Tyranipocrit Discovered: A Farewell to Princes & Prelates
Though God may save all souls in the ultimate judgment, hellish history is no divine command: it is the result of freely made human choices.
Anthony Comegna, PhD
Assistant Editor for Intellectual History
In his final words of warning to the newly‐kingless English, our anonymous author offers weighty words of caution: “We have no need of tyranny in a new fashion.” To seize their rare, veritably historical opportunity to remake England, Levelers like our author would need to seek out both Tyranipocrits and loving commonwealthmen alike. By laying “white devils” low, Levellers and other radicals could be free to peacefully influence their fellows’ “manners and customs, which are evil and prejudicial to the Commonwealth.” The King was now headless because “God will not be mocked,” but a swarm of Cromwellian lordlings remained behind to further bleed the people. Yet even these new species of Tyranipocrit–these new mergers between the Satanic forces of moral hypocrisy and worldly tyranny–were within the scope of God’s power to forgive.
To actually realize God’s limitless forgiveness, though, people must experience it directly through acts of love. Individual to individual, from heart to heart, the Leveller‐Ranter‐Seeker‐Dissenter message had the potential to dispel evil and pursue the social good; but this gradually unfurling benevolence depended upon the freely chosen action of real people. Should the bulk of the public love sin more than God, should they practice their own “white devilry,” or should they passively tolerate Tyranipocrit’s earthly rule, humanity would continue in its historical condition of misery. Our author concludes, then, with a dual plea. To the suffering populace, they encourage now‐established and relatively widespread Leveling principles–rid yourselves of earthly rulers, these “white devil” Tyranipocrits great and small, to responsibly and lovingly govern yourselves. To Tyranipocrit himself–the ruling classes of all nations, whether kings, parliaments, or landlords–they urge repentance and “perfect charity:”
The best service that they can do, is to give unto every man with discretion, an equal portion of temporal goods, and when that is done, then they may go to Church and sacrifice, if they will, but not before: this is the right rule, and this is the fulfilling of the law of love.
And now to better some, and not all things which you are able, God no doubt will esteem of your Reformation, as he did of Saul’s and Jehu’s proceedings, and therefore remember, it is not new forms, but a new condition that we do want, we have no need of tyranny in a new fashion, but of a changing of manners and customs, which are evil and prejudicial to the Commonwealth, into such as may be beneficial to all mankind: for a bettering in some, and not in all things that you can, that is a double sin, and therefore do all that you can, or nothing at all, for God will not be mocked. It is because the rich do rob the poor of their necessary maintenance, that pride and gluttony doth so abound in the rich. Now in this cause, I take God, who is the impartial Judge of all causes, to judge this cause, concerning an equality of worldly goods for men to live on: and for men’s consciences, let God alone with them, for he alone knoweth how to deal with them. And therefore all you Tyrants and Hypocrites, if you will not labour and be willing to do the will of God, according to the rule and example of Christ, but will continue in your tyrannizing, O then, as you tender your own salvation, forsake Christ in words, as you have done in works, and do not play the Hypocrite any longer; but if you hate his nature, then cast off his name, because simulata sanctitas, est duplex iniquitas.(“To pretend holiness, is doubly sinful”).
Now if this doctrine seem strange, it is because the impious world hateth it, and maintaineth the contrary, which is a sure rule to know that this is the right rule, and we must not follow a multitude, to do evil; but if you will not approve of it, because it is according to the revealed will of God in Christ, yet consider that it is contrary to corrupt nature, and therefore approve of it, and maintain it, for both those rules are sure rules to find out the right rule; for God loveth the truth, and corrupt nature hateth the truth. Now to love our neighbours as ourselves, the rule is always in us, we need not ride, nor go to church, nor hear Preachers, nor read books, to attain to this knowledge: Every man knoweth how much he loveth himself, and what he most desireth, and if a man’s desire be good, then that is the rule by which he should build up his neighbour; but if his desire be evil, then it is no rule for him nor them, and therefore we must first be good, or no doing good can help us, therefore will well, and all is well. And therefore when any offices, or officers, are become prejudicial to the Commonwealth, let them be willingly forsaken: yea, and Magistrates if need be, must part with their lives and souls, if it were possible, for the benefit of the people: and if in this cause you will not imitate Christ, remember Moses, Paul, Lycurgus, Otho, Codros, and more worthy men: some of them have lost their lives for the safety of the people, and others have wished themselves to be separated from God, for the salvation of the people.
It is not enough, that some Tyrants be removed, but all tyranny must freely be forsaken, for it is alike evil, to do good with an evil will, as it is to do evil with a good will. O consider this, all you rich Tyrants, you that have robbed the poor, and yet you will not hang yourselves, neither will ye permit the law, nor the hang‐man to hang you, and which is worst of all, you will not make satisfaction, by restoring again unto the poor, their goods which you have wrongfully taken from them.
And now for conclusion, consider that God made all the world for man, to that end that man should give his desire unto God, for before the creation of all things were in God, immutably without change, operation, or alteration, as now they have, and so they were all good, but not so good as God would have them, and therefore God would let out himself in the creatures, because he would have a free‐willing sacrifice, and therefore he did set man free; for so as he was in God uncreated, he could not give unto God that which God had not then given unto him, which was his free‐will. Before the creation all things were in God, and when the creation shall be consumed or refined, then all things must return again unto God; but during the time of this natural dying life, it is not so, for so long as a man liveth, or rather dieth in this world, he hath a free mutable power, to will both good and evil. I think no man can deny this, but then comes in that great question, to wit, What Adam lost, and what Christ found for us. What we lost in Adam, and found in Christ, God knoweth; but this, through God’s grace, I know, that every man hath a willing desire, whether it was taken from him in Adam, and given him again in Christ, God knoweth; but now man hath it: I mean a desire, and although he cannot do good, yet he can love good, if he will, and if he cannot shun evil, yet he can loathe it, if he will, and so as a man desireth, so God accepteth, and so he disposeth of man, not as he hath done, but as he desireth to have done, and to do if he could, for the works are God’s, but the willing is man’s, because God gave it him: And God doth not always work that good in us which we desire, for then we should have no strivings against the evil, as we have, but God always accepteth the good will and desire of any man. Now those which do maintain an absolute predestination in God of man, without man’s consent, would have men in this life to be so in God, as they were before the creation, which is the greatest absurdity that ever was maintained: but of this matter I have treated before.
And now for a farewell, I would desire all noble Princes and Prelates, and all superfluous rich persons, to consider the vileness of wilful and examplary sins, and from henceforth, if the devil must be served with pride, tyranny, hypocrisy, &c. yet hereafter let him serve himself, or let the poor cursed people which know not the Law, serve him, and let them have their dinners served in with trumpets, as you have, and let them ride in coaches drawn by six or eight horses, and let them force men to go to war and kill one another, and let them pardon murderers, and hang poor, and maintain rich thieves, and let them have their servants and slaves to kneel unto them, and let them live idle, or let their actions be worse than idleness. O let the poor people do such things another while, and do you be poor, and behold such manners in them, as they have a long time beheld in you, and then it may be that you will loathe them in the poor, and be ashamed of them in yourselves. O let the poor people do such things, if they must be done; but for Kings and Queens, Lords and Ladies, gentle‐men and gentle‐women, Holy Fathers, gracious Bishops, learned Divines, such as command and teach others, for such to be slaves to sin and the devil, to help him to maintain his proud impious kingdom, that is the greatest shame in the world. O consider that you are Christian rulers, and therefore your lives and manners should best accord with the life and manners of Christ. O search diligently all the whole History of Christ, and see if you can find that he had such things done unto him, as you will have done to you, or if he did cause such things to be done to others, as you cause to be done to others: See if he had his dinners served in with trumpets, or if he had his Cup‐bearer to kneel unto him, or if he had so many vain titles of honour, or so many proud blazons of arms, or if he had his coach drawn by six or eight horses, or if he had so many thousands a year to spend, more than his poor neighbours, and so in all other things concerning his and your deportment. O if you could find a History that would conform Christ to you, for you will not be conformable unto him, except you change your manners, surely such a book in these days, would be more esteemed then the Old or the New Testament; But if you cannot find such a History, then leave your pride, and follow Christ in humility, if you will be Christian Rulers; but if you will not leave your pride, and all your wilful sins beside, then resign your ruling power, which you have usurped over Christians, to others, whose lives and manners do better accord with the life and manners of Christ, than yours do.
Now for the truth concerning this matter, let any man confute me, if he can, if not, then let all reasonable men labour to effect, that which God and all good men do affect: and for equality of riches, I suppose that evil‐minded men will say, that it is impossible that every man should have, and hold alike portion of earthly goods. To which I answer as I have done before: That if the Rulers of this world, cannot make all the poor rich, yet they can the richest poorer, for their sin is not so much, in that some men are too poor, as it is in that some are too rich. The Magistrates duty is, equally to divide and share such goods, as God hath given them a power to dispose of, and when they have done that, then they have done their duty. O impious world, thou art not so much to be blamed, because there are abuses, but because thou maintainest them. Do thou take away the superfluous riches from the rich, and divide them amongst the poor: first limit the goods of the rich at ten, twenty, thirty, forty, or a hundred pounds a year, and then share their overplus amongst them that have lesser means, then thou hast left the other, and then see if the poor have more goods then the rich: now if one have so much as another, then it is done, if not, then make a new division again and again, so long till thou hast made them all alike rich, and yet that is not enough, but once in a year, or oftener, thou must examine every man’s estate, to see if they have not made their goods uneven, and if they have, then thou must make it even again.
This is not so hard to be done, and this is plain English, and very good reason, and this would easily be done, if all men did love their poor neighbours as themselves, and if all our Judges, Lawyers, Projectors, Proctors, Plotters, and all such like creatures, and if all Magistrates in every town, would employ themselves and all their power, to make and maintain this law, and once in a year to make all even, as they do now to make it uneven.
O how many old and new Courts of Injustice are there in England, and all to deceive truth, with a feigned show of justice, and who but the devil, hath profit by our Court‐holders? They call them Courts of Justice; but God knoweth if there be one just court in all the land, for till that just foundation be laid, all rules and ordinances whatsoever they be, are nothing else but tyrannical injunctions, for the rich thieves do make a combination, and it a Law, to hang a poor man if he do steal, when they have wrongfully taken from him all his maintenance; yea, those impious thieves which do rob the poor, do make laws, as they call them, to hang the poor people, when they themselves do deserve double hanging.
But now I would speak to them, which I fear will not much regard it, I mean our Divine Philosophers, and would desire them to consider seriously what they have to do: for, as I have said before, it is not enough for them to preach and teach truth, but they must preach and teach the most necessary truth, and they must reprove all persons according to their sins, without any partiality, so well the King, as the beggar, and Tyranipocrit, as the poorest slave, and if he do not, but willingly permit partiality through fear or favour to sway his affections, as they use to do, and so to be silent at the sins of great men, and yet condemn the poor for smaller offences, then all the truths which they have taught, will be reckoned unto them for lies, like Souls obedience, and Jehu’s zeal, for they did some of that which God commanded them. For Saul he killed the poor Amalekites, but he would not kill their proud King, and Jehu he murdered Ahab’s sons, and burnt Baal’s priests, &c. for so much was for his own profit, but Jeroboam’s calves and Tyranipocrit, Jehu taketh no care to root them out. O you Divine Philosophers, you do know what I should say concerning this matter, and you know how to comment upon the histories of these men: & then apply them to yourselves, and therefore strive to do all your duty, which is to reprove impartially, and to discover the white devil, which is Tyranipocrit freely, and then no doubt, but you shall have of the world so good entertainment, as Zacharias the son of Barachias had, and he was slain between the temple and the altar.
And for our Potentates, I do assure them, and if they have any consciences, they do know it better already then I can tell it them, that the best service that they can do, is to give unto every man with discretion, an equal portion of temporal goods, and when that is done, then they may go to Church and sacrifice, if they will, but not before: this is the right rule, and this is the fulfilling of the law of love, which is the law of God in Christ: this is perfect charity, & charitas non excidit, nec potest quidem, (“Charity does not pass away, nor can it”) charity cannot err, for when it is in distress, then it looseth its self in God: & consider this, all you proud, hypocritical, uncharitable persons, which do carry your impious sins to Church, to sacrifice with them there: & remember that, Cor vel solum orat, & vita innoxia plusquam os,(“Either the heart alone prays, and life is virtuous as well as the mouth”) the object of charity should be our neighbours misery: & then, what doth an uncharitable, superfluous, rich person in the Church, before he have parted his goods with the poor: O hypocritical impiety, thou detainest the means which God hath ordained to help the poor in this life, and yet thou ridest to church, and prayest, or rather temptest God to help the poor miraculously, for thou hast, and wilt hold the means wherewith they should be holpen, and although they do know that simulated sanctity, is a double iniquity, yet they do stick to that other saying, which is, qui nescit simulare, nescit vivere; he that doth not know how to dissemble, doth not know to live: & Christian world, how contrary art thou to Christ! nothing can be more ridiculous to the world, then the rule of Christ. Who will give his coat after his cloak, and turn one cheek to be smitten, after the other? Who will sell all to follow Christ? &c. but if we may have wealth and honour to be Christians, if we may rule for gain, and teach for hire, and have our lusts for laws, and play the tyrant six days, and the hypocrites on the Sunday, &c. such a Christianity pleaseth the world: we will be Christians of our own making, and we will have Christ in forms and fashions, in health, wealth and liberty, at times, and in places, &c. & consider wherefore at this present time, the world is so out of order, is it for want of Laws or Lawyers? No certainly: for the world had never more Politicians, and worldly wise men, then it hath now; but because they will not do that which God in their hearts and consciences, tells them is right: therefore they with their too much wit, and too little wisdome, spoil all the world, and all this is, because superfluous arts are more esteemed, than needful labour, and because a painted truth, or a fair lie, is more regarded then simple truth, and because in these days men have too much faith, and too little love, and because the white devil pleaseth the impious world, much better than the black, and because all impious persons do hate God in Christ, and yet they will not forsake his name, although they hate his nature, for they will have Christ, not as a Lord to rule them, but as a slave, so they will rule him, which is the greatest injury that man can offer unto God, for to keep Christ in a man’s mouth, and to hate him in his heart, and to do all things contrary to his nature: what greater impiety can there be imagined? and yet so or worse, doth Tyranipocrit deal with Christ, and therefore all you which have most power on earth, strive with all your might, to cast out Tyranipocrit, with his Viceroy, Partiality, or never expect that God will bless your proceedings. God is an all‐sufficient helper, but he will not be mocked, neither will he help, where there is no need of his help: First we must do all that we can in every respect, to help ourselves and all mankind, with that power which God hath given unto us already, and when in all things we have done all that we can, then we may freely go unto God for more power. We cannot call again yesterday, nor measure eternity, nor undo that which is done, such things are for God, and not for us; but to give our goods to the poor so long, till they are so rich as we are, that is for us, and that God doth require of us. And now I will review and consider what I have treated of in this Treatise, and so conclude.
The chiefest matter, and the principal points of the same, are those: That no predestined sins, can hurt man concerning his eternal salvation, except man will, and that all our thoughts, words, and works are predestined, and that in God’s esteem there is no sin, but an evil will, and the desire of an evil heart, that would, if he could, do something contrary to the nature and revealed will of God in Christ, and that God’s predestination is no forcing power, but a prescience and a disposing of man, so, and according as he hath in this life delighted in good or evil, and so as he hath, or doth desire to be used as an instrument for God, or the devil; for it is contrary to the nature of God, to force the desire of man, neither doth God give more grace unto one man to be saved, then he doth to all, and every man, for if he should, then God must be a partial respecter of men, which were blasphemy to affirm. And concerning our passive Religion, I have not erred in that, because for that I have not propounded any rule: for, Christianismus non cadit sub regulus; (“Christianity does not fall under the Law [of Moses]”) and therefore let every man leave all his wilful sins, and then let him go to God in the power of Christ, which is in every man’s heart and conscience, and there he will, if they will, through his Holy Spirit, teach them which way he will have them to follow him, and what he and we in us, will have him to do for us, and with us.
And concerning our actual Religion, I have showed wherein that consisteth, which is, To give an equal portion of worldly goods unto every man, and now I say again, as I have said before, that before any good can be done in church, or Commonwealth, that Partiality must with an unanimous consent, be put to death, and he must be buried in an oblivious grave, and we must borrow Pope Paul’s great stone, and lay that upon his vile carcass, so that he may never rise again, to do any more mischief in the Commonwealth.
And for my Intelligence, I have partly showed the great damage, that mankind do sustain by their mercenary dealing, concerning divine matters: and concerning faith and love, I have done the like, and I have partly showed what an impious sin it is, for an evil man to do, or seem to do good: and for the Sabbath, because we are Christians, I would have six days more added unto it, that so it might be a complete Sabbath.
Those are the principal heads of this subject, and now I say, that I think that it is bad, for a Preacher to take wages of those, which he in the Name of God ought to reprove. It is worser to prefer anything before love; but it is worst of all, to teach evil men to do good. And now if any one will quarrel this doctrine, I am a poor Artist, and a poorer Sophister, yet when all false glosses shall be out of date, and no language shall be understood, but that of the heart, when Partiality shall have no power, and respect of persons shall not know the King from the beggar: when gold and glory shall not be regarded, and when men shall have nothing but their consciences, to cloth them withal: when we shall all appear naked, before the Judgement‐seat of God in Christ, then this poor contradicting, and contradicted labour of mine, shall answer for itself.
And now for a farewell, according to that knowledge which God hath given unto me, concerning his way with mankind in Jesus Christ: I say, that sin is no longer sin, than it is delighted in, and to delight in anything but God, that is sin. He that loveth God without man, he hateth God in man: and he that loveth God, and not man, he hateth them both. The prayer of the mouth, is good: of works, better: of the heart, best of all. It is bad for a poor man to sin, worse for a rich, but worst of all for a Ruler. He that sinneth through fear, doth ill: through favour, worse: through malice, worst of all. He that seeketh places to worship in, and times to pray at, is a local‐worshipper, and a time‐server. He that teacheth a partial God, and an artificial Religion, erreth in both alike. He that saith, that the mercy of God endureth for ever, and yet that it may fail a man in this life, if he seeketh it, maintaineth an absurd paradox. He that maintaineth that God hath predestined young children to damnation, is an uncharitable person. They that will not teach the most necessary truth themselves, nor permit others that would, are worse than that dog, that would not permit the horse to eat the hay. He that goeth to church to learn the will of God, doth well, but he that is, what he may be if he will, he hath chosen the better part. He that teacheth an absolute predestination in God of man, without man, he cannot honour God, nor comfort man. He that teacheth a partial God, loveth partiality, and that is his god. He that doth not endeavour to discover hypocrisy, he seemeth to be an hypocrite himself. He that commandeth and teacheth another to be good, and yet himself will be evil, he is that impious Tyranipocrit. He that will hate me for any truth that God hath herein revealed through me, if he would truly forsake the world, the flesh, and the devil, and his ego sum,(“I am”) then it may be he would be of another mind.
Now I take God to witness, that I have not written anything, through hate to any person; for I do not hate Tyrants, but their tyrannies, and now I say with Cicero: Non nobis solum natisumus, ortisque nostri partem patria vendicat, partem parentes, partem amici.( “Not for us alone are we born; our country, our parents, our friends, have a share in us”) But to pass by parents, country, and friends, I will conclude with them noble Grecians, which said: I will maintain the truth against all men. So help me God.
Verax parit odium, Deo soli gloria.
(“The truth produces hatred, glory is due only to God”)