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generally known. Certainly, if whole councils of the Romish church have in the midst of their dimness discerned so much of truth, as to decree at Constance, and at Basil, and many of them to avouch at Trent also, that a council is above the pope, and may judge him, though by them not denied to be the vicar of Christ ; we in our clearer light may be ashamed not to discern further, that a parliament is by all equity and right above a king, and may judge him, whose reasons and pretensions to hold of God only, as his immediate vicegerent, we know how far-fetched they are, and insufficient.
As for the laws of man, it would ask a volume to repeat all that might be cited in this point against him from all antiquity. In Greece, Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, and by succession king of Argos, was in that country judged and condemned to death for killing his mother: whence escaping, he was judged again, though a stranger, before the great council of Areopagus in Athens. And this memorable act of judicature was the first that brought the justice of that grave senate into fame and high estination over all Greece. for many ages after. And in the same city tyrants were to undergo legal sentence by the laws of Solon.
The kings of Sparta, though descended lineally from Hercules, esteemed a god among them, were often judged, and sometimes put to death, by the most just and renowned laws of Lycurgus; who, though a king, thought it most unequal to bind his subjects by any law, to which he bound not himself. In Rome, the laws made by Valerius Publicola, soon after the expelling of Tarquin and his race, expelled without a written law, the law being afterward written; and what the senate decreed against Nero, that he should be judged and punished according to the laws of their ancestors, and what in like manner was decreed against other emperors, is vulgarly known; as it was known to those heathen, and found just by nature ere any law mentioned it. And that the Christian civil law warrants like power of judicature to subjects against tyrants, is written clearly by the best and famousest civilians. For if it was decreed by Theodosius, and stands yet firm in the code of Justinian, that the law is above the emperor, then certainly the emperor being under law, the law may judge him; and if judge him, may punish him, proving tyrannous : how else is the law above him, or
to what purpose ? These are nccessary deductions; and thereafter hath been done in all ages and kingdoms, oftener than to be here recited.
But what need we any further search after the law of other lands, for that which is so fully and so plainly set down lawful in our own? Where ancient books tell us, Bracton, Fleta, and others, that the king is under law, and inferior to his court of parliament; that although his place “ to do justice” be highest, yet that he stands as liable to receive justice” as the meanest of his kingdom. Nay, Alfred, the most worthy king, and by some accounted first absolute monarch of the Saxonis here, so ordained ; as is cited out of an ancient law-book called “ the Mirror;” in “ Rights of the Kingdom,” p. 31, where it is complained of, " as the sovereign abuse of all,” that the king should be deemed above the law, whereas he ought to be subject io it by his oath. Of which oath anciently it was the last clause, that the king should be as liable, and obedient to suffer right, as others of his people. And indeed it were but fond and senseless, that the king should be accountable to every petty suit in lesser courts as we all know he was, and not be subject to the judicature of parliament in the main matters of our common safety or destruction; that he should be answerable in the ordinary course of law for any wrong done to a private person, and not answerable in court of parliament for destroying the whole kingdom.
By all this, and much more that might be added, as in an argument over-copious rather than barren, we see it manifest that all laws, both of God and man, are made without exemption of any person whomsoever; and that if kings presume to overtop the law by which they reign for the public good, they are by law to be reduced into order; and that can no way be more justly, than by those who exalt them to that high place. For who should better understand their own laws, and when they are transgressed, than they who are governed by them, and whose consent first made them ? And who can have more right to take knowledge of things done within a free nation than they within themselves?
Those objected oaths of allegiance and supremacy we swore, not to his person, but as it was invested with his authority; and his authority was by the people first given him
conditionally, in law, and under law, and under oath also for the kingdom's good, and not otherwise ; the oaths then were interchanged, and mutual ; stood and fell together; he swore fidelity to his trust; (not as a deluding ceremony, but as a real condition of their admitting him for king; and the Conqueror himself swore it oftener than at his crowning ;) they swore homage and fealty to his person in that trust. There was no reason why the kingdom should be further bound by oaths to him, than he by his coronation oath to us, which he hath every way broken : and having broken, the ancient crown oath of Alfred above mentioned conceals not his penalty.
As for the covenant, if that be meant, certainly no discreet person can imagine it should bind us to him in
stricter sense than those oaths formerly. The acts of hostility, which we received from him, were no such dear obligements, that we should owe him more fealty and defence for being our enemy, than we could before when we took him only for a king. They were accused by him and his party, to pretend liberty and reformation, but to have no other end than to make themselves great, and to destroy the king's person and authority. For which reason they added that third article, testifying to the world, that as they were resolved to endeavour first a reformation in the church, to extirpate prelacy, to preserve the rights of parliament, and the liberties of the kingdom, so they intended, so far as it might consist with the preservation and defence of these, to preserve the king's person and authority ; but not otherwise. As far as this comes to, they covenant and swear in the sixth article to preserve and defend the persons and authority of one another, and all those that enter into that league; so that this covenant gives no unlimitable exemption to the king's person, but gives to all as much defence and preservation as to him, and to him as much as to their own persons, and no more; that is to say, in order and subordination to those main ends, for which we live and are a nation of men joined in society either Christian, or, at least, human.
But if the covenant were made absolute, to preserve and defend any one whomsoever, without respect had, either to the true religion, or those other superior things to be defended and preserved however, it cannot then be doubted, but that
the covenant was rather a most foolish, hasty, and unlawful vow, than a deliberate and well-weighed covenant; swearing us into labyrinths and repugnances, no way to be solved or reconciled, and therefore no way to be kept; as first offending against the law of God, to vow the absolute preservation, defence, and maintaining of one man, though in his sins and offences never so great and heinous against God or his neighbour; and to except a person from justice, whereas his law excepts none. Secondly, it offends against the law of this nation, wherein, as hath been proved, kings in receiving justice, and undergoing due trial, are not differenced from the meanest subject.
Lastly, it contradicts and offends against the covenant itself, which vows in the fourth article to bring to open trial and condign punishment all those that shall be found guilty of such crimes and delinquencies, whereof the king, by his own letters, and other undeniable testimonies not brought to light till afterward, was found and convicted to be chief actor in what they thought him, at the time of taking that covenant, to be overruled only by evil counsellors; and those, or whomsoever they should discover to be principal, they vowed to try, either by their own “supreme judicatories," (for so even
” then they called them,) " or by others having power from them to that effect.” So that to have brought the king to condign punishment hath not broke the covenant, but it would have broke the covenant to have saved him from those judicatories, which both nations declared in that covenant to be supreme against any person whatsoever.
And besides all this, to swear in covenant the bringing of his evil counsellors and accomplices to condign punishment, and not only to leave unpunished and untouched the grand offender, but to receive him back again from the accomplishment of so many violences and mischiefs, dipped from head to foot, and stained over with the blood of thousands that were his faithful subjects, forced to their own defence against a civil war by him first raised upon them; and to receive him thus, in this gory pickle, to all his dignities and honours, covering the ignominious and horrid purple robe of innocent blood, that sat so close about him, with the glorious purple of royalty and supreme rule, the reward of highest excellence and virtue here on earth, were not only to swear and cove
nant the performance of an unjust vow, the strangest and most impions to the face of God, but were the most unwise and unprudential act as to civil government.
For so long as a king shall find by experience that, do the worst he can, his subjects, overawed by the religion of their own covenant, will only prosecute his evil instruments, nor dare to touch his person; and that whatever hath been on his part offended or transgressed, he shall come off at last with the same reverence to his person, and the same honour as for well doing, he will not fail to find them work; seeking far and near, and inviting to his court all the concourse of evil counsellors, or agents, that may be found: who, tempted with preferments and his promise to uphold them, will hazard easily their own heads, and the chance of ten to one but they shall prevail at last over men so quelled and fitted to be slaves by the false conceit of a religious covenant. And they in that superstition neither wholly yielding, nor to the utmost resisting, at the upshot of all their foolish war and expense, will find to have done no inore but fetched a compass only of their miseries, ending at the same point of slavery, and in the same distractions wherein they first began.
But when kings themselves are made as liable to punishment as their evil counsellors, it will be both as dange, ous from the king himself as from his parliament, to those that evil counsel him : and they, who else would be his readiest agents in evil, will then not fear to dissuade or to disobey him, not only in respect of themselves and their own lives, which for his sake they would not seem to value, but in respect of that danger which the king himself may incur, whom they would seem to love and serve with greatest fidelity. On all these grounds therefore of the covenant itself, whether religious or political, it appears likeliest, that both the English parliament and the Scotch commissioners, thus interpreting the covenant, (as indeed at that time they were the best and most authentical interpreters joined together,) answered the king unanimously, in their letter dated January the 13th, 1645, that till security and satisfaction first given to both kingdoms for the blood spilled, for the Irish rebels brought over, and for the war in Ireland by him fomented, they could in nowise yield their consent to his return.
Here was satisfaction, full two years and upward after the