Declaration of Indulgence of King James II, April 27, 1688

This second of the declarations of indulgence issued by King James II included the full text of his first declaration issued April 4, 1687.

A printed version of the text can be found on pages 399 and 400 of English Historical Documents, 1660-1714, edited by Andrew Browning (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1953).

The King's declaration for liberty of conscience.

James R.

Our conduct has been such in all times as ought to have persuaded the world that we are firm and constant to our resolutions. Yet that easy people may not be abused by the malice of crafty, wicked men, we think fit to declare that our intentions are not changed since the 4th of april 1687, when we issued our declaration for liberty of conscience in the following terms:

[See the Declaration of Indulgence, April 4, 1687.]
Ever since we granted this indulgence, we have made it our principal care to see it preserved without distinction, as we are encouraged to do so daily by multitudes of addresses and many other assurances we receive from our subjects of all persuasions, as testimonies of their satisfaction and duty; the effects of which we doubt not but that the next Parliament will plainly show, and that it will not be in vain that we have resolved to use our utmost endeavours to establish liberty of conscience on such just and equal foundation as will render it unalterable, and secure to all people the free exercise of their religion for ever, by which future ages may reap the benefit of what is so undoubtedly for the general good of the whole kingdom. It is such a security we desire, without the burden and constraint of oaths and tests, which have been unhappily made by some governments, but could never support any; nor should men be advanced by such means to offices and employments, which ought to be the reward of services, fidelity, and merit.

We must conclude, that not only good Christians will join in this, but whoever is concerned for the increase of the wealth and power of this nation. It would, perhaps, prejudice some of our neighbours who might lose part of those vast advantages they now enjoy, if liberty of conscience were settled in these kingdoms, which are above all others most capable of improvements and of commanding the trade of the world. In pursuance of this great work, we have been forced to make many changes both of civil and military officers throughout our dominions, not thinking any ought to be employed in our service, who will not contribute towards the establishing the peace and greatness of their country, which we most earnestly desire, as unbiased men may see by the whole conduct of our government and by the condition of our fleet, and of our armies, which with good management shall be constantly the same, and greater if the safety or honour of the nation require it.

We recommend these considerations to all our subjects, and that they will reflect on their present ease and happiness, how for above three years that it has pleased God to permit us to reign over these kingdoms, we have not appeared to be that prince our enemies would have made the world afraid of, our chief aim having been not to be the oppressor, but the father of our people, of which we can give them no better evidence than by conjuring them to lay aside all private animosities as well as groundless jealousies, and to choose such members of Parliament as may do their part to finish what we have begun for the advantage of the monarchy over which Almighty God has placed us, being resolved to call a Parliament that shall meet in November next at furthest.

Given at our court at Whitehall, the twenty-seventh day of April, 1688, in the fourth year of our reign.

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