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pleased God to dispense his light and our encouragement by degrees, and comprehended churchgovernment:—former with latter steps, in the progress of well-doing need not reconcilement. Nevertheless he breaks through to his conclusion,“that all honest and wise men ever thought themselves sufficiently bound by former ties of religion ;" leaving Asa, Ezra, and the whole church of God, in sundry ages, to shift for honesty and wisdom from some other than his testimony. And although after-contracts absolve not till the former be made void, yet he first having done that, our duty returns back, which to him was neither moral nor eternal, but conditional.
234. Willing to persuade himself that many “good men” took the covenant, either unwarily or out of fear, he seems to have bestowed some thoughts how these “good men,” following his advice, may keep the covenant and not keep it. The first evasion is, presuming “that the chief end of covenanting in such men's intentions was to preserve religion in purity, and the kingdom's peace.” But the covenant will more truly inform them, that purity of religion and the kingdom's peace was not then in state to be preserved, but to be restored; and therefore binds them not to a preservation of what was, but to a reformation of what was evil, what was traditional, and dangerous, whether novelty or antiquity, in church or state. To do this, clashes with “no former oath” lawfully sworn either to God or the king, and rightly understood.
235. In general, he brands all “such confedera
tions by league and covenant, as the common road used in all factious perturbations of state and church.” This kind of language reflects, with the same ignominy, upon all the Protestant reformations that have been since Luther; and so indeed doth his whole book, replenished throughout with hardly other words or arguments than papists, and especially popish kings, have used heretofore against their Protestant subjects, whom he would persuade to be “every man his own pope, and to absolve himself of those ties,” by the suggestion of false or equivocal interpretations too oft repeated to be now answered.
236. The parliament, he saith, “made their covenant, like manna, agreeable to every man's palate.” This is another of his glosses upon the covenant; he is content to let it be manna, but his drift is that men should loath it, or at least expound it by their own “relish” and “ latitude of sense;" wherein, lest any one of the simpler sort should fail to be his craftsmaster, he furnishes him with two or three laxative, he terms them “general clauses, which may serve somewhat to relieve them” against the covenant taken : intimating, as if “what were lawful and according to the word of God,” were no otherwise so, than as every man fancied to himself. From such learned explications and resolutions as these upon the covenant, what marvel if no royalist or malignant refuse to take it, as having learnt from these princely instructions his many “salvoes, cautions, and reservations,” how to be a covenanter and anticovenanter, how at once to be a Scot, and an Irish rebel. He returns again to disallow . of “ that reformation which the covenant” vows, “ as being the partial advice of a few divines.” But matters of this moment, as they were not to be decided there by those divines, so neither are they to be determined here by essays and curtal aphorisms, but by solid proofs of Scripture.
237. The rest of his discourse he spends, highly accusing the parliament, “ that the main reformation by” them “intended, was to rob the church," and much applauding himself both for “his forwardness” to all due reformation, and his averseness from all such kind of sacrilege. All which, with his glorious title of the “ Church's Defender,” we leave him to make good by “Pharaoh's divi. nity,” if he please, for to Joseph's piety it will be a task unsuitable. As for “the parity and poverty of ministers,” which he takes to be so sad of “ consequence,” the Scripture reckons them for two special legacies left by our Saviour to his disciples; under which two primitive nurses, for such they were indeed, the church of God more truly flourished than ever after, since the time that imparity and church-revenue rushing in, corrupted and belepered all the clergy with a worse infection than Gehazi's; some one of whose tribe, rather than a king, I should take to be compiler of that unsalted and Simonical prayer annexed: although the prayer itself strongly prays against them. For never such holy things as he means were given more to swine, nor the church's bread more to dogs, than when it fed ambitious, irreligious, and dumb prelates.
Upon the many Jealousies, &c.
238. To wipe off jealousies and scandals, the best way had been by clear actions, or till actions could be cleared, by evident reasons; but mere words we are too well acquainted with. Had “his honour and reputation been dearer to him” than the lust of reigning, how could the parliament of either nation have laid so often at his door the breach of words, promises, acts, oaths, and execrations, as they do avowedly in many of their petitions and addresses to him? Thither I remit the reader. And who can believe that whole parliaments, elected by the people from all parts of the land, should meet in one mind and resolution not to advise him, but to conspire against him, in a worse powder-plot than Catesbie's, “ to blow up,” as he terms it,“ the people's affection towards him, and batter down their loyalty by the engines of foul aspersions.” Water-works rather than engines to batter with, yet those aspersions were raised from the foulness of his own actions; whereof to purge himself, he uses no other argument than a general and so often iterated commendation of himself; and thinks that court holy-water hath the virtue of expiation, at least with the silly people; to whom he familiarly imputes sin where none is, to seem liberal of his forgiveness where none is asked or needed.
239. What ways he hath taken toward the prosperity of his people, which he would seem “so earnestly to desire,” if we do but once call to mind, it will be enough to teach us, looking on the smooth insinuations here, that tyrants are not more flattered by their slaves, than forced to flatter others whom they fear. For the people’s “tranquillity he would willingly be the Jonah ;" but lest he should be taken at his word, pretends to foresee within ken two imaginary “winds” never heard of in the compass, which threaten, if he be cast overboard, “ to increase the storm ;" but that controversy divine lot bath ended.
240. “He had rather not rule, than that his people should be ruined :” and yet, above these twenty years, hath been ruining the people about the niceties of his ruling. He is accurate “to put a difference between the plague of malice and the ague of mistakes; the itch of novelty, and the leprosy of disloyalty.” But had he as well known how to distinguish between the venerable gray hairs of ancient religion and the old scurf of superstition, between the wholesome heat of well governing and the feverous rage of tyrannizing, his judgment in state physic had been of more authority.
241. Much he prophesies, “that the credit of those men, who have cast black scandals on him, shall ere long be quite blasted by the same furnace of popular obloquy, wherein they sought to cast his name and honour." I believe not that a Romish