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.
6. Upon His Majesties retirement from Westminster.
WITH what unwillingnesse I withdrew from Westminster, let them judge, who, unprovided of tackling, and victuall, are forced by Sea to a storm; yet better do so, then venture splitting or sinking on a Lee shore.
I stayed at Whitehall, till I was driven away by shame more than feare; to see the barbarous rudenesse of those Tumults who resolved they would take the boldnesse to demand any thing, and not leave either My self, or the Members of Parliament the liberty of our Reason, and Conscience to deny them anything.
Nor was this intolerable oppression My case alone, (though chiefly Mine) For the Lords and Commons might be content to be overvoted by the major part of their Houses, when they had used each their owne freedome.
Whose agreeing Votes were not by any Law or reason conclusive to My Judgment; nor can they include, or carry with them My consent, whom they represent not in any kind; Nor am I further bound to agree with the Votes of both Houses, then I see them agree with the will of God, with My just Rights, as a King, and the gcnerall good of My People. I see that as many men they are seldome of one mind; and I may oft see, that the major part of them are not in the right.
I had formerly declared to sober and moderate mindes, how desirous I was to give all just content, when I agreed to so many Bills, which had been enough to secure and satisfie all: If some mens Hydropick insatiablenesse had not learned to thirst the more by how much more they drank; whom no fountain of Royall bounty was able to overcome; so resolved they seemed, either utterly to exhaust it, or barbarously to obstruct it.
Sure it ceases to be Councell; when not Reason is used, as to men to perswade; but force and terrour as to beasts, to drive and compell men to assent to what ever tumultuary patrones shall project. He deserves to be a slave without pitty, or redemption, that is content to have the rationall soveraignty of his Soul, and liberty of his will, and words so captivated.
Nor do I think My Kingdomes so considerable as to preserve them with the forfeiture of that freedome; which cannot be denied Me as a King, because it belongs to Me as a Man, and a Christian; owning the dictates of none, but God, to be above Me, as obliging Me to consent. Better for Me to die enjoying this Empire of My Soul, which subjects Me only to God, so farre as by Reason or Religion he directs Me, then live with the Title of a King, if it should carry such a vassalage with it, as not to suffer Me to use My Reason and Conscience, in which I declare as a King, to like or dislike.
So farre am I from thinking the Majesty of the Crown of England to be bound by any Coronation Oath, in a blind and brutish formality, to consent to what ever its subjects in Parliament shall require; as some men will needs inferre; while denying Me any power of a Negative voice as King, they are not ashamed to seek to deprive Me of the liberty of using My Reason with a good Conscience, which themselves, and all the Commons of England enjoy proportionable to their influence on the publick; who would take it very ill to be urged, not to deny, whatever My self, as King, or the House of Peeres with Me should, not so much desire as enjoyn them to passe. I think My Oath fully discharged in that point by My Governing only by such Lawes, as My People with the House of Peeres have Chosen, and My self have consented to. I shall never think My self conscientiously tied to goe as oft against My Conscience, as I should consent to such new Proposals, which My Reason, in Justice, Honour, and Religion bids Me deny.
Yet so tender I see some men are of their being subject to Arbitrary Government, (that is, the Law of anothers will, to which themselves give no consent) that they care not with how much dishonour and absurdity they make their King the onely man, that must be subject to the will of others, without having power left Him, to use His own Reason, either in Person, or by any Representation.
And if My dissentings at any time were (as some have suspected, and uncharitably avowed out of error, opinion, activenesse, weaknesse, or wilfulnesse, and what they call Obstinacy in Me (which not true Judgement of things, but some vehement prejudice or passion hath fixed on My mind;) yet can no man think it other then the Badge and Method of Slavery, by savage rudenesse, and importunate detrusions of violence, to have the mist of His Errour and Passion dispelled, which is a shadow of Reason, and must serve those that are destitute of the substance. Sure that man cannot be blameable to God or Man, who seriously endeavours to see the best reason of things, and faithfully followes what he takes for Reason: The uprightnesse of his intentions will excuse the possible failings of his understandings; If a Pilot at Sea cannot see the Pole-star, it can be no fault in him to steere his course by such stars as do best appear to him. It argues rather those men to be conscious of their defects of Reason, and convincing Arguments, who call in the assistance of meer force to carry on the weaknesse of their Councells, and Proposalls. I may, in the Truth and uprightnesse of My heart, protest before God and Men; that I never wilfully opposed, or denied any thing, that was in a fair way, after full and free debates propounded to Me, by the two Houses, Further then I thought in good reason I might, and was bound to do.
Nor did any thing ever please Me more, then when My Judgment so concurred with theirs, that I might with good Conscience consent to them: yea, in many things where not absolute and morall necessity of Reason, but temporary convenience on point of Honour was to be considered. I chose rather to deny My self, then them; as preferring that which they thought necessary for My Peoples good, before what I saw but convenient for My self.
For I can be content to recede much from My own Interests, and Personall Rights, of which I conceive My self to be Master; but in what concernes Truth, Justice, the Rights of the Church, and My Crown, together with the generall good of My Kingdomes; (all which I am bound to preserve as much as morally lies in Me;) here I am, and ever shall be fixt and resolute, nor shall any man gain My consent to that, wherein My Heart gives My tongue or hand the Lie; nor will I be brought to affirme that to Men, which in My Conscience I denied before God. I will rather chuse to wear a Crown of Thornes with My Saviour, then to exchange that of Gold (which is due to Me) for one of lead, whose embased flexiblenesse shall be forced to bend, and comply to the various, and oft contrary dictates of any Factions; when instead of Reason, and Publick concernments, they obtrude nothing but what makes for the interest of parties, and flowes from the partialities of private wills and passions.
I know no resolutions more worthy a Christian King, then to prefer His Conscience before His Kingdomes.
O my God, preserve thy servant in this Native, Rationall and Religious freedome; For this I believe is thy will, that we should maintaine: who, though thou dost justly require us, to submit our understandings and wills to thine; whose wisdom and goodnesse can neither erre, nor misguide us, and so farre to deny our carnall reason, in order to thy sacred Mysteries, and commands, that we should believe and obey rather then dispute them; yet dost thou expect from us, only such a reasonable service of thee, as not to doe any thing for thee, against our consciences; and as to the desires of men, enjoynest us to try all things by the touch-stone of Reason and Lawes, which are the rules of Civill Justice; and to declare our consents to that only which our Judgements approve.
Thou knowest, O Lord, how unwilling I was to desert that place, in which thou hast set me, and whereto the affaires of My Kingdoms at present did call me.
My People can witnesse how far I have been content for their good, to deny My self, in what thou hast subjected to My disposal!.
O Let not the unthankfull importunities, and tumultuary violence of some mens Immoderate demands, ever betray Me to that degenerous and unmanly slavery, which should make Me strengthen them by My consent in those things which I think in My Conscience to be against thy glory, the good of My subjects, and the discharge of My own duty to Reason and Justice.
Make Me willing to suffer the greatest indignities, and injuries they presse upon Me, rather then commit the least sinne against My Conscience.
Let the just liberties of My people be (as well they may) preserved in faire, and equall wayes, without the slavery of My soul.
Thou that hast invested Me by thy favours, in the power of a Christian King, suffer Me not to subject My Reason to other mens passions, and designes, which to Me seems unreasonable, unjust, and irreligious: So shall I serve thee in the truth and uprightnesse of My heart, though I cannot satisfie these men.
Though I be driven from among them, yet give Me grace to walk alwayes uprightly before thee.
Lead Me in the way of Truth and Justice, for these, I know, will bring Me at last to peace and happinesse with thee; though for these I have much trouble among men.
This I beg of thee for My Saviours sake.