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English ministers of the Low Countries. It was presented to CHARLES the late king in the year 1624. The address stands thus :
“May IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
Paper-office. “We, your highness's humble subjects, the preachers of the The petition holy Gospel residing in the United Provinces, having to our lish minis unspeakable comfort and joy tasted of your royal favour and Imv Coungrace above three years since, in the princely approbation of tries, the present remedy then tendered, for redress of all enormities amongst us ; as also having observed and felt the blessed and admirable fruit ensuing upon the same, to the displacing divers scandalous persons, and settling men more worthy in; and in an uniform and prosperous proceeding in all Christian consent with the Churches with whom we live ; and due contentment to those higher powers under whom we here administer all that we undertake. And being now lately reassembled to the same happy ends and purposes, notice being given of your majesty's pleasure by your majesty's ambassador, either to set over us a moderator of your majesty' choosing, to be inspector in the ordering our affairs, or presently to surcease all further proceedings; we fell to deliberate how to discharge ourselves in this particular, so as we might be free from offence to God, disloyalty to your majesty, and undutifulness to our present governors. And perceiving (to our utmost apprehension) two things only, to offer themselves unto us in your majesty's order, viz., either obedience to your majesty's motion for nomination of a moderator, or else surceasing all further synodal proceedings. And withal, finding the difficulty of the first, we have done our best to satisfy your majesty's will in the second, till we may understand your majesty's further pleasure ; which good pleasure of your majesty, that it may be happy to us, and our after proceedings in this respect, according to our hopes and humble desires, we have thought it our duty, by information to your majesty of the inconvenience of both these, and of the worthy benefit and advantage of our former course, both to our persons and to the cause, most humbly to entreat your majesty's favour for the continuance and approbation of the same; it being in our judgments) the only safe way to give satisfaction both to God and your majesty, and to the state wherein we live. " The first being such as neither admits safely to attempt, nor
ABBOT, possibility to attain the same ; because our primary and fundaAbp. Cant, mental liberty of erecting this ecclesiastical form of govern
ment was limited expressly unto us both in the supplication of the deputies of the synod of South Holland, who petitioned it, and in the act of the illustrious lords, who granted it only with condition of plenary and entire conformity to the Churches of these provinces, according to the example of the Walloon Churches, strangers as we are; which said liberty we having also embraced and subscribed accordingly, cannot without disloyalty, or breach of fidelity, revoke or alter during our abode and residence in these parts. As also because the ministry of the Churches, who rejoiced in our unanimity with them before, were greatly grieved at the first hearing of this command ; as importing such mutation as carries with it insupportable miseries and mischief in this state; as by lamentable experience they have too lately found, that cannot yet be forgotten. So that the said ministers do judge it more expedient for the safety of their Churches, to suffer both ourselves and our Churches wholly to dissolve and annihilate, than that a course so strange to them should arise and take place amongst them. Which dissolution, how easily and quickly they may effect with the lords of the States, is evident to all who please to know that every English and Scottish Church in these parts (two only excepted) have their whole dependence, maintenance, and being in all respects upon the said lords, the States, their favour and supportation. And farther, because the suspicion and fear of some such thing as now appeareth hath withholden from us (and that by the consent, countenance, and support of
some principal assemblies) some of our reverend and beloved 752. brethren, and hath caused others to stagger, whose commu
nion, as we much desire, so we nothing doubt of, if it may please your majesty to relieve us in this particular ; for otherwise, if the fear thereof could be so forcible to work in them this disaffection towards us, what great evil may we justly fear the acceptation thereof will produce, being such as is aforesaid.
“ The second, to wit, our total dissolution, is such as cannot fall either without apparent and undeniable attaint of ourselves in the point of ingratitude and disregard, both of your majesty's favour in approving, and the States in yielding us our liberties thus far enjoyed; or of an inexcusable imputation of impiety against God in the neglect of his Church under our oversight.
Seeing thereupon a ruin of former order, and the confusions CHARLES (now in a good measure removed) will assuredly re-enter. And further, it cannot be without the neglect and contempt of your majesty's subjects, both ministers and people, in these provinces, whose honour and estimation began to grow great and firm by this blessed band of union unto them, and communion with them in these ecclesiastical orders (the chief, both colonels and other officers amongst your majesty's subjects in these parts concurring in our meetings by their personal presence, and by their deputies ; and so receiving from and giving countenance to our course interchangeably); which must now needs fade and consume in our disunion from them. And therefore we have thought best, humbly to present to your majesty that which (in our judgments) can only subsist, being such as we take to be most free from all offence, and most fit to give content to all sides ; both because it is well known to be most acceptable to this State, and most profitable for their Churches. And also because by ourselves it is the more comfortably embraced, in respect it is wholly harmless to the Churches in your majesty's dominions, because of our public declaration, and irrevocable protestation in the accepting thereof, of our integrity towards them, acknowledging in our souls and consciences that we have, and shall (by God's grace) ever esteem them as the true Churches of Christ, precious in his sight, with ourselves resolving still to hold communion with them, notwithstanding any difference of external order. This different practice being undertaken by us without any disrespect, censure, prejudice, separation, or condemnation of the said Churches : reserving to them all due reverence, and perpetually praying for and procuring (to our uttermost) their happiness and welfare with our own.
“And farther; we have found our poor essays and beginnings in this course to be seconded from heaven, with a rich and happy success in these few sessions we have holden, that the rooting which it hath taken cannot be torn up again without danger of the spoil of this work of reformation which the Lord has begun here in the Churches amongst us. Which causes, most gracious sovereign, besides a multitude more of unavoidable inconveniences ensuing upon the least alteration in our settled proceedings, we most humbly make tender of that to your majesty, which Almighty God (we doubt not) hath put into our hearts, viz., that it would please your high
ABBOT, ness, of your especial grace, not only to permit our comfortable Abp. Cant.
proceeding in our former course, but also to encourage and countenance us therein by your majesty's royal favour. And to this our humble and dutiful desire, we are the more hopefully heartened by calling to mind your majesty's public opinion touching the equal power and freedom of all princes and potentates in the external order and disposition of Church-discipline within their particular territories; and also because your majesty is the only man whom the world may, and these lords do, profess and bless, as the most honourable instrument of quenching the consuming fires of schism which were lately kindled amongst them by the Vorstian and Arminian faction; which apparently will be more dangerously revived now again by this change between ourselves and the Dutch and French Churches, with whom we converse, to the infamy and obloquy both of our persons and all our precedent actions, and the exposing of ourselves and our congregations to the aforesaid perils, either of plenary dissolution, or such grievous vexation as we should not be able to endure : being thereby left destitute of all comfortable order and government, and the laudable means to make our lawful proceedings known so far as the French and Dutch do, when they are required by their superiors, and as we have done, and are ready still to do, by their example.
“ Wherefore, most mighty king, we, your majesty's subjects, do here prostrate ourselves in the person of this our brother, Mr. John Forbes, whom in all duty we send from amongst ourselves to your majesty, beseeching your grace to shine now again, and for ever upon us, to the renewing of our happy hopes, the refreshing of our grieved hearts, and the rejoicing of all with whom we converse, who jointly with us shall ever praise the God of heaven for your majesty's experienced favours past, and these at this present thus humbly desired; and shall pray together with us for all increase and accumulation of all honourable felicities upon your majesty's soul and body, crown and posterity, for ever and ever.
“ Your majesty's humble and obedient subjects,
6. Thos. BARKLET, preses. - Thos. Scot, scribe in name, and at the
command of the rest of the synod."
What answer these ministers received to their petition, I CHARLES have not met with ; but by the scheme bishop Laud offered this year to the privy-council
, for regulating divine service in the English factories and troops abroad; from this scheme, I say, it is pretty plain the English clergy in Holland were connived at both by the late king and his present majesty, and suffered to act in synods by their own inclination, and manage to the latitude of their petition.
Laud's draught for a regulation of these matters is digested into ten articles.
“ First. The colonels of English regiments in the Low Bishop Countries should entertain no clergy as preachers to their regi- gestions to ments, but such as should entirely conform to the Church of council for England, being first recommended by the lords of the privy-conformity council, with the advice of the archbishops of Canterbury and to the Church York.
English Secondly. That the merchants residing there, or in any
753. other foreign dominions, shall admit no minister as preacher to their company, but such as shall be qualified and recommended as aforesaid.
“ Thirdly. That if any clergyman has made use of any indirect means to procure such a recommendation, and proves afterwards a Dissenter, he might be obliged either to conform within three months, or be discharged.
“Fourthly. [The fourth article, except that it obliges the Scotch clergy officiating in factories, and regiments beyond sea, to the same length of conformity, is coincident with the first.]
Fifthly. That if any minister or preacher, being the king's born subject, should print, preach, or discourse, to the disparagement of the doctrine or discipline of the Church of England, notice should be given to the ambassador, and by him to his majesty, that the person offending might be sent for home, and answer for his misbehaviour.
Sixthly. That no colonel or deputy-governor should permit the preacher (when sick, or necessarily absent) to substitute any person to preach or officiate for him, but such for whose conformity he will be answerable.
Seventhly. That no deputy-governor should be sent to Delph, or any other place of residence for the English