Redes Sociais

1514 - 24/11/1572

The Duty of Christian Subjects

Upon Criminal Magistrates;
As Maintained by the Presbyterian Reformer

By John Knox
In a debate with Secretary Lethington

© Copyright: Public Domain

Master Knox, said he [Secretary Lethington], yesterday we heard your Judgment upon the thirteenth [chapter] to the Romans; we heard the mind of the Apostle well opened; we heard the causes why God hath established powers upon the earth; we heard of the necessity that mankind hath of the same; and we heard the duty of Magistrates sufficiently declared; But in two things I was offended, as I think some other more of my Lords that were present: which was, Ye made difference betwixt the Ordinance of God, and the persons that were placed in Authority: And ye affirmed, That men might refuse the persons, and yet not offend against God’s Ordinance; This is one, the other ye had no time to explain; but this me thought ye meant, That Subjects were not bound to obey their Princes, if they command unlawful things, but that they might refuse their Princes; and that they were not ever bound to suffer.

In very deed, said the other [John Knox], ye have rightly both marked my words, and understood my mind; for of that same Judgment I have long been, and yet so remain.

[Let this be noted diligently.]

How will ye prove your division and difference (said Lethington,) and that the persons placed in Authority, may be resisted, and the Ordinance of God not transgressed, seeing that the Apostle saith, He that resisteth, resisteth the Ordinance of God.

My Lord, said he, The plain words of the Apostle makes the difference, and the facts of many approved by God, prove my affirmative. First the Apostle affirms, That the powers are ordained of God, for the preservation of quiet and peaceable men, and for the punishment of malefactors; whereof it is plain, That the Ordinance of God and the power given unto man, is one thing, and the person clad with the Authority, is another; For God’s Ordinance is the conservation of mankind, The punishment of vice, and the maintenance of virtue, which in itself is holy, just, constant, stable, and perpetual; but men clad with the Authority, are commonly profane and unjust; yea, they are mutable, transitory, and subject to corruption, as God threateneth by his Prophet David, saying, I have said ye are gods, and every one of you the sons of the most high; but ye shall die as men, and the Princes shall fall like others. [Psalm 82.] Here I am assured, that the persons, yea soul and body, are threatened with death; I think that so ye will not affirm, is the Authority, the Ordinance, and the Power, wherewith God endued such persons; for (as I have said) it is holy, so [it] is the permanent will of God. And now, my Lord, that the Prince may be resisted, and yet the Ordinance of God not violated: It is evident that the people resisted Saul, when he had sworn by the living God that Jonathan should die; The people (I say) swore in the contrary, and delivered Jonathan, so that a hair of his head fell not: Now Saul was the Anointed King, and they {385} were his subjects, and yet they resisted him, that they made him no better than men sworn. I doubt (said Lethington) That in so doing, the people did well. The Spirit of God (said the other) accuses them not of any crime, but rather praises them, and condemns the King, as well for his foolish vow and Law made without God, as for his cruel mind, that so severely would have punished an innocent man: But herein will I not stand; this that followeth shall confirm the former. This same Saulcommanded Abimelech and the Priests of the Lord to be slain, because they had committed Treason (as he alledged) for intercommuning with David: His Guard, and principal servants, would not obey his unjust commandment [1 Sam. 22]; But Doeg the flatterer put the King’s cruelty in execution. I will not ask your judgment, Whether that the servants of the King, in not obeying his Commandment, resisted the Ordinance of God, or not; or, Whether Doeg, in murdering the Priests, gave obedience to a just Authority: For I have the Spirit of God, speaking by the mouth of David, for assurance, as well of the one, as of the other; for he in his 52ndPsalm, condemns that fact, as a most cruel murder; and affirms, That God would punish, not only the commander, but also the merciless executer: And therefore I conclude, That they who gainstood his commandment, resisted not the Ordinance of God. And now (my Lord) to answer to the place of the Apostle, who affirms, That such as resist the Power, resist the Ordinance of God; I say, That such power in that place is not to be understood of unjust commandment of men, but of the just power wherewith God hath armed his Magistrates and Lieutenants, to punish sin, and maintain virtue. And if any man should enterprise to take from the hands of the faithful Judge a murderer and adulterer, or any malefactor that deserved death, this same resisteth God’s Ordinance, and procureth to himself vengeance and damnation, because that he stayed God’s Sword from striking. But so it is, if men in the fear of God oppose themselves to the fury and blind rage of Princes; for so they resist not God, but the devil, who abuses the Sword and Authority of God. I understand sufficiently (said Lethington) what ye mean; unto the one part I will not oppose myself, but I doubt of the other; for if the Queen would command me to slay John Knox, because she is offended at him, I would not obey her: But if she would command others to do it, or yet by colour of Justice take his life from him, I cannot tell if I be bound to defend him against the Queen and her Officers. With protestation (said the other) That the auditors think not that I speak in favour of myself, I say, my Lord, That if ye be persuaded of my innocency, and if God have given unto you such power and credit as might deliver me, and yet [ye] suffered me to perish, that in so doing, ye should be criminal and guilty of my blood. Prove that, and win the play (said Lethington.) Well, my Lord (said the other) remember your promise, and I will be short in my probation: The Prophet Jeremy was apprehended by the Priests and Prophets (who were a part of the Authority within Jerusalem) and by the multitude of the people, and this sentence was pronounced against him, Thou shalt die the death; for thou hast said, This House shall be like Shiloh, and this City shall be desolate,{386} without any Inhabitant, &c. The Princes hearing the uproar, came from the King’s house, and sat down in Judgment in the entry of the new Gate of the Lord’s House; And there the Priests and Prophets, before the Princes, and before all the people, intended their Accusation in these words; This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this City, and your ears have heard. Jeremiah answered, That whatsoever he had spoken, proceeded from God; and therefore said he; As for me, behold, I am in your hands, do with me as ye think good and right; But know ye for certain, That if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon your souls, and upon this City, and upon the inhabitants thereof: For of a truth, the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words. Now, my Lord, if the Princes and the whole people should have been guilty of the Prophet’s blood, How shall ye, or others, be judged innocent before God, if ye shall suffer the blood of such as have not deserved their blood to be shed, when ye may save it. The causes were nothing alike (said Lethington.) And I would learn (said the other)wherein the dissimilitude stands. First (said Lethington) the King had not condemned him to death; And next, The false Prophets, the Priests, and the People, accused him without a cause, and therefore they could not [but] be guilty of his blood. Neither of these (said John Knox) fights against my argument; For albeit the King was neither present, nor yet had condemned him, yet were the Princes and chief Counsellors there sitting in Judgment, who represented the King’s Authority, hearing the accusation laid unto the charge of the Prophet; And therefore he forewarns them of the danger, as before is said; to wit, That in case he should be condemned, and so put to death, That the King, the Council, and the whole City of Jerusalem, should be guilty of his blood, because that he had committed no crime worthy of death: And if ye think that they all should have been criminal, only because that they all accused him, the plain Text witnesseth the contrary; for the Princes defended him, and so (no doubt) did a great part of the People; and yet he boldly affirmed, That they should be all guilty of his blood, if he should be put to death. And the Prophet Ezekiel gives a reason, Why all are guilty of common corruption, Because (saith he) I sought a man amongst them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the Land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none: Therefore have I poured forth my indignation upon them. Hereof, my Lord, (said he) it is plain, That God craves, not only that man should do no iniquity in his own person; but also that he oppose himself to all iniquity, so far as in him lieth. Then will ye (said Lethington) make subjects to control their Princes and Rulers. And what harm (said the other) should the Commonwealth receive, if the corrupt affections of ignorant Rulers were moderated, and so bridled by the wisdom and discretion of godly subjects, that they should do no wrong, nor no violence to any man. All this reasoning (said Lethington) is out of the purpose; For we reason as if the Queen should become such an enemy to our Religion, that she should persecute it, and put innocent {387} men to death; while I am assured, she never thought, nor never will do; For if I should see her begin at that end, yea, if I should suspect any such thing in her, I should be as far forward in that argument, as ye, or any other within the Realm: But there is no such thing; Our Question is, Whether that ye may suppress the Queen’s Mass; or, Whether that her Idolatry shall be laid to our charge. What ye may (said John Knox) by force, I dispute not: But what ye may and ought to do by God’s express Commandment, that I can tell. Idolatry ought not only to be suppressed, but the Idolater also ought to die the death: But by whom? By the people of God (said the other [John Knox]) for the Commandment was given to Israel, as ye may read, Hear Israel, (says the Lord) the Statutes and the Ordinances of the Lord thy God, &c. Yea, a Commandment is given, that if it be heard that Idolatry is committed in any one City, inquisition shall be taken; and if it be found true, That then the whole Body of the People arise and destroy that City, sparing in it neither man, woman, nor child. But there is no Commandment (said the Secretary) given to punish their King. If he be an Idolater, I find no privilege granted unto Kings (said the other) by God, more than unto the people, to offend God’s Majesty. I grant (said Lethington)but yet the people may not be judges to their King to punish him, albeit he be an Idolater. God (said the other) is the Universal Judge, as well unto the King, as to the People: So that what his Word commands to be punished in the one, is not to be absolved in the other. We agree in that (said Lethington) But the people may not execute God’s Judgments, but must leave it unto himself, who will either punish it by Death, by War, by Imprisonment, or by some other kind of his Plagues.

I know (said John Knox) the last part of the reason to be true: But for the first, That the people, yea, or a part of the people, may not execute God’s Judgments against their King, being an offender: I am assured ye have no other Warrant, except you own imaginations, and the opinions of such as more fear to offend their Princes than God.

Why say ye so (said Lethington) I have the judgments of the most famous men in Europe, and of such as ye yourself will confess both godly and learned.

And with that he called for his Papers, which produced by Master Maitland, he began to read with great gravity the Judgments of Luther, Melancthon, the minds of Bucer, Musculus, and Calvin, how Christians should behave themselves in times of Persecution; yea, the Book of Baruc was not omitted, with this conclusion, The gathering of those things (said he) hath cost me more travail than I think this seven years in reading Commentaries.

The more pity (said the other) and yet what you have profited your own cause, let others judge. But as for my argument, I am assured you have infirmed it in nothing; for your first two witnesses speak against the Anabaptists, who deny that Christians should be {388} subject to Magistrates; or yet that it is lawful for a Christian to be a Magistrate: whose opinion, I no less abhor, than ye do, or any other that liveth. The others speak of Christians subject to Tyrants and Infidels, so dispersed, that they have no other force, but only to sob unto God for deliverance; that such (indeed) should hazard any further than these godly men wills them, I cannot hastily be of council: But my argument hath another ground; for I speak of a people assembled in one Body of a Commonwealth, unto whom God hath given sufficient force, not only to resist, but also to suppress all kind of open Idolatry: And such a people yet again I affirm, are bound to keep their Land clean and unpolluted. And that this my division shall not appear strange unto you, ye shall understand that God required one thing of Abrahamand of his Seed, when he and they were strangers and Pilgrims in Egypt and Canaan; and another thing required he of them, when they were delivered from the Bondage of Egypt, and the possession of the Land of Canaangranted unto them: The first, and during the time of their Bondage, God craved no more, but that Abraham should not defile himself with their Idolatry; neither was he, nor his Posterity commanded to destroy the Idols that were inCanaan, or in Egypt: But when God gave unto them possession of the Land, he gave unto them this strait Commandment, Beware that thou make not League or Confederacy with the inhabitants of this Land: give not thy sons unto their daughters, nor yet give thy daughters unto their sons, &c. But this ye shall do unto them, Cut down their Groves, destroy their Images, break down their Altars, and leave thou no kind of remembrance of these Abominations which the Inhabitants of the Land used before; for thou art a holy People unto the Lord thy God; defile not thyself therefore with their gods, &c. To this Commandment, I say, are ye, my Lords, and all such as have professed the Lord within this Realm, bound; for God hath wrought no less miraculously upon you, both Spiritually and Corporally, than he did unto the Carnal seed of Abraham: For in what state your Bodies, and this poor Realm were, within these seven years, yourselves cannot be ignorant; you and it were both in the Bondage of a strange Nation, and what Tyrants did reign over your consciences, God perchance may yet again let you feel, because that ye do not rightly acknowledge and esteem the benefits received, when our poor Brethren that were before us, gave up their bodies to the flames of fire, for the Testimony of God’s Truth. And when scarcely could be found ten in a Country that rightly knew God, it had been foolishness to have craved, either of the Nobility, or of the mean Subjects, the suppressing of Idolatry; for that had been nothing, but to have exposed the simple Sheep as a prey to the Wolves: But since that God hath multiplied knowledge, yea, and hath given the victory to his Truth, even in the hands of his servants, if ye suffer the Land again to be defiled, ye, and your Princes shall both drink the cup of God’s indignation: The Queen, for her obstinate abiding in manifest Idolatry, in this great light of the Evangel of Jesus Christ; And ye, for your permission and maintaining her in the same. (Lethington said,) In that point we will never agree. {389}

And where find ye (I pray you) that ever any of the Prophets, or of the Apostles, taught such Doctrine, That the people should be plagued for the Idolatry of the Prince; or yet, That the Subjects might suppress the Idolatry of the Rulers, or them for the same. What was the Commission given unto the Apostles? My Lord, (said he) we know it was to preach, and plant the Evangel of Jesus Christ where darkness before had Dominion; And therefore it behoved them to let them see the light, before that they should will them, to put their hands to suppress Idolatry: What precepts the Apostles gave unto the faithful in particular, other than that they commanded all to fly from Idolatry, I will not affirm: But I find two things which the faithful did; The one was, They assisted their preachers, even against the Rulers and Magistrates; The other was, They suppressed Idolatry, wheresoever God gave unto them force; asking no leave of the Emperour, nor of his Deputies. Read the Ecclesiastical Histories, and ye shall find examples sufficient. And as to the Doctrine of the Prophets, we know they were Interpreters of the Law of God; and we know, They spake as well unto the Kings, as unto the People. I read that neither of both would hear them; and therefore came the plague of God upon both; but that they flattered the Kings more than they did the people, I cannot be persuaded. Now God’s Law pronounces death (as before I have said) to Idolaters without exception of persons. Now, how the Prophets could rightly interpret the Law, and shew the cause of God’s Judgments, which ever they threatened should fall for Idolatry, and for the rest of the abominations that did accompany it (for it is never alone, but still corrupt Religion brings with it, a filthy, and corrupt life.) How (I say) the Prophets could reprove the Vice, and not shew the people their duty, I understand not; And therefore, I constantly believe, That the Doctrine of the Prophets was so sensible, That the Kings understood their own abominations; and the people understood, what they ought to have done in punishing and repressing them. But because that the most part of the People was no less Rebellious unto God, than were their Princes; Therefore the one, and the other, conjured against God, and against his servants. And yet my Lord, The facts of some Prophets are so evident, That thereby we may collect what Doctrine they taught; For it were no small absurdity to affirm, that their facts did repugne to their Doctrine. I think (said Lethington) ye mean of the History of Jehu, What will ye prove thereby? The chief head (said John Knox) that ye deny, to wit, That the Prophets never taught, that it appertained to the people to punish the Idolatry of their Kings: The contrary whereof I affirm; and for the probation, I am ready to produce the fact of a Prophet. For ye know my Lord (said he) that Elisha, sent one of the children of the Prophets to anoint Jehu, who gave him a commandment to destroy the house of his Master Ahabfor the Idolatry committed by him; and for the innocent blood that Jezebel his wicked Wife had shed. While he obeyed and put in full execution (for the which) God promised unto him, the stability of the Kingdom, unto the fourth Generation. {390}

Now (said he) here is the fact of a Prophet, that proves, that Subjects were commanded to execute God’s judgments upon their Kings and Prince. There is enough (said Lethington) to be answered thereto; For Jehu was a King before he put any thing to execution. And besides, That the fact is extraordinary, and ought not to be Imitate:My Lord (said the other) he was a mere Subject, and no King, when the Prophet’s servant came unto him; yea, and albeit that his fellow Captains hearing of the Message, blew the Trumpet, and said, Jehu is King; yet I doubt not, but Jezebel both thought, and said, that he was a Traitor; and so did many others that were in Israel, and inSamaria.

And as touching, That ye allege, that the fact was extraordinary, and is not to be imitate: I say, That it had the ground of God’s ordinary judgment, which commandeth the Idolater to die the death. And therefore, I yet again affirm, That it is to be Imitate of all those that prefers the true Honour of the true Worship and Glory of God, to the affection of the flesh, and wicked Princes. We are not bound (said Lethington) to follow extraordinary examples, unless we have the like commandment and assurance. I grant (said the other) if the example repugne to the Law; As if an avaricious and deceitful man would borrow Silver, Raiment, or other necessaries from his Neighbour, and withhold the same; alleging, that so he might do, and not offend God; because the Israelites at their departure forth of Egypt, did so to the Egyptians. The example served to no purpose, unless that they could produce the like cause, and the like commandment that the Israelites had; and that because their fact repugned to this Commandment of God, Thou shalt not steal: But where the example agrees with the Law, and is, as it were the execution of God’s judgment, expressed within the same; I say, That the example approved of God, stands to us in place of a Commandment; For as God in his Nature, is constant and immutable, so can he not condemn in the Ages subsequent, that which he hath approved in his servants before us; but in his servants before us, he by his own word confounds all such as crave further approbation of God’s will, than is already expressed within his Scriptures; For Abraham said, They have Moses and the Prophets, whom if they will not believe, neither will they believe, albeit that any of the dead should rise. [Luke 16.] Even so (I say) my Lord, that such as will not be taught what they ought to do by the Commandment of God once given, and once put in practice, will not believe nor obey, albeit, that God should send Angels from Heaven to instruct that Doctrine.

Ye have produced but one example (said Lethington.) One sufficeth (said the other;) but yet God be praised we lack not others; for the whole people conspired against Amaziah King of Judah, after that he had turned away from the Lord, and followed him to Lachish, and slew him, and took Uzziah and anointed him King instead of his father. [2 Chron. 25, 26.] The people had not altogether forgotten the League and Covenant, which was made betwixt their Kings and them, at the Inauguration of Joash his Father; to wit, That the King and the People should be the People of the Lord, and then should they be his faithful Subjects. [2 Chron. 23.] From the {391} which Covenant when first the Father, and after the son had declined, they were both punished to death, Joash by his own servants, and Amaziah by the whole people.

I doubt (said Lethington) whether they did well or not.

It shall be free for you (said the other) to doubt as you please, but where I find execution according to God’s Law, and God himself not to accuse the doers, I dare not doubt of the equity of their cause. And farther it appeareth to me, that God gave sufficient approbation and allowance of their fact, for he blessed them with victory, peace, and prosperity the space of fifty-two years after.

But prosperity (said Lethington) does not always prove that God approves the facts of men.

Yes, (said the other) when the facts of men agree with the Law of God, and are rewarded according to his own promise expressed in his Law; I say, that the prosperity succeeding the fact, is a most infallible assurance that God hath approved that fact. Now so it is That God hath pronounced in his Law, That when the people shall exterminate and destroy such as decline from him, that he will bless them and multiply them, as he hath promised unto their Fathers. But so it is that Amaziah turned from God (for so the Text doth witness, and plain it is the people slew their King; and like plain it is, that God blessed them: Therefore yet again conclude I that God himself approved their fact, and so far as it was done according to his commandment, it was blessed according to his promise.

Well, (said Lethington) I think not the ground so sure, as I durst built my Conscience thereupon.

I pray God (said the other) that your Conscience have no worse ground than this is whensoever you shall begin the like work which God in your own eyes hath already blessed. And now, my Lord, (saith he) I have but one example to produce, and then I will put an end to my reasoning, because I am weary longer to stand. Commandment was given that he should sit down; but he refused, and said, Melancholy reasons would have some mirth intermixed: My last example, (said he) my Lord is this, Uzziah the King not content with his Royal Estate, malapertly took upon him to enter within the Temple of the Lord to burn Incense upon the Altar of Incense [2 Chron. 26]; andAzariah the Priest, went in after him, and with him fourscore Priests of the Lord, valiant men, and they withstoodUzziah, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, (Uzziah) to burn Incense unto the Lord, but to the Priests the Sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to offer Incense; Go forth of the Sanctuary, for thou hast transgressed, and thou shalt have none honour of the Lord. Hereof, my Lords, I conclude, That Subjects not only may, but also ought to withstand and resist their Princes, whensoever they do any thing that expressly repugnes to God, his Law, or holy Ordinance.

They that withstood the King (said Lethington) were not simple subjects, but were the Priests of the Lord, and figures of Christ, and {392} such Priests have we none this day to withstand Kings if they do any wrong.

That the High Priest was the figure of Christ (said the other) I grant, but that he was not a subject, that I deny; for I am assured, that he in his Priesthood had no Prerogative above those that passed before him; now so it is, thatAaron was subject to Moses, and called him his Lord [Exod. 32.22; Num. 12.11]; Samuel being both Prophet and Priest, subjected himself unto Saul after he was inaugurated of the People; Zadok bowed before David; andAbiathar was deposed from the Priesthood by Solomon, which all confessed themselves subjects to the Kings, albeit therewith they ceased not to be the figures of Christ. And whereas you say, we have no such priests this day, I might answer, That neither have we such Kings this day as then were anointed by God’s commandment, and sat upon the seat of David, and were no less the figure of Christ Jesus in their just administration, than were the Priests in their appointed Office; and such kings (I am assured) we have not now no more than we have such Priests; for Christ Jesus being anointed in our nature of God his Father, both King, Priest, and Prophet, hath put end to all external unction. And yet I think you will not say that God hath now diminished his graces from those whom he appoints Ambassadours betwixt him and his people, than he doth from Kings and Princes; and therefore why the servants of Jesus Christ may not also justly withstand Kings and Princes that this day no less offend God’s Majesty than Uzziah did, I see not; unless that ye will say, that we in the brightness of the Evangel, are not so straitly bound to regard God’s glory, nor his Commandments, as were the Fathers who lived under the dark shadows of the Law.

Well (said Lethington) I will dip no farther in that Head; but how resisted the Priests the King, they only spake unto him, without further violence intended.

That they withstood him (said the other) the Text assures me, but that they did nothing but speak, I cannot understand; for the plain Text affirms the contrary, to wit, That they caused him hastily to depart from the sanctuary, yea, and that he was compelled to depart; which manner of speaking (I am assured) in the HebrewTongue, importeth more than exhorting, or commanding by word.

They did that (said Lethington) after he was espied to be leprous.

They withstood him before, (said the other) but yet their last fact confirms my proposition so evidently, that such as will oppose themselves unto it, must needs oppose themselves unto God; for my assertion is, That Kings have no privilege more than hath the people to offend God’s Majesty, and if so they do, they are no more exempted from the punishment of the Law, than is any other subject; yea, and that subjects may not only lawfully oppose themselves to their Kings, whensoever they do any thing that expressly oppugns God’s Commandment, but also that they may execute judgment upon them, according to God’s Law; so that if the King be a Murderer, Adulterer, or an Idolater, he should suffer {393} according to God’s Law, not as a King, but as an offender: And that the people may put God’s Law in execution, this History clearly proveth; for how soon that the Leprosy appeared in his forehead, he was not only compelled to depart out of the Sanctuary, but also he was removed from all public society and administration of the Kingdom, and was compelled to dwell in a house apart, even as the Law commanded; and gat no greater privilege in that case, than any other of the people should have done: And this was executed by the people; for it was no doubt but more were witnesses of his Leprosy than the Priests alone; but we find none oppose themselves to the sentence of God pronounced in his Law against the Leprosy: And therefore yet again I say, That the people ought to execute God’s Law, even against their Princes, when that their open crimes by God’s Law deserve punishment; but especially, when they are such as may infect the rest of the multitude. And now, my Lords, (said he) I will reason no longer, for I have spoken longer than I intended.

And yet (said Lethington) I cannot tell what shall be the conclusion.

Albeit ye cannot (said the other) yet I am assured what I have proved; to wit,

  1. That subjects have delivered an innocent from the hands of their King, and therefore offended not God.

  2. That subjects have refused to strike innocents, when a King commanded, and in so doing, denied no just Obedience.

  3. That such as struck at the commandment of the King, were before God reputed murderers.

  4. That God hath not only of a subject made a King, but also he armed subjects against their natural King, and commanded them to take vengeance upon them, according to his Law.

  5. And lastly, That God’s people hath executed God’s Law against their King, having no further regard to him in that behalf, than if he had been the most simple subject within the Realm.

And therefore, albeit ye will not understand what should be concluded, yet I am assured, That not only may God’s people, but also, That they are bound to do the same, where the like crimes are committed, and when he gives to them the like power.

Well (said Lethington) I think ye shall not have many learned men of your opinion.

My Lord, (said the other) the Truth ceaseth not to be Truth, howsoever it be, That men must either know it, or gainstand it. And yet (said he) I praise God, I lack not the consent and approbation of God’s servants in that Head.And with that he presented unto the Secretary {394} the Apology of Magdeburgh, and willed him to read the names of the Ministers, who had subscribed the defence of the Town to be a most just defence; and therewith added, That to resist a misled King, is not to resist God, nor yet his Ordinance, &c. Who when he had read, he stouped and said, Homines obscuri, [“Men of no note.”] The other answered, Dei tamen servi, [“Servants of God however.”] And Lethington arose, and said, My Lords, ye have heard the reasons upon both parts; it becomes you now to decide, and to put an order unto Preachers, that they be uniform in Doctrine. May we (think ye) take the Queen’s Mass from her?

While that some began to give, as it were, their Votes (for some were appointed, as it were, leaders of the rest)John Knox said; My Lords, I suppose you will not do contrary to your Lordships’ promise made to the whole Assembly, which was, That nothing should be voted in secret, till that first all matters should be debated in public, and that then the Votes of the whole Assembly should put end to the controversy. Now have I only sustained the argument, and have rather shewn my conscience in most simple manner, than that I have insisted upon the force and vehemency of any one argument: And therefore I for my part utterly dissent from all voting, until the whole Assembly have heard the Propositions and the Reasons of both parties; for I unfeignedly acknowledge, That many in that company are more able to sustain the argument than I am.

Think ye it reasonable (said Lethington) That such a multitude as are now convened, should reason and vote in such heads and matters that concern the Queen’s Majesties own Person and Affairs.

I think (said the other) that whatsoever should bind the multitude, the multitude should hear it; unless they have resigned their power to Commissioners, which they have not done, so far as I understand; for my Lord Justice Clerk heard them with one voice say, That in no wise would they consent that any thing there should be voted or concluded.

I cannot tell (said Lethington) if my Lords that be here present, and that bear the burden of such matters, should be bound to their will: What say ye, my Lords, (said he) will ye vote in this matter, or will ye not vote?

After long reasoning, some that were made for the purpose, said, Why may not the Lords vote, and then shew unto the Church whatsoever is done?

That appears to me (said John Knox) not only a backward order, but a tyranny usurped upon the Church: But for me, do as ye list (said he) for as I reason, so I wrote; yet protesting as before, That I dissent from all voting, till that the whole Assembly understand as well the questions as the reasons.

Well (said Lethington) that cannot be done now, for too much time is spent; And therefore, my Lord Chancellor(said he) ask ye the votes, and take ever, one of the Ministers, and one of us.

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