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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Christian Liberty

By William Hooke (1601–1678)

[New-England’s Sence of Old-England’s and Ireland’s Sorrowes. 1645.]

BRETHREN! Liberty is more precious than life, inasmuch as death is the common lot of all men, but servitude the portion only of men destined to misery. And if a people be sold for bondmen, and bondwomen, what can countervail the King’s damage? And seldom is it that cruelty rests satisfied with bondage, but makes his progressions to further degrees of blood. When people and cities can not say municipia, but mancipia, what remains but death; as when the Ephraimites could not pronounce Shibboleth, but only Sibboleth, presently they died for it. If goods and liberty be in the power of men’s wills, why not also life? There is much comprised in people and cities, even all that is politic, economic, or private; but I instance only in the greatest mischief. Let us therefore use the words of Queen Hester unto Ahasuerus, and direct them unto God: “If we have found favor in thy sight, O Lord, and if it please the king, let our lives be given us at our petition, and our people at our request; for our people are sold to be destroyed, and slain, and perish.”

If any say, “How are we concerned in the miseries of other men, so long as we are free?” I say, it toucheth us, as Lot’s captivity touched Abraham, who mustered up his men, and took his confederates along with him, Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner, and delivered him out of bondage. And if we forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if we say, “we knew it not, or what did it concern us?” “He that pondereth the heart considereth it, and he will render unto us according to our works.” Wherefore let us play the men for our people and cities. What though it be well with us? Let us yet remember the afflictions of Joseph; yea, and the words of Joseph to Pharaoh’s butler; “Think upon me when it shall be well with thee; and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.” For thus in effect speaks England and Ireland to us this day, and all the cities in them; now that it is well with you, think upon us, and show kindness unto us, and make mention of us unto the God of heaven, that we may fully once be delivered out of the house of bondage. “Oh,” saith such and such a city, “there are so many thousand souls in me, who can not discern between the right hand and the left.”

But if it be not well with them, how can it be well with us? If the Ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents, and the people of God are encamped in the open fields, what comfort can we have in our houses, food, or wives? What though we are so far from them in place?

The needle in the compass is never quiet till it pointeth to the north, at a thousand times greater distance. Affections touched with grace, stand firm from one end of the world to the other. Nehemiah’s heart stood right towards Jerusalem, when he was in Persia; and though he was not in an humbling wilderness, but an alluring palace, even in Shushan, yet Jerusalem came into his mind. For when Hanani, and certain men of Judah came thither to him, he asked them concerning his brethren that were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And when they told him of the great affliction and reproach, he sat down and wept, and mourned many days, and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Wherefore let that word of the Lord sound often in our ears: “Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still; remember the Lord afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your minds.” And though we have but a day or two, wherein to join all our forces in the land together, and to give the adversaries a broadside; yet let us now and then make excursions by ourselves in private, now that the Lord calls for help against the mighty. Are we not all the voluntaries of Jesus, whose people shall be willing in the day of his power? Neither is their any restraint unto the Lord, to save by many, or by few; by whole churches, or by single persons. Let us therefore be often adventuring by ourselves, like Jonathan and his armor-bearer against the Philistines. If ever we afflicted our souls, let it be in these days; for we may partly understand by books the number of the years which God will accomplish in the desolations of Jerusalem. So that we set our faces unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. There is at this time a great battle between Michael and the dragon, and the Angels. The beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies have gathered themselves together to make war with the Lamb. All the principalities, and powers, and rulers of the darkness of the world, and spiritual wickednesses in high places, are up in arms this day, and there is scarce a devil left behind in hell. If ever therefore, now let us quit ourselves like men; the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God. Let us pray against them, as Moses against Amalek; and preach against them, as the priests under the law, when the host went out against the enemy; and sing against them, as Jehoshaphat and the men of Judah did against Moab, Ammon, and Edom; and live against them, as it is written, “When the host goeth forth against the enemy, then keep thee from every wicked thing.” Deut. xxiii. 9. Every ordinance of God is a deadly murderer. O let us walk and sleep in our armor and never be unfurnished of promises touching the confusion of Babel, and her builders. Let the cause of God affect us deeply, and the people and cities of our God be always in our eyes. And let the desolations of Christendom awaken us to frequent prayers, and constant sympathy; and the blood of God’s people (particularly) in Ireland, be to us as the blood of grapes and mulberries are to elephants, to provoke them to fight. Oh those incarnate Irish devils! let them be often in our sight. Their blasphemies, their burnings, their robberies, their rapes, their rostings, their strippings, rippings, hangings, drownings, dismemberings, butcheries, the very shambles of the devil erected in Ireland, would be always in our eyes and ears. And yet when we have done all, let us refer the issue to the Almighty, saying: “Let the Lord do what seemeth him good.”