« PreviousContinue »
Or these Letters, the first Two, with their Replies and Adjuncts, Six Missives in all, form a Pamphlet published at Edinburgh in 1650, with the Title: Several Letters and Passages between his Excellency the Lord General Cromwell and the Governor of Edinburgh Castle. They have been reprinted in various quarters: we copy the Cromwell part of them from Thurloe; and fancy they will not much need any preface. Here are some words, written elsewhere on the occasion, some time ago.
These Letters of Cromwell to the Edinburgh Clergy, treat'ing of obsolete theologies and polities, are very dull to modern men: but they deserve a steady perusal by all such as will understand the strange meaning (for the present, alas, as good as obsolete in all forms of it) that possessed the mind of Crom'well in these hazardous operations of his. Dryasdust, carrying 'his learned eye over these and the like Letters, finds them, of 'course, full of "hypocrisy," &c. &c.-Unfortunate Dryasdust, they are coruscations, terrible as lightning, and beautiful as lightning, from the innermost temple of the Human Soul;'intimations, still credible, of what a Human Soul does mean 'when it believes in the Highest; a thing poor Dryasdust never ' did nor will do. The hapless generation that now reads these 'words ought to hold its peace when it has read them, and sink ' into unutterable reflections,—not unmixed with tears, and some 'substitute for "sackcloth and ashes," if it liked. In its poor 'canting sniffing flimsy vocabulary there is no word that can 'make any response to them. This man has a living god-in'spired soul in him, not an enchanted artificial "substitute for 'salt," as our fashion is. They that have human eyes can look upon him; they that have only owl-eyes need not.'
Here also are some sentences on a favourite topic, lightning and light. 'As lightning is to light, so is a Cromwell to a Shak'speare. The light is beautifuller. Ah, yes; but until, by light'ning and other fierce labour, your foul Chaos has become a
'World, you cannot have any light, or the smallest chance for 'any! Honour the Amphion whose music makes the stones, 'rocks, and big blocks, dance into figures, and domed cities, with ' temples and habitations :-yet know him too; how, as Volker's ' in the old Nibelungen, oftentimes his "fiddlebow" has to be of sharp steel," and to play a tune very rough to rebellious ears! 'The melodious Speaker is great, but the melodious Worker is 'greater than he. "Our Time," says a certain author, "cannot 'speak at all, but only cant and sneer, and argumentatively jargon, and recite the multiplication-table. Neither as yet can it 'work, except at mere railroads and cotton-spinning. It will, ' apparently, return to Chaos soon; and then more lightnings 'will be needed, lightning enough, to which Cromwell's was but ́ a mild matter ;—to be followed by light, we may hope !"'"'—
The following Letter from Whalley, with the Answer to it, will introduce this series. The date is Monday; the Lord General observing yesterday that the poor Edinburgh people were sadly short of Sermon, has ordered the Commissary-General to communicate as follows :
"For the Honourable the Governor of the Castle of Edinburgh. "Edinburgh, 9th September, 1650. "SIR,—I received command from my Lord General to desire you to let the Ministers of Edinburgh, now in the Castle with you, know, That they have free liberty granted them, if they "please to take the pains, to preach in their several Churches; " and that my Lord hath given special command both to officers "and soldiers that they shall not in the least be molested. Sir, "I am, your most humble servant,
" EDWARD WHALLEY."
To which straightway there is this Answer from Governor Dundas:
"To Commissary-General Whalley.'
"Edinburgh Castle,' 9th September, 1650.
SIR, I have communicated the desire of your Letter to "such of the Ministers of Edinburgh as are with me; who have 66 desired me to return this for Answer:
"That though they are ready to be spent in their Master's "service, and to refuse no suffering so they may fulfil their
ministry with joy; yet perceiving the persecution to be per"sonal, by the practice of your Party upon the Ministers of "Christ in England and Ireland, and in the Kingdom of Scot"land since your unjust Invasion thereof; and finding nothing expressed in yours whereupon to build any security for their persons while they are there, and for their return hither;they are resolved to reserve themselves for better times, and to "wait upon Him who hath hidden His face for a while from the sons of Jacob.
"This is all I have to say, but that I am, Sir, your most "humble servant,
To which somewhat sulky response, Oliver makes Answer in this notable manner :
For the Honourable the Governor of the Castle of
Edinburgh, 9th September, 1650.
The kindness offered to the Ministers with you was done with ingenuity;2 thinking it might have met with the like but I am satisfied to tell those with you, That if their Master's service (as they call it) were chiefly in their eye, imagination of suffering3 would not have caused such a return; much less would' the practice of our Party, as they are pleased to say, upon the Ministers of Christ in England, have been an argument of personal persecution.
The Ministers in England are supported, and have liberty to preach the Gospel; though not to rail, nor, under pretence thereof, to overtop the Civil Power, or
1 Sectarian Party, of Independents.
3 Fear of personal damage.
2 Means always ingenuously.
Of preaching the Gospel.
debase it as they please. No man hath been troubled in England or Ireland for preaching the Gospel; nor has any Minister been molested in Scotland since the coming of the Army hither. The speaking truth becomes the Ministers of Christ.
When Ministers pretend to a glorious Reformation; and lay the foundations thereof in getting to themselves worldly power; and can make worldly mixtures to accomplish the same, such as their late Agreement with their King; and hope by him to carry on their design, 'they' may know that the Sion promised will not be built with such untempered mortar.
As for the unjust Invasion they mention, time was1 when an Army of Scotland came into England, not called by the Supreme Authority. We have said, in our Papers, with what hearts, and upon what account, we came; and the Lord hath heard us,2 though you would not, upon as solemn an appeal as any experience can parallel.
And although they seem to comfort themselves with being sons of Jacob, from whom (they say) God hath hid His face for a time; yet it's no wonder when the Lord hath lifted up His hand so eminently against a Family as He hath done so often against this,3 and men will not see His hand, it's no wonder' if the Lord hide His face from such; putting them to shame both for it and their hatred of His people; as it is this day. When they purely trust to the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, which is powerful to bring down strongholds and every imagination that exalts itself, which alone is able to square and fit the stones for the new Jerusalem; then and not before, and by that means and no other, shall
' 1648, Duke Hamilton's time; to say nothing of 1640 and other times. ? At Dunbar, six days ago.
3 Of the Stuarts.
Jerusalem, the City of the Lord, which is to be the praise of the whole Earth, be built; the Sion of the Holy One of Israel.
I have nothing to say to you but that I am,
Your humble servant,
The Scotch Clergy never got such a reprimand since they first took ordination! A very dangerous radiance blazes through these eyes of my Lord General's,-destructive to the owl-dominion, in Edinburgh Castle and elsewhere!
Let Dundas and Company reflect on it. Here is their ready Answer; still of the same day.
'To the Right Honourable the Lord Cromwell, Commander-in-Chief of the English Army.'
'Edinburgh Castle,' 9th September, 1650.
“ My Lord,—Yours I have communicated to those with me "whom it concerned; who desire me to return this Answer:
"That their ingenuity in prosecuting the ends of the Cove"nant, according to their vocation and place, and in adhering "to their first principles, is well known; and one of their great"est regrets is that they have not been met with the like. That "when Ministers of the Gospel have been imprisoned, deprived “ of their benefices, sequestrated, forced to flee from their dwell"ings, and bitterly threatened, for their faithful declaring the "will of God against the godless and wicked proceedings of men,—it cannot be accounted an imaginary fear of suffering' "in such as are resolved to follow the like freedom and faithfulness in discharge of their Master's message. That it savours "not of 'ingenuity' to promise liberty of preaching the Gospel, "and to limit the Preachers thereof, that they must not speak against the sins and enormities of Civil Powers; since their "commission carrieth them to speak the Word of the Lord unto,
* Thurloe, i. 159; Pamphlet at Edinburgh.