Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1607–1764
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX TO AUTHORS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. I–II: Colonial Literature, 1607–1764
 
A Homely Plea for Toleration
By Peter Folger (1617?–1690)
 
[Born in Norwich, England. Died at Nantucket, Mass., 1690. A Looking-Glass for the Times. 1677.]

LET all that read these verses know,
That I intend something to show
About our war, how it hath been
And also what is the chief sin,
That God doth so with us contend        5
And when these wars are like to end.
Read them in love; do not despise
What here is set before thine eyes.
 
New England for these many years
  hath had both rest and peace,        10
But now the case is otherwise;
  our troubles doth increase.
 
The plague of war is now begun
  in some great colonies,
And many towns are desolate        15
  we may see with our eyes.
 
The loss of many goodly men
  we may lament also,
Who in the war have lost their lives,
  and fallen by our foe.        20
 
Our women also they have took
  and children very small,
Great cruelty they have used
  to some, though not to all.
 
The enemy that hath done this,        25
  are very foolish men,
Yet God doth take of them a rod
  to punish us for sin.
 
If we then truly turn to God,
  He will remove his ire,        30
And will forthwith take this his rod,
  and cast it into fire.
 
Let us then search, what is the sin
  that God doth punish for;
And when found out, cast it away        35
  and ever it abhor.
 
Sure ’t is not chiefly for those sins,
  that magistrates do name,
And make good laws for to suppress,
  and execute the same.        40
 
But ’t is for that same crying sin,
  that rulers will not own,
And that whereby much cruelty
  to brethren hath been shown.
 
The sin of persecution        45
  such laws established,
By which laws they have gone so far
  as blood hath touched blood.
 
It is now forty years ago,
  since some of them were made,        50
Which was the ground and rise of all
  the persecuting trade.
 
Then many worthy persons were
  banished to the woods,
Where they among the natives did,        55
  lose their most precious bloods.
 
And since that, many godly men,
  have been to prison sent,
They have been fined, and whipped also,
  and suffered banishment.        60
 
The cause of this their suffering
  was not for any sin,
But for the witness that they bare
  against babe sprinkling.
 
Of later time there hath been some        65
  men come into this land,
To warn the rulers of their sins
  as I do understand.
 
They call on all, both great and small,
  to fear God and repent;        70
And for their testimonies thus
  they suffer a punishment.
 
Yea some of them they did affirm,
  that they were sent of God,
To testify to great and small        75
  that God would send his rod
 
Against those colonies, because
  they did make laws not good;
And if those laws were not repeal’d
  the end would be in blood.        80
 
And though that these were harmless men,
  and did no hurt to any,
But lived well like honest men,
  as testified by many;
 
Yet did these laws entrap them so,        85
  that they were put to death,—
And could not have the liberty
  to speak near their last breath.
 
But these men were, as I have heard,
  against our College men;        90
And this was, out of doubt to me,
  that which was most their sin.
 
They did reprove all hirelings,
  with a most sharp reproof,
Because they knew not how to preach        95
  till sure of means enough.
 
Now to the sufferings of these men
  I have but gave a hint;
Because that in George Bishop’s book
  you may see all in print.
*        *        *        *        *
        100
Let Magistrates and ministers
  consider what they do:
Let them repeal those evil laws
  and break those bands in two
 
Which have been made as traps and snares        105
  to catch the innocents,
And whereby it has gone so far
  to acts of violence.
 
I see you write yourselves in print,
  the Balm of Gilead;        110
Then do not act as if you were
  like men that are half mad.
 
If you can heal the land, what is
  the cause things are so bad?
I think instead of that, you make        115
  the hearts of people sad.
 
Is this a time for you to press,
  to draw the blood of those
That are your neighbors and your friends?
  as if you had no foes.
*        *        *        *        *
        120
I would not have you for to think,
  tho’ I have wrote so much,
That I hereby do throw a stone
  at magistrates, as such.
 
The rulers in the country, I        125
  do own them in the Lord;
And such as are for government,
  with them I do accord.
 
But that which I intend hereby,
  is, that they would keep bounds,        130
And meddle not with God’s worship,
  for which they have no ground.
 
And I am not alone herein,
  there ’s many hundreds more,
That have for many years ago        135
  spake much upon that score.
 
Indeed I really believe,
  it ’s not your business
To meddle with the Church of Christ
  in matters more or less.        140
 
There ’s work enough to do besides,
  to judge in mine and thine:
To succor poor and fatherless,
  that is the work in fine.
 
And I do think that now you find        145
  enough of that to do;
Much more at such a time as this,
  as there is war also.
 
Indeed I count it very low,
  for people in these days,        150
To ask the rulers for their leave
  to serve God in his ways.
 
I count it worse in magistrates
  to use the iron sword,
To do that work which Christ alone        155
  will do by his own word.
 
The Church may now go stay at home,
  there ’s nothing for to do;
Their work is all cut out by law,
  and almost made up too.        160
 
Now, reader, least you should mistake,
  in what I said before
Concerning ministers, I think
  to write a few words more.
 
I would not have you for to think        165
  that I am such a fool,
To write against learning, as such,
  or to cry down a school.
 
But ’tis that Popish college way,
  that I intend hereby,        170
Where men are mew’d up in a cage;
  fit for all villainy.
*        *        *        *        *
Now for the length of time, how long
  these wars are like to be,
I may speak something unto that,        175
  if men will reason see.
 
The Scripture doth point out the time,
  and ’t is as we do choose,
For to obey the voice of God,
  or else for to refuse.        180
 
The prophet Jeremy doth say,
  when war was threat’ned sore,
That if men do repent and turn
  God will afflict no more.
 
But such a turning unto God,        185
  as is but verbally,
When men refuse for to reform,
  it is not worth a fly.
 
’T is hard for you, as I do hear,
  though you be under rod,        190
To say to Israel, Go, you,
  and serve the Lord your God.
 
Though you do many prayers make,
  and add fasting thereto,
Yet if your hands be full of blood,        195
  all this will never do.
 
The end that God doth send his sword,
  is that we might amend,
Then, if that we reform aright,
  the war will shortly end.        200
 
New England they are like the Jews,
  as like as like can be;
They made large promises to God,
  at home and at the sea.
 
They did proclaim free Liberty,        205
  they cut the calf in twain,
They part between the part thereof,
  O this was all in vain.
 
For since they came into this land,
  they floated to and fro,        210
Sometimes, then, brethren may be free,
  while hence to prison go.
 
According as the times to go,
  and weather is abroad,
So we can serve ourselves sometimes        215
  and sometimes serve the Lord.
*        *        *        *        *
If that the peace of God did rule,
  with power in our heart,
Then outward war would flee away,
  and rest would be our part.        220
 
If we do love our brethren,
  and do to them, I say,
As we would they should do to us,
  we should be quiet straightway.
 
But if that we a smiting go,        225
  of fellow-servants so,
No marvel if our wars increase
  and things so heavy go.
 
’T is like that some may think and say
  our war would not remain,        230
If so be that a thousand more
  of natives were but slain.
 
Alas! these are but foolish thoughts,
  God can make more arise,
And if that there were none at all,        235
  he can make war with flies.
 
It is the presence of the Lord,
  must make our foes to shake,
Or else it ’s like he will e’er long
  know how to make us quake.        240
 
Let us lie low before the Lord,
  in all humility,
And then we shall with Asa see
  our enemies to fly.
 
But if that we do leave the Lord,        245
  and trust in fleshly arm,
Then ’t is no wonder if that we
  do hear more news of harm.
 
Let ’s have our faith and hope in God,
  and trust in him alone,        250
And then no doubt this storm of war
  it quickly will be gone.
 
Thus, reader, I, in love to all,
  leave these few lines with thee,
Hoping that in the substance we        255
  shall very well agree.
 
If that you do mistake the verse
  for its uncomely dress,
I tell thee true, I never thought
  that it would pass the press.        260
 
If any at the matter kick,
  it ’s like he ’s galled at heart,
And that ’s the reason why he kicks,
  because he finds it smart.
 
I am for peace, and not for war,        265
  and that ’s the reason why
I write more plain than some men do,
  that use to daub and lie.
 
But I shall cease and set my name
  to what I here insert,        270
Because to be a libeller,
  I hate it with my heart.
 
From Sherbon town, where now I dwell,
  my name I do put here,
Without offence your real friend,        275
  it is PETER FOLGER.
 
 
CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX TO AUTHORS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors