JUST RE-PROPOSALS TO Humble Proposals.

OR An impartiall Consideration of, and Answer unto, the humble Proposals, which are printed in the name of sundry Learned and Pious Di­vines, concerning the Engagement which the Parliament hath ordered to be taken. Shewing, How farre those Proposals are agreeable to Reason, to Christianity and to Policie. How the Proposers thereof may receive satisfaction therein, in all these respects.

Hereunto are added, The humble Proposals themselves; be­cause they are not currantly to be found.

Written by JOHN DURY.

1 COR. 10. 18.

Not he that commendeth himself, is approved; but whom the Lord commendeth.

January 7. 1650.

Imprimatur, JOSEPH CARYL.

LONDON, Printed by J. C. for Richard wodenothe, at the Starre under St. Peters Church in Cornhill, 1650.


SECT. I. Concerning the Scope of this Treatise.

IT is conceived, that these Proposalls containe the strength of all those Scruples; which the consciencious, and hitherto otherwise wel-affected party towards the Cause of li­berty and Reformation, hath taken up a­gainst the Engagement: and because it is nei­ther just nor conscionable, that any matter The occasion and induce ment to write this Treatise. should be pressed upon the Conscience of any as a Duty, other­wise then by a clear demonstration of the righteousnesse thereof, and a conviction of the judgement therein: nor can it with any probability be conceived, that the Parliament which with so much Pious zeale and vigour, hath opposed the incroach­ments of Tyranny hitherto; should now intend any pressures upon any, which are not absolutely necessary, or further then they are unavoidably requisite for common safery; therefore it will be very expedient, to endeavour the removing of these Scru­ples, as of stumbling-blocks out of the way of conscionable men, The Scope thereof. whose aime is, to seek Peace and Unity in the Truth; and to of­fer by a just Re­proposall, and more faithfull Representation of matters, some equitable satisfaction to these humble Proposals.

[Page 2] And to this effect two things shall be weighed without preju­dice, The things to be handled therein. and taken into serious consideration: First, what strength of Reason, and strain of Christianity is in these Proposals. Se­condly, what way may be followed, to bring the mindes of these Proposers into a quiet frame, by the performance of these Du­ties which they themselves acknowledge to be just, and which to the State will undoubtedly give satisfaction.

SECT. II. The Summe and Substance of the Proposals briefly, and in order.

THe Ministers who have made these Proposals, represent first themselves unto us; and then their scruples concerning the Engagement, for which they desire to be excused from the Sub­scription thereof.

They represent themselves in reference to that which is past, to that which is present, and to that which is their future resoluti­on. In the Proposals. In reference to things past, they have faithfully served the Parliament; they have suffered for the cause thereof in the pur­suance Sect. I. of just liberty and reformation; and they have adhered to their first Principles unto this day.

In reference to things present, they are peaceable and obedi­ent to the Lawes of the Nation; they endeavour with meek­nesse and humility to preserve their inward peace, and outward safety; and they finde themselves straightned in conscience up­on the case of the present Engagement.

In reference to future Resolutions, they declare that they will behave themselves according to these following Positions.

1. That although they hold themselves still bound by their Sect. 2. former solemne Covenant and Engagements; yet that they are also convinced, that it is necessary some Civill Government should be maintained in the Land.

2. That they count it agreeable to the will of God, to the light of nature, to the practise of all Christians, to their own principles, and to their former Engagements; to own the chan­ges [Page 3] of Government, which Gods providence brings upon a Na­tion; when he disables one, and inables another, Government to afford protection to the people thereof.

3. That their owning of the Government will be by living quietly and peaceably in their places and callings under it; and by submitting to such things as are imposed upon, or required of them by the Powers which are in actuall possession; being things in themselves lawfull, & necessary for the preservation of them­selves and others.

4. That all this may be done without disputing the right and title of those who are in place of Magistracy over them.

In these things they propose themselves unto us; that we may know what they are, and what their sense is of the present Go­vernment, and the subjection due thereunto.

Then in the second place, they propose also what their scruples are, concerning a subscriptiō to the Engagement, which are of four sorts. viz. 1. Of that which the words in themselves seem to imply & import. 2. Of that where they relate to the violating of former Engagements 3. Of that which is a matter of generall scandall and offence. 4. Of that which may become a snare unto the Subjects, and a prejudice unto the Rulers themselves. Sect. 3.

Concerning the sense of the words, they scruple at them be­cause they seem to import (say they) things not to be assented unto. As

1. An Approbation of the present establishment as effected by a full and free Authority.

2. A Ratification and consent of the people unto the Au­thority.

3. An Obligation to act, at all times, in all places and capaci­ties to the promoting and strengthening of the Authority.

Concerning the violation of their former Oathes and Engage­ments; they declare from the words thereof, and the manner of Sect. 4. taking the same; that such an awfull impression remaines upon their conscience thereby, that except the consistency of the En­gagement be made unquestionably clear, with the solemne League and Govenant; that to enter into it will be utterly unlawfull unto them.

Concerning the matter of Scandall; they say that the taking Sect. 5 [Page 4] of the Engagement being lookt upon, as an infringement of for­mer Oaths, will blast the whole reputation of their persons, and Sect. 5. of their Ministery, and reflect with more dis-advantage upon the Gospel, then bring advantage to the State: for which cause, they cannot yield to a Subscription thereof: till either by a solemne Debate about it (as of the Covenant) or otherwise; the Scru­ples of their Conscience be taken away.

Concerning the snare laid by Superiours before their Subjects; and the prejudice redounding from thence upon the Govern­ment it self; it is not offered as a Scruple, but rather as a warn­ing Sect. 6. to those that are in Power; that they should not imitate the Episcopall severity and persecution in King James his dayes, and in later times, whereby they laid the foundations of ensuing evils to themselves and their people: and that they should not act a­gainst their professed Principles in having no respect unto tender Sect. 7- Consciences.

From all which premisses, they inferre a conclusion by way of supplication, put up to those that are in present Power, that they may not be compelled, either to draw reproach upon Religion, Sect. 8. and vilifie the Reputation of their Ministery, or to suffer so high a penalty, as to be out-lawed of their Birth-right for not sub­scribing the Engagement.

SECT. III. What strength of Reason is to be found in the matter of these Proposals, to draw on their conclusion.

THe conclusion, which the Proposers inferre upon these Pro­posals, is this; We beseech you constraine us not to take the Engagement by any punishment; but suffer us to be in The mair [...] conclusion of the Proposals. safety under your protection; although we subscribe not the En­gagement, as you require us to do.

If the rationall ground of this demand be inquired into, it will be found to stand in the arguments, which make good these three assertions.

[Page 5] 1. That we ought not to subscribe the Engagement.

2. That you ought not to punish us for non-subscription. And three Branches of it.

3. That we ought to have our birth right, which is the bene­fit of the Laws of the Nation, and your protection to that effect, though we subscribe not.

If the Reason of the first assertion be asked, viz. Why ought you to subscribe the Engagement?

The Answer will be this; because we are streigthned in Con­science, The Argu­ments pro­ving the first Branch. upon the Cases incident to the Engagement, and can­not subscribe it without doubting; which to do, in us would be sin by the Apostles Rule, Rom. 14.

What is the cause of your doubting?

The cause of our doubting is, 1. The sense of the Engagement importing things greatly different from that, which we conceive to be our duty in respect of the present establishment. 2. The seeming violation of our former Oaths. 3. And the matter of grievous scandall, which will be given to all sorts of people, a­gainst the Gospel and our persons and ministery therein, if we be counted perjured in our former Oaths; which rather then to suffer, and to make the glorying of our Ministery void, we should resolve to dye.

For all which reasons (say they) we ought not to subscribe this Engagement; because to our thought, these are the conse­quences of the sense implyed therein; nor can these inconveni­ences as to us be removed, except the consistency of this En­gagement with the former Oaths, be made unquestionably evi­dent.

If the Reason of the second assertion be asked of them, viz. The Argu­ments pro­ving the se­cond branch. Why the Rulers of the State ought not to punish them for non­subscription? The Answer will be this; because Governours though in highest Authority, are bound to avoid the laying of snares and stumbling-blocks in the way of their brethren: and if these that are over us now, should do as our former Governours did, to impose ensnaring Oaths upon godly people, and enforce their subscriptions thereunto; tbey may by that meanes in the beginning of their Government, lay the unhappy foundations of ensuing troubles, to themselves and thir people; as King James and Charles and the Bishops in former times have done.

[Page 6] And then another reason why the Subscription ought not to be enforced with a punishment; is because the professed Princi­ples and resolutions of these that are in present power are to have respect to tender consciences, which in this case would not be rogarded; if without considerations of these scruples, a punishment should be inflicted upon the non-subscribers of the Engagement.

And if it be objected: but what assurance can the Gover­nours of the State have of the non-subscribers peaceable con­versation? The Answer is.

1. That the many years experience of the good behaviour, and faithfull service of the Non-subscribers ought to be taken as a better security for their peaceable disposition, then a fain­ed subscription which many yield unto.

2. That they plead for a forbearance from Subscription on­ly, till by a solemne debate, or otherwise; their conscince shall be cleared of their important scruples.

If lastly, the reason of the third assertion be asked. viz. Why ought you to have the benefit of the Law, and our pro­tection to that effect, though you subscribe not to be true and The Argu­ments pro­ving the third Branch. faithfull to the Common-wealth? The Answer will be this.

1. Because we have been faithfull all along to the Parliament, till now of late these stumbling-blocks are come in our way.

2. Because we have been sufferers with you, and as much as any in the cause of liberty and Reformation.

3. Because we adhere still to our first principles upon which you did undertake to give us protection.

4. Because we do promise to maintain the Peace of the Nati­on, and to pay obedience to the Lawes thereof, whereof we crave the benefit.

5. And because notwithstanding all our former Oaths and En­gagements; yet we acknowledge not onely the necessity of a ci­vill Government in generall, for the preservation of humane so­ciety, and the prevention of out-rages which wicked men unre­strained would do to those that are peaceable; but we consider also in particular, this Government which Gods providence hath set up over us, to be that under which we ought to live quietly and peaceably in our Callings; and to which we will submit in [Page] [Page] [Page 7] all things law full and necessary for common safety, without dis­puting the Right and Title, by which it standeth; and seeing this is the duty, which we are willing to performe, we crave the pro­tection due to such as behave themselves after this manner, al­though we subscribe not that Engagement, which we conceive is greatly different from the tenor of these duties.

This may be conceived to be the full strength and Rationality of their Plea: whereunto what by way of answer may be said; shall afterwards distinctly appear in the Re-proposals, and in the discovery of the way of satisfaction, to be given hereunto.

SECT. IV. What the straine of Christianity is, which in the manner of the Proposall is followed.

THe manner and way of proposing these matters, as to Chri­stianity That the things propo­sed, as to th [...] matter and manner of ut­tering the same, is not a [...] all offensive seemes without offence; the expressions being hum­ble, modest, proper and grave; the point of scruple solici­tous, open and plain: and the matter of their professed Resolu­tion, without vanity or presumption, sad and serious, and al­though the Title Page, (if it be supposed that the Proposers of these doubts were also the Publishers thereof; and that the Title Page was appointed by them to be made as it is) may seeme to contain something contradictory to the Proposals themselves; something unconformable to Christianity, and something offen­sive But that th [...] Title Page and the pub­lication of th [...] Proposals, [...] offensive, [...] published b [...] the Authour of the Propo­salls them­selves. to the superiour Powers, which governe us at present; yet it is more sutable to charity, to think that some inconsiderate Ze­lot; rather then any considerable company of learned and pious Ministers of the Gospel, was the Publisher thereof, and the Au­thour of the Title Page; for it is not likely, that any true Mini­sters of Christ in a matter of such concernment, whiles they pre­tend to humility in their Proposals; would at the publishing thereof, claime to themselves the high Titles, of Learned and of Divines: then which nothing almost could be counted more presumptuous in them, nor could any sting be found more inju­rious [Page 8] to wound the Authority of their Rulers with all; then to brand their publick Consultations, and the designes which they have for common safety; with the-Character which is given in Psal 64. 5. to persecuting wicked Atheists, viz. That they com­mune of laying of Snares privily.

But if any of themselves should have put forth these their own Proposals; with these high commendations of themselves; and with so much despite against their Superiours, to whom they seeme willing to be humble sutors for a favour; then it may be judged not onely indiscretion and vanity; but malicious Hypo­crisie (even against the very matter and scope of their own Propo­sals) in him (whosoever he is) that hath thus done it. For if this stinging expression (that they commune of laying of Snares privily) be the true meaning of the Proposers of these matters; and their positive judgement of the way of those to whom they offer their Proposals; it is apparent, that by the publishing thereof, they have none other aime, but under a faire pretence of Reason and Humility; to commend themselves unto the discontented mul­titude, as learned and pious Divines; and under that notion, to foment in the popular weak apprehensions, the plausible prejudi­ces, which the change of publick affaires hath begotten against the persons and the proceedings of their Governours: which to cover, strengthen, and insinuate under a Cloak of Religiousness, and a colour of straitness of Conscience, is as far from the truth of Christianity, as that which to God and Men is most abominable and hatefull.

It ought therefore to be far from our thoughts, to suspect that any pious Ministers of Jesus Christ (who will one day reveale the secrets of all hearts) should be accessary to any such contrivance; but how far the Publisher may be guilty thereof, and what a prejudice he hath cast thereby upon the Proposals themselves, and what a jealonsie he hath raised against the single aime and Christian intent thereof, is to be left unto his own Conscience to be weighed in the presence of God. It shall no way in the least degree forestall my judgment in the consideration of the matters themselves by way of Re-proposals; nor my affection in the man­ner of representing the same to find a way of satisfaction there­unto.

SECT. V. What those who have subscribed the Engagement, may just­ly Re-propose unto these Proposals.

THe Ministers throughout this Nation, who have judicious­ly and conscionably, as a matter of duty taken the Engage­ment, may justly represent and Re-propose to those, who seeme offended at them for so doing, this which followeth; somewhat in imitation of their own stile, and in Answer to these Proposals.

We Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who have all of us Who the sub­scribers of the Engage­ment are. from the beginning, sought faithfully the Common good of the Nati­on, and served therein the Parliament, for the pursuance of the neces­sary ends of just Liberty and Réformation; and have suffered here­tofore many grievous things, in our Names and Estates from the common enemy; and are now (especially such of us as are posted up) like to become sufferers of the like or worse things from our Brethren, and friends hereafter. Yet to this day we do constantly adhere to our first Principles; and are not staggered, either in resolutions or endea­vours, to maintaine in our places and stations the Peace of this Nati­on, The grounds and induce­ments of their sub­scription to the Engage­ment. and to pay obedience to the Laws thereof. We conceive it our Du­ty in such a time as this, by all wayes of justice, of dutifullnesse, and of Christian freedom with humility; to preserve our inward Peace and outward safety, by keeping a good Conscience, in the case of the present Engagement; which we being required to take, and to sub­scribe could not refuse to do, as finding our selves obliged therunto, as to a Duty whereof we can give this rationall account to all that shall desire to know, what our grounds are for doing the same. 1. Because the former: Engagements oblige them to uphold the foundation of Civill Go­vernment.

First, We have taken and subscribed this Engagement; because we hold our selves still bound, by our former solemn Covenants and Engagements, (as taken by us in that sense, which their ex­presse words do undoubtedly declare; which is most clearly suta­ble to their main ends of publick Peace and Safety; and where­in it is at this time possible and lawfull for us to observe them) [Page 10] to uphold the grounds of Civill Government in this Land; for the preservation of humane society, and prevention of all those evills, which the outrages of wicked men un-restrained would produce therein; which is the whole effect of this Engage­ment.

Secondly, Upon mature deliberation we did perceive; that 2. Because God hath al­tered by an extraordina­ry way, the Government of this State, from a King­dome to a Common-Wealth, whereunto obedience is due. the wise and holy Providence of God, (whose judgements are unsearchable, and wayes past finding out) hath at this time a­gainst and beyond all mens former thoughts and expectations, shaken the foundations of this State, as it was a Kingdom, and disabled that way of Government and all that depends thereon, from affording any protection and preservation to any of the In­habitants of this Land; and hath inabled another forme of Go­vernment to afford it; Wherefore we did conclude from the light of nature; from the judgement of the Learned; from the practise of Christians in former ages; from our own Principles; and from our former Engagements; that it was the will of God, we should quietly and peaceably set our selves in our places and callings, to live under this Government; and to submit to it, in such things as are imposed upon, or required of us, by the Powers which are in actuall possession; being things in themselves lawfull and necessary, or expedient to the preservation of our selves and others.

Thirdly, because although we found others making a question 3. Because obedience is due to the publick pow­er, without disputing their title. of the way, how those who governe at present are come to the helme; yet we conceived that in this case of the Engage­ment, we were bound without disputing the right or title of those that are in place of Magistracy; to declare our willing­nesse to be true and faithfull to the Common-wealth of this Nation, which now doth stand without a King, and House of Lords: because we found this clear duty included in the obvi­ous 4. Because the words of the Engage­ment are not to be other­wise inter­preted then as they contain a clear duty. sense thereof.

Fourthly, because we clearly conceive, that there is no dif­ference at all between the submission which the Authours of the Proposals themselves rightly acknowledge to be due to the Powers, which are in actuall possession, and that which is re­quired by the subscription to this Engagement: for seeing the expresse words of the Engagement give no ground, to interpret [Page 11] the Act of subscription, beyond that which is a clear and known duty: therefore we think it not (as to our Consciences) war­rantable to interpret it otherwise; but we rather think it con­trary to a known duty, to make of a thing in it self lawful and necessary at this time, any scrupulous interpretation beyond what the words import; or to suspend obedience from a duty, upon the conjecture of something which may be thought unduti­full, And the Pro­posers inter­pretation of the Engage­ment is un­dutifull. when that which is to our Conscience a known duty is ap­parent: Upon which ground we declare, that we trouble not our selves, nor do we think it lawfull to stagger others in their thoughts; with the inferences which the Proposers make upon the Subscription of the Engagement, with Reference to these Queries.

As how far it doth imply an approbation of the manner of the present Establishment; Whether as effected by a full and free Au­thority yea or no? whether yea or no, it doth imply an active Concurrence, and a ratifying consent of the People thereunto, further then what hath been already acknowledged to be due to the Powers in actual possession; by all that are in subjection un­der them, and depend upon their protection? and whether yea or no, and how far it fastens an obligation to act to the streng­thening and promoting of the Government, which is at present, or may be hereafter established by the advantage of possible pow­er? we say, that to trouble our own, or other mens weaker Con­sciences, with these or such like doubtfull Conjectures to colour the suspension of our own, or occasion the aversion of other mens affections from yielding obedience to a clear and confessed Reasons why none should interpret the Engagement as the Propo­sers do. duty, is not onely preposterous and contrary to the aime of heal­ing breaches, and of advancing a publick good in this time of distraction; but inconsistent (as to our reason) with the obvi­ous meaning of the words, which are to be subscribed, and disa­greeing (as to our affections) with the Charity due, no lesse to superiours, then to other men, which is not to think evill when good may be thought of them. 1. Cor. 13. 5. And lastly, it is opposite (as to our spirits) unto that wisdom which is from above (the Rule of our walking) teaching us, to have pure and peaceable thoughts in all our actings; to perform duties in Godly simplicity, and without worldly wisdom; to be 2 Cor. 1. 12. [Page 12] gentle and easily intreated, to do good works without partial scrupulosity, and without hypocrisie. Jam. 3. 17.

And upon these principles of true wisdom (which we humbly conceive are not laid to heart, by our Brethren in the third Pa­ragraph of their Proposals) we professedly wave all those scruples and the stumbling-blocks, which they have laid to themselves, and wherewith they have puzled others, upon this clear Ac­count; that whenever the consideration of these things, which are said to be implyed in the Subscription (which we see not) shall come before us, to be circumstantially considered for the e­dification of others, or the clearing of our own way; we then shall be most ready to declare our sence therein, according to known principles and the circumstances, which God shall offer; but in the mean time we think it answerable to the Duty of Christianity, that we should acquiesce in this plain and generall Resolution; that whatsoever hereafter shall appear to us in any of these doubtfull Cases to be a truth, or a duty; to be asserted or performed, for the good of the Common-wealth (under what forme, or without what forme soever we find it established) we shall hold forth the same freely in word and deed towards all, behaving our selves therein accordingly in a peaceable manner. Because to do otherwise, we think it so far from following a known Rule of Christianity in uprightness and simplicity, that it tends to nothing else but a prejudicate forestallment of our own and other mens thoughts, by the laying of snares and stumbling­blocks before them.

The thing then which we re-propose to our Brethrer is this.

That as we ingenuously conceive, there is no difference at all between the things which they themselves have mentioned to An Answer to the 3. Sect. of the Propo­sals, by way of Reproposal. be duties of Subjects to Superiours, and the Subscription required by the present Authority to the obvious sence of the Engage­ment: So we say to that which they call a difference, that not­withstanding this Subscription, it is free for us in Conscience to think differently of the manner of the Establishment, according to that which our judgement and light doth or shall dictate unto us in reference to changeable circumstances, if onely at all times, and in all circumstances however changeable; we engage [Page 13] our truth and faithfulness towards the publick good of the Com­mon-wealth under the same: whence we do acknowledge, that upon this Engagement these consequences will follow, as to our Consciences.

First, That we are bound to approve of the present establish­ment, so far as the manifestation of our truth and faithfulness to the Common-wealth, doth oblige us in our places to follow qui­etly our own Callings, whether the Authority over us be full and free or no.

Secondly. That we ought not to suspend and denie our active concurrence and ratifying consent to any thing which in the pre­sent establishment shall be offered and found lawfull and necessa­ry for common safety; being offered to us by the Authority which is, especially because it is declared, that the Originall of all just power is in the People: therefore conceiving that our consent is required hereunto, (as being some of the People) we judge it our duty in this sense to give it; least we become accessa­ry to the causes of disturbing our present peace or future settle­ment.

Thirdly, That we ought to be obliged in things lawfull, ne­cessary and expedient for common safety to act at all times, in all places and capacities, to the promoting and strengthening of the Establishment which Gods providence hath set over us, and he hath inabled to afford us just protection.

And seeing by this Engagement, we think not our selves bound up by any words expressed therein; to the particulars: (Of a full and free Authority; of the consent of the people; and of the strengthening of another establishment, which may set it self up, &c.) implyed and mentioned in the Proposals: but meane to declare by our subscription, thus farre only as we have said, our approbation of, our ratefying consent unto, and our obligation to­wards the present establishment: therefore we conceive not that we do violate any of our former Oaths, Protestations or solemne League and Covenant, whereunto by the former Com­mands Re-prosall to the 4. Sect. of the Propo­sals relating to the breach of Covenan [...]. of Parliament we actually were, or implicitely could be obliged, but we remember very well, and consider concern­ing the Covenant; both the time when, and the manner how, and the matter whereunto we were engaged by it; and the [Page 14] sense wherein we then took it, and the asseverations that we should never be drawn from it by any terrour or combination whatsoever; and the durable obligation brought upon our selves by it, even all the dayes of our life; and the consideration which we had before our eyes in the taking of it; namely, the Glory of God in the first place; the advancement of the King­dome of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the second place; & the hap­pinesse of the King, and his Posterity, as subordinate, and in order thereunto (by the liberties of the Nation preserved) in the third place; all which things, as we did formerly, so we do still due­ly consider: and find by the changeablenesse of publick affaires upon circumstances, which Gods providence hath ordered for judgement over some, and for mercy towards others; and by the unsut [...]blenesse of the late Kings wayes with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and the inconsistency of his course with the publick welfare of this Nation: that the present frame of the State which now is, though different from what then was, hath not been set up by any breach of Covenant: and that the En­gagement whereinto we are entered, to be true and faithfull to this Common-Wealth, as it now is (viz.) established without a King, and House of Lords, hath nothing at all inconsistent with the former Engagements; or doth give us the least cause to car­ry about with us a conscience (as to these things) trembling and doubtfull, because we finde our selves free from all guilt of the least intention of violating any former promises, in things which are possible and lawfull to be done by us in our places; which were unalterable conditions of all humane promises, at all times presupposed and implyed therein. Belating to the parity of reason, said to be between the Engage­ment to King and Lords, Without Com­mons, and to the Commons without King and Lords.

Nor is there now (to our understanding) any parity of reason; in that which we at this time do, to that which would have been if we had done the like in time past: for although it would have been undoubtedly inconsistent with our Covenant at that time; when King, Lords and Commons made up a Parliament, to have subscribed any Engagement to the King & Lords (if it should by their Agreement & Authority have been required of us) without the Commons of England, because the Covenant did expresly sub­ordinate the relation which we had to the King and Lords, unto the relation which we had to the Common-wealth, yet now it [Page 15] cannot be understood to be inconsistent with the tenor there of (when there is no King nor House of Lords in being) to be with­out them engaged to the Common-wealth: because we never understood our selves otherwise engaged, nor could we justly by any Covenant or Oath whatsoever be otherwise engaged to them; but in order to the Common-wealth, and as they were true and faithfull to the same. Therefore there is no parity of reason in that, which then would have been to that which now is; neither in respect of the fundamentall relation of being e­q [...]ally engaged to them, and to the Common-wealth: nor in respect of the comparative relation, in cases of division and op­position, which was our condition a while ago: nor in respect of the present circumstances of our establishment, wherein there is none other Power and Authority visible, but that of the Com­mons in Parliament, as Representatives to that Common-wealth; to which at all times, in all cases and capacities, we finde our selves undoubtedly obliged to be true and faithfull; that is to say, willing and active to procure the Peace, the Safety, the Plenty, and the Welfare of this Nationall Society, in a Parlia­mentary way, whether it be with, or without a King and House of Lords: nor can any just desire of the personall prosperity of a man capable of being on a Throne, or of men called Lords, (which yet we do not wish any should be deprived of in what is their just due) be justly laid in the ballance by us, with that faithfulnesse which we owe to the whole Common-wealth: nor can the present want of them, or any thing which they can claim justly, prejudice the truth of our affection, towards the publick weale of the Nation in a way without them, no more then their presenct heretofore did take us off from aiming at the same publick weale of the Nation, by the way wherein they for­merly stood. There can bethere fore no parity of reason found, why the Engagement to the one should sway with us as much as to the other, although the King, and Lords-House were in being, which the former Engagements did presuppose: but now this presupposall failing without our guilt, and by their own miscar­riages against the Common-wealth, all the Engagements by which we were bound unto them, are ipsofacto, made void; and our present Engagement to the Common-wealth, and Parl, therein, is still the same which it was; nor could any Covenant or [Page 16] Oath ever alter it, nor did any of us ever intend to infringe it.

Therefore we shall further re-propose unto these Proposers The Repropo­sall to the 5. Sect. of the Proposals re­lating to mat­ters of offence and scandall. almost in their own-words, that these things being thus consider­ed (as we conceive them to be truthes clear and unquestionable to all rationall mens capacities) in the nature of this Engage­ment; and in the full relation wherein it stands to former En­gagements, cannot in our judgements minister the least matter of scandall or offence to any man whatsoever, either good or bad: who although they are not able to make, or happily so much as to understand subtile distinctions, (for we make none, nor need we to seek for any) whereby guilt may either be evaded or palliated; yet we hardly can imagine, that any will be so irrationally and unconscionably injurious to us, as to look upon us, as breakers of our oaths and covenants in this case; or as prevaricators of the most sacred and solemne things; or as men of ductile spirits unto evill; (for to be ductile to our duty is our glory) or of prostituted consciences, or led by Principles of fear or interest; which prejudices (seeing it cannot be denied, that they are only founded upon the ignorance and mistakes of some men; and upon the malicious informations and wrong­full suggestions of others, and not upon any solid or just reasons: therefore they) do grosly wound the Gospell; and such as raile at us, or post us up to be persecuted; and proclaime us to be perjured; wrong us their innocent brethren, and expose our Ministry to scorn, (the honour whereof ought to be dearer to us then our lives) endanger the reputation, and so weaken the power of it in the conscience of our hearers (who in these times of distraction are soon perswaded to have low thoughts of their Ministers; chiefly when Ministers themselves study to make one another contemptible) as that it needs must be believed, that both Christ, and the State also, will be greater loosers by their disorderly carriage against the subscribers of the Engagement then either they, or any body else; can be gainers by their non­scribing of it.

We shall desire alwayes with our Brethren, and we hope no lesse then they, to keep in mind the noble resolution of the A­postle; who would not in case of scandall use his own just power, And relating to Pauls ex­ample and re­solution. but chose freely to suffer all outward inconveniences to himselfe, rather then to hinder the Gospell of Christ; concluding that it [Page 17] was better for him to die, then that any in that be­half should make his glorying void: but he never chose to ne­glect any part of a necessary Duty, for fear of any Kings or Lords displeasure; or for the apprehension of any unjust re­proaches, to be cast upon himself by other men although per­hapsBrethren, he was resolved, and did conclude in this case, to go through evill and good report [...]nd rather to suffer bonds & death, then not to procced in the work of his calling according Act. 20. v. 23. 24. & ch. 21. v. 11, 12, 13. Act. 21. v. 20, till 27. to his Conscience: nor could any combination offew or of ma­ny brethren together, take him off from such a resolution; al­though otherwise in matters free to be done, or to be left un­done as might tend to edification, he was of a most ductile spirit, and of a most facile and yielding disposition. 1 Cor. 9. 19, 20. 21. 22.

We shall therefore again say with the Proposers in our Case; that upon these and such like grounds purely consciencious, and And to the grounds of conscience, not out of any private interest or design; but for the manifesta­tion of our affection towards the peace of this Common-wealth we were not necessitated to forbear; but were free to yield obe­dience to the Subscription, which was required of us. And al­though how we need not for our ownsatisfaction, to desire any And to the motion of a Treatie. debate about the Engagement; yet if any shall desire a friendly conference with us about the same, we shall no manner of way decline it; but rather further it on our parts, that it may be right­ly ordered unto edification.

As concerning the ensnaring Oaths, and Subscriptions offered by former Governours; we truly desire they may be duly con­sidered, Re-proposal to the 6. Sect. relating to ensnaring Oaths. and that the just judgement of God brought upon those, who without respect to tender Consciences did presse them, and lay them as stumbling blocks before their Brethren, may be ap­prehended and seared; but we conceive, that the requiring of a generall promise from Subjects, to performe an undeniable and unquestionable Duty to the Communalty wherein they live by these that have the power of affording, or refusing Civill pro­tection to them, is not of the same nature with those former Oaths and Subscriptions, which former Governours did require; for the former did relate unto matters of Religious concern­ment; and not unto matters meerly Civill, as this latter [Page 18] doth; and then it is one thing, to seek advantages against those whom we would entrap: (which was the Episcopall designe in their Canons) and another thing, to lay the foundation of mutuall trust and confidence, between those that are to make up one Body Politick together; For a [...] this subscription doth tend to nothing in it self, but this: so we are confident. that it is not proposed to any other end. Therefore we are full of hope, that none will smart for it; but such as are wilfull disturbers of the publick Peace and Safety: and that none may be found in such a Categorie, our work shall be to gaine all men to their Duties, by a clear conviction of their understanding concerning the Truth, and faithfulnesse which they owe to the Publick: nor shall we delight to make any odious, for not subscribing towards those that are in Authority, as we are made odious rowards the mul­titude for discharging our conscience in subscribing; but we shall rather condole with such, as conscionably abstaine from subscri­bing; being grieved, that by their own default in Duty, or weak­nesse, Re-proposal to the 7. Sect. relating to tender con­sciences. they should be cast upon the sad Dilemma, either to be ly­able to the displeasure and just jealousie of their Superiours; or to be under the trouble of their own Spirits; which the fear as­well of sinning, as of chusing affliction doth bring unto men of Conscience and ingenuity: and that these inconveniences may be avoided, we shall on the one hand pray and interceede for them; that the many yeares exprience of their quiet behaviour And to the way of secu­rity for peaceablenes. and faithfull services, may be accepted towards a just degree of security, and assurance for future peaceablenesse: and on the o­ther hand, we shall also exhort and intreat, that as none should subscribe faignedly to the profession of their duty: so all may do it sincerely; but especially such, as hitherto have been faithfull to the Cause; and amongst all these most chiefly, such as stand pi­ously for the Testimony of Jesus, either in the Classicall or Con­gregationall Ministry: lest through their failing in this kind, some that watch for advantages against the Office of the Mini­stry it self; and from their least haltings, make use of opportu­nities, [...]o powre contempt upon the function; may not see their hearts desire brought to passe against them.

Thus then we, who at present, upon these considerations to our Consciences satisfactory; and before all men justisiable, are [Page 19] free to subscribe the Engagement as our Duty; do lovingly, as Re-proposal to the 8. Sect. concluding the whole matter. Brethren, beseech those that subscribe it not, not to censure or asperse us (whose reputation is as necessary for others as a good Conscience for our selves) to be men that draw reproach upon Religion; and vilifie the reputation of the Ministry, by which the service of Jesus Christ is advanced; nor cause others to think of us, that we esteme Oaths as changeable as Opinions, and so brand us with the odious marks of equivocation and prevaricati­on, nor to subject us unto the contempt and hate of all, as men of loose and uncertain principles; and we shall endeavour (so far as God shall give us favour with out Superiours) to procure to them, the grant of their equitable desires; that none of them may be out-lawed, untill by wilfull violation of the Lawes they deprive themselvs of the protection, and forfeit the benefit there­of; which we should be exceeding sorry for their and the Gospels. sake, to perceive in any of them.

SECT. VI. What course may be taken to give these Scruplers full satisfaction.

IN the fore-going Section, the subscribers have apologized for themselves; and I have said in their Name, that which I am perswaded all may, and most will assent unto; to wipe off the odium, and foul aspersions which are cast upon them for their forwardnesse to do their duty. Now I shall humbly offer something further, towards the satisfaction of these Scruplers; that if the Re-proposals of the Subscribers, clear not their doubts sufficiently; some other Overtures may not be wanting to ease them of the same, and induce them to the performance of their Duty.

If then, in Charity to them whom I esteem brethren, and in Prudency to our selves, for the preservation of publick Peace, by some mutuall assurance of fidelity between fellow-Subjects; it Why a course of satisfacti­on is to be aimed at. is expedient to think upon some satisfactory course, how to pre­vent further devisions, and heale (if it be possible) our breaches: [Page 20] left the Common enemy both of Religion and Liberty, get his fit opportunity, by co-operating with our failings, to set us a­worke to destroy each other, who together have co-operated hitherto in the common cause of Reformation, and just liberty; If (I say) this be expedient to be thought upon, I would hum­bly suggest, towards the removing of these Scruples; whether conscientiously by single-hearted Brethren, or politically by some others who have double designes entertained; these ensuing Mo­tions.

1. Because no man can possibly receive full satisfacti­on in any thing, except he will uncase himself that all his doubt­ings To satisfie scruplers, all their scruples must be first known. may be known to those that sincerely study his content; therefore our Brethren who make these Proposals are to be in­treated to declare; whether yea or no these be all the scruples, which they have against the Subscription to the Engagement; So that if these be removed, nothing will further hinder their Subscription?

2. If these are all their scruples, and that nothing is further desired but the removall thereof, then our Brethren are in the next place to be intreated further to declare; whether they have in their eye any way of clearing these doubts, by which they con­ceive (as knowing themselves best) their satisfaction if it were Then they themselves should de­clare their sense of that which may give them satisfaction. followed might arise, and wherein their Conscience would ac­quiesce? As for example whether a well-ordered Treaty, to re­move mis-understandings, and to determine, by known princi­ples, matters of duty, will do it yea or no? or whether they con­ceive that nothing will satisfie their doubtings, and embolden them to subscribe, but either such a Declaration to be made by the supream power, upon the Engagement, as they shall rest contented in; or else such a liberty to put in their own cautions, their limitations of performance, and their interpretation of the sence wherein they take it; that in a manner they shall have their own will wholly, without yielding any thing at all to the will of their Superiours, to give them satisfaction?

If they will not answer any of these Queres, but will keep a hidden reserve of doubts; or if nothing but one of the two last Proposals, will be esteemed satisfactory: then it is evident, that in the Proposers aime there is no sincerity; for although they [Page 21] seeme by their Proposals, to seeke satisfaction to themselves, and What to be judged of the scruplers, in case they will not declare themselves to the matters forementio­ned. a way of agreement with others; yet because they manifestly obstruct all the rational meanes of clearing thir own doubts; and refuse to deale ingenuously towards the obtaining of an equita­ble satisfaction from others, in that wherein they pretend to be scrupled, it may justly be concluded, that these scruples are one­ly proposed to colour a wilfull resolution of non-subscribing, and of standing at a distance from under the present power; and that consequently there is some further designe in hand as to State-affaires, tending to a future breach; which how beseeming it may be to the humility and piety of such as are called learned and pious Divines, to have a hand in, and what Conscience it will be in them to cover it with the mask of tenderness of Consci­ence; I shall leave to the judgement of all single-hearted Christi­ans to determine.

It is a sad thing to consider, how far some men, who want not parts; and who undoubtedly are truly Godly for the main; are led sometimes (in the agitation of the affaires, wherein a party which they do affect is in [...]eressed) away from the simplicity of the Gospel to play the Politicians, and it is neither well credible to others, nor at all discernable by themselves; how far when once they begin to warpe from the way of Christian simpicity, How it comes to passe that some Mini­sters play the States-men. and pure love to their duty; the motions of their own passion; the plots of other men; and the designes of opposition against those whom they dis-affect, will insinuate themselves into their very Consciences, under the pretence of piety and zealousness for Religion; which they falsly first imagine to be the cause they have in hand, and then in favour of this imagination they rashly licenciat themselves unto many things; whereof in the day of their account they will be troubled to find a justifiable ac­quittance. In case the scruplers be plain dealing men, what ought to be their behea­viour in re­ference to a Treaty.

But supposing as I ought to do, that in these Proposers there is nothing under the deck; but that in this modest and dis-creet way, the plaine truth and all the truth of their grievances, at the subscription is represented above board; I shall now point at the means, which in a faire Treatie, I conceive may produce unto them so much satisfaction, as in equity they can desire; That they may have cause to deale ingenuously, either by accep­ting [Page 22] of that which is offered, if it may be procured, or by ex­cepting against it, if it seem not satisfactory; in which last case, I think it would be fair dealing in them, not only to alleadge their reasons, why they are not satisfied with what shall be offered; but also to make their own demands, wherein at least they will rest satisfied; for to lye only at the word of excepting, is an un­reasonable posture in treating between two equals, when both are alike concerned in a matter of difference, far more then it is unreasonable when Subjects by a Treaty make their application toward Superiours, and seek to gaine the favour of some equi­table satisfaction from them in a matter of such concernment; which imports no lesse then either the losse or the assurance of all their outward protection and safety.

And seeing to stand alwayes on the excepting, and not at all on the offering or accepting hand, is a frame of spirit not onely unfriendly amongst the Members of the same Communalty, but altogether unsutable to the profession of Christianity; and also most of all unbecoming the worke of the Ministery, and un­proportionate to the wayes of peace and mutuall confidence a­mongst brethren; therefore, I shall not be so injurious as to suspect any of them of any unwillingnesse to treat in a faire way; nor shall I imagine, that any sinistrous designe is hatched by the matter, and the proposing of these Proposals in the mind of a discontented party, to strengthen the captions, carping, peevish, and excepting humour of the times. I say, I shall not suspect a­ny such thing, although to a jealous eye; the matter thereof compared with the aime therein, and the covered close way of dispersing the same amongst the doubtfull multitude; and at a time whiles petitions to gaine delayes, and respit for further resolutions, are presented to Superiours, may look somewhat suspitiously. Yet (I say) for all this I shall not suspect that any designe contrary to peaceablenesse, is fomented thereby in the affections of any: nor shall I wish, that upon the appearance of such a cause of jealousie any strictnesse should be used in the set­tlement of this businesse; But I shall rather pray, perswade and exhort, that on both sides, the open carriage of all matters, as in the presence of God, may take away or prevent as well the ap­pearance of subtile contrivances on the one hand, as the surmises [Page 23] thereof on the other: for both these equally blast the hopes of unity, and the grounds of amiable confidence in all men who are at a distance one from another; for which cause I shall be a most humble sutor towards all sides, that on all hands, not on­ly a friendly Treaty may be set afoot, and chearfully assented unto; but that whiles matters of just scruple are taken into con­sideration, therein to be resolved by known and predetermined Why matter of duty should not be suspen­ded but effe­ctually inten­ded during [...] Treaty, and not Withstan­ding some differences. rules; the matters of clear duty in the interim may not be sus­pended or intermitted on eithersides, because all our danger lies in the neglect of common known duties, more then in any thing else: for if we would but do that which we confesse we ought to do, and which we wish others would do to us; there would be no doubt a speedy healing of our breaches: nor can there a­ny good reason be given why I should suspend to act a known duty in that wherein I am not scrupled, because I ought to be left free to abstain from acting in that wherein I am scrupled: that which in Christianity is clear and positive, is alwayes to be intended before that which is dark and negative: nor may I with a good conscience, refuse to follow the light which I have in the main of a duty, so far as it is practicable; because I want some light in some circumstantiall cases, which may fall in, as to me, to be unpracticable. If therefore this ground can be laid and as­sented unto, that whatever we shall agree upon to be a clear and undeniable duty in Christianity or Morality, shall be practised for it selfe, not withstanding all other differences or defects fal­ling in among us, and that in the disquisition of matters we shall proceed alwayes first to determine that wherein we fully agree, before we mention matters of dis-agreement; I am confident that we shall finde so much cause of satisfaction and assurance in each others resolutions and engagements of that kind, that the different apprehensions of matters which now seem ex­tream; and through our mutuall mistrustings of each other, are like to be the utter ruine of both, will be found very incon­siderable, and such as will be wholly swallowed up by the grounds of mutuall assurance which naturally results from every faith­full Engagement, to practise things wherein there is a full agree­ment between parties; for the not doing (as I said before) of that which in our places we should do with singlenesse of heart, [Page 24] without contradicting and contesting one with another, about that wherein we suspect each other (as aiming at that which we should not do) is the Originall and great cause of all our distrac­tion and unsettlement; which if we could intend to redresse and remove (viz. by overcoming evill with good; that is, the feares [...]m. 12. 21. of evill designs and enterprizes, with good motions and engage­ments unto unquestionable duties) there is no doubt but we should find a cleare way to Peace and reconcilement: this there­fore is the course, which I would suggest to be followed, be­tween those that are scrupled at the Engagement, and those that are not scrupled at it, in their friendly conference and Trea­tie, viz. [...]hat things [...]ould be [...]andled in [...]he Treatie, and in what [...]rder, if we deale with men of inge­nuity.

First let matters of agreement be proposed, understood and ratified, in things Positive and Negative.

Secondly, Let there be a professed Engagement, to practise that which is answerable unto their Agreements, and tending undoubtedly to edification between them.

Thirdly, Let matters of disagreement both positive and ne­gative be thought upon with these two cautions premised to prevent a breach.

First, That no disagreement in Judgement or practise, shall make void the Dutifull Engagement, to follow joyntly the matters of Agreement.

Secondly, That to take away the offences, which may arise upon the differences of opinions and practises, some Rules are to be pre-determined; whereby contentious debates about the same may be prevented, and whereby the right use of Christian, of Morall and of Rationall freedom therein may be set­led.

If therefore those Pious and Learned Brethren, whose scruples against the Engagement, being thus proposed, have a great influ­ence upon the minds of others, to make them scrupulous and dis­affected at it: if (I say they would condescend to the Overture of such a Treatie, (which hither to some have not been willing to do) I am very confident through the blessing of Christ, that an Ex­pedient would easily be found to settle their doubtfull thoughts; and so to make all others willing to yield unto their Superiours, [Page 25] that ground of just assurance and acquiescence, for which the Engagement by them proposed, is requisite.

And this is the course, by which those that are ingenuous may receive satisfaction, if they seek it as they ought; but if any doth scruple more through Policie then Pietie, this course will not But in deal­ing With men of Policie th [...] course will not take. be liked of, because it will crosse their design; which is, to keepe the minds of the weaker sort in a staggering condition, that they may not close to any settlement; but lye open to all manner of changes: I shall not charge any of the Authors of these Propo­sals with any such designe; yet I cannot absolve all of them from it; for I may as lawfully suspect them in this matter as in any o­ther Why the scruplers may be sus­pected though not charged with Policie. matter I may do mine own heart, whereof although I know none evill; yet I shall do my self no injury, to say, that yet there may be some mixture of deceitfulnesse in it, when I thinke my meaning is at the best; For the Apostle himself would not take upon him to justifie himself in all things. I know (saith he) no­thing by my self, yet I am not thereby justifie; but he that judgeth me, is the Lord. So I may without offence say, of the Proposers of 1 Cor. 4. 4. these scruples, that although I know nothing by them, but judge charitably that their scruples as to them are truely conscientious yet I must also say, that thereby they are not justified from the mixture of collaterall designes; but that it is the Lord who will judge them. The maine of the businesse may be truly a doubt of Conscience; and yet the managing of it, in the hands of some may be somewhat else; nor do I wrong the Christian charity which I owe to all or any of them in this; because it is lawfull for me to be jealous over them with godly jealousie lest by any meanes, as the Serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty: so their minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ 1 Cor. 11. 3. And truly to look but upon the matter it self, by comparing the former and latter parts of the proposals together, a doubt may be made thus; that seeing the maine scruple where at they stick, is not so much against the Duty expressed in the words of the Engagement; which is, to be true and faithfull, or against the Object of the Duty considered in it self, which is this Common-Wealth: or against the immediare qualifications of the Object and of the Duty; which are, as it is now established without a King and House of Lords, which are acknowledged to be the effects of Gods Providence; but onely against the act of subscribing to the [Page 26] whole, in reference to some State-considerations and consequen­ces following thereupon; which tend to nothing else, but to suspend the minds of men, and take them off from the regular performance of a present Duty, by the conjectural apprehensions of doubtfull inconveniences which may ensue as to the State. Therefore it is not without a rationall ground of jealousie; that although the matters proposed, may be reall scruples of Consci­ence, and rationally reflected upon by some without prejudice; yet that in this proposing of them, as to the disposition of the matter, to fetch about this form of speech, the hand of Joab may also have been in it, for some selfe-interest of State. 2 Sam. 14. 19.

And this may be thought the more likely to be true, if we ob­serve two things. First, that the words of this Engagement (which are scrupled at, and said to be contrary to former En­gagements, and the duties mentioned in the second Sect.) are not at all once alleadged; to shew distinctly, wherein the men­tioned contrariety doth stand; but the objection is made con­fusedly against the Act of subscribing to the words, according to that prejudice which the vulgar hath taken up against them in a generall notion. Herein then the subtilty of the Policy doth lye: that the matter should be couched in such a way, as doth most commodiously favour that notion, and strengthen it: which in men of learning, conscience and piety, feeking a clea­ring of doubts, doth not seem to be faire and plaine dealing, and therefore may be thought to have somewhat of a Collaterall designe.

Secondly, we may observe also, that if the thing clearly pro­fessed in the second Sect. of the Proposals to be a known duty, had been really intended, and resolved upon to have been pra­ctised at this time no lesse then in generall termes acknowledged to be a thing at some time lawfully practicable; there would not have been any inclination to do two things which here are done; not without some contrivance. First, the performance of duties confessed to be due to such Superiours, as are in places over us, and by a people in our case under them, would not have been per indirectum denied to be due by us unto them. Secondly, the words of the Engagement upon which the whole stresse of the scruple is said to lye; and for which that which is confessed to be due to others is denyed to our Superiour Powers, would [Page 27] not have been suppressed, and left in the dark as they are; but clearly mentioned and alleadged as they are not, lest the falacy of the pretended scruple should appear. For if the duty acknow­ledged in Thesi, had been applied to the Hypothesis of our pre­sent condition, and the duty required in the words of the En­gagement had been compared therewith, the pretended matter of scruple, would by the full agreement of the one with the other, havebeen found apparently impertinent: but it may be conceived, that the matter is laid thus before the pre-possessed Reader, or weak discerner of such contrivances; to the end, that upon a full acknowledgement of a just duty, and a willing­nesse to perform the same, in a case like to ours, the iniquity of that which is supposed to be required of us, by the Engagement; may be heightened in mens apprehensions, who are easily swayed to receive the worst impressions of those that are in places of power over them: by how much then they seem to yield to a ra­tionall duty, and be of an equitable disposition towards their Superiours, by so much they prevaticate against the intention of the Engagement to make it to be thought altogether contrary to reason and to justice; by a slye concealing of the words, and a suspitious interpretation thereof, suggested, as containing mat­ters very far different from the acknowledged duty, and wholly opposite to former Engagements. Whereas in truth and deed, there is no such thing aimed at by the Engagement, nor implyed in the words thereof. So that from the third paragraphe of the Proposals to the end thereof; the whole matter and contrivance of the discourse may be thought (and yet without doing inju­ry to the Authours) nothing else but a Politicall Stratagem and Sophisme grounded upon the mis-application and mis-interpre­tation of the Engagement and Covenant, to entangle weake and And how their Politi­call Scrupu­losity and con­scientious i­maginations of this nature are to be sa­tisfied in the generall. undiscorning consciences; and to keep up the spirit of dis-affe­ction in the mindes of the multitude under the pretence of scruples of that kind.

The thing then to be offered to obviate the deceit of this po­liticall contrivance of the bosinesse, and to give satisfaction (if it can be admitted) to this politicall scrupulosity of conscience is this: that the words of the Engagement in their plain sense; which imports a clear duty, are to be confronted with that which in the second Sect. they confesse to be consonant with the will [Page 28] of God, with the light of nature, with the judgement of the Learned, with the practise of former Christians, and with their own principles and former Engagements: and then if the Duty mentioned in the Engagement doth run wholly parallell, as the case now stands with us, to that which they yield to be a Duty as they State the case in generall themselves; then they should be made to reflect upon themselves, that they ought to be satis­fied in this; that by taking the Engagement, nothing is farther required of them then what they proclaime themselves, to be a performable duty in such a case. But if their Politicall contem­plations of the meaning of the Engagement, through the sinister prospectives & jealousies which they take up, and foment against their Superiours, by an uncharitable mis-construction of their aimes; will not suffer them to acquiesce in this parallelisme of the Engagement, with what they acknowledge to be lawfull; then a further course may be taken, and shall be offered unto them, if they will intend to bring matters to a faire tryall and issue, and that is this: that the consequences, which they say are implyed in the words of the Engagement, may be taken into con­sideration and examined in three respects. And also in particulars.

First, How far the words of the Engagement, do import in the ordinary acception by an indifferent Judge, any such matters, as they say are implyed therein.

Secondly, How far, if the words should import any such mat­ters in any sense, the performance of the Engagement in that sense, is agreeable with the Duties mentioned by themselves in the 2. Sect. performable by Subjects towards their Superiours, in the case they are supposed and wherein now we are.

Thirdly, How far the Covenant and former Engagements, wil be contradictory or not contradictory to this Engagement, al­though the consequences here said to be implyed therein, should be granted to follow thereon.

In all which matters, if upon known grounds and principles of Christianity and Rationality, a regular way of disquiry may be followed, as it becometh Divines within their bounds, in refe­rence to Conscience, modestly, and not as it becometh States­men, in reference to interests, suspiciously, and if they will in­gage to stand or fall to the issue of that disquiry; I dare in the fear of God, undertake to let them see satisfactory grounds, [Page 29] whereby their scruples will be cleared, and wherein consequent­ly their Consciences ought to acquiesce, if they will not subordi­nate the inclinations thereof, to an affected scrupulosity for the love of a party. For that all this contrivance of the Proposals, is like unto the hand of Joab in the mouth of the woman of Tekoah; to bring about a designe, rather then to receive a single-hearted satisfaction for themselves; is neither irrational to think, nor un­charitable 2 Sam. 14. to say, but just and equitable in prudencie to suspect: and here we have a clear example of a smooth and handsome conveyance of a State-business, under a ministerial cloak and pre­tence of Religiousness, not in, but out of the Pulpit; which is one of the things which in another larger Treatise, I have shewed to be one of the main causes of our present distempers and confusi­ons; namely, when Ministers meddle with State-matters, either in their Pulpits a [...] were authoritatively, or out of the same more subtilly in such a way, and to such a purpose as this; therefore to rectifie the fundamentall error of the aime and design of these Proposalls, as to State-Matters, let me referre the ingenuous Reader, but especially these Learned and Pious Divines, to an unprejudicat perusall of that Treatise; wherein if any shall show me, that I have wronged the profession, or unjustly taxed the practise of some, or mistaken my way in seeking Peace & Truth, to heale our present breaches; I shall professe my self to be very much beholding to him. Upon this whole matter then I shall professe thus much; that although I thus trace in the Spirits of these Proposers by the matter and contrivance of their Proposals such an inclination to meddle in State-affairs, which is unsutable to their Calling; yet that I have no preju­dice against them in my heart for so doing, nor do I intend, to fasten upon them any charge of false and fained pretences of be­ing scrupled, otherwise then indeed they are (for I believe tru­ly that they are thus scrupled, and puzzeled in Conscience about their own imaginations concerning State-matters, rather through weaknesse and custome, and want of a Rule to discern the moti­ons of their own spirits, then through any set aime, to take up­on them the management of State-Matters) but I look upon them, as the frame of their thoughts represents it self and them by their way unto me; whereof I have discovered the Rationali­ty, the Christianity and the Policie, to shew, that in all respects [Page 30] satisfaction may be given them, if they desire it ingenuously; and that if their spirit by the deceitfulness of error is led forth unad­visedly, in another way then they ought to walk in, that that al­so can be discovered; for there is nothing hid but it shall be re­vealed: and being revealed, a Rule may be found to rectifie what­ever is amisse therein. I shall therefore for mine own part, not refuse (if they will needs insist upon their Politicall scruple, and thinke that their Consciences ought to be engaged, into those State-considerations) to deale with them upon their inferences from the words of the Engagement, which is their own Wea­pon onely with this caution; that we shall not take opon us to become such absolute Judges, of the wayes of those that are in places of Magistracy, as to make our own interpretation of their wayes a Rule of all obedientiall dutifulnes in our selves or other Subjects, to bind thereunto as to a Law, our [...]onscience above Christianity and Morality; and that in speaking of the actions and intentions of Superiours we shall be no lesse charitable to them, then we would have others to be to us, or we should be to other men ruling in another place in such occurrences of publick affairs, with this proviso, their scruples even upon such Politicall contemplations as they meddle withall, shall, if they please, be ta­ken into consideration; although we shall be in very great dan­ger to go beyond the line of our Calling, and every foot to go out of our way; which my chief study is in all these agitations of matters by known Rules to prevent: which the Lord direct us by the light of his countenance, not onely to intend, but also to do, to the advancement of his glory, and our mutuall comfort in the way of Righteousness, Amen.



THe Treatise mentioned by the Author a little before the ending of this Discourse, is a large disquisition of the Rules, by which all debates amongst Christians in generall, may be agitated without of­fence; and by which in particular, our present controversies may be composed, by a full discovery of the duties of Magistrates and Mini­sters towards the publick, and to each other in our present distracting occasions, wherein few men study a Rule; but almost all are carryed by meere interests. Printed for Rich. Woodenothe, at the sign of the Starre under Peters Church in Cornhill, 1650.


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