Skip to main content

Eikon Basilike: Ch. 13

Upon the Calling in of the Scots, and their Comming.

THE Scots are a Nation, upon whom I have not onely common ties of Nature, Soveraignty, and Bounty, with My Father of blessed memory; but also speciall and late obligations of favours, having gratified the active Spirits among them so farre, that I seemed to many, to prefer the desires of that Party, before My owne interest and Honour. But, I see, Royall bounty emboldens some men to aske, and act beyond all bounds of modesty and gratitude.

My charity, and Act of Pacification, forbids Me to reflect on former passages; wherein I shall ever be farre from letting any mans ingratitude, or inconstancy, make Me repent of what I granted them, for the publique good: I pray God it may so prove.

The comming againe of that Party into England, with an Army, onely to conforme this Church to their late New modell, cannot but seeme as unreasonable, as they would have thought the same measure offered from hence to themselves.

Other errand I could never understand, they had, (besides those common and vulgar flourishes for Religion and Liberty) save only to confirme the PresbyterianRelating to a style of church governance that uses church elders rather than bishops, or people who belong to a presbyterian church. Copy they had set, by making this Church to write after them, though it were in bloudy Characters.

Which designe and end, whether it will justifie the use of such violent meanes, before the divine Justice: I leave to their Consciences to judge, who have already felt the misery of the meanes, but not reaped the benefit of the end, either in this Kingdome, or that.

Such knots and crosnesse of grain being objected here, as will hardly suffer that forme which they cry up, as the only just reformation, and setling of Government and discipline in Churches, to go on so smoothly here, as it might doe in Scotland; and was by them imagined would have done in England, when so many of the English ClergyThe people ordained for religious duties, especially in the Christian Church., through levity, or discontent, if no worse passion, suddenly quitted their former engagements to EpiscopacyThe government of a church by bishops, or the office of a bishop., and faced about to their Presbytery.

It cannot but seeme either passion, or some self-seeking, more then true Zeal, and pious Discretion, for any forraigne State or Church to prescribe such medicines only for others, which themselves have used, rather successefully then commendably; not considering that the same Physick on different constitutions, will have different operations; that may kill one, which doth but cure another.

Nor do I know any such tough and malignant humours in the constitutionA body of fundamental principles and established precedents by which a state governs itself; or the composition of something. of the English Church, which gentler applications then those of an Army, might not easily have removed: nor is it so proper to hew out religious Reformations by the Sword, as to polish them by faire and equall disputations among those that are most concerned in the differences, whom not force, but Reason ought to convince.

But their design now, seemed rather to cut off all disputation here, then to procure a fair and equall one; for, it was concluded there, that the English Clergy must conforme to the Scots patterne before ever they could be heard, what they could say for themselves, or against the others way.

I could have wished fairer proceedings both for their credits, who urge things with such violence; and for other mens Consciences too, who can receive little satisfaction in these points which are maintained rather by Souldiers fighting in the Field, than Schollars disputing in free and learned Synods.

Sure in matters of Religion those truths gain most on mens Judgements and Consciences, which are least urged with secularNot connected with religious matters. violence, which weakens Truth with prejudices; and is unreasonable to be used, till such meanes of rationall conviction hath been applied, as leaving no excuse for ignorance, condemnes mens obstinacy to deserved penalties.

Which no charity will easily suspect of so many learned and pious Church-men in England; who being alwayes bred up, and conformable to the Government of Episcopacy, cannot so soone renounce both their former opinion and practise, only because that Party of the Scots will needs, by force assist a like Party here, either to drive all Ministers, as sheep into the common fold of Presbytery, or destroy them; at least fleece them, by depriving them of the benefit of their Flocks. If the Scotch sole Presbytery were proved to be the only institution of Jesus Christ, for all Churches Government; yet I believe it would be hard to prove that Christ had given those Scots, or any other of my Subjects, Commission by the Sword to set it up in any of my Kingdomes, without my Consent.

What respect and obedience Christ and his Apostles pay'd to the cheif Governours of States, where they lived is very clear in the Gospell; but that he, or they ever commanded to set up such a parity of Presbyters, and in such a way as those Scots endeavour; I think is not very disputable.

If Presbytery in such a supremacyThe state of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status be an institution of Christ; sure it differs from all others; and is the first and only point of Christianity, that was to be planted and watered with so much Christian bloud; whose effusions run in a stream so contrary to that of the Primitive planters, both of Christianity and Episcopacy, which was with patient shedding of their own bloud, not violent drawing other mens; sure there is too much of Man in it, to have much of Christ, none of whose institutions were carried on, or begun with the temptations of Covetousnesse or Ambition; of both which this is vehemently suspected.

Yet was there never any thing upon the point, which those Scots had by Army or Commissioners to move me with, by their many Solemne obtestations, and pious threatnings, but only this; to represent to me the wonderfull necessity of setting up their Presbytery in England, to avoid the further miseries of a Warre; which some men cheifly on this designe at first had begun, and now further engaged themselves to continue.

What hinders that any Sects, Schismes, or Heresies, if they can get but numbers, strength and opportunity, may not, according to this opinion and patterne, set up their wayes by the like methods of violence all which Presbytery seekes to suppresse, and render odious under those names; when wise and learned men think, that nothing hath more marks of Schisme, and Sectarisme, then this Presbyterian way, both as to the Ancient, and still most Universall way of the Church-government, and specially as to the particular Lawes and Constitutions of this English Church, which are not yet repealed, nor are like to be for me, till I see more Rationall and Religious motives, then Souldiers use to carry in their Knapsacks.

But we must leave the successe of all to God, who hath many wayes (having first taken us off from the folly of our opinions, and fury of our passion) to teach us those rules of true Reason, and peaceable Wisdome, which is from above, tending most to Gods glory, & his Churches good; which I think my self so much the more bound in Conscience to attend, with the most judicious Zeal and care, by how much I esteem the Church above the State, the glory of Christ above mine Own; and the salvation of mens Soules above the preservation of their Bodies and Estates.

Nor may any men, I think, without sinne and presumption, forcibly endeavour to cast the Churches under my care and tuition, into the moulds they have fancied, and fashioned to their designes, till they have first gained my consent, and resolved, both my own and other mens Consciences by the strength of their Reasons.

Other violent motions, which are neither Manly, Christian, nor Loyall, shall never either shake or settle my Religion; nor any mans else, who knowes what Religion meanes: and how farre it is removed from all Faction, whose proper engine is force; the arbitrator of beasts, not of reasonable men, much lesse of humble Christians, and loyall Subjects, in matters of Religion.

But men are prone to have such high conceits of themselves, that they care not what cost they lay out upon their opinions; especially those, that have some temptation of gain, to recompence their losses and hazards.

Yet I was not more scandalized at the Scots Armies comming in against my will, and their forfeiture of so many obligations of duty, and gratitude to me: then I wondered, how those here, could so much distrust Gods assistance; who so much pretended Gods cause to the People, as if they had the certainty of some divine Revelation; considering they were more then competently furnished with my Subjects Armes and Ammunition; My Navie by Sea, my Forts, Castles, and Cities by Land.

But I find, that men jealous of the Justifiablenesse of their doings, and designes before God, never think they have humane strength enough to carry their worke on, seem it never so plausible to the People; what cannot be justified in Law or Religion, had need be fortified with Power.

And yet such is the inconstancy that attends all minds engaged in violent motion, that whom some of them one while earnestly invite to come into their assistance; others of them soone after are weary of, and with nauseating cast them out: what one Party thought to rivet to a setledness by the strength and influence of the Scots, that the other rejects and contemnes; at once, despising the Kirk Government, and Discipline of the Scots, and frustrating the successe of so chargable, more then charitable assistance: for, sure the Church of England might have purchased at a farre cheaper rate, the truth and happinesse of Reformed government and discipline (if it had been wanting) though it had entertained the best Divines of Christendome for their advice in a full and free Synod; which, I was ever willing to, and desirous of, that matters being impartially setled, might be more satisfactory to all, and more durable.

But much of Gods justice, and mans folly will at length be discovered, through all the filmes and pretensions of Religion, in which Politicians wrap up their designes; in vaine do men hope to build their piety on the ruines of Loyalty. Nor can those considerations or designs be durable, when Subjects make bankrupt of their Allegiance, under pretence of setting up a quicker trade for Religion.

But, as My best Subjects of Scotland never deserted Me, so I cannot think that the most are gone so far from Me, in a prodigality of their love and respects toward Me, as to make Me to despaire of their returne; when besides the bonds of nature and Conscience, which they have to Me, all Reason and true Policy will teach them, that their chiefest interest consists in their fidelity to the Crowne, not in their serviceablenesse to any Party of the People, to a neglect and betraying of My Safety and Honour for their owne advantages: however the lesse cause I have to trust to men, the more I shall apply My self to God.

The Troubles of My Soule are enlarged, O Lord, bring thou me out of My distresse.

Lord direct thy Servant in the waies of that pious simplicity, which is the best policy.

Deliver Me from the combined strength of those, who have so much of the Serpents subtilty, that they forget the Doves Innocency.

Though hand joyne in hand, yet let them not prevaile against My soule, to the betraying of My Conscience, and Honour.

Thou, O Lord, canst turne the hearts of those Parties in both Nations, as thou didst the men of Judah and Israel, to restore David with as much loyall Zeale, as they did with inconstancy and eagernesse pursue Him.

Preserve the love of thy Truth and uprightnesse in Me, and I shall not despaire of My Subjects affections returning towards Me.

Thou canst soone cause the overflowing Seas to ebbe, and retire back again to the bounds which thou hast appointed for them.

O My God, I trust in thee; let me not be ashamed; let not My enemies triumph over Me.

Let them be ashamed who transgresse without a cause; let them be turned back that persecute My Soule.

Let integrity and uprightnesse preserve Me, for I wait on thee O Lord.

Redeeme thy Church, O God, out of all its Troubles.