A DECLARATION OF THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE GENERALL ASSEMBLY TO The whole Kirk and Kingdome of SCOTLAND, CONCERNING Present dangers and duties, relating to the Covenant, and Religion.

Printed at Edinburgh by EVAN TYLER, and reprinted at London for H. H. 1648.

Edinb. 1. Martii. 1648. Post meridiem. A DECLARATION of the Commssioners of the Generall Assembly to the whole Kirk and Kingdome of Scotland, concerning present dangers, and duties relating to the Covenant and Religion.

IF in a time of so great and eminent danger to Religion and the cause of God, the Trumpet in Zion should give no certaine sound, nor the watch-mens Tower any seasonable warning, it might be justly charged upon us as a sinfull neglect of duty, and the blood of many thousand souls might be required at our hands. Therefore so far as we have discovered the dangerous plots and snares of the ma­licious and crafty adversaries of this cause; We shall free­ly and faithfully make the same known; trusting that all who would not make shipwrack of faith and a good con­science, will carefully avoid as well hid as manifest rocks, when they are warned of them.

After the solemn League and Covenant of three King­domes had so prospered against the enemies and oppo­sers thereof, as made them dispaire of overthrowing it in any such way of a direct opposition; They begun with much wit and industry to indeavour a dividing of the ends of the Covenant, and an altering of the first principle and state of the cause. Upon the one hand, the Sectaries in Englands, (according as is formerly represented by the late Generally Assembly in their Declaration to their Brethren [Page 2]of England, and by our Remonstrance to the Committee of Estates of the 13. of Octob. last) have by fraud and vio­lence endeavoured the subversion of Religion; whose ex­orbitant insolency being now in Armes is so unsupportable, that no man can doubt but all the Articles of the Covenant are in danger by them; the vile errours, wicked heresies, and intolerable blasphemies daily growing among them can hardly be reckoned up; all which are mightily aggredged by the lawlesse and godlesse toleration thereof; and least Parliamentary authority should curb this monstrous inso­lency, they have not onely refused Orders for disbanding, but have forced Orders for their own standing, and do o­ver-rule Parliament, King, City, and Country to the trampling under foot all government Civill and Ecclesia­sticall, and to the terrour, oppression, and apparent ruine of all the truly, godly, and sound lovers of the solemn League and Covenant. On the other hand the Prelaticall and Ma­lignant party have catched at, and studied to make advan­tage of some parts and clauses of the Covenant, without keeping all the links of that golden chain fast together.

This design of receding from the former principles, and stating the publike cause otherwise then it was stated by both Kingdomes when they joyned in Covenant and Armes, may abundantly be discovered by two instances; First, the designe hath been so fast and so far driven on, that although the fourth Article of the League and Covenant was clearely framed and intended against the Malignant party; And although there was one expresse Article in the Treaty between the Kingdomes for swearing and subscri­bing the League and Covenant by both Kingdomes as a more near tye and conjunction of both for their defence a­gainst the Popish Prelaticall and Malignant party and their adherents; And although in the Declaration of both King­domes in the year 1643. It was declared that all such as [Page 3]would not speedily take the Covenant, and joyne with all their power in defence of this cause, are to be censured and punished as professed Adversaries & Malignants; Yet some are not a shamed to plead for the Malignant party, as if they were friends rather then enemies to this cause, and as none were now to be looked upon as dangerous enemies to the cause, but the Sectaries only; whereas the word of God and the experience of former times not only teacheth us to beware of dangers from the fraud, as well as the force, from the plots as well as from the power of enemies; but also setteth before us sad examples of great unexpected miseries, and mischiefs brought upon the people of God, from ene­mies once broken and quashed, when they got again the power of the sword, & opportunity to act whatsoever cruel­ties their inveterate malice & enraged spirits put thē upon.

The other instance is, that although in the Covenant, the duty of preserving and defending the Kings Majesties per­son and authority be joyned with, and subordinate unto the duty of preserving and defending the true Religion and Li­berties of the Kingdomes; & although from the beginning of this cause, the good safety & security of Religion hath been principally sought after and insisted upon: yet solicita­tions, perswasions, and indeavours have not been, nor are wanting for His Majesties restitution to the exercise of His royall power, and for expousing His Majesties quarrell, not­withstanding his not granting of the publik desires con­cerning the Covenant, and Religion: And this course is clearely contrary to the declared resolution of the Parli­ament of this kingdome, after advice desired from us, upon the case concerning the King then propounded to us; And it is no lesse contrary to the principles and professions of the convention and of the Committee of Estates, before any such advice was desired or had from us: yea all along, and in the whole course of the publike proceedings, the [Page 4]setling and securing of Religion hath been so much stood upon, that Malignants who intended a new state of the cause did well perceive how great difficulty, and how small hopes there was of satisfying this Kirk and Kingdom with any thing else, while unsatisfied in the point of Religion; and therefore all possible care hath been taken by them whereby to have some specious and fair pretences of satis­faction in the businesse of Religion.

And here, as we do not disapprove, but highly cōmend the worthy pains of such as did indeed endevour to bring the Kings Majesty a greater length, even to give full satis­faction in point of Religion; so we cannot but take notice of that report which many did lately entertain and spread in this Country; namely, that His Majesty hath given sa­tisfaction to the desires of this Kirk and Kingdom in point of the Covenant and Religion.

If His Majesty had indeed given such satisfaction, we should rejoice at it as much as any, and however shall not cease to pray for his Majesty, that God would give him re­pentance & remission of sins, & incline his heart to the love of the true Religion and Reformation, and that his Royall Person may be preserved from all harm & violence: And being now (as we formerly remonstrate on Octob. 13.) very sensible of the present danger his Majesties person & Mo­narchicall government is into by that prevalent party of Sectaries; We shall, so far as concerneth the duty of our places & callings, endevour the preservation of Monarchi­call government in his Majesty, and his posterity according to the Covenant; not being ignorant what confusions and calamities use to attend the change either of the govern­ment it self, or of the Royall line. Neverthelesse the Coun­try being so generally possessed with so dangerous a mis­take, and misunderstanding of so great a businesse; and his Majesty himself professing in his Letter to us, dated at Ca­risbrook [Page 5]Castle, Decemb. 27. last, that he hath resolved so far to agree to the desires of this Kirk & Kingdom concer­ning the Covenant and setling Religion, as he is confident shall give us satisfaction; If now we should be silent, we might be understood as tacitely consenting & acquiescing. We are therfore necessitated for undeceiving the Nation, & for acquitting our selves, to declare that a narrative of the state or publick affairs, having bin made to us by those who were entrusted for that effect, & since delivered to us in wri­ting, we have more especially taken to our serious thoughts so much of that narrative as was from his Majesty made known unto us, his resolutions for satisfaction in point of Religion, The first Article whereof is as followeth.

1. For the Covenant, his Majesty giving belief to the professions of these who have entred into the League and Covenant, and that their in­tentions are reall for preservation of his Majesties person according to their allegiance, and no waies to diminish his just power and greatnesse, is content so soon as he can with freedom, honour, and safety, be present in a free Parliament to confirm the said League and Covenant by Act of Parliament in both Kingdoms, for security of all those who have taken, or shall take the said Covenant, provided that none who is unwilling shal be constrained to take it.

Which Article hath nothing in it of his Majesties affection to, or liking and approbation of the Covenant, but only what he is content to yeild in order to His own interest. Yea, an Act of Parliament for security of those who have taken or shal take the Covenant, doth or may suppose some fault, or somewhat justly challengable in the taking of the Covenant, which needeth ane Act of indemnity. Next the offer is but conditionall, and hath in the bosome of it ane complication of such & so many conditions as might open a door to some evasion or other, by multiplying excepti­ons, difficulties, and various notions, either concerning the professions of those who have entred into the League and Covenant, or concerning his Majesties just power & great­nesse, [Page 6]or concerning his freedom, honour, & safety, or con­cerning a free Parliament. And although the concession were certain & absolute, it amounts to no more, but to a lea­ving of the Covenant arbitrary; which is contrary to the Acts of the Generall Assembly & Parliament in this King­dom, to the Declaration of both Kingdoms before cited, & to one of the chief Propositions of Religion once agreed upon by both Kingdoms, for a safe & wel-grounded peace; viz. The Proposition concerning his Majesties swearing & signing of the League & Covenant, and enjoyning by Act of Parl: in both Kingdoms the taking thereof by all the Subjects in the three Kingdoms, with such penalties as shal be agreed upon by both Kingdoms: so that the first Ar­ticle of his Majesties offer is a most manifest altering of the state of this cause; It is also a strengthning of the hearts & hands both of the Sectaries and of the Malignant party, a partaking and conniving at the sin of all those in the three Kingdoms who have refused, or shall refuse to enter into the League and Covenant, an introducing of a detestable indifferency or neutrality in this cause which so much con­cerneth the glory of God, the good of the Kingdom, and the honour of the King. And therefore we have judged this Article not only unsatisfactory, but destructive to the Covenant. Neither are we moved with that objection which is hinted, concerning the constraining or inforting of mens consciences: They refuse a necessary duty who re­fuse to take the Covenant; and the penalty or punishment of such refusall is no constraining of the conscience, more then the penalty or punishment of a Subject who refuseth to take the Oath of Allegiance is a constraining of the con­science to Loyalty, or more then the punishment of Idola­ters, Blasphemers, and Seducers, mentioned so often in Scripture, can be called a constraining of the conscience to the fear of of God.

[Page 7] The words of the second Article are these: His Majesty wil like­wise confirm by Act of Parliament in England, Presbyteriall Govern­ment, the Directory for Worship, and Assembly of Divines at Westmin­ster for three years, so that his Majesty and his houshold be not hindered from using that form of Divine Service he hath formerly practised; and that a free debate and consultation be had with the Divines at. West­minster (twenty of his Majesties nomination being added unto them) and with such as shall be sent from the Church of Scotland, whereby it may be determined by his Majesty and the two Houses how the Church Government after the three years shall be fully established according to the word of God.

For ought we know the conditions couched in the first Article are also to be understood in this and the following Articles: However this second Article as it is but the same in substance with some of his Majesties concessions in for­mer Messages, so that which is proposed in it, is but a To­leration of Presbyteriall Government in England, and that but for three years, and is a direct allowance, at least of the Book of Common Prayer in his Majesties Houshold: and moreover, by the second Article not only a door is left o­pen for re-establishing Prelacy and the Service Book; But the happy progresse already made in the Reformation, and uniformity of Religion according to the Covenant in a con­fession of Faith, Directory of Worship, Form of Church Government & Catechisme is set aside as so much lost la­bour, in order to a future setlement. Free debate with any of the Prelaticall party nominated by his Majesty (when there was any such occasion) hath not bin declined: But we have great cause to be tender of unsetling and razing a­good foundation already laid in the work of Reformation. And whereas his Majesty will have it determined by him­self, and the two Houses, how the Church Government after the said three years shall be established according to the Word of God: This doth at once cut off three of the most materiall Propositions concerning Religion former­ly [Page 8]agreed upon by both Kingdoms, and from both ten­dred to his Majesty, (though some of them be now laid a­side by the two Houses of the Parliament of England) namely. The third Proposition, for abolishing Arch-bi­shops, Bishops, &c. The fifth Proposition, That Reformation of Religion according to the Covenant be setled by Act of Par­liament, in such manner as both Houses have agreed, or shall agree upon after consultation had with the Assembly of Di­vines; And the sixth Proposition, That such unity and u­niformity in Religion according to the Covenant, as after consultation had with the Divines of both Kingdomes, assem­bled at Westminster, is, or shall be joyntly agreed by both Houses of the Parliament of England, and by the Church and Kingdom of Scotland, be confirmed by Acts of Parliament of both Kingdoms respectively. Of which three Propositi­ons, there can be no hopes as to his Majesties consent or concurrance) if the offer now made concerning a determi­nation by his Majesty and the two Houses, be compared with his Majesties claiming of a negative voice, and with his Message of Novemb. 16. in which He declared that both in relation as he is a Christian and as a King, he cannot give His consent to the abolishing Arch-bishops, Bishops, &c. Be­lieving that this Order was placed in the Church by the A­postles themselves, and that his Majesty is also bound by his Coronation Oath to maintain it. And this Message of November 16. His Majesty adhereth unto, in his Answer to the Bills and Proposition, presented to him at Carisbrook Castle; which Answer is dated Decemb. 28. and so after his Majesties Letter to us. Upon these and the like considera­tions we have found the said second Article of his Maje­sties offers in point of Religion to be destructive to Presby­teriall Government, the Directory of Worship, and the uniformity intended according to the Covenant.

[Page 9] For the third Article delivered to us in these words. And for sup­pressing of Schisme and Heresies his Majesty is content and most wil­ling that an effectuall course be taken by Act of Parliament, and all other ways needfull and expedient for suppressing the opinions and practises of Antinomians, Arians, Socinians, Antiscripturists, Anabaptists, Ar­minians, Familists, Brownists, Separatists, Independent, Libertines, and Seekers, and generally for suppressing all Blasphemy, Heresie, Schism, and all such scandalous doctrine or practises as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation) or to the power of Godlinesse, or which may be destructive to order or government, or to the peace of Church or Kingdom.

As we do Approve of the Suppression of the particular Heresies and Schismes ennumerate in his Majesties offer; So we see not how it can be reconciled with his Majesties Message of Novemb. 16. in which there was a concession to all such as differ from Presbyteriall Government: And do further find the Article dangerous and defective in o­mitting Erastianism, and other dangerous errors, especially Popery and Prelacy, which may prove destructive to the Covenant in ministring the occasion to Papists and Pre­lats to plead for a toleration, although the Covenant bind us to endevour the extirpation both of Popery and Pre­lacy.

Having now discovered the snares and dangers, We shall in the next place most humbly and seriously propose and recommend some wholsome seasonable and pious counsels to all the members of this Church and Kingdom, especial­ly to the Honourable and High Court of Parliament, and to the Brethren of the Ministry, which may also serve to expresse our sense concerning the whole matter contained in that narrative, delivered to us in writing, so far as is com­petent and fit for us to give any Judgment thereupon.

First to all, we exhort all and every one to make more conscience of endevouring a reall Reformation of them­selves [Page 10]and their Families, and of the places in which they live, then ever yet they have done; to be more serious in searching their hearts, considering their waies, and pur­ging themselves from all filthinesse of the flesh and spirit to perfect holines in the fear of God; to oppose wickednes and profanesse, promote the power and practice of Godli­nes, and to be deeply humbled before the Lord for negle­cting these things so much, and so long; with all employ­ing and improving Christs all-sufficiency, and striving to exercise faith in him for the grace of mortification and san­ctification, as well as for remission of sins and peace with God; that being implanted and rooted in him, we may grow up as trees of Righteousnes, the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified; for without amendment of life, and bringing forth of better fruit, the fierce wrath of the Lord cannot turn away from us.

Secondly, as men desire they may not be led into temp­tation, but may be guided in safe and right paths, in the midst of so great difficulties; Let them avoid the company and councell of the ungodly, whereby even good men, have been oft times most dangerously ensnared; Let all that fear God choose the Testimonies of the Lord for their counsel­lours, be much in prayer and searching the minde of God in his word without leaning to their owne understanding, or consulting with flesh and bloud in casess of conscience.

Thirdly, seeing 'tis no act of wisdom but of folly, so to shun one danger as to run upon another as bad or worse; Let us therefore avoid enemies and beware of dangers on all hands: We cannot see but the cause of God, the true Religion, the Covenant, Presbyteriall Government, this Church and Kingdom, and whatsoever is dearest to us will be in as great danger, if the Prelaticall party prevail, as now they are into by the power & prevalency of Sectaries in Eng­land, who have made the Covenant and begun reformation [Page 11]to be laid aside and hindered the promoting thereof. So that there is a necessity to be apprehensive of dangers, and at­tentive to remedies on both sides, and to beware of com­pliance with, and connivance at Sectaries on the one hand, and Malignants on the other.

Fourthly, when we speak of Malignants, we desire that the distinction may be remembred, which was mad in the solemn Warning to the Kingdom from the Generall As­sembly in Feb. 1645. viz. That the cause is in very great danger from two sorts of Malignant Enemies: First, from such as have openly displayed a Banner, or joyned in Armes and professed Hostility against the cause, and such as ad­heared thereunto: Secondly, from secret Malignants, Dis­covenanters, and bosome Enemies. This second sort may by still known by some Characters, given both at that time and before that time, As by their slandering or censuring the Covenant of the three Kingdomes and expedition into England, in the year 1643. as not necessary for the good of Religion, or safety of this Kingdom, or as tending to the di­minution of the Kings just Power and greatnesse, By their confounding of the Kings Power and just Authority, with the pretence and abuse thereof by Commissions, Warrants or Letters procured from his Majesty by the Enemies of this cause and Covenant. As if none were Faithfull and Loyall to the King, who oppose such men and their wayes; By their Spleen, Malice, and callumnies against such as God hath made eminently instrumentall in this cause, and now resolve to be constant to the end in their first Principles, as if such men were the Kings Enemies who are most zealous for the good and safety of Religion; By their commen­ding, justifying or excusing other known Malignants, and by their conversing or intercommuning with excommuni­cate delinquents. Unto which Characters time and expe­rience give us, occasion to adde some others, as namely, [Page 12]The unwillingnesse and declining to reckon Malignants among the Enemies of this cause from whom danger is to be apprehended, Their disjoyning and dividing the duty of endeavouring the Kings Majesties preservation and resti­tution, from the duty of preserving, defending, setling and securing Religion; As if we might and ought to pursue the former without the latter while both are in danger; Their maligning of, and uttering malicious words against faith­full and Zealous Ministers, and against this meeting and Judicatory, appointed by the Generall Assembly: Lastly, their crying up or down of parties persons, & even of the Sectaries themselves according as they have more or lesse hopes of advantage from thē to their own designes. For 'tis not long since such men made light account of any dangers, which were apprehended from the prevalent faction of the Sectaries in England, There being then some hopes of a compliance and combination between them and the Malig­nants: Which is an infalible demonstration that such mens pretended Zeal against those Sectaries now is not from the right Principle. Wherefore let all such dangerous per­sons as we have here deciphered and be carefully observed and avoided, as men would keep themselves pure, and free of snares: And let Presbyteries be diligent to discover, trie, and censure any of this kind in their bounds, that they may be able herein to give a good account of their diligence; As also that they be carefull to discover, try, censure any trafficking Sectaries, and all such as favour their opions and wayes.

Fiftly, Though we esteem that prevalent faction of Sectaries with their abbetters and adherents, Presumptious and malicious Eenemies to Religion, King, and Govern­ment: Yet we hold it is our duty to labour to remove and prevent all occasions of jealousies and suspitions betwixt the Kingdomes; and to doe or say nothing that may breed mis-un­derstandings, [Page 13]breake off correspondence, weaken the confidence or infringe the union and peace betwixt the two Kingdomes so happily established in His Majesties presence, and with his Royall consent in both Parliaments; A caution as necessary now as when it was given above five years agoe in a War­ning from the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly, met in this same place, Jan. 4. 1643. And Generally we desire that all the Articles & clauses of the solemn League and Covenant may be kept inseperably and inviolably lin­ked together & that there may be great tendernesse and care to avoid every thing which may be interpreted as a con­tradicting or abandoning of the former principles, procee­dings, petitions, protestations, Remonstrances, and Decla­rations of this Kirk and Kingdome in the pursuance of this cause; and more especially to take good heed that Scotlands desires, do not mount higher for the King, and fall lower in the point of Religion, then they were at our first under­taking and ingagement in this cause.

Finally, we do most seriously obtest all the people of God in this Nation, and especially the estates of Parliament, by their love to the cause of God, by their solemn Vowes and Covenants, by their first principles and professions, by their former zeale and sincerity, by the many blessings of God, and his great works done for us when our zeal and integri­ty was greatest in this cause, and by all the curses and judg­ments of God which his word denounceth against back­sliders and Covenant-breakers, that they may all the dayes of their lives continue firme, stedfast, and faithfull in their Covenant with God, and one with another, and make good their former professions in a time of tentation and difficul­ty, without wavering or falling off to the right hand, or to the left, and as many as walke according to this rule, peace be on them and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

A. KER.
FINIS.

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