« PreviousContinue »
wicked confederations ; so it is a mark and punishment of hypocrites, to be driven at length to mix their cause, and the interest of their covenant, with God's enemies.
And whereas they affirm, that the tolerating of all religions, in the manner that we tolerate them, is an innovation ; we must acquaint them, that we are able to inake it good, if need be, both by scripture and the primitive fathers, and the frequent assertion of whole churches and protestant states in their remonstrances and expostulations against the popish tyranny over souls. And what force of argument do these doctors bring to the contrary? But we have long observed to what pass the bold ignorance and sloth of our clergy tends no less now than in the bishops' days, to make their bare sayings and censurés authentic with the people, though destitute of any proof or argument. But, thanks be to God, they are discerned.
Their next impeachment is, “ that we oppose the presbyterial government, the hedge and bulwark of religion;" which all the land knows to be a most impudent falsehood, having established it with all freedom, wherever it hath been desired. Nevertheless, as we perceive it aspiring to be a compulsive power upon all without exception in parochial, classical, and provincial hierarchies, or to require the fleshly arm of magistracy in the execution of a spiritual discipline, to punish and amerce by any corporal infliction those whose consciences cannot be edified by what authority they are compelled, we hold it no more to be " the hedge and bulwark of religion," than the popish or prelatical courts, or the Spanish Inquisition.
But we are told, “ we embrace paganism and judaism in the arms of toleration," a most audacious calumny! And yet, while we detest Judaism, we know ourselves commanded by St. Paul, Rom. xi., to respect the Jews, and by all means to endeavour their conversion.
Neither was it ever sworn in the covenant, to maintain an universal presbytery in England, as they falsely allege, but in Scotland against the common enemy, if our aid were called for ; being left free to reform our own country according to the word of God, and the example of best reformed churches ; from which rule we are not yet departed.
But here, utterly forgetting to be ministers of the gospel, they presume to open their mouths, not " in the spirit of
meekness," as like dissemblers they pretend, but with as much devilish malice, impudence, and falsehood, as any Irish rebel could have uttered, and from a barbarous nook of Ireland brand us with the extirpation of laws and liberties; things which they seem as little to understand, as aught that belong to good letters or humanity. ,
« That we seized on the person of the king;”, who was surrendered into our hands an enemy and captive by our own subordinate and paid army of Scots in England. Next, “our imprisoning many members of the house." As if it were ia possible they should deserve it, conspiring and bandying against the public good; which to the other part appearing, and with the power they had, not resisting had been a mani. fest desertion of their trust and duty. No question but it is as good and necessary to expel rotten members, out of the house, as to banish delinquents out of the land: and the reason holds as well in forty as in five. And if they be yet more, the more dangerous is their number. They had no privilege to sit there, and vote home the author, the impenitent author, of all our miseries, to freedom, honour, and royalty, for a few fraudulent, if not destructive, concessions. Which that they went about to do, how much more clear it was to all men, so much the more expedient and important to the commonwealth was their speedy seizure and exclusion; and no breach of any just privilege, but a breach of their knotted faction. And here they cry out, “ an action without parallel in any age.” So heartily we wish all men were unprejudiced in all our actions, as these illiterate denouncers never paralleled so much of any age as would contribute to the tithe of a century. “That we abolish parliamentary power, and establish a representative instead thereof.” Now we have the height of them; these profound instructors, in the midst of their representation, would know the English of a representative, and were perhaps of that classis, who heretofore were as much staggered at triennial.
Their grand accusation is our justice done on the king, which that they may prove to be “ without rule or example," they venture all the credit they have in divine and human history; and by the same desperate boldness detect themselves to be egregious liars and impostors, seeking to abuse the multitude with a shew of that gravity and learning,
which never was their portion, . Had their knowledge been equal to the knowledge of any stupid monk or abbot, they would have known at least, though ignorant of all things else, the life and acts of him, who first instituted their order: but these blockish presbyters of Clandeboy know not that John Knox, who was the first founder of presbytery in Scotland, taught professedly the doctrine of deposing and of killing kings. And thus while they deny that any such rule can be found, the rule is found in their own country, given them by their own first presbyterian institutor; and they themselves, like irregular friars walking contrary to the 'rule of their own foundation, deserve for so gross an ignorance and transgression to be disciplined upon their own stools. Or had their reading in history been any, which by this we may be confident is none at all, or their malice not heightened to a blind rage, they never would so rashly have thrown the dice to a palpable discovery of their ignorance and want of shame. But wherefore spend we two such precious things as time and reason upon priests, the most prodigal misspenders of time, and the scarcest owners of reasons? It is sufificient we have published our Defences, given reasons, given examples of our justice done; books also have been written to the same purpose for men to look on that will; that no nation under heaven but in one age or other hath done the like. The difference only is, which rather seems to us matter of glory, that they for the most part have without form of law done the deed by a kind of martial justice, we by the deliberate and well-weighed sentence of a legal judicature.
But they tell us, “ it was against the interest and protestation of the kingdom of Scotland ;” and did exceeding well to join those two together: hereby informing us what credit or regard need be given in England to a Scots protestation, ushered in by a Scots interest: certainly no more than we see is given in Scotland to an English declaration, declaring the interest of England. If then our interest move not them, why, should theirs move us? If they say, we are not all England; we reply, they are not all Scotland: nay, were the last year so inconsiderable a part of Scotland, as were beholden to this which they now term the sectarian army, to defend and rescue them at the charges of England, from a stronger party of their own countrymen, in whose esteem
they were no better than' sectarians themselves. But they add, " It was against the former declarations of both kingdoms," to seize, or proceed against the king. We are certain that no such declarations of both kingdoms, as derive not their full force from the sense and meaning of the covenant, can be produced. .
And if they plead against the covenant, “ to preserve and defend his person;" we ask them briefly, whether they take the covenant to be absolute or conditional? If absolute, then suppose the king to have committed all prodigious crimes and jinpieties against God, or nature, or whole nations, he must nevertheless be sacred from all violent touch. Which absurd opinion, how it can live in any man's reason, either natural or rectified, we much marvel : since God declared his anger as impetuous for the saving of king Benhadad, though surrendering himself at mercy, aş for the killing of Naboth. If it be conditional, in the preservation and defence of religion, and the people's liberty, then certainly to take away his life, being dangerous, and pernicious to both these, was no more a breach of the covenant, than for the same reason at Edinburgh to behead Gordon, the marquis of Huntley. By the same covenant we made vow to assist and defend all those that should enter with us into this league; not absolutely, but in the maintenance and pursuing thereof. If, therefore, no man else was ever so mad as to claim from hence an impunity from all justice, why should any for the king, whose life, by other articles of the same covenant, was forfeit? Nay, if common sense had not led us to such a clear interpretation, the Scots commissioners themselves might boast to have been our first teachers :-who, when they drew to the malignance which brought-forth that perfidious last year's irruption against all the bands of covenant or Christian neighbourhood, making their hollow plea the defence of his majesty's person, they were constrained by their own guiltiness to leave out that following morsel that would have choked them," the preservation and defence of true religion and our liberties.” Ånd questionless in the preservation of these we are bound, as well, both by the covenant, and before the covenant, to preserve and defend the person of any private man, as the person and authority of any inferior magistrate; so that this article, objected with such vehemence against us, contains not an ex
ception of the king's person and authority, to do by privilege what wickedness he list, and be defended as some fancy, but an express testification of our loyalty ; and the plain words without wresting will bear as much, that we had no thoughts against liis person, or just power, provided they might consist with the preservation and defence of true religion and our liberties. But to these how hazardous his life was, will be needless to repeat so often. It may suffice, that, while 'he was in custody, where we expected his repentance, his remorse at last, and compassion of all the innocent blood shed already, and hereafter, likely to be shed, for his mere wilfulness, he made no other use of our continual forbearance, our humblest petitions and obtestations at his feet, but to sit contriving and foinenting new plots against us, and, as his own phrase was, “ playing his own game”, upon the miseries of his people: of which we desire no other view at present than these articles of peace with the rebels, and the rare game likely to ensue from such a cast of his cards. And then let men reflect a little upon the slanders and reviles of these wretched priests, and judge what modesty, what truth, what conscience, what anything fit for ministers, or we might say, reasonable men, can harbour in them. For what they began in shamelessness and malice, they conclude in frenzy: throwing out a sudden rhapsody of proverbs quite from the purpose ; and with as much comeliness as when Saul prophesied. For casting off, as he did his garments, all modesty and meekness, wherewith the language of ministers ought to be clothed, especially to their supreme magistrate, they talk at random of " servants raging, servants riding, and wonder how the earth can bear them.” Either these men imagine themselves to be marvellously high set and exalted in the chair of Belfast, to vouchsafe the parliament of England no better style than servants; or else their high notion, which we rather believe, falls as low as court-parasitism, supposing all men to be servants but the king. And then all their pains taken to seem so wise in proverbing serve but to conclude them downright slaves : and the edge of their own proverb falls reverse upon themselves. For as “ delight is not seemly for fools,” much less high words to come from base minds. What they are for ministers, or how they crept into the fold, whether at the window, or through the wall, or who set them there so haughty in the