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See the Protestation
Ib. Jan. 1642. Exact Collections,
side, some of their own party declare this covenant is a perfect CHARLES original.
After this, they make some general exceptions :
First, They cannot understand the annexing penalties to the refusal of this engagement. They conceive the menacing people to a compliance, does not suit the nature of what is tendered. A covenant is a contract. It
the voluntary consent of the parties contracting. That proselytes are to be gained by persuasion ; and that the reasons are not to be rammed down with terror and compulsion.
Secondly, This oath cannot be taken without betraying Some other those liberties, which by their solemn protestation they have
preliminaalready engaged to maintain, and are now to repeat the obli- 852*. gation by the third article of the covenant: now the putting an oath upon the subject without the authority of an act of taken in the parliament, they conceive is wholly inconsistent with the 1 Charles’ 3. liberties above mentioned, with the petition of right, and the declaration published by the lords and commons.
Farther, supposing this engagement was not forced by way p. 859, 860. of authority, but only recommended; they cannot perceive declared, the which way they could be in a condition to acquiesce: for how king, unless can it be reconcileable with the duty of subjects to enter into by act of para covenant, where the interest of their sovereign is concerned, not oblige the without having either his express or presumptive consent ? subject to By doing this, the provision in the 30th of Numbers would by parity of reasoning be applicable to their case: and thus in all equity of construction, it would be in the sovereign's power to make void their engagement.
To this they add, that since his majesty has by proclaniation declared his pleasure upon this point; since he has expressly forbidden the covenant; which way can the subject engage without a gross failure in the duty of natural allegiance, and that required by statute ? And that upon both these ties The caths of they are bound to obey the king's commands, when neither marmacy contrary to the holy Scriptures, nor the laws of the realm. legiance. After these preliminaries, the university proceeds to argue against the first article.
First, they are apprehensive the contents of this article They argue oblige to a contradiction of the condition of an oath required first article. in Scripture; where we are commanded to swear in judgment. Now by this article we engage, say they, to support the re
take an oath. Scotch pro
their own nature, are
ligion of another kingdom ; which as we are not much concerned to know, so we confess ourselves unacquainted with. But as far as the misfortune of these times has informed us, we are of opinion, that as the doctrine professed in that kingdom is not better; so the worship, discipline and government, is worse than our own.
And yet if for the time to come, we should discover any thing in this Scotch religion (which is not impossible) which seems to have a tincture of popery, superstition, heresy or schism, or carries a repugnancy to orthodoxy and good morals; we shall be obliged to endeavour its extirpation by virtue of the next article: and thus one article will bring us under a
counter oath to another. That is, the And to speak clearly, we have, as we conceive, discovered nouncing
some assertions bordering closely upon superstition and schism. episcopacy And therefore think it more reasonable to remind the Scotch
of correcting their own system, than that we should be pressed government:
to maintain it. rites, indif
As to the other branch of this article, importing a reformaferent in
tion of religion in this kingdom, with respect to doctrine, unlawful in worship, discipline, and ecclesiastical government: since repractice.
formation necessarily implies alteration ; we are not yet
satisfied such an attempt is in our power. added, their making their First, because by endeavouring a thing of this kind, we discipline
should desert from the famous bishops and other eminent Presbyterian divines, who from the beginning of the Reformation to the a mark of present time, have by their martyrdom and writings signalized Church, fc. themselves in defence of the Church of England.
Secondly, We cannot charge the Church of England with defects and corruption, without injuring our consciences, and exposing our fortunes and reputation. For we conceive we have very good reasons to conclude the Church of England settled upon a much better consistency with the word of God, and the practice of the Catholic Church, than that religion we must be sworn to maintain by the former branch of the article.
And lastly, We conceive it is impracticable for us to engage without apparent danger of perjury. This covenant being contrary not only to our protestation and solemn vow above mentioned, but likewise to the oath of supremacy.
In their exceptions to the second article, they remonstrate
and argue thus :—We cannot but extremely regret (say they) CHARLES to find that ancient form of Church government, upon which our reformation was established, and which has since flourished
ceptions to to the envy and admiration of foreigners : to find this form the second of government marked for destruction without the least reason assigned, either for the necessity, or so much as the conveniency, of so prodigious a change. And over and above, ranged with very exceptionable company, with popery and superstition, with heresy, schism, and profaneness. And as if this censure did not go deep enough, an innuendo is thrown in, as if this form of government was so plainly opposed to sound doctrine, so destructive of the power of godliness, that a man is under a necessity either of endeavouring the demolition of this establishment, or being partaker of other men's sins : now this is more than at present we are able to believe.
Farther, we desire it may be seriously considered, that if an engagement couched in a resembling form, was put to the city of London, by virtue of which they were all of them obliged to swear, “ that without respect of persons they would do their utmost endeavour towards the suppressing of treason, the city government by the lord mayor, aldermen, sheriffs, and common-council; and of all murder, adultery, theft, defrauding the public, &c. for fear of being partakers of other men's sins :” can it be imagined that such an oath could be relished by any citizen, who was not altogether lost to all sense of liberty and courage ?
Secondly, It is our opinion we cannot with a safe conscience swear to contribute our endeavours for the extirpation of episcopacy, for these four considerations : that is, if we consider either the thing itself, or ourselves, the Church of England, or the obligations we lie under to his majesty.
First, With respect to the thing itself; we conceive episcopacy, if not strictly juris divini, is at least of apostolical institution. That this government has all along spread to the extent of Christianity, and continued through all countries, without interruption for fifteen hundred years together. That during all this long period, there was scarcely any person excepting Aerius, who had the assurance to declare for a parity between bishops and presbyters ; and that Aerius was pronounced a heretic for this presumption. And therefore if we
should swear the suppressing an order so firmly established, and supported by so remarkable a prescription; the Papists would triumph in the first place, and charge us with contempt of antiquity: neither should we be in a condition to throw off the imputation. Besides, by such a compliance, the argument drawn from the judgment and practice of the universal Church (which is the best expositor of Scripture in things not clearly expressed) would be much weakened: and yet this must be granted a good topic for proving a great many things, relating both to faith and manners: and that without such an autho-rity, we should often be at a loss to defend ourselves against Socinians, Anabaptists, and other sectaries. Amongst these points may be reckoned several orthodox applications concerning the attributes and co-equality of the Three Persons in the Godhead; the number, use, and efficacy of the sacraments, baptism of infants, the observation of the Lord's day; and which is most principally valuable, the distinguishing the canon of holy Scripture from human compositions.
Secondly. Swearing this article must be extremely shocking " with respect to ourselves :" for,
1. All of us, who have taken any degrees, have subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles, and, by consequence, signed the approbation of episcopal government: for, in the Thirty-sixth Article, it is expressly declared, that the ordinal for consecration of bishops“ contains nothing contrary to the Word of God.”
2. All of us in holy orders have been ordained by bishops. Now, it would be a scandalous return in us, to sign an obligation for setting aside the bishops, who have lent us their hands for conveying our own character.
3. Not a few of us, some years since, petitioned the parliament for the continuance of episcopacy, and subscribed our address ; and, since we are not conscious of having done amiss, we should be glad to repeat the same application, provided there was any hope of success.
4. Some of us are members of cathedral and collegiate churches, and owe our subsistence to the distinction of deans, deans and chapters, &c., condemned by this article. Now, unless the thing censured was unlawful in itself, we conceive the obliging people to swear they will “ sincerely, seriously, and heartily endeavour” to ruin their fortune, and destroy the
best part of their livelihood, is a sort of usage never put upon CHARLES people since the world began.
Thirdly. With regard to the Church of England, we are afraid it is not in our power to swear the attempting the abolition of a government established by authority, and settled upon a long prescription, especially since we have no cogent reason for such an endeavour, either suggested by ourselves or offered by others.
1. On the other hand, we are sensible all alteration in public establishments, besides the disadvantages already in view, brings a great many unforeseen inconveniences, which it is impossible either to prevent or so much as to discover, till the mischief is past remedy. To apply the case : for aught we know, these consequences may follow upon so great a change in ecclesiastical government. And these fears work stronger upon us when we consider that this kind of ecclesiastical government has lasted many ages in this kingdom, and is so closely interwoven with the civil administration, that it may be reasonably feared the taking it away would disconcert the State, and in a great measure unsettle the constitution.
2. Moreover the house of commons has some time since declared that it was never their intention to abolish “ the ecclesiastical government, but rather to support all distinctions in the Church of England, in the course of order and discipline, in • which they are settled by acts of parliament, and that they should look upon those as mal-intentioned persons who raised any jea- Dec. 15. lousy to the contrary.” Now, since the commons (continues the university) have declared themselves in this manner, it would p. 19. be the last imprudence in us to bring ourselves under the imputation of fomenting such a jealousy: for thus, over and above, by swearing the second article, we should make ourselves liable to the penalties mentioned in the fourth.
3. Since several acts of parliament declare the holy Church of England “founded in the state of prelacy,” we are afraid the extirpating prelacy should overturn the foundations ; and thus, Statute of as far as in us lies, we should make ourselves instrumental in 25 Edv: 1. precipitating the ruin of a most flourishing Church : a Church, cited in which both the dictates of our conscience and the particular regards of our station oblige us to support and maintain.
Their last reason for incompliance with this article is drawn
25 Edw. 3.