Front Page Titles (by Subject) Generall Councill. - The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 2
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Generall Councill. - Sir William Clarke, The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, vol. 2 
The Clarke Papers. Selections from the Papers of William Clarke, Secretary to the Council of the Army, 1647-1649, and to General Monck and the Commanders of the Army in Scotland, 1651-1660, ed. C.H. Firth (Camden Society, 1894). 4 vols.
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Made a longe speech declaring his dissent to the Agreement; setting forth that whilest wee were in a way of putting downe of aucthority wee had the power of God going alonge with us: but as itt was with the Parliament in [imposing] the Covenant, that which they look’t for to bee for agreement proved to bee a great disagreement amongst the Nation, soe [with us] this [Agreement would prove] to bee an Hellish thinge, and altogether tending to disagreement; and though hee likes the greatest parte of that Agreement, yett the last [Article] as in relation to religion, is that which will doe much hurt.
Answer to itt.a
That itt was nott to advance themselves [they offered this Agreement to the nation], butt [as] such a settlement as might bee equally good for all; and when wee did hold this forth without any inforcement uppon any, meerly tendring [it] to them as our utmost essay in this kinde, then itt hath surely itt’s proper effect in itt’s testimonie to the kingedome of our indeavours in that kinde; and that effect I cannott butt expect from itt, because itt is a duty wee are led too for avoiding a just offence, and the preventing those evills amongst men that may ensue uppon that offence. Butt indeed if ever wee shall come to use forcible impulsions to binde men uppe in this Agreement; and shall soe sett itt uppe as the necessary thinge without which the kingedome cannott bee, or soe sett itt uppe as that from which wee would promise good thinges to the kingedomes, with a neglect or deniall, or diminution of God, or of his power, then I thinke wee shall incurre (when wee doe come to that end) the same blame as hath bin in the inforcement of the Covenant.
Butt truly, I shall nott trouble your Lordshippe to speake [of] the vast differences both in religious and civill respects that are betweene Covenants of that kinde that that was, and such as this is; I shall say this only in generall: that this businesse of this Agreement is more of the destructive nature to all covenants and to all authoritiesa then itt is of the confirming nature to any. Except itt bee in that last clause of the non-resistencie of the peoples future Representatives by force of Armes.b Itt is thec contrary to [that, rather] the throwing downe of all destructive power then the erecting of any. Nay, I am confident that itt is nott the hand of men that will take away the power of Monarchy in the earth, butt if ever itt bee destroyed, itt will bee by the breaking forth of the power of God amongst men to make such formes needlesse. Butt the nature of this [Agreement] is, that uppon that ground [that] till God doe soe breake itt there will bee some power exercised, either by a voluntarie dispensation of the power from the people, or by the sword—since in the meane time there will bee some [power], that all the effect of this Agreement is noe more butt as restrictions uppon that power. [We agree as to that power] that itt shall nott bee in the hands of a Kinge; itt shall nott bee in the hands of Kinges or Peeres, or in the hands of Commons, butt [in the hands] of such as are chosen [by the people]; and nott in their hands [perpetually], but [only] for soe many monthes as they are chosen; and that there shall bee a new election of another [Representative once in two years]; and for elections, that they shall nott bee in Corporations, butt [in] more equall [divisions]. And for the power [given to the Magistrate], itt gives [him] noe power, butt what the supposition of a Magistracie or a Commonwealth doth imply in itt selfe. The businesse of this Agreement is rather a limiting his power. In time they shall nott sitt soe longe. In the matter they shall nott have power to doe in those thinges that wee reserve from them; and one thinge is a reservation of all other thinges that are in this Agreement which are foundations of libertie. And truly if any man will justly finde fault with this Agreement, as itt is passing from us—to deliver the Nation from oppression, and to settle such a Governement, as there must bee such a Governement—if any man will take any just exception, itt will bee a shewing that wee did nott take away enough of power.a The whole Agreement is the taking away of any [undue power], itt is nott a setting uppe of power where there is none, butt itt is a taking off of power, a paring off of those unnecessary advantages which power in this Kingdome formerly had, and is still apt to have, whereby itt may oppresse. Now if itt bee blamable in anythinge; itt is in that itt does nott take away more; and if there were somethinge else wherin power should bee abridg’d, if wee bee unanimous to take away thus farre wee may have patience one towards another till God satisfie us in that alsoe. Under that notion uppon which in my understanding this Agreement doth passe from this Councill, I doe nott understand that itt does come under that sence that Mr. Erbury hath given of itt; and to that purpose itt will bee best to consider the termes uppon which wee putt itt forth, and there was a declaration to that purpose to bee drawne to publish to the Kingedome.
One word, that I might nott bee mistaken [as to] the destruction that I speake of. Itt is nott minded or thought in my heart to destroy any mans person, noe nott to destroy the person of the Kinge, soe his power bee downe. I doe nott looke uppon mens persons or destroying of that power of the Magistrate that is now. The Parliament are a power by whome men may act according to the appearance of God in them. I doe nott looke uppon itt [as a power to be destroyed], neither doe I speake any thinge of that kinde; butt [I speak of] the destroying of those oppressive principalls both in powers and persons, and in courts and lawes. Those [are] thinges that have bin complained of and petitioned [against] by the poore country to the Parliament. The Parliament would never heare them. Many thousand Petitioners have petitioned [first] the Parliament, then the Lord Generall, that they would please to rectifie them; cries against unjust lawes, against tythes, [against] many unrighteous thinges crept uppe amongst us heere, amonge Committees, Receivours of monies. God was with you to take away the oppressions of men, and nott the powers of men,—nott to take away Magistracie, butt to take away those oppressions that lay before you and in your view, to remove them in the power of God.
I conceive the settlement of the Nation is properly to remove those thinges that are [the causes the nation is] unsettled. The thinges that trouble the Nation are these. I doe nott finde they are any wayes unsetled about Governement, butt they are unsetled about those oppressions that lie uppon them. I conceive the removing of these is a setling of them;a butt I conceive this [Agreement] will bee a meanes to unsettle them, acting the Nation that should bee settled by the worde of God. Now if God would soe worke and act by his people of this Army as to remove those thinges that unsettle them, they would agree, butt this would unsettle them to see all thinges putt into this frame. For my parte I doe thinke that a dozen or 24 may in a short time doe the kingdome as much good as 400 that sitt in the Parliament in 7 yeares may doe,a and therfore that which I would have is to [remove those thinges that] unsettle them.b
I thinke nott that burthens are the causes of unsettlement, or the beginninges of unsettlement, butt [that] the beginninges of unsettlement are the controversies about power, where the power was. Wee finde this, that all the fixing of power to persons hath clearlie tended to the increasing of jealousies amongst men, and soe to unsettlement. Because that men as men are corrupt and will bee soe. Therfore there is probably nothing more like to tend to a settlement then the clearing of power, which formerly hath bin soe much in dispute, and the taking away that controversie of those severall Competitors to the Legislative power of the Kingedome, Kinge, Lords, and Commons. If itt please God to dispose the hearts of the people to [the] Agreement, that in it theyc may take away [that controversy], and soe taking away power from men to oppresse the people, and nott leaving power hereditarie in men is some meanes of settlement. Butt if wee thinke meerly that burthens to the Nation are beginners and are the continuers of unsettlement, or to thinke to take away burthens without somethinge of settlement of another nature that is of clearing of thinges that are in controversie—Wee cannott limitt God to this, or that, or other way; butt certainly if wee take the most probable way according to the light wee have, God gives those thinges [their success]. That if itt please God these thinges should take, and bee received in the Kingdome—Thinges that doe tend to these effects, to the clearing of the controversies that have bin about power and the like, are [things] tending to settlement, and this is a probable way to bringe itt to that. Whether God will bringe itt to passe that or the other way is a secrett in his will, and is further then what is revealed to him, lett him [to whom it has been revealed] speake itt.
Mr. Erbury speake[s] of taking off burthens. This Agreement doth tend to the power, either the power that is now in the Parliament or the Army, and this Agreement doth leade us to that power to take away that.
There is as just a power now [in this Army] by which you may act in appearance, as in other following Representatives. This [Army] is call’d now from a just power to remove oppressions. I doe nott speake of Armies and such thinges, butt there are oppressions hidden in and corrupt thinges that may bee removed [by] the power of God if itt appeare in them.a
Sir Hardr. Waller.
That all that putt itt off to your hand does a great [dis]service. Sure there is att this time a very great dissagreement in the world and in this Kingdome, and if there bee nott neede of an Agreement now, there never was since the sons of men were uppon earth. If all of thema bee like’t except some particulars, and if they are nott like’t the whole must bee left out, I thinke itt will bee hard. Itt hath bin already said itt must bee offer’d to the House before itt comes from them as their act. I am sure there needes somethinge to goe out from you. You promised itt in your Remonstrance. Wee are now gott into the midst of January. Whether every man does nott see that thousands and tenn thousands of men are sencelesse? You have lost two monthes. Itt is nott only necessary that you passe this from you in regard of time, butt that the Agreement—I shall desire itt may bee putt to the Question whether itt shall goe out or noe.
I desire a worde or two for satisfaction, having bin att a distance for 3 monthes, because itt is desired itt may bee putt to the Question. I begge [to be heard] concerning two thinges which are very much debated in the Agreement: concerning the Magistrates power over men conscientiously fearing God, whether or noe they ought to have any thinge to doe in that thinge: and the other, whether the Magistrate shall have power to punish any man contrary to a law, or without a law.
I have somethinge to speake further: concerning the contending about the power which was the cause of the controversie. I beleive itt is so still, and I am sure itt is the [cause of the] jealousie that is begotten in God’s people. God’s people they are that have jealousie now att this time over the other. Some say the power is in your Excellencie and the Councill; and some in the Councill when they are there goe to putt itt off to others, namely the men att Westminster, or the Parliament soe called; which for my parte I can hardlic soe call itt. Therfore I must intreate your Excellencie, whome the Lord hath clearlie called unto the greatest worke of righteousnesse that ever was amongst men, that your Excellencie and the Councill goe nott to shifte off that [work] which the Lord hath called you to. For my parte I doe verily believe, that if there were nott a spiritt of feare uppon your Excellency and the Councill, that hee would make you instruments to the people, of the thinges that hee hath sett before you. Itt is that confidence I have, and itt is uppon sufficient ground; because God hath said hee will doe those thinges by his people, when they beleive in him. They by beleif [shall] remove Mountaines, [and do] such thinges as were never yett done by men on earth; and certainly if I mistake nott, the spiritt is now to break forth, soe if itt were nott feare in us, wee should nott bee disputing amonge ourselves. Some are, studying to please men, I shall instance that partie of men called Presbyterians.a I dare nott lay itt as a charge, wee doe nott soe much study to feare the Lord our God who is able to satisfie them, and God hath soe farre satisfied some better than wee can. Wee hold forth the lives of Christians as being fill’d with the spiritt of Jesus Christ—Soe I say that all that wee now seeme to bee jealous over each other is about power, and truly itt is for want of the power of God that wee are jealous over one another.
For the other [thing as to which] I have nott received satisfaction (as Mr. Sprigge said once att this Questiona ) iff wee should nott out of goodwill tell the Magistrate plainly that hee had noe power in the thinges of God either compulsive or restrictive. I beleive that God will yett visitt you once more, though I beleive that shall nott keepe itt away, butt lett us bee children unto God, shewing our love unto the Father. I begge that in the name of him I doe nott begge this in my owne name, and in my owne strength. Nott butt that I can trust the Lord. I beleive hee is about to turne some of our swordes into ploughsheares, and to [bid us] sitt still and behold his workes amongst men, and this is the day wherin hee is answering unto that great worke, and that wee should nott soe much indeavour to give away a power that God hath called us unto, or to contend about itt, butt to putt that into your hearts which is in our hearts.
I thinke that it would bee in order to the Gentleman’s satisfaction that spoke last, that this [letter] that is in Question before your Excellency bee read; because there are many that have nott read itt since some alterations bee made in itt.
That I doe beleive there are few heere can say that it is in every particular to the satisfaction of their heart, that itt is as they would have itt; butt yett that there are few heere butt can say there is much in one or other kinde [is so]. I thinke that Gentleman that spoke last speakes the minde of others, butt wee finde Jesus Christ himself spoke as men were able to beare. Itt is nott a giving power to men, only while wee are pleading [for] a libertie of conscience there is a libertie [to be] given to other men. This is all the libertie that is given. That if the best Magistrate were that ever were from the worde of God gives the ground of, or the most able men that wee can expect, itt is butt such a libertie given that such a Magistrate can give libertie to one to dispense the thinges of God. Itt is feared, that wee may nott have such Magistrates because wee have nott had them, nor have them now,a nor the men to preach. Now if the Magistrates bee nott such as wee have dispensing the thinges of edification[?] which should bee true. Though I looke uppon itt to bee the truth of God and itt is nott to mee to bee [proved] that the Magistrate should nott have power in these cases, butt since itt is my liberty, itt is my libertie to parte with that which is my right for a weake Brother, and I can beare ittb as my owne.
For the Agreement in the whole. I thinke itt hath bin acting uppon the hearts of many of us, that itt is nott an Agreement amongst men that must overcome the hearts of men; itt shall nott bee by might, nor by strength, butt by his spiritt. Now this Agreement doth seeme to mee to bee a fruite of that spiritt.c That since God hath cast very much uppon your Excellency and those that waited uppon you in the Army, that wee would hold forth those thinges (a setling of that or any thinge which might bee of concerne to others) that wee would nott make use of any opportunity of this kinde—That wee would nott serve them as they have bin served, or as they would serve us, butt that there might bee some conviction that God is in us—For itt is nott a principle of man, when wee have brought downe such men that would have kept us under, to give them a libertie, butt itt is more of God, to putt them into such a condition especially as to thinges of civill concernement that wee neede nott seeke ourselves, that wee will trust God and give them uppe in a common current againe. That hath bin an Argument [of] very much [weight] with many why thinges of this kinde might bee proposed. Though this hath stucke, that the Worde of God doth take notice, that the powers of this world shall bee given into the hands of the Lord and his Saints, that this is the day, Gods owne day, wherin hee is coming forth in glory in the world, and hee doth putt forth himself very much by his people, and hee sayes in that day wherin hee will thresh the Mountaines hee will make use of Jacob as that threshing instrument. Now by this wee seeme to putt power into the hands of the men of the world when God doth wrest itt out of their hands; butt that having bin my owne objection as well as [the objection of] others, itt had this answer in my heart.
1. That when that time shall bee the spiritt of God will bee working to itt, and hee will worke on us soe farre that wee are [to be] made able in wisedome and power to carry through thinges in a way extraordinarie,a that the workesb of men shall bee answerable to his workes; and finding that there is nott such a spiritt in men, “Itt is only to gett power into our owne hands,” “that wee may raigne over them,” “itt is to satisfie our lusts,” “to answer the lusts within” us,c butt rather that itt was in our hearts to hold forth something that may bee suitable to [the minds of] men. That present reproach uppon us doth call uppon us to hold forth somethinge to the Kingdome, and this was all of Argument that did come downe to itt, soe that that objection was answer’d. First to answer that objection, and secondly to take away that reproach. Some that feare God and are against us uppon other grounds. They thinke, that our businesse is to establish ourselves. Now hoping there will appeare much of God in this. That by this wee doe very much hold forth a libertie to all the people of God, though yett itt may soe fall out that itt may goe hardly with the people of God. I judge itt will doe soe, and that this Agreement will fall short. I thinke that God doth purposely designe itt shall fall short of that end wee looke for, because hee would have us know our peace. Our Agreement shall bee from God, and nott from men; and yett I thinke the hand of God doth call for us to hold forth [something] to this Nation, and to all the world to vindicate that profession that wee have all alonge made to God, [and] that wee should lett them know that wee seeke nott for ourselves butt for men.a
[a ]The first twenty lines of Ireton’s speech substantially anticipate the explanation of the Agreement given to Parliament in the “Humble Petition of the Army,” presented with it. Old Parliamentary History, xviii., 516-519. That document says:
[a ]MS. “Agreements.”
[b ]The tenth Article, quoted on p. 156.
[c ]MS. “then.”
[a ]i.e. You can argue if you like that we have not sufficiently diminished the power of future governments, but you cannot fairly argue we are setting up new powers.
[a ]“them,” i.e. the nation.
[a ]The order of the clauses has been altered.
[b ]Erbury wants to have an immediate removal of the grievances of the nation effected by means of a committee of a few officers and “faithful persons.”
[c ]MS. “to Agreement in itt that they.”
[a ]Erbury’s argument is that the Army is as lawful an authority as any of the Parliaments to be called under the Agreement.
[a ]“All of them,” i.e. all the articles of the Agreement.
[a ]“The Lords met this day in Court, and adjourned till to-morrow morning.
[a ]Page 84.
[a ]MS. “nott.”
[b ]“itt,” i.e. the weaker brother’s burden.
[c ]Harrison’s speech should be read with the address prefixed to the Agreement of the People, which he paraphrases in parts. Old Parliamentary History, xviii., 516-9. “We resolved,” he says, “that since God had put this power in our hands we would put on record our views of what the terms of the settlement of the nation should be, but that we would not attempt to impose our private views, and ‘settle this or that or anything which might be of concernment to others;’ nor would we make use of the opportunity to perpetuate our own dominion and keep power in our own hands. On the contrary we resolved to return power as soon as possible into the hands of the people and their representatives in parliament, and content ourselves with merely recommending our scheme of settlement.”
[a ]The position of this clause has been altered.
[b ]MS. “wordes.”
[c ]These words given in inverted commas represent the opinion of worldlings on the motives which had led the Army to seize power.
[a ]The Perfect Diurnal says, under 13 Jan.: “This day the General Councell of the Army met at Whitehall, with an intention to have subscribed the Agreement, but (some other affairs intervening) it was put off till Monday, against which time a Declaration to be published with the Agreement then read, was ordered to be in readiness.” The Declaration was passed on Jan. 15 and the Agreement presented on Jan. 20. Rushworth, vii., 1391, 1392.