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THE Looſing of St. Peters Bands; Setting forth The true Senſe and Solution OF THE COVENANT In point of CONSCIENCE SO FAR As it relates to the Government of the Church by EPISCOPACY.


Acts 16.26. The foundations of the Priſon were ſhaken, the doors open­ed, and every ones bands were looſed.

1 Tim. 1.5. Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and a good conſcience, and faith unfeigned.

Non eſt conſcientia ſine ſcientia; nec pura eſſe poteſt, ſi ſit caeca. Bern.

LONDON, Printed by J. Beſt, for Andrew Crook, at the Green-Dragon in St. Pauls Church-yard. 1660.


TO His honoured Friend Sir Lawrence Brumfeild Kt. And Colonel in London.


WEll knowing (as St. Bernard ſpeaks)The tender­neſs of conſci­ence. how tender and delicate a thing Conſcience is; how it is not to be baffled or deluded with any Sophi­ſtry; nor raviſhed or captivated by any violence and tyranny; not cajo­led or trepanned by any Policy and hypocriſie; but (apart from all fraud or force) it is then moſt at its eaſe, freedom and tranquillity, when it hath moſt light and ſerenity to ſee its duty, alſo moſt liberty to act according to thoſe rules of right Reaſon and Religion, which are not partial, flexi­ble and mutable, but univerſal, fixed and eter­nal.

§. The rules of Conſcience.I have here endeavored to give you and others (upon your motion) that ſober ſence of the Cove­nant, whereof I believe it is only capable before4 God, before all good Chriſtians, and in a mans own wel-informed conſcience.

§. Which muſt, and at laſt will judge of things in point of ſcruple or obligation, not by the occaſion be­ginning them, or the power impoſing them, or the paſſion clamoring, or the multitude applauding, or the ſucceſs abetting, or the pertinacy maintaining them; Nor yet by the ſuperſtition of ſome men de­voutly doting for a while upon that as a goddeſs or an Image faln from heaven, when it may be (indeed) but the late invention of ſome cunning work-men, whoſe golden rings and ear-rings being melted in the furnace of Civil wars, may ſometimes bring forth ſuch a thing as the Authors and Abettors will needs vote to be their God.

§. But the true light and medium of Conſcience as to its judgement, practice, peace and perſeverance, muſt be by thoſe clear, pregnant and conſtant beams of right Reaſon, add true Religion, which ſhine in the brightneſs and ſtability of Divine and Humane laws, which are the ſolid pillars of Truth, the firm ſupports of duty, the ſure bounds of obedience, and the ſafe repoſe of conſcience.

§. All other ſuperſtructures of fancy, policy and Intereſt, as hay, ſtraw and ſtubble will periſh; but thoſe others will out laſt the laſt conflagrations which ſhall make a fiery trial of all mens thoughts, deſigns and actions both publick and private, whether they be made up of popular and peeviſh droſs, or of ſuch piety, more precious than gold, which is both pure and permanent.

§. In this great concern therefore of conſcience, I5 muſt ſtudy to be void of all fear and flattery of men,Freedom from paſſion and prejudice in caſes of con­ſcience. ſeparate from all crowds of paſſions and prejudices, free from popular petitions, and the two Houſes re­ſolutions; from Scottiſh importunities and Engliſh compliances; not obnoxious to the Court or the Coun­try, to the Aſſembly or the High-Commiſſion, to Epiſcopal infirmities, or Presbyterian inſolencies; but as in the preſence of God, and before his Tribunal, ſo ſerious, intent, upright and unbyaſſed ſhall I de­clare my judgement to you, to your City, to my Country, and to our moſt welcome King; to my re­verend Fathers, and brethren of the Clergie, and to my dear Mother the Church of England, for whoſe ſake nothing muſt ſeem hard, or too much to be done or ſuffered by me, or any of her Sons, ſince we have the great paterns, both of our late Sove­raign, who ſuffered as a Martyr in her defence, and of our bleſſed Saviour, who was crucified for her redemption.

§. As for my Brethren of the Church of Scotland, I confeſs I underſtand not their motions or mutati­ons, becauſe I think they once enjoyed the beſt con­ſtitutions of Epiſcopacy in the world; I have a Chri­ſtian pity and charity for them; I leave them to that liberty which is the fruit not of the ſwords and paſ­ſions of man, but of the Word and Spirit of God; which clearly unites Loyalty and Religion, Duty and Devotion, Reformation and Moderation, Order and counſel, eminency and harmony in one paternal, frater­nal and filial unity of Biſhops, Presbyters and People.

§. As to the ſcruple or caſe of conſcience then,6 with which you tell me,The ſhineſs of ſome mens conſciences as to Epiſcopacy. many ſober and honeſt men, are by their once taking the Covenant ſo ſcared from all complyings with any Church Govern­ment under any name of Biſhops, or notion of E­piſcopacy, never ſo reformed and regulated, that they fear by looking back to the primitive, Catholick and univerſal Government of this and all other anti­ent Churches, to be turned into pillars of Apoſtacy as Lots wife,Anſwers ob­lique. was into a pillar of ſalt. And to prevent which ſad Metamorphoſis in City and Country, my Anſwer or Reſolution in point of Con­ſcience as to the Covenant, ſo far as it relates to E­piſcopacy is this.

1. The Cove­nants de­fectiveneſs as to authority and law.

Firſt, I might ſhrewdly batter the Covenant, by urging the defectiveneſs of, and ſo the invalidity of any lawful, conſtant or compleat authority in it, ca­pable to bind the Subjects or People of England, either in the Court of conſcience, or any other (Eccleſiaſtical or civil) Judicature; in which nothing can have any permanent bond or tye of Law (except Gods Word) without the Kings conſent, no more than the vow of a ſervant, or ſon, a daughter or wife (in Moſes Law) could bind them without,Numb. 30.2. yea, againſt the declared conſent of their Maſter, fa­ther or Husband, under whoſe protection they were.

2 The violence of the times.

Secondly, I might eccho and retort upon the Co­venant, the violence and noiſe of thoſe times in which it was firſt hatched in England, and brought forth by the Midwifery of tumults and Armies, of en­gaged, yea enraged parties and factions, whoſe wrath and policies were not probbale to work the righte­ouſneſs7 of God; nor did they ſeem good Angels, which troubled our waters to an healing, but evil ones ſent in Gods juſt anger amongſt us to turn our waters into blood.

3. The novelty of it as to our laws.

Thirdly, I might further urge the novelty and par­tiality of the Covenant, as the Engliſh Laws and ge­nius; that it was from a foraign influence and de­ſign firſt invented, then obtruded on this Church and State, contrary to our antient Laws and con­ſtitutions both eccleſiaſtical and civil, to which King and People were bound, till by mutual conſent they were altered; which was never yet done in the point of Epiſcopacy.

4. The ſad and tragique con­ſequences of it

Fourthly, It might ſeem odious to reflect upon this Covenant, as to the ſad effects, and unbleſt conſequents, which like black ſhadows have attend­ed its appearing and prevailing in England, and in Scotland too. What havocks followed in Church and State? what improſperities, diſorders, con­tempts, confuſions, wars, ſpoils, and bloodſhed upon all eſtates and degrees; beſides the contempt of Re­ligion, the neglect of Sacraments, the expulſion of the Liturgie, and the aviling, no leſs than dividing of Miniſters, who (inſtead of Okes and cedars of God, formerly frequent in this Church, I mean Divines of great gravity and excellent learning, wor­thy of double honor) everywhere ſhrunk and dwindled to Plebeian ſhrubs, and popular paraſities, the pitty of the more pious, and ſcorn of the more petulant ſort of men.

5. The baflings and annullings of it by coun­ter engage­ments.

Fifthly, Nor will I inſiſt upon the bafflings of the Covenant, before it was adult or many years old;8 how it was ſoon made Nehuſtan, and reduced to nothing, by counter and croſs engagements, after it had ſerved as one of the great rocks for the Kings ſhipwrack, no leſs than the Churches and States; nor did the Covenant ever thrive after it was water­ed with the Kings blood, wherein many men had an hand who had been zealous Covenanters, If it was ſo eaſily vacated in point of its expreſs loyalty for the Kings Preſervation, I do not ſee how it ſhould be ſo binding in the caſe of abjuring or ex­tirpating of all Epiſcopacy, though reformed and regulated as it ought to be.

6. ts variating from, if not croſſing for­mer lawful Oathes of King and peo­ple.

Sixthly, Wherein it is very conſiderable how the Covenant (if ſo interpreted) muſt needs grate ſore upon, and pierce to the very quick thoſe former lawful oathes, which had prepoſſeſſed the ſouls and conſciences of moſt of us in England; not only of Subjects, as thoſe of Allegiance and Supremacy, beſides that of Miniſterial, canonical obedience to our lawful ſuperiors in Church and State; but even the conſcience of the late King, as he was bound by his Oath at his Coronation to preſerve the rights and franchiſes of the Church; which the King ra­ther than break, as ſome men urged him, choſe to die and loſe all in this world; as he declared to many at the Iſle of Wight; and to Mr. Marſhal with others, at Newcaſtle; from which Oaths, as we know no abſolution, ſo, nor can there be any ſuper­fetation of ſuch a contradictory Vow and covenant without apparent perjury, which we preſume the Covenant never intended, nor included; or if it did, it is therein of no bond or validity, as to any good9 mans conſcience againſt previous lawful oaths, which muſt be kept.

7, It threatens dangerous Schiſm.

Seventhly, Beſides, if the Covenant were deſig­ned, as wilfully excluſive and totally abjuring of all Epiſcopal order and Government in this Church of England, it muſt needs run us upon a great rock not only of Novelty but of Schiſm, and daſh us both in opinion and practice againſt the judgement and cuſtom of the Catholick Church, in all places and ages (till of later years) from the Apoſtles days, with whom we ought to keep communion in all things of ſo antient tradition, and univerſal obſer­vation; nor may we ſo comply with a few reform­ed Churches of later daies (whoſe want but not contempt of Biſhops alſo the neceſſity of times, and diſtreſs of affairs put upon them, either by the policies of Princes, or the impatience and prejudice of people, or the covetouſneſs and ſacriledge of both may excuſe, while they approve and venerate E­piſcopacy in others) yet with theſe we muſt not ſo comply, as to put a reproach, ſcandal, ſcruple or affront upon all other Chriſtian Churches at this day in all the world; among whom, not one ever was of old, or is to this day in any Kingdom to be found without their Biſhops, as derived by the ſucceſſion of all times from the Apoſtles; nor is the aboliſh­ing of Epiſcopacy a ſmall wall of partition newly ſet up to keep all Papiſts from due Reforma­tion.

8. Theeſt ſenſe and uſe of the Cove­nant.

Eighthly, I might further add, how much more equal and ingenuous, loyal, and religious were it for all ſober-meaning Covenanters to reduce and confine10 their conſciences, as well as their Covenant, from ſuch an extravagant, diſloyal, unlawfull, enormi­ous, and Schiſmatical ſenſe, to which ſome do wreſt and torture it (in which it could neither be lawfully taken, nor can be kept with honeſty, as a­gainſt all Epiſcopacy) and rather to retire to that ſober ſenſe wherein alone it might lawfully be taken, if it had been impoſed by due authority, or were ſpontaneouſly aſſumed, which ſenſe can reach no fur­ther than thoſe abuſive exceſſes or defects of Church Government under Biſhops, ſo far as they were real­ly ſuch, either by the inconvenience of the conſtituti­ons and cuſtoms in England, or at leaſt as they appear­ed ſuch to theſe Covenanters, as to the execution of that authority, through the faults or infirmities of ſome Biſhops and their inſtruments, who poſſibly were not ſo worthy and good, or not ſo wiſe and diſcreet, as became Chriſtian Biſhops, or Eccleſiaſti­cal Governors of Chriſts Church. But it is a moſt ir­religious, as well as unreaſonable (Ametry) tranſ­port, for men to covenant againſt all the right uſe of things that are good, becauſe of the abuſe incident to them, by men or times that may be evil.

9. Its preten­ded authority-from examples in the O. Teſt.

Ninethly, It were eaſie to level to the ground all thoſe fair but fallacious pretences drawn to for­tifie the Covenant, from Scripture examples, where­in the Jews ſometimes ſolemnly renewed their Co­venant with God; But it was that expreſs Covenant which God himſelf had firſt made with them in Ho­reb and Mount Sina, punctually preſcribed by God to Moſes, and by Moſes (as their ſupream Governor or King) impoſed upon them; this they ſome­time11 renewed after they had broken it by their apo­ſtacy to falſe and ſtrange gods: But bleſſed be God, this was not the caſe of the Church or people of England, nor was there any need of ſuch covenan­ting, any more then there was any Moſes, or Heze­kiah, or Joſiah, or any chief Governor command­ing it: Nor (alas) was this Covenant any divine dictate or Soveraign preſcription, but the petty com­poſition of a few politick men, Subjects not Princes, and very mean Subjects too ſome of them, either as Lawyers or Miniſters, a great part of whom I and others well knew to be no very great Clerks or Stateſmen; and fitter for a country Cure, than to con­trive and compoſe Solemn Leagues and Covenants, to be impoſed upon Churches and Kingdoms, (yea, and upon their Kings too) in whoſe Dominions were ma­ny thouſands equals and Superiors to thoſe Maſters, whoſe heads rather than their hearts, and their State correſpondencies more than their conſciences brought forth this Covenant.

10. No evan­gelical ex­ample of any ſuch Covenant in any Chri­ſtian Church of old.

Laſtly, I might truly alledge againſt the novelty of the Covenant in the Church of England, that there is no precept or patern for any ſuch in all the New Te­ſtament, nor in all ſucceeding ages of the Chriſtian Church; we never read nor heard of any covenant­ing Chriſtians (until the Ligue ſainte in France) ex­cept thoſe who in one baptiſm were ſprinkled with the blood of Chriſt, and ſo entred into that cove­nant which God makes with us and we with him, in that holy laver of regeneration; this is the new and Evangelical covenant of all true Chriſtians; this we break by wilful and preſumptuous ſins; this we renew12 by true repentance, and by worthy participation of the body and blood of Chriſt in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper.

§. How vaſtly different from this ſacred covenant, this late piece of policy more than piety is; and how little the true covenant of a Chriſtian binds him by his Baptiſm or Repentance, or the Euchariſt againſt all Epiſcopal Government, I leave to all ſober-minded Chriſtians to judge; ſince both the power of ordain­ing Miniſters, and by them to conſecrate and ce­lebrate both Sacraments, was ever derived from and by Biſhops of the Church, as the cheif conſerva­tors, ciſterns, and conduits of all Eccleſiaſtical Au­thority and Miniſterial power from the very Apo­ſtles, the firſt Biſhops of the Church, Acts 1. who had the ſame immediately from Chriſt, who was, and ever is the great Biſhop and Paſtor of our ſouls, to feed and rule his Church, not only by his Word and Spirit, but by ſuch Shepherds and Rulers as he hath in all ages ſet over his flock; of which Biſhops were ever eſteemed the Angels, Preſidents, or cheif Fa­thers; whom utterly to deſtroy, and violently to ex­tirpate out of this or any Chriſtian Church, is not only to offer ſignal and intolerable injuries to the perſons of ſuch excellent Biſhops as England lately had, and ſtill may have, but further mightily to abate the honor of this whole Church, and its Mi­niſtry, by taking away all the rewards and encou­ragements of Learning and Religion; yea and to ſcandalize all Churches by aboliſhing ſuch a vene­rable order and univerſal cuſtom in the Church, as hath no origine but that of the Apoſtles, and looks13 very like an immediate inſtitution of Chriſt, either preceptive and explicite, or tacite and exemplary. The juſt abate­ments of Co­venanters heats and ri­gors.

§. So that if this were the ſenſe and intent of the Covenant-makers, and takers, to extirpate and abo­liſh, not the abuſes, but the very uſes of all Epiſco­pal Order and Government, the great Boanergeſſes who thunder out ſo much terror againſt Covenant-breaking, may do much more juſtice and execution if they turn the mouths of their canons againſt ſuch Covenant-taking, which is better broken than kept in any unlawful ſenſe, and beſt of all, when not at all taken, with any ſuch intention, which is as pre­ſumptuous, as it was prepoſterous.

§. Theſe things being thus premiſed, are ſuffici­ent (as I conceive) to abate the edge and rigor of the Covenant, as to its antipathy againſt all Epiſcopacy, and to ravel that cable or bond of religious obligati­on, which ſome men do ſeem to twiſt and urge upon poor peoples conſciences in that point; when in good earneſt, there is neither Law of God or man requi­ring, impoſing or comprobating any ſuch Covenant, by any National or Eccleſiaſtical authority; ſo that it appears (at beſt) to be but a matter of will worſhip, of humane and private invention, void of publique and plenary injunction, eſteemed by many but as a ſtratagem of State, a flag of faction, an en­gine framed on purpoſe to batter down Epiſcopacy, and the whole Church of England, in order to ob­tain the ſpoils of them; not to puniſh and amend the evil that might be in Epiſcopal Govern­ment, or in ſome Biſhops and other Miniſters, but to ſeize all their eſtates, and all the patrimony of14 the Church, to the great enriching of ſome ſacrile­gious Proteſtants, to the gratifying of ſome Preſ­byters envy and revenge, but moſt of all to the great joy and triumph of the Romiſh party and Je­ſuitick deſigns, which were thought by many wiſe men to have been, if not the Sires, yet the Sibs to that Covenant; that they might help to ſpread it as a ſnare in Mizpeh, thereby to catch and deſtroy the famouſeſt Biſhops, the moſt renowned Clergie, the beſt reformed and moſt flouriſhing Church in all the world.

§. The beſt aſ­pect of the Covenant con­ſidered in con­ſcience.But I will look upon this Covenant in the ſof­teſt ſenſe that can be made of it, as a voluntary Vow, or religious Bond which private men, and ſome part only of the Nation, ſpontaneouſly took upon themſelves, in order to declare their ſenſe of duty to God, the King, the Church, their Country, and the Reformed Religion, to make themſelves more ſtrictly ſenſible of the ſacred and civil obligations reſpectively due to them, that ſo they might be more ready to diſcharge them in their places and callings by taking ſuch a Covenant freely, not for fear of priſon, plunder, ſequeſtration, and the like wracks of mens ſouls; the terrors of which made many, if not moſt of the takers of the Covenant, to take it; and yet I believe not one fourth part of the people of England now living ever did take it in any ſort; and very few but rigid Bigots and viru­lent ſpirits in any ſenſe, againſt primitive, reformed, and regular Epiſcopacy, ſo reduced to an efficacious conjuction with Presbytery, as the moſt Reverend Primate of Armagh propoſed in his Reduction of15 late, and ſo did the Lord Virulam long before in his conſiderations touching the Church of England, offered to King James in the beginning of his reign.

§. In this aſpect of the Covenant,Anſwers direct. as a religious obligation, either newly made or renewed upon the foul of any that willingly and freely took it, and who thereby think themſelves eternally obliged to fulfill the letter of it, or that ſenſe they had of it as to the matter of Church-government by Epiſco­pacy or Prelacy, which they fancied to have abju­red and renounced, no leſs than Popery; my An­ſwers and Solutions are theſe:

1. What only can bind in it,

Firſt, They are not the bare words of the Covenant which as charms can bind any mans conſcience, to or againſt any thing; but it is that force of Truth, Reaſon, Juſtice, Religion and Duty to God, or man, our ſelves or others which morally and really obligeth men, either by Gods general or particular precepts; which are as iron or admantine bands on every mans ſoul, to chuſe good and do it, to hate evil and eſchew it, long before any of theſe withes or cords of mans combining and tying are put upon them, by themſelves or others.

2. Not the ta­kers fancy or impoſers.

Secondly, Nor can any ſuch Covenant bind any man in any conſciencious bond, meerly by the power of a mans own imagination, or by ſuch a prejudice and preſumption as he liſts to form and take up a­gainſt any thing, ſhort of, or beyond the merit of it, either as good or evil.


3. It cannot bind to the in­ury of others.

Thirdly, No ſuch Covenant can bind us to the injury of anothers liberty, right, power, or lawful authority, private or publick; and ſo not againſt that which is in the King and the Biſhops, or in the major part of the Church or of the Country, or of any Parliament, which may look upon Biſhops and Epiſcopacy with a far more propitious eye than thoſe that beheld it only through the Presbyterian ſpectacles.

4. It cannot bind either to evil, or from good.

Fourthly, Such a Covenant can bind no man in conſcience againſt any thing that is in its nature good, or that is not morally evil; for this were for man to bind himſelf and others beyond Gods eternal bonds of righteouſneſs: They are Covenants with Hell and Death which bind men either to what is evil and ſinful in its nature, or from what is allowed of God as good and lawful, yea and may be neceſ­ſary in its time and place; now there is no doubt, but there is much good in Epiſcopal order and go­vernment; much good was done by it to the Churches of Chriſt in the primitive and all times; much to this Church of England ſince the Reformation and before; the principles and proportions of order, ſub­ordination and government (which hold good in all other polities, and fraternities) cannot be evil in this of Epiſcopacy; It hath much of God in it, from Scriptural precepts and patterns in the Jewiſh Church, which the Chriſtians followed in many things; It hath ſo much of Chriſts example, and the Apoſtolick conſtitution, of the primitive uſe, of Eccleſiaſtical cuſtom, of holy mens general appro­bation, and univerſal imitation, both here in Eng­land17 and elſewhere, that it were extreme folly, madneſs, prophaneſs and blaſphemy to cry it down for evil, or to engage and covenant againſt it as ſuch, when it hath in it ſo much good, and ſo atteſted by experience, to be beneficial for the well-being, yea almoſt for the compleat and regular being of any Church, and none more than this of England, where people are not to be governed by their e­quals and inferiours, becauſe they are in black cotes.

5. It cannot ob­lige to extir­pate the uſe of what is good, becauſe of any abuſe.

Fifthly, No man may vow or covenant, much leſs keep any ſuch Covenant as he hath taken intenti­onally againſt the evil or corruption and abuſe of any thing, ſo as to involve the good and uſefulneſs of it, and to condem that to deſtruction or extirpation with the other, as Abraham ſaid to the Lord, God forbid that the Judge of all the earth ſhould deſtroy the righteous with the wicked; or caſt the wheat with the chaff into inquenchable fire: No, a good con­ſcience abhors confuſion; it doth not take or do things by whole-ſale but by retail, weighs all in the ballance of the Sanctuary, ſeparates the precious from the vile; the ſuperſtructures of men, from the foun­dations of Chriſt and his Apoſtles, which ſtood firm for ſo many ages; it becomes the children of wiſ­dom to juſtifie her, by trying all things, and hold­ing faſt what is good.

6. It obligeth not to aboliſh all that is good or chriſtian mixed with Popery.

Sixthly, As they that covenanted againſt Popery, cannot think they did abjure, or muſt abhor all thoſe ſaving truths and duties of Chriſtianity which are mix­ed with Popery; no more can they juſtly think be­cauſe they covenanted againſt Prelacy, that is, a­gainſt18 its pride, preſumption, idleneſs, covetouſneſs and tyranny, that therefore they are for ever engaged againſt the order, preſidency and paternal authority of Epiſcopacy; mens malice and hatred may not go beyond the grave; if the abuſes and diſorders in Prelatick Government be dead and buried, true Epiſcopacy may yet have a bleſſed reſurrection from corruption to incorruption, from diſhonor to honor, which I hope and pray God will by the wiſdom of the King and his Parliament effect.

It cannot bind to any thing out of a mans lawful power.

Seventhly, No man may lawfully vow and covenant, or accordingly act in any thing, which is not in his power and diſpoſe, in his ſphear and calling, beyond which bounds this Covenant permits no man to go; yea, it doth limit by theſe all his engagement and activity. Now certainly, the government of the Church of England, eſpecially as eſtabliſhed by Law, neither was nor is in any private mens power, be they never ſo many, either to alter, or innovate, or a­boliſh and extirpate; This is only in the power of the King as Supream, by the Law of God and the Land, to protect and preſerve: Nor can it be changed but by his royal aſſent to the counſel and deſire of the Two Houſes of Parliament: Nor may any man never ſo much for Presbytery, or Indepen­dency, or Anarchy, as to his private opinion, either vow or covenant, or act overtly and violently, fur­ther than by humble petition or counſel againſt e­ſtabliſhed and legal Epiſcopacy, no more than he may againſt Monarchy, becauſe he prefers either Ariſto­cracy or Democracy.


It cannot bind againſt what may after ap­pear good.

Eightly, As no man could lawfully covenant a­gainſt what he thinks to be good, or againſt what is leſs good then he deſires and opines, but out of his calling and lawful power to effect; ſo, nor can any man in conſcience be bound by any ſuch Co­venant (taken in a groſs ſenſe, or in general terms) againſt that which may upon ſecond thoughts, or after-view, and better information appear to be good and uſeful to him; he is here bound not to keep his Covenant, in the latitude of his miſtakes and pre­ſumptions, nor to act according to his prejudices and former ſuppoſals, but rather to retract his raſhneſs and unadviſedneſs in taking it at firſt, and to act according to the preſent evidence of what is true, juſt, good, lawful and uſeful, even in Epiſcopacy, whereof he cannot but ſtand convinced, both by the princi­ples of right reaſon, and the proportions of all Government, and by the experience of the de­fects, deformities and inconſiſtencies of all other mo­dels.

§. It is now high time, after ſo many afflictions to learn righteouſneſs and wiſdom; and to diſcern be­tween the faults of men or times; and the true na­ture of things; between good and bad Biſhops; be­tween pontifical Prelacy, and Paternal Epiſcopacy, which is that wherewith all ſober men would be ſatisfied, and againſt which no Covenanter could in Reaſon or Religion, in piety or policy, in prudence or conſcience be engaged.

The duty of a cautious and conſcintious Covenanter.

Ninethly, The cautious and conſciencious Co­venanter therefore is now to take a calmer view and20 exacter meaſure of the Covenant than (perhaps) he did at the firſt offer and taking of it, which was in haſte, and heat, in fear and fury; what then he greedily ſwal­lowed without chewing, he ſhould now leiſurely and ſoberly ruminate; for in lumps it will not eaſily di­geſt or paſs; he may better learn what there is of God or good in it by the ſtill voyce, wherein now the Lords mercy appears and ſpeaks to this Church and Kingdom, than in thoſe fires and earth­quakes, which at firſt repreſented this Covenant to him with ſhining ſwords.

§. He muſt now diſtinguiſh what may be in it of God, what of good and well-meaning-men, and what of evil or ſiniſter deſigns, at leaſt as to the event; in what is good he may lawfully perſevere; what may by ſome be urged to evil, he is to avoid; what he did weakly or inconſiderately in the taking or purſuing of it, he is to repent of and retract, by keeping in the bounds of duty, allegiance and ſub­jection to God and his Superiors in Church and State.

10. The eaſie ſatisfaction of any conſcien­tious Cove­nanter.

Tenthly, and laſtly, the moſt ſtrict and ſevere Cove­nanter cannot but be ſatisfied and abſolved in point of conſcience, if firſt he hath and ſtill doth in his place and calling ſeaſonably adviſe, humbly petition, and lawfully endeavour to reform what is truly amiſs in the Church Government by Biſhops. Secondly, If he uſe the like means to reſtore and preſerve, what he finds good and uſeful in Epiſcopacy. Thirdly, If he humbly ſubmit to what the King in this point as Supream ſhall ſee fit to eſtabliſh in his Church;21 which is very probable to be ſuch, as will much dif­fer from the former way of Government,Reformed E­piſcopacy con­ſiſtent with the Covenant. as to any thing evil or inconvenient in it: Certainly, a little change realy to the better, much more an honeſt and ingenuous Reformation of Epiſcopacy, beyond the former exceſſive or defective either conſtitution or execution of it, will abundantly abſolve the honeſt, yea and the very litteral and complexive meaning of that Covenant; which may not be a bond of ini­quity, or a ſnare and gin for ſchiſm and ſedition to act by, to the diſhonor of God, to the reproach of the Reformed Religion, to the ſcandal of foraign Churches, and to the ruine of theſe ſometimes ſo famous and flouriſhing; which the King and every good Sub­ject are bound in conſcience to repair and reſtore, not only to, but (if it may be) beyond its priſtine condition; wherein ſome things poſſibly were ſo a­miſs that it will be happy to have them either ſup­plied as to the defects, or repreſſed as to the ex­ceſſes, without any extirpation of what is holy and catholick, primitive and paternal, orderly, politick and prudent in Epiſcopacy; which Government duly fitted and fixed, comprehends beyond any, all the juſt intereſts of People and Presbyters, no leſs than of the Biſhops and of the King.

§. This Right,The duty and juſt dealing of an honeſt Co­nanter. Juſtice and Duty then every con­ſciencious Covenanter ows,

1. To God, in approving, deſiring, loving, and uſing what is good.

2. To the King, as the chief Governour of the Church and State, enjoyning things lawful22 and honeſt, though not the very beſt.

3. To the Biſhops and Fathers of the Church, who have been many of them moſt injuriouſly u­ſed many years, and ought in Juſtice to be recom­penced.

4. To all learned and ſober Miniſters, who have a long time been expoſed to all manner of diſcou­raging and dividing factions among themſelves, and inſolencies from the people, for want of King and Biſhop to govern, guide and protect them.

5. He ows this love, moderation and charity to this Church, hereby to advance and ſettle the uni­ty, peace and proſperity of it, which cannot be but in the way of Epiſcopacy duly conſtituted, and carefully executed.

Laſtly, he ows this care to his own ſoul, whoſe inward and eternal peace is not to be made up by paſſion, ſuperſtition or preſumption, but by meekneſs of wiſ­dom, juſtice, charity and diſcretion; as in all other things, ſo very much in this point of Epiſcopacy; ſo ſtudiouſly then put into the Covenant toſerve a prevalent intereſt, but no way in conſcience to be now ſtretched againſt a right and regular Epiſco­pacy, no more than Phyſick given to cure a diſeaſe, ſhould like unmortified Quick-ſilver, be applied to kill the man.

§. The ſenſe which the prime authors of the Cove­nant gave of it.This I know was the ſenſe of the moſt lear­ned men in the Aſſembly, and of thoſe, who with my ſelf had as much right to ſit among them, as any others, but were not permitted, either by popular faction and tumult, or by other ſhufflings and reaſons23 of State which took care to exclude or deter all the excellent Biſhops of the Church, and the moſt able of Epiſcopal Divines, for fear there ſhould have been any juſt plea for moderate Epiſcopacy, againſt the then Magiſtery of Presbytery. This I have oft heard Mr. Marſhal and others affirm (who had a great hand in penning and promoting the Co­venant) and they owned it to ſome foraign Di­vines, That the Covenant was levelled only at the (Deſpoticum, Tyrannicum, regimen) miſgovern­ment not the Government of Epiſcopacy. This is at preſent the ſenſe and hopes of the moſt learned and godly Presbyterians, whom I have lately ſpoken with in London and elſewhere; That if the ancient lapſed and decayed frame of Epiſcopal government were a little altered, it would ſatisfie the end and letter of the Covenant, which was not to deſtroy, but to build, and repair, not to conſume all, but to uſe thoſe ma­terials which were good in that antient, noble, and venerable fabrick of Epiſcopacy.

§. The ſpeedy ſettling this Church in a Epiſcopacy.Which I beſeech God may by his Maje­ſties piety and wiſdom be ſpeedily and reſolutely ſetled in its beſt conſtitution; wherein to take good counſel is Kingly and Chriſtian; but to tar­ry till all Sects and ſorts of people be agreed and ſatisfied, will be to expoſe his Royal Autho­rity to undervaluings, and this Church to everlaſt­ing confuſions.

§. Nor doth there need much counſel to know, or courage for to do, what is here meet to be24 done, in order to ſatisfie the moſt, and I may ſay the beſt of all ſorts in this Kingdom, both as to minds, manners, and eſtates. For his Majeſty hath not a new Church to build, but an antient and well-modelled one to reſtore: They are not foundations of faith or good manners, which are to be laid, but either ſome neceſſary reparations to be made in reference to ſuch decays, as long time brings upon the beſt things under heaven; or ſuch pinacles be taken down as being much waſted with age, rather threaten than adorn the Church of Chriſt; whoſe dilapidations, after all the covenanting complements and reformings have been ten times more in theſe laſt twenty years under the hands of bungling Reformers (who would needs do Church-work without the Maſter­builders,The ruines of this Church the laſt 20 years for want of Epiſcopacy. Kings and Biſhops) than they were for fourſcore years ſince the Reformation in England, yea, or the firſt Four hundred years of the Church, in the midſt of Perſecution; when many godly Biſhops were perſecuted by Hea­thens and Hereticks; but this Age is the firſt Parent of that Prodigie, wherein Orthodox and Reformed Chriſtians, either Presbyters or People did perſecute godly Biſhops, (of the ſame Faith and Profeſſion) yea, and Epiſcopacy it ſelfe, though never ſo regular and reformed; which could not juſtly be the meaning of the Cove­nant; and if it were, it cannot thereby bind any man that took it, further than to repent of his raſhneſs, and to act contrary to ſo in­jurious, irreligious, irrational and impolitick a25 ſenſe. From which ſnare the Lord doth un­doubtedly deliver every good mans conſcience; for as God cannot tempt; ſo nor can any thing in his name tye or bind men to any thing that is a ſin: They that under any ſuch ſiniſter no­tions and unjuſt ends lifted up one of their hands to the moſt high God, to prophane his holy Name, had need bend both their knees and lift up both their hands to Heaven humbly to beg of God pardon for their folly, and grace to re­turn to that duty which they owe to God, to the King, to the Biſhops, to this Church, to their Coun­try, and to their Conſciences.

§. Thus (Sir,)Concluſion. have I in two days finiſhed my anſwer and Solutions, as to the bondage and ſcruple of the Covenant in the caſe of Epiſcopacy, wherein I hove freely ſet down my moſt impar­tial ſenſe and thoughts of it, being willing to reconcile it to Reaſon and Religion, as far as may be; beyond which it can have no juſt in­fluence, power, or efficacy upon any mans conſci­ence: Nor would I have it ſo accurſed of God, (though as yet it hath been no Procurer of any great bleſſings to us in the Church) as to be made the Jeſuitick wedge to keep us ever from cloſing with a right Epiſcopacy. Doubtleſs the ſenſe of the Covenant hath lately quickned ma­ny mens conſciences in their. Allegiance to the King, ſo as to bring him (as David) home with infinite joy and triumph; Nor do I deſpair but it may be applied ſo (as in Truth and Juſtice26 it ought) for the recovery and reſtauration of the Church of England to ſuch an happy Order, Ʋnity, and Government, as is moſt deſired by all good Biſhops, by all grave Presbyters, and by all gracious People, who have zeal according to knowledge, and are not like a Taylors Gooſe very heavy and hot, but blind and dark; apter to ſcortch and oppreſs, then to enlighten and di­rect themſelves or others.



Books written by Dr. Gauden, and ſold by Andrew Crook, at the green Dragon in St. Pauls Church-yard.

1. HIeraſpiſtes, A Defence for the Miniſtry and Mi­niſters of the Church of England.

2. Three Sermons preached on publick occaſions.

3. Funerals made Cordials, in a Sermon preached at the Interment of the Corps of Robert Rich, Heir apparent to the Earldom of Warwick.

4. A ſermon preached at the Funeral of Dr. Ralph Broun­rig Biſhop of Exceſter (Decemb. 17. 1659. ) with an ac­count of his Life and Death.

5. A Petitionary Remonſtrance in the behalf of many thou­ſand Miniſters and Scholars.

〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, ſive Medicaſtri, Slight healers of publique hurts, ſet forth in a Sermon Preached in St. Pauls Church, London, before the right honorable Lord Mayor, Lord General, Al­dermen, Common-Council, & Companies of the honorable City of London, Febr. 28. 1659. being a day of Solemn thanksgiving unto God, for reſtoring the Secluded Members of Parliament to the houſe of Commons, (And for pre­ſerving the City) as a Door of Hope thereby opened to the fulneſs and freedom of future Parliaments: The moſt probable means under God for healing the Hurts, and recovering the health of theſe three Brittiſh King­doms.

〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Gods great Demonſtrations and Demands of Juſtice, Mercy and Humility, ſet forth in a Sermon preached before the Honorable Houſe of Commons, at their Solemn Faſt, before their firſt ſitting, April 30. 1660.

About this transcription

TextAnalysis. The loosing of St. Peters bands; : setting forth the true sense and solution of the covenant in point of conscience so far as it relates to the government of the church by episcopacy. / By John Gauden ...
AuthorGauden, John, 1605-1662..
Extent Approx. 50 KB of XML-encoded text transcribed from 15 1-bit group-IV TIFF page images.
SeriesEarly English books online text creation partnership.
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(EEBO-TCP ; phase 2, no. A85839)

Transcribed from: (Early English Books Online ; image set 171384)

Images scanned from microfilm: (Early English books, 1641-1700 ; 2572:33)

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Bibliographic informationAnalysis. The loosing of St. Peters bands; : setting forth the true sense and solution of the covenant in point of conscience so far as it relates to the government of the church by episcopacy. / By John Gauden ... Gauden, John, 1605-1662.. 26, [1] p. Printed by J. Best, for Andrew Crook, at the Green-Dragon in St. Pauls Church-yard.,London, :1660.. (First word of title in Greek characters.) ("Books written by Dr. Gauden, and sold by Andrew Crook ..." ([1] p. at end).) (Reproduction of original in the Henry E. Huntington Library.)
  • Solemn League and Covenant (1643)
  • Covenanters -- Controversial literature.
  • Episcopacy.

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ImprintAnn Arbor, MI ; Oxford (UK) : 2014-11 (EEBO-TCP Phase 2).
  • DLPS A85839
  • STC Wing G340
  • STC ESTC R202274
  • EEBO-CITATION 45097798
  • OCLC ocm 45097798
  • VID 171384

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