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Arthur Sutherland Pigott Woodhouse, Puritanism and Liberty, being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents [1938]

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Arthur Sutherland Pigott Woodhouse, 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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About this Title:

This collection contains the Putney Debates, the Whitehall Debates, and numerous other documents about Puritan religious and political views during the English Revolution, in particular the Levellers. The collection has pieces by many authors including John Saltmarsh, John Goodman, William Ames, John Calvin, Samuel Rutherford, Martin Luther, John Milton, William Prynne, Hanserd Knollys, Roger Williams, Philip Nye, Richard Mather, William Dell, John Lilburne, Richard Overton, Henry Ireton, Thomas Rainborough, Oliver Cromwell, and John Wildman.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [a]
Edition: current; Page: [[1]]
Being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the CLARKE MANUSCRIPTS with Supplementary Documents
selected and edited with an introduction by A. S. P. WOODHOUSE
foreword by A. D. LINDSAY
Edition: current; Page: [[2]]

All rights reserved

Made in Great Britain


Lowe and Brydone (Printers) Ltd.


The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 37

Published 1951

Edition: current; Page: [[3]]


Ever since, some ten years ago, I read the Putney Debates and saw how relevant they were to our modern discussions on democracy, I have hoped for an edition of these debates which would make them accessible to the ordinary reader. Sir Charles Firth gave the proposal his blessing, the Royal Historical Society, the owners of the copyright, gave the necessary permission, Messrs Dent undertook to publish. It remained to find an editor. We were fortunate to get Professor Woodhouse, who had already written so interestingly on Milton’s political ideas. He has made of the book something much more complete than I originally dared to hope: produced a new text, written an illuminating and comprehensive introduction, and added the selections from contemporary illustrative documents.

I commend the book, so completed, to all who wish to be able to give a reason for their democratic faith, and wish it could be read so as to stop the mouths and pens of those who produce facile refutations of the fundamental ideas of democracy. These ideas, liberty, equality and fraternity, if divorced from the religious context in which they belong, become cheap and shallow and easy of refutation. Those who will take the trouble to get behind the theological language of these documents will see how profound those democratic ideas are, how real and concrete and recurring is the situation which gives rise to them; and will see the tension there must always be between them so long as they are alive.



I was very glad to hear that the publishers were bringing out a new edition of this admirable book, which has become a standard text for all who wish to study the early beginnings of western democratic ideas.

This study has now assumed a new importance since the rise and spread of an entirely new idea of democracy in eastern Europe. The distinctive characters of western democracy, which distinguish it entirely from the so-called people’s democracy of eastern Europe, can be understood by study of this volume more than in any other way I know.

Professor Woodhouse’s Introduction and the documents he publishes here show the fundamental connection between western democracy and liberty, and the opposition between democracy and any kind of totalitarianism.

The study of this book is even more important than when it was first published.

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To make room for this brief Preface, it has been necessary to suppress a list of Acknowledgments, printed in the first edition, and including the names of Lord Lindsay and the late Sir Charles Firth, the Royal Historical Society (for permission to use the Clarke Papers) and Worcester College, Oxford (for permission to print from the Clarke MSS.).

The second edition has been occasioned by a continued demand for the book after the first edition was exhausted (by sales, not by war damage). It has been produced by photographic process: and this, while permitting the correction of misprints, has precluded extensive revision. Fortunately, no such revision seems necessary. Whatever is required can be added in the compass of this page.

The purpose of the Introduction has not been misapprehended; but it may be well to state here quite definitely that it does not essay a complete explanation, or final synthesis, of the political, economic, and religious causes at work in the Puritan Revolution, but simply an exploration of the religious background of Puritan ideology, which has been too little considered and understood, and without which no final synthesis is possible. Here, principally, the Introduction broke new ground, and (so far as I am aware) it has not been superseded.

Had opportunity offered I should have liked to make additions to four footnotes:

P. [23], n. 1: Lilburne boasts that, in opposition to Cromwell and his ‘fellow grandees,’ he ‘acted both night and day, to settle the soldiers in a complete and just posture, by their faithful Agitators, chosen out by common consent from amongst themselves. . . .’ (Jonah’s Cry, 1647, p. 9. Cf. The Jugglers Discovered, 1647, p. 3).

P. [31], n. 1: In A Faithful Memorial of that Remarkable Meeting of Many Officers of the Army . . . at Windsor Castle in the year 1648 (London, 1659), William Allen gives an account of a three-day meeting, to seek the Lord, early in the year. Whether it refers to this particular meeting cannot be determined with certainty; but it throws a good deal of light on the religiosity of the group.

P. [95], n. 1: Lilburne there describes the law of England as ‘the perfection of reason, consisting of lawful and reasonable customs, received and approved of by the people, and of old constitutions and modern acts of Parliament made by the estates of the kingdom, but such only as are agreeable to the law eternal and natural, and not contrary to the word of Edition: current; Page: [[6]] God; for whatsoever laws, usages, and customs [are] not thus qualified are not the law of the land nor to be observed and obeyed by the people, being contrary to their birthrights and freedoms. . . .’ Cf. England’s Birthright Justified (1645), p. 8: ‘The law taken abstract from its original reason and end is made a shell without a kernel, a shadow without a substance and a body without a soul. It is the execution of laws according to their equity and reason, which . . . is the spirit that gives life to authority; the letter kills.’ Here the theological origin of a pattern of thought is clearly revealed; cf. Thomas Edwards, Gangraena, pt. 3, p. 20.

P. 125, n. 3: See below p. 467, nn. 1, 3; p. 468, n. 1. On January 18, 1649, was published A Serious and Faithful Representation of the Judgments of Ministers of the Gospel within the Province of London, refusing an invitation to confer with officers of the Army. Cf. An Apologetical Declaration of Presbyterians (Jan. 24).

Since the first edition some of the Leveller documents from which I made selections have been reprinted in full, with yet others, by W. Haller and Godfrey Davies (The Leveller Tracts), and D. M. Wolfe (Leveller Manifestoes); Puritan ideology has been studied from different points of view by W. Haller (The Rise of Puritanism), D. Petegorsky (Left-Wing Democracy in the Puritan Revolution), and others; the Digger tracts have been edited by G. H. Sabine (Works of Winstanley); and Milton has been studied in close relation to the revolution by my colleague and former student, Arthur Barker (Milton and the Puritan Dilemma).

A. S. P. W.
Edition: current; Page: [[7]]


    • I. Present edition of the Debates; II. State of Parties and Setting of Debates; III. The Puritan Mind; IV. Puritanism, Liberty, and Democracy . . . page [11]
    • General Council of the Army, 28th October 1647 . 1
    • General Council of the Army, 29th October . . 38
    • General Council of the Army, 1st November . . 95
    • Council of Officers, 14th December 1648 . . . 125
    • Council of Officers, 8th-11th January 1649 . . 169
    • Council of Officers, 13th January 1649 . . . 171
    • I. Some Principles of the Puritan Parties:
      • From John Saltmarsh, Smoke in the Temple (1646) 179
      • The Necessity of Toleration: From John Goodwin, Independency God’s Verity (1647) . . . 186
    • II. The Law of Nature:
      • From William Ames, Conscience (1639) . . 187
    • III. Religious Principles of Resistance:
      • Calvin on Christian Obedience: From the Institution of Christian Religion . . . . 191
      • Presbyterian Principles of Resistance: From Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex (1644) . . 199
      • Independent Principles of Resistance: From John Goodwin, Right and Might Well Met (1649) . 212
    • IV. The Law and the Gospel: Christian Liberty:
      • Luther on the Law and the Gospel: From Commentary upon Galatians . . . . . 221
      • Milton on Christian Liberty: From Of Civil Power; Defensio Prima; Defensio Secunda. . 226
      Edition: current; Page: [[8]]
    • V. The Privileges of the Saints:
      • The Elect and the Reprobate: From William Prynne, Anti-Arminianism (1630) . . . 232
      • The Millennium at Hand: From Hanserd Knollys, A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory (1641) . . . 233
      • The Rule of the Saints: Certain Queries Presented by many Christian People (1649) . . . 241

        [Note: See also, in the Appendix (A): From Thomas Collier, A Discovery of the New Creation]

    • VI. Liberty of Conscience:
      • Independent Position: From The Ancient Bounds (1645) . . . . . . . 247
      • Separatist Position: From Roger Williams, The Bloody Tenent of Persecution (1644) . . 266
    • VII. Models of a Free Church:
      • The Power of the People: From Thomas Goodwin and Philip Nye’s Introduction to John Cotton’s The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (1644) . 293
      • The Church Covenant: From Richard Mather, An Apology for Church Covenant (1643) . . 299
      • The Church Covenant: From The Saints’ Apology (1644) . . . . . . . 300
      • A Spiritual Church: From William Dell, The Way of True Peace and Unity (1649) . . . 302
    • VIII. Leveller Principles:
      • God and Man: From John Lilburne, The Freeman’s Freedom Vindicated (1646) . . . 317
      • An Appeal to Parliament: From the Large Petition of the Levellers (1647) . . . . . 318
      • An Appeal to the People: From Richard Overton, An Appeal (1647) . . . . . . 323
      • Parliament Once More: From the Petition of 11th September 1648 . . . . . . 338
      • History of the Second Agreement of the People: From John Lilburne, Legal Fundamental Liberties (1649) . . . . . . . 342
      • Second Agreement of the People: From John Lilburne, The Foundations of Freedom (1648) . 355
      • The Female of the Species: From a Petition of Women (1649) . . . . . . 367 Edition: current; Page: [[9]]
      • Democracy in the City: From London’s Liberties (1650) . . . . . . . 369

        [Note: For documents in the Appendix, illustrating Leveller Principles, see p. 317, note]

    • IX. Digger Principles:
      • From The True Levellers’ Standard Advanced (1649) 379
      • Song: From The Diggers’ Mirth (1650) . . 385
    • A. The Spirit of the New Model:
      • Reports of Observers: Hugh Peter and Richard Baxter . . . . . . . . 387
      • A Sermon at Putney: From Thomas Collier, A Discovery of the New Creation (1647) . . 390
    • B. The Army Organizes, May-June 1647:
      • Apology of the Soldiers to their Officers (3rd May) . 396
      • Advertisements for Managing the Counsels of the Army (4th May) (Clarke MSS.) . . . 398
      • From the Grievances of Regiments (13th-14th May) (Clarke MSS.) . . . . . 399
      • Letters to the Agitators (Clarke MSS.) . . 400
      • From A Solemn Engagement of the Army (5th June). 401
      • From A Representation of the Army (14th June) . 403
    • C. The Reading Debates:
      • Summary of Debate of 16th July (based on Clarke MSS.) . . . . . . . 409
      • Account of the Debate in a Newsletter (Clarke MSS.) . . . . . . . 420
      • [Two speeches from the Debate of 17th July] (Clarke MSS.) . . . . . . 421
      • [Appointment of Committee] (Clarke MSS.) . 421
    • D. Documents Relating to the Putney Debates:
      • From the Heads of the Proposals (1st August 1647) . 422
      • The Levellers’ Discontent with the Heads of the Proposals: From John Wildman, Putney Projects 426
      • From The Case of the Army Truly Stated (15th October) . . . . . . . 429
      • A Letter from the Agents to the Whole Soldiery: From Two Letters from the Agents of Five Regiments (28th October) . . . . . 437 Edition: current; Page: [[10]]
      • Letter of John Saltmarsh to the Council of War (28th October) . . . . . . 438
      • From A Call to All the Soldiers of the Army by the Free People of England (29th October) . . 439
      • An Agreement of the People (First Agreement, 3rd November) . . . . . . 443
      • Letter to the Free-born People of England (appended to above) . . . . . 445
      • Letter to the Officers and Soldiers (appended to above). . . . . . . . 447
      • Summary of Reports of Committee on the Army’s Papers (based on Clarke MSS.) . . . 449
      • Proceedings in the General Council (4th-9th November): From A Letter from Several Agitators to their Regiments . . . . . 452
      • Proceedings in the General Council (8th-9th November): From Clarke MSS. . . . 454
    • E. Documents Relating to the Whitehall Debates:
      • [Cross-reference to Petition of 11th September 1648] . . . . . . . 456
      • From A Remonstrance of the Army (16th November) 456
      • [Cross-reference to History of the Second Agreement] . . . . . . . . 465
      • From the Declaration of the Army, on the March to London (30th November) . . . . 465
      • [Cross-reference to text of the Second Agreement] . 467
      • Summary of Debates, 16th December-6th January (based on Clarke MSS.) . . . . 467
      • The Levellers’ Dissatisfaction with the Debates: From John Lilburne, A Plea for Common Right and Freedom . . . . . . 472
    • F. Retrospect:
      • From A Declaration of the English Army now in Scotland (1st August 1650) . . . . 474
  • NOTES ON TEXT . . . . . . . . 479
  • INDEX . . . . . . . . . 495
Edition: current; Page: [[11]]



The object of this volume is to exhibit, in certain aspects, the political thought of the Puritan revolution. Its attention is focused on the Army Debates about the constitutional settlement, commenced in the autumn of 1647, interrupted by the suppression of the General Council of the Army and the preoccupations of the Second Civil War, and resumed on the eve of Charles’ trial and execution. But it looks before and after in order to illustrate and supplement what they yield.

The Debates have a special value, even beyond the pamphlet literature of the day, in giving us a spontaneous and unconscious revelation of the Puritan mind as it wrestles with its problems, practical and theoretic, in an effort not merely to justify a policy and battle down opposition, but to arrive at truth and agreement. There are the sharpest cleavages of opinion between the Independents and their allies to the Left, and they sometimes develop an acrimony in debate that suggests outlooks absolutely alien from each other. But even where they differ most markedly, they talk a common language very foreign to our ears; and all their differences are at last reducible to one: the point at which a revolutionary ideal must compromise with the demands of actual life, including those of order, tradition, sentiment, and vested interest. If the leaders on both sides came to the debate with a policy to advance, and with their minds largely closed, the other participants (who also reveal the Puritan temper and ideology) came both to convince and to be convinced; their presence and intervention are the necessary links between the opponents.

To provide an easily accessible text of these Debates was the first aim of the present volume, the only existing text (the late Sir Charles Firth’s in his Clarke Papers1) having been long out of print and increasingly difficult to procure. On other grounds a new edition, based on a careful collation of Firth’s text with the manuscript, seemed desirable, especially for the general reader. The debates were taken down in shorthand, presumably by Edition: current; Page: [[12]] William Clarke (then assistant to John Rushworth, the secretary to the General and the Council of War), and were probably not deciphered and copied in a fair hand1 till after the Restoration. The original notes were doubtless very defective. At some points the manuscript appears to be relatively correct and complete. At others it presents little more than a series of isolated phrases. Occasionally the order of the speeches is confused, owing (as Firth plausibly suggests) to the pages of the shorthand notes having got into the wrong order. What is less easy to explain is how sentences and clauses within a single speech have been wrested from their correct positions: we can only assume that it was due to a frenzied effort on the part of the stenographer to catch up with the speaker. But by far the commonest type of error is precisely the one that would be expected when an unskilful reporter is trying to copy verbatim the speeches in an excited argument: namely, the omission of words and phrases and the telescoping of sentences. No speech of any length is wholly free from this defect, and what appears at first sight to be an error in order sometimes turns out to be more easily explicable and remediable as an error of omission. The punctuation, which consists mainly of commas, serves in many instances rather to obscure than to clarify the sense. I have adopted modern punctuation,2 spelling, and capitalization, since those of the original merely set an obstacle between the reader and the idea. Every other departure from the manuscript I have recorded in ‘Notes on Text’ (pp. 479 ff.), so that the student may at any given point check the text with the manuscript’s reading if he chooses, in a way impossible in Firth’s edition. Wherever feasible, I have restored the order of the manuscript. Finally I have tried (at the cost of a great deal of time and labour) to leave no speech and no sentence unintelligible. Assuming the presence of an error of omission wherever the manuscript gave no clear sense, I have added in square brackets such words as seemed necessary to link up the broken fragments and to present in an intelligible form the argument deducible from the speech itself and from the answers that it received. The result is a text which yields the speaker’s sense much more readily than does that printed in the Camden Society’s volumes. Nor do I think that it can justly be described as a less conservative text. It adopts many of Firth’s emendations; it rejects some of his deviations from the original, especially his transpositions and omissions; its new departures consist almost Edition: current; Page: [[13]] wholly in additions, set in square brackets, which have only to be passed over in order to exhibit the reading of the manuscript (unless a letter indicates some further departure, precisely recorded in the notes). The general reader who is willing to accept my judgment, can ignore square brackets and letters; the special student has before him the materials with which to construct at any moment his own reading. Firth has spoken of the extraordinary difficulties presented to an editor of these reports by the state of the original. I can only in my own excuse emphasize these difficulties once more, and then record my constant debt to—for it would be impertinence to praise—his editorial labours: his many valuable emendations, and, where he has not ventured to emend, his luminous footnotes on the argument.1

It is singularly fortunate that the debates reported (or those whose reports have survived) deal with two of the most significant issues of Puritan political thought: democracy, or the proposed reform of the constitution in the direction of liberty and equality, with its attendant break with the past; and the question of religious liberty. Thus they form an ideal point of departure for studying these two major and closely related themes, to whose illustration I have devoted Part III of the volume. The selections there presented are not the sources, but representative analogues, of the arguments advanced in the Debates. As such they often serve to clarify the meaning of those arguments, and at the same time to illustrate the habit of mind from which the arguments spring. Less intimate in their revelation than the Debates, they have their own value in exhibiting the Puritan temper and ideology, and are worthy of inclusion on their independent merits since many of them are available to the modern reader only in the largest or most highly specialized library. Finally the Debates refer to some other documents, intrinsically less interesting perhaps, but essential to an understanding of what is said. These I have placed in an Appendix, together with some evidence on the religious and political enthusiasms of the New Model, and some material, from the Clarke MSS. and other sources, on the activities of the Agitators and the Council of the Army.2

Edition: current; Page: [[14]]

The chief interest of the Debates, and of the Supplementary Documents, is the light they throw on the Puritan mind. But if they are not to be misinterpreted they must be studied in connection with the situation in which the Puritans find themselves.


Among the victors in the First Civil War (with their history of conflicting principles and interests temporarily controlled by the necessity of defeating the enemy) only one point was held in common: the restored King must be so bound that he could never again exercise the arbitrary rule, civil and ecclesiastical, for whose overthrow the war had been fought. Beyond this general principle, disagreements at once emerged: first, as to the means of achieving the desired end, and what constituted satisfactory guarantees of its endurance; secondly, and more fundamentally, as to the disposition of the effectual sovereignty, taken from the King. Had that sovereignty been civil alone the problem would have presented enormous difficulties, but it was also ecclesiastical. In the Puritan revolution the religious problem may not have been—was not, in fact—more important than the civil, but in itself it was certainly the more difficult of solution, and it so combined with the civil problem as to render it, too, well-nigh insoluble.

Among the victors four main groups may be roughly distinguished. Each has a particular set of principles to advance, and a particular set of interests to guard, in the proposed religious settlement; and each is not only influenced in its whole policy by the interests, but, in varying degrees, takes the colour of its political thinking from the principles. Three of the groups fall under the general designation of Puritan; the fourth stands apart, for its guiding principle is secular, not religious, and its interest in the ecclesiastical settlement, while lively, is negative. This Edition: current; Page: [[15]] fourth group, known in the Long Parliament as the Erastians, is ineffectual in so far as it lacks the party organization which the two main Puritan groups possess, but influential through its power to combine with either of them and because it fully expresses the secular and anti-electrical spirit of the nation, the spirit which will accept passively any settlement in the church so long as that settlement is powerless to tyrannize or to endanger the peace.

The first of the three religious groups, the Presbyterian, had led the attack on absolutism and dominated the earlier phases of the struggle with Charles. Though it had lost the military ascendancy it once possessed, it could still generally command a majority in Parliament, and it hoped (with or without Scottish aid) to effect a settlement of the kingdom in its own interests. It stood for adherence to the Covenant, the establishment of Presbyterianism on the general lines laid down by the Westminster Assembly, and the suppression of every other doctrine and order. It was opposed to toleration, and was in general less interested in liberty than in reform. Its alliance with the Scots was its potential military strength and its actual political weakness, for in moments when national feeling ran high its majority in Parliament became a minority. But English Presbyterianism is not to be confounded with Scottish. Few indeed wished to see the Scottish church duplicated in England. Not only did the Presbyterian Party in Parliament rely on the Erastians to make its majority effective; its own adherents (as Baillie and his fellow Commissioners had lamented) were tainted with Erastianism. They would have a national Presbyterian church, and would suppress its rivals, but the church should be controlled by the state. In civil matters the Party was the most conservative of the revolutionaries (agreeing well enough with the Erastians herein); it was the Party of the Right in the Puritan coalition, finding its chief support among the aristocrats who had adhered to the Parliamentary cause, and the wealthy merchants of London, and fearing and hating the Parties of the Left for their civil, quite as much as their religious principles. The Presbyterians wished to limit the objectives of the revolution: to assert the effectual sovereignty not of the people but of Parliament, and to preserve at all costs the sanctity of property, whether real, personal, or political (the historic rights of the Crown and the material possessions of the Church alone excepted). The monarchy, shorn of its power, they would cherish in the interests of a lasting settlement—an assurance that the revolution had not been so very revolutionary after Edition: current; Page: [[16]] all, and a guarantee that it should go no further. (Had not God given the Israelites kings, and whenever they could do so with impunity, had not that model people knocked them about?) The King was indeed essential to their scheme, and the time was to come when they would sacrifice almost anything but the church settlement to gain him. He refused their terms and ruined himself and them. The Party of the Right is unrepresented in the Army Debates except in so far as the Independent officers agree with its civil policy or regard its opinion as something to be opposed only with caution.

To the spirit of this civil policy, the Independents, or the Party of the Centre, as we may call them,1 did not at first demur. But they were alarmed at its conjunction with an ecclesiastical ideal at variance with their own. The Independents were the heirs of the Presbyterians’ former military ascendancy, and between winning victories and opposing the hated Scots, they were sometimes able to gain a majority in Parliament. A common distrust of Presbyterian clericalism also enabled them to rely up to a point on the support of the Erastians.2 But even more than the Presbyterians’, their majority, when achieved, was highly precarious. Being astute politicians they knew that Parliament (or at all events this Parliament) would never settle the religion of the nation on their plan. Accordingly they were (or pretended to be) satisfied with a state-controlled Presbyterian establishment, so long as a toleration, of the general kind demanded by the Dissenting Brethren in the Assembly, were assured; and even for this they seemed content to wait, evidently sharing to some extent Cromwell’s comfortable assurance that heaven was on their side and would presently afford them an opportunity of taking what they wanted. Thus, partly through force of circumstances, but partly through a logical development of their own basic doctrines, the Independents became the party of toleration. This fact gave them an immense advantage outside Parliament; for it enabled Edition: current; Page: [[17]] them to draw support from the Parties of the Left, almost unrepresented in the House of Commons, but strong in the Army, on which in the last analysis the Independents relied. As time went on an increasing rift between Independents and Presbyterians became apparent in the matter of the civil settlement. Like the Presbyterians (and Erastians), the leaders retained their respect for property, real, personal, and political. This is the burden of Ireton’s impassioned argument at Putney: ‘All the main thing that I speak for, is because I would have an eye to property’ (p. 57). But they grew progressively less attached to the notion of the effectual sovereignty of Parliament, progressively more sensible of its tyranny; and, while loath to break with the existing Parliament, they sought a settlement which should put a definite limit to its life, and provide securely not only against the power of the restored King but also against the self-perpetuating tyranny of Parliaments in future. They discovered that if new presbyter was but old priest writ large, new Parliament also bore a striking resemblance to old King. To the monarchy itself they were certainly prepared to be not less generous than the Presbyterians, provided the King could be brought to their policy of discountenancing ecclesiastical tyranny, of ending the present Parliament, and of accepting the principle of biennial Parliaments—from whose power (as also from the King’s) certain fundamental matters should be reserved, and whose institution should be preceded by certain electoral reforms. These are some of the provisions of the Independents’ scheme of settlement, the Heads of the Proposals (pp. 422-6). But their attachment to monarchy was, like their attachment to Parliament, less deeply grounded than the Presbyterians’; it was more a matter of policy than of principle. The Independents could divest themselves of it when the moment came—when heaven (to adopt their own language) held forth the opportunity of other things; the Presbyterians could not. Independency is inherently the more radical creed. This does not mean that it is necessarily more democratic. In drawing support from the Parties of the Left, Independency allied itself with the one genuinely democratic party thrown up by the Puritan revolution, the Levellers, and temporarily even adopted some of their principles. But its immediate purpose served, the alliance dissolved, leaving the Levellers sadder and (as regards the Independents at least) wiser men. To gauge the cleavage between the Independents and their allies one has only to read the Putney Debates.

The Parties of the Left, the sectaries, religious and political, Edition: current; Page: [[18]] were a heterogeneous company among whom the winds of doctrine assumed the proportions of a tempest. They were descended from the Separatists and Anabaptists, as the Independents were from the more sedate Congregationalists, and were, so to speak, the Independents’ poor relations.1 Among themselves they agreed in little save the belief in a total separation of church and state and the demand for liberty of conscience, both which tenets are logical developments of parts of the Independents’ own creed, and the latter of them a main ground of the alliance between the sects and the Independent Party. Two significant types of opinion emerge among the sectaries. The one is recognizable as predominantly democratic in tendency, and ultimately secular in aim, though it maintains its emphasis on liberty of conscience and at times adopts the language of religious enthusiasm. This is the opinion of the Levellers (already mentioned), the political doctrinaires, led by Lilburne, Overton, Wildman, and others. It appealed more or less definitely to many of the rank-and-file in the New Model, to the Agitators (old and new), and even to some of the higher officers such as Colonel Rainborough. The second type of opinion is at bottom neither democratic in tendency nor secular in aim. It emphasizes not the rights of the people, but the privileges of the Saints, and it looks forward to the millennium (which always seems to be just around the corner) when the Saints shall inherit the earth and rule it with, or on behalf of, Christ (pp. 232-47, 390-6). This is the type of opinion held by the Fifth Monarchy Men, the religious doctrinaires (if the title may be awarded to one group when there are so many highly qualified claimants). Much less effectively organized in 1647-9 than the Levellers, this party had an advantage in the experience of victorious warfare through which the Army had passed, and in the Army’s susceptibility to religious enthusiasm. One cannot gauge the precise extent of its influence in the lower ranks. Probably that influence was very considerable, for up to a point it could Edition: current; Page: [[19]] coalesce with democratic opinion. Among the higher officers Colonel Harrison and Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe are definite adherents, and others, including Cromwell himself, are not untouched by its spell.

Such, in brief, are the main groups into which the Puritans fall. As political forces these parties operate in three corporate but not homogeneous bodies, the Parliament, the City, and the Army;1 and membership in each of these bodies partially, though only partially, cuts across party alignments and loyalties. (1) The Presbyterians’ majority in Parliament (even after they were relieved of the odium of a Scottish army on English soil) was always insecure. Yet in a less overt way the Presbyterian Party dominated Parliament up to the very moment of Pride’s purge; for they, with the Erastians, were in a special sense the Parliamentary party, insistent on the sovereignty of Parliament, determined that the regal powers and functions should be transferred to it, and that there should be no dissolution of the existing Parliament till all was settled and the kingdom safe—if ever. In these views the Parliament as a whole acquiesced, and even the Independent Party in Parliament (as distinct from the Independents of the Army and their allies) were influenced by the ‘interest’ of Parliament and of themselves as members of that august body: they could be induced to submit to Pride’s purge, but nothing could persuade the resulting Independent House of Commons to dissolve. Equally instructive to contemplate is the long struggle in Cromwell between the leader of the Army and the member of the House of Commons. (2) In the oligarchy which ruled the City the power of the Presbyterians was far more secure than in the House of Commons,2 and it was therefore a special object of the Army’s distrust. It generally acted in collusion with the Presbyterian leaders in Parliament. But the City, like the Parliament, was jealous of its independence and had its own special interests, material and political, to guard, and on occasion these interests Edition: current; Page: [[20]] conflicted with the needs of the Parliamentary party and the Presbyterian cause. (3) The Army was a corporate body in a sense somewhat different from Parliament and City, but no less real. Its ethos was as pronounced as theirs. All that it lacked was appropriate organs of expression, and these, with a remarkable initiative, it proceeded to create. The Army became, indeed, at once a sort of fourth estate in the realm, and a body not less representative than the (not very representative) Parliament at Westminster. It contained men of every shade of Puritan opinion, and no doubt a substantial number quite indifferent to the special ideals of the various Puritan parties and intent only on the soldiers’ material needs and grievances. But the political activities of the Army were dominated by two groups working in uneasy co-operation, the Independents, including many of the higher officers, and the Parties of the Left, finding their chief strength in the lower officers and the common troopers. These, and especially the leading Independents (Cromwell and Ireton, with a group of loyal colonels) shaped for the Army a policy which was in general harmony, but certainly not identical, with the policy of the Independent Party in Parliament. The Army had its own sense of corporate being and its own special needs and interests, in which officers and men of no close party affiliations could share. At the head of the Army, a symbol of its existence as a separate entity, stood Fairfax, of whom Gardiner remarks: ‘Most likely no one in England—probably not Fairfax himself—knew whether he was a Presbyterian or an Independent.’

A Parliament insecurely, but until Pride’s purge fairly constantly, dominated by the Presbyterians; an Army increasingly dominated by the Independents; the City where the Presbyterian interest prevailed; at a distance the Scots, and at home a vast but relatively unorganized mass of Royalist and Anglican discontent, and a smaller but more articulate body of popular and radical discontent; and finally, the endless and futile machinations of Charles—this (with a brief interruption, of the Second Civil War) is the general scene presented by the two years between February 1647 and January 1649. With this general scene in mind, our attention must turn more definitely to the activities of the New Model.

The plan of Parliament to rid itself of the New Model was highly alarming to the leading Independent officers, to the sectaries in the ranks, indeed to the whole Army. It was proposed to disband the force piecemeal, with, as an alternative, enlistment for service in Ireland under different commanders; and the plan Edition: current; Page: [[21]] did not include any adequate guarantees for long arrears of pay, for an Act of Indemnity covering deeds in the past war, or against being pressed for service outside England. On these defects, and the Parliament’s angry and threatening rejection of the soldiers’ protests, the whole scheme broke down; for the manifest injustice and ingratitude welded the Army into a unity of resentment, placed its disbanding completely beyond the Parliament’s power to effect, prepared it to become the political force which the Presbyterians dreaded, and fostered revolutionary propaganda in its ranks to the embarrassment of its commanders as well as to the danger of Parliament and nation. The soldiers looked to their officers for guidance, and towards the end of March these drew up a petition to Parliament, which confined itself to demanding guarantees for the soldiers’ material welfare and scrupulously avoided all reference to larger issues, political and ecclesiastical.1 But the men were also ready to organize in their own behalf. ‘Though the Army differ in religion,’ wrote an observer of Ireton’s regiment, ‘they all agree in their discontented speeches of the Parliament. . . . As for the petition, they now speak it openly that they will send it up with two out of every troop.’2 Here is the first hint we have of the plan of appointing Agitators.

By the end of the month it had been carried into effect by eight regiments of horse, to be followed by the remaining horse and by the foot. Thus the rank-and-file created their own leaders, and opened a channel of communication with the high command, the Edition: current; Page: [[22]] Parliament, and public opinion in the country. It is a more striking achievement of democratic organization than the forming of the General Council of the Army early in June. For the latter was prompted by the higher officers and would never have been adopted had not the regiments elected their Agitators first; and the Agitators remained in fact a more potent force outside the Council than they ever became in it. Some of them were men of undoubted energy and ability. Sexby, Allen, and Lockyer figure in the debates at Reading and Putney. Allen describes them as young in statecraft (p. 421), but they show a natural aptitude for politics. Questioned at the Commons’ bar, on 30th April, for their first official act, the presentation of the soldiers’ grievances, Sexby, Allen, and Shepherd answer with all the astuteness of Lilburne himself.1 The scope of the Agitators’ plans is best realized from ‘Advertisements for managing the counsels of the Army,’ dated from Saffron Walden, 4th May (p. 398). They aim at the penetration and effective guidance of the whole Army. They know the power of the press and propose to utilize it in their meditated struggle for public favour. They grasp the need of circumspection and an orderly procedure: in their pleas for liberty and reform they will invoke ‘the declarations of Parliament put forth to engage us in blood,’ and when they ‘call for public justice . . . upon all offenders’ (or in other words the Presbyterian leaders in Parliament), it shall be ‘according to the Covenant’! The immediate needs of the soldiers (arrears and indemnity) are still emphasized, but the minds of the Agitators run on to the settlement of the kingdom upon principles of justice and common right.

Next to arrears and indemnity, the question most likely to move numbers in the Army was liberty of conscience. Here, too, the Presbyterian Party seemed determined to alarm and exasperate the soldiers by attacks on heterodoxy and threats of suppression. The extension of the soldiers’ demands to include, above all, liberty of conscience, but also other reforms, is evident in the grievances forwarded from various regiments to be presented to the Parliamentary Commissioners at Saffron Walden, on 13th-14th May (p. 399). Thus the principles of the Levellers (who stood, among other things, for complete religious toleration) made progress in the ranks. No doubt the Agitators were in their debt for doctrine and method, and advanced their cause; but it is also probable that the first movement to elect Agitators was itself a Edition: current; Page: [[23]] result of the infiltration of Leveller principles. We hear of their presence in April: ‘Some of the soldiers do not stick to call the Parliament-men tyrants; Lilburne’s books are quoted by them as statute laws’; and again (with patent exaggeration), the whole Army ‘is one Lilburne throughout, and more likely to give than to receive laws.’1

Be this as it may, the hotter spirits were preparing to take the law into their own hands. By the middle of May an elaborate organization (compiete with theatrical properties—secret agents and code numbers) had been developed by the Agitators and their friends (p. 400). It was soon to be put to the test; and if we cannot restrain a smile at the evident enjoyment of No. 102 (‘Now, my lads, if we work like men we shall do well. . . . Yours till death, 102’), we must admit that in one instance it achieved a coup which left a mark on all future happenings. In the first days of June Cornet Joyce, acting in close collusion with the Agitators, and under (though perhaps also beyond) the secret orders of Cromwell and Ireton, seized the person of the King. This is not the place to tell again the familiar though problematical story, but we recall the significance of the hard-pressed cornet’s answer to Charles’ demand for a sight of his commission: ‘Here is my commission’ (pointing to his five hundred troopers). The Army had assumed the direction of events; its duel with a hostile majority in Parliament had entered on a new phase which was to culminate in Pride’s purge; and beyond that a dozen years of military rule were heralded in Joyce’s reply. But so far the soldiers’ action was unofficial, agreeable in this instance to the real commanders of the Army, Cromwell and Ireton, but not satisfactorily subject to their control. And a pressing problem faced them: to devise some means of preserving discipline and unity of action in face of the dubious (though at present friendly and potentially useful) forces emerging from the ranks. The solution of the problem—or more strictly the first step in its solution—was taken with the drawing up of the Solemn Engagement of the Army, and the organization of the General Council which it created.

The Solemn Engagement of the Army (pp. 401-3), accepted at a general rendezvous at Newmarket on 5th June, was a sort of military covenant made among the soldiers and with the kingdom. Edition: current; Page: [[24]] It set forth the soldiers’ grievances and the conditions on which they would disband, or enlist for service in Ireland, binding them to do neither until a council (called into existence for that purpose) should declare the conditions to have been fulfilled. It also demanded the exclusion from power of the Presbyterian leaders (the eleven members soon to be impeached in the name of the Army) who had sought to destroy the New Model and Kindle the flames of a fresh war. The Engagement disavowed all intention of serving the ends of any particular persons or party, of attempting to set up Independency in the place of Presbyterianism, of introducing ‘a general licentiousness under pretence of liberty of conscience,’ or of seeking to undermine the principle of magistracy; it glanced at the settlement, the securing of the liberties of citizen as well as soldier, the ‘establishment of common and equal right, freedom, and safety’ for all ‘that do not by denying the same to others render themselves incapable thereof’; and it invoked God’s blessing on the Army’s covenant and effort. The General Council, which the Engagement called into being, accepted the election of Agitators as an accomplished fact, balanced them with two commissioned officers from each regiment, and tipped the scale in favour of authority by associating them with the General, with the other general officers, and (though the document does not mention this) with the commanders of regiments.1 Thus was secured that precarious unity of the Army, which Cromwell was determined at all costs to preserve. Thus too was established what we may perhaps describe as the Putney Debating Society.

The Solemn Engagement, according to its promise, was followed, on 14th June, by a more detailed statement of the Army’s principles and its desires for the settlement of the kingdom. A Representation from Sir Thomas Fairfax and the Army under his command (pp. 403-9) is an able document, probably, like the Engagement, the work of Ireton. After setting forth once more the soldiers’ grievances and demands, it justifies the Army’s concern in larger issues and its right to resist, if need be, the orders of the Parliament, ‘considering that we were not a mere mercenary army hired to serve an arbitrary power, but called forth and conjured by the several declarations of Parliament to the defence of our own and the people’s just rights and liberties, and so we took up arms in judgment and conscience to those ends.’ Edition: current; Page: [[25]] This appeal to the declarations of Parliament is reinforced by one to ‘the law of nature and nations’ as manifested in Scottish and foreign precedent, and to the final and highest test: ‘Nor is that supreme end, the glory of God, wanting . . . to set a price upon all such proceedings of righteousness and justice, it being one witness of God in the world to carry on a testimony against the injustice and unrighteousness of men and against the miscarriages of governments when corrupted or declining from their primitive and original glory.’ And so, on to the settlement of the kingdom: the termination of the present House of Commons, biennial Parliaments, and more equal representation (later to be elaborated in the Heads of the Proposals); the right of free petition, the right of speedy trial, toleration for those unable to accept the religious settlement imposed by the Parliament (here the influence of the Parties of the Left); these things guaranteed, a willingness ‘freely and cheerfully [to] commit our stock or share of interest in this kingdom into this common bottom of Parliaments,’ and finally the promise to restore the King to his rights ‘so far as may consist with the right and freedom of the subject and with the security of the same for the future.’ The Representation of the Army, and especially this last-named clause, is one of the prior engagements so earnestly debated at Putney four months later.

Documents like the Representation were very well, but the more radical elements in the Army, while passionately addicted to declarations, were also eager for a march on London as the swiftest way of bringing Parliament and the City to their senses. On 24th-25th June the commanders, already at St. Albans, tried the experiment of advancing to Uxbridge (where they could easily cut off the City’s supplies) with a view to securing effective measures against the eleven members, and the cessation of the attempts to break down the Engagement by bribing desertion with the payment of arrears, and to provide forces that could, if necessary, be used to oppose the New Model. The voluntary withdrawal of the eleven members, and the submissive attitude of the City, satisfied the commanders, and the Army retired to Reading. Thus was demonstrated the power of the New Model to coerce Parliament and City. But the retirement was perhaps premature. While commissioners were engaged on a treaty between Parliament and Army, and Ireton was busy on the Heads of the Proposals, the Presbyterians continued their machinations. The purging of Independents from the London militia (contemplated by an ordinance passed in May) was effected. In the process a mystified lieutenant-colonel was ordered ‘to take notice he must fight Edition: current; Page: [[26]] against all malignants, sects, and sectaries, and all godly persons that shall come to oppose the City. To which the lieutenant-colonel replied: “Gentlemen, I had thought you all of you professed godliness. For my part I do, and therefore I shall not engage against any godly man. Whereupon Mr. Alderman Gibbs . . . answered that their meaning was . . .: if any, out of pretence of godliness, should come to oppose them, that he should fight against such. . . .” ’1 Nothing could better reveal the state of parties, or the notorious religiosity of the Army. News of these doings reached Reading. To the Agitators it appeared that Parliament and City had relapsed into their old wicked ways and were preparing for a fresh appeal to arms. They drew up new demands, and urged an immediate march on London. The policy of the Army’s commanders, to avoid an open break with the Parliament and the sacrifice of its commission (the Army’s only legal ground of existence), was being assailed on two sides, by the recalcitrance of the Presbyterian Party and by the impatience of the soldiers. On 16th July the Agitators’ proposal was the subject of a great debate in the Council of the Army, the first to be reported in the Clarke MSS. Much less interesting in subject than the later debates, it is still highly significant of tempers and policies, and an excellent example of the sort of discussion that must frequently have arisen in the Council. Accordingly, I have prepared for the Appendix a summary of the arguments, with all the more striking passages quoted in full (pp. 409-20).2 In the debate Cromwell and Ireton, careful of appearances, as the extremists never were, insisted that the occasion offered for a show of force was insufficient. Heaven would provide a better opportunity. It did, before the month was out. With the Army at a distance, renewed pressure from the London mob forced the Speakers of both Houses, and the leading Independent members, to flee. To restore them to their places, and Parliament to its liberty, the Army entered London on 6th August. But so short-lived was the effect of this demonstration that by 14th August the Agitators were petitioning Fairfax for a purging of the House of Commons, and a new march on London for that purpose. The question was debated, and this time Cromwell was on the side of the Agitators. The calculated procrastination of Fairfax prevented the desired march; but Cromwell, not to be Edition: current; Page: [[27]] thwarted, made a show of force with his cavalry, and the leading Presbyterians retreated, leaving the Independents for the time masters of a small majority in the House.1

Soon, however, a new danger threatened, a widening rift between the Independent leaders and their allies of the Left. The leaders hoped for a speedy settlement of the kingdom on the basis of the Heads of the Proposals. The method they advocated was a series of bills securing the liberties of the subject, the privileges of Parliament, and the settlement of the militia, to be followed, when these had received the royal assent, by others securing the rights of the King. On 16th September, the Council of the Army met at Putney after a sermon by Hugh Peter, and Cromwell was able to get this plan accepted, but in the teeth of a vigorous opposition led by Rainborough.2 The theoretic republicans found their opportunity in the growing impatience with the disingenuousness of Charles, and exploited it to the full. In Parliament too the rift appeared. On 22nd September, Marten moved for no further addresses to the King. He was easily defeated by aid of the Presbyterian vote, but it is significant that the Centre Party had to call upon the Right in order to correct the exuberance of its allies. Discontent in the ranks of the Army could think of no better expedient than to elect new Agitators. There were dark hints that those formerly appointed ‘did [now] more consult their own advancement than the public interest’; and they were supplemented in five regiments of horse (later in four more of horse and seven of foot) by new Agents. Whether or not this action was inspired by Levellers outside the Army, Ireton credits Wildman with composing the manifesto of the new Agitators, The Case of the Army Truly Stated (pp. 92, 95, 429-36), and the Proposals submitted by them are for an Agreement of the People (pp. 443-5). This, then, is the immediate background of the Putney Debates, with the documents that furnished their point of departure.

The debates reported took place on 28th and 29th October, and 1st November. It is unnecessary to summarize them since I print the text in full (pp. 1-124). Here for the first time the Levellers are represented, and the Agitators supported, by civilians whose presence has been invited. At the first debate Cromwell urged ‘that they should not meet as two contrary parties, but as some desirous to satisfy or convince each other.’ The wish was not fulfilled. The relative harmony of 5th June, or even of Edition: current; Page: [[28]] 16th July, was gone beyond recall, destroyed by the increasing rift between the Independent leaders and the Parties of the Left.

Though greatly superior in general interest to the discussion of 16th July, these debates are much less impressive as an example of truth and agreement reached through free discussion. They open with a personal attack on Cromwell and Ireton, and a frank commentary on their blasted reputations, which reflects the distrust of them coming to be entertained by Lilburne and his friends, and also suggests that as a means of preserving unity and discipline in the Army the Council has not been an unqualified success. Their defence leads into a discussion of the Army’s engagements. And here a new difference emerges: Cromwell and Ireton hold that, though the situation may have altered, the principles set forth in the declarations of the Army are binding; the radicals, that nothing is binding if it conflicts with reason, justice, and the safety of the people. ‘Rationalizations’ the arguments of both parties may be—what arguments are not?—but they are rationalizations which employ the deepest convictions, the most characteristic ideas, of those who adopt them. What the Independents are contending for on the practical level is, first, the settlement of the nation by treaty with the King; secondly, the preservation of unity and discipline in the Army: both alike forbid the acceptance of an Agreement of the People. In one respect, Cromwell and Ireton’s insistence on engagements is an example of what we may call the lower tactics of debate. Part of their object (Cromwell’s rather ingenuous disclaimers notwithstanding) is to kill time and prevent an irrevocable decision; they have discovered that the Council of the Army, however defective it may be as an organ of truth and agreement, is a thoroughly reliable instrument of delay, and in a select committee truth and agreement may have a better chance (pp. 13, 17). Even the seizing on Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe’s motion for a prayer-meeting is not quite free from suspicion, and, the prayer-meeting over, Cromwell and Ireton return to ‘engagements,’ to relinquish the subject only when it is patently exhausted and they must pass on to a new one, the provisions of the Agreement of the People. Here the same problem of interpretation arises: to distinguish clearly between profound convictions and the lower tactics of debate. Indeed the whole thing parallels closely the previous discussion of engagements, with the Levellers cutting through all obstacles to reason, justice, and natural right, and the Independents insisting on the claims of precedent and established interests. In two ways the Putney Edition: current; Page: [[29]] Debates mark the gulf that is widening between the Independents and their allies of the Left: first, in the frank irreconcilability of the principles advanced; secondly, in the atmosphere of tension, and in the necessity for the tactics which Cromwell and Ireton use. Yet the spirit of a lost unity reasserts itself at moments. Cromwell may reprobate the policy and arguments of the Left, but he is not wholly unsympathetic to their aspirations and ideals; and up to a point they share his conviction that to divide is to perish, and are frightened by his threat (skilfully concealed as an offer) to withdraw and leave them to their own devices. The last fully reported debate closes on a curious blend of acquiescence and irony. ‘It will be thought boldness in me not to agree with you,’ says Wildman to Ireton, and goes on to wish that provision might be made for the safety of the people and their champions when the King is restored. ‘But if not, I am but a single man; I shall venture myself and my share in the common bottom.’ The words are adapted from Ireton’s own Representation of the Army. The ‘common bottom’ had sprung a good many leaks since they were written.

But this was not the end. In the meetings of the Council on 4th and 5th November, and of its committee on 4th November (none of them, unfortunately, reported by Clarke), the Levellers would seem from the brief account available (pp. 452-4) to have defeated the Independent leaders, and carried a resolution in favour of manhood suffrage, a letter to the House of Commons virtually disclaiming any desire for further addresses to the King, and a demand for a general rendezvous (at which they intended to appeal from the officers to the Army and from Parliament to the people). But Cromwell had not played his last card. By 8th November he decided that the Council of the Army must be made to undo its recent work and then be placed beyond the possibility of further mischief (pp. 454-5). Somehow he managed to obtain from the Council a second letter to the Parliament explaining away that of the fifth, the dismissal of the representatives (Agitators and officers) to their regiments on the pretext of preparing for the forthcoming rendezvous, and a fresh committee of officers to examine the engagements of the Army and the Agreement of the People, whose findings were to be reported to ‘the several regiments at their respective rendezvous’ (ominous phrase). Simultaneously Fairfax sought from Parliament a further provision for the troops, ‘that so your care of the Army may appear, and myself and my officers be thereby enabled to let the soldiers see we take such consideration of them as Edition: current; Page: [[30]] becomes us and [as we] have engaged ourselves unto.’1 Three separate rendezvous were substituted for the general rendezvous demanded by the Council of the Army. At that of the first brigade, on 15th November, Rainborough presented a petition in favour of the Agreement of the People, and some copies of the Agreement were distributed among the soldiers, with incitements to stand by it and defy their commanders. Only two regiments gave any trouble (and that easily quelled by the prompt action of Cromwell), Colonel Harrison’s, which had assembled against orders, wearing papers inscribed ‘England’s Freedom; Soldiers’ Rights,’ and Colonel Robert Lilburne’s, which had mutinied against its higher officers and driven them away. The rest readily accepted a new engagement to unite for the prosecution of specified aims and to yield obedience to the orders of the General (sent forth with the advice of the Council of the Army as regarded these aims, but of the Council of War as regarded all other matters).2 Thus discipline (which had been threatened by the very device created to sustain it) was once again restored, but at the price of the Independents’ alliance with the Parties of the Left. That this was possible offers a strong indication that while the Army as a whole was insistent on ‘soldiers’ rights,’ only a minority cared for ‘England’s freedom’ as the Levellers interpreted that phrase. The Levellers’ discontent with Cromwell and Ireton is voiced in Wildman’s Putney Projects and other pamphlets. Soon, however, the breach was partially healed by the Independents’ decision to terminate negotiations with the King.

Between 25th November and 8th January the Council of the Army met at Windsor to arrange with Parliamentary Commissioners the final settlement of the Army’s demands for arrears, indemnity, and a present and future provision. This business concluded, ‘the agreement was sweet and comfortable, the whole matter of the kingdom being left with the Parliament.’ On one practical issue the Centre Party was moving rapidly towards the Left. Charles’s rejection of the Four Bills confirmed the fear of a renewed intrigue for restoration by means of a Scottish invasion, and at last convinced the Independent leaders in Parliament and Army of the probable necessity of settling the kingdom without him, a conviction which was embodied in the Commons’ vote of Edition: current; Page: [[31]] no addresses on 3rd January. In the Council of the Army there were ‘many exhortations to unity and affinity, and motions made for passing by offences that had, through weakness, come from brethren’: the Leveller mutineers were tried, but, on submission, immediately restored to their places. The recaptured unity was signalized by a fast and a feast: Cromwell, Ireton, and others ‘prayed very fervently and pathetically,’ and Fairfax entertained the Council at dinner on the eve of its dispersal. At its final meeting the Council declared its unanimous approval of the vote of no addresses and its determination to support the Parliament in its effort to settle the kingdom without, and if need be, against the King.1 This unanimous declaration was possible because on one issue the Independents had come into line with the Parties of the Left. But it represents the triumph not of their principles but of Cromwell’s policy: the achievement of at least a sufficient unity in the Army and the restoration of discipline; the adoption, furthermore, of a plan for settling the kingdom in harmony with the Independents’ wishes, and through the forms of Parliamentary action, not by the intervention of the Army (as the extremists had been always too ready to urge) or on the basis of an Agreement of the People (as one group of them had hoped). The triumph was temporary. Before all was done the Independents of the Army, under stress of circumstances, had to move much further to the Left in practical policy if not in principle.

When the work of settling the kingdom was resumed after the Second Civil War, it was without the Council of the Army, a Council of Officers having taken its place. But Ireton and other Independent leaders had moved sensibly nearer to the policy of the Left. They lost thereby the wholehearted support of part of the Independent following in both the Council of Officers and the Parliament, but were able to outweigh the loss, and capture the control of events, by a new alliance with the Left. Their policy was set forth in the Remonstrance of the Army (pp. 456-65). This was submitted to the Council of Officers at St. Albans on 10th November 1648, and finally accepted for forwarding to Parliament on 18th November; but Parliament evidently determined to postpone its discussion—if possible until the kingdom had been settled without it. Once more the Parliament was ranged against the Army, and once more membership in either body cut in some degree across party loyalties. Once more an alliance with the Parties of the Left became essential to the Independent leaders in Edition: current; Page: [[32]] the Army if they were to impose their will on Parliament. While the Council of Officers was hesitating to accept the Remonstrance, Ireton, already working in somewhat uneasy alliance with Harrison and his Millenarian group, entered into conference with the Levellers. The first result was the influence of Lilburne in the final revision of the Remonstrance; the second, Ireton’s reluctant acceptance of the Levellers’ most cherished principle, settlement by means of an Agreement of the People, in return for the Levellers’ reluctant acceptance of the immediate steps proposed by Ireton and Harrison. These steps were, to put an end to the existing Parliament and bridge the interval till the new constitution could be framed, and the new Parliament elected, by creating their supporters in the House of Commons a committee to administer the kingdom. Meanwhile a committee of sixteen (four from each of the Army, the Parliament, the Levellers, and the, Independents unconnected with any of these bodies)1 was to draw up the proposed Agreement of the People (see pp. 342-9). The new alliance, however insecure, gave Ireton and his supporters effective control of the Army, which, in addition to the radicalism in its ranks, had an incentive to intervention in the withholding by Parliament and City of its promised pay. On 30th November, the Council of Officers issued a declaration calling upon the Parliament voluntarily to dissolve, and, in case the majority remained obdurate, upon the honest party to dissociate themselves from the rest, when the Army would support them in an effort to establish a just and lasting settlement by means of a constitution guaranteeing a succession of free Parliaments and ratified by an agreement and subscription of the people. To further that end, the Army was marching towards the capital, ‘there to follow Providence as God shall clear our way’ (p. 467). On 2nd December, it entered London, only to encounter opposition from the Independent Party in the House, which would consent to a purge, but not to a dissolution. The result was Pride’s purge on 6th December.2

Four days later the work of Lilburne’s committee was finished and the Agreement ready for presentation to the Council of Officers. This body had no intention of adopting it without due consideration. On its civil provisions there seems to have been little disagreement. Not so on the reserve in matters of religion. Edition: current; Page: [[33]] When that question was debated, on 14th December (for the full text see pp. 125-69), all the differences among the Independents and their allies came to light. Clerical advice was not wanting. Philip Nye supported the Independent belief in the Christian magistrates’ carefully delimited powers in matters of religion; John Goodwin supported the claim of the Parties of the Left that the magistrates’ functions and responsibilities were purely secular; Sprigge and others declared for the privileges of the Saints, and, as essential to their realization, for the withholding from magistrates of all power to tyrannize. The religious (we have said) may not have been the most important problem in the Puritan revolution, but it was certainly the problem most difficult of solution. The fact is important for understanding the Puritan mind, and it is amply confirmed and illustrated by this long and heated argument. No final decision could be reached. The question was referred to a committee, and the officers turned to less controversial matters. But discontent with the suggested compromise flared up in the final discussion of the Agreement (pp. 175-8). There was nothing that the Parties of the Left held with more tenacity than liberty of conscience.

Their dissatisfaction with the Agreement as modified by the Independent officers, is plain to read. It was no great matter: the radicals had served their turn. From the final debates Lilburne was certainly, and the other Levellers presumably, absent. They could not approve either of the officers’ interference or of their leaving the final settlement in the hands of the now quite unrepresentative Parliament. They had always desired a direct appeal to the people. For such an appeal Lilburne had in some degree provided by publishing the original text of the Agreement in his Foundations of Freedom (pp. 356-64). The Millenarians and their sympathizers brought forward different grounds of complaint: (1) What was needed was not a new constitution and a new Parliament, but a dozen or two conscientious and able men who would set about the reform of existing abuses; (2) the Agreement, professing to set men free, in reality imposed new restrictions upon them by extending, and grounding more firmly, the magistrates’ powers; (3) God had providentially put the settlement into the hands of the Army for the nation’s good and they had no right to surrender their power and abandon the task. Nothing is more remarkable than Ireton’s answer to the second objection—unless it be Harrison’s to the third. Ireton declares that magistracy will continue to exist until God, by the breaking forth of his power among men, shall render all government Edition: current; Page: [[34]] needless, that meanwhile the chief object should be to restrain the magistrates’ power within fixed limits, and that this end the Agreement (so far from extending the scope of magistracy) clearly serves. Harrison has ceased to expect much good from the Agreement. It must be presented to Parliament and people because the Army stands pledged to that course. It will establish some measure of liberty for the people of God, but not enough effectively to safeguard them. God intends its failure: for it is not the final Agreement which shall establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. That will come from God, and in God’s good time. One may suspect a touch of disingenuousness in both officers. But their arguments prevailed.

The Whitehall debate on the reserve in religion has its own special background in the divergent views of the Puritans regarding the power and duty of the magistrate, and in the history of toleration; and these, in turn, clarify the division into Right, Centre, and Left. The Presbyterians (unrepresented in the debate save in so far as Ireton and Nye agree with their view of the magistrate’s power and duty or wish to leave a door open for compromise with them) expect a reform of the whole ecclesiastical polity, by the magistrate and in accordance with the scriptural model as they interpret it. On the other hand, the sectaries, however much they differ among themselves, agree in demanding the total separation of church and state (in the interests of the former) and the establishment of liberty of conscience—though the Millenarians of course intend the ultimate rule of the state itself by the Saints. The Centre Party occupied the whole interval between these opposed positions. It does so in virtue partly of its own composite character, partly of the historical situation in which it is placed. The party embraces both non-separating Congregationalists (who differ from the Presbyterians on but two points, though these are fundamental: the character of the scriptural model, and the question of a limited toleration) and separating Congregationalists, who are, indeed, sectaries of a kind, and approximate fairly closely to the Parties of the Left. The former group is represented in the debate by Ireton and Nye; the latter, by John Goodwin. At least a limited toleration had been rendered necessary for the Independent Party, first by the imminence of a Presbyterian settlement, secondly as a means of contenting its own left wing and of drawing in the Parties of the Left. In the Whitehall debate one must neither exaggerate nor minimize the divergence of opinion. Ireton and Nye say no word in defence of toleration, but in the Apologetical Narration (1644) Nye had Edition: current; Page: [[35]] pleaded for a limited toleration, and in Ireton’s manifestos of the Army the demand had been put forward in no uncertain terms. Now they are faced to meet the arguments not of the Right, but of the Left, and, without inconsistency, they speak for the right wing of the Centre Party. The divergence between that right wing and the exponents of the separation of church and state and of a thorough-going liberty of conscience, is nevertheless emphatic. The ground that is fought over had been mapped out in 1644, when Roger Williams1 repudiated the Apologetical Narration because it allowed the magistrate’s interference in religion and demanded at most a strictly limited toleration. But the considerable advance towards liberty of conscience which could be made from the fundamental position of Ireton and Nye is attested by the anonymous Ancient Bounds a year later (pp. 247-265), and by the practice of Cromwell’s state church. Less thorough-going, and above all less logical, than the great Separatist and Baptist pleas for liberty of conscience—those of Milton, The Bloody Tenent (pp. 266-92), Robinson’s Liberty of Conscience,2 John the Baptist, The Compassionate Samaritan, A Paraenetic for not loose but Christian Liberty, The Arraignment of Persecution, and Richardson’s Necessity of Toleration—they still ensure a large measure of practical freedom.


These divergences of opinion may be allowed to raise here a question of definition. Can such divergences be profitably embraced under a single term? What does one mean by Puritanism?

Puritanism is an entity.3 It is to be understood neither as a resurgence of medieval thought (though there is some force in Acton’s description, ‘the middle ages of Protestantism’) nor simply as a harbinger of the modern world, of naturalism and democracy (though it actually advanced them both). It is to be studied in itself—and the penalty of disregarding this counsel is to misunderstand not only the movement, but its relation to past and future. One’s definition must be eclectic and must ignore no fact that is prominent in the period under consideration.

It is possible to extend the term Puritan to cover all the varied forces generated by the Protestant Reformation, and given their Edition: current; Page: [[36]] opportunity of expression and action by the revolt against the Crown and the Church in the first half of the seventeenth century; and this is probably still its commonest use.1 Again, it is possible to subdivide these forces and relegate the term Puritan to the more conservative, to those that remain strictly Calvinistic, adhering not only to the doctrine of predestination but also to the Genevan pattern in church and state, and opposing religious, while setting severe limits to political, liberty—or in other words to make Puritan practically synonymous with Presbyterian; this practice has some historical foundation and has been adopted by one or two modern historians.2 The cleavage between the Presbyterians and the sectaries is indeed marked; and it is tempting to adopt and enforce Troeltsch’s distinction between the church-ideal and the sect-ideal. But the problem is the Centre Party, the Independents, who increasingly dominate the situation in and after 1647. They occupy (as we have observed) the whole interval between the Right, where the Puritan church-type is dominant, and the Left, where the Puritan sect-type is not less supreme. No fact is more prominent than the existence of the two types side by side, or than their mutual influence particularly in the Centre Party, where indeed they merge.

The reason is this: Calvinism itself, the main seed-ground of the Puritan movement, is (as Troeltsch has made clear) deeply influenced by the ‘sect ideal.’ In especial, Calvin adopted the ideal of the ‘holy community.’ And as a result, Calvinism ‘was obliged to make the bold attempt of constituting its national church as a church of professing believers, and of constituting its unity of church and state as a Christian society in the strict sense of the personal faith and character of each individual member.’3 In some form the ideal of the ‘holy community’ remains constant among all the Puritan groups. And the Calvinistic, or Presbyterian, is but one of the possible inferences therefrom. If the primary effort is to erect the holy community among the Saints (as the sect ideal in its simplest form demands), one of two inferences may be drawn: the world may be left to perish in its own fashion, which means temporarily to live and order itself by its own standards; or the Saints, constituted as a holy community, may seek to impose their will upon the world and to inaugurate Edition: current; Page: [[37]] an outward conformity to their standards—a result which approximates to the course taken by Calvinism as a church-type, but must still be distinguished from it. The active presence of this ideal of the ‘holy community’ (however divergent the inferences in theory and practice therefrom) appears to me to furnish the only satisfactory basis for a working definition of Puritanism in its social and political aspects. Puritanism means a determined and varied effort to erect the holy community and to meet, with different degrees of compromise and adjustment, the problem of its conflict with the world. The acceptance of the ideal bespeaks a common element in all Puritan thought. The rival modes of application denote wide differences. One’s definition of Puritanism must be broad enough to include them both, with the specific ideas and the habits of mind from which they spring. Nor must one forget that the differences, inherent in the creeds of Presbyterian and Congregationalist, of Separatist and Anabaptist, from the beginning, are brought in our period into sharp relief by the pressure of swiftly moving events, or that the interval between the extreme positions is always occupied by the composite Centre Party. It is unnecessary to posit a unity in all Puritan thought; it is sufficient to recognize a continuity. Such a continuity is apparent in the documents here collected, even where the divergences of interest and opinion are most acute.

For the purposes, then, of the present volume, I have adopted the popular definition of Puritanism. But I have tried to render the divergences within Puritanism thus conceived, at once clear-cut and intelligible by discriminating between the Parties of the Right, the Centre, and the Left—and where necessary, still further between the components of these large divisions. And in my effort to isolate the elements in Puritan thought which bear, positively or negatively, upon the problem of liberty, I have been careful to set down nothing which cannot be found in the Debates and illustrated abundantly from other documents in the period. It is scarcely necessary to observe that all the generalizations are not equally applicable to all sections of Puritanism, but the difference (unless attention is specifically called to it) is usually one of emphasis only. As is natural, the stage is mainly occupied by the Parties of the Centre and the Left. The Right, which is unrepresented in the Debates, receives only occasional reference. But it has some share in the discussion and illustration of principles of resistance; and extracts not only from Prynne and Rutherford, but from Calvin and Luther (in the form in which the Puritans read them), are included in order to remind the reader of the Edition: current; Page: [[38]] continuity of Puritan thought. Beyond the Puritan Left, as it appears in the Debates and in the Supplementary Documents, there lie reaches to which again we can afford only occasional references: they are marked by the break-down of traditional dogma and the emergerce of habits of mind which belong rather to Quakerism than to Puritanism proper. To penetrate farther into this subject would be to forsake the centre afforded by the Debates; but one must not ignore in Puritans like Saltmarsh and Dell, Collier and Erbury, Lilburne and Winstanley, trains of thought and feeling which finally led some of them into association with the despised followers of George Fox.1

There are certain defects in analysis, considered as a method, which cannot be escaped. In one sense it is possible too successfully to isolate the elements in the Puritan mind which bear upon the problem of liberty: we murder to dissect. But the documents may be relied upon to correct the deficiencies of the Introduction, and to restore to their proper complexity and animation the elements which we have isolated in order to explain. The Puritans (though in different degrees) were men who had undergone a religious experience, whose effect was to bestow a new unity of feeling upon their thoughts. Thus (to take a single example) it will be necessary for us to distinguish between the emphasis upon dogma and scripture and the emphasis upon experiential religion; but in very many cases these are not two things, but one, dogma furnishing the framework within which the experience is enjoyed, and scripture confirming the experience by the record of Moses, of Elijah, of St. Paul. ‘This,’ says Thomas Collier, preaching to the Army at Putney, ‘I shall for your satisfaction confirm unto you from scripture, although I trust I shall deliver nothing unto you but experimental truth’ (p. 390).

The first feature of the Puritan mind to strike a reader of the Debates is the dominant place held in it by dogmatic religion, and the tendency to carry inferences from dogma into secular life. It is true that this character is peculiar to the Puritan rather in degree than kind. Grotius observed the addiction of the English as a nation to theology; and, with certain notable exceptions (Hobbes, Harrington, Selden), the cast of its political thinking in the first half of the seventeenth century is definitely theological. Yet, despite some common ground, the distinction between the Anglican and the Puritan mind is valid; for Anglican dogmatism Edition: current; Page: [[39]] was continually moderated by the tradition of Hooker, with his appeal to philosophy and history to supplement and correct a reliance on the bare letter of the scripture. More important as qualifying our generalization is the evident beginning of a movement among the Puritans of the Left, away from dogma and towards humanitarianism. This is the Puritan counterpart of the Latitudinarian current already becoming apparent in Anglican thought, the Puritan premonition of that general secularizing of the English temper, the date of whose beginnings is conventionally placed in 1660. But even in his movement away from dogma the Puritan retains his identity and carries with him the lessons learned in the conventicle. Almost to our own day the difference of the Anglican and the Nonconformist outlooks was a fact to be reckoned with in English life. To the growth of a secular spirit which leaves the Puritan identity still easily recognizable, we shall return. Our present interest is in the more obvious features of Puritanism during the decade of the Debates; and of these the dominance of dogmatic religion is easily the most obvious, together with the tendency to carry the implications of dogma into secular life, into the fighting of civil wars and the subsequent reform of institutions.

The Puritan turned to the theological aspects of a question as naturally as the modern man turns to the economic; and his first instinct was to seek guidance within the covers of his Bible—or was it rather to seek there justification for a policy already determined on other, on political and economic, grounds? Our own answer to the query has been suggested above in discussing the tactics of Cromwell at Putney, and need not be repeated here. Granted the theological mode of argument is in some sort a ‘rationalization,’ granted even the disingenuousness with which it is often pursued; that does not dispose of the matter. The terms in which the Puritan insists that the argument shall be carried on, are real to him, and of first-rate historical importance because they are the terms in which he views his world. Ignore the terms, or misunderstand them, and the Puritan mind has eluded you. The Puritan viewed the world as a twofold system, a scheme of nature and a scheme of grace. The two were interrelated: because God was the creator and supreme ruler of them both, and because they had a common subject-matter in man, and a common object, the good. Man as man belonged to the natural order; the elect belonged also to the order of grace. The author of The Ancient Bounds writes (pp. 247-8):

Christ Jesus, whose is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, both in nature and in grace, hath given several maps and schemes of his Edition: current; Page: [[40]] dominions . . .: both of his great kingdom, the world, his dominions at large which he hath committed to men to be administered in truth and righteousness, in a various form as they please; . . . and also his special and peculiar kingdom, the kingdom of grace. Which kingdoms though they differ essentially or formally, yet they agree in one common subject-matter (man and societies of men) though under a diverse consideration. And not only man in society, but every man individually, is an epitome, either of one only or of both these dominions: of one only, so every natural man (who in a natural consideration is called microcosmus, an epitome of the world), in whose conscience God hath his throne, ruling him by the light of nature to a civil outward good and end; of both, so every believer who, besides this natural conscience and rule, hath an enlightened conscience carrying a more bright and lively stamp of the kingly place and power of the Lord Jesus, swaying him by the light of faith or scripture, and such a man may be called microchristus, the epitome of Christ mystical.

There was a goodness appropriate to the natural order; and there was a goodness appropriate to the order of grace, which, while it included the natural goodness, also (because spiritual) transcended it. The views taken of the precise relation of these scparate, yet interrelated orders, colour the Puritans’ thought, and condition the terms—and perhaps more than the terms—of their particular and practical demands, as, for intance, that of Roger Williams for the absolute separation of church and state (the social organs of grace and nature) with complete liberty of conscience, or again the demand of others for the subjection of the natural man, and his institutions, to the church—or the Saints (pp. 241-7). God was the lawgiver of the two orders. Israel was a model (so ran the simpler view), and in the Bible might be read the precepts by which all men ought to be governed: ‘Though the laws be few and brief, yet they are perfect and sufficient, and so large as the wisdom of God judged needful for regulating judgment in all ages and nations. For no action or case doth, or possibly can, fall out in this or other nations . . . but the like did, or possibly might, fall out in Israel.’1 If one was to escape the conclusion which the Old Testament enforced in a particular issue (as, for example, in the question of the magistrate’s power in religion), it could be only by an appeal to the New Testament, with an elaborate argument tending to prove that Israel was ‘typical,’ that its law (or some part of its law) was abrogated by the appearance of Christ, who was the ‘antitype,’ and that Israel Edition: current; Page: [[41]] furnished, therefore, no literal model for life under the Gospel. Beside precept and model, there was prophecy. Daniel and Revelation afforded a key to events, past and present, and a vision of the future. From these books the Millenarians derived a view of history and a motive of revolution. And the pattern exhibited coloured the thought of many who could not be described as active adherents, so that one may speak of Millenarian doctrine as in a sense typical.

The cultural and disciplinary value to the Puritan mind, of all this biblical study, formal theological reasoning, and eager and disputatious searching into the purposes of God, is rarely, I think, appreciated to the full. It was on such studies that the logical faculty of Roger Williams was formed. Narrow and one-sided as the Puritan mind is apt to be, it is never flaccid. In their attitude toward reason the Puritans differed widely among themselves, ranging from the extremes of voluntarism and obscurantism to almost pure rationalism; but whatever the avowed attitude, their tacit reliance in the exposition of dogma and text was on logical thought: no one was ever more insistent on hearing a reason for the faith that was in you. That is why Puritanism carried its own special mental discipline. The Debates furnish abundant illustration of the dominance of dogmatic religion and scriptural reference; it appears in connection with every subject discussed, and (though in varying degrees) in all the participants. Unbelievably remote as the argument often seems, its general level attests the bracing effect of the Puritan discipline on ordinary minds. Nor must the limits which it set to inquiry be exaggerated. Dogma, brought into hourly relation with life, led men beyond dogma. Especially is this true of the group who separated most sharply the two orders of nature and grace. But this is to anticipate.

According to the Puritan notion, God spoke in the first instance through his word—the dominance of dogmatic religion means Puritan scripturism; but there were two other modes of learning his will. There was the mode of immediate religious experience. If dogmatic religion is heavily represented in the Debates, so is experiential. There are moments when one could hardly parallel the atmosphere at Putney outside the walls of Little Bethel. Yet to the Puritans it seems perfectly natural. They listen to each others’ experiences and are duly edified and impressed. Even the hard-headed Ireton is strangely moved (pp. 21-2). The exposition of dogma and text make their claim upon reason, but in these experiences imagination and emotion have their play: the Edition: current; Page: [[42]] Puritan imagination is fired, and the passions necessary to great, and sometimes desperate enterprises, are kindled. And there is a community of feeling not less important than intellectual agreement; this, too, religious experience, enjoyed in common, fosters. But the thing has its dangers. Cromwell finds that he is without anything to report ‘as in the name of the Lord’ (p. 102), and is a little fearful lest ‘carnal imaginations’ may pass themselves off as promptings from heaven (p. 104). He prefers, because it seems more objective, the testimony of events. That is God’s third mode of revealing his will. The Puritan lives in a world of particular providences. God has ‘owned’ the Army by the success he has vouchsafed.1 Let the Army pursue its course, but let it not outrun its commission or seize an opportunity before God has given one; and guidance will not fail. We have seen the Army on its momentous march to London, ‘there to follow Providence as God shall clear our way.’ The way was cleared to Pride’s purge and the judicial murder of the King.

The sense of special insight into, and co-operation with, the purposes of God, is a distinguishing mark of the Puritan, and it sets him at a distance from other men. It is both a strength and a weakness. At its worst it issues in self-righteousness. (All the publicans and sinners were on one side, said Chillingworth, all the scribes and Pharisees on the other.) But it nerved the arm and brought an access of courage, which on any other premise, would have been reckless. Like everything else in the Puritan’s outlook, the separation from his fellows rested on a dogmatic basis: the doctrine of predestination taught him that it was from the beginning. The Saint alone belonged to the order of grace, with its special equipment, its privileges, and its duties. The possible inferences from this fact were various, but so long as the dogma remained unimpaired, or uncircumvented, the attitude towards the natural man was constant. ‘Men as men,’ said Ireton, ‘are corrupt and will be so’ (p. 174).

If this account of the dominant place held by religion in the Puritan mind is even approximately correct, no wonder the religious issue bulked so large in the Civil War and the subsequent settlement. ‘The interest of England is religion,’ said Hugh Peter (p. 138). ‘Kings, and Armies, and Parliaments,’ said another speaker, ‘might have been quiet at this day if they would have let Israel alone’ (p. 147). And the religious issue is not Edition: current; Page: [[43]] isolated. It complicates, and is complicated by, the civil.1 Nor does the connection depend merely on the fact observed above, that each section of the Puritan Party has both religious and civil interests to guard, and religious and civil aims to secure. There is perpetual interaction between the two struggles. Passion generated in the one is available for the prosecution of the other. And here the primacy of the religious struggle appears: in it Puritan idealism burns with its steadiest flame, and religion exercises its influence not only directly by intrusion into the civil sphere, but indirectly by analogy. Milton speaks of ‘the best part of our liberty, which is our religion’; and the Puritan’s whole conception of liberty is (as we shall see) deeply coloured by his religious thought, while the second and partially incompatible object of his concern, positive reformation, is equally so coloured.

The zeal for positive reform2 is one of the most constant and indisputable notes of Puritanism. ‘Reform the universities. . . . Reform the cities . . . the countries, . . . the sabbath, . . . the ordinances, the worship of God. . . . Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.3 Alike in Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and the sects, the ideal of the ‘holy community,’ pure in doctrine and exemplary in life, is dominant; but with very different effects upon political thought and action. By the strictest and most logical of the Separatists the ideal is recognized as applicable to, and attainable by, the elect alone; and it operates within the limits of a voluntary religious community made up of visible Saints, with no attempt to influence the state save by exhortation and example. Wherever, on the other hand, the ideal is combined with that of a national church, an attempt will be made to bring the nation into outward conformity with the standard of the godly. The non-elect and the unbelievers are (as Troeltsch puts it) disciplined for the glory of God and the peace and welfare of the church. Thus the effect of what is at bottom the same motive would appear to be totally different in the Puritans of the Right and of the Left, with those of the Centre Edition: current; Page: [[44]] occupying the interval between them. But this does not exhaust the possibilities. A further distinction has to be drawn among the Puritans of the Left, where the idea of a national church, at least in its Presbyterian form, has no place. It is among some of the sectaries, whose church organization is Separatist and who (for their own purposes) join in the plea for liberty of conscience, that the ideal of the ‘holy community’ assumes its most menacing aspect, the doctrine of the rule of the Saints. And the rule of the Saints means the enforcement of the standards of the ‘holy community’ upon the nation at large, as the Millenarians frankly avow. If the idea of toleration is one ground of alliance between the Parties of the Centre and Left, this opposing idea is certainly another. Puritanism was not only committed in all sections to the ideal of the ‘holy community,’ but, in most of them, strongly drawn to the establishment of its reign outside the body of the elect, where, since persuasion could be of no avail, reform must be by coercion.

Its zeal for reformation results in part from the fact that the Puritan temper is in general active rather than contemplative. Though its official creed repudiates works as a means of salvation, it emphasizes them as a sign; and the Puritan has an overwhelming sense of one’s responsibility to use every effort for advancing the kingdom of God. ‘It is action,’ says Baxter, ‘that God is most served and honoured by.’1 And the predilection comes out repeatedly in different forms. There is a vein—even here it is not the dominant vein—of pure contemplation in Anglican literature. The Puritans on the other hand, despite their addiction to experiential religion, seem very often deficient in the higher and more disinterested kinds of mysticism. Milton is the least mystical of all great religious poets. And in his hands spiritual concepts like ‘Christian liberty’ are capable of being wrested from the contemplative to the active sphere. This is not to deny an element of mysticism in some of the Puritans. Cromwell can remind the Council of the Army, eager to dictate the settlement of the kingdom, that the best government ‘is but a moral thing; . . . it is but dross and dung in comparison of Christ’ (p. 97). They appear to disagree with him—and when the time comes Cromwell too will act. In Roger Williams a more unfaltering sense of the mystical quality of religious experience tends to set it apart, thus assigning religion to the contemplative spirit, but to the active reserving all the rest of life. Where no such separation occurs the strong Puritan impulse to action results in the constant Edition: current; Page: [[45]] intrusion of religion into the secular sphere in an effort to enforce the standards of the holy community upon the world, and in a marked tendency to press on, in the name of that ideal, from the quest for religious liberty to the quest for political power.

Within limits the spirit of Puritanism is not only active, but experimental. Naturally the experimental spirit will be operative only in those sections of the party which conceive that the necessary point of compromise between the ideal and the demands of actual life has not yet been reached. For the rest, and notably for the Presbyterians, the period of its operation is already past. For the Independents, and much more markedly for the sects, the point is not yet reached.1 The Bible embodies a revelation complete and unalterable; but there is still room for progressive comprehension, progressive interpretation;2 and it is here that free discussion can (as Milton maintains in the Areopagitica) minister to the discovery of the truth and to agreement in the truth. ‘I am verily persuaded,’ said John Robinson to the departing Pilgrims, ‘the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of his holy word. . . . I beseech you remember it is an article of your church covenant that you be ready to receive whatever truth shall be made known to you from the written word of God. . . . It is not possible that the Christian world should come so lately out of such thick Antichristian darkness and that perfection of knowledge should break forth at once.’3 The Apologetical Narrators, the most moderate of Congregationalists, resolve ‘not to make our present judgment and practice a binding law unto ourselves for the future’ and could wish that this principle ‘were (next to that most supreme, namely to be in all things guided by the perfect will of God) enacted as the most sacred law of all other . . . in Edition: current; Page: [[46]] Christian states and churches throughout the world.’1 The Christian, Henry Robinson urged, ought continually to grow not only from grace to grace, but from knowledge to knowledge.2 ‘The true temper and proper employment of a Christian is always to be working like the sea, and purging ignorance out of his understanding and exchanging notions and apprehensions imperfect for more perfect, and forgetting things behind to press forward’ (p. 259). ‘To be still searching what we know not, by what we know,’ said Milton, ‘still closing up truth to truth as we find it . . .: this is the golden rule in theology as well as in arithmetic.’3 The exponents of toleration, says another writer, ‘count not themselves perfect but stand ready to receive further light, yea though from the meanest of the brethren.’4 This experimental spirit, this eager quest of truth (whether adequately or inadequately conceived), with the attendant confidence in truth’s power to guard itself and to prevail if given an open field, is the deepest and most abiding element in the Puritan campaign for liberty of conscience. There it joins hands with other traditions of free inquiry coming down from the Renaissance, as appears in quotations from Charron (pp. 260-1), and in John Goodwin’s argument:

If so great and considerable a part of the world as America is . . . was yet unknown to all the world besides for so many generations together, well may it be conceived . . . that . . . many truths, yea and those of main concernment and importance, may be yet unborn and not come forth out of their mother’s womb—I mean the secrets of the scripture to see the light of the sun. . . . [No] man is completely furnished for the ministry of the Gospel . . . who is not as well able to make some new discovery, and to bring forth something of himself Edition: current; Page: [[47]] in the things of God in one kind or other, as to preach the common and received truths. . . . That is neither new nor unjustifiable by the practice of wise men, to examine, yea and to impugn, received opinions. He that will please to peruse the first book of Doctor Hakewell’s learned Apology of the Power and Providence of God &c., shall meet with great variety of instances . . . in divinity, philosophy, in ecclesiastical history, in civil or national history, in natural history, of opinions which had a long time been received, and yet were at last suspected, yea and many of them evicted and rejected upon due examination. . . . There are many errors (erroneously so called) in the Christian world which are made of the greatest and choicest truths; yea and which doubtless will be redeemed from their captivity and restored to their thrones and kingdoms by diligence, gifts and faithfulness of the approaching generation.1

Transferred to the political field, the experimental spirit manifests itself chiefly in the Levellers. But it is shared in some degree by the official body of the Independents and underlies the idea of the Debates.

An attitude tentative, yet confident and expectant, was further fostered by the rapid march of events. The break in the ordered procession of the traditional in church and state seemed to the more visionary to place the ideal within their reach. ‘God,’ wrote the Leveller leaders, ‘hath so blessed that which has been done as thereby . . . to afford an opportunity which these six hundred years has been desired, but could never be attained, of making this a truly happy and wholly free nation.’2 ‘God’s people, as well as worldlings,’ said Henry Robinson, ‘have their times to fish in troubled waters.’3 The circumstances of the period fostered in those whose minds already contained the germs, both utopianism and the iconoclasm which, for the active temper, is inseparable from it.

Already in the Grand Remonstrance there is a suggestion of the utopian spirit in the programme of reforms which its framers outline;4 Charles, indeed, specifically complains of ‘that new Utopia of religion and government into which they endeavour to transform this kingdom.’5 Here again Puritanism met other currents of thought: the still-living tradition of Renaissance utopianism (always more academic than the Puritan), embodied in the work of a More and a Campanella; the teaching of Bacon, Edition: current; Page: [[48]] now commencing to find eager disciples and to shape its own august memorial, the Royal Society (a dream of the New Atlantis come true); the cult of Comenius, assiduously fostered by Samuel Hartlib, who had plans for the reform of everything from beehives to the state, not to mention a scheme, the special department of his friend John Dury, for the reunion of Protestant Christendom. Whatever the intentions of the Long Parliament, there were plenty of persons ready to point the way to Utopia: in education (to mention only the most important examples), Hartlib, Dury, Milton, Petty, John Webster, and William Dell; in the organization of society and the state, Hartlib, Harrington, Milton, Vane, Baxter, Hugh Peter, Henry Robinson, the Levellers in general, and Richard Overton in particular (see pp. 335-8), the Millenarians with their vision of rule by the Saints, and Gerrard Winstanley with his communist Law of Freedom in a Platform. All these writers, with the exception of Harrington and Petty, definitely belong to the Puritan parties (and even they have connections with the Puritans). Up to a point the outcropping of utopianism may further illustrate the beginnings of a trend away from dogmatic and towards humanitarian religion, or, in the case of the Levellers, Harrington, and Petty, a definite process of secularization; but Baxter, Vane, Dell, and the Millenarians certainly manifest no drift from dogma, on whose acceptance, indeed, their utopias depend. And all exhibit qualities recognized elsewhere in the products of the Puritan mind—above all the Puritan impulse to action; for these are not utopias in the sense of Sir Thomas More, but somewhat visionary schemes of reform to be actually attempted, utopias in the sense of Charles I’s indignant protest. They may, like the Areopagitica, even repudiate ‘Atlantic and utopian politics.’ Typical is John Cook’s Unum Necessarium, which pleads for the control of the drink trade and the relief of the poor (including free medical service): ‘I am not of their opinion that drive at a parity, to have all men alike. ’Tis but a utopian fiction. The scripture holds forth no such thing: the poor ye shall have always with you. But there ought to be no beggar in England, for they live rather like beasts than men.’1 Fostered by the unsettled state of English institutions, and supplemented by various intellectual influences, this utopianism takes its rise in the Puritan mind and temper, and constitutes an important element in the Army Debates.

Hand in hand with utopianism goes iconoclasm. The common effort to destroy religious institutions of a thousand years had Edition: current; Page: [[49]] confirmed this trait in the Puritan mind, even when the purpose was to replace them with a sterner rule and ‘not to loose the golden reins of discipline and government in the church.’1 ‘And for the extirpation of prelacy,’ wrote John Saltmarsh, ‘though it be a government riveted into our laws and usages . . . yet let us not like the Jews lose our Gospel with holding our Laws too fast. I know this kingdom hath ever been a retentive nation of customs and old constitutions. . . . And hence it is that reformation . . . hath been with such little power and duration. . . .’2 Though fostered by the revolution in the church the triumph of iconoclasm was but partial in the end; for some of the deepest instincts of the national temper (as Saltmarsh hints) were ranged against it, and these kept cropping up—in the Puritans themselves. Only in the Parties of the Left is iconoclasm willingly adopted and unhesitatingly pursued. Beyond a certain point, the Independents are drawn into it not by choice, but by the force of circumstances. In November 1647, Ireton defends ‘the fundamental constitution’ from Leveller attacks. By November 1648, he has had to retreat from this position: ‘the fundamental constitution’ gives too little ground for beheading monarchs and establishing republics in their place.3 The subject leads into a Edition: current; Page: [[50]] consideration of the appeal to natural rights, which must be reserved for our consideration of liberty; but we may glance at the Puritan attitude to custom, precedent, and history, taking Milton as our example.1 No sooner has he attacked the problem of religious liberty and reform than he decides that change cannot be too ‘swift and sudden provided still it be from worse to better.’ Custom, he discovers, is ‘a natural tyrant’ in religion and in the state, a tyrant which has an ally in man’s fallen nature—‘a double tyranny of custom from without and blind affections within.’ Custom, it is assumed as self-evident, always enters into alliance with error, never with truth: ‘. . . Error supports custom, custom countenances error, and these two between them would persecute and chase away all truth and solid wisdom out of human life, were it not that God, rather than man, once in many ages calls together the prudent and religious counsels of men, deputed to repress the encroachments and to work off the inveterate blots and obscurities wrought upon our minds by the subtle insinuating of custom and error.’ In this passage is implied the Puritan view of history (the view which informs Adam’s vision in Paradise Lost): deterioration is its note, but deterioration relieved by sudden interventions of God in behalf of truth and righteousness, as seen in the prophets of old, pre-eminently in the earthly ministry of Christ, and recently, after twelve hundred years of increasing darkness, in the Reformation, whose work England was called on to complete, ‘even unto the reformation of reformation.’ The view can best be characterized as the direct antithesis of Burke’s: history is not ‘the known march of the ordinary providence of God’; it is a protracted wandering from the way, relieved by sudden interventions of God’s extraordinary providence. The common elements of theism and idealism in the two thinkers make the comparison legitimate and significant. For Milton theism does not validate the actual, does not dispose him to seek for evidences of the ideal in the actual, or in history which is the record of the actual. Though other influences contribute to form his mind, there is strong indication that in this he speaks for Puritanism: and he is at one with the Independent John Cook, who repudiates ‘the puddles of history,’2 and with the Levellers, Edition: current; Page: [[51]] who dismiss the past as vicious and irrelevant: ‘. . . Whatever our forefathers were, or whatever they did or suffered, or were enforced to yield unto, we are men of the present age and ought to be absolutely free from all kinds of exorbitancies, molestations, and arbitrary power.’1 It is in connection with the plea for liberty that Puritan iconoclasm most frequently appears; but the attitude was learned in connection with church reform. ‘Let them chant while they will of prerogatives,’ said Milton, ‘we shall tell them of scripture; of custom, we of scripture; of acts and statutes, still of scripture.’

With the Puritan concern for liberty we come to a trait immensely important in itself and for our purposes, but also problematical as those previously enumerated are not. It is the subject of the concluding section of this essay, but the question of its status must be broached at this point. The problem is raised by two facts: that a concern for liberty does not appear to be a constant feature of the Puritan mind, and that it runs counter to another and the most universally recognized of traits, the passionate zeal for positive reform, with the will, if necessary, to dragoon men into righteousness—or the semblance of righteousness. If we confine our attention to the Puritans of the Right we shall find as time goes on little enthusiasm for liberty as an ideal, and many hard sayings regarding it. Preaching before the House of Commons on 26th May 1647, Thomas Case denounced liberty of conscience as opening the floodgates of anarchy. Publish liberty of conscience as one of the people’s rights, he said, ‘and see . . . how long your civil peace will secure you when religion is destroyed. . . . For no doubt if this once be granted them . . . they may in good time come to know also—there be them that are instructing them even in these principles, too—that it is their birthright to be freed from the power of parliaments and . . . kings. . . . Liberty of conscience (falsely so called) may in time improve itself into liberty of estates and . . . houses and . . . wives, and in a word liberty of perdition of souls and bodies.’2 Here speaks the outraged Puritan ideal of righteousness, reinforced by a sense that the moment of a necessary compromise between the impulse towards liberty and the demands of actual life is long overdue. The protest is thoroughly typical and could be paralleled by dozens of others. If, on the contrary, we turn to the Puritans of the Centre, and more particularly of the Left, we find Edition: current; Page: [[52]] not only the utterances of the Levellers, but the official declarations of the Army, exalting liberty to the position of the main motive in the Puritan revolution, and Overton (typical in this at least) championing the ideal of liberty against what he chooses to regard as the pseudo-ideal of reform.1 The conflict between the two ideals is, or may become, real enough. But the contrast between the Puritans of the Right and the Left is apt to be misleading. The desire for liberty was not (or rather had not always been) absent as a motive from the Party of the Right. In the hour of oppression it had been a main plea of every group. In the matter of liberty of conscience, one of the chief indictments against the Presbyterians was that they withheld from others what they had demanded for themselves. Nor can one fail to recognize in such a document as Rutherford’s Lex Rex (pp. 199-212) a genuine (if limited) passion for liberty and a host of arguments in its behalf. Again the concern for liberty is by no means equally manifested in the different groups which form the Puritan Left. The ideal of reform in the interests of righteousness is certainly not less dominant in the Millenarians than in the Presbyterians. Finally, in seeking to determine which of the two constitutes the authentic Puritan ideal, it is an error to concentrate on the Right and Left to the exclusion of the Centre. In the Independents the two ideals are constantly present, and the conflict between them is unmistakable. The principal Whitehall debate is very largely a record of that conflict. So much for the attitude towards liberty and reform manifested by different Puritan groups. There is another way of viewing the problem. One may ask what bearing the basic theological dogmas adopted by Puritanism have upon these issues. Of the reforming spirit, the zeal for righteousness, and the willingness to coerce if need be, the theological foundations have been sufficiently explored above. These things, there is no denying, are of the essence of Puritanism. In the case of the concern for liberty, the theological foundations, which have not perhaps been so fully understood, will be discussed in some detail below. For the moment it is enough to indicate their existence by a single sentence from Milton (p. 228), who is pleading for liberty of conscience but is ever ready to extend the demand from religion to politics: ‘Ill was our condition changed from legal to evangelical and small advantage gotten by the Gospel, if for the Edition: current; Page: [[53]] spirit of adoption to freedom, promised us, we receive again the spirit of bondage to fear. . . .’ Basic Puritan theology and the history of the revolution suggest the same answer to our problem. The motives are equally authentic: the passionate concern for liberty and the passionate zeal for reform in the interests of righteousness. Capable of co-operation up to a certain point, they finally remain, somewhere near the heart of Puritanism, in a state of potential and unresolved conflict.

More or less closely connected with the feeling for liberty are Puritan individualism and Puritan equalitarianism, each with its appropriate dogmatic basis, whose fuller discussion may also be postponed. Here one must recognize, however, counter-tendencies and counter-associations in the Puritan mind. Puritan individualism speaks most significantly of all in the voice of conscience. The Puritan asserts the right and duty of thinking for himself. Those in authority (the Agents observe to Fairfax) may demand an unquestioning obedience, but a man is finally answerable to his own conscience (p. 436 n.)—that is (in Ireton’s phrase) to ‘conscience obliging above or against human and outward constitutions’ (p. 459). The consciences of common men were a new phenomenon in politics, and one that has never since disappeared. Ideally, to assert one’s right of private judgment should be to concede the same right to every one else. But it is not always thus that the celebrated Nonconformist conscience has reasoned—and we understand the Puritan conscience the better if we give it its later name. Some of its associations are with liberty, but not all. For it can argue that all it pleads for is the autonomy of the illuminated conscience and that this it denies to no man. Again, in regard to Puritan equalitarianism it is sufficient to observe that the equality of believers implies their superiority to unregenerate men. And this superiority, so long as dogma is unimpaired, or in the secular field uncircumvented, will continue to oppose an effective barrier against a wider equalitarianism.

The two processes, the impairing of dogma and its circumvention, must be clearly distinguished. Both are present in Puritanism of the Left, and each has its place in the history of liberty and equality.

Of the forces counteracting, and ultimately impairing, the dogmatic attitude we have noticed one, the principle of the progressive interpretation of truth. With its operation (as also with the ineptitude of amateur theologians) may be associated the rapid multiplication of sects and heresies which Thomas Edwards deplores.1 Standing in varying relations to the Puritan movement, Edition: current; Page: [[54]] the new opinions consist either in some exaggeration of the dominant Calvinistic creed (a repudiation of some compromise which it had sanctioned) or in a reaction, theological or ethical, against some part of that creed and its inferences. For our present purpose the latter type alone is directly important, though the very multiplication of opinions, whatever their character, would do something to weaken the authority of dogma as such. Most significant of all is the reaction against the Calvinistic dogma of predestination as that dogma is set forth by Prynne (pp. 232-3) and others. The reaction, which extends far beyond the ranks of the Puritans, represents a shift towards a rational theology and a humanistic, even a humanitarian, religion. As the Cambridge Platonists were to demonstrate, Arminianism was preeminently the doctrine of Christian rationalism1 and Christian humanism, re-reading the stern pronouncements of the Reformation in the mellow light of the Renaissance. The Calvinists were quick to point out its affinities with the Pelagian heresy, whose effect was to eliminate divine grace and substitute a gospel of self-help. This is a gospel comfortable to human nature (All men, said Culverwel, are naturally born Pelagians), and one whose role in the making of the modern mind is self-evident.2 It is not surprising then to find some of the sectaries going far beyond the Arminian position proper, hinting the sufficiency and the natural goodness of human nature and calling in question the doctrine of original sin. But apart from these dubious inferences, and by its central attack on the extreme form of the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, of absolute election and reprobation, Arminianism weakens the theological basis of Puritan inequalitarianism, of the conception of an aristocracy of the elect, and thus undermines the most formidable of the barriers separating Puritanism from democracy.

Other forces are at work among the sectaries to a similar end. Two may be distinguished, though not so as to exclude their mutual influence. For, as Chesterton observes, heterodoxies, often of the most opposite kinds, will flock together. In seventeenth-century England (as in the Europe of the Reformation) Edition: current; Page: [[55]] currents which in spirit belong to no religious tradition but rather to libertinism, seek a temporary alliance with radical Protestant thought. In Overton there is a militant naturalism and a thinly veiled hostility to dogmatic religion. He champions the mortalist heresy in the name of scripture and reason and advances a materialistic view of man and the world.1 He claims to have attempted a proof of the main truths of revelation from nature and reason;2 it is difficult to judge of his motives, but the method seems to link him with the beginnings of Deism. He is perfectly familiar with Puritan doctrine and can use it on occasion. He talks of the order of nature in terms reserved by the more orthodox for the order of grace, by the simple expedient of omitting all reference to the Fall (p. [69]). He seizes upon the radical plea for liberty of conscience put forward on religious grounds by Roger Williams and others, and gives it his own emphasis.3 Wildman can also speak the language of the Saints:4 on the most extreme Separatist ground, he argues against the magistrate’s power in matters of religion, developing the doctrine of the two orders in a direction which might lead to either scepticism or fideism, and incidentally in one diametrically opposed to Overton’s boasted effort to deduce the truths of revelation from nature (pp. 168-9). By Walwyn a subtler method is used. His aim is to inculcate a sentiment. He adapts (sometimes almost out of recognition) such parts of Puritan doctrine as he can use, while undermining, rather than openly assailing, the rest. The doctrine of Christian liberty, detached from its dogmatic basis, becomes an invitation to free oneself from the oppression of religious ordinances; Eden is approximated to the life of the golden age, and of Montaigne’s happy savages; the Fall is thus interpreted as a forsaking of nature for human ‘inventions,’ and the rule of the Gospel as an injunction to return to a natural simplicity; the genuine (and at this time somewhat neglected) humanitarian element in Christianity is emphasized at the expense of every other, and, more dubiously, it is presented as a militant and revolutionary creed. It is not without significance that Walwyn here affects to be expounding the Edition: current; Page: [[56]] doctrines of the Familists.1 Such teaching carries us over from the sceptics to the mystics, who tend to undermine dogma in the act of reinterpreting it. This is the second force to which we referred above. The influential teaching of Winstanley may serve as an example, whose blend of the practical with the mystic points on to Quakerism. His method of interpreting the Bible is frankly allegorical. The unfallen state is one in which the indwelling God (variously described as Reason and as Universal Love) rules the life of man. The Fall means the intrusion of self-love, which is followed by the curse. This, however, can be but temporary; for Reason or Universal Love must triumph, and mankind be restored to its primal perfection (pp. 375-89).2 By this and other such reinterpretations of the Christian scheme (in which some of the essential dogmas of Calvinism are omitted and the whole takes on a universalist colouring) Winstanley builds the theological foundations of his social teaching.

A fourth influence is less theoretic. Apart from the varying notes of naturalism and scepticism detected in some of their leaders, there was among the Levellers a marked transfer of interest from religion to the world. But even in the leaders the drift from Puritan belief and sentiment is by no means constant. There appears to have been no such drift in John Lilburne, the most influential of them all. His earliest sufferings had been in the cause of liberty of conscience, and eight years later he published an account of his religious experience at this time.3 Increasingly preoccupied with secular concerns, and thrown into association with Overton and Walwyn, he seems, nevertheless, to have Edition: current; Page: [[57]] remained a religious enthusiast to the end. And wherever he deals with religion he appears as a rigorous Separatist who could readily subscribe to all the teachings of Williams’s Bloody Tenent.1 More significant still is the fact that all the Levellers, when arguing in favour of religious liberty, do so on the grounds set forth in that great book, which is as orthodox as it is radical.

For the undermining of dogma is not a necessary prelude to a contribution by Puritanism to liberty or even equality. While there are enemies to be encountered, an uncritical religious enthusiasm, not too careful of logical consequences, may do yeoman service. But before the contribution can be one of ideas, and unequivocal in its logical bearings, limits must be set to the drawing of inferences from religious dogma in the secular sphere. The way actually taken by true Puritans depends on no serious undermining of dogma itself, but on quite another process which leaves the reign of dogma in religion unimpaired. With this we come to the final characteristic of Puritan thought. If it is ignored, one cannot gauge correctly the relation of Puritanism to political liberty and secular progress. That characteristic is a tendency, already hinted, to distinguish sharply between religion and the rest of life, to segregate the spiritual from the secular, and to do this, in the first instance, for the sake of religion, though with momentous consequences for the life of the world. As in the case of the Puritan concern for liberty itself, the characteristic is of the utmost importance; and, once more, it is problematical because it manifests itself only in some of the Puritans, and those not the majority, and because it would seem to run counter to one of the characteristics already fully established: the tendency of the Puritan mind to carry the implications of dogma into secular life. Like the Puritan concern for liberty, it obviously requires to have its status examined and vindicated.

The groups in which the new characteristic appears are roughly identical with those already cited as exhibiting most clearly the Puritan concern for liberty and as setting limits to the Puritan zeal for positive reform. In the Party of the Right, the Presbyterians, the new characteristic is absent;2 but so is it also in the Edition: current; Page: [[58]] Millenarians, and in the other groups (of the Centre and Left) who share in any appreciable degree their vision of the future. On the other hand, in those groups of the Left who are most deeply devoted to liberty of conscience and from whom proceeded the main Puritan argument and effort in behalf of political liberty, the new characteristic is very strongly marked. In the Independents, the Centre Party, it clearly emerges, but less decisively than in these. From the facts thus baldly set forth, one might predict a close relation between the new characteristic—the tendency to segregate the spiritual and the secular—and the effective emergence of the Puritan concern for liberty. The segregation of the spiritual and the secular is indeed the means by which the concern for liberty frees itself in the secular sphere from other and countervailing impulses, and disposes of all those particular inferences from dogma which are inimical to liberty. If the concern for liberty is an authentic characteristic of the Puritan mind, so also is this, the necessary mode of its transfer to the secular field. But the proof need not rest here. As in the case of the concern for liberty, the separation of the spiritual and the secular (or what we may for brevity call the principle of segregation) is traceable to the foundations of Puritan thought. In discussing the Puritan conception of man and the world, we observed as a constant feature, the recognition of a twofold system, an order of nature and an order of grace, and we remarked on the extent to which the different views taken of the precise relation subsisting between the two orders coloured Puritan thought. It is upon an extreme interpretation of this dogma of the two orders that the principle of segregation depends. The two orders are separate and opposed. God indeed is the creator and ruler of them both, but he rules them by different dispensations, and the goods which pertain to them are totally different (for, though spiritual goodness no doubt assumes all the natural virtues, it also transcends them). What God has thus divided, the Christian may not seek to join. He must not (for example), through mistaken zeal, try to bring the natural man under a rule meant only for the elect. In all his thinking, indeed, he must be mindful of the distinction of the two orders. This principle, thoroughly applied, imposes severe limits upon the intrusion of dogma into secular life. In other words, it completely secularizes one division of existence. But the principle is derived not from any conscious reaction against dogma as such, but from a confident and extreme appeal to one of the basic dogmas of the Puritan creed. The correctness of this interpretation is, I think, confirmed by the fact that for many who apply the principle Edition: current; Page: [[59]] of segregation the reign of dogma in the spiritual sphere remains (for a long time at least) unassailed.

The practical manifestations of this principle, and its less immediate results, are far-reaching indeed. The most obvious manifestation, the perfect example in action, is the insistence by Puritans of the Left on the absolute separation of church and state, the social organs of grace and nature respectively. That this insistence becomes the groundwork of a plea for complete liberty of conscience illustrates the close connection between the principle of segregation and the Puritan concern for liberty. But the alliance does not stop short with religious liberty; the reasoning which issues in a purely spiritual view of the church issues just as certainly in a purely secular view of the state. This in itself invites a reconsideration of the state’s origin, function, and sanctions. It does not follow that the reconsideration will be democratic in tendency; but it may be so, and the invitation is the first service of the Puritan principle of segregation to the cause of liberty and equality. There is a second service. We have seen that Puritanism nourishes both a concern for liberty and a sentiment of equality (and this it does without reference to the principle of segregation). But both terms require to be qualified: it is Christian liberty, and it is the equality of believers. The natural man can claim no share in these privileges, which belong to a higher order, the order of grace. The sense of a fundamental inequality underlies both the concern for liberty and—the paradox is only seeming—the sentiment of equality itself. In other words: when the order of nature and the order of grace are considered together, the superiority of the latter will always assert itself. The principle of segregation enters to insist that they must be considered apart. That is its second service. But there is a third. Puritanism fosters the impulse to reform in the interests of righteousness, and this impulse (we have seen) runs, or may run, counter to a concern for liberty. Viewing Puritanism as a whole, we detected a potential and unresolved conflict between these two motives. The incentive to reform belongs to the order of grace, but it may be translated into action in the order of nature. To such a passage from one order to the other the principle of segregation once more opposes a barrier. At least it insists that the attempt to reform the world shall be in the terms appropriate to the world, the terms not of religion but of natural ethics. Indeed where the principle is carried to its logical conclusion, as it is in Roger Williams, it resolves the conflict between the two motives of liberty and reform. This is the third and final service.

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But is not the principle of segregation a two-edged sword? Will it not, logically applied, cut off from the secular sphere the liberalizing as well as the reactionary influences of Puritanism, at least in so far as these are grounded in dogma? Theoretically it should. Indeed, in so far as the principle is anticipated by Luther it has precisely that result: Christian liberty, he reiterates, has no bearing on politics. Furthermore, Separatism in essence means separation from the world and its cares. But the predominantly active character of the Puritan temper—not to mention the instincts of human nature, even when sanctified—may be depended on to forestall that result. And the segregation of the spiritual and the secular cannot in practice mean that all influence of the one upon the other will cease. The lessons learned in the conventicle will not be forgotten in the forum. But we may look for a new mode of influence: not the direct influence of intrusion, but the indirect influence of analogy. There is a spiritual equality in the order of grace: is there not an analogous equality in the order of nature? This is but one of a dozen points at which analogically Puritanism could reinforce the cause of liberty and equality.

In briefest outline, and too abstractedly perhaps (but illustration will follow), we have suggested the importance of the principle of segregation in its bearing on liberty. The principle opened to the Puritan other developments in the secular field: it enabled him to adopt Baconian ideas in education as readily as democratic ideas in politics, and in the next century it contributed to make some of the Dissenting academies outposts of the Enlightment and of radical thought. With the true Puritan, religion remains the first concern: the principle—one might almost call it the device—of segregation prevents (or rather, as the subsequent history of Dissent seems to show, postpones) the repercussion upon his dogmatic creed, of radical and naturalistic ideas adopted in a secular sphere.


The service of Puritanism to the cause of liberty is not bounded by its disinterested attachment to liberty as an ideal. If this attachment had been wholly absent, if Puritanism had advanced no theological doctrine of liberty, elaborated no theory of religious toleration, pointed no analogies between the economies of grace and nature or between a free church and a free state, it would still have been, in the circumstances, a potent engine of destruction Edition: current; Page: [[61]] and the most effective school of revolution then available. It is a truism that the years between 1640 and 1649 saw the overthrow of a system of absolutism in church and state, which if it had been allowed to prevail, might radically have altered the whole subsequent course of English political development: in so far at least the ‘Whig view of history’ is correct. Nor is it easy to conceive of this overthrow without the powerful incentive and example of Puritanism, not at one stage merely but at point after point of its course. Nothing could dissipate the divinity that hedged a king save the divinity of religion itself when religion was ranged against him. The analogies between Puritan and Jesuit thought seized on by the Royalists are not all fanciful: Puritanism effected in Protestant England what even the Church could not (or would not) effect in the Roman Catholic countries of Europe. . . .

It is true that in the twin sources of Protestant thought, Calvin and Luther, there was impressive authority for passive obedience even to ungodly magistrates. But the oracles were not altogether consistent: Milton was able to quote from the Reformation divines in order to round out a universal testimony against tyrants—and if they sometimes spoke in another sense, so much the worse for their authority!1 On the Puritans of the Right Calvin was the dominant influence. Notably more reticent than Luther on Christian liberty and the privileges of the Saints, Calvin does not, like Luther, limit the application to the spiritual sphere; and he writes between the lines of his injunction to passive obedience a prescription of strictly limited disobedience, which in the emphatic closing sentences of the Institutes becomes perfectly specific:

But in that obedience . . . due to . . . rulers we must always make this exception . . .: that it be not incompatible with obedience to Him to whose will . . . kings should be subject, to whose decrees their commands must yield, to whose majesty their sceptres must bow. And indeed how preposterous were it, in pleasing men, to incur the offence of Him for whose sake you obey men! . . . If they command anything against Him, let us not pay the least regard to it, nor be moved by all the dignity which they possess as magistrates—a dignity to which no injury is done when it is subordinated to the special and truly supreme power of God.2

Calvin enjoins Christian obedience and fixes its limits. Nor does he leave active resistance without recognition or a means of becoming effective: private citizens may not actively oppose their prince; but the inferior magistrates may, and when godliness is Edition: current; Page: [[62]] menaced, must (pp. 197-8). Here Calvin is at one with the more liberal thought of the Renaissance. His prescription might have been written for the Presbyterian Party of the First Civil War. Charles is cast for the role of prince, and Parliament for that of the inferior magistrates; they fight by the book. In practice Calvinism imposes little restraint upon the rebels: they are not to destroy monarchy, but they are to discipline it and render it wholly subservient to the higher ends of government. Once the inferior magistrates have declared against the prince, and freed opposition from the stigma of rebellion, so staunch a Calvinist as Rutherford can forge in Lex Rex almost every argument of revolution later to be employed by the Levellers, can invoke the law of nature and the ultimate sovereignty of the people (pp. 203-211).1 It is thus that one side—on the face of it the more emphatic side—of Calvin’s teaching is sunk in favour of the other, the revolutionary. ‘We can pick and choose from a Reformer,’ says Saltmarsh in another connection, ‘what fits to the standard of our own light and reformation, and cast the other by. . . .’2

There was a point in action beyond which the Presbyterians would not go. With the end of the First Civil War the side of Calvin’s teaching neglected in the heat of the struggle began to reassert itself. But by this time an increasing body of Puritans were quite ready, as we have seen, to run counter to Calvin’s views on magistracy as also on church polity, while they held for the most part by his fundamental doctrine of predestination. The Presbyterians, not without chapter and verse in the Institutes, had sown the wind: the year 1647 marks the beginning of the whirlwind. On the basis of the doctrine of predestination had been erected the ideal of the rule of the Saints. With many this ideal swept away every other theory of government. For many others the belief in the sovereignty of the people no longer required such dubious underpinnings as Calvinistic theology could be made to yield. It appeared self-evident. One might even go so far as to secularize the Civil War—might decide that it was never legitimate to take up the sword for religion, but only for the gaining of civil rights:3 the revolution could proceed under its own power.

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For others no authority was left but the sword: the conquerors should distribute the spoils whether in terms of the rights of the people or the privileges of the Saints—two standards which seemed less incompatible in practice than they now appear in theory. In this later period of conflicting doctrines, however, Puritanism is still—indeed more unconditionally than ever before—a mighty revolutionary agent; for its radical elements are liberated to act by themselves. If the Calvinistic view of the limits of Christian obedience is one of the chief impelling forces in the First Civil War, the confused ideals of Christian privileges and human rights then take its place, all but sweeping away the authority of Calvin’s inferior magistrates, the Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled, and substituting the rule of the Army in its stead.

This fact raises an issue of fundamental importance. From the vantage ground of a later century no one will doubt that the most important political doctrine to emerge from the revolution was one temporarily defeated, but destined to ultimate triumph, the sovereignty of Parliament, a doctrine whose assertion altered the character of that body, and vastly extended its powers.1 The direct debt of this doctrine to Puritanism does not appear to be great. Its indirect debt is, on the other hand, immense; for Parliament allied itself with the forces of Puritanism and asserted its own sovereignty by claiming its right to undertake the reform of religion. The doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty is not necessarily a doctrine of liberty or of democracy. It is significant that we find arrayed against it, in the Debates, the most extreme forces of Puritanism, both democratic and anti-democratic. In order that the sovereignty of Parliament may become a doctrine of liberty and democracy, and their most effective safeguard, Parliament must be democratized and its general conformity to the will of the nation must be ensured. These are the hard-won achievements of a later day. But they are implicit in the Levellers’ opposition to the sovereignty claimed by the existing Parliament; and that opposition draws sustenance from the Puritan belief in liberty of conscience and, more generally, from the habits of thought which directly and indirectly Puritanism inculcates.

It is not on particular issues, however fundamental, that the Edition: current; Page: [[64]] influence of Puritanism in the revolution alone depends. The contemporary view is best given in such a retrospect as the Declaration of the English Army now in Scotland (pp. 474-8), which unhesitatingly assigns the chief place to religion, and exhibits Puritanism’s marshalling of its forces as a continuous and divinely appointed process, extending from the outbreak of the Bishops’ War to Cromwell’s invasion of Scotland eleven years later. The constant operation of the ideal of godliness is also the burden of Ireton’s masterly account of the revolution, written at the end of 1648: the object of the struggle was the establishment of ‘common right and freedom’; but true religion alone can make men free, and godlessness and superstition are equally the allies of the tyrant (pp. 458-9). It is thus that Puritanism visualizes its role in the revolution and stakes its claim to have fought for emancipation.

In part that claim must be allowed, but without confusing the service of liberty with its disinterested and unqualified service. If the cause of emancipation had depended alone on disinterested and unqualified believers in liberty as an ideal, it would have made but a sorry showing in the world. For objectives in practical politics are always limited and generally selfish. But those who start revolutions build—and destroy—better than they know. The pressure of events bears them along and forces them to develop ever more extreme inferences from their original premises (witness the Presbyterian Rutherford and the Independent Ireton). And when they reach the point beyond which they will not go, the moment of imperative compromise, there are others who will complete the last syllogism—or finish the final furrow: Rutherford has declared the right, and Goodwin will acclaim the meeting of right with might (pp. 212-20); the Independents invoke the purposes of God and the duties of the Saints, and the Millenarians will define those purposes and duties with a terrifying literalness; or the Independents invoke the sovereign people, and the Levellers will demand the reforms to which the invocation points—and get them if they can. . . .

All or much of this might have been true even if Puritanism had not evolved from its theological consciousness ideas of liberty, of equality, of individualism, of government by consent and agreement, and of a species of privilege which had nothing to do with worldly possessions or existing class distinctions. But these very ideas Puritanism did evolve. They come into strongest relief in the struggle for religious freedom and reform, and thence, by processes already glanced at, are transferred to the political field. Edition: current; Page: [[65]] The foundation of each is some Protestant doctrine pushed to an extreme.

Most fundamental for our discussion is one which has received little attention—we might almost say none—from students of Puritanism: the doctrine of Christian liberty. Its sources in the New Testament, particularly in St. Paul, are rehearsed in Luther’s exposition of Galatians (pp. 221-5) and in Milton’s practical applications of the doctrine (pp. 226-8). In simplest terms, the Gospel frees men from the burden of the Law. The essence of the old dispensation is bondage: men were slaves of an outward law. The essence of the new dispensation is freedom: believers are sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Theirs is a voluntary service—and in the spirit, not to the letter.1 Deo parere libertas est. The idea was familiar to every Protestant, and, with varying emphasis, was accepted by them all. Its revolutionary influence turns chiefly on two questions: (1) What portion of the Mosaic Law (Ceremonial, Judicial, and Moral) is abrogated by the coming of the Gospel? (2) How far is the liberty conferred a purely spiritual gift without applications beyond the religious experience of the individual? To the first question Luther and Milton return the same extreme answer: Not the Ceremonial Law merely, but the whole Mosaic Law is abrogated (p. 224).2 Their answers to the second question differ widely: Luther limits the application to the spiritual life and experience of the believer, a decision characteristic of his theological radicalism and practical conservatism. Milton, on the contrary, makes Christian liberty the very corner-stone of his theory of toleration (pp. 226-8);3 Edition: current; Page: [[66]] and from the ecclesiastical sphere he presses on boldly to the civil (pp. 229-30). In many of his contemporaries the doctrine has its influence even when it is not set forth in detail. Wherever in the struggle for toleration one encounters the phrase Christian liberty—and it is everywhere—this theological basis is implied.1

Christian liberty itself the Presbyterians do not deny; but they seek to limit the inferences drawn from it and to counteract them by an appeal to the Old Testament, to other theological doctrines, and to common sense. Thomas Edwards would have the issue squarely faced: ‘Whether the commanding men by the power of laws to do their duties, to do the things which God requires of them, with the using outward means to work them to it when unwilling, be unlawful for the magistrate, and against Christian liberty, yea or no?’2 George Gillespie states the Presbyterian position in Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty (1645); and the Westminster Confession of Faith significantly concludes its chapter (chiefly devoted, in the manner of Calvin,3 to explaining what the doctrine is not) with the declaration that ‘they who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power . . . whether . . . civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God,’ while whoever disturbs the peace of the church may be proceeded against not by ecclesiastical censures only, but by ‘the power of the civil magistrate.’ With this view the moderate Independents at Whitehall do not disagree in principle, but rather in its application. They believe that it is a Congregational polity that the magistrate is authorized to set up and defend, and they are willing to concede to allies, past and present, a measure of toleration under the new system. No such compromise will satisfy their allies of the Left. They are for Christian liberty in its widest range.

With those who emphasize Christian liberty and plead for freedom of conscience as the Christian’s birthright, the doctrine is a genuine and perennial source of emancipation. It is closely associated with—is indeed an aspect of—that appeal from the Old Testament to the New, which is a feature of liberal Puritan thinking. In Milton’s interpretation the note of the old dispensation in general is the note of bondage; that of the new, the Edition: current; Page: [[67]] note of freedom: Christ came to set men free (p. 229). In Roger Williams the matter is put in another way. The Old Testament is prophetic and symbolic: it is the type of which the New Testament supplies the antitype, and its models and precepts are not, under the Gospel, to be taken literally. Israel’s church-state does not countenance a church-state to-day, but merely foreshadows the true Church, God’s mystical Israel; so the injunctions to purify Israel of idolater, heretic, and blasphemer, with the civil sword, prescribe no such duties to the Christian magistrate, but hold forth the purity of the true and voluntary church of Christ, and the spiritual censures by which that purity is maintained (pp. 288-92). Thus in their different manners Williams and Milton try to nullify the arguments from the Old Testament for the magistrate’s power and responsibility in religion, the arguments which will be advanced so long as Christian liberty is interpreted as the abrogation merely of the Ceremonial Law, and which are actually advanced at Whitehall, and countered straight out of The Bloody Tenent (pp. 150-69). In both Milton and Williams there is really more than an appeal from the Old Testament to the New; there is an effective application of what I have called the principle of segregation. Like Luther, Williams, and in measure, also, Milton,1 insist on the purely spiritual character of all that pertains to the Christian religion, but, unlike Luther, they do not infer from this that the organization of the church and the relation of church and state are things indifferent and at the discretion of the civil magistrate. On the contrary, they insist that by the Gospel these things are prescribed, and that, with the Separatists, one must interpret the autonomy of the spiritual sphere as including the freedom of the church.

Though this is the most notable achievement, and the clearest practical result to which it ministers, the doctrine of Christian liberty extends its influence on Puritan thought in various, and (it must be admitted) sometimes contrary directions; three of which may be briefly indicated at this point. (1) Despite the spiritual character of Christian liberty the doctrine was actually pressed into the service of revolution, as Milton, no doubt speaking the language of the military Saints whom he was defending, clearly illustrates; and for the Millenarians in particular it was obviously quite compatible with a rule of the elect won and exercised by the sword. (2) The very fact of grounding one’s appeal for freedom on Christian liberty restricts the direct benefits of that appeal to the regenerate: Christian liberty freed you for, not from, the Edition: current; Page: [[68]] service of God. It is thus that the Millenarians conceive of freedom, and that Milton comes increasingly to conceive of it; and they are so far typical, at least, that the freedom of the regenerate is the primary concern of all genuine Puritans: here Presbyterians, Independents, and sectaries stand on common ground, differing only in their definition of the regenerate and their conception of the kind of liberty to be sought. But two forces counteract this restrictive emphasis: the first is the impossibility, recognized alike by Milton, Williams, and the Levellers, of guaranteeing the liberty of the regenerate without guaranteeing the liberty of all, and on this fact at last depends the direct contribution of Puritanism to general liberty; the second counteracting force is a consistent and thorough-going application of the principle of segregation, whereby the idea of Christian liberty is freed to operate by analogy in the natural order: Christian liberty for the regenerate, natural liberty for man. (3) There are other ways in which the doctrine of Christian liberty may operate by analogy. Christian liberty is conceived in terms of the abrogation of outward law, and the influence of this conception is apparent in one dominant Puritan attitude to the state and its enactments. But to these questions we shall return.

Not less clearly than the idea of liberty, that of equality rests on a theological foundation. The priesthood of the believer and the doctrine of election established an equality in the spiritual sphere. This equality is, strictly speaking, quite independent of worldly rank and possessions and has no bearing upon them. But it is susceptible of an extension precisely similar to that observed in the case of Christian liberty: the equality of believers may be thought of as a spiritual condition which carries certain definite implications for the church. The demand is not for a free church only, but for a church of equals. The equality of believers is used to assail first the ecclesiastical hierarchy and then the distinction between cleric and lay (pp. 312-13). It is a levelling principle of no little potency, and it may be extended outside the ecclesiastical sphere in one of two ways, and with results diametrically opposed. (1) It may give effect not to absolute equality but to a new species of privilege. The equality of believers is an equality in their superiority to other men. This is a view discernible in the thought of Presbyterians and Independents; and it reaches its logical consequences in the creed of the Millenarians, the full doctrine of the privileges of the Saints. But (2) where the principle of segregation is applied, this result is prevented, and the doctrine of the equality of believers operates in the Edition: current; Page: [[69]] natural sphere by analogy alone. As in the order of grace all believers are equal, so in the order of nature all men are equal; as the church is composed of believers all equally privileged, so the state should be composed of men all equally privileged. The premise was the lesson taught by the sects; the conclusion was the inference drawn in politics by the Levellers and in economics by the Diggers.

Their position had its secular sources in the ideas of the law of nature and of natural rights; but these ideas were, for men bred in the conventicle, enormously reinforced, and given a sort of religious sanction, by the parallel presented between the order of nature and the order of grace, and between the ideals of liberty and equality as they appeared in state and in church. It is the sectaries whom Overton is really addressing when he writes:

For by natural birth all men are equal, . . . born to like propriety, liberty and freedom, and as we are delivered of God by the hand of nature into this world, every one with a natural innate freedom and propriety, . . . even so we are to live, every one equally . . . to enjoy his birthright and privilege, even all whereof God by nature hath made him free. . . . Every man by nature being a king, priest, prophet, in his own natural circuit and compass, whereof no second may partake but by deputation, commission, and free consent from him whose right and freedom it is.1

This is virtually a statement of the doctrines of Christian liberty and equality, with man written over the word ‘believer,’ and nature written over the word ‘grace.’ . . .

In close connection with its ideals of liberty and equality, Puritanism developed its own pronounced note of individualism. Once more the main theological basis is to be sought in the doctrines of election and of the priesthood of the believer, with their enormous emphasis on the value of the individual soul, chosen by God before time was. Beside that, the organized forces of society must seem a trivial thing. Moreover the priestly function included, with ever-increasing emphasis, the prophetic. Here the experiential side of Puritan religion—manifested in ‘prophesyings,’ disputations, and harangues such as Lilburne’s from the pillory2—played its part in fostering and expressing individuality and perhaps an overweening sense of the individual’s importance. There are, of course, considerations which limit the action of Puritan individualism. One is the element of stern repressiveness Edition: current; Page: [[70]] in the Puritan creed, but this is mitigated wherever the doctrine of Christian liberty is emphasized, by some sense of having risen superior to all outward law. Another is the necessity (nowise peculiar to Puritanism) of subordinating the individual to a group and a cause: under pressure from without, the Puritans manifest remarkable powers of association and temporary cohesion, but the inherent individualism, with its disruptive force, remains, and is written large in the history of the sects. A true church, said Milton, may consist of a single member.

In politics we have already noticed the force of individual judgment, or the Puritan conscience. It remains to observe another important result, in an attitude towards the state which anticipates the individualism of a later day. Burke remarked the similarity in language between the revolutionaries of 1649 and of 1789, with their talk of natural rights and the sovereignty of a free and equal people; and some historical connection can be traced, mainly through the leaders of American thought. Not less striking, and perhaps more significant, is the anticipation of Bentham and James Mill. Up to a point Independents and Levellers agree in advancing a laisser-faire ideal of the state. One tendency of all the Agreements of the People is clearly to circumscribe the activity of government as such. This they do by placing certain matters for ever beyond its power, by limiting the duration of Parliaments, and otherwise reducing to a minimum their possible independence of the nation’s will. Like the famous essay On Government, they set forth a scheme of democratic reform whose motive was quite as much the provision of satisfactory guarantees against interference with the individual as any sentiment of abstract equality. Human nature being what it was, a measure of democracy was the best protection against tyranny. Economic motives mingle with political, and, as in Mill, the underlying philosophy is individualist, not socialist, in character. Recent history had done much to foster individualism. Under the absolutist system of Charles I, government had been everywhere; and under a self-perpetuating Parliament the old menace had assumed a new guise.

Though they differed as to the degree of institutional reform needed, many of the Independents were at first hardly less determined than the Levellers to end it. It is obvious that the reforms contemplated by the Independents (pp. 424-6) and by the Levellers (pp. 318-22, 335-42, 433-5) are in the main negative reforms, the removal of restrictions. An example is the effort to abolish state-granted monopolies and to establish what they called free Edition: current; Page: [[71]] trade. Their ingenuity runs much to the erection of political machinery to compass these ends; and in this they remind the modern reader of Bentham. Added to the practical motives were some more theoretic. Government, said Ireton, was a necessary evil, the result of man’s fallen condition; it could not be abolished; but it could be restricted, and the individual safeguarded; the merit of the Agreement of the People was that it achieved these results. Milton, a little remote from the tumult of practical politics, formulates the position with perfect clarity: the function of the state is to preserve peace and order and to guarantee the freedom of the individual; a wise government will be more willing to repeal old laws than to enact new ones, for the intention of laws is to check the commission of vice, but liberty is the best school of virtue (p. 230). Here in the implied conceptions of both law and liberty, the supporting influence of the doctrine of Christian liberty can be seen. Outward laws are a mark of bondage, a burden to the good; and liberty is conceived in terms of their abrogation, whereby individuals are freed to follow the inner law, which, according to Milton, is the law of nature written in the heart.1 The ideal condition is to be able to live without laws because ‘our reason is our law.’2 Too extreme to be wholly typical, this view is at least symptomatic.

For the safeguarding of the individual, the restriction of the state to its proper sphere, and the founding of necessary government on an equitable basis, the Levellers relied on an Agreement of the People whose simple philosophy must at this point be recalled. The social contract was, in the first instance, a voluntary covenant, based on, and expressive of, the fundamental law of nature. Custom had thwarted its intention and obscured its meaning. The Agreement would restore them. It would reserve to the individual his inalienable rights; it would give effect once more to the principle of government by the consent of the governed, and provide, through universal suffrage, for the renewal of the consent as each succeeding Parliament was elected. The elements of which the Agreement was compounded were none of them new. The fundamental law of nature, known to reason, conformity to which must furnish the final sanction of every positive law; the notion of inalienable rights embodied in Magna Charta and other Edition: current; Page: [[72]] grants or established in the courts of law; and even the idea of a social contract originally voluntary in character—all these had been rendered more or less familiar by the long struggle with the Crown. But an Agreement of the People turned on something more than an elaboration and weaving together of these notions. Behind the idea of a free state lay the model of a free church. In the Ready and Easy Way Milton points the basic analogy. Those who would reform the state, he remarks, are

not bound by any statute of preceding Parliaments but by the law of nature only, which is the only law of laws truly and properly to all mankind fundamental, the beginning and end of all government, to which no Parliament or people that will thoroughly reform but may and must have recourse, as they had (and must yet have) in church reformation . . . to evangelic rules, not to ecclesiastical canons though never so ancient, so ratified and established in the land by statutes which for the most part are mere positive laws, neither natural nor moral. . . .1

The model of ecclesiastical excellence, says another writer, is founded on the law of God set forth in the New Testament and received by faith; that of civil excellence is ‘founded on the law of God engraven in nature and demonstrated by reason.’2 In each case there is a fundamental law and a primitive model of excellence; and in each case the injunction is to depart from, and if need be destroy, whatever conflicts with the law or fails to conform to the model. In the church Puritan scripturism is a mighty agent of destruction and reform. And whether operating directly or, as in the case of the Levellers and of the writers cited above, analogically, it is capable of having a similar effect in the state. But the analogy can be carried further. If the Leveller emphasizes the contract on which the authority of just government depends, and insists on the principle of consent, he has had, in his church, experience of a community organized on these very principles. Not the idea of the social contract, but the hold which it took upon the Puritans of the Left, may with some confidence be attributed to the covenanted and more or less democratic Puritan churches.

The idea of a covenant, derived ultimately from the Old Testament, appears in different forms in the more extreme Protestantism of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, where its vogue is associated with that of ‘covenant’ theology in general. First found among the Anabaptists of Germany (in what was to be its dominant ‘congregational’ form), the idea passes, about the middle Edition: current; Page: [[73]] of the sixteenth century, into Scotland; and there, characteristically, it adheres more closely to the Old Testament model and produces a series of national covenants, destined in a later day to be opposed to the congregational church covenant, but at the same time to reinforce the covenant idea. In England the first exponent of the congregational covenant is Robert Browne, whose True and Short Declaration of the Gathering and Joining Together of Certain Persons recounts:

A covenant was made and their mutual consent was given to hold together. There were certain chief points proved unto them by the scriptures; all of which being particularly rehearsed . . ., they agreed upon them, and pronounced their agreement to each thing particularly, saying, ‘To this we give our consent.’ First therefore they gave their consent to join themselves to the Lord in one covenant and fellowship together and to keep and seek agreement under his laws and government. . . . Further they agreed of those which should teach them . . . whom they allowed and did choose as able and meet for that charge. . . . So they prayed for their watchfulness and diligence and promised their obedience. Likewise an order was agreed on for their meetings together for their exercises . . . as for prayer . . . exhortation and edifying either by all men which had the gift or by those which had a special charge before others; and for the lawfulness of putting forth questions to learn the truth, as, if anything seemed doubtful and hard, to require some to show it more plainly, or for any to show it himself and cause the rest to understand it. . . . Again it was agreed that any might protest, appeal, complain, exhort, dispute, reprove, &c., as he had occasion, but yet in due order, which was then also declared. . . . Furthermore they particularly agreed of the manner how to watch to disorders and reform abuses, . . . for gathering and testifying voices in debating matters and propounding them in the name of the rest that agreed, for an order of choosing teachers, guides and relievers . . .; for separating clean from unclean, for receiving any into fellowship, for presenting the daily success of the church and the wants thereof, . . . for taking an order that none contend openly, nor persecute, nor trouble disorderly, nor bring false doctrine nor evil cause, after once or twice warning or rebuke.1

The basic ideas of agreement and covenant persist in English Separatism, whether in England or Holland, and are transferred to New England. The distinguishing mark of Congregationalism, Robert Baillie (who is not concerned with nice distinctions between separating and non-separating varieties) finds in ‘an explicit covenant, wherein all and every one of the members by a voluntary association . . . do bind themselves under a solemn oath to Edition: current; Page: [[74]] walk in the ways of the Gospel.’1 Among the non-separating Congregationalists, and among some of the Separatists, less power was conceded to the people than in Browne’s scheme; and the former would allow of an implicit covenant when an explicit could not be achieved. But it remains broadly true that Congregationalism, in its different forms, by emphasizing the idea of the covenant, preserved the possibility of a free and democratic church order, and of its influence in the civil sphere, between which and the ecclesiastical there is constant interaction. The classic example of a social contract modelled on a church covenant is the civil covenant of the Pilgrims, and the charter and constitution of the Providence Plantation, with other colonial documents, furnish instances no less striking of the idea of agreement, and the principle of government by consent, transplanted into the civil life. On the other hand, the church covenant itself could be defended by a reference from the ecclesiastical sphere to the civil. ‘All voluntary relations,’ wrote Richard Mather in his Apology for Church Covenant, ‘[that is] all relations which are neither natural nor violent, are entered into by way of covenant’ (p. 300). The ultimate consequence of such a theory had already been hinted by Robert Browne in his Book Concerning True Christians; he finds in church ministers, and in civil magistrates, an authority, derived from God, but bestowed on them respectively by the consent and agreement of the congregation and the people.2

In trying to estimate the influence of the church covenant on Puritan political thought, and especially on the ideals and practice of the Army, it must be made clear that among the sectaries the Baptists seem to have discarded the covenant. Hanserd Knollys speaks of churches gathered in London ‘without urging or making any particular covenant with members upon admittance,’ for their conditions were ‘faith, repentance and baptism, and none other.’3 And William Dell, manifesting the extreme Puritan tendency to approximate the Visible to the Invisible Church, and to discover new distinctions between the spiritual and the secular, repudiates the covenant as belonging to the light of nature merely, whereas the true Church has a higher and purely spiritual bond of union; the use of a covenant, then, is the mark not of the true Church, but of the churches of men (pp. 304-5). It would be a mistake, however, to exaggerate the importance of these facts. The Edition: current; Page: [[75]] churches which retained the covenant idea embraced the Puritans of the Centre, and possibly the majority of the Puritans of the Left. And in the minds of those who came to repudiate the covenant as essential to the constitution of a church, the idea had already done its work and become firmly established as the only mode of association in civil things. There is no reason to suppose that the Baptist churches were less democratic in their practices than the congregation described by Browne in the preceding century (see pp. 307-14). If the absence of a covenant withdrew the formal dependence of the ministry on the laity, this was more than offset by the progressive disappearance of the distinction between the two orders. Finally, all the churches remained in fact voluntary associations with power over the individual only after he had conceded it and only for so long as he continued to acquiesce in its exercise. Thus the results of the church covenant were preserved even among the sectaries who had pressed beyond its formal employment. Familiarity with the idea of the covenant, and with the principles that it embodied, gave a common ground for agreement—and for argument—among the Puritans of the Centre and the Left. By analogy it had helped to establish in the civil sphere the doctrine of the social contract and government by consent. And it provided in the covenanted churches models of organization in different degrees democratic. Its influence is widespread and pervasive.

To that influence the beginning and the end of the General Council of the Army alike testify. The Solemn Engagement of the Army was a contract of voluntary association, a covenant among the soldiers, with the nation, and before God. As such it suggests a linking of two forms of the covenant idea. It is a simple and almost perfect example of the church covenant transposed to secular ends, based on and embodying the law of nature as the church covenant is based on and embodies the law of Christ, and elaborating, as do the early church covenants, its own organs of expression and administration. At the same time it derives something from the Solemn League and Covenant, which it is in measure designed to offset; and in its quasi-national character, as in other respects, it marks a step on the way to the Agreements of the People. But the covenant idea is potent in defeat as well as in victory. When Fairfax is able to undo the work of the Solemn Engagement and insist on the Army’s retirement from ‘England’s freedom’ to ‘soldiers’ rights,’ he can effect those purposes only by a new engagement (p. [30]).

It is, of course, the Agreements of the People that mark the Edition: current; Page: [[76]] apotheosis of the covenant idea and its complete and triumphant translation to the civil sphere. In the Agreements the covenant’s every principle is represented: the recognition of a fundamental law (the law of nature for the law of Christ), which the terms of the contract must embody and by which alone they are conditioned; the ideas of voluntary association and government by consent; the reservation of the individual’s inalienable rights, implicit in the church covenant and safeguarded by the power of withdrawal, but necessarily explicit in the Agreements (since the power of withdrawal is virtually non-existent in the civil state); the delegation of power, under due safeguards, to those who must act for the community; the elaboration of an ‘order,’ or the necessary machinery of administration and of popular expression; and the whole thing extended and raised to a national scope and level, thus assimilating, and subordinating to the principles of the church covenant, the model of its deadly rival from beyond the Scottish border. Such was the final object of the Agreements, but on the way to that object they exemplify yet another ideal recognized in some of the church covenants. The reader will recall what was said at an earlier point about the Puritan belief in the progressive interpretation of truth and will remember that this principle was written into the covenant of the Pilgrims’ church (p. [45]). It is not written into the Agreements, but it is recognized in the fact that, as issued by the Levellers, and perhaps also by the Independents, they were designed to furnish a basis for discussion, and to serve as explorations leading to truth and consent. Behind the Agreements lies the belief in free and equal discussion which seems to have been nourished by the more liberal forms of Puritanism, and which dominates the proceedings of the General Council of the Army.

Considered in themselves those proceedings are sufficiently remarkable; and one would wish to know more, and with greater certainty, of their models. Mr. A. D. Lindsay1 has suggested that the congregation was the school of democracy. There the humblest member might hear, and join in, the debate, might witness the discovery of the natural leader, and participate in that curious process by which there emerges from the clash of many minds a vision clearer and a determination wiser than any single mind could achieve. To the congregation we may look for the source and model of that democratic organization and practice of which the recorded proceedings of the General Council of the Edition: current; Page: [[77]] Army are the most striking examples. To this suggestion may be added certain others, in no way incompatible with it. By the soldiers at large, the Council of the Army would be most naturally regarded as a sort of extension, to include their representatives, of a body already instituted by Fairfax: the Council of War,1 in which the General placed his plans of campaign before the higher officers and sought their criticism and advice. And it is observable, in contrast with its later developments, that the first object of the General Council was also to reach decisions on particular and practical issues like those presented in the Reading debate (pp. 409-21). But the Council of War, as Fairfax used it, was itself an innovation whose origin has not been fully explained, a remoter product of the zeal for discussion and agreement whose more striking example is the General Council; so that we succeed merely in forcing the question one step back. There is, however, another parallel with the General Council which seems unescapable though it has never been noticed: the House of Commons itself. And actually the General Council is referred to as ‘the Representative of the Army’ (p. 48). Though it might be at odds with its masters, this was the Army of the Parliament, pledged at first to maintain the liberties of Parliament, on which those of the nation were supposed to depend. What more likely than that it should take the Parliament for its model? The parallel extends to details. Like the Parliament the Army bids for public support by issuing its declarations; like the Long Parliament the General Council makes extensive use of committees; nor is it fanciful to see in the added deliberations of Fairfax and the higher officers, the ‘meeting in the inner room’ to which Cromwell refers (p. 412), something which stands to the General Council in the double relation of executive and second chamber. But more important is the view taken by the Puritans of the object and method of Parliamentary debate. Two years before the founding of the General Council a pamphleteer wrote (p. 264):

And what reformation this kingdom had in the late days, it did consist in the . . . spontaneousness of it in the Parliament . . . as one reports of it: ‘For in the senate . . . all had the opportunity to speak, nor was leave denied any kind of man to speak in opposition and utter his own belief, to argue and contend with free exchange of opinions; wherein shines forth greatly the justice and moderation of the rulers that have sought to allure, to lead, to persuade, and not to force, to drag, or Edition: current; Page: [[78]] to command. So that it is a shameless falsehood if any shall say that it was the power of authority that won the day, and not truth. . . .’ I quote the words because if they had never been realized, yet the idea of such a carriage when men are seeking out the truth is lovely as being very equal and rational.

It would not be easy to find a better formulation of the ideal at which the Army Debates also aim than this (confessedly idealized) account of the proceedings in the Parliament. At the least, those proceedings supplement for the Puritan the lessons learned in the congregation.1 The sum of the matter seems to be that a common ideal of truth and agreement through free debate comes into special prominence in the seventeenth century, and that it informs the proceedings of congregation, of Parliament, and of General Council alike, in part at least because it finds in the Puritan mind and temper a peculiarly congenial ground. But due recognition of the Parliamentary model brings one’s understanding of the Council into line with another fact. The principles advanced in the Debates (as in the Agreements and other pamphlets of the Levellers) are not altogether new. They are the principles advanced by the Parliament in its struggle with the King, carried to their logical conclusion, and that conclusion is democratic. Repeatedly in support of their own contentions, the Independents and their allies of the Left turn to the declarations of Parliament. And so with the organization and practice of the Council itself, if the Parliament furnishes one of its models, it is the Parliament democratized.2 To explain the impulse towards democracy is clearly the ultimate problem.

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It is widespread and can be seen working not only in the democratic idealism of the Agreements of the People and in the General Council of the Army, but less conspicuously, though with a curious exactness of parallel, in the London companies and in agitations for a reform of the City’s government. Like the soldiers the commonalty of the companies assert their rights, demand to be heard in free debate, and carry the question back to first principles, not without allusions to the changes in the national government. In the Clothworkers’ Company, for example, there were debates between representatives of the commonalty and of the Court of Assistants, whether by the letter of the charter the commonalty had not a voice in the election of officers; this the Court refused to concede, but was willing to discuss less drastic changes which might safeguard the interests (and, it was hoped, satisfy the demands) of the commonalty; but new popular leaders emerged, and the question had to be referred to the Parliament. The Saddlers trace their woes to that common source of tyranny, the Norman Conquest; and the commonalty of the Founders, admitting that ‘men in all ages have, through their supine carelessness, degenerated from the righteousness of their first principles,’ demanded the restoration of their ‘primitive rights and privileges’ in the name of ‘the law of God, of nature, and of nations.’1 The Leveller leadership which such language plainly attests, also appears in the agitations regarding the City’s government. There the issues are complicated by the City’s importance in national politics and by the dominance of the Presbyterian interest in the oligarchy; and Independents, as well as Levellers, raise their voice. Lilburne, who enjoyed some popularity in the Common Council, writes on London’s Liberty in Chains (1646). A Moderate Reply to the City Remonstrance (1646) distinguishes between the ‘city representative’ and the ‘city collective,’ and anticipating the arguments to be used by the Army against the Parliament, maintains that the ‘city collective’ owes no obedience to commands of the ‘city representative’ which contravene ‘the will and word of God,’ ‘the good of the kingdom,’ ‘the proper end’ of the representative’s being, i.e., ‘the city’s welfare,’ or the limits set to the representative’s power.2 And Wildman, with John Price, upholds Edition: current; Page: [[80]] in debate the right of the citizens to elect the City’s officers, quoting Parliament’s declaration that ‘the original of all just power under God proceeds from the people’ (pp. 369-78).

Against this background of democratic agitation the Debates are to be read. The ideas advanced and the methods adopted are everywhere the same: a primitive model of excellence to which institutions, corrupted by custom, must be restored, or a fundamental law into conformity with which they must be brought; the possibility of arriving through discussion at truth, that is, at a free and unconstrained recognition of what model and law demand, and hence of agreement therein; government resting on a contract and on consent; and implicit in it all—becoming explicit when necessary—the idea of equal rights, which is the distinguishing idea of democracy. How do these things relate themselves to Puritan thought and experience? The materials for answering that question have been set forth above, and hints towards an answer have been given. It remains to bring them together, to bring together also what has been said of the obstacles to secular democracy which Puritanism presents, to suggest once more the way in which those obstacles were partially overcome, and to estimate the contribution of Puritanism to democracy. We need not further consider the Puritans of the Right, or the Puritans of the Centre in the points where they differ from those of the Left: on the Puritans of the Left we may concentrate our final attention.

In some of them the concern for liberty as an authentic feature of Puritanism most unequivocally appears. They emphasize the doctrine of Christian liberty, and (as one would expect from the active Puritan temper) they use it to support a campaign for religious liberty. But to demand liberty as the Christian’s birthright is, strictly, to demand it only for Christians, or (as the Puritan would phrase it) for the Saints: it is the truth that makes you free, and only for the truth can liberty be challenged. This is the source of the reproach so often uttered against the Puritan (and in fact rather exaggerated), that he believes in liberty for himself but not for other people, and it is one source of the policy of partial toleration or toleration in indifferent things for those who are sound in essentials. In its extension beyond toleration to revolutionary politics Christian liberty may manifest the same limitation, may support an idea of the privileges of the Saints. But the fact that there is a Puritan doctrine of liberty, whatever its limitations, is immensely important. Repeatedly Puritanism brings the question of liberty up for discussion, and this is a major Edition: current; Page: [[81]] service. While operating within the prescribed bounds of ‘Christian’ liberty, Puritanism, further, does a great deal to foster the notion of individuality, and an individualistic outlook, with results partially, though not wholly, favourable to democracy.

Puritanism also fosters equality within the ‘Christian’ scheme: there is a Christian equality as well as a Christian liberty. In the more extreme sects truth may come from the meanest of the brethren (p. [46]), and, in the spirit of the Gospel, which weights the scales against the rich man, Williams finds that God has ‘chosen a little flock out of the world, and those generally poor and mean’ (p. 282). Within the sects, clearly, a levelling principle of great potency is at work. But what Christians enjoy is an equality of superiority to other men. To describe the congregation as a model democracy in little, is true of the congregation considered in itself. But considered in relation to the world in which it subsists, it is an aristocracy of grace. Liberty and equality for the privileged is the ideal of an aristocracy, though there is certainly some wider significance in the fact that Christian privilege has nothing to do with (or is even thought of in contrast to) privilege as the world understands it. In the Millenarians’ view the Saints constitute an aristocracy of grace whose divinely appointed destiny is to conquer and rule the world. And they question whether the natural man has really any rights at all (p. 246).

A measure of practical equality was, however, forced upon the Puritans in the struggle for religious liberty. (In a careful discussion equality must be distinguished from liberty; but the distinction is always breaking down.) The Puritans of the Left discovered that you cannot effectually guarantee the liberty of the Saint without guaranteeing the liberty of all men—without adding, in this one department at least, equality to liberty. The Levellers, and also Cromwell, record their frank recognition of this fact when they make liberty of conscience not the birthright of the Christian, but one of the natural rights of man (p. 444).1 The amazing importance of the struggle for religious liberty is due partly to the momentous issue with which it deals;2 but Edition: current; Page: [[82]] beyond that is the fact that it holds, as it were in solution, within itself all the rest of the struggle for liberty and equality. ‘Where civil liberty is entire,’ said Harrington, ‘it includes liberty of conscience; where liberty of conscience is entire it includes civil liberty.’1 It also includes equality. When the Puritans of the Left are forced by the hard logic of facts to champion liberty of conscience for others as well as for themselves, we see the thin end of the wedge. But until it becomes, with Williams and the Levellers, something more than a grudging concession to facts, the wedge will not get much further.2

Before turning to the Levellers, and considering again the process by which the forces of democracy, of liberty and equality, in Puritanism are released to operate in the secular sphere, it will be well to take a final view of the group, sometimes associated with them in action, in whom the release is not finally effected. The importance of the Millenarians resides in the fact that they carry to an extreme one set of principles found in the Independents of the Army, just as the Levellers carry to an extreme another set of principles. In their church order the Millenarians do not differ from other Puritans of the Left. Their churches are voluntary and democratic congregations (pp. 241, 245), though some form of national union may be necessary before they can rule the world (p. 245). Meanwhile they join in the demand for liberty, and above all for liberty of conscience (because without it the churches cannot exist and increase, as they must if they are ever to rule). The resort to violence, the effort to establish and exercise the rule of the Saints by force, is not perhaps an essential of the Millenarian creed, but rather a character impressed upon it Edition: current; Page: [[83]] by a revolutionary era. In the inevitability of the process by which the Saints shall inherit the earth they have a strong incentive to patience, but in the supposed plotting of that process in scripture, and in the definite role assigned to the Saints, they have a strong temptation to direct action. They are dimly conscious of the problem (pp. 39-42). In the result, they are like the Levellers, who should be willing to wait till reason has wrought conviction, but who actually seek to anticipate the triumph to come. Their reading of the Bible is at once fantastic and literal, but it is instructive to observe how much of spiritual religion can be woven into it (pp. 390-6). One should not exaggerate their difference from other Puritans of the Left. When all is said, however, they present a marked contrast with Williams and the Levellers. In all who share in any degree the Millenarian outlook, the doctrines emphasized by Puritanism—Christian liberty and equality, election (with final perseverance), the priesthood of the believer—issue in a theory of the special privileges of the Saints. The active Puritan temper carries this theory into the secular sphere and gives equal development to its converse side, the special duties of the Saints. And the Puritan tendency to draw literal inferences from scripture and dogma operates in connection not only with the theological doctrines mentioned above, but with prophecy and especially with the dazzling hope of Christ’s kingdom on earth, which, in its turn, absorbs and directs the utopian and iconoclastic impulses. The latent impulses towards democracy are not merely thwarted; their motive power is appropriated and directed to other ends. At an earlier point, we recognized somewhere near the heart of Puritanism an unresolved conflict between the concern for liberty and the concern for reform, and we saw how in the Puritans of the Right the concern for reform was in the ascendant. The ideals of the Millenarians differ widely from the Presbyterian: theirs is a clericalism without clergy (the Saints having taken its place), an ecclesiasticism without a uniform church (the Puritan distrust of outward forms having destroyed the church in favour of the sect); for the rest, they may even have adopted some of the proposals of the Levellers. But with them the concern for reform, by coercion if need be, is once more in the ascendant; and at bottom they are indifferent or hostile to the liberty and equality for which the Levellers stand. This statement is borne out by a set of political ideas, much less fully organized than the Levellers’, but clearly perceptible in the Debates: repudiation of, or at least indifference to, the democratic ideas of agreement, of representative institutions, Edition: current; Page: [[84]] of safeguards for the rights of the individual; emphasis, instead, on the monarchy of Christ as administered by the Saints, and (in conformity with this ideal) a reliance on good men rather than on a good constitution or a duly elected Parliament; willingness, finally, to regard victory in the field as the outward call of the Saints to rule the world. These ideas lead not to the democratic state but to junto and dictatorship; and though the Millenarians soon found that they had mistaken their man, and learned to speak of him in terms previously reserved for the Pope and Charles I, the prevalence of these ideas far beyond the ranks of the strict Millenarians was a foundation of Cromwell’s power. There is in Puritanism a possibility of autocracy as well as a possibility of democracy. To that fact the Puritans of the Left, as well as those of the Right and Centre, bear undeniable testimony. Each possibility—which develops, of course, in relation to a set of particular circumstances, and within the limits imposed by the need of compromise when that need is felt—inheres in a group of theological doctrines; and they are, with some difference in emphasis, the same doctrines.

How are the inferences from dogma inimical to democracy avoided by the Levellers and by others who manage to avoid them? No doubt the weakening of dogma, where it occurred, ministered to that result. But we have seen some reason to believe that the weakening was not very widespread, and that Walwyn and Overton, while very influential, were less typical than a Leveller like Lilburne or a radical thinker like Roger Williams. And we have stated our conviction that the second and more important answer to the question is found in what we have called the principle of segregation, which means a clear-cut and consistent distinction between the order of grace and the order of nature. There are, as Roger Williams puts it, ‘divers sorts of goodness,’ and ‘a subject, a magistrate, may be a good subject, a good magistrate, in respect of civil or moral goodness, . . . though godliness (which is infinitely more beautiful) be wanting’ (pp. 282-3). That belongs to the order of grace; the others to the order of nature. The principle of segregation is momentous in its results; but it has another claim on our attention. It is the Puritan counterpart of a widespread principle in modern thought which Herr Ernst Cassirer runs back chiefly to Bacon,1 and the Archbishop of York to a twofold source in Edition: current; Page: [[85]] Luther and Descartes.1 In the strict Puritan it springs from a sense of the superlative value of the order of grace and the uniqueness of the spiritual experience which seals one a member thereof, and from the accompanying determination to keep them untainted by anything of this world. The result as seen in Luther is to prevent the drawing of inferences from one order to the other. In a sense the basic result with those Puritans of whom Roger Williams may stand as our example, is the same—but with an important difference added: direct inference is banished, but analogy is instated in its place. The most obvious example of the principle of segregation is the absolute separation of church and state; and in Williams (as also in Henry Robinson and Milton) this does immediate service to the cause of liberty by becoming one of their chief supports in the argument for toleration. Further, if it destroys the idea of a state church, it also destroys the idea of a church-state; if it spiritualizes the church—and Dell’s essay (pp. 203-16) indicates how eager is the Puritan for that result—it also secularizes the state and invites a new examination of its origin, function, and sanctions. The new examination does not necessarily issue in a democratic theory—it is the virtual, though not formal, secularizing of the state on other terms, that permits Hobbes’s realistic defence of absolutism—but it may do so. The secularizing of the state is democracy’s opportunity. The effectiveness of the principle of segregation as a barrier to direct dogmatic inference is seen when we contrast Williams’ theory of a church with his theory of a state (pp. 283-4). His church is of the most rigorously restrictive kind, a church of visible Saints, which, viewed in relation to the world, could be regarded only as an aristocracy of the elect. But his state is a pure democracy—though the great majority of its members are, spiritually speaking, unregenerate and lost.2 Viewed in relation to the world his church is an aristocracy; but it must not be so viewed, for they belong to two different orders. Viewed in itself the church too Edition: current; Page: [[86]] is a democracy, a voluntary association of equals, and as such may well furnish a model for the civil state as Williams conceives it. Behind the church covenant as it was elaborated by the first of the Separatists there lie (it has been suggested) the guilds and merchant companies.1 It is significant that when Williams comes to describe the relation of the church to the civil state in which it exists, the terms are precisely those applicable to the guild or merchant company (p. 267). The church preserves the free form of community and finally enables (or at least aids) it to influence by analogy the theory of the state. First the principle of segregation; then, after that is enforced, the power of analogy: on these two things the democratic influence of Puritanism chiefly depends. Where they are applied but partially the result will be a limited and inconclusive acceptance of liberty and equality—the attitude illustrated by the leaders of the Independent Party, whose effort at compromise springs immediately from practical considerations, but nevertheless runs back from the particular issue to first principles. Where, on the contrary, segregation and analogy are fully applied, the result is more than a set of logical inferences; it is nothing less than a release of the forces of Puritanism to work in the natural order on the side of democracy, and these forces include its active and (within limits) experimental spirit, its utopianism and iconoclasm, and the libertarian, equalitarian, and humanitarian impulses, in precisely the degree in which they had manifested themselves within the limits of the Puritan church or sect.

The conclusions reached, or perhaps merely supported and rendered acceptable, by the principle of analogy, have been sufficiently indicated above: natural liberty and equality; a fundamental law of nature and a primitive model of civil excellence, alike known by reason; a social contract embodying that law and conforming to that model, safeguarding the individual’s rights and applying the principle of government by consent; a democratic order of administration and expression with some provision for arriving at truth and agreement through free discussion. All this seems clear enough; but the parallel of a fundamental law for each of the economies, the law of Christ2 and the law of nature, requires a little further elucidation.

It is a feature of their common scripturism that all the Puritans should affect (though with different degrees of rigour) to draw the Edition: current; Page: [[87]] prescriptions and models of church government from the Bible: the Presbyterians, from the New Testament read in the light of the Old and tempered by reference to the authoritative example of Geneva and the demands of a national organization; the non-separating Congregationalists, from the New Testament with a simpler emphasis but not without some reference to Israel and to the needs of a Christian state; the sectaries who most emphasize the difference between the Law and the Gospel and most logically apply the principle of segregation, from the New Testament alone, the ‘evangelic rules’ to which Milton refers. For these Puritans of the Left, then, the fundamental law for a church is simply the law revealed in the New Testament and received by faith. But in perfect consonance with that law (it is held) is the inward law in the heart of the believer; and this inward law too must be included in the wider definition of the fundamental law spiritual. Sometimes it is interpreted as the mystical indwelling of Christ; sometimes, as the inward law given to Adam, restored by God to its original brightness.

In the civil sphere Puritan scripturism (as we have seen) also exercises its widespread influence. The political thinking of groups so divergent as the Presbyterian and the Millenarian depends in no small measure on a direct appeal to the Bible; and, with certain modifications, so too does the political thinking of the Congregationalists, which sometimes approaches the scriptural ideal of the Presbyterians, and may sometimes even be coloured by that of the Millenarians. In the case of Presbyterians and Congregationalists alike the scriptural reference, in addition to being tempered by the needs of a particular historical situation, is accompanied by various degrees of attention to the law of nature. In those Puritans of the Left, however, with whom we are at present chiefly concerned, the differentiation of the Law and the Gospel logically implies the second result of limiting the scriptural reference to the New Testament, and the principle of segregation (seconded by the reticence of the Gospel in matters political) operates to shift the reference altogether from scripture to the law of nature. The Leveller, by the principles of his religious thinking, was thrown back wholly upon the law of nature in the civil sphere.

The concept itself was no way peculiar to Puritan thought. The law of nature was familiar to every one if only in the celebrated text-book, Doctor and Student1 (where, however, the term Edition: current; Page: [[88]] is said not to be in general use in English law) or in defences of the Parliament (where it often occupies only a subordinate place). But it is worth while to see what could be known of the law of nature from a Puritan source (pp. 187-91). For William Ames (1) God’s law is of two kinds, natural and positive. (2) The law of nature consists of whatever rules of conduct can be immediately apprehended, or logically arrived at, by reason, ‘out of the natural instinct of natural light, or . . . at least from that natural light by evident consequence.’ (3) It is eternal ‘in relation to God, as it is from eternity in him,’ and ‘natural as it is . . . imprinted in the nature of man by the God of nature.’ (4) God’s positive law is ‘added to the natural by some special revelation of God,’ and differs from the natural in two respects. Though it can be received, it cannot be arrived at, by reason. And it is not immutable, but ‘mutable and various according to God’s good pleasure; for that which was heretofore in the Judaical church is different from that which is in the Christian church.’ (5) All the precepts of the moral law (as embodied in the Decalogue) are

out of the law of nature (except the determination of the sabbath-day . . . which is from the positive law). For . . . we meet with nothing in them which concerneth not all nations at all times, so that these precepts do not respect any particular sort of men, but even nature itself. . . . There is nothing in them . . . but what may be well enjoined from clear reason. . . . They all much conduce to the benefit of mankind in this present life, insomuch that if all these precepts were duly answered there would be no need of any other human laws or constitutions.

(6) The judicial and ceremonial laws of the Jews, as distinct from the moral, are positive, not natural; but some precepts of the so-called judicial law may be in reality moral, for ‘where the special intrinsical and proper reason of the law is moral, there it always follows that the law itself must be moral.’ (7) As has already been implied (above, 5), the ‘worshipping of God . . . is a principle of the law of nature.’ Hence the common formulation of that law (‘To live honestly; not to hurt another; to give every man his due’) is ‘confused and imperfect.’ (8) Much less can one admit the teaching of some Civilians, that ‘the law of nature is that which nature hath taught all living creatures.’ For though the brutes have their law it implies neither reason to distinguish, nor will or choice, nor justice. The law of nature is the law for man. (9) The civil law enacted by men for their city or society ‘inasmuch as it is right is derived from the law of nature,’ and receives its moral sanction from this fact. It falls short of the law of nature, however, Edition: current; Page: [[89]] because ‘it hath no eye at all upon the inward affections but only upon outward actions’ and ‘doth not make good men but only good subjects or citizens,’ and because even within these limits ‘the reason of man can only imperfectly judge . . . and is often therein cozened.’ For (10) it is fallen man of which we speak; and the full implication of this fact appears when the question is asked why, if it is identical with the natural law ‘writ in the hearts of all men,’ the Decalogue required to be promulgated by God. It is because

ever since the corruption of our nature such is the blindness of our understanding and perverseness of our will and disorder of our affections that there are only some relics of that law remaining in our hearts like to some dim aged picture, and therefore by the voice . . . of God it ought to be renewed as with a fresh pencil. Therefore is there nowhere found any true right practical reason, pure and complete in all parts, but in the written law of God (Psalm 119. 66).

One observes the exalting of the law of nature as the only moral law (5, 6); its clear distinction from the positive law of God (with the statement that this might vary between the Old Testament and the New) (4); the asserted dependence of all civil laws upon the law of nature (9); the recognition of the law as common to all men and of reason as the faculty by which it is cognizable (2, 3, 5); and the implication that a test of the law of nature is its conduciveness to civil welfare (5). These are the points on which democratic Puritanism fastens and which it develops; they are also adopted by the Party of the Centre, and furnish the common ground on which Ireton and Nye meet and argue with Goodwin and the Levellers at Whitehall (pp. 125-69). But they are accompanied by other propositions: that practically the whole Decalogue and even parts of the so-called judicial law are identical with the law of nature and unabrogated by the Gospel (5, 6); that not merely what is immediately perceptible to reason, but whatever may be logically derived therefrom, has the sanction of natural law (2), and particularly that the belief in the true God, commanded by the Decalogue, is a part of that law (7); that though civil laws can reach only to outward actions and make good subjects the law of nature is concerned with beliefs and motives, and not merely with good subjects but good (which, in contrast with Williams’ use, implies religious) men (9, 7, 5); that, as a result of man’s fallen condition, the natural law as reason can actually know it is inadequate and requires to be set in a brighter light by the written law of God (10). These propositions the Congregationalists at Whitehall would without reservations accept; but the Separatists and Edition: current; Page: [[90]] Levellers reject them, or accept only with marked reservations. Agreeing enthusiastically with an appeal to the law of nature, and especially with the decision of all civil questions thereby (5), they insist on rigorous separation of the natural and civil from the religious sphere. There must be no overlapping, no cross-reference between the two that may furnish a pretext for the magistrate’s interference in matters of conscience; his commission is purely civil and concerned with the outward man, and its terms are prescribed by natural law. The law of nature becomes then God’s law for the natural order as distinct from the order of grace. It is (we repeat) in the interests of religious liberty that the principle of segregation is fully developed; but it has momentous consequences in the civil as well as in the religious field.

Once the principle is adopted, the idea that the natural law as it is known by reason in man’s fallen state is necessarily imperfect, may be safely accepted. The restored illumination of the Saint is a spiritual gift, whose appropriate place of exercise is not the state but the church. In a sense the imperfection of the natural law is precisely its inadequacy to anything higher than civil or natural ends.1 For these it is perfectly adequate, furnishing the only rule—and all the rule that is required. In an opinion of the practical adequacy of the law of nature within its appointed sphere, the Levellers were no doubt confirmed by the frequent appeals heard to it, and by the whole secular tradition of the law of nature, glanced at and condemned as inadequate by Ames (7, 8).

In opposing Ireton’s effort to use the law of nature as a touchstone to distinguish between the merely typical portions of the Mosaic Law which are abrogated by the Gospel and the portions identical with the law of nature and hence of permanent and universal application, the Levellers (supported by Goodwin) give their clearest exposition of the principle of segregation as applied to the idea of a natural law. Scripture is the rule for the church; the law of nature, the only rule for the state. To attempt to introduce the Mosaic Law into the constitution of the state under the guise of natural law is sophistical. Nor are we left without strong indications of what the law of nature teaches in the civil sphere: it teaches that the people not only designate the persons of their governors, but bestow upon them all their power (pp. 157-9).2

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The insistence on the law of nature as the only rule for the state and on its basic democracy is of the first importance. But to gauge the full bearing of the appeal to nature in politics one must turn to the Putney Debates (pp. 53-79) and to the pamphlets of the Levellers. At Putney Ireton declares that the Levellers can ground their demand for manhood suffrage only on some plea of natural rights as opposed to the historic rights held forth by the fundamental constitution of the English state. They do not deny the fact. To the law of nature they confidently appeal, and when Ireton further declares that the appeal to nature will destroy all property, they try to show that the right to property is guaranteed by the law of nature, and not, as Ireton maintains, merely by positive laws (pp. 61-2). It is the law of nature, furthermore, that teaches the individual his rights and their attendant duties: the right and duty of self-preservation, and the natural limits of obedience (or the right and duty of resistance to tyrannical rulers). It teaches him what are the ends of government; and it inculcates the basic principles of social life, the principles of natural justice and equity which dictate the political equality of all men within the state and issue in the maxim (also enshrined in the Gospel), ‘to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

Behind the Levellers’ appeals to the law of nature lie those of Parliamentarians against the King, and of the Army against both the King and Parliament. Already in 1642, Parliamentary apologists are declaring that the law of nature is paramount: by it all power is ‘originally inherent in the people,’ and (whatever was the case among the Jews, where God intervened by a direct revelation) the source of the magistrates’ authority ‘can be nothing else among Christians but the actions and agreements of such and such political corporations.’ The ‘paramount law that shall give law to all human laws whatsoever . . . is salus populi. . . . Neither can the right of conquest be pleaded to acquit princes of that which is due to the people . . .; for mere force cannot alter the course of nature or frustrate the tenor of law. . . .’ ‘The charter of nature entitles all subjects of all countries whatsoever to safety by its supreme law.’1 Most striking of all the early pleas is that of Rutherford’s Lex Rex, which, like the later appeals of the Army, Edition: current; Page: [[92]] is fully illustrated in the texts that follow (see Index sub ‘Law of Nature’). Behind these again lies the long and complex tradition of the law of nature, as it comes down from classical times,1 as it is adapted and formulated by the Civilians and Canonists, and as it influences the theory and practice of English law.2 The law of nature comes to the Levellers with peculiar authority, even if they are ignorant of many of the stages in its august tradition; for is it not God’s law for the natural order? And it comes to them with unexhausted potentialities; for it is unwritten (all formulations being but partial and approximate), and finally determinable only by reason. By resolutely applying the principle of segregation it can be freed from the trammels of its association with the written law of scripture. By the principle of analogy it can take its place as the fundamental law for the state not less certainly than does the law of Christ as the fundamental law for the church. With this vast authority, with these potentialities, and with a new freedom from reference to anything beyond itself, the law of nature becomes the foundation of the Levellers’ political creed and their final court of appeal.

Where the principle of segregation is applied in its most radical form, the effect is to exalt the law of nature as known by the reason of fallen man into an absolute standard within, but not beyond, the natural order. There remains, however, the large body of Puritan thought, even of extreme Puritan thought, in which the principle of segregation is not rigorously applied. For it, the distinction between the law of nature in its primal brightness (a brightness restored in the regenerate) and the dim relic of that law known to fallen men (above, p. [89], (10)) retains its full effect, and with two results already indicated: the necessity of supplementing reason by scripture in the civil field, and the possibility of calling in the doctrine of the law of nature to support an enforcement upon the unregenerate of a standard whose full glory is hidden from them and known only to the Saints. Even in Milton (if he were our chief concern here) we could demonstrate something of these results, though in a more refined form. Despite his passion Edition: current; Page: [[93]] for liberty, and his partial application, in the interests of religious liberty, of the principle of segregation, he is, as Wordsworth rightly divined, radical but not democratic. For him the law of nature is not a law for the natural order merely, and sufficiently known to all men within that order. It is a law of liberty which the regenerate alone can fully know, and by which only they are adequately equipped to live. The most obvious inferences to be drawn in the political field are reactionary in character, and they appear in Milton’s final disregard of the will of the majority. But this does not mean that the law of nature thus conceived is wholly without a liberating influence. It has some effect upon the provisions suggested for civil life; and, above all, nothing can prevent its exerting its influence as an ideal. Thus Milton’s interpretation of liberty as the abrogation of outward law, while it applies only to the regenerate, has a pronounced effect on his conception of the state (if only because the state’s highest purpose is to serve the regenerate); and it holds forth an ideal of liberty, individualist, and even anarchist, in character. So long as dogma remains unimpaired the ideal is, strictly, inaccessible to the ordinary man, but the use of the term nature in designating the ideal is a perpetual invitation to the unwary to extend its benefits to him. And sooner or later dogma is impaired. As this occurs there are two ways in which the identification of the law of nature with the rule of man’s unfallen, or his regenerate, condition may tend to radical conclusions. To associate the natural with the unfallen state is to approach the general type of thought now described as primitivistic. To associate it with a regenerate condition presents, on the other hand, some affinity with the type of thought known as perfectibilitarian. In the eighteenth century these two types were to furnish, separately and together, the dominant modes of radical thinking. Discontent with the existing social order issued in the cry of ‘back to nature,’ or in the cry of ‘onward to perfection.’ Then the happy discovery was made that the two things were really identical: in order to go onward to perfection one had only to go back to nature for one’s rule. But before this blessed state of confusion could be achieved dogma must have disappeared or have been interpreted so figuratively that nothing but the smudged outline of its pattern persisted. In some of the radicals of the Puritan revolution these processes are seen at work. Walwyn and Winstanley furnish examples. But in another way, and without any break-down of dogma, these primitivistic and perfectibilitarian tendencies can in measure be released to work in radical political thought: namely, by analogy. Grant that Edition: current; Page: [[94]] natural reason is adequate within the natural sphere; then it can lead men to the perfect natural state; and this line of thought encounters strong support from the secular tradition of natural law to which Stoicism had bequeathed some primitivist and some perfectibilitarian elements.

Bound up with the conception of the law of nature, however it is defined, is the idea that it is known by reason (either by reason unaided or by right reason, which is reason illuminated from above1): the appeal to the law of nature is virtually an appeal to reason. The attitude of Puritanism towards reason, we have remarked, ranges all the way from the contempt of the voluntarist to the idolatry of the rationalist (see Index). Voluntarism, which seeks the final sanction of positive laws in the will of the law-giver, has for its natural outcome absolutism. Rationalism, whose final sanction is conformity to reason, is opposed to absolutism in so far as the latter is an expression of mere arbitrary will, and leads naturally to a doctrine of liberty.2 But the principle of segregation can achieve the curious result of establishing a rationalist standard in the natural order while leaving the view of God purely voluntarist. Precisely this result is achieved in Lilburne’s thinking, who can even turn the dichotomy to account by declaring that only God can act from arbitrary will, and the magistrate is not God! In the natural order the appeal must be to reason (p. 317). An observer of the General Council comments on ‘a new sect sprung up among them, and these are the rationalists, and what their reason dictates to them in church and state stands to them for good, until they be convinced with better.’3 But reason, like nature, is a term which always stands in urgent need of precise definition. In few of the Puritans does it receive that definition. In Winstanley it approximates to the Quaker notion of the ‘inner light’ and is used so loosely that it can be interchanged with the expression, the universal love. In Overton, discursive reason no doubt sets the tone of his use of the term. In most of the Puritans, as in Ames, it embraces both discourse and intuition. The fact of most importance is that in this volume its use is never, I think, ‘intellectualist’ or esoteric. Reason is Edition: current; Page: [[95]] thought of as something common to all men and independent of education. It is the light of nature, not of the schools: an equalitarian conception. Natural truth may be perceived by any man, just as spiritual truth may be perceived by the meanest of the brethren. And this furnishes the basis of the belief in free discussion, in which the humblest may be convinced (as is his right), and may in his turn convince if he can (as is his right also). The only distinction is that between reason operating unaided and reason illuminated from above; and we have gauged the significance of that distinction.

The appeal to reason in politics brings us once more to the attitude towards historical precedent. In the earlier opponents of absolutism the appeal was twofold, to precedent and to a paramount law known by reason (which might or might not be described as the law of nature). Positive laws finally claimed obedience as particular and approximate embodiments of that general law. To appeal to precedent was not to deny, but rather silently to assume, the paramount law. This too was the position of Lilburne,1 who was for ever conning the Book of Statutes and citing Magna Charta and the other formularies of the Englishman’s historic rights. But the struggle of Parliament with the Crown, and of the Army and people with Parliament, soon outran precedent; and this fact, combined with Puritan utopianism and the predominant Puritan view of custom and of history, resulted in a progressive shift of emphasis from precedent to the law of nature, or from historic to abstract rights. It is on this point that Ireton and the Levellers divide (pp. 52-62). The appeal to reason as opposed to history, whatever its weaknesses, has (as Mr. Laski observes) one great advantage: it permits an extension of rights, not merely a defence of rights already won. The fact did not escape the debaters at Putney. Already Walwyn had dissented from Lilburne: ‘Magna Charta hath been more precious in your esteem than it deserveth; for it may be made good to the people and yet in many particulars they may remain under intolerable oppression.’2 And Overton is equally dissatisfied with the appeal to existing laws:

Ye know the laws of this nation are unworthy a free people, and deserve from first to last to be considered and seriously debated and reduced to an agreement with common equity and right reason, which ought to be the form and life of every government. Magna Charta Edition: current; Page: [[96]] itself (being but a beggarly thing, containing many marks of intolerable bondage) and the laws that have been made since by Parliaments have in very many particulars made our government much more oppressive and intolerable.1

But even the most radical were loath to break entirely with the past. So they invented a new past more consonant with the demands of reason.

As the most primitive age of the church was that in which it embodied most purely the law of Christ, so in the most primitive era of English history did not the state embody most purely the law of nature? And here the rival theory of absolutism played into the hands of the radicals by asserting that the King’s right rested not on contract but on conquest. It was an old contention assailed by Buchanan, revived by the Royalists, and attacked once more by Parker and Rutherford (pp. 204-5); and it was obviously a two-edged sword: ‘There were more reason why the people might justify force to regain due liberty than the prince might to subvert the same.’2 The effects of conquest could be reversed by victory. This was an idea highly congenial to a victorious Army, especially to those who held that there was now no power in England but the sword—there was no other power and since the Norman Conquest there never had been.3 A wave of Anti-Normanism swept through the ranks, and Edward the Confessor became a Puritan hero.4 The Normans had destroyed the primitive English state and enslaved a nation; all the long struggle with kings had been an effort to regain its lost rights; Magna Charta and the other concessions wrung from them were so many fragments of recovered freedom. Now the Army’s victory had exchanged the roles of conqueror and conquered. It must be followed by a new constitution with the abrogation of all those positive laws which were a badge of slavery; and a restoration of their rights to the commons whom the Norman had despoiled. What were the barons but William the Conqueror’s colonels? Their right fell with his: a convenient doctrine for those whose equalitarian sentiments or practical needs were demanding the abolition of the House of Lords and the end of all feudal privileges.

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Not only the military Saints and the Levellers, but the Diggers too, could find their account in the attractive theory of Anti-Normanism (p. 383). It is, of course, no more tenable than the absolutist theory of conquest which first suggested it. Nathaniel Bacon found them the subject of excited debate and determined to examine the evidence on which they rested. His Historical Discourse of the Uniformity of the Government of England (1647) yields them little support. But this does not diminish the significance of Anti-Normanism as an effort of the imagination to accommodate history to the demands of reason, and (with the pattern of ecclesiastical history hovering in the background) to clothe abstract rights in a concrete and primitive form. It furnishes also a striking example of a theory on which divergent groups of the Puritan Left could temporarily combine.

To forget the fact of such combination is to misread the history of Puritanism, of the Army, and of their relations to democracy in the seventeenth century: a common enemy is almost as important as common principles—at times, more important. Though the main direction of the Levellers was democratic, while that of the military Saints was not, some alliance was possible—even some mutual influence. And the moment of inevitable conflict was forestalled by the practical politicians of the Centre who snatched all the fruits of victory from the busy and contradictory theorists of the Left. They did so by participating in and directing the precarious union of interests and ideals, which was the Army in politics, and a phenomenon of great, if temporary, importance. For the victorious Army combined, and in some sort reconciled, two divergent notions: it was a godly Army, in which the Saints were sufficiently numerous (and vocal) to satisfy the religious ideal; and it was a representative Army, a cross-section at least of Puritan England, which satisfied the democratic ideal and supported its pretence of speaking in the name of the nation. It deliberated in a council whose forms were democratic and whose language was quasi-religious. The deliberations could be turned into a debate on natural rights by Rainborough, or into a prayer-meeting by Goffe. They bore a general resemblance to those of the House of Commons—not least in the rather sinister fact that Cromwell could control them, and end them. The Council of the Army was, within limits, a genuine democratic assembly. Where else in 1647 could the common soldier urge his reasons upon his commanders, or grandees be told to their faces that ‘the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he’? It was democratic, also, in including among its Edition: current; Page: [[98]] members many who at bottom cared for democracy not at all. And it betrayed the weakness of the democratic assembly: it was the easy prey of political astuteness and of physical force. . . .

We must take its good meaning; and to do so is to see the Council as the very imperfect realization of the Levellers’ hope,1 and hearken chiefly to their utterances. They, at least, were passionately devoted to the democratic ideal: taking justice and equality as the foundation of their scheme; believing in truth and agreement through free discussion; in their hearts distrusting force even as a method of effecting beneficent ends and even when betrayed into acquiescing in its use; willing, when truest to themselves, to postpone victory till reason, and not the sword, could win it. They were often intolerably factious, and they were incurably rash and doctrinaire. But the ideals for which they stood were magnanimous. The position of the Centre Party is more equivocal. That they used the Council of the Army it is idle to deny—but no one (unless it were Mr. Belloc) could now be found to assert that it was for personal ends. Ireton, who was probably the ablest political thinker that the revolution produced, sympathized with many of the Levellers’ pleas for practical reforms, as the Heads of the Proposals (pp. 422-6) makes abundantly clear; and the vigour and acuteness with which he debates are incompatible with a merely opportunist and cynical attitude towards free discussion. But his belief in democracy was much less thorough-going than the Levellers’. Indeed in the Centre Party in general Puritan democracy was crossed and finally defeated not only by practical considerations, but by anti-democratic elements in the Puritan creed. The Levellers remain the chief exponents of Puritan democracy; and even their limitations are significant.

They are at bottom individualists, distrusting the state and thinking in terms of safeguards: a character which is part of the Puritan inheritance and shared with the Independents, where, Edition: current; Page: [[99]] however, it is at war with the zeal for making righteousness prevail. Only in the Diggers, who carry over from politics to economics the Levellers’ feeling for justice and equality, is there an unmistakable shift to a philosophy predominantly socialist in character—and it is an idealistic socialism that has more in common with William Morris than with Karl Marx.1 It does not follow, Edition: current; Page: [[100]] however, that the Diggers are better exponents of the democratic ideal than the Levellers. In that ideal individualism has its place, and if history teaches anything it is the permanent necessity of individualism as a corrective. Nor need it issue merely in distrust of the state, as the Areopagitica and the Essay on Liberty remind us. But even at its best, individualism requires to be balanced—not over-balanced—by a sense of the community, the sense that speaks in the noblest of all English definitions of the state: ‘It is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence, of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science, a partnership in all art, . . . in every virtue and in all perfection.’ From no descendant of the Puritans, these words come; but from an Anglican and a conservative, from one for whom the state has not been completely secularized and by whom (with only the safeguards of the historic constitution) it can still be trusted. But that is another story. . . . In the Levellers an individualism which prompts an emphasis on reserves and new safeguards, is in fact balanced by a more limited, but still real, sense of the community. It finds no direct expression in the Agreements of the People and little enough in other pamphlets. But in their belief in the arrival at truth and agreement through free discussion a sense of the community is implied because the individual needs the help of his fellows—or, if not consciously implied, it is inevitably discovered in the process of translating the belief into action. And, unlike Burke’s, it is a sense of the democratic community because it is realized in the experience of the democratic assembly. We have noticed how William Dell, in his Way of True Peace, repudiates the church covenant in favour of a spiritual bond between all believers, achieved in Christ. Here the analogy between the order of nature and the order of grace seems to fail—and does fail. But it is neither irreverent nor fanciful to detect in a sense of the community which cannot be written into constitutions, but can only be experienced, some dim and partial analogy of the spiritual bond.

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At the General Council of Officers1 at Putney, 28th October 1647.

The Officers being met, first said

Lieutenant-General Cromwell:

That the meeting was for public businesses; those that had anything to say concerning the public business, they might have liberty to speak.

Mr. Edward Sexby:

Mr. Allen, Mr. Lockyer, and myself are three. They have sent two soldiers, one of your own regiment and one of Colonel Whalley’s, with two other gentlemen, Mr. Wildman and Mr. Petty.

Commissary-General Ireton [said]:

That he had not the paper of what was done upon all of thea [matters discussed]. It was referred to the committee, that they should consider of the paper that was printed, The Case of the Army Stated,2 and to examine the particulars in it, and to represent and offer something to this Council about it. They are likewise appointed to send for those persons concerned in the paper. The committee met, according to appointment, that night. It was only then resolved on, that there should be some sent in a friendly way (not by command or summons) to invite some of those gentlemen to come in with us, I think.


I was desired by the Lieutenant-General to know the bottom of their desires. They gave us this answer, that they would willingly draw them up and represent them unto you. They are come at this time to tender them to your considerations, with their resolutions to maintain them.

We have been by Providence put upon strange things, such as the ancientest here doth scarce remember. The Army acting to these ends, Providence hath been with us, and yet we have found little [fruit] of our endeavours. The kingdom and Army Edition: current; Page: [2] calls for expedition. And really I think all here, both great and small, both officers and soldiers, we may say we have leaned on,a and gone to Egypt for help. The kingdom’s cause requires expedition, and truly our miseries (with our fellow soldiers’) cry out for present help. I think, at this time, this is your business, and I think it is in all your hearts to relieve the one and satisfy the other. You resolved if anything [reasonable] should be propounded to you, you would join and go along with us.

The cause of our misery [is] upon two things. We sought to satisfy all men, and it was well; but in going [about] to do it we have dissatisfied all men. Web have laboured to please a king, and I think, except we go about to cut all our throats, we shall not please him; and we have gone to support an house which will prove rotten studs1—I mean the Parliament, which consists of a company of rotten members.

And therefore we beseech you that you will take these things into your consideration.

I shall speak to the Lieutenant-General and Commissary-General concerning one thing. Your credits and reputation havec been much blasted, upon these two considerations. The one is for seeking to settle this kingdom in such a way wherein we thought to have satisfied all men, and we have dissatisfied them—I mean in relation to the King. The other is in reference to a Parliamentary authority, which most here would lose their lives for—to seed those powers to which we will subject ourselves, loyally called. These two things are, as I think conscientiously, the cause of all those blemishes that have been cast upon either the one or the other. You are convinced God will have you to act on. But onlye consider how you shall act, and [take] those [ways] that will secure you and the whole kingdom. I desire you will consider those things that shall be offered to you; and, if you see anything of reason, you will join with us, that the kingdom may be eased and our fellow soldiers may be quieted in spirit.f These things I have represented as my thoughts. I desire your pardon.


I think it is good for us to proceed to our business in some order, and that will be if we consider some things that are lately past. There hath been a book printed, called The Case of the Army Stated, and that hath been taken into consideration, and there hath been somewhat drawn up by way of exception to things contained in that book. And I suppose there was an Edition: current; Page: [3] answer brought to that which was taken by way of exception, and yesterday the gentleman that brought the answer, he was dealt honestly and plainly withal, and he was told that there were new designs adriving, and nothing would be a clearer discovery of the sincerity of [their] intentions thana their willingness, that were active, to bring what they had to say to be judged of by the General Officers and by this General Council, that we might discern what the intentions were. Now it seems there be divers that are come hither to manifest those intentions, according to what was offered yesterday; and truly I think that the best way of our proceeding will be to receive what they have to offer. Only this, Mr. Sexby, you were speaking to us two—[I know not why], except you think that we have done somewhat, or acted somewhat, different from the sense and resolution of the General Council. Truly, that that you speak to, was the things that related to the King and things that related to the Parliament; and if there be a fault, I may say it (and I dare say), it hath been the fault of the General Council, and that which you do speak you speak to the General Council, I hope, though you name us two, both in relation to the one and to the other.d Therefore truly I think it sufficient for us to say, and ’tis that we say—I can speak for myself, let others speak for themselves—I dare maintain it, and I dare avow I have acted nothing but what I have done with the public consent and approbation and allowance of the General Council. That I dare say for myself, both in relation to the one and to the other. What I have acted in Parliament in the name of the Council or of the Army, I have had my warrant for it from hence. What I have spokenb in another capacity,c as a member of the House, that was free for me to do; and I am confident that I have not used the name of the Army, or interest of the Army, to anything but what I have had allowance from the General Council for, and [what they] thought it fit to move the House in. I do the rather give you this account, because I hear there are some slanderous reports going up and down upon somewhat that hath been offered to the House of Commons [by me] as being the sense and opinion of this Army, and in the name of this Army, which (I dare be confident to speak it) hath been as false and slanderous a report as could be raised of a man. And that was this: that I should say to the Parliament, and deliver it as the desire of this Army, and the sense of this Army, that there should be a second address to the King by way of propositions. I dare be confident to speak it. What I delivered there I delivered as my own sense, and what I delivered as my own sense I am not Edition: current; Page: [4] ashamed of. What I delivered as your sense, I never delivered but what I had as your sense.

Colonel [Thomas] Rainborough:a

For this the Lieutenant-General was pleased to speak of last, it was moved that day the propositions were brought in. That [day] it was carried for making a second address to the King, it was when both the Lieutenant-General and myself were last here;1 and whenb we broke off here, and when we came upon the bill, it was told us that the House had carried it for a second address. And therefore the Lieutenant-General must needs be clear of it. But it was urged in the House that it was the sense of the Army that it should be so.


I desire not to speak of these things, but only to put things into an orderly way, which would lead to what the occasion is that hath brought these gentlemen hither that are now called in. Yet I cannot but speak a word to that that was last touched upon.

If I had told any man so (which I know I did not), if I did, I did tell him what I thought. And if I thought otherwise of the Army, I protest I should have been ashamed of the Army and detested it; that is, if I had thought the Army had been of that mind [that] they would let those propositions sent from both kingdomsc be the things which should be [final] whether [for] peace or no, without any further offers; and when I do find it, I shall be ashamed on ’t, and detest any days’ condescension with it. And yet for that which, Mr. Sexby tells us, hath been one of the great businesses [cast] upon the Lieutenant-General and myself, I do detest and defy the thought of that thing, of any endeavour or design or purpose or desire to set up the King; and I think I have demonstrated it, and I hope I shall do still, [that] it is the interest of the kingdom that I have suffered for. And as for the Parliament, too, I think those that know the beginnings of these principles that we [set forth] in our declarations of lated for clearing and vindicating the liberties of the people, even in relation to Parliament, will have reason [to acquit me. And] whoever do know how we were led to the declaring of that point, as we have [done], as one [fundamental], will be able to acquit me that I have been far from a design of setting up the persons of these men, or of any men whatsoever, to be our law-makers. And so likewise for the King: though I am clear, as from the other, from setting up the person of one or other, yet I shall declare it again that I do not seek, or would not seek, nor will Edition: current; Page: [5] join with them that do seek, the destruction either of Parliament or King. Neither will I consent with those, or concur with them, who will not attempt all the ways that are possible to preserve both, and to make good use, and the best use that can be, of both for the kingdom. And I did not hear anything from that gentleman (Mr. Sexby) that could induce or incline me to [abandon] that resolution. To that point I stand clear, as I have expressed. But I shall not speak any more concerning myself.

The committee met at my lodgings as soon as they parted from hence. And the first thing they resolved [was this]. On hearing there was a meeting of the Agitators, though it was thought fit by the General Council here [that] they should be sent for to the regiment[s], yet it was thought fit [by the committee] to let them know what the General Council had done, and to go on in a way that might tend to unity; and [this] being resolved on, we were desired by one of those gentlemen that were desired to go, that lest they should mistake the matter they went about, it might be drawn in writing, and this is it:

That the General Council, [&c.]a

This is the substance of what was delivered. Mr. Allen, Mr. Lockyer, and Mr. Sexby were sent with it, and I think it is fit that the Council should be acquainted with the answer.

Mr. William Allen:

As to the answer, it was short—truly I shall give it as short. We gave them the paper, and read it amongst them, and to my best remembrance they then told us that they were not all come together whom it did concern, and so were not in a capacity at the present to return us an answer, but that they would take it into consideration, and would send it as speedily as might be. I think it was near their sense.

(The answer of the Agitators read.1)


Whereas it was appointed by the Council, and we of the committee did accordingly desire, that these gentlemen,b being members of the Army and engaged with the Army, might have come to communicate with the General Council of the Army and those that were appointed by them for a mutual satisfaction: by this paper they seem to be of a fixed resolution—setting themselves to be a divided party or distinct council from the General Council of the Armyc—that there was nothing Edition: current; Page: [6] to be done as single persons to declare their dissatisfaction, or the grounds for informing themselves better or us better, but that they [would speak] as all the rest should concur, so thata they seemed to hold together as a formed and settled party, distinct and divided from others; and withal [they] seemed to set down these resolutions [as things] to which they expect the compliance ofn others, rather than their compliance with others to give satisfaction.

But it seems, upon something that the Lieutenant-General and some others of that committee did think fitb [to offer], the gentlemen that brought that paperc have been since induced to descend a little from the height, andd to send some of them to comee as agents particularly, or messengers from that meeting or from that council, to hear what we have to say to them, or to offer something to us relating to the matters in that paper. I believe there are gentlemen sent with them, that (though perhaps the persons of them that are members of the Army mayf give the passages in)g they may be better able to observe them. And, therefore, if you please, I move that they may proceed.


May it please your Honour: [I desired] to give you satisfaction in that there was such a willingness that we might have a conference. Whereupon I did engage that interest that was in me that I would procure some to come hither, both of the soldiers and of others for assistance. And in order thereunto, here are two soldiers sent from the Agents, and two of our friends also,h to present this to your considerations, and desirei your advice. According toj my expectations and your engagements,k you are resolved every one to purchase our inheritances which have been lost, and free this nation from the tyranny that lies upon us. I question not but that it is all your desires. And for that purpose we desire to do nothing but what we present to your consideration. And if you conceiveg that it must be for us to be instruments, (that we might shelter ourselves like wise men before the storm comes) we desire that all carping upon words might be laid aside, and [that you may] fall directly upon the matter presented to you.

We have [here met on purpose], according to my engagement, that whatsoever may be thought to be necessary for our satisfaction, for the right understanding one of another,m [might be Edition: current; Page: [7] done], that we might go on together. For, though our ends and aims be the same, if one thinks this way, another another way,a that way which is the best for the subject [is] that they [both] may be hearkened unto.

(The answer of the Agitators, the second time read.1)


[For the privileges here demanded], I think it will be strange that we that are soldiers cannot have them [for] ourselves, if not for the whole kingdom; and therefore we beseech you consider of it.


These things that you have now offered, they are new to us: they are things that we have not at all (at least in this method and thus circumstantially) had any opportunity to consider of,b because they came to us but thus, as you see; this is the first time we had a view of them.

Truly this paper does contain in it very great alterations of the very government of the kingdom, alterations from that government that it hath been under, I believe I may almost say, since it was a nation—I say, I think I may almost say so. And what the consequences of such an alteration as this would be, if there were nothing else to be considered, wise men and godly men ought to consider. I say, if there were nothing else [to be considered] but the very weight and nature of the things contained in this paper.c Therefore, although the pretensions in it, and the expressions in it, are very plausible, and if we could leap out of one condition into another that had so specious things in it as this hath, I suppose there would not be much dispute—though perhaps some of these things may be very well disputed.c How do we know if, whilst we are disputing these things, another company of men shall [not] gather together, andd put out a paper as plausible perhaps as this? I do not know why it might not be done by that time you have agreed upon this, or got hands to it if that be the way. And not only another, and another, but many of this kind. And if so, what do you think the consequence of that would be? Would it not be confusion? Would it not be utter confusion? Would it not make England like the Switzerland country, one canton of the Swiss against another, and one Edition: current; Page: [8] county against another? I ask you whether it be not fit for every honest man seriously to lay that upon his heart? And if so, what would that produce but an absolute desolation—an absolute desolation to the nation—and we in the meantime tell the nation: ‘It is for your liberty; ’tis for your privilege; ’tis for your good.’ (Pray God it prove, so whatsoever course we run.) But truly, I think we are not only to consider what the consequences are if there were nothing else but this paper, but we are to consider the probability of the ways and means to accomplish [the thing proposed]: that is to say, whether,a according to reason and judgment, the spirits and temper of the people of this nation are prepared to receive and to go on along with it, and [whether] those great difficulties [that] lie in our way [are] in a likelihood to be either overcome or removed. Truly, to anything that’s good, there’s no doubt on it, objections may be made and framed; but let every honest man consider whether or no there be not very real objections [to this] in point of difficulty.b I know a man may answer all difficulties with faith, and faith will answer all difficulties really where it is, butc we are very apt, all of us, to call that faith, that perhaps may be but carnal imagination, and carnal reasonings. Give me leave to say this. There will be very great mountains in the way of this, if this were the thing in present consideration; and, therefore, we ought to consider the consequences, and God hath given us our reason that we may do this.b It is not enough to propose things that are good in the end,e but suppose this model were an excellent model, and fit for England and the kingdom to receive,f it is our duty as Christians and men to consider consequences, and to consider the way.

But really I shall speak to nothing but that that, as before the Lord I am persuaded in my heart, tends to uniting of us in one, [and] to that that God will manifest to us to be the thing that he would have us prosecute. And he that meets not here with that heart, and dares not say he will stand to that, I think he is a deceiver. I say it to you again, and I profess unto you, I shall offer nothing to you but that I think in my heart and conscience tends to the uniting of us, and to the begetting a right understanding among us; and therefore this is that I would insist upon, and have it cleared among us.

It is not enough for us to insist upon good things. That every one would do. There is not [one in] forty of us butg could prescribe many things exceeding plausible—and hardly anything worse than our present condition, take it with all the troubles that are upon us. It is not enough for us to propose good Edition: current; Page: [9] things, but it behoves honest men and Christians (that really will approve themselves so before God and men) to see whether or no they be in a condition—whether, taking all things into consideration, they may honestly endeavour and attempt that that is fairly and plausibly proposed. For my own part I know nothing that we are to consider first but that, before we would come to debate the evil or good of this [paper], or to add to it or subtract from it. Anda if we should come to any [such] thing,b I am confident (if your hearts be upright as ours are—and God will be judge between you and us) you do not bring this paper with peremptoriness of mind, but to receive amendments, to have anything taken from it that may be madec apparent by clear reason to be inconvenient or unhonest.

But [first of all there is the question what obligations lie upon us and how far we are engaged].d This ought to be our consideration and yours, saving [that] in this you have the advantage of us—you that are the soldiers you have not, but you that are not [soldiers]—you reckon yourselves at a loose and at a liberty, as men that have no obligation upon you. Perhaps we conceive we have; and therefore this is that I may saye—both to those that come with you, and to my fellow officers and all others that hear me: that it concerns us as we would approve ourselves before God, and before men that are able to judge of us, if we do not make good [our] engagements, if we do not make good that that the world expects we should make good. I do not speak to determine what that is; but if I be not much mistaken, we have in the time of our danger issued out declarations; we have been required by the Parliament, because our declarations were general, to declare particularly what we meant. And (having done that) how far that obliges or not obliges [us], that is by us to be considered—if we mean honestly and sincerely and tof approve ourselves to God as honest men. And therefore, having heard this paper read, this remains to us: that we again review what we have engaged in, and what we have that lies upon us.g He that departs from that that is a real engagement and a real tie upon him, I think he transgresses without faith; for faith will bear up men in every honest obligation, and God does expect from men the performance of every honest obligation. And therefore I have no more to say but this: we having received your paper, we shall amongst ourselves consider what to do; and before we take this into consideration, it is fit for us to consider how far we are obliged, and how far we are free; and I hope we shall prove ourselves honest men where we are free to tender anything to Edition: current; Page: [10] the good of the public. And this is that I thought good to offer to you upon this paper.

Mr. [John] Wildman:

Being yesterday at a meeting where divers country gentlemen and soldiers and others were, and amongst the rest the Agents of the five regiments, and having weighed their papers, I must freely confess I did declare my agreement with them. Upon that, they were pleased to declare their sense in most particulars of their proceedings, to me, and desired me that I would be their mouth, and in their namesa represent their sense unto you. And upon that ground I shall speak something in answer to that which your Honour last spake.

I shall not reply anything at present, till it come to be further debated, either concerning the consequences of what is propounded, or [the contents] of this paper; but I conceive the chief weight of your Honour’s speech lay in this, that you were first to consider what obligations lay upon you, and how far you were engaged, before you could consider what was just in this paper now propounded; adding that God would protect men in keeping honest promises. To that I must only offer this. That, according to the best knowledge [I have] of their apprehensions, they do apprehend that whatever obligation is past must afterwards be considered when it is urged whether [the engagement]b were honest andc just or no; and if it were not just it doth not oblige the persons, if it be an oath itself. But if, while there is not so clear a light, any person passes an engagement, it is judged by them (and I so judge it) to be an act of honesty for that man to recede from his former judgment, and to abhor it. And therefore I conceive the first thing is to consider the honesty of what is offered; otherwise it cannot be considered of any obligation that doth prepossess. By the consideration of the justice of what is offered, that obligation shall appear whether it was just or no. If it were not just, I cannot but be confident of the searings of your consciences. And I conceive this to be their sense; and upon this account, upon a more serious review of all declarations past, they see no obligations which are just, that they contradict by proceeding in this way.


Sure this gentleman hath not been acquainted with our engagements. For he that will cry out of breach of engagement in slight and trivial things and things necessitated to—I can hardly think that man that is so tender of an engagement as to frame, or [at least] concur with, this book in their insisting upon Edition: current; Page: [11] every punctilio of [the] Engagement,1 can be of that principle that no engagement is binding further than that he thinks it just or no. For hea hints that,b if he that makes an engagement (be it what it will be) have further light that this engagement was not good or honest, then he is free from it. Truly, if the sense were put thus, that a man finds he hath entered into an engagement and thinks that it was not a just engagement, I confess something might be said that [such] a man might declare himself for his part [ready] to suffer some penaltyc upon his person or upon his party.d The question is, whether it be an engagement to another party. Now if a mani venture into an engagement from him[self] to another, and finde that engagement [not] just and honest, he must apply himself to the other party and say: ‘I cannot actively perform it; I will make you amends as near as I can.’ Upon the same ground men are not obliged [to be obedient] to any authority that is set up, though it were this authority that is proposed here—I am not engaged to be so actively to that authority. Yet if I have engaged that they shall bind me by law, though afterwardsf I find they do require me to a thing that is not just or honest,j I am bound so far to my engagement that I must submit and suffer, though I cannot act and do that which their laws do impose upon me. If that caution were put in where a performance of an engagement might be expected from another, and he could not do it because he thought it was not honest to be performed—if such a thing were put into the case, it is possible there might be some reason for it. But to take it as it is delivered in general, [that we are free to break, if it subsequently appear unjust], whatever engagement we have entered into, though it be a promise of something to another party, wherein that other party is concerned, wherein he hath a benefit if we make it good, wherein he hath a prejudice if weg make it not good: this is a principle that will take away all commonwealth[s], and will take away the fruit of this [very] engagement if it were entered into; and men of this principle would think themselves as little as may be [obliged by any law] if in their apprehensions it be not a good law. I think they would think themselves as little obliged to think of standing to that authority [that is proposed in this paper].

Truly, sir, I have little to say at the present to that matter of the paper that is tendered to us. I confess, there are plausible things in it, and there are things really good in it.h There are those things that I do with my heart desire; and there are those Edition: current; Page: [12] things, for the most part of it, [that]—I shall be so free as to say—if these gentlemen (and other gentlemen that will join with them) can obtain, I would not oppose, I should rejoice to see obtained. There are those things in it, divers [of them]. And if we were, as hath been urged now, free; if we were first free from consideration of all the dangers and miseries that we may bring upon this people, [the danger] that when we go to cry out for the liberty of it we may not leave a being [in it], free from all [those] engagements that do lie upon us, and that were honest when they were entered into: I should concur with this paper further than, as the case doth stand, I can. But truly I do account we are under engagements; and I suppose that whatsoever this gentleman that spoke last doth seem to deliver to us, holding himself absolved from all engagements if he thinks it, yet those men that came with him (that are in the case of the Army) hold themselves more obliged; and therefore that they will not persuade us to lay aside all our former engagements and declarations, if there be anything in them, and to concur in this, if there be anything in it that is contrary to those engagements which they call upon us to confirm. Therefore I do wish that we may have a consideration of our former engagements, of things which are generally the engagements of the Army. Those we are to take notice of; and sure we are not to recede from them till we are convinceda that they are unjust. And when we are convinced of them, that they are unjust, truly yet I must not fully concur with that gentleman’s principle, that presentlyb we are, as he says, absolved from them, that we are not bound to them, or we are not bound to make them good. Yet I should think, at least, if the breach of that engagement be to the prejudice of another whom we have persuaded to believe by our declaring such things, [so] that wec led them to a confidence of it, to a dependence upon it, to a disadvantage to themselves or the losing of advantages to them; [I say, I think then that] though we were convinced they were unjust, and satisfied in this gentleman’s principle, and free and disengaged from them, yet we who made that engagement should not make it our act to break it. Though we were convinced that we are not bound to perform it, yet we should not make it our act to break [it]. And sod I speak to enforce this upon the whole matter.e As forf the particulars of this Agreement, [there are other questions]: whether they have that goodness that they hold forth in show, or whether [there] are not some defects in them which are not seen, [so] that, if we should rest in this Agreement without something more, they wouldg deceive Edition: current; Page: [13] us; and whether there be not some considerations that would tend [more] to union. Buta withal [I wish] that we who are the Army and are engaged with [its] public declarations, may consider how far those public declarations, which we then thought to be just,b do oblige, thatf we may either resolve to make them good if we can in honest ways, or at least not make it our work to break them. And for this purpose I wish—unless the Council please to meet from time to time, from day to day, and to consider it themselves, to go over our papers and declarations and take the heads of them—I wish there may be some specially appointed for it; and I shall be very glad if it may be so that I myself may be none of them.


I shall crave your pardon if I may speak something freely; and I think it will be the last time I shall speak here,1 and from such a way that I never looked for. The consideration that I had in this Army and amongst honest men—not that it is an addition of honour and profit to me, but rather a detriment in both—isc the reason that I speak something by way of apology first. This paper I saw by chance, and had no resolution to have been at this Council, nor any other since I took this employment upon me, but to do my duty. I met with a letter (which truly was so strange to me that I have been a little troubled, and truly I have so many sparks of honour and honesty in me) to let me know that my regiment should be immediately disposed from me. I hope that none in the Army will say but that I have performed my duty, and that with some success, as well as others. I am loath to leave the Army,d with whom I will live and die, insomuch that rather than I will lose this regiment of mine the Parliament shall exclude me the House, [or] imprison me; for truly while I am [employed] abroad I will not be undone at home. This was it that called me hither, and not anything of this paper. But now I shall speak something of it.e

I shall speak my mind, that, whoever he be that hath done this, he hath done it with much respect to the good of his country. It is said, there are many plausible things in it. Truly, many things have engaged me, which, if I had not known they should have been nothing but good, I would not have engaged in. It hath been said, that if a man be engaged he must perform his engagements. I am wholly confident that every honest man is bound in duty to God and his conscience, let him be engaged in Edition: current; Page: [14] what he will, to decline it when [he sees it to be evil]: he is engaged, and [as] clearly convinced, to discharge his duty to God as ever he was for it. And that I shall make good out of the scripture, and clear it by that, if that be anything. There are two [further] objections are made against it.

The one is division. Truly I think we are utterly undone if we divide, but I hope that honest things have carried us on thus long, and will keep us together, and I hope that we shall not divide. Another thing is difficulties. Oh, unhappy men are we that ever began this war! If ever we [had] looked upon difficulties, I do not know that ever we should have looked an enemy in the face. Truly, I think the Parliament were very indiscreet to contest with the King if they did not consider first that they should go through difficulties; and I think there was no man that entered into this war, that did not engage [to go through difficulties]. And I shall humbly offer unto you—it may be the last time I shall offer, it may be so, but I shall discharge my conscience in it—it is this. That truly I think,a let the difficulties be round about you—have you death before you, the sea on each side of you and behind you—[and] are you convinced that the thing is just, I think you are bound in conscience to carry it on; and I think at the last day it can never be answered to God, that you did not do it. For I think it is a poor service to God and the kingdom, to take their pay and to decline the work.b I hear [it] said [that] it’s a huge alteration, it’s a bringing in of new laws, and that this kingdom hath been under this government ever since it was a kingdom. If writings be true there havec been many scufflings between the honest men of England and those that have tyrannized over them; and if it be [true what I have] read, there is none of those just and equitable laws that the people of England are born to, butd are entrenchment[s on the once enjoyed privileges of their rulers] altogether. But [even] if they were those which the people have been always under, if the people find that they are [not] suitable to freemen as they are, I know no reason [that] should deter me, either in what I must answer before God or the world, frome endeavouring by all means to gain anything that might be of more advantage to them than the government under which they live. I do not press that you should go on with this thing, for I think that every man that would speak to it will be less able till he hath some time to consider it. I do make it my motion: That two or three days’ time may be set for every man to consider, and [that] all that is to be considered is the justness of the thing—and if that be considered Edition: current; Page: [15] then all things are—[so] that there may be nothing to deter us from it, but that we may do that which is just to the people.


Truly I am very glad that this gentleman that spoke last is here, and not sorry for the occasion that brought him hither, because it argues we shall enjoy his company longer than I thought we should have done—


If I should not be kicked out—


And truly then, I think, it shall not be long enough. But truly I do not know what the meaning of that expression is, nor what the meaning of any hateful word is here. For we are all here with the same integrity to the public; and perhaps we have all of us done our parts, not affrighted with difficulties, one as well as another, and, I hope, have all purposes henceforward—through the grace of God, not resolving in our own strength—to do so still. And therefore truly I think all the consideration is that. Amongst us we are almost all soldiers; all considerations [of not fearing difficulties], or words of that kind, do wonderfully please us; all words of courage animate us to carry on our business, to do God’s business, that which is the will of God. And I say it again, I do not think that any man here wants courage to do that which becomes an honest man and an Englishman to do. But we speak as men that desire to have the fear of God before our eyes, and men that may not resolve in the power of a fleshly strength to do that which we do, but to lay this as the foundation of all our actions, to do that which is the will of God. And if any man have a false conceita—on the one hand, deceitfulness, [pretending] that which he doth not intend, or a persuasion, on the other hand, [to rely on fleshly strength]—I think he will not prosper.

But to that which was moved by Colonel Rainborough, of the objections of difficulty and danger [and] of the consequences: they are proposed not to any other end, but [as] things fitting consideration, not forged to deter from the consideration of the business.b In the consideration of the thing that is new to us, and of everything that shall be new, that is of such importance as this is, I think that he that wishes the most serious advice to be taken of such a change as this is—so evident and clear [a change]—whoever offers that there may be most serious consideration, I think he does not speak impertinently. And truly it was offered to no other end than what I speak. I shall say no more to that.

But to the other, concerning engagements and breaking of them: I do not think that it was at all offered by anybody, that though an Edition: current; Page: [16] engagement were never so unrighteous it ought to be kept. No man offered a syllable or tittle [to that purpose]. For certainly it’s an act of duty to break an unrighteous engagement; he that keeps it does a double sin, in that he made an unrighteous engagement, and [in] that he goes about to keep it. But this was only offered, that before we can consider of this [paper] (and I know not what can be more fitly [offered]) we labour to know where we are, and where we stand. Perhaps we are upon engagements that we cannot with honesty break. But let me tell you this, that he that speaks to you of engagements here, is as free from engagements to the King as any man in all the world. I know it, anda if it were otherwise, I believe my future actions would provoke some to declare it. But, I thank God, I stand upon the bottom of my own innocence in this particular; through the grace of God I fear not the face of any man, I do not. I say, we are to consider what engagements we have made; and if our engagements have been unrighteous, why should we not make it our endeavours to break them? Yet if [they be] unrighteous engagements it is not [wise to hasten] a present breach of them unless there be a consideration of circumstances. Circumstances may be such as I may not now break an unrighteous engagements, or else I may do that which I dob scandalously, [even] if the thing [itself] be good. But if that be true concerning the breaking of an unrighteous engagement, it is much more verified concerningc engagements disputabled whether they be righteous or unrighteous. If so, I am sure it is fit we should dispute [them], and if, when we have disputed them, we see the goodness of God enlightening us to see our liberties, I think we are to do what we can to give satisfaction to men.e If it were so, [it ought to appear that] as we made an engagement in judgment and knowledge, so we go off from it in judgment and knowledge. But there may be just engagements upon us, such as perhaps it will be our duty to keep; and if so, it is fit we should consider. And all that I said [was] that we should consider our engagements, and there is nothing else offered, and therefore what need [that] anybody be angry or offended? Perhaps we have made such engagements as may in the matter of them not bind us; [yet] in some circumstances they may. Our engagements are public engagements. They are to the kingdom, and to every one in the kingdom that could look upon what we did publicly declare, could read or hear it read. They are to the Parliament. And it is a very fitting thing that we do seriously consider of the things. Andf this is what I shall shortly offer. That because the kingdom is in the Edition: current; Page: [17] danger it is in, because the kingdom is in that condition it is in, and time may be ill spent in debates, and it is necessary for things to be put to an issue (if ever it was necessary in the world it is now), I should desire this may be done. That this General Council may be appointed [to meet] against a very short time, two days—Thursday—if you would against Saturday, or at furthest against Monday; that there might be a committee out of this Council appointed to debate and consider with those two gentlemen, and with any others that are not of the Army, that they shall bring, and with the Agitators of those five regiments; that so there may be a liberal and free debate had amongst us, that we may understand really, as before God, the bottom of our desires, and that we may seek God together, and see if God will give us an uniting spirit.

And give me leave to tell it you again, I am confident there sits not a man in this place that cannot so freely act with you [that], if he sees that God hath shut up his way that he cannot do any service in that way as may be good for the kingdom,a he will be glad to withdraw himself, and wish you all prosperity. And if this heart be in us, as is known to God that searches our hearts and trieth the reins, God will discover whether our hearts be not clear in this business. And therefore I shall move that we may have a committee amongst ourselves [to consider] of the engagements, and this committee to dispute things with others, and a short day [to be appointed] for the General Council. And I doubt not but, if in sincerity we are willing to submit to that light that God shall cast in among us, God will unite us, and make us of one heart and one mind.b Do the plausiblest things you can do, do that which hath the most appearance of reason in it, that tends to change: at this conjuncture of time you will find difficulties. But if God satisfy our spirits this will be a ground of confidence to every good man; and he that goes upon other grounds, he shall fall like a beast. I shall desire this: that you, or any other of the Agitators or gentlemen that can be here, will be here, that we may have free discourses amongst ourselves of things, and you will be able to satisfy each other. And really, rather than I would have this kingdom break in pieces before some company of men be united together to a settlement, I will withdraw myself from the Army to-morrow, and lay down my commission. I will perish before I hinder it.

Bedfordshire Man:1

May it please your Honour: I was desired by some of the Agents to accompany this paper,c having Edition: current; Page: [18] manifesteda my approbation of it after I had heard it read several times. And they desired that it might be offered to this Council, for the concurrence of the Council if it might be.f I find that the engagements of the Army are at present the thingse which is insisted to be considered. I confess my ignorance in those engagements; but I apprehend, at least I hope, that those engagements have given away nothing from the people that is the people’s right. It may be they have promised the King his right, or any other persons their right, but no more. If they have promised more than their right to any person or persons, and have given away anything from the people that is their right, then I conceive they are unjust. And if they are unjust [they should be broken], though I confess for my own part I am very tender of breaking an engagement when it concerns a particular person—I think that a particular person ought rather to set down and lose than to break an engagement. But if any menb have given away anything from another whose right it wasf to one or more whose right it was not, I conceive these men may [break that engagement]—at least many of them think themselves bound not only to break this engagement, but to [re]place [it with another] to give every one his due. I conceive that for the substance of the paper, it is the people’s due. And for the change of the government, which is so dangerous, I apprehend that there may be many dangers in it, and truly I apprehend there may be more dangers without it. For I conceive, if you keep the government as it is and bring in the King, there may be more dangers than in changing the government. But however, because (from those things that I heard of the Agents) they conceive that this conjuncture of time may almost destroy them, they have taken upon them a liberty of acting to higher things, as they hope, for the freedom of the nation, than yet this General Council have acted to. And therefore, as theirc sense is,d I must make this motion. That all those that upon a due consideration of the thing do find it to be just and honest, and do find that if they have engaged anything to the contrary of this it is unjust and giving away the people’s rights, I desire that they may, and all others [may], have a free liberty of acting to anything in this nature, or any other nature, that may be for the people’s good, by petitioning or otherwise; whereby the fundamentals for a well-ordered government [and] for the people’s rights may be established. And I shall desire that those that conceive them[selves] bound up would desist, and satisfy themselves in that, and be no hindrances in that to hinder the people in a more perfect way than hath been [yet] endeavoured.

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Captain [Lewis] Audley:a

I suppose you have not thought fit, that there should be a dispute concerning thingsb at this time.c I desire that other things may be taken into consideration, delays and debates. Delays have undone us, and it must be a great expedition that must further us; and therefore I desire that there may be a committee appointed.

Lieutenant-Colonel [William] Goffe:

I shall but humbly take the boldness to put you in mind of one thing which you moved enow. The motion is, that there might be a seeking of God in the things that now lie before us.

I shall humbly desire that that motion may not die. It may be that there ared some particular opinions among us concerning the use of ordinances and of public seeking of God. No doubt formse have been rested upon too much; but yet since there are so many of us that have had so many and so large experiences of an extraordinary manifestation of God’s presence when we have been in such extraordinary ways met together, I shall desire that those who are that way [moved] will take the present opportunity to do it. For certainly those things that are now presentedf are well accepted by most of us,g though I am not prepared to say anything either consenting or dissenting to the paper, as not thinking it wisdom to answer a matter before I have considered. Yet [I am troubled] when I do consider how much ground there is to conceive there hath been a withdrawing of the presence of God from us that have met in this placeh—I do not say a total withdrawing; I hope God is with us and amongst us. It hath been our trouble night and day, that God hath not been with us as formerly, as many within us, so without us, [have told us], men that were sent from God in an extraordinary manner to us. I mean [that though] the ministers may take too much upon them, yet there have been those that have preached to us in this place, [in] several places, we know very well that they spake to our hearts and consciences, and told us of our wanderings from God, and told us in the name of the Lord that God would be with us no longer than we were with him. We have in some things wandered from God, and as we have heard this from them in this place, so have we had it very frequently pressed upon our spirits [elsewhere], pressed upon us in the City and the country. I speak this to this end, that our hearts may be deeply and thoroughly affected with this matter. For if God be departed from us, he is somewhere else. If we have not the will of God in these counsels, God may be found among some other counsels. Edition: current; Page: [20] Therefore, I say, let us show the spirit of Christians, and let us not be ashamed to declare to all the world that our counsels and our wisdom and our ways, they are not altogether such as the world hath walked in; but that we have had a dependency upon God, and that our desires are to follow God, though never so much to our disadvantage in the world if God may have the glory by it.

And, I pray, let us consider this: God does seem evidently to be throwing down the glory of all flesh. The greatest powers in the kingdom have been shaken. God hath thrown down the glory of the King and that party; he hath thrown down a party in the City. I do not say that God will throw us down—I hope better things—but he will have the glory. Let us not stand upon our glory and reputation in the world. If we have done some things through ignorance or fear or unbelief, in the day of our straits, and could not give God that glory by believing as we ought to have done,a I hope God hath a way for to humble us for that, and to keep us as instruments in his hand still. There are two ways that God doth take upon those that walk obstinately against him: if they be obstinate and continue obstinate, he breaks them in pieces with a rod of iron; if they be his people and wander from him, he takes that glory from them and takes it to himself. (I speak it, I hope, from a divine impression.) If we wouldb continue to be instruments in his hand, let us seriously set ourselves before the Lord, and seek to him and wait upon him for conviction of spirits. It is not enough for us to say, ‘If we have offended we will leave the world, we will go and confess to the Lord what we have done amiss, but we will do no more so.’ Aaron went up to Hor and died; and Moses was favoured to see the land of Canaan—he did not voluntarily lay himself aside. I hope our strayings from God are not so great but that a conversion and true humiliation may recover us again; and I desire that we may be serious in this, and not despise any other instruments that God will use. God will have his work done; it may be, we think we are the only instruments that God hath in his hands. I shall only add these two things. First,c that we [should] be wary how we let forth anything against his people, and that which is for the whole kingdom and nation. I would move that we may not let our spirits act too freely against them till we have thoroughly weighed the matter, and considered our own ways too.a The second is, to draw us up to a serious consideration of the weightiness of the work that lies before us, and seriously to set ourselves to seek the Lord; and I wish it might Edition: current; Page: [21] be considered of a way and manner that it should be conveniently done, and I think to-morrow will be the [best] day.


I know not what [hour] Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe means for to-morrow, for the time of seeking God. I think it will be requisite that we do it speedily, and do it the first thing, and that we do it as unitedly as we can, as many of us as well may meet together. I think it would be good that to-morrow morning may be spent in prayer, and the afternoon might be the time of our business. I do not know whethera these gentlemen do assent to it, that to-morrow in the afternoon might be the time?b For my part I shall lay aside all business for this business, either to convince or be convinced as God shall please.c


I think we have a great deal of business to do, and we have been doing of it these ten weeks. I say, go about what you will, for my part I shall not think anything can prosper unless God be first [publicly] sought.d It is an ordinance that God hath blessed to this end.e


If that be approved of, that to-morrow [morning] shall be a time of seeking the Lord, and that the afternoon shall be the time of business, if that doth agree with your opinion and [the] general sense, let that be first ordered.


That which Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe offered hath [made] a very great impression upon me; and indeed I must acknowledge to God, [and] tog him, that as he hath several times spoke in this place (and elsewhere) to this purpose, he hath never spoke but he hath touched my heart; and that especially in the point [of] that one thing that he hints.h In the time of our straits and difficulties, I think we none of us—I fear we none of us—I am sure I have not—walked so closely with God, and kept so close with him, [as] to trust wholly upon him, as not to be led too much with considerations of danger and difficulty, and from that consideration to waive some things, and perhaps to do some things that otherwise I should not have thought fit to have done.i Every one hath a spirit within him—especially [he] who has that communion indeed with that Spirit that is the only searcher of hearts—that can best search out and discover to him the errors of his own ways and of the workings of his own heart. And though I think that public actings [are necessary in relation to] public departings from God, [which] are the fruits of unbelief Edition: current; Page: [22] and distrust, and not honouring Goda by sanctifying himb in our ways,c and [though], if there be any such thing in the Army, that is to be looked upon with a public eye in relation to the Army;d [yet] they do more publicly engage God to vindicate his honour by a departing from them, that do so. But I think the main thing is for every one to wait upon God, for the errors, deceits, and weaknesses of his own heart; and I pray God to be present with us in that. But withal I would not have that seasonable and good motion that hath come from Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe to be neglected, of a public seeking of God, and seeking to God, as for other things so especially for the discovery of any public deserting of God, or dishonouring of him, or declining from him, that does lie as the fault and blemish upon the Army.e Therefore I wish his motion may be pursued, that the thing may be done, and for point of time as was moved by him.e Only this to the way. I confess I think the best [way] is this, that it may be only taken notice of as a thing by the agreement of this Council resolved on, that to-morrow in the morning, the forenoon we do set apart, we do give up from other business, for every man to give himself up that wayf in private by himself [if he so chooses]—though not in public,g I cannot say. For the public meeting at the church, it were not amiss that it may be thus taken notice of as a time given from other employments for that purpose, andh every one as God shall incline their hearts,e some in one place, and some another, to employ themselves that way.1

(Agreed for the meeting for prayer to be at Mr. Chamberlain’s.)

Cromwell [urged]:

That they should not meet as two contrary parties, but as some desirous to satisfy or convince each other.

Mr. [Maximilian] Petty:

For my own part, I have done as to this business what was desired by the Agents that sent me hither. As for any further meeting to-morrow, or any other time, I cannot meet upon the same ground, to meet as for their sense, [but only] to give my own reason why I do assent to it.

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I should be sorry that they should be so sudden to stand upon themselves.


To procure three, four, or five (more or less) to meet, for my own part I am utterly unconcerned in the business.


I have hereat this day answered the expectations which I engaged to your Honours; which was, that if we would give a meeting you should take that as a symptom, or a remarkable testimony, of our fidelity. I have discharged that trust reposed in me. I could not [absolutely] engage for them. I shall go on still in that method: I shall engage my deepest interest, for any reasonable desires, to engage them to come to this.


I hope we know God better than to make appearances of religious meetings covers for designs or for insinuation amongst you. I desire that God, that hath given us some sincerity, will own us according to his own goodness and that sincerity that he hath given us. I dare be confident to speak it, that [design] that hath been amongst us hitherto is to seek the guidance of God, and to recover that presence of God that seems to withdraw from us. And to accomplish that work which may be for the good of the kingdom is our end. Buta it seems as much to us in this as anything, we are not all of a mind.b And for our parts we do not desire or offer you to be with us in our seeking of God further than your own satisfactions lead you, but only [that] against to-morrow in the afternoon (which will be designed for the consideration of these businesses with you) you will do what you may to have so many as you shall think fit, to see what God will direct you to say to us, that whilst we are going one way, and you another, we be not both destroyed. This requires [guidance from the] Spirit. It may be too soon to say it, [yet ’t]is my present apprehension: I had rather we should devolve our strength to you than that the kingdom for our division should suffer loss. For that’s in all our hearts, to profess above anything that’s worldly, the public good of the people; and if that be in our hearts truly and nakedly, I am confident it is a principle that will stand. Perhaps God may unite us and carry us both one way. And therefore I do desire you, that against tomorrow in the afternoon, if you judge it meet, you will come to us to the Quartermaster-General’s quarters—where you will find us [at prayer] if you will come timely to join with us; at your liberty, if afterwards to speak with us.c There you will find us.

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I desire to return a little to the business in hand, that was the occasion of these other motions. I could not but take some notice of something that did reflect upon the Agents of the five regiments, in which I could not but give a little satisfaction [as] to them; and I shall desire to prosecute a motion or two that hath been already made. I observed that it was said,a that these gentlemen do insist upon engagements in The Case of the Army,b and therefore it was saidc to be contrary to the principles of the Agents, that an engagement which was unjust couldd lawfully be broken.e I shall only observe this: that though an unjust engagement, when it appears unjust, may be broken; yet when two parties engage [each that] the other party may have satisfaction,j because they are mutually engaged each to other one party that apprehends they are broken [is justified] to complain of them; and so it may be their case, with which, I confess, I made my concurrence.

The other [thing I would mention] is a principle much spreading, and much to my trouble, and that is this: that when persons once be engaged, though the engagement appear to be unjust, yet the person must sit down and suffer under it; and that therefore, in case a Parliament, as a true Parliament, doth anything unjustly, if we be engaged to submit to the laws that they shall make, thoughf they make an unjust law, though they make an unrighteous law, yet we must swear obedience. I confess, to me this principleg is very dangerous, and I speak it the rather because I see it spreading abroad in the Army again—whereas it is contrary to what the Army first declared: that they stood upon such principles of right and freedom, and the Laws of Nature and Nations, whereby men were to preserve themselves though the persons to whomh authority belonged should fail in it; and they urged the example of the Scots, and [argued that] the general that would destroy the army, they might hold his hands; and therefore if anything tends to the destruction of a people, because the thing is absolutely unjust thati tends to their destruction, [they may preserve themselves by opposing it].1 I could not but speak a word to that.

The motion that I should make upon that account is this. That whereas [it is said] there must be a meeting [to examine differences and promote union], I could not find [but] that they were desirous to give all satisfaction, and they desire nothing but the union of the Army. Thus far it is their sense. [But they Edition: current; Page: [25] apprehend] that the necessity of the kingdom is such for present actings, that two or three days may lose the kingdom. I desire in the sight of God to speak—I mean plainly: there may be an agreement between the King [and the Parliament] by propositions, with a power to hinder the making of any laws that are good, and the tendering of any good [laws].a And therefore,b because none of the people’s grievances are redressed,c they do apprehend that thus a few days may be the loss of the kingdom. I know it is their sense: that they desire to be excused, that it might not be thought any arrogancy in them, but they are clearly satisfied that the way they proceed in is just, and [they] desire to be excused if they go on in it; and yet, notwithstanding, [they] will give all satisfaction. And whereas it is desired that engagements may be considered, I shall desire that only the justice of the thing that is proposed may be considered. [I would know] whether the chief thing in the Agreement,1 the intent of it, be not this, to secure the rights of the people in their Parliaments, which was declared by this Army, in the declaration of the fourteenth of June, to be absolutely insisted on. I shall make that motion to be the thing considered: Whether the thing be just, or the people’s due? And then there can be no engagement to bind from it.


Truly, sir, by what Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe moved, I confess, I was so taken off from all [other] thoughts in this business that I did not think of speaking anything more. But what this gentleman hath last said hath renewed the occasion, and indeedd if I did thinke all that he hath delivered [to] be truth and innocence—any, if I did not think that it hath venom and poison in it.—I would not speak it.

First, I cannot but speak something unto the two particulars that he holds forth as dangerous things—indeed he hath clearly yoked them together, when before I was sensible of those principles and how far they would run together; that is that principle of not being obliged, by not regardingf what engagements men have entered into, ifg in their future apprehensionsh the things they engaged to are unjust; and that principle, on the other hand, of not submitting passively to that authority we have engaged to for peace’ sake. For he does hold forth his opinion in those two points to clear their way; and I must crave leave on my part to declare [that] my opinion of thati distinction doth lie on the other way.

I am far from holding that if a man have engaged himself to a Edition: current; Page: [26] thing that is not just—to a thing that is evil, that is sin if he do it—that that man is still bound to perform what he hath promised; I am far from apprehending that. But when we talk of just, it is not so much of what is sinful before God (which depends upon many circumstances of indignation to that man and the like), but it intends of that which is just according to the foundation of justice between man and man.a And for my part I account that the great foundation of justice,b [that we should keep covenant one with another]; without which I know nothing of [justice]c betwixt man and mand—[in] particular matters I mean, nothing in particular things that can come under human engagement one way or other.e There is no other foundation of right I know, of right to [any] one thing from another man, no foundation of that [particular] justice or that [particular] righteousness, but this general justice, and this general ground of righteousness, that we should keep covenant one with another.f Covenants freely made, freely entered into, must be kept one with another. Take away that, I do not know what ground there is of anything you can call any man’s right. I would very fain know what you gentlemen, or any other, do account the right you have to anything in England—anything of estate, land or goods, that you have, what ground, what right you have to it. What right hath any man to anything if you lay not [down] that principle, that we are to keep covenant? If you will resort only to the Law of Nature, by the Law of Nature you have no more right to this land, or anything else, than I have. I have as much right to take hold of anything that is for my sustenance, [to] take hold of anything that I have a desire to for my satisfaction, as you. But here comes the foundation of all right that I understandg to beh betwixt men, as to the enjoying of one thing or not enjoying of it: we are under a contract, we are under an agreement, and that agreement is what a man has for matter of landi that hej hath received by a traduction from his ancestors, which according to the law does fall upon him to be his right. That [agreement is] that he shall enjoy, he shall have the property of, the use of, the disposing of [the land], withk submission to that general authority which is agreed upon amongst us for the preserving of peace, and for the supporting of this law. This I take to be [the foundation of all right] for matter of land. For matter of goods, that which does fence me from that [right] which another man may claim by the Law of Nature, of taking my goods, that which makes it mine really and civilly, is the law. That which makes it unlawful originally and radically is only this: because that man is in Edition: current; Page: [27] covenant with me to live together in peace one with another, and not to meddle with that which another is possessed of, but that each of us should enjoy, and make use of, and dispose of, that which by the course of law is in his possession, and [another] shall not by violence take it away from him. This is the foundation of all the right any man has to anything but to his own person. This is the general thing: that we must keep covenant one with another when we have contracted one with another.a And if any difference arise among us, it shall be thus and thus: that I shall not go with violence to prejudice another, but with submission to this way. And therefore when I hear men speak of laying aside all engagements to [consider only] that wild or vast notion of what in every man’s conception is just or unjust, I am afraid and do tremble at the boundless and endless consequences of it. What [are the principles] you apply to this paper? You say,b ‘If these things in this paper, in this engagement, be just, then’—say you—‘never talk of any [prior] engagement, for if anything in that engagement be against this, your engagement was unlawful;c consider singly this paper, whether it be just.’d In what sense do you think this is just? There is a great deal of equivocation [as to] what is just and unjust.


I suppose you take away the substance of the question. Oure [sense] was, that an unjust engagement is rather to be broken than kept. The Agents think that to delay is to dispose their enemy into such a capacity as he may destroy them.f I make a question whether any engagement can be [binding] to an unjust thing. [If] a man may promise to do that which is never so much unjust, a man may promise to break all engagements and duties. But [I say] this: we must lay aside the consideration of engagements, so as not to take in that as one ground of what is just or unjust amongst men in this case. I do apply this to the case in hand: that it might be considered whether it be unjust to bring in the King in such a way as he may be in a capacity to destroy the people. This paper may be applied to [the solution of] it.


You come to it more particularly than that paper leads. There is a great deal of equivocation (and that I am bound to declare) in the point of justice.


Mr. Wildman says,g if we tarry long,h if we stay but three days before you satisfy one another, the King will come and say who will be hanged first.

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Sir, I was saying this: we shall much deceive ourselves, and be apt to deceive others, if we do not consider that there area two parts of justice. There may be a thing just that is negatively [so], it is not unjust, not unlawful—that which is not unlawful, that’s just to me to do if I be free. Again, there is another sense of just when we account such a thing to be a duty—not only a thing lawful, ‘web may do it,’ but it’s a duty, ‘you ought to do it.’ And there is a great deal of mistake if you confound these two. If I engage myself to a thing that was in this sense just, that’s a thing lawful for me to do supposing me free, then I account my engagement stands good to this. On the other hand, if I engage myself against a thing which was a duty for me to do, which I was bound to do, or if I engaged myself to a thing which was not lawful for me to do, which I was bound not to do: in this sense I do account this [engagement] unjust. If I do engage myself to what was unlawful for me to engage to, I think I am not then to make good actively this engagement. But though this be true, yet the general end and equity of engagements I must regard, and that is the preserving right betwixt men, the not doing of wrong or hurt byc men, one to another. And therefore if [in] that which I engage to, though the thing be unlawful for me to do, [yet] another man be prejudiced [by my not doing it, I may not merely renounce my engagement]. Though it be a thing which was not lawfuld for me to do, yet I did freely [engage to do it], and I did [engage] upon a consideration to me; and that man did believe me, and he suffered a prejudice by believing in case I did not perform it: [then], though Ie be not bound by my engagement to perform it,f yet I am [bound] to regard that justice that lies in the matter of engagement, so as to repair that man by some just way as far as I can. And he that doth not hold this, I doubt whether he hath any principle of justice, or doing right to any, at all in him. That is: [if] he that did not think it lawful hath made another man believe it to his [possible] prejudice and hurt, and another man be [actually] prejudiced and hurt by that, he that does not hold that he is in this case to repair [it] to that man, and free him from [the prejudice of] it, I conceive there is no justice in him. And therefore I wish we may take notice of this distinction when we talk of being bound to make good [our] engagements, or not.

This I think I can make good in a larger dispute by reason. If the things engaged to were lawful to be done, or lawful for me to engage to, then [I] by my engagement amg bound to [perform] it. On the other hand, if the thing were not lawful for me to Edition: current; Page: [29] engage, or [if it were] a duty for me to have done to the contrary, then I am not bound positively and actively to perform it. Nay, I am bound not to perform it, because it was unlawful [and] unjust by another engagement. But when I engage to another man, and he hath a prejudice by believing,a I not performing it, I am bound to repair that man as much as may be, and let the prejudice fall upon myself and not upon any other. This I desire we may take notice of, on that part, to avoid fallacy. For there is [an] extremityb to say, on the one hand, that if a man engage what is not just he may act against it so as to regard no relation or prejudice; [as] there’s an extremityc for a man to say, on the other hand, that whatsoever you engage, though it be never so unjust, you are to stand to it.

One word more to the other part which Mr. Wildman doth hold out as a dangerous principle acting amongst us, that we must be bound to active obedience to any power acting amongst men—

Wildman [interrupting]:

You repeat not the principle right—‘To think that we are bound so absolutely to personal obedience to any magistrates or personal authority, that if they work to our destruction we may not oppose them.’


That we may not deceive ourselves again [by arguments] that are fallacious in that kind, I am a little affected to speak in this, because I see that, [in] those things the Army hath declared, the abuse and misapplication of them hath led many men into a great and dangerous error and destructive to all human society. Because the Army hath declared, in those cases where the foundation of all that right and liberty of the people is (if they have any),d that in these casese they will insist upon that right, and that they will not suffer that original and fundamental right to be taken away, and because the Army, when there hath been a command of that supreme authority, the Parliament, have not obeyed it, but stood upon it to have this fundamental right settled first, and [have] required a rectification of the supreme authority of the kingdom—therefore, for a man to infer [that] upon any particular [issue] you may dispute that authority by what is commanded, whetherf [it] is just or unjust, [this would be the end of all government]. If in your apprehension [it is unjust, you are] not to obey (and so far it is well); and if it tend to your loss, [it is no doubt unjust, and you are] to oppose it!

Wildman [interrupting]:

If it tend to my destruction—that was the word I spoke.

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Let us take heed that we do not maintain this principle [till it] leads to destruction. If the case were so visible as those cases the Army speaks of, of a general’s turning the cannon against the army, the bulk and body of the army, or [of] a pilot that sees a rock [and] does by the advantage of the stern1 put the ship upon’t; if you could propose cases as evident as these are, there is no man but would agree with you.2 But when men will first put in those terms of destruction, they will imagine anything a destruction if there could be anything better [for them]; and so it is very easy and demonstrable that things are counted so abhorred and destructive, whena at the utmostb a man should make it out by reason, that men would be in a better condition if it be not done, than if it be done. And though I cannot but subscribe to [it], that in such a visible way I may hold the hands of those that are in authority as I may the hands of a madman; yetc that no man shall think himself [bound] to acquiesce particularly, and to suffer for quietness’ sake, rather than to make a disturbance (or to raise a power, if he can, to make a disturbance) in the state—I do apprehend and appeal to all men whether there be not more folly or destructiveness in the spring of that principle than there can be in that other principle of holding passive obedience. Now whatsoever we have declared in the Army [declarations], it is no more but this. The Parliament hath commanded us [to do] this; we have said, no. First we have insisted upon [the] fundamental rights of the people. We have said, we desire [first] to have the constitution of the supreme authority of this kingdom reduced to that constitution which is due to the people of this kingdom, and, reducing the authority to this, we will submit to it, we will acquiesce, we will cast our share into this common bottom; and if it go ill with us at one time, it will go well at another.3 The reducing of the supreme authority to that constitution, by successived election, as near as may be,e we have insisted upon as an essential right of the kingdom; and no man can accuse the Army of disobedience, or holding forth a principle of disobedience, upon any other ground.


Let me speak a word to this business. We are now upon that business which we spake of consulting with God Edition: current; Page: [31] about,a and therefore for us to dispute the merit of those things, I judge it altogether unseasonable unless you will make it the subject of debate before you consider it among yourselves. The business of the Engagement lies upon us. They [claim that they] are free in a double respect: they made none; and if they did, then the way out is now, and [it is a way] which all the members of the Army, except they be sensible of it, [may take], and, at one jump, jump out of all [engagements]. And it is a very great jump, I will assure you. As we profess we intend to seek the Lord in the thing, the less we speak in it [now] the better, and the more we cast ourselves upon God the better.

I shall only speak two things to Mr. Wildman in order to our meeting. Methought he said, if there be delay he fears this business will be determined, the propositions will be sent from the Parliament, and the Parliament and King agree, and so those gentlemen that were in that mind to go on in their way, will be cut off in point of time to their own disadvantage. And the other thing he said was that these gentlemen who have chosen Mr. Wildman, and that other gentleman,1 to be their mouth at this meeting to deliver their minds, they are, upon the matter, engaged byb what they have resolved upon, and they come as engaged men upon their own resolution. If that be so, I think there neither needs consideration of the former [nor the latter]. For you will not be anticipated. If that be so, you [can] work accordingly. And though you meet us, yet, having that resolution in your way, you cannot be prevented by any proposition, or any such thing; [even] though we should have come hither [with propositions] and we should [not] meet to-morrow as a company of men that really would be guided by God.

[But] if any come to us to-morrow only to instruct us and teach us,c I refer to every sober-spirited man to think ofd and determine how far that will consist with the liberty of a free deliberatione or an end of satisfaction. I think it is such a pre-engagement that there is no need of talk of the thing. And I see then, if that be so, things are in such an irrevocable way—I will not call it desperate—as there is no hope of accommodation or union, except we receive the counsels—I will not call it the commands—of them that come to us. I desire that we may rightly understand this thing. If this be so, I do not understand what the end of the meeting will be. If this be not so, wef will [not] draw any meng from their engagements further than the light of God shall draw them from their engagements; and I Edition: current; Page: [32] think, according to your own principle, if you be upon any engagement you are liable to be convinced—unless you be infallible. If we may come to an honest and single debate, how we may all agree in one common way for public good; if we [may] meet so, we shall meet with a great deal the more comfort, and hopes of a good and happy issue, and understanding of the business. But if otherwise, I despair of the meeting; or at least I would have the meeting to be of another notion, a meeting that did represent the Agitators of five regiments to give rules to the Council of War. If it signify this, for my own part I shall be glad to submit to it under this notion. If it be a free debate what may be fit for us all to do, with clearness and openness before the Lord, and in that sincerity, let us understand [it], that we may come and meet so. Otherwise, I do verily believe, we shall meet with prejudice, and we shall meet to prejudice—really to the prejudice of the kingdom, and of the whole Army—if we be thusa absolutely resolved upon our way and engaged beforehand. The kingdom will see it is such a real actual division as admits of no reconciliation, and all those that are enemies to us, and friends to our enemies, will have the clearer advantage upon us to put us into inconveniency. And I desire if there be any fear of God among us, I desire that we may declare ourselves freely, that we do meet upon these terms.


I wish that the motion of Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe might have taken effect, not only to the time and place for meeting, [but without further preliminary] as he desired. But, sir, since it is gone thus far, and since I hear much of fallacy talked of, I fear it as much on the one side as the other.h It is made ab wonder of, that some gentlemen without should have principlesc to break engagements, yet [no wonder of], that some gentlemen within should so much insist upon engagements. I do not consider myself as jumping, but yet I hope when I leap I shall take so much of God with me, and so much of just and right with me, as I shall jump sure. But I am more unsatisfied against [another of] those things that have been said, and that is as to another engagement. For all that hath been said hath been [as to engagements] between party and party: if two men should make an agreement and the like, and there were no living one withd another if those engagements were not made [good]. Yet I think under favour that some engagements may be broke. No mane takes a wife but there is an engagement,f and I think that a man ought to keep it;g yet if another man that had married her Edition: current; Page: [33] before claims her, he ought to let him have her and so break the engagement. Buta whereas it is toldb [us that] this engagement is of another nature, that the party to whom we make the engagement relied upon [it], and becomes thereby prejudiced, [and so] we ought to take it rather upon ourselves than to leave it upon them—this may serve in a particular case: if any menc here will suffer they may. But if we will make ourselves a third party, and engage between King and Parliament, [it is not a particular case], and I am of that gentleman’s mind that spoke: the King’s party would have been about our ears if we had not made some concessionsd as concerning them.e Here is the consideration now: do we not engage for the Parliament and for the liberties of the people of England, and do we not engage againstf the King’s party?g We have got the better of them in the field, but they shall be masters of our houses. Never wereh engagements broken more than [as] we do [break them]. We did take up armsi with all that took part with the Parliament, and we engaged with them; [but now we are to be engaged to bring the King in]. For my part, it may be thought that I am against the King; I am against him or any power that would destroy God’s people, and I will never be destroyed till I cannot help myself. Is itj not an argument, if a pilot run his ship upon a rock, or [if] a general mount his cannon against his army, he is to be resisted? I thinkk that this [is] as clear[ly] the very case as anything in the world. For clearly the King and his party could not have come in upon those terms that he is [to] come in [on], if this very Army did not engage for him; and I verily think that the House had not made another address, if it had not been said that it was the desire of the Army and the Army were engaged to it.i Therefore, I say, I hope men will have charitable opinions of other men. For my part, I think I shall never do anything against conscience, and I shall have those hopes of others. That which is dear unto me is my freedom. It is that I would enjoy, and I will enjoy if I can. For my own part, I hope there is no such distance betwixt these gentlemen [and you] as is imagined, but they will hear reason that may convince them out of it. I do verily believe they are so far from a disunion that they will be advised by this Council in general, or by any honest man of this Council in particular. I have not the same apprehensions that two or three days will undo us, but I think a very little delay will undo us; and therefore I should only desire—it may be because I have spoken some other may answer me—the less we speak, it may be the better. And as this Agitator, whom I never saw before, saysl that he will Edition: current; Page: [34] use his interest, I hope that God will do something in that for our next meeting to-morrow, that when we do meet we shall have a very happy union.

Buff-Coat [said]:

That he could break engagements in case they [were] proved unjust, and that it might [so] appeara to his conscience.b Whatsoever hopes or obligations I should be bound unto, if afterwards God should reveal himself, I would break it speedily, if it were an hundred a day; and in that sense we delivered our sense.

Wildman [amending]:

Provided that what is done tends to destruction, either [to] self-destruction or to [the destruction of] my neighbour especially. Unlawful engagements [are] engagements against duty, and an engagement to any person to bring him in [in] such a way as he may be enabled to engage [us to his further designs], it is that which may tend to destruction.


I thinkc you were understood to put it upon an issue where there is clearly a case of destruction, public destruction and ruin. And I think this will bring it into consideration whether or no our engagements have really in them that that hath public destruction and ruin necessarily following; or whether or no we may not give too much way to our own doubts and fears. And whether it be lawful to break a covenant upon our own doubts and fears, will be the issue. And I think [it best] if we agree to defer the debate, [and] to nominate a committee.


One word. I am of another opinion. Not that the engagements of the Army are looked upon as destructive, but the not-performance of the engagements of the Army is that which is destructive.


I think Mr. Wildman’s conclusion is, that they are destructive because they are destructive to our neighbours.


That if such an engagement were, it does not bind.


Then ifd such a meetinge were [for] a compliance, or [at least] not for a law [to us] but for [free debate, it might tend to mutual] satisfaction. Butf whereas the only ground [on] which the thing seems to me to be represented [is] that these gentlemen think that their own Agreement is so clear, so infallibly Edition: current; Page: [35] just and right, that whosoever goes about to take it from them, or whoever does not agree to it, is [about] a thing unlawful,a I do think those gentlemen have not so much ground of confidence to each part of that Agreement as it lies there.b But something may be seen in that if you come—in the debatingc of it. And therefore in that relation, and not [merely to enforce] your own principles, [I desire] that you would admit of so much conference as to question it.

Mr. [Nicholas] Lockyer:

I have gathered from two men’s mouths, that destruction is something near, and the cause of the destruction, as they understand, is the going of the proposals to the King. I think it were very necessary that, if it be true as is supposed, the proposals may be brought hither when they do go, that we may see what they are.


The question is whether the propositions will save us, or [whether they will] not destroy us. This discourse concludes nothing.

Captain [John] Merriman:

One party fears that the King will rise by the proposals, another that he will lose. [But] I think that most men’s eyes are open to see that they are like to prove a broken reed, and that your chariot wheels do move heavily, and that this Agreement,d which is the ground of most of your discourse,e [in] the fundamental business of it, is the desire of most of this Council.f You both desire a succession of Parliaments, to have this Parliament that it might not be perpetuated. And I thinkg that whenh this Oedipus riddle is un-opened, and this Gordian knot untied, and the enemies of the same [unmasked, it will be found that the dictates of]i the Spirit of God are the same in both, and the principles of both are the same. You have both promised to free the people, which you may do by taking off tithes and other Antichristian yokes [from] upon them, and [to] give contentj to the soldiers. And I hope that when you meet together it will be for good, and not for evil.


Whereas this gentleman that we have requested to come along with us hath declared some part ofk our resolutions with them,l and we are resolved that we will have the peace of the kingdom if we can;l yet, notwithstanding, if a furtherm [guidance] for the manner of procuring of it is what God shall direct unto us, I would not have you judge that we will deny that Edition: current; Page: [36] light, till that you know what we will do. No man can judge so of any man. A man cannot be called to be [of] a peremptory will, or self-willed, and [be judged to] come resolved nolens volens, [till you know what he will do]. We desire that better thoughts may be of us.

Lieutenant [Edmund] Chillenden:

I hope that these gentlemen of the five regiments, their ends are good, and [I] hope their hearts do tend to peace; and I shall move this: that they would willingly come to-morrow, and join with us in our counsels together. And also I shall humbly move: that, after we have sought God in the business,a God will make it out to us, to see wherein we have failed, and that their being with us [will conduce to that] and [to] our vigorous proceeding in it, and [that] these gentlemen of the five regiments, they will manifest this [same spirit] by a sweet compliance in communicating counsels.


That which this gentleman1 hath moved I like exceeding well; he hath fully declared himself concerning the freedom of their spirit as to principles. In general they aim at peace and safety, and really I am persuaded in my conscience it is their aim [to act] as may be most for the good of the people; for really if that be not the supreme good to us under God (the good of the people), our principles fall. Now if that be in your spirits and our spirits, it remains only that God show us the way, and lead us [in] the way; which I hope he will. And give me leave [to add] that there may be some prejudices upon some of your spirits, and [upon] such men that do affect your way, that they may have some jealousies and apprehensions that we are wedded and glued to forms of government; so that, whatsoever we may pretend, it is in vain for [you] to speak to us, or to hope for any agreement from us to you. And I believe some [entertain] such apprehensions as [that we are engaged to secure] some part of the legislative power of the kingdom where it may rest besides in the Commons of the kingdom. You will find that we areb far from being [so] particularly engaged to anything to the prejudice of this—further than the notorious engagement[s] that the world takes notice of—that we should not concur with you that the foundation and supremacy is in the people, radically in them, and to be set down by them in their representations. And if we do so [concur, we may also concur] how we may run to that end that we all aim at, or that that does remain [within our power], and therefore let us only name the committee.

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You were pleased to say that [there was] something that gave you another occasion of the meeting (if it were only designed to lie upon you, [I would not protest]): that which should be offered by these gentlemen. I hope that you did not conceive that any such ground did lie in my breast.1 Buta I would speak this word to the quickening of us to a good hope:b I am verily persuaded if God carry us out to meet sincerely, as with free spirits to open ourselves before the Lord, we may [not] be found going on according to our will. I desire such prejudices may be laid aside.


A meeting is intended to-morrow; but that we may fully end, I would humbly offer to you: whether these gentlemen have a power to debate; and if they have not, that they may have recourse to them that sent them, to see what [powers] they will give [them], that we may offer our reasons and judgment upon the thing, and [may] act upon that principle upon which we agree.c If we unite and agree to it, it will put on other things. [When we have] formallyd made an agreement, we must be serious in it, and to that end [it is desired] that we may have a full debate in it. Otherwise it will be useless, and endless, our meeting.


That gentleman says he will do what he can to draw all or the most of them hither to be heard to-morrow; and I desire Mr. Wildman, that if they have any friends that are of a loving spirit, that would contribute to this business of a right understanding, [they would come with him]. And I say no more but this, I pray God judge between you and us when we do meet, whether we come with engaged spirits to uphold our own resolutions and opinions, or whether we shall lay down ourselves to be ruled [by God] and that which he shall communicate.


He did tell you he would improve his interest, which is as full satisfaction to what Mr. Allen says, as could be. If they shall come [though] not [with power] to do, yete I hope they will come withf full powerg to debate. I think there needs no more.2

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Putney, 29th October 1647

At the meeting of the officers for calling upon God, according to the appointment of the General Council, after some discourse of Commissary [Nicholas] Cowling, Major White, and others—

Captain [John] Clarke [said]:

We have been here, as we say, seeking of God, though truly he is not far from every one of us; and we have said in thea presence of God (as out of his presence we cannot go) that we have none in heaven in comparison of him, nor none we have even in earth in comparison of him. I wish our hearts dob not give us the lie, for truly had that been a truthc—I mean a truth in our carriages—we should not have been so lost this day. Had we given ear to the inspiring word of Christ, and had [we] not given ourselves to the false prophet within us, certainly God would have kindled that light within us, and [we] should have gone [on] and submitted to his will, and should not have been troubled or harassed, as we are, with troubles and amazements, but must have gone with God as he hath allotted to us. The cause of every evil sought after, what is the reason that we find the light and glory of God eclipsed from our eyes this day? Truly we may find this silence within us, and let us but search our own spirits with patience, and look by the lightd of God within us, and we shall find that we have submitted the Spirit of God unto the candle of reason, whereas reason should have been subservient unto the Spirit of God. We are troubled when our own reasons tell us that this is the way, and we are careless to seek the way, or that true light, Christ in us, which is the way. We are apt to say, all of us, that if we seek that first (the latter first) the lighte will not be wanting. But truly, we have sought the first last, and therefore the first is wanting. And before this light can take place again that darkness must be removed—that candle of reason, andg first within us our lust, which doth seduce and entice us to wander from God, must be eaten out of us by the Spirit of God, and when there is no place for lust, there is place enough for the Spirit of God. If we shall with resolutionf and humility of spirit not say, but do, as the children Edition: current; Page: [39] of Israel used to do many times when they were in distress—many times they cried unto the Lord; if we shall do as we profess before God this day, that is, lay down our reason, lay down our goods, lay down all we have at the feet of God, and let God work his will in us that we may be buried with God in our spirits; I doubt not but the appearances of God will be more glorious, and I doubt not but there will be that contentedness in spirit. We should desire no way, but wait which way God will lead us. I say, we should choose no way, but if the Spirit of God lead us, we should be ready to submit to the will of God.a And therefore I desire that, since this is in order to another meeting in the afternoon, we may lay down all at the feet of God, not following our own reasons, butb submitting unto that light which is lightedc in us by his Spirit.

(After this Captain Carter prayed.)

Adjutant-General [Richard] Deane:

Motion for a meeting at this place, the Quartermaster-General’s quarters, to meet Monday, the council day, from 8 till 11, to seek God, &c.


That which I must now desire to express to you was partly occasioned by the thoughts that I had the last night, as being indeed kept awake with them a good while; and, hearing something that did concur with it from one that spake since we came together, I feel some weight upon my spirit to express it to you. That which was spoken enow [was] concerning the conjunction that is between Antichrist, or that mystery of iniquity in the world carried on by men that call themselves the church, thatd certainly it is with the conjunction of men in places of power or authority in the world, with kings and great men. And truly my thoughts were much upon it this night, and it appears to me very clearly from that which God hath set down in his word in the Book of the Revelations—which is that word that we are bid and commanded to study and to look into, being the word which God sent by his angel to John, to declare as things shortly to be done. Now certainly this work of Antichrist hath been a work of great standing, and, as it was well observed, it hath been mixed with the church, and men that call themselves the church, the clergy, mixed with men of authority.e It is said in the Revelation, that the kings of the earth should give up their power unto the Beast, and the kings of the earth have given up their power to the Pope. But some places that have seemed to deny the Pope’s supremacy, yet they have taken upon them that which hath been Edition: current; Page: [40] equivalent to that which the Pope himself holds forth. Truly I could bring it to this present kingdom wherein we are. ’Tis true the kings have been instruments to cast off the Pope’s supremacy, but we may see if they have not put themselves into the same state. We may see it in that title which the King hath; ‘Defender of the Faith,’ but more especially in that canonical prayer which the clergy used, ‘In all causes, and over all persons, as well ecclesiastical as civil, [supreme].’ Certainly, this is a mystery of iniquity. Now Jesus Christ his work in the last days is to destroy this mystery of iniquity; and because it is so interwoven and entwisted in the interest of states, certainly in that overthrow of the mystery of iniquity by Jesus Christ, there must be great alterations of states. Now the word doth hold out in the Revelation, that in this work of Jesus Christ he shall have a company of Saints to follow him, such as are chosen and called and faithful. Now it is a scruple among the Saints, how far they should use the sword; yet God hath made use of them in that work. Many of them have been employed these five or six years. Yet whatsoever God shall employ us in, I could wish this were laid to heart by us: whereasa we would be called the chosen and faithful that will follow Christ wheresoever he goes, let us tremble at the thoughtb that we should be standing in a direct opposition against Jesus Christ in the work that he is about. Let us not be twisted amongst such kind of compartings where there shall be a mystery of iniquityc set up by outward power, lestd we should be the instruments of giving any life or strength to that power. And I wish [we may lay this to heart]—and I believe it may somewhat tend to the work by the way—because we are to hold out the will of God for the time to come, and to be humbled for what we have done against it. Let us inquire whether some of the actions that we have done of late, some of the things that we have propounded of late, do not cross the work of God in these particulars; because in our proposing things we do endeavour to set up that power which God would not set up again—it hath been hinted already—I mean in our compliance with that party which God hath engaged us to destroy. We intended nothing but civility, but I wish they were not in some measure compliances; and, if I mistake not, there are ways which God hath laid open to us, whereby we may lay aside that compliance.

But this is not all that I would speak, because God hath called forth my spirit to unity. What we do according to the will of God will not tend to division. This I speak concerning compliance; and [since] this may be thought to reflect upon some Edition: current; Page: [41] particular persons more than other some, so on the other hand I desire to speak something that may concern some persons that may stand, or at least may seem to stand, in direct opposition to us. And truly I wish we may be very wary what we do; and let us take heed of rejecting any of the Saints of God before God rejects them. If God be pleased to show any of his servants that he hath made use of [them] as great instruments in his hand, [and to show them], as [also] those that God hath blessed in them, that God hath blessed them, and [that] this hath been the greatest instrument of the ruin of sin and corruption in this Army, let us be wary and consider what we have to do in that kind. And I spake this the rather because I was sensible of some personal reflections that did not argue the workings of God [so much] as the workings of passions in us. Now the work of the Spirit is, that we do pull down all works [that are not] of the Spirit whatsoever; and therefore I desire that, as in the presence of God, we may take heed of all things which may tend to disunion, and that we may not despise those who may have some things in their hands to contribute for the work of God.

And there is another thing. If we have lost the opportunity of appearing against [God’s] enemies, let us take heed, when we be sensible of God’s displeasure, that we do not run before he bids us go a second time. There is a place which is very remarkable, Numbers 14, where the spies were sent to the land of Canaan; and when they came back the hearts of the people were discouraged. God was displeased at this, and he discovered it in some such way as he did this day. But upon a sudden there was a party that would go up and fight against the Amalekites, and at such a time when God would not have them go up. ‘Though you did sin against the Lord in not going at first,’ says Moses, ‘yet go not now up, for the Lord is not among you, that ye be not smitten before your enemies.’ Yet they did go up unto the hilltop, and were discomfited. I think we have sinned in that we did not show our courage and faithfulness to God. Let us not now in a kind of heat run up and say, ‘We will go now’; because it may be there is a better opportunity that God will give us. And that we may a little help us by our own experiences, let us remember how God hath dealt with this Army in our late proceedings. There was some heaviness in our proceedings before the City, as was thought by some; and it was said by many, ‘Go up, go up quickly, and do our work.’ But let us remember that God found a better season for us than if we had gone at first. Let us consider whether this be the best juncture of time for us Edition: current; Page: [42] [to press on the work of God. But let us, as well, be careful not] to declare [against], and to throw off, some of our friends when that they would have it discovered whethera God goes along with us. Let this be considered, that so we may be humbled, on the one hand, and break off all unlawful compliance with the enemies of God, so, on the other hand, we may stay, and take the company one of another, or rather the presence of God, [along with us]. And so for the work of the day, I wish there may be a day of union amongst us; for it may be it is the will of God that we should wait upon him therein, to see what will be the issue of a business that is now transacted; and if we can trust God in this strait we shall see him straight before us, if we can be of one mind. I wish this may be considered, and if there be anything of God in it, it may be received.

Mr. [Robert] Everard:

This honourable Council hath given me great encouragement. Though I have many impediments in my speech, yet I thank you that you will hear me speak. I engaged myself yesterday to bring the men to have a debate,1 and for that purpose I have prosecuted these my promises, and I have been with them—as many as I can find; but the most of them are dispersed, so that I lost that opportunity which I would have enjoyed. But, nevertheless, I hope you will take it kindly, that those that were there are come hither, and those two friends that were with me yesterday.b Our ends are that we desire, yet once more, a compliance in those things that we propounded to you, but if it shall please God to open our eyes that we can see it, we shall comply with you. For our desires are nothing but (according to our first declaration) to follow our work, to deliver the kingdom from that burden that lies upon us. For my part I am but a poor man, and unacquainted with the affairs of the kingdom; yet this message God hath sent me to you, that there is great expectation of sudden destruction—and I would be loath to fill up that with words. We desire your joint consent to seek out some speedy way for the relief of the kingdom.


I think it would not be amiss that those gentlemen that are come would draw nigher.

I must offer this to your consideration: whether or no we, having set apart this morning to seek God, and to get such a preparedness of heart and spirit as might receive that that God was minded to have imparted to us, and this having taken up all Edition: current; Page: [43] our time all this day, and it having been so late this last night as indeed it was when we brake up, and we having appointed a committee to meet together to consider of that paper, and this committee having had no time or opportunity that I know of, not so much as a meeting; I make some scruple or doubt whether or no it is not better [to adjourn the debate. I know] that danger is imagined [near at hand], and indeed I think it is; but be the danger what it will, our agreement in the business is much more [pressing] than the pressing of any danger, so by that we do not delay too [long].a That which I have to offer [is]: whether or no we are [as] fit to take up such a consideration of these papers now as we might be to-morrow; and perhaps if these gentlemen, which are but few, and that committee should meet together, and spend their time together an hour or two the remainder of this afternoon, and all this company might meet about nine or ten o’clock at furthest,a they [might] understand one another so well thatc we might be prepared for the general meeting, to have a more exact and particular consideration of things than [we can have] by a general loose debate of things which our committee, or at least manyd of us, have [not] had any, or at least not many, thoughts about.


Sir: I am sorry that the ill disposition of my body caused me to go to London last night, ande [hindered me] from coming so soon this morning as to be with you in the duty you were about. But I hope that which hath been said at this time (which I hope is a truth and sent from God) will so work upon me that I shall endeavour at least to carry myself so that I may use all that interest I have, to a right and quick understanding between us. And truly, sir, to that present motion that hath been made, I confess I have nothing against it, but only the danger that lies upon us; which truly—if we may have leave to differ one from another—may in a moment overcome [us]. I hope we shall all take [to heart] one word that was spoken to us by Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe, and I think that nothing will conduce so much [to union as] that we may have no personal reflections.a I think it would have been well if the committee had met, but since all this company—or the greatest part of themf—have been here [and] have joined in that duty which was on the former part of the morning, I think there is not much inconveniency that they may spend the other part of the day with us. And if we were satisfied ourselves upon debate, and yetg there should be one party, or one sort of men, that are of a judgment [at] present contrary, or others that should come over to us, it would cost some time hereafter to Edition: current; Page: [44] know the reasons of their [contrary judgment or of their] coming over. And therefore I think it an advantage that it should be as public [as possible], and as many as may, be present at it.a The debating this thus publicly may be an advantage unto us; andb after the multitude of people that are herec have been spoken to, if we find that inconvenient, I do not doubt but the committee, when this company breaks up, may have two hours’ time together. And therefore I should desire that, since the gentlemen and you are met together to such an end and purpose,c you will follow to that end.


It is not [fit], as I conceive, to dispute anything touching particularf [persons], for all, as I conceive, do seek the kingdom’s good. Much business will beg if we stand disputing the work! I desire this honourable Council—[if it] will pardon me—to make out some speedy way for the easing of us.h Let us go about the work;i no question but we shall go together. I beseech you that you will consider upon that. I believe we shall jump all in one with it, if we do not fall upon some extraordinary ways between. Some laws with us that will prick us to the heart, we must wink at them; [but] let us now [seek to reform such of them as we may], not that I desire that we should seek to ruinate any wholesome laws, but [only] such as will not stand with the wholesome peace of the kingdom.


I shall desire to second that gentleman’s motion.c While we debate we do nothing. I am confident that whilst you are doing you will all agree together, for it is idleness that hath begot this rust and this gangrene amongst us.


I think it is true. Let us be doing, but let us be united in our doing. If there remain nothing else [needful] but present action,k [let us be doing]—I mean, doing in that kind, doing in that sort. I think we need not be in council here [if] such kind of action, action of that nature, [will serve].l But if we do not rightly and clearly understand one another before we come to act, if we do not lay a foundation of action before we do act, I doubt whether we shall act unanimously or no. And seriously, as before the Lord, I knew no such end of our speech the last night, and [our] appointing another meeting, but in order to a more perfect understanding of one another, what we should do, and that we might be agreed upon some principles of action. And truly if I remember rightly,c upon the delivery of the paper that was yesterday, this was offered, that the things [that] are now Edition: current; Page: [45] upon usa are things of difficulty, the things are things that do deserve therefore consideration, because there might be great weight in the consequences; and it was then offered, and I hope is still so in all our hearts, that we are not troubled with the consideration of the difficulty, nor with the consideration of anything but this: that if we do difficult things, we may see that the things we do, have the will of God in them, that they are not only plausible and good things, but seasonable and honest things, fit for us to do. And therefore it was desired that we might consider, [before] we could come to these papers,i in what condition we stood in respect of former engagements,b however some may be satisfiedc that there lie none upon us, or none but such as it’s duty to break, it’s sin to keep. Therefore that was yesterday premised, [that] there may be a consideration had of them—and I may speak it as in the presence of God, that I know nothing of any engagements, but I would see liberty in any man as I would be free from bondage to anything that should hinder me from doing my duty—and therefore that was first in consideration. If our obligation be nothing, or if it be weak, I hoped we shalle receive satisfaction why it should be laid aside, [and be convinced] that the things that we speak of are not obliged. And therefore, if it please you, I think it will be good for us to frame our discourse to what we were, where we are, what we are bound to, what we are free to; and then I make no question but that this may conclude what is between [us and] these gentlemen, in one afternoon. I do not speak this to make obligations more than what they were before, but as before the Lord. You see what they are ([producing the printed volume of Army Declarations1]); and when we look upon them we shall see whetherf we have been in a wrong way, and I hope it will call upon us for the more double diligence.g


I shall desire a word or two before that. I did exceedingly mistake myself the last nighth upon what we say now was [then] determined. I looked upon the committee as a committee to look over this paper, to see whether it were a paper that did hold forth justice and righteousness, whether it were a paper that honest men could close with. But truly I am of opinion that if we should spend ten days’ time in going over that book, and debate what engagements we have broke, or whether we have broke any or no, or whether we have kept our engagements, it would not come to the business; neither would it prevent Edition: current; Page: [46] that evil that I think will overtake us (unless God in abundant manner prevent). Let us go the quickest way to work [and not fear lest we start] before we fall into the right way. And truly, sir, I have thought that the wounds of the kingdom, and the difficulties that we are fallen into, and our [need of] cure, is become so great that we would be willing, all of us, to heal the sore, and [not] to skin it over but leave it unwholesome and corrupt at the bottom. Therefore for my part I do [thus] conclude in my spirit—and I could give you reasons for it, which this day I have from very good hands, buta which I think [it] is notb prudent to declare so publicly as this is; for my own part I [did] say this yesterday upon another occasion: I will not say positively that we are to take the course prescribed in that paper at present, but if we do not set upon the work [of settlement presently we are undone]. Since in order to that there is a thing called an Agreement which the people [must] have subscribed, and being that is ready to our hands, I desire that you would read it and debate it, whether it be a way to deliver us yet or no; and if it be, [that you would accept it], and if not, that you would think of some other way.


I shall but offer this to you. Truly I hope that we may speak our hearts freely here; and I hope that there is not such an evil amongst us as that we could or would exercise our wits, or our cunning, to veil over any doubleness of heart that may possibly be in us. I hope, having been in such a presence as we have been [in] this day, we do not admitc such a thought as this into our hearts. And therefore if the speaking of that we did speak before—and to which I shall speak again, with submission to all that hear me; if the declining to consider this paper may have with any man a workingd upon his spirit through any jealousy that it aims at delay; truly I can speak it as before the Lord, it is not at all in my heart, but sincerely this is the ground of it. I know this paper doth contain many good things in it, but this is the only thing that doth stick with me, the desiring to know my freedom to this thing. Though this [paper] doth suggest that that may be the bottom of all our evils—and I will not say against it because I do not think against it—though this doth suggest the bottom of all our evils, yet for all to see ourselves free to this, all of us, [so] as we may unanimously join upon this, either to agree to this, or to add more to it, [or] to alter [it] as we shall agree, [that is alone needful; but, lacking it,] this impediment lies in our way, [even] if every man be satisfied with it but Edition: current; Page: [47] myself. [I repeat] that this is the first thing that is to be considered, that we should consider in what condition we stand to our former obligations, that if we be clear we may go off clear, if not we may not go on. If I be not come off [clear] with what obligations are made, if I be not free to act to whatsoever you shall agree upon, I think this is my duty: that I should not in the least study either to retard your work or hinder it, or to act against it, but wish you as much success as if I were free to act with you. I desire we may view over our obligations and engagements, that so we may be free [to act together] upon honest and clear grounds, if this be——

Rainborough (offering to speak):a My desireb——


I have but one word to prevent you in, and that is for imminent danger. It may be possibly so [imminent] that [it] may not admit of an hour’s debate, nor nothing of delay. If that be so, I think that’s above all law and rule to us.


I would offer one word, for I think this will bring us to no issue at all. Both yesterday and to-day, and divers times, we have had cautions given us to have care of divisions. I do speak it to avoid division: that we may not at this time consider the engagements. If you, or any other gentlemen, are of opinion that you have not broke them, and then some others are of opinion that you have broke them, we may fall into contest[s] which may occasion division. But if you read this, and find it not against the Engagement,1 that will be the work. If it be not against the Engagement, you will find that in it which you will find from your engagements. And I have something to say to the particulars in it.


I shall only offer this, the necessity of expedition if the people shall consider the necessities that they and we are in. We live now upon free-quarter, and we have that against our wills. Those that know what belongs to armies well know, none are to quarter soldiers but those that are within so many miles. And if so be too that the owner of the house should refuse to open his doors, we are prevented to pay our quarters by those that might have supplied us. I have seen this paper, and upon second reading of it I set my hand to it, that we may not lie as drones to Edition: current; Page: [48] devour their families. I am ready where I am called by my superiors. If not, the Lord be merciful to me.

Major White:1

I should offer one word to this Council: I think it is in all our minds to deliver the kingdom; if there be particular engagements we must lay them asidea to lay down [something for the] public good.


I desire to know what the gentleman means concerning particular engagements: whetherb he means those that are in this book? If those that are in this book [they are the engagements of the Army]. But if he means engagements personal from particular persons, let every man speak for himself. I speak for myself, I disavow all, and I am free to act, free from any such——


I conceive that [if] they be such as are passed by the Representative of the Army, I think the Army is bound in conscience to go on with them.

Colonel [John] Hewson:

All the engagements that have been declared for have [not] been by the Representative of the Army. And whether or no that hath not been the cause of this cloud that hangs over our heads, I think if we lay our hands over our hearts we may not much mistake it.


According to your Honours’ desire yesterday, I am comed here to give in my reasons why I do approve of this paper, this Agreement, [and] to receive reasons why it should not be agreed to.e For the particular engagements of the Army, I am ignorant of them, but if it please this Council [I would move them] to let this [paper] be read,e that either the matter or manner of it may be debated; and when any of the matter shall come to touch upon any engagement [so as] to break any engagement, that then the engagement may be shown; and if that engagement shall prove just, and this unjust, this must be rejected, or if this just, and these engagements unjust, [then they must be rejected]. I desire all those that are free from it in their spirits may act farther; and those that think themselves bound up sof to acquiesce in it, that they would be pleased to rest satisfied in the actions of other men that are at liberty to act for the peace and freedom of the kingdom.


Truly I would, if I did know of any personal, particular engagements, if I were personally or particularly engaged myself, Edition: current; Page: [49] which I profess, as in the presence of God, I know not fora myself. I myself am not under any engagement in relation to that business that the great question lies upon—I need not name it—more than what all men know that have seen and read, and in the Army consented to, those things that were published. But if I were under any particular engagement, it should not at all stand in any other man’s way. If I were underb [any particular engagement], I say, that I could be convincedc was ill and unlawful for me to enter into, my engagement should not stand in any other man’s way that would do anything that I could be convinced of to be better. And till God hath brought us all to that temper of spirit that we can be contented to be nothing in our reputations, [in our] esteems, in our power—truly I may go a little higher and say, till the reputation and honour of the Army, and such things, become nothing to us, [at least] not so as to stand at all in the way, [or allow] the consideration of them to stand at all in the way, to hinder us from what we see God calling us to, or to prompt us on to what we have not a clear call from him [to undertake]—we are not brought to that temper wherein I can expect any renewing of that presence of God that we have sought. And therefore, for my part, I profess first, I desire no [particular] engagements [may be considered]. If there were particular engagements of any particular man whatsoever, I desire they may not be considered [so] as to [influence] the leading of the Army one way or other, but let that man look to himself for what justice lies upon him, and what justice will follow him. Neither do I care for the engagements of the Army so much for the engagements’d sake, but I look upon this Army as having carried with it hitherto the name of God, and having carried with it hitherto the interest of the people of God, and the interest which is God’s interest, the honour of his name, the good and freedom and safety and happiness of his people. And for my part I think that it is that that is the only thing for which God hath appeared with us, and led us, and gone before us, and honoured us, and taken delight to work by us. I say, that very thing: that we have carried the name of God (and I hope not in show, but in reality), professing to act, and to work, as we have thought,e in our judgments and consciences, God to lead us; professing to act to those ends that we have thought to be answerable and suitable to the mind of God, so far as it hath been known to us.f We have professed to endeavour to follow the counsels of God, and to have him president in our councils; and I hope it hath been so in our hearts. [We have professed] that we have been ready to follow his guidance; and Edition: current; Page: [50] I know it hath been so in many things against our own reasons, where we have seen evidently God calling us. And [I know] that we have been carried on with a confidence in him: we have made him our trust, and we have held forth his name, and we have owned his hand towards us. These are the things, I say, which God hath in some degree and measure wrought his people in this Army up to, in some degree of sincerity. And this it is (as I said before) that I account hath been [the thing] that God hath taken delight in, amongst us, to dwell with us, to be with us, and to appear with us, and [the reason why he] will manifest his presence to us. And therefore by this means, and by that appearance of God amongst us, the name and honour of God, the name and reputation of the people of God, and of that Gospel that they profess, is deeply and dearly and nearly concerned in the good or ill manage of this Army, in their good or ill carriage; and therefore, for my part I profess it, that’s the only thing to me. [It is] not to me so much as the vainest or lightest thing you can imagine, whether there be a king in England or no, whether there be lords in England or no. For whatever I find the work of God tending to, I should desire quietly to submit to. If God saw it good to destroy, not only King and Lords, but all distinctions of degrees—nay if it go further, to destroy all property, that there’s no such thing left, that there be nothing at all of civil constitution left in the kingdom—if I see the hand of God in it I hope I shall with quietness acquiesce, and submit to it, and not resist it. But still I think that God certainly will so lead those that are his, and I hope too he will so lead this Army,a that they may not incur sin, or bring scandal upon the name of God, and the name of the people of God, that are both so nearly concerned in what this Army does.b And [therefore] it is my wish, upon those grounds that I before declared, which made the consideration of this Army dear and tender to me,c [that] we may take heed, [that] we may consider first engagements,d so far as they are engagements publicly of the Army. I do not speak of particular [engagements]; I would not have them considered, if there be any. And secondly, I would have us consider of this: that our ways and workings and actings, and the actings of the Army, so far as the counsels of those prevail in it who have anything of the spirit of Jesus Christ, may appear suitable to that spirit. And [as] I would [not] have this Army in relation to those great concernments (as I said before: the honour of God, and the honour and good name of his people and of religion),e as I would not have it to incur the scandal of neglecting engagements, and laying aside all consideration of engagements, Edition: current; Page: [51] and [the scandal] of juggling, and deceiving, and deluding the world, making them believe things in times of extremity which they never meant; so I would [not] have usa give the world occasion to think that we are the disturbers of the peace of mankind. I say, I would not give them just occasion to think so; nay, I would have them have just cause to think that we seek peace with all men, andb the good of all men, and [that] we seek the destruction of none—that we can say. And in general I would wish and study, and that my heart is bent to, that the counsels of this Army may appear acted1 by that wisdom that is from above, which we know how it is charactered.2 It is first pure, and then peaceable, and then gentle, and easy to be entreated, and we find many characters of the same wisdom, and all other fruits of the same spirit, that still run clearly that way. Therefore, I say, I wish that we may have no otherwise a consideration of engagements or anything of that nature. That which makes me press it, is chiefly that consideration of the concernment of the honour of God and his people in the Army; and as I prize them so I presse [that in] all [things] whatsoever,f though we were free and had no engagements,g we do act as Christians, as men guided by the Spirit of God, as men having that wisdom [that is] from above, and [is] so characterized.

To the method of our proceeding. Having expressed what I desire may be all our cares, I cannot but think that this will be clearest, because I see it is so much pressed and insisted upon: noth to read what our engagements are, but [to] read the paper that is presented here, and consider upon it, what good and what matter of justice and righteousness there is in it, and whether there be anything of injustice or unrighteousness, either in itself or in reference to our engagements. And so far, I think our engagements ought to be taken into consideration:i that so far as we are engaged to a thing that was not unlawful to engage toj (and I should be sad to think them so), we should think ourselves bound not to act contrary to those engagements. And first that we may consider of the particulars of this paper,k whether they be good and just (that is [not ill], not unjust); and then further to consider whether they be so essentially due and right as that they should be contended for, for then that is some kind of check to less engagements,l and for such things, if we find any, light engagements [may] be cast off and not considered.m But if we find any matter in them that, though it be just, though it be goodn (that is not ill, not unjust),o is notp probable to be so beneficial and advantageous (not to few, but to many), thatq withal we may Edition: current; Page: [52] consider whether it be so much a duty, and we be so much bound to it by the thing itself, as that no engagement can take us from it. Anda if we find any thing[s] that, if they be just or good, [are] yet not so obligatory or of [such] necessity to the kingdom [but that] the kingdom may stand without them, then I think, it being [so, it is] not absolutely lawful [for us] to act for them.

Major [William] Rainborough:

I desire we may come to that end we all strive after. I humbly desire you will fall upon that which is the engagement of all, which is the rights and freedoms of the people, and let us see how far we have made sure to them a right and freedom, and if anything be tendered as to that [in this paper]. And when that engagement is gone through, then, let us consider of those [things only] that are of greater weight.

(The paper called the Agreement read. Afterwards the first article read by itself.)1


The exception that lies in it is this. It is said, they are to be distributed according to the number of the inhabitants: ‘The people of England,’ &c. And this doth make me think that the meaning is, that every man that is an inhabitant is to be equally considered, and to have an equal voice in the election of those representers, the persons that are for the general Representative; and if that be the meaning, then I have something to say against it. But if it be only that those people that by the civil constitution of this kingdom, which is original and fundamental, and beyond which I am sure no memory of record does go—

[Cowling, interrupting]:b

Not before the Conquest.c


But before the Conquest it was so. If it be intended that those that by that constitution that was before the Conquest, that hath been beyond memory, such persons that have been before [by] that constitution [the electors], should be [still] the electors, I have no more to say against it.

Colonel Rainborough objected:d

That others might have given their hands to it.

Captain Denne denied that those that were set of their regimente were their hands.

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Ireton [asked]:

Whether those men whose hands are to it, or those that brought it, do know so much of the matter as [to know] whethera they mean that all that had a former right of election [are to be electors], or [that] those that had no right before are to come in.


In the time before the Conquest.b Since the Conquest the greatest part of the kingdom was in vassalage.


We judge that all inhabitants that have not lost their birthright should have an equal voice in elections.


I desired that those that had engaged in it [might be included]. For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, sir, I think it’s clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under; and I am confident that, when I have heard the reasons against it,d something will be said to answer those reasons, insomuch that I should doubt whether hee was an Englishman or no, that should doubt of these things.


That’s [the meaning of] this, [‘according to the number of the inhabitants’]?

Give me leave to tell you, that if you make this the rule I think you must fly for refuge to an absolute natural right, and you must deny all civil right; and I am sure it will come to that in the consequence. This, I perceive, is pressed as that which is so essential and due: the right of the people of this kingdom, and as they are the people of this kingdom, distinct and divided from other people, andf that we must for this right lay aside all other considerations; this is so just, this is so due, this is so right to them.g And that those that they do thus choose must have such a power of binding all, and loosing all, according to those limitations, this is pressed as so due, and so just, as [it] is argued, that it is an engagement paramount [to] all others: and you must for it lay aside all others; if you have engaged any otherwise,h you must break it. [We must] so look upon these as thus held out to us; so it was held out by the gentleman that brought it yesterday. For my part, I think it is no right at all. I think that no Edition: current; Page: [54] person hath a right to an interest or share in the disposing of the affairs of the kingdom, and in determining or choosing those that shall determine what laws we shall be ruled by here—no person hath a right to this, that hath not a permanent fixed interest in this kingdom, and those persons together are properly the represented of this kingdom,a and consequently are [also] to make up the representers of this kingdom,b who taken together do comprehend whatsoever is of real or permanent interest in the kingdom. And I am surei otherwise I cannot tell whatc any man can say why a foreigner coming in amongst us—or as many as will coming in amongst us, or by force or otherwise settling themselves here, or at least by our permission having a being here—why they should not as well lay claim to it as any other. We talk of birthright. Truly [by] birthright there is thus much claim. Men may justly have by birthright, by their very being born in England, that we should not seclude them out of England, that we should not refuse to give them air and place and ground, and the freedom of the highways and other things, to live amongst us—not any man that is born here, thoughd by his birth there come nothing at all (that is part of the permanent interest of this kingdom) to him. That I think is due to a man by birth. But that by a man’s being born here he shall have a share in that power that shall dispose of the lands here, and of all things here, I do not think it a sufficient ground.e I am sure if we look upon that which is the utmost (within [any] man’s view) of what was originally the constitution of this kingdom,f upon that which is most radical and fundamental, and which if you take away, there is no man hath any land, any goods,g [or] any civil interest,h that is this: that those that choose the representers for the making of laws by which this state and kingdom are to be governed, are the persons who, taken together, do comprehend the local interest of this kingdom; that is, the persons in whom all land lies, and those in corporations in whom all trading lies. This is the most fundamental constitution of this kingdom and [that] which if you do not allow, you allow none at all. This constitution hath limited and determined it that only those shall have voices in elections. It is true, as was said by a gentleman near me, the meanest man in England ought to have [a voice in the election of the government he lives under—but only if he has some local interest]. I say this: that those that have the meanest local interest—that man that hath but forty shillings a year, he hath as great voice in the election of a knight for the shire as he that hath ten thousand a year, or more if he had never so much; and therefore there is that regard had Edition: current; Page: [55] to it. But this [local interest], still the constitution of this government hath had an eye to (and what other government hath not an eye to this?). It doth not relate to the interest of the kingdom if it do not lay the foundation of the power that’s given toa the representers, in those who have a permanent and a local interest in the kingdom, and who taken all together do comprehend the whole [interest of the kingdom]. There is all the reason and justice that can be, [in this]: if I will come to live in a kingdom, being a foreigner to it, or live in a kingdom, having no permanent interest in it, [and] if I will desire as a stranger, or claim as one freeborn here, the air, the free passage of highways, the protection of laws, and all such thingsb—if I will either desire them or claim them, [then] I (if I have no permanent interest in that kingdom) must submit to those laws and those rules [which they shall choose], who, taken together, do comprehend the whole interest of the kingdom.c And if we shall go to take away this, we shall plainly go to take away all property and interest that any man hath either in land by inheritance, or in estate by possession, or anything else—[I say], if you take away this fundamental part of the civil constitution.d


Truly, sir, I am of the same opinion I was, and am resolved to keep it till I know reason why I should not. I confess my memory is bad, and therefore I am fain to make use of my pen. I remember that, in a former speech [which] this gentleman brought before this [meeting], he was saying that in some cases he should not value whether [there were] a king or no king, whether lords or no lords, whether a property or no property. For my part I differ in that. I do very much care whether [there be] a king or no king, lords or no lords, property or no property; and I think, if we do not all take care, we shall all have none of these very shortly. But as to this present business. I do hear nothing at all that can convince me, why any man that is born in England ought not to have his voice in election of burgesses. It is said that if a man have not a permanent interest, he can have no claim; and [that] we must be no freer than the laws will let use be, and that there is no [law in any] chronicle will let us be freer than that we [now] enjoy. Something was said to this yesterday.b I do think that the main cause why Almighty God gave men reason, it was that they should make use of that reason, and that they should improve it for that end and purpose that God gave it them. And truly, I think that half a loaf is better than none if a man be anhungry: [this gift of reason without Edition: current; Page: [56] other property may seem a small thing], yet I think there is nothing that God hath given a man that any [one] else can take from him. And therefore I say, that either it must be the Law of God or the law of man that must prohibit the meanest man in the kingdom to have this benefit as well as the greatest. I do not find anything in the Law of God, that a lord shall choose twenty burgesses, and a gentleman but two, or a poor man shall choose none: I find no such thing in the Law of Nature, nor in the Law of Nations. But I do find that all Englishmen must be subject to English laws, and I do verily believe that there is no man but will say that the foundation of all law lies in the people, and if [it lie] in the people, I am to seek for this exemption.

And truly I have thought something [else]: in what a miserable distressed condition would many a man that hath fought for the Parliament in this quarrel, be! I will be bound to say that many a man whose zeal and affection to God and this kingdom hath carried him forth in this cause, hath so spent his estate that, in the way the state [and] the Army are going,a he shall not hold up his head, ifb when his estate is lost, and not worth forty shillings a year, a man shall not have any interest. And there are many other ways by which [the] estatesc men have (if that be the rule which God in his providence does use) do fall to decay. A man, when he hath an estate,f hath an interest in making laws, [but] when he hath none, he hath no power in it; so that a man cannot lose that which he hath for the maintenance of his family but he must [also] lose that which God and nature hath given him! And therefore I do [think], and am still of the same opinion, that every man born in England cannot, ought not, neither by the Law of God nor the Law of Nature, to be exempted from the choice of those who are to make lawsg for him to live under, and for him, for aught I know, to lose his life under. And therefore I think there can be no great stick in this.

Truly I think that there is not this day reigning in England a greater fruit or effect of tyranny than this very thing would produce.d Truly I know nothing free but only the knight of the shire, nor do I know anything in a parliamentary way that is clear from the height and fulness of tyranny, but only [that]. As for this of corporations [which you also mentioned], it is as contrary to freedom as may be.e For, sir, what is it? The King he grants a patent under the Broad Seal of England to such a corporation to send burgesses, he grants to [such] a city to send burgesses. When a poor base corporation from the King[’s grant] shall send two burgesses, when five hundred men of estate Edition: current; Page: [57] shall not send one, when those that are to make their laws are called by the King, or cannot act [but] by such a call, truly I think that the people of England have little freedom.


I think there was nothing that I said to give you occasion to think that I did contend for this, that such a corporation [as that] should have the electing of a man to the Parliament. I think I agreed to this matter, that all should be equally distributed. But the question is, whether it should be distributed to all persons, or whether the same persons that are the electors [now] should be the electors still, and it [be] equally distributed amongst them. I do not see anybody else that makes this objection; and if nobody else be sensible of it I shall soon have done. Only I shall a little crave your leave to represent the consequences of it, and clear myself from onea thing that was misrepresented by the gentleman that sat next me. I think, if the gentleman remember himself, he cannot but remember that what I said was to this effect: that if I saw the hand of God leading so far as to destroy King, and destroy Lords, and destroy property, and [leave] no such thing at all amongst us, I should acquiesce in it; and so I did not care, if no king, no lords, or no property [should] be,b in comparison of the tender care that I have of the honour of God, and of the people of God, whose [good] name is so much concerned in this Army. This I did deliver [so], and not absolutely.

All the main thing that I speak for, is because I would have an eye to property. I hope we do not come to contend for victory—but let every man consider with himself that he do not go that way to take away all property. For here is the case of the most fundamental part of the constitution of the kingdom, which if you take away, you take away all by that. Herec men of this and this quality are determined to be the electors of men to the Parliament, and they are all those who have any permanent interest in the kingdom, and who, taken together, do comprehend the whole [permanent, local] interest of the kingdom. I mean by permanent [and] local, that [it] is not [able to be removed] anywhere else. As for instance, he that hath a freehold, and that freehold cannot be removed out of the kingdom; and so there’s a [freeman of a] corporation, a place which hath the privilege of a market and trading, which if you should allow to all places equally, I do not see how you could preserve any peace in the kingdom, and that is the reason why in the constitution we have but some few market towns. Now those people [that have freeholds]d and those [that] are the freemen of corporations,e were Edition: current; Page: [58] looked upona by the former constitutionb to comprehend the permanent interest of the kingdom. For [first], he that hath his livelihood by his trade, and by his freedom of trading in such a corporation, which he cannot exercise in another, he is tied to that place, [for] his livelihood depends upon it. And secondly, that man hath an interest, hath a permanent interest there, upon which he may live, and live a freeman without dependence. These [things the] constitutionc [of] this kingdom hath looked at. Now I wish we may all consider of what right you will challenge that all the people should have right to elections. Is it by the right of nature? If you will hold forth that as your ground, then I think you must deny all property too, and this is my reason. For thus: by that same right of nature (whatever it be) that you pretend, by which you can say, oned man hath an equal right with another to the choosing of him that shall govern him—by the same right of nature, he hath the same [equal] right in any goods he sees—meat, drink, clothes—to take and use them for his sustenance. He hath a freedom to the land, [to take] the ground, to exercise it, till it; he hath the [same] freedom to anything that any one doth account himself to have any propriety in. Why now I say then, if you,g against the most fundamental part of [the] civil constitution (which I have now declared), will plead the Law of Nature, that a man should (paramount [to] this, and contrary to this) have a power of choosing those men that shall determine what shall be law in this state, though he himself have no permanent interest in the state, [but] whatever interest he hath he may carry about with him—if this be allowed, [because by the right of nature] we are free, we are equal, one man must have as much voice as another, then show me what step or difference [there is], why [I may not] by the same right [take your property, though not] of necessity to sustain nature. It is for my better being, and [the better settlement of the kingdom]? Possibly not for it, neither: possibly I may not have so real a regard to the peace of the kingdom as that man who hath a permanent interest in it.e He thatf is here to-day, and gone to-morrow, I do not see that he hath such a permanent interest. Since you cannot plead to it by anything but the Law of Nature, [or for anything] but for the end of better being, and [since] that better being is not certain, and [what is] more, destructive to another; upon these grounds, if you do, paramount [to] all constitutions, hold up this Law of Nature, I would fain have any man show me their bounds, where you will end, and [why you should not] take away all property.

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I shall now be a little more free and open with you than I was before. I wish we were all true-hearted, and that we did all carry ourselves with integrity. If I did mistrust you I would [not] use such asseverations. I think it doth go on mistrust, and things are thought too [readily] matters of reflection, that were never intended. For my part, as I think, you forgot something that was in my speech,a and you do not only yourselves believe that [some] men are inclining to anarchy, but you would make all men believe that. And, sir, to say because a man pleads that every man hath a voice [by right of nature], that therefore it destroys [by] the same [argument all property—this is to forget the Law of God]. That there’s a property, the Law of God says it; else why [hath] God made that law, Thou shalt not steal? I am a poor man, therefore I must be [op]pressed: if I have no interest in the kingdom, I must suffer by all their laws be they right or wrong. Nay thus: a gentleman lives in a country and hath three or four lordships, as some men have (God knows how they got them); and when a Parliament is called he must be a Parliamentman; and it may be he sees some poor men, they live near this man, he can crush them—I have known an invasionb to make sure he hath turned the poor menc out of doors; and I would fain know whether the potency of [rich] men do not this, and so keep them under the greatest tyranny that was [ever] thought of in the world. And therefore I think that to that it is fully answered: God hath set down that thing as to propriety with this law of his, Thou shalt not steal. And for my part I am against any such thought, and,d as for yourselves,e I wish you would not make the world believe that we are for anarchy.


I know nothing but this, that they that are the most yielding have the greatest wisdom; but really, sir, this is not right as it should be. No man says that you have a mind to anarchy, but [that] the consequence of this rule tends to anarchy, must end in anarchy; for where is there any bound or limit set if you take away this [limit], that men that have no interest but the interest of breathing [shall have no voice in elections]? Therefore I am confident on’t, we should not be so hot one with another.


I know that some particular men we debate with [believe we] are for anarchy.


I profess I must clear myself as to that point.g I would not desire,h I cannot allow myself, to lay the least scandal Edition: current; Page: [60] upon anybody. And truly, for that gentleman that did take so much offence, I do not know why he should take it so. We speak to the paper—not to persons—and to the matter of the paper. And I hope that no man is so much engaged to the matter of the paper—I hope [that] our persons, and our hearts and judgments, are not [so] pinned to papers but that we are ready to hear what good or ill consequence will flow from it.a

I have, with as much plainness and clearness of reason as I could, showed you how I did conceive the doing of this [that the paper advocates] takes away that which is the most original, the most fundamental civil constitution of this kingdom, and which is, above all, that constitution by which I have any property.b If you will take away that and set up,c as a thing paramount,d whatever a man may claim by the Law of Nature, though it be not a thing of necessity to him for the sustenance of nature; if you do make this your rule, I desire clearly to understand where then remains property.

Now thene—I would misrepresent nothing—thef answer which had anything of matter in it,g the great and main answer upon which that which hath been said against this [objection] rests, seemed to be that it will not make a breach of property,h [for this reason]: that there is a law, Thou shalt not steal. [But] the same law says, Honour thy father and [thy] mother, and that law doth likewise hold out that it doth extend to all that (in that place where we are in) are our governors; so that by that there is a forbidding of breaking a civil law when we may live quietly under it, and [that by] a divine law.h Again it is said—indeed [was said] before—that there is no law, no divine law, that tells us that such a corporation must have the election of burgesses,i such a shire [of knights], or the like. Divine law extends not to particular things. And so, on the other side, if a man were to demonstrate his [right to] property by divine law, it would be very remote.j Our [right to] property descends from other things, as well as our right of sending burgesses. That divine law doth not determine particulars but generals in relation to man and man, and to property, and all things else: and we should be as far to seek if we should go to prove a property in [a thing by] divine law, as to prove that I have an interest in choosing burgesses of the Parliament by divine law. And truly, under favour, I refer it to all, whether there be anything of solution to that objection that I made, if it be understood—I submit it to any man’s judgment.


To the thing itself—property [in the franchise]. I would fain know how it comes to be the property [of some men, Edition: current; Page: [61] and not of others]. As for estates and those kind of things, and other things that belong to men, it will be granted thata they areb property; but I deny that that is a property, to a lord, to a gentleman, to any man more than another in the kingdom of England. If it be a property, it is a property by a law—neither do I think that there is very little property in this thing by the law of the land, because I think that the law of the land in that thing is the most tyrannical law under heaven. And I would fain know what we have fought for. [For our laws and liberties?] And this is the old law of England—and that which enslaves the people of England—that they should be bound by laws in which they have no voice at all!c [With respect to the divine law which says Honour thy father and thy mother] the great dispute is, who is a right father and a right mother? I am bound to know who is my father and mother; and—I take it in the same sense you do—I would have a distinction, a character whereby God commands me to honour [them]. And for my part I look upon the people of England so, that wherein they have not voices in the choosing of their [governors—their civil] fathers and mothers—they are not bound to that commandment.


I desire to add one word concerning the word property. It is for something that anarchy is so much talked of. For my own part I cannot believe in the least that it can be clearly derived from that paper. ’Tis true, that somewhat may be derived in the paper against the King, the power of the King, and somewhat against the power of the Lords; and the truth is when I shall see God going about to throw down King and Lords and property, then I shall be contented. But I hope that they may live to see the power of the King and the Lords thrown down, that yet may live to see property preserved. And for this of changing the Representative of the nation, of changing those that choose the Representative, making of them more full, taking more into the number than formerly, I had verily thought we had all agreed in it that more should have chosen—all that had desired a more equal representation than we now have. For now those only choose who have forty shillings freehold. A man may have a lease for one hundred pounds a year, a man may have a lease for three lives, [but he has no voice]. But [as] for this [argument], that it destroys all right [to property] that every Englishman that is an inhabitant of England should choose and have a voiced in the representatives, I suppose it is, [on the contrary], the only means to preserve all property. For I judge every man is naturally free; and I judge Edition: current; Page: [62] the reason whya men [chose representatives] when they wereh in so great numbers that every man could not give his voice [directly], wasb that they who were chosen might preserve property [for all]; and therefore men agreed to come into some form of government that they might preserve property, and I would fain know, if we were to begin a government, [whether you would say], ‘You have not forty shillings a year, therefore you shall not have a voice.’ Whereas before there was a government every man had such a voice,i and afterwards, and for this very cause, they did choose representatives, and put themselves into forms of government that they may preserve property, and therefore it is not to destroy it, [to give every man a voice].


I think we shall not be so apt to come to a right understanding in this business, if one man, and another man, and another man do speak their several thoughts and conceptions to the same purpose, as if we do considerc where the objection lies, and what the answer is which is made to it;d and therefore I desire we may do so. To that which this gentleman spake last. The main thing that he seemed to answer was this: that he would make it appear that the going about to establish this government, [or] such a government, is not a destruction of property, nor does not tend to the destruction of property, because the people’s falling into a government is for the preservation of property. What weight there [is in it] lies in this: since there is a falling into a government, and government is to preserve property, therefore this cannot be against property. The objection does not lie in that, the making ofe the representationf more equal, but [in] the introducing of men into an equality of interest in this government, who have no property in this kingdom, or who have no local permanent interest in it. For if I had said that I would not wish at all that we should have any enlargement of the bounds of those that are to be the electors, then you might have excepted against it. But [what I said was] that I would not go to enlarge it beyond all bounds, so that upon the same ground you may admit of so many men from foreign states as would outvote you. The objection lies still in this.g I do not mean that I would have it restrained to that proportion [that now obtains], but to restrain it still to men who have a local, a permanent interest in the kingdom, who have such an interest that they may live upon it as freeman, and who have such an interest as is fixed upon a place, and is not the same equally everywhere. If a man be an inhabitant upon a rack rent for a year, for two years, or twenty years, you cannot Edition: current; Page: [63] think that man hath any fixed or permanent interest. That man, if he pay the rent that his land is worth, anda hath no advantage but what he hath by his land,b is as good a man, may have as much interest, in another kingdom asc here. I do not speak of notd enlarging this [representation] at all, but of keeping this to the most fundamental constitution in this kingdom, that is, that no person that hath not a local and permanent interest in the kingdom should have an equal dependence in election [with those that have]. But if you go beyond this law, if you admit any man that hath a breath and being, I did show you how this will destroy property. It may come to destroy property thus. You may havee such men chosen, or at least the major part of them, [as have no local and permanent interest]. Whyf may notg those men vote against all property? [Again] you may admit strangers by this rule, if you admit them once to inhabit, and those that have interest in the land may be voted out of their land. It may destroy property that way. But here is the rule that you go by.h You infer this to be the right of the people, of every inhabitant,i becausej man hath such a right in nature, though it be not of necessity for the preserving of his being; [and] therefore you are to overthrow the most fundamental constitution for this. By the same rule, show me why you will not, by the same right of nature, make use of anything that any man hath, [though it be not] for the necessary sustenance of men.k Show me what you will stop at; wherein you will fence any man in a property by this rule.


I desire to know how this comes to be a property in some men, and not in others.

Colonel [Nathaniel] Rich:

I confess [there is weight in] that objection that the Commissary-General last insisted upon; for you have five to one in this kingdom that have no permanent interest. Some men [have] ten, some twenty servants, some more, some less. If the master and servant shall be equal electors, then clearly those that have no interest in the kingdom will make it their interest to choose those that have no interest. It may happen, that the majority may by law, not in a confusion,l destroy property; there may be a law enacted, that there shall be an equality of goods and estate.1 I think that either of the extremes may be urged to inconveniency; that is, [that] men that have no interest as to estate should have no interest as to election [and Edition: current; Page: [64] that they should have an equal interest]. But there may be a more equitableg division and distribution than that he that hath nothing should have an equal voice; and certainly there may be some other way thought of, that there may be a representative of the poor as well as the rich, and not to exclude all. I remember there were many workings and revolutions, as we have heard, in the Roman Senate; and there was never a confusion that did appear (and that indeed was come to) till the state came to know this kind of distribution of election. That is howa the people’s voices were bought and sold, and that by the poor; and thence it came that he that was the richest man, and [a man] of some considerable power among the soldiers,b and one they resolved on,c made himself a perpetual dictator. And if we strain too far to avoid monarchy in kings [let us take heed] that we do not call for emperors to deliver us from more than one tyrant.


I should not have spoken again. I think it is a fine gilded pill. But there is much danger, and it may seem to some that there is some kind of remedy [possible]. I think that we are better as we are [if it can be really proved] that the poor shall choose many [and] still the people bed in the same case, bed over-voted still. [But of this, and much else, I am unsatisfied], and therefore truly, sir, I should desire to go close to the business; and the [first] thing that I am unsatisfied in is how it comes about that there is such a propriety in some freeborn Englishmen, and not [in] others.

Cowling [demanded]:

Whether the younger son have not as much right to the inheritance as the eldest.


Will you decide it by the light of nature?


Why election was [given] only [to those with freeholds of] forty shillings a year (which was [then worth] more than forty pounds a year now), the reason was: that the Commons of England were overpowered by the Lords, who had abundance of vassals, but that still they might make their laws good against encroaching prerogatives [by this means];e therefore they did exclude all slaves. Now the case is not so: all slaves have bought their freedoms, [and] they are more free that in the commonwealth are more beneficial. [Yet] there are men [of substance] in the countryc [with no voice in elections]. There is a tanner in Staines worth three thousand pounds, and another in Reading worth three horseskins. [The second has a voice; the first, none.]

Edition: current; Page: [65]

In the beginning of your speech you seem to acknowledge [that] by law, by civil constitution, the propriety of having voices in election was fixed in certain persons. So then your exception of your argument does not prove that by civil constitution they have no such propriety, but your argument does acknowledge [that] by civil [constitution they have such] propriety. You argue against this law [only] that this law is not good.


Unless I be very much mistaken we are very much deviated from the first question.a Instead of following the first proposition to inquire what is just, I conceive we look to prophecies, and look to what may be the event, and judge of the justness of a thing by the consequence. I desire we may recall [ourselves to the question] whether it be right or no. I conceive all that hath been said against it will be reduced to this [question of consequences], and [to]b another reasonc—that it is against a fundamental law, that every person [choosing] ought to have a permanent interest, because it is not fit that those should choose Parliaments that have no lands to be disposed of by Parliament.


If you will take it by the way, it is not fit that the representees should choose [as] the representers, or the persons who shall make the law in the kingdom, [those] who have not a permanent fixed interest in the kingdom. [The reason is the same in the two cases.]


Sir, I do so take it; and I conceive that that is brought in for the same reason: that foreigners might [otherwise not only] come to have a voice in our elections as well as the native inhabitants, [but to be elected].


That is upon supposition that these [foreigners] should be all inhabitants.


I shall begin with the last first. The case is different withd the native inhabitant and [the] foreigner. If a foreigner shall be admitted to be an inhabitant in the nation,e so he will submit to that form of government as the natives do, he hath the same right as the natives but in this particular. Our case is to be considered thus, that we have been under slavery. That’s acknowledged by all. Our very laws were made by our conquerors; and Edition: current; Page: [66] whereas it’s spoken much of chronicles, I conceive there is no credit to be given to any of them; and the reason is because those that were our lords, and made us their vassals, would suffer nothing else to be chronicled. We are now engaged for our freedom. That’s the end of Parliaments: not to constitute what is already [established, but to act] according to the just rules of government. Every person in England hath as clear a right to elect his representative as the greatest person in England. I conceive that’s the undeniable maxim of government: that all government is in the free consent of the people. If [so], then upon that account there is no person that is under a just government, or hath justly his own, unless he by his own free consent be put under that government. This he cannot be unless he be consenting to it, and therefore, according to this maxim, there is never a person in England [but ought to have a voice in elections]. If [this], as that gentleman says, be true, there are no laws that in this strictness and rigour of justice [any man is bound to], that are not made by those who[m] he doth consent to. And therefore I should humbly move, that if the question be stated—which would soonest bring things to an issue—it might rather be thus: Whether any person can justly be bound by law,a who doth not give his consent that such persons shall make laws for him?


Let the question be so: Whether a man can be bound to any law that he doth not consent to? And I shall tell you, that he may and ought to be [bound to a law] that he doth not give a consent to, nor doth not choose any [to consent to]; and I will make it clear. If a foreigner come within this kingdom, if that stranger will have liberty [to dwell here] who hath no local interest here, he, asb a man, it’s true, hath air, [the passage of highways, the protection of laws,c and all] that by nature; we must not expel [him] our coasts, give him no being amongst us, nor kill him because he comes upon our land, comes up our stream, arrives at our shore. It is a piece of hospitality, of humanity, to receive that man amongst us. But if that man be received to a being amongst us, I think that man may very well be content to submit himself to the law of the land; that is, the law that is made by those people that have a property, a fixed property, in the land. I think, if any man will receive protection from this people though [neither] he nor his ancestors, not any betwixt him and Adam, did ever give concurrence to this constitution, I think this man ought to be subject to those laws, and to be bound by those laws, so long as he continues amongst them. That is my Edition: current; Page: [67] opinion. A man ought to be subject to a law, that did not give his consent, but with this reservation, that if this man do think himself unsatisfied to be subject to this law he may go into another kingdom. And so the same reason doth extend, in my understanding, [to] thata man that hath no permanent interest in the kingdom. If he hath money, his money is as good in another place as here; he hath nothing that doth locally fix him to this kingdom. If thatb man will live in this kingdom, or trade amongst us, that man ought to subject himself to the law made by the people who have the interest of this kingdom in them.c And yet I do acknowledge that which you take to be so general a maxim, that in every kingdom, within every land, the original of power of making laws, of determining what shall be law in the land, does lie in the people—[but by the people is meant those] that are possessed ofd the permanent interest in the land. But whoever is extraneous to this, that is, as good a man in another land, that man ought to give such a respect to the property of men that live in the land. They do not determine [that I shall live in this land]. Why should I have any interest ine determiningf what shall be the law of this land?

Major [William] Rainborough:

I think if it can be made to appear that it is a just and reasonable thing, and that it is for the preservation of all the [native] freeborn men, [that they should have an equal voice in election]—I think it ought to be made good unto them. And the reason is: that the chief end of this government is to preserve persons as well as estates, and if any law shall take hold of my person it is more dear than my estate.

Colonel Rainborough:

I do very well remember that the gentleman in the window1 [said] that, if it were so, there were no propriety to be had, becauseh five partsi of [the nation], the poor people, are now excluded and would then come in. Soj one on the other side said [that], if [it were] otherwise, then rich men [only] shall be chosen. Then, I say, the one part shall make hewers of wood and drawers of water of the other five, and so the greatest part of the nation be enslaved.k Truly I think we are stilll where we were; and I do not hear any argument given but only that it is the present law of the kingdom. I say still,m what shall become of those many [men] that have laid out themselves for the Parliament of England in this present war, that have ruined themselves by fighting, by hazarding all they had? They are Englishmen. They have now nothing to say for themselves.

Edition: current; Page: [68]

I should be very sorry to speak anything here that should give offence, or that may occasion personal reflection[s] that we spoke against just now. I did not urge anything so far as was represented, and I did not at all urgea that there should be a consideration [had of rich men], and that [a] man that is [poor] shall be without consideration, [or that] he deserves to be made poore[r] and not to live [in independence] at all. But all that I urged was this: that I think it worthy consideration, whether they should have an equality in their interest.b However, I think we have been a great while upon this point, and if we be as long upon all the rest, it were well if there were no greater difference than this.

Mr. [Hugh] Peter:

I think that this [matter of the franchise] may be easily agreed on—that is, there may be a way thought of. I think you would do well to set up all night [if thereby you could effect it], but I think that three or four might be thought of in this company [to form a committee]. You will be forced [only] to put characters upon electors or elected; therefore I do suppose that if there be any here that can make up a Representative to your mind, the thing is gained.c But I would fain know whether that will answer the work of your meeting.d The question is, whether you can state any one question for [removing] the present danger of the kingdom, whether any one question or no will dispatch the work.

Sir, I desire, [if it be possible], that some question may be stated to finish the present work, to cement us [in the points] wherein lies the distance; and if the thoughts [be] of the commonwealth [and] the people’s freedom, I think that’s soon cured.b I desire that all manner of plainness may be used, that we may not go on with the lapwing and carry one another off the nest. There is something elsef that must cement us where the awkwardness of our spirits lies.


For my part, I think we cannot engage one way or other in the Army if we do not think of the people’s liberties. If we can agree where the liberty and freedom of the people lies, that will do all.


I cannot consent so far.g As I said before: when I see the hand of God destroying King, and Lords, and Commons too, [or] any foundation of human constitution, when I see God hath done it, I shall, I hope, comfortably acquiesce in it. But Edition: current; Page: [69] first, I cannot give my consent to it, because it is not good. And secondly, as I desire that this Army should have regard to engagements wherever they are lawful, so I would have them have regard to this [as well]: that they should not bring that scandal upon the name of God [and the Saints], that those that call themselves by that name, those whom God hath owned and appeared with—that we shoulda represent ourselves to the world as men so far from being of that peaceable spirit which is suitable to the Gospel, as we should have bought peace of the world upon such terms—[as] we would not have peace in the world but upon such terms—as should destroy all property. If the principle upon which you move this alteration, or the ground upon which you press that we should make this alteration, do destroy all kind of property or whatsoever a man hath by human constitution, [I cannot consent to it]. The Law of God doth not give me property, nor the Law of Nature, but property is of human constitution. I have a property and this I shall enjoy. Constitution founds property. If either the thing itself that you press or the consequence [of] that you press [do destroy property], though I shall acquiesce in having no property, yet I cannot give my heart or hand to it; because it is a thing evil in itself and scandalous to the world, and I desire this Army may be free from both.


I see that though libertyb were our end,c there is a degeneration from it. We have engaged in this kingdom and ventured our lives, and it was all for this: to recover our birthrights and privileges as Englishmen; and by the arguments urged there is none. There are many thousands of us soldiers that have ventured our lives; we have had little propriety in the kingdom as to our estates, yet we have had a birthright. But it seems now, except a man hath a fixed estate in this kingdom, he hath no right in this kingdom. I wonder we were so much deceived. If we had not a right to the kingdom, we were mere mercenary soldiers. There are many in my condition, that have as good a condition [as I have]; it may be little estate they have at present, and yet they have as much a [birth]right as those two1 who are their lawgivers, as any in this place. I shall tell you in a word my resolution. I am resolved to give my birthright to none. Whatsoever may come in the way, and [whatsoever may] be thought,d I will give it to none. If this thing [be denied the poor], that with so much pressing after [they have sought, it will be the greatest scandal]. There was one thing spoken to this effect: that if the poor and Edition: current; Page: [70] those in low condition [were given their birthright it would be the destruction of this kingdom]. I think this was but a distrust of Providence. I do think the poor and meaner of this kingdom—I speak as ina relation [to the condition of soldiers], in which we are—have been the means of the preservation of this kingdom. I say, in their stations, and really I thinka to their utmost possibility; and their lives have not been [held] dear for purchasing the good of the kingdom.b [And now they demand the birthright for which they fought.] Those that act to this end are as free from anarchy or confusion as those that oppose it, and they have the Law of God and the law of their conscience [with them]. But truly I shall only sum up [in] this.c I desire that we may not spend so much time upon these things. We must be plain. When men come to understand these things, they will not lose that which they have contended for. That which I shall beseech you is to come to a determination of this question.


I am very sorry we are come to this point, that from reasoning one to another we should come to express our resolutions. I profess for my part, what I see is good for the kingdom, and becoming a Christian to contend for, I hope through God I shall have strength and resolution to do my part towards it. And yet I will profess direct contrary in some kind to what that gentleman said. For my part, rather than I will make a disturbance to a good constitution of a kingdom wherein I may live in godliness and honesty, and peace and quietness, I will part with a great deal of my birthright. I will part with my own property rather than I will be the man that shall make a disturbance in the kingdom for my property; and therefore if all the people in this kingdom, or [the] representative[s] of them all together, should meet and should give away my property I would submit to it, I would give it away. But that gentleman, and I think every Christian, ought to bear that spirit,d to carry that in him, that he will not make a public disturbance upon a private prejudice.

Now let us consider where our difference lies. We all agree that you should have a Representative to govern, ande this Representative to be as equal as you can [make it]. But the question is, whether this distribution can be made to all persons equally, or whether [only] amongst those equals that have the interest of England in them. That which I have declared [is] my opinion [still]. I think we ought to keep to that [constitution which we have now], both because it is a civil constitution—it is the most fundamental constitution that we have—and [because] there is so Edition: current; Page: [71] much justice and reason and prudence [in it]—as I dare confidently undertake to demonstratea—that there are many more evils that will follow in case you do alter [it] than there can [be] in the standing of it. But I say but this in the general, that I do wish that they that talk of birthrights—we any of us when we talk of birthrightsb—would consider what really our birthright is.

If a man meanc by birthright, whatsoever Id can challenge by the Law of Nature (suppose there were no constitution at all,e no civil law and [no] civil constitution), [and] that that I am to contend for against constitution; [then] you leave no property, nor no foundation for any man to enjoy anything. But if you call that your birthright which isl the most fundamental part of your constitution, then let him perish that goes about to hinder you or any man of the least part of your birthright, or will [desire to] do it. But if you will lay aside the most fundamental constitution, which is as good, for aught you can discern, as anything you can propose—at least it is a constitution,f and I will give you consequence for consequence of good upon [that] constitution as you [can give] upong your birthright [without it]h—and if you merely upon pretence of a birthright, of the right of nature, which is only true as for [your being, and not for] your better being; if you will upon that ground pretend that this constitution, the most fundamental constitution, the thing that hath reason and equity in it, shall not stand in your way, [it] is the same principle to me, say I, [as if] but for your better satisfaction you shall take hold of anything that a[nother] man calls his own.


Sir, I see that it is impossible to have liberty but all property must be taken away. If it be laid down for a rule, and if you will say it, it must be so. But I would fain know whati the soldier hathj fought for all this while? He hath fought to enslave himself, to give power to men of riches, men of estates, to make him a perpetual slave. We do find in all presses that go forth none must be pressed that are freehold men. When these gentlemen fall out among themselves they shall press the poor scrubsk to come and kill [one another for] them.


I confess I see so much right in the business that I am not easily satisfied with flourishes. If you will [not] lay the stress of the business upon the consideration of reason, or right relating to anything of human constitution, or anything of that nature, but will put it upon consequences, I will show you greater ill consequences—I see enough to say that, to my apprehensions, I can Edition: current; Page: [72] show you greater ill consequences to follow upon that alteration which you would have, by extending [voices] to all that have a being in this kingdom, than [any] that [can come] by this [present constitution], a great deal. Thata [that you urge of the present constitution] is a particular ill consequence. This [that I object against your proposal] is a general ill consequence, and thisb is as great as thatc or any [ill consequence] else [whatsoever], though I think you will see that the validity of that argument must bed that for one ill [that] lies upon that which now is,e I can show you a thousand upon this [that you propose].

Give me leave [to say] but this one word. I [will] tell you what the soldier of the kingdom hath fought for. First, the danger that we stood in was that one man’s will must be a law. The people of the kingdom must have this right at least, that they should not be concluded [but] by the Representative of those that had the interest of the kingdom. So[m]e men fought in this, because they were immediately concerned and engaged in it. Other men who had no other interest in the kingdom but this, that they should have the benefit of those laws made by the Representative, yet [fought] that they should have the benefit of this Representative. They thought it was better to be concluded by the common consent of those that were fixed men, and settled men, that had the interest of this kingdom [in them]. ‘And from that way,’ [said they], ‘I shall know a law and have a certainty.’e Every man that was born [in the country, that]f is a denizeng in it, that hath a freedom, he was capable of trading to get money,e to get estates by; and therefore this man, I think, had a great deal of reason to build up such a foundation of interest to himself: that is, that the will of one man should not be a law, but that the law of this kingdom should be by a choice of persons to represent, and that choice to be made by, the generality of the kingdom. Here was a right that induced men to fight, and those men that hadh this interest,e though this be not the utmost interest that other men have, yet they had some interest. Now [tell me] why we should go to plead whatsoever we can challenge by the right of nature against whatsoever any man can challenge by constitution. I do not see where that man will stop, as to point of property, [so] that he shall not use [against other property] that right he hath [claimed] by the Law of Nature against that constitution. I desire any man to show me where there is a difference. I have been answered, ‘Now we see liberty cannot stand without [destroying] property.’ Liberty may be had and property not be destroyed. First, the liberty of all those that have the Edition: current; Page: [73] permanent interest in the kingdom, that is provided for [by the constitution]. Anda [secondly, by an appeal to the Law of Nature] liberty cannot be provided for in a general sense, if property be preserved. For if property be preserved [by acknowledging a natural right in the possessor, so] that I am not to meddle with such a man’s estate, his meat, his drink, his apparel, or other goods, then the right of nature destroys liberty. By the right of nature I am to have sustenance rather than perish; yet property destroys it for a man to have [this] by the rightb of nature, [even] suppose there be no human constitution.


I do say still, under favour, there is a way to cure all this debate. I will mind you of one thing: that upon the will of one man abusing us, [we reached agreement], and if the safety of the Army be in danger [so we may again]. I hope, it is not denied by any man that any wise, discreet man that hath preserved England [is worthy of a voice] ind the government of it. So that, I profess to you, for my part I am clear the point of election should be amended [in that sense]. I think, they will desire no more liberty. If there were time to dispute it, I think theye would be satisfied, and all will be satisfied.


I confess I was most dissatisfied with that I heard Mr. Sexby speak, of any man here, because it did savour so much of will. But I desire that all of us may decline that, and if we meet here really to agree to that which isf for the safety of the kingdom, let us not spend so much time in such debates as these are, but let us apply ourselves to such things as are conclusive, and that shall be this. Everybody here would be willing that the Representative might be mended, that is, [that] it might be [made] better than it is. Perhaps it may be offered in that [other] paper1 too lamely. If the thing [there] insisted upon beg too limited, why perhaps there are a very considerable part of copyholders by inheritance that ought to have a voice; and there may be somewhat [in that paper] too [that] reflects upon the generality of the people [in denying them a voice]. I know our debates are endless if we think to bring it to an issue this way. If we may but resolve upon a committee, [things may be done]. If I cannot be satisfied to go so far as these gentlemen that bring this paper,2 I say it again [and] I profess it, I shall freely and willingly withdraw myself, and I hope to do it in such a manner that the Army shall see that I shall by my withdrawing satisfyh the interest of the Army, the public Edition: current; Page: [74] interest of the kingdom, and those ends these men aim at. And I think if you do bring this to a result it were well.


If these men must be advanced, and other men set under foot, I am not satisfied. If their rules must be observed, and other men, that are [not] in authority, [be silenced, I] do not know how this can stand together [with the idea of a free debate]. I wonder how that should be thought wilfulness in one man that is reason in another; for I confess I have not heard anything that doth satisfy me, and though I have not so much wisdom, or [so many] notions in my head,a I have so many [apprehensions] that I could tell an hundred [such] ofb the ruin of the people. I am not at all against a committee’s meeting; and as you say—and I think every Christian ought to do the same—for my part I shall be ready, if I see the way that I am going, and the thing that I would insist on, will destroy the kingdom, I shall withdraw [from] it as soon as any. And therefore, till I see that, I shall use all the means [I can], and I think it is no fault in any man [to refuse] to sell that which is his birthright.


I desire to speak a few words. I am sorry that my zeal to what I apprehend is good should be so ill resented. I am not sorry to see that which I apprehend is truth [disputed], but I am sorry the Lord hath darkened some so much as not to see it, and that is in short [this]. Do you [not] think it were a sad and miserable condition, that we have fought all this time for nothing? All here, both great and small, do think that we fought for something. I confess, many of us fought for those ends which, we since saw,c were not thosed which caused us to go through difficulties and straits [and] to venture all in the ship with you. It had been good in you to have advertised us of it, and I believe you would have [had] fewer under your command to have commanded. But if this be the business, that an estate doth make men capable—it is no matter which way they get it, they are capable—to choose those that shall represent them,a I think there are many that have not estates that in honesty have as much right in the freedom [of] their choicee as any that have great estates. Truly, sir, [as for] your putting off this question and coming to some other, I dare say, and I dare appeal to all of them, that they cannot settle upon any other until this be done. It was the ground that we took up arms [on], and it is the ground which we shall maintain. Concerning my making rents and divisions in this way. Asf a particular, if I were but so, I could lie down and be trodden Edition: current; Page: [75] there; [but] truly I am sent by a regiment, [and] if I should not speak, guilt shall lie upon me, and I [should] think I were a covenant-breaker.a I do not know how we have [been] answered in our arguments, and [as for our engagements], I conceive we shall not accomplish them to the kingdom when we deny them to ourselves.b I shall be loath to make a rent and division, but, for my own part, unless I see this put to a question, I despair of an issue.


The first thing that I shouldc desire was, and is, this: that there might be a temperature and moderation of spirit within us; that we should speak with moderation, not with such reflection as was boulted one from another, but so speak and so hear as that which [is said] may be the droppings of love from one to another’s hearts. Another word I have to say is [that] the grand question of all is, whether or no it be the property of every individual person in the kingdom to have a vote in election[s]; and the ground [on which it is claimed] is the Law of Nature, which, for my part, I think to be that law which is the ground of all constitutions. Yet really properties are the foundation of constitutions, [and not constitutions of property]. For if so be there were no constitutions,d yete the Law of Nature does give a principle [for every man] to have a property of what he has, or may have, which is not another man’s. This [natural right to] property is the ground of meum and tuum. Now there may be inconveniencies on both hands, but not so great freedom [on either as is supposed—not] the greater freedom, as I conceive, that all may have whatsoever [they have a mind to]. And if it come to pass that there be a difference, and that the one [claimant] doth oppose the other, then nothing can decide it but the sword, which is the wrath of God.


I see you have a long dispute [and] that you do intend to dispute here till the tenth of March. You have brought us into a fair pass, and the kingdom into a fair pass, for if your reasons are not satisfied, and we do not fetch all our waters from your wells, you threaten to withdraw yourselves. I could wish, according to our several protestations, we might sit down quietly, and there throw down ourselves where we see reason. I could wish we might all rise, and go to our duties, and setf our work in hand. I see both [parties] at a stand; and if we dispute here, both are lost.


Really for my own part I must needs say, whilst we say we would not make reflections we do make reflections; and if I had not come hither with a free heart to do that that I was Edition: current; Page: [76] persuaded in my conscience is my duty, I should a thousand times rather have kept myself away. For I do think I had brought upon myself the greatest sin that I was [ever] guilty of, if I should have come to have stood before God in that former duty,a and if [I did retreat from] that my saying—which I did say, and shall persevere to say—that I shall not, I cannot, against my conscience do anything. They that have stood so much for liberty of conscience, if they will not grant that liberty to every man, but say it is a deserting I know not what—if that [liberty] be denied me, I think there is not that equality that isb professed to be amongst us.c Though we should be satisfied in our consciences in what we do, we are told we purpose to leave the Army, or to leave our commands, as if we took upon us to do it asd [a] matter of will. I did hear some gentlemen speak more of will than anything that was spoken this way, for more was spoken by way of will than of satisfaction, and if there be notk more equality in our minds I can but grieve for it, I must do no more.e I said this (and I say no more): that [if you would] make your businesses as well as you can, we might bring things to an understanding; [for] it was [in order] to be brought to a fair composure [that we met]. And when you have said [what you can for the paper and have heard our objections], if [then] you should put this paper to the question without any qualifications, I doubt whether it would pass so freely. If we would have no difference we ought to put it [with due qualifications]. And let me speak clearly and freely—I have heard other gentlemen do the like: I have not heard the Commissary-Generl answered, not in onef part, to my knowledge, not in a tittle. If, therefore, when I see there is an extremity of difference between you, [I move for a committee] to the end it may be brought nearer to a general satisfactiong—if this [too] be thought a deserting of that interest, [I know not] if there can be anything more sharply said; I will not give it an ill word.


I should not speak [again], but reflections do necessitate [it], do call upon us to vindicate ourselves. As if we, who have led men into engagements and services,h had divided [from them] because we did not concur with them! I will ask that gentlemani that spokej (whom I love in my heart): whether when they drew out to serve the Parliament in the beginning, whether when they engaged with the Army at Newmarket, whether then they thought of any more interest or right in the kingdom than this; whether they did think that they should have as great interest Edition: current; Page: [77] in Parliament-men as freeholders had, or whether from the beginning we did not engage for the liberty of Parliaments, and that we should be concluded by the laws that such did make. Unless somebody did make you believe before now that you should have an equal interest in the kingdom, unless somebody dida make that to be believed, there is no reason to blame men for leading [you] so far as they have done; and if any man was far enough from such an apprehension, that man hath not been deceived. And truly, I shall say but this word more for myself in this business, because the whole objection seems to be pressed to me, and maintained againstb me. I will not arrogate that I was the first man that put the Army upon the thought either of successive Parliaments or more equal Parliaments; yet there are some here that know who they were [that] put us upon that foundation of liberty of putting a period to this Parliament, [in order] that we might have successive Parliaments, and that there might be a more equal distribution of elections. There are many here that know who were the first movers of that business in the Army. I shall not arrogate that [to myself], but I can argue this with a clear conscience: that no man hath prosecuted that with more earnestness, andf will stand to that interest more than I do, of having Parliaments successive and not perpetual, and thec distribution of electionsd [more equal]. But, notwithstanding, my opinion stands good, that it ought to be a distribution amongst the fixed and settled people of this nation. It’s more prudent and safe, and more upon this ground of right for it [to be so]. Now it is the fundamental constitution of this kingdom; and that which you take away [you take away] for matter of wilfulness. Notwithstanding, [as for] this universal conclusion, that all inhabitants [shall have voices], as it stands [in the Agreement], I must declare that thoughe I cannot yet be satisfied, yet for my part I shall acquiesce. I will not make a distraction in this Army. Though I have a property in being one of those that should be an elector, though I have an interest in the birthright, yet I will rather lose that birthright and that interest than I will make it my business [to oppose them], if I see but the generality of those whom I have reason to think honest men and conscientious men and godly men, to carry them[selves] another way. I will not oppose, though I be not satisfied to join with them. And I desire [to say this]. I am agreed with you if you insist upon a more equal distribution of elections; I will agree with you, not only to dispute for it, but to fight for it and contend for it. Thus far I shall agree with you. On the other hand, [to] those who differ Edition: current; Page: [78] [in] their terms [and say], ‘I will not agree with you except you go farther,’ [I make answer], ‘Thus far I can go with you: I will go with you as far as I can.’ If you will appoint a committeea of someb [few] to consider of that, so as you preserve the equitable part of that constitution [that now is, securing a voice to those] who are like to be free men,c men not given up to the wills of others, [and thereby] keeping to the latitude which is the equity of constitutions, I will go with you as far as I can. [And where I cannot] I will sit down, I will not make any disturbance among you.


If I dod speak my soul and conscience I do think that there is not an objection made but that it hath been answered; but the speeches are so long. I am sorry for some passion and some reflections, and I could wish where it is most taken [amiss] the cause had not been given. It is a fundamental [of the] constitution of the kingdom, [that] there [be parliamentary boroughs]; I would fain know whether the choice of burgesses in corporations should not be altered. [But] the end wherefore I speak is only this. You think we shall be worse than we are, if we come to a conclusion by a [sudden] vote. If it be put to the question we shall [at least] all know one another’s mind. If it be determined, and the [common] resolutions known, we shall take such a course as to put it in execution. This gentleman says, if he cannot go he will sit still. He thinks he hath a full liberty [to do so]; we think we have not. There is a great deal of difference between us two. If a man hath all he doth desire, [he may wish to sit still]; but [if] I think I have nothing at all of what I fought for, I do not think the argument holds that I must desist as well as he.


The rich would very unwillingly be concluded by the poor. And there is as much reason that the rich should conclude the poor as the poor the riche—and indeed [that is] no reason [at all].f There should be an equal share in both. I understood your engagement was that you would use all your endeavours for the liberties of the people, that they should be secured. If there is [such] a constitution that the people are not free, that [constitution] should be annulled. That constitution which is now set up is a constitution of forty shillings a year, but this constitution doth not make [the] people free.


Here’s the mistake: [you make the whole question to be] whether that’s the better constitution in that paper, or that Edition: current; Page: [79] which [now] is. But if you will go upon such a ground as that,a although a better constitution was [really] offered for the removing of the worse, yet some gentlemen are resolved to stick to the worse [and] there might be a great deal of prejudice upon such an apprehension. I think you are by this time satisfied that it is a clear mistake; for it is a dispute whether or no this [proposed constitution] bef better—nay, whether it be not destructive to the kingdom.


I desire to speak one word to this business, because I do not know whether my occasions will suffer me to attend it any longer. The great reason that I have heard [urged] is, ‘the constitution of the kingdom, the utmost constitution of it’; and ‘if we destroy this constitution there is no property.’ I suppose that if constitutions should tie up all men in this nature it were very dangerous.


First, the thing itself were dangerous if it were settled [so as] to destroy propriety. But I say the principle that leads to this [proposed change] is destructive to property. For by the same reason that you will alter this constitution, merely thatb there’s a greater [liberty] by nature [than this] constitutionc [gives]—by the same reason, by the Law of Nature, there is a greater liberty to the use of other men’s goods, which that property bars you of. And I would fain have any man show me why I should destroy that liberty which the freeholders, and burghers in corporations, have in choosing [knights and] burgesses (that which ifd you take away, you leave no constitution), and this because there is a greater freedom due to mee by the Law of Nature—[why I should do this] more than that I should take another man’s goods because the Law of Nature does allow me.


I would grant something that the Commissary-General says. But [I would have the question stated]: Whether this be a just propriety, the propriety [that] says that forty shillings a year enables a man to elect? If it were stated to that [effect], nothing would conduce so much [to determine] whether some men do agree or no.

Captain [Edmund] Rolfe:

I conceive that, as we are met here, there are one or two things mainly to be prosecuted by us; that is especially unity, [the] preservation of unity in the Army, and so likewise to put ourselves into a capacity thereby to do good to the Edition: current; Page: [80] kingdom.a Therefore I shall desire that there may be a tender consideration had of that which is so much urged, in that of an equal, as well as of a free, Representative. I shall desire that a medium, or some thoughts of a composure, [may be had] in relation to servants or to foreigners, or such others as shall be agreed upon. I say, then, I conceive, excepting those, there may be a very equitable sense [p]resented to us from that offer in our own declarations wherein we do offer the common good of all, unless they have made any shipwreck or loss of it.


I presume that the great stick here is this: that if every one shall have his [natural] propriety [of election] it does bereave the kingdom of its principal fundamental constitution, that it [now] hath. I presume that all people, and all nations whatsoever, have a liberty and power to alter and change their constitutions if they find them to be weak and infirm. Now if the people of England shall find this weakness in their constitution, they may change it if they please. Another thing is this: [it is feared that] if the light of nature be only [followed] in this, it may destroy the propriety which every man can call his own. [But it will not, and] the reason is this, because this principle and light of nature doth give all men their own—as, for example, the clothes upon my back because they are not another man’s. [Finally] if every man hath this propriety of election to choose those who [shall make the laws], you fear [it] may beget inconveniencies. I do not conceive that anything may be so nicely and precisely done but that it may admit of inconveniency. If it be [that there is inconveniency] in that [form of the constitution] wherein it is now, there may [some of] those inconveniencies rise [from the changes, that are apprehended] from them. For my part I know nothing [of fatal consequence in the relation of men] but the want of love in it, and [then, if difference arises], the sword must decide it.

I [too] shall desire [that] before the question be stated it may be moderated as for foreigners.


In the beginning of this discourse there were overtures made of imminent danger. This way we have taken this afternoon is not the way to prevent it. I wouldc humbly move that we should put a speedy end to this business, and that not only to this main question of the paper, but also according to the Lieutenant-General’s motion, that a committee may be chosen seriously to consider the things in that paper, and compare them Edition: current; Page: [81] with divers things in our declarations and engagements, that so [we may show ourselves ready], as we have all professed, to lay down ourselves before God. If we take this course of debating upon one question a whole afternoon, [and] if the danger be so near as it is supposed, it were the ready way to bring us into it. [I desire] that things may be put into a speedy dispatch.

Sir Hardress Waller:

This was that I was [desirous of] saying. (I confess I have not spoken yet, and I was willing to be silent, having heard so many speak, that I might learn).a It is not easy for us to say when this dispute will have an end; but I think it is easy to say when the kingdom will have an end.b If we do not breathe out ourselves, we shall be kicked and spurned of all the world. I would fain know how far the question will decide it; for certainly we must not expect, while we have tabernacles here, to be all of one mind. If it be to be decided by a question, andc all parties are satisfied in that, I think the sooner you hasten to it the better. If otherwise, we shall needlessly discover our dividing opinion, which as long as it may be avoided I desire it may. Therefore I desire to have a period [put to this debate].


I chanced to speak a word or two. Truly there was more offence taken at it. For my part I spoke against every man living, not only against yourself and the Commissary, but [against] every man that would dispute till we have our throats cut,d and therefore I desire I may not lie in any prejudice before your persons.e I profess, if so be there were none but you and the Commissary-General alone to maintain that argument, I would die in any place in England, in asserting that it is the right of every free-born man to elect, according to the rule, Quod omnibus spectat, ab omnibusf tractari debet, that which concerns all ought to be debated by all. [He continued: That] he knew no reason why that law should oblige [him] when he himself had no finger in appointing the law-giver.

Captain Bishop:

You have met here this day to see if God would show you any way wherein you might jointly preserve the kingdom from its destruction, which you all apprehend to be at the door. God is pleased not to come in to you. There is a gentleman, Mr. Saltmarsh, did desire what he has wrote may be read to the General Council.1 If God do manifest anything by him I think it ought to be heard.

Edition: current; Page: [82]

[I have declared] that you will alter that constitution from a better to a worse, from a just to a thing that is less just in my apprehension; and I will not repeat the reasons of that, but refer to what I have declared before. To me, if there were nothing but this, that there is a constitution, and that constitution which is the very last constitution, which if you take away you leave nothing of constitution, and consequently nothing of right or property, [it would be enough]. I would not go to alter this,a though a man could propound that which in some respects might be better, unless it could be demonstrated to me that this were unlawful, or that this were destructive. Truly, therefore, I say for my part, to go on a sudden to make such a limitation as that [to inhabitants] in general, [is to make no limitation at all]. If you do extend the latitude [of the constitution so far] that any man shall have a voice in election who has not that interest in this kingdom that is permanent and fixed, who hath not that interest upon which he mayb have hisc freedom in this kingdom without dependence, you will put it into the hands of men to choose, [not] of men [desirous] to preserve their liberty, [but of men] who will give it away.

dI am confident, our discontent and dissatisfactione if ever they do well, they do in this. If there be anything at all that is a foundation of liberty it is this, that those who shall choose the law-makers shall be men freed from dependence upon others.f I have a thing put into my heart which I cannot but speak. I profess I am afraid that if we, from such apprehensions as these are of an imaginable right of nature opposite to constitution, if we will contend and hazard the breaking of peace upong this business of that enlargement,h I think if we, from imaginations and conceits, will go about to hazard the peace of the kingdom, to alter the constitution in such a point, I am afraid we shall find the hand of God will follow it [and] we shall see that that liberty which we so much talk of, and [have so much] contended for, shall be nothing at all by this our contending for it, by [our] putting it into the hands of those men that will give it away when they have it.


If we should go about to alter these things, I do not think that we are bound to fight for every particular proposition. Servants, while servants, are not included. Then you agree that he that receives alms is to be excluded?

Lieutenant-Colonel [Thomas] Reade:

I suppose it’s concluded by all, that the choosing of representatives is a privilege; now I see Edition: current; Page: [83] no reason why anya man that is a native ought to be excluded that privilege, unless from voluntary servitude.


I conceive the reason why we would exclude apprentices, or servants, or those that take alms,b is because they depend upon the will of other men and should be afraid to displease [them]. For servants and apprentices, they are included in their masters, and so for those that receive alms from door to door; but if there be any general way taken for those that are not [so] bound [to the will of other men], it would bec well.


I being sent from the Agents of [the] five regiments with an answer unto a writing, the committee was very desirous to inquire into the depth of our intentions. Those things that they had there manifested in the paper,d and what I did understand as a particular person, I did declare.e It was the Lieutenant-General’s desire for an understanding with us,f presuming those things I did declare did tend to unity. ‘And if so,’ [said he], ‘you will let it appear by coming unto us.’ We have gone thus far: we have had two or three meetings to declare and hold forth what it is we stand upon, the principles of unity and freedom. We have declared in what we conceive these principles do lie—I shall not name them all because they are known unto you. Now in the progress of these disputes and debates we find that the time spends, and no question but our adversaries are harder at work than we are. I heardg (but I had no such testimony as I could take hold of) that there are meetings daily and contrivances against us. Now for our parts weh hope you will not say all [the desire for unity] is yours, but [will acknowledge that] we have nakedly and freely unbosomed ourselves unto you. Though those things [in the paper] have startled many at the first view, yet we find there is [still] good hopes. We have fixed our resolutions, and we are determined, and we want nothing but that only God will direct us to what is just and right. But I understand that [in] all these debates if we shall agree upon any one thing, [to say], ‘This is our freedom; this is our liberty; this liberty and freedom we are debarred of, and we are bereaved of all those comforts,’ [that even] in case we should find out half an hundred of these, yet the main business is [first] how we should find them, and [then] how we should come by them. Is there any libertyi that we find ourselves deprived of? If we have grievances let us see who are the hindrances [that oppose the best way of removing them]j when we have pitched upon that way. I conceive—I speak Edition: current; Page: [84] humbly in this one thing as a particular persona—I conceive, myself, that these delays, these disputes, will prove little encouragement.b It was told me by [one of] these gentlemen, that he had great jealousies that we would not come to the trial of our spirits and that perhaps there might happen [to be] another design in hand. I said to his Honour again, if they would not come to the light I would judge they had the works of darkness in hand. Now as they told me again on the other hand, when it was questioned by Colonel Hewson:c ‘These gentlemen,’ [said they], not naming any particular persons, ‘they will hold you in hand, and keep you in debate and dispute till you and we [shall] come all to ruin.’ Now I stood as a moderator between [the asserters of] these things. When I heard the Lieutenant-General speak I was marvellously taken up with the plainness of the carriage. I said, ‘I will bring them to you. You shall see if their hearts be so. For my part I [shall expect to] see nothing but plainness and uprightness of heart made manifest unto you.’ I will not judge, nor draw any long discourse upon, our disputes this day. We may differ in one thing: that you conceive this debating and disputationd will do the work; [while we conceive] we must [without delay] put ourselves into the former privileges which we want.


I think this gentleman hath dealt very ingenuouslye and plainly with us. I pray God we may do so too, and, for one, I will do it. I think our disputings will not do the thing. I think [we shall do well] if we do make it our resolution that we do hold it forth to all powers—Parliament or King, or whoever they are—to let them know that these are our rights, and if we have them not we must get them the best way we can.


I think you say very well; and my friend at my back, he tells me that [there] are great fears abroad; and they [that bring the paper] talk of some things such as are not only specious to take a great many people with, but real and substantial, and such as are comprehensive of that that hath the good of the kingdom in it.f Truly if there be never so much desire of carrying on these things [together], never so much desire of conjunction, yet if there be not liberty of speech to come to a right understanding of things, I think it shall be all one as if there were no desire at all to meet.f I may say it with truth, that I verily believe there is as much reality and heartiness amongst us [as amongst you], to come to a right understanding, and to accord with that that hath the settlement of the kingdom in it. Though Edition: current; Page: [85] when it comes to particulars we may differ in the way, yet I know nothing but that every honest man will go as far as his conscience will let him; and he that will go farther, I think he will fall back. And I think, when that principle is written in the hearts of us, and when there is not hypocrisy in our dealings, we must all of us resolve upon this, that ’tis God that persuades the heart. If there be a doubt of sincerity, it’s the devil that created that effect; and ’tis God that gives uprightness [of heart]. And I hope thata with such an heart we have all met withal. If we have not, God find him out that came without it; for my part I do [come with] it.


I would have us fall to something that is practicable, with as little pains and dissatisfaction as may be.c [As for the distribution of representatives], when you have done this according to the number of inhabitants, do you think it is not very variable,d for the number will change every day?e I remember that in the proposals that went out in the name of the Army,1 it is propounded as a rule [for the seats] to be distributed according to the rates that the counties bear in the [burdens of the] kingdom. And remember then you have a rule, and though this be not a rule of exactness [either], yet there was something of equality in it, and it was a certain rule, where all are agreed; and therefore [by adopting it] we should come to some settling. Now I do not understand wherein the advantage does lie, [if] from a sudden [apprehension of] danger, [we should rashly fix] upon a thing that will continue so long, and will continue so uncertain as this is.


’Tis thought there’s imminent danger; I hope to God we shall be so ready to agree for the future that we shall all agree for the present to rise as one man if the danger be such, for it is an impossibility to have a remedy in this. The paper says that this [present] Parliament is to continue a year, but will the great burden of the people be ever satisfied with papers [whilst] you eat and feed upon them? I shall be glad that, [if] there be not any present danger,f you will think of some way to ease the burden, that we may take a course [to do it]; and when we have satisfied the people that we do really intend the good of the kingdom [they will believe us]. Otherwise, if the four Evangelists were here, and lay [at] free-quarter upon them, theyg would not believe them.h

Colonel Rainborough moved:

That the Army might be called Edition: current; Page: [86] to a rendezvous, and things settled [as promised in its printed engagements].


We are called back to engagements. I think the engagementsa we have made and published, and all the engagements of all sorts, have been better kept by those that did not so much cry out for it than by those that do, and—if you will [have it] in plain terms—better kept than by those that have brought this paper. Give me leave to tell you, in that one point, in the engagement of the Army not to divide,1 I am sure that he that understands the engagement of the Army not to divide or disbandb [as meaning] that we are not to divide for quarters, for the ease of the country, or the satisfaction of service—he that does understand it in that sense, I am not capable of his understanding.c There was another sense in it, and that is, that we should not suffer ourselves to be torn into pieces. Such a dividing as [that] is really a disbanding, and for my part I do not know what disbanding is if not that dividing. [I say] thatd the subscribers of this paper, the authorse of that book that is called The Case of the Army, I say that they have gone the way of disbanding.f Disbanding of an army is not parting in a place, for if that be so, did we not at that night disband to several quarters? Did we not then send several regiments: Colonel Scroope’s regiment into the West—we know where it was first; Colonel Horton’s regiment into Wales for preventing of insurrection there; Colonel Lambert’s [and] Colonel Lilburne’s regiment[s] then sent down for strengthening such a place as York?g And yet the authors of that paper and the subscribers of ith—for I cannot think the authors and subscribers all onei—know, and [well] they may know it, that there is not one part of the Army is divided [in body] farther than the outcries of the authors of it [are in spirit].j [For] they go [about] to scandalize [us as breakers of] an engagement [not to disperse] or divide; [yet they know that] there’s no part of the Army is dispersed to quarters further than that [I have stated]. Whereupon [all] that outcry is [made]! But he that will go to understand this to be a dividing that we engaged against, he looks at the name, and not at the thing. That dividing which is a disbanding [is] that dividing which makes no army, andk that dissolving of that order and government which is as essential to an army as life is to a man—which if it be taken away I think that such a company are no more an army than a rotten carcass is a man; and [it is] those [who have done this] that have gone [about] to divide the Edition: current; Page: [87] Army. And what else is there in this paper [but] that we have acted so vigorously for [already? We proposed that this Parliament should end within a year at most]; they do not propose that this [present] Parliament should end till the beginning of September.a When all comes [to be considered] upon the matter, it is but a critical difference and the very substance of that we have declared [for] before.b And let it be judged whetherc this wayd we have taken ande that [way] they have taken be not the same as to the matter [of it].f For my part I profess it seriously, that we shall findg in the issue that the principle of that division [which they seek to raise on the question] of disbanding is no more than this: whether such [men] or such shall have the managing of the business.h I say plainly, the way [they have taken] hath been the way of disunion and division, andi [the dissolution] of that order and government by which we shall be enabled to act [at all]. And I shall appeal to all men: [whether] the dividing from that General Council [and from the resolution] wherein we have all engaged [that] we would be concluded by [the decisions of] that [Council], and [whether likewise] the endeavouring to draw the soldiers to run this way [with them—whether this is not the real dividing of the Army]. I shall appeal [to them]: whether there can be any breach of the Army higher than that breach we have now spoke of, [any truer sense in which] that word ‘dividing the Army’j [can be taken]; whether that dividing were not more truly and properly [such, which is] in every man’s heart, [than] this dividing [which they do accuse us of incurring], wherein we do go apart one from another [but remain united in heart], and [whether it does not follow] consequently, [that] those that have gone this way have not broke the Engagement, [but that] the other dividingk [cannot be] a keeping of the Engagement. And those that do [so] judge the one [and the other, will concur with me when I say], I do not think that we have been fairly dealt with.


I do not make any great wonder that this gentleman hath sense above all men in the world. But for these things, he is the man that hath undertaken [the drawing-up of] them all. I say, this gentleman hath the advantage of us [on the question of engagements]: he hath drawn up the most part of them; and whyl may hem not keep a sense that we do not know of? If this gentleman had declared to us at first that this was the sense of the Army in dividing, and it was meant that men should not divide in opinions! To me that is a mystery.n It is a huge reflection, a taxing of persons,o and because I will avoid further reflections, I shall say no more.

Edition: current; Page: [88]
[An] Agitator:

Whereas you say the Agents did it, [it was] the soldiers did put the Agents upon these meetings. It was the dissatisfactions that were in the Army which provoked, which occasioned, those meetings, which you suppose tends so much to dividing; and the reason[s] of such dissatisfactions are because those whom they had to trust to act for them were not true to them.


If this be all the effect of your meetings to agree upon this paper, there is but one thing in this that hath not been insisted upon and propounded by the Army heretofore, [in the Heads of the Proposals, and] all along. Here it is put according to the number of inhabitants;a there according to the taxes. This says a period at such a day, the last of September; the other says a period within a year at most. [The Agreement says] that these have the power of making law, and determining what is law, without the consent of another. ’Tis true the Proposals said not that [but would restore the consent of the King]. And for my part, if any man will put that to the question whether we shall concur with it, I am in the same mind [still, especially] if [by your franchise] you put it in any other hands than [of] those that are free men. But [even] if you shall put the questionb with that limitation [to free men] that hath been all along acknowledged by the Parliament, till we can acquit ourselves justly from any engagement, old or new, that we stand in, to preserve the person of the King, the persons of Lords, and their rights, so far as they are consistent with the common right [and the safety of the kingdom]—till that be done, I think there is reason [that] that exception [in their favour] should continue, [but with the proviso] which hath been all along, that is, where the safety of the kingdom is concerned. This the Proposalsc seem to hold out. I would hold to positive constitution where I [see things] would not do real mischief.d I would neither be thought to be a wrong-doer or disturber; so long as I can with safety continue a constitution I will do it.e And therefore where I find that the safety of the kingdom is not concerned, I would not for every trifling [cause] make that this shall be a law, though neither the Lords, who have a claim to it, nor the King, who hath a claim to it, will consent. But where this [safety] is concerned [I think that particular rights cannot stand]. Upon the whole matter let men but consider [whether] those that have thus gone away to divide from the Army [will not destroy the constitution upon a fancied right and advantage of the people]. Admit that this Agreement of the People be the advantage, it may be.f Shall weg [then] agree to Edition: current; Page: [89] that without any limitation? I do agree that the King is bound by his oath at his coronationa to agree to the law that the Commons shall choose without Lords or anybody else.d [But] if I can agree any further, that if the King do not confirm with his authority the laws that the people shall choose [those laws require not his authority], we know what will follow.


I had the happiness sometimes to be at the debate of the Proposals, and my opinion was then as it is now, against the King’s vote and the Lords’. But [I did] not [then] so [definitely desire the abolition of these votes] as I do [now] desire [it; for] since [that time] it hath pleased God to raise a company of men that do stand up for the power of the House of Commons, which is the Representative of the people, and deny the negative voice of King and Lords. For my part I was much unknown to any of them, bute I heard their principles; and hearingi their principles I cannot but join with them in my judgment, for I think it is reasonable that all laws are made by their1 consent [alone]. Whereas you seem to make the King and Lords so light a thing as that it may bef without prejudiceg [to keep them, though] to the destruction of the kingdom to throw them out;j for my part I cannot but think that both the power of King and Lords was ever a branch of tyranny. And if ever a people shall free themselves from tyranny, certainly it is after seven years’ war and fighting for their liberty. For my part [I think that] if the constitution of this kingdom shall be established as formerly, it might rivet tyranny into this kingdom more strongly than before. For when the people shall hear that for seven years together the people were plundered, and [that] after they had overcome the King and kept the King under restraint,j at last the King comes in again,h then it will rivet the King’s interest; and so when any men shall endeavour to free themselves from tyranny we may do them mischief and no good. I think it’s most just and equal, since a number of men have declared against it, [that] they should be encouraged in it, and not discouraged. And I find by the Council that their thoughts are the same against the King and Lords, and if so be that a power may be raised to do that, it would do well.


Truly, sir, I being desired by the Agents yesterday to appear at council or committees either, at that time [in their behalf], I suppose I may be bold to make known what I know of their sense, and a little to vindicate them in their way of Edition: current; Page: [90] proceeding, and to show the necessity of this way of proceeding that they have entered upon. Truly, sir, as to breaking of engagements, the Agents do declare their principle, that whenever any engagement cannot be kept justlya they must break that engagement. Now though it’s urged they ought to condescend to what the General Council do [resolve], I conceive it’s true [only] so long as it is for their safety. I conceive [it’s] just and righteous for them to stand up for some more speedy vigorous actings. I conceive it’s no more than what the Army did when the Parliament did not only delay deliverance, but opposed it. And I conceive this way of their appearing hath not beenb in the least way anything tending to division, since they proceed to clear the rights of the people; and so long as they proceed upon those righteous principles [for which we first engaged], I suppose it cannot be laid to their charge that they are dividers. And though it be declared [that they ought to stand only as soldiers and not as Englishmen], yetc the malice of the enemies would have bereaved you of your liberties as Englishmen, [and] therefore as Englishmen they are deeply concerned to regard the due observation of their rights, [and have the same right to declare their apprehensions] as I, or any commoner, have right to propound to the kingdom my conceptions [of] what is fit for the good of the kingdom. Whereas it is objected, ‘How will it appear that their proceedings shall tend for the good of the kingdom?’ thatd matter is different [from the point of justice they would propound]. Whereas it was said before, it was propounded [in the Council, that] there must be an end to the [present] Parliament [and] an equality as to elections. I find it to be their minds [also; but] when they came there, they found many aversions from matters that they ought to stand to as soldiers ande as Englishmen, and therefore, I find, it [was discovered that there was a difference] concerning the matter of the thing, [and] I conceive it to be a very vast difference in the whole matter of [the] Proposals. [By it] the foundation of slavery was riveted more strongly than before—as where the militia is instated in the King and Lords, and not in the Commons, [and] there [too] is a foundation of a future quarrel constantly laid. However, the main thing was that the right of the militia was acknowledgedf to be in the King,g [as] they found in the Proposals propounded,h before any redress of any one of the people’s grievances [or] any one of their burdens; and [the King was] so to be brought in as with a negative voice, whereby the people and Army that have fought against him when he had propounded such things, [would be at his mercy]. And Edition: current; Page: [91] finding [this], they perceived they were, as they thought, in a sad case; for they thought, he coming in thus with a negative [voice], the Parliament are but as so many ciphers, so many round O’s, for if the King would not do it, he might choose, Sic volo, sic jubeo, &c., and so the corrupt party of the kingdom must be so settled in the King. The godly people are turned over and trampled upon already in the most places of the kingdom.a I speak but the words of the Agents,b and I find this to be their thoughts. But whereas it is said, ‘How will this paper provide for anything for that purpose?’ I shall say that this paper doth lay down the foundations of freedom for all manner of people. It doth lay the foundations of soldiers’ [freedom], whereas they found a great uncertainty in the Proposals, [which implied] that they should go to the King for an Act of Indemnity, and thus the King might command his judges to hang them up for what they did in the wars, because, the present constitution being left as it was, nothing was law but what the King signed, and not any ordinance of Parliament [without his consent]. And considering this,c they thought it should be by an Agreement with the people, whereby a rule between the Parliament and the people might be set, that so they might be destroyed neither by the King’s prerogative nor Parliament’s privileges ([including those of the Lords, for] they are not bound to be subject to the laws as other men, [and that is] why men cannot recover their estates). They thought there must be a necessity of a rule between the Parliament and the people, so that the Parliament should know what they were entrusted with,d and what they were not; and that there might be no doubt ofk the Parliament’s power, to lay foundations of future quarrels. The Parliament shall not meddle with a soldier after indemnity [if] it is [so] agreed amongst the people; whereas between a parliament and [a] king [the soldier may lose his indemnity]. If the King were not under restraint [his assent might be made to bind him. But if the present Parliament] should make an Act of Indemnity, whoe [shall say that] another Parliament cannot alter this? [An Agreement of the People would be necessary], that these foundations might be established, that there might be no dispute between Lords and Commons, andf [that], these things being settled, there should be no more disputes [at all], but that the Parliament should redress the people’s grievances. Whereas now almostg all are troubled with [the] King’s interests, if this were settled the Parliament should be free from these temptations.h And besidesi—which for my own part I do suppose to be a truthj—this very Parliament, by Edition: current; Page: [92] the King’s voice in this very Parliament, may destroy [us], whereas [then] they shall be free from temptations and the King cannot have an influence upon them [such] as he nowa hath.


Gentlemen, I think there is no man is able to give a better account of the sense of the Agents, and so readily; he hath spoke so much as they have in their book, and therefore I sayb he is very well able to give their sense.c I wish their sensed had [not only] not been prejudicial to other men’s senses, but, ase I fear it will prove, really prejudicial to the kingdom [as well], how plausiblyf soever it seems to be carried. That paper of The Case of the Armyg doth so abuse the General and General Council of the Army, [stating] that such and such things have been done that made them do thus and thus,c [that I cannot leave it unanswered]. First as to the material points of the paper. You know as to the business of the Lords, the way we were then in admitted no other [course]. This gentleman that speaks here, and the other gentleman that spake before, when we were at Reading framing the Proposals [they] did not think of this way. I am sure they did not think of this way; and according to the best judgments of those that were entrusted by the General Council to draw up the Proposals, it was carried by a question clearly, that we should not [adopt such a way]. In these Proposals our business was to set forth particulars; we had set forth general declarations, which did come to as much in effect as this; the thing then proposed was that we should not take away the power of the Lords in this kingdom, and it was [so] concludedg in the Proposals. But as to the King we were clear. There is not one thing in the Proposals, nor in what was declared, that doth give the King any negative [voice]. And therefore that’s part of the scandal amongst others: we do not give the King any negative voice; we do but take the King as a man with whom we have been at a difference; we propound terms of peace. We do not demand that he shall have no negative, but we do not say that he shall have any. There’s another thing:g we have, as they say, gone from our engagements in our declarations in that we go in the Proposals to establish the King’s rights before [taking away] the people’s grievances. In our general declarations1 we first desire a purging of this Parliament, a period [to be set] forh this Parliament, and provision for the certainty of future Parliaments; and if the King shall agree in these things and what [things] else the Parliament shall propound, Edition: current; Page: [93] that are necessary for the safety of the kingdom, then we desire his rights may be considered so far as may consist with the rights of the people. We did so [speak] in the declarations, and you shall see what we did in the Proposals. In the Proposals, [we put first] things that are essential to peace, and it distinguishes those from the things that conduce to our better being, and things that lay foundations of an hopeful constitution in the future. When those are passed, then wei say that, ‘these things having the King’s concurrence, we desire that his right may be considered.’ There were many other grievances and particular matters [of] which we did not think [it] so necessary that they should precede the settling of a peace, [the lack of] which is the greatest grievance of the kingdom. Our way was to take away that [first]. Then we say there, [after] propounding what things we thought in our judgmentsa to be essential and necessary as to peace,b ‘Yet we desire that the Parliament would lose no time from the consideration of them.’ These gentlemen would say now [that] we have gone from our declarations, that we propose the settling of the King [first, because] it stands before those grievances. We say, those grievances are not so necessary [to be remedied] as that the remedying of them should be before the settling of the peace of the kingdom. What we thought in our consciences to be essential to the peace of the kingdom we did putj preceding to the consideration of the King’s personal right; and the concurrence of [the King to] those is a condition without which we cannot have any right at all, and without [which] there can be no peace, and [we] have named [it] beforec the consideration of the King’s rights in the settling of a peace, as a thing necessary to the constitution of a peace. That, therefore, [to say] we should prefer the King’s rights before a general good, was as unworthy and as unchristian an injury as ever was done [by any] to men that were in society with them, andd merely equivocation. But it was told you, that the General Council hath seemed to do so and so, to put the soldiers out of the way.e It is suggested that the Engagement is broken by our dividing to quarters; and whether that be broken or notf in other things,g it is said that the General Council hath broken the Engagement in this: that whereas before we were not a mercenary army, now we are. Let any man but speak what hath given the occasion of that. It hath been pressed by some men that we should [not] have subjected [our propositions] to the Parliament, and we shouldh stand to the propositions whatever they were; but the sense of the General Council was this: that, as they had sent their propositions Edition: current; Page: [94] to the Parliament,g they would see what the Parliament would do before they would conclude what themselves would do; and that there was respect [to be had] to that which we have hitherto accounted the fundamental council of the kingdom. If all the people to a man had subscribed to this [Agreement], then there would be some security to it, because no man would oppose [it]; but otherwise our concurrence amongst ourselves is no more than our saying [that] ourselves we will be indemnified.a Our indemnity must be [owed] to something that at least we will uphold, and we see we cannot hold [the Army] to be a conclusive authority of the kingdom.b For that [charge] of going to the King for indemnity, we propose[d] an Act of Oblivion only for the King’s party; we propose[d] for ourselves an Act of Indemnity and Justification. Is this the asking of a pardon?c Let us resort to the first petition of the Army, wherein we all were engaged once, which we made the basis of all our proceedings. In that we say, that [we wish] an ordinance might be passed, to which the royal assent might be desired; but we have [since] declared that, if the royal assent could not be had, we should account the authority of the Parliament valid without it. We have desired, in the General Council, that for security for arrears we might have the royal assent. And let me tell you (though I shall be content to lose my arrears to see the kingdom have its libertyb—if any man can do it—unless it be by putting our liberty into the hands of those that will give it away when they have done [with it]; but I say whatf I do thinkg true in this): Whoever talks either of [arrears gained by] the endeavours of the soldiers or of any other indemnity [won] by the sword in their hands, is [for] the perpetuating of combustions; so that word cannot take place [of], and does not suppose, the settling of a peaceb by that authority which hath been herei the legislative power of the kingdom, and he that expects to have the arrears of the soldiers so, I think he does but deceive himself. For my own part I would give up my arrears, andj lose my arrears, if we have not [first a] settlement; no arrears [n]or [any] want of indemnity, nor anything in the world, shall satisfy me to have a peace upon any terms wherein that which is really the right of this nation is not as far provided for as can be provided for by men. I could tell you many other particulars wherein there are divers gross injuries done to the General and [the] General Council, and such a wrong [done them] as is not fit to be done among Christians, and so wrong and so false [a design imputed to them] that I cannot think that they have gone so far in it.

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I do not know what reason you have to suppose I should be so well acquainted with The Case of the Army, and the things proposed [in it]. I conceive them to be very good and just. But for that which I give as their sense, which you are pleased to say are scandals cast upon the Army. The legislative power had been acknowledged [hitherto] to be in the King with [the] Lords and Commons; anda considering that, and what [indeed] you said before was a[nother] scandal [laid upon you], that you propounded to bring in the King with his negative voice, [you seem to restore him to his controlling part in the legislative power. For] I do humbly propound to your consideration [that] when you restrain the King’s negative in one particular [only], which is in [your] restraining unequal distributing,b you doc say the legislative power to be now partly in him. And [indeed you] say directly, in these very words, [that he] ‘shall be restored to his personal rights.’ And therefore I conceive (if I have any reason) [that] the King is proposed to be brought in with his negative voice. And whereas you say it is a scandal for [us to assert that you would have] the King to come in with his personal rights [before the grievances of the people are redressed, it is said in the Proposals] that, the King consenting to those things, the King [is] to be restored to all his personal rights. There’s his restoration. Not a bare consideration what his rights are before the people’s grievances [are considered], but a restoration to his personal rights, these things being done. Is the Parliament not to lose their rights [by such a provision]? And for that of [asking the King’s consent to an Act of] Indemnity, I do not say [that] it was an asking of the King[’s] pardon; [but] it is rendering us up [without promise of future security, for the King is under constraint], and therefore it is null in law.d

Putney, 1st November 1647
At the General Council of the Army

The Lieutenant-General first moved, that every one might speak their experiences as the issue of what God had given in, in answer to their prayers.

Captain [Francis] Allen made a speech, expressing what experiences he had received from himself and from divers other Edition: current; Page: [96] godly people: that the work that was before them was to take away the negative voice of the King and Lords.

Captain [John] Carter expressed his experiences: that he found not any inclination in his heart (as formerly) to pray for the King, that God would make him yet a blessing to the kingdom.

Cowling made a speech expressing that the sword was the only thing that had from time to time recovered our right[s], and which he ever read in the word of God had recovered the rights of the people; that our ancestors had still recovered from the Danes and Normans their liberties, by the sword, when they were under such a slavery that an Englishman was as hateful then as an Irishman is now, and what an honour those that were noblemen thought it to marry their daughters to, or to marry the daughters of, any cooks or bakers of the Normans.

Lieutenant-Colonel [Henry] Lilburne [said]:

That he never observed that the recovery of our liberties which we had before the Normans was the occasion of our taking up arms, or the main quarrel; and that the Norman laws werea not slavery introduced upon us, but an augmentation of our slavery before. Therefore what was by some offered, I doubt, for those reasons I have given you, was not of God.1

A report from Colonel Lambert’s regiment that two horsemen, Agitators, came and persuaded them to send new Agitators, for that the officers had broken their engagements.2


[As] to that which hath been [heretofore] moved concerning the negative vote, or things which have been delivered [on that matter], in papers and otherwise, [some] may [indeed] present a real pleasing [of the King; but] I do not say that they have all pleased; for I think [it hath been made clear] that the King is king by contract; and I shall say, as Christ said, ‘Let him that is without sin cast the first stone,’ and mind [you of] that word of bearing one with another—it was taught us to-day. If we had carried it on in the Parliament, and by our power, without any thingsb laid on [us of] that kind, so that we could say that Edition: current; Page: [97] we were without transgression, I should then say it were just to cut off transgressors; but considering that we are in our own actions failing in many particulars, I think there is much necessity of pardoning of transgressors.

For the actions that are [now] to be done, and those that must do them, I think it is their proper place to conform to the Parliament, that first gave them their being; and I think it is considerable whether they do contrive to suppress the power [of the King and his party] by that power or no, if they do continue [their endeavour] to suppress them. And [indeed] how they can take the determination of commanding men, conducting men, quartering men, keeping guards, without an authority otherwise than from themselves, I am ignorant.a And therefore I think there is much [need] in the Army to conform to those things that are within their sphere. For those things that have been done in the Army, as this of [issuing] The Case of the Army Truly Stated, there is much in it useful, and to be condescended to; but I am not satisfied how far we shall [do well to] press [it]. Either they are a Parliament or no Parliament. If they be no Parliament they are nothing, and we are nothing likewise. If they be a Parliament, we are [not to proceed without them in our plan for settlement, but] to offer it to them.b If I could see a visible presence of the people, either by subscriptions or number, [I should be satisfied with it]; for in the government of nations that which is to be looked after is the affections of the people. And that, [if] I find [it],c would satisfyd my conscience in the present thing.

[Consider the case of the Jews.] They were first [divided into] families where they lived, and had heads of families [to govern them], and they were nexte under judges, and [then] they were under kings. When they came to desire a king they had a king, first elective, and secondly by succession. In all these kinds of government they were happyf and contented.g If you make the best of it, if you should change the government to the best of it, it is but a moral thing. It is but, as Paul says, ‘dross and dung in comparison of Christ’;1 and [I ask] why we shall so far contest for temporal things, thath if we cannot have this freedom [peacefully] we will venture life and livelihood for it. When every man shall come to this condition [of mind], I think the state will come to desolation.i

Therefore the considering of what is fit for the kingdom does belong to the Parliament, [provided they be] well composed in their creation and election. How far I shall [think we ought to] Edition: current; Page: [98] leave it to the [present] Parliament to offer it, [will depend on their willingness to do so]. There may be care [had to secure a proper representation]. That the elections, or forms of [choosing the] Parliament, are very unequala [is evident], as I could name but one for a corporation to choose two. I shall desire that there may be a [common] form for the electing of Parliaments. And another thing [is]b the perpetuity of the Parliament;c that there is no assurance to the people but that it is [to be] perpetual, which does [not] satisfy the kingdom.d And for other things that are [subject] to the King’s negative vote [so] as [he thereby] may cast you off wholly, it hath been the resolution of the Parliament and of the Army [to safeguard these things]. If there be a possibility [then] of the Parliament’s offering those things unto the King, that may secure us, I think there is much may be said for the[ir] doing of it.

As for the present condition of the Army, I shall speak something of it. For the conduct of the Army, I perceive there are several declarations from the Armye calling rendezvous and otherwisef [containing] disobligations to the General’s orders. I must confess I have a commission from the General, and I understand that I am to do by it. I shall conform to him according to the rules and discipline of war, and according to those rules I ought to be conformable [to no orders but his]. And therefore I conceive it is not in the power of any particular men to call a rendezvous of a troop or regiment, or inf [the] least to disoblige the Army from those commands of the General; which must be destructive to us in general or [to] everyg particular man in the Army.h This way is destructive to the Army, [I say], and to every particular man in the Army. I have been informed by some of the King’s party, that if they give us rope enough we will hang ourselves. [We shall hang ourselves] if we do not conform to the rules of war. And therefore I shall move [that] what we shall centre upon [must be the rules of war and our authority from the Parliament. We must not let go of that] if it have but the face of authority. [We are like a drowning man]: if it be but an hare swimming over the Thames, he will take hold of it rather than let it go.

Chillenden [observed]:

That God hitherto hath been pleased to show us many mercies, [and proceeded to] the relation of God’s providence in bringing us from our march to London.

[William] Allen:

On Friday was a day for to seek God for direction in this work, and upon Saturday many were giving in their thoughts concerning what God had given in to them to speak, Edition: current; Page: [99] as to a cure for a dying kingdom. Truly amongst the rest my thoughts were at work. Providentially, my thoughts were cast upon one thing which I had often seen before, [which] yet, if prosecuted, may be the means of an happy union amongst us. That which I hint at, and which Ia would speak to, isb The Case of the Army Stated. I do perceive that there is either a real or an apprehensive disunion amongst us, or rather a misapprehensive; and truly in my heart there was something providentially laid for a uniting, and that in that passage that those Agents—at that very time of dissenting from us, and when they were ripping up our faults to open view—in the issue came to lay us down [as] a rule, and that was [a thing] which before had been laid down as a rule, and we and they were to act according to it; but being laid down by them again, I think it is a twofold cord that cannot easily be broken. They do refer us to our three declarations,d of [the] fourteenth [of] June,1 [the] twenty-first of June, [the] eighteenth of August; and their desires are that those might be looked upon, and adhered unto; and if they be our desires, and theirs with them, and [if it be] their desiree that we should walk up to them, I think this will put the business to a very fair issue. I did look over for my part all [the] things [contained] in those three declarations. There, [I find], is [set forth] whatsoever we should persist in. And therefore I humbly desire that whatsoever [there] is in those declarations we may intend and pursue, as tending to that end we all aim at, namely the kingdom’s good.

Lieutenant-Colonel [John] Jubbes:

Truly I do not know how to distinguish whether the Spirit of God lives in me or no, but by mercy, love, and peace; and on the contrary whether the spirit of Antichrist lives in me, but by envy, malice, and war.e I am altogether against a war if there may be a composure [possible, so] that the Englishman may have his privileges. I have a commission ready to deliver up whensoever I shall be called.

Queries wherein Lieutenant-Colonel Jubbes desireth satisfaction for the preventing of the effusion of blood:

1. Whether or no the Parliament may yet be purged of all such members as assented to the late insurrections and treason of the City, and still continue a House?

2. If it may be purged, and an House still remaining,f whether the major part of the remainder be such persons as are desirous of giving satisfaction to our, or the kingdom’s, just desires?

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3. If the second be assented unto, that they are such persons, whether then they may not satisfy our just desires, and declare the King guilty of all the bloodshed, vast expense of treasure, and ruin that hath been occasioned by all the wars both of England and Ireland, and then, for that he is the King of Scotland, and also of Ireland, as well as England, [whether they should not agree, after] that, therefore to receive him as King again for avoiding further wars?

4. Whether, if the Parliament may adjourn and dissolve when in their discretions they shall find cause (or not before), as at this present, even by law, God hath ordered it, they may not then reject the King’s Act of Oblivion, and take unto themselves that godly resolution to do that justice unto the kingdom which now they dare not do?

Rainborough moved that the papers of the committee might be read.


I think that motion which was made by the Lieutenant-General should not die, but that it should have some issue. I think it is a vain thing to seek God if we do not hearken after his answer, and something that was spoken by the Lieutenant-General moves me to speak at this time, anda upon this ground. Upon what was spoken by one here, it was concluded by the Lieutenant-General that that was not the mind of God that was spoken by him. I could wish we might be wary of such expressions. ‘There was a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets. He speaks falsely to us in the name of the Lord.’1 I do not speak this, that this [particular] was the mind of the Lord in anything; yet we may not break abruptly off,b [concluding] that what one spoke was [not] the mind of the Lord:c we must consider whether something was not spoken by others which may be the mind of the Lord. Truly I am very tender in this thing: if we shall wait for God, and if God shall speak to us [and we not hearken], we shall bring much evil upon ourselves. God hath spoken in several ages in sundry ways. [Of old] whend they sent to a prophet and he comes and tells them upon his bare word,e he tells them that he received such a message from the Lord. But God hath put us upon such a course which I cannot but reverence, and God does not now speak by one particular man, but in every one of our hearts; and certainly if it were a dangerous thing to refuse a message that came from one man to many,f it is a more dangerous Edition: current; Page: [101] thing to refuse what comes from God, being spoke by many to us. I shall add this: that it seems to me evident and clear that this hath been a voice from heaven to us, that we have sinned against the Lord in tampering with his enemies. And it hath so wrought with me that [though] I cannot run precipitately to work, yet I dare not open my mouth for the benefit or upholding [of] that [kingly] power.a I think that hath been the voice of God, and whatsoever was contradicted [by events] was [only] our precipitate running on, our taking hold of an opportunity before it was given. And therefore I desire we may not precipitately run on, but wait upon God,a that in the issue we may not see that God hath [not] spoken to us; and if the Lord hath spoken to us I pray God keep us from that sin that we do not hearken to the voice of the Lord.


I shall not be unwilling to hear God speaking in any [man]; but I think that God may [as well] be heard speaking in that which is to be read, as otherwise.

But I shall speak a word in that which Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe said, because it seems to come as a reproof to me, and I shall be willing to receive a reproof when it shall be in love, and shall be [so] given, but [not otherwise]. That which he speaks was, that at such a meeting as this we should wait upon God, and [hearken to] the voice of God speaking in any of us. I confess it is an high duty, but when anything is spoken [as from God] I think the rule1 is, Let the rest judge!b It is left to me to judge for my own satisfaction, and the satisfaction of others, whether it be of the Lord or not, and I do no more.a I do not judge conclusively, negatively, that it was not of the Lord, but I do desire to submit it to all your judgments, whether it was of the Lord or no.a I did offer some reasons which did satisfy me—I know not whether theyc did others.d If in those things we do speak, and pretend to speak from God, there be mistakes of fact, if there be a mistake in the thing [or] in the reason of the thing, truly I think it is free for me to show both the one and the other, if I can. Nay, I think it is my duty to do it; for no man receives anything in the name of the Lord further than [to] the light of his conscience appears. I can say in the next place—and I can say it heartily and freely: as to the matter [of which] he speaks I must confess I have no prejudice, not the least thought of prejudice, upon that ground—I speak it truly as before the Lord. But this I think: that it is no evil advertisement, to wish us in our speeches of righteousness and justice to refer us to any engagements that Edition: current; Page: [102] are upon us, and [it is] that which I have learned1 in all [our] debates. I have still desired we shoulda consider where we are, and what engagements are upon us, and how we ought to go off as becomes Christians.b This is all that I aimed at and I do aim at. And I must confess I had a marvellous reverence and awe upon my spirit when we came to speak. [We said], let us speak one to another what God hath spoken to us; and, as I said before, I cannot say that I have received anything that I can speak as in the name of the Lord—not that I can say that anybody did speak that which was untrue in the name of the Lord, but upon this ground, that when we say we speak in the name of the Lord it is of an high nature.

Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe made an apology for what he had said before.

William Allen:

My desire is to see things put to an issue. Men have been declaring their thoughts, and truly I would crave liberty to declare mine. The difference between us, I think, is in the interest of King and Lords, some declaring against the name and title of King and Lords, [others preferring to retain them]. For my part [I think], clearly, according to what we have engaged we stand bound; and I think we should be looked upon as persons not fit to be called Christians, if we do not work up to them. As first, concerning the King. You say you will set up the King as far as may be consistent with, and not prejudicial to, the liberties of the kingdom; and really I am of that mind [too]. If the setting up of him be not consistent with them, and prejudicial to them, then down with him; but if he may be so set up—which I think he may—[then set him up], and it is not our judgment only, but of [all save] those that set forth The Case of the Army.

Rainborough took occasion to take notice as if what Mr. Allen spoke did reflect upon himself or some other there, as if [it were asserted that] they were against the name of King and Lords.


Truly I must be bold to offer this one word unto you.c Here was somewhat spoke of the workings and actings of God within us;d I shall speak a word of that. The Lord hath put you into a state, or at least [suffered you] to run you[rselves] into such a one, that you know not where you are. You are in a wilderness condition. Some actings among us singly and jointlye are the Edition: current; Page: [103] cause of it. Truly I would entreat you to weigh that.a We find in the word of God, ‘I would heal Babylon, but she would not be healed.’1 I think that we have gone about to heal Babylon when she would not. We have gone about to wash a blackamoor, to wash him white, which he will not. We are going about to set up that power which God will destroy: I think we are going about to set up the power of kings, some part of it, which God will destroy; and which will be but as a burdensome stone2 that whosoever shall fall upon it, it will destroy him.c I think this is the reason of the straits that are in hand.d I shall propose this to your Honours, to weigh the grounds, whether they be right, and then you shall be led in pleasant paths by still waters, and shall not be offended.f


I think we should not let go that motion which Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe made, and so I cannot but renew that caution that we should take heed what we speak in the name of the Lord.e As for what that gentleman spoke last, but [that] it was with too much confidence, I cannot conceive that he altogether meant it.e I would we should all take heed of mentioning our own thoughts and conceptions with that which is of God. What this gentleman told us [was] that which [he conceived] was our great fault. He alludes to such a place of scripture: ‘We would have healed Babylon, but she would not.’ The gentleman applied it to us, as that weg had been men thath would have healed Babylon, and God would not have had her healed. Truly, though that be not the intent of that scripture, yet I think it is true that whosoever would have gone about to heal Babylon when God hath determined [to destroy her], he does fight against God, because God will not have her healed. And yet certainly in general to desire an healing, it is not evil, [though] indeed when we are convinced that it is Babylon we are going about to heal I think it’s fit we should then give over our healing.

But I shall desire to speak a word or two since I hear no man offering anythingi as a particular dictate from God [that he would] speak to us, [and] I should desire to draw to some conclusion of that expectation of ours. Truly, as Lieutenant-Colonel Goffe said, God hath in several ages used several dispensations, and yet some dispensations more eminently in one age than another. I am one of those whose heart God hath drawn out to wait for some extraordinaryj dispensations, according to those promises that he hath held forth of things to be accomplished in the later times, and I Edition: current; Page: [104] cannot but think that God is beginning of them.a Yet certainly [we do well to take heed], upon the same ground that we find in the Epistle of Peter, where he speaks of the scriptures, to which, says he, you do well to take heed [as] ‘a more sure word of prophecy’ than their testimonies were,b as a light shining in a dark place.1 If, when we want particular and extraordinary impressions, we shall either altogether sit still because we have them not, and not follow that light that we have, or shall go against, or short of, that light that we have, upon the imaginary apprehension of such divine impressions and divine discoveries in particular things—which are not so divine as to carry their evidence with them to the conviction of those that have the Spirit of God within them—I think we shall be justly under a condemnation. Truly we have heard many speaking to us; and I cannot but think that in many of those things God hath spoke to us. I cannot but think that in most that have spoke there hath been something of God laidc forth to us; and yet there haved been several contradictions in what hath been spoken. But certainly God is not the author of contradictions. The contradictions are not so much in the end as in the way. I cannot see but that we all speak to the same end, and the mistakes are only in the way. The end is to deliver this nation from oppression and slavery, to accomplish that work that God hath carried us on in, to establish our hopes of an end of justice and righteousness in it. We agree thus far. Further too: that we all apprehend danger from the person of the King and from the Lords—I think we may go thus far farther, that all that have spoke have agreed in this too, though the gentleman in the window2 [seemed to deny it] when he spoke [of] sett[ing] up, [but he], if he woulde declare it, did not mean all that that word might import. I think that seems to be general among us all, [that] there is not any intention of any in the Army, of any of us, to set up the one [or the other].f If it were free before us whether we should set up one or [the] other, I do to my best observation find an unanimity amongst us all, that we would set up neither. Thus far I find us to be agreed; and thus far as we are agreed. I think it is of God. But there are circumstances in which we differ as in relation to this. Then I must further tell you that as we do not make it our business or intention to set up the one or the other, so neither is it [our intention] to preserve the one or the other, with a visible danger and destruction to the people and the public Edition: current; Page: [105] interest. So that that part of difference that seems to be among us is whether there can be a preservation [of them with safety to the kingdom]. First of all, on the one part, there is this apprehension: that we cannot with justice and righteousness at the present destroy, or go about to destroy, or take away, or [altogether] lay aside, both, or all the interest they have in the public affairs of the kingdom; and those that do so apprehend would strain something in point of security, would rather leave some hazard—or at least, if they see that they may consist without any considerable hazard to the interest of the kingdom,a do so far [wish] to preserve them. On the other hand, those who differ from this, I do take it (in the most candid apprehension) that they seem to run thus: that there is not any safety or security to the liberty of the kingdom, and to [the] public interest, if you do retain these at all; and therefore they think this is a consideration to them paramount [to] the consideration of particular obligations of justice, or matter of right or due towards King or Lords. Truly I think it hath pleased God to lead me to a true and clear stating [of] our agreement and our difference. And if this be so, we are the better prepared to go [on]. If this be not so, I shall desire that any one that hath heard me [will] declare [it], if he do think that the thing is misstated as to our agreement or difference.b

I shall go on, only in a word or two, to conclude that we have been about. As to the dispensations of God, it was more particular in the time of the Law [of Moses than in the time of the law] written in our hearts, that word within us, the mind of Christ;1 and truly when we have no other more particular impression of the power of God going forth with us,c I think that this law and this [word] speaking [within us], which truly is in every man who hath the Spirit of God, we are to have a regard to. And this to me seems to be very clear, howd we are to judge of the apprehensione of men [as] to particular cases, whether it be of God or no. When it doth not carry its evidence with it, of the power of God to convince us clearly, our best way is to judge the conformity or disformity of [it with] the law written within us, which is the law of the Spirit of God, the mind of God, the mind of Christ. And as was well said by Lieutenant-Colonel Jubbes, for my part I do not know any outward evidence of what proceeds from the Spirit of God more clear than this, the appearance of meekness and gentleness and mercy and patience and forbearance and love, and a desire to do good to all, and to destroy none that can be saved. And for my part I say, where I do see this, where Edition: current; Page: [106] I do see men speaking according to this law which I am sure is the law of the Spirit of Life [I am satisfied. But] I cannot but take that to be contrary to this law, [which is], as he said, of the spirit of malice and envy, and things of that nature. And I think there is this radically in that heart where there is such a law as leads us against all opposition. On the other hand, I think that he that would decline the doing of justice where there is no place for mercy, and the exercise of the ways of force, for the safety of the kingdom, where there is no other way to save it, and would decline these out of the apprehensions of danger and difficulties in it, he that leads that way, on the other hand, doth [also] truly lead us from that which is the law of the Spirit of Life, the law written in our hearts. And truly having thus declared what we may apprehend of all that hath been said, I shall wish that we may go on to our business; and I shall only add several cautions on the one hand, and the other.a

I could wish that none of those whose apprehensions run on the other hand, that there can be no safety in a consistency with the person of the King or the Lords, or [in] their having the least interest in the public affairs of the kingdom—I do wishb that they will take heed of that which some men are apt to be carried away by, [namely] apprehensions that God will destroy these persons or that power; for that they may mistake in. And though [I] myself do concur with them,1 and perhaps concur with them upon some ground that God will do so, yet let us [not] make those things to be our rule which we cannot so clearly know to be the mind of God. I mean in particular things let us not make those our rules: that ‘this [is] to be done; [this] is the mind of God;c we must work to it.’ But at least [let] those to whom this is not made clear, though they dod think it probable that God will destroy them, yet let them make this [a] rule to themselves: ‘Though God have a purpose to destroy them, and though I should find a desire to destroy them—though a Christian spirit can hardly find it for itself—yet God can do it without necessitating us to do a thing which is scandalous, or sin, or which would bring a dishonour to his name.’ And therefore those that are of that mind, let them wait upon God for such a way when the thing may be done without sin, ande without scandal too. Surely what Edition: current; Page: [107] God would have us do, he does not desire we should step out of the way for it. This is the caution, on the one hand, that we do no wrong to one or other, and that we abstain from all appearance of wrong, and for that purpose avoid the bringing of a scandal to the name of God, and to his people upon whom his name is bestowed.a On the other hand, I have but this to say: that those who do apprehend obligations lying upon them—either by a general duty or particularly in relation to the things that we have declared, a duty of justice, or a duty in regard of theb Engagement—that they would clearly come to this resolution, that if they found in their judgments and consciences that those engagements led to anything which really cannot consist with the liberty and safety and public interest of this nation,c they would account the general [duty] paramount [to] the other, so far as not to oppose any other that would do better for the nation than they will do.h If we do act according to that mind and that spirit and that law which I have before spoken of, and in these particular cases dod take these two cautions, God will lead us to what shall be his way, and [first] as many of us ase shall incline their minds to [him], and the rest in their way in a due time.


I shall desire to speak one word, and that briefly.f After many inquiries in my spirit what’s the reason that we are distracted in counsel, and that we cannot, as formerly, preserve the kingdom from that dying condition in which it is, I find this answer,h the answer which is [vouchsafed] to many Christians besides, amongst us. I say [it] not in respect of any particular persons, [but] I say [that the reason is] a compliance to preserve that man of blood, and those principles of tyranny, which God from heaven by his many successes [given] hath manifestly declared against, and which, I am confident, may [yet] be our destruction [if they be preserved]. I only speak this [as] what is upon my spirit, because I see you are upon inquiry what God hath given in to any one, which may tend to the preservation of the kingdom.


I observe that the work hath been to inquire what hath been the mind of God, and every one speaks what is given in to his spirit. I desire as much as is possible to reverence whatsoever hath the Spirit or Image of God upon it. Whatever another man hath received from the Spirit, that man cannot demonstrate [it] to me but by some other way than merely relating to me that which he conceives to be the mind of God. [In spiritual matters he must show its conformity with scripture, Edition: current; Page: [108] though indeed] it is beyond the power of the reason of all the men on earth to demonstrate the scriptures to be the scriptures written by the Spirit of God, anda it must be the spirit of faith [in a man himself] that must [finally] make him believe whatsoever may be spoken in spiritual matters. [The case is] yet [more difficult] in civil matters; [for] we cannot find anything in the word of God [of] what is fit to be done in civil matters. But I conceive that only is of God that does appear to be like unto God—[to practise] justice and mercy, to be meek and peaceable. I should desire therefore that we might proceed only in that way, if it please this honourable Council, to consider what is justice and what is mercy, and what is good, and I cannot but conclude that that is of God. Otherwise I cannot think that any one doth speak from God when he says what he speaks is of God.

But to the matter in hand. I am clearly of opinion with that gentleman that spake last save one, that it is not of God [to decline the doing of justice] where there is no way left of mercy; and I could much concur that it is very questionable whether there be a way left for mercy upon that person that we now insist upon. [I would know]b whether it is demonstrable by reason or justice,c [that it is right] to punish with death those that according to his command do make war, or those that do but hold compliance with them, and then [to say] that there is a way left for mercy for him who was the great actor of this, and who was the great contriver of all? But I confess because it is in civil matters I would much decline that, and rather look to what is safety, what the mind doth dictate from safety. What is [for] the safety [of the people], I know it cannot be the mind of God to go contrary to [that]. But for what particulars that gentleman speaks, of the difference[s] between us, I think they are so many as not easily to be reckoned up.d That which he instanced was that some did desire to preserve the person of the King and person[s] of the Lords, so far as it was [consistent] with [the] safety or the good of the kingdom, and other persons do conceive that the preservation of the King or Lords wase inconsistent with the people’s safety, and that law to be paramount [to] all [considerations].


Sir, I [think he] did not speak of the destroying of the King and Lords—I have not heard any man charge all the Edition: current; Page: [109] Lords so as to deserve a punishment—but [of] a reserving to them any interest at all in the public affairs of the kingdom.

Wildman [addressing Cromwell]:

Then, sir, as I conceive, you were saying the difference was this: that some persons were of opinion that [they stood engaged to] the preservation of the power of King and Lords, [while others held that the safety of the people] was paramount to all considerations, and might keep them from any giving them what was [their] due and right.


I [think it was] said that [while] some men did apprehend that there might be an interest given to them with safety to the kingdom, others do think that no part of their interest could be given without destruction to the kingdom.

Wildman [addressing Ireton]:

For the matter of stating the thing in difference, I think that the person of King and Lords are not so joined together by any; for as yourself said, none have any exception against the persons of the Lords or name of Lords. But the difference is whether we should alter the old foundations of our government so as to give to King and Lords that which they could never claim before. Whereas it’s said that those that dissent1 look after alteration of government, I do rather think that those that do assenta do endeavour to alter the foundations of our government, and that I shall demonstrate thus. According to the King’s oath he is to grant such laws as the people shall choose,b and therefore I conceive they are called laws before they come to him. They are called laws that he must confirm, and so they are laws before they come to him.c To give the King a legislative power is contrary to his own oath at his coronation, and it is the like to give a power to the King by his negative voice to deny all laws.d And for the Lords, seeing the foundation of all justice is the election of the people, it is unjust that they should have that power. And therefore I conceive the difference only is this: whether this power should be given to the King and Lords or no.

For the later part of that noble gentleman’s words, this may be said to them: whether this consideration may [not] be paramount to all engagements, to givee the peoplef what is their due right.


The question is not, whether this should be given to King and Lords, or no; but the question is: whether that interest that they have in this (if they have any), whether it should be now positively insisted upon to be clearly taken away.

Edition: current; Page: [110]

Sir, I suppose that the interest they have, if they have any—if (for that supposition is very well put in)—for (as I said before) I conceive that neither King nor Lords according to the foundation of government ever had a right—

Ireton [interrupting]:

I spake it to you, and those that are of your mind, if you were [not] satisfied not to have an exception.


Then, I say, the whole tenor of the propositions or proposals must be altered, if anything be in them [allowing the King a negative voice]. I conceive, thus not to express it, because it hath been usurped, is to confirm his usurpation of it. For many years this hath been usurped. Now, if after God hath given us the victory over them we shall not declare against them, we give no security for the people’s liberty.


You speak part to the point of justice and part to the point of safety. To the point of justice you seem to speak this: that by the fundamental constitutions of this kingdom, neither King nor Lords have rightfully a negative voice; and therefore to take it away, or to clear it that they have none, is but justice. I think that is it: that [by] the fundamental constitutiona [neither of them can claim a voice, and so it should be given to] neither of them.b

You seem to argue only from the King’s oath. And then you conclude: if, as it appears by that, they had it not before, though we all be satisfied [that] we would say nothing to give them it, yet if we do not expressly take it away—nay, if we do sendc a proposald to any of them [to know their opinion]—we do leave to them a power to assent or dissent, and give them that which we had before—

[Wildman, interrupting]:

Sir,e you well remember that that which you argue of the King’s oathf


And I know for my own part no other [evidence] than an old statute or two cited in the declaration wherein the Commons declare, [with reference to the coronation oath, the form of the King’s withholding of assent, and the custom of Parliament, the extent of their own, and the limits of his, legislative power].1

I remember I spoke it, and I speak it again, andg that thish is the intent, I do verily believe: that the original sense and intention Edition: current; Page: [111] of the oath of the King’s which is published in that declaration of the Commons was, and is, and ought to be, that the King ought to confirm those laws that the Commons choose. Now whether this King be so bound by his oath as that he breaks his oath if he do not confirm every law that they seek, I conceive that depends upon what he did verily at his coronation make his oath; but I think that in the sense and intention of the people of the kingdom,a their intention was that he should confirm all the laws that they should choose. But you must take notice that the oath doth take them [as] laws before he should make them: it calls them laws, the laws in election, quas vulgus elegerit. The King promises that he will by his authority confirm those laws that the people shall choose, so that this shows clearly what use, in the constitution of the kingdom, they made of the King in the commonwealth. The Commons are to choose the laws and the King to confirm. They had this [to] trust to: the King would confirm what they should choose, and, he confirming them, they were firm laws. I do really believe that this was the agreement that the people of England made with their Kings; that is, they would have him give his consent to what laws they should choose, and so to have that implicit use [of him]. But this is most apparent, both by the oath itself, and by all the practice sinceb—the sending of laws to the Kingc—that they had someg relation to the King and to his consentd in the making of a law.e This I am sure: if it were never so clear in the constitution that they were good laws without it, yet this is clear—if that were true in the original constitution of this kingdom this is clear—that they have [been] sent still to him to be confirmed; as the word was to be confirmed or corroborated, Leges [quas vulgus elegerit] cor[roborandas].f

And I think: if we do [take into] account all the sending of laws heretofore to be corroborated by him, and if his denying of some of them—not absolutely denying but advising—if these have not at all prejudiced [the right of] the people against his negative voice, so the sending of propositions now for his assent cannot prejudice the right of the people more than all their sending [laws to him] before. If we should put it to the King as his act, [yet] the Parliament have declared it and asserted it, that it is their right that the King ought not to deny any [laws they offer to him]; it is his oath. They have gone thus much farther, that if he did not confirm them they were laws without him. Upon this there hath been a war made. They have gone [so far as] to make all laws and ordinances that were needful for the management of the affairs of the kingdom, without the King. It is now come to a Edition: current; Page: [112] period. So that de facto it is thus they have made laws, and held them forth to the kingdom [as laws]. Now if the King by his act do confirm what the Parliament have done, and condemn all that hatha been [done] against the Parliament, [I ask] whether he do not acknowledge to all posterity, that in case of safety, when the Parliament doth adjudge the safety of the kingdom to be concerned, they are to makeb a law without him. For my part I think there can be nothing more clear than this is. For my own particular, I do apprehend that there is that general right [in the Parliament], that the laws [it shall pass] ought to be confirmed [by the King]; and that is my thought,c that without anything of the King’s declaration to that purpose,d [and] thoughe they cannot dispense with the suspending [power] of the King,f they are,g in point of safety,h a law without him. This the Parliament hath declared, and this is asserted in all the declarations that have been sent out, and [this is] the ground that I have proceeded [on] in those Proposals of the Army. Thati ‘in a case of safety’ was provided for, in those matters that I have spoke of. I account them materially and essentially provided for in those; and if I had not, for my part I should never have rested or been satisfied in that point, and in other points [where] there might have been a dispensingj with a suspending [power], notwithstanding [that] the liberty of the kingdom hath been provided for in this, that there should not be anything done, or laws made, without the consent of the people.


I think if so be that this business of the negative voice be all the dispute, we shall all agree in it; fork it appeared by what you spake the other night, that he ought to have his negative voice taken away.


The Scots have made provision that he should have no negative voice among them, and why should not we make the same provision with them?


Those things that the committee did propose, and [that] they proceeded in last night,1 will almost end us this dispute.l Whereas it was desired that we should take into considerationm the several heads to be insisted upon as fundamental laws that we must stand [to] for the establishing of the Edition: current; Page: [113] kingdom, [we were also to consider the previous declarations of the Army, how far] they are still [binding, and adequate] in relation to the security of the kingdom.

The Proposal[s of the Committe] read1 [by Ireton, with numerous interruptions by Wildman, some of which, with Ireton’s rebuke, are reported]:2


I conceive [that in] this concerning the succession of Parliaments [it] is proposed positively that it shall be as triennial Parliaments were.


[Tell me whether] you did in your way propose a certainty or not. If you did not propose it, the Act for Triennial Parliaments [which in its general purport] says the same [thing, supplies the defect. Observe] how far that which you propose is [from certainty]: the people shall meet, [but] you neither say where nor when. We say, [with such provision] for the certainty of it [as] in [the late Act made for Triennial Parliaments]; that Act tells you particularly. But because you must make a new Edition: current; Page: [114] provision for it, since you must make a new division and distribution of the kingdom and a new circuit,a therefore it says, ‘with such further provision as shall be made for reducement [of it] to a certainty.’

Rainborough [stated]:

That he does take exception at [the proposal] that no man should be chosen [as a representative] that hath not twenty pounds a year.

[Wildman, interrupting the proposals regarding the negative voice]:b

Though I protest I would not widen a difference, yet I conceive the difference is as wide as ever. In what’s there provided for,c [the interest of the people] is laid aside, [and] the interest of the King and Lords, which the Lord by a judgment from heaven hath given away, [is restored].d


If Mr. Wildman think fit to [let me] go on without taking an advantage [to object] to every particular as it is read, [he may show afterwards] what [things] they are that do render these propositions so destructive and [that] give the King and Lords such an interest as they never had before—if he will take them upon his memory and [not] by the way.


I only affirm that it doth establish the King’s and Lords’ interest surer than before.


I hope Mr. Wildman will not offer such an assertion but he hath arguments to make it good.f


I would proceed to the things in hand.h

Rainborough [observed, the reading concluded]:

That some things in the Agreement were granted there. [He moved]: To debate whether or no, when the Commons’ Representative do declare a law, it ought not to pass without the King’s [or the Lords’] consent.


Truly this is all [that question amounts to]: whether, honour, title, estate, liberty, or life, [if] the Commons have a mind to take it away by a law, [they may do so]; so that to say you are contented to leavei King and Lordsj all, this [negative] being taken away, is as much as to say you are to allow them nothing. Consider how much of this dispute is saved [by] this Edition: current; Page: [115] that is read to you. It gives the negative voice to the people, that no laws can be made without their consent. And secondly, it takes away the negative voice of the Lords and of the King too, as to what concerns the people; for it says that the Commons of England shall be bound by what judgments and also [by] what orders, ordinances, or laws, shall be made for that purpose by theira [representatives]; and all that follows for the King or Lords is this, that the Lords or King are not bound by that law they pass, unless they consent to it for their own persons or estates, as the Commons are. Therefore what [more] is there wanting for the good or safety of the Commons of England?


If the negative voice be taken away [on these terms], then if the King or Lords were taking courses destructive, how should they be prevented?


It is further provided, if they will meddle in any other offices, asi officers of justice or ministers of state in this kingdom, then they likewise are so far subject to the judgment of the House of Commons. If they only stand as single men, their personal interest and the like [is secured], and the right of being only judged by their peers, andc their individual persons [are not bound] by any law that they do not consent to.

Rainborough [objected]:

If the Lords should join together by their interest in the kingdom, and should act against the Commons, then the Commons had no way to help themselves.


If it comes to a breach of the peace it will come to break some law. The Lords heretofore,d [as] to the breaches of peace, have been subject to the common law; only [as] to the matter of fact, whether guilty or not guilty, they must be tried by their peers. We have stood very much for ourselves, that we should be judged by our peers,e by our fellow Commoners; I would fain know this: [since] that a Lord is subject to the common law, how we can take away that right of peers tof be for the matter of fact, whether guilty or not guilty of the breach of such a law,g tried by their peers, when that it is a point of right for the Commons to be tried by their peers.


[It seems then] that the laws that bind the Commons are exclusive ofh the Lords.

Edition: current; Page: [116]

I would fain know this: whether the high sheriff in every county of the kingdom [may not apprehend a Lord who shall break the peace]. And I am sure the law hath [thereby] provided for the keeping of the peace. I know that there is no law but [that] the chief justice of the King’s Bench, nay the sheriff of a county, nay the constable of any town, may seize upon him.


If a petty constable or sheriff shall apprehend a peer of the kingdom, [I would know] whether he can answer it?


If a Lord shall be accused, and by a jury found guilty, he will expect to be tried by his peers.b

We do agree that all the Commons of England are bound [by whatever laws the House of Commons shall pass], but the King and Lords as to their persons are not bound; but if any of them be an officer or minister of state [—and the King is—] then he is to be subject [to the judgment of the House of Commons].


How does it reach the King, and not a Lord?


Every Lord is not a minister of justice [to be accountable to the Commons for his official acts], but if there be any other difference they are tried by their peers.


It is offered to make them capable of being chosen.


Every Baron, [not disqualified] by the other exception[s], may be chosen.1


Is it not so in Scotland?


In Scotland every Lord hath his place as burgess.


[I ask], why the Lords should not have the same privilege [to sit as a body with the Commons].


I should think [of] that as the directest [way to make their] interest [dangerous] to the kingdom, in the world; for that, for so many persons to be a permanent interest in the House, every two yearsd

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Colonel [Robert] Tichborne:

I was speaking to this of the negative, I do remember, on Saturday last. We were [then] at this pitch and there I did leave it, [for] it did concur with my sense—and that was this. That all the power of making laws should be in those that the people should choose; only the King and Lords should serve to this end, that laws should be presented to them, that if they would do the Commons that right as to confirm those laws, they should do it; but if they should not think fit to sign them, it should beget a review of that by the House of Commons; and if after a review the House of Commons did declare that was for the safety of the people, though neither King nor Lords did subscribe, yet it was a standing and binding law;a and therefore we shall not need to fear [and] to take [off] a shadow when they can do us [so] little hurt.b This was what I did then suppose agreed upon.


’Tis true, Saturday night we were thinking of that, but we had an eye to that of safety, that is provided for by the Commons. No money can be raised, no war raised, but by those that the Commons shall choose. And so we thought to put it to consideration, that the Commons should make so much use of the Lords in all affairs [that] they might occasion a review, but if the Commons should upon that review think it fit, it should be looked upon as a law. But instead of that the committee voted last night that (whether the Commons of England should be bound by all the laws passed in the House of Commons, or whether it should be valid, in the case of safety, [that] that which you speak of shouldc follow) if there do but continue such a thing as Lords, and they do not sit jointly with the House of Commons, then the Lords shallc agree [to the laws that the Commons propose] or otherwise the Commons shallc do it presently themselves.d But that which [was then proposed] was questioned in the name [of] the safety [of the Lords themselves], and [the] securing of [their] safety, [by those] that thought it fit that they should have a liberty to preserve one another.e


[Otherwise] if they be injured they have not a remedy.


That’s all that can be said. The question is, whether there be so much need of giving them a power to preserve themselves against the injuries of the Commons. They are not capable of judgment as to their persons unless it be as they are Edition: current; Page: [118] officers of state. Only the truth of it is, there is this seems to be taken away [by taking away their judicial power]: if a man do come and violently fall upon them in the court, or do any such thing, they have no power to preserve themselves, and all their way will be to complain to the House of Commons.


I conceive that whilst we thus run into such particulars there is very little probability of coming to satisfaction. The case, as there it is stated in the Agreement, is general; and it will never satisfy the godly people in the kingdom unless that all government be in the Commons, and freely. Truly, I conceive that according to what is there propounded the power of the House of Commons is much lessened—from what it is of right, not [from] what it is now by usurpation of King and Lords. Whereas it’s said that no law shall be made without the consent of the Commons, it doth suppose some other law-makers besides the Representative of the Commons. Whereas it is said that the Lords in some cases should sit as an House of Parliament to consent to laws, [this] doth give them that power which they never had before the wars; for as yourself said of the King’s oath, it says that the King shall consent to such laws as the people shall choose, but the Lords have no power.a If there be a liberty to the King to give them a title of honour, they ought to be under all laws, and so they ought to concern them as well as all others; which I conceive is diminished in those particulars. Besides, the general current of the whole offer runs that nothing shall be declared against that usurpation in the King formerly, nor in the Lords formerly, and so it remains perpetually dubious. They shall say, ‘Though it does not concern me in my private [capacity], yet it does in my politic’; and no law can be made but it must be sent to the King and Lords, and that must occasion a review; and so they must have recourse [to the King for their laws], to the unrighteous for righteousness, and so long as it is not clearly declared that he hath no power to deny it, and that they need not address themselves to him,b the kingdom cannot be in safety, but his own party may get up and do what he will.


This business is much heightened. Yetc I do not know, by all that hath been said, that the King or Lords are more fastened [on us] than before. We hear talk of laws by ancient constitution, and by usurpation, and yet I do not find that the gentleman that speaks of them doth show [any evidence] what Edition: current; Page: [119] was the ancient constitution, nor of [that] usurpation, but only [the evidence] of the King’s oath; and [from] that is drawn, as taking it for granted, that by ancient constitution there were laws without the King’s consent. For that [question of the oath], I did before clear [it] sufficiently by comparing that with other evidence; for if we could look upon that as an evidence paramount to all [other], that needed not [to] be so much insisted upon. But if this gentleman can find no law in being in this kingdom, which hath not Lords to it, and King to it, and expressly,a ‘Be it ordained by the King, Lords, and Commons’—if it always have gone so, and no interruption and no memory of any kind of proceeding to the contrary, but that all laws passed by the Commons have been sent to the Lords for their concurrence—[if] the Lords have [made amendments and] sent down [to the Commons] for their concurrence, they have had conferences, and [when they] could not agree, the Commons have let it rest and not insisted upon it: we must look upon these as evidences of what is constitution, together with that testimony of the King’s oath. [But] whereas those other things that are numerous and clear evidences doe in express terms relate to the Lords,j when I do consider the consequences of that oath, I do conclude either that the word vulgus is concludedb to comprehend all Lords and Commons; or else it is thus, that the two great powers of this kingdom are divided betwixt the Lords and Commons, and it is most probable to me that it was so: that the judicial power was in the Lords principally, and the House of Commons yet to have their concurrences, the legislative power principally in the Commons, and the Lords’ concurrences in practice to be desired. It is a clear and known thing that the House of Commonsc cannot gived an oath, by the constitution of the kingdom, but they must resort to the Lords if they will have an oath given. And then, besides, all the judges of [the] Common Law in the kingdomc sit as assistants to the Lords. Upon this the practice hath been in any private cause wherein unjust sentence hath been given—it is beyond all record or memory—that [by] a writ of error that [which] hath been passed in another court may be judged here. So that these two powers, of the legislative power and the judicial, have been exercised between both Lords and Commons, and neitherf of them to exercise the one or the other without mutual consent.g I desire this gentleman, or any other that argues upon the other part [than] that we are upon—unless they will produce some kind of evidence of history upon record by law—that they will forbear arguments of that nature,h calling such things usurpationsi from Edition: current; Page: [120] constitution or from right, and [rather] insist upon things of common safety as supposing no constitution at all.


Contrary to resolution I must now speak—whether it be from the Lord or no, I know not. What foundation had the Commons of England to sitting (beinga four hundredb years in sitting)? For in King Henry the Third’s time, when Magna Charta was finished (which by computation was four hundredc years [ago]),d this was granted to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Edward, the son, was called to be a witness. But when the Lords saw that they were not strong enough to sit in that magnificence, the Commons were drawn in, and [it was contrived] that in that law [of] the King’s oath [they] should [also] come in. Now had it not been a fundamental law [before the Conquest] the Commons should not have been drawn up, but that they did drive up [now to support the Lords] is clear. And what will become of us if we drive up to no other purpose but to support a Norman prerogative? The Lord knoweth, not I.


I thought this gentleman had had some answer to this matter of history as to the Norman Conquest before, so as we should not seem to derive all our tyranny from the Norman Conquest. If subjection to a King be a tyranny, [we had a King before the Norman Conquest]; the question was between him and the Conqueror who had the right toe the crown. But I cannot but wonder at the strange inferences that are made. He tells us that there is no memory of the Commons’ having any interest in the legislative power till Edward the First’s time, and then [that] the Lords Spiritual and Temporalf found themselves not strong enough in King Henry the Third’s time, and therefore they brought them in, and yet [he] would certainly have us to believe that the Commons had all the right before [the Conquest].


In Alfred’s time,f the Commons had all the power, and the King, before the Conquest, hanged forty-three [of the Lords Justices] in one year.1


[I observe] that the Commissary-General is willing to lay that of constitution aside, and that of custom aside, and [I think it well for us] to consider the equality and reasonableness Edition: current; Page: [121] of the thing, and not to stand upon [a] constitution which we have broken again and again. I do not find in all the reading that I have done—I do not know that ever the Commons made war with the King [till now, though] the Barons did. Yet,a besides the oath he found, [I would add] that one of the main articles against Richard the Second [was] that he did not concur with, and agree upon, those wholesome laws [which] were offered him by the Commons for the safety of the people. If that were so great a right as did depose him, it is in the kingdom [still], and therefore let us go to the justice of the thing. That justice and reason doth not give to the major part—


You would have us lay aside arguments of constitution, and yet you have brought the strongest that may be. I have seen the Articles of Richard the Second, and it is strange that the Parliament should not insist upon that.


That is not the thing that I would consider of.


I suppose no man will make a question that that may be justice and equity upon no constitution, which is not justice and equity upon a constitution. As for instance in the matter of a common, &c.

I wish but this, that we may have a regard to safety—safety to our persons, safety to our estates, safety to our liberty. Let’s have that as the law paramount, and then let us regard [the] positive constitution as far as it can stand with safety to these. Now therefore—thus for my part I confess it—if I should have ever given a consent in my heart to propound anything that did not consist with this, with regard to any constitution whatsoever, [I revoke it]; but for my part I cannot see that anything but safety is provided for.b Mr. Wildman says that many godly men would not be satisfied with this that we have read, which amounts to this: that the Commons have power to make laws for all the Commons of England, [and] that only the person of the King and [the] persons of the Lordsc as persons,d with their estates, are freed from them. [If this be so], I do not see [that] they are satisfied with anything without having a power over other men’s liberties.


Whereas you are pleased to say I produced no other evidence, Colonel Rainborough brought another. Because you did confess the Lords had no other power in making laws—

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Ireton [interrupting]:

I never confessed it in my life, [otherwise] than [by] the recitation of that oath: ‘which the people shall choose.’


I could wish we should have recourse to principles and maxims of just government, [instead of arguments of safety] which are as loose as can be. [By these principles, government by King and Lords is seen to be unjust.]


The government of Kings,a or of Lords,b is as just as any in the world, is the justest government in the world. Volenti non fit injuria. Men cannot wrong themselves willingly, and if they will agree to make a King, and his heirs, [their ruler], there’s no injustice. They may either make it hereditary or elective. They may give him an absolute power or a limited power. Here hath been agreements of the people that have agreed with this. There hath been such an agreement when the people have fought for their liberty, and have established the King again.


’Twas their superstition, to have such an opinion of a great man.d


Any man that makes a bargain, and does find afterwards ’tis for the worse, yet is bound to stand to it.


They were cozened, as we are like to be.f


I would not have you talk of principles of just government when you hold that all governments that are set up by consent are just. [Argue instead that] such or such a way, that can consist with the liberty of the people. Then we shall go to clear reason. That’s one maxim, that all government must be for the safety of the people.


Let us keep to that business of safety. ’Tis upon the matter [of safety that the real power of making laws is vested] solely in the people [by] what hath been proposed. In that I give King and Lords [no more than an opportunity] to do me a courtesy if they will—

Wildman [interrupting]:

No courtesy.

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It is only an opportunity—and [to] show themselves as willing as the Commons. Let us not fight with shadows.


We do not know what opportunity God will give us.b


If God will destroy King or Lords he can do it without our or your wrong-doing. If you [not only] take away all power from them, which this clearly does, but [do also] take away all kind of distinction of them from other men, then you do them wrong.c Their having [such] a distinction from other men cannot do us wrong. That you can do to the utmost for the[ir] safety is this: that a Lord or King may preserve his own person or estate free from the Commons. Now [I would know] whether this can be destructive to the Commons, that so few men should be distinct from a law made by the Commons, especially when we have laws made as to the preserving of the peace of the kingdom and preserving every man in his right. The King and Lords are suable, impleadable, in any court. The King may be sued, and tried by a jury, and a Lord may be sued, and tried per pares only, [as] a knight by esquires. What needs more, where there are such laws already that the King and Lords are so bound?


I conceive that the difference does not lie here, but whether the King shall so come in that the Parliament must make their addresses themselves unto him for [the confirmation of] everything they pass. Whether it be a shadow or no, I think it is a substance when nothing shall be made but by address to the King. This will be very shameful in future chronicles, that after so much blood there should be no better an issue for the Commons.


Do you think we have not laws good enough for the securing of [the] rights [of the Commons]?


I think [that] according to the letter of the law, if the King will, [he may] kill me by law.d Ask any lawyers of it: by the letter of the present law he may kill me, and forty more, and no law call him to account for it.


I think no man will think it.e When the King stands thus bound with so many lawsf about him, and all the Commons of England bound to obey what law they [by their representatives] Edition: current; Page: [124] do make, let any man guess whether the King, as he is a single person, will hazard himself to kill this, or that, or any other man.


It will be thought boldness in me [not] to agree. If God will open your hearts to provide so that the King may not do me injury, I shall be glad of it. If not, I am but a single man, I shall venture myself and [my] share in the common bottom.1

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General Council1 at Whitehall, 14th December 1648b

[Summary of Questions Debated and Methods to be Used]

Question debated:

Whether the magistrate have, or ought to have, any compulsive and restrictive power in matters of religion?c


Whether to have [in the Agreement of the People] any reserve to except religious things, or only to give power in natural and civil things and to say nothing of religion?2

Orders for the discussing of this question:

(1) That those who are of opinion in the affirmative begin (if they will) to lay down the grounds; (2) That the discussion be alternate, viz., that when one hath reasoned for the affirmative, the next admitted to speak be such as will speak for the negative, and after one hath spoke for the negative, the next admitted to speak be for the affirmative; (3) That if none arguing in the affirmative give grounds for a compulsive power, then none in the negative to speak against any other than the restrictive power.

[Meeting of a committee with divines ordered]:3

Col. Rich, Col. Deane, Mr. Wildman, Mr. Stapleton,d Mr. John Goodwin, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Collier, Capt. Clarke, to meet at Col. Tichborne’s to-morrow, at four of the clock in the afternoon, with Mr. Calamy, Mr. Ashe, Mr. Seaman, Mr. Burgess, Mr. Cordwell, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Nye, Mr. Russell, Mr. Ayres, Mr. Brinsley, about the particulars this day debated.e

[The Debate]f

The first reserve as in relation to matters of religion read.4

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The question [stated]:1

Whether the civil magistrate had a power given him from God [in matters of religion]?

Tichborne [amended]:

How far the civil magistrate had power from God?

Deane [said:

That] the law is, that what a man would have done to himself he may do to another, and that according to that rule he did not understand the magistrate to have power.

Mr. Jo[hn] Goodwin offereda to consideration:

That God hath not invested any power in a civil magistrate in matters of religion. And I think if he had he might more properly be called an ecclesiastical or church officer than a civil; for denominations are given from those [things] that are most considerable in an office. There is no difference [between the two] in that [case]. That the magistrate hath [not] in any way a concession from God for punishing any man for going along with his conscience, I conceive that is not necessary to be argued upon.

That [which], I suppose, is [necessary to be argued upon, is]: whether it be proper or conducing to your ends, whether it be like to be of good resentment of the wisest, or [even the] generality, of the people, [or whether it will not be held] but a subjecting of them, that a business of this nature should be of your cognizance [at all], it being that which hath taken up the best wits to determine, whether the magistrate hath power in matter of religion or no. [And if in policy you may proceed], yet it being a matter of that profound and deep disputation as men have made it, [I question] whether it will be a matter appropriate to the cognizance of you to interpose [in] to determine, and to decide a question which hath been the great exercise of the learning and wits and judgment of the world. And I conceive, though there be reasons upon reasons of very great weight, commanding why it should be inserted [in the Agreement, that the magistrate has no coercive power in matters of religion, that yet your competence to decide the matter may be questioned]. Certainly if so be the inserting of it could carry it, if it could obtain [support] and be likely to prevail in the kingdom, I think it would bless the nation with abundance of peace, and [be] the preventing of many inconveniencies and troubles and heart-burnings, that are [otherwise] like to arise. But inasmuch as I do not apprehend that it is a matter proper for you to take notice of, to intermeddle in, [I recommend you not to insert it, or at least not here. For it is either a question Edition: current; Page: [127] of conscience or of civil right]. It being a matter of conscience and matter of religion, whether you will [or no], you must, [if you insert it], do ita as [a sort of] magistrates, and then you go against your own principles, [for] you do assume and interpose in matters of religion. [On the other hand], if it be no matter of conscience, but only matter of civil right, it will fall into those articles which concern the civil power of the magistrate.

Mr. Hewitt:

Every poor man [that] does understand what he does, and is willing that the commonwealth should flourish, hath as real an hand here as the greatest divine, and [for] all [the] divinity [you] have had from reading, if you had as many degrees [as there are hours] of time since the creation, learning is but the tradition of men.1 He is [as] properly concernedb as [any] one [man] of England, and therefore [is as likely] to know, whether you give him any power or no.

Those men that are [most truly] religious, they are those men that havec the greatest spirits and fittest for public service, and to have religion given under the hand of a magistrate or two, and [for] all the noble spirits of the poor, to turn them out of the commonwealth [is tyranny to them and robbery of the commonwealth].b Therefore if we do honour the commonwealth of England, it is best to let them be free, that they be not banished or injured for matters of conscience, but that they may enjoy [and serve] the commonwealth.


I suppose the difference is concerning the stating of the question. For what that learned gentleman was pleased to say, [that he doubted] whether it were proper for this Council [to judge of the question, I am unable] to conceive [that it should be so], whether it were matter of conscience [or of civil right]. Through the judgment of God upon the nation all authority hath been broken to pieces, or at least it hath been our misery that it hath been uncertain whetherd the supreme authority hath been [here or there], [so] that none have known where the Edition: current; Page: [128] authority of the magistrate is, or [how far] his office [extends]. For the remedy of this your Excellency hath thought fit to propound a new way of settling this nation, which is a new constitution. Your Excellency thinks it [evident] that therea can be no other way for to govern the people than this way.

And though this Agreement were resolved [upon] here, [yet it must be submitted to the people]. And therefore the question is now what power the people will agree to give to the magistrates that they will set over them to be their governors. Now the great misery of our nation hath been the magistrates’ trust not being known.b We being about settling the supreme power, I think it is [necessary] clearly to declare what this power is; and therefore I think the question will be: [first], whether we shall entrust the magistrate [with power] in matters of religion or not; [and secondly], whether it be necessary to expressc it or not.d Then the question must be thus: whether it be [not] necessary,e after we have had a war for the power, to show what power we do give them, and what not. And I desire that the question may be stated: Whether it is [not] necessary clearly to determinef in this constitution whether to entrust the magistrate [with any power] in matters of religion or not; [and] whether it be necessary to express it or not?


No man hath said that in this Agreement nothing hath been [granted to the magistrate, save that which hath been] expressed. The main thing is not whether he should be entrusted, but what should be reserved. I think that’s sufficient. For to trust him,h if they have a power in themselves either to bind or not to bind, I think that will be a thing questionable still.1 Buti that’s doubted by many, whether the people can tie up themselves to any particular measure of their obedience. Now if so, if they have not this power in themselves, then for them to say they reserve it from others, which they have not themselves——


I think the greatest cause of the lengthening of the debate is the mistake of the question in hand, and I have heard difference[s] in opinion, several, about the question. As to that the gentleman that spoke last asserted, that if we did not give him this power expressly, impliedly he has it not, I refer it to your Excellencye whether or no the [not] empowering the civil magistrate doesg reserve it, and therefore to consider whether it be Edition: current; Page: [129] [not] a necessary reserve. If it be a reserve that concerns the conscience of any of those faithful friends that have gone along with your Excellency—and this is a reserve that does not concern us but them—[they have a right to expect it]. Even for that I refer it to your Excellency, whether it ought not to be inserted.

But as to the equity and reason of the thing, whether he hath this [power over consciences] from God, or whether he can have it, that is so clear that no man will argue for it. [But there is another question.] That is, whether the civil magistrate hath a power to be exercised upon the outward man for [other than] civil things. It has been said: we may entrust the civil magistrate with our lives and our estates, but to entrust the civil magistrate with a compulsive power for religious ends, this does implicitly signify that we will submit [our consciences] to such a power. Now the question is [not] whether we can empower him over our consciences; it’s impossible. But this is that which sticks with me: whether we ought to countenance the magistrate, much less give him a power over the persons of men, for doing or not doing religious things according to his judgment.

Lieutenant-Colonel [John] Lilburne:

To my understanding, [in] all that hath been said to reach [an end of] this business, that which hath been principally aimed at [is] to state the question. According to [the] Commissary-General’s first stating of it, [it] is this: [Whether the civil magistrate hath a power given him from God]?a Seeing there hath been a great war about breach of trust (and that unlimited trust), and seeing we are now about to [seek a way to] avoid those miseries that hitherto have happened, I conceive the substance of the question will be this: Whether it be [not] necessary to represent [in the Agreement] the trust that is reposed in the magistrates—that I conceive, that is the principal thing that will reach our end, whether it be requisite to express their trust positively in this Agreement, yea or no?


I have heard so many things, and so many mistakes, that it makes me think of some other method, and that is to find out the persons of [those adhering to] the several opinions that are started amongst us, that [they] may apply themselves to answer [each other]: not many to speak together of one part, anda that which they have saidb go without answer, but immediately, as one hath spoken anything of one part, that it may be answered of the other part. Otherwise we shall, as far as my reason goes, perplex ourselves and all that hear us.

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My memory is not able to reach to those many mistakes that I have found in the debate hitherto, but I’ll speak a word to the last because it is very material. I perceive by this gentleman that the foundation of the necessity—the ground of the necessity—of the determination of this point now, is fixed upon this: that we have had wars and troubles in the nation, and that hath been for want of ascertaining the power in which men should have acquiesced in the nation, and for that men have not known where to acquiesce. If the meaning of this be that it hath been for want of knowing what power magistracy hath had, I must needs say that it hath been a clear mistake, [to say] that this was the ground of the wars.a The grounds have been these. That whereas it is well and generally known what is the matter of the supreme trust (that is all things necessary for the preserving of peace), [it is not so well known] what is the end of civil society and commonwealths. If I did look [chiefly] at liberty, I would mind no such thing [as a commonwealth]; for then I am most free when I have nobody to mind me. Nor do I find anything else that’s immediately necessary, not [as the cause] of making any power amongst men, butc [only] the preserving of human society in peace. But withal to look at such a trust.d You commit the trust to persons for the preserving of peace in such a way as may be most suitable in civil society. [And they are persons] that are most probable and hopeful for [preserving] liberty, and not [like] to make us slaves. [For] as it may be most hopeful for common and equal right among us, soe may [it] be most hopeful to provide for the prosperity and flourishing state of the nation. Butf the necessary thing, that which necessarily leads all men into civil agreements or contracts, or to make commonwealths, is the necessity of it for preserving peace. Because otherwise, if there were no such thing, but every man [were] left to his own will, men’s contrary wills, lusts, and passions would lead every one to the destruction of another, and [every one] to seek all the ways of fencing himself against the jealousies of another.

Andg that which hath occasioned the controversies [in this nation] heretofore hath been this, [the placing of the supreme power, in which men must acquiesce for peace’ sake].d All civil power whatsoever, eitherh in natural or civil things,i is not [able] to bind men’s judgments, [but only their actions]. The judgment of the Parliament, [which] is the supremest council in the world, cannot bind my judgment in anything. [Whatever power you give the magistrate], and whether you limit it to civil things Edition: current; Page: [131] or natural things, the effect of that power is that he hath not power to conclude your inward, but [only] your outward man; the effect of all is but the placing of a power in which we would acquiesce for peace’ sake.a This being taken for granted,b that which hath occasioned the war in this nation is not the not knowing what the limitations [of that power] are, or of what [nature] is the supreme trust, but [only] that we have not known in what persons, or what parties, or what council, the trust hath lain. The King he hath claimed it as his right, as in the case of ship-money, but the people thought they had another right then. There was a Parliament called, and it was then clear and undenied; the King could not deny it—that it was the right of the kingdom, that they should not be bound and concluded but by common consent of their deputies or representatives in Parliament. It [not] being thus far made clear where the supreme trust did lie,c [nevertheless] thus much was clear, that the King could not do anything alone. Then he insists upon it, that the Parliament could not do anything without him; this was the [next] difference, because they did assume to do something without him, which they thought necessary for the safety of the kingdom. So that the ground of the war was not what difference [might arise regarding the extent of power] in the supreme magistracy, [but only] whether [it was] in the King alone. Now we are, all that are here, I suppose, unanimous that this bone of contention should be taken away, that it should be determined in what persons, or succession of persons, the supreme trust doth lie.

[But] the [other] question is [also] with us: what kind of power we should commit with those that have the supreme trust. Since it is clear in this question [that] it is not intended [to determine] whether we shall commit [to them] a trust of our judgments or consciences,c the question is: whether we should give a trust to them for the outward man, and [the extent of that trust], with acquiescence but for peace’ sake. Take that for granted then. To come [now] to consider whether as to the [magistrate’s] proceeding to the outward man, and our acquiescence unto him for peace’ sake, it be fit for us to commit a trust to the civil magistrate, for this purpose,d concerning spiritual things as concerning civil things.

Now the ground [of the dispute] is this. There are two pretences of conscience [involved]. There aree many men who do claim a right to the civil commonwealth with you, and have not forfeited that right. They say: ‘We think, though it be in your power to determine who shall be the supreme magistrate, that,f Edition: current; Page: [132] that being determined, there is something of divine institution that does tell him what is his duty to do,a [and] gives him rules [of right] in point of acting between man and man in civil things, [and that] he ought to have regard to that right.’ Secondly, they say that that same word or witness of God left to us, which gives him directions in this case in civil things, [which tells him] what is right and what is wrong, and so must be the guide of his judgment—that same [word or witness] does tell him that in some things [that concern religion] he ought to restrain. This is truly the pretence of conscience on one part. That which is said against this. First, many men do not believe that there is by the word of God, by the scripture, any such direction or power or duty laid upon the magistrate, that he should exercise any such power in things that concern religion. They differ in that point. And secondly, they say:b ‘Though it were so, to your satisfaction that are of that opinion, yet we being not satisfied in it, that we ought to think so, it is not fit for us to commit a power to him, which God hath not entrusted him withal.’ That’s the [counter-]argument; for otherwise it would follow,b if there be a pretence of conscience, and some probable grounds and reasons on the one side, that the magistrate should not be bound in matters of religion, but that he may exercise this power in this case. When we are upon the business [of settlement], or upon agreement, it will be necessary [that] we should leave this out. Let us go on to make an agreement for our civil rights upon those things wherein we are agreed, and let us not make such a thing necessary to the agreement as will inevitably exclude one of us from the agreement, but let us make such a distribution of the public trust in such hands as shall give every one an equal share, an equal interest and possibility; and let us submit ourselves to these future Representatives, and if wec be not satisfied in one Representative, it may be [we shall be] satisfied in the next. This would certainly be the most reasonable way in all those that have not admitted this Agreement, [and might satisfy all men], seeingd that [as] it’s alleged on one hand, ‘If you put this [reserve] into the Agreement you necessarily exclude me from it, as my conscience [is that the magistrate should have that power]’; so says the other, ‘If you have not this in the Agreement you do exclude me from the Agreement for my conscience’ sake, for my conscience is that the magistrate should not have that power.

Then, sir—forb truly I think it has been offered to the end we may come to the nearest possibility, that I can see, ofe an agreement—thisf hath been offered: that you cannot conscientiously Edition: current; Page: [133] entrust the magistrate with a power which by the rule of God he ought not to exercise, but if you find it is alleged to give him a power to all things but those that are reserved, and [if we do] not reserve this from him, then we give him the power of that. To that it hath been [further] offered: that, in your general clause concerning the power of the supreme magistracy of the people’s Representative,a we should [make it] extend [only] to all civil and natural things. Then [the magistrate], ifb having [in his own opinion] right to [such] a power from him[self],c will exercise his power without claiming it from somebody else, [but, if not having right to such a power in himself, he cannot claim it from the Agreement]. If he have it in him of God, then your Agreement cannot take it from him; if he have it not [of God], then it is not [given him] in the Agreement.

For that, for a settling of the power, there are no rightful foundations of this trust [save] either divine institution or designation of the person, or else an human placing of them.1 Now though it be in man (where God doth not designated) rightfully to elect and designated the persons, yet when the persons are elected and instituted, what is their duty to do in point of justice, and what is their duty in point of those things of religion whereof they are to judge, [those are things] that are not to be determined by those that commit the trust to them. Certainly [by] the same reason as we in only making our choice of the persons and of the time of their continuance (that are clearly in our power) dof leave it to themg according to theirh judgment to determine and proceed in matters of civil right and civil things—we may upon the same ground, without further prejudice to the inwardi man, refer to themg a power of determining as to the outward man what theym will allow or suffer in matter of religion.

And thus I have endeavoured as clearly as I can to state the question and the several questions that are in this business.

Colonel [Edward] Whalley:

My Lord, we are about preparing an Agreement for the people and truly, my Lord, it is high time that we did agree. If we now vary, it is a ready way to common ruin and destruction. My Lord, I do perceive in this paper which is prepared for the people to be [adopted] by agreement, there is one articlej which hath been so much spokenk of, tol the great stumbling of many. It causes a great difference amongst us. If so, we cannot but expect that it will cause a greater in the kingdom, and so great as doubtless will occasion a new commotion. Since it is so Edition: current; Page: [134] apparent to us, I must think it were a very necessary question to put: Whether this ought not to be left out of this paper, yea or no? For how can we term that to be an Agreement of the People which is neither an agreement of the major part of the people, and truly for anything I can perceive—I speak out of my own judgment and conscience—not [an agreement of] the major part of the honest party of the kingdom? If the question were whether the magistrate should have coercive power over men’s consciences, I think it is a very necessary thing to put. We have been necessitated to force the Parliament, and I should be very unwilling we should force the people to an agreement.


I agree to that motion of the Commissary-General, that there might be some of contrary principles or parties chosen out to agree upon the stating of our question, that we may not spend so much time in [determining] that which we are to debate upon.

Mr. [Joshua] Sprigge:

My Lord, I should be loath to tax any here with mistakes, though I have not a better word to call it by, and it hath been used oft already. I conceive there are many mistakes have passed in bringing forth the state of the question. There has been a mistake, I conceive, of the true subject that is to be entitled to this business, and a mistake of the capacity that you are in to act in this business, and a mistake of the opportunity that lies before you, and of the fruit and end of your actions. I conceive, my Lord, that he hath not been entitled to this thing who ought to be entitled, and that is our Lord Jesus Christ, who is heir of all things; and as he was God’s delight before the world was made, why, so God did bring forth all things by him in a proportion and conformity to him, to that image of his delight and content, his Son; and so retaining this proportion, and acting in this conformity to him, have all states and kingdoms stood that have stood, and expect to stand; and declining from this proportion, it hath been the ruin of all governments [that have done so]. It is God’s design, I say, to bring forth the civil government, and all things here below, in the image and resemblance of things above; and whenas those things that are but of [a temporary] and representative nature have clashed with that which hath been their end, and have either set up themselves, or set up things that are of this world like themselves, as their end, and so have made all things (I mean the things of the other world) to stoop and vail to these ends, Edition: current; Page: [135] and have measured religion and the appearances of God according to rules and ends of policy, it hath been the ruin of all states.g I conceive that that is the account that is to be given of the condition that this kingdom is brought into at this time.

Now, my Lord, God having thus taken us apieces, and that righteously, because our government did not stand in God in its pattern, why, he hath only by his providence now brought forth the government of the sword, being that which we are only capable of, and which we have brought ourselves into a condition of needinga and acquiring. Now, my Lord, I conceive that this same goodwill which is in your Excellency and in the Armyb to promote the spiritual liberties of the Saints, as well as the civil liberties of men, it cannot but be taken well. It is that which certainly you shall not fare the worse for at the hands of God, who will award unto you according to your doings, and according to your intentions. But this we must also profess, that the kingdom of Christ does not stand in [need of help from] any power of man; and that Christ will grow up in the world, let all powers whatsoever combine never so much against him. So that I conceive the question is not so much to be put in the interest of Christ and of the truth—I mean in the interest of the need of Christ of your restraining of the magistrate, of your providing against such coercion. Butc if it should be, now that the magistrate is despoiled of all power to oppose the Saints, thatd you should go to lay an opportunity before him again, and offer such a thing to him, certainly that were to lay a great snare before magistrates,e and, by thrusting them on, to [have them] break their own necks the faster. For thusf I look upon [it], that magistrates and all the powers of the world, unless they were in the immediate hand and guidance of God, unless he does superact, they will dash against this stone. And it is natural to them not to retain themselves in that subordination wherein they are, unto God and unto Christ, who are but to represent [him] in this sphere of theirs in a lower way, and to be subservient to him. But there is an enmity in all these, there is an enmity in the powers of the world [against God], and therefore Christ must be put down [by them], as we have it at this day. God is in the kingdom, and he is growing up, and men shall not be able to hinder him. So that here’s all the question that I conceive can be made, and all that is concerned in it: whether you will declare your goodwill or no to Jesus Christ. For I say, Christ depends not either upon this or that, or the truth upon it, as if it should suffer or die if such a power do not appear for it, but whether you will hinder the magistrate Edition: current; Page: [136] [from persecuting Christ and the truth] or as much as you cana [further him therein, they shall prevail. Yet] there may be something else concerned than [the truth, namely] the flesh of the Saints, which God is tender of; for he is tender of all of us in our several administrations and under our several dispensations; and if so be that [the] Saints are not prepared sob to suffer, or enabled to commit themselves to him in well-doing without such defenceg as your sword [or] your arm, to restrain and keep back persecutors, it may be God may in mercy put this into your hearts to accommodate the weakness of his people so. But I conceive, my Lord, that this thing is not at all essential unto your work; for the powerh of the sword, and all other power whatsoever, being extinct righteously because it stood not and did not act in God, I conceive that which you have to do is to wait upon God until he shall show you some way, and not to be too forward to settle.c I perceive by this Agreement of the People there is a going on to settle presently, and [to] make a new constitution, which I think we are not in such a capacity [as] to do. God will bring forth a New Heaven and a New Earth. In the meantime your work is to restrain [all], indeed to restrain the magistrate, from such a power [to persecute; for it is evident] that the people of God, and that [other] men too, that all men that are, ought to live within such bounds as may be made manifest to them to be such boundsd that they may not suffer wrong by might. And certainly, if so be you shall so manage your opportunity, I conceive you shall fully answer your end, waiting upon God until he shall [direct you], who certainly is growing up amongst us; and if we could have but patience to wait upon him, we should see he would bring us out of this labyrinth wherein we are.


My Lord, that that I wase about to say was only this. I shall not take upon me to dispute the question, [but] only tell you, I fear I shall go away with the same opinion [that] I came [with]: that it was the question, it is the question, and it will be the question to the ending of the world, whether the magistrate have any power at all [in matters of religion], and what thati power is. And, my Lord, I offer it to yourself and everybody, whether your affairs will admit of so much delay as to determine the question, whether [yea] or no.f This that is termed the Agreement of the People, [I would know] whether you do always expect to uphold it by the power of the sword. Otherwise you must have something suitable to the affections of the people, something to correspond with [their will, in] it. Edition: current; Page: [137] Truly, my Lord, I should be glad [that] all men might be satisfied, and I think, if I know my heart, I could suffer for their satisfaction. But since it is upon these terms [we must act], that we cannot go together in all things, I desire we may be so good-natured as to go [together] as far as we can, and I hope, before that [time for parting] comes, God will find out a way to keep us together. [I think, we may go on together] if the other things which are civil may so be termed the Agreement by us, [and] if they may be gone through withal. And if we can express anything to let the world know we do not go about to give the magistrate power in that [in] which he hath no power, truly, my Lord, this will show that we go not about to give him more than [in right] he has, [and yet] if he have it [in right] at all, we take it not away. Certainly what we do here does not conclude against right, [for] we may be mistaken. If we give it not, certainly we restrain [not from the power, but] from that usurpation [of power] hitherto [experienced]. Though I could think it a great deal of happiness that every man had as much liberty as I desire I may have, not to be restrained [in matters of conscience; yet I will venture something for unity], and [the more readily] since I venture nothing but a persecution of the flesh. And [if we preserve not unity], instead of bringing ease to the kingdom [by the Agreement] I should [think we shall] lay it out [for the kingdom’s destruction], and to that which lies upon us of destroying Kings and Parliaments and all that, we shall [add that we] destroy a people of our own; we shall not be thought agreers, but disturbers of the peace.a Therefore I shall desire we may go on to other things and leave this till that time [when God shall give us further guidance]. And truly it is something to me that the Spirit of God has not [yet] thought fit to determine [for us the power of the magistrate over matters of religion] in this world, as we are to live upon such incomingsb from God; and though it be a very pleasing thing to have God appear in power to us in it, yet God hath been as much glorified in the suffering of Saints as in their doing. And therefore I desire we may go on to other things and not stick at this.


May it please your Lordship. I think we havec hardly time enough to spend about those things that are very essentially and certainly before us to be done out of hand.

First of all, I do not find anything at all is put to the question; sod we do not know any one’s mind.e For if any one of these three or four [propositions] were put to the question we might [at least] have no question [on that score]. I know without all Edition: current; Page: [138] controversy, there hath been dispute, and will be a great while, [about this], and I know not in what country this will be first decided. Not that God and nature havea left it so [doubtful], but from Diotrephes1 to this day there hath been a spirit of dominating. There are two things upon which I will raise the conclusion. (1) I am marvellous tender that there shall be nothing done about religion in England (and I am only tender in England; if I were in another country I would not say so) because the interest of England is religion. I say it looks like the interest of the kingdom; and I believe you will find that [religion is the cause of] those contests that have been in the kingdom. And though that gentleman and others are enabled to know if [it be] so [better than I am, I ask], why do we march with our swords by our sides? From first to the last we might have suffered under Kings, or Bishops, or Parliament or anybody, and we that [speak] know what it is to suffer and to be banished a thousand miles. You shall know, all the disputes all along have been upon this very point.b It was the old question in Pharaoh’s days, whether the people should worship or no. Yet [though] I think, in truth, [that] though we all sat still, yet the work of God will go on,c I am not in the mind we should put our hands in our pockets and wait what will come.c We have been drawn to this work; we have not been persuading ourselves [to it]. I should spit him out that would look for any plantations of his own from the other side; let that be cursed from heaven, to mind the things of that [worldly] kingdom. I only offer these two thoughts. First, God seems to call for something at our hands about religion, and that only because we are Englishmen. [(2)] And then the second thing is this: that I think we should not be too much perplexed about it. And therefore my thought is this, if I find it move upon other spirits that it is a matter of great intricacy or trouble among Christians: Do but tame that old spirit of domination, of trampling upon yourd brethren, and giving law, and the like; [and all may be well]. Witness the country next from us, that hath all the marks of a flourishing state upon it—I mean the Low Countries: theye are not so against, or afraid of, this toleration. And I am not so against [or afraid of it as some] on the other side that are [wont] to fear some [damage to religion by] sufferingf [it]. That which I would hint is, that now we are come here to settle something for magistrates [we may settle something for the Church too]. ‘If she be a wall,’ says [Solomon, of] the Church, ‘we will build a silver palace upon her, and if she be a door we Edition: current; Page: [139] will have her of boards of cedar.’1 For the present case I think this: that that last motion made by that noble friend and some others [should be agreed to]. I wish we would do as all other republics would do when we come to such a rub as this is, I wish that this thought about this reserve may be hung forth in every market town. If men will write or speak about it, give it a time [for that]—it may have a month or twoa—before you [attempt to settle it. Meanwhile] go on with your other work, and those things that can be agreed to, and the affairs of the kingdom [shall benefit, for] from such time they may not [need to] have long debates. And so you have my thoughts.

Captain Spencer:

We are now about an Agreement of the People, and I perceive one clause in it is, that if we have this Agreement we will acquiesce. I conceive, if you leave this [power to the magistrate] I can never comfortably [acquiesce in it], nor any man breathing, and this surely will be [a cause of disagreement], if he be not restrained in his power.

Mr. [Richard Overton]:2

That gentleman hath mentioned it three or four times as if it might be taken for granted, [that] the magistrate hath power over the outward man [but none over the inward man]. In some case it may be done. [But] if he hath power over my body, he hath power to keep me at home when I should go abroad to serve God. And concerning [yourselves] one word I would speak. God has pleased by your means [to give us what liberty we have], which we look at as from himself, by whom we have had all the comforts we enjoy—I say God hath made you instruments of liberty. In matters of religion that’s preferred by us before life. Let’s have that or nothing. Now God hath by your means trodden upon that power which should [otherwise] have trodden upon us. [Let us agree] to prevent any [new] authority from coming upon us. If you never agree in your judgments, it’s no matter, [if you] keep but authority from beating of us and killing of us, and the like. And whereas that gentleman spake of [leaving] this concerning [their own powers to] a Representative, concerning what power they should have hereafter, we have this to say. If you your own selves cannot help us [to freedom] in matters of opinion, we do not look for it Edition: current; Page: [140] while we breathe. The Lord hath been pleased to inform you as [well as] many other men. If you cannot agree upon it, then Ia shall conclude, for my part, never to expect freedom whiles I live.

Colonel [Thomas] Harrison:

May it please your Excellency. I would not trouble you save thatb it may save you trouble. I do wish that which was offered at first might be entertained to save time, that you would put the business in such a way [as] to have [us proceed immediately to] the statingc of the question.d If it be so long before you come to the question, it will be longer before you come to a resolution in it. I offer thisb (because this is that which sticks upon the consciences of [so many] men, [and] I would not have it taken notice of by any that you would so slight them as not to do that now):g that some of all interests may have the consideration of this, and therein you may have confidence that God will bless the issue.e For what expedient there may be found in it, that may be left to their consideration, and the blessing of God upon their endeavours.d Whether they should have assistance from some out of London, or those that would be willing to meet [them from] elsewhere upon it, [I know not, but I think it] would be an happy thing to guide them to the right of it. [And I move]: That then you would please to go [on] with the rest of the things that, I think, you may more generally concur in.


I should make this motion: Whether we might not find something at this time might satisfy all, and whether in that foregoing clause, ‘That in all civil things,’ [&c.],f we might not [by the words ‘civil and natural’] satisfy all interests?1


That will lead you to a consideration of the merit of the thing, and will spend much time in debate pro and con; and if it please God to guide the hearts of some few [gathered in a committee], it may be a satisfaction.

Captain Clarke:

I shall take the boldness to offer one word or two. That gentleman that spoke last [but one] was pleased to offer this as an expedient to satisfy all: that if the word[s] ‘civil and natural’ [were inserted, it] might suffice to satisfy all. I Edition: current; Page: [141] suppose [they will] not [satisfy all], because that all punishments, though for matters of religion, are merely civil for the punishment of the body, and whatsoever the sentence of the church [may be], if they do sentence any person, they send him to the secular power. So that will [hardly] be as himself has spoken.

But I shall add one word. This Army by the blessing of God hath done very great things for the nation, and it’s the honour of the nation that it hath been a shelter to honest people that had otherwise been hammered to dust, and as long as God makes us a shelter to them [it will be an honour to us]. We are now closing up the day, and I think every one here is willing to see an end of the day, yea, [the] years [of his life], were it to see that freedom so often spoken of, and that common right so often desired, clearly brought forth to the people. Your Lordship, and the Army under your command, hath taken upon you to interpose in those times of straits, to see if you could find out such a way as might settle the people in forms of common right and freedom. You have remonstrated this to the world; and to that end you have hinted unto a petition of [the] eleventh of September,1 wherein (if your Lordship please to look upon that it doth aim at) the thing principally spoken of [is] that there may not be a restriction to the opinions of men for matters of religion, [or] to the[ir] consciences [therein]. We all conclude, men cannot master [their opinions as they should their] passions. I refer this to be considered: whethera this be not our common right and our common freedom, to live under a civil magistrate, to live by our neighbours, but as touching religion [to be free from the interference of either, and] why any people should [then for their religion] be punished. I think, my Lord, that every one here, when he speaks his conscience, will say plainly [that they should not]. And [I ask] now, whether we for prudence or policy should [not] protest. Let us do that which is right, and trust God with the rest. No man or magistrate on the earth hath power to meddle in these cases. As for meum and tuum, and right between man and man, he hath right [to interfere], but as between God and man he hath not. And therefore I desire [that] though all agreeb that the magistrate hath no power to do so, and we have no power to give him, yet seeing he hath in all ages usurped it, and in these late years, and in this last age (almost as [fresh as ever] in the remembrance of [all), he, under pretence of] errors and blasphemies, had made most of them here to fall to the ground—thatc since that is so, we have great reason Edition: current; Page: [142] to reserve it so. We might be willing to reserve it [hereafter], when we cannot.


Truly, my Lord, I should not trouble you again, but that I see we are fallen upon an argument; and from the convincing of one another with light and reason we are fallen to an eager catching at that which is our own opinion, and dictating that which is our apprehension, as if it were the mind of all, and indeed of God himself, anda studying to preconclude one another by consequence, as especially the gentleman did that spoke last. He tells us that we are bound by the Remonstrance1 to do this thing that now we are questioning about, whether we should do [it] or no; and one ground is because ini our Remonstrance we had referred so to a petitionc of the eleventh of September,d that we had desired all things [in it] to be granted. But if so, it had been an ill use of it; if there had been generally good things in it, and one thing prejudicial, though we did stand upon all things [good] that were in it we were false to our engagement. When we had desired the whole we did not insist upon every particle of it. And I desire we may not proceed upon mistakes of this kind. This conduces [not to foster agreement, but] only to stifle it, and I wish we may not go about to set such things upon men’s minds. For I must clearly mind that gentleman, that all that is said in the Remonstrance concerning the [petition of the] eleventh of Septemberj is but this. When we have prosecuted our desire concerning justice, and our desires to a general settlement, and amongst the rest, a dissolving of this [present] Parliament, [we then desire] that this Parliament would apply themselves for the remainder of the[ir] time to such things as are of public consideration, and lay aside particular matters that have interrupted them hitherto,e and [we urge them] for the further time they shall sit, not meddling with private matters,k to consider those things that are proper for Parliaments.f And [this is all we say] ing relation to laws in that kind and for providing better for the well-government of the nation; and we move this as to advice [in regard] to matters of justice and of the [settlement of the] kingdom,h [that they ought] to hearken to what hath been offered to them by persons well-affected for the public good; and amongst the rest [we mention] that petition of the eleventh of September. Now because we saw very many and great dream[s] of good things, and therefore have desired they would takei into consideration with this Agreement, and [in the] settlement, Edition: current; Page: [143] things of that nature, and [that petition] amongst the rest—that therefore ita should be concluded because of that, that we should not now have anything in this Agreement that shall not provide for that which the petition does [demand, is unreasonable].

Another thing we have declared [for]: to have a settlement upon grounds of common right and freedom. It is [in] the title of the Agreement. ’Tis true, but I do not altogether remember that it is in our declaration. Let it be so that it is a common right—it is dictated to us by that gentleman to be a common right and freedom—[that any man] submitting to the civil government of the nation should have liberty to serve God according to his conscience. This is a right, I will agree to that. That is not the question amongst us. For if that were the question, I should be sure to give my no to the allowance of any man [to be punished] for his conscience, and if I had a thousand noes [in one] I should give it, and that as loud as any man.

Here’s a[nother] gentleman that does speak for what is to be done in this business, [as being] a matter that is not necessary to God and Jesus Christ, but a thing wherein we must show our goodwill to him, in preserving his people from sufferings for that which is his work, his act. If that were the thing in question, I should think that we of this Army, above all others, should walk most unworthy of the mercies we have found, if we should not endeavour [it].

But here’s the case. The question is now: Whether you shall make such a provision for men that are conscientious, [in order] that they may serve God according to their light and conscience, as shall necessarily debar any kind of restraint onb anything that any man will call religion? That’s the very question; truly, it is so, or else you will make no question. If you could bring it to such a restraint for [the power of] the magistrate to punish, only [in the case of] men that are members and servants of Jesus Christ, all that are here would give an ayc to it.1 But whether, admitting that to be never so good, as I think it is, [and] our great duty and our great interest to endeavour [to secure it]—yet whether we shall make our provision for that in such a way as shall give to all men their latitude, without any power to restrain them, [though they were] to practise idolatry, to practise atheism, and anything that is against the light of God? [That is the question.]

Edition: current; Page: [144]
Lilburne interrupts:a

It is not the question; but [whether] that clause may be in the Agreement or not?


[I ask] whether this be not the question [really at issue]: that [all that] will join with you in civil things [shall be free from any restraint in spiritual things]? Now I come to tell you of what kind those things are that conscientious men do think the magistrate ought to restrain. I do not think any man conscientious [that says] that the magistrate ought to restrain a man from that which Jesus Christ does teach him; but men have consciences to say that there are many things that men may own and practise under pretence of religion, that there may, nay there ought to be the restraint of them in; and that is the ground of our question. But if I have mistaken this, I shall willingly be mistaken. However, I am sure of this in general, that there is no exception to the putting of this in this Agreement but this: that you cannot so provide for such a reserve as this is for men really conscientious, that they shall not be persecuted, but you will by that debar the magistrate of a power that he ought to have to restrain.


There is something offered in that which I made bold to speak of. The question that I conceived to be canvassed was: Whether your Excellency should improve this opportunity to restrain any power whatsoever from oppressing or vexing any man for the things that he does conscientiously?


That’s not the question.


I suppose it will be resolved in this,b though the terms may be different.


Do you make that [clear], that they shall [do right] not [to] punish for anything but that [which is against conscience], and we shall stand to it.


I conceive that there is a supposition, all along, of a provision to be made to prevent heresies in the world, besides that same which is (as I conceive) the only means of suppressing them and eradicating them, and that is the breaking forth of him who is the Truth, the breaking forth of Christ, in the minds and spirits of men. This is that which does only root up and destroy those heresies, those false conceptions and imaginations; and I conceive that this same is altogether omitted and forgotten in the discourse [of the Commissary-General]. For this is the Edition: current; Page: [145] extremity that we are reduced toa look upon: how we shall avoid, say you, but that the kingdom may be over-run with such things as idolatry, and the grossest things that are. I conceive that it is not proper for magistracy to be applied unto this [task at all]; and therefore if you do reserveb [from the magistrate] this power to apply himself this way to the restraint of these [evils], you do not reserve [from] him that which is his right, that to which he bears any proportion, neither do you withhold any means that is proper for the suppressing and preventing of these things. And [to look to the magistrate for] it, isc showing a great diffidence in the Spirit of God, and in Christ, as if he would not provide for the maintaining his own truth in the world.


I will only trouble you in a word. We are not yet resolved upon a question. [The Commissary-General] and the gentleman that spoke last there [differ] which ought to be the question;d though in the issue it will be this: Whether this clause concerning religion ought to be in [the Agreement, or no]? Yet to the end that you may come to such a period, [I desire] that you would first take this into consideration: whether the magistrate, in matters of religion, hath any inspection at all. And when you have concluded that, it will fall under your consideration how much [power] will be needful for you, upon any considerations, to give to him. And therefore, if you will fall into the debate of the business, I do humbly offer this to your Excellency as the first question: Whether the magistrate hath any power or no?

Doctor Parker:

I would not have spoken in this kind, but that I have heard divers men speaking, and yet in my own sense they do not come to that which I apprehend concerning the thing. The gentleman that spoke last spoke well: that he would have a question [stated: Whether the magistrate hath any power or no?]e All that I would add [is, that the question be]: Whether they have any power to restrain men in their own consciences acting to civil peace and civil honesty? Whether Jesus Christ under the New Testament hath given any power to the civil magistrate to restrain men professing their consciences before God, while they walk orderly according to civil peace and civil honesty?


It is good to keep to the question which was first drawn; and, as it is last, it is a catching question: Whether Jesus Christ hath given such power? It was not the business of Jesus Christ, when he came into the world, to erect kingdoms of the Edition: current; Page: [146] world, and magistracy or monarchy, or to give the rule of them, positive or negative. And therefore if you would consider this question, whether the magistrate have anything to do in anything which men will call religion (for you must go so large), you must not confine it [to the inquiry] whether Jesus Christ have under the Gospel given it, but you must look to the whole scripture. As there is much in the Old Testament which hath lost much, yet there are some things of perpetual and natural right, that the scripture of the Old Testament doth hold forth, wherein it does bear a clear witness to that light that every man hath left in him by nature, if he were not depraved by lust. There are some things of perpetual right in the Old Testament, that the magistrate had a power in before the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. And unless you can show us that those things are not a perpetual right, nor had not their perpetual end, but had only their temporarya end, so as to determinate by his coming in the flesh, you must give us leave to think that the magistrate ought according to the old institution to follow that right.


I desire your Excellency to consider whether it tends [not to give to magistrates an unlimited power]. If it be a question tending to that, then consider what you do in putting it to the question. Either you resolveb that they have a power [and trust] or not. I would fain learn, if it be resolved [that they have], whether that trust be infallible. If it be liable to a mistake, then we may build a very great foundation [of future mischief].

Lo[rd] General [Fairfax]:

Now is only to dispute the question.

Mr. [Philip] Nye:

My Lord, [I desire] that your Lordship would be pleased to state the question. There is one thing that I have observed, that words of a near significancy [sometimes lead to confusion], and I conceive these two words do. It is one word of ‘matters of religion,’ and another ‘matters of conscience.’ ‘Matters of conscience’ is larger than ‘mattersc of religion.’ It concerns that of the Second Table [as well]. Now if it be the power of the civil magistrate over consciences [that is denied, the consequences are dangerous], for a man may make conscience of some things [that are contrary to common morality]. There was a gentleman cast into Newgate,d to be executed for having two wives,e and he had this case of conscience. He sent for several divines, and amongst the rest I had this dispute. All the arguments [he advanced were] about persecution for conscience: Edition: current; Page: [147] ‘Those that were of nearest affinity, to set them farthest off,’ [&c.]. [Say], such matters [of conscience] as concern the First Table; then you come to distinct terms.

Mr. [Edward] Walford:

As a servant to your Excellency I desire to speak a word. There is none concerned more in liberty than the Lord himself. I know nothing but that Kings and Armies and Parliaments might have been quiet at this day if they would have let Israel alone. For men to give away God, how well they will answer it I do not know. The Lord is a transcendent thing. There is a seed gone forth from Goda [‘which is Christ’1]. It was not the Saints [only], but God himself, [that the world persecuted. Christ can say (and the Saints with him)]: ‘Whiles I am in bonds here you will punish me, [but] when I shall come to return in [the glory of] my Spirit, [I shall rule the earth.’ For he alone is Lord.]b And therefore all that I shall say to [the question is] this: if you can make by your power a magistrate a Lord,c let him be set up as soon as you will. I have no more to say.


I should desire the question if I thought the question would do the business.c I am afraid we are gotten into the ocean again. I should desire that [you] might be minded to save the time. It was moved awhile since, and that by the way, to put it to [the question as the only way to discover] such a thing as may be satisfactory; for I do not think that words can satisfy the hearts of men. But if your Lordship shall take such a course that men of all interests shalld be [thereby brought] together, let the world know you will bring them into their civil quiet. We do not know but that they will be all agreed in this; and when it is declared to the world [nothing more may be necessary, and] all God’s people may be free.

Major [Nathaniel] Barton:

An’t please your Lordship, for aught I perceive there are many presumptions [in what has been offered against the reserve]. Many think there are great presumptions. I desire there may be tenderness had [of all different opinions amongst us], but (and that is first) that justice may be executed. I fear stating this [question of the magistrate’s power] so highe does something put a demur upon that; and upon what ground [we can proceed against the King if we do so], I do not know. I shall desire that the merit of the Remonstrance may be Edition: current; Page: [148] considered, and no other thing offered that may intermingle [other arguments therewith], and [I] desire that as it is of that tender consideration as to blood or peace, [so you will seek to give it effect]. I hear of something that hath been spoken here, that there have been divers invited that as yet do not appear; and [I move] what was by one gentleman offered to your Lordship, [that] the place and time may be so determined, as to this particular [matter of the reserve], that they may have a further invitation, and so be invited that they may come. I shall desire that we do not lay a foundation of distractions [by acting without them].


I shall desire to move this. That when we do put it to the question, first,a you would propose here what shall be the questions in the debate, and then [take steps] to refer it to some [select] persons [for debate], and [finally set] some time wherein you may take the concurrence of all persons that do concur; and in the meantime that the rest may be [busied] in the mattersb that concern the whole.


I have observed that there hath been much controversy about this point, and several motions concerning the matters [of procedure]. One thing [has been] offered by Colonel Harrison,c and some others might be offered, that some of all parties might be chosen. [But] I humbly conceive the same thing hath been already done; for there hath been four of several parties chosen for the drawing up of this Agreement,1 which they have done to try who will agree, and who will not agree. For it is a thing not of force, but of agreement. And I presume that there is no man here but is satisfied in his own judgment what to agree to, and what not to agree to. I desire [therefore], it may pass to the question, [yea] or no.


I should be as free as any man to have a catch of his own Agreement. There was little difference in those that drew this up.

(All calling for the question.)


My Lord, the question that men do call for is not as to [what shall be stated in] the Agreement, but [what is] to be debated in relation to our judgments. [The question was not]: Edition: current; Page: [149] Whether that clause may be fitly in or no, or anything to that purpose. The question was: Whether the magistrate have any power in matters of religion, that is, those things concerned under the First Table?


I shall offer one word to the question—

Ireton [interrupting him to repeat the question]:

Whether the magistrate have, or ought to have, any power in matters of religion,e by which we understand the things concerned under the First Table?


My Lord, I find that there is a general agreement by every person that hath spoken, that it is not his desire that the civil magistrate should exercise af power to persecute any honest man that walks according to his conscience in those things that are really religious, and not pretended so. And what is represented in opposition to this is: that we cannot find out any way to discriminate this from thata exorbitant liberty which those that are not religious, but would pretend to be so, would take. If you please I should offer my sense to the question [moved by Dr. Parker]: Whether or no the civil magistrate is to exercise any power, restrictive or compulsive, upon the persons of men in matters of religion, they walking inoffensive to the civil peace?


My Lord, I still say that whoever is eager to catch advantages for his own opinion does not further agreement. That which is propounded, I did offer it [with no such intention]. That there may be an advantage gained on the other hand, that men under pretence of religion may break the peace [and do] things that are civilly evil, [that may be considered in due course; but] now, my Lord, I suppose that that is not at all necessary to be considered in this which is the first and main question. Whetherb a man do walk civilly and inoffensively or no, yet it may still be [necessary to decide] the question that is here propounded: Whether in some things which he may call religionc the magistrated may [not] have a restrictive power? But if you will have it put, whether [a] compulsive or restrictive power, you may take it [after the main question]: Whether you will [concede him any power at all]?


One word more I added, that word ‘civil peace’ or ‘civil honesty.’

Edition: current; Page: [150]

Make it what you will, according to ‘civil peace’ or ‘civil honesty’; yet still it remains to be debated: Whether [the magistrate is to exercise any power] whatsoever [in matters of religion]?


My Lord, I do perceive—as I judge, and speak it with submission—that there are some here that are too inclinable to follow the course of corrupt committees formerly, that were forward to put the question before there be satisfaction given.

Captain [Richard] Hodden:

Here have been very many disputes [as to] what shoulda be the question. And if these words be not further explained, in those terms the question is still, and hath been,b I think most men’s spirits here have from the beginning [been] satisfied to [have it] be: Whether you will restrain magistrates from that tyranny of compelling or enforcing men, and persecuting men for doing those things they do out of conscience,c as to the worship of God?

Ireton reads the question:

Whetherd [the magistrate have, or ought to have, any power in matters of religion, by which we understand the things concerned under the First Table]?

[Someone interposing:

Any restrictive power.]1


I desire the word ‘compulsive’ may be [also] added, for ‘restrictive’ will not be large enough. If [the words] ‘any power’ be not precisee enough, [I desire that] then you will take both ‘compulsive’ and ‘restrictive.’


My Lord, I perceive it’s every man’s opinion, that the magistrate hath a protective power; and if you will apply ‘matters of religion’ [only] to the First Table, it will be granted [that he should also have a] compulsive. ‘Thou shalt have no other Gods but me.’ ‘Thou shalt make no graven image,’ &c.; ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.’ And then for the fourth, ‘Thou shalt not do any manner of work [on the sabbath day].’ [Repeating the question]: Whether the magistrate have or ought to have any power in matters of religion?

Edition: current; Page: [151]
Mr. Bacon:

I do apprehendh there hath been much time taken up about the restrictive power anda the compulsive power; that is, concerning the power of the magistrate in matters appertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Kingdom of God. And they have been debated: first,b whether he have power;c and secondly,d what is that power that he hath;a and so whether the power that he hath be either compulsive or restrictive? Now I do conceive that any other power [than that] which is purely protective he hath not; and I do give this account [why] the other question, [which] is whether his power be restrictive or compulsive, [is not necessary to be debated at all]. The whole power of the magistrate is said to be the power of the sword, an outward power. I do apprehend [that] really all matters relating to the Kingdom of Godf are purely and altogether spiritual; and therefore I conceive [that] to allow the magistrate any other power than that which is purely protective of men to live quietly, is to put a power into the hands of the magistrate whichg is not at all given him by God. I speak something as a man, and [now] I crave leave to speak a word only as a Christian, as touching affairs of this nature, which I do confess is a matter to be acknowledged as the great and wonderful work of God. To wit, that there is a time [of] coming forth of captives, according as the scripture speaks, ‘I will take off every yoke and remove every heavy burden from off the people, because of the anointing,’1 that is, because of Christ. Now, sir—give me leave in this thing—the great matter is [that we still conform ourselves to this wonderful work of God], and [that] the care of the honourable Council and all the good people of the nation [be directed to that end].h It is the glory of the nationi that we have lived to [see so much of] it [accomplished; and our care must be] how we are [to] secure the people of the nation from [ever coming again into] the like thraldom they have been in in times past. I will lay down only this one position as the ground of all that enmity that hath been of men one against another, and of the universal enmity that hath been in all sorts of men against God: I conceive this hath been [due to] the state of ignorance, and darkness, and pretence of religion, that hath been amongst us,j so that,k not having [had] the faith itself which we have pretended to, we have [had] rather the form of godliness than the power of it. And [yet] God hath been pleased to bring forth [his work of deliverance], as we have heard. There are certain men in the Army, that, having tasted of the good work of God and the powers of the world to come,l have been in the Edition: current; Page: [152] land, in such a scattered time,a [witnesses of God’s working. Now] we all, having [some] light come [to us, should take example by them], that the land may have her sabbath in a good sense after six or seven years’ disturbance or trouble now taken away. And therefore the Lord fill the nation with men of [such] upright spirits! [But to return to the question], whatsoever you do appoint for the restraining of men [gives] the magistrate [a power]; his hands will not be bound,b but he will [be able to] keep up his power against that religion that is contrary to himself. And therefore that’s to be prevented at this time [only by limiting him to a protective capacity, which may be safely conceded] as long as we go no further.


[I would hint] a caution, that you would use [only] such words as concern a restrictive power. [The question is]: Whether the magistrate have or ought to have any compulsive or restrictive power in matters of religion? [And our procedure should be]:

1. That those who are of the opinion in the affirmative,c begin to lay down their grounds, and that the discussion be alternate;

2. That if no man give grounds for a compulsive power, theng those that do speak against the power of the magistrate will speak only to the restrictive power.

Mr. [Gilbert]:1

If there be no man here to speakd [for a compulsive power, I would speak for a restrictive, and] that I should offer to consideration is this. When Israel had renewed their Covenant with God so that God accepted them, [they] having beene at a loss a long time,f he was pleased to deliver his mind to them (and not only to them but to all the sons of men) in those ten words, commonly called the Ten Commandments. Now as your good Apostle saith, they consist of two Tables, and the commands of the First Table are all negatives. Now God never gave any rules to the sons of men but he gave them to be in force. For my own part I apprehend that they are moral, and so a rule to all the sons of men as well as to Israel, but especially to those who are zealous for their God. That there is a compulsive power left to the magistrate, that I cannot allege; but that there is a restrictive [power from the very] nature of the Commandments, that I do hold necessary. Neither did Israel itself go about to compel any man, but were very watchful and shy whom they did Edition: current; Page: [153] admit into communion with them; but we have observed that they have restrained, as it concerns every magistrate [to do]. We must not look toa pagans and heathens that are revolted from their duties to God, and yet God hath left those impressions upon the sons of men that you shall not find any people but they worship some God. Now the command of God in that kind is that they should worship no other God but him.b This is that which I think lies upon all powers, to suffer no other God to be worshipped but Jehovah. And so the Second Commandmentc does restrain idolatry. But as he is pure in himself, so he will have such a worship as himself hath instituted and appointed; he will not have the sacred name taken in vain. Now, any that shall break the Second or Third Commandment comes under the cognizance of the civil magistrate. And so for the Fourth: though there be a prologue leading to it, yet it is restrictive. So that though I have nothing to say for compulsive power, yet thus much I have to say, that [the magistrate ought to have a restrictive power].d God delivered these things to Moses, that was a prince in Israel, and it is a rule to this day, and it is a rule [also] by the light of nature; and therefore it properly concerns the princes of the people, especially those that know God, to restrain corrupt worship.


I speak to this.e There is no ground from the nature of the meeting to conclude every man [as agreeing] that says nothing. If your end be, by the suffrage of silence, to second your own judgments, to stamp your own judgments [upon the meeting],f these have [surely] a better foundation than silence. But lest silence should be so far thought of [as unqualified assent, I will tell you to what I assent]. Truly as the question is stated I think a man may assent to it, [that the magistrate ought not to have any power in matters of religion] if you will take the words [to mean]g ‘those things that are truly religious.’h If the contesti that is between us and [the] Bishops were by way [either] of compulsion [or restriction], they have assumed so much as this, that even in that which is truly religious, the worship and service of God, they have put such restrictionsj as these are: that men shall not preach though they be called of God; and so likewise [of] compulsion, that such a form of prayer [should be be used], that was [a matter] truly religious. In this sense your question ought to be understood; and so [it is, if one is] to take [in their correct meaning] the words in your proper speech, and that is [‘matters of] religion.’ For if you say ‘religion’ simply, Edition: current; Page: [154] by it you understand true religion; and if you speak of any other thing you will give its adjunct, ‘false’ religion; and so a man may easily stand to it, and yet not come to what is the [second] drift of the question: Whether a false religion, or such matters as these, are [matters which] the magistrate hath to do withal? If it be understood in that strict sense, I must stand with you in it.a I do not think that the civil magistrate hath anything to do determinatively to enforce anything that is matterb of religion; to enforce the thinga is that I do extremely question. But for the other [question], whether the magistrate have anything to do [with religion] under any notion or consideration whatsoever, either of setting up the false God, which is no religion indeed, [or of other practices contrary to God’s Commandments],a for my own part I must profess that I do think the magistrate may have something to do in that. And so I shall deliver my judgment, that no man [may] shipwreck himself in this thing.

Mr. Wildman’s Question:

Whether the magistrate have any restrictive or compulsive power in the time or manner of God’s worship, or [as to] faith or opinion concerning him?


Whether the magistrate have or ought to have any power of restraining men, by penalties or otherwise, from the profession or practice of anything the evil or good whereof relates to God only?


You will leave [thereby] the judgment to the civil magistrate [to decide] whether the doing of such a thing be [relating] to God [only] or no. [I would know] whether, [when the magistrate punishes] error or heresy, he do not [always profess to] punish itf as it relates to the neighbour; and whether, if so, weg do not leave them to be punished [by using those words].


I take it for granted, whether there be any here that assenti [or not, that] in those words which we call the four first Commandmentsj are matters of religion, the fault or non-performance whereof relates to God only, the duty and satisfaction if a man do observe them relates to God only. I speak concerning such things. As to them I give my ground thus, that as to those things the magistrate hath a power to restrain men, and ought to do it; and I argue first from the possibility of the thing.a Those are things against which there is a testimony in the light of nature, and consequently they are things that men as men are in some capacity [to judge of], unless they are perverted—indeed Edition: current; Page: [155] a man perverted in his own lusts cannot judge of anything, even matters of common honesty. Secondly, those who are subject[s] and not the judges, they are likewise in [a] capacity to judge of the evil of those things even by the light of nature. And in that respect I account it proper and not unsuitable to the judgment of men as men, and of magistrates as magistrates, because—if anybody will take notes of it in writing hea may—becauseh in such things the magistrate, by the light that he hath as a man, may judge, and the subject may, by that light that he hath as a man,i be convinced.

In the next place I go to grounds of scripture, and show that this is the magistrate’s duty. And first I will take it for granted, till somebody give me reason to the contrary,b that ’tis the injunction [of the Old Testament], and likewise it hath been the practice of magistrates in all the time of the Old Testament till the coming of Christ in the flesh, to restrain such things. If any doubt it they shall have proofs: [first], that the magistrates of the Jews as magistrates were commanded to restrain such things; secondly, that they were commended when they did it; thirdly, that they were reproved when they did [it] not. This is clear through the current of the Old Testament.

And first, because I see the answer[s] to these are obvious, I shall speak to the two chief [answers], and show you what is objected.c That is first, [that] what the magistrates of the Jews might or ought to do is no rule to others, for they were to do it as [ecclesiastical] magistrates, church matters concerning them; [that by] the punishment of death, or such other punishments, they did but allude to excommunication ind the time of the Gospel; and that you can make no [such] inference from what they ought to do as to conclude a perpetual duty of magistrates, but [only] a duty allegorically answered in the duty of ecclesiastical [officers in ecclesiastical] things. This I have heard to be one answer; and to this I shall but apply one reason to show the inconveniency of this answer [to] those grounds that we give from scripture, and that is thus. If it do appear that those that were the magistrates among the Jews, whether they were ecclesiastical or civil magistrates,e were to exercise this power,f not onlyg to persons within the church, but [to persons] without the church [and] professedly no way within the compass of the church, then that objection is taken away. But I think [it is clear that] they were to extend this power to those that were out of the church. They were commanded to beat down the idols and groves and images of the land whither they went; they were commanded Edition: current; Page: [156] that they should not suffer the stranger that was within the gate to work on the sabbath, [and not] to suffer swearers or idolaters of any kind. And if any man doubt that, it is an easy matter to produce scripture for that purpose. So that it is clear to me, they did [it], considereda as civil magistrates, as magistrates having an authority civil or natural, and not as [ecclesiastical] magistrates or as persons signifyingb or typifying the power of ecclesiastical officers under the Gospel; and therefore what was a rule of duty to them (unless men can show me a ground of change) [should] bec a rule and duty of magistrates now.

And that rule or duty to them leads me to the next evasion: that what was a rule to them under the Law as magistrates does not hold under the Gospel. Now to this I answer—and I do these things because I would give men grounds against the next meeting to consider of some things—I say that I will acknowledge as to those things enjoined, the practice whereof was commanded, the neglect whereof was reproved in the magistrates of the Jews, whose end was typical and determinative, to end at the coming of Christ—to all those [things] the duty of the magistrate doth cease either as to restriction or compulsion. [It] doth cease because it relates [not] to the things themselves. But for those things themselves for which they had a perpetual ground in relation of the duty to God, a perpetual rule by the law written in men’s hearts, and a [perpetual] testimony left in man by nature, and so consequently for those things whereof the ground of duty towards God is not changed—for those things I account that what was sin before is sin still, what was sin to practise [before] remains sin still, what was the duty of a magistrate to restrain before remains his duty to restrain still.

And thus I have given my grounds why we ought [not] to bind the hands of the magistrate[s so] that they shall not restrain men from evils, though against God only, that are given as breaches of the First Table.d


I shall crave leave to speak a few words to what the Commissary-General hath said.e

You were pleased to lay this for your ground, that the magistrate ought to have a restrictive power in matters of religion, becausef matters of false worship (or at least of idolatry) are matters comprehended within the light of nature, such as may be perceived by natural men. I conceive, first, that it is not whatsoever may be made out, may be drawng out by much meditation or discourse or inference, [that is said to be known] by the light Edition: current; Page: [157] of nature. You will not call thesea matters of the light of nature, [but at most matters of inference therefrom].b There are abundance of things that may be made out by the light of nature, which are not [fit to be assumed in] laws or constitutions; for then every man that is to obey your laws ought to be a student and by contemplationc find [out] those things that liek remote from men’s first apprehensions.l All law[s] ought to be [based, not upon such] things [as may be derived perhaps] by [inference from] the light of nature, but [upon] such things as ought to be known by the light of nature without inquiry, without meditation. So, [let me ask, what] things [can be known by the light of nature] as to the being [of God, or] as to the creation of the world? It is an hard thing for any man to come to frame a notion [even] byd meditation of such a being as is in God. You must put in infiniteness of wisdom, &c. It will require much of a man’s time to frame such a notion ase will [at all] answer the being of God. For this is not [to know God]: to believe that there is a God, to say [that] there is a being which is more than men [and] from above that which is of men. But to know God is to believe that there is a true God. ‘This is life eternal, to believe thee the only true God.’1 That was [said] for that [very] thing, that though it be [possible] by the light of nature to make out [that there is a God, that though] men are capable by the light of nature to conceive that there is a God, yet to conceive this in a right and true manner, it is in the profundities, in the remotest part, amongst those conclusions which lie farthest off from the presence of men, [even] though it should be [admitted to be grounded] in the light of nature.

And then again, [with regard to] what you were pleased to observe concerning the Old Testament2 and the power of the magistrate, I shall desire to suggest these two things by way of answer.f My ground is: that there is not the same reason for the power,g and the exercise of power, [under the] Gospel [as there was] under the Law.h My first reason is this:i we know that the magistracy of the Old Testament was appointed, instituted, and directed by God himself. The magistracy under the Gospelj is chosen [by men], and they are vested with that power which they have from men. Now God, he may be his own carver: if he will create and set up magistrates, he may give them Edition: current; Page: [158] what power he pleases, and give them in charge to exercise such a power as he shall confer upon them. And then further there is this: that there is a peculiar and special reason whya magistrates under the Law should be invested with such a power in matters of religion, and that reason being changed under the New Testament, the consideration will not hold; it will not parallel here. The reason is this. We know the land of Canaan, and indeed all things in it, not only those that were [described poetically],b but the land and nation and people, was typical of churches and [typical] of the Churches of Christ under the Gospel, of the the purity of them and holiness of them. Canaan is the Kingdom of Heaven, as we all generally know. There was a necessity, that land being a type of perfect holiness and of the Kingdom of Heaven, that there should be laws and ordinances of that nature which should keep all things as pure and [as] free [from corruption as] to worship, as possibly might be. Otherwise the visage, the loveliness of the type, would have been defaced. It would not have answered God’s design in it. Now unless we shall suppose [that] the lands and state[s] under the Gospelc are typical also, there is no reason that we should think to reduce them to those terms, for matter of freeness [from corruption, that obtained in the land of Canaan], or by such ways; that is by forcible means, by [a] strong hand, as God did then order and then use for the clearing of that land, [and the shaping] of that naked piece which he intended should be a type of that whole estate of things in his Kingdom and his Church. And there’sd another thing. Inasmuch as [all] magistrates, now in [being under] the Gospel, [are instituted by man (as] they are from the first, and so consequently [from the highest] to the lowest—for they have all their descent from him): if so be we shall conceive [that] they have [their] power [solely] from man,e it should be [by virtue] of that power which is put into him [by God], andf vested ing him, who [in turn] made them and set [them] up in the place of magistrates. [The magistrates’ power is bestowed by man, by the people.] For that you were pleased to suggest in another part of your discourse, that there is a certain power [inherent] in magistrates—for man [but] makes the case and God puts in the jewel, men present and God empowers—I do not conceive there is any such thing in it. For then there wereh a necessity that the extent of the magistratical power should be the same throughout the world; whereas if you look into the state of all nations, [you will see] that the power that is put into the hands of kings and princes is moulded and fashioned by the people, Edition: current; Page: [159] and there is scarce any two places in the world where the power[s] of the rulers are the same.a Magistrates, [I say], have so much power as the people are willing to give them. If [it be] so,b then if a body of people, as the commonalty of this land,c have not a power in themselves to restrain such and such things, [as] matters concerning false worship, amongst themselves, certain it is that they cannot derive any such power to the magistrate;d but he does act it, [if at all], of himself, and by an assuming unto [himself of] that which was never given unto him. There is much more to be spoken in this point.


I should [not] have made bold to suggest my thoughts this way before. But now I shall do it [because I disagree] upon a ground or two [with the last speaker’s reasons against what was previously urged, though]f I do not [thereby] profess it to be [wholly conformable with] my opinion.g Under favour, I think your resolution at first was to propose some objections [and counter-objections] now and leave them to consideration, [and therefore I speak].h

The arguments [advanced] to abate what the Commissary-General said are many. I shall speak but to one branch, and [that] the last thing mentioned: that the magistrate hath no other power but what is conveyed to him by the people; for that truly,i I think, is the [great] consideration. [I am not satisfied with the rebuttal] of what the Commissary was pleased to say as in relation to the Jews. We do not believe that all that was there was butj typical; much [was] rather moral [and] judicial; butk such a thing was then in practice as [seemed] to put a power in the magistrate to have something to do about religion, about matters of God. [I] will [not] take up this consideration [however, but will assume] that that [is a] fundamental principle of a commonwealth, [for the people] to act what they are pleased to act, in [the most as in] the least. [Freedom of action] does not lie [then] in the ministerial power but in the legislative power. And if it lie[s] in the people,l then [I would ask] whether it do not lie in the power of the people to consider anything that may tend to the public weal and public good, and make a law for it, or give a power [for it]. Whatsoever a company of people gathered together may judge tending to the public good, or the common weal, [that] they have a liberty [to do], so long as it is not sinful, [and] they may put this into the ministerial power, to attend [to] it. Now, sir, [this argument extends to matters of religion; for] suppose this be laid down as another principle, that [religion] Edition: current; Page: [160] (the things of our God), it is that which is of [greatest] public good and public concernment, ora [even that] among all the other comforts of life I look upon this as one, as well as my house and food and raiment. Thenb may not a company conclude together and sit down in a commonwealth to do what may be done in a lawful way for the preservingf [of their religion as well as for the] feeding of the[ir] bodies, to their [own] good?

A second consideration may be this: that there may be such [and such] sins ofc which God will take account and [for which he will] make miserable this commonwealth, those [who compose it] being Christians, or [even] if they have the light of nature [only]. By the light of nature we are able to say [that] for such things God will plague a nation, and judge a nation. A company of men, met together to consult for common good, do pitch upon such things as do concern the commonwealth.d They would do what they can to prevent such sins or provocations as may [make judgments] come down upon their heads. In this case I do not go about to saye that a magistrate, as if he had an edict from heaven, should oppose this [or that sin], but that the people, [in whose power lies the] making of [laws, should oppose] them. If it be lawful for them to make such conclusionsf or constitutionsg to avoid such evils, that which they may lawfully make the magistrate may lawfully exercise. And therefore I say [of the magistrate’s power in matters of religion now, that it may be as lawfully exercised as] it was once exercised under the Jewish commonwealth.f

Then [if the end of a commonwealth be to provide] for common good, and if the things of God, [and blessings] appertaining to them, be a good to be wished; if they do not [only] tend to that [common good], but preventh evil and [the attendant] judgments of God, I know nothing but in conclusion there may be some power made up in the magistrate as may [at]tend to it.


I suppose the gentleman that spoke last mistakes the question. He seems to speak as in relation to the people’s giving [the magistrate] that [very] power [that] the gentleman [who] spoke before [proved they could not lawfully give]. But to that which he spoke this may be answered, [and indeed was answered] de futuro.d It is not lawful to entrust the magistrate with such a power. [You cannot deduce that power from the Jewish magistrate unless you can prove] that it was not merely typical. The question was whether it were [also] moral. If it were not moral, it were [not] perpetual. If it were moral, it must go to all magistrates Edition: current; Page: [161] in the world. That the magistrate should act to his conscience [might mean that he would] destroy and kill all men that would not come to such a worship as he had. [Accordingly] God hath not given a command to all magistrates to destroy idolatry, for in consequence it would destroy the world. But to that which the gentleman said, that the people might confer such a power upon the magistrate in relation to a common good, to that I answer: that matters of religion or the worship of God are not a thing trustable, so that either a restrictive or a compulsive power should make a man to sin. To the second thing, that [there might be such a power] not only in relation to a common good, but to the prevention of evil, because by the magistrate’s preventing such things as are contrary to the light of nature [punishment might be turned aside, and] to that end there might be such a power—to that I answer, it is not easily determinable what is sin by the light of nature.a If the gentleman speak of things between man and man, of things that tend to [destroy] human society, he is besideb the question; if concerning matters of the worship of God, it is an hard thing to determine [by the light of nature]. It is not easy by the light of nature to determine [more than that] there is a God. The sun may be that God. The moon may be that God. To frame a right conception or notion of the First Being, wherein all other things had their being, is not [possible] by the light of nature [alone]. Indeed, if a man consider there is a will of the Supreme Cause, it is an hard thing for [him by] the light of nature to conceive how there can be any sin committed. And therefore the magistrate cannot easily determine what sins are against the light of nature, and what not. And to both of those considerations together it may be said:c Supposing bothd these things were [satisfactorily proved to be] thus, yet [to give him this power]e is but to put the magistrate in a probable condition to do good, or in a capacity probably to prevent the sin; [but] because the magistrate must be conceived to be as erroneous as the peoplef whom he is to restrain,g and more probable to err than the people that have no power in their hands, the probability is greater that he will destroy what is good than [that he will] prevent what is evil. So that [it is sufficient reply] to both of them, [that] they do not put the commonwealth into so much as a probability of any good [from magistrates] by such a trust committed to them.


I shall desire but a word or two. Truly I did endeavour, when I began, to go in the way that men might judge whether Edition: current; Page: [162] there was weight in what was said in the reply; and I perceive there was no other ground laid than what I said, [or] than what Mr. Nye did add further as a rational satisfaction to men, why such a thing might be entrusted. But I suppose, [since this is so], the grounds [which we urged] of this [power] are such as to lay a ground whya upon conscience it is or should be the duty of magistrates in a commonwealth to use what power they have for the restraining of such things asb sins against the First Table, [as are] practices forbidden in the First Table; and I would very fain once hear somebody to answer to these grounds that I lay to that. I have heard an answer to one of those grounds: that [such] things are subject to men’s judgments,c to the judgment of the magistrates and to the conviction of the subject, [and that hence they cannot in reason or with safety be made matter of compulsion]. But I have heard none upon the scripture ground, and I would hear something of that. [I argued]d that in the state of the Jewse the magistrate there as a magistrate, and as a magistrate not of a church only but as a magistrate of a nation,f had [the] power and [the] right [to restrain such things]—nay, it was a duty upon him; he was enjoined to it, and when he did it he was commended for it, and when he neglected it he was condemned and brought to ruin for itg—and [it was] to be exercised to others than to those that were members of the church only.h This, therefore, which was the rule then, is a rule to a magistrate as a magistrate [now], and as the magistrate of a kingdom or a nation: that [which] was then a rule to them that were then [magistrates], to deserve this commendation if they did it, and reproof if they did it not, is a rule to magistrates under the Gospel, unless in such things the evil or good whereof as then was taken away [by the coming of Christ]. If the thing which he had a power to restrain [were temporarily or typically evil], then I agree that by the coming of Christ in the flesh it was taken away. But if the thing were morally and perpetually evil, and so that which was the ground of the duty [then] will remain the ground of the duty still, then I conceive the duty as to such things remains the same still. I would I could express it shorter—but men may take it shorter. But I would have some [persons] answer [these grounds]; that is, to deny that the magistrates hadi power to restrain, or [to assert that they exercised it not] as civil magistratesj of a civil society,k and [that it] extended only over the members of anl ecclesiastical society;m and if it were a duty then, to show me some grounds why it should be altered now, and ben subject to men to [be] judge[d] of.

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The business, [as] you seem to state [it], is thus: that in the state of the Jews there was a magistrate, and that magistrate did this and that [to them] that did not act according to the Jewish religion?


I will agree [that] all that was in the Jewish religion,a the good and evil whereofb did tend to typical institution, is not a rule of our practice.


Why should not the civil magistrate in this time punish any man for walking contrary to those rules for [walking contrary to] which the Jews were punished?


Those things which the magistrates of the Jews did punish as evil, if they be of the grounds and evil as they were then—


Why will you not destroy the Turk and the Jews, and all others as they did the Canaanites?


I would offer this to the consideration of our worthy friends that are here. You say that which was commanded to the civil magistrates of the Jews, that is of [moral] right, [and] that is also to be continued amongst us. I shall offer this objection as to that.a Those things that are of moral right as youc conceive, and that they did practise in their religion,d were commanded immediately from God [and that was the ground why they were to be practised]. If they were commanded to them immediately from God,e with anf injunction [that they were] to be practised by their successors and that they should practise the same thing, then your argument holds good; otherwise not.g My meaning is this. We know it was of moral right, that no man should kill his own son. Abraham had an injunction to the contrary. God may give out injunctions to his own will and pleasure, face to face, to any particular person, and to be obeyed by that particular person, [even if contrary to] those things that are of moral right.h It is of moral right, [that] I should preserve my child and do him all the good I can do. Yet because God did command a contrary thing it was practised, [but not by others not so commanded]. So on the other side, if God will command things to be done [by particular magistrates], they do not conclude all successors of [those] magistrates, that are in the same power ori not.

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The Doctor says, if we can show that those commands are now binding upon magistrates he’ll grant us the question as for his part. Truly I have this to offer. It will be much in compliance with whata the Commissary-General [said]. There were three laws among the Jews, the Ceremonial, Judicial, and Moral Laws. I suppose the Judicial Law, as to the painsb of it, was a fencec and guard to the Ceremonial and Moral Law. [In the first place] the [Judicial] Law doth aim at obedience to it, and in the second place [at] a punishment to its disobedience. I conceived the punishment [for infringement] of the Ceremonial Law was not [part] of the Law itself, but [a fence] of the purity of the Jews, [and] the punishment [for infringement] of the Moral Law was not [part] of the Moral Law, [but a fence to it].e So far as the Judicial [Law] was a fence and outwork to the Ceremonial Law [it] is fallen with the Ceremonialf Law. So far as it was a fence and outwork to the Moral Law it stands with the Moral Law, and that still binds upon men. So [that part of] the Judicial Law that was a fence to that, is still the duty of magistrates.

Mr [Thomas] Collier:

As far as I remember, the Commissary-General offered two things. And the first was: whetherl [the commands of] this Judicial Law for the magistrate to punish things which were sin, sin against God, those things in the Old Testament mentioned, are not commanded by God? And the second: whether they are taken away, and so have no relation to the magistrates under the Gospel? Now to the first, I shall give you the ground why those laws or commands and that Judicial Law, given under the time of the Law, haveg no reference to us under the Gospel. And I might give you particular grounds; but one principal ground [of] that I shall give you, [and it] is this, as one ground of that which is given already. Ifh it is moral, it should have been given to all states as well as to the Jews. But the ground [I would now urge] is this: that the law of the Jews is not binding to us under the Gospel; [for] if it be, I shall then thus infer, that the magistrate hath his power from Divine institution, and so hath his power from God and not from the Agreement of the People, and if so, then hei must come to have [by] the same claim [all his power] from God.j If he have his commission from God let him show it—so say I; if he have his commission from God we have nothing to do to limit him.k

The second thing that I would mind you then—it is that we generally agree in, [as we have been] often minded this day, butl Edition: current; Page: [165] I shall offer [it] in the second place—is that the Judicial Law to the Jews is abrogated to us in the Gospel; I mean in respect of the circumstances of it, though in respect of the truth of it there is a judicial law to be executed upon the people not in the way the Jews did. I shall give you the grounds of it. One ground is this: that there are some things mentioned with which magistratesa in the New Testamentb have nothing to do, [and] yetc [it] was given as commandd to magistrates in the Judicial Law to punish [them]; and I shall mind [you of] two in particular. The first is that [sin] of idolatry, which was punished with death in the Olde Testament: idolaters are to be put to death. Yetf under the Gospel, the Gospel is so far from denyingg [even to] that [a] liberty or toleration (much less [giving] power unto a magistrate to punish an idolater with death), that if a man or woman had a wife or husband that was an idolater, they were to live with them and not to punish them according to the law of the Jews.h To me it’s very clear in these words of the Apostle ini 1 Corinthians 7.j The second thing I shall mind to you is that of adultery. Adultery was to be punished with death, [and] if we look to the Judicial Law we must be exact as to every particular of it. [But] we shall find that this law was done away. The woman that was taken in adultery, I look upon it to be mystical. The womank was taken in adultery and was brought to Christ, and they told him that Moses’ law was to put her to death. Christ answers: ‘He that is without sin, let him throw the first stone at her.’ Now to me it was this: that the Gospel would admit of no such thing as this [judicial law], but that there was a new law; and in the Epistles, there werel rules given for the excommunication of adulterers, and [persons guilty of] incest, and the like [offences]; which gives me ground to judge that the appointing of death under the Old Testament [to these] and the like [sins] doth relate to excommunicationm [of] those which commit such offences.


I am not satisfied as to the thing, and therefore I shall not use any argument as from myself; but having heard some [use an] argument that is not answered, I shall desire to hint it again. I shall gather it up in few words. That which in the Moral Law is enjoined unto the Jews is still of perpetual use amongst us under the Gospel. But restriction in the Moral Law is enjoined unto the Jews, as in the Fourth Commandment. Therefore restriction is in perpetual use now under the Gospel. This I conceive to be the sum of what you have from the Fourth Commandment. To me it seems to be of some force. There Edition: current; Page: [166] is something hinted of that which was typical, and the like, but nothing as to this argument from the Moral Law.


Because this gentleman doth relate an argument from me, I’ll tell you how I put it. That which was evil in the time of the Jews, and remains as evil now, and hath the same ground of evil now that it had then—and especially if such a thinga was evilf even before that law [was] given; for such a thing, what was the duty of a magistrate to restrain then [remains his duty to restrain now], though I cannot say to restrain it with the same penalty. For the imposing of a penalty was judicial, but the imposing of a restriction was not judicial but perpetual. This I take for granted. That [which] was evil then and remains upon the same ground equally evil now,b if the Jewish magistrate ought to restrain that even in persons not under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, so ought Christian magistrates to restrain it, if they be Christians, even in those that are not under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction.


Though it be supposed and granted, that the same things, [which] are evil now as they were under the Law, [are] to be punished now as they were [then], but if God hath ordained new kind of punishments [for them] to be punished with,c we cannot suppose that they are punishable with both punishments. The latter does disannul the former. If he that blasphemes is to be cast out to Satan that he may learn not to blaspheme, it is impossible that this commandment of God should be put in execution if a blasphemer should be put to death.


I think if we were now upon the question of what an ecclesiastical judicature or church magistrate should do, it would very well bed that that should be the rule that Mr. Goodwin says: that such punishments should be used by the ecclesiastical officers (and only such) as are warranted by the Gospel, upon which the outward calling of the church hath its ground; but it is concerning a civil magistrate, or a magistrate of a mere civil constitution. I say this. If any man do but consider,b in the Gospel there is nothing that is to be called and taken as a positive institution, but that [which is expressly so designated]. I will desire that it may note be taken any advantage of. But [for] the Gospel, the parts of it are either historical, expressing what Christ did when he was in the flesh and how he was brought to death, as the four Evangelists, and the Acts of the Apostles; or Edition: current; Page: [167] else they are exhortatory, written by way of advice to the churches of the Saints in the several parts of the world; and they are written to them, [partly] as applied to what was in general to be the condition of all Saints in all ages to the world’s end, and partly [as applied to] what things were the condition of all the Saints to whom these Epistles were written.a As for the historical part of the Gospel—or [the] prophetical, that’s the Revelation—I suppose no man from the historical part will go to make it necessary that in the historical part there should be anything of [the] institution of ecclesiastical or other magistrates. In the epistolary part, if we first consider that all the Saints or churches to whom these Epistles were written were all under a condition of persecution under heathen magistrates, ratherb than having a power of magistracy in their own hands, we have no reason to think that the Epistles written to them should be intended as to give the rules concerning magistracy. But since there was a rule concerning magistracy, that is [a rule] by whichc the magistrated might judge what was evil and what was good—first, [a rule] had from the light of nature, [and] secondly, [a rule which] had a more clear foundation in the Moral Law (as they call it), that gave grounds which way the magistrate[s] might go—e the Epistlesf do as well leave the magistrate[s free] in the punishment of those things that are in the First Table, upon prudential grounds,a not tying them up to the judicial grounds of the Jewish commonwealth, but, when there should be any magistrates Christian[s], leaving them to those foundations and rules of their proceeding which they had a ground for in nature, leaving [to their decision] that which was good or evil, to restrain or not. I conceive the whole drift of the Gospel hath been to apply [restraint] in that kind eitherg to what things are [un]fit to be used amongst men in society as Christians, or else [to] things that [it] were the common duty of men, not [merely of Christian] magistrates, [to restrain]—though [indeed] it says something of that, and if any will say [that he will seek the ground of this action in the Gospel itself], I shall think it to be very good. But this I shall wish to be considered: whether in relation to what is said in the Gospel, if the penalty does cease, then the punishment of it at all does cease. Then I would fain know whether, by the same ground that idolatry should [not] be punished [with death],h murder [also] should not be punished with death. And what should exempt the magistrate under the Gospel fromi punishing idolaters—what you can imagine should excuse the magistrate under the Gospel, or should deter him from punishing them, Edition: current; Page: [168] with death or other punishment, which under the Judicial Law area punishable with death—[I would know] whether the same thing will not serve to this [end]: that now even for murder, for theft, for all those things that are evils against men, which in that law had their particulars [of punishment] prescribed—whether it would not hold as well for these,b that now there ought to be a liberty under the Gospel, [for] it is a time of mercy, and that we ought not to punish those things.


Those punishments of murder by death, and the like, the[ir] original is [a rule of] the equity and justice [which] was not [given] to the Jews [alone], but [to all men]. They are from the Law of Nature. [The Old Testament says]: ‘By whom man’s blood is shed,’ [&c.]. . [But] long before this [murder was punished by death].


We shall desire no more [than this]: that if the ground of that which made it sin, and the ground of the punishment, do remain the same now, then the sin is to be restrained as it was then, and that which was sin then is sin now.


Blasphemy may be punished with two punishments, ifc a sin may be punished with two punishments; as for example, theft: if a man were a church member he might be excommunicated first, and hanged afterwards. That was not a fallacy.

There were two places that Mr. Collier had [alleged]. They must not punish idolatersd then because the magistrate was so.1 But for the woman taken in adultery, this was the reason that Christ did not judge her, because he would not meddle with magistratical matters. All the while Christ lived no Jewish rite was abolished.


I humbly conceive that, while there is a new-seeming question [made], whether such things be nulled by the Gospel, the ground [of your argument is still that] which the Commissary-General says: that which was sin then is sin now.e This is your argument: that what was sin then, and is sin now, and ought to be punished then, it ought to be punished now. I suppose there Edition: current; Page: [169] is no consequence at all [in this argument],a if it were punished then, it ought to be punished now; because it was [punished then] upon a judicial law which was [indeed]b moral, but not naturally moral, and [you] yourself said that the [ground of] punishment was not [alone] naturally [moral].c If so, I would desire to know how we should distinguish whatd part of it was naturally moral and what was not. The Decalogue contains the whole Law. If you will extend it beyond that,e I would know where you will terminate it. Besides, if it were [true that the Judicial Law was] naturally moral, you should find [the whole of] it [in] natural [law]. If it had been given as a thing naturally moral, and [to the magistrate] as a magistrate, then it must belong to every magistrate that was in the world;f and then you must hold that God had ordained such a power to them [all, such a power] in every magistrate.g I must confess [my conviction] that what was given to them was as Jewish magistrates, but not quatenus magistrates. Not determining what a magistrate shall be, you leave us to an uncertainty. We find no such power at all in any magistrate.


If this power should have been destinated in all magistrates, then every magistrate in the world had been boundi to have put all his subjects to death.


If I should reply to what was said, and then adjourn the court, it would be thought not fair; and therefore I shall say nothing in the world to answer to this, but leave men to judge whether that which hath been said be an answer [to my argument] or no.

Council of Officers, 8th-11th January 1649

[Final Debates on Settlement of Religion]1

Mr2 [William] Erbury:j

Every man believes his God [to be the God] of all nations.


Those that do not own Jesus Christ as a second Person from the Father, yet, if you ask themk whether they have Edition: current; Page: [170] [fulfilled] this [condition of faith in God] through faith in Jesus Christ,a [declare that they have], acknowledging the man Jesus Christ as the person through whom God hath revealed himself.b


If any man do offend in relation to the civil injury of others, he is punishable by the laws.c

To1 what purpose will you give that liberty to the Jews and others to come in unless you grant them the exercise of their religion?

Captain2 [William] Butler:

Truth and light and knowledge haved still gone under the name of errors and heresies, and still they have put these Esau’s garments upon Jacob’s back. And in that regard (that for the most part truth and light goe under the name of error and heresy) we shall give occasion to our adversaries to rail against us in every pulpit; and [they will] make it their work not to discover truth and preach sound doctrine, but to rail against honest men.


You agree [to allow them to preach against beliefs], if you do but say they must instruct the people as well concerning what is truth as what is false. I would know what latitude you give them to rail [against persons] by this, or that.

[There is] a use for satisfaction of conscientious men in those words.f By our denying [the magistrate] compulsive power or restrictive power to [suppress] errors and heresies, we do allow they should be opposed with spiritual weapons.

Captain Spencer:

We are now about an agreement, and as if the power were in our own hands, but if we labour for liberty [for ourselves], let us give it to others that are as dear to Christ as we are. [For an official ministry], let them preach what they will, they cannot touch me; only they touch me in my purse.


[I would know] whether they do by that go about to set up a state religion. Men should be called before they can teach publicly.

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[On the Agreement as a Whole]

Whitehall, 13th January 1649
General Council1a

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 Edition: current; Page: [172] 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [176] 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 Edition: current; Page: [177] 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].l 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 web 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 Edition: current; Page: [178] [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.

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From John Saltmarsh, Smoke in the Temple (1646)b

[Principles of the Parties]c

Presbytery so called: what it is, and what they hold

The Presbytery is set up by an alleged pattern of the eldership and presbytery of the Apostles and Elders in the first churches of the Gospel, strengthened by such scriptures as are in the margin,1 and by allusion to the Jewish government and to appeals in nature. Their churches are parochial, or parishes, as they are divided at first by the Romish prelates and the statute-laws of the state. Which parishes and congregations are made up of such believers as were made Christians first by baptism in infancy, and not by the Word; and all the parishes or congregations are under them as they are a classical, provincial, and national Presbytery. And over those parishes they do exercise all church power and government2 which may be called the Power of the Keys. * * *

Independency so called: what it is, and what they hold

The people of God are only a church3 when called by the Word and Spirit into consent or covenant and [when] Saints by profession, and all church-power is laid here and given out from hence into pastorship and elders, &c.; and a just distribution of interest betwixt elders and people.4 All spiritual government is here and not in any power foreign or extrinsical to the congregation, or authoritative. Their children are made Christians first by infant baptism and after by the Word; and they are baptized by a federal or covenant-holiness, or birth-privileges as under the Edition: current; Page: [180] Law.1 They may enjoy all ordinances in this estate, and some may prophesy.2 * * *

Anabaptism so called: what it is, and what they hold

The Church of Christ are a company of baptized believers,3 and whatsoever disciple can teach the Word or make out Christ, may baptize or administer other ordinances.4 That the church or body, though but of two or three, yet may enjoy the Word and ordinances by way of an administrator, or one deputed to administer, though no pastor.5 That none are to be baptized but believers.6 That those commonly called church-officers as pastors, &c., are such as the church or body may be without.7 That none are to be called brethren but baptized believers. All administration of ordinances were given to the Apostles as disciples; not so under the notion of church-power as is pretended.8 That none ought to communicate in the ordinances of Christ till first baptized.9 * * *

Seeking or Seekers so called: what their way is, and what they hold

That there is no church nor ordinances yet. That if they did not end with the primitive or Apostles’ times, yet they are to begin as in the primitive times with gifts and miracles,10 and that there is as much reason for the like gifts to make out the truth of any of the Gospel now to an Antichristian estate, as formerly to a Jewish or heathenish. That such a believer as can dispense ordinances must be qualified as the believers in Mark 16, and as the former disciples were.11 That there is a time and fulness for the Spirit12 and for the later pure spiritual dispensations, as there was formerly for the first dispensations. And [they query] whether this shall be while the Angels are but pouring out their vials or not, or when Babylon is fallen; and whether there is not Edition: current; Page: [181] as much need for new tongues1 to reveal the pure original to us, it being conveyed with corruptions and additionals in translations, by which truth may be more purely discovered and the waters of life that now run muddily may flow more clear and crystal-like from the throne of God.2 * * *

A Way of Peace or a Design of Reconciliationa * * *

Liberty for printing and speaking

Let there be liberty of the press for printing, to those that are not allowed pulpits for preaching. Let that light come in at the window which cannot come in at the door, that all may speak and write one way, that cannot another. Let the waters of the sanctuary have issue and spring up valleys as well as mountains. * * *

Let all that preach or print affix their names that we may know from whom. The contrary is a kind of unwarrantable modesty at the best. If it be truth they write, why do they not own it? If untruth, why do they write? Some such must either suppress themselves for shame or fear, and they that dare not own what they do, they suspect the magistrate or themselves. * * *

Let all that teach or print be accountable, yet in a several way. If it be matter of immediate disturbance and trouble to the state, let them account for it to the magistrate under whom we are to live a peaceable and quiet life (1 Tim. 2. 2); if matter of doctrine, &c., let them be accountable to the believers and brethren who are offended, by conference, where there may be mutual conviction and satisfaction (Gal. 2. 11).

Free debates and open conferences

Let there be free debates and open conferences and communication, for all and of all sorts that will, concerning difference in spirituals;b still allowing the state to secure all tumults or disturbances.c Where doors are not shut, there will be no breaking them open. So where debates are free there is a way of vent and evacuation, the stopping of which hath caused more troubles in states than anything; for where there is much new wine in old bottles the working will be such as the parable speaks on. * * *

No assuming infallibility over each other

Let us not, being under no further degree of the revelation of truth and coming out of Babylon, assume any power of infallibility Edition: current; Page: [182] to each other, so as to soar up all to our light or degree of knowing or practising; for there lies as much on one side for compulsion as on another, respectively to one another, for another’s evidence is as dark to me as mine to him, and mine to him as his to me, till the Lord enlighten us both for discerning alike. Soa when there is no power in us to make that appear to another which appears to us, there can be no reasonable equity for any enforcing or compelling in spirituals. The first great rent betwixt the Eastern and Western kingdoms began when the Bishop of Rome would needs excommunicate the East for not believing as they believed.

No civil power drawn into advantages

Let not those believers who have the advantage of the magistrate strive to make any unwarrantable use of it one against another, because scripture principles are not so clear for it; and because they know not the revolution of Providence, and we are to do as we would be done to. * * *

No despising for too much learning, or too little

Let not one despise another for gifts, parts, learning. Let the Spirit be heard speak in the meanest; let not the scribe or disputer of the law despise the fishermen, nor they despise them because scribes and disputers. The Spirit is in Paul as well as Peter, in both as well as one.

We may be in one Christ, though divers

Consider that we may be one in one Christ though we think diversely, and we may be friends though not brethren, and let us attain to union though not to unity.

The spiritual persecution to be forborne

Consider there is a twofold persecution; there is a spiritual or that of believers, and a mixed persecution or civilly ecclesiastical. The spiritual persecution is that of the spirit merely, and this kind of persecution little thought on and studied. This is when we cannot bear one another’s several opinions or soul-belief[s] in the same spiritual society or fellowship, but [they] must either be of us or out of us; and surely this kind of persecution is as unreasonable as any other. For what is this but soul-compulsion, when another must only believe as we believe and not wait till the Lord reveal even this. This kind of spiritual compulsion will in time break and dissolve the visible communion of Saints and body of Edition: current; Page: [183] Christ exceedingly, if taken up or continued, and it will be amongst Christians as amongst the Antichristians, where they divide and subdivide and some cast themselves into a monkery from all the rest. Jerusalem and Antioch were not of this way to cast out one another upon such grounds, but to meet, reason and counsel, and hear. And surely the churches can ill complain of a mixed persecution from without if they persecute one another from within. The magistrate may as justly whip them both as they whip one another; such grudgings, complainings, dissolvings, spiritual enforcings, gives hint to the civil power to compel while it beholds them, but a little more spiritually, compelling one another. Let all church-rights, privileges, bound-days, be reformed, all heresy and schism by the rule rebuked, but in all spiritual meekness and wisdom, and [let us] not call heretic and schismatic too suddenly neither. See we do not so.

Spiritual Principles drawn Fortha

Gospel Truth is One and the Same

That which is only in some parts of it warrantable by the Word is not purely nor in a scripture way warrantable. For there is not any will-worship but it hath something from the pattern of the true. * * * But truth must be all one and the same and homogeneal; not in parts so, but all so. There is but one Lord, one faith, &c.

Prudence and Consequences are the great Engines of Will-Worship

Things of prudence merely are not to be admitted into the spiritual way and gospel design. Prelacy had its prudence for every new additional in worship and government. And once let prudence open a door and then will more of man crowd in than the law of God can keep out. Nor is that to be admitted which is so received a maxim, ‘though not directly, yet not repugnant to the Word.’ Christ’s rule is not such; he opposes any tradition [added] to the commandments of God. Not direct from scripture is indirect and repugnant, though not to the very letter of such words, yet to the form and analogy of truth, to the general scripture law, viz., the will of God that nothing shall be added nor diminished. * * * Nothing but God’s power and will can make a thing truth. His power creates it, and his will creates it such a truth. Nothing is agreeable to the will of Christ but the very Edition: current; Page: [184] will of Christ. The will of Christ is the only legislative power in the Gospel. * * * And everything is repugnant to his will but what he wills. * * * And whatsoever is devised by prudence, though upon scripture materials, yet being not the work of this will nor having the stamp or image upon it, is none of Christ’s, but as repugnant as any other tradition or invention of men. * * *

The People are Brethren and Saints in Christ’s Church, but in Antichrist’s, Parishioners and Servants

What kind of government is marked out in scriptures for sitting on the waters or people? Christ governs by the people ministerially, not over the people authoritatively only; and the people being once in his church way, lose their old capacity for a new, and are raised up from people to brethren, to churches. * * * The interest of the people in Christ’s kingdom is not only an interest of compliancy and obedience and submission, but of consultation, of debating, counselling, prophesying, voting, &c. And let us stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. * * *

None to be forced under Christ’s Kingdom as in the Kingdoms of the World

In a spiritual government the ignorance of people which some would have for expedition that they may practically know it, is no scripture way of knowing. In practical godliness things must be known before practically known, and practice is to begin from faith, and faith from knowledge; else the obedience can be but blind, mixed, and popish. Indeed in things civil or moral, practice may bring in knowledge: habits may be acquired and gotten by acts; a man may grow temperate by practising temperance, and civilly obedient by practising civil obedience. But it is not so in spirituals: there habits go before acts, spiritual infusions before practices.

Indeed the laws of states and kingdoms and civil policy teach men best by ruling them practically, but it is not so in the church. Men are not to be forced into Christ’s kingdom as into the kingdoms of the world. The kings of the nations exercise their dominion; it shall not be so among you.

The Power of a Formal Reformation in a Government makes it not Christ’s Government

A government, though not purely Christ’s, may be made up of such scripture and prudential materials as may much reform the Edition: current; Page: [185] outward man, even as a mere prudential civil government may do if severely executed. * * * In many civil states, merely from their wholesome policy and administration, excellent and precious flowers spring up, many moral virtues, as prudence, temperance, obedience, meekness, love, justice, fortitude. Yet all this makes not a government to be Christ’s, but only that which is merely the discipline of Christ, and policy of Christ. * * *

The National and Congregational Church-covenant, both lawful, or both unlawful * * *

But covenants in their right nature were a dispensation more of the Old Testament strain. A national church had a covenant to gather them up into their national way of worship, and were under the laws of an external pedagogy, and now the spiritual dispensation being come, even the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a fulness of spirit let out upon the Saints and people of God which gather[s] them up more closely, spiritually, and cordially than the power of any former dispensation could. The very covenant of God himself, of which the former were typical and prophetical, comes in nakedly upon the spirits of his [people] and draws them in, and is a law upon their inward parts, sweetly compelling in the consciences with power and yet not with force, with compulsion and yet with consent. And surely where this covenant of God hath its kindly and spiritual operation there would need no such external supplement as before; but because of the hardness of our hearts it is thus. From the beginning it was not so; the Spirit tied up thousands together then.

Let states then have any prudential security, any design of sound wisdom to consonate people together, but let the church only be gathered up by a law of a more glorious and transcendent nature, by the pure covenant of God himself with the souls of his. * * *

All Covenanters are bound to contribute to religion as well as state * * *

The liberty of the subject is that of soul as well as body, and that of soul more dear, precious, glorious: the liberty wherein Christ hath made us free. Be not ye then the servants of men in the things of God. * * *

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From J[ohn] G[oodwin], Independency God’s Verity (1647)a

The Necessity of Toleration

Presbytery is the rival of Episcopacy. But Independency is of another strain, and admitteth not of human prudence in church government. For the Church isb a spiritual building, framed of such lively stones as are not of the world, nor [is it] of the wisdom of the world, but founded only upon the wisdom of God, revealed in the word by his Spirit, [which] is sufficient to constitute and maintain a church without any assistance from the kingdoms of the world—whose power they leave entire to itself. For the bishops and presbyters, by their church policy, stand competitors with the magistrate; to whom we leave all save only the kingdom of Christ, which (himself hath said) is not of this world, and so can be no trouble to it, unless it be first troubled by it.

But as the case stands now at present, Independency is the only lint that can stanch our wounds, the only dam that can stay the inundation of blood, which is else likely to overwhelm us. For the very name of Presbytery is hateful to the people, and it were too strange a relapse to give them again their Bishops and their liturgy, and if either of the other be permitted, there can be nothing expected but murmurings and clashings, if not open mutinyings. But if a toleration were allowed, it would take away all occasions of tumults and garboils. For when every man is permitted to use his conscience according as he is persuaded in himself, they will esteem their burdens not half so heavy as before and be encouraged to yield obedience to those injunctions imposed on them by their rulers, which otherwise is not to be expected from them; so that it is not only convenient, but also very necessary, that there be a toleration.

Again, any man the least enlightened will dispense with any compulsive ordinance more tamely than when he is constrained in point of religion. And we know well that the original of our late war was the Bishops’ assuming to themselves that power which Christ never gave them, to wit, of compelling men to yield obedience to whatever they imposed. And men now are grown more various in their opinions than ever before, and will be as easily persuaded to forsake their meat as to relinquish their tenets. And moreover, it is come to that pass—but by what means I will not question—that every man esteemeth it as properly his own, as any immunity contained in Magna Charta, to use his conscience without control; and when they shall be debarred of what they have so long enjoyed, and so much covet to keep, what they may attempt let the wise judge. Therefore there is not only a reason, but also a necessity, of toleration.

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From William Ames, Conscience (1639)a

The word jus, signifying right, is derived from the Latin word jussus, because it implies a power of some authority, commanding this or that to be done.

It is therefore taken: First, for the Law commanding. Secondly, for the object and effect of justice, or for the action itself, prescribed and required by law; and in this sense we are said to give every man his right. * * * Fourthly, for the power which any man hath to do this or that according to law, in which sense we usually say, Such a man stands upon his right. And not unlike to this accep[ta]tion is the applying of the same word to denote some particular privilege granted to any man, either by law or just authority. * * *

This word right in its largest acceptation is divided into: divine, of which God is the author; human, of which man is the contriver.

Divine right is divided into right natural, and right positive.

Right natural is that which is apprehended to be fit to be done or avoided, out of the natural instinct of natural light; or that which is at least deduced from that natural light by evident consequence. So that this right partly consists of practic[al] principles known by nature, and partly of conclusions deduced from those principles.

The divine positive right is a right added to the natural by some special revelation of God.

The right natural, or natural law, is the same which usually is called the eternal law. But it is called eternal in relation to God, as it is from eternity in him. It is called natural as it is engrafted and imprinted in the nature of man by the God of nature.

That positive right was in the mind of God from eternity, as well as the natural. But in respect it is not so easily apprehended by human reason, therefore it is not usually termed the law eternal.

The natural and positive divine right differ in this: that the positive is mutable and various according to God’s good pleasure (for that which was heretofore in the Judaical church is different from that which is in the Christian church); but the right natural is always the same and like itself, and for this reason also it is called the law eternal. * * *

Quest[ion] 3: Whether it be rightly said by lawyers, that the Edition: current; Page: [188] right natural, or the law of nature is that which nature hath taught all living creatures?

In brute creatures the true nature of right or law hath no more place than it hath in plants or things inanimate. For neither is there a reason distinguishing between good and evil, neither a will or choice of one thing before another; nor, lastly, any justice at all in brutes more than in things without all life. Nevertheless, in all things there is an inclination, a power and operation, which is guided by certain reason forasmuch as concerns their nature and end. And in this respect all things created are said to have a law prescribed unto them, so that in respect to themselves it is only by similitude and some proportion termed a law or right (Psalm 148. 6; Job 38. 10-12; Jer. 33. 20, 25). * * *

Ques[tion] 4: Whether the Law of Nations be the same with the Law of Nature?

The law of nations, as it is taken for the law which all nations use, comprehends under it not only the law of nature but also the positive law. So servitude is by lawyers said to be by the law of nations, and yet [it] is evident that servitude was brought in by custom and the positive law. And the same is the reason in division of possessions, and the like.

If the law of nationsa be taken for that law which is introduced by the common consent and custom of all nations, it then participates a certain middle nature between the law natural and that positive law which is peculiar to this or that nation. It hath thus much common with the natural law, that it is everywhere received without any certain authority or promulgation, and wheresoever anything is done contrary it is censured of all men to be ill done. And it hath thus much common with the positive law, that it may be changed or abrogated by the common consent of them whom it may concern. A division of things is by the law of nations. Nevertheless, by the common consent it may, upon just grounds, be somewhere enacted that almost all possessions should be in common. * * *

Ques[tion] 5: Whether the precepts of the Law of Nature be rightly stated: To live honestly; not to hurt another; to give every man his due?

This enumeration is somewhat confused and imperfect. For first, here is nothing mentioned of the worshipping of God, which nevertheless is a principle of the law of nature. * * *

Ques[tion] 6: Whether that precept be of the Law of Nature: What you would have done to yourself, do that to another . . . ?

This precept is natural, and indeed divine (Matt. 7. 12; Luke 6. Edition: current; Page: [189] 31). Yet in this it is to be observed: First, that this law doth not include the whole compass of the natural law in general, but that part only in which our duty between man and man is comprehended; secondly, that our will whatsoever it be, may not be the square and rule of the performance of our duty to others . . ., but our natural will being well disposed, and not tainted with any passion or perturbation, by which we truly and considerately wish good unto ourselves. * * *

Quest[ion] 7: What proportion the Civil Law holds with the Law of Nature?

The civil law is that which every city or society of men enacts current for itself. And such a kind of law is not only peculiar to the Romans, but also to the Athenians, English, or any else who have no respect to the Roman law.

This civil law inasmuch as it is right is derived from the law of nature; for that is not law which is not just and right, and that in morality is called right which accords with right practical reason, and right practical is the law of nature.

This civil law therefore is derived from the law of nature, either as a special conclusion inferred from a general proposition or as a special determination and application of a general axiom.

That law which is derived from the natural law only by way of conclusion, if the consequence be good, hath its whole strength from the law of nature, as the conclusion hath its force from the premised propositions; but that which is derived from the law of nature by way of determination and application, is in part a new constitution, even as every species hath its own proper form and essence besides that which is actually comprehended in the genus.

Seeing then that, as well in conclusions as determinations, the reason of man can only imperfectly judge—nay, and is often therein cozened—hence it must needs follow that all human constitutions are of necessity liable to imperfection, error, and injustice. This the authors of the Roman law confess of their own laws: ‘It is impossible that a reason should be given of all things that are enacted—not to all men, nor of all the laws—and it is proved in innumerable cases that there are many things received in the civil law for the public good, which are somewhat contrary to a disputative reason’ (Ad leg. Aquil. f. 51).

The imperfection of the best civil law consisteth in this. First, in regard it contains not in its compass the whole law of nature, but so much of it only as such or such men have approved and thought appliable to their own manners; secondly, in respect it hath no eye at all upon the inward affections, but only upon the Edition: current; Page: [190] outward actions; for it doth not suppress absolutely all vices, but those only which may seem likely to disturb the peace and quiet of the commonwealth, neither doth it enjoin all acts of all virtues, but those only which are opposite to the inconvenient vices; thirdly, in that it doth not principally make good men, but only good subjects or citizens; fourthly, in that upon occasion it may admit in many things of addition, detraction, or correction.

Quest[ion] 8: What proportion the Moral Law bears to the Law of Nature?

All the precepts of the Moral Law are out of the law of nature, except the determination of the sabbath day in the Fourth Commandment, which is from the positive law.

For first, we meet with nothing in them which concerneth not all nations at all times, so that these precepts do not respect any particular sort of men, but even nature itself. Secondly, nothing is contained in them which is not very necessary to human nature for the attaining of its end. Thirdly, there is nothing in them which is not so grounded upon right reason but it may be solidly defended and maintained by human discourse; nothing but what may be well enjoined from clear reason. Fourthly, all things contained in them are for the substance approved, even of the more understanding sort of the heathen. Fifthly, they all much conduce to the benefit of mankind in this present life; insomuch that if all these precepts were duly answered, there would be no need of any other human laws or constitutions. * * *

Object[ion]: But it may be objected that if the Moral [Law] were the same with the law of nature, it had no need to be promulgated either by voice or writing, for it would have been writ in the hearts of all men by nature.

A[nswer]: That to nature upright, i.e., as it was in the state of innocency, there was no need of such a promulgation. But ever since the corruption of our nature, such is the blindness of our understanding and perverseness of our will and disorder of our affections, that there are only some relics of that law remaining in our hearts, like to some dim aged picture, and therefore by the voice and power of God it ought to be renewed as with a fresh pencil. Therefore is there nowhere found any true right practical reason, pure and complete in all parts, but in the written law of God (Psalm 119. 66).

Quest[ion] 9: What proportion the Judicial Law bears to the Natural?

That is properly termed the Judicial which is about judgments or any politic matters thereto belonging, as that was called the Edition: current; Page: [191] Ceremonial Law which was about ceremonies, and that the Moral Law which was about manners and civil duties. That Judicial Law which was given by Moses to the Israelites as proper only to them, was a most exact determination and accommodation of the law of nature unto them, according to the particular condition of that people. To the Israelites therefore in respect of the use, it was of like nature with other good civil laws among other nations; but in respect of authority, which from God, the immediate giver, it received, it was of much more perfection than any. This law belongeth not to Christians under the title of a law especially obliging them, but only by way of doctrine, inasmuch as in its general nature, or in its due proportion to it, it doth always exhibit unto us the best determination of the law of nature. * * *

Those laws were properly termed Judicial, which being not ceremonial, had some singular respect to the people of the Jews, so that the whole reason and ground of them was constituted in some particular condition of that nation. But it is no certain rule (which is given by some) that wheresoever the reason of the law is moral, there the law itself is moral (as is seen in Lev. 11. 44), for any special determination of a law may be confirmed by a general reason. . . . But where the special intrinsical and proper reason of the law is moral, there it always follows that the law itself must needs be moral. Those laws, therefore, which are usually reckoned among the judicial, and yet in their nature bear no singular respect to the condition of the Jews more than of any other people, those are all of the moral and natural laws which are common to all nations.


Christian Obedience and its Limits
From Calvin’s Institution of Christian Religion (Thomas Norton’s translation)a

For when they hear that liberty is promised by the Gospel, which acknowledgeth among men no king and no magistrate but hath regard to Christ alone, they think that they can take no fruit of their liberty so long as they see any power to have pre-eminence over them. Therefore they think that nothing shall be safe, unless the whole world be reformed into a new fashion, where may neither be judgments nor laws nor magistrates, nor any Edition: current; Page: [192] such thing which they think to withstand their liberty. But whosoever can put difference between the body and the soul, between this present and transitory life and that life to come and eternal, he shall not hardly understand that the spiritual kingdom of Christ and the civil government are things far asunder. Since therefore that is a Jewish vanity, to seek and enclose the kingdom of Christ under the elements of the world, let us rather (thinking, as the scripture plainly teacheth, that it is a spiritual fruit which is gathered of the benefit of Christ) remember to keep within the bonds thereof this whole liberty which is promised and offered us in him (Gal. 5. 1; 1 Cor. 7. 21). For what is the cause why the same Apostle which biddeth us to stand, and not to be made subject to the yoke of bondage, in another place forbiddeth bondservants to be careful of their state, but because spiritual liberty may very well agree with civil bondage? * * *

But as we have even now given warning that this kind of government is several from that spiritual and inward kingdom of Christ, so it is also to be known that they nothing disagree together. For the civil government doth now begin in us upon earth certain beginnings of the heavenly kingdom, and in this mortal and vanishing life doth, as it were, enter upon an immortal and incorruptible blessedness. But the intent of his spiritual government is, so long as we shall live among men, to cherish and maintain the outward worshipping of God, to defend the sound doctrine of godliness and the state of the Church, to frame our life to the fellowship of men, to fashion our manners to civil righteousness, to procure us into friendship one with another, to nourish common peace and quietness. All which I grant to be superfluous if the kingdom of God, such as it is now among us, do destroy this present life. But if the will of God be so that we, while we long toward the heavenly country, should be wayfaring from home upon the earth, and sith the use of such wayfaring needeth such helps, they which take them from man do take from him his very nature of man. For whereas they allege that there is so great perfection in the Church of God that her own moderate government sufficeth it for a law, they themselves do foolishly imagine that perfection which can never be found in the common fellowship of men. * * *

[The civil state] tendeth not only hereunto, . . . that men may breathe, eat, drink, and be cherished . . ., but also that idolatry, sacrilege against the name of God, blasphemies against his truth, and other offences of religion, may not rise up and be scattered among the people, that common quiet be not troubled, that every Edition: current; Page: [193] man may keep his own safe and unappaired, that men may use their affairs together without hurt, that honesty and modesty be kept among them; finally that among Christians may be a common show of religion, and among men may be manlike civility. Neither let any man be moved, for that I do now refer the care of stablishing of religion to the policy of men, which I seemed before to have set without the judgment of men. For I do no more here than I did before give men leave after their own will to make laws concerning religion and the worshipping of God, when I allow the ordinance of policy which endeavoureth hereunto, that the true religion which is contained in the Law of God, be not openly and with public sacrileges freely broken and defiled. * * *

The Lord hath not only testified that the office of magistrates is allowed and acceptable to him, but also setting out the dignity thereof with most honourable titles, he hath marvellously commended it unto us. * * * Wherefore none ought now to doubt that the civil power is a vocation not only holy and lawful before God, but also the most holy, and the most honest, of all other in the whole life of men. * * *

And . . . it were very vain that it should be disputed of private men which should be the best state of policy in the place where they live; for whom it is not lawful to consult of the framing of any commonweal. And also the same could not be simply determined without rashness, forasmuch as a great part of the order of this question consisteth in circumstances. * * * Truly, if those three forms of governments which the philosophers set out, be considered in themselves, I will not deny that either the government of the chiefest men or a state tempered of it and common government far excelleth all other. Not of itself, but because it most seldom chanceth that kings so temper themselves that their will never swerveth from that which is just and right; again, that they be furnished with so great sharpness of judgment and wisdom that every one of them seeth so much as is sufficient. Therefore the fault or default of men maketh that it is safer and more tolerable that many should have the government, that they may mutually one help another, one teach and admonish another, and if any advance himself higher than is meet, there may be overseers and masters to restrain his wilfulness. This both hath alway been approved by experience, and the Lord also hath confirmed it with his authority, when he ordained among the Israelites a government of the best men, very near unto common government, at such time as he minded to have them in best estate, till he brought forth an image of Christ in David. And as I willingly Edition: current; Page: [194] grant that no kind of government is more blessed than this, where liberty is framed to such moderation as it ought to be, and is orderly stablished to continuance, so I count them also most blessed, that may enjoy this estate. And if they stoutly and constantly travail in preserving and retaining it, I grant that they do nothing against their duty. Yea, and the magistrates ought with most great diligence to bend themselves hereunto, that they suffer not the liberty of the people of which they are appointed governors, to be in any part minished, much less to be dissolved. If they be negligent and little careful therein, they are false faith-breakers in their office, and betrayers of their country. But if they would bring this kind to themselves, to whom the Lord hath appointed another form of government, so that thereby they be moved to desire a change, the very thinking thereof shall not only be foolish and superfluous, but also hurtful. * * *

Now the office of magistrates is in this place to be declared by the way, of what sort it is described by the word of God, and in what things it consisteth. If the scripture did not teach that it extendeth to both the Tables of the Law, we might learn it out of the profane writers. For none hath entreated of the duty of magistrates, of making of laws and of public weal, that hath not begun at religion and the worshipping of God. And so have they all confessed that no policy can be happily framed unless the first care be of godliness, and that those laws be preposterous which, neglecting the right of God, do provide only for men. * * * And we have already showed that this duty is specially enjoined them of God; as it is meet that they should employ their travail to defend and maintain his honour, whose vicegerents they be, and by whose benefit they govern. For this cause also chiefly are the holy kings praised in scripture, for that they restored the worship of God, being corrupted or overthrown, or took care of religion, that it might flourish pure and safe under them. * * *

Next to the magistrate in civil states are laws the most strong sinews of commonwealths. * * * There be some that deny that a commonweal is well ordered, which, neglecting the civil laws of Moses, is governed by the common laws of nations. How dangerous and troublesome this sentence is, let other men consider; it shall be enough for me to have showed that it is false and foolish. That common division is to be kept, which divideth the whole Law of God published, into Moral, Ceremonial, and Judicial Laws; and all the parts are to be severally considered, that we may know what of them pertaineth to us, and what not. Neither in the meantime let any man be cumbered with this doubt, that Edition: current; Page: [195] judicials and ceremonials also pertain to the moral laws. For although the old writers which have taught this division were not ignorant that these two latter parts had their use about manners, yet because they might be changed and abrogate, the morals remaining safe, they did not call them morals. They called that first part peculiarly by that name, without which cannot stand the true holiness of manners and the unchangeable rule of living rightly.

Therefore the Moral Law . . ., sith it is contained in two chief points, of which the one commandeth simply to worship God with pure faith and godliness, and the other to embrace men with unfeigned love, is the true and eternal rule of righteousness prescribed to the men of all ages and times that will . . . frame their life to the will of God. For this is his eternal and unchangeable will, that he himself should be worshipped of us all, and that we should mutually love one another. The Ceremonial Law was the schooling of the Jews, wherewith it pleased the Lord to exercise the certain childhood of that people, till that time of fulness came, wherein he would to the full manifestly show his wisdom to the earth, and deliver the truth of those things which then were shadowed with figures. The Judicial Law, given to them for an order of civil state, gave certain rules of equity and righteousness, by which they might behave themselves harmlessly and quietly together. And as that exercise of ceremonies properly pertained indeed to the doctrine of godliness (namely which kept the church of the Jews in the worship and religion of God), yet it might be distinguished from godliness itself, so this form of judicial orders (although it tended to no other end but how the self-same charity might be best kept which is commanded by the eternal Law of God), yet had a certain thing differing from the very commandment of loving. As therefore the ceremonies might be abrogate, godliness remaining safe and undestroyed, so these judicial ordinances also being taken away, the perpetual duties and commandments of charity may continue. If this be true, verily there is liberty left to every nation to make such laws as they shall foresee to be profitable for them; which yet must be framed after the perpetual rule of charity, that they may indeed vary in form, but have the same reason. * * *

This which I have said shall be plain, if in all laws we behold these two things as we ought, the making and the equity of the law, upon the reason whereof the making itself is founded and stayeth. Equity, because it is natural, can be but one, of all laws. And therefore one law, according to the kind of matter, ought to Edition: current; Page: [196] be the propounded end to all laws. * * * Now sith it is certain that the Law of God which we call moral is nothing else but a testimony of the natural law, and of that conscience which is engraven of God in the minds of men, the whole rule of this equity whereof we now speak is set forth therein. Therefore it alone also must be both the mark and rule and end of all laws. Whatsoever laws shall be framed after that rule, directed to that mark, and limited in that end, there is no cause why we should disallow them, however they otherwise differ from the Jewish law or one from another. * * *

The first duty of subjects toward their magistrates is to think most honourably of their office, namely, which they acknowledge to be a jurisdiction committed of God, and therefore to esteem them and reverence them as the ministers and deputies of God. * * * Of this then also followeth another thing: that with minds bent to the honouring of them, they declare their obedience in proof to them; whether it be to obey their proclamations, or to pay tribute, or to take in hand public offices and charges that serve for common defence, or to do any other of their commandments. Let every soul (saith Paul) be subject to the higher powers (Rom. 13. 1). For he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. * * *

But if we look to the word of God, it will lead us further, that we be subject not only to the government of those princes which execute their office toward us well, and with such faithfulness as they ought, but also of all them which (by what means soever it be) have the dominion in possession, although they perform nothing less than that which pertaineth to the duty of princes. For though the Lord testifieth that the magistrate’s is a special great gift of his liberality for preserving of the safety of men, and appointeth to magistrates themselves their bounds, yet he doth therewithal declare that, of what sort soever they be, they have not their authority but from him; that those indeed which rule for benefit of the commonweal are true exemplars and patterns of his bountifulness; that they that rule unjustly and wilfully are raised up by him to punish the wickedness of the people; that all equally have that majesty wherewith he hath furnished a lawful power. * * *

But (thou wilt say) rulers owe mutual duties to their subjects. That I have already confessed. But if thou thereupon conclude that obediences ought to be rendered to none but just governors, thou art a foolish reasoner. For husbands are also bound to their wives, and parents to their children, with mutual duties. Let parents and husbands depart from their duty . . .; shall yet Edition: current; Page: [197] therefore either children be less obedient to their parents, or wives to their husbands? But they are subjects both to evil parents and husbands and such as do not their duty. * * * Wherefore, if we be unmercifully tormented of a cruel prince, if we be ravenously spoiled of a covetous or riotous prince, if we be neglected of a slothful prince, finally if we be vexed for godliness’ sake of a wicked and ungodly prince, let us first call to mind the remembrance of our sins, which undoubtedly are chastised with such scourges of the Lord. Thereby our humility shall bridle our impatience. Let us then also call to mind this thought: that it pertaineth not to us to remedy such evils; but this only is left for us, that we crave the help of the Lord, in whose hands are the hearts of kings and the bowings of kingdoms. * * *

And here both his marvellous goodness and power and providence showeth itself; for sometime of his servants he raiseth up open avengers and furnisheth them with his commandment to take vengeance of their unjust government, and to deliver his people, many ways oppressed, out of miserable distress; sometime he directeth to the same end the rage of men that intend and go about another thing. * * * For the first sort of men, when they were by the lawful calling of God sent to do such acts in taking armour against kings, they did not violate that majesty which is planted in kings by the ordinance of God; but, being armed from heaven, they subdued the lesser power with the greater, like as it is lawful for kings to punish their lords under them. But these latter sort, although they were directed by the hand of God whither it pleased him, and they unwittingly did work, yet proposed in their mind nothing but mischief. * * *

Though the correcting of unbridled government be the revengement of the Lord, let us not by and by think that it is committed to us to whom there is given no other commandment but to obey and suffer. I speak alway of private men. For if there be at this time any magistrates for the behalf of the people (such as in old time were the Ephori that were set against the kings of Lacedemonia, or the Tribunes of the people against the Roman consuls, or the Demarchi against the senate of Athens, and the same power also which peradventure, as things are now, the three estates have in every realm when they hold their principal assemblies), I do so not forbid them, according to their office, to withstand the outraging licentiousness of kings, that I affirm that if they wink at kings’ wilfully ranging over and treading down the poor commonalty, their dissembling is not without wicked breach of faith because they deceitfully betray the liberty of the people where Edition: current; Page: [198] they know themselves to be appointed protectors by the ordinance of God.

But in that obedience which we have determined to be due to the authorities of governors, that is always to be excepted, yea chiefly to be observed, that it do not lead us away from obeying of him to whose will the desires of all kings ought to be subject, to whose decrees all their commandments ought to yield, to whose majesty their maces ought to be submitted. And truly how unorderly were it, for the satisfying of men, to run into his displeasure for whom men themselves are obeyed? The Lord therefore is the King of Kings, who, when he hath opened his holy mouth, is to be heard alone for all together and above all. Next to him we be subject to those men that are set over us; but no otherwise than in him. If they command anything against him, let it have no place and let no account be made of it. Neither let us herein anything stay upon all that dignity wherewith the magistrates excel, to which there is no wrong done when it is brought into order of subjection in comparison of that singular and truly sovereign power of God. After this reason Daniel denieth (Dan. 6. 22) that he had anything offended against the king, when he obeyed not his wicked proclamation; because the king had passed his bounds, and had not only been a wrong-doer to men, but in lifting up his horns against God he had taken away power from himself. On the other side the Israelites are condemned because they were too much obedient to the wicked commandment of the king (Hos. 5. 13). For when Jeroboam had made golden calves, they, forsaking the Temple of God, did for his pleasure turn to new superstitions (1 Kings 12. 30). * * * I know how great and how present peril hangeth over this constancy, because kings do most displeasantly suffer themselves to be despised, whose displeasure (saith Solomon) is the messenger of death. But sith this decree is proclaimed by the heavenly herald Peter, that we ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5. 29), let us comfort ourselves with this thought, that we then perform that obedience which the Lord requireth, when we suffer anything rather, whatsoever it be, than swerve from godliness. And that our courage should not faint, Paul putteth also another spur to us: that we were therefore redeemed of Christ with so great a price as our redemption cost him (1 Cor. 7. 13), that we should not yield ourselves in thraldom to obey the perverse desires of men, but much less should be bound to ungodliness.

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Presbyterian Principles of Resistance
From [Samuel Rutherford], Lex, Rex (1644)a

Whob doubteth (Christian reader) but innocency must be under the courtesy and mercy of malice, and that it is a real martyrdom to be brought under the lawless inquisition of the bloody tongue? Christ, the Prophets and Apostles of our Lord went to heaven with the note of traitors, seditious men, and such as turned the world upside down. Calumnies of treason to Caesar were an ingredient in Christ’s cup, and therefore the author is the more willing to drink of that cup that touched his lip, who is our glorious forerunner. What if conscience toward God and credit with men cannot both go to heaven with the Saints? The author is satisfied with the former companion and is willing to dismiss the other. Truth to Christ cannot be treason to Caesar, and for his choice he judgeth truth to have a nearer relation to Christ Jesus than the transcendent and boundless power of a mortal prince.

He considered that popery and defection had made a large step in Britain, and that arbitrary government had over-swelled all banks of law. . . . And the naked truth is: prelates, a wild and pushing cattle to the lambs and flock of Christ, had made a hideous noise; the wheels of their chariot did run an equal pace with the bloodthirsty mind of the daughter of Babel. * * * And now judgment presseth the kingdoms, and of all the heaviest judgments, the sword. . . . I hope this war shall be Christ’s triumph; Babylon’s ruin. * * *

I have not time to examine the p[roud] prelate’s preface.1 Only I give a taste of his gall.* * * ‘Do they not (Puritans) magisterially determine that kings are not of God’s creation by authoritative commission but only by permission extorted by importunity, and way given that they may be a scourge to a sinful people?’ Ans[wer]: Any unclean spirit from hell could not speak a blacker lie. We hold that the king, by office, is the Church’s nurse father, a sacred ordinance, the deputed power of God. * * *

[The Presbyterians] hold (I believe with warrant of God’s word): if the king refuse to reform religion, the inferior judges and assembly of godly pastors and other church officers may reform; if the king will not . . . do his duty in purging the House of the Lord, may not Eli[j]ah and the people do their duty and cast out Edition: current; Page: [200] Baal’s priests? Reformation of religion is a personal act that belongeth to all, even to any one private person according to his place. * * *

All the forged inconsistency betwixt presbyteries and monarchies is an opposition with absolute monarchy, and concludeth with a like strength against parliaments and all synods of either side, against the Law and Gospel preached, to which kings and kingdoms are subordinate. Lord, establish peace and truth. * * *

[Passages selected from Questions I-XLI]

[I] What is warranted by the direction of nature’s light is warranted by the law of nature, and consequently by a divine law; for who can deny the law of nature to be a divine law?

That power of government in general must be from God, I make good: Because (Rom. 13) there is no power but of God; the powers that be, are ordained of God. God commandeth obedience, and so subjection of conscience to powers: (Rom. 13. 5) Wherefore we must be subject not only for wrath (or civil punishment) but for conscience’ sake; (1 Pet. 2. 13) Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, &c. Now God only by a divine law can lay a band of subjection on the conscience, tying men to guilt and punishment if they transgress.

Conclus[ion]: All civil power is immediately from God in its root. In that God hath made man a social creature, and one who inclineth to be governed by man; then certainly he must have put this power in man’s nature. So are we by good reason taught by Aristotle, God and nature intendeth the policy and peace of mankind. Then must God and nature have given to mankind a power to compass this end; and this must be a power of government.

[II] As domestic society is by nature’s instinct, so is civil society natural in radice, in the root, and voluntary in modo, in the manner of coalescing. * * *

We are to distinguish betwixt a power of government, and a power of government by magistracy. That we defend ourselves from violence by violence, is a consequent of unbroken and sinless nature; but that we defend ourselves by devolving our power over in the hands of one or more rulers, seemeth rather positively moral than natural, except that it is natural for the child to expect help against violence, from his father. For which cause I judge . . . that princedom, empire, kingdom, or jurisdiction hath its rise from Edition: current; Page: [201] a positive and secondary law of nations, and not from the law of pure nature. The law saith, there is no law of nature agreeing to all living creatures for superiority; for by no reason in nature hath a boar dominion over a boar, a lion over a lion, a dragon over a dragon, a bull over a bull. And if all men be born equally free (as I hope to prove), there is no reason in nature why one man should be king and lord over another; therefore . . . I conceive all jurisdiction of man over man to be, as it were, artificial and positive, and that it inferreth some servitude whereof nature from the womb hath freed us, if you except that subjection of children to parents, and the wife to the husband. And the law saith, De jure gentium secundarius est omnis principatus. This also the scripture proveth, whileas the exalting of Saul or David above their brethren to be kings, and captains of the Lord’s people, is ascribed, not to nature (for king and beggar spring of one clay-metal), but to an act of divine bounty and grace above nature. So Psalm 78. 70-1: He took David from following the ewes, and made him king and feeder of his people. * * *

If we once lay the supposition that God hath immediately by the law of nature appointed there should be a government, and mediately defined, by the dictate of natural light in a community, that there shall be one or many rulers to govern the community; then the scripture’s arguments may well be drawn out of the school of nature.

[III] But some object: If the kingly power be of divine institution, then shall any other government be unlawful and contrary to a divine institution, and so we condemn aristocracy and democracy as unlawful. Ans[wer]: This consequence were good if aristocracy and democracy were not also of divine institution, as all my arguments prove; for I judge they are not governments different in nature if we speak morally and theologically, only they differ politically and positively. Nor is aristocracy anything but diffused and enlarged monarchy, and monarchy is nothing but contracted aristocracy. . . . And wherever God appointed a king, he never appointed him absolute and a sole independent agent,a but joined always with him judges, who were no less to judge according to the Law of God (2 Chron. 19. 6) than the king (Deut. 17. 15). And in an obligation moral of judging righteously, the conscience of the monarch and the conscience of the inferior judges are equal, with an immediate subjection under the King of Kings, for there is here a co-ordination of consciences, and no subordination, for it is not in the power of the inferior judge to judge, Edition: current; Page: [202] quoad specificationem as the king commandeth him, because the judgment is neither the king’s nor any mortal man’s, but the Lord’s (2 Chron. 19. 6-7).

Hence all the three forms are from God. But let no man say, if they be all indifferent and equally of God societies and kingdoms are left in the dark, and know not which of the three they shall pitch upon because God hath given to them no special direction for one rather than for another. But this is easily answered, that a republic appoint rulers to govern them is not an action indifferent, but a moral action, because to set no rulers over themselves, I conceive, were a breach of the Fifth Commandment, which commandeth government to be one or other. It is not in men’s free will that they have government or no government, because it is not in their free will to obey or not to obey the acts of the court of nature, which is God’s court, and this court enacteth that societies suffer not mankind to perish, which must necessarily follow if they appoint no government. Also it is proved elsewhere that no moral acts in their exercises and use are left indifferent to us. So then the aptitude and temper of every commonwealth to monarchy, rather than to democracy or aristocracy, is God’s warrant and nearest call to determine the wills and liberty of people to pitch upon a monarchy hic et nunc, rather than any other form of government, though all the three be from God, even as single life and marriage are both the lawful ordinances of God, and the constitution and temper of the body is a calling to either of the two. Nor are we to think that aristocracy and democracy are either unlawful ordinances or men’s inventions, or that those societies which want monarchy do therefore live in sins.

[IV] Whether the king be only and immediately from God, and not from the people? * * *

But the question is concerning the designation of the person: whence is that this man rather than this man is crowned king . . .; is it from God immediately and only . . . or is it from the people also, and their free choice? For the pastor and the doctor’s office is from Christ only; but that John rather than Thomas be the doctor or the pastor is from the will and choice of men, the presbyters and people.

The royal power is three ways in the people: (1) Radically and virtually, as in the first subject; (2) Collative vel communicative, by way of free donation, they giving it to this man, not to this man, that he may rule over them; (3) Limitate, they giving it so as these three acts remain with the people: that they may measure out by Edition: current; Page: [203] ounce weights so much royal power and no more and no less, so as they may limit, moderate, and set banks and marches to the exercise; that they give it out conditionate, upon this and this condition, that they may take again to themselves what they gave out upon condition if the condition be violated. The first I conceive is clear: (1) Because if every living creature have radically in them a power of self-preservation to defend themselves from violence (as we see lions have paws, some beasts have horns, some claws), men, being reasonable creatures, united in society, must have power in a more reasonable and honourable way, to put this power of warding off violence in the hands of one or more rulers, to defend themselves by magistrates. (2) If all men be born, as concerning civil power, alike (for no man cometh out of the womb with a diadem on his head, or a sceptre in his hand), and yet men united in a society may give crown and sceptre to this man, and not to this man, then this power was in this united society. But it was not in them formally, for they should then all have been one king. . . . Therefore this power must have been virtually in them, because neither man nor community of men can give that which they neither have formally nor virtually in them. (3) Royalists cannot deny but cities have power to choose and create inferior magistrates. Ergo many cities united have power to create a higher ruler; for royal power is but the united and superlative power of inferior judges in one greater judge, whom they call a king.

[IX] Whether or no sovereignty is so from the people that it remaineth in them in some part, so as they may in case of necessity resume it? * * *

For the subject of royal power, we affirm the first, the ultimate, and native subject of all power is the community, as reasonable men naturally inclining to a society; but the ethical and political subject, or the legal and positive receptacle, of this power is various, according to the various constitutions of the policy. In Scotland and England it is the three estates of Parliament, in other nations some other judges or peers of the land. * * *

No society hath liberty to be without all government, for God hath given to every society . . . a faculty of preserving themselves, and warding off violence and injuries; and this they could not do except they gave their power to one or many rulers. * * * We teach that government is natural, not voluntary; but the way and manner of government is voluntary. * * *

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[XII] Whether or not a kingdom may lawfully be purchased by the sole title of conquest? * * *

More conquest by the sword, without the consent of the people, is no just title to the crown, because the lawful title that God’s word holdeth forth to us, beside the Lord’s choosing and calling of a man to the crown, is the people’s election (Deut. 17. 15). All that had any lawful calling to the crown in God’s word, as Saul, David, Solomon, &c., were called by the people, and the first lawful calling is to us a rule and pattern to all lawful callings. * * *

And that any other extraordinary impulsiona be as lawful a call to the throne as the people’s free election, we know not from God’s word; and we have but the naked word of our adversaries that William the Conqueror, without the people’s consent, made himself by blood the lawful king of England, and also of all their posterity, and that King Fergus conquered Scotland. * * * And truly they deserve no wages who thus defend the king’s prerogative royal. For if the sword be a lawful title to the crown, suppose the two generals of both kingdoms should conquer the most and the chiefest of the kingdom now when they have so many forces in the field, by this wicked reason the one should have a lawful call of God to be king of England, and the other to be king of Scotland; which is absurd.

Either conquest, as conquest, is a just title to the crown, or as a just conquest. If as conquest, then all conquests are just titles to a crown. * * * But strength as strength victorious, is not law nor reason. It were then reason that Herod behead John Baptist, and the Roman emperors kill the witnesses of Christ Jesus. If conquest, as just, be the title and lawful claim before God’s court to a crown, then certainly a stronger king for pregnant national injuries may lawfully subdue and reign over an innocent posterity not yet born. But what word of God can warrant a posterity not born, and so accessory to no offence against the conqueror (but only sin original), to be under a conqueror against their will, and who hath no right to reign over them but the bloody sword? * * * [Objection]: But the fathers may engage the posterity by an oath to surrender themselves as loyal subjects to the man who justly and deservedly made the fathers vassals by the title of the sword of justice. I answer: The fathers may indeed dispose of the inheritance of their children, because that inheritance belongeth to the father as well as to the son; but because the liberty of the son being born with the son, all men being born free from all civil subjection, the father hath no more power to resign the liberty of his children than their lives. * * *

It is objected that the people of God by their sword conquered Edition: current; Page: [205] seven nations of the Canaanites; David conquered the Ammonites for the disgrace done to his ambassadors. * * * A facto ad jus non valet consequentia. God, to whom belongeth the world and the fulness thereof, disponed to Abraham and his seed the land of Canaan for their inheritance, and ordained that they should use their bow and their sword for the actual possession thereof; and the like divine right had David to the Edomites and Ammonites, though the occasion of David’s taking possession of these kingdoms by his sword did arise from particular and occasional exigences and injuries. But it followeth in no sort that therefore kings, now wanting any word of promise, and so of divine right to any lands, may ascend to the thrones of other kingdoms than their own by no better title than the bloody sword. * * * I doubt not to say if Joshua and David had had no better title than their bloody sword, though provoked by injuries, they could have had no right to any kingly power over these kingdoms. And if only success by the sword be a right of providence, it is no right of precept. God’s providence, as providence, without precept or promise, can conclude a thing is done, or may be done, but cannot conclude a thing is lawfully and warrantably done; else you might say the selling of Joseph, the crucifying of Christ, the spoiling of Job were lawfully done.

[XIII] Whether or no royal dignity have its spring from nature; and how that is true, ‘Every man is born free’; and how servitude is contrary to nature? * * *

There is a subjection in respect of natural being, as the effect to the cause. So though Adam had never sinned, this morality of the Fifth Command should have stood in vigour, that the son by nature without any positive law should have been subject to the father because from him he hath his being, as from a second cause. But I much doubt if the relation of a father as a father, doth necessarily infer a royal or kingly authority of the father over the son, or by nature’s law that the father hath power of life and death over or above his children. And the reasons I give are: (1) Because power of life and death is by a positive law, presupposing sin and the fall of man . . .; (2) I judge that the power royal and the fatherly power of a father over his children shall be found to be different, and the one is founded on the law of nature, the other, to wit, royal power, on a mere positive law. The second degree or order of subjection natural, is a subjection in respect of gifts, or age. So Aristotle saith that some are by nature servants. His meaning is good, that some gifts of nature, Edition: current; Page: [206] as wisdom natural, or aptitude to govern, hath made some men of gold, fitter to command, and some of iron, and clay, fitter to be servants and slaves. But I judge this [no] title to make a king by birth, seeing Saul whom God by supervenient gifts made a king, seemeth to owe small thanks to the womb or nature that he was a king, for his cruelty to the Lord’s priests speaketh nothing but natural baseness. It’s possible Plato had a good meaning . . ., who made six orders here: (i) That fathers command their sons; (ii) the noble the ignoble; (iii) the elder the younger; (iv) the masters the servants; (v) the stronger the weaker; (vi) the wiser the ignorant. (3) Aquinas . . . [and] Driedo . . . following Aristotle, hold, though man had never sinned, there should have been a sort of dominion of the more gifted and wiser above the less wise and weaker, not antecedent from nature properly, but consequent, for the utility and good of the weaker in so far as it is good for the weaker to be guided by the stronger; which cannot be denied to have some ground in nature. But there is no ground for kings by nature here. * * *

As a man cometh into the world a member of a politic society, he is by consequence born subject to the laws of that society; but this maketh him not from the womb and by nature subject to a king, as by nature he is subject to his father who begat him (no more than by nature a lion is born subject to another king-lion); for it is by accident that he is born of parents under subjection to a monarch, or to either democratical or aristocratical governors, for Cain and Abel were born under none of these forms of government properly; and if he had been born in a new-planted colony in a wilderness where no government were yet established, he should be under no such government. * * *

Every man by nature is a free man born, that is, by nature no man cometh out of the womb under any civil subjection to king, prince, or judge, to master, captain, conqueror, teacher, &c., because freedom is natural to all, except freedom from subjection to parents; and subjection politic is merely accidental, coming from some positive laws of men as they are in a politic society, whereas they might have been born with all concomitants of nature, though born in a single family, the only natural and first society in the world. * * * Man by nature is born free and as free as beasts. * * * If any reply that the freedom natural of beasts and birds who never sinned cannot be one with the natural freedom of men who are now under sin, and so under bondage for sin, my answer is: that . . . he who is supposed to be the man born free from subjection politic, even the king born a king, is under the same state of sin, and so by reason of sin, of which he hath a Edition: current; Page: [207] share equally with all other men by nature, he must be by nature born under as great subjection penal for sin . . . as other men; ergo he is not born freer by nature than other men. * * * For things that agree to men by nature agree to all men equally. * * * If men be not by nature free from politic subjection, then must some, by the law of relation, by nature be kings. But none are by nature kings, because none have by nature these things which essentially constitute kings, for they have neither by nature the calling of God, nor gifts for the throne, nor the free election of the people, nor conquest. And if there be none a king by nature, there can be none a subject by nature. And the law saith, Omnes sumus natura liberi, nullius ditioni subjecti. * * * We are all by nature free. * * * As domestic society is natural, being grounded upon nature’s instinct, so politic society is voluntary, being grounded on the consent of men. And so politic society is natural in radice, in the root, and voluntary and free in modo, in the manner of their union; and the scripture cleareth to us that a king is made by the free consent of the people (Deut. 17. 15), and so not by nature. What is from the womb, and so natural, is eternal, and agreeth to all societies of men; but a monarchy agreeth not to all societies of men; for many hundred years de facto there was not a king, till Nimrod’s time the world being governed by families, and till Moses his time we find no institution for kings (Gen. 7). And the numerous multiplication of mankind did occasion monarchies. Otherwise fatherly government being the first, and measure of the rest, must be the best.

[XIV] Whether or no the people make a person their king conditionally or absolutely? And whether there be such a thing as a covenant tying the king no less than his subjects? * * *

There is an oath betwixt the king and his people, laying on, by reciprocation of bands, mutual civil obligation upon the king to the people, and the people to the king. 2 Sam. 5. 3: So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. 1 Chron. 11. 3: And David made a covenant with them before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel. 2 Chron. 23. 2-[3]:. . . And all the congregation made a covenant with the king, Joash, in the house of God. * * * The covenant betwixt the king and the people is clearly differenced from the king’s covenant with the Lord (2 Kings 11. 17). * * * It is expressly a covenant that was between Joash the king and his people. And David made Edition: current; Page: [208] a covenant at his coronation with the princes and elders of Israel; therefore the people gave the crown to David covenant-wise, and upon condition that he should perform such and such duties to them. And this is clear by all covenants in the word of God, even the covenant between God and man is so mutual: I will be your God, and ye shall be my people. The covenant is so mutual that if the people break the covenant, God is loosed from his part of the covenant (Zech. 11. 10). The covenant giveth to the believer a sort of action of law, and jus quoddam, to plead with God in respect of his fidelity to stand to that covenant that bindeth Him by reason of his fidelity (Isa. 43. 26; 63. 16; Dan. 9. 4-5). And far more a covenant giveth ground of a civil action and claim to a people, and the free estates, against a king, seduced by wicked counsel to make war against the land, whereas he did swear by the most high God that he should be a father and protector of the Church of God. * * * There be no mutual contract made upon certain conditions, but if the conditions be not fulfilled the party injured is loosed from the contract. * * *

[XIV] As the king is obliged to God for the maintenance of true religion, so are the people and princes no less in their place obliged to maintain true religion. * * * But when the judges decline from God’s way and corrupt the law, we find the people punished and rebuked for it (Jer. 15. 4). * * * 1 Sam. 12. 24-[5]: Only fear the Lord. But if ye do still wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king. And this case, I grant, is extraordinary, yet so as Junius Brutus proveth well and strongly that religion is not given only to the king that he only should keep it, but to all the inferior judges and people also in their kind.

[XVI] I presuppose that the division of goods doth not necessarily flow from the law of nature, for God made man before the fall lord of creatures indefinitely. . . . But supposing man’s sin: though the light of the sun and air be common to all, and religious places be proper to none, yet it is morally impossible that there should not be a distinction between meum and tuum . . .; and the Decalogue forbidding theft and coveting the wife of another man (yet is she the wife of Peter, not of Thomas, by free election, not by an act of nature) doth evidence to us that the division of things is so far forth (men now being in the state of sin) of the law of nature, that it hath evident ground in the law of nations, and thus far natural, that the heat that I have from my own coat and cloak, and the nourishment from my own meat, are physically incommunicable to any. * * * [But] it is clear, men are just owners of Edition: current; Page: [209] their own goods by all good order both of nature and time before there be any such thing as a king or magistrate. * * * The law of nations, founded upon the law of nature, hath brought in meum and tuum, mine and thine, and the introduction of kings cannot overturn nature’s foundation. Neither civility nor grace destroyeth, but perfiteth nature.

[XIX] There is a dignity material in the people scattered, they being many representations of God and his image, which is in the king also, and formally more as king, he being endued with formal magistratical and public royal authority. In the former regard this or that man is inferior to the king, because the king hath that same remaindera of the image of God that any private man hath, and something more, he hath a politic resemblance of the King of Heavens, being a little God, and so is above any one man. * * * But simply and absolutely the people is above, and more excellent than the king, and the king in dignity inferior to the people; and that upon these reasons: (1) Because he is the mean ordained for the people as for the end that he may save them . . .; (2) The pilot is less than the whole passengers, the general less than the whole army; * * * (3) A Christian people especially is the portion of the Lord’s inheritance (Deut. 32. 9), the sheep of his pasture, his redeemed ones, for whom God gave his blood (Acts 20. 28); and the killing of a man is to violate the image of God (Gen. 9. 6), and therefore the death and destruction of a church, and of thousand thousands of men, is a sadder and a more heavy matter than the death of a king, who is but one man. * * * If God give kings to be a ransom for his Church, and if he slay great kings for their sake, as Pharaoh, king of Egypt (Isa. 43. 3), and Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan (Psalm 136. 18-20); . . . if he make Babylon and her king a threshing-floor, for the violence done to the inhabitants of Zion (Jer. 51. 33-5); then his people as his people must be so much dearer and more precious in the Lord’s eyes than kings because they are kings, by how much more his justice is active to destroy the one, and his mercy to save the other. * * *

For nature doth not ascertain us there must be kings to the world’s end, because the essence of governors is kept safe in aristocracy and democracy though there were no kings. And that kings should necessarily have been in the world if man had never fallen in sin, I am not by any cogent argument induced to believe. I conceive there should have been no government but these of fathers and children, husband and wife, and (which is improperly Edition: current; Page: [210] government) some more gifted with supervenient additions to nature, as gifts and excellencies of engines.

[XXIV] If then any cast off the nature of a king, and become habitually a tyrant, in so far he is not from God nor any ordinance which God doth own. If the office of a tyrant (to speak so) be contrary to a king’s offices, it is not from God, and so neither is the power from God. Yea, laws (which are no less from God than the kings are), when they begin to be hurtful, cessant materialiter, they leave off to be laws, because they oblige non secundum vim verborum, sed in vim sensus, not according to the force of words, but according to sense. . . . But who (saith the Royalist) shall be judge betwixt the king and the people, when the people allege that the king is a tyrant?

Answ[er]: There is a court of necessity, no less than a court of justice; and the fundamental laws must then speak, and it is with the people in this extremity as if they had no ruler.

Obj[ection]: But if the law be doubtsome, as all human, all civil, all municipal laws may endure great dispute, the peremptory person exponing the law must be the supreme judge. This cannot be the people; ergo it must be the king.

Answ[er]: As the scriptures in all fundamentals are clear and expone themselves, and actu primo condemn heresies, so all laws of men in their fundamentals, which are the law of nature and of nations, are clear. And tyranny is more visible and intelligible than heresy, and it’s soon discerned. * * * The people have a natural throne of policy in their conscience to give warning, and materially sentence, against the king as a tyrant, and so by nature are to defend themselves. Where tyranny is more obscure, and the thread [so] small that it escape the eye of men, the king keepeth possession; but I deny that tyranny can be obscure long.

[XXVII] This is the difference between God’s will and the will of the king or any mortal creature. Things are just and good because God willeth them, especially things positively good (though I conceive it hold[s] in all things), and God doth not will things because they are good and just. But the creature, be he king or any never so eminent, do[th] will things because they are good and just. And the king’s willing of a thing maketh it not good and just; for only God’s will, not the creature’s will, can be the cause why things are good and just. * * * Nay, give me leave to doubt if Omnipotency can make a just law to have an unjust and bloody sense, aut contra, because it involveth a contradiction, the true meaning of a law being the essential form of the law.

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[XXVIII] For the lawfulness of resistance in the matter of the king’s unjust invasion of life and religion, we offer these arguments. That power which is obliged to command and rule justly and religiously for the good of the subjects, and is only set over the people on these conditions, and not absolutely, cannot tie the people to subjection without resistance, when the power is abused to the destruction of laws, religion, and the subjects. But all power of the law is thus obliged (Rom. 13. 4; Deut. 17. 18-20; 2 Chron. 19. 6; Psalm 132. 11-12; 89. 30-1; 2 Sam. 7. 12; Jer. 17. 24-5), and hath, and may be abused by kings to the destruction of laws, religion, and subjects. * * * There is not a stricter obligation moral betwixt king and people than betwixt parents and children, master and servant, patron and clients, husband and wife, the lord and the vassal; between the pilot of a ship and the passengers, the physician and the sick, the doctor and the scholars; but the law granteth, if these betray their trust committed to them, they may be resisted. * * * Every tyrant is a furious man, and is morally distracted, as Althusius saith. * * *

That which is inconsistent with the care and providence of God in giving a king to his Church, is not to be taught.

[XXX] Much is built to commend patient suffering of ill, and condemn all resistance of superiors, by Royalists, on the place (1 Pet. 2. 18) where we are commanded, being servants, to suffer buffets, not only for ill-doing, of good masters, but also undeservedly. . . . But it is clear, the place is nothing against resistance. * * * One act of grace and virtue is not contrary to another. Resistance is in the children of God an innocent act of self-preservation, as is patient suffering, and therefore they may well subsist in one. * * * If it be natural to one man to defend himself against the personal invasion of a prince, then it is natural and warrantable to ten thousand, and to a whole kingdom; and what reason to defraud a kingdom of the benefit of self-defence more than one man? Neither grace nor policy destroyeth nature. And how shall ten or twenty thousand be defended against cannons and muskets that killa afar off, except they keep towns against the king, . . . except they be armed to offend with weapons of the like nature, to kill rather than be killed, as the law of nature teacheth?

[XXXI] Self-preservation in all creatures in which is nature, is in the creatures suitable to their nature. * * * So men, and Christian men, do naturally defend themselves; but the manner of self-defence in a rational creature is rational, and not always Edition: current; Page: [212] merely natural. Therefore a politic community, being a combination of many natures (as neither grace, far less can policy, destroy nature), then must these many natures be allowed of God to use a natural self-defence.

[XL] A contract, the conditions whereof are violated by neither side, cannot be dissolved but by the joint consent of both; and in buying and selling, and in all contracts unviolated, the sole will of neither side can violate the contract; of this speaketh the law. * * * We hold that the law saith with us that vassals lose their farm if they pay not what is due. Now what are kings but vassals to the state, who, if they turn tyrants, fall from their right? * * *

Let Royalists show us any act of God making David king, save this act of the people making him formally king at Hebron, and therefore the people as God’s instrument transferred the power, and God by them in the same act transferred the power, and in the same they chose the person. * * * This power is the people’s, radically, naturally. * * * And God hath revealed (in Deut. 17. 14-15) the way of regulating the act of choosing governors and kings, which is a special mean of defending and protecting themselves; and the people is as principally the subject and fountain of royal power, as a fountain is of water. I shall not contend if you call a fountain God’s instrument to give water, as all creatures are his instruments.

[XLI] It is no error of Gerson, that believers have a spiritual right to their civil possessions, but by scripture (1 Cor. 4. 21; Rev. 21. 4).

Independent Principles of Resistance
From John Goodwin, Right and Might Well Met (1649)a

Though some other things have been of late acted by the Army,1 wherein many pretendingly complain of want of conscience and justice; yet I suppose they have done nothing either more obnoxious to the clamorous tongues and pens of their adversaries, or more questionable in the judgments and consciences of their friends, than that late garbling of the Parliament, wherein they sifted out much of the dross and soil of that heap, intending to reduce this body, upon the regular motion whereof the well-being, indeed the civil life, of the whole kingdom depends, to such Edition: current; Page: [213] members who had not manifestly turned head upon their trust, nor given the right hand of fellowship to that most barbarous, inhumane, and bloody faction amongst us, who for many years last past have with restless endeavours procured the deep trouble, and attempted the absolute enslaving (which is, being interpreted, the utter undoing), of the nation. So that if this action of theirs shall approve itself, and appear to be regular and conformable to such laws and rules of justice which all considering and disengaged men conclude ought to be followed and observed in such cases as that which lay before them; especially if it shall appear to have been the legitimate issue of true worth and Christianity; I presume, all their other actions of like tenor and import will partake of the same justification and honour with it. * * *

The first-born of the strength of those who condemn the said act of the Army as unlawful, lieth in this: that the actors had no sufficient authority to do what they did therein, but acted out of their sphere, and so became transgressors of that law which commandeth every man to keep order, and within the compass of his calling.

To this I answer: . . . as our Saviour saith (Matt. 2. 27) that the sabbath was made for man (i.e., for the benefit of man), and not man for the sabbath, so certain it is, that callings were made for men, and not men for callings. Therefore the law of the sabbath, though enacted by God, was of right, and according to the intention of the great Lawgiver himself, to give place to the necessary accommodations of men, and ought not to be pleaded in bar hereunto; in like manner, if the law of callings at any time opposeth, or lieth cross to, the necessary conveniences of men, during the time of this opposition it suffereth a total eclipse of the binding power of it. * * *

Nor did they stretch themselves beyond the line of their callings, to act therein as they did. Their calling and commission was to act in the capacity of soldiers, for the peace, liberties, and safety of the kingdom. What doth this import but a calling to prevent or suppress by force all such persons and designs whose faces were set to disturb or destroy them? * * *

If the calling which the Parliament itself had to levy forces against the King and his party, to suppress them and their proceedings as destructive to the peace, liberties, and safety of the kingdom, was warrantable and good, then was the calling of the Army to act as they did in the business under debate, warrantable and good also. * * *

Now then, supposing the same proportion to the peace, benefit, Edition: current; Page: [214] and safety of the kingdom, in what the Army did in purging the Parliament and in what the Parliament itself did in opposing the King by force (which is a point of easy demonstration, and is ex superabundanti proved in the large Remonstrance of the Army1 lately published), let us consider whether the call of the Army to act for the kingdom as they did, be not as authentic, clear, and full, as that of the Parliament to act as they did in reference to the same end.

First, the authority and power of the people (or rather the present exercise and execution of this power) to act for their own preservation and well-being in every kind, was as well formally,a and according to the ceremony of the law, as really, and according to the true intentions and desires of the people, vested in the Parliament. So that the Parliament by virtue of this investiture, and during the same, had the same right of power to raise an army, and to give unto it what commission they judged meet in order to the benefit of the people, or to act any other thing of like tendency, which the people themselves had to choose for themselves a parliament. Therefore whatsoever lieth within the verge of the Army’s commission derived from the Parliament, relating to the kingdom’s good, they have as full and formal a call or warrant to act and put in execution as the Parliament itself had either to raise an army or to do any other act whatsoever. If then first, the tenor of their commission stood towards any such point as this (which I presume is no way questionable), viz., to suppress by strong hand all such persons whom upon rational grounds they should judge enemies to the peace and welfare of the kingdom; and secondly, that those Parliament-members whom now they have cut off from that body were upon such grounds judged such by them (of the truth whereof they have given a sufficient account in their said late Remonstrance), it is as clear as the sun, that their calling to act as they did in cutting off these members is every whit as legitimate and formal as that of the Parliament itself is to act anything whatsoever as a parliament. * * *

Secondly, suppose the Army had not a call to act as they did in the case under debate, every ways as full of formality as the call of the Parliament to act as they did in opposition to the King, yet might their call be (and indeed was) as material, as weighty, as considerable, and as justifiable in the sight of God, and of all unprejudiced intelligent men, as the other. * * *

When the pilot or master of a ship at sea be either so far overcome and distempered with drink or otherwise disabled, as through Edition: current; Page: [215] a phrenetical passion or sickness of any kind, so that he is incapable of acting the exigencies of his place for the preservation of the ship, being now in present danger either of running upon a quick sand or splitting against a rock, &c., any one or more of the inferior mariners, having skill, may, in order to the saving of the ship and of the lives of all that are in it, very lawfully assume, and act according to, the interest of a pilot or master, and give orders and directions to those with them in the ship accordingly, who stand bound, at the peril of their lives, in this case to obey them. By such a comparison as this, Master Prynne himself demonstrates how regular and lawful it is for parliaments, yea and for particular men, to turn kings—I mean, to assume that interest and power which the law appropriates to the office, and vesteth only in the person of a king—when the king steereth a course in manifest opposition to the peace and safety of the kingdom. * * *

But two things (it is like) will be here objected. First, that the Parliament were judges lawfully constituted, of the King’s delinquency against the kingdom, but the Army were no judges of such a constitution, of the miscarriages of the Parliament. Therefore there is not the same consideration in point of lawfulness in the proceedings of the Army against the Parliament, which is of the Parliament’s proceeding against the King. There is the same difference likewise between the act of a client and pupil, wherein the one dischargeth his advocate and the other his guardian, and the act of the Army in dethroning the Parliament-men. To this I answer:

First, that whether we place the lawfulness of a parliamentary judicature in respect of the King’s delinquency either in their election by the people or in the conformity of this their election unto the laws of the land, certain it is that the Army were judges of every whit as competent and lawful a constitution, of their delinquencies in the same kind. For . . . if we measure the lawfulness of parliamentary judicature by the call of the people thereunto, the Army (as was formerly proved) hath every whit as lawful a constitution to judge who are enemies to the peace and safety of the kingdom as the Parliament itself hath. Nor doth it at all argue any illegality in their judgments about the Parliamentmen, that they had not the explicit and express consent of the people therein, or that they had no call by them so to judge; no more than it proveth an illegality in many votes and ordinances of Parliament, that they were both made and published, not only without the particular and express consent, but even contrary to the mind and desires of the people, or at least of the major part of Edition: current; Page: [216] them. Besides it is a ridiculous thing to pretend a want of a call from the people against the lawfulness of such an act which is of that sovereign necessity for their benefit and good, which the actings of the Army were; especially at such a time when there is no possibility of obtaining or receiving a formal call from the people, without running an imminenta hazard of losing the opportunity for doing that excellent service unto them which the providence of God in a peculiar juncture of circumstances exhibits for the present unto us. Men’s consents unto all acts manifestly tending to their relief are sufficiently expressed in their wants and necessities.

If it be yet said, ‘But the people do not judge the proceedings of the Army against the Parliament-men as tending to their relief or welfare in any kind, but as contrary unto both, nor do they give so much as their subsequent consents thereunto’; I answer (besides what was lately said to the nullifying of this pretence) that physicians, called to the care and cure of persons under distempers, need not much stand upon the consents of such patients, either subsequent or antecedent, about what they administer unto them. If the people be incapable in themselves of the things of their peace, it is an act of so much the more goodness and mercy in those who, being fully capable of them, will engage themselves accordingly to make provision for them. It is a deed of charity and Christianity, to save the life of a lunatic or distracted person even against his will. Besides, it is a ruled case amongst wise men, ‘that if a people be depraved and corrupt, so as to confer places of power and trust upon wicked and undeserving men, they forfeit their power in this behalf unto those that are good, though but a few.’ So that nothing pretended from a non-concurrence of the people with the Army will hold water.

Or, secondly, if we estimate the lawfulness of that judicature by the conformity of their elections thereunto, to the laws of the land, the investiture of the Army into that judicature which they have exercised in the case in question, is conform unto a law of far greater authority than any one, yea than all the laws of the land put together; I mean, the law of nature, necessity, and of love to their country and nation, which, being the law of God himself, written in the fleshly tables of men’s hearts, hath an authoritative jurisdiction over all human laws and constitutions whatsoever, a prerogative right of power to overrule them and to suspend their obliging influences in all cases appropriate to itself. Yea, many of the laws of God themselves think it no disparagement unto them, to give place to their elder sister, the law of Edition: current; Page: [217] necessity, and to surrender their authority into her hand when she speaketh. So that whatsoever is necessary is somewhat more than lawful—more (I mean) in point of warrantableness. If then the Army stood bound by the law of nature and necessity to judge the Parliament-men as they did, viz., as men worthy to be secluded from their fellows in parliamentary interest, this judiciary power was vested in them by a law of greater authority than the laws of the land; and consequently the legality or lawfulness of it was greater than of that in the Parliament, which derives its legality only from a conformity to the established laws of the land. Yea, the truth is that the law of necessity, by which the Army were constituted judges of those parliamentary delinquents we speak of, cannot (in propriety of speech) be denied to be one of the laws of the land, being the law of nature, and consequently the law of all lands and nations whatsoever, established in this and in all the rest by a better and more indubitable legislative authority than reside[s] in any parliament or community of men whatsoever. * * *

Another thing that, it’s like, will be objected upon and against what hath been answered to the second main objection, is this: That the Parliament-men, disturbed in their way by the Army, at least many of them, were religious and conscientious men, voted and acted as they did conscientiously, really judging the course they steered to be the safest and most direct for bringing the great ship of the commonwealth into the harbour of rest and peace. And is it not contrary as well to principles of reason as religion, that such men, upon so fair an account as this, should be so foully handled? To this I answer: * * * When men are religious only to a mediocrity, and withal servile in their judgments to some principles which are commonly and with great confidence and importunity obtruded upon the consciences of professors for sacred truths, and yet are extremely discouraging and full of enmity to a thorough, stable, and quiet dependence upon God; by being religious upon such terms as these they become twofold more the children of fear than otherwise they were like to be, and consequently so much the more capable and receptive of sad and dismal impressions from the world upon all occasions. And it is not more commonly than truly said, that fear is a bad counsellor. . . . When religious men sin against the common interest and liberties of a free-born nation and make one purse with the known and thrice-declared enemies of their land and people, whether they do it with or against their judgments and consciences, the law of nature and necessity cannot (for the present) stand to make either a scrupulous inquiry after such a difference or a regular Edition: current; Page: [218] assignment of favour to the qualifying circumstances of demerit, but calls, yea and cries out immediately, and commands all men without exception that have a prize in their hand, to give it for the redemption of their nation out of the hand of oppression and tyranny. And when this law hath been obeyed to the securing of the nation, she presently resigneth, and this freely and willingly, all her authority and command into the hand of positive and standing laws, calculated for the ordinary posture and state of things, until there be another cry of like danger in her ears. When these standing laws come to resume their authority and power, there will be an opportunity to inquire, if it shall be thought convenient, who sinned with, and who against, their consciences; and their assessments which were uniformly rated by the law of necessity, may be reduced to terms of more equity by those other laws. . . . According to the notion of that maxim in natural philosophy, that the corruption of the best is worst, so are the miscarriages and errors of the best men of worst consequence in many cases. The digressions of men religious are many times worse than the thorough discourses of other men. When conscience and concupiscence meet (as oft they do in religious men), the conjunction is very fiery. It was the saying of Gregory long since, ‘When men conceive of sin under the notion of a duty, there it is committed with an high hand and without fear’ (Greg., de Pastor. cur. 1. 3. 1). Nor ever was (nor is ever like to be) the persecution of the Saints more grievous than when those that shall persecute them and put them to death, shall think that therein they do God service (John 16. 2). So that whereas the objection in hand pleads on behalf of those Parliament-men who were religious, that they followed the light and dictate of their judgments and consciences in complying with the King and his complices, the truth is that though it may reasonably be thought so much the less sinful in them if they did it upon such terms, yet was it a ground so much the more justifiable for the Army to proceed upon to the disinteresting of them, as they did. For when religious men break out of the way of righteousness and truth, with the renitency and obmurmuration of their judgments and consciences, it is a sign that their judgments and consciences are yet at liberty and in condition to reduce them; but when these are confederate with their lust, there is little hope of their repentance. * * *

A fourth objection in the mouths of some, against which they conceive the Army cannot be justified in the business in question, is that all such actions are contrary unto, and condemned by, the laws of the land. But to this objection, at least to the weight and Edition: current; Page: [219] substance of it, we have already answered over and over, and particularly have asserted and proved, first, that all human laws and constitutions are but of a like structure and frame with the Ceremonial Laws of old made by God himself, which were all made with knees to bend to the law of nature and necessity. Secondly, that it is to be presumed that the intent of all law-givers amongst men is, notwithstanding any or all their laws seemingly commanded the contrary, to leave an effectual door always open for the common good, and in cases of necessity to be provided for by any person or persons whatsoever. Thirdly, that all laws bind only according to the regular and due intentions of the law-makers. Fourthly, that the laws of nature and necessity are as well the laws of the land as those commonly so called. Fifthly, that when any two laws encounter one the other in any such exigent or strait of time that both of them cannot be obeyed, the law of inferior consequence ought to give place to that of superior, and the duty enjoined in this to be done though that required in the other be left undone. We now add:

First, that we charitably suppose that there is no such law of the land, which prohibiteth or restraineth any man or sort of men from being benefactors to the public; especially from preserving the public liberties in cases of necessity when they stand in extrema regula and are in imminent danger of being oppressed forever, there being no likelihood of relief from any other hand. And if there be no such law as this, there is none that reacheth the case of the Army—no, not in the critical or characteristical circumstance of it.

Secondly, that in case there be any such law as this, that it is a mere nullity, and the matter of it no more capable of the form of a law (i.e., of an obliging power) than timber or stone is capable of information by a reasonable soul, which, according to vulgar philosophy rather than the truth, is the proper form of a man. The laws of nature and of common equity are the foundation of all laws (truly and properly so called) and whatsoever venditateth itself under the name or notion of a law, being built besides this foundation, wanteth the essence and true nature of a law, and so can be but equivocally such. * * *

I know nothing of moment that can be opposed against the lawfulness of the action hitherto apologized and justified in these papers, beyond what hath been already bought and sold (I mean urged and answered) at sufficient rates. The lawfulness of the action we speak of, being supposed, the honour and worth of it are of much more easy demonstration. For what better favour Edition: current; Page: [220] can a Christianly-heroic spirit spread abroad of itself than when men shall put their lives in their hand, and in this posture stand up to take lions by the beards when they are ready to tear in pieces and devour the sheep of the fold, to attempt the wresting of an iron sceptre out of those hands which were now lifting it up to break a poor nation in pieces like a potter’s vessel? What the Army hath done in this behalf calleth to mind the unparallelable example of the Lord Jesus Christ, blessed for ever, who descended into the lower parts of the earth, went down into the chambers of death, from thence to bring up with him a lost world. It was the saying of Plato that ‘to do good to as many as we can, is to be like unto God.’ But to do good to as many as we can, as well enemies as friends, by an exposal of our own lives unto death for the accomplishment of it, is a lineament of that face of divine goodness, which Plato (it is like) never saw. It was the manner of almost all nations (as the Roman orator observeth) to place the assertors of their countries’ liberties next to the immortal gods themselves at the table of honour. And I make no question but when the inhabitants of this nation shall have drank awhile of the sweet waters of that well of liberty which the Army have digged and opened with their swords, after it had been for a long time stopped and filled up with earth by the Philistines, they will generally recover of that malignant fever which now distempereth many of them, and be in a good posture of sobriety and strength to rise up early and call their benefactors blessed. However, the good will of him that dwelt in the bush be upon the head of such warriors, who pursue that blessed victory of overcoming evil by doing good, and, according to the method of the warfare of heaven, seek to reconcile a nation unto themselves by not imputing their unthankfulness or other their evil entreaties unto them, but in the midst of their own sufferings from them set themselves with heart and soul to set them at liberty from their oppressors.

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From Luther’s Commentary upon Galatians (edition of 1644)a

[1] For there be divers sorts of righteousness. There is a political or civil righteousness, which emperors, princes of the world, philosophers, and lawyers deal withal. There is also a ceremonial righteousness, which the traditions of men do teach. * * * Besides these, there is another righteousness, which is called the righteousness of the Law, or of the Ten Commandments, which Moses teacheth. This do we also teach after the doctrine of faith. There is yet another righteousness, which is above all these: to wit, the righteousness of faith or Christian righteousness, the which we must diligently discern from the other afore rehearsed. * * * But this most excellent righteousness, of faith I mean, which God through Christ, without works, imputeth unto us, is neither political nor ceremonial, nor the righteousness of God’s Law, nor consisteth in works, but is clean contrary; that is to say, a mere passive righteousness, as the other above is active. For in this we work nothing, we render nothing unto God, but only we receive and suffer another to work in us—that is to say, God. Therefore it seemeth good unto me to call this righteousness of faith or Christian righteousness, the passive righteousness. * * *

The world understandeth not this doctrine, and therefore it neither will nor can abide it, but condemneth it as heretical and wicked. It braggeth of free will, of the light of reason, of the soundness of the powers and qualities of nature, and of good works as means whereby it could deserve and attain grace and peace, that is to say, forgiveness of sins and a quiet conscience. But it is impossible that the conscience should be quiet and joyful unless it have peace through grace, that is to say, through the forgiveness of sins promised in Christ. * * *

But because they mingle the Law with the Gospel they must needs be perverters of the Gospel. For either Christ must remain and the Law perish, or the Law must remain and Christ perish. For Christ and the Law can by no means agree and reign together in the conscience. Where the righteousness of the Law ruleth, there cannot the righteousness of Grace rule. And again, where the righteousness of Grace reigneth, there cannot the righteousness of the Law reign; for one of them must needs give place unto the other. * * *

[2] Neither do we seek the favour of men by our doctrine. For Edition: current; Page: [222] we teach that all men are wicked by nature, and the children of wrath. We condemn man’s free will, his strength, wisdom and righteousness, and all religions of man’s own devising. And to be short, we say that there is nothing in us that is able to deserve grace and the forgiveness of sins: but we preach, that we obtain this grace by the free mercy of God only for Christ’s sake. * * * This is not to preach for the favour of men out of the world. For the world can abide nothing less than to hear his wisdom, righteousness, religion, and power condemned. * * *

[3] For we must diligently mark this distinction, that in matters of divinity we must speak far otherwise than in matters of policy. In matters of policy (as I have said) God will have us to honour and reverence these outward veils or persons as his instruments, by whom he governeth and preserveth the world. But when the question is as touching religion, conscience, the fear of God, faith, and the service of God, we must not fear these outward persons, we must put no trust in them, look for no comfort from them, or hope for deliverance by them either corporally or spiritually. * * *

For in the cause of religion and the word of God, there must be no respect of persons. But in matters of policy we must have regard to the person; for otherwise there must needs follow a contempt of all reverence and order. In this world God will have an order, a reverence and a difference of persons. For else the child, the servant, the subject would say: I am a Christian as well as my father, my schoolmaster, my master, my prince; why then should I reverence him? Before God then there is no respect of persons, neither of Grecian nor of Jew, but all are one in Christ, although not so before the world. * * *

But be it far from us that we should here humble ourselves, since they would take from us our glory, even God himself that hath created us and given us all things, and Jesus Christ who hath redeemed us with his blood. Let this be then the conclusion of all together, that we will suffer our goods to be taken away, our name, our life, and all that we have; but the Gospel, our Faith, Jesus Christ, we will never suffer to be wrested from us. And cursed be that humility which here abaseth and submitteth itself. Nay rather let every Christian man here be proud and spare not, except he will deny Christ. * * *

[4] Whoso then can rightly judge between the Law and the Gospel, let him thank God, and know that he is a right divine. * * * Now the way to discern the one from the other, is to place the Gospel in heaven and the Law on the earth: to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly, and the righteousness of the Law Edition: current; Page: [223] earthly, and to put as great difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and of the Law, as God hath made between heaven and earth, between light and darkness, between day and night. * * * Wherefore if the question be concerning the matter of faith or conscience, let us utterly exclude the Law and leave it on the earth. * * * Contrariwise, in civil policy obedience to the Law must be severely required. There, nothing must be known as concerning the Gospel, conscience, grace, remission of sins, heavenly righteousness, or Christ himself; but Moses only with the Law and the works thereof. If we mark well this distinction, neither the one nor the other shall pass his bounds, but the Law shall abide without heaven, that is, without the heart and conscience, and contrariwise the liberty of the Gospel shall abide without the earth, that is to say, without the body and members thereof. * * *

[5. Gal. 2. 21: For if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ died in vain.]

Paul, here disputing of righteousness, hath no civil matter in hand, that is, he speaketh not of civil righteousness (which God, notwithstanding, alloweth and requireth, and giveth rewards thereunto accordingly; which also reason is able in some part to perform); but he entreateth here of the righteousness that availeth before God, whereby we are delivered from the Law, sin, death and all evils, and are made partakers of grace, righteousness, and everlasting life, and finally are now become lords of heaven and earth, and of all other creatures. This righteousness neither man’s law neither the Law of God is able to perform. * * *

[6] The first use then of the Law is to bridle the wicked: For the devil reigneth throughout the whole world, and enforceth men to all kinds of horrible wickedness. Therefore God hath ordained magistrates, parents, ministers, laws, bonds, and all civil ordinances, that if they can do no more, yet at least they may bind the devil’s hands, that he rage not in his bondslaves after his own lust. * * * This civil restraint is very necessary and appointed of God, as well for public peace as also for the preservation of all things, but especially lest the course of the Gospel should be hindered by the tumults and seditions of wicked, outrageous, and proud men. But Paul entreateth not here of this civil use and office of the Law. It is indeed very necessary, but it justifieth not. * * *

Another use of the Law is divine and spiritual, which is (as Paul saith) to increase transgressions; that is to say, to reveal unto a man his sin, his blindness, his misery, his impiety, ignorance, Edition: current; Page: [224] hatred, and contempt of God, death, hell, the judgment and deserved wrath of God. Of this use the Apostle entreateth notably in the seventh to the Romans. * * *

[7] The school doctors, speaking of the abolishment of the Law, say that the Judicial and the Ceremonial Laws are pernicious and deadly since the coming of Christ, and therefore they are abolished; but not the Moral Law. These blind doctors knew not what they said. But if thou wilt speak of the abolishment of the Law, talk of it as it is in his own proper use and office, and as it is spiritually taken; and comprehend withal the whole Law, making no distinction at all between the Judicial, Ceremonial, and Moral Law. For when Paul saith that we are delivered from the curse of the Law by Christ, he speaketh of the whole Law, and principally of the Moral Law, which only accuseth, curseth and condemneth the conscience, which the other two do not. Wherefore we say that the Moral Law or the Law of the Ten Commandments hath no power to accuse and terrify the conscience in which Jesus Christ reigneth by his grace, for he hath abolished the power thereof. * * *

There is also another abolishment of the Law which is outward: to wit, that the politic laws of Moses do nothing belong unto us. Wherefore we ought not to call them back again, nor superstitiously bind ourselves unto them, as some went about to do in times past, being ignorant of this liberty. Now although the Gospel make us not subject to the judicial laws of Moses, yet notwithstanding it doth not exempt us from the obedience of all politic laws, but maketh us subject in this corporal life to the laws of that government wherein we live, that is to say, it commandeth every one to obey his magistrate and laws, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake (1 Pet. 2; Rom. 13). * * *

[8. Gal. 4. 31: Then, brethren, we are not children of the servant, but