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Eikon Basilike: Ch. 9

Upon the lifting, and raising Armies against the KING.

I FIND that I am at the same point and posture I was, when they forced Me to leave Whitehall: what Tumults could not doe, an Army must; which is but Tumults listed, and enrolled to a better order, but as bad an end: My recesse hath given them confidence that I may be conquered.

And so I easily may as to any outward strength, which, God knowes, is little or none at all: but I have a Soule invincible through Gods grace enabling Me; here I am sure to be Conquerour, if God will give Me such a measure of Constancy, as to feare him more than man: and to love the inward peace of My Conscience, before any outward tranquillity.

And must I be opposed with force, because they have not reason wherewith to convince me? O my Soule! be of good courage, they confesse their knowne weaknesse, as to truth, and Justice, who chose rather to contend by Armies, than by Arguments.

Is this the reward and thanks that I am to receive for those many Acts of Grace I have lately passed, and for those many Indignities I have endured? Is there no way left to make me a glorious KING but by My sufferings?

It is a hard and disputable choice for a King, that loves his People, and desires their love, either to kill his owne Subjects, or to be killed by them.

Are the hazards and miseries of Civil War in the bowels of My most flourishing Kingdome, the fruits I must now reap after 17 years living and reigning among them, with such a measure of Justice, Peace, Plenty, and Religion, as all Nations about either admired, or envied? Notwithstanding some miscarriages in Government, which might escape; rather through ill counsell of some men driving on their private ends, or the peevishnesse of others envying the publique should be managed without them, or the hidden and insuperable necessities of State, then any propensity, I hope, of my self either to injuriousness or oppression.

Whose innocent bloud during My Reigne have I shed, to satisfie My lust, anger, or covetousnesse? What Widowes or Orphans tears can witnesse against me; the just cry of which must now be avenged with My owne bloud? For the hazards of Warre are equall, nor doth the Cannon know any respect of Persons.

In vaine is My Person excepted by a Parenthesis of words, when so many hands are armed against Me with Swords.

God knowes how much I have studied to see what Ground of Justice is alledged for this Warre against Me; that so I might (by giving just satisfaction) either prevent, or soone end so unnaturall a motion; which (to many men) seemes rather the productions of a surfeit of peace, and wantonnesse of mindes, or of private discontents, Ambition and Faction (which easily find, or make causes of quarrell) then any reall obstructions of publick Justice, or Parliamentary Priviledge.

But this is pretended, and this I must be able to avoid and answer before God in My owne Conscience, however some men are not willing to beleeve Me, lest they should condemne themselves.

When I first withdrew from White-hall, to see if I could allay the insolency of the Tumults, (the not suppressing of which, no account in Reason can be given, (where an orderly Guard was granted) but only to oppresse both Mine and the Two Houses freedome of declaring and voting according to every mans Conscience) what obstructions of Justice were there further then this, that what seemed just to one man, might not seeme so to another?

Whom did I by power protect against the Justice of Parliament?

That some men withdrew, who feared the partiality of their tryall, (warned by My Lord of Straffords death) while the vulgar threatned to be their Oppressors, and Judgers of their Judges, was from that instinct, which is in all creatures to preserve themselves. If any others refused to appear, where they evidently saw the current of Justice and freedom so stopped and troubled by the Rabble, that their lawfull Judges either durst not come to the Houses, or not declare their sense with liberty and safety; it cannot seem strange to any reasonable man when the sole exposing them to publick odium was enough to ruine them, before their Cause could be heard or tryed.

Had not factious Tumults overborne the Freedome and Honour of the two Houses; had they asserted their Justice against them, and made the way open for all the Members quietly to come and declare their Consciences: I know no man so deare to Me, whom I had the least inclination to advise either to withdraw himself, or deny appearing upon their Summons, to whose Sentence according to Law (I think) every Subject bound to stand.

Distempers (indeed) were risen to so great a height, for want of timely repressing the vulgar insolencies; that the greatest guilt of those which were Voted and demanded as Delinquents was this, that they would not suffer themselves to be over-aw'd with the Tumults, and their Patrones; nor compelled to abet by their suffrages, or presence; the designes of those men who agitated innovations, and ruine, both in Church and State.

In this point I could not but approve their generous constancy and cautiousnesse; further then this I did never allow any mans refractorinesse against the Priviledges and Orders of the Houses; to whom I wished nothing more, then Safety, Fulnesse, and Freedome.

But the truth is, some men, and those not many, despairing in faire and Parliamentary wayes by free deliberations, and Votes to gain the concurrence of the Major part of Lords and Commons, betook themselves (by the desperate activity of factious Tumults) to sift and terrific away all those Members whom they saw to be of contrary minds to their purposes.

How oft was the businesse of the Bishops enjoying their Ancient places, and undoubted Priviledges in the House of Peeres, carried for them by farre the Major part of Lords. Yet after five repulses, contrary to all Order and Custome, it was by tumultuary, instigations obtruded again, and by a few carried, when most of the Peeres were forced to absent themselves.

In like manner, as the Bill against Root and Branch, brought on by tumultuary Clamours, and schismaticall Terrours, which could never passe, till both Houses were sufficiently thinned and over-awed.

To which Partiality, while in all Reason, Justice and Religion, My conscience forbids Me by consenting to make up their Votes to Acts of Parliament; I must now be urged with an Army, and constrained either to hazard My owne, and My Kingdomes ruine, by my Defence; or prostrate My Conscience to the blind obedience of those men, whose zealous superstition thinks, or pretends, they cannot do God and the Church a greater service, than utterly to destroy that Primitive, Apostolicall, and anciently Universall Government of the Church by Bishops.

Which if other mens judgements bind them to maintain, or forbids them to consent to the abolishing of it; Mine much more; who, besides the grounds I have in My judgement, have also a most strickt and indispensable Oath upon My Conscience, to preserve that Order, and the Rights of the Church; to which, most Sacrilegious and abhorred Perjury, most unbeseeming a Christian King, should I ever by giving My Consent be betrayed, I should account it infinitely greater misery, then any hath, or can befall Me; in as much as the least sinne hath more evill in it then the greatest affliction. Had I gratified their Anti-episcopall Faction at first in this point, with My consent, and sacrificed the Ecclesiasticall Government, and Revenues, to the fury of their covetousnesse, ambition, and revenge, I believe they would then have found no colourable necessity of raising an Army to fetch in, and punish Delinquents.

That I consented to the Bill of putting the Bishops out of the House of Peers, was done with a firm perswasion of their contentednes to suffer a present diminution in their Rights, and Honour for My sake, and the Common-weals, which I was confident they would readily yeeld unto, rather then occasion (by the least obstruction on their part) any dangers to Me, or to My Kingdome. That I cannot adde My consent for the totall extirpation of that Government (which I have often offered to all fit regulations) hath so much further tie upon My Conscience, as what I think Religious and Apostolicall; and so very Sacred and Divine, is not to be dispensed with, or destroyed, when what is only of civill Favor, and priviledge of Honour granted to men of that Order, may with their consent, who are concerned in it be annulledTo be declared invalid..

This is the true state of those obstructions pretended to be in point of Justice and Authority of Parliament; when I call God to witnesse, I knew none of such consequence as was worth speaking of a Warre, being only such as Justice, Reason, and Religion had made in My owne and other mens Consciences.

Afterwards indeed a great shew of Delinquents was made; which were but consequences necessarily following upon Mine, or others withdrawing from, or defence against violence: but those could not be the first occasion of raising an Army against Me. Wherein I was so far from preventing them, (as they have declared often, that they might seeme to have the advantage and Justice of the defensive part, and load Me with all the envy and injuries of first assaulting them) that God knows, I had not so much as any hopes of an Army in My thoughts. Had the Tumults been Honourably and Effectually repressed by exemplary Justice, and the liberty of the Houses so vindicated, that all Members of either House might with Honour and Freedome, becomming such a Senate, have come and discharged their Consciences, I had obtained all that I designed by My withdrawing, and had much more willingly, and speedily returned then I retired; this being My necessity driving, the other My choise desiring.

But some men know, I was like to bring the same judgement and constancy, which I carryed with Me, which would never fit their designes: and so while they invited Me to come, and grievously complained of My absence, yet they could not but be pleased with it: especially when they had found out that plausible and popular pretext of raising an Army to fetch in Delinquents: when all that while they never punished the greatest and most intolerable Delinquencie of the Tumults, and their Exciters, which drave My selfe, and so many of both Houses from their places, by most barbarous indignities, which yet in all Reason and Honour, they were as loath to have deserted, as those others were willing they should, that so they might have occasion to persecute them with the Injuries of an Army, for not suffering more tamely the Injuries of the Tumults.

That this is the true state, and first drift and designe in raising an Army against Me, is by the sequel so evident, that all other pretences vanish. For when they declared by Propositions, or Treaties, what they would have to appease them; there was nothing of consequence offered to Me, or demanded of Me, as any originall difference in any point of Law, or order of Justice. But among other lesser Innovations, this chiefly was urged, The Abolition of Episcopall, and the Establishment of PresbyterianRelating to a style of church governance that uses church elders rather than bishops, or people who belong to a presbyterian church. Government.

All other things at any time propounded were either impertinent as to any ground of a War, or easily granted by Me, and onely to make up a number, or else they were meerly consequentiall, and accessary, after the War was by them unjustly began.

I cannot hinder other mens thoughts, whom the noise and shew of piety, and heat for Reformation and Religion, might easily so fill with prejudice, that all equality and clearnesse of judgement might be obstructed. But this was, and is, as to my best observation, the true state of affaires betweene us, when they first raised an Army, with this designe, either to stop My mouth, or to force My consent: and in this truth, as to My conscience, (who was (God knowes) as far from meditating a War, as I was in the eye of the world from having any preparation for one) I find that comfort, that in the midst of all the unfortunate successes of this War, on My side, I doe not think My Innocencie any whit prejudiced or darkned; nor am I without that Integrity, and Peace before God, as with humble confidence to addresse My Prayer to Him.

For Thou, O Lord, seest clearly through all the cloudings of humane affaires; Thou judgest without prejudice: Thy Omniscience eternally guides thy unerrable Judgement.

O my God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soule, and have not set Thee before their eyes.

Consider My enemies, O Lord, for they are many, and they hate me with a deadly hatred without a cause.

For Thou knowest, I had no passion, designe or preparation to embroyle My Kingdomes in a Civill Warre; whereto I had least temptation; as knowing I must adventure more then any, and could gaine least of any by it.

Thou, O Lord, art my witnesse how oft I have deplored, and studied to divert the necessity thereof, wherein I cannot well be thought so prodigally thirsty of my Subjects blood, as to venture my own Life, which I have been oft compelled to doe in this un happy Warre; and which were better spent to save then to destroy my People.

O Lord, I need much of thy grace, with patience to bear the many afflictions thou hast suffered some men to bring upon me; but much more to bear the unjust reproaches of those, who not content that I suffer most by the Warre, will needs perswade the world that I have raised first, or given just cause to raise it.

The confidence of some mens false tongues is such, that they would make me almost suspect my own innocency: Yea, I could be content (at least by my silence) to take upon me so great a guilt before men, if by that I might allay the malice of my Enemies, and redeeme my People from this miserable Warre; since thou O Lord knowest my Innocency in this thing.

Thou wilt finde out bloudy and deceitfull men; many of whom have not lived out half their daies, in which they promised themselves the enjoyment of the fruits of their violent and wicked Counsells.

Save, O Lord, thy servant, as hitherto thou hast, and in thy due time scatter the people that delight in Warre.

Arise O Lord, lift up thy self, because of the rage of mine Enemies, which encreaseth more and more. Behold them that have conceived mischief, travelled with iniquity, and brought forth falshood.

Thou knowest the chief designe of this Warre is, either to destroy My Person, or force My Judgment, and to make me renege my Conscience and thy Truth.

I am driven to crosse Davids choise and desire, rather to fall into the hands of men, by denying them, (thought their mercies be cruell) then into thy hands by sinning against My Conscience, and in that against thee, who art a consuming fire; better they destroy Me, then thou shouldst damne Me.

Be thou ever the defence of My soul, who wilt save the upright in heart.

If nothing but My bloud will satisfie My Enemies, or quench the flames of My Kingdomes, or thy temporall Justice, I am content, if it be thy will, that it be shed by Mine owne Subjects hands.

But o let the bloud of Me, though their King, yet a sinner, be washed with the Bloud of My Innocent and peace-making Redeemer, for in that thy Justice will find not only a temporary expiation, but an eternall plenary satisfaction; both for my sins, and the sins of my People; whom I beseech thee still own for thine, and when thy wrath is appeased by my Death, O Remember thy great mercies toward them, and forgive them! O my Father, for they know not what they doe.