Charles William Eliot.

American historical documents 1000-1904, with introductions, notes and illustrations online

. (page 12 of 48)
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128 AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

private and selfish interest of a particular part (in com-
parison) than truly adequate to the common good and con-
cern of the whole body engaged in this cause: hence it is
that this compacted body is now falling asunder into many
dissenting parts (a thing not unforeseen nor unhoped for by
the common enemy all along as their last relief) ; and if
these breaches be not timely healed, and the offences (before
they take too deep root) removed, they will certainly work
more to the advantage of the common enemy than any of
their own unwearied endeavours and dangerous contriv-
ances in foreign parts put all together.

A serious discussion and sober enlarging upon these
grounds will quickly give an insight into the state of the
question, and naturally tend to a plain and familiar resolu-
tion thereof.

That which is first to be opened is the nature and good-
ness of the cause; which, had it not carried in it its
own evidence, would scarce have fotmd so many of the
people of God adherers to it within the three nations, con-
tributing either their counsels, their purses, their bodily
pains, or their affections and prayers, as a combined strength ;
without which, the military force alone would have been
little available to subdue the common enemy, and restore
to this whole body their just natural rights in civil things,
and true freedom in matters of conscience.

The two last-mentioned particulars, rightly stated, will
evidence sufiiciently the nature and goodness of this cause.

For the first of these, that is to say, the natural right,
which the whole party of honest men adhering to this cause
are by success of their arms restored unto, fortified in, and
may claim as their undeniable- privilege, that righteously
cannot be taken from them, nor they debarred from bringing
into exercise, it lies in this:

They are to have and enjoy the freedom (by way of
dutiful compliance and condescension from all the parts
and members of this society) to set up meet persons in the
place of supreme judicature and authority among them,
whereby they may have the use and benefit of the choicest
light and wisdom of the nation that they are capable to
call forth, for the rule and government under which they



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AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS 129

win live; and through the orderly exercise of such measure
of wisdom and counsel as the Lord in this way shall please
to give unto them, to shape and form all subordinate actings
and administrations of rule and government so as shall
best answer the public welfare and safety of the whole.

This, in substance, is the right and freedom contained i»
the nature and goodness of the cause wherein the honest
party have been engaged; for in this all the particulars of
our civil right and freedom are comprehended, conserved
in, and derived from their proper root; in which, while
they grow, they will ever thrive, flourish, and increase;
whereas, on the contrary, if there be never so many fair
branches of liberty planted on the root of a private and
selfish interest, they will not long prosper, but must, within
a little time, wither and degenerate into the nature of that
whereinto they are planted; and hence, indeed, sprung the
evil of that government which rose in and with the Norman
Conquest

The root and bottom upon which it stood was not public
interest, but the private lust and will of the conqueror, who
by force of arms did at first detain tihe right and freedom
which was and is due to the whole body of the people; for
whose safety and good, government itself is ordained by
God, not for the particular benefit of the rulers, as a distinct
and private interest of their own; which yet, for the most
part, is not only preferred before the common good, but
upheld in opposition thereunto. And as at first the con-
queror did, by violence and force, deny this freedom to the
people, which was their natural right and privilege, so he
and his successors all along lay as bars and impediments
to the true national interest and public good, in the very
national councils and assemblies themselves, which were
constituted in such a manner as most served for the up-
holding of the private interest of their families; and this
being challenged by them as their prerogative, was found
by the people assembled in Parliament most unrighteous, bur-
densome, and destructive to their liberty. And when they
once perceived that by this engine all their just rights were
like to be destroyed especially (being backed, as it was,
with the power of the militia, which the late king, for that

HC xLin (5)



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130 AMERICAN HISTDRICAL DOCUMBNTB

purpose, bad assumed into his hands, and would not, upon
the people's application to him in P^Iiament» part with
into the hands of that great council, who were best to be
intrusted with the nation's safety), tfiis was the ground of
the quarrel, upon a civil account between the king and his
party, and the whole body of acOierents to the cause of the
people's true liberty; whereof this short touch hath been
given, and shall suffice for the opening of the first branch
of this clause.

The second branch which remains briefly to be handled
is that which also upon the grounds of natural right is to
be laid claim unto, but distinguishes itself from the former
as it respects a more heavenly and excellent object wherein
the freedom is to be exercised and enjoyed, that is to say,
matters of religion, or that concern the service and worship
of God

Unto this freedom tlie nations of the world have right
and title by the purchase of Christ's Uood, who, by virtue
of his deadi and resurrection, is become the sole Lord and
Ruler in and over the conscience; for to this end Christ
died, rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the
dead and of the living, and that every one might give an
account of himself, in all matters of God's worship unto
God and Christ alone, as thdr own Master, unto whom they
stand or fall in judgment, and are not in these things to be
oppressed, or brought before the judgment-seats of men.
For why shouldst thon set at naught thy brother in matters
of his faith and consdenoe, and herdn intrude into the
proper office of Christ, since we are all to stand at the
judgment-seat of Christ, whether governors or governed,
and by his decision only are capable of being declared with
certainty to be in the right or in tfie wrong?

By virtue, then, of this supreme law, sealed and con*
firmed in the blood of Christ unto all men (whose souls he
challenges a propriety in, to bring under his inward rule
hi the service and worship of God), it is that all magistrates
are to fear and forbear intenroddling with giving rule or
imposing in those matters. They are to content themselves
with what is plain in their oommission, as ordained of God
to be his minister unto men for good, while they approve



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AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS 131

ftetnselves the doers of that which is good in the dght of
men» and whereof earthly and worldly judicatures are cap*
able to make a dear and perfect judgment; in idiich case
the magistrate is to be for praise and protection to them.
In like manner, he is to be a minister of terror and revenge
to those that do evil in matters of outward practice^ con*
verse, and dealings in the tilings of ttiis life between man
and man, for the cause whereof the judicatures of men are
appointed and set up. But to exceed these limits, as it is
not safe or warrantable for the magistrate (m that he who is
higher than the highest, regards, and will show himsdf dis*
pleased at it), so neither is it good for the people, who here*
by are nourished up in a biting, devouring, wrathful spirit
one against another, and are found transgressors of that
royal law which forbids us to do that unto another which
we would not have them do unto us, were we in thdr
condition.

This freedom, then, is of high concern to be had and
enjoyed, as well for the magistrate's sake as for the people's
common good; and it consists, as hath been said, in the
magistrate forbearing to put forth the power of rule and
coercion in things that God hath exempted out of his com*
mission: so that all care requisite for the people's obtaining
this may be exercised with great ease, if it be taken in its
proper season, and that this restraint be laid upon the sn*
preme power before it be erected, as a fundamental con*
stitution, among others, upon which the free consent of the
people is given, to have the persons brought into the exercise
of supreme authority over them and on their behalf; and if,
besides, as a further confirmation hereunto, it be acknowl*
edged the voluntary act of the ruling power, when once
brought into a capacity of acting legislatively, that herein
they are bound up, and judge it their duty so to be (both
in reference to God, the institutor of magistracy, and in
reference to the whole body by whom they are Intrusted),
this great blessing will hereby be so well provided for that
we shall have no cause to fear, as it may be ordered.

By this means a great part of the outward exercise of
anti-Christian tyranny and bondage win be plucked up by
the vei;y roots, wliich, till some such course be held in it^



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ISi AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

will be always apt to renew and sprout out afresh, tm3er
some new form or refined appearances, as by late years'
experience we have been taught: for, since the fall of the
bishops and persecuting presbyteries, the same spirit is apt to
arise in the next sort of clergy that can get the ear of the
magistrate, and pretend to the keeping and ruling the con-
science of the governors, although this spirit and practice
hath been all along decried by the faithful adherents to
this cause as a most sore oppression and insufferable yoke
' of bondage, most unrighteously kept up over the consciences
of the people, and therefore judged by them most needful
to be tfdcen out of ihe way; and in this matter the present
governors have been willing very eminently to give their
testimony in their public declarations, however in practice
there is much of grievance yet found among us, though
more, in probability, from the officiousness of subordinate
ministers than any clear purpose or design of the chief ia
power.

Having thus showed what the true freedom is, in both
the branches of it, that shines forth in the righteous causey
wherein the good people of these nations have so deeply
engaged, it will not be improper, in the next place, to con*
Elder two particulars more that give still farther light into
the matter in question, as, first, the qualifications of the
persons that have adhered to this cause; secondly, the capac*
ity wherein they have been found from time to time carry
ing it on.

As to their qualification, they have, in the general, dis«
tinguished themselves and been made known by a* forward-
ness to assist and own the public welfare and good of the
nation, for the attaining and preserving the just rights and
liberties thereof, asserted and witnessed unto in the true
! stating of this cause, according to the two branches thereof
already spoken tc. They have showed themselves, upon all
occasions, desirers and lovers of true freedom, either in
civils or in spirituals, or in both. To express their value
thereof, and faithfulness to the same, they have largely con-
tributed, in one kind or other, what was proper to each in
his place to do; which actions of theirs proceeding from
hearts sincerely affected to the cause, ereated in them a



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right to be of an incorporation and society by themselves,
under the name of the good party, having been from the
beginning unto this day publicly and commonly so acknowl-
edged, by way of distinction from all neuters, close and open
enemies, and deceitful friends or apostates. These, in order
to the maintaining of this cause, have stood by the army,
in defence and support thereof, against all opposition what-
ever, as those that, by the growing light of these times, have
been taught and led forth in their experiences to look above
and beyond the letter, form, and outward circiunstances of
government, into the inward reason and spirit thereof, here-
in only to fix and terminate, to the leaving behind all empty
shadows that would obtrude themselves in the place of true
freedom.

Secondly, as to the capacity wherein these persons, thus
qualified, have acted, it hath been very variable, and subject
to great changes: sometimes in one from, and sometimes
in another, and very seldom, if ever at all, so exactly and
in all points consonant to the rule of former laws and con-
stitutions of government as to be clearly and fully justified
by them any longer than the law of success and conquest
did uphold them who had the inward warrant of justice
and righteousness to encourage them in such their actings.

The utmost and last reserve, therefore, which they have
had, in case all other failed, hath been their military capac-
ity, not only strictly taken for the standing army, but in
the largest sense, wherein the whole party may (with the
army, and under that military constitution and conduct
which, by the providence of God, they shall then be found
in) associate themselves in the best order they can for the
common defence and safety of the whole; as not ignorant
that when once embodied in this their military posture, in
such manner as by common consent shall be foimd requisite
for the safety of the body, they are most irresistible, abso-
lute, and comprehensive in their power, having that wherein
the substance of all government is contained, and under
the protection whereof, and safety that may be maintained
thereby, they can contrive and determine in what manner
this irresistible, absolute, and boundless power, unto which
they are now arrived in this their military capacity, shall



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134 AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

have just and due limits set unto it, and be drawn out in
a meet and orderly way of exercise for the commonweal and
safety of the whole body, under the rule and oversight of
a supreme judicature, unto the wisdom of whose laws and
orders the sword is to become most entirely subject and
subservient; and this without the least cause of jealousy
or unsafety, either to the standing army, or any member
thereof, or unto the good people adhering to this cause, or
any of them, since the interest of both, by this mutual action
of either, will be so combined together in one (even in that
wherein before they were distinct), that all just cause of dif-
ference, fear, animosity, emulation, jealousy, or the like,
will be wholly abolished and removed.

For when once the whole body of the good people find that
the military interest and capacity is their own, and that
into which necessity at the last may bring the whole party
(whereof, of right, a place is to be reserved for them), and
that herein they are so far from being in subjection or sla-
very, that in this posture they are most properly sovereign,
and possess their right of natural sovereignty, they will
presently see a necessity of continuing ever one with their
army, raised and maintained by them for the promoting this
cause against the common enemy, who in his next attempt
will put for all with greater desperateness and rage than
ever.

Again, when once the standing army and their governors
shall also find that, by setting and keeping up themselves in
a divided interest from the rest of the body of honest
men, they withhold from themselves those contributions in
all voluntary and cheerful assistances, by the affections and
prayers, by the persons and purses of the good party, to the
weakening themselves thereby, as to any vigorous support
from them, in the times of most imminent danger (whereof
the late king had an experience, that will not suddenly be
out of memory, when he undertook the war, in the beginning
of these troubles, against the Scots, and was, in a manner,
therein deserted by all the good party in England), they will
then find (if they stay not till it be too late) that, by espous-
ing the interest of the people, in submitting themselves
with their fellow-adherents to the cause, under the rule and



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AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS 135

authority of their own supreme judicature, they lose not their
power or sovereignty, but, becoming one civil or politic
incorporation with the whole party of honest men, they do
therein keep the sovereignty, as originally seated in them-
selves, and part with it only but as by deputation and repre-
sentation of themselves, when it is brought into an orderly
way of exercise, by being put into the hands of persons
chosen and intrusted by themselves to that purpose.

By this mutual and happy transition, which may be made
between the party of honest men in the three nations vir-
tually in arms, and those actually so now in power at the
head of the army; how suddenly would the union of the
whole body be consolidated, and made so firm as it will not
need to fear all the designs and attempts of the common
enemy, especially if herein they unite themselves in the first
place to the Lord, as willing to follow his providence, and
observe his will in the way and manner of bringing this to
pass! in which case we shall not need to fear what all the
gates of hell are able to do in opposition therevmto.

It is not, then, the standing and being of the present army
and military forces in the three nations that is liable to
exception of offence from any dissenting judgments at this
time among the honest, well-affected party. In and with
them, under God, stand the welfare and outward safety of
the whole body; and to be enemies to them, or wish them
hurt, were to do it to themselves; and, by trying such con-
clusions, to play the game of the common enemy, to the utter
ruin and destruction, not only of the true freedom aimed at
and contended for in the late wars, but of the very persons
themselves that have been in any sort active or eminent
promoters thereof.

The army, considered as it is in the hands of an honest and
wise general, and sober, faithful officers, embodied with the
rest of the party of honest men, and espousing still the same
cause, and acting in their primitive simplicity, humility, and
trust, in reference to the welfare and safety of the whole
body, is the only justifiable and most advantageous posture
and capacity that the good party at present can find them-
selves in, in order to the obtaining that true freedom they
have fought for, and possessing of it in the establishment



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136 AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

tb^reof upon the true basis and foundation, as hath been
showed, of right government.

That wherein the offence lies, and which causes such great
thoughts of heart among the honest party (if it may be
freely expressed, as sure it may, when the magistrate him-
self professes he doth but desire and wait for conviction
therein), is, in short, this:

That when the right and privilege is returned, nay, is re-
stored by conquest unto the whole body (that forfeited
not their interest therein), of freely disposing themselves
in such a constitution of righteous government as may best
answer the ends held forth in this cause ; that, nevertheless,
either through delay they should be withheld as they are,
or through design they should come at last to be utterly
denied the exercise of this their right, upon pretence that
they are not in capacity as yet to use it, which, indeed, hath
some truth in it, if those that are now in power, and have the
command of the arms, do not prepare all things requisite
thereunto, as they may, and, like faithful guardians to the
Commonwealth, admitted to be in its nonage, they ought.

But if the bringing of true freedom into exercise among
men, yea, so refined a party of men, be impossible, why hath
this been concealed all this while? and why was it not
thought on before so much blood was spilt, and treasure
spent? Surely such a thing as this was judged real and
practicable, not imaginary and notional.

Besides, why may it not suffice to have been thus long de-
layed and withheld from the whole body, at least as to its
being brought by them into exercise now at last? Surely
the longer it is withheld, the stronger jealousies do increase,
that it is intended to be assumed and engrossed by a part
only, to the leaving the rest of the body (who, in all reason
and justice, ought to be equally participants with the other
in the right and benefit of the conquest, for as much as the
war was managed at the expense and for the safety of the
whole) in a condition almost as much exposed, and subject
to be imposed upon, as if they had been enemies and con-
quered, not in any sense conquerors.

If ever such an unrighteous, unkind, and deceitful dealing
with brethren should happen, although it might continue



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AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS 13?

above the reach of question from human judicature, yet can
we think it possible it should escape and go unpunished by
the immediate hand of the righteous Judge of the whole
world, when he ariseth out of his place to do right to the
oppressed.

Nay, if, instead of favouring and promoting the people's
common good and welfare, self-interest and private gain
should evidently appear to be the things we have aimed at
all along; if those very tyrannical principles and anti-Chris-
tian relics, which God by us hath punished in our predeces-
sors, should again revive, spring up afresh, and show them-
selves lodged also and retained in our bosoms, rendering
us of the number of those that have forgot they were
purged from their old sins, and declaring us to be such as,
to please a covetous mind, do withhold from destruction that
which God hath designed to the curse of his vengeance: if
all those great advantages of serving the Lord's will and
design in procuring and advancing his people's true welfare
and outward safety, which (as the fruit of his blessing upon
our armies) have so miraculously fallen into our hands,
shall at last be wrested and misimproved to the enriching
and greatening of ourselves — if these things should ever be
found among us (which the Lord in mercy forbid!), shall
we need to look any farther for the accursed thing? will not
our consciences show us, from the light of the Word and
Spirit of God, how near a conformity these actions would
hold therewith? which sin (Josh., vii.) became a curse to
the camp, and withheld the Lord from being any more
among them, or going out with their forces. And did the
action of Achan import any more than these two things:
First, he saved and kept from destruction the goodly Baby-
lonish garment, which was devoted by God thereunto; sec-
ondly, he brought not in the fruit and gain of the conquest
into the Lord's treasury, but covetously went about to con-
vert it to his own proper use? To do this is to take of the
accursed thing, which (Josh., vii.) all Israel was said to do
in the sin of Achan, and to have stolen and dissembled
likewise, and put it among their own stuff. This caused the
anger of the Lord to kindle against Israel, and made them
unable to stand before their enemies, but their hearts melted



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as water. And thus far the Lord is concerned^ if such an
evil as this shall lie hid in the midst of us. But to return
to what we were upon before.

The matter which is in question among the dissenting
parts of the whole body of honest men is not so trival and of
such small consequence as some would make it Tis, in
effect, the main and whole of the cause; without which all
the freedom which the people have or can have is in com-
parison but shadow and in name only, and therefore can
never give that peace and satisfaction to the body which is
requisite unto a durable and solid settlement This is that
which makes all sound and safe at the root, and gives the
right balance necessary to be held up between sovereignty
and subjection in the exercise of all righteous government;
applying the use of the sword to the promoting and uphold-
ing the public safety and welfare of the whole body, in
preference, and, if need be, in opposition unto any of the
parts ; while yet, by its equal and impartial administration in
reference unto each, it doth withal maintain the whole body
in a most delightful harmony, welfare, and correspondency.



Online LibraryCharles William EliotAmerican historical documents 1000-1904, with introductions, notes and illustrations → online text (page 12 of 48)