TO THE HIGH COVRT OF PARLIAMENT.
HAving had the Honour, through Gods assistance, to be a meane, though cordiall Instrument, of Vindicating The Soveraigne Power of Parliaments and Kingdomes, in all Civill or Military affaires which concerne the State, in Foure severall Volumes, against all Opposites whatsoe∣ever; which they have (for the most part) satisfied, or put to silence: I expected a Quietus est from all other Controversies, concerning the Iurisdiction of Parliaments, especially in Ecclesiasticall matters; which most imagined had been put to eternall silence when our Lordly Prelates lost their Votes and Session in Parliament, by a publike Law: But (alas) I know not by what evill Genius, and Pythagorean Metempsychosis, the Anti-Parliamentary Soules, formerly dwelling in our defunct Prelates earthly Tabernacles, are transmigrated into, and revived in a New-Ge∣neration of men (started up of late among us) commonly known by the Name of INDEPENDENTS; who, though for the most part really cordiall in their Affections, Actions to the Parliament and Church of England, (for which, and for their piety they are to bee highly honoured▪) yet some of them are of late become extremely de∣rogatory, and destructive unto both, in their Anarchicall and Anti-Parlia∣mentary Positions: For which, and for their late gathering of Independent Churches, contrary to Your Parliamentary Injunctions, they are to be justly blamed, as great disturbers of our publike Peace and Vnity.
It is the observation of learnedaVoetius andbVedelius, That the Arminians in the Netherlands, for the advancing of their owne Faction, and more facill accomplishment of their private ill De∣signes, did before the Synod of Dort, and in the beginning thereof, exceedingly cry up the Power of the Civill Magistrate, and StatesPage [unnumbered] of Holland, in Ecclesiasticall matters, both by Writing and Preach∣ing; ascribing to them the highest Jurisdiction and Power of giving ultimate Judgement in all Controversies of Faith, and Ecclesiasti∣call matters arising in the Church, as a Prerogative belonging im∣mediately under Christ to them alone: And thereupon they appea∣led to the States, from the Ecclesiasticall Classes, as the proper Iudges of the Controversies they had raised in the Belgick Churches. But at last, after the Synod of Dort had determined against their Arminian Errors, and thecStates established their Determinations, prohibiting the Preaching or Printing of any Arminian Tenets, with the private Independent Congregations and Conventicles of the Ar∣minian Party, they presently altered both their opinions and practice; crying downe the Authority of the States and Civill Magistrate, as fast as they had cryed it up, both in theirdApologies and Sermons; contracting, yea denying them that very power which before they had so liberally measured •ut unto them; affirming, that the States had no power at all over their private Congregations: that it was not any right or part of their Office to obliege men, by their authorities, to the Decrees of Synods, however agreeable to the word of God; and that they ought not to use any coactive Power or Authority in such cases, to obliege them to conformity.
This Practice of the Arminians was, byeMr Thomas Edwards, by way of prediction, applied to the Independents, in these very tearmes: And it may be feared, however these Apologists NOW to ingratiate themselves, and being let alone in their Church-way, say, they give more to the Magistrates than the Presbyteriall, and that they professe to submit, and to be most wil∣ling to have recourse to the Magistrates Iudgement, and Cognizance, and Ex∣amination of Ecclesiasticall Causes; yet when they shall come once to be crossed, and the Parliament, by the advice of the Assembly, to settle the Government of the Church, and by their Authority to bind them to things a∣greeable to the word, wee shall see then what they will say of the Magistrates Power. There are too many speeches already, since the Assembly, (out of their feare how they may goe) which have fallen from many Independents, THAT PROGNOSTICATE, THEY WILL DOE BY THE PAR∣LIAMENT, AS THE REMONSTRANTS DID AFTER THE SYNOD OF DORT BY THE STATES. Which Prognostication hath fallen out accordingly. For since that time our Independents ha∣ving felt the Pulses of the Assembly and Parliament bearing, but very gently, by way of debate, against their Anarchicall and Anomolous New-Way, (derived from their good friends, thef German Anabaptists andPage [unnumbered]g Separatists, and supported only with their Arguments, as I am fully able to demonstrate;) they have not only in Presse and Pulpit cryed up their Way, as the Onely Way, Kingdome, and Scepter of Christ; and denyed all opposition in word, deed, or thought against it; as a directh FIGHT∣ING AGAINST GOD; and promoted it publikely and privately with all their Industry, Policy, Power; setting up New Independent Congrega∣tions in every corner; but even with open mouth, pen, hand, (contrary to their former Solemne Vowes, Covenants, Protestations, which I feare they have over-much forgotten) cryed downe, and fought against the very Ecclesiasticall Power, and Legislative Authority of the High Court of Parliament it self, and Supreme Temporall Magistrates: proclaiming not onely in theiri Pulpits, but likewise in sundry latek Pamphlets, wherewith they have filled the World, That every particular Congregation of visible Saints, and Independent Church, is under the Government of Christ alone, as the ONELY Head, King, Governour, Law-giver of it; and subject TO NO O∣THER IVRISDICTION, then that of Christ, his word and Spirit. That NO POWER ON EARTH, NOR EARTHLY LAW-GIVERS MAY, CAN, OR OVGHT TO GIVE LAWES, FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THIS REPVBLIKE, nor claime, nor exercise an Headship, or under∣take the Government of this Body. That neither KINGS, NOR PARLIA∣MENTS, NOR SYNODS, have any Authority to prescribe Lawes or Rules for the Churches Government, to order the affaires of Christs Kingdome, or institute the Government of his Churches; or to make coactive Lawes, in any Ecclesiasticall matters, to bind the conscience of any Church or Christian to out∣ward conformity, or inflict any mulcts or penalties for contempt or disobedience; Christ onely being the Lord of mens consciences, which ought to be left at liberty. That the Members of the Parliament are chosen but by a secular Root, by the Ge∣nerality and Riffe Raffe of the world, Papists, Atheists, Drunkards, Swea∣rers, Men voyd of the knowledge, feare, and grace of Christ: And therefore the Independent Brethren conceive as great AN IMPOSSIBILITY, that a Legitimate Ecclesiastick Power should, according to the mind of Christ, bee by them conferred upon any men, or that they should have any Power or Au∣thority from Christ to nominate or appoint who shall bee the men, by vertue of such nomination or election, to enact Lawes and Statutes in matters of Religion, and to order under mulcts and penalties how men shall worship and serve God, as it is (in Jobs expression) to bring a cleane thing out of an uncleane. That the Parliaments claiming or exercising any such Ecclesiasticall Power, or others attributing of it to them, is a meanes to awaken the eye of Jealousie up∣on them, and seven times more destructive and under-mining of not one∣ly their Power, but Honour, Peace, nd Safety also, than any thing that is Page [unnumbered] found in the Independent Way, so ill entreated. That it is a claiming of the sacred and incommunicable Royalties of Heaven; an accounting it no Rob∣bery to make themselves equall with God; and such an high provocation in the eyes of the Most High, as IF CONTINVED IN (by the Parliament) will kindle a fire in the brest of him whose name is Jealous, which will consume and devoure. Yea, one of them puts this Question,k If the whole King∣dome may deny obedience unto Popish Acts and Canons, or upon any other like just occasion, and they themselves bee Judges whether the occasion bee just or no; Whether MAY NOT INDEPENDENTS, a part of the Kingdome onely, doe the like in all respects? Or, Whether ought they, because a Lesser part of the Kingdome, yeeld obedience to Popish Acts and Canons, because a Major part approve of, and agree with a Parliament and Synod in approving them? What if they should be for Popery again, Judaisme, or Turcisme? tis no offence to make a Quere, nor impossible to come to passe; the greatest part of those that chose our Parliament men being thought to be Popishly or Malignantly affected, &c. Put∣ting divers such like Queries, destructive to the very fundamentall Power and Being of Parliaments; and as bad or worse than the Popish Gun-powder Plot, to blow up the Soveraign Ecclesiastick, and Civill Autho∣rity of this High Court, in all succeeding Ages.
These, with infinite other Anti-Parliamentall, Anti-Synodicall, and Anti-Monarchicall Paradoxes (at which I professe I stand amazed) have not onely dropped from the Lips, but Pens of sundry Independents, who have avowed them publikely in Print, with their Names affixed to their Bookes, even before the face of Your Right Honourable Parlia∣mentary Assembly and Supreme Tribunall, in such open affront and high contempt of Your undoubted Rights, Power, Priviledges, (which Your Honours and wee all are obliged, by Late Solemne Oathes, Covenants, Protestations, to defend, maintaine, with our very Lives and Estates; and to discover, oppose all others who shall invade them, to our uttermost power) as I am confident no Age, nor History can ever parallel, in the least measure; the very Malignant Prelates, and Anti-Par∣liamentary Cavaliers, having not proceeded, in this kind, so farre as they: which I speake with deepest griefe of heart and spirit, out of Consci∣ence of that common Vow and Covenant, (which bindes mee to discover, oppugne, reveale, abhorre it) and detestation of their most pernicious Assertions, not out of the least malice or hatred to any of their Persons.
What the Independents end of publishing these desperate Anti-Parlia∣mentary Paradoxes should be, unlesse to prepare their party and all others, as much as in them lies, utterly to reject whatever publike forme of Church-Government, Discipline, Reformation, and Directory of Wor∣ship, Page [unnumbered] Your Honours by the advice of the Reverend Assembly shall establish in our Church for the future, after all your serious consultations, de∣bates, paines, Prayers and Fastings about it; and to set up their owne Anomolous Platforme, (which* they averre is Christs Kingdome and Go∣vernment; and which may, upon probable and higher grounds than of reason, bee thought in time to overthrow, and put downe all other Governments whatsoever, and to stand up alone in their stead; since Christs Kingdome shall stand up, when all opposite earthly Kingdomes, like earthen vessells, shall with an Iron Rod bee dashed in peeces: Which they close up with a Faxit De∣us & festinet,) in despight of Your Authority, and all humane Power whatsoever, I cannot conjecture. And their owne late printed Pas∣sages, with* Mr. Iohn Goodwins Sermon, (that it would be more easie for him, and hee should rather yeeld to bee torne in pieces by wild horses, than sub∣mit to such a Government which proceeded from a Parliament, chosen by the Riffe-raffe of the world, &c.) intimate and expresse as much. Which, what an high contempt it is against Your undoubted Power, and pi∣ous Ecclesiasticall proceedings, in Reforming, setling the Doctrine, Discipline, and Government of our Church, (the grand desire and prayer of all wel-affected spirits) I most humbly submit to Your sad∣dest thoughts and deepest wisedomes, who have both Power and Au∣thority in Your hands to suppresse, incomparable Prudence and Pro∣vidence to prevent, these growing, dangerous Insolencies, before they become Masterlesse, or Epidemicall, past Your cure.
Farre be it from my thoughts, to exasperate Your Power or Iustice against any Delinquents of this kind; some whereof are so neare and deare unto mee, that it is my heaviest affliction to mention their ex∣travagancies in this kind; of which I trust they (and all their follow∣ers) will be now ashamed; and a Brotherly Admonition to their Per∣sons (though their Writings undergoe the sharper Censure) will I hope induce them, upon second thoughts, both to discerne, lament, recant their fore-mentioned Paradoxes, and abhorre themselves for them even in dust and ashes, (as one of themaprofesseth hee will doe, in case hee be convinced:) And then if they will not bee reclai∣med, Fiat Iustitia; better some should suffer, than all perish. My one∣ly desire is, that Your Honours would have a speciall jealous care of preserving your owne undoubted Parliamentary Rights and Priviledges against these unparalleld publike Violations, Impeachments of them, and of the tranquility, safety of our Church and State, endangered by them. Toward the just defence whereof, I have (with as much ex∣pedition as my many other distracting publike and private Imploy∣ments Page [unnumbered] would permit) contributed these my indigested Nocturnall Lucu∣brations, (borrowed from the houres allotted to my necessary naturall rest) in Vindication of the ancient and undoubted Ecclesiasticall Power and Iurisdiction of Parliaments, Christian Princes, and Magistrates; (which I have made good by sundry Divine, Historicall Presidents, and Au∣thorities, in all Ages) and answered all the chiefe Pretences, Objections of Papists, Prelates, Independents, Anabaptists, Separatists, and all others who oppugne them; in such a manner as I hope will silence them for the present, and reforme them for the future.
It was my primitive intention and desire to have published this Treatise complete at first; but it swelling to a greater bulk than I expected, and my engagements in other publike services for the Common-weale retar∣ding my speedy progresse herein, I have thereupon divided it into two Parts: the First whereof I here humbly tender to your Honourable Patro∣nage, till God and oportunity enable mee to complete the Second; of which there is lesse Necessity, since learned Mr. Samuel Rutherford, in his Due right of Presbyteries, and Mr. Thomas Edwards, in his Anti-Apologia, (neither of them hitherto Answered by the Independents, and in truth un∣answerable) with Gulielmus Apollonius and the Wallacrian Ministers, Con∣sideratio Quarundam Controversiarum, &c. quae in Angliae Regno hodie agitan∣tur, newly published, will supply the present defect thereof; and this First Part supply some particulars concerning the Ecclesiasticall Power of Parlia∣ments, Christian Princes, Magistrates, Councells, which are wanting in them, and in laborious Sir Edward Cookes Fourth Institutes; who hath recorded little or nothing concerning the Jurisdiction or Power of Parliaments in Ecclesiasticall affaires, and matters of Religion.
Thus humbly submitting these my distracted subitane Collections, and Lucubrations, to Your Honourable favourable Acceptation; and imploring the God of Verity, of Unity speedily to dissipate all our Errors, and com∣primise all our unhappy Divisions (which threaten ruine to us, if conti∣nued) by Your most Religious Care, Wisedome, and indefatigable Endea∣vours, that so*wee may bee all like minded one towards another, and may with ONE MIND, and ONE MOVTH, (in one Way, one Congregation) glori∣fie God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: I shall with my ferventest Orisons daily recommend Your Honourable Assembly, with all Your pious Endeavours for the Reforming, Setling of our Church, State, to his Divine Benediction; and ever rest,
Your Honours most humble,