The Second Fiery Flying Roll: How to Stoop to a Poor Rogue
Concluding his grand rant, Coppe argues that God’s angels and prophets are found at the margins of society.
Anthony Comegna, PhD
In our final portion from the Second Fiery Flying Roll, our author implores the rich and the great to “bow to the poorest Peasants,” “stoop to poor rogues,” and submit to universal humility. Once the powerful relinquished their violent vicegrips, “We must all bow, and bow, [and bow],” while society converted itself from a reckless search for personal wealth into a genuine commonwealth. God sent “base things” into this world to entice mankind into a closer relationship to the Right and the Good. But only self‐discovery could reveal the Lord’s word, the true nature of Man’s Covenant with him, and the “glorious design” of history. God’s truth–demonstrated through his base, wicked, tempted, yet utterly salvageable creatures–would “confound” (or complicate) “abominable pride, murther, hypocrisie, tyranny, and oppression” by opening people’s minds to a spirit of constant and universal giving. For Ranting antinomians, the individual conscience alone was responsible for individual behavior, and we should therefore leave one another alone to fulfill conscience’s dictates. When the powerful and the sinful forced themselves and their desires upon others or used people merely as tools, they pushed the poor and the desperate to explore some of the more violent “base things” god has implanted in our spirits. Vicious class war and revolution might result in great death and destruction, but the fire would cleanse and prompt us “well‐favoured Harlots” to rediscover our true Covenants. Spiritually‐enlightened, ranting Angels and Prophets like Coppe would emerge from the prisons, the workhouses, the ships, the fields, and the slums to remake their world on different principles: “The true Communion amongst men, is to have all things common, and to call nothing one hath, ones own.”
Observers over the centuries have disagreed about what happened to the Ranters. Many of them converted to Quakerism during the 1650s and 1660s; many others likely just stopped ranting–at least, quite so publicly. Wherever they went, though, they did take their radicalism, their mysticism, their revolutionary tendencies, and their outsider identities with them. Under the influence of nearly four centuries, we modern libertarians are unlikely to find many of Coppe’s ideas preferable, advisable, or even intelligible, but to my mind his Fiery Flying Roll’s central message still echoes powerfully across time and context: If we wish to avoid history’s catastrophic moments, we must make ourselves into better people than generations before us.
1. Again, thus saith the Lord, I in thee, who am eternall Majesty, bowed down thy form, to deformity. And I in thee, who am durable riches, commanded thy perishable silver to the poor, &c.
CHAP VI. …
Thus saith the Lord, Kings, Princes, Lords, great ones, must bow to the poorest Peasants; rich men must stoop to poor rogues, or else they’l rue for it. This must be done two waies. You shall have one short dark hint. Will Sedgewick [in me] bowed to that poor deformed ragged wretch, that he might inrich him, in impoverishing himself. He shall gaine him, and be no great loser himself, &c.
2. Well! We must all bow, and bow, &c. And MEUM must be converted. — It is but yet a very little while; and you shall not say that ought that you possesse is your own, &c. read Act.2 towards the end, Chap 4. 31. to the end, with chap.5.1.2. to the 12. It is but yet a little while, and the strongest, yea, the seemingly purest propriety, which may mostly plead priviledge and Prerogative from Scripture, and carnall reason; shall be confounded and plagued into community and universality. And ther’s a most glorious design in it: and equality, community, and universall love; shall be in request to the utter confounding of abominable pride, murther, hypocrisie, tyranny, and oppression, &c. The necks whereof can never be chopt off, or these villainies ever hang’d up, or cut off by materiall sword, by humaine might, power, or strength, but by the pure spirit of universal love, who is the God whom all the world [of Papists, Protestants, Presbyterians, Independents, Spirituall Notionists, &c.) ignorantly worship.
3. The time is coming, yea now is, that you shall not dare to say, your silver or gold is your owne. It’s the Lords. You shall not say it is your own, lest the rust thereof rise up in judgement against you and burn your flesh as if it were fire. Neither shall you dare to say, your oxe, or your asse is your own. It’s the Lords. And if the Lord have need of an asse he shall have him. Or if two of his Disciples should come to unloose him, I wil not [for a 1000 worlds] call them thieves, lest the asse should beat my brains out, my bread is not mine own, it’s the Lords. And if a poor Rogue should ask for it – the Lord hath need of it – he should have it, lest it should stick in my throat and choak me one way or other.
4. Once more, Impropriators! Appropriators! Go to, weep and howl, &c. Jam.5.1 to the 7, the rust of your silver shall rise (is rising up) against you, burning your flesh as it were fire, &c. That is (in a mord) a secret, yet sharp, terrible, unexpected, and unsupportable plague, is rising up from under all, that you call your own, when you go to count your money, you shall verily think the Devill stands behind you, to tear you in pieces: You shall not put bread in your mouthes, but the curse shall come along with it, and choke you one way or other. All your former sweets shall be mingled with gall and wormwood: I give you but a hint. It’s the last daies.
5. Well! Do what you will or can, knowing you have been warned. It is not for nothing, that I the Lord with a strong wind cut off (as with a sickle) the fullest, fairest ears of corn this harvest, and drop’t them on purpose for the poore, who had as much right to them, as those that (impudently and wickedly, thievishly and hoggishly) stile themselves the owners of the Land.
6. It’s not for nothing that such various strange kinds of worms, grubs, and caterpillars (my strong host, saith the Lord of Hosts) have been sent into some graine: Neither is in vain, that I the Lord sent the rot among so many sheep this last year; if they had been resign’d to me, and you had kept a true communion, they had not been given up to that plague.
7. It’s not in vain that so many towns and houses have been lately fired over the heads of the Inhabitants: Neither is it in vain, that I the Lord fired the barning and ricks of a Miser in Worchestershrire (this year) the very same day that he brought in his own, as he accounted it. On the very same day (I say) his barning and ricks were fired down to the very ground, though multitudes of very expert men in the imployment came to quench it. Of this the writer of this Scroule was an eye‐witnesse.
8. Impropriators! Appropriators! Misers! A fair warning. More of you shall be served with the same sawce. Others of you I’le deal withal in another way more terrible then this, saith the Lord, till you resign.— Misers! ‘specially you holy Scripturian Misers, when you would say grace before and after meat, read James 5.1 to 7 & Hosea 2.8,9,10.
CHAP VII. … But now me thinks (by this time) I see a brisk, spruce, neat, self‐seeking, fine finiking fellow, (who scornes to be either Papist, Protestant, Presbyterian, Independent, or Anabaptist) I mean the Man of Sin, who worketh with all deceiveablenesse of unrighteousnesse, 2. Thes. 2. Crying down carnall ordinances, and crying up the Spirit: cunningly seeking and setting up himself thereby. I say, I see him, and have ript up the very secrets of his heart (saith the Lord) as also of that mother of mischief, that wel-favour’d Harlot, who both agree in one, and say on this wise to me.
1. ‘Ah! Poor deluded man, thou hast spoken of the Wisdome of God in a mystery, and thou hast seen all the history of the Bible mysteriz’d. ‘O fool! Who hath bewitch thee, art thou so foolish as to begin in the Spirit, and wilt thou now be made perfect in the flesh? Keep thee to the Spirit, go not back to the letter, keep thee to the mystery, go not back to the history. ‘What? Why dost talk so much of James 5. And Hosea 2, those words are to be taken in the Mystery, not in the History: They are to be taken in the Spirit, not as they lie in the Letter. Thus you have a hint of the neat young mans, and of the well-favour’d Harlots language.
2. But now behold I am filled with the Holy Ghost, and am resolv’d [Acts 13.8,9,&c.] to set mine eyes on her and him (who are no more twaine, but one) and say: ‘O full of all subtilty and mischief, thou child of the Devil, thou enemy of all righteousnesse, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? ‘Be it known to thee, o thou deceitfull tongue, that I have begun in the Spirit, and will end in the Spirit: I am joyn’d to the Lord, and am one Spirit. The Spirit’s my joy, my life, my strength, I will not let it go, it’s my delight. ‘The mystery is mine, [mostly] that which I most delight in, that’s the Jewel. The historie’s mine also, that’s the Cabinet. For the Jewels sake I will not leave the Cabinet, though indeed it’s nothing to me, but when thou for thine own ends, standest in competition with me for it. ‘Strength is mine, so is weaknesse also.
3. I came by water and blood, not by blood only, but by blood and water also. The inwardnesse is mostly mine, my prime delight is there; the outwardnesse is mine also, when thou for thine own ends, standest in competition with me about it, or when I would confound thee by it.
4. I know there’s no Communion to the Communion of Saints, to the inward communion, to communion with the spirits of just men made perfect, and with God the Judge of all. No other Communion of Saints do I know. And this is Blood‐life‐spirit‐communion.
5. But another Communion also do I know which is water, and but water, which I will not be without: My Spirit dwells with God, the Judge of all, dwells in him, sups with him, in him, feeds on him, with him, in him. My humanity shall dwell with, sup with, eat with humanity; and why not [for a need] with Publicans and Harlots? Why should I turne away mine eyes from mine own flesh? Why should I not break my bread to the hungry, whoever they be? It is written, the Lord takes care of Oxen. And when I am at home, I take a great care of my horse, to feed him, dresse him, water him, and provide for him. And is not poor Maul of Dedington, and the worst rogue in Newgate, or the arrantest thief or cut‐purse farre better than a 100 Oxen, or a 1000 such horses as mine?
6. Do I take care of my horse, and doth the Lord take care of oxen? And shall I hear poor rogues in Newgate, Ludgate, cry bread, bread, bread, for the Lords sake, and shall I not pitty them, and relieve them? Howl, howl, ye nobles, howl honorable, howl ye rich men for the miseries that are coming upon you. For our parts, we that hear the APOSTLE preach, will also have all things common; neither will we call any thing that we have our own. Do you [if you please] till the plague of God rot and consume what you have. We will not, wee’l eat our bread together in singlenesse of heart, wee’l break bread from house to house.
CHAP VIII … 1. And we wil strip off thy cloaths, who hast bewitch’t us & slit thy nose thou wel‐favoured Harlot, who hast (as in many things, so in this) made the Nations of the earth drunk, with the cup of thy fornications: As thus. Thou hast come to a poor irreligious wretch, and told him he must be of the same Religion as his neighbours, he must go to Church, hear the Minister, &c. and at least once a year put on his best cloaths, and receive the Communion – he must eat a bit of bread, and drink a sip of wine – and then he hath received, &c. he hath been at the Communion.
2. But when he finds this Religion too course for him, and he would faine make after another, Then immediately, thou huntest after him, following him from street to street, from corner to corner, from grosse Protestantistme to Puritanism, &c. at length from crosse in baptisme, and Common‐Prayer‐Book to Presbyterianism, where thou tellest him he may break bread, with all such believers, who believe their horses and their cowes are their own; and with such believers, who have received different light from, or greater light than themselves; branded with the letter B. banished, or imprisoned fourteen weeks together, without bail or mainprize.
3. And here I could tell a large story, that would reach as far as between Oxonshire and Coventrey. But though it be in the original copy, yet it is my good will and pleasure, out of my great wisdom, to wave the printing of it, and I will send the contents thereof, as a charge and secret plague, secretly into their breasts, who must be plagued with a vengeance, for their villainy against the Lord. Well! To return from this more then needful digression, to the discovery, and uncovering of the wel‐favoured Harlot. Thou hast hunted the young man void of understanding from corner to corner, from religion to religion. We left him at the Presbyterian – where such a believer, who believes his horses and his cows are his own, may have his child christened, and may himself be admitted to the Sacrament – and come to the communion. And what’s that? Why after a consecration in a new forme, eating a bit of bread, and drinking a sip of wine perhaps once a moneth, why mother of mischief is this Communion? O thou flattering and deceitfull tongue, God shall root thee out of the Land of the living, is this Communion? No, no, mother of witchcrafts!
4. The true Communion amongst men, is to have all things common, and to call nothing one hath, ones own. And the true externall breaking of bread, is to eat bread together in singlenesse of heart, and to break thy bread to the hungry, and tell them it is their own bread &c. els your Religion is in vain.
5. And by this time indeed thou seest this Religion is in vain. And wilt therefore tie thee to another, to wit, to Independency, and from thence perhaps to Anabaptisme so called. And thither the wel-favour’d Harlot will follow thee, and say thou must be very holy, very righteous, very religious. All other Religions are vain. And all in the Parish, all in the Countrey, yea all in the Kingdome and all in the world [who are not of thine opinion] are without, are of the world. Thou, and thy comrades are Saints. [O proud devill! O devill of devills! O Belzebub!] Well [saith she] thou being a Saint must be very holy, and walk in Gospell‐Ordinances [saith the wel-favour’d Harlot] ay and in envy; malice, pride, covetousnesse, evill surmising, contoriousnesse, &c. also. And on the first day of the week, when the Saints meet together, to break bread, do not thou omit it upon pain of damnation. By no means omit it, because thou hast Gospell Ordinances in the purity of them. Papists – they give wafers.— Protestants—give—to all ith’ Parish tagg ragg, and his fellow if they come. But we are called out of the world, none shall break bread with us, but our selves, [the Saints together, who are in Gospell Order.] Besides the Priests of England cut their bread into little square bits, but we break our bread [according to the Apostolicall practise] and this is the right breaking of bread [saith the wel-favour’d Harlot.] Who hath kept stept into this holy, righteous Gospell, religious way, [Gospel‐Ordinances so called] on purpose to dash to pieces the right breaking of bread and in the room thereof thrusting in this vain Religion.
6. A religion wherein Lucifer reignes, more then in any. And next to this in the Independents [so called] both which damn to the pit of hell, those that are a 100 times nearer the Kingdome of heaven then themselves: flattering themselves up in this their vain Religion. But take this hint before I leave thee. He that hath this worlds goods, and seeth his brother in want, and shutteth up the bowels of compassion from him, the love of God dwelleth not in him; this mans Religion is in vain. His Religion is in vain, that seeth his brother in want, &c. His brother — a beggar, a lazar, a cripple, yea a cut‐purse, a thief ith’ goal, &c. He that seeth such a brother, flesh of his flesh [in want] and shutteth up the bowels of his compassion from him, the love of God dwelleth not in him; his Religion is in vain: and he never yet broke bread — that hath not forgot his [meum.]
7. The true breaking of bread — is from house to house, &c. Neighbours [in singlenesse of heart] saying if I have any bread, &c. it’s thine, I will not call it mine own, it’s common. These are true Communicants, and this is the true breaking of bread among men.
8. And what the Lords Supper is, none know, but those that are continually [not weekly] but daily at it. And what the true Communion is, those and those only know, who are come to the Spirits of just men made perfect, and to God the Judge of all, all other Religion is vain. Ay, sayth the wel-favour’d Harlot [in the young man void of understanding] I see Protestantism, Presbytery, Independency, Anabaptism, are all vain. Those coverings are too short, too narrow, too course for me, the finest of these are but harden sheets, and very narrow ones also. I’ll get me some flax, and make me both fine and large sheets, &c. I’l scorn carnall Ordinances, and walk in the Spirit. Ay, do [saith the wel-favour’d Harlot] speak nothing but mystery, drink nothing but wine, but blood, thou need’st not eat flesh, &c.
9. And so my young man starts up into the notion of Spiritualls, and wraps up a deal of hipocrisie, malice, envy, deceit, dissimulation, covetousnesse, self‐seeking in this fine linen. Being a hundred fold worse Devills then before. But now thy villanie, hipocrisie, and self‐seeking is discovering, yea discovered to many with a witnesse. And though the true and pure levelling, is the eternall Gods levelling the Mountains, &c. in man. Which is the Blood‐Life‐Spirit levelling. Yet the water, or weak levelling, which is base and foolish, shall confound thee. And hereby, (as also by severall other strange waies, which thou art least of all acquainted withal. I’l discover thy lewdnesse, and shew the rottennesse of thy heart. I’l call for all to a mite, to be cast into the outward treasury. And will bid thee lay down all at my feet, the Apostle, the Lord, And this is a way that I am now again setting up to try, judge, and damne the wel-favour’d Harlot by. Cast all into the Treasury, &c. account nothing thine owne, have all things in common. The young man goes away very sorrowfull —- &c. The wel-favour’d Harlot shrugs at this —-
10. When this cometh to passe, a poore wretch whose very bones are gnawn with hunger, shall not go about 13 or 14 miles about thy businesse, and thou for a reward, when thou hast hundreds lying by thee. I will give thee but one hint more, and so will leave thee. The dreadful day of Judgement is stealing on thee, within these few hours. Thou hast secretly and cunningly lien in wait, thou hast craftily numbered me amongst transgressors, who to thy exceeding torment, am indeed a friend of Publicans and Harlots.
Thou hast accounted me a devil, saith the Lord.
And I will rot thy name, and make it stink above ground, and make thy folly manifest to all men.
And because thou hast judged me, I will judge thee (with a witnesse) expect it suddainly, saith the Lord.
Per AUXILIUM PATRIS
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