A letter from the Assembly of Divines in England and the commissioners of the Church of Scotland: written, and sent by order of the honorable House of Commons assembled in Parliament, to the Belgicke, French, Helvetian, and other reformed churches
Westminster Assembly, Lauderdale, John Maitland, Duke of, 1616-1682., Church of Scotland. General Assembly., England and Wales. Parliament.
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A LETTER FROM THE ASSEMBLIE OF DIVINES IN England, and the Commissioners of the Church of SCOTLAND, to the Belgicke French, Hel∣vetian, and other reformed Churches.

Right reverend and dearly beloved in our Lord Iesus Christ.

WEE the Assembly of Divines and others, called and conveened by the Authoritie of both Houses of Parliament of England, vvith the Commissioners sent from the Generall Assem∣bly 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 vvhere-with vve are all readie to be swallowed up, (the cup which the righteous Lord hath given us to drink) is long since come to your ears. And it is proba∣ble that the same instruments of Sathan and Antichrist, have endeavoured by their emissaries to present us as blacke as may be among your selves; vvho by falsehood lies endea∣vour every vvhere to put faire glosses upon their own bloudy designes, & to reproach our strugglings after a more thorow Reformation of Religion in the Church of England, ac∣cording to the vvord of God, and our just defence of our li∣ves, liberties, and Religion, against their cruell and unjust vi∣olences. And vve sometimes doubt vvhether vvee have not been vvanting to our own innocency and your satisfaction, in being thus long silent, from giving you a faithfull, though Page  2sorrowfull, relation of the state vvherein vve stand. But par∣don us (deare Brethren) if this cup of trembling, where∣vvith our spirits have beene filled to amazement, and our wrestlings vvith extreame difficulties ever since our meeting, have hindred us from that vvhich vve long since knew to be our duty. And give us leave now a little to ease our grief, by powring our hearts into your bosomes, vvhile we relate the desolation made by an Antichristian faction, who amongst us have still beene hindring the vvorke of reformation, and vvith all introducing and cherishing of Popery; and are now arrived at that strength, and have prevailed so farre against us, that if the Lord, vvhose judgements are unsearchable, and vvhose tender mercies are innumerable, doe not speedily helpe us, vve shall even altogether be laid waste by them.

How great a hand this treacherous and bloody generati∣on amongst us, have long had in the miseries of other refor∣ed Churches, in the destruction of the Palatinate; and in the betraying & losse of Rochell, and how, by seeming overtures of Ambassies and Treaties for their reliefe, they have fo∣mented, continued, and encrased 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 manifest∣ed, in that multitudes of them have refused to acknowledge any of you for Churches of Christ, because you are not Prelati∣call, and thereby (as they conceive) vvant a lawfull; Vocation of Ministers. Sure vve are, that amongst our selves in all these three Kingdomes, they have prevailed so far in advancing Poperie, and depressing Religion, that it vvould require a Volume, rather than a Letter, to relate all the particulars. Scarce one thing can be thought upon, which may be sup∣posed to be an argument of any intent set up popery, and even extirpate the true reformed Religion, but we could give Page  3you abundant instances, that they have not onely attempted, but in great measure prevailed for the putting thereof in ex∣ecution. All the good and just Lawes of this Kingdome a∣gainst papists, (concerning their lives, liberties, and goods) suspended; Judges prohibited to proceed against condemned Priests, & ever Jesuites set free: Houses of superstition in Ire∣land and England set up, & not discountenanced: (beside the seldome or never questioned transportation of many young persons, to Seminaries in foraine parts) Notorious papists, contrary to known Laws permitted to come to Court, to re∣side there, & enjoy the favour & preferment of it: Multitudes of them released from legall penalties for time past, and time come: Prosecuters of them checked and discountenanced, Agents sent from hence into Italy; Nuntioes and Agents from Rome received and treated with; such as warped that vvay; cherished and advanced: The most zealous Ministers and professours of Religion bitterly persecuted. And all these things so apparant, that abundance of popishly affected Prelates and Ministers adventured in every part of the King∣dome publickly to preach and leaven their people with al∣most all points of popery, (except the Supremacy) and to introduce abundance of corrupt innovations in the vvorship of God, compelling the people to yeeld conformitity to them, vvith persecuting such as vvould not. Insomuch as many who looked at Religion only for outward advantage, found it best for their gaine and sarty to turne papists: And many godly Ministers, who vvould publish a book purposely set forth to allow such sports on the Lords day, vvhich the reformed Churches thinke unlawfull at any time; or who vvould not conforme themselves to their other superstitions, have had their mouthes stopped, & many thousands of their people vvith them compelled to seeke for refuge amongst your selves, or in remote parts of the vvorld.

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Yea, so farre they had advanced in their presumption, as to impose upon the vvhole Kingdome of SCOTLAND, a new popish book of Service, Rites, and Ceremonies, and a book of Canons: To which when the pietie and zeale of that na∣tion vvould not submit, they prevailed (alas) with his Ma∣jestie to proclaime them Rebels and Traitors, and to raise a formidable army against them, to which all the Papists, and popishly affected did professedly contribute their best as∣sistance. And certainly had not the Lord by his blessing up∣on the Scotish Army, by the manifestation and acknowledge∣ment of the wrongs done them, by the calling of this Par∣liament, and their godly care to cleare the innocency of their Brethren, and by the Treatie of Peace concluded be∣twixt 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 bles∣sing upon the publicke Councels and proceedings of both Nations of England, and Scotland they were more closely mutually conjoyned, and the Lord had raised up such a spirit throughout this whole Kingdome to mourne after the Lord, to lament our backslidings, and to desire a perfect Reformation, and had so inclined the hearts of the honour∣able Senators conveened in Parliament, to repaire the House of the Lord among us, that vve verily hoped our winter to bee past, and the time of our refreshing and healing to bee come yet: Alas we finde it to be cleane otherwise: Our God who before was a moth and rottennesse, is now turned unto a Lyon to us. Wee know our sins have deserved all; and if we all dye and perish, yet the Lord is righteous, to his hand we submit, and to him alone we desire to look for healing: Howbeit the instruments of these new miseries are the same Page  5Antichristian faction, Who have beene so farre from being discouraged, or giving over their former designe by their want of successe in Scotland, or in beholding the fixed re∣solution 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 bloody Rebellion in Ireland, wherein (as the Papists themselves boast) they have destroyed above a hundred thousand 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 ac∣count for their former mischiefes. And (after an attempt to surprize some Members of both Houses in an hostile man∣ner) 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 Protestants: 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 advencing of the Catho∣lick Cause; and spared not in England to boast, that they were not to appeare untill many Protestants were ingaged so farre, that they might not start backe, and then they were to own it, which accordingly is come to passe: For when once many seeming protestants were ingaged upon pretence of the Kings Prerogative, and Priviledges of Parliament, and Pro∣testant 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 Kingdome, impeach∣ed of Treason, Oppression, and other high crimes and mis∣demeanors: and other who knew themselves guilty thereof: and other currupt parties of the Clergy and their adherents) presently the papists (who before were spared from all plun∣der Page  6and violence where ever the Kings Forces came, though many Protestants, who even held not for the Parliament, were rifled) were armed by Commission from the King, and promise of repayment for their Arms, if they were lost; Many great Papists being put into places of Command in severall parts of the kingdome; and the body of all the Pa∣pists joyning with all their might, and professing and exer∣cising their Religion even by publike Masses in divers parts of the Realme: And thus asisted with ammunition, Men and Money, from other parts (deluded by their faire glosses and and pretences) they go up and down plunder, and murder, spoile all such as adhere to the Parliament and cause of Religion.

And although, when the Parliament saw that these wicked instruments prevailed with the King, to raise force to be protected frome the justice of the Laws (which the Par∣liament went about to inflict upon them for their former Treasons and other high crimes) and to accomplish their former designes, they indeavoured to secure the Forts and Navy & provide meanes for the defence of themselves, and of Laws, Liberties, and Religion (all which these men in devoured to destroy;) Yet such hath been their cunning, by false glosses, to hide their own intention, and to seduce o∣thers, 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, Petitions, and Remon∣strances, to recover his Majesty out of their hands: or to bring these men to deserved punishments; but the sword rageth almost in every corner of this wofull land.

And, to m••e up our misery to the full, they have now at last prevailed with his Majesty so farre to own the bloody Rebels in Ireland, as not onely to call them his Roman-Ca∣tholick Subjects now in Armes, &c. but even to grant them Page  7a 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, Armes, Ammunition from any place, freedome to send or come to his Majesty: and thereby bee not onely inabled to destroy the remnant of the protestants there, but to come over hi∣ther (as many of them are already) to act the same but che∣ries upon us, as they have hitherto exercised upon our mise∣rable and distressed Brethren among themselves.

In these deplorable calamities are wee involved: and in the midst of these troublesome times, have the honorable 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 only our Rule, and to indeavour the nearest conformity to the best Reformed Churches, and uni∣formity in all the Churches of the three Kingdomes. And in this work wee are now exercised, though the enemy hath stirred up the heart of our deare and dread Soveraigne a∣gainst us also: Yet through the good hand of God upon us we have made some comfortable beginnings: The work is his who commands us not to despise the day of small things.

Thus (Reverend and Deare Brethren) we 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 be lost, our goods spoiled, our houses plundered, our bloud powred out in every cor¦ner: (things though otherwise very precious to us we omit to mention.) If our God will lay our bodies as the ground, and as the dust under their feete; the will of the Lord bee done: Might our bloud be a sacrifice to ransome the rest of the Saints of Christ from Antichristian fury, most gladly would we offer it upon this service. But that which breaks Page  8our hearts is, the danger we behold the Protestant Religion, and all the reformed Churches in at this time. Wee know their rage is insatiable, and will not be quenched with our bloud: Their furie is kindled against us, not as we 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 darknesse and horrour, the bondage, slavery, and persecution, which all who will not receive the marke of the beast, are like to be wrapped in, in these three wofull Kingdomes! And not here only, but they are like to attempt the same in all the Re∣formed Churches in Europe. Your own thoughts can easily suggested unto you, with what rage the beast which came out of the bottomlesse pit, the woman who hath thus long drunk the bloud of the Saints, is filled now before her utter destru∣ction, against that Virgin Company that follow the Lamb.

The Church and Kingdome of Scotland, have been wil∣ling and readie by all good means to quench this unnaturall fire. They have sent their humble Supplications, Remon∣strances, and Declarations to his Majesty: And at last made offer of their humble Mediation, and Nationall intercession, for a Pacification. All which being refused & rejected, they have entered into a mutuall League and Covenant with the Church and Kingdome of England; and have resolved to joyne in Armes with their Brethren for their assistance and deliverance, for the preservation of their own Religion, and of themselves from the mercilesse cruelty of the common e∣nemy, and (so farre as in them lyeth) for the safety of their native King, and his Kingdomes from destruction and deso∣lation, (as is more largely expressed in their publick Decla∣ration, 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 Page  9have also, according to the desire of the honourable Houses of Parliament, sent us their Commissioners hither, for uniformity of Religion in the Churches of both Kingdoms. And we (their Commissioners) do exceedingly 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 especial∣ly by the late Solemne League and Covenant of both Kingdoms, wherein we are so deeply interessed and ingaged, to joyne in representing to the reformed Churches abroad, the true condition of affaires here, against all mis-informa∣tions and mistakings.

And now (deare Brethren) in this extreame danger threatning us all, what are the things we can beg of you? But that first you vvould 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 deprive him of his just power and greatnesse, and endevour to bring Anarchy and confusion into the Church of Christ; from these foule and false asperations, our intentions fully and clearly set forth in our solemne League and Covenant (the copy whereof we here withall humbly present you) we doubt not will suffici∣ently cleare us. But if these children of Beliall have un∣justly stirred up our Soveraigne against us, and by abusing his Majesties name and Authority, are labouring to keepe themselves from deserved punishment of their former crimes, which the supreme Judicatories of the Kingdom went about to inflict upon them, and to deprive us of our lives, Liber∣ties, Priviledges, and especially of our Religion; And that our defensive Arms are by us used and intended only to pre∣serve our selves from their unjust violence: (which hath often Page  10been the condition of many of your selves) Let the righte∣ous 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 Let∣ters are addressed, acquite 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 a little refreshing to our morning 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, as judging us to be the servants of their own God, and Saviour Jesus Christ, and as remembring themselves to be in the body.

Thirdly and lastly, That as all the Antichristian faction ownes the cause of our Adversaries as their own, and contri∣butes what lyes in their power every way to their helpe, and our ruine: So that you would imbrace our condition, as your own 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 against the persons of men, as a∣gainst the power of Godlinesse, and Purity of Gods word wherever it is professed, The way and maner of your ow∣ning us, we leave wholly to your selves: Except this one particular, which we must importunatly crave, even your fervent prayers, both publicke and private. That God who heareth prayer, now he hath humbled us and broken all our Armes of Flesh (whereon alas we have been too prone to leane) would himselfe bring salvation to us, that the bles∣sings of truth and peace might-rest upon us that these three Nations may be joyned as one stick in the hand of the Lord and that we our selves, contemptible builders, called to re∣paire the House of God in a troublesome time, beeing a∣shamed Page  11of our former pollutions, may see the paterne of this House, and commend such a platforme to our Zoroba∣bells, as may be most agreeing to his own sacred word, near∣est conformity to the best Reformed Churches, and greatest uniformity amongst our selves, that all mountains may be∣come plaines before them and us, that then all who now see the plummet in our hands, may also behold 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.

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 heartily farewell in the Lord.

Your most affectionately devoted Brethren in Christ.

    • Jo. Maitland,
    • A. Johnston,
    • Alex. Henderson,
    • Sam. Rutherfurd,
    • Rob. Bailyie.
    • Geo. Gillespie.
    Comissioners of the Church of Scotland.
  • William Twisse, Prolocutor,
  • Cornel. Burges, Assessor,
  • Jo. white, Assessor.
  • Henry Robrough, Scribe,
  • Adoniram Byfield: Scribe,