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A Solemn Testimony Against Toleration by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
and the present proceedings of the Sectaries and their Abettors, in ENGLAND, in reference to
RELIGION and GOVERNMENT.
By the COMMISSIONERS of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY
of the Kirk of SCOTLAND.
With the Answer, of Parliament, to the said TESTIMONY.
PRINTED BY J. WILSON, BOOKSELLER.
EDINBURGH 16. Jan. 1649. Postmeridiem.
A necessary and seasonable Testimony against Toleration, and the present proceedings of Sectaries and their abettors in England, in reference to religion and government; with an admonition and exhortation unto their brethren there, from the Commissioners of the General Assembly of the kirk of Scotland.
ALBEIT the work of reformation in these kingdoms hath engraven upon it so many, and so lively characters of the truth, and power, and wisdom of Jesus Christ, as gives unto us sufficient grounds of hope that he will bring forth the head-stone of his house with shoutings, unto the shame of his adversaries and refreshing of his people; yet the sense which we have of our duty, in regard of our station and trust, the danger that threatens religion and government, together with the desire which we have to restore those that are fallen, to strengthen the weak, and to comfort the afflicted in England, calls upon us to give public testimony against the present proceedings of sectaries and their abettors in that land, and to speak a word of admonition and exhortation to our brethren there.
It hath been unto us, and we make no doubt unto the protestant churches abroad, matter of much sorrow and grief of heart, that after so many sufferings from, and wrestlings with the popish, prelatical, and malignant party; and after that they are brought down by the mighty hand, and stretched-out arm of the Lord, there should arise in their stead another to oppose his work in these kingdoms: And it adds unto our affliction that they be such as profess for Jesus Christ, and pretend unto holiness, and seemed once to build with ourselves, whilst now their way is become grievous, and goes down unto the gates of death, as tending to overturn religion, destroy the league and covenant, and to raze the foundations of government.
It shall not now be needful to fall upon an enumeration of all these errors which have sprung up in England of late: A few years past have brought forth more and more dangerous opinions in that one kingdom, than many preceding generations in all the churches of Christ, so evil and bitter a thing it is to leave every man to his own fancy, and the vineyard of the Lord without a hedge. The late general assemblies of the kirk of Scotland and their commissioners, have born testimony against independency, erastianism, anabaptism, antinomianism, arminianism, socinianism, familism, scepticism, &c. And the ministers of the province of London, and many others have more particularly reckoned and condemned the errors which men of corrupt minds there have run into. We bless the Lord for every faithful witness and desire to put to our seal that his testimony is true; but of all things it most afflicts our spirits, and we cannot but look upon it with horror and amazement, that in a land covenanted with God, after Satan hath been so cunning as to sow the seed of so many heresies and errors, he should now prevail so far upon the spirits of men, as to make them instrumental to plead for a toleration unto all errors, and to endeavour that this monstrous iniquity may be established by a law, and that of so large extent, as carries no exception, but express popery and compulsion. The first whereof leaves latitude enough to take in any papists whatsoever, if he can but a little dissemble the grossness of his way, and the latter doth not obscurely point at those, who plead for the government of Jesus Christ by presbyteries, and hold that all men are to walk according to the rule of the word of God: Is this all the favour and approbation, that such may expect to be ranked amongst the worst of papists? There are many devices in the heart of man; but the counsel of the Lord shall stand; and he will give unto his people a nail in his holy place.
We have searched after the mind of Christ, and have traced the footsteps of the prophets and apostles, in the Old and New Testament: and no where can we find in the scriptures of truth, either precept or precedent allowed of God for toleration of any error, much less did it ever come into his mind, or did he speak to any of his servants concerning a toleration of all error. As that infinitely glorious divine Essence is one in himself most holy, most righteous, most true, so hath he given unto the children of men, one eternal, unchangeable law, according to the rule whereof they are to square their profession, and order their conversation: Therefore as his justice requires in the covenant of works that we should walk according thereto without declining to the right hand or to the left, so he in his mercy promises in the covenant of grace to give unto his people one heart and one way to fear him for ever: And in both covenants they are obliged to walk after the rule of this law. It is acknowledged by many of those with whom we have now to do, that no liberty is to be allowed unto men in the breaches of the duties of the second table, which we owe unto our neighbours, but that if a man sin against his neighbour, and disturb the peace of the common-wealth, he is to be restrained and punished: Can there any solid reason be given why it should not also be thus in regard of the duties of the first table which we owe unto God? Is not one Lord author of both? hath not conscience influence upon both? Is not the Lord’s glory interested in the one as well as in the other? Doth not his image shine as brightly, and may it not be as much defaced in the one as in the other? Are the things of God less precious than the things of men, and that which concerns the soul less to be cared for than that which concerns the body? or are we more to value our own damage than the Lord’s dishonour? We know that no man hath dominion over the conscience: But the Lord who made it, exercises his sovereignty therein; and he hath set a law unto the spirits of men, after the rule whereof they are to order both their judgments and affections; and hath given power to those whom he clothes with authority, which they are to exercise in these things so far as they are manifested in expressions and actions unto the dishonour of his name, and hurt and prejudice of others: All those who have their senses in any measure exercised in the word of God will acknowledge that it is repugnant thereto, that any who are clothed with power œconomic, ecclesiastic or politic, should connive at any error in any of these that are subject to their jurisdiction, or allow it liberty by a law. Abraham did command his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment, Gen. 18.19. Jacob took order for purging of his household and all that were with him, from all the idols and strange gods that were amongst them, Gen. 35.2. David will have none of those who tell lies, but such as walk in a perfect way, to be in his house, Psalm 101. And the apostle Paul will have all pastors and deacons to rule their houses well, and to keep them in subjection, 1 Tim. 3. Neither is there less required of those who bear charge in the house of God. It was a special part of the office of Aaron and his sons to separate betwixt the precious and the vile: Jehoiada set porters at the gates of the house of the Lord, that none which was unclean in any thing should enter therein, 2 Chron. 23.19. The apostle Paul would not give place unto those by subjection who came in privily to spy out the kirk’s liberty for the space of an hour, Gal. 2.5. and he will have an heretic after the first and second admonition to be rejected, Titus 3.10. And are not some of the churches of Asia commended for their diligence, and others of them reproved for their negligence herein, Rev. 2.2,6,14,15,20. And though the power of the magistrate be herein most questioned by the patrons of toleration, yet is the scripture very clear and plentiful both in precepts and precedents, in promises, rewards, in threatenings and judgments, in encouragements and reproofs, that it is the office and duty of the magistrate not only to suppress and punish iniquity and unrighteousness, but also ungodliness and error, and that he beareth his sword in relation to both. As the Lord by his servant Moses, in the 17th of Deuteronomy, requires of him that shall reign over his people, that he have a copy of the law of the Lord by him, and that he read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and to keep all the words of that law; so in the 13th [chapter] of that book he gives a command to put to death the false prophet, and the brother that speaks to his people to turn them away from the Lord their God; and the reasons taken from the nature of the duty, whereby he persuades unto the obedience thereof, are perpetual and no less binding unto us now, than to them of old. How strongly doth the Lord plead, in the 22d [chapter] of Deuteronomy, against toleration and false worship, and all the occasions thereof, and provocations and incitements thereto? and how severe is he about the removing and destroying all these, and in tying all his people to one way according to the rule of his word? and what peremptory commands are there given unto them concerning both? Was not the blasphemer stoned unto death, Lev. 24.10. It was the great care and singular commendation of Joshua, Samuel, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Zorobabel, and of such as judged or reigned well in Israel or Judah, that they preserved religion and reformation in integrity, restored it when it was fallen and corrupted, by destroying idolatry, and establishing the pure ordinances of God. Asa made a covenant, and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, 2 Chron. 14. Jehoshaphat went out throughout the people, from Beersheba to mount Ephraim, and brought them back unto the Lord God of their fathers, 2 Chron. 19. Josiah made a covenant, and caused all the people to stand to it, 2 Chron 34.32. And the children of Judah, after their return from Babylon, made a covenant, and entered into a curse, and into an oath to walk in God’s law, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord their God, Neh. 9.38; 10.29. It is left as a note of perpetual infamy upon Jeroboam, that he caused Israel to sin by erecting the calves at Dan and Bethel, and suffering the people to go a-whoring after the same, and as it was the cause of the destruction of his house, so at last of the extermination of Israel; and it is several times observed by the Holy Ghost as a fault in several of the kings of Judah that the high places were not taken away, and Judah itself was also many times sore plagued of God, and at last carried into captivity because of their tolerating of error and idolatry; and whoso well ponders the story of Josephus the Jewish writer, will find that both in divine and politic considerations, the toleration of divers sects amongst them was the main cause of their ruin.
Some say, that the coercive power of the magistrate had place in the Old Testament, because of an infallible judgment of direction that was always present with them, in the Urim and Thummim, for applying of the law to those who were guilty; but besides, that this overthroweth all ecclesiastic as well as civil censures under the New Testament, as supposing the necessity of an infallible direction to the right proceeding unto a sentence against a blasphemer or heretic, what needed then any judicial process or the testimony of witnesses against such? This argues that the procedure was to be in an ordinary way, according to a known standing law, as in cases of the second table: And it hath as little strength that the magistrate then did these things, not as a magistrate, but as a type of Jesus Christ, seeing the kings of the heathen, such as Artaxerxes, Nebuchadnezzar, and Darius, made decrees hereabouts, whose practice is commended by the Spirit of God: And some, knowing no other shift, would have the Old Testament laid aside in all the question, and have proofs only from the New; but did not the prophets of old foretell that there should be such a thing under the New Testament? Zachariah, in his 13th [chapter] telleth, that in the day that the fountain shall be opened in the house of David for sin and for uncleanness, the prophet that speaks lies in the name of the Lord shall not live, but be thrust through; and as Jesus Christ commands us to beware of false prophets, Matt. 7.15. and the apostle Paul to mark them who cause divisions, Rom. 16.17. and wishes that those who trouble the churches of Galatia were cut off, Gal. 5.12. So the same apostle, Rom. 13. tells us, that the magistrate is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on those that do evil; neither is this wrath confined to the deeds of unrighteousness, and these things only that are prejudicial unto men, and troubles the peace of the common-wealth, but is also to be extended to these things that are dishonourable to God and the peace of the church; for it cannot be shown that any part of that power which magistrates had under the Old Testament is repealed under the new, neither can any convincing reason be brought, why it should be of narrower extent now nor then. Are not blasphemies, heresies, and errors dishonourable to God, and destructive unto souls as well now as of old? and are not men as prone to run into these things? and have they not need of as many remedies and restraints now as of old? Nay, are not these evil works, as well as the works of injustice and unrighteousness? They are high transgressions against the first and great commandment of the law, and Moses, speaking of the punishing of them, calls them the evil which we are to put away from amongst us, Deut. 13.5. And the apostle Paul desires us to beware of men that are polluted therewith as evil workers, Phil. 3.2. and the same apostle calls them evil men and seducers, 2 Tim. 3.13. And the apostle John calls their works evil deeds, 2 John 10. Therefore if liberty be granted in these, we know no cause why men that can in a handsome way pretend conscience for it, should be denied liberty to run into excess and riot, and to commit all sort of uncleanness and practice all wickedness with greediness? which makes us the less to wonder, that it is propounded that nothing may be punished with death but murder. Thus far do the principles of libertines lead them, that the most monstrous and unnatural abominations that can be are not to be punished with death: neither belike should murder be excepted, if the carnal desire of the preservation of natural life did not lead them to it. We know not with what words of wonder and astonishment to express ourselves upon these things. Pass over to the isles of Chittim, and see, and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if such a thing hath been heard of of old, or of late amongst the most brutish and barbarous nations? Such a cursed toleration as this will not only make every thing in religion appear to be uncertain, rend the churches and disturb the state, and trample all ordinances, order and government under foot, and bring forth many blasphemies and abominations, but is like to banish religion and righteousness quite out of the land, and at last make a hell upon earth.
And the thing in itself is not more strange unto us, than that these who have lifted up their hands unto heaven, and sworn before God, angels, and men to extirpate popery, heresy, error, schism, superstition, idolatry, and profaneness, and whatsoever is contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness, and who do so much pretend unto holiness, and have been made partakers of so many mercies and deliverances, should have so far forgotten the oath and covenant of God, as to plead for, and proclaim a liberty unto all these things. The solemn league and covenant was in the beginning, amongst all the means that could be thought of, looked upon and entertained as the strongest bulwark of religion, and surest foundation of a lasting union and peace betwixt the kingdoms, and the best way for bringing down the enemies of both, and being confirmed by the oath of God, cannot be repealed nor altered by any power or authority on earth, but obliges both kingdoms unto all the duties contained therein, which makes us to wonder that men should be so unhappily bold as to sport with the oath of God, and mock the Almighty, who is a severe avenger of all such things. And albeit we have no cause to repent of covenanting with England, as having done a necessary duty, and laid the foundation of a glorious work, which we trust shall be perfected maugre all the opposition of men, and that we resolve to adhere to that solemn league and covenant as long as we live; yet have we reason to complain of the exceeding great levity and inconstancy of some of those with whom we had to do, because of the sad reproach that is thereby brought upon the cause of God, and the great prejudice that doth thereby redound to the kingdom of his son Jesus Christ.
Neither is it the least part of our grief, that as a throne is set up for Satan, and the house of God laid waste, so the civil government is exceedingly shaken, if not quite subverted and overthrown. We plead not for tyranny, or arbitrary power either in kings or parliaments, neither are we to own or justify any man in his sin; but we may remember what adversaries have many times cast upon both kingdoms, and what both have oftener than once printed and published to the world for their vindication in this; and if after so many public professions and solemn attestations to the contrary, the foundations shall be razed, monarchy be destroyed, and parliaments subverted by an imaginary and pretended agreement of the people, as it would destroy the league and covenant, and cause the adversary to blaspheme and insult, so it cannot but be the cause of many miseries and calamities unto these kingdoms. If power be originally in the people, and all of them do equally share in the privilege of liberty and freedom, how comes it to pass that a few take upon them to impose this agreement upon others, and that it is desired that the opposers may be punished with death? Let it be yielded that some at first may condescend upon the model without the knowledge of the whole body, yet when it is offered unto them, what if the one half, or the greater part, shall refuse to consent or submit thereto, shall they be compelled by others to do it, and destroyed if they will not obey? Is not this to take power over these that have equal power with themselves, and to encroach upon the freedom of these who are as free as themselves? If it be said, that they do but impose in things necessary, that concern common equity and freedom, we demand who are judges of these things? Have not these who refuse as much power and freedom to judge, as those who would impose it upon them? and if they judge it to be contrary to their freedom, who can control them herein, without encroaching thereupon, and offering violence to their consciences who may conceive such a way neither to suit with religion nor righteousness? And to speak nothing of the troubles that are like to arise otherwise, may not this open again the issues of blood, and embroil the land in a new war betwixt these who shall refuse, and these who shall impose such a model, wherein men may unhappily lose both themselves and their liberty, whilst they seek to be too much free? Were it not better to preserve monarchy and the privileges of parliament, walking in the middle betwixt tyranny and anarchy, betwixt arbitrary government and confusion.
We know that such a way is looked upon by some as the best foundation of safety, but we know nothing more like to bring ruin and destruction: And therefore pitying these who are gone out of the way, we do, from the compassion which we have to their souls, earnestly, and in the name of the Lord, beseech all these in England who plead for toleration, the laying aside of the covenant and change of the civil government, to consider these things impartially. (1.) What fair professions and promises were made unto this kingdom, to persuade them to join in covenant with England, and how often before and since that time these things have been renewed by letters, declarations and remonstrances unto these in this land, petitions to the king, ordinances of the houses, and letters to the kirks abroad; all this is still upon record, and will bear witness before the Lord, and unto the following generations, against the levity, perverseness and perjury of those who have sworn the league and covenant, and gad so much about to change their way. (2.) That the league and covenant was the first foundation of their victories and success, and of the ruin of the malignant party in England. We need not put them in mind at what low ebb the parliament’s forces were at the contriving thereof, and how soon the Lord gave testimony from heaven, by the victory over the enemy, or his approbation of the same, and how from that day forward they prospered, and the enemy fell before them still. (3.) That the Lord hath always been a severe avenger of the breaches of oaths and covenants personal, and which concerns the things of men, much more national, and which concerns the things of God. (4.) That never any perverted the truth, and corrupted the worship of God and prospered. (5.) What shall be the advantage, nay how great shall be the loss of all the expense of blood and of pains that these kingdoms have been at, if for all this, we shall reap nothing but toleration and confusion? have we laboured in the fire to remove one corrupt religion, and to bring in many in its stead; to put down tyranny and set up anarchy? (6.) Whether this be such a testimony of gratitude, as the Lord calls for at their hand in lieu of all his mercies, and giving unto them victory over all their enemies. (7.) Whether such things beseems those who would be called saints, and pretend to be for the Lord, and use his name in all their professions and undertakings? (8.) Whether such proceedings do not bring a sad reproach and heavy imputation upon the work of God in these kingdoms? In nothing do the popish, prelatical, and malignant party more insult; and is it a light matter to cause the enemy to blaspheme? (9.) How sore the weak and stumbled, and the hearts of the godly throughout all the protestant churches wounded. We have suffered many things, but nothing so heavy to our spirits as this. (10.) If such a way be not contrary to the whole strain of God’s word, and to the practice of all saints since the beginning of the world unto this day? (11.) What shall be the end of these things, and the many sad and doleful consequents that shall follow thereupon? If from these and the like considerations any be moved to take warning to desist from the evil of their way, we shall therein rejoice and glorify God in their behalf: But if they shall refuse to hearken, we have discharged our consciences; and, in the name of the kirk of Scotland, whose servants we are, we do dissent from, and protest against such proceedings, as destructive to religion, the solemn league and covenant, the work of uniformity, and the civil government; and shall wait for the salvation of the Lord.
In the next place, albeit we do not desire to add sorrow unto any man’s affliction, but rather, if any suffer for righteousness sake, to comfort him; yet we were not faithful if we did not put our brethren in England in mind of their slothfulness and negligence in the Lord’s work, that in this day of their trouble they may be humbled because of their want of zeal for God and his cause. The Lord put into the hands of the parliament of England many precious opportunities and fair occasions to have extirpated popery, error, heresy, schism, and profaneness, and to have established reformation, and the government of the house of God; many petitions and supplications from many in England, and declarations and remonstrances and letters from the parliament and general assembly and their commissioners in this land, were tendered unto them concerning this thing; yet notwithstanding of all these, did they still suffer the house of God to lie waste, and the evil to grow which had been easily resisted in the beginning, but now is gone over the face of the land like a flood, and hath trodden under foot their own power and authority. It hath been the Lord’s way in carrying on of his work, to stain the pride of all glory, and to break and put down all those powers that have not exalted him and promoted the kingdom of his Son. And though we do not justify these insolent attempts upon the houses, yet we cannot but desire the members to behold the hand of the Most High, and to read their sin engraven in their judgment. It is a righteous thing with the Lord to abase all those that will not honour him. The Lord certainly hath a great controversy against them for encroaching upon the royal sceptre of Jesus Christ, and denying unto him any external government over his house, but such as is dependent upon them, by assuming unto themselves the ultimate decision of all ecclesiastic causes and kirk censures: And doubtless the Lord is also highly displeased with their proceedings in the treaty at Newport in reference to religion and covenant, concerning which, they accepted of such concessions from his majesty as were dangerous and destructive unto both. We wish that they may now at last see their negligence and presumption in these things, and be men of wisdom to hear the voice of the rod, and who hath appointed it, if their soul be humbled for their sin, and if they shall take upon them the vows of God for giving unto Jesus Christ his due, and doing whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven for the house of the God of heaven, who knows but the Lord may take away their reproach, and restore them to their dignity and power.
And though we doubt not but many in England have these years past mourned for the desolations of the house of God, and for the rise and growth of so many errors in that land, and have poured forth their supplications before the Lord for a remedy of these things; and that we are not ignorant what a considerable number of ministers have done in their sermons, printed books, and testimonies, yet we shall desire all that love truth and holiness in that land, to consider whether they have so timeously, and with that courage and zeal that was convenient appeared for the Lord, and acquit themselves in their duty in reference to religion and the solemn league and covenant, and if any find themselves faulty, to mourn for it, and to pray for mercy, and more of the Spirit of Christ, that they may hereafter be more faithful, and do their duty boldly and without fear? As many in England mourned with us in the day of our distress before the Lord in our behalf, so we and all the godly in this land, pour forth our supplications to God in private and in public for them: And albeit we will not take upon us to prescribe, yet as the servants of the living God, who have obtained mercy in some measure to be faithful, and have found such a way to be profitable amongst ourselves, we exhort all our brethren in England to acknowledge their iniquities before the Lord, especially the breaches of that solemn league and covenant which was so publicly sworn, before God, angels and men, and to renew their oath and vows in his sight, which we doubt not, if gone about in sincerity, shall be attended with a blessing and success from heaven. It hath been the Lord’s dispension in these kingdoms, for the most part, to leave a branch of hope in the one kingdom, when the other was like to perish, and to suffer enemies to grow to a great height of insolence and power, and then to bring them down: And therefore albeit the floods lift their voice and make a noise, yet we know no cause why the Lord’s people should wax faint or cast away their confidence, the Lord on high is more mighty than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea; his word is established in heaven, and his testimonies are very sure: And beside the many great and precious promises which he hath given unto us, and his goodness to his saints of old, he hath furnished his people in these lands with so many experiences of his mighty hand and stretched-out arm, working salvation and delivery for them, that it were a shame for any amongst them to wax faint, and not to believe. For yet a little while, he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, his soul shall have no pleasure in him.
EDINBURGH, 18. Jan. 1649.The Return of the Estates of Parliament upon the TESTIMONY, communicated unto them by the Commissioners of the General Assembly, and their concurrence with the same.THE Estates of Parliament presently convened, taking to their most serious consideration the seasonable testimony against toleration, and the present proceeding of sectaries and their abettors in England, in reference to religion and government, with an admonition and exhortation to their brethren there, from the Commissioners of the General Assembly of the church of Scotland communicated unto them by you; and pondering the present sad and strange condition of affairs in their neighbour kingdom of England represented therein, and in several other papers come to their knowledge; they do return unto you their hearty thanks both for your good correspondence (which the parliament will with all cheerfulness entertain) and for your great care and faithfulness in giving such necessary and seasonable warnings and testimonies against the dangers of the times on all hands, at all occasions: And do heartily concur in the grounds thereof against toleration and the present proceedings of sectaries in England, in reference to religion and government, and in the admonitions and encouragements so fully expressed in the said paper: And do most willingly add this our testimony thereunto, that our brethren of England may be the more moved by the mouth of two witnesses, and especially such as together with them stand and fall, and are covenanted with them for mutual good, to lay those things to heart, and to abstain from all such sinful and dangerous courses; and the faithful not to faint under these afflictions, or to omit any necessary testimonies or duty against the corruption of the time: And because there have been several aspersions published in printed pamphlets, for the strengthening of the hands of those who go on in these sinful ways, and for discouraging the hearts of these who are suffering under them; therefore the Estates of Parliament, after diligent enquiry at all the members of this court, upon their public and solemn oath, both concerning themselves and others, Do declare, and can assure their brethren of England, that they cannot find that either this kingdom or any person thereof, had any knowledge of, or accession unto the late proceedings of the English army in relation to the king’s person, or the houses and restrained members thereof, but are very confident there is no ground for such aspersions. On the other hand, so soon as this parliament was convened and constituted, and heard of the present posture of affairs, they being no ways satisfied with their proceedings, and the reasons thereof, published to the world; and being convinced of the dangerous consequences thereof, and calamities likely to follow thereupon, they did give present instructions to their commissioners, upon many reasons founded on the obligations and declarations made between, and by both kingdoms (of which the matter of fact is fully expressed by the Paper given in by our commissioners on the 5th of January instant, to the Speaker of the House of Commons, in our name, and according to our mind, herewith communicated to you) to press a delay of all procedures against the king’s person, the prince his right of succession, or the fundamental government of the kingdom, until this kingdom were heard to represent their interest and desires; and, in case of their refusal, that they should enter, in the name of this kingdom, their dissent and protest, that as this nation is free from all knowledge of, and accession to these designs and practices, so they may be free of all the calamities, miseries and confusions which may follow thereupon to these distracted kingdoms. And as our constant resolution and earnest desire to preserve inviolably the peace and union between the kingdoms, will evidently appear to any who will read (beside all our former actions and sufferings for it) our Act of Indiction of this present parliament, and our act repealing all past in the last parliament or committee of estates for the late unlawful engagement against England. And as ye are witnesses of our keeping a solemn day of humiliation, not only for our own sins and miseries, but also for the sins and distresses lying on our dear brethren, and for seeking the Lord’s direction to us, that we may know and perform all the duties which the Lord requires of us at such a time, after such judgments and deliverances on his part, such an acknowledgment and renewed covenant on our part, not only in relation to our own affairs at home, but also to what may concern religion, king, and kingdoms, according to the Solemn League and Covenant in these united nations; so we declare that it is our constant resolution, with God’s assistance, to give all seasonable testimonies, and do all necessary duties within our power and calling, for the preservation of the begun reformation against toleration of all religion, and of the fundamental government against anarchy and confusion; and for continuing and preserving the peace and union between these kingdoms, and all the bands thereof, so often acknowledged and expressed in their treaties, especially one king, one covenant, one religion; and for the observance of the manifold declarations emitted between and by both kingdoms to the world, in the positive and necessary duties for pursuance of all the ends of the Solemn League and Covenant. And to this effect we are and shall be most ready to deal and interpose in all earnestness and sincerity of heart, and by all lawful and necessary means with all whom it may concern, for settling peace and truth in these kingdoms, upon the grounds and propositions so often agreed unto, and so long insisted upon by these two nations, and upon what further shall be found safe and necessary for the removing of these distempers, and preventing new issues of blood, calamities and confusions in these kingdoms, which the Searcher of hearts knoweth to be the earnest desire, and firm resolution of this court and kingdom.
The PAPER of the 5th of January, given in by the Commissioners for the kingdom of Scotland, to the Speaker of the House of Commons, mentioned in the aforesaid Return.
THE Committee of Estates of the kingdom of Scotland, understanding that the honourable Houses of Parliament were proceeding in a treaty for peace with his majesty, did, about the beginning of the last month, authorize us to present propositions to his majesty; and particularly, to deal with him and the honourable Houses, for establishing the covenant and presbyterial government, the Confession of Faith, Directory for Worship, and Catechism, for preventing the toleration of idolatry, popery, prelacy, superstition, blasphemy, heresy, and schism, and for perfecting the great work of reformation and uniformity according to the Covenant; the substance whereof hath been formerly communicated, in a letter from the committee of estates to both houses, and by one of our number, upon his reception at the committee of Derby-house, by order from the houses of parliament. But to our great grief, we do perceive, that the distractions of this kingdom are, beyond our expectation, grown exceeding high; that a force hath been placed on the passages to the houses, which, during transactions of highest concernment, hath imprisoned and secluded a great number of members of parliament, and given occasion to many others to withdraw, because they find they cannot act as in a free parliament; that applications are made to you, for proceeding against the king, to take away his life, and for changing the government of this kingdom; and strong endeavours are used to overturn the whole work of reformation, to cast off the ministry, and introduce a toleration of all religions and forms of worship, and so, in effect, to destroy the cause wherein both nations have been engaged, and frustrate all the ends of the solemn league and covenant, which both kingdoms have sworn, with uplifted hands to Almighty God, sincerely, really, and constantly to perform. The consideration of these things doth exceedingly trouble us, and fill our hearts with fears, that, as they are for the present, matter of great provocation of the wrath of God against us, dishonourable to his name, and a reproach to religion; so, if persisted in, that they shall greatly weaken and divide us amongst ourselves, unite foreign enemies against us, advance the popish interest, lose Ireland, and in end, prove destructive to the reformed religion, and to the peace and happiness of these kingdoms.
In the year 1640, when these kingdoms were oppressed under the yoke and tyranny of the prelates, who then were far advanced in the design, to introduce popery, the kingdom of Scotland did join their endeavours with this kingdom, to procure a free parliament here, looking upon it, as a chief mean, by the blessing of God, to give a check to the designs of the prelates, who were studying the change of religion, and to the enterprises of evil counsellors about the kind, who were endeavouring to establish an arbitrary and tyrannical government; and afterward, when through power and prevalency of papists, prelates, and malignants, this kingdom was distressed, the kingdom of Scotland did enter into a solemn league and covenant with this nation, for reformation and defence of religion, the honour and happiness of the king, and the peace and safety of the three kingdoms; and particularly, for bringing the churches of God therein, to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, Confession of Faith, Form of Church-government, Directory for Worship, and Catechising; for extirpation of popery, prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound doctrine; for mutual preservation of the rights and privileges of parliaments, and liberties of the kingdoms; for discovering of incendiaries, malignants and evil instruments, that hinder reformation of religion, divide the king from his people, or one of the kingdoms from another, or make any faction or party among the people, contrary to the league and covenant, that they might be brought to public trial and punishment; for preserving peace and union betwixt the kingdoms, and defending one another in this cause; for continuing therein all the days of our lives zealously and constantly, against all opposition; and for promoting the same, according to our power, against all lets and impediments whatsoever.
In pursuance of the solemn league and covenant, both houses of parliament have often declared, that they will establish the reformation of religion, extirpate popery and prelacy, and suppress heresy and schism; and that they will maintain the fundamental government of this kingdom by king, lords, and commons. And when the common enemy being subdued, the Scottish army was to go out of this kingdom, in the beginning of the year 1647, and his majesty, by consent of both kingdoms, was to come to Holdenby; the houses of parliament did declare, both to the king, and to the kingdom of Scotland, that respect should be had to the safety and preservation of his majesty’s person, in the preservation and defence of the true religion, and liberties of the kingdoms, according to the Covenant; and when the king should be at Holdenby, and the Scottish forces gone out of this kingdom, that they would join with the kingdom of Scotland, in employing their best endeavours, to procure his majesty’s assent to the propositions agreed on by both kingdoms; and in case the king should not give his assent thereto, that the houses were resolved still to maintain the happy union already settled between the two kingdoms, according to covenant and treaties. The parliament of Scotland did at the same time also publish a declaration of their intentions (whereof one copy was delivered to his majesty, and another to the houses of parliament) that in the interim (until his majesty should give satisfaction to both kingdoms in the propositions of peace) there should be no harm, prejudice, injury, or violence done to his royal person; that there should be no change of government, other than had been for the three years preceding; and that his posterity should be no ways prejudiced in their lawful succession to the crown and government of these kingdoms.
These being the engagements of both kingdoms jointly together, and severally one to another, for the ends aforesaid; we hold it our duty to endeavour, that reformation of religion be settled and established as is before expressed; and especially, that the toleration of idolatry, popery, blasphemy, heresy, and schism be prevented, lest we partake in other mens sins, and thereby be in danger to receive of their plagues: That the rights and privileges of parliament may be preserved; that there may be no change of the fundamental government; and, that there may be no harm, injury, or violence offered to his majesty’s person, the very thought whereof, the kingdom of Scotland hath always abhorred, as may appear by all their proceedings and declarations: And the houses of parliament, have often upon several occasions expressed a detestation thereof, in their declarations. Wherefore, we do expect, that there shall no proceeding against his person, which cannot but continue to increase the great distractions of these kingdoms, and involve us in many difficulties, miseries, and confusions: But that by the free councils of both houses of the parliament of England, and with the advice and consent of the parliament of Scotland (which is now sitting) such course may be taken, in relation to him, as may be for the good and happiness of these kingdoms, both having an unquestionable interest therein. We are
Your affectionate friends and servants,
Jan. 6th, 1649. subscribitur,
For the honourable William
Lenthall, esq; speaker of
the house of commons. LOTHIAN,