|Title:||Copy Letter In Hand ?, John Dury To Andrew Ramsey|
|Dating:||21 March 1642|
with the Reformed Churches in matters of Ecclesiasticall concernement; because I suppose it will not be possible in humane appearance to bring this Kirk to a true settlement & free it from the distractions into which it is like to fall except the better party in some solid way maintaine Intelligence with yow & yow & they together with the Churches of the low Countryes which do matters in a Synodicall way; & if this Correspondency betwixt yow & Holland, & the sounder men here were framed to resolve vpon matters by a concurrence of Counsells & prayers I am perswaded we should be able by Gods assistance to gaine the purpose of a true & solid Reformacion here; & then to propagate the fundamentall wayes of Reconsilacion from this ground of our vnion vnto all the rest of the Evangelique Churches. And if this way of correspondency betwixt yow & the low Countryes to helpe forward the Reformacion here, cannot be compassed, I see no possibility to proceed hopefully in the worke which these 12. yeares I have prosecuted: yet although this should not be intended if I could be setled in a place convenient & sett apart for the worke with maintenance to print the things intrusted to me from all sides for the advancement of Reconsiliacion & Reformacion amongst the Evangeliques: I am confident that by the grace of God much might be advanced & built vpon the grounds that are already laid: but if this also cannot be effected, then I suppose that God doth call me to a life wholy private whereunto I shall be willing to retire my selfe, to ripen all the [catchword: indigested]
indigested matters till better occasions be offered & more publicke affections be raised in the hearts of men then now are stirring. Here yow have my full resolucion concerning my worke; & if yow be pleased to let me know your best advice concerning it for the publick good yow shall do me a great deale of pleasure. It would be a matter of very great & profitable vse to show the true Harmony of all protestants in the fundamentalls of Doctrine & Discipline as they agree in the Truth of the Gospell one with another & are opposite to Papists; this would be a ground of their future vnion one with another, & of their preservation against Popish machinacions which are sett a worke to divide & distract them more & more: & if no such thing be laid to heart, I cannot see but that we shall fall more & more to peices amongst our selves on all sides & give them the advantage which they seeke to bring their plots to passe against vs.
concerning the reconciliacion of Papists & Protestants, which heretofore in the dayes of the Emperour Maximilian he wrote. Grotius his notes [
of authority his informacions will be of exceeding great consequence vnto them, if we do not prevent the dangers which may ensue: the maine plot for the present is to beate downe the opinion, which we maintayne, that the Pope is Antichrist; if they can gaine this advantage, that this shall be counted a crime (as in Germany they have intended to make <H: it> heretofore crimen læsæ Majestatis) in those parts, where the supreme Magistrate doth acknowledge the Pope to be the head of the Church, as in the Emperours dominions, in France & in Polonia; & if in other parts the cheife Statesmen, & Princes, & some Divines cry downe, & condemne this assertion; then they have obtayned 2. things. 1. that such as hold this opinion & vent
every where, partly by his owne wisedome, partly by his (vizt. the Popes & Papall Agents instigacion) to take all the power of Religious matters in his owne hand, & make rules for peace, such as humane policy shall devise; constrayning every one to take a character of profession in Christianity, such as shall breed a conformity with the image of the beast in him: which was intended before our troubles here. Or if the magistrate do not this, & we go still on into more subdivisions, we shall be devoured by our selves, & he will find all the Churches so weake, that he shall be able to do whatsoeuer he pleaseth. But to prevent this, if we cannot gaine fundamentall Rules of agreement amongst our selves, to be setled at least, it would be requisite we should in opposicion to him, be able to shew by common consent, wherein we esteeme him to be Antichristian; that he may not be able to make that a cryme in those that shall give him that title: when vpon solid grounds of truth & publicke consent of protestants it shall be made apparent in what sence he is stiled by vs: & that as long as he doth challenge to himselfe that authority, for which we must count him according to the scriptures to be antichrist; that no protestants can with a good conscience intend to be reconciled with him; or treate for a reconciliacion.
nature of it, whereof there is no warrant in the word) altogether insupportable in Tyranny, & made itself a bridge to bring in the yoake of popish superstitions, vpon vs. And if it be not wholy abolished here, my opinion is that this Church will never be at quiet, but will be wholy torne to peeces: & if it be vtterly abolished, yet there will be very great difficultyes to gayne a true & solid Reformacion. I could write a little volume of the causes of these difficultyes; which neverthelesse in due tyme, we hope by the good hand of God, may be remedied, if the King & this Parliament happily agree; & if a Synodicall meeting could be appointed, wherein the Counsells of forraigne Reformed Divines might be heard: but if these things can not be obtayned at Gods hands; & if all parties proceed here, as hitherto they have done, to make themselves strong, to gather followers & to expasperate
good office, to diminish at least the occasions of new controversies, if I cannot prevaile to helpe the decision of the old ones; but my low voice cannot be heard in so great a tumult; & all my suggestions are put of as things not yet seasonable: for men do not think anything seasonable for the most part, but that which is of present vse, & for the gayning of that particular end, which they aime at: but if I should ever do good, I must stand free from particular engagements, at least in things openly taken notice of: & because I do nothing but by some Rule (which I conceive according to my light to be fundamentall) I cannot concurre with those who walke not so much by a Rule, as by an aime; which they intend for outward respects to prosecute in a private way rather, then to a publicke good. This is the great hinderance of Reformacion that men who have good partes & godly aimes; do not raise their spirits to deale peaceably & amiably, vpon common grounds; & by a method void of partiality; with those that are of different judgement, to informe one another, & to rectify one another of their mistakes: for betwixt the two oposite extreme parties; namely the absolute Domineering lordly Episcopall side; & absolute independent side; the Moderate men, & such as would not have the Church void of all communion & vniformity in a setled government, neither deale one with another so as they should, to come to some agreement in principles: nor do they deale by a regular way with either of the extreme parties; but also is in
& disorder the event of which no man can foresee. yow in Scotland by the providence of God had 4 grounds of vnion in your counsells of Reformacion. first the extreme fiercenes & insupportable irregularity of Bishops in their proceedings, did drive yow to a Resolucion in common to vindicate your liberty by vnanimous consent. And then to bring this to passe yow had in the second place the Presbyteriall meetings, which were not altogether abolished, whereby a forme of Correspondency in Ecclesiasticall matters was left, which gave yow an overture to concurre in the meanes & counsells of a Reformacion. Thirdly your Nationall <Covenant>
Presbyteriall government: thinking it a yoake (as some call it) as insupportable as Episcopacy. But to make them sensible of their errour in this, the true Christian liberty which ministers have in Presbyteriall meetings to propose matters & to consult vpon all things proposed, could be made evident vnto them; whereby they should see that (except they will maintaine that a licentious liberty should be graunted to every Minister to do in his particular Congregacion whatsoeuer his owne will shall leade him vnto: & that no respect should be had vnto the brotherly communion which God required in the Members of his Church, to do all things orderly & to mutuall edificacion) no yoake is imposed vpon the spirits of any man; other than that which the word of God doth bind vs vnto; which is the yoake of love, & of Brotherly care to keepe the vnity of the spirit in the bond of peace. If their leading men were dealt withall to this effect in some amiable & orderly way; I suppose they might be gained. And I have thoughts to make it a part of my worke with some of them: but I have wanted opportunity hitherto, & have bin so taken vp with more vniversall relations, that I have not vndertaken the endevour: but if I may obtayne from yow some advice to strengthen me in this purpose; & such informacions concerning the manner of your proceeding in Presbyteriall & Synodicall meetings; which will be able to shew them their mistake. I shall be much encouraged to make it a part of my worke. yow may be pleased then to conferre with your Brethren about this [catchword: motion]
motion; & to thinke whether or no it be expedient to furnish me with some helpes which may enable me to do this more effectually then I should be able to do by my selfe without your approbacion & assistance. It doth import yow much (as I conceive) for the truthes sake to think vpon this, & for the gayning of many that are zealously & well affected vnto Godlinesse that they may not be opposites (by reason of prejudicate opinions & evill informacions) against the righteousnes of your wayes in government answerable vnto the will of God.
but I suppose it is not yet put to the presse. There be many treaties here come forth relating to that subject, whereof I will send yow a Catalogue God willing, that if yow please to have them sent vnto yow; yow may give order to some merchant to buy them wherein I shall be ready to give him my best assistance. Commend me to your Collegues, & in particular to Mr. <Alexander> Hinderson. The Grace of God be with yow, & blesse your labours in the Gospell to the advancement of his glory; I rest