OR, Some scruples of Conscience, which a godly Minister in Lancashire did entertain against the taking of the ENGAGEMENT.

Resolved by J. D.

WHEREIN The chief mistakes of weak Con­sciences, about the matter of the Engage­ment, are in a friendly way discovered, and rectified by Scripture-grounds and right reason; and published for the satis­faction of others, who may be scrupled in the same kind.

LONDON, Printed by John Clowes, for Richard Woodnothe, at the Star under St. Peters Church in Cornhill, 1650.

Worthy SIR,

I Have delay'd writing for a time, in that I have been uncer­tain whether I should come to London or no; but now at the last resolving to wait a while before I come, do make bold to present my humble thankfulness for your former kindnes shew­ed to me: I have been much perplexed in mind concerning the En­gagement, and still am; by which means my maintenance is, and hath for a season been withheld. Those scruples which I stick at, I shall make bold to acquaint you with, and they are these.

1. The late Government voted down was in it self lawful, whol­some and good, and no evil ever yet did appear to me in the power, but only in the persons who did exercise that power,Prov. 24.21. which was no sufficient ground of change, and it is not safe to meddle in it.

2. To that said Government I am bound by many solemn and sa­cred Tyes, to maintain it in my place, not only in the substance and main parts of it, but also in the form and circumstance thereof, and those said obligations are not meerly civil and humane, but sacred and divine, and above the absolution of any earthly power.

3. I conceive it unlawful to engage against the undoubted rights of any man. I suppose there may be found such lawful Heirs of the Crown, as have not any wayes forfeited their rights, and also great Interests and Priviledges which mary innocent Peers of this Land may fairly challenge, which they have not lost by their miscarriage, Treason or Rebellion.

4. I cannot be satisfied, but that the liberty of the free-born Eng­lish, is by that means much infringed in this late settlement and constitution. 1. In that many of the innocent and faithful Mem­bers, the Representatives of the people, were at the voting of this new establishment, thrust out and debarred the House, which makes it seem rather a combination or confederacy, then a lawful constitu­tion; for if a people have liberty in any thing, certainly it is to chuse [Page]their Governors and Government. 2. The subscription is forced upon us, under the penalties of out-lawing and fining, so that this power, are our absolute Lords, which is that heavy yoak that we have fear­ed and fought against.

5. I consider, if men at their inition and installment will walk so arbitrarily, and domineere with so high a hand, what will they do, (may we expect) when they come to a full settlement, by the con­sent of all the people of the Nation?

6. The grieving and troubling the hearts and Consciences not of loose, perverse and seditious, but of grave, sober, pious and peaceable men, is made nothing of, but they are trampled upon, and wholly neglected, whilst many Atheists, Cavaliers, and base wretches that will take the Engagement, are imbraced, priviledg­ed and respected.

These and such dear Sir, are the troubles of my heart, which I make bold to express thus plainly, not doubting of your favour in construing my harsh and too high phrases, and ove-rbold expressions; only I follow this as the safest way to satisfaction and resolution, hoping that the Lord will of his goodness, stir you up and direct you to satisfie me; or candidly to think of and bear with me: Sir, your loving invitation and incouragement hath made me thus bold to trouble you; and as for those other businesses I formerly mentioned, I conceive little can be done, &c.

Dated 9. May. 1650.

OBJECTIONS against the taking of the ENGAGEMENT Answered.


I Hope you have received my former, written the 28. of May; wherein I sent you back the Petition of your Pa­rish, with some instructions how you should do, to get your business ef­fected? Now I shall endeavour to offer something to your consideration towards the satisfaction of those scruples which you have sent me; for which you have not been able to take the Engagement: The Lord who alone is the Father of lights, and knowes the capaci­ty of all Mens Consciences; instruct us in the truth, and by it grant us that quietness and rest of spirit, which may fit us, for the performance of all righteousness and dutifulness with joy: he alone can teach us to profit, and lead the wearied sole to rest; we may suggest to one another, that wherein according to our [Page 2]apprehension is truth, so far as it appears so to us; but to seal up that truth and perswade the heart of it, is the work of the spirit of God alone, whom our heavenly Father, by the mouth of his own Son, hath promised to give to them that ask him. Luke 11.13. We may therefore with full assurance crave this spirit, not only for our selves, but each for other; and per­haps herein we may do one another better service then in sug­gesting our notions to each other. Yet because we are com­manded not only to ask by way of request, but to seek and knock at the Gates of Heaven,Mat. 7.7. by way of endeavour: there­fore let us do the one, and not neglect the other, and if it shall be the Lords will, that by the discovery of those things which give me satisfaction in that whereat you are scrupled, you shall find more light then you now have, and cause of satisfaction and rest to your mind therein, I shall rejoyce at it, and bless God for it.

Give me leave therefore to discover unto you, the grounds for which my Conscience ought not to be troubled at the things which you scruple so much at; for you are brought there­by into many inconveniences and straits, which I conceive you have cast your self into, for want of due consideration of those Rules, which would have steered your course clear from those Rocks and Quick-sands whereinto you are fallen.

1. Scruple, The former Government was in it self good and not alterable.The first scruple you make is this. The late Government (say you) voted down, was in it self lawful, wholsome and good: and no evil ever yet did appear to me in the power, but only in the persons who did exercise that power, which was no sufficient ground of Change, and it is not safe to meddle in it. Prov. 24.21.

Now this doth not trouble me at all, & I suppose needs not to be a matter of Conscience to you; that is; you need not to charge the consequence which you mention here upon your Conscience;The Answer shewes for although I should think as you do, that the late Government now voted down, was in it self lawful; yet it doth not follow therefore,1 Cor. 6.12. & Chap. 10.23. that it is still most expedient for the publick state. The Apostle saith in two places, that all things are lawful for him, but all things are not expedient. Shew­ing, that the Conscience of an intelligent Christian is not bound to every thing which may appear lawful (for no material acti­on [Page 3]can be named but in some sence it is lawful) but that a fur­ther consideration must be had of every thing,That things obliging Con­science, must be not only good in them­selvs, but ex­pedient to us. before we fasten it, as an obligation upon our Conscience: the consideration of the expediency of a thing must cast the ballance, as to the inga­ging of Conscience into a business: and the Apostle defines this expediency or inexpediency by two things, one in respect of our selves, another in respect of our Neighbour. In respect of our selves it is not expedient that we should be brought under the power of every thing which in it self is lawful; as the A­postle saith: All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. To be brought under the power of any thing is to make it so necessary to us, that we cannot forgo it, or think that we cannot please God without it. Now the Apostle doth teach us, that no outward thing should have any such power over our spirits, as to bring our Conscience into such a subjection. Nor Paul, nor Apollo, nor Cephas, nor the World, 1 Cor. 3.22. nor life, nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, should bring us under this yoke; but we ought to account all ours, that is under our power, as we are subordinate in reference to Consci­ence, unto God alone in Christ; it followes then, that whate­ver things be present with us in this life, and how lawful soever they may be in themselves; that yet my Conscience is not other­wise to be subjected to their power, then as I stand under God in Christ; and as those things are expedient and subservient to that subordination in respect of our Neighbour; if any thing edifie not, it is determined not to be expedient, 1 Cor. 10.23. although then a thing may be lawful, wholsome, and good in it self; yet if I find it not expedient for edification, I am not bound to use it, but may leave it, and make use of something else which I shall judge most edifying. If therefore God hath set my Conscience free, so that I am not bound to any thing further then it is edifying ; it doth not at all follow, that because I judge a thing lawful and good in it self; that therefore I must needs chuse it, and be subject to the power thereof without any fur­ther deliberation: as for example, if it were absolutely refer­red to me to settle what Government I will chuse; whether Mo­narchical, Aristocratical, or Democratical; I must not oblige my self in this choise only, to consider what is lawful (for all these [Page 4]are lawful,What Go­vernment is to be counted most expedi­ent. good and wholsom forms in themselves) but what is most expedient: and if I should now speak as a Christian, to tell you what I think expedient in the choise of any of these, I would tell you, that the Government which consists most with the rational and orderly freedom of Christians, and which ac­cording to Emergencies doth tend most unto the edification of the publick in all good things, is that which is to be chosen. therfore if in your unprejudiced thoughts you wil contemplate this Querie: you will not do amiss, viz. Whether the Go­vernment by a King who having the sole power, may not be controuled; or the Government by a Parliament of Trustees, who may have this same Power put in their hands, be more con­sonant to Christian freedom and publick edification, yea or no? I know what I could say to this Querie, if I were an absolute lawful Judge of a publick concernment of this nature: but now I not being free to make my choise of Government; but it being wholly in the hand of publick Trustees, to manage all publick affairs for me, so that I must be concluded by them in such concernments; seeing (I say) I am under a power where­unto I owe subjection,Who is to be the Judge of the expedien­cy of Govern­ment. and it is at all times expedient that pri­vate men should be under the power of some Government, to whom the management of publick affairs is to be committed: therefore I must not make my self a judge how expedient or in­expedient the resolutions are, which they settle concerning the way of Government in the State, (for that is their proper calling to consider and not mine) and if I may not judge either way, it is clear that my Conscience cannot be brought under the power of their resolutions either way; but it is always free for me be­fore God, in civil affairs, to submit unto their changeable deter­minations, and not to oppose the orders which they shall un­dertake to make therein:And what use Christi­ans ought to make of changes therein. my meaning is, that as all other outward things, so the resolutions and determinations of my Magistrates are min [...], and that it is free for me to make use of them so as is most expedient for publick edification: if then a change fall out in the Government amongst them, and they judge it either expedient or necessary, to alter that form where­in no evil yet ever appeared to me; yet by this, my Consci­ence is not obliged either to resist them because they alter what [Page 5]seems not evil to me, or not to yield unto them to make the best of what they have done, so far as may be edifying in my way; for I am bound in Conscience to take all things as they fall in my way, and to make use of them freely to the end of e­dification: if therefore they in their places make changes, al­though as to the outward man I am concluded by them to stand under the same; yet as to my Conscience, I am not in subjection to such changes, nor obliged to make my self a judge, and to determine whether the changes which they make be lawful or unlawful, expedient or inexpedient to the State, that I must leave to God and to them, and to the event to de­termine. From all which this will follow, that if I suffer my thoughts to be intangled into this judicature, as into a matter of Conscience necessary for me to determine, I then loose my freedom which Christ hath given me: for he doth not oblige my Conscience to be under the power of any such thing in his service; for whether the determinations of superiour powers in State-affairs, be right or wrong, I am alwayes the same man, free to make a good use of them; so far as they can lawfully and with expediency be referred unto edification. If therefore I should argue as you do, Monarchy is lawful in it self, I never saw any evil in it, but only in the persons that exercise it, and the mal-administration of a power is no sufficient ground to change the power it self; and therefore the change which hath been made of late is not warrantable, and so conclude that I am not bound to do a­ny duty to the present Government: if (I say) I should argue thus, I should find my self (upon a narrower search) to be in a deep share, and that in several respects. First,What the fallacies are, upon which this scruple doth rise. by bringing the Re­lations of State as a yoke upon my Conscience, as if it were un­der the Power thereof, further then to be subject in lawful things unto the powers which are over me. Secondly, by ma­king my self a supream judge of the management of Affairs committed to other men. And thirdly, by such invalid reaso­nings as these.

1. If the Government to a Monarch be lawful in it self, Er­go it was not expedient at this time to be voted down in this State.

[Page 6]2. If I never saw any evil in the power of a Monarch; but only in the person: Ergo it is not lawful for a Parliament to change that power; or expedient for the publick good that it should be changed, or for me to submit unto the change there­of, and obey such as are over me.

If there is no evil in the power, but only in the persons that exercise it; Ergo there was no sufficient ground in these emergencies to change that power.

4. If Solomon saith, Prov. 24.21. My Son, fear thou the Lord and the King, and meddle not with those that are given to change. Ergo I may not engage to be faithful to the powers which are over me, and to the Common-wealth wherein I live, if it be esta­blished without a King. If (I say) I should argue thus, and up­on such a way of reasoning, suffer my Conscience to be entang­led, perplexed, and suspended in matters of clear duty, so that I should not dare to make use of all humane changes without scruple, to the ends of spiritual and bodily advantages for com­mon good and safety; then I would judge my self under the power of these things by unadvisedness; and would resolve to say with the Apostle, All things indeed are lawful; but I will not be under the power of any, and so set my self at liberty from all such intanglements of my Conscience. The place of the Proverbs is a clear rule for private men, not to meddle with designes of publick changes beyond their Calling: therefore whereever I find things established in a State, or so far as I find them esta­blished, I am bound to fear God and the King (the King is the power which is supream, and under God as his Vicegerent, whether it be in the hand of one man or of many) and am not bound to contribute to the unsettlement of a Government e­stablished,The place of Scripture, Prov. 24.21. opened. which is the design of some who respect neither God nor the King, and perhaps of some others also, who might be governed by higher principles then either Cavaliers or Le­vellers, who are equally addicted to the extremities of changes; but when a change is made, and a State setled under it, then not to acquiesce in it, in the fear of God & of the power which is supream; but to seek for new changes in opposition to such a settlement, is manifestly against this Rule of Solomon: for not [Page 7]to meddle with those that are given to changes, I conceive is, not to have to do out of our calling with private plots tending to publick changes; but ex post facto, to do our duty in all good things to all men, and chiefly to superiours, though they are established after a change; I suppose is no wayes prohibit­ed in this place; and that is clearly your case, if you will but open your eyes to behold it, and this shall suffice to your first scruple. The second is this:

2. Scruple, My Oaths bind me to the form of a Monarchical Government. I am bound (say you) by many solemn and sacred tyes, to the Government of a Monarch, to maintain it in my place; not only in the substance and main parts of it, but also in the form and circum­stance thereof: and those said obligations are not meerly civil and humane, but sacred and divine, and above the absolution of any earthly power.

To this I shall say, that I was bound no less then you, to the Government of a Monarch, The answer shewes, that the former Oaths are not any more ob­liging. to maintain it and shew all fidelity to it so long as it was in being; but since it is no more in being amongst us, I know no tye, (though never so solemn and sacred at the making) that can bind me any more to it; for the obli­gation of all Oaths is only observable, whiles the matter there­of is in being: and this rule is undeniable, sublatâ juramenti materiâ tollitur obligatio. I conceive therefore, that although when time was, I was bound to Monarchical Government, both to the substance, and to the setled form and circumstances thereof, as they stood in Law; yet that now I am no more bound thereunto, because ipso facto, these tyes are unloosed not by the absolution of any earthly power, to pronounce the tye void, (which nevertheless hath also been done by the supream power of the Nation, when they declared the Government to be altered) but by the decree of Heaven, which hath providen­tially, and ipso facto, loosened the tyes by removing the late King and his Heirs from the legal capacity wherein they stood towards me formerly, that is, before this Parliament made it treason to make any more addresses to him, and before he was sentenced for treason himself.

Now that God hath a right by the changes of Government, to absolve you from your sacred tyes, I suppose you will not deny, and that he hath changed this Government, is undenia­ble; [Page 8]for without him it could not have been done, and he claims to himself the sole power of changing Governments, Dan. 4.17. And that the Common-wealth hath also a power according to e­mergencies to dispose of the Government within it self for its own safety, I think will not by you be denyed; and if by the changes which it hath power to make within it self, as emer­gencies require, the matter of your Oath be taken away, it is clear, that thereby the obligation is extinct. Above all this, I shall offer unto your consideration, something concerning the original of your sacred tye; for the Oath which you took to maintain certain forms and circumstances of Government (which in their own nature are alterable) was lawful to be ta­ken by you;What makes an Oath sa­cred and binding as to Consci­ence. either because the supream Authority that then was required it of you, and you saw no just cause to refuse that which they required, or because only you of your own accord did chuse to take such an Oath: I suppose you will not say the last, viz. that the Oath was only sacred, because you were plea­sed to take it; for then all Oaths which any man shall be plea­sed to take or make about State-affairs, may be as sacred to him as yours was to you, and as justly taken by him, although they should be quite contradictory unto yours, which is very absurd; it will follow then, that the tye to those things was sacred; that is, it was lawful for you to be bound by an Oath to them only, because the supream Authority which was over you, and had power to establish those forms and circumstances of Govern­ment, did require such an obligation from you, to engage you to be faithful thereunto, and if this is the only lawful original of such a sacred tye; then I say, that the dissolution of that tye, may arise from the same power which did establish it: he that hath power to oblige me to a form of his creating hath also power to absolve me from that obligation. In old times and now also in some places, the Souldiers were wont to be obliged by Oath to serve their Commanders faithfully, till they should be dismissed: the Romans called this Sacramentum militare: Now he that might lawfully give them this Oath, might also absolve them from it; and so it is in all obligations unto things, which in their own nature are not morally good, but good only ex in­stituto legitimo: the power which gives them a being, may take [Page 9]it from them; if therefore the supream power which now is o­ver you, hath absolved you from those tyes, your voluntary continuance under them cannot make them any longer sacred; no more then your voluntary taking an Oath at first to them, without the conduct of the authority which was over you, could have made your obligation lawful. I conceive then, that in things meerly civil and humane (that is of a changable na­ture, as being subject to civil and humane Ordinances) your Oath cannot put a stronger tye upon you towards them, then their nature will bear; that is, you cannot be unalterably bound unto them; for if they cease to be, you cannot stand ob­liged towards them; now that they do cease to be is clear, and that they may cease to be by the power which is over you, and by the Acts of divine providence absolving Subjects from such Oaths. If you will further see it made out, read the adjoyned an­swer to the exercitation, particularly from pag. 20. till 25. and this shall also suffice for your second scruple.

3. Scruple. The Kings Heirs have an undoubted right. Ergo I may not engage a­gainst them. The Answer shewes. That no duty is per se a hinderance to any mans rights.Your third scruple is, that you conceive it unlawful to engage against the undoubted rights of any man. I suppose (say you) there may be found such lawful Heirs of the Crown, as have not any ways forfeited their right, and also great interests and priviledges, which many innocent Peers of this Land may fairly challenge, which they have not lost by their miscarriage, treason, or rebellion.

I shall say with you, that I conceive it not lawful for me to engage against the undoubted rights of any: nor do I so by taking the Engagement, as it is a clear Duty; for by promising to be true and faithful to the Common-wealth, as it is now esta­blished; and although that establishment is without a King and House of Lords, I do not engage against the right of any man; for no man can have any right to hinder me from this obligati­on which is the proper duty of a true Subject; nor can the per­formance of this to my understanding, be a hinderance per se, to any man to enjoy his rights. I say, that no duty per se, can be opposite to any thing that is right; but if it fall out per acci­dens, that the doing of a thing which in it self is good and expe­dient, and a clear and necessary duty for publick safety, doth become the overthrow of some particular mens pretended rights; I must not be troubled thereat, but must leave the dis­posing [Page 10]of all such events unto Gods providence: not only be­cause it is not lawful for me to neglect a general and present duty, for the consideration of any private interests, which hap­pily may be prejudged accidentally thereby; but also because it is not lawful for me to make my self a judge of these things which you call undoubted rights, and to determine the contro­verted titles which any have or have not to a right of Govern­ment, or how far they may or may not lay a claim to it; it is not (I say) lawful for me in reference to the outward State; to become a Judge thereof; far less then ought I to make any such judge­ment, an engagement upon my Conscience to suspend it from a clear Duty, when it is required by Superiours, of whom only I can expect protection.

As for the supposals which you make concerning the Heirs of the Crown, & concerning the innocent Peers; I might allow my self the liberty also to make such supposals,How far the consideration of the Heirs and innocent Peers doth oblige the Conscience to act or not to act duty with the pre­sent Govern­ment. and say with you, that possibly such may be found, who have not forfeited their Rights, either by Treason or Rebellion; but what then? must I therefore conclude, because such persons may possibly be found, that therefore I must in the interim not do my duty, to those that have the power at present to protect me? must I, or may I conclude, because those persons have not that which they challenge; that therefore I will not do what I owe to my su­periours for common safety? this consequence will not at all follow. But you will urge the point further and say, nay but if my Engagement to these superiours, doth keep those men from their Right; then am I accessary to the injustice which is done unto them. I answer first, my Engagement is only to a Du­ty, and no such Engagement can be per se, injurious to any, or accessary to any injustice in any: if accidentally it doth, or may fall out otherwise, I am not to answer for that, but remit it unto Gods providence. Secondly, divers things are supposed in this objection, which cannot be granted so, as to make them defini­tive sentences of such a nature, that your Conscience must be engaged to act by them.

First, That there are lawful Heirs of the Crown to be found, whose Right is not forfeited by Treason or Rebellion. This is a sen­tence which I may perhaps think to be a truth, yet cannot as a [Page 11]Judge pronounce to be so. Secondly, that there are many in­nocent Peers, who have many Interests and Priviledges which they may fairly challenge, because they have not forfeited them by their miscarriage: this is also a sentence which I may con­ceive to be a truth, but yet cannot judicially assert it no more then the former. Thirdly, it is supposed also, that because there are many innocent Peers, who have many Interests and Privi­ledges fairly to be challenged, that therefore they ought to have still a separate hand in the Government by a House in Par­liament, which is a consequence for which I see no ground.

Fourthly, on the other side, you suppose that they who now are in power, do injustice to the Heires who have not for­feited their Right to the Crown, by not setling the Crown up­on one of them, and to the innocent Lords, by not letting them sit to govern in a House, which are sentences no ways to be sup­posed by Subjects of Superiours, and by non-judges of publick State-interests, nor in my opinion can they be made out to be truths, when we look upon them in the judgment of discretion: for although the Heirs and Peers may lay a claim to some rights in respect of former Customs; yet it followeth not, that if in these Emergencies former Customs be not observed, that therefore injustice is done unto them: for all Customs are in their nature to be subservient to the publick good, and if they fall out to be at any time destructive thereunto, they ought to be changed, and if by the change thereof particular rights, or claims to rights are made void; that is no injustice in those that alter the Custom, although some particular persons loose that which at another time might be fairly challenged by them: all particular priviledges must yield to the publick safety; nor can any man fairly challenge any thing, which may prejudge pub­lick safety, and the powers that are in possession, are the only Judges of that which is most conducible unto publick safety. The case of Henry 6. who was an usurper, and of Richard Duke of York, who in full Parliament setting himself in the Chair of State, laid claim unto the Crown, is a clear decision of this matter: for though he made good his Title to the Parliament, yet after a long debate, it was enacted by the Lords and Com­mons in Parliament, that the usurper in possession should re­tain [Page 12]the name and honour of a King, and the right Heir be sus­pended from the enjoyment of his right; because all particular rights must yield to publick welfare. This the Answer to the exercitation, doth quote out of Martins History of the Kings and Queens of England, pag. 258. You see then how many ways these supposals of yours, whereupon you make conse­quences to trouble your Conscience, are without ground; but now let me grant you that they are all of them truths, yet how will you make it out rationally, that they ought to be of such importance to you,Supposing the allegations to be valid, yet the conse­quence not to engage to ob­serve mat­ters of duty doth not fol­low. that your Conscience must be charged therewith as a Judge to determine them; and in case the sen­tence which you pronounce thereof, be not executed, that you are bound to withdraw your self from all dutiful relations to­wards the publick, and make your self for such considerations as these unprofitable to your flock, & unserviceable in the Ministry? I say, how will you be able to shew that this is a conscionable course in you, although the grounds of your supposals were not so slight as they are, but as firm as any can be? to me I confess, although they might seem in the judgment of discretion unan­swerable truths; yet because I dare not for Conscience sake, make my self a definitive Judge in the Case; and I am instruct­ed, that my Conscience is not to be under the Power of such worldly changes, but that it is free for me allwayes to do my duty, though they be never so many, and so strange: There­fore I will not be scrupled at these considerations, whereinto you have inconsiderately intangled your thoughts, which I think you are bound to shake off. And this shall suffice I hope also for the third scruple, whereunto I thought not at first to have said half so much; but the desire to clear the matter ful­ly, hath carried me on to be so large.

Your fourth scruple is about the liberty of the Subject. You say thus,4. Scruple. The liberties of the Sub­ject are in­fringed, Ergo I must not­angage. I cannot be satisfied, but that the liberty of the free-born English is by that means much infringed in this late settlement and constitution. 1. In that many of the innocent and faithful Members, the representatives of the people were at the voting of this new esta­blishment thrust out and debarred the House, which makes it seem rather a Combination or Confederacy, then a lawful constitution; for if a People have liberty in any thing, certainly it is to choose [Page 13]their Governors and Government. 2. The subscription is forced up­on us, under the penalties of out-lawing and fining, so that this pow­er are our absolute Lords, which is that heavy yoak that we have feared and fought against.

The Answer shewes, That the in­ference is not good.Here your want of satisfaction in matters of liberty is the ground of your scruple; and your scruple is the cause why you will not engage to do good duties to the publick, under the present powers. To me this way of proceeding is not regular, for I conceive that no dissatisfaction for any thing which I think amiss in others, ought to take me off from my Resolutions to­wards the publick, in things good and lawful to be done in my place. Nay I say the quite contrary, because I am not satisfied in the ways of other men, and cannot see the clear grounds of their conscionable dealing: I am bound so much the more to look to mine own Conscience, and to keep to the duties which tend to maintain truth and peace towards all in my place, and to advance the publick welfare without partiality. If I should in­tend no good Office to any, but to such in whose ways I am satisfied, I should have little to do in the world as a Christian: therefore I Command my spirit, either not to look to matters of dissatisfaction in other men so deeply, as to make my self a Judge of their ways, to the trouble of my Conscience: or if I cannot avoid observing things dissatisfactory to my spirit, which without any judicial search offer themselves clearly to my view; yet I suffer not those impressions to work any di­stemper upon me (so far as I can discern it) against those whom I am bound to edifie, and to whom I must as a Servant of Christ, make my application for the best of things, to build them up in that which is spiritually and morally good.

That we are not Judges [...] the Liberties definitively, but only in the judgment of discretion.As for the scruple it self, whether the liberty of the free-born English, be yea or no, much infringed by this settlement and constitution; I shall no more in this then in other matters of the like nature take upon me to be a definitive Judge, and what­ever in the way of discretion I do judge of it, I am free; nay I am bound to make the best of it, for edification in my way: and not by reason of discontentedness, to obstruct the liberty of my own spirit, in the duties of my Calling: The liberties of the free-born English, I am bound in my place to maintain, al­though [Page 14]I had not been engaged by Oath, to declare my resolu­tion so to do: and what doth sensibly prejudge the same, I ought by lawful wayes within my sphere endeavour to re­move; but the proper work of my Calling is, to endeavour to bring all the free-born English, to be free-born in Sion, & to par­take of the glorious liberty of the Sons of God; whereby they shall be above these kinds of humane concernments, and yet not neglect the advantages which may redound by them to the Kingdom of God,That whate­ver Mini­sters judge thereof in their Calling, they must make all free­dom service­able to others through love. which is to maintain all lawful freedom, so as to become therein a Servant to all men through love; for I know no priviledge that I have unto any freedom, either spiri­tual or natural; but upon these terms which the Apostle hath taught me, Gal. 5.13. Brethren ye have been called unto liber­ty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Now if any pretence to liberty in mine own behalf or others, doth become an occasion of discontentedness, of strife of murmurings, and of sullenness of spirit, whereby I am dis­composed, so that I cannot serve all men freely in the duties of my Calling, then I am a transgressor of the Apostles Rule, and walk not according to the Law of liberty in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ: because I suffer my Conscience to be under the power of some other Relations to liberty, which I have not made subordinate unto the Relations of Christianity, which ne­vertheless cannot be prejudged by any Oaths of an inferior concernment, according to the Rule, Quod in juramento semper jus superioris intelligitur exceptum, and in our National Cove­nant, the obligation towards the maintaining of the Liberties of the Kingdom, is expressed to be only in order to our Calling and place. Now if we do not reckon our spiritual Calling as Chris­stians, and our place in the Ministery to be the Rule, according to which that Engagement, and the endeavours which we owe to our civil freedoms, are to be managed, I know not what it is in our sphere of the Ministery that can be meant by the re­striction of that performance, to our Calling and place. I say then, that by the express words of the Covenant, I am obliged not to make my plea for civil liberties, (if infringed) such, as may prejudge my Christian or Ministerial liberties; as if it should be lawful for me to forgo these, for want of satisfaction [Page 15]in those, or think it unlawful for me to make use of these when I conceive my self deprived of those. Now how far the free­born English sworn to maintain their liberties are,That these who are char­ged with the infringment of liberties, plead for themselves that which seems ratio­nall. or are not deprived by this settlement of their civil freedom, if without presuming above our line, we may endeavour to discern by looking with an indifferent aspect upon that which is said on both sides; we will find a plea, which is not alltogether irrati­onal in the mouth of those who are accused of the infringe­ment of our liberties by this settlement. For first they will say, that according to the Trust reposed in them for publick safety and liberty, they have discharged their Conscience in procuring this settlement, by which they intend to break the yoak which was prepared to have been put upon our necks, and to give all men, an equal interest into the welfare of the State, by a Com­mon-wealth constitution of Government, and that they have none other aim, but to settle by just Lawes, a safe and well ordered freedom throughout the whole Nation. Secondly, to the things wherein you are dissatisfied: they will say that the Members debarred the House by the Army were not innocent, in respect of their designes attempted, fomented and declared against the Army: and that they were not faithful to the prosecution of the Cause which they had undertaken; but fell from it to a royal Interest, without any assurance of safety and freedom left to the Subject in general, but more particularly to those who had brought the publick enemies upon their knees, to the ha­zard of their lives, who by the Treaty were not provided for; but rather a plot laid thereby to destroy them. Thirdly, they will say, that they who now sit in Parliament, sit there by the peoples free choise, and that therein the ground of all liberty is preserved unto them; that they may send their representa­tives unto the Parliament; but to chuse particular Governors to places, and the form of Government, otherwise then by their Trustees met to that effect in Parliament, would not be a li­berty but a licentiousness in any whosoever should attempt it. Fourthly, concerning the imposing of the subscription, under a penalty of out-lawing and fining; they will say that it is a fun­damental maxim of all Common-wealths that allegiance and pro­tection [Page 16]must answer each other: so that he who gives protecti­on, hath a right to challenge Allegiance; and he that will not yield in just and lawful things, his Allegiance hath no right to challenge protection: therefore this penalty in the Law of nature, is neither unjust, nor an infringment of the liberty of the Subject; for no Subject can be imagined to be free, to re­fuse the profession of his allegiance, to the superiour powers, who alone can give him under God protection. Fifthly, that which you call a combination & confederacy, they wil judge to be the honest party which was true to the cause, and they will say, that the other party which deserted the cause, made a com­bination and confederacy first against them, so that they were put upon a necessary defence to do as they did. Sixthly, they will say, that of necessity in all Nations, there must be some­where the supremacy of power which is absolute: this was ne­ver acknowledged to be in the King, but in the Lawes which are above the King, and in the Law-making power which is o­riginally in the Representatives of the body of the Nation as­sembled to that effect. These pleas if the matters of fact be true, and such as they alledge them, are not (to a man who is disin­gaged in affection, and free to discern that which is equitable) alltogether irrational, but seeing to you and me being private men, the matters of fact are not so discernable as to oblige me to a certain belief either way, nor so referred, as to oblige me to become a Judge therein: therefore it is neither reason nor conscience that will permit me to give a definitive sentence ei­ther way; but I must leave things above me, to the Judge who is above all, and upon the whole matter I must, whiles I look upon the circumstances of civil freedom, have a care, not to loose the liberty wherewith Christ hath made me free,What posture a Christian spirit should stand in, when civil liber­ties are in question. and set my spirit above this Sea of Glass mingled with fire, that I may be fit to shew forth his praises, and the way of his life in all oc­currences, whether my outward liberty be taken from me, or preserved to me by those that rule over me. And this is the posture wherein I labor to keep my spirit; whether I can satis­fie my self, or not satisfie my self, in the consideration of civil changes; for though I cannot be satisfied therein by way of reasoning, (seeing it is not possible for me to know all the cir­cumstances [Page 17]of fact, and the Emergencies of councels) yet by way of acquiescence in my duty, my Conscience can rest satisfied; and when I am come to this way of settlement within my self, then I am free to look upon our present condition of liberty and subjection to make the best use of it I can, which is to dis­cern the nature of the changes which are come upon us, to re­fer them to the councel of God, and to fit my self to be subser­vient unto his Councel thereby. Let me then tell you what I seem to discern in our changes,What the li­berty is which we now enjoy. as to the point of liberty which gives me satisfaction. First, we have gained the liberty for which we did fight, which was, not to be under the absolute will of one man, in all civil concernments, and not to be under the yoaks of humane Ordinances and superstitious formalities in re­ligious concernments. These two yoaks are certainly broken, and it is apparent, that we are so free from them, that we have almost lost all the bounds of liberty: insomuch, that both in ci­vil and religious concernments, all the ways of order & grounds of Government, are disregarded almost by every one, and that without any visible severity against those that are guilty there­of. As for the liberty which we fought for certainly it was not meant to be a freedom from all Lawes and Government: and where any Lawes and Government is in a Nation, there must needs be something supream and absolute, else there is no bot­tom to settle any thing, but all must run unto endless confusi­ons: therefore when I look upon the great paroxismes of chan­ges whereinto we are fallen of late, I bless God, that being in a state of War, we are not worse then we are; and that although there be pressures which in the case of War are unavoidable, yet that the ways of justice are open to find redress of wrongs, in case we will not refuse to be true subjects to the Govern­ment, as it now stands, which is one of the intents of the En­gagement. In the pressing whereof, I do not see that any point of liberty is lost, except we will say, that we have a liberty, and may lawfully intend to stand without all Government whatsoe­ver; and that such as disown the being of a Government, de­serve as well to be favoured by it, as those who conscionably and dutifully own it, which to my apprehension are very great incongruities. I conceive then that in this case of War our li­berty [Page 18]is preserved as much, as possibly it can be in any Nation, where by force the change of Government hath been wrought. Now it is Gods counsel to bring this to pass, that Rebellion may fall, and the desire of all Nations come in due time, which I ga­ther from these Scriptures compared together, Haggai with Heb. 12.26. and with Rev. 10.7. and 11.15, 16, 17, 18, 19. and 18. per totum, and chap. 19. These changes then in the councel of God prepare the way to the enjoyment of our true liberty in the Kingdom of God. Therefore I think my self bound, to fit my self with all diligence for the coming of the Bridegroom, seeking and following peace with all men, and Ho­liness, without which no man shall see his face; and to this ef­fect my chief care is, to make streight paths to my feet in mine own course, and not to turn the lame which I meet withall on my way, out of their true way, but rather to endeavor their healing, according to that measure of health which God hath be­stowed upon me, which I hold forth heartily unto you, and wish that you may fully enjoy it, without all staggering and scrupulosity.5. Scruple is that the present power is arbitrary. Your 5. scruple is a meer jealousie of State, which I shall never suffer to intrench upon my Conscience. You sup­pose that they which are in the supream place of power, walk arbitrarily; I say it is not possible that the Law-making power of a Nation can walk otherwise, for according to their concep­tion and arbitration of matters all things must be setled or al­tered. But then you say, if at the beginning of their installment they do all with so high a hand;The Answer shewes. That a law­making pow­er must needs be arbitrary. what will they do when they come to a full settlement by the consent of all the People of the Nation? I answer, that I hope they will see the Nation go­verned by wholsom Lawes in a peaceable way, by subordinate Judicatures; and by free chosen Representatives from time to time in a Parliament-way, whereunto all will be accountable of their proceedings, and I have ground to hope this, because they have promised to endeavour it, and because I see so far as I can discern a real prosecution of it by the making of good Lawes, and by the removal of obstructions which seem to threaten a ruine of all: if the godly party would not divide, and strengthen the hands of enemies, and by their disaffected ness and jealou­sies, did not make an Army necessary: this work might be spee­dily [Page 19]advanced:That a forci­ble change of Government is heavier at first then at last. as for the ground of your jealousie it is not sound; for wise States-men that must maintain a Government, or alter it upon Emergencies by force, will rule with a higher hand at the beginning then in the prosecution of a settlement; for in the beginning necessity constrains them to put forth the height of their power to lay the foundations of their Authority by Lawes; but when that is done, then the Lawes Rule, and are equal to all; and I am perswaded that this, as it will be their wisdom, so it is their design in justice to do, and by not refu­sing to do my duty towards them; I make my self fit in my place to be heard by some of them, that I may perswade and in­duce them to prosecute their work in this way, which if I were possessed with such jealousies against them, as you here express, I could not be able to do.

6. Scruple. is a com­plaint of ill usage.Your last objection is not a scruple of conscience, why you cannot take the Engagement; but a complaint concerning the usage of some who take it not, that although they are consci­encious, grave, sober, pious and peaceable men; yet they are griev­ed and troubled, trampled upon and neglected, whilst on the other hand, such as are loose, perverse, Athiests, Cavaliers and base wretches, are imbraced, priviledged and respected, only because they will take the Engagement.

The answer shews, that there are many causes of grief and complaints for want of observing the Rules of Christianity on all sides.I confess it is greatly to be lamented, that this doth so fall out, I say it is to be lamented, that conscientious and godly men, being peaceable in their affections should not also know the way of peace; how to behave themselves harmless in their actions towards the powers which God hath set over them, it is to be lamented, that they should be so dealt withall by a­ny in a time wherein we stand for a reformation. It is to be la­mented, that their Conscience mistaking its duty, should occa­sion their grief; & become upon religious grounds as to them, a cause of division in the State. It is to be lamented lastly, that wicked and profane men, in any Christian Common-wealth, should obtain more favour upon any ground whatsoever, then such as are truly conscientious and godly. These evils are the sad effects of our sinful distempers, when we walk by the inte­rests of men, rather then by the Rules of Christianity: for if godly, grave, pious and conscientious men, did not make them­selves [Page 20]subservient to a party in the State, as too many do unad­visedly, bringing a snare upon their own Conscience, by the mixture of worldly and religious considerations, wherein the councels of men being predominant, the simplicity of the Go­spel is neglected: this would not fall out as it doth. But the fractions of godly men,What the failings of godly men are in this kind. about the particular ways of their pro­fession; whereby they weaken each others hands in the main work (which is to bring all men to Christ, to walk with him and in him, not after the flesh but after the spirit) is the cause of all this mischief, which God doth suffer to come upon his Servants, as well for a tryal of their faith and patience, as for a chastisement of their misbehaviour and partial walking in the dispensation of his mysteries. The injustice of humane con­tentions about the ways of their own framing in the holy pro­fession, is justly punishable with God, by the changes of State-Governments, and the shaking of all humane frames therein to pieces, that nothing may remain but that which is truly spiritu­al & unmoveable.What the principles & practices of States-men and their in­struments are in this kind. All States in this world, as of this world can look to nothing but to the interest of self preservation & power over others, & all the subordinate Agents of such States accor­ding to their instructions, must look to nothing but to the inte­rest of their superiors; whatsoever therefore, or whosoever doth cross this interest, and is not harmless and unblameable towards them in point of security; they think it just (and rationally they cannot be blamed for thinking so) that they ought to remove both it and him out of their way; and whatsoevr and whosoe­ver is (professedly at least) faithful to them in point of security; they take hold of and cherish both it and him. Nor can they as true States-men look to any thing else but this; all other Relations or contemplations of mens qualities, are drowned and swollowed up in this one consideration, whe­ther yea or no he be to be trusted, and is like to prove faithful to this their interest: if they get assurance of this, the worldly wisdom of a State looks no further; but if they can get no assu­rance of this, all other considerations whatsoever are laid a­side, and the more eminent men are in parts, or in esteem and repute for godliness, they become the greater objects of State-jealousies, if they will give them no assurance of their fidelity; [Page 21]and this I conceive is the reason why godly and consciencious men, are troubled by the Instruments of State-security and o­thers who are base wretches, and men void of all grace, are che­rished by them.The Remedy to be used a­gainst these evills, and the grounds thereof. If then you and other godly men could be brought upon rational and religious grounds to give the State wherein you live, and the Rulers thereof, that security, which may take off the edge of their jealousie, that you are not an e­nemy to their temporal standing and safety, and that you shall not be accessary to any practises which tend to the overthrow of a Common-wealth Interest, I make no doubt but the cause of your complaint, and with it many publick evills would cease: and why you should not give them this security, truly I can discern no ground for it, neither in reference to Christianity nor Morality. For in morality as you are a Subject,In respect of Morality. and can­not live safely, nor enjoy any outward benefit of the life of na­ture here without the protection of the Government which is over this State, you are bound in gratitude towards those that manage it; for their pains in watching and looking to publick safety to own them in their places, and if you will not own them, when without them you cannot enjoy any security, you are not only unthankful but unjust, for by not owning them in the power whereof they are fully possest for the good of all you do what in you lieth to dissolve the bond of publick safe­ty, which in all Subjects is nothing else but the owning of a Government by a professed subjection thereunto in things good and lawful: nor can any man rationally alledge any ground why he ought not to own the powers which are actu­ally over him by doing the things commanded by them, ex­cept it be one of these three: Either that he doth own another power, inconsistent with the power which is over him, in the place where he lives; or that he will own no power at all in humane societies; or that he sees cause to except against the things commanded as unlawful in themselves.

The first exception to own another power inconsistent with the power which is over him, a prisoner of War may make to those that have taken him prisoner, and an Ambassador from a forrain Nation, towards those to whom he is sent.

But if he owns neither another power, nor that which is o­ver him, then he must own no Magistracy amongst men, nor Go­vernment [Page 22]at all: for this consequence as I conceive, is unavoyd­able. If I will not own the powers which are over me, I must either own other powers inconsistent with these, or none at all; if I own other powers inconsistent with these, I ought to seek protection from those, and not from these, and am bound to set those up against these and consequently have no right to any common benefit from these. But if I wil own no Magistracy at all, then no Magistracy ought to own me; nor have I any right to live in any humane society, for no society can be with­out some Government.

But if the exception doth lie against the lawfulness of the things commanded, then he must say, that it is unlawful for a subject to promise that he will be true and faithful to the Com­mon-wealth wherein he liveth, because the form of Government thereof, is not the same which it was before, which is an asser­tion, so irrational that I conceive no man will own it, nor can any man lawfully enter into any promise or obligation to God or men, which can make this Commandement void. Let all soules be subject to the powers that are over them: therefore it is altogether inconsistent with morality, that a Subject in things good and lawful, should not promise submission to the powers which are over him, which I conceive is yet more then what the Engagement in express tearms doth require of you.

As for Christianity, besides that which I have said already concerning the freedom of your Conscience,In respect of Christianity. which is not un­der the power of any outward worldly things: I shall only mention this clear rule given to all men as they are men, which to my understanding is beyond all exception: it is the Apostles Command, Rom. 13.1. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, I say then, that no soule (that is no man) may as a Christian exempt it self from being subject in things good and lawful to the jurisdiction which is over it; and although this translation will bear the weight of this inference, yet the words may be rendered more properly and meerly to their full sense thus. Let every soule be subordinate to the powers which have the eminency over them, for the original words hupotassesthay is properly to be subordinate; [...]. and exousiai huperechousai are powers having superiority or eminency: and thus the last [Page 23] Dutch Translation doth render the words;Alle ziele zy den mach­ten over haer gestelt onder­worpen. [...]. Let every soule be submitted to the powers which are setled over them, as for the ordinary exception which is brought in to limit the generality of this Rule, that the word exousia doth signifie only a lawful power, it is of no validity at all, for both in heathen and in sa­cred writings it is taken in the sence which signifies any ability and the power of force; look upon Scapula in the compounds of [...] and he will tell you that Plutarch and Herodian do joyn exousian and dunamin as words of the same sence, [...]. & that it is used generally for any thing that a man can do, whether law­fully or unlawfully: as in Xenophon you have this expression exousian echo cleptein, that is, I have power to steal. [...]. Here then the word cannot be taken for a lawful, but only for a licencious power: that is, for an ability to do a thing unlawful: and in the Scripture so far as I can now call to mind, I find it taken more in this sence then in any other, exousia touscotous, [...]. the power of darkness, when Judas did lay violent hands upon his M [...]ster, as upon a robber and a thief, I suppose you will not say he had a lawfull warrant to do, and Collos. 1.13. the same expression is used to describe the power which the Devill hath over our soules in corrupt nature, which I do not think you wil call a just authority used by him, [...]. and Luke 22.25. exousiazontes is to exercise might and force which is the proper Character of the Rulers of the Nations, which Christ forbids his Disciples to affect: so also 1 Cor. 6.12. exousiasthesomai is to be under might and a forcible constraint without freedom; [...]. the word then in Scripture phrase is, as in Heathen Authors, the power of force as well if not more then of right. And in general it is an ability to do what one will which is indeed proper to supe­riours, for such as have an uncontrouleable power in acting, are superiour powers, intimating that where God doth put any in a place of such eminency above others, that they can do what they will without controule; there all men under them, are to submit unto them in things good and lawful: now if men whom you call grave, pious, and conscientious, will not take notice of this Rule conscionably and piously, to obey their Ru­lers for Gods sake; I must leave them to the event which God will determine over them, and be sorry that they understand [Page 24]not their duty, and the rule of that freedom by which they stand under their superiours.

Thus I have given you my thoughts concerning your scru­ples, which I beseech the Lord to manifest unto you, so far as they are his truths, and wherein they are not such, I beseech him to let me see the error of them: for I am far from any o­ther interest in them, then as they are the testimonies of righteousness without prejudice, and without partiality. I shal be glad to hear from you what your sence thereof is, how far you are satisfied thereby. The Lord instruct us and give us un­derstanding in all things, and teach us to profit by all his dis­pensations, to his grace I commend you and rest,

Your faithful and affectionate Friend and Brother in Christ, JOHN DURY.

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