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Whatever was in our power, at this remote distance, we have done. We have contributed our utmost endeavours, and shall continue so to do, both for procuring the safety of those that are in danger, and relieving the necessities of those that want. May God grant to both of us such tranquillity and peace at home, and so prosperous a state of affairs and of opportunities, that we may employ all our power, strength, and means for the defence of the church, against the rage and fury of its enemies. Westminster, May 26, 1658.
The letter addressed to the King of France, was transmitted to Lord Lockhart, who then filled the office of English ambassador at the French court, to whom the Protector, at the same time, wrote, giving him instructions to present the letter to his majesty, and pointing out eight principal topics of grievance which he was to adduce in his conversation with that monarch, and to use his utmost endeavours to make his majesty sensible of them, and to persuade him to give immediate and positive instructions to his ambassador, then resident at the duke's court, to act vigorously in behalf of the oppressed Waldenses. He was also to urge the obligations the French king lay under, to fulfil the engagement of his royal predecessor Henry IV. with the ancestors of these very people, and to press the King of France to make an exchange with the Duke of Savoy for the vallies of Piedmont, resigning some part of his own dominions to the latter in lieu thereof.
In the same year, 1658, and at the moment that the English government was making such laudable exertions to relieve the Waldenses in Piedmont, the news arrived of another dreadful scene of cruelty and distress exercised towards a branch of the same people, inhabiting a distant quarter. The three following papers, which, like the whole of the melancholy subject to which they relate, have
since sunk into the most profound oblivion, were printed BY AUTHORITY, at the time; and as they sufficiently explain themselves, it is needless to introduce them by any formal preamble. There can be little doubt that the first of them was the composition of Milton: and the original now before me, which is printed in black letter, has the Protector's arms prefixed to it.
A Declaration of his Highness, for a collection towards the
relief of divers Protestant churches driven out of Poland; and of twenty Protestant families driven out of the confines of Bohemia.
HIS HIGHNESS, the Lord Protector, having received a petition from several churches of Christ, professing the reformed religion, lately seated at Lesna, and other places, in Poland, representing their sad and deplorable condition, through the persecution and cruelty of their antichristian enemies in those parts, in the time of the war in Poland, by whom they have not only been driven from their habitation and spoiled of their goods, upon the account of religion oniy, but forced to fly into Silesia, for the preservation of their lives, and for the liberty of their consciences; where a considerable number of them continue in great want and misery—the truth whereof hath been witnessed, as well by deputies sent unto his highness from the said churches, authorised by an instrument under the hands of the pastors of five of those churches, as also by the testimony of several Protestant princes, who, out of a deep sense of the calamity of those distressed exiles, have afforded them shelter until it shall please the Lord otherwise to provide for them. And his highness having, in like manner, re. ceived a petition from twenty Protestant families heretofore seated in the confines of Bohemia, where Misnia belongs unto it, representing their distressed and lamentable con. Vol. II.
dition, through the persecution of the jesuits and inquisitors of the house of Austria, by whom they have been driven out of their habitations, and spoiled of their goods, upon the sole account of their religion ; who now, for the safety of their lives, and for the liberties of their consciences, are retired into the marquisate of Culembach, where they find a present shelter in this their very sad and calamitous condition, which hath been witnessed both by their deputies sent unto his highness, authorised by an instrument under the hands of the chief of those families, as also by a public certificate from thence. And it being the earnest desire of the said afflicted churches and families, as well by their several petitions, as by their deputies, that his highness, out of compassion to their sufferings, would be pleased to recommend their lamentable condition to their brethren in these nations, in whom they hope to find bowels of mercy, yearning towards those who, professing the same faith with them, are now under so great extremities and misery for the cause of the gospel, and testimony of the Lord Jesus.
His highness being greatly afflicted with the miserable and calamitous condition of the said churches and families, and not doubting but the people of these nations, whom the Lord hath graciously and wonderfully preserved from that antichristian bondage and tyranny, will have a fellowfeeling of the afflictions of their brethren, hath, with the advice of his privy-council, thought fit to recommend their case to the charity of those whose hearts the Lord shall stir up in these nations, to afford them some seasonable relief, whose liberality in this kind hath been testified in their large contributions to the relief of the poor Protestants in the vallies of Piedmont, to the refreshing of their bowels (touching the faithful distribution whereof, an account is ordered by his highness to be printed for general satisfaction.) And to the end the said collections
carefully made, and the money thereupon collected be disposed of, to the relief of the said poor churches, and their members, and the families aforesaid, and to no other uses, his highness doth hereby require and command the ministers and churchwardens of the respective parishes within England and Wales, and town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the next Lord's day after this declaration shall come unto their hands, to publish the same, and on the Lord's day following to make a collection of the charitable contribution of the people in their parishes, and that within three days after, they pay over the sum or sums so collected unto the high sheriff of the respective counties, to be by him paid into the hands of Sir Thomas Viner and Sir Christopher Pack, knights, Aldermen of the city of London, who are appointed treasurers for this service, and who shall transmit the monies so to be by them received for the relief of the said poor distressed churches and their members, and the aforesaid twenty families, in such manner and proportions as the committee formerly appointed for the disposing of the monies for the relief of the said poor Protestants in Piedmont, shall, with respect to their several numbers and sufferings, think fit and direct, and to the end that none of the monies coliected for so pious and charitable an end may miscarry, the ministers and churchwardens aforesaid are enjoined, upon payment of the said money to the respective sheriffs as aforesaid, to send up unto the said Sir Thomas Viner a note in writing under their hands, of the sum so collected, the parish and county where such collection was made, and the person to whom the same was paid, to the end care may be taken, and the same may be duly returned and employed to the use intended.
By the Committee for the Affairs of the poor Protestants in
the Vallies of Piedmont.
The all-wise and holy God, whose ways of providence are always righteous, though often secret and unsearchable, hath made it the constant lot and portion of his people in this world, to follow the Lord in bearing the cross and suffering persecutions, thereby holding forth and verifying that irreconcilable enmity between the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent, which was visible betimes in the bloodshed of righteous Abel, whom Cain (though his, brother) slew, being of the wicked one, yea, and for this cause, for that his own works were evil, and his brother's good. Thus they that are born after the flesh, persecute them that are born after the spirit to this day, and so will do while the world lastech. In which cause and quarrel the Lord hath very many glorious ends. But scarcely have any sort of the church's enemies more clearly followed the pernicious ways of Cain herein, than hath the antichristian faction of Rome done, that Mother of Harlots and Abominations, whose garments are dyed red with the blood of saints, which they have always cruelly shed, and made themselves drunk with, even with the blood of those holy followers of the Lamb, chiefly who would not receive Antichrist's mark, nor worship his image, nor drink of the golden cup of his fornications, but rather come out from them, and witness against them, though they did it in sackcloth, and were slain for it.
Among those, chosen and faithful witnesses, the Lord seemeth very signally to bave raised up those Christians, who, though dispersed in divers countries, have been commonly known by the name of Waldenses, who, for some centuries of years, have lived among their enemies as lambs among wolves, to bear their testimony for the truth