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phets, gives this testimony of it, in his narrative upon it, and his testimony is true; "that it was such a covenant, whether you respect the subject-matter or occasion of it, or the persons that engaged in it, or lastly, the manner of imposing it, that was never read nor heard of, nor the world ever saw the like." The truth is, it bears no other likeness to ancient covenants, but that as at the making of them they slew beasts, and divided them, so this also was solemnized with blood, slaughter, and division.
But that I may not accuse in general, without a particular charge, read it over as it stands before their synod's works, I mean their catechism: to which it is prefixed, as if, without it, their system of divinity were not complete, nor their children like to be well instructed, unless they were schooled to treason, and catechised to rebellion. I say, in the covenant, as it stands there, in the third article of it. After they had first promised to defend the privileges of parliament, and the liberties of the kingdoms, at length they promise also a defence of the king; but only thus, "that they will defend his person in the preservation, and defence of the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms." In which it is evident, that their promise of loyalty to him is not absolute, but conditional; bound hand and foot with this limitation, "so far as he preserved the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms."
From which I observe these two things. 1. That those who promise obedience to their king, only so far as he preserves the true religion, and the kingdoms' liberties; withal reserving to themselves the judgment of what religion is true, what false, and when these liberties are invaded, when not; do by this put it within their power to judge religion false, and liberty invaded, as they think convenient, and then, upon such judgment, to absolve themselves from their allegiance.
2. That those very persons, who thus covenant, had already, from pulpit and press, declared the religion and way of worship established in the church of England, and then maintained by the king, to be popish and idolatrous; and withal, that the king had actually invaded their liberties. Now, for men to suspend their obedience upon a certain condition, which condition at the same time they declared not performed, was not to profess obedience, but to remonstrate the reasons of their intended disobedience.
(which was no less than trying and murdering the king, proscribing his son, and voting down monarchy; with much more, which he there says lay yet in the breast of the house,) was but a more refined pursuit of the desi us of the covenant. For the testimony of which person in this matter, I have thus much to say; that he who, having been sent commissioner from hence into Scotland, was the first author and contriver of the covenant there, was surely of all others the most likely to know the true meaning of it; and being ready to die, was most likely then, if ever, to speak sincerely what he knew.
And for a farther demonstration of what has been said, read the speech of that worthy knight, at his execution upon Tower-hill, on the 14th of June last. Where, in the third page, he says, that what the house of commons did in their acting singly, and by themselves,
* Sir Henry Vane.
We see here the doctrine of the covenant; see the use of this doctrine, as it was charged home with a suitable application in a war raised against the king, in the cruel usage and imprisonment, killing, sequestering, undoing all who adhered to him, voting no addresses to himself; all which horrid proceedings, though his majesty now stupendously forgives, yet the world will not, cannot ever forget; for his indemnity is not our oblivion.
And therefore, for those persons who now clamour and cry out that they are persecuted, because they are no longer permitted to persecute; and who choose rather to quit their ministry, than to disown the obligation of the covenant; I leave it to all understanding, impartial minds to judge, whether they do not by this openly declare to the world, that they hold themselves obliged by oath, as they shall be able, to act over again all that has been hitherto acted by virtue of that covenant; and consequently, that they relinquish their places, not for being nonconformists to the church, but for being virtually rebels to the crown. Which makes them just as worthy to be indulged, as for a man to indulge a dropsy or a malignant fever, which is exasperated by mitigations, and inflamed by every cooling infusion.
But to draw the premises closer to the purpose. Thus I argue. That which was the proper means, that enabled the king's mortal enemies to make a war against him, and upon that war to conquer, and upon that conquest to imprison him, and lastly, upon that imprisonment inevitably put the power into the hands of those, who by that power in the end murdered him; that, according to the genuine consequences of reason, was the natural cause of his murder. This is the proposition that I assert, and I shall not trouble myself to make the assumption.
And indeed those who wipe their mouths and lick themselves innocent, by clapping this act upon the army, make just the same plea that Pilate did for his innocence in the death of Christ, because he left the execution to the soldiers; or that the soldiers themselves may make, for clearing themselves of all the
blood that they have spilt, by charging it upon their swords.
I conclude therefore, that this was the gradual process to this horrid fact; this the train laid, to blow up monarchy; this the step by which the king ascended the scaffold.
III. Come we now in the third place to shew, who were the actors in this tragical scene: when, through the anger of Providence, a thriving army of rebels had worsted justice, cleared the field, subdued all opposition and risings, even to the very insurrections of conscience itself; so that impunity grew at length into the reputation of piety, and success gave rebellion the varnish of religion; that they might consummate their villainy, the gown was called in to complete the execution of the sword; and, to make Westminster-hall a place for taking away lives, as well as estates, a new court was set up, and judges packed, who had nothing to do with justice, but so far as they were fit to be the objects of it. In which they first of all begin with a confutation of the civilians' notion of justice and jurisdiction, it being with them no longer an act of the supreme power, as it was ever before defined to be. Such an inferior crew, such a mechanic rabble were they, having not so much as any arms to shew the world, but what they wore and used in the rebellion, that when I survey the list of the king's judges, and the witnesses against him, I seem to have before me a catalogue of all trades, and such as might better have filled the shops in Westminster-hall, than sat upon the benches. Some of which came to be possessors of the king's houses, who before had no certain dwelling but the king's highway. And some might have continued tradesmen still, had not want, and inability to trade, sent them to a quicker and surer way of traffick, the
Now, that a king, that such a king, should be murdered by such, the basest of his subjects, and not like a Nimrod, (as some sanctified, railing preachers have called him,) but, like an Actæon, be torn by a pack of bloodhounds; that the steam of a dunghill should thus obscure the sun; this so much enhances the calamity of this royal person, and makes his death as different from his who is conquered and slain by another king, as it is between being torn by a lion, and being eaten up with vermin: an expression too proper, I am sure, as coarse as it is: for where we are speaking of beggars, nothing can be more natural than to think of vermin too.
For that the feet should trample upon, nay kick off the head, who would not look upon it as a monster? But, indeed, of all others, these were the fittest instruments for such a work for base descent and poor education disposes the mind to imperiousness and cruelty; as the most savage beasts are bred
in dens, and have their extraction from under ground. These therefore were the worthy judges and condemners of a great king, even the refuse of the people, and the very scum of the nation; that is, at that time both the uppermost and the basest part of it.
IV. Pass we now, in the fourth place, to the circumstances and manner of procedure in the management of this ugly fact. And circumstances, we know, have the greatest cast in determining the nature of all actions; (as we commonly judge of any man's port and quality by the nature of his attendants.)
First of all then, it was not done, like other works of darkness, in secret, nor (as they used to preach) in a corner, but publicly, coloured with the face of justice, managed with openness and solemnity, as solemn as the league and covenant itself. History indeed affords us many examples of princes who have been clandestinely murdered; which, though it be villainous, yet is in itself more excusable; for he who does such a thing in secret, by the very manner of his doing it, confesses himself ashamed of the thing he does; but he who acts it in the face of the sun, vouches his action for laudable, glorious, and heroic.
Having thus brought him to their high court of justice, (so called, I conceive, because justice was there arraigned and condemned; or perhaps therefore called a court of justice, because it never shewed any mercy, whether the cause needed it or no,) there, by a way of trial as unheard of as their court, they permit him not so much as to speak in his own defence, but with the innocence and silence of a lamb condemn him to the slaughter. And it had been well for them, if they could as easily have imposed silence upon his blood as upon himself.
Being condemned, they spit in his face, and deliver him to the mockery and affronts of soldiers. So that I wonder where the blasphemy lies, which some charge upon those who make the king's sufferings something to resemble our Saviour's. But is it blasphemy to compare the king to Christ in that respect in which Christ himself was made like him? or can he be like us in all things, and we not like him? Certainly there was something in that providence which so long ago appointed the chapter of our Saviour's passion to be read on the day of the king's. And I am sure the resemblance is so near, that had he lived before him, he might have been a type of him. I confess there is some disparity in the case; for they shew themselves worse than Jews. But however, since they make this their objection, that we make the king like Christ, I am willing it should be the greatest of their commendation to be accounted as unlike Christ as they meritoriously are.
Let us now follow him from their mock tribunal to the place of his residence till exe
cution. Nothing remains to a person condemned, and presently to leave the world, but these two things,-1. To take leave of his friends, a thing not denied to the vilest malefactors; which sufficiently appears, in that it has not been denied to themselves. Yet no entreaties from him or his royal consort could prevail with the murderers to let her take the last farewell and commands of a dying husband; he was permitted to make no farewell, but to the world. Thus was he treated, and stript of all, even from the prerogative of a prince to the privilege of a malefactor. 2. The next thing desired by all dying persons is freedom to converse with God, and to prepare themselves to meet him at his great tribunal; but with an Italian cruelty to the soul as well as the body, they debar him of this freedom also; and even solitude, his former punishment, is now too great an enjoyment. But that they might shew themselves no less enemies to private, than they had been to public prayer, they disturb his retirements, and with scoffs and contumelies upbraid those devotions which were then even interceding for them. And I question not but fanatic fury was then at that height, that they would have even laughed at Christ himself in his devotions, had he but used his own prayer.
With these preludiums is he brought to the last scene of mockery and cruelty, to a stage erected before his own palace; and for the greater affront of majesty, before that part of it in which he was wont to display his royalty, and to give audience to ambassadors, where now he could not obtain audience himself in his last addresses to his abused subjects. There he receives the fatal blow, there he dies, conquering and pardoning his enemies; and at length finds that faithfully performed upon the scaffold, which was at first so frequently and solemnly promised him in the parliament, and perhaps in the same sense, that he should be made a glorious king.
But even this death was the mercy of murderers, considering what kinds of death several proposed, when they sat in consultation about the manner of it; even no less than the bet and the halter: no less than to execute him in his robes, and afterwards drive a stake through his head and body, to stand as a monument upon his grave. In short, all those kinds of death were proposed, which either their malice could suggest, or their own guilt
ning to disappear in the execution, and perhaps the good luck to be preferred after it, and (for ought I know) for it too. And as for those who now survive, by a mercy as incredible as their crime, which has left them to the soft expiations of solitude and repentance, (with plenty too attending both ;) though usually all the professions such make of repentance are nothing else but the faint resentments of a guilty horror, the convulsions and last breathings of a gasping conscience; and as the mercy by which they live is made a visible defiance to government, and a standing encouragement to these daily alarms of plots and conspiracies; so I beseech God, that even their supposed repentance be not such, that both themselves and the kingdom may hereafter have bitter cause too late to repent of it. But if they should indeed prove such as have no conscience but horror; who, by the same crimes will be made irreconcileable, for which they deserved to be impardonable; who would resume those repentings upon opportunity, which they made on extremity; and being saved from the gallows, make the usual requital which is made for that kind of deliverance: I say, if such persons should be only for a time chained and tied up, like so many lions or wolves in the Tower, that they may gather more fierceness to run out at length upon majesty, religion, laws, churches, and the universities; whether God intends by this a repetition of our former confusions, or a general massacre of our persons, (which is the most likely,) the Lord in mercy fit and enable us to endure the smart of a misimproved providence, and the infatuate frustration of such a miraculous deliverance.
And could these men now find in their hearts, or have the face to desire to live, and to plead a pardon from the son, who had thus murdered the father? I speak not only of those wretches who openly imbrued their hands in the bloody sentence, but of those more considerable traitors who had the villainy to manage the contrivance, and yet the cun
But to return to this sacred martyr. We have seen him murdered; and is there now any other scene for cruelty to act? Is not death the end of the murderer's malice, as well as of the life of him who is murdered? No; there is another and a viler instance of their sordid, implacable cruelty.
In the very embalming his body, and taking out those bowels, (which, had they not regib-lented to his enemies, had not been so handled,) they gave order to those to whom that work was committed diligently to search and see (I speak it with horror and indignation) whether his body were not infected with some loathsome disease.* I suppose they meant that which some of his judges were so much troubled with, and which stuck so close to them.
Now every one must easily see, that for them to intimate the inquiry was, in effect, to enjoin the report. And here let any one judge, whether the remorseless malice of imbittered rebels ever rose to such a height of tyranny, that the very embalming of his body
Gregory Clement knew what the disease was.
must needs be a means to corrupt his name; as if his murder was not complete, unless, together with his life, they did also assassinate his fame and butcher his reputation.
But the body of that prince, innocent and virtuous to a miracle, had none of the ruins and gentile rottenness of our modern debauchery. It was firm and clear, like his conscience; he fell like a cedar, no less fragrant than tall and stately. Rottenness of heart and rottenness of bones are the badges of some of his murderers; the noisomeness of whose carcasses, caused by the noisomeness of their lives, might even retaliate and revenge their sufferings, and, while they are under execution, poison the executioner.
But the last grand, comprehensive circumstance of this fact, which is, as it were, the very form and spirit which did actuate and run through all the rest, is, that it was done with the pretences of conscience and the protestations of religion; with eyes lift up to heaven, and expostulations with God, pleas of providence and inward instigations; till at length, with much labour and many groans, they were delivered of their conceived mischief.
And certainly we have cause to deplore this murder with fasting, if it were but for this reason, that it was contrived and committed with fasting. Every fast portended some villainy, as still a famine ushers in a plague. But as hunger serves only for appetite, so they never ordained a humiliation, but for the doing of something, which, being done, might dine them at a thanksgiving. And such a fury did absurd piety inspire into this church militant upon these exercises, that we might as well meet a hungry bear as a preaching colonel after a fast; whose murderous humiliations strangely verified that apposite prophecy in Isaiah, viii. 21, "When they shall be hungry, they shall curse their king and their God, and look upwards;" that is, they should rebeland blaspheme devoutly. Though, by the way, he who is always looking upwards can little regard how he walks below.
But was there any thing in the whole book of God to warrant this rebellion? any thing which, instead of obedience, taught them to sacrifice him whom they were to obey? Why yes: Daniel "dreamed a dream ;" and there is also something in the Revelation, concerning a "beast, a little horn, and the fifth vial," and therefore the king undoubtedly ought to die. But if neither you nor I can gather so much, or any thing like it, from these places, they will tell us, it is because we are not inwardly enlightened.
But others, more knowing, though not less wicked, insist not so much upon the warrant of Scripture, but plead providential dispensations: and then God's works, it seems, must
* Clement, Peters, &c.
be regarded before his words. And the Latin advocate, who, like a blind adder, has spit so much poison upon the king's person and cause, speaks the matter roundly: "Deum sicuti ducem, et impressa passim divina vestigia venerantes, viam haud obscuram, sed illustrem, et illius auspiciis commonstratam et patefactam ingressi sumus."+ But must we read God's mind in his footsteps, or in his word? This is as if, when we have a man's hand-writing, we should endeavour to take his meaning by the measure of his foot.
But still, conscience, conscience is pleaded as a covering for all enormities, an answer to all questions and accusations. Ask what made them fight against, imprison, and murder their lawful sovereign? Why, conscience. What made them extirpate the government, and pocket the revenue of the church? Conscience. What made them perjure themselves with contrary oaths? what makes swearing a sin, and yet forswearing to be none? what made them lay hold on God's promises, and break their own? Conscience. What made them sequester, persecute, and undo their brethren, rape their estates, ruin their families, get into their places, and then say, they only robbed the Egyptians? Why still this large capacious thing, their conscience; which is always of a much larger compass than their understanding. In a word, we have lived under such a model of religion, as has counted nothing impious but loyalty, nothing absurd but restitution.
But, O blessed God, to what a height can prosperous, audacious impiety arise! Was it not enough that men once crucified Christ, but that there should be a generation of men who should also crucify Christianity itself? Must he who taught no defence but patience, allowed no armour but submission, and never warranted any man to shed any other blood but his own, be now again mocked with soldiers, and vouched the patron and author of all those hideous murders and rebellions, which an ordinary impiety would stand amazed at the hearing of? and which in this world he has so plainly condemned by his word, and will hereafter as severely sentence in his own person? Certainly, these monsters are not only the spots of Christianity, but so many standing exceptions from humanity and nature and since most of them are Anabaptists, it is pity that, in repeating their baptism, they did not baptize themselves into another religion.
V. For the fifth and last place, let us view the horridness of the fact in the fatal consequences which did attend it. Every great villainy is like a great absurdity, drawing after it a numerous train of homogeneous con
* Mr Milton.
In Præfat. ad Defensionem pro Populo Anglicano, (as his Latin is.)
sequences; and none ever spread itself into more than this. But I shall endeavour to reduce them all to these two sorts.
1. Such as were of a civil,
2. Such as were of a religious concern. 1. And first, for the civil, political consequences of it.
There immediately followed a change of government, of a government whose praise had been proclaimed for many centuries, and enrolled in the large fair characters of the subject's enjoyment and experience. It was now shred into a democracy; and the stream of government being cut into many channels, ran thin and shallow: whereupon the subject having many masters, every servant had so many distinct servitudes.
But the wheel of Providence, which only they looked upon, aud that even to a giddiness, did not stop here; but by a fatal, ridiculous vicissitude, both the power and wickedness of those many was again revolved, and compacted into one: from that one again it returned to many, with several attending variations, till at length we pitched upon one again, one beyond whom they could not go, the ne plus ultra of all regal excellency, as all change tends to, and at last ceases upon its acquired perfection.
Nor was the government only, but also the glory of the English nation changed; distinction of orders confounded, the gentry outbraved, and the nobility, who voted the bishops out of their dignities in parliament, by the just judgment of God thrust out themselves, and brought under the scorn and imperious lash of a beggar on horseback ; "learning discountenanced, and the universities threatened, their revenues to be sold, their colleges to be demolished; the law to be reformed after the same model; the records of the nation to be burnt." Such an inundation and deluge of ruin, reformation, and confusion had spread itself upon the whole land, that it seemed a kind of resemblance of Noah's deluge, in which only a few men survived amongst many beasts.
2. The other sort of consequences were of a religious concernment. I speak not of the contempt, rebuke, and discouragement lying upon the divines, or rather the preachers § of those days; for they brought these miseries upon themselves, and had more cause a great deal to curse their own seditious sermons than to curse Meroz. They sounded the first trumpet to rebellion, and, like true saints, had the grace to persevere in what they first began; courting and recognizing an usurper, calling themselves his loyal and obedient
subjects, never enduring so much as to think of their lawful sovereign, till at length the danger of tithes, their unum necessarium, scared them back to their allegiance.
I speak not therefore of these. But the great destructive consequence of this fact was, that it has left a lasting slur upon the protestant religion. "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Askelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines triumph," lest the Papacy laugh us to scorn; as, if they had no other sort of Protestants to deal with, I am sure they well might.
I confess, the seditious writings of some who called themselves Protestants, have sufficiently bespattered their religion. See Calvin warranting the three estates to oppose their prince, 4 Instit. ch. 20. sect. 31. See Master Knox's Appeal, and in that his arguments for resisting the civil magistrate. Read Mr Buchanan's discourse de jure regni apud Scotos. Read the Vindicia contra Tyrannos, under the name of Junius Brutus, writ by Ottoman the civilian. See Pareus upon the thirteenth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, where he states atrocem aliquam injuriam, a large term, and of very easy application, to be a sufficient reason for subjects to take up arms against their king. A book, instead of the author, most deservedly burnt by the hangBut shall we call this a comment upon the thirteenth chapter of the epistle to the Romans? It is rather a comment upon the covenant. Both of which, as they teach the same doctrine, so they deserved, and justly had the same confutation.t
But these principles, like sleeping lions, lay still a great while, and were never completely actuate, nor appeared in the field, till the French holy league and the English rebellion.
+ King Charles II. All this was Sir Henry Vane's villainous and monstrous advice.
§ Presbyterians and Independents.
Let the powder-plot be as bad as it will or can, yet still there is as much difference between the king's murder and that, as there is between an action and an attempt. What the papal bulls and anathemas could not do, factious sermons have brought about. What was then contrived against the parliament house, has been since done by it. What the papists' powder intended, the soldiers' match has effected. I say, let the powder-treason be looked upon (as indeed it is) as the product of hell, as black as the souls and principles that hatched it; yet still this reformationmurder will preponderate; and January, in villainy, always have the precedency of November.
And thus I have traced this accursed fact through all the parts and ingredients of it. And now, if we reflect upon the quality of the person upon whom it was done, the con
Baxter in his book dedicated to Richard Cromwell did so. + Burnt by the common hanginan in Oxon, by command of King James the First.