Page images
PDF
EPUB

heritance, or their* '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 muchj 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 jealousy, 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 Buffer him gladlyll because ye are wise; if erroneously, the Irulh more

• The Apostles'.

t 'so inclusive in your function,' means that. J So far as their notion of the Covenant goes.

§ Or say' Ordination,' Solemn Approbation and Appointment by men. II 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; jf 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 bath 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 !"t 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 usj 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. t 'but can slightly call it an event,' in orig.

X 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 :t.

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 rightlv informed, the late Blow you received is attributed to profane counsels and conduct, and mixtures* in your Army, and such like. The patural 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, i 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 unworlhiness 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,f—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.J

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.

I. 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 Reformation,' Sua., are phrases loud »nd current everywhere, especially among the Scotch, for ten years part, t Thurloe, i., 158-162. $ '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 djd 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 Assembly 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 judgments about some parts of the same,—laying so much stress thereupon as hath been a temntation 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 the Head of them ' all,' and to act for the Kingdom of Christ in hit name,* and upon advantage thereof 1 And to publish so false a Paper,-| so full of special pretences to piety, as the fruit and effect of his "repentance,"—to deceive the minds of all the Godly in England, Ireland and Scotland; you, in your own consciences, knowing with what regrel he did it, and with what importunities and threats he was brought to d« it, and how much to this very day he is against it? And whether thi» ut' not a high provocation of the Lord, in so grossly dissembling with Him and His people ?J

Yes, you can consider that, my Friends; and think, on the whole, what kind of course you are probably getting into; steering towards a Kingdom of Jesus Christ with Charles Stuart and Mrs. Barlow, at the helm!

The Scotch Clergy reply, through Governor Dundas, still in a sulky unrepentant manner, that they stick by their old opinions; that the Lord General's arguments, which would not be hard to answer a second time, have already been answered amply, by anticipation, in the public Manifestoes of the Scottish Nation and Kirk;—that, in short, he hath a longer sword than they for the present, and the Scripture says, "There is one event to the righteous and the wicked," which may probably account for Dunbar, and some other phenomena. Here the correspondence closes; his Excellency on the morrow morning (Friday, 13th September, 1G50) finding no 'reasonable good leisure' to unfold himself farther, in the way of paper and ink, to these men. There remain olher ways; the way of cannon-batteries, and Derbyshire miners. It is likely his Excellency will subdue the bodies of these men; and the unconquerable mind will then follow if it can.

* Charles Stuart's: a very questionable 'name' for any Kingdoir ol Christ to act upon!

f The Declaration, or testimony against his Father's sins. t Thurloe, i., 158-162.

« PreviousContinue »