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Whitehall, 13th January 1649 General Council 1 a - Arthur Sutherland Pigott Woodhouse, Puritanism and Liberty, being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents 
Puritanism and Liberty, being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents, selected and edited with an Introduction A.S.P. Woodhouse, foreword by A.D. Lindsay (University of Chicago Press, 1951).
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Erbury made a long speech declaring his dissent to the Agreement: setting forth that whilst we were in a way of putting down of authority we had the power of God going along with us; but as it was with the Parliament in [imposing] the Covenant, that which they looked for to be for agreement proved to be a great disagreement amongst the nation, so [with us] this [Agreement would prove] to be an hellish thing, and altogether tending to disagreement; and though he likes the greatest part of that Agreement, yet the last [article], as in relation to religion, is that which will do much hurt.
Ireton [made] answer to it: That2 it was not to advance themselves [they offered this Agreement to the nation], but [as] such a settlement as might be equally good for all. And when we dob hold this forth without any enforcement upon any, merely tendering [it] to them as our utmost essay in this kind, then it hath surely its proper effect of its testimony to the kingdom of our endeavours in that kind; and that effect I cannot but expect from it, because it is a duty we are led to, for avoiding a just offence, and the preventing those evils amongst men that may ensue upon that offence. But indeed if ever we shall come to use forcible impulsions to bind men up in this Agreement, and shall so set it up as the necessary thing without which the kingdom cannot be, or so set it up as that from which we would promise good things to the kingdom, with a neglect or denial or diminution of God, or of his power, then I think we shall incur (when we do come to that end) the same blame as hath been in the enforcement of the Covenant.
But truly, I shall not trouble your Lordship to speak [of] the vast differences both in religious and civil respects that are between covenants of that kind that was, and such as this is;c I shall say this only in general: that this business of this Agreement is more of the destructive nature to all covenants and to all authoritiesd than it is of the confirming nature to any—except it be in that last clause of the non-resistancy of the people’s future Representatives by force of arms. It is then contrary to [that: rather] the throwing down of all despotica power than the erecting of any. [Its final overthrow], that will [not] be till God destroy it. Nay, I am confident that it is not the hand of men that will take away the power of monarchy in the earth, but if ever it be destroyed, it will be by the breaking forth of the power of God amongst men, to make such forms needless. But the nature of this [Agreement] is that, [and] upon that ground, [that I shall now tell you]. Till God do so break it there will be some power exercised [by magistrates], either by a voluntary dispensation of the power from the people, or by the sword, [and] since in the meantime there will be some [power yielded]b to them,c all the effect of this Agreement is no more but as restrictions upon that power. [We agree, as to that power], that it shall not be in the hands of a King; it shall not be in the hands of Kings or Peers, or in the hands of [the present House of] Commons, but [in the hands] of such as are chosen [by the people]; and not in their hands [perpetually], but [only] for so many months as they are chosen; and that there shall be a new election of another [Representative once in two years]; and for elections, that they shall not be in corporations, but [in] more equal [divisions]. And for the power [given to the magistrate], it gives [him] no power but what the supposition of a magistracy or a commonwealth doth imply in itself. But the business of this Agreement is rather a limiting [of] his power [and that of the Representative]. In time, they shall not sit so long. In the matter, they shall not have power to do in those things that we reserve from them; and one thing is a reservation of all other things that are in this Agreement, which are foundations of liberty. And truly if any man will justly find fault with this Agreement—as it is passing from us to deliver the nation from oppression, and to settle such a government, as there must be such a governmentd —if any man will take any just exception to this, it will [only] be bye showingf that we did not take away enough of power, [not that we are setting up new powers]. The whole Agreement is the taking away of any [undue power]; it is not a setting up of power where there is none, but it is taking off of power, a paring off of those unnecessary advantages which power in this kingdom formerly had, and is still apt to have, whereby it may oppress. Now if it be blamable in anything, it is in that it does not take away [more]. And if we be unanimous to take away thus far, [and] if there were [yet] something else wherein power should be abridged, we may have patience one towards another till God satisfy us in that also.
Under that notion upon which, in my understanding, this Agreement doth pass from this Council, I do not understand that it does come under that sense that Mr. Erbury hath given of it; and to that purpose it will be best to consider the terms upon which we put it forth, and to that purpose there was a declaration to be drawn, to publish to the kingdom.
One word, that I might not be mistaken [as to] the destruction that I speak of. It is not minded, or thought in my heart, to destroy any man’s person, no, not to destroy the person of the King, so his power be down. I do not look upon men’s persons or destroying of that magisterial power,a that power of the magistrate that is now. The Parliamentb are a power by whom men may act according to the appearance of God in them. I do not look upon it [as a power to be destroyed], neither do I speak anything of that kind; but [I speak of] the destroying of those oppressive principles both in powers and persons, and in courts and laws. Those [are] things that have been complained of and petitioned [against] by the poor country to the Parliament. The Parliament would never hear them. Many thousand petitioners have petitioned [first] the Parliament, then the Lord General, that they would please to rectify them; cries against unjust laws, against tithes, [against] many unrighteous things crept up amongst us here, among committees, receivers of moneys. God was with you to take away the oppressions of men, and not the powers of men—not to take away magistracy, but 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 things that are [the cause the nation is] unsettled. The things that trouble the nation are these.b I do not find they are any ways unsettled about government, but they are unsettled about those oppressions that lie upon them. I conceive the removing of these is a settling ofc the people;d but I conceive this [Agreement] will be a means to unsettle them, [this en]acting [for] the nation, that should be settled by the word of God. Now if God would so work and act by his people of this Army as to remove those things that unsettle them, they would agree; but this wille unsettle them, to see all things put into this frame. For my part I do think that a dozen or twenty-four may in a short time do the kingdom as much good as four hundredf that sit in the Parliamentg in seven years may do, and therefore that which I would have is to [remove those burdens that] unsettle them.
I think not that burdens are the causes of unsettlement, or the beginnings of unsettlement, but [that] the beginnings of unsettlement are the controversies about power, where the power was.g We find this, that all the fixing of power to persons hath clearly tended to unsettlement—to the increasing of jealousies amongst men, and so to unsettlement, because that men as men are corrupt and will be so. And therefore there is probablya nothing more like to tend to a settlement than the clearing of power, which formerly hath been so much in dispute, and theb taking away [of] that controversyc concerningd [the rights] of those several competitors to the legislative power of the kingdom, King, Lords, and Commons. If it please God to dispose the hearts of the people to [the] Agreement, in ite they may take away [that disputed power]; and so taking away power from men to oppress the people, and not leaving power hereditary in [any] men, is some means of settlement. But if we think merely that burdens to the nations are beginners, and are the continuers, of unsettlement, orf think to take away burdens without something of settlement of another nature, that is of clearing of things that are in controversy, [we are mistaken]. We cannot limit God to this, or that, or [an]other way; but certainly if we take the most probable way according to the light we have, God gives those things [their success].e If it please God these things should take, and be received in the kingdom: things that do tend to these effects, to the clearing of the controversies that have been about power and the like, are [things] tending to settlement, and this [Agreement] is a probable way to bring it to that. Buth whether God will bring it to pass that or the other way, is a secret in his will, and is further than what is revealed to me;i let him [to whom it has been revealed] speak it.
Mr Erbury speak[s] of taking off burdens. This Agreement doth tend to [confirm] the power, either the power that is now in the Parliament or [in] the Army, and [so] this Agreement doth lead us to that power to take away thosej [burdens].
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 called now from a just power to remove oppressions. I do not speak of armies and such things [in themselves], but there are oppressions hidden in [the nation], and corrupt things, that may be removed [by armies, through] the power of God if it appear in them.
All that put[s]b it off to your hand does a great [dis]service. Sure there is at this time a very great disagreement in the world and in this kingdom, and if there be not need of an Agreement now, there never was since the sons of men were upon earth. And [for the articles of the Agreement], if all of them be liked except some particulars, and if, [because] they are not liked, the whole must be left out, I think it will be hard. It hath been already said, it must be offered to the House before it comes from them as their act. I am sure there needs something to go out from you. You promised it in your Remonstrance. We are now got into the midst of January. You have lost two months. It is not only necessary that you pass this from you in regard of time, but that the Agreement [may help men to agreement. For I would know]c whether every man does not see that, [left to themselves], thousands and ten thousands of men are senseless.d I shall desire it may be put to the question: Whether it shall go out or no?
Captain [George] Joyce:
I desire a word or two for satisfaction, having been at a distance for three months, because it is desired it may be put to the question. I beg [to be heard] concerning two things which are very much debated in the Agreement: concerning the magistrates’ power over men conscientiously fearing God,e whether or no they ought to have anything to do in that thing; and the other, whether the magistrate shall have power to punish any man contrary to a law, or without a law.
I have something to speak further: this concerning the contending about the power, which was the cause of the controversy. I believe it is so still, and I am sure it is the [cause of the] jealousy that is begotten in God’s people. God’s people they are that have jealousy now at this time over the power.i Some say, the power is in your Excellency and the Council; and some in the Council,f when they are there,g go to put it off to others, namely the men at Westminster, or the Parliament so called—which for my part I can hardly so call it. Therefore I must entreat your Excellency, whom the Lord hath clearly called unto the greatest work of righteousness that ever was amongst men, that your Excellency and the Council go not to shift off that [power] which the Lord hath called you to. For my part, I do verily believe that, if there were not a spirit of fear upon your Excellency and the Council,h he would make you instruments of the things that he hath set before you, to the people. It is that confidence I have, and [have] it upon sufficient ground; because God hath said he will do those things by his people, when they believe in him: they by belief [shall] remove mountains, [and do] such things as were never yet done by men on earth. And certainly if I mistake not, the Spirit is now [about] to breaka forth; and so, if it were not [for] fear in us, we should not be disputing among ourselves. Some are studying to please men. I shall instanceb [our attempt to satisfy] that party of men called Presbyterians. I dare not lay it [upon us] as a [general] charge, that we do not so much study to fear the Lord our God, who is able to satisfy themc though in an higher and [more] glorious wayd —and God hath so far satisfied somee better than we can. [But, I say, some of us are studying to please men, through fear, whereas] we [ought only to] hold forth the lives of Christians as being filled with the spirit of Jesus Christ. So I say that all that we now seem to be jealous over [in regard to] each other, is about [worldly] power, and truly it is for want of the power of God [in us] that we are jealous over [this thing], one [of] another.
For the other [thing as to which] I have not received satisfaction. As Mr. Sprigge said once at this question, if we should not out of goodwill tell the magistrate plainly that he had no power in the things of God, [either] compulsive or restrictive, I believe that God will yet visit usm once more. [And] though I believe [nothing but] that shallk keep it away, [yet it is not for that that I urge it]; but let us be children unto God, showing our love unto the Father. I beg that in the name of him; I do not beg itf in my own name, and in my own strength. Not but that I can trust the Lord. I believe [that] he is about to turn some of our swords into ploughshares, and to [bid us] sit still and behold his works amongst men, and [that] this is the day wherein he is answering unto that great work, and that we should not so much endeavour to give away a power that God hath called us unto, or to contend about it, but to put that into theirn hearts which is in our hearts.
I think that itg would be in order to the gentleman’s satisfaction that spoke last,l that this [letter] that is in question before your Excellency be read; [and also] because there are many that have not read it since some alterations be made in it.h
I do believe, there are few here can say in every particulari that it is to the satisfaction of their heart, that it is as they would have it; but yet that there are few here but can say there isj much in one or other kind [that is so].
I think, that gentleman that spoke last speaks the mind of others; but we find Jesus Christ himself spoke as men were able to bear. It is not a giving [of] power to men, [to permit such provision for a public ministry as the Agreement contemplates, with due guarantees for liberty of conscience]. Only, while we are pleading [for] a liberty of conscience there is a liberty [to be] given to other men [who perhaps believe upon conscience that such a provision should be made]. This is all the liberty that is given.l If the best magistrate[s] were chosen that ever were, or the most able men [to preach], it is but such a liberty given that such a magistrate can give authoritya to one [of them] to dispense [publicly] the things of God,b [to preach] from the word of God [such doctrine as it] gives the ground of.c Only itd is feared that we may not have such magistrates because we have not had them, nor [perhaps] have them now,e nor the men to preach. Now if the magistrates [and ministers] be not such as we [would] have dispensing the things of edification,f which should be true, [yet] it is not [proved] to me to be [destructive of true religion, the specified limits of their power being observed]. Thoughg I look upon it as the truth of God, that the magistrate should not have [any] power in these cases; yet,h since it is my liberty [that is in question], it is my liberty [if I choose] to part with that which is my right for a weak brother, and [his burden], I can bear it as my own.
For the Agreement in the whole,1 I think it hath been acting upon the hearts of many of us, that it is not [such] an agreement amongst men that must overcome the hearts of men; it shall not be by might, nor by strength, but by His Spirit. Now this Agreement doth seem to me to be a fruit of that Spirit [in this respect]. Since God hath cast very much upon your Excellency and those that waited upon you in the Army,i [it seemed, if] we would hold forth [to the nation] those things [which tended to] a settling of that, or anything which might be of concern to others, that we [must make it appear that we] would not make use of any opportunity of this kind [to perpetuate our own power; and for our opponents], that we would not serve them as we have been served, or as they would serve us, but that there might be some conviction that God is in us (for it is not a principle of man, when we have brought down such men that would have kept us under, to give them a liberty, but it is more of God, to put them into such a condition). [And so we have determined],j especially as to things of civil concernment,k that we need not seek ourselves [at all, but] that we will trust God and give them up in a common current again. And that hath been an argument [of] very much [weight] with many, why things of this kind might be proposed—though this hath stuck: that the word of God doth take notice that the powers of this world shall be given into the hands of the Lord and his Saints, that this is the day, God’s own day, wherein he is coming forth in glory in the world, and [that] he doth put forth himself very much by his people, and he says, in that day wherein he will thresh the mountains, he will make use of Jacob as that threshing instrument.
Now by this [Agreement] we seem to put power into the hands of the men of the world when God doth wrest it out of their hands; but that having been my own objection, as well as [the objection of] others, it had this answer in my heart.a When that time shall be, the Spirit of God will be working to it, and he will work us on so farb that we are [to be] made able in wisdom and power to carry through things in a way extraordinary,c that the worksd of men shall be answerable to his workse ; and finding that there is not such a spirit in men [we know that the time is not yet].f Some that fear God, and are against us upon other grounds, they think that our business is to establish ourselves:g it is only to get power into our own hands, that we may reign over them; it is to satisfy our lusts, to answer the lusts within us. But [we know] rather that it was in our hearts to hold forth something that may be suitable to [the minds of] men. That present reproach upon us doth call upon us to hold forth something to the kingdom. And this was all of argument that did come down to it: first to answer that objection, and secondly, to take away that reproach.h So that that objection was answered.i
Now [we send forth the Agreement], hoping there will appear [so] much of God in it,j that by this we do very much hold forth a liberty to all the people of God—though yet it may so fall out that it may go hardly with the people of God. And I judge [indeed] it will do so, and that this Agreement will fall short [of its end]. I think that God doth purposely design it shall fall short of that end we look for, because he would have us know our peace, [that] our agreement shall be from God, and not from men. And yet I think the hand of God doth call for us to hold forth [something] to this nation, and to all the world, to vindicate the profession that we have all along made to God, [and] that we should let them know that [what] we seek [is] not for ourselves,1 but for [all] men.
PURITAN VIEWS OF LIBERTYa
 i.e. the Council of Officers.
 Ireton sets forth the explanation to be embodied in the ‘Humble Petition of the Army,’ and presented to Parliament with the Agreement.
 Like Ireton’s first speech, this of Harrison’s in some degree parallels the ‘Humble Petition of the Army.’
 His actual phrase was possibly: ‘that we seek not ourselves’ (of. pp. 177, 334).
[171. (a)] + Present (+ blank for names);
[(c)] + butt;
[(b)] + that;
[(b-c)] tr is noe more butt;
[(d)] + and;
[(f)] + that wee did nott enough.
[173. (a)] + I doe nott look uppon that;
[(f-g)] tr I doe thinke that a dozen or 24;
[174. (a)] tr nothing more;
[(b-c)] tr Kinge, Lords and Commons
[(e)] + that;
[(f)] + to;
[(g)] + and;
[175. (a-b)]That that all putt;
[(c-d)] tr in the midst of January;
[(e)] + or;
[(f-g)] tr the Men att Westmr.;
[(h)] + that;
[(b)] + in;
[(c-d)] tr nott bee disputing amonge our selves. Some are;
[(d-e)] tr the Spiritt is now to make [i.e. break] forth;
[(h)] + that;
[(i)] + is;
[(j)] + soe;
[(k)] + nott;
[(l)] + itt would be;
[(b-c)] tr the best Magistrate[s] that ever were;
[(d)] + itt;
[(f)]epuration (not edification, as Firth, with hesitation, reads it; which yet seems required by the sense);
[(i)] + that;
[(j-k)] tr butt itt is more of God;
[178. (a)] + 1. That;
[(b-c)] tr to answer the lusts within us;
[(d)]workes, altered to wordes;
[(f-g)] tr and secondly to take away that reproach;
[(h-i)] tr all of Argument that did come downe to itt;
[179. (a)] The texts of the illustrative documents, whether in Part III or the Appendix, are derived from contemporary printed sources, and (except where another library is mentioned) from a copy in the British Museum. The principles on which the selections are edited, and the notations used, are identical with those adopted in editing the Debates, but with two additional signs: three dots (. . .) for omissions of less than a sentence, three asterisks (* * *) for omissions of a sentence or more. A sufficiently full title of each book or pamphlet is given in these notes, together with a record of other omissions (or adaptations). The date following the title is that supplied by the copy in the Thomason Collection (British Museum).