Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Flight No Lawful Means of Escape for an Oppressed People
By Samuel Rutherford (1600?1661)
From Lex, Rex
NOW a private man may fly, and that is his second necessity, and violent re-offending is the third mean of self-preservation. But with leave, violent re-offending is necessary to a private man, when his second mean, to wit, flight, is not possible, and cannot attain the end, as in the case of David: if flight do not prevail, Goliahs sword and an host of armed men are lawful. So to a church and a community of Protestants, men, women, aged, sucking children, sick, and diseased, who are pressed either to be killed, or forsake religion and Jesus Christ, flight is not the second mean, nor a mean at all, because, (1) not possible, and therefore not a natural mean of preservation: for 1st, the aged, the sick, the sucking infants, and sound religion in the posterity cannot flee, flight here is physically and by natures necessity unpossible, and therefore no lawful mean. 2nd, if Christ have a promise that the ends of the earth (Ps. ii. 8) and the isles shall be His possession (Isa. xlix. 1), I see not how natural defence can put us to flee, even all Protestants, and their seed, and the weak and sick, whom we are obliged to defend as ourselves, both by the law of nature and grace. I read that seven wicked nations and idolatrous were cast out of their land to give place to the Church of God, to dwell there; but show me a warrant in natures law and in Gods word that three kingdoms of Protestants, their seed, aged, sick, sucking children, should flee out of England, Scotland, Ireland, and leave religion and the land to a king and to papists, prelates and bloody Irish, and atheists: and therefore to a church and community having Gods right and mans law to the land, violent re-offending is their second mean (next to supplications and declarations, etc.), and flight is not required of them, as of a private man. Yea, flight is not necessarily required of a private man, but where it is a possible mean of self-preservation, violent and unjust invasion of a private man, which is unavoidable may be obviated with violent re-offending. Now the unjust invasion made on Scotland in 1640, for refusing the service-book, or rather the idolatry of the Mass, therein intended, was unavoidable, it was unpossible for the Protestants, their old and sick, their women and sucking children to flee over sea, or to have shipping betwixt the kings bringing an army on them at Dunslaw, and the prelates charging of the ministers to receive the mass-book. Althusius saith well, Though private men may flee; but the estates if they flee, they do not their duty to commit a country, religion and all to a lion. Let not any object, we may not devise a way to fulfil the prophecy (Ps. ii. 8, 9, Isa. xlix. 1). It is true, if the way be our own sinful way; nor let any object, a colony went to New-England and fled the persecution. Answer, true, but if fleeing be the only mean after supplication, there was no more reason that one colony should go to New-England, than it is necessary and by a divine law obligatory, that the whole Protestants in the three kingdoms according to Royalists doctrine, are to leave their native country and religion to one man and to popish idolaters and atheists willing to worship idols with them; and whether then shall the Gospel be, which we are obliged to defend with our lives?