« EelmineJätka »
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 coinpelled 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 “ hy 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 stato since tl:e Reformation : every true church having wlierewithal 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 antiquiy against the plain sense of scripture? which, if the last century have 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 orth 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
hierarchy which God had not planted, but ambition and cora ruption had brought in, and fostered to the church's great damage and oppression, was no point of controversy to be argued without end, but a thing of clear moral necessity to be forthwith done. Neither was the “ covenant superfluous, though former engagements, both religious and legal, bound us before;” but was the practice of all churches heretofore intending reformation. All Israel, though bound enough before by the law of Moses “ to all necessary duties;" yet with Asa their king entered into a new covenant at the beginning of a reformation : and the Jews, after captivity, without consent demanded of that king who was their master, took solemn oath to walk in the commandments of God.
All protestant churches have done the like, notwithstanding former engagements to their several duties. And although his aim were to sow variance between the protestation and the covenant, to reconcile them is not difficult. The protestation was but one step, extending only to the doctrine of the church of England, as it was distinct from church discipline; the covenant went further, as it pleased God to dispense his light and our encouragement by degrees, and comprehended church-government;-former with latter steps, in the progress of well-doing need not reconcilement. Nevertheless he breaks through to his conclusion, “ that all honest and wise men ever thought themselves sufficiently bound by former ties of religion;" leaving Asa, Ezra, and the
whole church of God, in sundry ages, to shift for honesty and wisdom from some other than his testimony. And although after-contracts absolve not till the former be made void, yet he first having done that, our duty returns back, which to him was neither moral nor eternal, but conditional.
Willing to persuade liimself that many “good men” took the covenant, either unwarily or out of fear, he seems to have bestowed some thoughts how these “good men,” following his advice, may keep the covenant and not keep it. The first evasion is presuming " that the chief end of covenanting in such men's intentions was to preserve religion in purity, and the kingdom's peace. But the covenant will more truly inform them that purity of religion and the kingdom's peace was not then in state to be preserved, but to be restored; and therefore binds them not
to a preservation of what was, but to a reformation of wiat was evil, what was traditional, and dangerous, whether novelty or antiquity, in church or state. To do this clashes with "
former oath” lawfully sworn either to God or the king, and rightly understood.
In general, he brands all “such confederations by league and covenant, as the common road used in all faciious perturbations of state and church.” This kind of language reflects, with the same ignominy, upor, all the protestant reformations that have been since Luther; and so indeed doth his whole book, replenished throughout with hardly other words or arguments than papists, and especially popish kings, have used heretofore against their protestant subjects, whom he would persuade to be “every man his own pope, and to absolve himself of those ties," by the suggestion of false or equivocal interpretations too oft repeated to be now answered.
The parliament, he saith, “made their covenant, like manna, agreeable to every man's palate.” This is another of his glosses upon the covenant; he is content to let it be manna, but his drift is that men should loathe it, or at least expound it by their own" relish” and “ latitude of sense ; wherein, lest any one of the simpler sort should fail to be his craftsmaster, he furnishes him with two or three laxative, he terms them “general clauses, which may serve somewhat to relieve them” against the covenant taken : intimating, as if" what were lawful and according to the word of God,' were no otherwise so, than as every man fancied to himself. From such learned explications and resolutions as these upon the covenant, what marvel if no royalist or malignant refuse to take it, as having learnt from these princely instructions his many “salvoes, cautious, and reservations," how to be a covenanter and anticovenanter, how at once to be a Scot, and an Irish rebel. He returns again to disallow of " that reformation which the covenant” vows, “as being the partial advice of a few divines.” But matters of this moment, as they were not to be decided there by those divines, so neither are they to be determined here by essays and curtal aphorisms, but by solid proofs of scripture.
The rest of his discourse he spends, highly accusing the parliament, “ that the main reformation by them“ intended
was to rob the church,” and much applauding himself both for “his forwardness" to all due reformation, and his averseness from all such kind of sacrilege. All which, with his glorious title of the “ Church's Defender,” we leave him to make good by “Pharaoh's divinity,” if he please, for to Joseph's piety it will be a task unsuitable. “As for “the
a parity and poverty of ministers," which he takes to be so sad of “consequence," the scripture reckons them for two special legacies left by our Saviour to his disciples; under which two primitive nurses, for such they were indeed, the church of Gud more truly flourished than ever after, since the time that imparity and church-revenue rushing in, corrupted and belepered all the clergy with a worse infection than Gehazi's; some one of whose tribe, rather than a king, I should take to be the compiler of that unsalted and Simonical prayer annexed: although the prayer itself strongly prays against them. For never such holy things as he means were given more to swine, nor the church's bread more to dogs, than when it fed ambitious, irreligious, and
und) dumb prelates.
Upon the many Jealousies, foc. To wipe off jealousies and scandals, the best way had been by clear actions, or till actions could be cleared, by evident reasons : but mere words we are too well acquainted with. Had“ his honour and reputation been dearer to him" than the lust of reigning, how could the parliament of either nation have laid so often at his door the breach of words, promises, acts, oaths, and execrations, as they do avowedly in many of their petitions and addresses to him.? Thither I remit the reader. And who can believe that whole parliaments, elected by the people from all parts of the land, should meet in one mind and resolution not to advise him, but to conspire against him, in a worse powder-plot than Catesbie's “ to blow up," as he terms it, “the people's affection towards him, and batter down their loyalty by the engines of foul aspersions.” Water-works rather than engines to batter with, yet those aspersions were raised from the foulness of