Their Opinion of the Covenant.
In Satisfaction to many Friends that much desired to know what their opinions were as to the Covenant, and the late pro∣ceedings against it, and also what they thought of the Conditi∣on of these Nations, they freely and fully upon occasion still answered, and largely discoursed to this effect.
Truly, said they, we can affirm and do affirm it, that it was in pursuance of the Covenant that we acted, and that in defence of it we now suffer, and doubt not, but in due time God will own his Cause and this Covenant, and in such a manner too, as shall be to the amazement, yea, to the Horrour and Confusion of them that oppose it; and of others also, the heretofore professed Friends of it, who have lately acted so strange∣ly upon it. Was it ever imagined that any of the very first and strictest Composers and urgers of this Covenant either Here or in Scotland, should deal with it, as they have done? That they should divide the civil part of it from the Religious, and whilst their Zeal is all in a flame for the former, they should be key-cold for the latter, leaving that to the utmost Hazzard which was the main, if not almost the whole Concernment and Intendment of it? Is it likely that God will long bear with such juggling as this? Or can any expect that it will passe in the Day of their Accounts? Men may think to baffle with God, and Page 5 their own Consciences, to invent shifts, distinctions, pretenses, and put fair glosses on their Actions: but let them not be decei∣ved, God is not mocked, he never was, and never will be, as they will find at last if they repent not.
When some mentioned the burning of the Covenant, and by Authority of Parliament too, Why, what then (said they) what though the Common Hangman hath made Bonefires of it? yet is the Obligation to it burned also? No verily, it neither is nor can be, nor is it any humane Law that can take it off, but still it doth and will abide in full force and virtue, either to be consci∣entiously performed by them that are under it, or to be se∣verely pleaded against them, if they neglect it.
But it seems the Covenant must be abjured also, and is abju∣red already by some, and this by a Publick Law too, from the Peoples representatives in Parliament, and so is made the Act of the whole Nati•n. Be astonished Oh Heavens! and tremble Oh Earth! Let the Sun it self be cloathed in blacknesse at this so horrid an impiety! what! abjure such a Covenant! a Cove∣nant so Solemnly taken! a Covenant for the matter of it, so Religious! so Holy! so universally owned by three Nations! and owned in yea, Authorized by Parliament, sworn to by the King himself, a Covenant so zealously pressed upon Peoples Conscien∣ces! •he force of which hath been so strongly urged and im∣proved for the bringing his Majesty to the Throne! what! a Co∣venant that engageth to a Reformation! and a Reformation ac∣cording to the best and highest Patterns! This Covenant abjured! and thus abjured! even by a Law! and upon such deep and and sore penalties! What is this but to bid defiance to God himself? yea, to put it to the Tryal whether there be a God or no, that doth indeed look down from Heaven upon the doings of men, (Psal. 14.2.) and whether he be such a God, as will a∣venge these things? Is it not his word that is made the Rule of this Covenanted-Reformation? and was it not he himself, even his own Al-knowing Divine Majesty, that was attested, and cal∣led in as a Witnesse to the sincerity of their hearts that took this Covenant, and that upon their own eternal Damna∣tion or Salvation? And must this Covenant be abjured now? This Covenant? Is not Gods own Word, and God himself too after a sort abjured, in that Act, whoever are gulty of it? and what if some of those that do, or shall abjure it, or urge the abjuring of it upon others, have formerly been Professors of Religion, and Page 6 so far Professors of it, that they have seemed to have been in love with it, delighted in it, and so to have tasted of the powers of the World to come, will not these of all others be the very chief of sinners, whilest they become guilty of no lesse than the very sin against the Holy Ghost? or at least border as near to it as pos∣sibly may be? Oh amazing vengeance! oh most dreadful of all Judicial strokes that can fall upon the Reprobate minds of men! May not the dismal doom of Francis Spira be here remembred? and Solomons back-slider in heart, who shall be filled with his own wayes? Prov. 14.14. Though to commit murther upon the high way, and to do it deliberately, and in cool blood too, be a most horrid crime, a crime against the very light of Nature, and against the second Table: yet how short doth it come of this the highest of all crimes imaginable? a crime that murthers consci∣ence! that murthers souls! that murthers Religion it self! a crime against the first Table! most immediately against the So∣veraign God! and the greatest of that nature that men can be guilty of. Indeed one sin more is found now common among us that comes the nearest to it of all others, and that is, not onely the jeering of godlinesse and godly men, but the histrio∣nical acting of the Zeal and Affection, even the sweetest and warmest (such as the most Gospel Ministers are sometimes moved with in Praying and Preaching) by way of mockery and derision upon Stage-Playes. Oh horrible, horrible, horrible Abomi∣nation! even such an abomination that must needs make de∣solate! Oh tremandous fact! if this be not to do despight to the spi∣rit of grace, what is? the corrupting and vitiating even the Flower of the three Nations in the Nobility and Gentry, as well as the Youth of the City, by the Blasphemous, Obscene and Filthy Stage-Playes as aforesaid; the polluting the eyes and hearts of Common Spectators even in the open Streets, by the many impudently Spotted, Painted Faces, and shamelesly exposed nakednesse; The most odious conversation of the Pantaloon Gal∣lants (as they are called) with their Bruitish Concubines in Stews and Brothel houses, are but petty sins to these: Such as the fleshly and more carnal parts are ruined by, but those other sins reach higher, even to the Superiour part, the mind and conscience: not but that all sins even the least that are, have an influence upon the mind too, yet not to such eminent and manifold degrees of guilt as these. Did the poor deluded peo∣ple ever intend these things? Did they imagine that matters Page 7 of this nature, would have been ever countenanced, yea en∣forced, and that by a Law? and among other things, did they ever mean or think that their burning and shining lig•ts should be extingushed? or did they think it possible, it could have been done so soon at least? did they ever dream of such grossely Ig∣norant, Lazy, Sottish, Debauched wretches to be put into places of Preferment, and the fat things of the three Nations, some of them possessing, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, yea 9, or 10. Preferments together (not fully discharging any one of them in their own persons, no, nor by their Deputies neither) whilst many hun∣dreds, if not some thousands of Faithful, Painful, able Ministers, are wholly laid aside; they and their Families in the mean time being ready to perish for want of bread for their bodies, as well as the Congregations from whence they are thrust, are ready to perish for want of bread for their Souls? did they e∣ver aim at the encouraging, or at least at the permitting of Priests and Iesuites to come swarming in among us, and that by thousands, from all forreign parts? (which we are well assured of since we have been abroad, and in some of those Countries too from whence they came) such busie and Industrious Agents they are for their Great Master the Pope, and so successeful al∣ready that they boldly affirm it in Print, that there is a common favour voted for them in this Nation, as may be seen and read in one of those three Popish Books of Contention between the said Priests and Jesuites among themselves, which were lately Printed and Sold Publiquely at the Exchange. Sure by this time the eyes of City and Country must needs be opened (unless they are wholly given up to blindness) to see their too late la∣mented mistakes, especially in the choises they have made, or been constrained to make. Now the poor Vnder tenants that have given their vote as their Landlords pleased; now th• abused In∣habitants of Towns and Corporations that have gratified the letters of their powerful soliciters, or menacers rather, for men, that ei∣ther they never knew, or could never have any tolerable satisfacti∣on in may see and feel unto their sorrow what miseries they have brought upon themselves and their posterities, when their few remaining lights are all quite put out, when darkness, thick dark∣nesse covers them, when they are ready to perish for want of vi∣sion, Prov. 19.18. and a little time hath brought in that woful ignorance and brutality which the high contempt of so glorious a Gospel, as these Nations, and especially this City of London hath Page 8 so l•ng enjoyed, deserves: then what may not easily be done with, or to such a people? what vassallage, or bondage spiritual or temporal will they not submit unto? Ah poor England! ah thou City of London! what woes and calamities even of thine own procu∣ring art thou already fallen into? and how inevitably must thou undergo them? Thou triumphedst in the undoubted ex∣pectation of assured peace, greatest plenty, most prosperous and mighty trade; but how art thou already tossed with cares and fears? threatned with scarcity and want? impoverished with the losse of trading? thou boastedst of freedom from taxes and other publick burdens; but what two years didst thou ever find so costly before, and so heavy to thee? besides thy other con∣stant Assesments and payments; what thinkest thou of the Pole-money, the benevolence, the chimney-money, the Protections to thy debtors, the monopolies that have come upon thee thick and three-fold? Thou didst reckon to be the glory of Nations, the crowning City, to shine as bright in thy stones of fire as ever proud 〈◊〉 did, Esa. 22.8. Ezek. 28.14. but how greatly art thou disappointed? what plagues and judgements rather may∣est thou not look for suddenly to overtake thee? for our parts we are now dying men, but if we were sure to live, yet the very apprehensions of these things makes us even dye already. Well, what remedy remains? surely none but that which in a man∣ner we see too much cause even to despair of, and that is such a speedy, h•arty and through Repentance; such a general Reforma∣tion, such a closin• and firm vniting of all parties, as our deplora∣ble condition require•, and the Covenant we have bin speaking of, binds us all to
Obj•ctions we know there are against this Covenant, and such too as seem to have ••rength and weight in them, but when Ex∣amined by impartial Judges, will be found otherwise.
Some object against the Matter of the Covenant; but to the intelligent and considerative Reader, do not the very words of it, and that in the literal and grammatical construction, most plainly declare, that the great scope and aim of it is, the pre∣servation and Reformation of the true Prostetant Religion, both Personal and National? and that the preservation of other〈…〉 secured by it, in no other sense, and upon no other〈◊〉 but in order unto that, or at least-wise no further then wi•l or can cons•st with that? hath not the whole frame and •onnexion of it, a most apparent dependance upon, and referencePage [unnumbered] to the Religion aforesaid? and if things be duely exami•• and the Reader will but take pains to search into the followin• Scriptures, shal he not there find that the Covenanted Reformati∣ons of Hezekiah in 2 Chron. chap. 29 and 30. and of Josiah in the same, 2 Chron. chapters 34 and 35. and of Ezra, chap. 9 and 10. and of Nehemiah chap. 9. and 10, were not more holy nor Solemn in the matter of them, then this our very Solemn League and Covenant.
And whereas it is farther said, that it was unlawfully imposed, and by an unlawful Power, unjustly forced, and therefore not ob∣liging. We Answer to this also, when it was first taken men did not say so, nor did the Generality or Body of the three Nations think so (whatever some particular and otherwise in∣terested persons might,) and we say further too, that all the force used (that we know of, or can remember) were only arguments and convictive discourses either from Prints or Pulpits. This means indeed was used, strongly urged, and pressed upon peoples consciences, and by those very men too chief∣ly, that while it was burned to ashes, were altogether silent in the defence of it, a sin which we pray God to give them Repentance and Pardon for.
But if this Objection had any weight in it (as indeed it hath not) so long as the matter of the Covenant is good, and the great God is now attested by them that took it, and thereby in∣dispensably obliged to God by it, do not some of the Bishops them∣selves, Dr. Sanderson by name, hold it binding, notwithstanding the pretended force of it?
But what need we trouble our selves with Arguments for this from the concession of mens? since God himself pleads this very cause so irrefragably as he doth, both in the case of the Gibeonites whose Covenant though gotten by fraud, as is most apparent in the 9 of Joshua, yet the breach of it was sharply revenged, many years after in 2 Sam. 21. And of Zedekiah, whose Cove∣nant was forced upon him against his will, even by an Heathen Prince, and yet because he brake it, see how God breaks him, in the 17. of Ezekiel. Let not men think to escape from an Omnipotent and an angry God. A God that alwayes hath aven∣ged, and still will avenge the quarrel of his Covenant, (Levit. 26.25.) and is therefore called the Lord G•d of Recompens•s, and the Lord God of recompenses, that will surely requite, (Jerem. 51.56.) and himself gives the reason for it more then Page 10 once by the mouth of the same Prophet, saying that it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his Temple, Jerem. 50.28. & 51.11.
Let our Sufferings therefore be what they will or can be, we are sure it is for doing no more, then what in our Places and Callings by this Covenant we were bound to do, and that upon the utmost hazzard of our inward peace here, and eternal happiness hereafter.
We are charged indeed with Disloyalty to our late Prince, but as matters stood with us, being thus engaged, how could we have been Loyal to the King of Kings if we had not endeavoured at least to perform our vows to him? If we were brought into this dilemma or double straight, that we must necessarily come under the censure of Disloyalty either to God or the King, we say with the Apostles in Acts 4.19. whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken unto you more then unto God, Judge ye.
Some may think and perhaps may be ready enough to say it too, that we dye like Fooles, and have no sufficient warrant for our Sufferings: But for our parts we are of another mind, and hope shall be enabled to assert and seal it to the last drop of our blood. And though for a time in the present heat of things, men may insult over our mangled bodies, as if by killing us they had got the victory, and may triumph at the sight of our exal∣ted Quarters, yet when the eyes of people are throughly opened, and they have been long enough wearied with the Miseries and Oppressions of all sorts, which they have been so eagerly fond of, and for want of due fore-sight have so hastily and violently precipitated themselves into, they will have other thoughts: and such of us as now passe for Murtherers (and the vilest and most execrable that are too) may perhaps be accounted wor∣thy of the esteem of Martyres; for what hath brought us to this we are now come to? Is it not the same Cause (upon the whole matter) which all the three Nations owned? and which some of us pleaded in Parliament, and others of us fought for in the Field? was it not for opposing and doing what we were able to remove and prevent for the future those very mischiefs as well in Civils as Ecclesiasticks, which while we were in power, could not break in upon us, but now are returned more fiercely then ever, even like a mighty Torrent that bears all before it?
Let all true English-men lay their hands upon their hearts, let them remember and compare without passion and prejudicePage 11 the last twenty years Injoyments with present times and things. Though we had Armies then, and Taxes upon the people; yea though we deny not, but there were some Vnusuall Actings and Irregular Proceedings, arising inavoidably from the necessity and exigence of Affairs, (not from the choise or desires of those that were Actors in them.) Yet how great and invaluable were the Priviledges and Liberties which the people then enjoyed? Were their Charters and Enfranchisments endangered as now they are? Was their Trading ever so low, even in the worst of those times, as at this present? Was their Pretious and Glorious Gospel extinguished, or so much Eclipsed at least, in the light of it? Did poverty every where march so fast upon them even in that time of War, as now it doth in our dayes of peace, like an armed man? Did we not flowrish at Home (at least compara∣tively) and were we not a terrour to enemies abroad? Though there was not so due a care as should or might have been for the preventing of Divisions, and uniting all just and good interests together (a sin that is to be lamented, and will be lamented) yet was there ever such a Flood-gate opened to all impiety as now there is? What prophanations of the Sabbaths are now found among us? What vain and superstitious Worships? What dreadful Apostacy? What Teaching for Doctrines, the precepts and inventions of men, directly contrary to Christ and the Apostles, Mat. 15.9. Colloss. 2.20. to 23. What lewd and lawlesse-lives a∣mong all sorts of men and women? What Chamberings and Wantonnesse? What Riot and excesse? What Drinking and Whor∣ing? What Swearing and Swaggering? What Gaming and Revel∣ling? What Cursing and Damning? What Roaring and Ranting? What uncontrolable wickedness rageth every where through the Land? Even as if the men of these times had been delivered on purpose to do all these abominations, Jerem. 7.10. may not ruful England as much now as ever, sit down in tears, and e∣ven weep her eyes out for grief, Dr. Gauden himself being Judge?
It is true indeed, there are many that cry up the blessednesse of these times, and the happy changes we are now under; that do in a manner conclude, that it is impossible any thing can be now done, which may admit of amendment: that nothing ought now to be accounted grievous or oppressive; no, not though Princes themselves become companions of theeves, (Esay 1.23.) though open Robberies, Assaults and Murthers be done by them upon Page 12 the very high wayes. The Poor Commons of England, travel∣ling about their lawful occasions, may be now slain, and their innocent blood bought and sold, if they be great men, or great mens Sons that do it. They may Kill and Murther and do what they please, and yet shall find a deliverance. Oh! how are witnesses even in the case of blood now tampered with, silenced' or over-awed by Bribes or Threats? What Corrupt and Vnrighteous Juryes have we? How is Judgement turned into wormwood? Murther into man-slaughter, and man-slaughter into mur∣ther, as the case lyes for, or against a Phanatique (as they call him) or a poor Commoner? But may not such as bring the price or guilt of innocent blood upon their own Families (as well as pollute the Nation with it) chance to have the innocent blood of themselves or some of theirs be enquired after by the next Jury, whilest thus they encourage the hands of murtherers against their Brethren?
As for those that blesse themselves with such times times as these, what are they (for the most part at least) but men of most filthy and dissolute lives? such as were descri∣bed before? Haters of God and godlinesse? such as cannot in∣dure holinesse of Life, or soundnesse of Doctrine, but are even mad against a convincing Ministry in the Nation, and the pious Examples of such neighbours as walk most close with God, least their own wickednesse should be reproved or shamed? and what ever their pretended devotion may be, yet are they not such generally, as care no more for one Religion then for another any further then it suits with the full swing and dominion of their lusts? and is it not for this very reason, that they contend so much for present things, even with a zeal as hot as hell?
For our parts we account it no priviledge to live, to behold what is already come in part upon us, and is farther coming upon these Nations, & therefore are the lesse sollicitous about our death; And however at present we may be judged to suffer as mal•factors, yet who can tell but that our blood may prove as fattening and sructifying towards the Common Cause, as the bloud of the Martyrs did in the Church? and then it will be no soliscisme to say, Sanguis Martyrum semen est, ut Ecclesiae, sic & Reipublicae.