A Letter from the Assembly of Divines in England, and the Commis∣sioners of the Church of Scotland, to the Belgick, French, Helvetian, and other Reformed Churches.
Right Reverend and dearely beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ,
WEE the Assembly of Divines and others, called and conveened by the Authority of both Houses of Parliament of England, with the Commissioners sent from the Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland, doe heartily salute you in the Lord. Wee doubt not but the sad reports of the miseries under which the Church and Kingdome of England do bleed, and wherewith wee are all ready to bee swallowed up, (the cup which the righ∣teous Lord hath given us to drink) is long since come to your ears. And it is probable that the same instruments of Satan and Antichrist, have indevoured by their emis∣saries to present us as black as may bee among your selves; who by falsehood and lyes indevour every where to put faire glosses upon their own bloody designes, and to re∣proach our strugglings after a more thorow Reformation Page [unnumbered]Page 1〈1 page duplicate〉Page 2of Religion in the Church of England, according to the Word of God, and our just defence of our lives, liber∣ties, and Religion, against their cruell and unjust violen∣ces. And wee sometimes doubt whether wee have not been wanting to our own innocency and your satisfaction, in being thus long silent, from giving you a faithfull, though sorrowfull, relation of the state wherein wee stand. But pardon us deare Brethren, if this Cup of trembling, wherewith our spirits have been filled to amazement, and our wrestlings with extreame difficulties ever since our meeting, have hindred us from that which wee long since knew to bee our duty. And give us leave now a little to ease our griefe, by powring our hearts into your bosomes, while wee relate the desolation made by an Antichristian faction, who amongst us have still been hindring the work of Reformation, and withall introducing and cherishing of Popery; and are now arrived at that strength, and have prevailed so farre against us, that if the Lord, whose judg∣ments are unsearchable, and whose tender mercies are in∣numerable, doe not speedily help us, wee shall even al∣together bee laid waste by them.
How great a hand this treacherous and bloody generation amongst us, have long had in the miseries of other Reformed Churches, in the destruction of the Palatinate; and in the betraying and, losse of Rochell, and how, by seeming overtures of Ambassies and Treaties for their reliefe, they have fomented, con∣tinued, and encreased their calamities; are so fully known by you all, and miserably felt by some of your selves, that we need not speak any thing of them. And we suppose their inveterate hatred against you all, is sufficiently mani∣fested, in that multitudes of them have refused to acknow∣ledge any of you for Churches of Christ, because you are not Prelaticall, and thereby (as they conceive) want Page 3a lawfull Vocation of Ministers. Sure wee are, that a∣mongst our selves in all these three Kingdomes, they have prevailed so farre in advancing Popery, and depressing Religion, that it would require a Volume, rather than a Letter, to relate all the particulars. Scarce one thing can bee thought upon, which may bee supposed to bee an argument of any intent to set up Popery, and even ex∣tirpate the true Reformed Religion, but wee could give you abundant instances, that they have not onely attemp∣ted, but in great measure prevailed for the putting thereof in execution. All the good and just Laws of this Kingdome against Papists, (concerning their lives, liberties, and goods) suspended; Judges prohibited to proceed against condemned Priests; and even Jesuites set free: Houses of Superstition in Ireland and England set up, and not discoun∣tenanced: (beside the seldome or never questioned trans∣portation of many young persons to Seminaries in fo∣raine parts) Notorious Papists, contrary to known Laws, permitted to come to Court, to reside there, and enjoy the favour and preferment of it: Multitudes of them re∣leased from legall Penalties for time past, and time to come; Prosecuters of them checked and discountenan∣ced; Agents sent from hence into Italy; Nuntioes and Agents from Rome received and treated with; such as warped that way, cherished and advanced; the most zealous Ministers & Professors of Religion bitterly perse∣cuted. And all these things so apparent, that abundance of Popishly affected Prelates and Ministers adventured in e∣very part of the Kingdome publickly to preach and leaven their people with almost all points of Popery, (except the Supremacy) and to introduce abundance of corrupt innovations in the worship of God, compelling the peo∣ple to yeeld conformity to them, with persecuting such as would not. Insomuch as many who looked at Page 4Religion onely for outward advantage, found it best for their gaine and safety to turne Papists: And many godly Ministers, who would not publish a book purposely set forth to allow such sports on the Lords day, which the Reformed Churches thinke unlawfull at any time; or who would not conforme themselves to their other superstiti∣ons; have had their mouthes stopped, and many thou∣sands of their people with them compelled to seeke for refuge amongst your selves, or in remote parts of the world.
Yea so farre they had advanced in their presumption, as to impose upon the whole Kingdome of Scotland a new Popish book of Service, Rites, and Ceremonies; and a book of Canons: To which when the piety and zeale of that Nation would not submit, they prevailed (alas) with his Majesty to proclaime them Rebels and Traytors, & to raise a formidable army against them; to which all the Papists, & popishly affected did professedly contribute their best assistance. And certainely had not the Lord by his blessing upon the Scotish Army, by the manifestation and acknowledgement of the wrongs done them, by the cal∣ling of this Parliament, and their godly care to cleare the Innocency of their Brethren, and by the Treaty of Peace concluded betwixt the two Kingdomes, prevented it, the two Nations long since through the treachery and rage of these brutish men, had beene embrewing their hands in each others bloud.
But though, through the goodnesse of God and his blessing upon the publike Counsells and proceed∣ings of both Nations of England and Scotland, they were more closely and mutually conjoyned; and the Lord had raised up such a spirit throughout this whole King∣dom to mourne after the Lord, to lament our backslidings, and to desire a perfect Reformation; and had so inclined Page 5the hearts of the Honorable Senators convened in Parlia∣ment, to repaire the house of the Lord among us, that wee verily hoped our winter to be past, and the time of our re∣freshing and healing to be come: Yet alas we find it to be clean otherwise: Our God who before was a moth and rot∣tennesse, is now turned unto a Lyon to us. Wee know our sinnes have deserved all; and if we all dye and perish, yet the Lord is righteous, to his hand we submit, and to him a∣lone we desire to look for healing: Howbeit the Instru∣ments of these new miseries are the same Antichristian fa∣ction, Who have beene so farre from being discouraged, or giving over their former designe by their want of suc∣cesse in Scotland, or in beholding the fixed resoluti∣on of the Parliament here for Reformation, that their rage and diligence therein is more increased since the be∣ginning of the Parliament, then at any time before. And indeed have more prevailed; both by stirring up a bloo∣dy Rebellion in Ireland, wherein (as the Papists them∣selves boast) they have destroyed above a hundred thou∣sand Protestants in one Province, within a few moneths: And in England, by alienating the heart of his Majesty from his Parliament, which had begun to call many of them to account for their former mischiefes. And (after an attempt to surprize some Members of both Houses in an hostile manner) prevailing with his Majesty to with∣draw himselfe from the Parliament, and to raise an Army, which at first, pretended onely to bee made up of Pro∣testants; but the Papists knew their intents, who both here and beyond the Seas, had frequent prayers for the good successe of this great work intended in England, for the advancing of the Catholick Cause; And spared not in England to boast, that they were not to appeare untill many Protestants were ingaged so farre, that they might Page 6not start backe, and then they were to own it, which accordingly is come to passe. For when once many seem∣ing Protestants were ingaged upon pretence of the Kings Prerogative, and Priviledges of Parliament, and Prote∣stant Religion, (which Protestants yet for the most part were the same who before the beginning of these stirres had been by the publick Judicatory of the Kingdom, im∣peached of Treason, Oppression, and other high crimes and misdemeanors; and others who knew themselves guilty thereof; and other corrupt parties of the Clergy and their adherents) presently the Papists (who before were spared from all plunder and violence where ever the Kings Forces came, though many Protestants, who even held not for the Parliament, were rifled) were arm∣ed by Commission from the King, and promise of repay∣ment for their armes, if they were lost; Many great Pa∣pists being put into places of Command in severall parts of the Kingdom; and the body of all the Papists joyn∣ing with all their might, and professing and exercising their Religion even by publike Masses in divers parts of the Realme: And thus assisted with ammunition, Men, and Money, from other parts (deluded by their faire glos∣ses and pretences) they goe up and down, plunder, and murder, and spoile all such as adhere to the Parliament and cause of Religion.
And although, when the Parliament saw that these wick∣ed instruments prevailed with the King, to raise force to be protected from the justice of the Laws (which the Parlia∣ment went about to inflict upon them for their former Trea∣sons and other high crimes) and to accomplish their for∣mer designes, they endeavored to secure the Forts & Navy & provide meanes for the defence of themselves, and of Laws, Liberties, and Religion (all which these men in∣devoured Page 7to destroy;) Yet such hath been their cunning, by false glosses to hide their own intention, and to se∣duce others, Or rather, such is the righteous judgement of our now angry God, for our abuse of our long peace that wee have not yet been able by Supplications, Peti∣tions, and Remonstrances, to recover his Majesty out of their hands; or to bring these men to deserved punish∣ments; but the sword rageth almost in every corner of this wofull land.
And, to make up our misery to the full, they have now at last prevailed with his Majesty so farre to own the bloo∣dy Rebels in Ireland, as not onely to call them his Roman-Catholick Subjects now in Arms, &c. but even to grant them a Cessation for a yeare, (when they were brought into great extremity) and to hold what they have gotten, li∣berty to strengthen themselves, with Men, Money, Arms, Ammunition from any place, freedome to send or come to his Majesty; and thereby bee not only inabled to de∣stroy the remnant of the Protestants there, but to come over hither, (as many of them are already) to act the same butcheries upon us, as they have hitherto exercised upon our miserable and distressed Brethren among them∣selves.
In these deplorable calamities are wee involved: and in the midst of these troublesome times, have the hono∣rable Houses of Parliament, called this Assembly, to give them our best Counsell for the Reformation of the Church, for the purging and preserving of Religion: and require us to make Gods Word onely our Rule, and to indevour the neerest conformity to the best Refor∣med Churches, and uniformity in all the Churches of the three Kingdomes. And in this work wee are now exerci∣sed, though the enemy hath stirred up the heart of our Page 8deare and dread Soveraign against us also: Yet through the good hand of God upon us, wee have made some comfortable beginnings: The work is his, who com∣mands us not to despise the day of small things.
Thus (Reverend and Deare Brethren) wee have given you the face, or rather the shadow, (for what words are able to expresse the face?) of our miserable condition in England: Our civill Liberties in danger to bee lost, our goods spoiled, our houses plundered, our blood poured out in every corner: (things though otherwise very preci∣ous to us wee omit to mention.) If our God wil lay our bo∣dies as the ground, and as the dust under their feet; the will of the Lord bee done: Might our blood bee a Sa∣crifice to ransome the rest of the Saints of Christ from antichristian fury, most gladly would wee offer it upon this service. But that which breaks our hearts is, the dan∣ger wee behold the Protestant Religion, and all the Re∣formed Churches in at this time. Wee know their rage is insatiable, and will not bee quenched with our blood: their fury is kindled against us, not as wee are sinfull men, but as men ingaged in the defence of the true Religion, and panting after a right Reformation: And if once the Lord deliver us as a prey into their teeth, Oh the dark∣nesse and horrour, the bondage, slavery and persecution, which all who will not receive the mark of the beast, are like to bee wrapped in, in these three wofull Kingdomes! And not here only, but they are like to attempt the same in all the Reformed Churches in Europe. Your owne thoughts can easily suggest unto you, with what rage the beast which came out of the bottomlesse pit, the Wo∣man who hath thus long drunk the blood of the Saints is filled now before her utter destruction, against that Virgin Company that follow the Lamb.Page 9
The Church and Kingdome of Scotland, have been willing and ready by all good meanes to quench this un∣naturall fire. They have sent their humble Supplications, Remonstrances, and Declarations to his Majesty: And at last made offer of their humble Mediation, and Na∣tionall intercession, for a Pacification. All which being refused and rejected, they have entered into a mutuall League and Covenant with the Church and Kingdome of England; and have resolved to joyn in Arms with their Brethren for their assistance and deliverance, for the preservation of their own Religion, & of themselves from the mercilesse cruelty of the common enemy, and (so farre as in them lyeth) for the safety of their Native King, and his Kingdoms from destruction and desolation, (as is more largely expressed in their publick Declaration, and in the Solemne League and Covenant of the three Kingdomes, which will give full satisfaction to all the wise and well-affected concerning their intentions.) They have also, according to the desire of the Honourable Houses of Parliament, sent us their Commissioners hi∣ther, for uniformity of Religion in the Churches of both Kingdoms. And wee (their Commissioners) do exceed∣ingly rejoyce to behold the Foundation of the House of God, not only in Doctrine, but Church-Government, laid before our eyes in a reverend Assembly of so wise, learned, and godly Divines. And find our selves bound in all Christian duty, but especially by the late Solemne League and Covenant of both Kingdomes, wherein wee are so deepely interessed and ingaged, to joyne in repre∣senting to the Reformed Churches abroad, the true con∣dition of affaires here, against all mis-informations and mistakings.
And now (deare Brethren) in this extreame danger Page 10threatning us all, what are the things wee can begge of you? But that first you would judge aright of our afflicted condition, of our innocency and integrity in this our just defence. If our Enemies every where calumniate us, that we be risen up in Rebellion against our Soveraigne to de∣prive him of his just power and greatnesse, and endeavour to bring Anarchy and confusion into the Church of Christ; from these foule and false aspersions, our intentions fully and clearely set forth in our solemne League and Covenant (the copy whereof we here withall humbly present you) wee doubt not will sufficiently cleare us. But if these children of Beliall have unjustly stirred up our So∣veraigne against us, and by abusing his Majesties name and Authority, are labouring to keepe themselves from de∣served punishment of their former crimes, which the su∣preme Judicatories of the Kingdome went about to inflict upon them, and to deprive us of our lives, Liberties, Privi∣ledges, and especially of our Religion; And that our defen∣sive Arms are by us used and intended onely to preserve our selves from their unjust violence: (which hath often beene the condition of many of your selves) Let the righ∣teous Lord judge between us and them; whom we implore to helpe us no further then we can plead these things in sincerity before him: And let our deare Brethren to whom these letters are addressed, acquit our Innocency in their hearts, and make their Apologie for us in all their Churches.
Secondly, that yee will sympathize with us as Brethren, who suffer in, and for the same cause, wherein your selves have beene oppressed, which will be no little refreshing to our mourning spirits, when we shall know that our God who smites us, yet inclines the hearts of his beloved Churches to looke upon us with compassionate bowells, Page 11as judging us to be the servants of their owne God, and Sa∣viour Jesus Christ, and as remembring themselves to be in the body.
Thirdly and lastly, That as all the Antichristian facti∣on ownes the cause of our Adversaries as their owne, and contributes what lyes in their power every way to their helpe, and our ruine: So that you would imbrace our condition, as your owne common cause, wherein if we be once swallowed up, your selves are not like long to escape; the quarrell of the enemy being not so much a∣gainst the persons of men, as against the power of God∣linesse, and Purity of Gods word wherever it is professed. The way and manner of your owning us, we leave whol∣ly to your selves: Except this one particular, which we must importunately crave, even your fervent prayers both publike and private. That God who heareth pray∣er, now he hath humbled us and broken all our Arms of Flesh (whereon alas we have beene too prone to leane) would himselfe bring salvation to us, that the blessings of truth and peace might rest upon us, that these three Nati∣ons may be joyned as one stick in the hand of the Lord, and that we our selves, contemptible builders, called to repaire the House of God in a troublesome time, being ashamed of our former pollutions, may see the patterne of this House, and commend such a platforme to our Zo∣robabells, as may be most agreeing to his own sacred word, nearest conformity to the best Reformed Churches, and greatest uniformity amongst our selves, that all moun∣tains may become plains before them and us, that then all who now see the plummet in our hands, may also be∣hold the Top stone set upon the head of the Lords house amongst us, and may help us with shouting to cry, Grace, Grace unto it.Page 12
And thus much we have beene willed to Informe you of, Reverend Brethren, (and by you all faithfull Christians under your Charges,) by the Honourable House of Com∣mons: In whose name and in our own we bid you hear∣tily farewell in the Lord.
Your most affectionately devoted Brethren in Christ,
- Commissioners of the Church of Scotland.
- Jo. Maitland,
- A. Jhonston,
- Alex. Henderson,
- Sam. Rutherfurd,
- Rob. Bailyie.
- Geo. Gillespie.
- William Twisse, Prolocutor,
- Cornel. Burges, Assessor,
- Jo. White, Assessor,
- Henry Robrough, Scribe,
- Adoniram Byfield, Scribe.