Mr. Prolocutor, I am a stranger. I will not meddle with the parliament privileges of another nation, nor the breaches thereof, but as a christian, under one common lord, a ruling elder in another church, and a parliament man in another kingdom, having commission from both that church and state, and at the desire of this kingdom assisting in their debates, intreat for your favour and patience to express my thoughts of what is before you.
In my judgment, that is before you which concerns Christ and these kingdoms most, and above all, and which will be the chiefest mean to end or continue these troubles. And that not only speaking humaniter, and looking to the disposition of these kingdoms, but especially in regard of the divine dispensation, which hath been so special and sensible in the rise and continuance of these commotions, as I can neither be persuaded that they were raised for, or will be calmed upon the settlement of civil rights and privileges either of kings or princes, whatsoever may seem to be our present success; but I am convinced they have a higher rise from, and for the highest end, the settling of the crown of Christ in these islands, to be propagated from island to continent; and until king Jesus be set down on his throne, with his sceptre in his hand, I do not expect God's peace, and so not solid peace from men in these kingdoms. But establish that, and a durable peace will be found to follow that sovereign truth. Sir, let us lay to heart what is before us, a work which concerns God and man most of any thing in agitation now under the sun, and for which we will one day be called to a more strict account than for any other passage of our life. Let us both tremble and rejoice when we reflect upon what is under debate, and now in our hands.
I was glad to hear the parliament confess their willingness to receive and observe whatsoever shall be shown from the word of God to be Christ or his church, their rights or due; albeit I was sorry to see any, in the delivery thereof, intermix any of their own personal asperity, any aspersions upon this assembly, or reflections on another nation; so in this day of law for Christ, wherein justice is offered, if he get not right in not shewing his patent from his father, and his churches from himself, it will be counted your fault.
Sir, all christians are bound to give a testimony to every truth when called to it, but ye are the immediate servants of the Most High, Christ's proctors and heralds, whose proper function it is to proclaim his name, and preserve his offices, and assert his rights. Christ has had many testimonies given to his prophetical and priestly offices by the pleadings and sufferings of his saints, and in these latter days seems to require the same unto his kingly office. A king loves a testimony to his crown best of any, as that which is tenderest to him, and confessors and martyrs for Christ's crown are the most royal and most stately of any state martyrs; so although Christ's kingdom be not of this world, and his servants did not fight therefore when he was to suffer, yet it is in this world, and for this end was he born. To give a testimony to this truth, among others, were we born, and must not be ashamed of it, nor deny it; but confess and avouch it by pleading, doing and suffering for it, even when what is in agitation seems most to oppose it, and therefore requires a seasonable testimony. But it lies upon you, Sir, &c. who have both your calling from Christ for it, and at this time a particular calling from many, that which the honourable houses require from you at such a time, when the settlement of religion thereon, and when it is the very controversy of the times, and the civil magistrates not only call you before them to aver the truth therein, but also giveth you a good example, cometh before you out of tenderness to their civil trust and duty, to maintain the privileges of parliament; to give a testimony assentatory to their civil rights and privileges, and to forewarn you lest you break the same, and incur civil premunires. Sir, this should teach us to be as tender, zealous and careful to assert Christ and his church, their privileges and rights, and to forewarn all lest they endanger their souls by encroaching thereon, and lest their omissions and remissness bring eternal premunires upon them, let all know that the spirit of your Master is upon you, and that Christ hath servants who will not only make pulpits to ring with the sound of his prerogative, but also, if they shall be called to it, make a flame of their bodies burning at the stake for a testimony to it, carry it aloft through the earth (like the voice in Sicily) that Christ lives and reigns alone in his church, and will have all done therein according to his word and will, and that he has given no supreme headship over his church to any pope, king or parliament whatsoever.
Sir, you are often desired to remember the bounds of your commission from man, and not to exceed the same. I am confident you will make as much conscience not to be deficient in the discharge of your commission from Christ. But now, Sir, you have a commission from God and man together, to discuss that truth, That Christ is a king, and has a kingdom in the external government of his church, and that he has set down laws and offices, and other substantials thereof; and a part of the kingdom the which to come we daily pray (as Perkins shews well). We must not now before men mince, hold up, or conceal any thing necessary for this testimony; all these would seem to me to be retiring and flying, and not to flow from the high spirit of the Most High, who will not flinch for one hour, nor quit one hoof, nor edge away a hem of Christ's robe royal. These would seem effects of desertion, tokens of being ashamed, afraid or politically diverted; and all these and every degree of them, Sir, I am confident will be very far from the thoughts of every one here, who by their votes and petitions, according to their protestations at their entry, have shewed themselves so zealous and forward to give their testimony, albeit they easily saw it would not be very acceptable to the powers on earth, who would hamper, stamp and halve it. But would ye answer to that question, If this were a parliament, and if it was a full and free one, would he not, and should he not be esteemed a great breaker of privileges, and contemptor curiae, albeit we are not so wise, yet let us be as tender and jealous in our day and generation. Truly, Sir, I am confident you will not be so in love with a peaceable and external profession of any thing that may be granted to the church, as to conceal, disclaim or invert your Master's right. That were to lose the substance for a circumstance, to desert and dethrone Christ, to serve yourselves and enthrone others in his place: a tenant doing so to his lord or landlord forfeits all. Ye are commanded to be faithful in little, but now ye are commanded to be faithful in much; for albeit the salvation of souls be called cura curaru, the welfare and happiness of churches (made up of these) is far more; but the kingdom of Christ is q. d. optimum maximum, and to have it now under your debate, as it is the greatest honour God doth bestow upon an assembly, so it is the greatest danger: For according now as God shall assist or direct you, you may, and will be the instruments of the greatest good or evil on earth. Let us do all in, with, for and by Christ. Remember the account we have to make to him, who subjects the standing or falling of his crown in this island to our debate. I speak humaniter, for diviniter I know it is impossible, and albeit we should all prove false and faint-hearted, he can, and will soon raise up other instruments to assert, publish, and propagate his right to a forum consistorii. He will have it thoroughly pled and judged betwixt his kingdom and the kingdoms of the earth. And seeing he has begun to conquer, he will prevail over all that stand in his way, whether pope, king or parliament, that will claim any part of his headship, supreme prerogative, and monarchy over his own church.
Sir, some may think you have had a design in abstaining so long from asserting the divine right of church government, now to come in with it truly. Sir, I look upon this check, as a good providence for your great sparing and abstaining in that point, and must bear witness to many passages of God's good hand in it, in not suffering us to make a stand of our desires concerning religion, either in Scotland or here, albeit we have often set down mensura voti to ourselves; but he has as often moved us step after step to trace back our defections, and make the last innovations a besom to sweep out the former, and the king refused to be a mean to engage in a covenant with himself and others, and so has drawn us, against our wills, and beyond our desires, to perform our duty, and to give a testimony to his truth, that much of God and divine wisdom and design, and little of man and his politic projects, might be seen in the beginning, progress and continuance of the whole work, by this good hand of God: And for this end I hope these queries are brought to your hand at this time.
Sir, your serving the parliament a while, I am confident, has been and will be still, not that they may serve you, but for to serve the Lord Jesus Christ; and that parliament will glory more in their subordination and subservience to him, than in the empire and command over the world.
Sir, we may hear much of the breach of privilege, and of the covenant, in relation to civil rights. Let us remember in the covenant the three orders in the title and preface, three main duties in the body, and the three effects in the close. The covenant begins with the advancement, and ends with the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, as the substantials and over-word of the whole.
The first article of the seven is Christ, an article like dies Dominica in the week, all the rest are in Domino, and subordinate thereunto: And all laws contrary to the will of Christ are acknowledged to be void in his kingdom, and so they should, with far greater reason than the constable's orders against the ordinance of parliament are void in law. But, Sir, Christ's throne is highest, and his privileges supreme as only King and Head of his church, albeit kings and magistrates may be members in it. There is no authority to be balanced with his, nor posts to be set up against his, nor Korahs to be allowed against his Aarons, nor Uzziahs against his Azariahs. Is it so small a thing to have the sword? but they must have the keys also. Truly, Sir, I am confident that the parliament, and both nations will acknowledge themselves engaged under this authority, and as they would not be drawn from it (for we must deny our places, take up our cross, lay aside our love to father or mother, paternal or civil, yea lay down our lives, to aver and confess this truth against all allurements and terrors) so ye would never endeavour to draw us to any other, and whatsoever reflection to the contrary was insinuated by the deliverer of this message, I cannot but impute it to personal passion, which long ago was known to the world, but will never believe the honourable house will allow thereof, as being far beneath their wisdom, and contrary to your merit.
And, Sir, seeing these queries are before you, I am confident that whatever diversity of opinion may be among you in any particular, ye will all hold out Christ's kingdom distinct from the kingdoms of the earth, and that he has appointed the government of his own house, and should rule the same; and that none of this assembly, even for the gaining of their desires in all the points of difference, would by their silence, concealment and connivance, weaken, commutate or sell a part of this fundamental truth, this sovereign interest of Christ; and that ye will all concur to demonstrate the same by clear passages of scripture, or necessary consequences therefrom, and by constant practice of the apostles, which are rules unto us.
Sir, I will close with remembering you of two passages of your letter sent, by order of the house of commons, to the general assembly of the church of Scotland, that you will set out such discipline as, to the utmost of your power, you may exalt Christ the only Lord over the church, his own house, in all his offices, and present the church as a chaste virgin to Christ; and for this end that you were not restrained by the houses in your votes and resolutions, nor bound up to the sense of others, nor to carry on a private design in a civil way, but by your oath were secured against all flattering of your judgment, and engaged thereby according to the house's desire, to use all freedom becoming the integrity of your consciences, the weight of the cause, and the integrity and honour of such an assembly. I will no more, Sir, trouble you, but with one word upon the whole matter, to desire you seriously to consider if this business, whereon the eyes of God are fixed, deserves not a special day of humiliation and prayer, for the Lord's extraordinary assistance and direction of this assembly.