Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

have been “imprisoned, deprived of their benefices, sequestered, forced to fly from their dwellings, and bitterly threatened, for their faithful declaring of the will of God;" that they have been limited that they might not speak against the “sins and enormities of the Civil Powers ;" that to impose the name of railing upon such faithful freedomy was the old practice of Malignants against the Preachers of the Gospel, &c.—

Now,' if the Civil Authority, or that part of it which continued faithful to their trust,* and 'true to the ends of the Covenant, did, in answer to their consciences, turn out a Tyrant, in a way which the Christians in aster-times will mention with honor, and all Tyrants in the world look at with fear; and if' while many thousands of saints in England rejoice to think of it, and have received from the hand of God a liberty from the fear of like usurpations, and have cast off himt who trod in bis Father's steps, doing mischief as far as he was able (whom you have received like fire into your bosom,—of which God will, I trust, in time make you sensible): if, 'I say,' Ministers railing at the Civil Power, and calling them murderers and the like for doing these things, have been dealt with as you mention,—will this be found a “personal persecution ?” Or is sin so, because they say so ?| They that acted this great Business have given a reason of their faith in the action ; and some herell are ready further to do it against all gainsayers.

But it will be found that these reprovers do not only make themselves: the judges and determiners of sin, that so they may reprove ; but they also took liberty T to stir up the people to blood and arms; and would have brought a war upon England, as hath been upon Scotland, had not God prevented it. And if such severity as hath been expressed towards them be worthy of the name of “personal persecution,” let all uninterested men judge,' and 'whether the calling of the practice“ railing" be to be paralleled with the Malignants' imputation upon the Ministers for speaking against the Popish Innovations in the Prelates'times,** and the other' tyrannical and wicked practices then on foot! The Roman Emperors, in Christ's and his Apostles' times, were usurpers and intruders upon the Jewish State : yet what footsteptt have ye either of our blessed Saviour's so much as willingness to the dividing of an in

* When Pride purged them. † Your Charles II., as you call him. | Because you call it so.

§ Of judging Charles First. || I for one.

In 1648. ** O Oliver, my Lord General, the Lindley-Murray composition here is dreadful : the meaning struggling, like a strong swimmer, in an element very viscous !

tt Vestige.

heritance, or their* 6 ever' meddling in that kind ? This was not practised by the Church since our Saviour's time, till Antichrist, assuming the Infallible Chair, and all that he called Church to be under him, practised this authoritatively over Civil Governors. The way to fulfil your Ministry with joy is to preach the Gospel ; which I wish some who take pleasure in reproofs at a venture, do not forget too much to do!

Thirdly, you say, You have just cause to regret that men of Civil employments should usurp the calling and employment of the Ministry ; to the scandal of the Reformed Kirks.-Are you troubled that Christ is preached ? Is preaching so exclusively your function ?t Doth it scandalize the Reformed Kirks, and Scotland in particular ? Is it against the Covenant ? Away with the Covenant, if this be so! I thought, the Covenant and these professors of it could have been willing that any should speak good of the name of Christ : if not, it is no Covenant of God's approving : nor are these Kirks you mention in so much the Spouse of Christ. Where do you find in the Scripture a ground to warrant such an assertion, That Preaching is exclusively your function ?Though an Approbation from men hath order in it, and may do well; yet he that hath no better warrant than that, hath none at all. I hope He that ascended up on high may give His gifts to whom He pleases: and if those gifts be the seal of Mission, be not 'you'envious though Eldad and Medad prophesy. You know who bids us covet earnestly the best gifts, but chiefly that we may prophesy; which the Apostle explains there to be a speaking to instruction and edification and comfort,which speaking the instructed, the edified and comforted can best tell the energy and effect of, and say whether it is genuine. If such evidence be, I say again, Take heed you envy not for your own sakes; lest you be guilty of a greater fault than Moses reproved in Joshua for envying for his sake.

Indeed you err through mistaking of the Scriptures. Approbation ( is an act of conveniency in respect of order ; not of necessity, to give faculty to preach the Gospel. Your pretended fear lest Error should step in, is like the man who would keep all the wine out the country - lest men should be drunk. It will be found an unjust and unwise jea

lousy, to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon a supposition he may abuse it. When he doth abuse it, judge. If a man speak foolishly, ye suffer him gladly|| because ye are wise; if erroneously, the truth more

* The Apostles'. 7..so inclusive in your function,' means that. | So far as their notion of the Covenant goes. § Or say Ordination, Solemn Approbation and Appointment by men. || With a patient victorious feeling.

appears by your conviction of him.'' Stop such a man's mouth by sound words which cannot be gainsayed. If he speak blasphemously, or to the disturbance of the public peace, let the Civil Magistrate punish him; if truly, rejoice in the truth. And if you will call our speakings together since we came into Scotland,—to provoke one another to love and good works, to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and repentance from dead works ; 'and' to charity and love towards you, to pray and mourn for you, and for your bitter returns to our love of you, and your incredulity of our professions of love to you, of the truth of which we have made our solemn and humble appeals to the Lord our God, which He hath heard and borne witness to: if you will call things scandalous to the Kirk, and against the Covenant, because done by men of Civil callings-we rejoice in them, notwithstanding what you say.

For a conclusion: In answer to the witness of God upon our solemn Appeal,* you say you have not so learned Christ“ as' to hang the equity of your cause upon events. We, for our part,' could wish blindness have not been upon your eyes to all those marvellous dispensations which God hath lately wrought in England. But did not you solemnly appeal and pray? Did not we do so too? And ought not you and we to think, with fear and trembling, of the hand of the Great God in this mighty and strange appearance of His ; instead of slightly calling it an "event!”Were not both your and our expectations renewed from time to time, whilst we waited upon God, to see which way He would manifest Himself upon our appeals ? And shall we, after all these our prayers, fastings, tears, expectations and solemn appeals, call these bare “events ?” The Lord pity you.

Surely we, “ for our part,' fear; because it hath been a merciful and gracious deliverance to us. I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, search after the mind of the Lord in it towards you; and we shall help you by our prayers ; that you may find it out: for yet (if we know our hearts at all) our bowels do, in Christ Jesus, yearn after the Godly in Scotland. We know there are stumbling-blocks which hinder you : the personal prejudices you have taken up against ust and our ways, wherein we cannot but think some occasion has been given, and for which we mourn : the apprehension you have that we have hindered the glorious Reformation

you
think
you were upon :-

:-I am persuaded these and such

* At Dunbar.

† 'but can slightly call it an event,' in orig. I Me, Oliver Cromwell.

$ I have often, in Parliament and elsewhere, been crabbed towards your hidebound Presbyterian Formula ; and given it many a fillip, not thinking sufficiently what good withal was in it.

like bind you up from an understanding, and yielding to, the mind of God, in this great day of His power and visitation. And, if I be rightly informed, the late Blow you received is attributed to profane counsels and conduct, and mixtures* in your Army, and such like. The natural man will not find out the cause. Look up to the Lord, that He may tell it you. Which that He would do, shall be the fervent prayer of,

Your loving friend and servant,

OLIVER CROMWELL.

*P. S. These ' following' Queries are sent not to reproach you, but in the love of Christ laying them before you ; we being persuaded in the Lord that there is a truth in them. Which we earnestly desire may not be laid aside unsought after, from any prejudice either against the things themselves, or the unworthiness or weakness of the person that offers them. If you turn at the Lord's reproofs, He will pour out His Spirit upon you; and you shall understand His words; and they will guide you to a blessed Reformation indeed,t-even to one according to the Word, and such as the people of God wait for: wherein you will find us and all saints ready to rejoice, and serve you to the utmost in our places and callings. I

ENCLOSED is the Paper of Queries; to which this Editor, anxious to bring out my Lord General's sense, will take the great liberty to intercalate a word or two of Commentary as we read.

QUERIES.

1. Whether the Lord's controversy be not both against the Ministers in Scotland and in England, for their wresting and straining of the Covenant,' and employing the Covenant against the Godly and Saints in England (of the same faith with them in every fundamental) even to a bitter persecution; and so making that which, in the main intention, was Spiritual, to serve Politics and Carnal ends,-even in that part especially which was Spiritual, and did look to the glory of God, and the comfort of His People ?

* Admission of Engagers and ungodly people.

t 'glorious Reformation, blessed Réformation,' &c., are phrases loud and current everywhere, especially among the Scotch, for ten years past.

# Thurloe, i., 158-162.
f improving' in the original.

The meaning of your Covenant was that God's glory should be promoted : and yet how many zealous Preachers, unpresbyterian but real Promoters of God's glory, have you, by wresting and straining of the verbal phrases of the Covenant, found means to menace, eject, afflict and in every way discourage !

2. Whether the Lord's controversy be not for your and the Ministers in England's sullenness at ‘God's great providences,' and your’darkening and not beholding the glory of God's wonderful dispensations in this series of His providences in England, Scotland and Ireland, both now and formerly,—through envy at instruments, and because the things did not work forth your Platform, and the Great God did not come down to your minds and thoughts.

This is well worth your attention. Perhaps the Great God means something other and farther than you yet imagine. Perhaps, in His infinite Thought, and Scheme. that reaches through Eternities, there may be elements which the Westminster Assem. bly has not jotted down ? Perhaps these reverend learned persons, debating at Four shillings and sixpence a day, did not get to the bottom of the Bottomless, after all? Perhaps this Universe was not entirely built according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, but by other groundplans withal, not yet entirely brought to paper anywhere, in Westminster or out of it, that I hear of ? O my reverend Scotch friends !

3. Whether your carrying on a Reformation, so much by you spoken of, have not probably been subject to some mistakes in your own judge ments about some parts of the same,-laying so much stress thereupon as hath been a temptation to you even to break the Law of Love, the greatest of all laws,' towards your brethren, and those whom? Christ hath regenerated; even to the reviling and persecuting of them, and to stirring up of wicked men to do the same, for your Form's sake, or but • for some parts of it.

A helpless lumbering sentence, but with a noble meaning in it.

4. Whether if your Reformation be so perfect and so spiritual, be indeed the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus, it will need such carnal policies, such fleshly mixtures, such unsincere actings as some of these are ?' To pretend to cry down all Malignants; and yet to receive and set up

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »