And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.—Acts 4.32.

[A Letter from the Synod of Zeeland to the Commissioners of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland.]
 
A     L  E  T  T  E  R
FROM
T H E    S  Y  N  O  D
OF
Z E L A N D,
TO THE
C O M M I S S I O N E R S   OF
The Generall Assembly of the
Kirk of
S C O T L A N D:
Written by them in Latin, and now faithfully
translated into English:
EXPRESSING,
  1. Their fellow-feeling of the present condition of the Kirks of Ireland
    and England, and exciting us to the like.
  2. Their respects and affection to the Kirk of Scotland.
  3. Their zeale to the Reformation of the Kirk of England, in Go-
    vernment and Ceremonies, and to the preservation of Religion
    there, Against the pride of Popery at this time.
  4. And their desire of Unity in Religion, and Uniformity of Kirk-
    government in his Majesties Dominions.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:they shal prosper that love thee, Ps.122.6.

July 18. 1643.                        Impimatur. JOHN WHITE.

First Printed at Edinburgh, and now reprinted at London for Edward
Brewster, and are to be sold on Fleet-bridge.   1643.
 
Right reverend, learned, and much honoured,
THE anxiety and sorrow, arising from the lamentable condition of the Kirk in Ireland, and troubled Estate of the Kirk in England, doth so vex and torment us, and the extreme danger to which they are brought is so great, and our desire of their delivery so vehement, that if we would, yet we cannot sufficiently express the same.

We acknowledge, that for our sins the Kirks are afflicted with these great miseries, forasmuch as in this so great light of the Gospel, Pride, Covetousness, Ambition, Drunkenness, Wantonness, filthy Lusts, and such like pestilent evils, do no less abundantly spring up among us, than when we sat in the darkness of Paganism and Popery: wherefore that which is written hath befallen us: I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage, I have given the dearly beloved of my Soul into the hand of her enemies: with what measure we have mete out unto the Lord, with the same he is again measuring unto us.

We hear from all quarters, of the boasting and pride of Moab; of the loftiness and arrogancy of his heart; that skipping for joy, he glorieth, that now the fatal day is come, and the fairest occasion that ever was, is now offered, to cut off such as they do hate with deadly hatred, and with one stroke to overthrow the reformed Kirks, and to root them out together, that they be no more. And verily, if we looked only to the arm of flesh, we might conceive this their insolent boasting not to be without cause; for if they be able to prevail over the Kirks of the flourishing and potent Kingdom of England, they are hopeful without difficulty to overturn the Kirks of Scotland, as also to bring easily the reformed Kirks of the Netherlands to the same desolation; and that there is no reformed Kirk in Europe which shall be able to withstand their formidable power: yea, they shall with open throat swallow them all up as a morsel of bread, feeding themselves upon these hopes, with great courage, extreme endeavours, and united forces, they address themselves to this work. So must also the reformed Kirks do, they must join their Counsels, courage, and strength, that they may make the present pernicious {2} blow aimed at them, return upon the heads of the enemies; if herein they be deficient, such shameful cowardice will be inexcusable to all posterity.

And whereas (much honoured) we use this compellation by our Letters, we earnestly entreat you, that ye take not this our dealing in ill part, as if we took upon us to waken you out of a deep sleep (far be such arrogancy and rashness from us) there are extant to the world most evident testimonies of your zeal for the reformed Religion. But the true cause of saluting you by these our Letters, is, that we may approve by our suffrage your diligence and zeal, and that we may pour out into your bosoms the fear of the doleful event wherewith we are perplexed. And that we may declare our desire and affection towards the Kirks of England, with which the Kirks within our bounds are so united, that we judge if the Kirks of England perish, they cannot escape ruin. Pardon therefore our freedom, in that we make bold thus to trouble you with our Letters, if it may be called trouble.

We entreat your wisdoms, forasmuch as ye are joined to these afflicted Kirks in neighbourhood, and nearest bonds under the government of one King, who is resolved to live and die in the reformed Religion, as in his publick Declarations plainly he hath professed, that with all careful endeavours ye aid them against the rage and fury of the factious and malignant.

And first, seeing the deplorable division between the King’s most Excellent Majesty and his Parliament, is exceeding perilous and hurtful to the Kirks of that Kingdom, that ye leave nothing un-essayed for healing of that rent, by prayer, supplications, intercessions, and all other lawful means.

Secondly, let it never come to pass, that these Kirks, deserted by you, become a prey to Popish Forces, and be woefully torn by them. O how much blood would be spilt! The times of Queen Mary would return, yea much more cruel than these: no cruelty that savages could devise would be omitted, no sex would be spared: keep not therefore yourselves quiet in this difficult time, as if from a high rock ye were beholding securely a tempest and present shipwreck: Far, far be such a mind from you, as it is indeed; not like to Meroz, whom the Angel of the Lord accursed: Therefore make haste to help the Lord, to help the Lord against the mighty. So shall ye oblige all the reformed Kirks of Europe unto you. {3}

Thirdly, so far as in you lieth give all diligence, that the foresaid Kirks, now freed of the Episcopal yoke, and purged from all the rites and dregs of Antichrist, be not drawn back to the same bondage, neither by fraud nor force. The Lord of his infinite goodness hath bestowed this favour on you, and hath put it in the heart of the King’s most excellent Majesty, that he will not have your necks pressed any longer with the yoke, or rather intolerable tyranny of Episcopal government, (we heartily congratulate with you in this your happiness.) But withall it is our desire, that ye lay your account, that if the neighbouring Kirks be drawn back to that yoke of bondage, (which God of his mercy avert) your liberty will not be long sure: for the enemies of the truth being strengthened by a new addition of forces, and increase of power, they will incessantly pursue you, that at last ye will yield, and of your own accord take on that iron yoke, which, though by a slow, yet by a sure pace, leadeth to utter destruction.

Ye ought therefore to strengthen and support the Kirks of England by your whole power, and to exhort them, that they come never again under that tyrannical yoke; but rather that they may stand courageously for the maintenance of their liberty (yet so, that they fall not on the other extreme, Anarchy, a more dangerous evil) yea, that they have not the least fellowship with any idolatrous rites or ceremonies. The Christian tabernacle no less than the Jewish ought to be built according to that pattern shewed in the Mount of the Scripture, so that there be not in the curtains thereof so much as a loop or a tache, but according to the prescript of God the only Lawgiver.

Long experience hath taught us, that there is in such rites a secret and wonderful power to defile, if but the smallest part thereof be admitted, it will not long continue so, but speedily, like a gangrene, it will begin to spread, whilst [until] at last it corrupt the whole worship, having lost the simplicity and purity of Christ’s institution. What? were she not a foolish and mad woman, who would adorn herself with ornaments borrowed from some vile harlot, supposing thereby the better to please her husband? What filthier harlot is there than the Romish strumpet, most accomplished in all sorts of spiritual villainies, surpassing all the bounds of impudency? Let us never therefore be so demented, as to account the worship of God, most pure by Christ’s institution, to be more pleasing unto God, when it is performed with {4} ornaments borrowed from the Romish Bordell [Brothel]. Let us think that the Lord cannot but be highly offended, take away his holy Spirit, and depart far with the light of his grace, so soon as men begin to be so mad; then he suffereth them from day to day to sink deeper in the dunghill of superstitious rites, wherein they delight, while [until] at last they be suffocated therein as it came to pass in the Papacy.

We confess indeed, that for things indifferent we like not to be contentious, neither left we the Romish Kirk for these or such like things; but for the denying of that only sacrifice of Christ in their Mass; for their adoration of a breaden god and of Saints, for their exalting the Pope above God, and for his tyranny; for their contempt & prohibition of the use of Scripture; for justification by works, and hundreds more of that kind. If the Romish Kirk had been tainted only with some smaller blemishes, or had been defiled only with some indifferent rites; if for these we had departed from her we might have been justly taxed as Schismatics, yea, a generation of vipers, which bursting through the mother’s bowels, is not brought forth but by parricide.

But first having once departed for their accursed idolatry, and the Kirk being purged, to return back again unto Popish rites, once cast out, appeareth evidently to be extremely dangerous, by reason of the subtilty and restlessness of Satan.

2. Whosoever ceaseth not eagerly to press and to introduce these rites, though they perceive all things to be turned upside-down thereby, they make manifest, that it is not for these ceremonies alone they stir up such troubles, but that they do secretly project some other thing.

3. As for such ceremonies and rites as have their original from minds arrogant, and not contented with divine institution, & to which an opinion of necessity is added, as if without these, holy things could not be decently gone about, and the worship but coldly performed; truly we cannot see how such ceremonies can be called indifferent.

Suffer never therefore (much honoured brethren) so far as is in you, that the English Kirks be forced to receive such ceremonies; but rather use all means that they and ye in Kirk-government may be brought to as near agreement as may be. Hence shall redound manifold and great utility. (1.) The pure manner of worship being preserved, the inestimable treasure of the purity of doctrine, which is committed to us, shall be the better kept, and transmitted uncorrupt to Posterity. (2.) If the Kirk be purged from all Popish leaven, she will be the more comely in the eyes of her bridegroom, and will obtain {5} the larger shower of blessings; and, as a field purged of tares, shall be the more fruitful. (3.) This will exceedingly settle the Estate of your Kirks against the continual Plots and Conspiracies of Papists; united Forces are strongest. The purity of worship being established, your Kirks shall grow up together with the English in a more solid and durable concord. (4.) This will cut short the Popish Emissaries of all hope of coming speed by their crafty wiles. They perceive that the reformed Kirks do extremely abhor their Idolatry: therefore they despair to introduce the same wholly and together: but they essay to creep in by degrees. They labour to persuade, that there is no danger, if with the singing of Psalms, Organs be joined as a part of Divine worship: if for the simple and ordinary habit of Ministers the Surplice be used: if with the Lord’s day, there be celebrated also Festival days in memory of the Martyrs: If these things shall prosper in their hands; then in place of a Table, ye shall have an Altar; for sitting at Communion, kneeling: and if they have success herein, then shall ye have Images, and the whole mask of Popery: with this hope they uphold themselves, and of this hope they are to be cut short. (5.) This also shall constrain such of ours who are busied about Reconciliation, that is to say, who labour to make up a Communion between day and night, darkness and light, to relinquish their foolish undertaking.

And let not that move you which is pretended; that such ceremonies as kneeling in the holy Supper, conduceth much to stir up piety, and to avoid contempt: that forewarning of the Apostle hath taken deep impression in our hearts, That such things have a shew of wisdom in will-worship and humility: but in effect are of no worth. Such things have the appearance of wisdom, but not the reality thereof. What? came not such a thought into our Saviour’s mind? Why then sat he after the ordinary custom of the country? Why enjoined he not kneeling? Next, what if some other should appoint for greater humility and submission of mind, that we should come with sackcloth and ashes to the holy Supper? Yea, if another should appoint, that we ought to come with ropes about our necks, that by this sign they might openly declare their extreme unworthiness, and that they had deserved death, as the servants of Benhadad came unto the King of Israel? And in end, what shall be the end, if this door shall once be opened? therefore we must not pass from the Primitive worship. {6}

But wherefore then, may some say, do yourselves pass from the Primitive way? Why stand they in the French Kirks at the Lord’s Supper? Why sit ye in the Netherlands? And why do ye not lean everywhere? The reformed Kirks have their answer ready: When we come to eat and drink at Table, it is all one, whether according to the custom of our country, we lean, sit, or stand; in none of these gestures is Religious worship placed: but to receive meat kneeling, is no where usual.

But that juggling enemy, who can transform himself into a thousand shapes, after he hath brought in kneeling, can remove a Table: for what hath kneeling to do with a Table? And having once removed a Table, can easily bring in an Altar: and then at last persuade to offer there a sacrifice for the living, and for the dead.

Neither need ye (Right reverend) to be afraid of them, who by their vile lies and calumnies labour to stir up against you the hatred of your most excellent King, as if ye were enemies to His Honour, and Royal Highness, or envied His greater Honour and Glory: For the King out of His deep Wisdom knoweth, that he hath not any more loyal Subjects, than these who are devoted to the reformed Religion: He knoweth that there is nothing can establish more His Throne, that can enlarge His Royal Honour and Magnificence more, or can better preserve His Royal Person, than if with His whole Power He defend the reformed Religion, against all the adversaries thereof: For the Kings most excellent Majesty knoweth, that such flatterers carry the shew of good-will, but in effect are the most deadly enemies of His Honour. Let not therefore such vain shadows of fear scare you, but go on constantly, and courageously in helping the afflicted Kirks. God shall abundantly bless your endeavours, and shall grant unto you that the whole Antichristian crew, in vain shewing their teeth, and opposing you, ye having obtained your desires, shall have large matter of giving thanks to his divine Majesty.

As for us, both in publick and private, in all the reformed Kirks throughout the Netherlands, we pour forth our earnest desires to God, that at last he would pity his afflicted Kirks, would calm their horrible tempests, and make them flourish in truth, piety, and peace, would remove all the impediments that hinder so great happiness.

Farewell, right reverend and dearly beloved Brethren, and interpret to the better part this our brotherly dealing, as flowing from our good affection.


F I N I S.