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Indeed, if the race of kings were eminently the best of men, as the breed at Tutbury is of horses, it would in reason then be their part only to command, ours always to obey. But kings by generation no way excelling others, and most commonly not being the wisest or the worthiest by far of whom they claim to have the governing; that we should yield them subjection to our own ruin, or hold of them the right of our common safety, and our natural freedom by mere gift, (as when the conduit pisses wine at coronations,) from the superfluity of their royal grace and beneficence, we may be sure was never the intent of God, whose ways are just and equal; never the intent of nature, whose works are also regular; never of any people not wholly barbarous, whom prudence, or no more but human sense, would have better guided when they first created kings, than so to nullify and tread to dirt the rest of mankind, by exalting one person and his lineage without other merit looked after, but the mcre contingency of a begetting, into an absolute and unaccountable dominion over them and their posterity.
Yet this ignorant or wilful mistake of the whole matter had taken so deep root in the imagination of this king, that whether to the English or to the Scot, mentioning what acts of his regal office (though God knows how unwillingly) he had passed, he calls them, as in other places, acts of grace and bounty; so here “special obligations, favours, to gratify active spirits, and the desires of that party.” Words not only
” sounding pride and lordly usurpation, but injustice, partiality, and corruption. For to the Irish he so far condescended, as first to tolerate in private, then to covenant openly the tolerating of popery: so far to the Scot, as to remove bishops, establish presbytery, and the militia in their own hands;
preferring, as some thought, the desires of Scotland before his own interest and honour.” But being once on this side Tweed, his reason, his conscience, and his honour became so frightened with a kind of false virginity, that to the English neither one nor other of the same demands could be granted, wherewith the Scots were gratified; as if our air and climate on a sudden had changed the property and the nature both of conscience, honour, and reason, or that he found none so fit as the English to be the subjects of his arbitrary power. Ireland was as Ephraim, the strength of his head; Scotland as Judah was his lawgiver ; but over England, as over Edom, he meant to cast his shoe: and yet so many sober Englishmen, not sufficiently awake to consider this,' like men enchanted with the Circæan cup of servitude, will not be held back from running their own heads into the yoke of bondage.
The sum of his discourse is against “ settling of religion by violent means;" which, whether it were the Scots' design upon England, they are best able to clear themselves. But this of all may seem strangest, that the king, who, while it was permitted him, never did thing more eagerly than to molest and persecute the consciences of most religious men; he who had made a war, and lost all, rather than not uphold a hierarchy of persecuting bishops, should have the confidence here to profess himself so much an enemy of those that force the conscience. For was it not he, who upon the English obtruded new ceremonies, upon the Scots a new Liturgy, and with his sword went about to engrave a bloody rubric on their backs? Did he not forbid and hindler all effectual search of truth; nay, like a besieging enemy, stopped all her passages both by word and writing? Yet he can talk of “'fair and equal disputations :” where, notwithstanding, if all submit not to his judgment, as not being “ rationally convicted,” they must submit (and he conceals it not) to his penalty, as counted obstinate. But what if he himself, and those his learned churchmen, were the convicted or the obstinate part long ago; should reformation suffer them to sit lording over the church in their fat bishoprics and pluralities, like the great whore that sitteth upon many waters, till they would vouchsafe to be disputed out? Or should we sit disputing, while they sit plotting and persecuting? Those clergymen were not to be driven into the fold like sheep," as his simile runs, but to be driven out of the fold like wolves or thieves, where they sat fleecing those flocks which they never fed.
He believes that presbytery, though proved to be the only institution of Jesus Christ, were not by the sword to be
without his consent ;” which is contrary both to the doctrine and the known practice of all protestant churches, if his sword threaten those who of their own accord embrace it. And although Christ and his apostles, being to civil affairs but private men, contended not with magistrates; yet when magistrates themselves, and especially parliaments, who
have greatest right to dispose of the civil sword, come to know religion, they ought in conscience to defend all those who receive it willinglv, against the violence of any king or tyrant whatsoever.
ther is it therefore true, hat Christianity is planted or watered with Christian blood;" for there is a large difference between forcing men by the sword to turn presbyterians, and defending those who willingly are so from a furious inroad of bloody bishops, armed with the militia of a king, their pupil. And if " covetousness and ambition be an argument that presbytery hath not much of Christ,” it argues more strongly against episcopacy; which, from the time of her first mounting to an order above the presbyters, had no other parents than “ covetousness and ambition.” And those sects, schisms, and heresies, which he speaks of, “ if they get but strength and numbers," need no other patiern than episcopacy and himself, to " set up their ways by the like method of violence.”
Nor is there anything that hath more marks of schism and sectarism than English episcopacy; whether we look at apostolic times, or at reformed churches; for “ the universal way of church-government before," may as soon lead us into gross error, as their universally corrupted doctrine. And government, by reason of ambition, was likeliest to be corrupted much the sooner of the two. However, nothing can be to us catholic or universal in religion, but what the scripture teaches; whatsoever without scripture pleads to he universal in the church, in being universal is but the more schismatical. Much less can particular laws and constitutions impart to the church of England any power of consistory or tribunal above other churches, to be the sole judge of what is sect or schisma, as with much rigour, and without scripture, they took upon them. Yet these the king resolves here to defend and maintain to his last, pretending, after all those conferences offered, or had with him,“ not to see more rational and religions motives than soldiers carry in their knapsacks." With one thus resolved, it was but folly to stand disputing.
He imagines his own judicious zeal to be most concerned in his tuition of the church.” So thought Saul when be presumed to offer sacrifice, for which helst his kingdom; so thought Uzziah when he went into the temple, but was thrust out with a leprosy for his opinioned zeal, which he thought
judicious. It is not the part of a king, because he ought to defend the church, therefore to set himself supreme head over the church, or to meddle with ecclesial government, or to defend the church otherwise than the church would be defended; for such defence is bondage ; not to defend abuses, and stop all reformation, under the name of“ new moulds fancied and fashioned to private designs."
The holy things of church are in the power of other keys than were delivered to his keeping. Christian liberty, purchased with the death of our Redeemer, and established by the sending of his free Spirit to inhabit in us, is not now to depend upon the doubtful consent of any earthly monarch; nor to be again fettered with a presumptuous negative voice, tyrannical to the parliament, but much more tyrannical to the church of God; which was compelled to implore the aid of parliament, to remove his force and heavy hands from off our consciences, who therefore complains now of that most just defensive force, because only it removed his violence and persecution. If this be a violation to his conscience, that it was hindered by the parliament from violating the more tender consciences of so many thousand good Christians, let the usurping conscience of all tyrants be ever so violated !
He wonders (fox wonder !) how we could so much “ distrust God's assistance,” as to call in the protestant aid of our brethren in Scotland. Why then did he, if his trust were in God and the justice of his cause, not scruple to solicit and invite earnestly the assistance both of papists and of Irish rebels? If the Scots were by us at length sent home, they were not called to stay here always; neither was it for the people's ease to feed so many legions longer than their help was needful.
“ The government of their kirk we despised " not, but their imposing of that government upon us, not presbytery, but archpresbytery, classical, provincial, and diocesan presbytery, claiming to itself a lordly power and superintendency both over flocks and pastors, over persons and congregations no way their own. But these debates, in his judgment, would have been ended better " by the best divines in Christendom in a full and free synod.” A most improbable way, and such as never yet was used, at least with good success, by any protestant kingdom or state since the Reformation : every true
church having wherewithal from heaven, and the assisting Spirit of Christ implored, to be complete and perfect within itself. And the whole nation is not easily to be thought so raw, and so perpetually a novice, after all this light, as to need the help and direction of other nations, more than what they write in public of their opinion, in a matter so familiar as church-government.
In fine, he accuses piety with the want of loyalty, and religion with the breach of allegiance, as if God and he were one master, whose commands were so often contrary to the commands of God. He would persuade the Scots that their “chief interest consists in their fidelity to the crown.” But true policy will teach them to find a safer interest in the common friendship of England, than in the ruins of one ejected family.
Upon the Covenant. Upon this theme his discourse is long, his matter little but repetition, and therefore soon answered. First, after an abusive and strange apprehension of covenants, as if men “ pawned their souls” to them with whom they covenant, he digresses to plead for bishops ; first, from the antiquity of their “ possession here, since the first plantation of Christianity in this island ;” next from“ a universal prescription since the apostles, till this last century.” But what avails the most primitive antiquity against the plain sense of scripture? which, if the last century bave best followed, it ought in our esteem to be the first. And yet it hath been often proved by learned men, from the writings and epistles of most ancient Christians, that episcopacy crept not up into an order above the presbyters, till many years after that the apostles were deceased.
He next is “ unsatisfied with the covenant," not only for some passages in it referring to himself,” as he supposes, “ with very dubious and dangerous limitations,” but for binding men “by oath and covenant” to the reformation of church discipline. First, those limitations were not more dangerous to him, than he to our liberty and religion ; next, that which was there vowed, to cast out of the church an antichristian