William Walwyn, A Word More to Mr. Thomas Edwards (19 March 1646).


For further information see the following:

Bibliographical Information

ID Number

T.60 [1646.03.19] William Walwyn, A Word More to Mr. Thomas Edwards Minister (19 March 1646).

Full title

William Walwyn, A Word More to Mr. Thomas Edwards Minister, by William Walwyn Marchant. Concerning the Nationall Covenant.

Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgement.

London, Printed according to order, by Thomas Paine. 1646.

Estimated date of publication

19 March 1646.

Thomason Tracts Catalog information

TT1, p. 427; Thomason E.328 [20]

Editor’s Introduction

(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)

Text of Pamphlet


Untill I perceive the contrary, I cannot but hope that I have prevailed something with you towards a change of your mind, and that you have begun to repent you of the evill you have done by publishing your book entituled the Gangreen: and doe wish my whisper had come so timely to your eare, as to have prevented the second edition, but repentance is never too late, and I earnestly desire it may be hearty in you, for furtherance whereof, having in my last forgotten to declare my judgement concerning the Nationall Covenant, wherein either you are entangled, or whereby you entangle others, forcing such an interpretation thereupon, as to bind all that have taken the same, to endeavour the establishment of a compulsive Presbyterian Government: directly contrary to the whole scope of the new Testament.

To remove this error, if you be consciencious there in: or to prevent the evil intended, and to undeceive those that misunderstand the Covenant, I shall at this time manifest unto you in what sence I tooke the same: conceiving my self obliged so to do, chiefly in duty to the publick, but withall, in due respect to my own good name, having been questioned by some, how it could stand with my Covenant, that I should be opposite in my judgement and endeavours to the government you intended, or be so serious an Advocate for liberty of Conscience? and I discerned a necessity of doing hereof at this instant of time, by occasion of a sermon I lately heard at Pauls: wherein all were supposed to be breakers of the Covenant, that did not insist and be importunate for such a government, & so much power as the assembly of divines should think fit, or to that effect; urging with such vehemency of expression, the pursuance of the Covenant in that sence, with such threats of judgements, and strong provocations, that I was amazed thereat, and had more feared the issue, but that I knew those honourable persons to whom he spake, were endued with wisdom to discerne whose worke he did: though I confesse it was done so artificially, as to have deceived the very choisest of men.

The two first articles of the Covenant, are only materiall to the point in question: and therefore I shall declare in what sence I took them, not medling with any other part thereof.

The first Article is thus. That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly through the grace of God, endeavour in our severall places and callings, the preservation of the reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies: by this I did binde my self to indeavour in my place and calling, the preservation of the Reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies, that is, that our common enemies shall not in any sort disturbe our brethren the Covenanters of Scotland, in the enjoyment of their Religion, and that form of Church Government which they conceived most agreeable to the Word of God: my bond being of force onely against our common enemies, and in no measure as justifying or judging of the form of government, be it Presbyterian, or any other. And I verily beleeve, thousands that chearfully took the Covenant in reference to mutuall aid and assistance of them against our common enemies, did not know or understand what their Government was, and should they alter their government to some other forme, I hold my self bound in duty to defend them therein against our common enemy, and do judg the honourable Parliament of Scotland as free to alter, as for ours to establish what God shall direct them, and the people there as free to move for the removall of any thing they find prejudiciall in their goverment, as we are here.

By the next words in the Covenant, I binde my selfe (in like manner) to indevour the reformation of Religion in the Kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline and Government, according to the word of God, and the example of the best reformed Churches: here the Word [3] of God is my particular and expresse rule, for the best Reformed Churches may need reformation, and can at best only minister an occasion of consideration of what is good in them, and agreeable to that word, but that word is still my unerring rule, and not reformed Churches. Withall, so farre as reformed Churches are in use in this case, I could not but esteem that Church the best reformed, where no coercive power is admitted, where there is no compulsion or molestation for Conscience sake, or matters of Religion, the word of God being clear and evident in that point. And truly so far as matters of Conscience and Religion can be intrusted (for I conceive no truly consciencious person in the world can absolutely intrust the regulation of his Conscience in the worship of God to any authority) but so far as it can, in this Nation of ours, I am certain it belongeth onely to the Parliament to judge what is agreeable to the word of God and not unto the Assembly, who were conveened by the Parliament to hear their advice, but reserving all power of determination to themselves, as no wise delegable to any others, and God hath blessed all their undertakings in a wonderfull manner, by the hands of Conscienscious people, because of their just and tender regard unto their freedom in Religion, notwithstanding all importunity to the contrary.

And where in the next place I bound my self to endeavour to bring the Churches of God in the three Kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in Religion, confession of Faith, forme of Church goverment, Directory for Worship and Catechisme, I conceive my bond is of force onely as I understand these or any of these to be agreeable to the word of God (which I must understand with my own understanding, and not by any others) and then also my endeavour for conformity, must be only by lawfull and just means, not by compulsion or enforcement, but by love, light, and argument: which was the way of our blessed Saviour and his Apostles, and in so doing, wee and our posterity after us may live in faith and love, & the Lord may delight to dwell in the middest of us: for God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him: Nor do I conceive the Conscience of the Parliament to be any otherwise obliged, then a particular mans Conscience, their votes and results being issues of particulars, and as they only are intrusted, so I trust and am confident they will understand with their owne understandings, and preserve us in our liberties, not only as we are men, but (Christians namely, in a liberty to be fully perswaded in our own minds, in all things appertaining to Gods worship,) and protect us in the peaceable practice of our consciences, against all kinds of molestation.

And how strange soever this may seem to you, unto me it seemeth most equal: because otherwise, a consciencious man (that of all men is the most precious in the sight of God, and should be so in the judgement of law and authority) of all men would be the least free, and most liable to disturbance, for allow unto such a one all the comforts that this world can afford, and but abridge him of his liberty of worshipping God according to his Conscience, his life in an instant becomes burthensome to him, his other contentments are of no esteeme, and you bring his gray hairs with extreame sorrow to the grave: for of all liberty liberty of Conscience is the greatest: and where that is not: a true Christian findeth none.

In the second Article I bound my selfe to endeavour the extirpation of heresie, schisme and whatsoever shal be found contrary to sound doctrine &c. Whereby it is supposed and urged that I am expressely bound against liberty of Conscience; but as I said before: judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgement: by heresie you understand all doctrines that are not agreeable unto yours: though you are not infallible: by schisme you understand the declining or forsaking the Presbyterian Government or congregations: in which sence you were a schisme from the Prelaticall Church: (but I entreat you speedily to explain by grounds of scripture what heresie is, and what schisme is: to which you will stand.) Most commonly by heresiy in the covenant, you understand heretick, and by schisme schismatick, and where in the covenant the word extirpation is applyed to heresie and schism, you apply it to the rooting up of hereticks: and schismaticks: but in all this I conceive you are extreamly mistaken.

However, when I tooke the Covenant I considered what heresie was, and I found that heresie is not: but where a man forsakes an infallible and knowne truth, and professeth the contrarie, for vile and worldy respects, as may appear by the words of the Apostle, to Titus, Chap. 3. v. 10. 11. A man that is an heretick, after the first or second admonition reject: knowing that he that is such, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himselfe, so as if I should know that you in the Bishops time did understand and beleeve upon sure grounds of scripture, that libertie of Conscience was due to every Christian, and in respect unto the truth thereof did plead and suffer for the same: and yet after that by the justice of this Parliament, you were delivered from that oppression and molestation for conscience sake: and stated in freedom: if after this, to gain honour profit or preferment, you shall be so subverted, as to practice the same oppression towards others, (that differ with you in judgement or way of worship) as was injuriously inflicted upon you: and strongly and clamourously, importune for power to suppresse consciencious people, this scripture as I conceive, judges you an heretick: one that sinneth, and is subverted and condemned of himselfe: if your conscience condernne you, God you know is greater then your Conscience, and will not acquit you. I dare not peremptorily take upon me to judge you in this sad condition, but that error in judgement, or blindnes in understanding, though very erronious and grosse, is heresie, I do not beleeve, but do rather conceive it an invention of some corrupt Clergy-men (to cause hatred among the people about opinions, thereby to divide them in affection, it being their maxim, (as well as other polititians) divide and master them,) and to have some colour of enforcing their interpretation of scripture as a rule upon all men, and to punish all opposers. And truly you shal do a good office if you shall open the eies of your friends in this particular, and not suffer them any longer to judge according to the rule of corrupt prelats and persecuting bishops, nor continue so violent against such as differ from them in judgment, but to judge others to bee consciencious as well as themselves, and beare with others, as they would be born withall themselves: being ever mindfull that none are now infallible.

And as concerning schism, I judge it not to be, but where an unpeaceable, and violent perversnesse appeareth, a disposition impossible to hold fellowship withall, and hee onely a schismatick that is such, and not an honest quiet spirited person, that out of conscience and difference in judgement, cannot walk in Church fellowship with me, this being also another invention, (as I beleeve) of corrupt prelats and persecuting bishops, to find occasion against Consciencious people, and by vexing them, to make them draw in their yoak, wherein also you shall doe well to open the eies of your friends, and help them to distinguish rightly of heresie and schisme, that so they may know what they have covenanted to extirpate, and what not.

And though I should find such heresies and schismes, and am bound by my Covenant to extirpate them; I must doe it in a way that is justifiable, I must not (as you seem to judge) endeavour to root out the hereticks and schismaticks, by banishment imprisonment or death, but by gentle and Christian means: that is, by perswasion, admonition, and information endeavour to reclaime them, and when that availeth not, I am only to reject them: or to hold no familiar society with them; According to this sence I took these two articles of our Nationall Covenant, and so did divers others that I know, nor do I discerne that I strained the naturall or genuine sence thereof in a tittle. If I am mistaken, I shall thank you or any other by grounds of scripture to shew me my error, but if this sence be good, you had need to warne your friends to take heed what they heare, for strange inferences are made from those two articles in the covenant: but I hope what I have said will satisfie all considerate consciences, and suffice to acquit me from breach of covenant, though I earnestly endeavour for liberty of conscience, wherein I am fully perswaded, the glory and truth of God, and good of all mankind is really involved; otherwise I would never have moved my tongue or pen in this argument.

And if I shall be so happy by what I have done, as to bee an instrument to reduce you into a charitable demeanor towards tender Consciences, I shall rejoyce more then to see a miracle: for I still remaine most earnestly desirous of your reformation, and eternall happinesse.

William Walwyn