Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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Whereas a Covenant for the preservation and Reformation of Religion, The maintenances and defence of Laws and Liberties, hath been thought a fit and excellent means to acquire the favour of Almighty God towards the three kingdomes of England, Scotland, and Ireland; and likewise to unite them, and by uniting, to strengthen and fortifie them against the CommonEnemy of the true reformed Religion, Peace and Prosperity of these Kingdomes; And whereas both Houses of Parliament in England, the Cities of London and Westminster, and the Kingdome 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 Kingdome of England, and Dominion of Wales. And for the better and more orderly taking thereof these directions ensuing are appointed and enjoyned strictly to be followed.
That the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament doe speedily send (to the Lord Generall, and all other Commanders in chiefe, and Governours of Townes, Forts, Castles, and Garrisons, as also to the Earle of Warwick Lord High Admirall of England) true Copies of the said solemne League and Covenant, to the end it may be taken by all Officers and Souldiers under their severall Commands.
II. That all the Knights and Burgesses now in Parliament, doe take special care speedily to send down into their severall 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 severall Counties; And that the said Committees doe within six dayes at the most, disperse the said Copies to every Parish Church or Chappell in their severall Counties, to be delivered unto the Ministers, Churchwardens, or Constables of the severall Parishes.
III. That the said Committees be required to returne 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 Clerke 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 severall Ministers be required to reade the said Covenant publikely 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 dayes after it comes to the said Committees hands.
VI. That the said Committees after they have taken it themselves doe speedily disperse themselves through the said Counties, so as three or foure of them be together on dayes appointed at the chiefe place 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 withall 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 severall 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 severall 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 Committees be carefull to appoint another Minister to do it in his place.
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 onely lawfull, But (all things considered) exceeding expedient and necessary, for all that wish well to Religion, the King and Kingdome, to joyn in, and to be a singular pledge to Gods gracious goodness to all the three Kingdomes.
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 severall 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 returne 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 this 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, wherinto the Covenant is to be inserted, purposely provided for that end, and kept as a Record in the Parish.
XIV. 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 Kingdomes of England and Scotland, joyned in the Armies, for the vindication and defence of their Religion, Liberties and Lawes, against the Popish Prelaticall and Malignant party, and passed the 30. of Ianuary last, be publikely 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.