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DISSENTING MINISTERS VINDICATION
From the horrid and detestable murder of King Charles the First, of glo
rious memory. With their names subscribed, about the twentieth of January, 1648.
ISAIAH lxii. 1. For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the saltation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
PROVERBS xxiv, 21, 22. My son, fear thou the Lord and the King, and meddle not with them that are given to change.
For their calamity shall rise suddenly, and who knoweth the ruin of them both ?
London, printed in the year MDCXLVIII. Quarto, contaiving six pages.
and kingdom; that faithfully adhered to the parliament, have injuriously smarted under the scourge of evil tongues and pens, ever since the first eruption of the unhappy differences and unnatural war between the King and parliament, for our obedience to the commands and orders of the honourable houses, in their contests with his majesty, and confiicts with his armies,
We are not ignorant of the over-busy intermeddlings of prelates and and their party heretofore, in over-ruling civil affairs to the great endangering of the kingdoms, and of this in particular, when private interests, ambitious designs, revenge, or other sinister ends, engaged them beyond their sphere. Howbeit, it cannot reasonably (as we conceive) be denied, that ntinisters, as subjects, being bound to obey the laws, and to preserve the liberties of the kingdom, and having an interest in them, and the happiness of them, as well as others, may, and ought (without incurring the just censure due to busy-bodies and incendiaries) to appear, for preserving the laws and liberties of that commonwealth, whereof they are members, especially in our case, when it was declared by the parliament, that all was at stake, and in danger to be lost. No, nor, as ministers, ought they to hold their peace, in a time wherein the sins of rulers and magistrates, as well as others, have so far provoked God, as to kindle the fire of his wrath against his people. And yet, for this
alone, the faithful servants of God have, in all ages, through the malice of Satan and his instruments, been traduced as arch-incendiaries, when only their accusers are indeed guilty of both laying the train, and of putting fire to it, to blow up a kingdom.
And Ahab and his sycophants think none so fit to bear the odium of being the grand 'troubler of Israel, as Elijah.' Thus the popish device was, to charge the gun-powder treason (had it taken effect) upon the puritans; and, if you believe Tertullus, even a Paul is 'a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition throughout the world, a ring-leader of a sect,' and what not, but what he is; yea, Christ himself (tho' a friend to monarchy, even of heathenish Rome) is proclaimed “an enemy to Cæsar,' to open a way to his destruction, by their malice, who never cared for the interest of Cæsar.
Wherefore, although with us, who have have had experience of like usage, “it be a small thing to be thus judged of men,' when we regard only our own particular persons; for, 'if they call the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more those of his houshold' Yet, when we consider how much it concerns the honour of our master, and the good of all
, to preserve our ministerial function immaculate (our good names being in that relation as needful to others, as a good conscience to ourselves) we dare not but stand by and assert the integrity of our hearts, and the innocency of all our actions (in reference to the king and kingdom) for which we are so much calumniated and traduced.
This we are compelled to at this time, because there are many who very confidently (yet most unjustly) charge us to have been formerly instrumental towards the taking away the life of the King. And because also there are others, who, in their scurrilous pasquils and libels (as well as with their virulent tongues) present us to the world as a
bloody seditious sect, and traitorous obstructors, of what all the godly people of the kingdom do earnestly desire for establishing of religion and peace,' in that we stick at the execution of the King, while yet we are (as they falsly affirm) content to have him convicted and condemned; all which we must and do from our hearts disclaim, before the whole world.
For, when we did first engage with the parliament (which we did not till called thereunto) we did with loyal hearts and affection towards the King, and his posterity. Not intending the least hurt to his person, but to stop his party from doing further hurt to the kingdom; not to tring his Majesty to justice (as some now speak) but to put him into a better capacity to do justice: 'To remove the wicked from before him, that his throne might be established in righteousness;' noč to dethrone and destroy him, which, we much fear, is the ready way to the destruction of all his kingdoms.
That which put on any of us at first to appear for the parliament was, • The propositions and orders of the Lords and Commons iu purliament (June 10, 1642) for bringing in of money and plate, &c. wherein they assured us, that whatsoever should be brought in thereupon, should not be at all employed upon any other occasion, than to maintain, “the protestant religion, the King's authority, his person in his royal dignity, ilic free course of justice, the laws of the land, the peace of the king.
dom, and the privileges of parliament, against any force which shall op
And in this we were daily confirmed and encouraged more and more, by their many subsequent declarations and protestations which we held ourselves bound to believe, knowing many of them to be godly and conscientious men, of publick spirits, zealously promoting the common good, and labouring to free this kingdom from tyranny and slavery, which some evil instruments about the King endeavoured to bring upon the nation.
As for the present actings at Westminster, since the time that so many of the members were by force secluded, divers imprisoned, and others thereupon withdrew from the House of Commons (and there not being that conjunction of the two houses as heretofore) we are wholly unsatisfied therein, because we conceive them to be so far from being warranted by sufficient authority, as that in our apprehensions they tend to an actual alteration, if not subversion, of that which the honourable House of Commons, in their declaration of April 17, 1646, have taught us to call, “The fundamental constitution and government of this kingdom, which they therein assure us, if we understand them, they would never alter.
Yea, we hold ourselves bound in duty to God, religion, the King, parliament, and kingdom, to profess before God, angels, and men, that we verily believe that which is so much feared to be now in agitation, 'The taking away the life of the King,' in the present way of tryal, is, not only not agreeable to any word of God, the principles of the protestant religion (never yet stained with the least drop of the blood of a King) or the fundamental constitution and government of this kingdom ; bat contrary to them, as also to the oath of allegiance, the protestation of May 5,1641, and the solemn league and covenant; from all or any of which engagements, we know not any power on earth able to absolve us or others.
In which last, we have sworn with hands lifted up to the most high God, ' That we shall with sincerity, reality, and constancy, in our several vocations, endeavour, with our estates and lives, mutually to preserve and defend the rights aud privileges of the parliaments, and the liberties of the kingdoms, and to preserve and defend the King's majesty's person and authority, in the defence of the true religion, and liberties of the kingdoms; that the world may bear witnesses with our consciences of our loyalty, and that we have no thoughts or intentions to diminish his majesty's just power and greatness.
And we are yet farther tied by another article of the same covenant; * Not to suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided or withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction, whether tu make defection to the contrary party, or to give ourselves to a detestable indifferency, or neutrality, in this cause which so much concerns the glory of God, the good of the kingdums, and honour of the King; but shall, all the days of our lives, zealously and constantly continue therein against all opposition, and promote the same according to our power against all lets and impediments whatsoever.' And this we have not only taken ourselves, but most of us have, by command of the parliament, administered it to others, whom we have thereby drawn in to be as deep as ourselves in this publick engagement.
Therefore, according to that our covenant, we do in the name of the great God, (to whom all must give a strict account) warn and exhort all who either more immediately belong to our respective charges, or any way depend on our ministry, or to whom we have administered the said covenant (that we may not by our silence suffer them to run upon that highly provoking sin of perjury) to keep close to the ways of God, and the rules of religion, the laws and their vows, in their constant maintaining the true réformed religion, the fundamental constitution and government of this kingdom (not suffering themselves to be seduced from it, by being drawn in to subscribe the late models, or Agreement of the people,' which directly tends to the utter subversion of the whole frame of the fundamental government of the land, and makes way for an uni. versal toleration of all heresies and blasphemies, directly contrary to our covenant, if they can but get their abettors to cover them under a false guise of the Christian religion) as also in preserving the privileges of both houses of parliament, and the union between the two nations of England and Scotland; to mourn bitterly for their own sins, the sins of the city, army, parliament, and kingdom, and the woful miscarriages of the King himself (which we cannot but acknowledge to be many and very great) in his government, that have cost the three kingdoms so dear, and cast him down from his excellency into a horrid pit of misery, almost beyond example. And to pray that God would both give him effectual repentance, and sanctify that bitter cup of divine displeasure, that the divine providence hath put into his hand; as also that God would restrain the violence of men, that they may not dare to draw upon themselves, and the kingdom, the blood of their sovereign.'
And now, we have good reason to expect that they who brought us under such a bond, and thereby led us into the necessity of this present vindication and manifestation of our judgments, and discharge of our consciences, should defend us in it. However, we resolve rather to be of their number that tremble at his terrors who is a consuming fire, and will not fail to 'avenge the quarrel of his covenant,' upon all that contemnit, than to be found among those who despise the oath by breaking his covenant (after lifting up the hand') although it had been made but in civil things only, and that with the worst of men.
C. Burges, D.D. Preacher of the Word, in Paul's, London.
Nicholas Proffet, Minister at Fosters.