have I been carried up into the arms of my love, which is invisible glory, eternall Majesty, purity it self, unspotted beauty, even that beauty which maketh all other beauty but meer uglinesse, when set against it, &c.

Yea, could you imagine that the quintessence of all visible beauty, should be extracted and made up into one huge beauty, it would appear to be meer deformity to that beauty, which through BASE things I have been lifted up into.

Which transcendent, unspeakable, unspotted beauty, is my crown and joy, my life and love: and though I have chosen, and cannot be without BASE things, to confound some in mercy, some in judgment, Though also I have concubines without number, which I cannot be without, yet this is my spouse, my love, my dove, my fair one.

Now I proceed to that which followes.

This is part of a series