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of all men the least concerned in taking away the king's life, is a very solemn and bold protest, which a great number of their ministers in and about London had the courage to publish, at the very time when this affair was transacting. In it they utterly disclaim any consent or approbation of the conviction or condemnation of the king: and declare, when we first engaged with the parliament (which we did not till called thereunto) we did it with loyal hearts and affection toward the king and his posterity: not intending the least hurt to his person, but to stop his party from doing further hurt to the kingdom: not to bring his majesty to justice, as some now speak, but to put him in a better capacity to do justice: not to dethrone and destroy him, which we much fear is the ready way to the destruction of all his kingdoms.
"And as for the present actings at Westminster we are wholly unsatisfied therein: because we conceive them to be so far from being warranted by sufficient authority, that they tend to an actual alteration, if not subversion, of the fundamental constitution and government of this kingdom. Yea we hold ourselves bound in duty to GOD, religion, the king, parliament and kingdom, to profess before GOD, angels and men, that we verily believe that which is so much feared to be now in agitation, the taking away the life of the king in the present way of trial, is not only not agreeable to any word of God, the principles of the protestant religion (never yet stained with the least drop of the blood of a king) or the fundamental constitution and government of this kingdom, but contrary to them, as also to the oath of allegiance and the solemn league and covenant.
"We do therefore according to that our covenant, in the name of the great GOD (to whom
all must give a strict account) warn and exhort all who belong to our respective charges, or any way depend on our ministry, or to whom we have administered the said covenant, (that we may not by our silence suffer them to run upon that highly provoking sin of perjury) to keep close to the rules of religion, to the laws and their vows; and to pray that GOD would restrain the violence of men, that they may not dare to draw upon themselves and the kingdom the blood of their sovereign."-Two letters of the London ministers published Jan. 18, 1648.
This solemn protest, signed by about fifty of the principal presbyterian ministers, was accompanied with a very bold remonstrance in a letter to the general and council of war, dated Jan. 18, 1648, and delivered to his excellency by some of the ministers, prefaced thus
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain: if thou sayest, behold we know it not! Doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works? Prov. xxiv. 11, 12." They therein represent to the general and his council,-"That the courses they were proceeding in were unwarrantable; clearly against the direct rule of God's word, and such as they ought to testify a timely and godly sorrow for: That though the parliament took up arms for the defence of their persons and privileges, and the preservation of religion, laws, and liberties, yet was it not their intention thereby to do violence to the person of the king, or to divest him of the regal authority, or what of right belongeth to him.
They put them in mind of the several oaths and covenants generally taken throughout the king
dom, whereby in the presence of Almighty GoD, they promised and vowed according to the duty of their allegiance to maintain and defend with their lives, power, and estate, his majesty's royal person, honour and estate, and the power and privileges of parliaments.-Instead therefore of joining and consulting with you" (the general and council of war, with whom they were invited to confer) "we do earnestly intreat you, in the name of our Lord and master Jesus Christ, that you would consider the evil of your present ways, and turn from them.-You cannot but know how fully and frequently GoD's word commandeth and enforceth obedience and submission to magistrates; forbidding and condemning, under pain of damnation, such practices as these of yours are: as likewise what severe threatenings and exemplary judgments from GOD have been denounced against and inflicted upon the contemners and opposers of this his ordinance.-But if you persist in these ways, behold! You have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out."
These, with many other admonitions and warnings of like nature) with great hazard to themselves, and notwithstanding several threatening messages had been sent from that quarter) they boldly delivered to the general and his officers who had then usurped the supreme power. Nothing therefore can be more unrighteous, nor more contrary to truth, than to lay the king's death to the charge of the presbyterians.
Doctor Lewis du Moulin, history professor in Oxford, who lived through those times, says, "That no party of men as a religious body, were the actors of this tragedy, but it was the contrivance of an army; which was a medley and collection of all parties thatwere discontented; some courtiers, some presbyterians, some episcopalians;
few of any sect, but most of none, or else of the religion of Hobbes; not to mention the papists, who had the greatest hand in it of all!"-Neal, Vol. 111. p. 551.
But the strongest and most authentic testimony is the act of attainder of the king's judges at the restoration of king Charles II. the preamble to which says "That the execrable murder of his royal father was committed by a party of wretched men, desperately wicked, who having first plotted and contrived the ruin of this excellent monarchy, and of the true protestant religion, found it necessary to subvert the very being and constitution of parliament: and for the more easy effecting their attempts on the person of the king, they first seduced some part of the then army into a compliance, and then kept the rest in subjection partly for hopes of preferment, and chiefly for fear of losing their employments and arrears. They declared against all manner of treaties with the person of the king, while a treaty with him was subsisting; they remonstrated against the parliament for their proceedings; they secluded and imprisoned several members of the house of commons, and then there being left but a small number of their own creatures, they sheltered themselves under the name and authority of a parliament, and prepared an ordinance for the trial of his majesty, which they pursued with force and cruelty till they murdered the king, before the gates of his own palace. Thus (say they) the frantic rage of a FEW miscreants stands imputed by our adversaries to the whole nation; we therefore renounce, abominate, and protest against it."
Hence it is plain that the king's death is not to be charged upon any religious party, or sect
of christians, as such; nor upon the people of England assembled in parliament; but upon the council of officers and agitators; who having been deeply engaged in the transactions of those times, and fearing the king's vindictive temper and the danger of trusting to his promises, thought, it is probable, their own safety could no other way be provided for but by this bold and illegal stroke.
The Book EIKON BASILIKE was not the Composure of King CHARLES.
NOTHING, perhaps, has more contributed to give a wrong idea of the real character of this prince, than a book which came forth immediately upon his death, styled Eikon Basiliké, or a Portraiture of his sacred Majesty in his Solitude and Sufferings, said to be written with the king's own hand. It passed through fifty editions within twelve months. No book ever raised the king's reputation so high as this. "The piety of the prayers made all people cry out against the murder of a prince who thought so seriously of all his affairs in his secret meditations before GOD."
-Burnet's Hist. Tim. Vol. 1. p. 54. It is doubtless from the meditations and devotion of this book, rather than from the prevailing facts and tenor of his life, that the image of this prince is drawn, when such high encomiums are given of his piety and religion; and he is celebrated as the best of Christians, as well as the best of kings. But the lustre which this famous book has cast upon his royal character, there is the strongest