Imagens das páginas

we had of the good of the nation, and the cause of Christ. And being answered to that, nothing would save the nation but the continuance of that parliament, although they would not say they would perpetuate it, at that time least of all.

But, finding their endeavours did directly tend to it, they gave us this answer, that the things we had offered were of a tender and very weighty consideration; they did make objections how we should raise money, and some other objections. We told them, that that we offered as an expedient, because we thought better, than that for which no reason was, or thought would be given; we desired them to lay the thing seriously to heart. They told us, they would take consideration of these things till the morning, that they would sleep upon them, and I think that there was scarce any day that there sat above fifty, or fifty-two, or fifty-three. At the parting two or three of the chief ones, the very chiefest of them, did tell us, that they would endeavour the suspending the proceedings of the representative, the next day, till they had a further conference; and we did acquiesce, and had hope, if our expedient would take up a loving debate, the next day we should have some such is~ue of our debate, as would have given a satisfaction to all; they went away late at night, and the next morning we considering how to order that which we had to offer to them, when they were to meet in the evening, word was brought they were proceeding with a representative with all the eagerness they could; we did not believe persons of such quality could do it; a second and third messenger told us, they had almost finished it, and had brought it to that issue with that haste that had never been known before, leaving out the things that did necessarily relate to due qualifications, as we have heard since, resolved to make it a paper-bill, not to ingross it, that they might make the quicker dispatch of it, thus to have thrown all the liberties of the nation into the hands that never bled for it; upon this account, we thought it our duty not to suffer it, and upon this the house was dissolved.

This we tell you, that you may so know, that what hath been done in the dissolution of this parliament, was as necessary to be done, as the preservation of this cause; and that necessity, that led us to do that, hath brought us to this issue, of exercising an extraordinary way and course, to draw yourselves together upon this account; that you are men who know the Lord, and have made observations of his marvellous dispensations, and may be trusted with this cause. It remains, for I shall not acquaint you further with that that relates to your taking upon you this great business, that being contained in this paper, in my hand, which I do offer presently to you to read, having done that which we thought to have done upon this ground of necessity, which we know was not feigned necessity but real, and true, to the end the government might not be at a loss, to the end we might manifest to the world the singleness of our hearts, and integrity, who did those things not to grasp after the power ourselves, to keep it in a military hand, no not for a day, but, as far as God enables us with strength and ability, to put it into the hands that might be called from several parts of the nation; this necessity I say, and we hope may say, for ourselves, this integrity of labouring to divest the sword of the power and authority, in the civil administration of it, hath been that that hath moved us, to conclude of this course; and having done that, we think we cannot, with the discharge of our consciences, but offer somewhat unto you, as I said before, for our own exoneration, it having been the practice of others who have voluntarily and out of sense of duty divested themselves, and devolved the government into the hands of others; it having been the practice, where such things have been done, and very consonant to reason, together with the authority, to lay a charge, in such a way, as we hope we do, and to press to the duty, which we have a word or two to offer to you. Truly, God hath.calle d you to this work by, I think, as wonderful providences, as ever passed upon the sons of men in so short a time. And truly I think, taking the arguments of necessity (for the government must not fall) take the appearances of the will of God in this thing; I am sure you would have been loth it should have been resigned into the hands of wicked men and enemies. I am suie God would not have it so. It comes, therefore, to you by way of necessity; it comes to you by the way of the wise providence of God, though through weak bands; and therefore I think, it coming through our hands, though such as we are, it may not be taken ill, if we offer to you something, as to the discharge of that trust which is incumbent upon you; and, although I seem to speak that which may have the face of a charge, it is a very humble one; and he that means to be a servant to you, who are called to the exercise of thesupreme authority, to discharge that, which he conceives is hisduty, in his own and his fellows names, to you, I hope, who will take it in good part. And truly I shall not hold you long in that, because I hope it is written in your hearts to approve yourselves to God; only this scripture I shall remember to you, which hath been much upon my spirit; Hosea xi. ver. 12. 'Yet Judah ruleth with God, and is faithful among the saints. It is said before, Ephraim did compass God about with lyes, and Israel with deceit.' How God hath been compassed about with fastings, and thanksgivings, and other exercises and transactions, I think we have all to lament; why, truly,you are called by God to rule with him and for him, and you are called to be faithful with the saints, who have been somewhat instrumental to your call. 'He that luleth over men, the scripture sailh, he must be just ruling in the fear of God.'

And truly it is better to pray foryou,than to counsel you in that, that you may exeicise the judgment of mercy and truth; I say, it is better foryou to do it, than to advise you to ask wisdom from heaven for you; which, I am confident, many thousands of saints do this day, and have done, and will do, through the permission of God, and his assistance to advise you. Only, truly, I thought of a scripture likewise, that seems to be buta scripture of common application toevery man, as a Christian, wherein he is counselled to ask wisdom; and he is told what is that wisdom that is from above; 'it is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy.' And my thoughts ran thus upon this, that the executing of the judgment of truth, for that is the judgment that you must have wisdom' from above for, and that is pure, that will teach you to execute the judgment of truth; and then, if God give you hearts to be easy to be intreated, to be peaceable spirits, to be full of good fruits, bearing good fruits to the nation, to men as men, to the people of God, to all in their several stations, this wisdom will teach you to execute the judgment of mercy and truth; and I have little more to say to this, I shall rather bend my prayers for you in that behalf (as I said before) and I know many others do also. Truly, the judgment of truth will teach you to bo as just towards an unbeliever, as towards a believer; and it is our duty to be so. I confess, I have often said it foolishly, if I would miscarry, I would rather do it to a believer, than to an unbeliever; perhaps it is a paradox; but let us take heed of doing it to either, exercising injustice to either. If God fill our heart with such a spirit as Moses and Paul had, which was not only a spirit for the believers among the people of God, but for the whole people (he would have died for them; and so Paul to his countrymen according to the flesh, he could have died for them) truly,this will help us to execute the judgment of truth, and mercy also. A second thing is, to desire you would be faithful with the saints; and I hope, whatever others may think, it ought to be to us all matter of rejoicing, that, as one person (our Saviour) was touched with our infirmities, that he might be pitiful, I do-think this assembly, thus called, is very much touched with the common infirmity of the saints; and I hope that will teach you to pity others, that so saints of one sort may not be our interest, but that we may have respect unto all, though of different judgments; and, if I did seem to speak any thing, that might seem to reflect upon those of the presbyterian judgment, I think, if you have not an interest of love for them, you will hardly answer this faithfulness to his saints. I confess, in my pilgrimage, and some exercises I have had abroad, I did read that scripture often, in Isaiah xli. 19. when God gave me, and some of my fellows, what he would do there and elsewhere; which he performed for us; and what would he do? To what end ?' That he might plant in the wilderness the cedar, and the shittaht roe, and the myrtle tree, and the palm-tree together. To what end? That they might know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this;' and that the Lord hath created it; that he wrought all salvation and deliverance, which he hath wrought, forthe good of the whole flock; therefore I beseech you (but I think I need not) have a care of the whole flock, love all the sheep, love the lambs, all, and tender all, and cherish all, and countenance all, in all things that are good; and, if the poorest Christian, the most mistaken Christian, shoulddesire to live peaceably and quietly under you, soberly and humbly desire to lead a life in godliness and honesty, let him be protected.

I think I need as little advise you concerning the propagation of the gospel, and encouraging such ministers, and such a ministry, as are faithful in the land, upon whom the true character is, men that have truly received the spirit for such an use; which Christians will be well able to discern, and do; men that have received gifts from him that ascended on high, and led captivity captive, for the work before-mentioned. And truly the apostle, Romans xii. when he had summoned up all the mercies of God, and the goodness of God, and hath discoursed of the foundations of the gospel, and of the several things that are the subject of his discourse, in the eleven first chapters, after he hath be. sought them to offer up their souls and bodies a living sacrifice to God, he beseccheth them not to esteem more highly of themselves, than they ought; but that they would be humble, and sober-minded, and not stretch themselves beyond their line, but they would have a care to those, that had received gifts to the uses there mentioned I speak not, it is far from my heart, for a ministry, deriving itself through the papacy, and pretending to that, which is so much insisted upon to besuccossion: The true succession is through the spirit, given in that measure tha"t the spirit is given; and that is aright succession. But I need not discourse of these things to you; I am persuaded you are taught of God in a greater measure than myself, in these things; indeed I have but one word more to say, and that is (though in that, perhaps, I shall shew my weakness) it is by way of encouragement to you to go on in this work.

And give me leave to begin thus. I confess I never looked to see such a day as this, it may be nor you, when Jesus Christ shall be owned, as he is this day, and in this world. Jesus Christ is own±d this day by you all, and you own him by your willingness in appearing here; and you manifest this (as far as poor creatures can) to be a day of the power of Christ by your willingness. I know you remember that scripture in Psalm ex. 3. The people shall be willing in the day of thy power; God doth manifest it to be a day of the power of Jesus Christ.

Having through so much blood, and so many trials as have been upon these nations, made this to be one of the great issues thereof, to have a people called to the supreme authority upon such an avowed account, God hath owned his Son by this; and you, by your willingness, do own Jesus Christ; and therefore, for my part, I confess I did never look to see such a sight. Perhaps, you are not known by face one to another; but we must tell you this, that indeed we have not allowed ourselves in the choice of one person, in whom we had not this good hope, that there was faith in Jesus Christ, and love unto all his saints and people. And thus God hath owned you in the face and eyes of the world; and thus, by your coming hither, have you owned him; as it is in Isaiah xliii. 21. It is an high expression, and look to your own hearts, whether now or hereafter God shall apply it to you. 'This people (saith he) I have formed for myself, that they might shew forth my praise.' It isa memorable place, and, I hope, not unfitly applied; God apply it to each of your hearts. I shall not descant upon the words, they are plain, you are as like the forming of God as ever people were. If any man should ask you one by one, and should tender a book to you, you would dare to swear, that neither directly nor indirectly did you seek to come hither. You have been passive incoming hither, in being called hither, and that is an active word, 'This people I have formed.' Consider the circumstances by which you are called together; through what difficulties, through what strivings, through what blood, you are come hither. Neither you nor I, nor no man living, three months ago, had a thought to have seen such a company, taking upon them, or rather being called to the supreme authority, and therefore know now your call.

Indeed, I think, as it may be truly said, that never was a supreme authority, consisting of so numerous a body as you are, which I believe, are above one-hundred and forty, were ever in the supreme authority unde r such a notion, in such u way of owning God, and being owned by him; and therefore I say also, nevera people formed for such a purpose (so called; if it were time to compare your standing with those that have been called by the suffrages of the people. Who can tell how soon God may fit the people for such a thing, and who would desire any thing more in the world, but that it might be so? I would all the Lords people were prophets, I would they were fit to be called, and fit to call; and it is the longing of our hearts, to see them once own the interest of Jesus Christ. And give me leave to say, if I know any thing in the world, what is there more like to win the people to the interest and love of God? Nay, what a duty will lie upon you, to have your conversation such, as that they may love you, that they may see you layout your time and spirits ibr them? Is not this the most likely way to bring them to their liberties? And do you not, by this, put it upon God to find the time and the season for it, by pouring forth his spirit; at least by convincing them, that, as men fearing God have fought them out of their thraldom and bondage, under the royal power; so men fearing God rule them in the fear of God, and take care to administer good unto them. But this issome digression. I say, own your call, for indeed it is marvellous, and it is of God, and it hath been unprojected, unthought of by you and us; and that hath been the way God hath dealt with us all along, to keep things from our eyes, that what we have acted, we have seen nothing before us, which also is a witness, in some measure, to our integrity. I say, you are called with a high call. And why should we be afraid to say, or think, that this way may be the door to usher in things that God hath promised and prophesied of, and to set the hearts of his people to wait for, and expect? We know who they are that shall war with the Lamb against his enemies. They shall be a people called, chosen, and faithful; and hath in the military way (we must speak it without flattery) I believe you know it, he hath acted with them, and for them, and now in the civil power and authority, and these are not ill prognostications for that good we wait for. Indeed, I do think something is at the door, we are at the threshold, and therefore it becomes us to lift up our heads, and to encourage ourselves in the Lord, and we have some of us thought it our duty to endeavour this way, not vainly looking on that prophecy in Daniel, 'And the kingdom shall not be delivered to another people.' Truly, God hath brought it into your hands, by his owning, and blessing, and calling out a military power; God hath persuaded their hearts to be instrumental in calling you, and this hath been set upon our hearts, and upon all the faithful in the land; it may be that it is not our duty to deliver it over to any other people, and that scripture may be fulfilling now to us. But I may be beyond my line.

But, 1 thank God, I have my hopes exercised in these things, and so I am persuaded are yours. Truly, seeing that these things are so, that you are at the edge of the promises and prophecies, at least if there were neither promise for this nor prophecy, you are coveting the best things, endeavouring after the best things; and, as I have said elsewhere, if I were to chuse the meanest officer in the army, or commonwealth, I would chuse a godly man that hath principles, especially

« AnteriorContinuar »