Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.—1 Peter 2.17.

[An Apologetical Declaration of the Conscientious Presbyterians of the Province of London, etc., etc.]
 
AN
APOLOGETICALL
DECLARATION
Of the Conscientious Presbyterians of
the Province of LONDON, and of many thousands
of other faithful, and Covenant-keeping Citizens, and
Inhabitants within the said City and Suburbs thereof.

Wherein their firmness and faithfulness to their first
Principles, and to their Solemn League and Covenant is Con-
scientiously declared; And the Covenant-breaking and Apostacie
of Others is disclaimed and abhorred before GOD and
the whole World.

Januarie, the 24th, 1649.


Ezekiel, 17, 15, 18, 19.
    Shall they prosper, shall they escape, that do such things? or shall they break the
Covenant, and be delivered?
    Seeing they have despised the Oath, by breaking the Covenant (when as, lo,
they had given their hand) and have done all these things.
    Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, As I live, surely mine Oath which they
have despised, and my Covenant which they have broken, even it will I recom-
pense upon their own heads.
Job 22.30.
    The innocent shall deliver the Iland; and it shall be preserved by the pureness
of thy hands.

LONDON: Printed in the Yeer, 1649.

 
 
TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Note:

Dear Reader, the following Declaration by the faithful Presbyterians in the City of London at the time of Oliver Cromwell's usurpation and reign of tyranny, is hereby presented as another example of faithful testimony-bearing in defence of our Covenanted Reformation and against all Covenant-breaking as well as all unlawful exercise of magistratical power. Ours is a day when many so-called conservative presbyterians and reformed Christians have learned to admire Oliver Cromwell as an exemplary Christian Ruler of the State. This is not, however, how he was viewed among Presbyterians and Reformed Christians before modern atheistical notions denying the Magistrate's duty in matters of Religion had taken root in the majority of professing Presbyterian churches. Whatever Oliver Cromwell's motives and intentions may have been in reference to his forcefully usurping power over the English Parliament and Nation, and "executing" the then-acknowledged king, Charles I, it is certain that his manner of acting was both disorderly and tyrannical. Cromwell's Covenant-breaking, his Sinful Declaration of Toleration to Idolaters, Heretics, and Schismatics, his Murderous Execution of the sound & godly Presbyterian minister Christopher Love, and many other crimes, do not earn for him the admiration which too many are willing to bestow upon him in our day. For those who have any doubts concerning these statements, we refer the reader to the following declaration, as well as:

A Vindication of the Ministers of the Gospel in, and about London, from the unjust Aspersions cast upon their former Actings for the Parliament, as if they had promoted the bringing of the King to Capital punishment; With, A short Exhortation to their People to keep close to their Covenant-Engagement.

- and -

The Testimony of the Ministers of Perth & Fife to the Truth of Jesus Christ and Against Cromwell's Toleration.

In these will plainly appear both the grounds for the judgment of Biblical Presbyterians against Oliver Cromwell, and also the admirable harmony exemplified by Covenanters of old, in exhibiting faithfulness and loyalty to their Covenanted Magistrates (yea, even when mightily provoked to do otherwise), and at the same time disowning and testifying against all Tyrannical Usurpers as No Ordinance of God, regardless of both their hypocritical pretensions and the providential power which they get into their hands without the moral approbation of the KING OF KINGS.


To the READER.

COURTEOUS Reader, It is prudentially considered and concluded on by the Subscribers hereof, that (seeing their reverend Ministers Representation, with subscription of their Names hath not taken that happy effect which was desired, nor stayed the hands of those to whom it was directed) therefore the publishing of their names that have subscribed to this Apologetical Declaration, will in like manner, do but little good, in that respect; And therefore, although they are upon record to the honour of the Gospel, they are not, now, published, in regard of the present over-awing Power of the Sword; but may and shall in due time appear in publick, with more ample and (we hope) most satisfactory Demonstration of the just Reasons of this their present concealment. Vale.

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WEE the Subscribers of this our Apologetical Declaration, who desire to approve ourselves sincere Professors of the true Reformed Protestant Religion, Presbyterian Citizens and Inhabitants of the honourable, and, lately, famous and renowned City of London, who have cordially adhered unto the Parliament, in its first and second War against the King’s Forces, for the defence of the true Protestant Religion, His Majesty’s Person, Crown, and Dignity, the Rights and Privileges of Both Houses of Parliament, and, in them, the Laws and Liberties of the Kingdom: Calling to mind our solemn engagements, not only by our Protestation, May 5th, 1641, but especially our Solemn League and Covenant, which was so religiously and unanimously sworn unto, with our hands lifted up to the high and holy God of Heaven, that we would really, sincerely, and constantly, through the grace of God, in our several Callings, and with our lives and estates, endeavour the preservation of them all; Articles 1, 2, 3, &c. And, being in our Consciences persuaded and assured of our indispensable obligation so to do, because most deeply engaged by our said Covenants, not to suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided or withdrawn from that Cause which so much concerneth the glory of God, the good of the Kingdom, and honour of the King: But, all the days of our lives zealously and constantly to continue therein against all opposition, Article 6. And, whereas, by woeful experience, we are made very sensible of the dangerous effects of the violation of all our Covenant-concernments, and of the disappointment of our hopes of reaping the expected fruits of this defensive war, for which, we the subscribers, have, many of us, adventured our lives, and most of us, our estates, in a measure, beyond our abilities, besides the Common Taxes that have been imposed upon us. And, though we cannot but with bleeding and trembling hearts complain that our Cause doth in these sad and perilous times in which we live, meet with such violent opposition, such mighty lets and impediments as we are not able to suppress and overcome: {3} yet, considering with ourselves, that what we cannot suppress or overcome we are obliged to reveal and make known, Article 6; Being also moved with fear, lest in this time of imminent danger to all that is dear unto us, our silence should be taken for consent, and so contract upon ourselves the guilt of betraying Religion, King, Parliament, and Laws and Liberties of this Nation; having also no other way left us to set our Consciences at liberty from the aforesaid guilt we might contract by our sinful silence, in this juncture of time. We do, therefore, with all sincerity, fidelity, zeal, and humility, before the most just and righteous Lord of heaven and earth, make known unto all the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, to all the Reformed-Churches, and unto the whole Christian World, not only the dissatisfaction of our Spirits, at the late and present transactions of those who have forcibly assumed the Supreme-power into their own hands: But also do make this our following most solemn and serious Apologetical Declaration for our clearing and justification from allowing or assenting to the illegal actings of these present times. And that we may also publish unto the world the grounds of these our most just exceptions, and necessitated complaints herein, we declare, That, not only, in general, our righteous Cause before mentioned is perverted, deserted, apostatized, and fallen-from, by those who most injuriously and falsely reproach us with Apostacy for not associating with them, and bearing them company in their unwarrantable ways; But, also, in particular, that it is perverted, and abused in every part & branch thereof. As first, in point of our Religion, which we are most deeply engaged by Covenant to preserve and reform in power and purity; Whereas in our own experience (confirmed by the Parliaments first Remonstrance, Exact Collect: pag. 4.) Religion, in its purity was greatly endangered, in the Prelates times in the Doctrinal-part, by the errors of Popery, and Arminianism; and in worship, with superstitious Innovations: And, in our sad apprehension, the Doctrine of the Gospel is, nowadays, not only more endangered through the increase of Popery and Arminianism, but of most blasphemous Antiscripturism, Antitrinitarianism, Antinomianism, Socinianism, and many other such like heterodox opinions, and damnable doctrines: But also in point of worship, which, {4} instead of fear of corrupting, is, now, in great danger of absolute Nulling, by accursed opinions both against the very being of Ordinances, the set-times and days appointed by God for their administration; and even of the Officers and Ministers appointed by Jesus Christ, for their dispensation. Which doth the more sadly affect our hearts, and enforce this just Declaration and Complaint, because of that so eagerly endeavoured unwarrantable Tolerating of them all (except, in that subtle exception of theirs, of the open practice of Popery and Prelacy) as if it were That Liberty of Conscience which we have all this while engaged for; But, rather, against which, We do not only protest, but contrariwise profess and declare that it was, only, a Liberty of Conscience from sin and error, which we propounded in our freedom from our former Egyptian Taskmasters the Prelates.

In the next place, we further declare against the perverting of our Cause, in relation to the preservation of the rights and Privileges of Parliament. For, although we were not able to preserve and defend them, when violated by that unpatterned and horrid force upon the House, Decemb: 6, and 7, last, 1648; yet we conceive ourselves obliged to Declare against it, and against the imprisoning and secluding so many of the faithfullest Patriots and assertors of the publick interest of the Kingdom; And also against the most insolent subversion and alteration of the constitution of the Supreme judicatory of the Kingdom, consisting of the King’s Personal or Virtual Presence, Lords, and Commons, without whom (as we have been always taught and informed) no Law can be enacted or repealed; The confirmation and inviolable settlement of which happy National constitution, with its preservation, were the grounds of our engagements, and no change or alteration of the same: Whereas, now, to the unexpressible grief of our Souls we see a most strange and fierce combination in the General and Armies Council of War, and others of their party (set forth to the view of us all, in that Model of theirs, called, The Agreement of the People, and presented to that which they call the Parliament, January, 20th, 1648,) utterly to subvert and overthrow the whole frame of our foresaid Legal Government, and to introduce and enforce upon us a most uncouth, strange, and headless confused Arbitrary and tyrannical Government of their own devising, {5} and by a new as headless Representative of their own compacting; and yet all this while (even whiles they are most violently endeavouring to overthrow all our National Fundamental Government, the very traitorous act for which the Earl of Straford and Cant’: died, and which they now lay to the Kings charge to destroy him) most fallaciously and hypocritically they protest, and struggle to persuade us (as, in pag: 29th, of their said Agreement of the People) that they are far from any desire or thought to assume or exercise a Law-giving (these are their own words) or judicial power over the Kingdom, or to meddle in any thing, save the fundamental settling of that power in the most equal or hopeful way (as they pretend) for Common-Right and Safety; And this, they say, they humble tender to us, to consider, and accept of, if we please; Whereas, alas, we know, and ancient experience hath taught us to know, That a Tyrant or Conquerors, Pray, is an irresistible, Command; And this also is it, we thus justly complain of and declare against.

But, in the third place, in relation to our engagement by the Sword, and Covenant to defend and preserve our Liberties and freedoms (in this our late, most famous and honourable City of London) according to Law; we are most heartily sorry for the too just occasion that we have to publish, and reveal the most evident Perversion of our Cause under this consideration also. For whereas, to enjoy a Propriety in our estates, with a freedom from Patents, Monopolies, Ship-money, and other illegal Impositions and Taxes, the liberty of our persons from unlawful arrests and imprisonments, contrary unto the Magna Carta, our freeborn English Spirits were raised (for their preservation and defence) most freely and even prodigally to lay out our persons and purses: We are, now, not only in danger of intolerable slavery instead of freedom and liberty, according to Law; But, to have our Franchises and Privileges, as Freemen of this City voted and rent from us. The deep wounding thoughts whereof do so affect and pierce our hearts, that we cannot any longer forbear mournfully to complain, and Declare, That, since the 7th of December last, we are not only deprived of our Freedom and liberty to make choice of such Common Council-men, who have all along approved themselves, to God, the Parliament, and City, men faithful in their trust; they being, now, made uncapable of being chosen thereunto, {6} because of their honest Activity for the Personal-Treaty; And that, by an Ordinance made after this supposed crime was acted. And, now, as a sad fruit of it, through many Common-Council-men most illegally and forcibly chosen, in part of a Common-Council, is passed a Petition, which, at best, shews the framers and promoters thereof, only to mind Earthly things, not a word of any religious or heavenly concernments, being once mentioned in it; And, it is entitled, The Petition of the Commons of the City of London: Which is not only a foul injury and blemish unto the truly religious and cordial Commons thereof; but fills us also with fear of future sore breaches of our Franchises, and City-liberties, if not to the total subversion of the whole frame of the well-constituted and long experienced good Government of one of the most glorious and renowned Cities in the Christian world. All which most injurious irregularities we cannot choose, as Citizens, but with ineffable grief of heart, here, Declare and complain of, being in conscience obliged hereunto, even by the Oath of Freemen; viz: The Franchises and customs of this City you shall maintain. So that, whereas, we fought for the defence of our liberties by Law [Exact Collect. p. 5.], that our English Spirits might not be intimidated or beslaved by the King’s design of bringing in of Germane-horse: We are, now, so far from seeing any sure Foundations, for our liberties and freedom, according to Law, that we look upon ourselves in exceeding great danger (upon that Common plea of the Army, Necessity) to be miserably subjected to Martial-Law, instead of being ruled by the Municipal-Law of the Kingdom.

And yet, as if nothing should be wanting to make us completely miserable, and exquisitely to pervert our Cause throughout; When both King and Parliament were in an hopeful way not only of being reconciled, but of settling the Kingdom in a way that would have answered, (in some competent measure, for the present) the expense of our blood and treasure, and our Covenant-engagement also; we are now, not only disappointed in our hopes thereof: But, His Majesty’s Royal Person (the defence and preservation whereof, though so carefully provided for, by the many Declarations of the Parliament, the frequent Proclamations in our streets by the beat of the Drum, at the beginning of these Wars, by our Protestation, May 5th, 1641, and by our {7} Solemn League and Covenant; yet, as if the end of our engaging with the Parliament had been for the ruin of the Kings person and regal Authority) His Majesty’s Person, we say, is not only in extreme danger, by being exposed unto a Trial without warrant either from the Word of God, or the Laws of the Land: But also is thereby plunged into such a nature and condition, as is altogether derogatory to and inconsistent with the King’s Honour, which we profess in our Covenant is the 3d part of our Cause, for which we engaged, Article 6. That the world, therefore, (to whom we appealed, when we entered into Covenant to preserve and defend the King’s Majesty’s Person, and authority, in the preservation and defence of the true Protestant-Religion, and Liberties of the Kingdom) yea the Lord God himself, Angels, and Men, may bear witness with our Consciences, that we have no thoughts or intentions (nor ever had) to diminish His Majesty’s just power and greatness, and that we the Subscribers hereof are not Covenant-breakers, but do utterly dislike and disavow the present proceedings against him, either to the taking away of His Majesty’s Crown, much less his life, the very thought whereof we from our souls detest and abhor; We do, hereby, most freely, faithfully, and plainly discharge our consciences, and do testify our loyalty unto the King’s Majesty according to the duty of our allegiance, expressed in the foresaid Protestation, May 5th, 1641, and the Solemn League and Covenant. And we do, hereby, further declare, that when we so cordially concurred with the Parliament at first, in the opposition of the Forces raised by the King (seduced by evil Counselors) as we propounded the preservation and defence of our Religion, Parliament, Laws, and Liberties: so, also, to preserve, and not to ruin the King’s Person; but, mainly to remove the wicked from his throne, that so it might be established in Righteousness to Him and his royal Posterity; But, we say, not to pluck Him out of it, and to bring him to an Arbitrary-trial for his life, both in respect of his Judges and their Law.

In sum, therefore, we have (in all these most weighty respects) too great and just cause to be extraordinary sensible, that the bringing of the King (the Head of the Common-wealth) to a trial for his life, before an arbitrary and illegal power, warranted by no Law of God, or Man, and the most strange, irregular, {8} and unparalleled proceedings, and contemptuous carriages toward His Majesty, The putting down of the House of Lords, and, The restraining of so many eminent Members of Parliament, by the General Council of Officers in Arms, against all Laws of God and Man, the known privileges of Parliament, the liberties of the Subject, and their justification of all these exorbitances, in print, instead of Repentance and deep humiliation for the same, is but a sad prologue to the ensuing slavery and ruin of all the Free-born Subjects of this Realm: For, if the Head and most eminent Members of the Common-wealth, legally to be protected from violence and tyranny, by so many Oaths, Covenants, privileges, Laws and Engagements, be thus tyrannically and barbarously, already, insulted over, and trampled under feet, like dust in the streets, by an imperious Military-power; We, who are inferior to them in all respects, and not environed with so many privileges and Protections, cannot but most justly fear and expect far greater insolencies and intolerable pressures to be unmercifully exercised on us by them, when these pillars and foundations are not only thus shaken, but even quite removed and set-by; According to our Saviour’s own words, Matth. 10.25, If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call them so, that are of his household? In sad and serious consideration hereof, therefore, we say, again and again, we cannot possibly keep silence, though it be an evil, nay, because it is so evil a time: But, as professors of the true reformed Protestant Religion, which teacheth no such Doctrines, as these forementioned, and as are, now adays, so unblushingly practiced, in relation to the King’s Majesty, and to the rest of his free-born Subjects, without any respect, or least distinction to their places or qualities; That we may, as much as in us lies, wipe off that foul blot and scandalous stain that will (otherwise) inevitably fall upon Religion, by this most horrid breach of our Covenant, especially in relation to our King; that professors of the Gospel in other Kingdoms may not also suffer by being cast out of royal protection, for the sin of some (pretended) professors among us; And, that we ourselves (when the approaching Earthquake, which is like to be in the three Kingdoms by fearful commotions and endless wars, & inevitably like to attend the intended deposure, or violent death of our Sovereign King, sadly falls upon {9} us) may not have outward misery, and inward guilt to meet together, without and within us, even our Consciences flying in our faces, for our (at least seeming) consent unto it, by our sinful silence; But that we may (in the singleness and sincerity of our hearts) wash our hands and clear our innocency in the sight of God and the whole Christian world: We do not only, in general, make this our just Apology that we are far from the approving of the breach of our Covenant in any part or branch of it; But, in particular, in reference to that of the King’s Person, so clear and innocent, that we do declare our Detestation and Souls’ abhorrency of that most disloyal action; conceiving it to be such a sin, as Men must create a New Name, for and God a New Hell or punishment for it.

And, thus, having (in the unfeigned sincerity of our hearts) witnessed a good Confession, as in the sight of God, and Men; not from a factious, seditious, vain-glorious, or peevish Spirit of contradiction, or in the least tinctured vile malignity, or apostacy from the common cause of Religion, Liberty, and peace of the Kingdom; Though we fear not persecution (for righteousness sake in being true to our principles) from those who have power, now, in their hands: yet, not knowing whether by God’s permissive providence, Satan may not cast some of us into prison for, thus, setting our Consciences at liberty; We therefore commit our Souls, in this our well-doing, unto God, as unto a faithful Creator, hiding our selves under the shadow of his wings, till these calamities be over past, and looking unto Jesus, who hath assured us, That whosoever shall forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father or mother, or wife or children, or lands for his Name and Truth’s sake, he shall receive an hundredth fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. We have therefore hereunto subscribed our Names with our hearts and hands.


F I N I S.