« PreviousContinue »
are newer and straiter Bonds added to them ; a new Declaration of Assent and Consent : And besides all this, the Consciences of men are provoked, which otherwise would have remained silent, if not satisfied; new Scruples are raised in the Minds of Men, which before lay buried, and which would otherwise have been quite forgot; in that it is not thought sufficient that the Covenant should be laid aside, but that it should be formally renounced ; and not only so, but it is required that men must swear not only for themselves, but that no man else is obliged by it.
Now after all this wonder, there is not any one Thing which is not very easily accounted for: For surely it hath been among men not at all unusual, nor in it self strange, that where former securities have been found too light, to add others to them. As for the Declaration of Assent and Con. fent, the addition which it doth make to the former Subscriptions is not so considerable, as to raise a scruple in
the mind of any man who was real in them. And I suppose that the great Mystery which is pretended to lie in the terribie sound of Affent and Consent, which the People are taught to be affrighted at, as if some dismal meaning were hid under it, is nothing else but an Art to raise their Jealousie, that so they might be the better prepared for the finding out some plot or other in the following Renunciation of the Covenant. A thing which was ordered not without great cause ; and it is very suspicious that that Cause doth not only continue, but increase, as appears but too plainly from this, That there is so great a Clamour raised upon it. And this Cause did in a great measure proceed from themselves, and that great stir which they made about the Obligati'on of the Covenant, in the first and second year immediately after the Restoration of his Majesty, both from Press and Pulpit: Parties were made in the City, and endeavoured to be made in Parliament, for the owning of that Obligation. It was with great
confidence urged, that it was A Publick and National Oath, binding all Persons of this Nation, whether they did swear it personally or not, and all Posterity after us in their particular places; and all that shall succeed into the Publick Places and politick Capa. cities of this Kingdom, to pursue the things covenanted for : And this obli. gation is for ever to remain and abide, and by no Humane Act or Power to be absolved or made void; as, amongst others, Mr. Crofton hath endeavoured to prove at large in his famous Writings on that Subject. And, to speak the truth, if we once admit the Grounds which this Party of Men do go upon, what he doth alledge hath great reason in it; it being very evident, that those Clauses which he doth produce out of the Covenant, do suppose all Posterity to be involve ed in them : And this he urgeth not as his own single Opinion, but as the Sence of his whole Party; and, besides the Evidence of the thing, he alledgeth, The Testimony to the Truth of Jelus Christ and the Covenant, by
the London Ministers, Dec. 14. 1647. several of which are at this present Preachers to the separated Congregations ; In which it is plainly declared, That it is not in the Power of any person or persons upon Earth to dispence with or absolve us from it. Nay, the Power of Parliaments, which in other cases is allowed to be large enough, is in this bound up, as Mr. Cr. tells us, p.139. That the Parliament confisting of Lords and Commons, and that in their Publick Capacity as a Parliament, the House of Commons asembled in their House, and in formality of the Body of the Nation, with their speaker before them, went unto St. Margarets Church in Westminster with the greatest Solemnity imaginable, did, as the Representative Body of the Kingdom, swear this Covenant : which, as a farther Tea stimony that it was a National Covenant, they caused to be printed with their Names subscribed, and to be hanged up in all churches, and in their own House, as a compass whereby (in conformity to right, Reason and Religion) to steer their then Debates, and to diD4
&ate &ate TO ALL THAT SHOULD SUCCEED IN THAT PLACE AND CAPACITY what obligation did before God ly upon the Body of this Nation.
Those who plead for the removal of the Renunciation of the Covenant, either they do believe, that the Covenant doth oblige at this time, or, that it doth not oblige ; if they do believe that it doth not oblige, why may they not declare that they do believe it not to do so ? One Rea. son may indeed be given , why the Preachers themselves may believe the Covenant not to oblige, and yet that they should by all means avoid the declaring that they do thus believe; and that is this, that they would have the People believe it to have an Obligation, although themselves believe it to have none. A Perswalion this , which, in some juncture of Affairs or other, they may chance to make very great use of; and that this may not be altogether incredible their Procedure hath not been one jot honefter than this amounts to in another