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A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience


by Samuel Rutherford,

Libertines allege, Luke 9:51,52,53, etc. When Christ by a village of
the Samaritans, was dejected and denied James and John Say, Lord,
wilt thou that we command fire come down from heaven, and consume
them, even as Elias did? But Christ rebuked them and said, ye know
not what manner of spirit ye are of? for the Son of man is not to
come to destroy mens lives, but to save them. Then are we to spare
the lives of those that refuse the true and sound doctrine of the
Gospel, yea who oppugn it, and to admonish them; Celfus saith1, this
example is not proposed to compare the Samaritans with heretics, or
the Apostles with the Ministers and the Magistrate, but that the
benign and meek engine of Christ, in matters of Religion, for if the
Apostle had moved the same question touching heretics at that time,
Christ would have given the same answer. The Holland Arminians say,
if Christ suffered not his Disciples to conceive a desire of revenge
from heaven from the only love and zeal of Religion against the
Samaritans that denied lodging to him, far less must we believe that
he will suffer, that in matters of Religion, for mere conscience any
manifest violence should be exercised; for Christ saith, the Spirit
that leads you is raging, vehement, fiery, the spirit of my
Disciples is not so2. 2. Your spirit seeks to destroy lives, out of
a zeal for Religion, the Spirit of the Son of man is for saving, not
for destroying of mens lives. And this general answer of Christ
forbids all cruelty in the matters of Religion, saith Celfus. The
not burning of the Samaritans doth prove nothing for the immunity of
heretics from the sword.

Answ. First, the Libertines must prove from this, that the Disciples
made Religion the quarrel, why they would have the Samaritans burnt,
and not an inhumane fact of denying against the Law of nature, an
act of hospitality to strangers, and that because of the envy
between the Jews and Samaritans, Christ seeming to grace Jerusalem,
with his presence, then the Samaritans have had a high esteem of
Christ, and were offended that so mighty a Prophet should visit
their hateful enemies, this was an act of envy rather then an
heterodoxy in the faith, or opposing the doctrine of the Gospel.

How far wee may compel other Nations or heathen to embrace the true
faith.

2. The Samaritans were yet in their Idolatry and utterly ignorant of
the Gospel now we had never a question with Libertines, whether the
first thing to be done to such as will not admit Christ or his
messengers within their houses; and for the first act of refusing to
hear the Gospel, before they be instructed, we are to call for the
Magistrates sword to kill them, or for fire from heaven to destroy
them? we think no we should think this no way of God to convert them
(wee plainly say) It is not lawful to us to go with fire and sword,
to force the Indians, Samaritans, or any heathen to embrace the
Christian faith, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, if they
be within our power, we may restrain them, 1. From spreading their
blasphemies to hurt and seduce the souls of the people of God. 2. We
may hinder them from reproaching God or his son Christ in the
hearing of the people of God, as David fought against Goliath, who
blasphemed the living God. 3. If they do National injuries, and acts
of hostility, we may raise arms against them, and in these wars in
case of subduing, we may intend the propagating of the Gospel to
them, as the Master is to command and teach his servants, Gen.
18:18. Deut. 6:6,7.so the victors having made the subdued people
their servants, doe now acquire some masterly power over them to see
them instructed in the knowledge of the true God. Nor is the
intention of overcoming in a lawful war, the more unlawful, but
rather more spiritualized by the accession of a spiritual intention
to doe good to their souls, whether wee may by force take their
children from them, and train them up in the Christian Religion, is
disputable, since their condition of being subdued denudes them not
of the natural relation of fathers to sons, or because in so robbing
them of their children, we should but spoil them of the actual abuse
of that paternal right, which is now conveyed to run in a right
channel, to train up young ones in a right way, whereas their
parents would employ it to a wrong end, it would seem no violence to
the souls of young ones, since nothing is done, but by gracious
education and istruction.4. If they joined with us in one Religious
Covenant, and we swear with our lives and goods to defend one
another, we may cause them stand to the oath of God they were under.
As Asa compelled not only Jusay but those of Israel that fell in to
him, to stand to the oath; for the Covenant, when it is mutual,
giveth a reciprocation of Rights to each Kingdome over the other,
for if he that makes a promise to another, much more he that swears
a Covenant to another, makes over a right to the other, to plead for
the fulfilling thereof, omnis qui promittit facit jus alteri, cui
est fact a promissio, ad requirendath promissi implectionem. This is
cleare in the Kings covenanting at his coronation with his people,
and the people with the King, in the compacts between the master and
the hired servant, between two merchants; if this were not, the
nerves of all societies, and lawful confederations between man and
man, nation and nation should be broken. 2. Omne promissum cadit in
debitum, promise becomes debt, and so doth a Covenant.

Of the Covenants obliging of us to the religious observance thereof.
But before I say more of compulsion of heathen, that are without. A
word to the wise of forcing within, and of the Covenant, endeavoring
of uniformity, not the Prelatical in Ceremonies and canonical
obedience, which Familists impute to the Covenant, but Scriptural
uniformity in the same faith and form of wholesome words, and
eternal worship and ordering of it, which is not indifferent, as
Libertines and Familist, who in this are brethren against
Presbyterians, the Authors of their breathing in England, (but we
intended good to men, not to sects) endeavoring of nearest
uniformity in the three Kingdoms, which we did swear is contrary to
actual tolerating of all sects and Religions, but the Sectaries
endeavor the latter, and have compassed it, ergo, the Sectaries are
gone contrary to their Oath and Covenant. The Proposition is evident
setting up of all sects and Religions by a Law-toleration, is an
endeavoring, yea and actual erecting of the widest multiformity that
is, Yea but the Ordinance provides against Antitrinitarians,
Socinians, Papists. Answ. There is no provision against them,
Papists will say Amen to tolerate them. 2. There is no provision
made to try Socinians and Papists whether they be such or no, but
the old way of trying them by the Law removed, and no new one
established, then are they the same way tolerated, that the
Familist, Antinomians, Arminians, Libertines, Enthusiasts,
Antiscripturists, Sceptists, Seekers, are tolerated, who all will
acquiesce to the Ordinane, as I conceive, and within these few years
would have rejoiced at less then the half of it.

A certain Author hat written a Treatise called Ancient bonds3, in
which there is little antiquity, less verity, no impartiality, much
ignorance, for he neither doth, nor can so much as state the
question. And he saith We are to endeavor Reformation of Religion in
the three Kingdoms not simply, but according to the word of God, the
only pattern and regulation of the best Reformed Churches, and of
us, we clip the Covenant of these words.

(Side notes: The word of God as it is in every mans conscience no
rule of Reformation in the Covenant. The equivocation of Sectaries
in swearing the Covenant.)

Answ. The word of God (say the Familist in their Petition to King
James an. 1604.) as we understand it. So as Libertines understand
it, and according to their conscience, so the Jews would swear to
endeavor a Reformation according to the word of God in the Old
Testament, as they understand it, and the Rapist according to the
word of God as they understand it, to written and not written and
will the Author dare to look God or men in the face and say the
words, according to the word of God, is according as every
Covenanter understands the word of God, the Prelatical man, the
Socinian, Arian, Familist, Antinomian, Seeker, Soparatist,
Antiscripruist, Antirinitarian, Arminian? for all these did take the
Covenant (if we speak de genere sinculorum) or did those that took
the Covenant speak or mean that toleration of all these sects and
Reformation, and nearest uniformity can consist, or that he, and all
these had this sense under-hand of these words (according to the
word of God) that is as Socinians, Libertines, Familist,
Antinomians, etc. expound the word of God? If so, we must justify
the Jesuits equivocation, and their oaths with mental reservation,
for the sense of Prelatical men, and of those that go for Heretics
and Schismatickes now as then, to wit, Socinians, Libertines,
Arians, Familist, and the rest were known Heretics, and
Schismatickes, and their Scoinian, Arrian, Familisticall, etc. sense
of the word of God, was excluded in the second Article of the
Covenant in these words, We shall--endeavor the extirpation of
Popery, Prelacy--Superstition, Heresy, Schism, etc. by this
Jesuitical sense, we all swear we shall endeavor to be perjured, and
to reform each mans Religion according to his own sense of the word,
and whereas in former times it was believed that Christ was God-man.
We Familists swear to reform Religion in the three Kingdoms in that
part and to teach and profess, that every Saint is so Godded, and
Christed, that there is as much of the fullness of the Godhead
dwelling in every Saint as in Christ; so that there be as many
Saints, as many Christs, and as many Gods manifested in the flesh,
as there be Saints, for since liberty of conscience was then not
professed, and was a point holden by no Reformed Church, yea not by
the Church of New England, the best Reformed Church (as this man
saith) but detested by all, it was presupposed that the true sense
of the word of God was against it, and Independents who then did
swear the Covenant knew our mind, and did swear the preservation of
the Reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland in doctrine,
worship, and discipline against the common enemy, and they knew
Presbyterial Government approves both of the censures of the Church
and of the Magistrates sword against heretics, and therefore Tarkes
and Pagans would never have sworn a Covenant to endeavor uniformity
in one Religion according to the word of God, and after petition the
Parliament to set up in England the widest multiformity that Sathan
can devise, and say they have sworn to endeavor the nearest
uniformity in Religion, and yet to preach and print, and endeavor by
the same Covenant, and the word of God the rule of sworn Reformation
the widest multiformity, and that the Lord should be one, and his
name one in both Kingdoms, and yet that the Lord be two, or ten, and
his name, that is, the manners and kinds of Religions be two and
twenty, that Gods name may be divided amongst Socinians, Arians,
Familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, Seekers, Antiscripturists,
Libertines, Scepticks, Enthysiasts, Brownists, Independents: this is
worse then a Popish implicit faith, which we disclaim. Ancient Bonds
p. 68

The other thing (saith he) left out which yet refers to all, The
Covenant is, that he that swears shall by all lawful ways and means,
and according to his place and calling endeavor to perform the
Covenant, v. 13. to bring the Churches to uniformity, and to
extirpate heresy As for instance, it is the goldy Magistrates duty,
their place and calling, to send forth Ministers to the dark places
of the land, and to set up lights to guide mens feet into the ways
of truth and peace, and reclaim them from errors: and he cannot be
urged upon his calling to punish or compel gainsayers. And the
Minister is to doe it in his place by exhorting, rebuking,
instructing, but he is to go no further, he is not to deliver men up
to judge, and be an executioner. The Author of the Ancient bonds an
ignorant prevaricator in the Covenant. Answ. The words by all lawful
means and ways, which this man puts in Italian letters, and says are
left out by the Author, whom he refutes, may soon be left out, for
they were never in the Covenant The man will defend the Covenant and
apparently hath sworn it, but I think he hath scarce read it, for
these words are not in the Covenant, let him read again. Turpe est
doctors sum culpa redarnit ipsum.

2. He swear to bring the Churches to nearest uniformity according to
his place, but when this man defends the toleration of all the sects
in England, Socinians, Arians, Familists, for he writing anno. 1645
when above twenty sundry Religions in England came to the streets,
he excepts not one in all his Treatise, but calls them all the godly
party, Saints, Brethren, the Godly, and owns them so, in his preface
and whole book. He must grant there is no uniformity in faith,
discipline, worship, by the word of God, for if all these be Saints,
Godly and holy Brethren, they have all one faith, and are saved, but
let him tell me, by the next, if he can answer, whether there is a
nearest, or any uniformity in faith, worship, and government between
Presbyterians, and Socinains, Familists, Antinomians, and Seekers,
yet this man swears to endeavor the nearest conjunction and
uniformity amongst all the Saints who are to be tolerated, but let
him say, if he hath, in this case ingenuity on learning, what
nearest uniformity he knows amongst all these, whether the Covenant
should not oblige a Libertine to endeavor the widest (pg. 254) and
deformity of religions amongst these, and to plead for forbearance
of them all as he expoundeth it.

(Side note: Al moral compelling of heretics, and refuting of false
teachers by the word, is as unlawful as compulsion by the sword,
according to the principles of Libertines.)

3. But wee are (saith he) to endeavor by all lawful means and ways,
the nearest uniformity among the Churches, and the only lawful way,
as he thinks is not by force, but by rebuking, instructing,
exhorting, and by no weapons, but only by the word of God. But since
this Author and all the Nation of Libertines go upon this principle,
Religion is not to be compelled by force, for we are not infallible,
and those whom we force as heretics may be no heretics, for ought we
know, but as sound in the faith as our selves. Then we have no
faith, nor any well grounded persuasion of the word of God, to
refute them by the words and we refute them not of faith, but
sinfully and erroneously, for they may be as sound in the faith, as
we our selves, for ought wee know, and this is a strong argument
against moral ways of gaining heretics by the power of the word, for
if they may be sound in the faith, and we the heretics, though we
refute them by the word, we may be perverting the right ways of God
and fight against Christ, as Elimas; for Elimas only by moral ways,
not by force or violence labored to pervert the faith of Sergius
Paulus, and it is not apparent that Elimas was persuaded in his
conscience, that the Gospel Paul preached was the truth of God, and
so by no means, lawful or unlawful, by force, or by the word of God,
are we to endeavor uniformity, for our endeavoring is not of faith,
nor from the real ground of the word, but from mere opinions and
conjectures, for it may by (say Libertines) that all those whom wee
refute as heretics, be sound in the faith, and we, not they the
heretics, and those whom we refute, are as much obliged in faith to
refute us as we to refute them. So I see not how Libertines can use
so much as moral compelling of Heretics. For 1. They cannot compel
them with the sword to forsake their heresies, because the sword
bearer being fallible knoweth them not to be heresies, they may be
necessary truths for him. Erga, because the Pastor is no more
infallible then the Magistrate, the Pastor with certainty of faith
cannot say, thus saith the Lord. Jezabel is a false Prophetesse,
Hymeneus and Phyletus depart from the faith, for Jeabel, Hymeneus
and Philetus may be sound in the faith, and this Pastor who refuted
them, the false heretic, for there is no peremptory and imposing
decision of any of these, till the last judgment, since now the
infallible Prophets and Apostles are dead. 2. Upon this ground, ye
cannot eschew any as heretic after twice admonishing him of his
heresy, for ye have no faith, nor divine certainty, it is an heresy
that he holdeth, it may be you who admonish him are the heretic:
only upon opinion you admonish him. 3. You cannot rebuke any Heretic
sharply, that he may be sound in the faith, for you are not
infallible in the bestowing of the lashing of your tongue on a
heretic, more then the Magistrate in beating him with the sword, and
your rebuking of him may be heretical and unjust, and he the man
sound in the faith. Upon the same ground you cannot admonish and
instruct him in faith. Nor, 5. Call the opinion of the Magistrate
coercing of men with the sword for their conscience, a bloody tenet
and persecution of the Saints. Nor, 6. Can you in faith refute him
lodging in your house, and all your 7. Saying in the pulpit, such a
way of Familisme is a way of heresy, is not resolved in, thus saith
the Lord, by such preacher, but such a preacher so thinketh,
possibly fancies, that the Lord saith such a way is heresy. And by
the same reason what ever pastors preach, especially except it be
two or three fundamentals which all Christians, Papists, Socinians,
Lutherans, Protestants, Familists, Arminians, Seekers, etc. Is but
the dictates of their own conscience, and so they preach, so they
believe, and so they profess not, because God so saith, but because
their conscience so dictates to them. And here is the Libertines
Creed, Me thinks Christ died for sinners, the dead shall be raised,
etc. And so Libertines are very Papists in this, and resolve our
faith into the testimony of men, the conjectures of the conscience.4

So he goes on He expounds uniformity and nearest conjunction, to be
absolute conjunction and identical. If we be agreed of the same
Church Officers with the reformed Churches, and have cast out the
old Usurpers, cashiered the Common-prayer book, Ceremonies, Alters,
Crucifies (all which we have don by the Covenant) do we not save our
Covenant, though we cast not our Churches into such Classical
provincial, or national forms.

(Side note: The Magistrate as the magistrate cannot send ministers
but in a compulsory way.)

Answ. Nor do we plead for absolute identity in doctrine, and
worship, but endeavor it we ought. But how I pray you doth the
Magistrate (for that I had almost forgot) send Ministers to rebuke,
exhort and reclaim men from their errors, but not compel gainsayers?
The Magistrate (I am sure) sent not Paul and Barnabas it was not so
from the beginning, in the Apostolic Church there were no Parliament
Ministers. But it may be the Author means a political civil sending
of Ministers to extirpate heresies. But be it so, all Magisterial
sending of Magistrates is a commanding of them by the sword in a
compulsive way, that they go preach against Familisme,
Socinianisme, Arrianisme. But if so, good Sir remember yourself, the
Magistrate, as the Magistrate doth not request, and morally by the
power of the word (for he hath not any such Spiritual Armour, I
conceive, for his warfare) entreat, and say, good Pastors, I beseech
you go preach against St. Del, Randal, Saltmarsh and other
Familists, and extirpate their heresies; private men so send
Pasotrs, but as a Magistrate he must say, I command you go preach
against these heresies, under the pain of bearing the vengeance of
my sword, now if the Pastors reply, Good Master Judge, we cannot doe
that, for we think Familisme a new glorious discovery of spirit, and
Mr. Saltmarsh hath beaten out of the Scriptures, new sparkles of
glory and flowings of free grace, Familisme is no heresy. If the
Magistrate notwithstanding by his place and calling send these, and
command them to go and extirpate Familisme, doth he not compel the
consciences of these pastors he sends? what doe ye then talk of no
compelling? for what ever the Magistrate by his place doth command
which is lawful, if Ministers or any other refuse to obey, he may
use the sword against them. Ye cannot say, if it be a matter of
conscience he cannot compel them to doe it by his place: then (say
I) by his place he cannot command them neither. Beside that, this
answer is, directly against the words of the Covenant, if every man
in like manner. Art. 2 Be to endeavor the extirpation of Popery,
Prelacy Heresy and Schism, in his several places and callings, as
the Author saith, this regress to the whole obligation of each
person respectively. Then is the Magistrate according to his place
and calling, which is to bear the sword, to compel with the sword,
the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, Heresy and Schism, and what hath
the Author gained by this gloss, which I conceive is the true gloss
except he mean the Magistrate, as the Magistrate should lay aside
his sword and fall to prayers, requests, obtestatons, that heretics
would lay aside their errors and preach sound doctrine, but now he
doth so pray and request, not according to his place, as a
Magistrate, but according to his vocation as a Saint and a
Christian, which yet crosses the Covenant, and makes the Parliament
not as the supreme Court of Judges to take the Covenant, but as so
many private Christians.

2. If so, the Judges are not in their respective places to take the
Covenant, nor endeavor the extirpation of heresy, because that is
against the word of God, but then by what authority or calling did
the Parliament cast our Old Usurpers, the Prelates, cashier the
Service book, Ceremonies, Alters, and Crucifixes? Either as a
Parliament, and so by the sword: is not here yet the Prelates
conscience squeezed to the blood? is not here highest violence done
to the consciences of high alter men and adorers of crucifixes? Why
to them more then to Familist? But if this was done by request, and
words of butter and oil from the Parliament and Committee-men, then
are Ordinances of Parliament but mere requests to the subjects. But
it is prtoestio coniraria facie. He addeth, if these words (we shall
endeavor the extirpation of Schism, and whatsoever shall be found
contrary to sound doctrine, etc.) be leveled only against the
Congregational men, it was not faire to draw them into a Covenant to
destroy themselves. Its disservice to the State, to spoil the State
of so many Godly and brave men, and seems to be but the birth of
that challenge against these men (to be the Sandballets and Tobias
of this present work) and is the highest breach of love.5

How Independents were ensnared by Presbyterians to take the Covenant
as the lying Authors

Answ. It is apparent the Congregational men he meaneth are the
Independents, who would have their Churches gathered out of true
Churches. Who will not be called Schismatics, as if ensis and
gladius were not one thing, then this Author leveled these words
against Presbyterians, as the Schismatics, for where ever one Church
is rent from another true Church, one of the two is the Schismatic
Church; sure but the Author will not have Independents the
Schismatics, then was it faire to level these words in the Covenant
against Presbyterians, and draw them in a Covenant to destroy both
their soul and body?

2. The Congregational men were not drawn, but they came to another
Kingdome with faire words to draw Presbyterians in a Covenant, and
said, and swore to endeavor uniformity, and yet practice this day
multiformity of Religions and have put to the sail, the blood of
many gallant men in Scotland, that so they may buy with their lives,
cursed Liberty of Conscience. But will it not be bitterness in the
end?

3. The Author hints at a story that fell out in the Assembly of
Divines where I was witnessed, Mr. Phillip Nye having sworn to
endeavor the preservation of Presbyterian government in the
Covenant, was pleased in the face of the Assembly in the Hearing of
that renowned General of England, for the time, the Earle of Essex,
and many other honorable and noble persons, to declaim against
Presbyterial government, as formidable to States and free Kingdoms,
as of old some called Jerusalem the rebellious City, and the
Prelates the same way burdened the General Assembly of the Church of
Scotland but Mr. Alexander Henderson, a man for piety, learning,
prudency and singular moderation, from zeal, not from the Spirit of
gall and wormwood, as the Author slanderously speaketh, said they
were the words of Tobiah and Sandballet, to hinder the work of
Reformation; now whether that worthy man spake what hath now come to
pass, let the godly Divines of the Assembly be judge.

4. We know now service to the State done by these men, but that they
set up with the sword all the blasphemous and heretical Sect and
Religions that The Muncer or John of Leydon fancied contrary to the
oath of God, for they all professed they were for the Covenant, many
of them did swear it, with what conscience to perform, let Cromwell
and others speak, God will not be mocked, which is such disservice
to the State of England as cannot but draw down from heaven the
vengeance of the Lord, and the vengeance of his Temple upon the
land; or was it fair when the Congregational men did hide their
conclusion of liberty of conscience, would keep that intended Idol
in the bottom of their heart, and join in Covenant with
Presbyterians, and swear against multiformity of Religions in words,
known to be contrary to sense and reason, and the same words of the
Covenant, and now obtrude on us multiformity for uniformity.

5. The Author insinuates as much, as not to give them liberty of
conscience, as a reward of their valorous fighting, is disservice to
the State. But ingenuous workman speak of their wages, before they
engage the work, but to keep up any word of liberty of conscience
until the work be ended, and it come to disbanding, is no fair
bargaining, but rather in plain English, either fell to us Law,
Liberties, Religion, and give them to us beside our arrears, or we
must be a perpetual standing Army to govern England, and manage
Religion with the sword, and to set up all Religions, and destroy
the Covenant and the Protestant faith, and live upon the sweat of
other mens browes.6

The Covenant with a faire interpretation may be urged against
Presbyterians, and for the Congregational way, as well as otherwise.
The Covenant binds no man, nor number of men to State or Church for
their parts respectively, to any pattern or degree of Reformation,
conformity or uniformity with other Churches, but what shall
satisfactorily to them and each of their consciences, appear to be
according to the word of God; and such a Reformation doe the
Congregational men desire, pray, preach, endeavor for and after, in
the pursuance of the Covenant, as if there had been no such outward
Covenant obliging them, would ye have men driven in droves to the
Sacrament still, and the precious and the vile mixed? and
Idol-Shepherds suffered? and Bishops Courts, and Consistories
continued? had these been beaten down, had not we under God, as a
forlorn hope first given them battle? how can ye say, we hinder
Reformation? when we are for a further purer Reformation (yourselves
being judges?) you would sit down on this side Jordan, we would
advance? Sit you quiet, if you will not help us, as we helped you.

Answ. When you of the Congregational way, that is, of the Church way
(for none are Churches but you, we are excommunicated, and all else
but your selves) did swear to endeavor the preservation of the
Reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland in doctrine, worship,
discipline, and government, which to your consciences, and all the
Reformed Churches is Presbyterian, can the Covenant be turned
against Presbyterians, as well as against you? How Independents
swear to defend the Presbyterian government, and with tongue, pen,
sword, cry out as it, as Tyrannical, Antichristian, and Popish.

2. You write and preach that the government Presbyterian, is Popish,
Antichristian, more tyrannical then that of Babel, of Egypt, so all
your way, and particularly Mr. Burton in his Conformities deformity,
and your Independents in the Assembly, yet you did swear to endeavor
its preservation, and all the Independents in both Houses spake
against it as tyrannical, and have voted to clog it with
Erastianisme, I would believe Erastus, if he had sworn to endeavor
the preservation of it, better then your oath. I think Pagans would
not swear to endeavor the preservation of any religious way which
with tongue, pen, laws, and sword, they endeavor to undo and
extirpate, see if distinctions will defend it against the common
enemy, and whether these words, according to the word of God
expounded by you, will save you from the quarrel and wrath of God
for a broken Covenant? Pass over the Isles, and go to Turkey, to
America, and see if such a thing as this hath been?

2. The Covenant binds no man (saith he) to any degree of
Reformation, but what shall satisfactorily appear to each mans
conscience to be according to the word of God. 1. Then the Reformed
Religion in Scotland, in doctrine, worship, and government according
to the word of God, appeared once satisfactorily to your conscience
to be according to the word of God, so you took the Covenant, yet ye
say it is Antichristian, it drives men in droves to the Sacrament,
it is the Bishops Courts and Consistories continued. But ye did
swear to endeavor the preservation of their Reformed Religion
according to the word of God the only rule. But if it was sworn to
as the Reformed Religion, was it not according to the word of God?
is it reformed, and not according to the word of God? or was these
words according to the word of God; A condition, insinuating what is
in the doctrine and discipline of the Reformed Religion of the
Church? not according to the word of God, to that you did not swear.
But so if the Turk should come and wage war against Papists for
their Religion, and a heathen people that maintains there be more
Gods then one, and that the Old Testament is not the word of God,
should raise Arms against the Jews, you might as well swear you
should defend the doctrine of the Church of Rome, and the Religion
of the Jews against the Turk, and those heathen people according to
the word of God; for sure these fundamentals that Jews and Papists
hold in doctrine are according to the word of God, and so you did
swear no otherwise to defend the Reformed Religion of the Church of
Scotland then that of the Church of England, before these troubles
arose for that ye swore to defend in so far as it agrees with the
word of God, yea so ye did swear to defend any Religion of any
Nation you never heard of, according to the word of God, if you say,
But we knew that Reformed Religion of the Church of Scotland,
therefore ye might swear to it, but ye know not all the Religions of
any Nation you never heard of. But if so, then ye knew the Reformed
Religion of Scotland to be according to the word of God, then it
appeared satisfactorily to your conscience so to be. But did their
fundamentals against Familists, Antiscripturaists, Socinians,
Arians, so appear to your conscience to be according to the word of
God, and their Antichristian and tyrannical Presbyteries, that are
but, as you say, Episcopal Courts and Consistories appear to be so,
and that satisfactorily to your consciences if so, why judge ye
Familists, Socinians, such as deny the Trinity, and such as make all
the Saints to be Christ, and Goded with the indwelling fullness of
God, to be Gods manifested in the flesh, to be Saints, brethren, the
godly party to be indulged? then you must question the fundamentals
of the doctrine of Scotland, and they did not satisfactorily
appeared to your conscience to be according to the word of God. And
why did you simply without any limitation swear to endeavor the
preservation of the Reformed Religion? you should have said, truly
Reformed Religion of the Church of Scotland; and why did you swear
simply to the doctrine, worship, discipline and government of the
Church according to the word of God? when ye knew then, as now,
their government was Antichristian, and not according to the word of
God? and their doctrine even in fundamentals not so sure but
Socinians, Arians, and the Saints your brethren the Familists may
hold the contrary, and be tolerated as Saints, and their doctrine,
though opposite in fundamentals to ours, may be as satisfactory
truths to your conscience as ours of Scotland. Confess and glorify
God, you swear the Covenant in a Jesuitical reserved sense, kept up
in your mind, as you insinuate pag.66,67. and such as the words
cannot bear. Libertines make conscience, not the word of God their
rule.

3. There is here a new Trick put on the Covenant, it binds to no
truth but what shall appear satisfactorily to the conscience of each
swear to be according to the word of God. If a Merchant promise and
swear to a simple man to give him for such wares an hundred pounds,
he gives him but an hundred pounds Scotch, whereas the wares are to
the man as dear as an hundred pounds Starling, is the Merchant
absolved of his oath and promise, if he pay him but an hundred
pounds Scotch? and say, it appears satisfactorily to my Antinomian
conscience the wares are of no more value then a hundred pound
Scotch, and my oath and promise obliges me to no more then
satisfactorily appeareth to any conscience the only rule of my
obligation, to be according to equity and justice, and so you are
fully paid with an hundred pounds Scotch.7

(Side note: How Appearing to the conscience make no the word of God
to be the obliging rule, but only as touching the right and due
manner of being obliged thereby.)

So this Author absolves us from all oaths and covenants, though we
swear not to kill a captive taken in war, and swear to adhere to the
fundamentals that there is one God, Christ is the one only Mediator,
God and man, consubstantial with the father, yet if after you have
talked with Saltmars, or put your faith in the power of the sophisms
of a cunning Jesuit, he makes it satisfactorily appear to your
conscience that it is according to the word of God that the captive
be killed, he is a murderer, and there be as many Mediators, as
there be Saints in heaven, and as many Christs Godded with the
fullness of the Godhead, as there be Saints of the family of love,
and so your oath to your fundamentals obliges you not and you are
guilty of no perjury though first you swear to the necessary truths
of God, and now ye turn apostate from both faith and oath.
Libertines infuse such a magic in your erroneous conscience that it
is your only rule, and displaceth the Law of nature from all
obligation, or the word of God the only rule of faith and manners,
you are tied no longer by the oath of God, then your
weather-cock-conscience, with this new Moon, hath caught a new
light, you are as if there had been no such outward Covenant
obliging you, take it upon the word of this Gamaliel, dormii secure
in utramque aurem. But though it be true, nothing doth oblige, but
it must appear to be according to the word of God, that it may
oblige in the right and due manner and way, yet it is most false
that it obliges, as it shall appear, or quatenus, because it doth
appear to the conscience to be the word of God, for a quatenus ad
binne valet consequentia. Then every thing obliges, as it appears to
be the word of God to the conscience most erroneous, then are some
obliged to murder the innocent Apostles; for it appears
satisfactorily to their conscience to be the word of God, and
service to God so to doe, Job 16:1. and some are obliged to
sacrifice their sons to God, though they did vow and covenant the
contrary in Baptism, for it appears satisfactorily to their
conscience, it is according to the example of Abraham, to offer
their sons to God, except God from heaven forbid them as he did
Abraham.

5. To Libertines no Covenants nor Oaths of the most lawful things
lays on any more obligation to performance, then if these Oaths had
never been made, if the erroneous conscience gainsay.

6. You did know the discipline of the Church of Scotland debars not
all from the Sacrament, except known unregenerate persons; ye knew
their Consistories to be hateful to the common enemies, why then did
you swear to defend them against the common enemy, since both to
your conscience and the common enemy they are contrary to the word
of God.

7. You durst not give the first battle to Bishops, Scotland gave it
to them, when your Grandees were as low as shrubs, as feared as
Harts.

8. You hinder Reformation, your Independents wrought with all their
power, there should be no Assembly, and that no old non-conformists,
such as sound and learned. Mr. Ruthband, gracious and zealous Mr.
Ash, and others, to be members thereof, and would rather have had
Prelatical Conformists in the Assembly then they. You join with all
the Sectaries, who are against Covenant, Government, Confession of
faith, and Directory of worship, retarded the proceedings of the
Assembly; we heard often in Scotland, you wished Prelacy were gone,
if ye knew what to put in its place as if no Government known to you
could fit England but Prelacy, and that of the Reformed Churches
were not so good.

9. You would go further on then we, and be over Jordan, but we had
rather sit down on this side of Jordan, as go over with you, for ye
was not well over, when ye set up at the Kings house Idolatrous
bowing to Altars, and the abjured Masse-book, and Familists,
Socinians, Antinomians, Seekers, Arians, preaching Soldiers, who
teach as many Saints, as many Christs and Gods manifested in the
flesh, and when these perverters of the right ways of God were
silenced by a godly Preacher at London, they prayed woe with
learning, it opposes all the ways of God; and is that a Reformation
on the other side of Jordan, which sends out Apostles to preach that
are blind as Moles in the principles of the single Catechism, who
know not whether there be one God, and one Mediator Christ, or
millions of Gods and Christs, yet these are the only anointed ones.
It were good that such a Reformation were over Jordan, and millions
of miles beyond America.

 

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