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

Printed at Edinburgh by Evan Tyler Printer to the Kings most Excellent MAJESTY, 1648.

Edinb. 1. Martii. 1648. Postmeridiem.
A Declaration of the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly to the whole Kirk and Kingdom of Scotland, concerning present dangers, and duties rela­ting to the Covenant and RELIGION.

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

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

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

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

And here, as we do not disapprove, but highly commend the worthy pains of such as did indeed endeavour to bring the Kings Majesty a greater length, even to give full satis­faction in point of Religion; so we cannot but take notice of that report which many did lately entertain and spread in this country, namely that his Majesty hath given satis­faction to the desires of this Kirk and Kingdome in [Page 5]point of the Covenant and Religion.

If his Majesty had indeed given such satisfaction, we should rejoyce at it as much as any, and however shall not cease to pray for his Majesty, that God would give him re­pentance & remission of sins, & incline his heart to the love of the true Religion and Reformation, and that his Royall person may be preserved from all harm and violence: And being now (as we formerly remonstrate on the 13. of Octo­ber) very sensible of the present danger his Majesties person and Monarchicall government is into by that prevalent party of Sectaries; We shall, so far as concerneth the duty of our places and callings, endeavour the preservation of Monarchicall government in his Majesty, and his posterity according to the Covenant; not being ignorant what confusions and calamities use to attend the change either of the government it selfe, or of the Royall line. Never­thelesse the country being so generally possessed with so dangerous a mistake, and misunderstanding of so great a businesse; and his Majesty himselfe professing in his letter to us, dated at Carisbrook Castle the 27. of December last, that he hath resolved so farre to agree to the desires of this Kirk and Kingdome concerning the Covenant and setling Religion, as he is confident shall give us satisfaction; If now we should be silent, we might be understood as tacite­ly consenting and acquiescing; We are therefore necessita­ted for undeceiving the Nation, and for acquitting our selves, to declare that a narrative of the state of publick af­faires, having been made to us by those who were entru­sted for that effect, and since delivered to us in writing, We have more especially taken to our serious thoughts so much of that narrative as was from his Majesty made [Page 6]known unto us, as his resolutions for satisfaction in point of Religion. The first Article whereof is as followeth.

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

Which Article hath nothing in it of his Majesties affe­ction to, or liking and approbation of the Covenant, but only what he is content to yeeld in order to his own inte­rest. Yea an Act of Parliament for security of those who have taken or shall take the Covenant, doth or may sup­pose some sault, or somewhat justly challengeable in the taking of the Covenant, which needeth ane act of indem­nity. Next the offer is but conditionall, and hath in the bo­some of it ane complication of such and so many condi­tions as might open a door to some evasion or other, by multiplying exceptions, difficulties, and various notions, either concerning the professions of those who have entred into the League and Covenant, or concerning his Maje­sties just power and greatnesse, or concerning his freedom honour and safety, or concerning a free Parliament. And although the concession were certain and absolute, it a­mounts to no more, but to a leaving of the Covenant ar­bitrary; which is contrary to the Acts of the Generall As­sembly [Page 7]and Parliament in this Kingdome, to the Declaration of both kingdomes before cited, and to one of the chiefe Propositions of Religion once agreed upon by both kingdomes, for a safe and well grounded peace; viz. The Proposition con­cerning his Majesties swearing and signing of the League and Covenant, and enjoyning by Act of Parliament in both kingdomes the taking there of by all the subjects in the three kingdomes, with such penalties as shall bee agreed upon by both king­domes: So that the first Article of his Majesties offer is a most manifest altering of the state of this cause; It is also a strengthening of the hearts and hands both of the Sectaries and of the Malignant party, a partaking and conniving at the sinne of all those in the three Kingdoms who have refused, or shall refuse to enter into the League and Covenant, an introducing of a detestable indifferency or neu­trality in this cause which so much concerneth the glory of God, the good of the Kingdom and the honour of the King. And therefore we have judged this Article not onely unsatisfactory, but destru­ctive to the Covenant. Neither are we moved with that objection which is hinted, concerning the con­straining or inforcing of mens consciences: They refuse a necessary duty who refuse to take the Co­venant; and the penalty or punishment of such re­fusall is no constraining of the conscience, more then the penalty or punishment of a Subject who refuseth to take the Oath of Allegiance is a con­straining of the conscience to Loyalty or more then the punishment of Idolaters, Blasphemers, and Se­ducers, [Page 8]mentioned so often in Scripture, can be cal­led a constraining of the conscience to the feare of God.

The words of the second Article are these:

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

For ought we know the conditions couched in the first Article are also to be understood in this and the following Articles: However this second Article as it is but the same in substance with some of his Maje­sties concessions in former Messages, so that which is proposed in it, is but a Toleration of Presbyteriall Government in England, and that but for three years, and is a direct allowance, at least of the Book of Common Prayer in his Majesties Household: And moreover, by the second Article not only a door is lest open for reestablishing Prelacy and the Service Book, But the happy progresse already made in the [Page 9]Reformation, and Uniformity of Religion according to the Covenant in a confession of Faith, Directo­ry of Worship, Form of Church Government and Catechisme is set aside as so much lost labour, in order to a future settlement. Free debate with any of the Prelaticall party nominated by his Majesty (when there was any such occasion) hath not been declined: But we have great cause to be tender of un­setling and razing a good foundation already laid in the work of Reformation. And whereas his Majesty will have it determined by himself, and the two Hou­ses, how the Church Government after the said three years shall be established according to the Word of God: This doth at once cut off three of the most materiall and most necessary Propositions concern­ing Religion formerly agreed upon by both King­doms, and from both tendred to his Majesty, (though some of them be now laid aside by the two Houses of the Parliament of England) namely, The third Proposition, for abolishing Archbishops, Bishops, &c. The fifth Proposition, That Reformation of Religion according to the Covenant be setled by Act of Parliament, in such manner as both Houses have agreed, or shall agree upon after consultation had with the Assembly of Divines; And the sixth Pro­position, That such unity and uniformity in Religion according to the Covenant, as after consultation had with the Divines of both Kingdome, assembled at Westminster, is, or shall be joyntly agreed by both Houses of the Parliament of England, and by the Church and Kingdom of Scotland be confirmed by Acts of Parliament of both Kingdoms respectively. [Page 10]Of which three Popositions, there can be no hopes (as to his Majesties consent or concurrance) if the offer now made concerning a determination by his Majesty and the two Houses, be compared with his Maje­sties claiming of a negative voice, and with his Message of Nov. 16. in which he declared that both in rela­tion as he is a Christian and as a King, he cannot give his consent to the abolishing Archbishops, Bi­shops, &c. Believing that this order was placed in the Church by the Apostles themselves, and that his Majesty is also bound by his Coronation Oath to maintain it. And this message of November 16. His Majesty adhereth unto, in his Answer to the Bills and Propositions presented to him at Carisbrook Ca­stle; which Answer is dated December 28. and so after his Majesties Letter to us. Upon these and the like considerations we have found the said second Article of his Majesties offers in point of Religion to be de­structive to Presbyteriall Government, the Directo­ry of Worship, and the uniformity intended accord­ing to the Covenant.

For the third Article delivered to us in these words. And for suppressing of Schisme and Heresies, his Majesty is content and most willing that an effectuall course be taken by Act of Parliament, and all other wayes needfull and expedient for suppressing the opinions and pra­ctises of Antitrinitarians, Arrians, Socinians, Antiscrip­turists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, Arminians, Fami­lists, Brownists, Separatists, Independents, Libertines, and Seekers, and generally for suppressing all Blasphemy, He­resie, Schisme, and all such scandalous doctrine or pra­ctises [Page 11]as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship or conversation) or to the power of Godli­nesse, or which may be destructive to order or govern­ment, or to the peace of Church or Kingdom.

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

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

First of all we exhort all and every one to make [Page 12]more conscience of endeavouring a reall Reformation of themselves and their Families, and of the place, in which they live, then ever yet they have done; to be more serious in searching their hearts, considering their wayes, and purging themselves from all filthi­nesse of the flesh and spirit to perfect holines in the fear of God; to oppose wickednesse and profanenesse, pro­mote the power and practise of Godlinesse, and to be deeply humbled before the Lord for neglecting these things so much and so long; with all employing and improving Christs alsufficiency, and striving to ex­ercise faith in him for the grace of mortification and sanctification, as well as for remission of sinnes and peace with God; that being implanted and rooted in him, we may grow up as trees of Righteousnesse, the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified; for without amendment of life, and bringing forth of better fruit, the fierce wrath of the Lord cannot turn away from us.

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

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

Fourthly, when we speak of Malignants, we desire that the distinction may be remembred, which was made in the solemne Warning to the Kingdom from the Generall Assembly in February 1645. Viz. That the cause is in very great danger from two sorts of Malignant Enemies: First, from such as have open­ly displayed a Banner, or joyned in Armes and pro­fessed Hostility against the cause, and such as adhered thereunto: Secondly, from secret Malignants, Dis­covenanters, and bosome Enemies. This second sort may be still known by some Characters, given both at that time and before that time, As by their slandering or censuring the Covenant of the three Kingdomes and expedition into England, in the year 1643, as not necessary for the good of Religion, or safety of this [Page 14]Kingdom, or as tending to the diminution of the Kings just Power and greatnesse, By their confounding of the Kings Power and just Authority, with the pre­tence and abuse thereof by Commissions, Warrants or Letters procured from his Majestie by the Enemies of this cause and Covenant As if none were Faithfull and Loyall to the King, who oppose such men and their wayes; By their Spleen, Malice, and calum­nies against such as God hath made eminently instru­mentall in this cause, and who resolve to be constant to the end in their first Principles, as if such men were the Kings Enemies who are most zealous for the good and safety of Religion; By their commending, justifying or excusing other known Malignants, and by their conversing or intercommuning with excom­municate delinquents. Unto which Characters time and experience give us occasion to adde some others, as namely, Their un willingnes and declining to reckon Malignants among the Enemies of this cause from whom danger is to be apprehended; Their disjoyning and dividing the duty of endeavouring the Kings Ma­jesties preservation and restitution, from the duty of preserving, defending, setling and securing Religion; As if we might and ought to pursue the former with­out the latter while both are in danger; Their malig­ning of, and uttering malicious words against faith­full and Zealous Ministers, and against this meeting and Judicatory, appointed by the Generall Assembly: Lastly, their crying up or down of parties or persons, and even of the Sectaries themselves according as they have more or lesse hopes of advantage from them to their own designes. For 'tis not long since such men [Page 15]made light account of any dangers, which were ap­prehended from the prevalent faction of the Sec­taries in England; There being then some hopes of a compliance and combination between them and the Malignants: Which is an infallible demonstra­tion that such mens pretended Zeal against those Sec­taries now is not from the right Principle. Where­fore let all such dangerous persons as we have here deciphered and descibed be carefully observed and avoided, as men would keep themselves pure, and free of snares: And let Presbyteries be diligent to discover, trie, and censure any of this kinde in their bounds, that they may be able herein to give a good account of their diligence; As also that they be carefull to discover, try, and censure any traf­ficking Sectaries, and all such as favour their opinions and wayes.

Fiftly, Though we esteem that prevalent Faction of Sectaries with their abbetters and adherents, Pre­sumptious and malicious Enemies to Religion, King, and Government: Yet we hold it is our duty to la­bour to remove and prevent all occasions of jealousies and suspitions betwixt the Kingdoms; and to doe or say nothing that may breed mis-understandings, break of cor­respondence, weaken the confidence or infringe the Union and peace betwixt the two Kingdoms so happily established in his Majesties presence, and with his Royall consent in both Parliaments; A caution as necessary now as when it was given above five yeares agoe in a Warning from the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly, met in this same place, January the fourth 1643. And Ge­nerally [Page 16]we defire that all the Articles and clauses of the solemn League and Covenant may be kept inseparably and inviolably linked together, and that there may be great tendernesse and care to avoid every thing which may be interpreted as a contradicting or abandoning of the former principles, proceedings, petitions, prote­stations, Remonstrances, and Declarations of this Kirk and Kingdome in the pursuance of this cause; and more especially to take good heed that Scotlands de­sires, doe not mount higher for the King, and fall low­er in the point of Religion, then they were at our first undertaking and ingagement in this cause.

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


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