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The Study of Man: The Revolution of the Righteous

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O what fears and tears, cries and prayers, night and day, was there in many places, and in my dear mother’s house in particular. I was then about twelve or thirteen years of age, and though I was afraid to be killed, yet was I weary of so much fasting and praying.-A Reminiscence of the English Civil War.

I dreamed, and behold I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a Book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I looked, and saw him open the Book and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he broke out with a lamentable cry, saying “What shall I do?“-John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress.

To be a Seeker is to be of the best sect after a Finder, and such a one shall every faithful humble Seeker be in the end.-Oliver Cromwell.

FEW episodes loom as large in the history of democracy as the English Revolution of 1638-1660. Freedom of conscience, independent courts, parliamentary supremacy, the two-party system, the “right” of revolution itself all stem from the Great Rebellion which overthrew King Charles I and made an East Anglian squire, Oliver Cromwell, sovereign of the British Isles. Yet our own time, so fascinated with revolutions, has difficulty grasping the spirit of the first of the great ones. Locked in the neat political categories of empiricism, we are puzzled by Cromwell and his men, who were simultaneously “democratic” and “totalitarian,” “libertarian” and “puritanical,” “nationalist” and “universal,” capable of massacring Irish Catholics and liberating the Jews. Because so many of our assumptions are secular and materialist, we cannot comprehend social revolutionaries whose politics started with religion; and therefore seek all kinds of latent motives beneath their manifest faith.



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