An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons, enjoining the taking of the late Solemn League and Covenant, throughout the Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales.
2. February. 1643.
WHEREAS a Covenant for the preservation and Reformation of Religion, The maintenance and defence of Laws and Liberties, hath been thought a fit and excellent means to acquire the favour of Almighty God towards the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland; and likewise to unite them, and by uniting, to strengthen and fortify them against the Common Enemy of the true Reformed Religion, Peace and Prosperity of these Kingdoms; And whereas both Houses of Parliament in England, the Cities of London and Westminster, and the Kingdom of Scotland have already taken the same; It is now Ordered and Ordained by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, that the same Covenant be solemnly taken in all places throughout the Kingdom of England, and Dominion of Wales. And for the better and more orderly taking thereof these directions ensuing are appointed and enjoined strictly to be followed.
Instructions for taking of the Solemn League and Covenant throughout the Kingdom.
I. That the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament do speedily send (to the Lord General and all other Commanders in chief, and Governors of Towns, Forts, Castles, and Garrisons, as also to the Earle of Warwick Lord High Admiral of England) true Copies of the said solemn League and Covenant, to the end it may be taken by all Officers and Soldiers under their several Commands.
II. That all the Knights and Burgesses now in Parliament, do take special care speedily to send down into their several Counties (which are or shall hereafter be under the power of the Parliament) a competent number of true Copies of the said League and Covenant unto the Committees of Parliament in their several Counties; And that the said Committees do within six days at the most, disperse the said Copies to every Parish Church or Chapel in their several Counties, to be delivered unto the Ministers, Churchwardens, or Constables of the several Parishes.
III. That the said Committees be required to return a Certificate of the day when they received the said Copies, as also the day they sent them forth, and to what Parishes they have sent them, which Certificate they are to return to the Clerk of the Parliament appointed for the Commons House, that so an Account may be given of it, as there shall be occasion.
IV. That the several Ministers be required to read the said Covenant publicly unto their people the next Lords day after they receive it, and prepare their people for it, against the time that they shall be called to take it.
V. That the said League and Covenant be taken by the Committees of Parliament in the place where they reside, and tendered also to the Inhabitants of the Town, within seven days after it comes to the said Committees hands.
VI. That the said Committees after they have taken it themselves, do speedily disperse themselves through the said Counties, so as three or four of them be together on days appointed at the chief places of meeting for the several divisions of the said Counties, And summon all the Ministers, Churchwardens, Constables, and other Officers unto that place, where, after a Sermon preached by one appointed by the Committee for that purpose, they cause the same Minister to tender the League and Covenant unto all such Ministers and other Officers, to be taken and subscribed by them, in the presence of the said Committees.
VII. That the said Committees do withal give the said Ministers in charge to tender it unto all the rest of their Parishioners the next Lords day, making then unto their said Parishioners some solemn exhortation concerning the taking and observing thereof: And that the said Committees do also return to the several Parishes the Names of all such as have taken the Covenant before them, who yet shall also Subscribe their Names in the book or Roll with their neighbours in their several Parishes: And if any Minister refuse or neglect to appear at the said Summons, or refuse to take the said Covenant before the Committee, or to tender it to his Parish, that then the Committee be careful to appoint another Minister to do it in his place.
VIII. That this League and Covenant be tendered to all men, within the several Parishes, above the age of eighteen, as well Lodgers as Inhabitants.
IX. That it be Recommended to the Earl of Manchester to take special care that it be tendered and taken in the University of Cambridge.
X. That for the better encouragement of all sorts of Persons to take it; It be recommended to the assembly of Divines to make a brief Declaration by way of Exhortation to all sorts of persons to take it, as that which they judge not only lawful, But (all things considered) exceeding expedient and necessary, for all that wish well to Religion, the King and Kingdom, to join in, and to be a singular pledge of God's gracious goodness to all the three Kingdoms.
XI. That if any Minister do refuse to take, or to tender the Covenant, or any other person or persons do not take it the Lords day that it is tendered, that then it be tendered to them again the Lords day following, and if they still continue to refuse it, that then their Names be returned by the Minister that tenders it, and by the Churchwardens or Constables unto the Committees, and by them to the House of Commons, that such further course may be taken with them, as the Houses of Parliament shall see cause.
XII. That all such persons as are within the several Parishes when notice is given of the taking of it, and do absent themselves from the Church at the time of taking it, and come not in afterwards to the Minister and Churchwardens, or other Officers, to take it in their presence before the return be made, be returned as refusers.
XIII. The manner of the taking it to be thus, The Minister to read the whole Covenant distinctly and audibly in the Pulpit, and during the time of the reading thereof, the whole Congregation to be uncovered, and at the end of his reading thereof, all to take it standing, lifting up their Right hands bare, and then afterwards to subscribe it severally, by writing their names (or their marks, to which their names are to be added) in a parchment Roll, or a Book, whereinto the Covenant is to be inserted, purposely provided for that end, and kept as a Record in the Parish.
XIIII. That the assembly of Divines do prepare an Exhortation for the better taking of the Covenant: And that the said Exhortation and the Declaration of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, joined in the Armies, for the vindication and defence of their Religion, Liberties, and Laws, against the Popish Prelatical and Malignant party, and passed the 30. of January last, be publicly read, when the Covenant is read, according to the fourth and sixth Articles: And that a sufficient number of the copies of the said Declaration be sent by the persons appointed to send the true Copies of the said Covenant, in the first and second articles.
Hen. Elsynge, Cler. Parl. Dom. Com.