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.
19. Upon the various events of the Warre; Victories, and Defeats.
THE various Successes of this unhappy war, have at least, afforded Me variety of good Meditations: sometimes God was pleased to trie Me with Victory, by worsting My Enemies, that I might know how with moderation and thanks to owne, and use his power, who is onely the true Lord, of Hosts; able when he pleases to represse the confidence of those, that fought against Me, with so great advantages for power and number.
From small beginnings on My part he let Me see, that I was not wholly forsaken by My peoples love, or his protection.
Other times God was pleased to exercise My patience, and teach Me not to trust in the arme of Flesh, but in the living God.
My sins sometimes prevailed against the justice of My Cause: & those that were with Me wanted not matter and occasion for his just chastisement both of them, and Me: Nor were My enemies lesse punished by that prosperity, which hardened them to continue that injustice by open hostility, which was began by most riotous and unparliamentary Tumults.
There is no doubt but personall and private sins may oft-times over-balance the Justice of Publick engagements; nor doth God account every gallant Man (in the worlds esteem) a fit instrument to assert in the way of War a righteous Cause; The more men are prone to arrogate to their own skill, valour and strength, the lesse doth God ordinarily work by them for his own glory.
I am sure the event or successe can never state the Justice of any Cause, nor the peace of mens Consciences, nor the eternall fate of their Soules.
Those with Me had (I think) clearly and undoubtedly, for their Justification the Word of God, and the Lawes of the Land, together with their own Oathes; all requiring obedience to My just Commands; but to none other under Heaven without Me, or against Me, in the point of raising Armes.
Those on the other side are forced to flie to the shifts of some pretended Feares, and wild fundamentals of State (as they call them) which actually overthrow the present fabrick, both of Church and State; being such imaginary Reasons for self-defence as are most impertinent for those men to alledge, who being My Subjects, were manifestly the first assaulters of Me and the Lawes: first by unsuppressing the Tumults, after by listed Forces: The same Allegations they use, will fit any Faction that hath but power and confidence enough to second with the Sword, all their demands against the present Lawes & Governours; which can never be such as some side or other will not find fault with, so as to urge what they call a Reformation of them to a Rebellion against them, some parasitick Preachers have dared to call those Martyrs, who died fighting against Me, the Lawes, their Oathes, and the Religion Established.
But sober Christians know, That glorious Title, can with Truth be applied only to those, who sincerely preferred Gods Truth, and their duty in all these particulars before their lives, and all that was dear to them in this world; who having no advantageous designes by any Innovation, were religiously sensible of those ties to God, the Church, and My self, which lay upon their Souls, both for obedience and just assistance.
God could, and I doubt not but he did through his mercy, crown many of them with eternall life, whose lives were lost in so just a Cause; The destruction of their bodies being sanctified, as a means to save their Soules.
Their wounds, and temporall ruine serving as a gracious opportunity for their eternall health and happinesse; while the evident approach of death did, through Gods grace, effectually dispose their hearts to such Humility, Faith, and Repentance, which together with the Rectitude of their present engagement, would fully prepare them for a better life then that, which their enemies brutish and disloyall fiercenesse could deprive them of; or without Repentance hope to enjoy.
They have often indeed, had the better against My side in the Field, but never, I believe, at the barre of Gods Tribunall, or their own Consciences; where they are more afraid to encounter those many pregnant Reasons, both from Law, Allegiance, and all true Christian grounds, which conflict with, and accuse them in their own thoughts, then they oft were in a desperate bravery to fight against those Forces, which sometimes God gave Me.
Whose condition conquered, and dying, I make no question, but is infinitely more to be chosen by a sober man, (that duly values his duty, his soul, and eternity, beyond the enjoyments of this present life) then the most triumphant glory, wherein their and Mine Enemies supervive; who can hardly avoid to be daily tormented by that horrid guilt, wherewith their suspicious, or now convicted Consciences do pursue them, especially since they and all the world have seen, how false and un-intended those pretensions were, which they first set forth, as the only plausible (though not justifiable) grounds of raising a War, and continuing it thus long against Me, and the Lawes established; in whose safety and preservation all honest men think the welfare of their Country doth consist.
For, and with all which, it is farre more honourable and comfortable to suffer, then to prosper in their ruine and subversion.
I have often prayed, that all on My side might joyn true piety with the sense of their Loyalty; and be as faithfull to God and their own soules, as they were to Me. That the defects of the one might not blast the endeavours of the other.
Yet I cannot think, that any shewes, or truth of piety on the other side were sufficient to dispence with, or expiate the defects of their Duty and Loyalty to Me, which have so pregnant convictions on mens Consciences, that even profaner men are moved by the sense of them to venture their lives for Me.
I never had any victory which was without My sorrow, because it was on Mine owne Subjects, who, like Absalom, died many of them in their sinne: And yet I never suffered any Defeat, which made Me despaire of Gods mercy and defence.
I never desired such Victories, as might serve to conquer, but onely restore the Lawes and Liberties of My people; which I saw were extreamly oppressed, together with My Rights by those men, who were impatient of any just restraint.
When Providence gave Me, or denied Me Victory, My desire was neither to boast of My power, nor to charge God foolishly; who I believed at last would make all things to work together for My good.
I wished no greater advantages by the War, then to bring My Enemies to moderation, and My Friends to peace.
I was afraid of the temptation of an absolute conquest, and never prayed more for victory over others, than over My self. When the first was denied, the second was granted Me, which God saw best for Me.
The different events were but the methods of divine justice, by contrary winds to winow us: That, by punishing our sinnes, he might purge them from us; and by deferring peace, he might prepare us more to prize, and better to use so great a blessing.
My of ten Messages for Peace shewed, that I delighted not in Warre: as My former Concessions sufficiently testified, how willingly I would have prevented it; and My totall unpreparednesse for it, how little I intended it.
The conscience of My Innocency forbade Me to feare a Warre; but the love of My Kingdomes commanded Me (if possible) to avoid it.
I am guilty in this Warre of nothing, but this, That I gave such advantages to some men, by confirming their power, which they knew not to use with that modesty, and gratitude, which became their Loyalty and My confidence.
Had I yeilded lesse, I had been opposed lesse; had I denied more, I had been more obeyed.
'Tis now too late to review the occasions of the Warre; I wish onely a happy conclusion, of so unhappy beginnings: The unevitable fate of our sinnes was (no doubt) such, as would no longer suffer the divine justice to be quiet: we having conquered his patience, are condemned by mutuall conquerings, to destroy one another: for, the most prosperous successes on either side, impaire the welfare of the whole.
Those Victories are still miserable, that leave our sinnes unsubdued; flushing our pride, and animating to continue injuries.
Peace it self is not desireable, till repentance have prepared us for it.
When we fight more against our selves, and lesse against God, we shall cease fighting against one another; I pray God these may all meet in our hearts, and so dispose us to an happy conclusion of these Civil Warres; that I may know better to obey God, and govern My People, and they may learn better to obey both God and Me.
Nor doe I desire any man should be further subject to Me, then all of us may be subject to God.
O my God, make me content to be overcome, when thou wilt have it so.
Teach me the noblest vistory over my self, and my Enemies by patience; which was Christs conquest, and may well become a Christian King.
Between both thy hands, the right sometimes supporting, and the left afflicting; fashion us to that frame of piety thou likest best.
Forgive the pride that attends our prosperous, and the repinings, which follow our disastrous events; when going forth in our owne strength thou with-drawest thine, and goest not forth with our Armies.
Be thou all, when we are something, and when we are nothing; that thou mayst have the glory, when we are in a victorious, or inglorious condition.
Thou O Lord knowest, how hard it is for me to suffer so much evill from my Subjects, to whom I intend nothing but good; and I cannot but suffer in those evils which they compell me to inflict upon them; punishing my selfe in their punishments.
Since therefore both in conquering, and being conquered, I am still a Sufferer; I beseech thee to give me a double portion of thy Spirit, and that measure of grace, which onely can be sufficient for me.
As I am most afflicted, so make me most reformed: that I may be not onely happy to see an end of these civill distractions, but a chiefe Instrument to restore and establish a firme, and blessed Peace to my Kingdomes.
Stirre up all Parties pious ambitions to overcome each other with reason, moderation, and such self-deniall, as becomes those, who consider, that our mutuall divisions are our common distractions, and the Union of all is every good mans chiefest interest.
If O Lord, as for the sinnes of our peace, thou hast brought upon us the miseries of warre; so for the sinnes of warre thou shouldst see fit still to deny us the blessing of peace, and so to keep us in a circulation of miseries; yet give me thy Servant, and all Loyall, though afflicted Subjects, to enjoy that peace which the world can neither give to us, nor take from us.
Impute not to me the bloud of my Subjects, which with infinite unwillingnesse and griefe, hath been shed by me, in my just and necessary defence; but wash me with that pretious bloud, which hath been shed for me, by my great Peacemaker, Jesus Christ. Who will, I trust, redeem me shortly out of all my troubles: for, I know the triumphing of the Wicked is but short, and the joy of Hypocrites is but for a moment.