[Page] [Page] A Serious EXPOSTULATION With that Party in SCOTLAND, Commonly known by the Name of WHIGS.

Wherein is modestly and plainly laid open the inconsistency of their Practices;

  • I. With the Safety of humane Society.
  • II. With the Nature of the Christian Religion.
  • III. Their two Covenants are historically related, and prov'd to be no sufficient Warrant for what they do.
  • IV. Their new Doctrine of a pretended Forfeiture, is prov'd to be groundless.

LONDON, Printed by J. D. for Richard Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard, MDCLXXXII.

A serious Expostulation with that Party in Scotland, commonly known by the name of Whigs.

WITH what horror must one look back upon the deplorable state of this wretched Kingdom these 45 years, since the unhappy Principles of Subjects taking Arms against the Lawfull Magistrate under pretence of Religion first prevailed among us! Should I here impar­tially set down the strange Distractions that tore us in pieces, the Rivers of Blood that were shed, and the manifold Mise­ries that we and our Fathers for many years groaned under, I might seem perhaps to affect the writing a Tragedy, or the raising transports of passion in my Readers breast. But, alas! the dismall effects of those Convulsions are still so visible, that as they will justify all that can be said upon this Subject; so at the same time they make it needless. When we had fought our selves into Bondage in the late unnatural War, and had no way left to remove the just Scourges of Rebellion, be­sides our prayers and tears, which at length obtain'd of God the recovery of our ancient Government, Rights and Pro­perties, it was to be hop'd that the fresh remembrance of what we had felt, would have frighted at least the present Ge­neration from all thoughts of renewing our Sufferings, and have kept our Soveraign's Reign as free from Blood, as God was pleased to make his Restauration. But wofull experience [Page 4] has prov'd how soon so great a deliverance was forgotten: before the cicatrice of the late Wound was well closed, we made haste to open it again. Pentland Hills, and Bothwell-Bridge will stand for lasting Monuments both of our Ingra­titude to God, and of our Disloyalty to his Vicegerent. Nor do we only adhere to those wicked Principles which have already cost the Nation so dear, but even outdo them by new and more dangerous Positions. Our Fathers, with­out casting off all reverence for the Government, insisted on­ly upon some pretended Excesses, which they pretended to redress. But some among us of late, by taking upon them to lay aside Him who had undoubted right to govern, do strike at the very Root, and endeavour to destroy the whole ancient Constitution at one blow. They set up for a further degree of Sanctity and Reformation, which we have unhap­pily brought into such a corruption of Morals, as has not been hitherto known among Christians. Are not Assassinations taught, as well as practis'd among us? and those who suffer for the basest of Murders, are they not cry'd up for Martyrs? Are not the minds of many debauch'd to that strange degree, as to glory in Opinions, and die for Doctrines, which others cannot hear mention'd without horror? Do not men, pre­tending to no ordinary measure of Christianity, every day commit and allow of actions whereof Heathens would be asham'd? and in one word, Can any thing be so wickedly contriv'd by those of the Party, as not to be cloak'd with the specious title of Zeal for Christ? Hence it is that Atheists and Profane persons take occasion to scoff at our holy Reli­gion; a reproach is hereby brought upon the Reformation, which always charg'd Popery with Rebellion. The rest of Mankind look upon us as Enemies, and Contemners of the most sacred ties of Religion and Society. Nor is it to be doubted but if we go on in such brutal tenets and practices, our Land will again become a field of Blood. For can we [Page 5] expect that the Government will thus give way to its own Dissolution? or suffer us to go on in courses so inconsistent with the publick safety? When softer Methods prove ineffe­ctual, will it not be forced to defend it self by proceeding to the utmost severities? And I dread to think how when the wrath of God, and of our injur'd Prince, shall at length pur­sue us for our unaccountable obstinacy, we cannot any where expect either refuge or pity.

This terrible prospect of what is most likely to come to pass, has so wrought upon me in my retirement, that not­withstanding the Circumstances of my present condition, which secure me as much from any share in my Native Countrey's danger as my Conscience doth from its guilt. I am resolv'd to discharge the duty of a sincere Christian and of a faithful Patriot, in laying open my thoughts upon this occasion. Now that those, for whose sakes this discourse is undertaken, may both the better understand, and the less partially read it, I shall endeavour to fit my stile to the meanest capacities, and to avoid, as much as possible, all sharpness of expression, being of my self most inclin'd to Le­nitives; and having often observ'd that gentle treatment is most apt to affect Noble Tempers, I shall therefore beg of my Countreymen that they will be pleased to lay aside pre­judice for a little while, and consider fairly with me these four things.

  • I. If such courses be not really inconsistent with the safety of any Government.
  • II. If they be not contrary to the nature of the Chri­stian Religion.
  • III. If what is alledged from the obligation lying up­on us by the late Covenants, be a sufficient warrant for what we do.
  • IV. If there be any ground for the new Doctrine of a pretended Forfeiture, which some among us insist upon.

First Consideration.

It is necessary in all Civil Constitutions, that the Actions of Particular Persons be directed towards the Publick Good. But most men being apt to steer their course only by the com­pass of Interest, the Wisdom of no Government has hither­to found out a better way to support it self, than by establish­ing such an Authority as might see to every man performing his part in relation to the Publick. This last resort of Pow­er, as the very life of the Government, has still been account­ed sacred and inviolable; has had all the advantages of Laws in its behalf; has every where been arm'd against the attempts of Malice, Faction, or Ambition; nor has any thing been wanting that might enable it to answer the great ends of its Institution, either to administer Justice, secure Property, or maintain Peace and Order.

In whatever hands this Soveraign Power is lodg'd, as with us it is undoubtedly in the King's, there all must be ready to pay an humble deference, not only to countenance Authority when it promotes our Private Interest, but even when it seems least favourable to us, to own that it has po­wer to punish as well as reward, there being no less reason for mens submitting to what Authority thinks proper to in­flict upon their breach of the Laws, than for their laying claim to Protection, and other benefits, while they observe them. No severity in the Prince can cancel the obligation that lies upon Subjects, nor put them in Commission to make vio­lent Resistance, seeing this were a taking upon them to re­ject that Judge, and deny that Authority, which the Laws, the Government, and they Themselves as Members of it, have already own'd to be Supream upon Earth.

Nothing here below can be so perfectly contriv'd as not to retain some inconveniences, and I shall grant a probabi­lity, [Page 7] or a possibility at least, of Particular Persons suffering sometimes unjustly, to be an inconvenience which necessarily accompanies the chief Authority in all Governments. But if there be no other way to shun it, than by allowing violent resistance to be lawfull in such cases, the remedy will que­stionless prove much worse than the disease. If with the ma­ny Laws in the Prince's behalf, there were but one to counte­nance resisting him, this one would in a short time destroy all the rest, and reduce his Authority to an empty name. Or if it were declared lawfull for Subjects only to resist in some cases, who must judge when these fall out? The Prince could hardly be brought to give Sentence against himself, to wound his Power by releasing men from their Allegiance. And if it were left to the judgment of Subjects, it is to be feared that the Determination would be highly partial on their side; the case of lawfull Resistance would then turn frequent, Obedience would be rare, unless supported by In­terest, and Subjects would at this rate only be such to whom and when they pleased.

This Principle of Resistance being once allow'd, it neces­sarily opens a door to subvert all Authority, and renders the whole design of Government ineffectual. How could the Pu­blick Peace be secur'd, if there were ways left for Particular persons lawfully to rebel? Differences could never be de­cided but by granting a Sentence from which there is no ap­peal, back'd with a power of executing without danger of opposition. There could be no order, were it left to Pri­vate men to desert their stations, to turn Judges where they are Parties, and to call Rulers to an account of their Admi­nistration. If we leave Kingly Government, and look upon the most Popular Constitutions, which are raised but one step above Anarchy, even there the chief Magistrates are on­ly accountable to the whole Body for their actions: nor can any part of this Body, without the concurrence of the rest, [Page 8] meddle with those that have their Authority from all. Let us suppose Authority in some cases may be mistaken or bi­ass'd in its decisions; without doubt we might expect much greater errors and partiality, were every man left to judge of his own performances. If we think it inconvenient that the Prince should be enabled by his Power to injure any Parti­cular Person, much worse would it be to put it in every Particular Person's power to be unjust to the Prince. To be short, the Supream Power falling sometimes into no good hands, doth not frustrate the chief ends of Government; but if discontented spirits may find ways lawfully to make oppo­sition, nothing can keep it from being dissolved.

It is most plain that Subjects Rights are rather secur'd than endanger'd by the Princes not being accountable for his Actions, and that they would soon find themselves at a loss by being allow'd to resist: for as men are naturally apt to complain, and are allways partial enough to think themselves most hardly dealt with; so if they were at liberty to fall up­on the Government, in helping to weaken that they would wound their own Security. The whole Body must feel the blow which the Head receives. Life may be preserved with the hazard or loss of several Members, but when the Head is affected, every part languishes, and with it all dies. The great foundation then of the Subjects Safety being shaken by violating the Prince's Rights, Interest it self should teach us to be very tender of them, and never to offer at destroying that which appears perhaps inconvenient in one respect, but is useful and necessary in many. If it trouble us to be at the Prince's Mercy, we may remember we are likewise under his Protection, and so need apprehend none besides. And this I humbly conceive is a Condition much more desirable, than by renouncing our Allegiance, unhinging the Go­vernment, and getting thus without the reach of an imaginary danger, to draw upon our selves the violence [Page 9] of every one that hath strength or wickedness enough to hurt us.

And truly our Countrey is at little beholden to us for re­sisting Authority, as we are to our selves; for in shaking off all duty to our Prince, we encourage others to do the same: this must involve the Government in constant trouble, and deprive us of the blessed fruits of Peace upon which we can­not set too high a value. If every one of us be resolv'd to make good our petty Rights, can we imagine our Prince will tamely pass from His, which are so great? And at this rate there is no avoiding a Civil War, with all its fatal Con­sequences, which will fall much heavier upon the Publick, than any thing that any Particular Man or Sort of Men can suffer. The Government of the worst of Princes is infinite­ly preferable to Anarchy and Confusion, where Guilty and Innocent are equally obnoxious to Danger; where no Man's Prudence, Vertue, or Merit can give him Sanctuary. Rome felt it self much more at ease under a Caligula, a Nero, a Domitian, or a Commodus, than amidst the terrible Alarms of a Civil War. This in a few Days spilt more of Rome's best Blood, banish'd more Senators, and ruin'd more Families, than any of those Tyrants did in several Years. But if it went better with the Publick, while such Monsters sate at the Helm, who were themselves govern'd, and govern'd others by no better Laws, than what Cruelty, Avarice, Ambition, and the rest of their unbridled Passions suggested; I am willing still to believe, That none of us are so much our own, and our Countrey's Enemies, to prefer Anarchy be­fore the easy Yoke of our Indulgent Prince, who's Reign has never yet been stain'd with one Act of his Cruelty; Whom Envy it self cannot charge as gratifying his Avarice, or Ambition, at the Expence of his Subjects Fortunes or Lives; but who on the contrary has hitherto made good, what he has been pleased, both in Publick and Private, of­ten [Page 10] to declare, That he intends to govern according to the established Laws of his Kingdoms. And truly we must allow it reasonable, that all his Subjects follow this Royal Pattern, and make the Laws likewise the Sandard of their Actions; or if they cannot be brought this length, it is fit that at least they learn patiently to submit, without taxing their Prince of Severity or Injustice, for requiring them to observe those Rules, by which he himself vouchsafes to be govern'd. But if nothing besides our own private Interest will influence us, even this ought to make all tremble at the very Thoughts of disturbing the Publick Peace, or of setting their Countrey on Fire, lest they themselves be burnt up in its Ashes. As no Art can manage this Flame, when it is once kindled; so it has always been observ'd, that the unhappy Instruments of such Tragedies have seldom escap'd, or, at best, the is­sue has prov'd more grievous, than any thing that could have befallen them by keeping to a dutiful Compliance. It must then be confest, that Men are very ill advis'd, to draw in­evitable Calamity upon their Countrey, and to sacrifice the Lives and Fortunes of so many thousands, where the Inju­stice is so plain, and the Success of the Undertaking so doubtful.

And now me-thinks I hear some alledg, That they only endeavour to maintain those Natural Rights and Priviledges to which every Man has an undoubted Title, or that they only stand upon self-Defence, which is enjoin'd them by the Law of Nature. But however plausible such pretences may appear at first view, yet when narrowly look'd into, they will not be able to bear them out: for neither the Defence of Natural Rights, nor the Law of Nature, will allow of any such monstrous Doctrine. As to things which are un­doubtedly Natural Rights, all Men, who are Members of Societies, and live under any Rules, do every day part with several of them, and find a real Advantage in so doing, [Page 11] they freely resign some natural Rights into the hands of the Publick, which thereupon ensures to them the rest. And tho by this means their Natural Liberties are brought under the Confinement of Laws, and are in some measure abridg'd, yet still their Condition is much more comfortable, than if they continued single and independent Persons, neither ow­ing Obedience as Subjects, nor as such receiving Protection; for in this Case the Pleasure of enjoying all the Priviledges of Nature, with the gilded name of entire Liberty, would be sufficiently allay'd by the constant Terrors and Fears they must then live in. Their own natural Rights, without any other Support, would little avail them, nor would their overvalued Freedom fail to determine in Slavery, as soon as they met with any stronger than themselves. And thus by standing upon all the Priviledges of their Birth, and eve­ry thing that Nature had given them, they should be able to secure nothing.

The greatest Lovers therefore of Freedom, have in all Ages been wise enough to see an Interest in framing themselves into Bodies under certain Laws, which limited, but withal secured those Rights of Nature; and the great Dangers from which this Union freed them, as well as the Advantages that have arisen from it, made Men agree, to keep nothing back, no not Life it self, when the Publick required it: and this makes it evident, that Self-defence is not enjoin'd by the Law of Nature, because this Law is inviolable; and if it abso­lutely required the Preservation of Life, no Man could then venture it for his Countrey, for his Parents, nor for his Friends, no Criminal could without Sin submit to the Exe­cution of the Judges Sentence; and not to meddle with Christ's Death, the Glory of Martyrs would be their Crime, for Violating the Law of Nature by their Voluntary Suffe­rings. I own Self-defence to be every Man's undoubted Birth-right, one of our dearest Priviledges, which we are [Page 12] not to forgo unless upon weighty Considerations. But the great Fallacy is here, Men are apt to confound Natural Rights, and the Law of Nature, which vastly differ. The Law of Nature contains certain general Truths, the Fruit and genuine Results of Reflection, the very Impressions which God has immediately graven in our Souls, which are not to be violated, and which every Man's Reason must ap­prove. Whereas the Rights of Nature are frequently dis­pensed with, nor have we any further Title to them, than the Laws of the Government, whereof we are Members, allow us. So that the whole Matter being rightly under­stood, I may boldly say, The Law of Nature first taught Men to give up their Natural Rights to the Publick, as the wisest Bargain they could make, seeing upon their commit­ting their Lives, Liberties and Fortunes to its Trust, to be dispos'd of at all times as the Publick should think fit, there is a sufficient Return made them by the Publick, which in this Case undertakes their Protection against the whole World.

Second Consideration.

The great Design of the Christian Religion is to reform men inwardly, to calm the Storm, which Pride, Malice, or Love of Revenge are apt to raise, which it effects by season­ing the Mind with Humility, Gentleness, and Patience. It was chiefly intended to remove Mens Thoughts from Tem­poral to Spiritual Objects, teaching them in all Conditions to shew an entire Resignation to God, grounded upon a sure Confidence of his Paternal Care and Protection; and when Men are once arrived at this blessed Temper of Spirit, it will discover it self in the whole Tenor of their Lives, [Page 13] with Relation both to God and their Neighbour. Far from repining at the Divine Providence under the harshest Dis­pensations, they will then be seen to rejoice in Afflictions; they will cheerfully take up their Cross, and, notwithstan­ding all discouragements, will keep on a steady Course to­wards Heaven. Nor is it to be imagin'd that ill Usage from Men will be able to discompose those, who have put on the strongest Resolutions to be at peace with the whole World, to forgive Injuries as soon as received, to pray for their Persecutors, and to return Good for Evil.

Seeing the holy Religion then, which we profess, re­quires such a peaceable and gentle Disposition of Mind in the cross Occurrences of this Life, and seems upon all Occa­sions to discountenance any thing that savours of Violence, certainly it will never allow of violent Methods in what im­mediately regards it self. And as these are neither suitable to the Nature nor Design of Religion, so it may be sufficiently secur'd without them; and he who questions the Truth of this, doth forget that Religion is an inward Principle, fix'd in the Soul, from whence no outward Force is able to re­move it. Men may be spoil'd of their Goods, depriv'd of their Liberties, and suffer constant Persecution for Righ­teousness-sake, without hazarding their Religion, which is be­yond the Reach of the strongest and most malicious Ene­mies. An undeniable Instance of this Truth we meet with in the Primitive Martyrs, who, tho they were oftentimes mean and contemptible Persons, yet they held out against the whole Power of the Roman Empire. So that Religion may properly be term'd, A precious Treasure, of which no man was ever yet rob'd, but by his own Fault; and as we may laugh at any Attempts, which are made against it, so nothing can be more unreasonable, than to use Violence in keeping what cannot be taken from us. We much underva­lue its Power, if we imagine that there is need of any thing [Page 14] of this kind to support it. Nor can there be a more certain Sign of the Spirit's being weak in us, than our not daring to trust it without a Guard. In a word, Religion has not throughly inflam'd those Souls, which are not able to offer Sacrifice to God without borrowing strange Fire.

The Precepts of Christianity do not seem plainer in any one Thing, than in that unlimited Submission which, as Sub­jects, we ow to our Prince; and if our Duty to God may sometimes justify our Refusal to pay an active Obedience, yet in no Case are private Persons at Liberty to resist, but must bear patiently the sharpest Tryals, until they can ease themselves in a lawful, that is, in a peaceable way. If the Princes Edicts therefore should appear such as did infringe our dearest Priviledges, and in our Judgment strike even at Religion it self, we ought still to remember who we are, and what we are concern'd for. We must not presently shake off our Allegiance, and imagine that this gives us Au­thority to disturb the Publick Peace, or that there is no Re­bellion where Religion is the Cause we fight for. God doth not call us to put to our Hand after this irreverent manner, to support the tottering Ark; and the Sincerity of our Inten­tions, or our Zeal for God's Glory and the Gospel, will not excuse us in any indirect Courses. God is jealous of his own Honour, and can easily compass his Ends, without requiring such things at our hands. The Means he is pleased to recom­mend to us, as fittest for this Purpose, are our humble Ad­dresses to our Soveraign, whom in Conscience we dare not oppose, our making known our just Grievances in a dutiful manner, and laying modestly before him those Considera­tions, which are most likely to remove his Prejudices, and dispose him to entertain a better Opinion of Us and our Prin­ciples; and when we have fought with these Arms, which Heaven approves of, we must back our Petitions with our Prayers to God, that He, who has the hearts of Kings al­ways [Page 15] in his Hands, will incline our Prince to grant our Re­quests, and then, if our Cause be truly good, if it be God's as much as we are willing to believe it is, then if we do not spoil it in the Management, we need not in the least doubt of a most comfortable Issue.

But as Things are now order'd, it will be hard to persuade the World that we are acted by an Evangelical Spirit, where the Practices of many are so apparently contrary to the Go­spel. To have our hands still upon our Swords, ready to draw as soon as the least Advantage is given us, is a Posture ill befitting our Profession, and is that which doth insensibly destroy, but will never maintain Religion. What we would have pass for pure Zeal, others look upon as Rage, and love of Revenge; and condemn our fomenting Tumults and In­surrections against Authority, as flowing either from a Diffidence of God's Providence, or from a Distrust of his Promises, or at best from our Impatience to wait his good time. Look back upon the Contrivances of all Rebellions, and you must reckon Craft, Ambition, and Hypocrisy have been always among the most innocent Instruments that are employ'd in hatching and carrying them on; and yet these are so far from being Acts of Christianity, that all Men who are concern'd to be thought strict in their Morals, will be asham'd to own them. What then shall we say to the Falsehood, the Cruelty, the Oppression and Injustice which are so eminently conspicuous in the History of our late un­happy Rebellion? Certainly for Men to pretend amidst so gross Enormities, that what they do is to promote God's Service, and to fight his Battels, is a Sin much beyond all the rest, and brings so great a Scandal upon our holy Reli­gion, that we see by woful Experience, how it has help'd to set up that Spirit of Atheism which now abounds a­mong us.

The Arms with which true Religion delights to defend it [Page 16] self, are of a quite different Nature, as Justice and Integri­ty in Mens Dealings, Innocence in their Lives, Zeal with­out Hypocrisy in their holy Performances; Willingness ra­ther to receive the greatest, than to do the least Injury; En­mity against no Person, much less against the Prince; Con­stancy in suffering all manner of Inconveniences, rather than to contract Guilt in removing them; and lastly, a sin­cere Abhorrence of offering to stain the Christian Religion, by Shedding any Man's Blood in its maintenance, while yet they are resolv'd by God's Grace patiently to sacrifice their own Lives, rather than renounce it. These and the like were the innocent Methods which under God prov'd instru­mental in converting the Heathen World. Christianity, af­ter a new kind of Warfare, became Victorious by yielding; planted, 'tis true, it was and grew up in Blood, yet in such as was not spilt in the open Fields, but upon Scaffolds and in Amphitheaters, and always without Resistance. No other Arms than Prayers, Tears, and invincible Patience, made it triumph over the Power of Heathen Rome. Holy Leagues, Bonds of mutual Defence, Cabals and secret Pra­ctices were not known in those Ages. Private Meetings in­deed we read of, which far from endangering the Peace of the Empire, prov'd the best Seminaries to instruct Men in the Principles of Loyalty as well as Religion; Nothing of Se­dition was ever heard or taught in those pure, tho Nocturnal Assemblies. No man thought fit to meddle with Authority, or arraign the Government there; the time was much better spent, even in Exercises of Devotion, and in pious Medi­tations; seldom was the Emperors Name there mentioned, except in the Prayers that they daily offer'd up for his Safe­ty, even when the Church groaned under his Persecution: and for the Truth of what is here alledged, I dare appeal to the Doctrine and Practice of Christ, and of the primitive Christians.

[Page 17] If we take an exact view of the great Copy Christ has set us, either in his Words or in his Actions, in what he taught, or in what he suffered, every Part doth breath that Peace, which, as a Legacy, he did bequeath his Disciples, (John 14. v. 27.) Those who are gently and peaceably dispos'd, have no small Share in the Blessings he pronounced in the begin­ning of his most Divine Sermon, (Matth. 5. v. 7, 9, 10.) and if we urge his own Words to the contrary, that he came not to send Peace, but a Sword, (Matth. 10. v. 34.) these shew us rather what he foresaw would be the unhappy Effect, than the real Design of his Coming, which was chiefly to make Peace betwixt God and Man, and to make Men be at Peace with one another; in Order to this he commands us not to resist Evil, (Math. 5. v. 39.) or the evil Person, as the Learned here observe: and if the Precept be general, the Inference is strongest, with Relation to our Prince, who if he prove evil, unjust or froward, yet of all Persons is least to be resisted. I might bring the most Material Passages of the Gospel, in Confirmation of this necessary Truth. But I shall for brevitie's sake confine my self to two or three In­stances.

When the Inhabitants of a Samaritan Village refused to en­tertain our Saviour, (Luke 9. v. 54.) two of his Disciples not being able to bear this Affront, ask'd leave to command Fire down from Heaven and consume them, as Elias (2 Kin. 1. v. 10, 12.) had done, but we find he answer'd them with this sharp rebuke, Ye know not of what Spirit ye are. They did imagine it fit for them to imitate the Prophet, forgetting that they were now in the School of Christ, and not in that of Moses. Many things were allow'd, but especially to those called Zealots, by which Character Elias then acted, which could not take place under this new Dispensation. The Gospel was to be carried on with a Spirit of Lenity and Meekness, Men were to be charm'd and not frighted into a [Page 18] good Opinion of it. Nor was it at all to be introduced with Violence, or Hazard to their Lives, seeing the Design of the Son of Man's Coming, was not to destroy Men's Lives, but to save them, Luke 9. v. 56.

The next Instance shall be that of St. Peter, who when the Souldiers came to apprehend Christ, (Math. 26. v. 51, 52.) drew his Sword, and smote a Servant of the High-priest's, and out off his Ear; but instead of receiving Thanks for his Zeal in his Master's Defence, he was commanded to put up his Sword, with this Threat, That all they who take the Sword, shall perish by the Sword. Both Ancient and Modern Wri­ters have urged this as a plain Argument against Subjects assuming to themselves the Power of the Sword to oppose Magistrates, or those who act by their Commission, and the Cavil which some make, as if the Threatning were here di­rected rather to the Jews than to St. Peter, will with im­partial Persons always pass for a violent wresting the Words from their genuine Sense. An ancient Father (Theophilact) doth expresly say that Christ here taught his Disciples not to use the Sword, tho by so doing he might seem to vindicate or defend God himself. Another of the Ancients (Origen) doth conclude from Christ's Command to Peter to put up his Sword, that we must not draw it unless we will perish by it, and that all those who are not inclin'd to Peace, but are Mo­vers of Sedition, shall perish in the War which they occa­sion. And to give you the Comment of St. Austin here for all, he saith that the Lord did in these Words sufficiently check St. Peter's Fact, when he said, ‘Put up again thy Sword, for he that useth the Sword shall perish by the Sword; and he useth it, who, when no Superiour nor Law­ful Power doth allow, makes use of Arms against the Blood of another.’

It would be too tedious to set down the Words of the most eminent Modern Divines, who agree that Peter's Action [Page 19] and Christ's Reproof, ought to discourage all private Persons from rising up against Authority, I shall only give the Words of one most learned and judicious Commentator (Grotius in 26 Math.) upon this Place, and the rather, because some have falsly challeng'd his Testimony from other of his Wri­tings, to weaken this Evangelical Doctrine of Non-resi­stance. ‘This Admonition, saith he, doth not only belong to Peter, but indeed to all Christians, whom publick Autho­rity offers to punish for their Profession. And it is the Will of God that we should then give Testimony to all the World of our Christian Patience, and commit our Souls unto him, as unto a faithful Creator, 1 Pet. 2. v. 9. For what, saith he, can be more just, than for us to lay out our Lives for the Honor of him, from whom we had them. Nor must the Natural Right of Self-defence be here plead­ed, for there is great Difference, saith he, in using this Right against Robbers, or such like Persons, where we have the Law on our side, or against the Commands of Authority, which, tho unjust, are to be born with. For, as he afterwards observes, Men being apt to be partial in what immediately concerns themselves, if once private Per­sons be allow'd to make violent Opposition, when they think they are injur'd by the Magistrate, the World will soon be fill'd with Tumults, and the Force of Laws and Judicial Procedures will be made void. Reason, therefore it self obligeth us to grant some Power which must not be resisted; and it is certain, saith he, in Matters of Religion the Examples of the primitive Christians do teach us to suf­fer patiently any Violence offered us by those who are in Authority.’

Now considering all that might be said in behalf of St. Pe­ter, we shall scarce meet with such another Act of Hostili­ty, that may seem so excusable. Justice, Duty, Religion seem'd all to countenance what he did. Violence was here [Page 20] offer'd to a Person, whom he knew to be most innocent, and in whom no other Fault could be found, than what Malice falsly suggested; and therefore no wonder, if Peter thought fit to do what he could, to rescue him. What he did was in Defence of a Master, and one, who besides the common Ties of Duty and Gratitude, which might prompt the Disciple, had deserved likewise well of him, by many special Acts of Love and Tenderness express'd towards him. And lastly, there seem'd to be true Zeal for Religion in this Attempt; for he saw they were going to put the Messias to death, purposely to stifle the great Miracles they had seen him work, to disgrace the heavenly Doctrine which he had taught, and to render the whole Design of his coming into the World ineffectual. Besides, there were other Circumstances to plead for him. As they were no Magistrates who came to seize upon Jesus, so 'tis probable he understood not by what Authority they acted; and tho I shall not with some alledge, that the High-priests Commission under the Roman Government was not sufficient in such Cases, yet 'tis most probable, that Peter look'd upon those who came, as the Peoples Emissaries, and their coming to be an Act of their Popular Rage. Lastly, for his Intention in what he did, it clearly appears, to have been only in Defence of Christ's Person, without the least Design of giving any further Dis­turbance to the Government. And yet notwithstanding all that can be said for him, his Attempt is censur'd by him, whom he intended to serve in it. And that is recorded as a warning for all Christians, to beware of resisting Authority, even when their Actions aim at nothing but the Defence of Christ and the Gospel.

The last and great Instance is Christ's own Carriage at his Tryal, in which he fully answer'd the Character given him by the Prophet, (Isa. 53. v. 7.) He suffered himself to be brought as a Lamb to the Slaughter; as a Sheep before the Shearer, [Page 21] so he opened not his Mouth. He question'd not the Authori­ty of Pilate, he summon'd not Legions of Angels to come to his Assistance, but meekly and humbly submitting to a most unjust Sentence, he has proposed himself as a Patern to Christians, (1 Pet. 2. v. 21.) For tho it behoved Christ accor­ding to the Scriptures to suffer, yet what was necessary both in respect of God's Decrees, and for the Benefit of Mankind, must be acknowledged voluntary in respect of the Sufferer, and ceases not to be imitable. If we will be his Disciples, we must trace his glorious Footsteps, take up our Cross, and like faithful Souldiers follow the Captain of our Salva­tion, when he calls us. What he requires at our hands is most reasonable, for if we be not able to do great things for his sake, sure it is in our Power to command our selves from doing Violence to any, to forbear even acting against our Persecutors; and by this means we become Sufferers with him; He approves of no other resistance than what he made himself, and what the Scripture (Heb. 12. v. 4.) mentions of, resisting to Blood. Christ's Followers are only to fight his Battels in the noble Army of the Martyrs. And in this, no doubt, we perform a truer Act of Religion, more accep­table in the Sight of God, more agreeable to Christ's Do­ctrine and Practice, than we are able to do by any other Service whatsoever.

After our blessed Saviour's Ascensson, the Apostles did care­fully observe the Rules he left them, their Carriage upon all Occasions was humble, peaceable, and gentle; When they were brought before Magistrates and Governours, they treated them with respect, but did never call their Authori­ty in question, nor upbraided them with Cruelty and Inju­stice, as we too frequently hear done in our chiefest Judica­tures. St. Paul (Acts 23.) having spoken irreverently to the High-priest, who unjustly commanded him to be smitten, while a Prisoner at the Bar, before Trial or Sentence, [Page 22] thought it his Duty to make an Apology, declaring that he knew not the Quality of him before whom he stood, and that Men were not to speak evil of the Ruler of the People. He stood indeed upon his Priviledg, and appealed from an infe­riour Magistrate unto Caesar, (Acts 25.) but in this he own­ed the higher Powers, which some among us have learned to reject, he pleaded not any Exemption by virtue of his Apostleship, tho he could not reasonably expect much Fa­vour, where a Nero was to be his Judge. His Doctrine of Obedience and Submission is no less remarkable than his Practice; so that if there were not one Word in the Wri­tings of all the Apostles to this Purpose, besides what St. Paul has in the first seven Verses of the thirteenth Chapter to the Romans, we might there be sufficiently instructed in the Du­ty of Subjects: his Positions are so plain, and the Argu­ments, by which he enforces them, are so convincing, that had he lived in our times, and heard all the Objections which are raised against the Doctrine of Submission, he could not have answered them more clearly, nor in fewer Words; and no doubt the Spirit of God, which did dictate what He, and St. Peter, and St. Jude did write upon this Subject, had an Eye to the Degeneracy of latter Ages, and design'd to lay such sure Grounds of Christian Obedience, as the Wisdom of the World should never be able to shake in those, who are resolved to regulate their Lives by the Scripture.

Nor doth it add a little to the Weight of their Testimony, when we consider the Circumstances under which they then were, had the World in those Days been govern'd by Chri­stian Princes, who submitting their Scepters to the Cross, had gloried in shewing themselves nursing Fathers to the Go­spel in its Infancy, their Doctrine might then have seem'd suitable to the Temper of those they had to deal with; nor could they have allow'd too much to Princes, who were like to use their Power for the Establishment of the Chri­stian [Page 23] Religion. Or had their Princes, tho Heathens, been Nerva's, Antonius's, or Aurelius's, Persons remarkable for their Justice and Clemency, there would have been no great Inconvenience in this Doctrine, but their preaching up Submission to such Monsters as Claudius, or Nero, under whose Cruelties the Roman Empire then groan'd, doth clear­ly demonstrate, that they were not govern'd by Political Maximes, nor biass'd by any Worldly Consideration. But on the contrary, that they laid down general and inviolable Rules, to be observed at all Times, and towards all Princes, the froward as well as the gentle; those who did unjustly persecute them, as well as others that vouchsafed them Protection.

And certainly in this, and in no other Sense, did the Pri­mitive Christians understand the Apostle's Words, and were therefore of all Subjects the most dutiful to the very worst of Princes; no Barbarous Usage, no Oppression could make them swerve from their first Principle of patient Sub­mission; they had always before their: Eyes the Pattern of their blessed Saviour, in every Step of his Humiliation and Sufferings; nor did they forget what he had taught them, (John 18. v. 36.) That his Kingdom was not of this World; and that they, being his Servants, were not therefore to fight; they knew he intended no Prejudice to the Rights of Princes, in setting up his Monarchy, which is Spiritual and Eternal. And this puts me in mind of a remarkable Passage in a Fragment of Egesippus, a most ancient Christian Writer, how Domitian, like another Herod, being jealous of Christ's return to dethrone him, raised an heavy Persecution against the Church, giving particular Order, that such as were of the Seed of David, should be forthwith secur'd; whereup­on some, that were related to Christ according to the Flesh, being brought before him, and examin'd first con­cerning their own Condition, which they easily made ap­pear [Page 24] to be mean and low; and afterwards concerning the Nature of Christ's Kingdom, they shewed so plainly, that it was not of this World, but commenced properly, when others ended, being Spiritual and Eternal, that having sa­tisfied the Emperour, and freed him from any Apprehen­sion of Christ's Design upon his Crown, they themselves were set at Liberty, and a stop was immediately put to the Persecution.

The Behaviour of the Christians, in those golden Ages of the Church, never gave any just ground of Jealousy to the Roman Emperours, in all the Vicissitudes of that Empire, in the frequent Rebellions against the Government, or Con­spiracies against the Emperour's Person; the Christians kept constant to their Allegiance. When by siding with such Usurpers as Cassius, Albinus, Niger, Parthenius, &c. they might not only have freed themselves from bloody Yokes, but have also in all probability made sure of large Immunities, they could never be wrought on to take Arms against the establish'd Authority; they were perswaded, how ill soever the Emperours might manage their Trust, yet that their Commission was seal'd by God. Nay sometimes the Chri­stians brought upon themselves Persecution, by refusing to join with Rebels; as in the Reign of Adrian, when Baro­chebas and the Jews, not being able upon their Revolt to engage the Christians in their Party, turn'd the Edge of their Sword against the Church, killing most barbarously all the Christians that they met with, and made them thus Martyrs, for the next best cause after Religion, if it is not to be called a Part of it.

Now without doubt the many Edicts which Emperours past in Favor of the Christians, were grounded chiefly upon such Considerations, seeing upon strict Enquiry they had never found them engag'd in any Plots against the State; and 'tis particularly observ'd of Severus, that the Kindness, he [Page 25] shew'd to the Christians in the beginning of his Reign, pro­ceeded from a sense of their dutiful Carriage in difficult Times, both towards himself, and the former Emperours. In fine, the most inveterate Enemies of their Religion could not deny them this Testimony, That in the sharpest Perse­cutions, when they were only suffered to live, to prolong their Torments, when a simple Death, not accompanied with those horrid Cruelties, which were then practised, past for no small Favour; When the Streets were filled with the Carcasses of Martyrs, and the Rivers dy'd with the most precious Blood of the Church, they could never be tempt­ed to rebel. Nor was there truly any thing, in which their Enemies did more industriously labour, than through De­spair to draw them into Rebellion, that so they might have had the better Excuse to cut them off. It grieved the Ro­man Emperours to employ their Axes and not their Swords, and to give their Executioners so much Work, while their Legions were idle, and spill so much Blood with so little Reputation: but Christians knew their Duty too well, to give them any Advantage in this Point; for the Renoun­cing their Religion, or their Alledgiance were the only Things, wherein they could never be brought to gratify their Princes.

It were easy to bring many Instances in Confirmation of what I say, but I shall only pitch upon that famous History of the Thebean Legion, which tho commonly known, yet can never be either too much admired, nor too often repeat­ed: All the Officers and Souldiers of this noble Legion have­ing been converted to Christianity by Zambdas Bishop of Je­rusalem, during their Winter-Quarters in those Parts, were in the heat of the Dioclesian Persecution sent from the East, to reinforce the Army of Maximianus Herculeus in France, and understanding upon their Arrival in the Imperial Camp, that a new Military Oath was to be given them at an Heathen [Page 26] Altar, purposely to pollute them with Idolatry, the whole Legion did thereupon retire from the rest of the Army: when Maximianus commanded them back, Mauritius and Ex [...]perius the Chief Officers answer'd in the name of all, that they were ready to return and fight against his Enemies, but being Christians, they could not offer Sacrifice to the Gods. This Answer did so enrage the Emperour, that he sentenced every tenth Man of the Legion to be put to death, which was accordingly done, none offering to make the least Re­sistance; and when the same cruel Orders were renew'd, Mauritius had so prepar'd them by Applauding their former Behaviour, that they all answer'd, They were Caesar's Soul­diers, that they had never brought upon themselves the im­putation of Cowardise, nor deserted their Colours; that they were ready to obey the Emperour in every Thing, but in offering Sacrifice to Idols; and that their Bodies he might dispose of as he pleased, only their Souls they reserved to Christ: then Exuperius confirming them in their generous Resolution, said, That they did now engage in a new War, and that they must not think to fight their Way to Heaven with their Swords; ‘Tell the Emperour, says he, that De­spair it self shall not be able to engage us against him, we have Arms, but we will not resist, because we are wil­ling rather to suffer, than conquer; preferring much an innocent Death, before a Life stain'd with Guilt.’ And after­wards making good their own and their Officers Words, in Imitation of their blessed Master, they suffer'd themselves to be led as Sheep to the Slaughter, and received every one a glorious Crown of Martyrdom.

If we compare the meek and Christian Behaviour of these stout Officers and Souldiers, with that of our greatest Pro­fessors, we have reason to bewail the Age in which we live, as scarce retaining any Tincture of this primitive Spirit. What excuse can we bring for Men, who pretending to em­brace [Page 27] the sacred Function of the Ministry, and to preach the Gospel of Peace, have thought fit to appear in Arms, sur­rounded with Troops in opposition to Christian Authority, when we find the Officers and Souldiers of a Legion here throw down their Arms, rather than oppose an Heathen Per­secutor? What could Mr. Welsch, or the Captain of his Guard, have alledged in their own behalf, had they heard Mauni­tius upon the Head of his Legion rejoicing at the patient suf­fering of those, who died in the first Decimation, and Ex­horting them that surviv'd to follow their Example, and not to dishonour their Profession, with the Guilt of Rebellion? How much more Christian was the Death of Exuperius, who stript himself of his Arms, as soon as the Emperours Com­mission was produced, than that of Mr. Cameron, who died with a Sword in his Hand, resisting his Prince? I dare not say that Mr. Cameron and this noble Officer seem'd to act each others part, seeing Exuperius truly perform'd his own, and hath deserved to be celebrated by all Posterity, for a Chri­stian Hero. But I hope M. Cameron's greatest Friends will not be offended with me, if I declare that in my humble O­pinion, the Manner of his Death did give no great Lustre to his former Actions; for whatever Reputation it may be to a Man fighting against Turks and Infidels in Defence of Chri­stianity, to be said to have sold his Life at a dear Rate, yet in giving the Character of a faithful Minister of Christ, I cannot think it much for his Honour to mention that he died, as we know M. Cameron did, boldly fighting in direct Op­position to Authority.

I am not ignorant how uncharitable some have been, in affirming that the Submission pay'd by the ancient Christians, flow'd chiefly from their want of Power, and that they did not oppose their Domitians nor their Dioclesians, because they were not in a Condition to carry on a Rebellion: but 'tis a most malicious as well as a false Suggestion, only to sul­ly [Page 28] the Glory of their Sufferings, and to deprive many Mar­tyrs of one of the most precious Jewels in their Crown, by making that Submission forced, which was most voluntary. This is directly to tax those sincere Christians with Disinge­nuity, as if they had pretended Conscience, for what pro­ceeded chiefly from Fear or Weakness; while indeed the Principles of their Religion made them good Subjects, and taught them to be more afraid of the Guilt than the Punish­ment of Rebels. Those that were known to pray every Day, for a long Life, and a peaceable Reign to their Emperours, could not be supposed to harbour the least Thoughts of giving them Disturbance, and had their Inclinations been at all mutinous, by joining with a disaffected Party, which could never be wanting in so great a Body, it was in the Christians Power at any time to have shaken the Empire. This we may learn from Tertullian, who boasts much of their Numbers in his excellent Apology. Those who by desert­ing their Countrey must have depopulated it, might certainly by fighting have broken the Government. In Cities where there were two Christians to one Heathen, as in many then in Africk, they needed not have suffer'd themselves to be so cruelly butcher'd, had not their Consciences disarm'd them of all Weapons of Defence against the Emperour. The same we may gather from St. Cyprian, in that Discourse of his ad­drest to Demetrianus; where he fairly lays down the Grounds upon which Christians then walked. But granting there had been five Heathens to one Christian, yet, as Tertullian ob­serves, Christians readiness to sacrifice their Lives might have made up their Disproportion in Number, had not their Re­ligion obliged them rather to dy, than by Drawing their Swords to kill others. And sure if the Christians were con­siderable so early, as in Tertullian's and St. Cyprian's time, no Question in the latter, and of the third, and the beginning of the fourth Century they wanted not Strength to defend [Page 29] themselves against the Violences then offer'd them under Dioclesian and his Colleagues, had their Religion given them leave to resist.

I cannot finish this Discourse, without observing that ma­ny finding violent Practices in Matters of Religion, utterly condemned by the Examples of Christ, of his Apostles, and of the primitive Christians, retire to the old Testament, as more favourable to their Design: but they never consider that, as many Actions are there rather recorded than com­mended, and which are not to be imitated, tho there be no Censure an next to the Relations there delivered; so seve­ral Things were Lawful under that Dispensation, which the Gospel cannot admit. The Government instituted by Mo­ses was a Theocracy; where, besides the establish'd Laws, God did by immediate Inspiration give Commission to pri­vate Persons, to turn Magistrates, and to punish offenders, without tying them to any formal procedure; such was Phineas, (Numb. 25.) and after him the Zealots, whose A­ctions were accounted most Heroical among the Jews. Yet when Christ's Disciples would have assumed this Priviledge in Imitation of Elias, they met with a Check, as I have al­ready observ'd, from their Master: And if, according to the Opinion of some learned Men, Peter's Action was of this kind, we have still a further Testimony of Christ's Discoun­tenancing such Methods, as too violent for the meek Spi­rit of the Gospel. And tho the Actions of Phineas, of Elias, and of other Prophets, while immediately directed by God, were laudable; yet afterwards, when their Zealots were acted by heat of Passion, and private Resentment, more than by Divine Inspiration, to what Excess of Cruelty and Injustice did they rise! Fury and Rage under a Cloak of Zeal pretended to an Authority to commit the worst of Acti­ons. And Josephus informs us, how those, that went under the Name of Zealots then, were the chief Instruments in the [Page 30] Ruin of the Jewish Nation, and in the Destruction of Jeru­salem.

Now as no Religion nor Government could be safe under this latter Sort of Zealots; so the former were never design'd as Paterns for Christians, who have settled Rules to walk by; who expect no other Revelations than the Oracles of God, contain'd in the holy Scripture; and must therefore condemn those that in our Days pretend to new Lights, and extraordinary Commissions, to curb Magistrates and reform Governments, as seduced by a Spirit of Enthusiasm, savour­ing more of Anti-Christ than of the blessed Author of our Religion. But tho we should allow Men were still at liber­ty, to imitate those holy Zealots, the publick Peace will not be much endanger'd by their Example; for by what can be gather'd from most of their Actions, they were ra­ther terrible Neighbours to notorious Transgressors of the Law, than undutiful Subjects to wicked Princes; they had only Permission to do Justice upon meaner Offenders, but as for the Sins of their Kings, these were reserved Cases, of such God himself thought fit to be the immediate Avenger, or at least to ty Subjects up from medling with them, until they had his particular Commission, which was never grant­ed against their Prince, till God, by the Authority he re­serv'd to himself in that Government, had first degraded him. In a Word, let us consult the Jewish Annals, and see, if we can bring any good Authority thence, for rising up in Arms against Magistrates, upon the account of Religion; or whether any of the Instances, that are alledged to this Pur­pose, be first in themselves justifiable; and next, If they be clear evidences in a Matter of so great Importance: for where the Question is, If Subjects are to obey or resist, the Proofs for Resistance ought to be as plain, as those for Obe­dience, before they venture to act; and this I presume will hardly be made appear from Scripture.

[Page 31] When Jeroboam placed his Calves in Dan and Bethel, and made Israel sin; we find the Prophets condemn his Idolatry, and foretell the ruin of his House, (1 Kings 13. v. 14.) but they stirr'd not up his Subjects to Rebellion against him. Elias, as a Prophet, took upon him to reprove Ahab; but, as a Zealot, he gave him no further Disturbance in his Go­vernment. Against all the wicked Kings of Israel and Judah, who were enemies to the pure Religion and Worship, which God had established, the Prophets boldly denounced the Wrath of God, but seldom help'd to execute it; tho under the harshest Treatment, when they were hid by fifties in a Cave, they never employ'd their Popularity to raise Sedi­tion, or to involve their Countrey in a Civil War, either in their own Defence, or in that of their Religion. When from Idolatrous they fell under the Yoke of Heathen Princes and Strangers; they preached up Duty and Allegiance to such, being persuaded, that these also derived their Power from God. And tho the Maccabees in opposing Antiochus are commended, as the Restorers of the ancient Worship, and of the Liberties of their Countrey; yet I conceive it may be prov'd, that he was an Usurper, and had no just Title to Judea, and that the Jewish Nation had never, by any Legal Act, own'd him for their Prince.

If notwithstanding all that has been said, any among us should still insist upon some Actions of the Zealots; which give countenance to Resistance, as that of Elias, in calling down Fire from Heaven, to destroy the King's Commissio­nate-Officers. I shall only answer, that they also may be al­low'd to resist, when Heaven appears as visibly in their be­half, as it did here in the Prophet's. The World is unchari­table enough to believe, that our Zealots would shew some Instances of their Severity, had they the same Power with Elias, to command Fire from Heaven; and that the King's Troops, that have at any time march'd against them, had [Page 32] then died without Mercy, after the same terrible Manner, that King Ahaziah's did, which were sent against the Pro­phet. But hitherto those, that have appear'd in Arms a­gainst the King, have been so far from giving any evidence of God's Fighting for them, or authorizing their Proceed­ings by Miracles, that he rather has seem'd to disown them, by casting a Damp upon their Spirits, when they stood most in need of some extraordinary Assistance; I appeal to those, who were at any of those unhappy Engagements against their Prince, whether they did not find that Heat and Flame, which upon other Occasions they were able to ex­press, suddenly quencht, when they were just about to act? have not some of their Teachers upbraided them in the Psal­mist's Words, that like the Children of Ephraim (Psal. 78. v. 9.) Being armed, and carrying Bows, they turn'd back in the Day of Battel? Have not the Troops, that were sent against them, confess'd, they could not much glory in their Victories, because they were so easily obtain'd? To be plain, I am afraid, we are become equally the Object of the World's Contempt, and of its Hatred; our late Behaviour having brought upon us the Imputation of Cowardise as well as Disloyalty.

Third Consideration.

If the Persons, for whom I undertook this Argument, think fit to reade what has been said upon the first two Points, I hope they will not give over here, but will vouch­safe to consider with me, in the third place, whether any Obligation, lying upon us from the late Covenants, be a sufficient Warrant for what we do. Now the best Method I can propose in this, is to give a brief Account of the Rise and Progress of both Covenants, with some impartial Reflexions upon them; in which if my Reader will not rest satisfied, he [Page 33] shall have no occasion at least given him to think me te­dious.

Our late Soveraign being fully persuaded that no Church did approach so near the Primitive Purity in Worship and Discipline, as that of England, was resolved to make his Native-Countrey share in what he judg'd so great a Blessing; and in order to it had a Liturgy, and a Book of Canons, published for the use of Scotland; where he was unhappily made believe, he should meet with Approbation from the better sort, and with Complyance from all. But the Peo­ples insolent and mutinous Behaviour, in affronting and dis­turbing the Persons who were ordered to read the Service in the Churches of Edenburgh, did shew how ill they were dis­posed to receive it. This Popular Tumult the first Sunday, was soon after back'd with Petitions and other Marks of their Dislike, which obliged the Council to advance slowly, until they gave the Court advice of what had past. And before the King could come to a Resolution in a Business of so great Importance, such as were no Friends to the Govern­ment, not only ventur'd to publish their Dissatisfaction, and to enflame the Kingdom with strange Jealousies of Popery and Arbitrary Power, but likewise formed themselves into several Tables (as they called them) of Noblemen, Gentle­men, Ministers, and Citizens, and by a new Authority took upon them, to sum up all the Grievances which they in­tended should be redressed; and tho his Majesties not urg­ing the Liturgy upon that Kingdom, when he saw it could not be done in a peaceable way, might have quieted all their Minds, yet finding their Party strong beyond Expecta­tion, they were loth to let slip so favourable a Juncture, but boldly resolved to secure themselves against all Attempts of this kind, by entering into a National Covenant, in which they pretended only to renew that, which had been sworn in the Reign of King James.

[Page 34] Those who adhered to the King's interest, could by no means allow of this manner of proceeding, which appeared equally disingenuous and undutiful. The discontented Party alledged in their own behalf, the President given them in the late Reign, which the others thought did no ways fa­vour their Cause, seeing the Covenant then taken was stampt with Royal Authority, whereas theirs now seem'd directly opposite to it; for there could not be the least Pretence to the King's consent, which they never so much as desired. 'Tis true, it was upon the humble Motion of a general Assem­bly, that the former King's Council had order'd the Natio­nal Covenant to be taken the last time, with a Bond to maintain the true Religion, and the King's Person. But this instance of the General Assemblies Motion, which they laid hold on, was so far from justifying, that it rather condemn­ed their Proceedings; in regard that the General Assemblies not enjoyning the Covenant, till they had first obtained his Majesties Consent, made it evident that in the Assemblies Judgment the Oath could not be renewed without that Au­thority which first imposed it; Nor could they expect any Sanctuary from the Acts of Parliament, for it had been de­clared by more than one, that all who leagu'd themselves together, without the knowledg of their Soveraign, were to be punished as Movers of Sedition, and Disturbers of the Publick Peace.

Besides their want of Authority, they laid themselves o­pen to another most dangerous Censure, while under co­lour of copying a Covenant and Bond allowed of in the late Reign, it plainly appear'd they had not taken their measures by that Standard, but had explain'd many things rather ac­cording to their own, than King James's, Mind, and had al­so added several new Articles of most pernicious conse­quence, both to the King's Person, and the establish'd Go­vernment. The King's Person was endanger'd, in so far, as [Page 35] by their new Bond they enter'd into a mutual Defence of one another, against all Persons whatsoever, without except­ing his Majesty. This the Royal Party said was in Effect to declare, that if he offer'd to thwart them, they must then oppose him, by adhering to their Covenant. Nor were they more favourable to the established Government, in which they made a wide Breach, by taking upon them to cancel all the Acts of Parliament, and of General Assemblies, that authorized the high Commission, the five Articles of Perth, or the sitting of Bishops in Judicatures. Now by these and several other Instances of this kind, it seem'd strange with what face they could make their Covenant and Bond pass for the same with the former Kings, seeing it was not to be presum'd that the Father design'd to lessen either his own or his Son's Authority; Nor to teach his Subjects how to combine without being Rebels; nor yet to favour the ex­tirpating the Articles of Perth, and other Things after his Death, which in his Life he had so industriously promoted.

Whatever Influence these Pretences might have upon un­discerning People, or such, as gave an implicite Credit to whatever their Pastors taught them, the World abroad had much different Thoughts. Nor could all the Endeavours that were used to win many of the Reformed Religion in France, to a good Opinion of such Courses; for they hav­ing long inveighed against that wicked Association at home, call'd the Holy League, found their Mouths now stop'd, when the Protestants, contrary to the Principles of our Re­ligion, did exactly follow so ill a Pattern, set them by Pa­pists. Besides, they knew not what to think of Men, who, setting up for some further degrees in Reformation, thought sit to communicate their Counsels with Cardinal Richelieu, whom they in France look'd upon as the most dangerous E­nemy then alive to the Protestant Interest; and indeed how that Cardinal's Creature, a bigotish Fryar, whom he em­ploy'd [Page 36] at that time in Scotland, could go along in their Coun­sels, and be so much in the Confidence of Men, that pre­tended to root out all the Seeds of Popery, is a Thing yet unaccountable; and the more to alienate Peoples Hearts from the new Liturgy, they did maliciously give out, that it was forg'd at Rome, and approv'd of by the Pope. Yet the King's Friends might have defied them, to shew so much of Popish Counsel in the framing or introducing that mistaken Book, as did appear in the Methods they made use of to op­pose it.

The King perceiving how successfully they carried on their Designs, and gain'd many of his Subjects to their Par­ty, by frighting them with Popery and Arbitrary Power, dispatch'd the Marquess of Hamilton into Scotland, in Qua­lity of Commissioner, with Order, to issue out a Declara­tion, containing all the Assurances which could be desired of his Majesty's firmness to the Protestant Religion, together with his Engagement upon his Royal Word not to enjoin the Liturgy, nor think of any Innovation, unless in such a fair and legal way, as none could reasonably except against. Whereupon those of the other Party, being apprehensive lest this might remove most of the Peoples Prejudices against the Government, used their utmost Endeavours to hinder the Marquess from publishing the King's Declaration; and when this could no longer be done, got time enough to form a most bold Protestation, by which they labour'd to evade all that was alledged against them, and to justify their whole Conduct, declaring roundly, towards the Conclu­sion, That if his Majesty did not allow of their Proceedings, they were resolv'd of themselves to call a General Assembly, which would be more favourable to them.

The King's Declaration being thus in a great Measure ren­dred ineffectual, and their Obstinacy, in adhering to the Covenant, growing still greater, a way was thought on [Page 37] how Things might be accommodated, without great Pre­judice to the Crown, and the Covenant be rendred toler­able; The Royal Party therefore proposed, that in the Bond of mutual Defence against all Persons whatsoever, the Covenanters, who stood so much upon their Loyal In­tentions, would vindicate them to the World, by except­ing his Majesty, and declaring, that in their Bond they ne­ver design'd any Opposition to his Authority. But this most reasonable Demand, the Heads of that Party could by no means be brought to grant; and no wonder, if their re­jecting so fair and so easy a Proposal, gave those, who were Enemies to their Covenant, occasion to complain, that their Practice now began to discover it self inconsistent with what they at first pretended; for whereas in the Covenant they declared from their Heart before God and Man, that they had no intention, nor desire to attempt any Thing, which might turn to the diminution of the King's Greatness and Authority; it seem'd hard now to reconcile this and o­ther such Expressions, with their Threatning, to assume the King's undoubted Prerogative, in calling an Assembly, and with their refusing to give the King the Satisfaction of excepting him in their mutual Bond, even when by his Com­missioner he so earnestly desired it.

There remain'd yet one expedient for the King to ruin all they had done, and this was to renew his Father's Cove­nant; and by this means for ever to defeat their malicious Suggestions of his Inclinations to Popery, which was there so plainly renounced, or at least to make the whole World see, how disingenuous they were, if they offer'd to oppose that Covenant, which from the Beginning they pretended to have sworn. His Majesty, accepting of this Motion, was pleased to give his Commissioner Authority, that at the same time, he recommended the Covenant, he should abso­lutely revoke the Liturgy, the Book of Canons, and the [Page 38] high Commission, forbid the Practice of the five Articles of Perth, after a general Pardon to such of his Subjects, as having been misled, were willing to return to their Alle­giance; and lastly, that for examining all their just Grie­vances, he should declare his Majesty's gracious intentions to call a General Assembly and a Parliament, where neither Bishops nor others were to be exempted from Censure, but proceeded against in a due and legal Form according to their Misdemeanors.

Upon the news of the King's Covenant, which came thus accompanied with so many and so large Expressions of Kind­ness, and with such undeniable Marks of his gracious In­clinations to purchase his Subjects Affections at any rate, some who before despair'd of a good Issue, and others, who be­gan to shake in their Allegiance, were again confirmed, nothing doubting, but that the Way to heal the dangerous Breach was now found out, and that the Jealousies of Pope­ry and Innovation being sufficiently remov'd, all Parties would henceforth concur in expressing their Duty to his Majesty. But it proved much otherwise with those, who were deeply engaged in the Covenant, whom no Indulgence could sweeten, nor Concession satisfy, with Contempt did they reject the proffer of Pardon, because accepting thereof might have perhaps argued Guilt, and a tacite yielding the Point, when they were resolved to insist upon the Merits of their Cause; the King's Covenant, which had been so dear to the Nation in the former Reign, and under the shadow of which their new Covenant had first taken Root, was now cryed down as an hellish Contrivance to destroy Reli­gion, and the Power of Godliness, and all that subscribed it, were declared perjur'd, tho they had made their own hi­therto pass with the common People for the same; to be short, all being now at stake, and they like to be ruined by their own Arts, it was high time to pull off the Mask. [Page 39] Finding then that they could no longer pretend the late King's Authority, they fled to a greater, protesting their Adherence to the new Covenant, as immediately sealed from Heaven. Had they been able to give any Evidence for that Seal, no wonder if they still made good their Party; but when their prevaricating was already so plain, People were extreamly credulous to rest satisfied in this upon their bare Word. I shall only adventure to say, it was no Argument of their having the Seal of God, because they wanted that of his Vice-gerent; which was indeed a strong Presumption against them, and questionless the most zealous Espousers of that Interest, whatever Assurances they seemed to have of God's approving what they then did, will be so ingenuous as to own it a Thing of dangerous Consequence, for all esta­blished Governments to give Encouragement to Preten­ces of this Nature, seeing at this rate all, who design to im­pose upon the World, may easily seign a Warrant from God, and so set up in Opposition to Authority.

That very Resolution of adhering to their Covenant, which made them fiercely oppose the King's, and reject his Act of Grace, prompted them to join with his Motion for a General Assembly, because from thence they were sure to draw some Advantage; and tho the King might justly have refused to make good his Proffers, when they had so unduti­fully rejected the greatest Part of them; yet being willing to gratify his Subjects in every Thing, the Commissioner had Order to appoint the Time and Place. No sooner were they sure of an Assembly (at Glasgow, the 21st of November, 1638.) but Engines were set on work to dispose Things for the Advancement of the Cause: The Marquess of Hamilton being to preside there for his Majesty, proposed some Pre­liminaries to regulate Elections, and to prevent such Disor­ders and Disputes, as were like to arise, if they observed not one and the same Method every where; these the Tables [Page 40] would not hear of, alledging that nothing of this kind could be done, without encroaching upon the Liberties of Christ and of his Church. While at the same Time that the King's Commissioners Preliminaries were rejected, they themselves durst adventure to agree upon eight Articles or Directions to Presbyteries, wherein they determin'd the Members that were to be chosen, the Matters that were to be handled, and the Manner they were to proceed in the Assembly, in every one of which all indifferent Persons thought the Tables guilty of a more open Encroachment upon Christ and the Liberties of his Church, than could be charg'd upon the Marquess, for his modest and reasonable Proposals.

Amongst other unwarrantable Methods, none was more re­markable than their directing Lay-elders from every Parish, to be present at the several Presbyteries, to vote in the Election of Members for the Assembly; Nor could these ruling Elders fail to carry the Elections as they pleased, if we consider, that six Ministers being declared Candidates in every Presby­tery, were obliged to retire, as having no Vote in choo­sing or rejecting themselves, and then the remaining Mini­sters being lessen'd after this Manner in Number, were plainly out-voted everywhere by the Elders. Surely this was the first Time that ever Secular Men had the naming an Ecclesiastical Assembly; nor needed they have questioned the Success, where the Business was to be manag'd by no o­ther than their own Creatures; yet contrary to the Practice of former Assemblies in Scotland, contrary to the Practice of all Churches and Ages, they took upon them to go and sit Members themselves in the Assembly, not only to advise in Matters of Discipline, for which they might perhaps have brought a President, but also to decide controverted Points in Divinity, for which, to say no worse, many of them were very ill qualified by their Education. And now let the whole World judge if it were not an Act of Partiality, [Page 41] not to be paralell'd, for them to cry out upon Bishops and Clergy-men's medling in Secular Affairs, and do now raise such an outery against the King's Supremacy, pretending that it is inconsistent with the Nature of Spiritual Things, to bring them under the Government of the Secular Power: When they themselves, who were Secular Persons, did so manifestly invade the most undoubted Prerogative of the Ministry, heavy Complaints were given in, of the insuppor­table Yoke of Prelacy: but in truth that of Secular Men, lording it then over God's Inheritance, was much more grie­vous than the former. Nor were the wiser Sort of Ministers among them insensible of this Usurpation, only they were asham'd to complain much of the Uneasiness of those Chains, wherewith they had help'd to fetter themselves.

If the brevity, which I propose, would allow me, it might be suitable enough with my Design, to give a full Ac­count of what past in that memorable Assembly, and shew how they confirm'd the Covenant there by the same Me­thods, by which it was at first set on foot, and had hither­to been carried on. But it is sufficient at present to observe, that the certain Prospect of a fatal Issue, both to King and Government, if not timely prevented, obliged the King's Commissioner to dissolve the Assembly within a few Days af­ter their Meeting. And when he expected Compliance, he found them ready with a Protestation to continue their Sessi­ons, till such Time as they had finished the glorious Work for which they met; however, their refusing to obey the King's Commands, signified to them by his Commissioner, was perfectly inconsistent with what the most eminent among them had said, some days before at the opening the Assembly; for then they exprest in several Harangues their Sense of the King's Bounty and Tenderness in bringing them thither: and who can deny but he, who only had Authority to call them, could also dissolve them at Pleasure? and tho both are equal­ly [Page 42] Royal Prerogatives, yet undoubtedly our Princes have Reason to set the highest Value upon their Power of Dissolv­ing, which has been useful to them upon many Occasions; nor did ever the Crown receive so deep a Wound, as when our late Soveraign parted with this choice Prerogative, and so lay at the Mercy of a Parliament, which the Fears of Dissolution could only have bridled, and kept them within some Com­pass. But to return to the Assembly: When so great a Con­tempt was put upon the King, they went on in a most vio­lent and illegal Manner, to excommunicate some of the Bi­shops, and to depose all the rest; many Acts of Parliament were rescinded, the Determinations of forty Years Assem­blies were declared void; all Persons were enjoin'd to take the Covenant under pain of Excommunication; and to give the World a lasting Instance of their Modesty, they conclu­ded with a Letter to his Majesty, justifying their whole Procedure, and entreating him, that he would look upon them as good and dutiful Subjects, and be satisfied with what they had done.

No wonder if Provocations of so high a Nature did beget suitable Resentments in the King, who after so much abus'd Indulgence, had no Way left to maintain his Right but by Arms; nor did the Covenanters decline a Breach, having made early Preparation for it; so that, before the King came to any Act of Hostility, they seized upon his Castles, levied Troops, impos'd Taxes, and cast off all manner of Alle­giance; and even when his Majestie's Aversion from shedding his Subjects Blood, made him, upon the Head of a brave and numerous Army, yield to terms of as great Condescension as Necessity could have extorted, and send them home gra­tified in all their Demands, without fighting; yet new Grievances arm'd them again; and whereas at first they stop'd on the Borders, now most boldly they march into England, force their Passage at Newburn, and refuse to return, un­til [Page 43] the King agreed to come into Scotland, there to pass all his Concessions into Acts of Parliament.

His Majesty failed not to make good what he promised, and having purchas'd their Allegiance at so dear a rate, might justly have challeng'd their entire Obedience upon the Prin­ciples of Gratitude, as well as Duty; but upon the woful Rupture, which soon after followed, betwixt him and his English Parliament, the Spirit and Temper of our Cove­nanters did discover it self more than ever. Far from being satisfied with the great Trouble they had occasion'd at home, or with the Settlement procur'd to their Hearts Desire, they cherish the two Houses in their unreasonable Demands about Religion; and, as it is most ingenuously observed by a late Writer of our Nation, shew themselves now as violent in pressing England's Uniformity with Scotland, as they were formerly in condemning the Design of bringing Scotland to an Uniformity with England.

'Tis not my Task to meddle with the Differences betwixt the King and his English Parliament, which I leave to the excellent Pens of that Nation; but sure I am, there was not the least Reason for Scotland's espousing the Parliaments Quarrel, or for fomenting their Jealousies of a Prince, who had so lately given us such undoubted Marks of his transcen­dent Bounty, in yielding to all that our Covenanters de­manded; besides, by the Explication of the Covenant, we obliged our selves to assist his Majesty in every Cause that concern'd his Honour; and so ought to have been thankful for his Majesty's Condescension, in suffering us to continue neutral; yet notwithstanding these Obligations, The Par­liament's Interest was so dear to our Commissioners then at London, that forgetting the Quality of Mediators, in which they first appear'd, they sided openly with the Houses a­gainst the King. Nor were our Ministers at home less par­tial, our Pulpits did ring with Curses against some, who [Page 44] were for a Neutrality, as Enemies to the Cause of Christ, and the Reformation of England; all were invited to join in so meritorious a Work, and at length all Sense of Duty was so entirely cast off, that the chief Promoters of those De­signs adventur'd to assume to themselves a most undoubted Prerogative of the Crown, in summoning a Convention of Estates without the King's Leave.

From a Convention call'd without Authority, there was no reason to expect any legal Proceedings, or Complyance to the King, who yet vouchsafed to approve of their Mee­ting, upon Condition, they would observe such Limitati­ons, as were prescrib'd in his Letter. But the Business of England, and the raising an Army, being the only Things, which he forbid them to meddle with, were the first which fell under their Consideration; and Commissioners being sent from the Parliament of England to treat about an Army, our Con­vention of Estates, notwithstanding the King's special Com­mand to the contrary, received them with open Arms, a­greed readily to their Demands, and exprest such an hearty Desire of a strict Union betwixt the two Kingdoms, that their warm Consultations did in a few Days hatch the solemn League and Covenant.

It was strange to see a League, which so highly concern'd a King, two Kingdoms, differing much in Laws and Constitutions, and two Churches, differing no less in Wor­ship and Discipline, so easily and suddenly concluded. It was first seen, afterwards approved, and lastly sworn in the General Assembly, all within the short Period of three Days. The Ministers made this wonderful Unanimity pass with the People for an undeniable Testimony of the Divine Appro­bation; tho others, who could never be convinced that the former Covenant received its Seal from Heaven, enter­tain'd no better Opinion of this, but did attribute their A­greement only to the dexterous Management of the Leaders, [Page 45] who had such a powerful Influence and Authority over the rest, that they seldom fail'd in any Thing they proposed.

The whole Negotiation ended without any Debates. Yet there was apparent jugling on both Hands; for the English Commissioners had a great mind to carry with them a Scotish Army, but had no liking at all to our Presbytery; and therefore consenting to a Reformation, according to the Word of God, told one another that they understood well enough what to make of that at home; the Scotish on the other Hand designing to get Presbytery establish'd in Eng­land, cast in the Words of Reforming, according to the Practice of the best reformed Churches, hoping this made sure for theirs, as the most perfect Model that could any where be found; our Ministers were likewise for abjuring Episco­pacy as simply unlawful; but neither the English Commis­sioners then in Scotland, nor the Parliament or Assembly of Divines at Westminster, thought fit afterwards to declare that Institution unlawful: whereupon the Article was conceived to import only an abolishing of Episcopacy, as it was then in England, without condemning what the Primitive Church had allow'd in all its Purity. To describe all the subtile Arts which were used, the manifest Elusions and Breaches where­with we charged England, and England us, together with the fatal Consequences of this Covenant in both Nations, would require much pains and leisure. It will suffice at pre­sent to make some brief Reflections, which may serve to cool our too great Fondness of it.

All that could be alledg'd against the National Covenant was of force against this; besides many Material Circumstan­ces to render it yet more inexcusable; for if we never find Subjects lawfully united among themselves, without the Prince's leave, much less could the Subjects of one Nation take upon them to make a League with those of another, contrary to the King's Command, and in Prejudice of his [Page 46] Authority. Ought we not to have been contented with the Enjoyment of all we could desire at home, without medling in the Concerns of another Nation, who generally did not appear fond of an Alteration, and never were fitted for our Church-discipline? Was there no more regard due to a So­veraign, who had deserv'd so well at our hands, than even to pursue him out of his native Countrey; and grudge him that Liberty of Conscience in England, which he had gra­ciously yielded to us in Scotland? We read of many Nations that engag'd in Wars for the Enlargement of their Sove­raign's Empire, or Authority over Strangers, we alone shall be known to Posterity as guilty of helping Strangers to shake off the Allegiance due to a Prince born among our selves. But besides these general Reflexions, every one of the six Ar­ticles, whereof this Covenant consisted, lay open to several Exceptions. As

I. It seem'd hard, that every ignorant Person in Scotland should be obliged by Oath to endeavour the Reformation of England, according the Word of God and the Practice of the best reformed Churches. What knowledg, alas! could Persons of so mean Capacity or Education be presumed to have of Differences among reformed Churches, of which they were to judge upon Oath! how could they weigh the Advantages of Holland above Geneva, of France above Hol­land, or of Scotland above France, and accordingly endea­vour the Reformation of England? truly 'tis to be doubted that more was here required of the meanest and weakest of the People, than many of our ablest Ministers could well have perform'd: how could such Persons examine nice Que­stions about Church-Government according to Scripture, which have divided the learned World? and yet the Vulgar were to judge of such, seeing by those Rules they swore to proceed. Nor do I see any shift, unless we allow them to resign their Judgment by an implicite Faith in their Teachers, [Page 47] which makes no decent Evasion for a Reformed Church.

The second Article was lyable to the same Exceptions with the former: They swore, ‘To extirpate Popery, Pre­lacy, Superstition, Heresy, Schism, Profaneness, and what­soever should be found contrary to sound Doctrine, and the Power of Godliness.’ This I take to have been a very hard Task for every one to perform, and more certainly, than ought to be required of any Man, in Things which are not plain beyond controversy, as all such Points were not then amongst them: for we find, that one Minister did of­ten inveigh against Opinions, as savouring of Popery, which another as positively deny'd, charging the contrary Opinions, as leading to Schism; and ignorant Persons, who under pain of Perjury were equally engag'd against Schism and Popery, must have found strange Storms, raised in their Minds, and their tender Consciences dreadfully rack'd, while they could not understand, which of the opposite O­pinions they might safely embrace.

Tho the former Part of the third Article concern'd Things of a quite different Nature, yet the Objections are much of the same kind, by that all were engag'd to defend the Rights and Priviledges of Parliament: But, alas! who could ex­pect that common People should be put to determine such, when we hear of Debates started frequently concerning Pri­viledges, which the Wisdom of our greatest Senators is scarce able to accommodate, and seldom is it so done, as to answer all Objections, or satisfy every Member. Suppose a Parliament so divided, that it comes to a Breach, to what Party must the People then adhere, who are not able to judge, which of the two really maintains their Priviledges, where both with Confidence pretend it, and back their Pretences with plausible Reasons. Nothing could have been more for the Peace of the World, than that a greater Re­verence had been kept up for Vows and Oaths, by not ma­king [Page 48] them too common: But seeing our Fathers would not be satisfied without engaging Persons of all Ranks in Oaths, 'tis to be wish'd that ordinary People had only been bound to live peaceably in their Stations; to obey those who by the Laws of the Land were set over them; not to counte­nance Division and Faction, nor turn States-men and Cen­surers of their Superiours: for in these and the like Engage­ments there had only been a further Ty laid upon them to perform easy, plain, and necessary Duties, suitable to their Capacities, without medling in Matters beyond their reach. Whereas our late Covenants did unadvisedly raise such Per­sons above themselves, injoin'd them Things they could not discharge, and, contrary to all reason, spurr'd those on to be troublesome, who stood more in need of a Bridle to check their natural Fierceness, and the ill-grounded Opi­nion they had of their own Sufficiency.

By the latter Part of the third Article the Subjects Allegi­ance to the King was limited to the Preservation and De­fence of the true Religion; as if Princes Rights, whatever they are, ought not to be maintain'd without any manner of Restriction; this was a clear Diminution of the King's just Power and Greatness, and consequently, inconsistent with what they swore before in the National Covenant: But how ill they intended from the Beginning to maintain the King's Power and Greatness, their Positions as well as their Practices do declare. If we look critically into the History of that Time, we see manifest Gradations in their Encroach­ments upon the Royal Authority: At their first entring into the National Covenant, it was alledg'd, that the Body of the Nation, consisting of Church and State, might unite to resist the King. Some Years after, when the Union be­twixt the two Kingdoms was so vehemently carried on, it was declared lawful to assist our Neighbours in extorting from our Soveraign the same Terms for them, which of his [Page 49] Royal Bounty he had formerly vouchsafed to grant us. At last, we advanced a Step higher, and boldly maintain'd, That a few Associate Counties might take Arms against the Authority both of King and Parliament; and that, having Power, they wanted not Right, upon all Occasions, to curb the Excesses of Government. Now here we may ob­serve that the extravagant Proceedings of some Western Counties, upon these seditious Principles, fix'd upon them the Name of Whigs; which contemptible Mark of Distincti­on was for many Years appropriated to us; till of late that, to the Grief of all Men, it is become more universal, and has now unluckily crept into the next Kingdom; and, not­withstanding its infamous Rise, is there too liberally be­stow'd upon some, and too much gloried in by others. Thus the Barbarous Name of Guelphs, which had for a long Time been given to those in Germany that oppos'd the Emperour, was at length fatally transplanted from its native Soil into Italy, a warmer Climate, where it took deeper Root, and became, for many Ages, the Fomenter of terrible Disorders. But I hope our Prince's Wisdom will think fit to give an ear­ly and effectual Check to this and all other Names of Facti­on, which insensibly undermine the Government, alienate Mens Affections from one another, make wicked Men more desperate, when they see themselves discover'd, especially when by the same Means they are enabled to discover the Strength and Number of their Party, besides many other unforeseen Inconveniences, which may help to bring us back into our former dreadful Confusion.

The fourth Article did, in the Judgment of many, set up a new Inquisition, sufficient to make all tremble that were disaffected to the Cause; and 'tis plain their violent Courses gave too much ground for this Complaint: such as out of real Conscience towards God, or Sense of Duty towards their Prince, refused to sign the Covenants, were, after a [Page 50] strange manner, declared Enemies to God and the King, proceeded against as Traitors, and forced either to undergo Banishment, or languish in Prison, while their Estates be­came a Prey to those, who appeared most zealous in perse­cuting them. This inevitable Danger obliged many to dis­guise themselves into a seeming Compliance, to what in their Hearts they did detest. And these Methods being then made use of to settle the Purity of the Gospel among us, no wonder if there were more of Hypocrisy than of the Power of Godliness in our Profession; or, if God were thereby provok'd to disown us and our Cause, and to leave the Nation for many Years to groan under an heavy Bondage.

The fifth Article, which was for executing Justice upon all wilful Opposers, falls under the same Exceptions with the former, and might be illustrated with too many Instances of Cruelty, which those Times afford us: How were our Scaffolds dy'd with the Blood of our Nobility and Gentry, who oppos'd the Torrent, and stood up for the Royal In­terest! How were Prisoners of War most unhumanely sen­tenc'd, and put to Death, and all, that were like to cre­ate them any trouble, destroy'd without Mercy! I need not descend to any Particulars, which are still too well known; and indeed as I am loth to make Strangers ac­quainted with them, so I wish there could be a Curtain drawn to hide such Tragical Pieces from the View of After-Ages.

Their sixth and last Article was a Bond of mutual De­fence against all Opposers, without excepting the King; and this alone might serve to render the whole void: for if the Oaths of Subjects without the Prince's Consent, in Things relating to the Publick, can never bind, much less then, if they directly encroach upon his Authority. If a Vow could absolve Subjects from their Duty, or deprive the Prince of his Right, then we should only be Subjects, till we vow'd [Page 51] the contrary; and thus the World might find a compendi­ous Way to shake off all Dependance. But as the Vowing the Violation of any Man's Property, doth not give us a Title to do it, but only renders our Oath unlawful; so where it is in Prejudice of the Prince, every Circumstance helps to condemn us. When those, who retain'd any Principles of Loyalty, insisted upon this, they did fly to their sincere In­tentions towards the King: but nothing can so well explain their Meaning, as their Practices afterwards; which, for the Honour of our Nation, ought either to be buried in e­ternal Oblivion, or else so clearly manifested to the World, that the Guilty might only be infamous to Posterity, while the sounder Part of the Kingdom recover'd to it its native tincture of Honesty and Loyalty.

Having given some short Hints of the manner of entering into both Covenants, of their Nature and Design, I am per­suaded there needs no further Evidence of their Unlawful­ness from the Beginning, or of their many other Nullities, to prove that they could lay no Obligation upon those very Persons, who subscrib'd them; and if not upon them, much less upon us, who are their Children, to stand to what they then did. Nor do I indeed find any formal Ty upon Po­sterity mention'd in either Covenant: for what is alledged from the former, where 'tis declared, ‘That they are con­vinced in their Minds, and confess with their Mouths, that the present and subsequent Generations in this Land are bound to keep that National Oath and Subscription inviolable;’ may prove perhaps that such was the Opinion of our Fathers, but can never make it obligatory with us, seeing the granting this were to put it in every Man's Power to entail his Opinions upon those who come after him: to which none of us, I presume, will be willing to yield. But allowing matter of fact, and that there had been a positive Oath made by them in the name of their Posterity: Yet this [Page 52] Oath being by Authority declared unlawful, and we for­bidden to observe it, the Compliance we ow to those whom God has set over us, cancels all Obligations of this kind, that our Parents could lay upon us. I shall therefore con­clude, that seeing our Covenants were in so many respects unlawful from the Beginning: and seeing there was neither any formal Obligation laid upon us by our Parents to obscure them; nor yet their Authority in this Case allowable, as interfering with the Laws of the Land, there the least sha­dow of Reason cannot be brought in behalf of any that pre­sume now to renew those Covenants, when the contrary is so plainly enjoin'd us by our rescissory Act of Parliament; but as such Persons proceed not upon rational Grounds, so it is in vain to think of reclaiming them by Force of Argu­ments; the Government must deal with this frenzy, and in its Wisdom find out a Cure suitable to so dangerous a Dis­temper, before the Infection spreads it self wider.

Fourth Consideration.

I should be glad to make an end here, without mention­ing the last Objection; not that I apprehend any Difficulty in undertaking to answer it, but because I really blush to publish the pernicious and traiterous Principles, which some among us have of late taken up, and are not now asham'd to own, That our Soveraign has forfeited all Right to his Crown; and that his Subjects are absolv'd them their Alle­giance.

'Tis plain that Princes Persons and Authority are more ef­fectually secur'd by the Christian Religion, than by all the Contrivances of humane Policy. Fear or Interest among Heathens were the chief Motives to keep Subjects within the Bounds of their Duty, and made them submit, because they durst not rebel. Princes had outward Obedience pay'd [Page 53] them, which was all they could then either challenge or expect. But the Doctrine, taught by our blessed Saviour and his Apostles, did fasten their Crowns much surer, gave them a new Title to reign in their Subjects Hearts, made Subjects dutiful, more out of Conscience than Fear; and by forbidding Resistance under pain of Damnation, laid a much stronger Ty upon Men, than the Hazard of Lives and Fortunes, or all other humane Penalties could ever have done: And, no question, had the Roman Emperours un­derstood how much they were beholden to Christianity, instead of endeavouring to extirpate it, they would have protected and encourag'd it; for as long as Christians suf­fer'd themselves to be govern'd by the Maximes which Christ left them, Princes were truly happy in such Sub­jects.

Christ did indeed put a Sword into his Ministers Hands, to punish notorious Sinners, when he gave them Power to ex­communicate, or cut Men off from being Members of the Church, in depriving them of the Benefits and publick Ex­ercise of their Religion: and there being no Exemption granted to any Person, Kings and Emperours themselves were to fall under this heavy Censure, when their Offences deserv'd it. But tho Ministers had the Courage to shut them sometimes out of Church, as St. Ambrose did Theodosius the Great, yet they did not pretend to thrust them off their Thrones, or wrest their Scepters out of their Hands. They knew that their Authority was only Spiritual, and did not therefore meddle with those Priviledges, which they en­joy'd as Princes; but readily obey'd, in all other Cases, those whom they excluded from their Assemblies; and thus they kept within the Limits, prescrib'd by Christ, for near a thousand Years.

When the Spirit of Christianity was afterwards quite spent, and Religion had put on a new Face, the Riches [Page 54] and Ambition of the Roman Hierarchy made them stretch their Authority further than Christ design'd it; and then did they begin to declare, that Princes, falling under the Censure of Excommunication, did forfeit their Crowns and all other their Temporal as well as Spiritual Priviledges. The great Advances Gregory the seventh and his Successors made in several attempts of this kind, and their Vanity to see themselves on a sudden raised to an universal Monarchy, made them vigorously pursue such Courses, and thunder their Sentences of Excommunication and Forfeiture so libe­rally, that, upon every slight Occasion, Princes were laid aside, Subjects absolv'd from their Allegiance, and Crowns and Scepters freely dispos'd of, when and to whom they pleased; so that under Colour of maintaining Christ's Pre­rogative, they refus'd to give unto Caesar what was Caesar's, far from paying Tribute, as Christ had done, Kings were forced to turn their Tributaries; and, by setting up a new Power in every Kingdom, they made Princes, contrary to the In­tention of Christ and the Gospel, great Losers by the Chri­stian Religion.

Under these heavy Pressures had the Christian World for several Ages groan'd, when God raised up a Spirit of Re­formation in our Fathers, who, among the manifold Cor­ruptions of Rome, observ'd the ill Treatment Princes had there met with, and resolv'd that, in restoring to Christia­nity its ancient Lustre, Princes should again be possest of the Prerogatives entail'd upon them by the Gospel. This made the first Reformers inveigh so bitterly against the Usur­pations of that See, and enforce upon Subjects Allegiance and Submission as Duties, from which none upon Earth could absolve them; and we have Reason to believe that the Justice, then done to Princes, prov'd under God an effectual Means to rescue many Nations from the Roman Yoke. Nor was Duty to Princes only preacht up at first, but it has ever [Page 55] since continued as a fixt Principle in the best reformed Churches, where, next to the Purity of their Doctrine and Worship, relating immediately to God, they have all along gloried most in the Loyalty of their Religion, for laying in­dispensible Ties of Obedience upon Men towards his Vice­gerent. So that, as it passes with many for a Maxime, that Papists, acting according to the Principles of their Church, can hardly be good Subjects, 'tis most certain that Protestants, who are not conscientiously dutiful and loyal, swerve from the Principles of the Reformed Religion; and tho there are, alas! too many Instances of such, both at home and abroad, yet their corrupt Practices must not stain the Purity of the Doctrine, by which they stand condemned.

But while I ascribe to the Reformed Religion the Honour of reestablishing Princes in their Rights, I am sorry any of my Countreymen should renounce their share in it, by pre­tending that our Soveraign has forfeited his Crown, and that we are freed from our Allegiance. These, alas! are Words not hitherto known amongst Orthodox Protestants, but as they meet with them in impious and condemned Wri­ters. Let us consult the Confessions of all the Reformed Churches in the World, and see if any of them teach this Doctrine. Let us send an impartial Account of our Case, with the Nature of our Monarchy, to all the Protestant Uni­versities abroad, whether in England, France, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, or Geneva, and try if we can have the Testimony of any one Society to confirm us in this Tenet. Let us see if we can meet with one eminent Protestant Di­vine, one single Person of Credit and Learning, that will own himself of this Persuasion. If we look back to the Do­ctrine or Practice of the Church in the Primitive Times, we can find nothing there that makes for our Purpose. Neither Heresy nor Idolatry in those Days did make void Princes Right to govern. Constantius, an Arrian, and Julian, a Re­negade, [Page 56] were own'd for Emperours by those, who detested their Impieties, as much as Jovianus or Theodosius, who were Orthodox. The more degenerate Ages, and the most cor­rupt part of the Church first taught us the Principles, upon which some of us now go. We must look no higher than Hildebrand, and apply our selves only to prostitute Cano­nists and Jesuits for Testimonies and Arguments to prove that Princes can so easily forfeit their Crowns; for I know there are many well-meaning Papists, if not whole National Churches, that will utterly reject this monstrous Doctrine. And truly then 'tis hard that we, who look upon our selves as the most thorowly Reform'd, should contemn the Pat­tern set us by the Ancients, diffent from all our Brethren, and side with the greatest Enemies of our Religion in a Point, for which they have been so much expos'd.

Now no wonder if we run into strange Absurdities, when the whole Matter is granted upon false Suppositions: First, we will have the King's Right to commence only from the Time of his Coronation: then we will have the Coronati­on a Compact or Agreement with the People, by which the Prince forfeits his Right, if he do not duly perform his Part: and lastly, we seem to make the late Covenant pass for the Coronation Oath: all which are inexcusable Mis­takes. First, our Laws admit of no Interregnum, but date the Beginning of one King's Reign from the very Instant that another expir'd, it being an Axiom with us, and in all other Hereditary Monarchies, that the King never dies. The fa­tal Blow, that depriv'd us of our late Soveraign, put the Crown immediately upon his Son's Head: From that Mi­nute we were obliged to pay the same Duty to our present Soveraign, which till then we ow'd to his Father; and they, who resisted him before his Coronation, were Rebels as well as these who have done it since. Whatever therefore a Co­ronation might have been anciently, 'tis now only look'd [Page 57] upon in the Nature of an Instalment, upon which our Prince's Title to reign doth no ways depend; else it would be the first Thing they would go about: where­as it is ordinarily put off till such Time, as it can be per­formed with the most Solemnity. In the second place it appears by this, that the Coronation is no such Com­pact as destroys the Prince's Title, if he fail in his part; for where he has his Crown by Inheritance, his Coronati­on is the Effect of his Title, but not his Title of his Co­ronation, which can never make him lose what it did not give him; nor yet weaken the Right, which he had upon his Predecessor's Death. As our King ows his Crown to his Birth, and not to any Suffrage or mutual Agree­ment with his People; so 'tis ridiculous to imagine that his Coronation alters his Right, and makes that condi­tional, and capable of being lost, which was before abso­lute and hereditary. In a word, if the Reign of our Princes commenced only from the Time of their being crown'd, they would be in uneasy and dangerous Cir­cumstances till that were over: but, on the other hand, if their Coronation limited their Birth-right, or made, their Title more precarious, they would contrive to have this Solemnity among the last Performances of their Lives.

Lastly, in the Business of the Covenant there is a dou­ble Fallacy; first, in making it pass for the Coronation Oath; and secondly, in inferring a Forfeiture of the Crown, where the Coronation Oath is broken. When we complain of the King's not making good the Cove­nant, we affirm that he has thereby cancell'd his Right to govern, which yet, according to our own Supposi­tion, is not true, unless we allow the Covenant to be the Coronation Oath. But this is absurd, seeing the Co­venant [Page 58] is a new Thing, never heard of by his Majestie's Royal Ancestors, who did all take an Oath at their In­stalment; and as his Title to the Crown differ'd in no­thing from his Father's and his Grandfather's, so ought his Coronation Oath to have been likewise the same. But if we took upon us to alter it, or to add the Covenant as a new Clause, no wonder if his Majesty question'd what we did without Authority, and refus'd to confirm since, what was extorted from him during the Rebellion. This is certain, that had our Representatives in Parliament con­sidered the Covenant, either as a part of his Majestie's Coronation Oath, or as an Oath lawful in it self, and lawfully impos'd upon the King and his Subjects, they would never have order'd it to be abjur'd, nor have de­clar'd that there lay no Obligation either upon Prince or People to observe it. Secondly, a Forfeiture of the Crown doth not follow upon a Breach of the Corona­tion Oath; because, as I already observ'd, the King has his Crown by Inheritance, not by Election; and his Right, being of a more ancient Date, can never depend upon what followed. The King was oblig'd to be a just Prince, and we to be dutiful Subjects, before that pretended A­greement at his Coronation; and if he should have fail'd in his part, yet we were bound to make good ours, even before we swore any Oath of Allegiance. I confess the King's Oath is a further Confirmation of his Duty, and if he were guilty of any such Breach, it would much ag­gravate his Sin; but God, before whose Tribunal he must stand, can only call him to an Account for it: He is the Minister of God, acts by his immediate Commissi­on, and he alone can cancel it. To God he forfeits his Crown, if he should be found to manage it ill; and in this Case we were patiently to wait till Heaven thought [Page 59] fit to remove him, remembring that the greatest Injury and Breach of Trust was to God who employ'd him. But supposing a Forfeiture, how come the People to claim the Benefit of it, or to pretend themselves his Heirs? In some extraordinary Cases, such as Frenzy, or the like, the Safety of the Kingdom may require an extraordinary Remedy, as at present in Portugal, yet even where the King's insufficiency makes him unable to govern, Subjects are not freed from their Allegiance; if there remain any that have Right to govern as Administrators in his Name, their Station is still the same; no personal Fault nor De­fect in the Prince can dissolve the Government, nor leave People to an entire Liberty of choosing whom they will obey.

Now after all, we are as little able to prove a Breach upon the King's Part, as we are able thence to infer a Forfeiture. His Majesty did swear to govern according to the fundamental Laws of the Kingdom; nor can we shew where ever he has broken them. Has he not, in Matters of Difficulty, vouchsafed to recur to his Great Council? has he not suffer'd the Laws to have their free course? has he ever invaded any Man's Property, or deny'd any Man Justice? has he ever delighted in Blood­shed, or given us one Instance of his Cruelty? So far has he been from giving Occasion to these cursed Aspersions of Tyranny and Oppression, which the Enemies of our Peace do with equal Malice and Falsehood cast upon his Government, that if, without Breach of Duty, we durst complain of our Prince, it should be of his too great In­dulgence, which has hurt both himself and us: for 'tis plain that factious Spirits have adventur'd to disturb our quiet, out of hopes of Impunity. But he has arrogated to himself, say some, King Jesus's Right, in offering to [Page 60] meddle with Spiritual Affairs. After this manner did Gre­gory the seventh charge the Emperour Henry the fourth, when he only maintain'd the Prerogatives of his Crown. Has he meddled more with Spiritual Affairs than other Princes have done? Eusebius thought it for the Honour of Constantine to set down his Words in an Assembly of Bishops, where he called himself a Bishop appointed by God, to see to the outward Settlement of the Church: and must it be an Encroachment upon Christ in his Ma­jesty, to do what was so much commended in that great Emperour? Did his Majesty arrogate to himself Christ's Right, in rejecting that Form of Government which was brought in by Rebellion, or in restoring that Order and Decency, which were then banish'd? did he arrogate too much to himself, in being zealous to perform his mar­tyr'd Fathers Will, or to suppress Schism? In these Things, sure, he acted rather in the quality of a nursing Father, and discharg'd no small Part of his Trust; for what more acceptable Service could he have done to Christ, than to interpose his Royal Authority, in promo­ting a blessed Uniformity amongst us?

There remains yet one strange Article against his Majesty, such an one as I'm confident the World has not hitherto been acquainted with, and that is the Sentence of Depo­sition lastly past upon him in a pretended Convention of Estates, as we learn from the Lanrick Declaration. But seeing we have so lame an Account of this Business, I hope they will be pleased to tell us, when, where, and by what Authority that Assembly was call'd, of whom it consisted, what Lords Spiritual and Temporal sate there: for without them, in our Government, there can be no Convention of Estates: who presided there in his Maje­stie's Name; it being also necessary that he should have [Page 61] had his Representative. In the mean Time, before an Answer be returned to these Enquiries, we are fully sa­tisfied, that as they met without the King's Authority, and upon a most wicked Design, so their Rebellious Conventicle must not be called a Convention of Estates: It was a second high Court of Justice, and another Brad­shaw no doubt was their President; this arraign'd the King, as the former did his Father; nor could he have escap'd their barbarous Cruelty, had he been within their Reach. The extravagant Proceedings at Westmin­ster against our late Royal Martyr, have neither been so much for the Glory of our Neighbours, nor for our own Interest, as to tempt any among us to follow their black Example, and act the second Part of a Tragedy, which nothing, in Modern nor Ancient History, can pa­rallel; and upon which it was hop'd Posterity would have look'd back with Horrour. But the Members of the late mock-Convention among us, have, to their eternal Infamy, approv'd of what was done in the high Court of Justice, by their attempting to renew it: and when all true Protestants and good Subjects would be willing to buy off the Guilt and Ignominy of that atrocious Crime at any rate, these Men would help to transfer it upon us, or at least would have us engag'd in a Villany of the same kind. Our own History furnishes us already with too many Instances of Kings either assassinated, poison'd, or kill'd in open Rebellion; but never, till of late, were we known to put off all Sense of Modesty as well as Du­ty, and, in Contempt of Divine and Human Laws, to trample upon the Throne, arraign our Soveraign be­fore us as a Criminal, and, by a sacrilegious Usurpation of God's Right, pass Sentence of Deposition upon him.

What Apprehensions must the moderate Protestants [Page 62] abroad have of our Zeal, when they hear of this dread­ful Sentence of Deposition, and that of Excommunica­tion issu'd out by Cargil, in the Name of the true Presby­terian Kirk of Scotland? the former forbidding us to o­bey the King, and the latter to pray for him. With what Amazement will it strike them, when they see the ut­most Extent of these Sentences, which begin with the King, but bring in the best Part of the Kingdom, all Officers of the Crown, Privy Councellors, Judges, Ma­gistrates, Officers of the Army, Guards, and other Soul­diers, who are more immediately mark'd out for Destru­ction, as being either Persons in trust, or Adherers to the Government? Nor are the Orthodox Clergy, men everywhere sacred by their Profession, to be here exem­pted; with them they have begun, and shew'd in the Per­son of our late most reverend Metropolitan, what the rest may expect, if the Malice of that Party be once arm'd with Power: so that before these Sentences be executed according to their full extent, we are like to be in the la­mentable Condition of the Egyptians, we shall not have an House without some one or other dead in it; only in this we differ, the Angel of the Lord destroy'd their First-born, whereas we are design'd to destroy one ano­ther. It is really strange how Men, that have thus sha­ken off all the Ties of Religion and Nature, and own such bloody and desperate Principles, are not sometimes afraid, lest our Neighbours, when these Things are pu­blished abroad, should take the Alarm, and join with those in danger at home, to cut them off as avow'd Ene­mies to their Native Prince, their Country, and their Friends, and consequently to all Mankind: But as they appear yet to be only Persons of mean Quality, and not very numerous in respect of the rest of the Kingdom, so [Page 63] the Pitch of extravagance, which they are now arriv'd at, secures them in a great Measure from Vengeance, and makes them the Objects of Pity, as Persons distem­per'd with a violent Phrenzy, and who, for the publick Safety, are to be kept in Chains, rather than destroy'd, and treated as brainsick Persons, till they recover. And truly it may be worth our Governours Time to consider, whether any so proper Method has been yet thought of for such, as to remove them from Prisons to Houses of Correction; not to do them the Honour to bring them before Judicatures to revile the higher Powers, nor to Pillories nor Scaffolds, to confirm the rest of their Par­ty by their obstinate Sufferings; not to condemn them to dy as Martyrs, but to continue under severe Task­masters, till Time, hard Labour, and the seasonable Dis­courses of discreet Persons, appointed for this Purpose, may, by God's Blessing, prove the effectual Means to cool their Heats, remove their Scruples, and restore them again to their right Wits.


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