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A Collection of Ranter Writings

A Collection of Ranter Writings: Spiritual Liberty and Sexual Freedom in the English Revolution

Edited by Nigel Smith
Foreword by John Carey
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Pluto Books
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    A Collection of Ranter Writings
    Book Description:

    The Ranters - like the Levellers and the Diggers - were a group of religious libertarians who flourished during the English Civil War (1642–1651), a period of social and religious turmoil which saw, in the words of the historian Christopher Hill, 'the world turned upside down'. A Collection of Ranter Writings is the most notable attempt to anthologise the key Ranter writings, bringing together some of the most remarkable, visionary and unforgettable texts. The subjects range from the limits to pleasure and divine right, to social justice and collective action. The Ranters have intrigued and captivated generations of scholars and philosophers. This carefully curated collection will be of great interest to historians, philosophers and all those trying to understand past radical traditions.

    eISBN: 978-1-78371-010-2
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Foreword (pp. viii-x)
    Nigel Smith

    Many forms of protest necessarily foreground the cause for which they fight: better social justice, better political representation, ending gender, sexual or racial discrimination (or exploitation), protecting the environment and the climate, and of late, protecting and promoting a faith, or a version of a faith. This usually means commitment to some kind of revised social order, and along the way, protest may be linked with a utopian vision of the future.

    But there are other kinds of protest that refuse the above. Their force arises from such deep unhappiness with the present predicament that it is driven by a...

  4. Foreword to First Edition, 1983 (pp. xi-xiii)
    John Carey

    Why read the Ranters? Two different kinds of answer could be given to that question, depending on whether your main interest is in English history or English literature. (A third kind of answer would apply if your main concern were the development of English Christianity — but then you would inevitably be interested in both literature and history as well.)

    The historian’s answers are the most obvious. The surviving Ranter writings tell us things we could not otherwise know about how the English imagination — or some English imaginations — structured the world, politically and metaphysically, in the critical years...

  5. Preface (pp. xiv-xvi)
    Nigel Smith
  6. Abbreviations (pp. xvii-xvii)
  7. Introduction (pp. 1-31)

    The family of love is meeting

    For the enjoyment of their fellow creatures

    An Ocean of beings with no sin in them

    I hear the demon

    Can’t fight the demon

    Oooh! The demon in me

    In the middle of the winter.

    This stanza sounds like the something from a Ranter pamphlet, most probably Abiezer Coppe in the first line, turning into Laurence Clarkson in the second. I wonder what the demon can mean? It is not the Ranters but the Mekons, the (originally) Leeds punk-folk-art-rock band with a strong social conscience and a visionary imagination, hotwired into history. The song...

  8. Further Reading (pp. 32-33)
    • Preface to John the Divine’s Divinity (1648) (pp. 35-35)

      THis (modicum bonum) this little pretty piece, was put into my hands to read: but (for the present) I pocketed it: and lodg’d it there all night: but viewing it in the morning; I concived it wasconceived of the holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin.² The same spirit moved me to transcribe it; and send it abroad to thy view.

      I know (by wofull experience) thatthe Truth as it is in Jesushath beenspet on, buffeted, railed on, incarcerated, intullianated, pen’d up, and imprisoned.Buttruthbeingstrengthhath madethe gates of brasse, and bars...

    • Some Sweet Sips, of some Spiritual Wine (1649) (pp. 36-63)

      Deare Friends,

      HEer’s something (according to the wisdome given to us) written unto you, in all these ensuing Epistles. In which are some things hard to be understood, which they that areUnlearned, and unstable, wrest: as they doe also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.

      But we brethren are perswaded better things of you &c.;

      Her’s someGoldand silver.

      But that is none of mine.

      The drosse I owne.

      The fire will fall upon it, and consume it; yet I my selfe am saved: yet so, as byFire.

      Here is Scripture language throughout these lines: yet...

    • ‘An Additional and Preambular Hint’ to Richard Coppin’s Divine Teachings (1649) (pp. 64-71)

      THus saith the Lord, I am (a) Alpha * and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last; and now the last is reaching the first, and the end the beginning.

      All things are returning to their Original,bwhere all parables, dark sayings, all languages, and all hidden things, are known, unfolded, and interpreted.

      cThat God of Peace and Love that eternal and everlasting Being, that eternal Unity,dwho is all, and in all, is e reconciling all things into himself.

      And in him, who isfthe Lyon and the Lamb,gthe...

    • A Fiery Flying Roll and A Second Fiery Flying Roule (1649) (pp. 72-107)

      MY Deare One.

      All or None.

      Every one under the Sunne.

      Mine own.

      My most Excellent Majesty (in me) hath strangely and variously transformed this forme.

      And behold, by mine own Almightinesse (In me) I have been changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the Trump.

      And now the Lord is descended from Heaven, with a shout, with the voyce of the Archangell, and with the Trump of God.

      And the sea, the earth, yea all things are now giving up their dead. And all things that ever were, are, or shall be...

    • Letter from Coppe to Salmon and Wyke (c. April–June 1650) (pp. 108-108)
    • Divine Fire-Works (1657) (pp. 109-112)

      THe LYON, who a long time sleeped, Is (by theConsumingFire) out of his Den fired. Being rouzed,

      He roared,

      The Beasts of the Forrest trembled.

      Were any of the children frighted?

      Have any of them stumbled?

      Sure I am the Heathen raged.

      Have any of the PEOPLE (also) a vain thing imagined?

      The Hell Hounds yelled.

      The Dogs with open mouth gaped, and greatly barked.

      At length

      The men ofSodomwere (strangely) with blindness smitten.

      The Dogs mouths which were so wide open, were (with a pure and heavenly cunning) stopped:

      They also fawned, and their tails...

    • A Single Eye All Light, No Darkness (1650) (pp. 114-127)

      HAving experience that his Majesty, the Being and Operation of all things, appeareth in and to the Creature under a two-fold Form or Visage, by which that becometh real with the Creature, which is but a shadow with this Infinite Being: So that from hence it ariseth, the Creature supposeth God to be that which is not, and that not to be, which is God.

      Therefore hath his Majesty divulged his pleasure, that thereby he may take occasion to unfold himself in and to the Creature under such a prospect, that the Creature may know God, as he is known...

    • Letter from ? Clarkson to William Rawlinson (mid-July–Oct. 1650) (pp. 128-128)
    • From The Lost Sheep Found (1660) (pp. 129-139)

      … Sixthly, I took my journey into the society of those people calledSeekers, who worshipped God onely by prayer and preaching, therefore toElyI went, to look forSedgwickandErbery¹ but found them not, onely their people were assembled: with whom I had discourse, but found little satisfaction; so after that forLondonI went to findeSeekersthere, which when I came, there was divers fallen from the Baptists as I had done, so coming toHorninFleet lane, andFleteninSeacoal-lane, they informed me that several had left the Church ofPatience,² in...

  11. Anon., A JVSTJFJCATJON OF THE MAD CREW (1650) (pp. 141-157)

    THe Lord as in the latter ages of the World, darkens the glory of man, so he clears up his own brightness that every eye may see it: and as he hath in the foregoing ages of the world, limited himself and his appearances to a certain Election of things and persons: so in these last days he extends himself to things and persons reprobated, and chooseth cast aways: and this is the mystery (the non-knowing whereof) confounds and plagues the World. As for instance, under the Law he elected the Temple as the place of his glory, theJews...

    • A Rout, A Rout (1649) (pp. 159-169)

      THat Power (or Mystery) which acts all things, and by which whole man (in his councels, actions and engagements) is led out and disposed according to divine will and pleasure; I say, this Power (which is God) comes forth and offers it self in a diversity of appearance, and still (by a divine progress in the affairs of the earth) moves from one power to another, from one dispensation to another, from one party to another; hereby accomplishing his eternal decreed design in and upon the Creature. This is manifest in all dispensations, civil and spiritual.

      Time was, when God...

    • Divinity Anatomized (1649) (pp. 170-198)

      Choicely esteemed inJesus Christ;Those ardent affe〈c〉tions of mine toward you all, have drawn me forth to salute you, in the presentation of this smallTreatise,to your pious considerations.

      That which was my most solemn tye and engagement in this action, consisted chiefly in this; namely, The maner of Truths Discoveries amongst Saints,considering how we are apt to live upon the shell of spiritual glory, as not relishing at all that spiritual kernel, and divine substance; to live upon the continual beholding of that carnal and fleshly habit thatTruthoft-times walks in, and not upon that...

    • Letter from Salmon to Thomas Webbe (3 April, 1650) (pp. 199-199)
    • Heights in Depths (1651) (pp. 200-220)


      THis little Piece comes to thy view as a poore Pilgrim, void of that large accommodation which happily it may finde at its own home. I have here dressed it in a homely Language, and formed it as like my self as possible I could; if thou canst see so much w〈o〉rth in it, as to give it entertainment, I am bold to say (ere it part from thee) it will return thee satisfaction. It steales like a Thiefe upon the benighted world: However, bee not shy of it; for it shal take nothing from thee but what thou...

    • The Light and Dark Sides of God (1650) (pp. 222-256)

      IHave onely directed my discourse to thee, though I know the most unto whose hand it may come cannot read it; But that it will be aBarbarianto them, and they to It. However, if I be beside them; yet I am not beside my selfe. (If I be it is to God) The reason why I have not directed it to any particular man, or sort of men what ever: as is usuall in things of this nature, is, because I desire not any mans approbation of it, as knowing I am not subject to mans judgement:...

  14. Index (pp. 257-262)
  15. Index of Biblical References (pp. 263-265)