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The National Covenant

of

England;

Or,

The Protestation and Vow

As ordered by the House of Commons, 1641.

☙   Die Mercurii:  5o Maii.   1641.

IT is this day Ordered by the Houſe of Commons now aſſembled in Parliament, That the Preamble, together with the Proteſtation, which the Members of this Houſe made the third of May, ſhall be forthwith Printed, and the Copies Printed brought to the Clark of the ſaid Houſe, to atteſt under his hand, to the end that the Knights, Citizens, and Burgeſſes may send them down to the Sheriffs and Juſtices of Peace of the ſeverall Shires, and to the Citizens and Burgeſſes of the ſeverall Cities, Boroughs, and Cinque Ports, reſpectively.  And the Knights, Citizens, and Burgeſſes, are to intimate unto the Shires, Cities, Boroughs, and Cinque Ports, with what willingneſſe all the Members of this Houſe made this Proteſtation: And further to ſignifie,  that as they juſtifie the taking of it in themſelves, ſo they cannot but approve it in all ſuch as ſhall take it.

WE the Knights, Citizens, and Burgeſſes of the Commons houſe in Parliament, finding, to the great grief of our hearts, that the deſignes of the Prieſts and Jeſuites, and other Adherents to the See of Rome, have of late been more boldly and frequently put in practice then formerly, to the undermining and danger of the ruine of the true reformed Proteſtant Religion in His Majeſties Dominions eſtabliſhed: And finding also that there have been, and having juſt cauſe to ſuſpect that there ſtill are, even during this ſitting in Parliament, indeavours to ſubvert the fundamentall Lawes of England and Ireland, and to introduce the exerciſe of an Arbitrary and Tyrannicall Government, by moſt pernicious and wicked Councels, Practices, Plots, and Conſpiracies: And that the long intermiſſion, and unhappy breach of Parliaments, hath occaſioned many illegall Taxations, whereupon the Subject hath been proſecuted and grieved: And that divers Innovations and Superſtitions have been brought into the Church; multitudes driven out of His Majeſties Dominions, Jealouſies raiſed and fomented betwixt the King and His people, a Popiſh Army leavied in Ireland, and two Armies brought into the bowels of this Kingdom, to the hazard of His Majesties Royall Perſon, the conſumption of the Revenues of the Crown, and Treaſure of this Kingdom:  And laſtly, finding great cauſe of Jealouſie, that indeavours have been, and are uſed to bring the English Army into a misunderſtanding of this Parliament, thereby to incline that Army, with force to bring to paſſe thoſe wicked Councels, Have therefore thought good to ioyn our ſelves in a Declaration of our united Affections and Reſolutions, and to make this enſuing Proteſtation.

A. B. do in the preſence of Almighty God, Promiſe, Vow, and Proteſt, to maintain and defend, as far as lawfully I may, with my life, power, and eſtate, the true Reformed Protestant Religion, expreſſed in the Doctrine of the Church of England againſt all Popery and Popiſh Innovations within this Realm, contrary to the same Doctrine, and according to the duty of my Allegiance, His Majeſties Royall Perſon, Honour, and Eſtate;  As alſo the Power and Priviledges of Parliament;  The lawfull Rights and Liberties of the Subject, and every perſon that maketh this Proteſtation, in whatſoever he ſhall do in the lawfull purſuance of the ſame.  And to my power, and as far as lawfully I may, I will oppoſe, and by all good wayes and means indeavour to bring to condigne puniſhment, all ſuch as ſhall either by Force, Practiſe, Councels, Plots, Conſpiracies or otherwise, do any thing to the contrary of any thing in this present Proteſtation contained.  And further, that I ſhall in all juſt and Honourable wayes indeavour to preſerve the Union and Peace between the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland; And neither for hope, fear, nor other reſpect, ſhall relinquiſh this Promiſe, Vow, and Proteſtation.

WHereas ſome doubts have been raiſed by ſeverall perſons out of this Houſe, concerning the meaning of theſe words contained in the Proteſtation lately made by the Members of this Houſe, (viz.) The true reformed Proteſtant Religion, expreſſed in the Doctrine of the Church of England againſt all Popery and Popiſh Innovations within this Realm, contrary to the ſame doctrine; This Houſe doth declare, That by thoſe words, was and is meant, onely the publike Doctrine profeſſed in the ſaid Church, ſo far as it is oppoſite to Popery and Popiſh Innovations;  And that the ſaid words are not to be extended to the maintaining of any form of Worſhip, Diſcipline, or Government, nor of any Rites or Ceremonies of the ſaid Church of England.


☙   Imprinted at London by ROBERT BARKER, Printer to the Kings moſt Excellent Majeſtie: and by the Aſsignes of JOHN Bill.  1641.


Die Veneris 30.  Iulii:  1641,

Reſolved upon the Queſtion.

THat this Houſe doth conceive that the Proteſtation made by them, is fit to be taken by every perſon that is well affected in Religion, and to the good of the Common-wealth;  And therefore doth declare, That what perſon ſoever ſhall not take the Proteſtation, is unfit to beare Office in the Church or Common-wealth.


Reſolved upon the Queſtion.

THat the Knights, Citizens, and Burgeſſes, and Barons of the Cinque-Ports reſpectively, ſhall forthwith ſend down to the ſeverall places for which they ſerve, Copies of this Vote of the Houſe, concerning the Proteſtation.

Reſolved upon the Queſtion.

That theſe Votes ſhall be Printed and Atteſted under the Clerks hand.


Die Sabbati 8.  Ianuarii, 1641.

At the Committee of the Houſe of Commons appointed to ſit in London to conſider of the ſafety of the Kingdome, and of the City of London, and of vindicating the Priviledges of Parliament.

Reſolved upon the Queſtion.

THat the actions of the Citizens of London, or of any other perſon whatſoever, for the defence of the Parliament, or the Priviledges thereof, or the preſervation of the Members thereof, are according to their duty, and to their late Proteſtation, and the Lawes of this Kingdome.  And if any perſon ſhall arreſt or trouble any of them, for ſo doing, he is declared to be a publike enemy of the Common-wealth.

Reſolved upon the Question.

That this Vote ſhalbe made known to the Common Councell of the City of London.

Iohn Wilde Sergeant at Law ſitting in the Chaire of that Committee.


The above document has been prepared according to the text of the Parliamentary Preamble and Protestation of 1641, with Explanation, printed by Robert Barker, as above. The subsequent Resolutions of the House of Commons are taken from a later undated printing, which was not until at least several months afterward in January of 1641/1642. Although the printing of Robert Barker is dated 1641.05.05, it is evident that it was not actually printed until the 14th or later, as it was not until then that the House of Commons resolved to print the explanatory paragraph with the Protestation. This National Covenant was unanimously made by both houses of the English Parliament, including more than 360 members of the House of Commons on the 3rd, and 78 members of the House of Lords on the 4th.  In the days which followed about 90 other members of Parliament had made the Protestation.  Although the text is considerably shorter, it clearly led the way to the very similar, but more defined Solemn League and Covenant of Scotland, England, and Ireland, which was sworn in 1643, effectively replacing this Covenant until the Reformation of Religion was stifled by sectarian Independents and later overturned by idolatrous Episcopalians.  Many of the original subscriptions to the protestation can be found online using OPC databases such as that of Cornwall.  A brief notice of the historical circumstances may be found in William Hetherington’s History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, pages 86 & 87.——JTKER::2011.11.16.