Another most usefull case of Conscience discussed and resolved, concerning Associations and Confederacies with Idolaters, Infidels, H•…reticks, or any other known Enemies of truth, and Godlinesse.
WHile I have occasion to speak of humane Cove∣nants, it shall not be unprofitable to speak some∣what to that question so much debated, as well among Divines, as among Polititians and Lawy∣ers, whether a confederacy and association with wicked men, or such as are of another Religion, be lawfull, yea, or no. For answer whereunto shortly, let us distinguish, 1. Civill Covenants. 2. Ecclesiastical, Sacred or Religious Covenants. 3. Mixed Covenants, partly civill, partly Religi∣ous.* The last two being made with wicked men, and such as differ in Religion from us, I hold to be unlawfull, and so do the best Writers. When the Israelites are forbidden a Cove∣nant with the Canaanites, speciall mention is made of their gods, altars, images, Exod. 23. 32. and 34. 13. 14. Iud. 2. 2. that no such superstitious, unlawfull worship might beetolera∣ted. As for civil Covenants, if they be for commerce or peace, which were called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, they are allowed according to the Scriptures, Gen. 14. 13. Gen. 31. 44. 1 Kings 5. 12. Ier. 29. 7. Rom. 12. 18. Such Covenants the Venetians have with the Turke, because of vicinity: Such Covenants also Christi∣an Emperours of old, had sometimes with the Pagans. It was the breach of a civill Covenant of peace with the Turke, that God punished so exemplarly in Vladyslaus King of Hungary: But if the civill Covenant be such a Covenant as the Grecians* called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to joine in military expeditions together, of this is the greatest debate and controversie among Writers; for my Page 170 part, I hold it unlawfull with divers good Writers; And I con∣ceive that Exod. 34. God forbiddeth not only Religious Co∣venants with the Canaanites, but even civill Covenants, vers. 12. and conjugall Covenants, vers. 16. Which is also Iunius his opinion in his Analysis upon that place. The reason for the unlawfulnesse of such confederacies are brought. 1. From the Law, Exod, 23. 32. and 34. 12. 15. Deut. 7. 2. Yea God mak∣eth this a principall stipulation and condition upon their part, while he is making a Covenant with them, Exod. 34. 10. 12. Iud. 2. 1. 2. and lest it should be thought that this is meant only of these seven Nations enumerate, Deut. 7. the same Law is interpret of four other Nations, 1. Kings 11. 1, 2. so that tis to be understood generally against confederacies with Ido∣laters and those of a false Religion: And the reason of the Law is Morall and perpetuall, viz. the danger of ensnaring the people of God: therefore they were forbidden to Covenant either with their gods, or with themselves, for a conjunction of Counsels, and familiar conversation (which are consequents of a Covenant) draweth in end to a fellowship in Religion. 2. From disallowed and condemned examples, as Asa his Cove∣nant with Benhadad, 2. Chron. 16. to vers. 10. And Ahaz, his Covenant with the King of Assyria, 2 Kings 16. 7. 10. 2 Chro. 28. 16. to 23. And if it should be objected, these are but ex∣amples of Covenants with Idolatrous heathens, there is not the like reason to condemne confederacies, and associations with wicked men of the same Religion; I answer. 1. It holds à fortiori against confederacies with such of the seed of Jacob as h•…d made defection from true Religion, for Grotius de jure belli & pocis lib. 2. Cap 15. Num. 9. noteth, God would have such to be more abominated then heathens, and to be destroy∣ed from among their people, Deut. 13. 13. Besides this I adde. 2. We have in other Scriptures examples, which meet with that case also; for Iehosaphats confederacy with Ahab, 2 Chron.Page 171 18. 3. with Chron. 19. 2 and after with Ahaziah 2. Chron. 20. 35. are condemned, which made Iehosaphat (although once re∣lapsing into that sin) yet afterwards mend his fault, for he would not againe joyne with Ahaziah, when he sought that association the second time, 1 Kings. 22. 49. So Amaziah ha∣ving associate himself in an expedition with the Israelites, when God was not with them, did upon the Prophets admo∣nition disjoin himself from them, and take his hazard of their anger: 2 Chron. 25. 7, 8, 9, 10. Lavater upon the place applying that example, noteth this as one of the causes why the Christian Wars with the Turke had so ill successe, why saith he, consi∣der what Souldiers were imployed, this is the fruit of associa∣tions with the wicked. 3. These confederacies proceed from an evill heart of unbelief, as is manifest by the reasons which are brought against Ahaz his League with Benhadad, 2 Chron. 16. 7, 8, 9. and by that which is said against the confederacy with the King of Assyria, Isay 8. 12, 13. for as Calvin upon the place noteth, the unbeleevers among the people consider∣ing their own inability for managing so great a War, thoght it necessary to have a confederacy with the Assyrians; but this was from faithlesse feares, from want of faith to stay and rest upon God as all-sufficient 4. If we must avoid fellowship and conversation with the sons of Belial, (except where naturall bonds or the necessity of a calling tyeth us) Psal. 6. 8. Prov. 9. 6 and 24. 1. 2 Cor 6. 14, 15. and if we should account Gods enemies ourenemies, Psa. 139. 21. then how can we joyne with them, as confederates and associates, for by this means we shall have fellowship with them, and looke on them as friends.
Now as to the Arguments which use to be brought for the contrary opinion, First 'tis objected that Abraham had a con∣federacy with Aner, Eschol, and Mamre, Genesis 14. 13. Ab∣raham with Abimelech, Genesis 21. 27. 32 and Isaac with Abi∣melech,Page 172Gen. 26. Iacob with Laban, Gen, 31. 44. Solomon, with Hiram, 1 Kings 5. 11. Answ. 1 It cannot be proved that these confederates of Abraham, Isaac, and Solomon were either ido∣laters or wicked; Laban indeed was an idolater: But there are good interpreters who conceive that Abrahams three confe∣derates feared God; and that Abimelech also feared God, because he speaketh reverently of God, and ascri•…eth to God the blessing and prosperity of those Patriarchs.
'Tis presumed also that Hiram was a pious man, because of his Epistle to Solomon, 2 Chron. 2. 11, 12. however, 2. Those confederacies were civill, either for commerce, or for peace and mutuall security that they should not wrong one another, as that with Laban, Gen. 31. 52. and with Abimelech. Gen. 26. 29. which kinde of confederacy is not controverted.
'Tis objected also that the Maccabees had a Covenant with the Romans and Lac•…monians, 1 Macca. 8, and 12. 1, 2. Answ. 1. That Covenant is disallowed by many good Writers; yet 'tis observed from the Story that they had not the better, but the worse successe, nor the lesse but the more trouble following it. 2. The Story it selfe, 1 Macc. 1. 12. tells us that the first motion of a confederacy with the heathen in those times pro∣ceeded from the children of Belial in Israel. Lastly, it may be objected that persons discontented, and of broken fortunes were gathered to David; and that he received them, and be∣came a Captaine unto them, 1 Sam. 22. 2. Answ. 1. Some think (and 'tis probable) they were such as were oppressed and wronged by Sauls tyranny, and were therefore in debt and discontented, and that David in receiving them was a type of Christ who is a refuge for the afflicted, and touched with the feeling of their infirmities. 2. Whoever they were, David took care that no prophane nor wicked person might be in his company, Psal. 101. yea, Psal. 34. 11. (which was penned at that same time when he departed from Achish and became Page 173 Captaine of those 400 men) he saith to them, Come ye children harken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 3. I shall bring a better Argument from Davids example against the joyning with such associates in Wa•… as are known to be malig∣nant and wicked, Psal. 118. 7. The Lord taketh my part with them that help me, therefore I shall see my desire upon mine enemies, Psal. 54. 4. The Lord is with them that uphold my soul. Upon this last place, both Calvin and Gesnerus observe, that although Davids helpers were few and weak, yet God being in them, and with them, his confidence was that they should prove stronger then all the wicked; hee intimateth also, that if he had not known that God was with his helpers, leading and inspire∣ing them, he had looked for no helpe by them: 2 Chron 25. 7, 8. That Davids helpers in the War were lookt upon as sincere, cordiall, and stirred up of God, may further appear from 1 Chron. 12. where David joyneth with himself fidos homines qui idem cum eo senti•…ent, saith Lavater on the place, faithfull men of his own minde: hee addeth, that they were such as hated Sauls impiety and in•…ustice, and loved Davids vertue. Vict. Strigelious calls them, fideles amicos, faithfull friends. The text it self tells us, that divers of them joyned themselves to David while he was yet in distresse and shut up in Zicklag: vers. 1. (which was an Argument of sincerity) also, that some of Benjamin (Sauls own tribe) adjoyned themselves to David, and the spirit came upon Amasai, who by a speciall Divine instinct spake to assure David of their sincerity, vers. 2. 16, 18. They also who joyned themselves with David after Sauls death, vers. 23. were not of a double heart, but of a perfect heart, vers. 33. 38. and they all agreed that the first great businesse to be undertaken, should be Religion, the bringing back of the Arke: 1 Chron. 13. 3, 4.
This point of the unlawfulnesse of confederacies with men of a false Religion is strangely misapplyed by Lutherans, against Page 174 confederacies with us, whom they call Calvinists: So argueth Tarnovius Tract. de Foederib. But we may make a very good use of it: for as we ought to pray and endeavour that all who are Christs may be made one in him, so we ought to pray against and by all means avoide fellowship, familiaritie, Marriages, and military confederacies with known wicked persons, and such as are of a false or hereticall Religion: I shall branch forth this matter in five particulars, which God forbade to his people in reference to the Canaanites and other heathens, which also (partly by parity of reason, partly by concluding more strongly) will militate against confederacies and conjuncti∣ons with such as under the profession of the Christian Religion do either maintain Heresies and dangerous Errors, or live a prophane and wicked life.
First, God forbade all Religious Covenants with such, and would not have his people to tolerate the gods, images, altars or groves of idolaters: Exod. 23. 32. and 34. 13. Deut. 7. 5. Iudg. 2: 2. And although the letter of the Law mention this in reference to the Canaanites, yet the best reforming Kings of Iudah applyed and executed this Law in taking away the groves and high places abused by the Iewes in their superstiti∣on: And what marvell? If such things were not to be tolle∣rated* in the Canaanites, much lesse in the Iewes. Theodosius is comm•…nded for his suppressing and punishing Hereticks.
2. God forbade familiar conversation with these heathens, that they should not dwell together with his people, nay, not in the land with them, Exod 23. 33. lest one of them being fa∣miliar with an Israelite, might call him to a feast, and make him eat of things sacrificed to idols, Exod. 3. 15, Com∣pare this with Iud. 1. 21. Psal 106. 35. Now the Apostle layeth much more restraint upon us, from conversing, eating and drinking with a scandalous Christian, 1 Cor. 5. 11. then with a Pagan or unbeleever, 1 Cor. 1. 27. There is a conversing Page 175 and companying with wicked persons, which is our affliction, not our fault, that is when we cannot be rid of them, do what we can, 1 Cor. 5. 10. which is an argument against separating and departing from a true Church, because of s•…andalous persons in it. The Apostle gives this check to such, go where they will, they shall finde scandalous persons all the world over. There is again a conversing and companying with wicked persons, which naturall and civill bonds, or near rela∣tions, or our calling tyeth us unto, as between husband and wife, Parent and Child, Pastor and People, Magistrate and those of his charge. But wittingly & willingly to converse & have fellowship either with hereticall or prophane persons, whether it be out of love to them and delight in them, or for our owne interest or some worldly benefite this is cer∣tainly sinfull and inexcusable. If we take care of our bodily safety, by flying the company of such as have the plague, yea if we take care of the safety of our beasts, and would not to our knowledge suffer a scabbed or rotten sheep to infect the rest, shall we not much more take care of our own and neigh∣bours souls, by avoiding and warning others to avoide the fellowship of the ungodly, whereby spiritual infection comes. Remember it was but a kinde visite of Iehosaphat to Ahab which was the occasion of ingageing him into a confederacy with that wicked man, 2 Chron. 18. 2▪ 3.
3 God forbade conjugall Covenants or Marrying with them. Exod: 34, 16. Deut: 7, 3. The rule is the same against matching with other wicked persons, whether Idolaters or professing the same Religion with us. We read not of Idolatry or any professed doctrinall differences in Religion between the Posterity of Seth and the posterity of Cain, yet this was the great thing that corrupted the old world and brought on the flood, that the children of God joyned themselves in Mar∣riage with the prophane, Gen: 6, 1, 2, 3. Iehoram married not Page 176 an heathen, but the daughter of Ahab; but 'tis marked, he did evill as did the house of Ahab; And what is the reason given for this? For the daughter of Ahab was his wife, 2 Kings 8, 18, and by and by, vers: 27. the like is marked of Ahaziah the son of Iehoram, who did evill in the sight of the Lord as did the house of Ahab, for he was the son in law of the house of Ahab. The Apostle Peter supposeth that Christians marrie such as are heirs together of the grace of life, 1 Peter 3, 7. see also, Pro: 31. 30.
4. God forbade his people to make with the Canaanites foedus deditionis or subactionis, (or as others speak) pactum libe∣ratorium, he would have his people shew no mercy to those whom hee had destinate to destruction, Deut. 7. 2. Herein Ahab sinned, making a brotherly Covenant of friendship with Benhadad, when God had delivered him into his hand, 1 Kings 20. 32, 33, 34. So in all Christian common-wealths, the Magistrate, Gods vicegerent ought to cut off such evill doers, as Gods Word appointeth to be cut off. Davids sparing of Ioab and Shimei, being partly necessitate thereto, partly indu∣ced by politicall reasons, (whereof he repented when he was dying, nor could his conscience beat-ease, till he left a charge upon Solomon, for executing justice upon both Ioab and Shimei, 1 Kings 2. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.) are no good presidents or warrands to Christian Magistrates, to neglect the executing of justice. 'Tis a better president which David resolveth, upon more de∣liberatly, Psal. 101. 8. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all wicked doers from the City of the Lord. Marke this all, of what degree or quality soever, without re∣spect of persons, and that early, and without delay. Lastly, and even Ioab himself was so far punished by David, that hee was cast out of his place and command, 2 Sam. 19. 3. & 20. 4.
5. The Law is also to be applyed against civill Covenants, not of peace, or of commerce, but of warre; that is, a League offensive and defensive, wherein we associate our selves Page 177 with idolaters, infidels, hereticks, or any other knowne ene∣mies of truth or godlines, so as to have the same friends or ene∣mies. A covenant of Peace or commerce with such may hap∣pen to be unlawfull in respect of some circumstances as when Peace is given to those Rebells, Murderers, Incendiaries in the Kingdome, who by the law of God ought to be destroyed by the hand of Justice, or when commerce with idolaters is so abused, as to furn sh them with the things that they are known to make use of in their idolatry. But as for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a confede∣racy ingageing us into a Warre with such associats, tis abso∣lutely and in its own nature unlawfull: And I finde it condem∣ned by good Writers, of the Popish party, of the Luthe∣ran party, and of the Orthodoxe party. Some of all these are before cited. What holynesse God required in the Armies of Israel, see Deut: 23. 9, 11, 12, 13, 14: we may well argue as Isi∣dorus P•…lusiota doth, lib. 3 Epist. 14. If the Law was so severe against such uncleannesses as were not voluntarie, how much lesse would God suffer such as did voluntarily and wickedly defile themselves. Tis marked as a part of A•…imelechs sin, Iud: 9. 4. that he hired vain and light persons which followed him. God would have Amaziah to dismisse an hundred thousand men of Israel being already with him in a body, and told him he should fall before the enemy if these went with him, because God was not with them, 2 Chron. 25. 7. &c. If they had not yet been gathered into a body, it had been much to abstain from gathering them, upon the Prophets admonition, but this is much more, that he sends them away after they are in a body, and takes his hazard of all the hurt that so many in∣raged Souldiers could do to him or his people, and indeed they did much hurt in going back, vers: 13, yet God rewarded Amaziahs obedience with a great Victory. In the last age short∣ly after the begun Reformation in Germany, this case of con∣science concerning the unlawfulnesse of such confederacies Page 178 was much looked at. The city of Strassburg, Anno, 1629. made* a defensive League with Zurik, Berne, and Basil, Qui & vicini erant, & dogmate magis conveniebant, saith Sleidan, they were not onely neighbours, but of the same Faith and Religion, there∣fore* they made a confederacy with them. About two yeares after the Elector of Saxony refused to take into confederacy those Eelvetians, because although they were powerfull, and might be very helpfull to him, yet they differing in Religion, concerning the Article of the Lords Supper, he said, he durst not joyne with them as confederats, lest such sad things might befal him, as the Scripture testifieth to have befallen those who for their help or defence took any assistance they could get.
The rule was good in thesi. although in that particular case misapplyed. The very heathens had a notion of the unlawful∣nesse of confederacies with wicked men, for as Victorinus Stri∣gelius on 2 Chron: 25. noteth out of Aeschylus his tragedy, intitu∣led, Seven to Thebe, Amphiaraus a wise vertuous man was there∣fore swallowed up in the earth with seven men, and seven horses, because he had associat himself with Tydeus; Capaneus, and other impious Commanders marching to the siege of The∣be. Lastly, take this reason for further confirmation, as wee must doe all to the glory of God, so wee must not make Warres to our selves, but to the Lord; hence the booke of the Warres of the Lord, Num: 21, 14, and, the battel is not ours, but the Lords. 1 Sam: 25, 28, 2 Chron: 20, 15. Now how shall we imploy them that hate the Lord, to help the Lord? or how shall the enemies of his glory do for his glory? Shall re∣bels Page 179 & traitors be taken to fight in the Kings Wars? Offer it to thy Governour, as it is said, Mal. 1. see if he would take this wel.
As for the Objections from Scripture, they are before answered. There are many other exceptions of mens cor∣rupt reason, which yet may be easily taken off, if wee will receive Scripture light. That very case of Iehosophats confe∣deracy with Ahab, taketh off many of them; for although, 1. Iehosophat was a good man, and continued so after that as∣sociation, not drawn away into Idolatry, nor infected with Ahabs Religion, but onely assisting him in a civil businesse▪ 2. Ahab lived in the Church of Israel, which was still a Church, although greatly corrupted, and hee was no professed hater of God, (only he had professed to hate Micajah the man of God,) yea, lately besore this he appeared very penitent, and some think Iehosaphat now judged charitably of Ahab, because of that great humilation and repentance of his, which God did accept, so far, as to reward it with a temporall sparing mercy, 1 Kings 21. at the end: then followes immediatly, Chap: 22. Iehosaphats association with him. Although Iehosaphat was al∣so joyned in affinity with Ahab, Ahabs daughter being married to his sonne. 3. The enemy was the King of Syria; and Iehosaphat doth not joyne with a wicked Man against any of Gods people, but against the infidell Syrians; even as Amaziah was beginning to joyne with those of the ten Tribes against the Edomites. 4. The cause seemes to have been good, as Carthusian on 1 Kings 22. 3. and Lavater upon* 2 Chron: 19. 2. note. For Ramoth-Gilead was a city of refuge, pertaining to the Levites in the Tribe of Gad, and should have been restored by the King of Syria to Ahab, according to their Covenant, 1 Kings 20. 34. Daneus▪ brings that same example of Ahabs going up against Ramoth-Gilead, to prove that 'tis just to make warre against these who have broken Covenant with us. 5, Iehosaphats manner of proceeding, was pious Page 180 in this respect, that he said to Ahab, enquire I pray thee of the word of the Lord to day, and again, is there not here a Prophet of the Lord besides, he enquireth ultrà, and seeks all the light he could there have in point of conscience from Prophets of the Lord, which makes it probable, that those 400. Prophets did not professe, or were not known to Iehosaphat to be Prophets of Baal; but were lookt upon as Prophets of the Lord, as Cajetan thinketh. Therefore they answer also in the name of the Lord, the Lord shall deliver it. 'Tis not likely that Iehosaphat would desire the Prophets of Baal to be consulted, or that hee would hearken to them more, then to the Prophet of the Lord Micajah, yet in this he failed extremly, that he had too far engaged himself to Ahab, before the enquiring at the word of the Lord. How ever it seemes, he was by this enquiring, seeking a faire way to come off againe. 6. Iehosaphats end was good, Martyr on 1 Kings 22. thinkes Iehosaphat entered in∣to this confederacy with Ahab, for the peace and safety of his Kingdome, and to prevent a new War between Iudah and Israel, such as had been between Asa his father, and Baasha King of Israel, for which end also Carthusian ibid. thinks that Iehosaphat took Ahabs daughter to his son. Yet notwithstan∣ding of all this, the Prophet Iehu saith to him, 2 Chron. 19. 2. Shouldest thou help the ungodly, or love them that hate the Lord. The LXX: read, hated of the Lord, which comes all to one thing. And least it should be thought a veniall or light mat∣ter, headdeth, therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. So that from this example we learn; That let us keep our selves unspotted of the false Religion, or errors of those with whom we associate, let wicked men seem never so penitent, and our relations to them be never so near, let the common enemy be an Infidell, let the cause be never so good, let the manner of proceeding be never so pious, and the end also good; yet all this cannot excuse, nor justifie confederacies and associa∣tions Page 181 with wicked and ungodly men. And if God was so angry at Iehosaphat, when there were so many things concur∣ring, as might seem to excuse or extenuate his fault, it being also in him a sin of infirmity only, and not without a relucta∣tion of conscience, and a conflict of the spirit against the flesh (which Pareus upon 1 Kings 22. doth well collect from his desire of enquiring at the word of the Lord, that hee might have occasion to come off) how much more will God bee angry with such as go on with an high hand in this trespasse, casting his word behind them, and hating to bee reformed.
If it be further objected, that we are not able without such confederacies, and help to prosecute a great war alone. This also the holy Ghost hath before hand answered, in the exam∣ple of Ahaz his confederacy with the King of Assyria; for he had a great warre to manage, both against the Syrians, and a∣gainst the King of Israel, 2 Kings 16. 7. also against the Edo∣mites and Philistims, 2 Chron: 28. 16, 17, 18. yet although he had so much to do, this could not excuse the confederacy with the Assyrian: he should have trusted to God, and not used unlawfull means. God can save by few, as well as by many; yea, sometimes God thinks not fit to save by many, Iud. 7. It shall not be the strength of battell, to have unlawfull confe∣derats, but rather to want them, Exod. 23. 22.
If it be said, it is dangerous to provoke, and incense many wicked men by casting them off. This is plainly answered from the example of Amaziah, and the 100000. men of Israel with him, of which before. If furthermore objection bee made, that he must be gentle and patient towards all, and in meeknesse, instruct those that oppose themselves, 2 Tim. 2. 24, 25. Answ: 1. Yet hee bids us turne away from the wicked, ibid: Chap: 3. 5. Wee ought in meeknesse to instruct, even him that is excommunicate, 2 Thess: 3. 15. yet wee are there warned, vers: 14. to have no company with him. 2. The An∣gel Page 182 of the Church at Ephesus, is at on ecommended, both for his patience, and that he could not bear them which were evil.
I shall adde five distinctions which will take off all other ob∣jections that I have yet met with. 1. Distinguish between a confederacy, which is more discretive, and discriminative and a confederacy which is more unitive. And here is the Reason why Covenants of peace and commerce, even with infidels and wicked persons are allowed, yet military associa∣tions with such, disallowed: for the former keeps them, and us still divided as two: the latter unites us and them, as one, and imbodieth us together with them: for Thucidides defines 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to be such a Covenant, as makes us and our confede∣rates* to have the same friends and enemies, and 'tis mentio∣ned by writers, as a further degree of Uniou then 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or Covenants of peace. 2. Distinguish between endeavour of duty, and the perfection of the things, which answeres that exception. O then, we must have an army all of Saints (it should be said, without any known wicked person in it;) Now even as 'tis our duty to endeavour a purging of the Church, from wicked and scandalous persons, yet when we have done all we can, the Lords field shall not be perfectly purged from tares, til the end of the world, Matth. 13. So when wee have done all that ever we can, to avoid wicked persons in an expedition, yet we cannot be rid of them all; but we must use our utmost en∣deavours, that we may be able to say, 'tis our affliction, not our fault. 3. Distinguish between some particular wicked persons, here and there mixing themselves with us; and be∣tween a wicked faction, and Malignant party: The former should be avoided as much as is possible, but much more a con∣junction with a wicked faction. David would by no means meet and consult with the Kahal meregnim, the Assembly of Malignants; neither did he onely shunne to meet and consult with vaine persons; who openly shew and bewray themselves; Page 183 but even with dissemblers, or (as the Chaldee) with those that hide themselves, that they may do evill, Psal. 26. 4, 5. We can know better how to doe with a whole field of tares, in which is no wheat, then we can do with tares growing here and there among the wheat. 4. Distinguish between such a fellowship with some wicked persons, as is necessary (which is the case of those that are married, and of parents and children) or unavoidable, which is the case of those, whose lot is to co∣habite in one Town, or in one Family, in a case of necessity, travelling or sailing together; Distinguish, I say, between these and an elective, or voluntary fellowship with wicked men, when love to them, or our owne benefite draweth us thereunto. We neither loose naturall bonds, nor require im∣possibilities, but that we keep our selves pure, by not choo∣sing or consenting to such fellowship. 5. Distinguish between Infidels, Hereticks, wicked persons repenting, and those who go on in their trespasse: what ever men have been, yet as soone as the signes of repentance, and new fruits appeare in them, we are ready to receave them into favour and fellowship: Then indeed the Wolfe shall dwell with the Lambe, and the Cow and the Bear shall feed, their young ones shall lye down together, meaning, such as were Wolves, Leopards, Bears, and now begin to change their nature▪ not so with the obstinate, contumacious, and impenitent, who still remaine Wolves, &c.
Let us now, 1: Examine our selves, whether there bee so much tendernesse of conscience in us, as to close with those Scripture Truths, or whether we are still in a way of consul∣ting with flesh and blood. 2. Be humbled for former miscar∣riages, and failings in the particulars, and for not walking ac∣curatly, according to these Scripture rules. 3. Beward for the future: remember and apply these rules, when we have to do with the practise of them: And that I may drive home Page 184 this naile to the head: I adde, (beside what was said before) these Reasons and Motives. First, 'tis a great judgement when God mingleth a perverse Spirit in the midst of a people, Isay 19. 14. shall we then make that a voluntary act of our own, which the Word mentioneth as a dreadfull judgement? With this spirituall judgement, is oftentimes joyned a temporall judge∣ment, as 2 Chren: 16. 9: and 20. 37. and 28▪ 22. so Hos: 5. 13. 7, 8. compared with Hos: 8. 8, 9. Where their judgement, soundeth forth their sinne as by an Eccho: The Chaldee pa∣raphrase in the place last cited, saith, The house of Israel is deli∣vered into the hands of the people whom they loved. Secondly, remember what followed upon Gods peoples mingling them∣selves with the heathen, Psal. 106. 35. They were mingled a∣mong the heathen, and learned their works, Hos: 7. 8. Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people, that is, by making con∣fe deracies with the heathen, (as Luther exponds the place) and by seeking their help and assistance, Hos: 5. 13. But what followes, Ephraim is a cake not turned, hote and overbaken in the nether side, but cold and raw in the upper side. This will prove the fruit of such confederacies and associations, to make us zealous for some earthly or humane thing, but remisse and cold in the things of Christ; to be too hote on our nether side, and too raw on the upper side. Whereas, not mingling our selves with the wicked: we shall through Gods mercy be like a cake turned, that heat and zeal which was before downward, shall now be upward, Heavenward, Godward, let it also bee remembred, how both Ahaz, 2. Kings 16. 10. and Asa him∣self, 2 Chron: 16. 10. (though a good man) were drawn into other great sinnes, upon occasion of these associations, with the enemies of God and his people: this sinne will certainly ensnare men in other sinnes. 'Tis well said by Calvin upon Ezek: 16. 26. That as we are too prone of our selves to wick∣ednesse, so when wee enter into confederacies with wicked Page 185 men, we are but seeking new temptations, and as it were a bel∣lows to blow up our own corruptions, as wine being mixed with water loseth of its spirits, and white being mixed with black, loseth much of its whitenesse: so the people of God, if once mixed with wicked enemies, shall certainly losse of their purity and integrity. Thirdly, as these unlawfull confederacies draw us both into great judgements and great sins, so into a great security and stupidity under these great plagues and sins, which will make the estate of such to be yet worse, Hos: 7, 9, after Ephraims mixing himself among the people, tis added, Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not, yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not: al∣though his confederats have distressed him, and not strength∣ned him, and although there may be observed in him diverse signes of a decaying dying condition, yet he knowes it not, nor takes it to heart; The same thing is insisted upon vers: 11. Ephraim also is like a silly Dove without heart; They call to Egypt, they go up to Assyria. He is as voide of understanding as a silly Dove, whose nest being spoiled, and her young ones taken from her (which the Chaldee paraphrase addeth for explications cause) yet she still returneth to those places where, and among those people by whom she hath been so spoiled; So Israel will still be medling with those that have done him great hurt. Fourthly, we finde that such confederacy or association either with idolaters or known impious persons, is seldome or never recorded in the booke of God, without a reproofe, or some greater mark of Gods displeasure put upon it. If it were like the Polygamie of the Patriarchs, often mentioned and not re∣proved, it were the lesse marvell to hear it so much debated. But now when God hath so purposely set so many Beacons upon those rocks, and Shelves that we may beware of them, O why shall we be so mad, as stil to run upon them? It was re∣proved in the time of the Judges, Judg: 2, 1, 2, 3. It was repro∣ved Page 186 in the time of the Kings; Ahabs Covenant with Benhadad, Asa's Covenant with Benhadad, Ahaz his confederacy with the Assyrian; Iehosophats association, first with Ahab, then with Ahaziah: Amaziahs association with those 100000. men of Ephraim, when God was not with them, all those are plainly disallowed and condemned. Moreover that reproofe, Ier: 2. 18: And now, what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the wa∣ters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? the Chaldee hath thus; what have yee to do to associat with Pharaoh King of Egypt—And what have ye to do to make a Covenant with the Assyrian? Again after the capti∣vity, Ezra: 9. the Jewes mingling of themselves with the hea∣then is lamented. Fifthly, the great and precious promises of God, may encourage us so, as we shall never say to the wick∣ed, a confederacy: for upon condition of our avoiding all such confederacies & conjunctions, God promiseth never to break his Covenant with us, Iudg: 2: 1, 2. and to receive us as his Sons and Daughters, 2 Cor: 6. 14, 16, 17, 18. Sixthly, tis one of Gods great mercies which he hath Covenanted and promised, I will purge out from among you the Rebels, and them that transgresse against me, Ezek. 20, 38. Why should we then forsake our own mercy, and despise the counsell of God against our own souls. Seventhly, as it was in Asa his experience, 2 Chron, 16, 7, 8, so it hath been in our own, God hath done his greatest workes for us, when we were most unmixed with such men.
There is another Objection, which at the writing hereof I have met with: Tis Davids confederacy and association, both with Abner, 2 Sam. 3. 12, 13. and with Amasa, 2 Sam: 19. 13. whom according to agreement he made Generall of his Hoste, 2 Sam: 20, 4. although both of them had been Davids ene∣mies, and born armes against him, Abner being also scanda∣lous, both for his whoredome, 2 Sam. 3, 7. and his treachery against Ishbosheth in aspyring to the Crown (which is colle∣cted Page 187 from his going in unto Sauls Concubine, as Absolom did unto Davids afterward) yea for that he had born Arms against David, when he knew that God had sworne to make David King, and so against the light of his conscience, 2 Sam: 39, 18. Answ: 1 Peter Martyr commenting upon those places, dissa∣loweth Davids practise in both these cases, especially his League with Abner. Should we follow these two examples, not being allowed or commended in Scripture? or should we not rather avoid such confederacies, because of many examples thereof, plainly condemned in the word of God? 2. What so∣ever may •…e conceived to be allowable or excusable in these examples of David, yet it cannot be applied, except in like cas∣es. When David covenanted with Abner, he was but King of Judah, Abner undertakes to bring about all Israel to him, and that he should make him reigne over all the tribes, whereas otherwise there was no appearance of Davids subdueing of all the other tribes; but by a long and bloody Warre. Again, when David covenanted and capitulated with Amasa, he was in a manner fled out of the land for Absalom, 2 Sam: 19. 9. and* was forced to abide in the land of Gilead beyond Jordan, fear∣ing also (as interpreters observe) that the men of Iudah having strengthned Ierusalem and kept it with a garison for Absalom, and having done so much in assisting Absalom against David, should grow desperat in holding out against him, hoping for no mercy, therefore he is content to make Amasa Generall of his Army, upon condition that he would cause the men of Iu∣dah to bring him back to Ierusalem, which Amasa moves the men of Iudah to do, 2 Sam: 19, 14; for it was done by his au∣thority, as Iosephus also writeth, nor could it be done without* his authority, for Absalom and Ahitophel being dead, Amasa had the whole power and sole headship of that Army and of all that faction that had followed Absalom. Now then let them that will plead for the lawfullnesse of confederacies with wic∣ked Page 188persons from these examples of David, first make the case alike, that is, that the wicked one have power of an Army, and of a great body of the Kingdom, to make them either continue in Rebellion and enmity, or to come in and submit. Next let it be remembred that both Abner and Amasa did a great service, (which was most meritorious at the hands of men) for the good, peace, and safety of King and Kingdom, and they did it at that time also when David was but weak, & they had power enough to have continued a War against him. Which is a very rare case, and far different from the case of such as have done and are doing all that they can to pervert and mislead many thousands of the people of God, instead of reducing many thousands to obedience; as Abner and Amasa did. 3. There are some other answers proper to the one case and the other. There is nothing in the Text to prove, that Da∣vid made such a Covenant with Abner, as the Grecians call 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or that he Covenanted to make him Generall of his Army, (as afterwards he Covenanted with Amasa,) for at that time he could have no colour of reason for casting Ioab out of his place, as afterwards he had; Therefore I understand with Sanctius that the League which Abner sought from David, was Foedus pacis, a Covenant of Peace. Hierome readeth, fac mecum amicitias, make friendship with me, for before they had been enemies: So that this League is not of that kind which is chief∣ly controverted. As for Amasa, I shall not go about (as some have done) to excuse or extenuate his fault in joyning with Absalom, as not being from any malice or wicked intention a∣gainst David his Uncle; But there is some probability that A∣masa was a penitent and hopefull man. Sure David had better hopes of him, then of Ioab: And if it be true which Iosephus writeth, that before David sent Zadock and Abiathar to the men of Iudah, and to Amasa, frequent messages came from them to the King, desiring to be received into his favour; how Page 189ever Amasa being so willing and ready to do so much for Da∣vid, when he might have done so much against him, David as he could not doe his businesse without him, so hee had some ground to hope well of him; considering withall, that Ama∣sa was not set upon this business by any offence or displeasure at the other party, as Abner was. 4. Even as this example, so far as concerneth the laying aside, and casting off of Ioab, and not preferring his brother Abishai in his room (both of them being gui•…ty of Abners bloud, 2 Sam. 3. 30. and both of them being too hard for David) helpeth to strengthen that which I have been pleading for.
The point being now so fully cleared from Scripture, here is the lesse reason to argue contrariwise from human exam∣ples in Christian States and Common-wealths.* The word of God must not stoupe to mens practises, but they to it. Yet even among those whose examples is alledged for the contrary opinion, there want not instances for cautiousnesse and con∣scientiousnesse, in choosing or refusing confederats. As name∣ly among the Helvetians or Suitzers. They of Zurik and Berne, when once reformed, renounced their League made be∣fore with the French King, for assisting him in his Wars, and resolved onely to keep peace with him; but would not continue the League of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or joyning with him in his Wars.* And whatsoever were the old Leagues about 300. years agoe, mutually binding those Cantons each to other for aid and succour, and for the common defence of their country, and for preservation of their particular rights and liberties, and for a way of decideing controversies and pleas, between men of one Canton and of another (which Leagues are recorded by those that write of that Common-wealth) yet after the Re∣formation of Religion, there was so much zeal on both sides, that it grew to a war between the Popish and the Protestant Cantons, wherein as the Popish side strengthened themselves Page 190 by a confederacy with •…erdinand the Emperours brother, so* the Protestant side, Zurik, Berne, and Basil entered into a con∣federacy, first with the city of Strasburgh, and shortly there∣after with the Lantgrave of Hesse, that thereby they might bee strengthened, and aided against the Popish Cantons. The dif∣ferences of Religion put them to it, to choose other confede∣rates. Neverthelesse, I can easily admit what Lavater judici∣ously observeth, upon Ezek. 16. 26, 27, 28, 29. that Cove∣nants made before true Religion did shine among a people, are not to be rashly broken; even as the beleeving husband, ought not to put away the unbeleiving wife, whom he married when himself also was an unbeleever, if she be willing still to abide with him. Whatsoever may be said for such Covenants, yet confederacies with enemies of true Religion, made after the light of Reformation, are altogether unexcusable.
Peradventure some have yet another Objection: this is an hard saying (say divers Malignants) we are looked upon as enemies, if we come not in and take the Covenant, and when we are come in and have taken the Covenant, wee are still e∣steemed enemies to the cause of God, and to his servants. Answ. This is just, as if those traitors, Covenant breakers, and other scandalous persons, from which the Apostle bids us turne away, 2 Tit. 3. 5. had objected, if we have no forme of Godlinesse, we are looked upon as aliens, and such as are not to be numbered among Gods people, yet now when wee have taken on a forme of godlinesse, we are in no better esteem with Paul, but still he will have Christians to turne away from us: Yea, 'tis as if workers of iniquity living in the true Church, should object against Christ himself, if we pray not, if wee hear not the word, &c. we are not accepted, but rejected for the neglect of necessary duties, yet when wee have prayed, heard, &c: we are told for all that: Depart from me yee wor∣kers of iniquity, I never knew you. Men must bee judged ac∣cording Page 191 to their fruits, according to their words and works, and course of living; and if any who have taken the Covenant, shew themselves in their words and actions, to be still wicked enemies, our eyes must not bee put out with their hand at the Covenant.
If any disaffected shall still insist and say; But why then are we receaved, both to the Covenant and to the Sacrament, nay, why are wee forced and compelled into the Covenant. Answ. 1. If any known Malignant, or complier with the Rebels, or with any enemy of this Cause hath been receaved, either to the Covenant or Sacrament, without signes of repen∣tance for the former Malignancy, and scandale (such signes of Repentance, I mean, as men in charity ought to be satisfied with,) 'tis more then Ministers and Elderships can answer, either to God, or the Acts and constitutions of this nationall Church. I trust all faithfull and conscientious Ministers have laboured to keep themselves pure in such things. Yea, the Generall Assembly hath ordained, that known compliers with the Rebels, and such as did procure protections from the ene∣my, or keep correspondence and intelligence with him, shall be suspended from the Lords-supper, till they manifest their repentance before the Congregation. Now if any after signes, and declaration of repentance, have turned again to their old wayes of Malignancy, their iniquity bee upon themselves, not upon us. 2. Men are no otherwise drawn or forced into the Covenant, then into other necessary duties. Nay it ought not to be called a forceing or compelling. Are men forced to spare their neighbours life, because murther is severly pu∣nished? Or are men compelled to be loyall, because traitors are examplarily punished? There may, and must be a willing∣nesse and freenesse in the doing of the contrary duty; although great sinnes must not go away unpunished. Men are not com∣pelled to vertue, because vice is punished, else vertue were not Page 192 vertue. Those that refuse the Covenant, reproach it, or rail against it, ought to be looked upon as enemies to it, and dealt with accordingly: yet if any man were knowne to take the Covenant against his will, he were not to be receaved. 3. These two may well stand together, to censure the contempt or neglect of a duty, and withall to censure wickednesse in the person that hath taken up the practise of the dutie. If any Israelite would not worship the true God, hee was to be put to death, 2 Chron. 15. 13. but withall, if worshipping the true God, hee was found to bee a murtherer, an adulterer, &c. for this also hee was to bee put to death. The Generall Assembly of this Church hath appointed, that such as after admonition, continue in an usuall neglect of Prayer, and the Worship of God in their families, shall bee suspended from the Lords-Supper, till they •…mend: Yet if any man shall be found to make Familie Worship a cloak to his swearing, drun∣kennesse; adultery or the like, must these scandalous sinnes be uncensured, because hee hath taken upon him a forme of godlinesse? God forbid. 'Tis just so here, refusers of the Covenant, and railers against it, are justly censured: But withall, if wickednesse and Malignancie, be found in any that have taken the Covenant; their offence and censure is not to be extenuated, but to be aggravated.
I had been but very short in the handling of this question, if new objections coming to my eares, had not drawn me forth to this length. And now I finde one objection more. Some say, the arguments before brought from Scripture, prove not the unlawfulnesse of confederacies, and associations with Ido∣laters, Heretickes, or prophane persons of the same King∣dome, but onely with those of another Kingdome. Answ. 1. Then by the concession of those that make the objection, 'tis at least unlawfull, to associate our selves with any of ano∣ther Kingdome, who are of a false Religion, or wicked life. Page 193 2. If familiar fellowship, even with the wicked of the same Kingdome be unlawfull, then is a military association with them unlawfull; for it cannot be without consulting, con∣ferring, conversing frequently together. It were a prophane abusing, and mocking of Scripture to say, that we are forbid∣den to converse familiarly with the ungodly of another king∣dome, but not with the ungodly of the same kingdome, or that we are forbidden to marry with the ungodly of another Kingdome, but not with the ungodly of the same Kingdom, for what is this, but to open a wide gate upon the one hand; while wee seem to shut a narrow gate upon the other hand? 3. Were not those military associations, 2 Chron▪ 19. 2. and 25. 7, 8. condemned upon this reason, because the associats were ungodly, haters of the Lord, and because God was not with them. Now then, à quatenus ad omne, the reason holds equally against associations with any, of whom it can be truly said, they are ungodly, haters of the Lord, and God is not with them. 4. God would have the Camp of Israel altogether holy and clean, Deut. 23. 9. to 14▪ clean from whom? not so much from wicked heathens (there was not so much fear of that) as from wicked Israelites. 5. Saith not David, I will early destroy all the wicked of the land, Psal. 101. 8. and, Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity, Psal. 6. 9. How can it then be imagined, that he would make any of them his associats, and helpers in Warre.
Amandus Polanus Comment, in Ezek: 16▪ 26, 27, 28. Qui Ecclesiae scortationem, hoc est idololatriam vel falsam doctrinam, & confederationes cum impiis reprehendit, non est Hereticus, non est Schismaticus, non est ingratus adversus matrem Eccelesiam: Alioqui•… etiam Ezekiel cum Jeremiâ, aliisque Prophetis, fuisset Hereticus, aut Schismaticus, aut ingratus.