Keep watch!, O Englanders great and small!–Tyranipocrit roams the land! With help from our anonymous author, may we discover his wiles.
Anthony Comegna, PhD
Assistant Editor for Intellectual History
In 1649, Levelers, Seekers, Ranters, and Dissenters of all kinds flooded England with radical pamphlets. William Walwyn–the possible, though not necessarily probable author of the following anonymous tract–combined political leveling, religious seeking, and written ranting into a forceful, famous, and important career. Periodically imprisoned for espousing his cause, charged with treason, attacked viciously in print, and systematically marginalized, Walwyn’s radicalism never relented. He and his contemporaries authored dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of pamphlets, treatises, novels, plays, histories, religious commentaries, and innumerable other public works supporting a radically leveled parliamentary government and a radically anti‐clerical, antinomian theology. Tyranipocrit Discovered is easily among the most interesting, the most captivating, the most suggestive of English Civil War pamphlets. Fittingly enough, it begins with a despairing prayer for “unregarded Truth.”
Watch out, fellow Englishmen!, our author warns, Tyranipocrit roams the land more prideful and assuredly than ever before. That great wicked, evil spirit to dominate and control one’s fellow creatures inhabited the hearts of rulers, turning them from spiritual men into sinful, lusty power‐seekers. The great monster Tyranipocrit combined the power‐madness of a tyrant with the false moral leadership of the hypocrite into a single fearsome form–leaders like the Pope of Rome, the King of England, or the Pharoahs of old Egypt who all combined worldly and spiritual authority under themselves. Their tyrannies helped demonstrate their hypocrisy, and their moral falseness inspired further tyranny. Once given over to such an evil combination of power, privilege, and irresponsibility, men were mere vessels for the Devil’s cosmic work. Our author, therefore, will not focus on the “black devils” with which we are so familiar–lust, envy, theft, gambling, what have you. Our Tyranipocrit hunter is more concerned with exposing the “white devils,” who hide their evils under cover of the Good and the Right while in reality serving none but Satan.
TYRANIPOCRIT Discovered with his wiles, wherewith he vanquisheth, Written and printed, to animate better Artists to pursue that MONSTER.
Printed in the year of our Lord, 1649.
The Epistle Dedicatory.
O poor unregarded Truth, I do dedicate this my poor despairing labour unto thee, because thou canst judge aright both of it and me: thou knowest that thou hast many enemies, and I have not many friends, because…[“The truth produces hatred”] yet because thou knowest thyself, therefore I know no better Patron to offer up my labour unto, than thou art: if I have erred in anything, thou knowest it was not of malice: O poor Truth, I know that thou art silenced in the most part of all the world, yet I know that one day thou shalt have liberty to speak, and then thou wilt approve thyself; and in the mean time if the world will not permit thee to speak for me, yet I know thou wilt not be against me, because for thy sake I undertake to show myself a fool in print; thou knowest my poor art, and my willing heart, and my desire to discover Tyranipocrit, for he with partiality ruleth and spoileth all the world, for some do teach us a partial God and an artificial religion, so that it seemeth that some persons are privileged to sin, and yet partiality will have such things to be sin in other men, and thou knowest that in this Treatise, God through me, hath borne witness to the truth of his revealed will, concerning many errors and great abuses which are maintained against the Truth, and thou knowest, that contrary to the rule of Christ, rich and proud tyrants do rule the Christian world, and because all men desire to rule, and none but rich tyrants do rule, therefore most men do labour to make themselves rich, that so they may be chosen to be rulers, and so…one man is another’s devil, and thou knowest that God gave the office of a King in his wrath, and that Kings and Priests are Jewish ceremonies, and thou knowest that Christ ruled as a servant, and took the burden of the people upon him; but our Rulers do rule like Lords, and cast their burden upon the poor people, and thou knowest that to rule as dictators, and not directors by their own examples, that is contrary to the rule of Christ, and repugnant to reason; for the world subjecteth reason to tyranny, and thou knowest that the glory of the world and the devil, are one: and thou knowest that God commanded all men to labour in tilling the earth, but now they that do till the earth, are made slaves to them that are too proud to do it, and thou knowest that…(“to pretend to holiness”) is a double sin, but the world knoweth…:(“Who does not know how to pretend, does not know how to live”) and thou knowest that God through me hath borne witness to the truth of his revealed will, concerning the reproving of hypocritical Tyrants, & thou knowest what a blasphemous doctrine is now taught by some, concerning God’s predestination to salvation, and thou knowest that Preachers and Teachers ought not to take wages of the Rulers of this world, and thou knowest that to prefer anything before love, is heresy, if it be not blasphemy: and thou knowest that to teach evil men to do good, is a preposterous doctrine, and because it hardeneth men in their sins, therefore it is an impious doctrine, which maketh men apt to commit any impiety whatsoever: and thou knowest that it is better to keep a Sabbath every day, then one day in the week, and thou knowest that humane arts, and strange languages are more esteemed in these days, than sincerity, truth, and reason.
And thou knowest likewise that supreme Rulers should have good consciences, but it seemeth they have not so much as bad consciences, for if they had any consciences, the world could not be so bad as it is: and thou knowest that it is against all reason, that young children should command old men, and thou knowest that all men’s children should have alike education and means to live on, and thou knowest that nothing is more ridiculous to the Christian world, than it is to be a Christian according to the rule of Christ: and thou knowest that if any one shall scoff at the ill ordering of this my Poor labour, if he would open the eyes of his consideration, he might see that it is so well ordered, as the worldlings do order the world, which is the subject of my labour.
O impartial simple Truth, I have many things to complain of, some of them are written in this book, but more I should have written if I had been able, and thou knowest the cause is God’s, the labour mine, and therefore let the acceptation be thine, God the glory, and mankind the profit. Amen.
Wonder not though Asses preach, but rather wonder that stones do not speak to reprove the impieties of our age, for if Balaams ass had reason to reprove the foolishness of his master, what would that ass do, if he did see our Atheistical, hypocritical, partial, impious Christian world, which doth not alone curse God’s people, but it doth curse God himself, in walking contrary to the revealed will of God in Christ, for he that delighteth to practise sins of knowledge, contrary to the motions of the Holy Ghost, in his heart and conscience, he curseth God in his heart, whatsoever he saith in his mouth. The reason why I undertook this unwelcome matter to the world, was because I did desire thereby to honour God in profiting mankind. My intent is not so much to reprove sin, as to discover hypocrisy, and the seeming sanctity of the hypocritical world. I aim at those double sins which are esteemed for virtues, not so much the sins of the black, but those of the white devil, which are sanctified impieties. I would speak a word to such as are dead in their sins, and have made themselves impious coffins of iniquity, to bury themselves in. O it is the hypocrite, which doth not alone deceive men, but if he had no conscience, as he hath not much, he would go very near to deceive God himself: O he worketh both by wiles and force, that nothing sub luna (“under the moon”) can escape his tyranny: Now I having seriously considered ab initio,(“from the beginning”) the preposterous practises of worldly minded men, concerning the ruling of themselves and others; I finding after due consideration according to that I have read, heard, and seen, that we which call ourselves Christians, do seem to exceed all Nations in all manner of impieties, and it hath much troubled, perplexed, and amazed me to behold so contrary and so strange a consequent, that we which have the best means to be good, should notwithstanding be the worst of all: Now as I conceive that the reason of so unreasonable a consequent is, because we do not esteem of our Law‐giver, nor of his laws, as other Nations do of their Laws and Lawyers, for the Jews had Moses and his laws in high esteem, so had the Egyptians Promethus, the Grecians Lycurgus, and the Romanes Numa Pompilius, those Nations honoured both their laws and Lawyers, but we vile wretches have taken Christ to be our Law‐giver; now if we do comply with his Law, according to his rule and command, let his History be the judge, and our consciences the witnesses.
But O what Christian, and especially our supreme Christian, that will not be ashamed to have his life and manners to be compared with Christs, for now instead of ruling ourselves by the rule of Christ, we have gotten to rule us, and we are ruled by wilful, sinful, and partial prerogating respect of persons, tyrants, artificial thieves, hypocrites, &c. and all those are ruled by the devil, and all this were little, if the devil did appear in his own colours, black as he is, but the hypocrite hath made him a great white Surplice, so wide as a Bishops Cassock, embroidered with Atheistry, laced with partiality, and lined with hypocrisy, &c. Now the devil being thus bravely set forth, he telleth the world, that he is God, Christ, and all in all: and this is the white devil, and whosoever he be that hath not his mark in his hand, or on his forehead, he may neither buy nor sell: I know that partiality hath laid this beastly mark wholly on the Pope of Rome, but God help us, the world is too full of such beasts, and they are that abomination that maketh desolation, those are the Idols that will stand in God’s Temple: this is the white devil, and although the world doth know that this composed Monster is a devil of his own making, yet according to his diabolical nature, he taketh him for his God, because he, through the free‐will of evil men, hath gotten such great power in the world, for the world adoreth tyranny and hypocrisy, and in them two are included all sins, and yet so Cunningly doth the world know how to carry this kind of Idolatry, that he will not, and others must not say that he is an hypocrite. Now this white devil through God’s permission, and the help of his friends, commandeth and ruleth all the world, and as the devil by all impious persons, is taken for Christ, so on the contrary, they do take Christ for the devil. In the Church he condemneth all other men for heretics, but he himself is the only Phoenix, the infallible, what shall I call him? hypocrite. In the Commonwealth he presseth and oppresseth all mankind at his pleasure, his love and charity, if he have any, it is all in his mouth: he is wise, and knoweth how to rule all mankind for his own profit, but himself profitth none but the devil.
Now I having seriously considered not alone his nature, but also his effects, and I have partly proved what impious fruits he produceth in the Commonwealth, and how he striveth to empty Heaven, and fill Hell, have I not reason to exclaim against that impious white devil, and to do my best to discover his odious will. I know that he that should upbraid or reproach any poor weeping and repenting sinner, which through God’s permission and his own infirmity, hath accidentally fallen into any or many sins, yea for a man to despise any repenting sinner, or to cast his sins in his teeth, such an unmerciful wight in so doing, would be found to be a hater of God, a crucifier of Christ, and an enemy to mankind, a friend to the devil, and a destroyer of his own soul; but on the contrary, he that doth see premeditated sins of knowledge and will, yea proud, malicious, tyrannical, uncharitable, hypocritical impious sins, committed with a high hand, to God’s dishonour, and our Christian profession, glorious sins, which have their dinners served in with trumpets, and ride in a most proud manner in costly Coaches, drawn by six or eight horses, as if they triumphed over the poverty and misery of their poor neighbours: sins that fight against the patience, nature, and long‐suffering of God: sins that will and must be esteemed for virtues: sins of Rulers and Commanders and Teachers, which should be examples to others. He that doth see such sins committed, with a continual perseveration to the dishonour of God, and the prejudice of mankind, and shall pass it over in silence, and not do his best one way or other to help remedy it, such a one will be found in the day of examination, to be a partial, careless, uncharitable wretch, and he may justly be blamed with Cain, when he said unto God: Am I my brother’s keeper? for if Moses’ Law condemned him that did not help the burdened ass, how much more shall the Law of Christ condemn him that taketh no care for the soul of his neighbour, which he seeth so over‐burdened with that heavy and intolerable sin of pride, that when he should go to Church to humble himself, he will be drawn to Church in a costly Coach, there to show his intolerable pride. Now to unburden myself and my poor neighbours, through the grace of God, I will do my best to remove that intolerable burden of proud, wilful, and delightful sins.
A task too hard for me, but there is nothing too hard for God, nor anything that can overcome the Truth, for whose sake I undertake this world‐hated, and world‐hating labour. Now if any formal hypocrite will tell me, that I am not called to be a Teacher, I say that every man is called to maintain the truth, and therefore if any man speak the truth in God’s cause, that alone is a sufficient calling for him. Now I beseech God, for Christ his sake, that he will do this work through me, so that it may redound to his honour and glory, and the profit of mankind. Now let this suffice for the Preface: The Argument shall be the book itself. I have concealed my name, because the Readers shall consider what is written, and not who wrote it, because partiality, if the Author were known, might make the work hateful.
In this Treatise I do intend to allege many things, for which I will not quote my Authors: let others do that for me, for I will leave the margin free. Fare well:
A friend to the truth, and an enemy to Tyranipocrit.
Discovered with his wiles, wherewith he vanquisheth.
He that will seek God without, and not within himself, may well say with Simonides: The more he seeketh, the less he findeth what God is, for what God is in himself without us, that knowledge cannot help us; but the knowledge of God within ourselves, and in his other creatures, that is all in all to us: but I intend to treat of practise, more than of knowledge, because Christ pronounced more woes against malicious, than he did against ignorant sinners, and amongst others he said: Woe be unto him that knoweth his master’s will, and doth it not, but what shall become of him, that knoweth the will of God in Christ, and hateth it; and what are all proud, tyrannical, hypocritical, impious Christians, but haters of God in Christ, for so long as they are so, and do so: they do grieve the Spirit of God in their hearts and consciences, and that is a great sin, if it be not impiety: then being it is so, woe be unto you, all you tyrannical, hypocritical Christians, you proud Christian Princes, and hypocritical Prelates, and all you superfluous, rich, uncharitable Christians, O you profane Princes and dissembling Prelates, you will have the name of Christ, the more shame you ought to have of your wilful and exemplary sins, which you maintain contrary to the rule of Christ. O thou white devil, I would fain unease thee, and discover thy vile practises, that all men may see and know that thou art an ugly, odious devil, I mean thou that wilt win honour by thy impious practises, thou that hast God in thy mouth, but wilt not cast the devil out of thy heart, thou that commandest and teachest others to do that good which thou praisest in thy mouth, and hatest in thy heart: thou that bindest heavy burdens, and layest them on other men’s shoulders, but wilt not touch them thyself with one of thy fingers: O it is thou that stealest with a high hand, and yet with an impudent face, thou wilt outface the Law.
As for the sins of the black devil, they are better known to the world, which is ready to take notice of them: The Senate of Tyrants, and the Synod of Hypocrites, are ready to correct and punish him, according to the laws of the place where he resideth, and in so doing, they do not amiss; but who shall correct and punish the white devil, who shall tell him that he is running down the hill to Hell? his own conscience if he had one, that might help him, but that is gone long since, and if he should sell his hypocrisy to buy him a conscience, that would spoil the white devil of all his glory. But tell me thou preposterous impious world, if thou canst, who hath taught thee to punish the transgressors of the second Table of God’s Commandments more than the first? who hath taught thee to hang poor artless thieves, and to maintain tyrants, and rich artificial, proud, hypocritical, partial thieves, in their impious practises, and yet both are contrary to God’s commandment? who hath taught thee to pay God with an external show of holiness, when he will have internal holiness, and to show him the figure of the law, without the substance and meaning of the law, and to maintain a loveless law, when the whole law is love? If thou knowest not who hath taught thee those, and many more such like impieties, hearken, and I will tell thee: certainly it is the devil, in thy atheistical, tyrannical, hypocritical, proud, impious heart, for conscience thou hast none, and above all thy other impieties, which are many, none doth bewray thy atheistical impious heart so much, as thy hanging of poor, and maintaining of rich thieves doth: but consider the perverse dealing of that world, which through the instigation of the devil, all impious persons do maintain; but first consider, and God grant that we may truly know, what relation God hath to man, and man to God in Jesus Christ, which is God’s son: Here if I would be curious, I should seek to define the infinite God, which is nowhere included nor excluded, but containeth all, and is all in all, &c. But although so as God is in himself, so is he only known to himself, yet in all his creatures there is some appearance of the tract of his foot‐steps; but passing by the rest of his creatures, let us consider man in his first creation, I do not mean to pull him in pieces, to see the frame and constitution of his natural soul and body, but I would fain know and show how, through God’s free grace, Religion is wrought in man: It is recorded by Moses, that when God had made man’s brutish parts, he did not leave him so, but he breathed in his face, or in his soul, a quickening spirit, which caused man to be man: what that spirit was, and is, I know not, but if any man can tell me what God is, then I will tell him what that Heavenly gift of God was, and is, which God gave unto man in his first creation, but whatsoever it was and is, it was, and is free, because it was not subjected, and it could not be subjected, because it was not created, and because it was not subjected, therefore it must be free, and because it was free, therefore God placed religion in that free uncreated part of man: for when God made all things of nothing, he subjected all that he made, under that strong, irrevocable, unchangeable law of necessity, and not alone the creature, but their operations, and he predestined and subjected all our thoughts, words and works, and all accidents which we call chance, are all necessitated of all creatures visible and invisible, will they, nill they, they must all yield obedience, and do all that which God hath imposed on them, and therefore we must consider, that religion on our part is passive, and therefore it must be free, for that which God gave unto man, was a spark of his own essence, and it doth participate of God’s nature, and because it is one with God, and free as God, therefore God placed Religion in it; and we must consider, that in, or with that uncreated spark, God gave unto man a free power, which we call will, and his office is willingly to dispose of the whole man, for God without man, had disposed of all things, but he would not dispose of man, without man, and therefore God so framed man that he is capable of divine wisdom, not by compulsion, but by reason; not by force, but free‐will, and therefore salvation to persons of discretion, is conditional, because compulsion is contrary to God’s nature, for religion must be a joining of two free‐wills in one, ergo man must be free to will both good and evil, and that is man’s part concerning religion: man must desire to be good, or God cannot make him good, because it is contrary to God’s nature to force a man to be good. Now let us consider how the devil doth strive to erect his kingdom of sin and impiety, in the same place where God will have his kingdom of grace, namely, in the free will of man, for the devil knoweth that God will have nothing of man, if he have not his will and desire, which are one, and it is the devil’s nature to sin against the nature of God, and therefore he striveth with all his power to contradict the will of God in man. Here I should say something concerning that sin against the Holy Ghost, which Christ said should never be forgiven. Two ways we may so sin against God, that we cannot be forgiven, not that God wanteth mercy, or is not willing to pardon all sins, but because some men will not accept God’s free grace, when they have, and do sin. All such sins as cannot be pardoned, are such sins as are never rightly and truly repented, and such sins are not alone committed against God’s laws, but against God’s nature. The first is when a man with a ripe knowledge, and a free deliberal consideration, doth freely choose, and maliciously strive to sin against the nature and humility of God in Christ, not accidentally nor causually, without a man, but through hateful malice, proceeding from an impious hatred against the humility and love of God in Christ: no infidel, ignorant, or distressed man, can through ignorance or fear, commit this sin; for this entrance into this sin must be maliciously committed against the humble love of God, which sent Christ to save us, or to tell us, that through the love of God we might be saved if we would. The second unpardonable sin is, that a man loveth his sins so much, that he will not leave them to be saved from them, but he will continue in, or with them contrary to the motions of the Holy Ghost, in his heart and conscience: Now he that so sinneth, and so continueth in sinning without repentance, he cutteth and keepeth asunder God and his free image, which is in man. In the first entrance into so sinning, it is rare to find any man so impious, but in the second place, where men make their sin unpardonable, because they will not forsake them, of such the world is full: whether Judas sinned that first sin I know not, but it is said of Julian the apostate, that he sinned them both: first he sinned through wilful malice, and then he continued in his malicious wilful sin so long as he could, which was so long as he lived: and we ought to consider that an evil heart or desire which are one, although it break not out into actions, is a damnable sin, yea it is the only damming sin; for so long as our desires are evil, and we rest with our evil desires, we are impious wretches, and all that we do is sin, and all our prayers are sin; for God judgeth man according to the intention of his heart, and therefore we must first cleanse our hearts, and then wash our hands in innocency, for if we do good with evil hearts, the devil and hypocrisy will have such power over us, that we shall fall asleep in our sins, and through the deceitfulness of sin, we may come to that pass, that we may call good evil, and evil good, which is the highest degree of impiety.