The Letter from the Synode of Di∣vines in England, to the Generall Assembly.
Right honourable, right revered, and dearly beloved in the LORD JESƲS.
AS cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far Countrey. We your Brethren, yet remaining in the Furnace of affliction, and still labouring in the very fire, Have at length, by the good Hand of God upon us, attained so far toward the Mark at which we all aime, that we shall now send you, by two of your Reverend and Faithfull Commissioners Mr Robert Bailie, and Mr George Gillespie (our much honoured Brethren) some good news of that great Work, after which your zeal for Truth and Peace hath so much thirsted, and for which you have not loved your lives unto the deathPage 7
Our progresse therein hath not been so expeditious as was de∣sired and expected. This, unto such as either know not, or consi∣der not, The weight and greatnesse of the Work, nor The manifold difficulties which have occurred to obstruct our proceedings in this day of darknesse and calamity (too sad to be expressed) hath been like unto hope deferred, which makes the heart sick: Howbeit, we trust, That when their desire (namely that which we have pre∣pared, and are further in travell with) shall come unto them, It will be, through God, a Tree of life, as to our great comfort and en∣couragement, we already perceive it to be to both the honourable Houses of Parliament.
Touching the severall Papers brought to us from your Honour∣able and Reverend Commissioners, by the hands of the Commit∣tee appointed to treat with them in matters of Religion (one of the Papers, being given in the 10 of November, 1643, Concerneth the severall sorts of Church-officers and Assemblies: Another, bearing date the 24 of January, 1643, Concerneth Congregation∣all Elderships, and Classicall Presbyteries: The other, being pre∣sented the 15 of August last, Representeth the necessity of making greater speed in setling the intended Uniformity in Religion, ac∣cording to the late solemne Covenant:) We hold it our duty, in regard both of the arct and inseparable Union, which the Lord hath happily and seasonably made between you and us, and of your indefatigable and inestimable labour of love to this afflicted Kingdom, to give your Lordships and the rest of that Venerable Assembly, some brief account.
Concerning one Confession of Faith, and Forme of Catechisme, we make no question of a blessed and perfect harmony with you. The publike Doctrine, held out by our Church to all the World (especially when it shall be reviewed, which is in great part done) concurring so much with yours, may assure you of your hearts de∣sire in those particulars, so soon as time and opportunity may give us liberty to perfect what we have begun.
The chief reason of laying aside the review of our publike Do∣ctrine, after the happy and much desired arrivall of your Reverend Commissioners here, was, The drawing up and accelerating of a Directory for Worship, and of a Forme of Church-Govern∣ment; in both of which we stood at a greater distance from other Reformed Churches of Christ, and particularly from yours (which Page 8we very much honour) with whom our solemne sacred Nation∣all Covenant requireth us to endeavour the nearest Conjunction and Uniformity, that we and our posterity after us, may as Bre∣thren live in Faith and Love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.
Nor have our labours therein been frustrate: For we have per∣••cted and transmitted a Directory for Worship, to both Houses 〈◊〉 Parliament; where it hath received such acceptance, that it is 〈◊〉 passed in both the Honourable Houses of Parliament; which 〈◊〉 hope will be to the joy and comfort of all our godly and dear •rethren in all His Majesties Kingdoms and Dominions.
We have not advised any imposition which might make it un∣••wfull to vary from it in any thing; Yet we hope, all our Reve∣••nd Brethren in this Kingdom, and in yours also, will so far value ••d reverence that which upon so long debate and serious delibe∣•ation hath been agreed upon in this Assembly (when it shall also •asse with you, and be setled as the common publike Directory or all the Churches in the three Kingdoms) that it shall not be he lesse regarded and observed. And albeit we have not expressed •n the Directory every minute particular, which is or might be either laid aside or retained among us, as comely and usefull in practice; yet we trust, that none will be so tenacious of old cu∣stoms not expressely forbidden, or so averse from good examples although new, in matters of lesser consequence, as to insist upon their liberty of retaining the one, or refusing the other, because not specified in the Directory; but be studious to please others rather than themselves.
We have likewise spent divers moneths in the search of the Scriptures, to finde out the minde of Christ concerning a Forme of Church-Government, wherein we could not but expect the greatest difficulty: For our better Progresse herein, we have with all respect considered the severall Papers of your Honour∣able and Reverend Commissioners, touching this Head; and do with all thankfulnesse, acknowledge their great zeal, judgement, and wisdom expressed therein; as also, the excellent assistance and great furtherance of your Reverend Commissioners in this great Work; which now, through Gods goodnesse, is very near to a period also.
In pursuit where 〈…〉•nd scrutinie of Page 9every Proposition, that we might find it agreeable to, and war∣ranted by the Word of God, in a method of our own; without resting upon any particular modell or frame whatsoever already constituted: What we have performed, and how far we have proceeded therein, we leave to the information of your Reverend Commissioners, who have been eye and ear-witnesses of all that hath past, and we doubt not but you will shortly receive a satis∣factory answer from hence, so soon as it shall be passed in the Ho∣nourable Houses of Parliament.
And now, Right Honourable, and Right Reverend Brethren, let it not seem grievous that we have thus long delayed the satis∣fying of your earnest and just expectation: It is the Lot of Jerusa∣lem, to have her Walls built in troublous times, when there are many adversaries. Nor let it offend, that (albeit we acknowledge the many, great, and inestimable expressions of your love, zeal, and helpfulnesse unto us every way in the day of our distresse, to be beyond all that we can in words acknowledge) we professe plain∣ly to you, That we do most unwillingly part with those our Re∣verend and dear Fellow-labourers, your Commissioners, whom now you have called home, to render an account of their imploy∣ment here; which hath been so managed both by them and the rest of their Honourable and Reverend Colleagues, as deserveth many thanks, and all Honourable acknowledgement, not onely from us, but from you also.
Give us leave to adde, that the long experience we have had of the great sufficiency, integrity, and usefulnesse of them all, in the great Work of Christ our common Lord and Master, inforceth us (next to our greatest sute, for the continuance of your fervent prayers) to be earnest suiters, not onely for the continuance of these excellent helpers, Mr Alex. Henderson, and Mr Sam. Rutherfurd, yet remaining with us, but also for the speedy return hither of our Reverend Brethren that are now going hence; for the perfecting of that Work which yet remains. And this sute we trust, you will the rather grant, because of the great and joint concernment of both Churches and Kingdoms in these matters.
Now the spirit of wisdom and of all grace rest upon you in all your great consultations, as at all times, so especially now when you shall be gathered together in the Name of the Lord Jesus, for the further building up and polishing of his Church; Page 10and cause the fruit of all your labour to be to the praise and glory of God, and the comfort and rejoycing of the hearts of all the Israel of God: He reward all our dear Brethren of that Sister Church and Nation manifold into their bosome, all the labours, love, and sufferings which they have afforded, and still do cheer∣fully continue, for our sakes and the Gospels, in this distracted and bleeding Kingdom; suppresse all commotions and bloody practices of the common Enemy, in both, yea in all the three Kingdoms; set up the Throne of Jesus Christ, and make all the Kingdoms to be the Lords, and our Jerusalem to be a praise upon Earth, that all that love her and mourn for her, may rejoyce for joy with her, and may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolation.
Westminster,Jan. 6. 1644.
Subscribed by Your most loving Brethren, and fellow-labourers in the Work of the LORD, in the name of this whole As∣sembly,
- WILLIAM TWISE, Prolocutor.
- CORNELIUS BURGES, Assessor.
- JOHN WHITE, Assessor.
- HENRY ROBROUGH, Scriba.
- ADONIRAM BYFIELD, Scriba.
DIRECT. To the Right Honourable, and Right Reverend, the Generall Assem∣bly of the Church of Scotland, these present.