Or, The King's Book
Edited by Edward Almack
London: A. Moring, Limited, At the De la More Press, 1904.
text from an "advance copy" of the first edition, 1649.
11. Upon the 19. Propositions first sent to the KING; and more afterwards.
ALTHOUGH there be many things, they demand, yet if these be all, I am glad to see at what price they set My owne safety, and My Peoples peace; which I cannot think I buy at too deare a rate save onely the parting with My Conscience & Honour. If nothing else will satisfie, I must chuse rather to be as miserable, and inglorious, as My enemies can make or wish me.
Some things here propounded to Me have been offered by Me; Others are easily granted; The rest (I think) ought not to be obtruded upon Me, with the point of the Sword; nor urged with the injuries of a War; when I have already declard that I cannot yield to them, without violating My Conscience: 'tis strange, there can be no method of peace, but by making warre upon My soule.
Here are many things required of Me, but I see nothing offer'd to Me, by the way of gratefull exchange of Honour; or any requitall for those favours, I have, or can yet grant them.
This honour they doe Mee, to put Mee on the giving part, which is more princely and divine. They cannot aske more than I can give, may I but reserve to My self the Incommunicable Jewell of my Conscience; and not be forced to part with that, whose losse nothing can repaire or requite.
Some things (which they are pleased to propound) seeme unreasonable to me, and while I have any Mastery of my Reason, how can they think I can consent to them? Who know they are such as are inconsistent with being either a King, or a good Christian. My yeilding so much (as I have already) makes some men confident I will deny nothing.
The love I have of my Peoples peace, hath (indeed) great influence upon me; but the love of Truth, and inward peace hath more.
Should I grant some things they require, I should not so much weaken my outward state of a King; as wound that inward quiet of my Conscience, which ought to be, is, and ever shall be (by Gods grace) dearer to me then my Kingdomes.
Some things which a King might approve, yet in Honour and Policy are at some time to be denied, to some men, lest he should seeme not to dare to deny any thing; and give too much incouragement to unreasonable demands, or importunities.
But to bind myself to a generall and implicite consent, to what ever they shall desire, or propound, (for such is one of their Propositions) were such a latitude of blind obedience, as never was expected from any Free-man, nor fit to be required of any man, much lesse of a King, by His own Subjects; any of whom he may possibly exceed as much in wisdome, as He doth in place and power.
This were as if Sampson should have consented, not only to binde his own hands, and cut off his haire, but to put out his own eyes, that the Philistins might with the more safety mock, and abuse him; which they chose rather to doe, then quite to destroy him, when he was become so tame an object, and fit occasion for their sport and scorne.
Certainly, to exclude all power of deniall, seemes an arrogancy, least of all becomming those who pretend to make their addresses in an humble and loyall way of petitioning; who by that sufficiently confesse their owne inferiority, which obligeth them to rest, if not satisfied, yet quieted with such an answer as the will and reason of their Superiour thinkes fit to give; who is acknowledged to have a freedome and power of Reason, to Consent, or Dissent, else it were very foolish and absurd to ask, what another having not liberty to deny, neither hath power to grant.
But if this be My Right belonging to Me, in Reason, as a Man, and in Honour as a Soveraign King, (as undoubtedly it doth) how can it be other then extream injury to confine my Reason to a necessity of granting all they have a mind to ask, whose minds may be as differing from Mine both in Reason & Honour, as their aims may be, and their qualities are; which last God & the Laws have sufficiently distinguisht, making me their Soveraign, and them my Subjects: whose Propositions may soon prove violent oppositions, if once they gain to be necessary impositions upon the Regall Authority. Since no man seekes to limit and confine his King, in Reason, who hath not a secret aime to share with him, or usurp upon him in Power and Dominion.
But they would have me trust to their moderation, & abandon mine own discretion; that so I might verifie what representations some have made of me to the world, that I am fitter to be their Pupill then their Prince. Truly I am not so confident of my own sufficiency, as not willingly to admit the Counsell of others: But yet I am not so diffident of my selfe, as brutishly to submit to any mens dictates, and at once to betray the Soveraignty of Reason in my Soul, and the Majesty of my own Crown to any of my Subjects.
Least of all have I any ground of credulity, to induce me fully to submit to all the desires of those men, who will not admit or doe refuse, and neglect to vindicate the freedome of their own and others, sitting and voting in Parliament.
Besides, all men that know them, know this, how young States-men (the most part) of these propounders are; so that, till experience of one seven years hath shewed me, how well they can Governe themselves, and so much power as is wrested from me, I should be very foolish indeed, and unfaithfull, in my Trust, to put the reins of both Reason and Government, wholly out of my own, into their hands, whose driving is already too much like Jehues; and whose forwardnesse to ascend the throne of Supremacy pretends more of Phaeton then of Phebus; God divert the Omen if it be his will.
They may remember, that at best they sit in Parliament, as my Subjects, not my Superiours; called to be my Counsellours, not Dictatours: Their Summons extends to recommend their advice, not to command my Duty.
When I first heard of Propositions to be sent Me, I expected either some good Lawes, which had been antiquated by the course of time, or overlayd by the corruption of manners, had been desired to a restaura-tion of their vigour and due execution; or some evill customes preterlegall, and abuses personall had been to be removed: or some injuries done by My selfe, and others, to the Common-weale, were to be repaired: or some equable offertures were to be tendred to Me, wherein the advantages of My Crowne being considered by them, might fairly induce Me to condiscend, to what tended to My Subjects good, without any great diminution of My selfe, whom nature, Law, Reason, and Religion, bind Me (in the first place) to preserve: without which, 'tis impossible to preserve My People according to My Place.
Or (at least) I looked for such moderate desires of due Reformation of what was (indeed) amisse in Church and State, as might still preserve the foundation and essentials of Government in both; not shake and quite overthrow either of them, without any regard to the Lawes in force, the wisdome and piety of former Parliaments, the ancient and universall practise of Christian Churches; the Rights and Priviledges of particular men: Nor yet any thing offered in lieu, or in the roome of what must be destroyed, which might at once reach the good end of the others Institution, and also supply its pretended defects, reforme its abuses, and satisfie sober and wise men, not with soft and specious words, pretending zeale and speciall piety, but with pregnant and solid reasons both divine and humane, which might justifie the abruptnesse and necessity of such vast alterations.
But in all their Propositions I can observe little of these kinds, or to these ends: Nothing of any Laws disjointed, which are to be restored; of any right invaded; of any justice to be unobstructed; of any compensations to be made; of any impartiall reformation to be granted; to all, or any of which, Reason, Religion, true Policy, or any other humane motives, might induce me.
But as to the maine matters propounded by them at any time, in which is either great novelty, or difficulty. I perceive that what were formerly look'd upon as Factions in the State, and Schismes in the Church, and so, punishable by the Lawes, have now the confidence, by vulgar clamours, and assistance (chiefly) to demand not onely Tolerations of themselves, in their vanity, novelty, and confusion; but also Abolition of the Lawes against them: and a totall extirpation of that Government, whose Rights they have a mind to invade.
This, as to the maine; other Propositions are (for the most part) but as waste paper in which those are wrapped up to present them somewhat more handsomely.
Nor doe I so much wonder at the variety, and horrible novelty of some Propositions, (there being nothing so monstrous, which some fancies are not prone to long for.)
This casts me into, not an admiration, but an extasie, how such things should have the fortune to be propounded in the name of the two Houses of the Parliament of England: among whom, I am very confident, there was not a fourth part of the Members of either House, whose judgments free, single, and apart did approve or desire such destructive changes in the Government of the Church.
I am perswaded there remaines in farre the Major part of both Houses, (if free, and full) so much Learning, Reason, Religion, and just moderation, as to know how to sever between the use and the abuse of things; the institution, and the corruption, the Government and the Misgovernment, the Primitive Patterns, and the aberrations or blottings of after Copies.
Sure they could not all, upon so little, or no Reason (as yet produced to the contrary) so soon renounce all regard to the Laws in force, to antiquity, to the piety of their reforming Progenitors, to the prosperity of former times in this Church and State, under the present Government of the Church.
Yet, by a strange fatality, these men suffer, either by their absence, or silence, or negligence, or supine credulity (believing that all is good, which is guilded with shewes of Zeale and Reformation) their private dissenting in Judgement to be drawne into the common sewer or streame of the present vogue and humour; which hath its chief rise and abetment from those popular clamours and Tumults: which served to give life and strength to the infinite activity of those men, who studied with all diligence, and policy, to improve to their Innovating designes, the present distractions.
Such Armies of Propositions having so little, in My Judgment, of Reason, Justice, and Religion on their side, as they had Tumult and Faction for their rise, must not go alone, but ever be backt and seconded, with Armies of Soldiers: Though the second should prevaile against My Person, yet the first shall never overcome Me, further than I see cause; for, I look not at their number and power so much, as I weigh their Reason and Justice.
Had the two Houses first sued out their livery, and once effectually redeemed themselves from the Wardship of the Tumults, (which can be no other than the Hounds that attend the cry, and hollow of those Men, who hunt after Factious, and private Designes, to the ruine of Church and State.)
Did My judgment tell Me, that the Propositions sent to Me were the Results of the Major part of their Votes, who exercise their freedome, as well as they have a right to sit in Parliament: I should then suspect My own judgment, for not speedily and fully concurring with every one of them.
For, I have charity enough to think, there are wise men among them: and humility to think, that, as in some things I may want; so 'tis fit I should use their advice, which is the end for which I called them to a Parliament. But yet I cannot allow their wisdome such a compleatnesse and inerrability as to exclude My self; since none of them hath that part to Act, that Trust to discharge, nor that Estate and Honour to preserve as My selfe; without whose Reason concurrent with theirs (as the Suns influence is necessary in all natures productions) they cannot beget, or bring forth any one compleat and authoritative Act of publique wisdome, which makes the Lawes.
But the unreasonablenesse of some Propositions is not more evident to Me than this is, That they are not the joynt and free desires of those in their Major number, who are of right to Sit and Vote in Parliament.
For, many of them savour very strong of that old leaven of Innovations, masked under the name of Reformation; (which in My two last famous Pre-decessours daies, heaved at, and sometime threatned both Prince and Parliaments:) But, I am sure was never wont so far to infect the whole masse of the Nobility and Gentry of this Kingdome; however it dispersed among the Vulgar: Nor was it likely so suddenly to taynt the Major part of both Houses, as that they should unanimously desire, and affect so enormous and dangerous innovations in Church and State, contrary to their former education, practise, and judgement.
Not that I am ignorant, how the choice of many Members\was carried by much faction in the Countries; some thirsting after nothing more, than a passionate revenge of what ever displeasure they had conceived against me, my Court, or the Clergy.
But all Reason bids me impute these sudden and vast desires of change to those few, who armed themselves with the many-headed, and many-handed Tumults.
No lesse doth Reason, Honour, and Safety both of Church and State command me, to chew such morsels, before I let them downe; If the straitnesse of my Conscience will not give me leave to swallow down such Camels, as others doe of Sacriledge, and injustice both to God and man, they have no more cause to quarrell with me, than for this, that my throat is not so wide as theirs. Yet by Gods help I am resolved, That nothing of passion, or peevishnesse, or list to contradict, or vanity to shew my negative power, shall have any byas upon my judgment, to make me gratifie my will, by denying any thing, which my Reason and Conscience commands me not.
Nor on the other side, will I consent to more than Reason, Justice, Honour, and Religion perswade me, to be for Gods glory, the Churches good, my Peoples welfare, and my owne peace.
I will study to satisfie my Parliament, and my People; but I will never, for feare, or flattery, gratifie any Faction, how potent soever; for this were to nourish the disease, & oppresse the body.
Although many mens loyalty and prudence are terrified from giving me, that free, and faithfull counsell, which they are able and willing to impart, and I may want; yet none can hinder me from craving of the counsell of that mighty Counsellour, who can both suggest what is best, and incline my heart stedfastly to follow it.
O thou first and eternall Reason, whose wisdome is fortified with omnipotency, furnish thy Servant, first with cleare discoveries of Truth, Reason, and Justice, in My Understanding: then so confirme My will and resolution to adhere to them, that no terrours, injuries, or oppressions of my Enemies may ever inforce me against those rules, which thou by them hast planted in My Conscience.
Thou never madest me a King, that I should be lesse than a Man; and not dare to say, Yea, or Nay, as I see cause; which freedome is not denied to the meanest creature, that hath the use of Reason, and liberty of speech.
Shall that be blameable in Me, which is commendable veracity and constancy in others? Thou seest, O Lord, with what partiality, and injustice, they deny that freedome to Me their KING, which Thou hast given to all Men; and which Themselves pertinaciously challenge to themselves; while they are so tender of the least breach of their priveledges.
To Thee I make my supplication, who canst guide us by an unerring rule, through thy perplexed Labyrinths of our owne thoughts, and other mens proposalls; which, I have some cause to suspect, are purposely cast as snares, that by My granting or denying them, I might be more entangled in those difficulties, wherewith they lie in wait to afflict Me.
O Lord, make thy way plaine before Me.
Let not My owne sinfull passions cloud, or divert thy sacred suggestions.
Let thy glory be my end, thy word my rule, and then thy will be done.
I cannot please all, I care not to please some men; If I may be happy to please thee, I need not feare whom I displease.
Thou that makest the wisdome of the world foolishnesse, and takest in their owne devices, such as are wise in their owne conceits, make me wise by thy Truth, for thy honour, my Kingdoms generall good, and my owne soules salvation, and I shall not much regard the worlds opinion, or diminution of me.
The lesse wisdome they are willing to impute to me, the more they shall be convinced of thy wisdome directing me, while I deny nothing fit to be granted, out of crosnesse or humour; nor grant any thing which is to be denied, out of any feare, or flattery of men.
Suffer me not to be guilty, or unhappy, by willing or inconsiderate advancing any mens designes, which are injurious to the publique good, while I confirme them by my consent.
Nor let me be any occasion to hinder or defraud the publique of what is best, by any morose or perverse dissentings.
Make me so humbly charitable, as to follow their advise, when it appeares to be for the publique good, of whose affections to me, I have yet but few evidences to assure Me.
Thou canst as well blesse honest errours, as blast fraudulent counsells.
Since we must give an account of every evill and idle word in private, at thy Tribunall; Lord make me carefull of those solemne Declarations of my mind which are like to have the greatest influence upon the Publique, either for woe, or weale.
The lesse others consider what they aske, make me the more solicitous what I answer.
Though Mine owne, and My Peoples pressures are grievous, and peace would be very pleasing; yet Lord, never suffer Me to avoid the one, or purchase the other, with the least expense or wast of my Conscience; whereof thou O Lord onely art deservedly more Master than My self.