When we seriously consider the great and many duties, which we owe unto God and his people, over
p.261whom he hath made us overseers, and for whom we must give an account; and when we behold the laudable examples of the worthy ministers of the province of London, and of the commissioners of the general assembly of the church of Scotland, in their free and faithful testimonies against the insolencies of the sectarian party in England: considering also the dependency of this kingdom upon the kingdom of England, and remembering how against strong oppositions we were assisted by the Lord the last year in the discharge of the like duty, and how he punished the contempt of our warning upon the despisers thereof: we find ourselves as necessitated, so the more encouraged, to cast in our mite in the treasury, lest our silence should involve us in the guilt of unfaithfulness, and our people in security and neglect of duties.
In this discharge of the trust put upon us by God, we would not be looked upon as sowers of sedition, or broachers of national and divisive motions; our record is in heaven, that nothing is more hateful unto us, nor less intended by us, and therefore we shall not fear the malicious and wicked aspersions, which we know Satan by his instruments is ready to cast, not only upon us, but on all who sincerely endeavour the advancement of reformation.
What of late have been, and now are, the insolent and presumptuous practices of the sectaries in England, is not unknown to the world: for, First, notwithstanding their specious pretences for religion and liberties, yet their late and present actings, being therewith compared, do clearly evidence, that they love a rough garment to deceive; since they have with a high hand despised the oath, in breaking the covenant, which is so strong a foundation to both, whilst they load it with slighting reproaches, calling it a bundle of particular and contrary interests, and a snare to the people; and likewise labour to establish by laws an universal toleration of all religions, which is an innovation overturning of unity in religion, and so directly repugnant to the word of God, the two first articles of our solemn covenant, which is the greatest wickedness in them to violate, since many of the chiefest of themselves have, with their hands, testified to the most high God, sworn and sealed it.
Moreover, their great disaffection to the settlement of religion, and so their future breach of covenant, doth more fully appear by their strong oppositions to Presbyterian government, (the hedge and bulwark of religion,) whilst they express their hatred to it more than to the worst of errors, by excluding it under the name of compulsion; when they embrace even Paganism and Judaism in the arms of toleration. Not to speak of their aspersions upon it, and the assertors thereof, as Antichristian and popish, though they have deeply sworn, to maintain the same government in the first article of the covenant, as it is established in the church of Scotland, which they now so despitefully blaspheme. Again, it is more than manifest, that they seek not the vindication, but the extirpation of laws and liberties, as appears by their seizing on the person of the king, and at their pleasure removing him from place to place, not only without the consent, but (if we mistake not) against a direct ordinance of parliament: their violent surprising, imprisoning, and secluding many of the most worthy members of the honourable house of commons, directly against a declared privilege of parliament, (an action certainly without parallel in any age,) and their purposes of abolishing parliamentary power for the future, and establishing of a representative (as they call it) instead thereof. Neither hath their fury staid here, but without all rule or example, being but private men, they have proceeded to the trial of the king, against both interest and protestation of the kingdom of Scotland, and the former public declarations of both kingdoms, (besides the violent haste, rejecting the hearing of any defences,) with cruel hands have put him to death; an act so horrible, as no history, divine or human, hath laid a precedent of the like.
These and many other their detestable insolences may abundantly convince every unbiassed judgment, that the present practice of the sectaries and their abettors do directly overturn the laws and liberties of the kingdoms, root out lawful and supreme magistracy, (the just privileges whereof we have sworn to maintain,) and introduce a fearful confusion and lawless anarchy.
The Spirit of God by Solomon tells us, Prov. xxx. 21, That a servant to reign, is one of the four things for which the earth is disquieted, and which it cannot bear: we wonder nothing, that the earth is disquieted for these things; but we wonder greatly, if the earth can bear them. And albeit the Lord so permit, that folly be set in great dignity, and they which sit in low place; that servants ride upon horses, and princes walk as servants upon the earth, Eccles. x. ver. 6, 7, yet the same wise man saith, Prov. xix., Delight is not seemly for a fool, much less for a servant to have rule over princes.
When we consider these things, we cannot but declare and manifest our utter dislike and detestation of such unwarrantable practices, directly subverting our covenant, religion, laws, and liberties. And as watchmen in Sion, warn all the lovers of truth and well affected to the covenant, carefully to avoid compliance with, or not bearing witness against, horrid insolences, lest partaking with them in their sins, they also be partakers of their plagues. Therefore in the spirit of meekness, we earnestly intreat, and in the authority of Jesus Christ (whose servants we are) charge and obtest all, who resolve to adhere unto truth, and the covenant diligently to observe, and conscientiously to perform these following duties.
First, That, according to our solemn covenant, every one study more the power of godliness and personal reformation of themselves and families; because, for the great breach of this part of the covenant, God is highly offended with these lands, and justly provoked to permit men to be the instruments of our misery and afflictions.
Secondly, That every one in their station and calling earnestly contend for the faith, which was once delivered to the saints, Jude 3. And seek to have their
p.262hearts established with grace, that they be not unstable and wavering, carried about with every wind of doctrine; but that they receive the truth in love, avoiding the company of such as withdraw from and villify the public ordinances; speak evil of church-government; invent damnable errors, under the specious pretence of a gospel-way and new light; and highly extol the persons and courses of notorious sectaries, lest God give them over to strong delusions (the plague of these times) that they may believe lies, and be damned.
Thirdly, That they would not be drawn by counsel, command, or example, to shake off the ancient and fundamental government of these kingdoms by king and parliament, which we are so deeply engaged to preserve by our solemn covenant, as they would not be found guilty of the great evil of these times, (condemned by the Holy Ghost,) the despising of dominion and speaking evil of dignities. Fourthly, That they do cordially endeavour the preservation of the union amongst the well-affected in the kingdoms, not being swayed by any national respect: remembering that part of the covenant; that we shall not suffer ourselves directly nor indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided or withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction.
And Finally, Albeit there be more present hazard from the power of sectaries, (as were from malignants the last year,) yet we are not ignorant of the evil purposes of malignants, even at this time, in all the kingdoms, and particularly in this; and for this cause, we exhort every one with equal watchfulness to keep themselves free from associating with such, or from swerving in their judgments to malignant principles; and to avoid all such persons as have been from the beginning known opposers of reformation, refusers of the covenant, combining themselves with papists and other notorious malignants, especially such who have been chief promoters of the late engagement against England, calumniators of the work of reformation, in reputing the miseries of the present times unto the advancers thereof; and that their just hatred to sectaries incline not their minds to favour malignants, or to think, that, because of the power of sectaries, the cause of God needs the more to fear the enmity, or to stand in need of the help, of malignants.