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“and to reprove the sins of, persons of all ranks, from the high
est to the lowest. That to impose the name of railing' upon “ such faithful freedom was the old practice of Malignants, " against the Ministers of the Gospel, who laid open to people " the wickedness of their ways, lest men should be ensnared “ thereby.
“ That their consciences bear them record, and all their “ hearers do know, that they meddle not with Civil Affairs, “ farther than to hold forth the rule of the Word, by which the
straightness and crookedness of men's actions are made evi" dent. But they are sorry they have such cause to regret that
men of mere Civil place and employment should usurp the “calling and employment of the Ministry :) to the scandal of the “ Reformed Kirks; and, particularly in Scotland, contrary to the
government and discipline therein established, -to the maintenance whereof you are bound, by the Solemn League and “ Covenant.
“ Thus far they have thought fit to vindicate their return to “the offer in Colonel Whalley's Letter. The other part of yours, “which concerns the Public as well as them, they conceive hath “all been answered sufficiently in the public Papers of the State “ and Kirk. Only to that of the success upon your 'solemn “ appeal,' they say again, what was said to it before, That they “ have not so learned Christ as to hang the equity of their Cause
upon events; but desire to have their hearts established in the “ love of the Truth, in all the tribulations that befall them.
• I only do add that I am, my Lord, your most humble “ servant,
“ W. DUNDAS.”
On Thursday follows Oliver's Answer,—' very inferior in composition,' says Dryasdust ;-—composition not being quite the trade of Oliver! In other respects, sufficiently superior.
· Certain of our Soldiers and Officers preach ; very many of them can preach,
-and greatly to the purpose too !
For the Governor of Edinburgh Castle : These.
Edinburgh, 12th September, 1650. Because I am at some reasonable good leisure, I cannot let such gross mistakes and inconsequential reasonings pass without some notice taken of them.
And first, their ingenuity in relation to the Covenant, for which they commend themselves, doth no more justify their want of ingenuity in answer to Colonel Whalley's Christian offer, concerning which my Letter charged them with guiltiness and deficiency, than their bearing witness to themselves of their adhering to their first principles, and ingenuity in prosecuting the ends of the Covenant, justifies them so to have done merely because they say so. They must give more leave henceforwards; for Christ will have it so, nill they, will they. And they must have patience to have the truth of their doctrines and sayings tried by the sure touchstone of the Word of God. And if there be a liberty and duty of trial, there is a liberty of judgment also for them that may and ought to try: which being so, they must give others leave to think and say that they can appeal to equal judges, Who have been the truest fulfillers of the most real and equitable ends of the Covenant ?
But if these Gentlemen do2 assume to themselves to be the infallible expositors of the Covenant, as they do too much to their auditories to be the infallible expositors' of the Scriptures . also,' counting a different sense and judgment from theirs Breach of Covenant and Heresy,- no marvel they judge of others so authoritatively and severely. But we have not so learned Christ. We look at Ministers
as helpers of, not lords over, God's people. I appeal to their consciences, whether any 'person' trying their doctrines, and dissenting, shall not incur the censure of Sec
And what is this but to deny Christians their liberty, and assume the Infallible Chair? What doth he whom we would not be likened unto' do more than this?
In the second place, it is affirmed that the Ministers of the Gospel have been "imprisoned, deprived of their benefices, sequestered, forced to fly from their dwellings, and bitterly threatened, for their faithful declaring of the will of God;" that they have been limited that they might not speak against the “sins and enormities of the Civil Powers;" that to impose the name of railing upon such faithful freedom was the old practice of Malignants against the Preachers of the Gospel, &c. —Now,' if the Civil Authority, or that part of it which continued faithful to their trust,2 6 and' true to the ends of the Covenant, did, in answer to their consciences, turn out a Tyrant, in a way which the Christians in after-times will mention with honour, and all Tyrants in the world look at with fear; and if' while many thousands of saints in England rejoice to think of it, and have received from the hand of God a liberty from the fear of like usurpations, and have cast off him3 who trod in his Father's steps, doing mischief as far as he was able (whom you have received like fire into your bosom,-of which God will, I trust, in time make you sensible) : if, •I say,' Ministers railing at the Civil Power, and calling them murderers and the like for doing these things, have been dealt with as you mention, - will this be found a
personal persecution ?" Or is sin so, because they say so ?4 They that acted this great Business have given a
i The Pope.
3 When Pride purged them.
reason of their faith in the action; and some herel are ready further to do it against all gainsayers.
But it will be found that these reprovers do not only make themselves the judges and determiners of sin, that so they may reprove ; but they also took liberty to stir up the people to blood and arms; and would have brought a war upon England, as hath been upon Scotland, had not God prevented it. And if such severity as hath been expressed towards them be worthy of the name of “ personal persecution,” let all uninterested men judge, and whether the calling of the practice “railing" be to be paralleled with the Malignants' imputation upon the Ministers for speaking against the Popish Innovations in the Prelates' times,3 and the other' tyrannical and wicked practices then on foot! The Roman Emperors, in Christ's and his Apostles' times, were usurpers and intruders upon the Jewish State : yet what footstep4 have ye either of our blessed Saviour's so much as willingness to the dividing of an inheritance, or their5 ever' meddling in that kind ? This was not practised by the Church since our Saviour's time, till Antichrist, assuming the Infallible Chair, and all that he called Church to be under him, practised this authoritatively over Civil Governors. The way to fulfil your Ministry with joy is to preach the Gospel ; which I wish some who take pleasure in reproofs at a venture, do not forget too much to do!
Thirdly, you say, You have just cause to regret that men of Civil employments should usurp the calling and employment of the Ministry ; to the scandal of the Re
1 I for one.
2 In 1648. 3 0 Oliver, my Lord General, the Lindley-Murray composition here is dreadful; the meaning struggling, like a strong swimmer, in an element very viscous ! 4 Vestige.
5 The Apostles'.
formed Kirks.- Are you troubled that Christ is preached ? Is preaching so exclusively your function ? Doth it scandalise the Reformed Kirks, and Scotland in particular? Is it against the Covenant ? Away with the Covenant, if this be so ! I thought, the Covenant and these professors of it could have been willing that any should speak good of the name of Christ : if not, it is no Covenant of God's approving ; nor are these Kirks you mention in so mucha the Spouse of Christ. Where do you find in the Scripture a ground to warrant such an assertion, That Preaching is exclusively your function ? Though an Approbation from men hath order in it, and may do well; yet he that hath do better warrant than that, hath none at all. I hope He that ascended up on high may give His gifts to whom He pleases : and if those gifts be the seal of Mission, be not 'you' envious though Eldad and Medad prophesy. You know who bids us covet earnestly the best gifts, but chiefly that we may prophesy; which the Apostle explains there to be a speaking to instruction and edification and comfort, —which speaking, the instructed, the edified and comforted can best tell the energy and effect of, and say whether it is genuine.' If such evidence be, I say again, Take heed you envy not for your own sakes ; lest you be guilty of a greater fault than Moses reproved in Joshua for envying for his sake.
Indeed you err through mistaking of the Scriptures. Approbation3 is an act of conveniency in respect of order; not of necessity, to give faculty to preach the Gospel. Your pretended fear lest Error should step in, is like the man who would keep all the wine out the country lest men should be drunk. It will be found an unjust and
so inclusive in your function,' means that. 2 So far as their notion of the Covenant goes. 3 Or say · Ordination,' Solemn Approbation and Appointment by men.