House of Commons Journal Volume 4: 21 April 1646

Pages 517-518

Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 4, 1644-1646. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.

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Page 517
Page 518

Die Martis, 21 Aprilis, 1646.


THE House, according to Order, this Day, the first Business, resumed the Consideration of the Narrative of the Matter of Fact concerning the Breach of the Privilege of Parliament, by the last Petition of the Assembly of Divines: The which was voted Clause by Clause; and was in bæc verba; viz.

A Narrative of the Matter of Fact concerning the Breach of the Privilege of Parliament by the Petition of the Assembly of Divines.

THE Parliament, by the fundamental Laws and Constitutions of this Kingdom, hath this great Privilege, to be the supreme Judicatory; and hath Jurisdiction in all Causes, spiritual and temporal, and to delegate so much of this Power as they think fit: And, when they have declared their Judgments, and given their Directions, in a Law, the same is binding to all Persons of this Kingdom, of what Quality soever.

The Assembly of Divines, called by Ordinance of Parliament, are authorized and injoined by the said Ordinance, from time to time, during this present Parliament, or until further Order be taken by both the said Houses, to treat of such Matters therein mentioned, as shall be proposed unto them, from time to time, by both or either of the Houses of Parliament, and no other; and to deliver their Opinions and Advices, of or touching the Matters aforesaid, as shall be most agreeable to the Word of God, to both or either of the said Houses, from time to time, in such Manner and Sort as by both or either of the said Houses shall be required; with a Prohibition, that they do not assume to exercise any Jurisdiction, Power, or Authority, Ecclesiastical, whatsoever, or any other Power, than what in the said Ordinance is particularly expressed.

The Assembly are further authorized, by Ordinance of Parliament, the Twelfth of October 1643, to treat among themselves of such a Discipline and Government as may be most agreeable to God's holy Word, and most apt to procure and preserve the Peace of the Church at home, and nearer Agreement with the Church of Scotland, and other Reformed Churches abroad; and to deliver their Opinions and Advice therein, with all convenient Speed, to the Houses: Whereupon they gave their Advice, before the Houses declared their Judgment in the Ordinance for Commissioners.

The Parliament having received the Advice of the Assembly concerning Presbyterial Government; and particularly, That Jesus Christ hath placed in the Ministers and Elders of his Churches the Power of keeping away scandalous and unworthy Persons from the Lord's Table;

Both Houses, after mature Deliberation had thereupon, did, notwithstanding, ordain, by a Law, That, in Cases not enumerated, the Commissioners, by them to be appointed according to the said Law, should exercise so much of the said Power, as in that Law is provided.

The Assembly are not authorized, as an Assembly, by any Ordinance or Order of Parliament, to interpret the Covenant, especially in relation to any Law made or to be made; nor, since the Law passed both Houses concerning the Commissioners, have been required by both or either of the Houses of Parliament, or had any Authority before by Parliament, to deliver their Opinions to the Houses, in Matters already judged and determined by them: Neither have they Power, either to debate or vote, whether what is passed as a Law by both Houses, be agreeing or disagreeing to the Word of God, until they be thereunto required.

Matter of Fact arising from the Petition itself.

The Assembly of Divines, under the Name of a Petition, dated March 23 1645, attested by the Prolocutor, and the Two Scribes;

First, Do oppose their Judgment, as an Assembly, in relation to a Law passed both Houses, unto the Judgment of Parliament, being not thereunto authorized nor required; affirming, That the Provision of Commissioners to judge of Scandals, not enumerated, appears to their Consciences to be so contrary to that Way of Government which Christ hath appointed in his Church, in that it giveth a Power to judge of Persons to come to the Sacrament, unto such as Christ hath not given that Power; and to be, in many respects in the said Petition mentioned, so disagreeable to the Covenant; that they dare not practise according to that Provision.

Secondly, The Assembly, in their Petition, do declare, That the Power of judging in Cases not enumerated (placed, in Part, by the said Laws, in Commissioners), and to keep back from the Sacrament all such as are notoriously scandalous, doth belong to the several Elderships by divine Right, and by the Will and Appointment of Christ; excluding thereby the said Commissioners, and in them the Parliament, from the Power and Right to judge in Cases of Scandal not enumerated.

This being taken into Consideration by the House of Commons; after a long and serious Debate had thereupon, they have Resolved and Declared, That this Petition, thus presented by the Assembly of Divines, is a Breach of Privilege of Parliament.

Mr. Samuel Browne, Mr. Prideaux, Mr. Natha. Fines, Mr. Marten, Mr. John Stephens, Sir John Evelyn of Wiltes, Sir Arthur Haslerigg, Sir Peter Wentworth, Mr. Rowse, Mr. Tate, Mr. Gurdon;

This Committee is appointed to communicate, in a fair manner, unto the Assembly of Divines, the Vote of this House, upon the Breach of Privilege in their Petition: And are to inlarge themselves upon the several Heads of the Narrative brought in from the Committee, and resolved on by the House.

Ordered, &c. That Mr. Walker, a Member of this House, shall have Leave to go into the Country, for Recovery of his Health.

Ordered, &c. That the Questions, brought from the Committee, to be propounded to the Assembly of Divines, be taken into Consideration To-morrow Morning, the first Business: And that, immediately after, the whole Business concerning the North, and concerningNottinghamshire, be taken into Consideration.

Ordered, &c. That Sir Philip Parker shall have Mr. Speaker's Warrant for his Son to go beyond Seas, into the Low-Countries.

Ordered, &c. That, on Saturday next, peremptorily, the first Business, the House do take into Consideration the Reports from Goldsmiths-Hall: And that Mr. Speaker put the House in mind hereof.

Ordered, &c. That Paul Best be brought to the House on Thursday come Sevennight: And that, in the mean time, he be remanded, and kept Prisoner, according to former Orders.