Declaration to Justify Their Proceedings and
Resolutions to Take Up Arms

August 4, 1642

From John Rushworth, Historical Collections of Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in Law, Remarkable Proceedings in Five Parliaments: Beginning the Sixteenth Year of King James, anno 1618, and Ending with the Death of King Charles the First, 1648 (London : Printed by J.A. for Robert Boulter, 1680-1701).

    We the Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled, having taken into serious Consideration, the present State and Condition of imminent Danger in which the Kingdom now stands, by reason of a Malignant Party prevailing with his Majesty, putting him upon violent and perilous Ways, and now in Arms against us, to the hazarding of his Majesty's Person, and for the Oppression of the true Religion, the Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom, and the Power and Priviledge of Parliament: all of which every honest Mand is bound to defend, especially those who have taken the late Protestation, by which they are more particularly tied unto it; and the more answerable before God, should they neglect it:
    Wherefore we finding ourselves ingaged in a Necessity to take up Arms likewise for the Defense of these, which otherwise might suffer and perish, And having used all the good ways and means to prevent Extremities, and preserve the Peace of the Kingdom (which good endeavors of ours the Malignity of our Enemies hath rendered altogether successless and vain) do now think fit to to give this Account unto the World,1 to be a Satisfaction unto all Men of the Justice of our Proceedings, and a Warning unto those who are involved in the same Danger with us, to let them see the Necessity and Duty which lies upon them, to save themselves, their Religion and Country, for which purpose we set out this ensuing Declaration.

...We do not grant what is so unreasonable and destructive, forthwith to bring on that Force which is prepared against us by the Concurrence and Assistance of Papists, an ambitious and discontented Clergie, Delinquents obnoxious to the justice of Parliament, and some ill affected Persons of the Nobility and Gentry, who out of their desire of a dissolute Liberty, apprehend, and would keep off the Reformation intended by Parliament.

    These persons have conspired together to ruin this Parliament, which alone hath set a stop to that Violence so long intended, and often attempted for the alteration of Religion, and subversion of the Laws and Liberties of the Kingdom... When they conceived the way to be sufficiently prepared, they at last resolved to put on their Masterpiece in Scotland (where the same method had been followed) and more boldly to unmask themselves, in imposing upon them a Popish Service-Book: For well they knew the same Fate attended both Kingdoms, and Religion could not be altered in the one without the other. God raised the Spirits of that Nation to oppose it, with so much Zeal and Indignation, that it kindled such a Flame, as no Expedient could be found but a Parliament here to quench it.

    This Necessity brought on this Parliament, and the same Necessity gave it in the beginning, Power to act with more Vigor and Resolution than the former Parliaments had done, and to set up a Reformation of the great Disorders both in the Ecclesiastical and Civil State, which drew a more particular envy and Odium upon it, than was usual to the generality of Parliament, and was a cause that those who had swallowed up in theirs Thoughts our Religion and Liberties, and now saw themselves defeated by this means, bended all their Endeavors, and raised all their Forces to destroy it...

    That done, then come they to crown the Work, and put that in Execution which was first in their Intention, that is, the changing of Religion into Popery and Superstition.

    All this which the two Houses of Parliament have, with all Duty and Loyalty, still applyed themselves unto his Majesty, and laboured, by humble Prayers, and clear convincing Reasons and Arguments in several Petitions, to satisfy him of their intentions, the justness of their Proceedings, their desire of the Safety of Royal Person, and of the Peace of the Kingdom...

    We have too just a cause to believe and know, considering those continued Designs upon us, and the composition of the King's Army, and of his Counsel at this time, that these things are desired to be made use of to our Destruction, and the Destruction of that which we are bound by our Protestation to defend, and woe to us if we do not at least do our utmost endeavor in it, for the discharge of our Duties, and the saving of our souls, and leave the Success to God Almighty.

    Therefore, we the Lords and Commons, are resolved to expose our Lives and Fortunes2 fo rthe Defence and Maintenance of the true Religion, the King's Person, Honour and Estate, the Power and Priviledge of Parliament, and the Just Rights and Liberties of the Subjects.

    And for the prevention of that mischievous Design, which gives motion to all the rest, and hath been so strongly pursued these many Years, the altering of our Religion, which if God in his Mercy had not miraculously diverted, long ago had we been brought to the Condition of poor Ireland, weltering in our own Blood and Confusion.

    And we do here require all those who have any sense of Piety, Honour or Compassion, to help a distressed State, especially such as have taken the Protestation, and are bound in the same Duty with us unto their God, their King and Country, to come into our Aid and Assistance: This being the true cause for which we raise and Army, under the command of the Earl of Essex, which whom in this Quarrel we will live and die.

1. Cf. Jefferson's "A decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them..."
2. Cf. The DOI: "we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our Sacred honor."