CHAP. III. Wherein the grand Objection Asserting the Loss of the Ministry under Antichrist, is Answered.
WE confesse that there was a Ministry Ordained of Christ, and continued all the daies of the Apostles,* and some Centuries after, yet the Mystery and Ministry of the Man of Sinne was then working, which at length so farre prevailed, that all the world wondered af•er the Beast, and power was given him over all Kindreds and Tongues and Nations;*so that be caus•d all, both great and small, rich and poor,*bond and free to receive his M•rk in their Right hand, or in their Fore∣heads. In this Apostacy the Church which had been a chaste Virgin, became the Mother of Harlots and Abominations, and not only the Kings and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the Wine of her Fornications, but especi∣ally the Priests in all Nations were the abominable Pandors to promote the filthinesse of her Whoredoms, they were the Merchants made rich by her Fornications.* Now under this Reign of Antichrist, Bethel was turned into Bethav•n, the Ministry was wholly lost, being only in pretence for Christ, but in reality for Antichrist: And therefore we look upon all Ministers now as Members of that notorious Strumpet, as Locusts from the bottomlesse Pit, as Priests of Baal, and Limbs of Antichrist, and so account it not a sinne, but a duty to contemn their persons, and abhorre their Mi∣nistry.
We acknowledge first that the Apostacy under Antichrist was exceeding dreadfull. Secondly,* That not only the peo∣ple and the Princes, but the Priests also had a great hand, and were chief agents in this defection. Thirdly, That its the duty of Gods people to come out of Babylon, that they partake not of their sins, nor receive of their plagues.* But yet we Page 46 need the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in Christ, that we may know the things that differ, that we may not call good evil, and evil good, but according to the Word of truth, judge righteous judgement: And therefore we intreat the Reader or this Objector, conscientiously to ponder these Considerations.
1. Consider, as there have been many false Christs, so there are and have been many mistaken Antichrists; and the holy Ghost bids us, not to beleeve every Spirit, but to try the spirits;* when many shall say, Loe here is Christ, and loe there is Christ: And its as true of Antichrist, some say, Lo here is Antichrist: Some, Lo there; yet the Lord commands us saying, beleeve them not. The Truths, Ordinances, Ser∣vants and Ministers of Christ, do not therefore cease to be of Christ, because some, either by mistake, or by design shall say they are of Antichrist. The Doctrine of the Deity of Christ▪ who is God blessed for ever, will not cease to be a most precious Truth, because Michael Servetus, Georgius Blandatra, Franciscus David, Laelius Socinus and his adhe∣rents condemn it as an Antichristian Errour.
Was Valentinus Gentilis therefore a friend and Martyr to God the Father, because he died as an enemy to God the Son?* Were the Valdenses who appeared against the Romish errours, the limbs of Satan, because some of the Romanist affirm that Satan was let loose in Berengarius and his Disci∣ples? How luxuriant and confident are the fancies of many concerning the things contained in the Revelations, where∣in modest Christians would chuse rather to be humbly inqui∣sitive, then Dogmatically positive? Was Innocent the third the lesse nocent,* or was Pope Calixtus the more holy, be∣cause some of their followers make them to be the Angel coming down from heaven, having the Key of the bottoml•sse pit to binde Satan, as if the binding of Satan were nothing else, but to Excommunicate Emperours, and to depresse the Im∣perial power under the Papal?
*Shall Dominicus or Franciscus, those two great Founders of the Orders of the Friars Dominican and Franciscan, the Page 47 great upholders of Papacy, shall they be lesse suspected,* be∣cause some of their disciples admired them, and confidently averred them to be that Angel ascending from the East, having the Seal of the living God? Rev. 7.2. Men have no power to make Christian, Unchristian or Antichristian, either per∣sons or things, according to their pleasure: The Word of God is established in the heavens, and his Truths do not vary after the variety of mens mistaking fancies: There∣fore we have great need to be sober and humble, and to beg of the Lord the spirit of love and of a sound minde, that we may neither justifie the wicked nor condemn the Righ∣teous.
2. Consider, concerning Antichrist, Though we grant it that Antichrist is not an individual person, as Bellarmine and the Papists generally affirm: But the state and succession of men which with one and the self same spirit oppose Christ. 2. That the seat of this great Whore, is not,* as some inti∣mate, Constantinople; nor Ierusalem, as others affirm; but Rome that great City, that then reigned over the Kings of the earth, spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. And 3. that the Antichrist is not the Turk and Mahumetanism in the East, But the Pope and Papism in the West; yet there is no ground to condemn every thing in that Antichristian Syna∣gogue for Antichristian; for without all question the Books of the Old and New Testament were wonderfully preserved even in mystical Babylon. As formerly when the Oracles of God were committed to Israel, the Lord continued the holy Scripture in the Jewish Church, notwithstanding their spi∣ritual Apostacy and Babylonish Captivity. The good Word of the Lord is no lesse the Word of Truth, because the false Antichristian Synagogue, do acknowledge it; no more then the Scripture ceaseth to be the Scripture, because Satan the father of lies did alledge it. Gold is gold wherever you finde it; Truth is truth, however men either accept it or contra∣dict it. It's a vast comprehensive Errour to reject all Te∣nents, though never so true for errours, because an errone∣ous Society doth confesse them: For all is not false which Page 48 the false Church asserteth; Every errour is founded upon the mistake of some truth;* as every evil doth usually arise from the abuse of some good: In this mixture of good and evil, light and darknesse, where there are many precious truths, yet many abominable falshoods; it's our duty to se∣ver between the righteous and the vile, that we neither swallow down all for truth because there is a mixture of truth, nor reject all for false because there is superadded a redundancy of falshood; Antichrist sitteth in the Temple of God, and his coming is with all deceivablenesse of unrighteousnesse, therefore we must Watch and Pray for the spirit of discerning, that we may distinguish between things that differ.
3. Consider as the Lord had his truths so he had his Church in Babylon during the rise, and growth, and reign, and conti∣nuance of Antichrist. The Apostacy though generall over all tongues, and kindreds, and Nations, yet it was not so uni∣versall in all individuall persons, but that there were a rem∣nant according to the Election of grace:* As in the Baalitish A∣postacy the Lord reserved seven thousand who had not bowed their knees to Baal; So in this Antichristian defection, the Lamb upon Mount Sion had 1•. times 12. thousand that ad∣hered to the doctrine of the 12. Apostles, and these 144000 had their Fathers name written in their Forehead,*redeemed from among men, b•ing the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb, and in their mouth was found no guile, and they were not defiled with those Antichristian whoredomes; For they are Virgins, they were the true seed of the woman which keep the Command∣ments of God,*and have the testimony of Iesus Christ, against whom the Dragon raged: And therefore when the Roma∣nists ask, where was the Church before Luthers time? We answer it was in and among them, though it was not of them. The Waldenses, Albingenses, Berengarians, Pauperes de Lugduno or Lionists, Lollards, in severall places having many other se∣verall names and these in the severall ages of the Reign of Antichrist held the truth of Jesus, and opposed the errours of the man of sin: which severall Popes endeavoured to destroy but could never effect: All the Kings and Potentates Page 49 of the earth were stirred up against them, and a Decree made that if any temporall Lord did neglect to expell them out of his Dominions, that he should be excommunicated, his sub∣jects absolved from allegiance, and all their Lands confiscate and given to others; Hence some of the Princes of the earth made it Treason for any of their Subjects either to hear or harbour them, or any waies to releeve them.
And the armies raised against the Saracens and Mahome∣tans were converted against these poor Christians and plena∣ry indulgence,* pardon of all sin promised to all that would fight against them: And if in France alone as its reported in the History of that War, there were slain ten hundred thou∣sand, what shall we think the number of them to be who were slain in all other Nations; Yet under all these pressures and persecutions, though they were often dispersed, yet they could not be extinguished but these afflicted people of the Lord, being scattered fled into Provence and the Alpes, some into Calabria, Bohemia, Polonia, and into Britain, as Thuanus in his Preface.
And though many Opinions were imputed to them to make them odious,* yet their accusers do wofully and wonderfully contradict themselves, as some of our Learned men do prove: and some of them ingenuously confesse: yet their main te∣nents were that they renounced the Church of Rome as the mysticall Babylon, contemned the Pope as the man of sin, and rejected their severall Popish opinions as Antichristian; They held the same truths for substance that the Protestants now professe, Insomuch as some of the adversaries confesse, that they who are now Calvinists were anciently called Berengari∣ans, and the New Protestants are the Old Waldenses;* This Sect some of the Papists complain to be of all most pernici∣ous to the Church of Rome.
1. Because it is most ancient and durable, having continu∣ed from the time of Pope Sylvester:* Others say from the time of the Apostles.
2. Because most generall, no part of the earth scarce free from it.
*As the Lord had his Saints during all the Reign of Anti∣christ, so he raised up his Ministers who in their severall suc∣cessive ages in severall places, testified against the spirituall whoredomes, idolatrous worships, and deceiving frauds of Antichrist; it's true, as the generality of the people, so the generality of the Priests in those times did worship the Beast, even all that dwelt upon earth, whose names were not writ∣ten in the Lambs Book of Life;* and some observe, that it was the righteous judgement of the Lord upon the Church at that time, that such an Apostate people should have such apo∣staticall Priests, and the holy Ghost maketh this one expresse ground, because men did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved, therefore God shall send them strong delusions, that they should beleeve a lie, that they all might be damned who beleeved not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighte∣ousnesse: But in this generall defection both of people and of their Teachers; The Lamb had a remnant with him who were called, and chosen, and faithfull, even an afflicted poor rem∣nant of Pastors as well as of people,* reserved in the midst of Babyltn, who did trust in the Name of the Lord, and those godly pious Priests were both obedient unto and bold in the faith of Jesus.
Now if there were such Ministers during the reign of An∣tichrist, that followed the Lamb, did not defile their gar∣ments, but preached and prayed, and lived, and died in their constant and consciencious oppositions of the man of sinne, then surely the Ministry was not totally lost under the reign Page 51 of Antichrist. But that there were such, appears both by Holy Scripture-prophesie which foretels it, and unquestion∣able History of the Church that confirms it: In the one, men may learn what God spoke with his mouth; In the other, what the Lord fullfilled with his own hand: The holy Ghost expresseth, that there should be some to prophesie in Sackcloth one thousand two hundred and sixty daies: Now not to dispute, but taking that for granted which the best Interpreters assert, and by Arguments out of the Revelations prove,
1. That those One thousand two hundred and sixty daies are not naturall daies but propheticall,* every day taken for a Year, as Ezek. 4.6. Num. 14.14.
2. That those two Witnesses prophesying were not two individuall persons, as Enoch and Elias, as Bellarmine and o∣ther Papists affirm; but a succession of Holy men stirred up all that time to testifie the truth of Christ against Antichrist, as our learned men prove.
3. That the Reign of the Beast continuing for 42 moneths,* which moneths taken prophetically as before, every day for a year, and reckoning for every mon•th 30 daies, now multi∣ply the 42 by the 30. and the reign of the Beast is 1260 years, and though there be great difficulty when to begin the rise and reign, and most Expositors herein much vary, yet in the continuance there is a generall accord, and none can ra∣tionally make any question about it.
4. That these Sackcloth-prophecies though but very few comparatively to the Locusts out of the Bottomlesse pit, which were innumerable, called two like their types Moses and Aaron, who brought Israel out of Egypt, or as Elias and Elisha which reduced Israel out of Baalism, yet these Wit∣nesses, though in number few, continue in their successions all the reign of the Beast, for the daies of their prophecying in Sackcloth are One thousand two hundred and sixty years, and so expire not till the 42 moneths of the Beasts Reign be expired.
Now fifthly we adde, that these Sackcloth Prophesiers were not only Saints who mournfully bewailed the abomina∣tions Page 52 of those times, that the holy City should be trampled under foot; but also that they were holy pious Ministers distinct from the Saints in Office, and in the act of their Pro∣phetical function, which is intimated to us,
1. From the power bestowed upon them▪ the Lord gives to them not only to pray and to mourn, but to Prophesie, Rev. 11.3. Not so much by prediction of things future, as by Preaching the everlasting Gospel. It was a mighty power from on high that a few contemned, persecuted Ministers should have gifts to be able, and power to be couragious to preach against the son of perdition, when all the world won∣dered after the Beast.
2. From their effectual exercise of that power and that in their publick detecting those Antichristian abominations, and denouncing the wrath of God against them. It is said in the daies of their Prophesie, though they were poor men and had no carnal weapons to defend themselves or offend their ene∣mies, yet in a spiritual sense fire proceedeth out of their mouths and devoureth their enemies, Revel. 11.5. For the Lord did make his words in their mouth to be fire, and the people wood, and it devoured them, Ier. 5.14. and the holy Ghost adds further that these Prophets tormented them that dwel upon the earth, v. 10.
3. The Spirit of truth doth not only call these two by the name of Prophets, but elsewhere distinguisheth the Prophets and Righteous men, He that receiveth a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophets reward; and he that re∣ceiveth a Righteous man in the name of a Righteous man, shall receive a Righteous mans reward. Where Christ incouraging poor Preachers of the Gospel against all the hard and harsh usage of the world, intimates to us,
- 1. That there are some who by way of Office and distin∣ction from others, are Prophets and Preachers.
- 2. That there is some eminent reward due to Prophets.
- 3. That they who do any good to Prophets, even because of that Office, shall receive a Prophets reward.
And in this very Prophesie concerning Antichrist, the Spi∣rit Page 53 maketh these two distinct, the Prophets and the Saints: Babylon is therefore ruined, because in her is found the blood of the Prophets and of the Saints, Rev. 17.24. Now if we descend from the words of this Prophecy, and come to observe the answerable event in History, we shall finde that in every age there were Ministers opposing the tenents of Antichrist. Their particular names, times, places, and their manner of resisting the man of sin, it will be too large to insist upon, yet a brief Catalogue of Ministers is here inserted.
From the time of Christ and his Apostles, for 600 years, our famous Iewell against the Romanists, hath abundantly proved that the truths professed in the reformed Churches were maintained by the Ancients. And in the succeeding Centuries, when the Man of Sinne began to prevail, there were in their several Ages, Godly and Learned Ministers who opposed the Popish Errours, defending the sufficiency of Scripture, Communion in both kindes, Justification by free Grace; disclaiming the defilements of worship in adoring Images, Invocation of Saints, praying for the Dead, wor∣shipping Reliques; and openly testifying against the ri∣sing and swelling power of the Pope, declaiming against his Supremacy and title of Universal Bishop as Anti∣christian.
From the 600 year of Christ, to the 700, besides Isidore,*Hesychius and others; there were in this Island these two famous Preachers, Aidan, who converted from Paganism the Kingdom of Northumberland, which then contained not only the Country now so called, but also Cumberland,*West∣moreland, Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Bishoprick of Durham, and some part of Scotland. Also Finan, by whose Ministry the Lord turned to the Christian faith, the Kingdom of the East Saxons, and of Mercia, as our own Countryman doth testifie.
Besides Taurinensis, Agobardu•, Rabanus Maurus, there was Scotus accused by the Pope for an Heretique,** and mur∣dered (as is conceived) by his own Scholars for his oppo∣sing the carnal presence. And Bertram a Priest in France, was so clear a Protestant in the point of the Sacrament, in a Book that he set forth, that some Romanists say it was writ by Oecolampadius under the name of Bertram.* And the most learned of the Papists confess that Walafridus Strabo, Ionas Bishop of Orleans, and Hin•marus Archbishop of Rhemes departed from the received opinion of the Church Ca∣tholique.*
In this Age (the most unlearned and unhappy) are recoun∣ted Radulphus Flavia•ensis,*Stephanus Eduensis, Smarag∣dus, and our English Alfricke whose Saxon Homily was ap∣pointed to be read publikely to the people against the carnal presence▪
In this Age more light began to appear, even in the heat and height of Antichristianism,* not only by the Ministry of Fulbert Bishop of Chartres, Anselme of Laon Author of the Interlineal Gloss, Oecumenius, Theophylact and others, but especially by Berengarius and his disciples.
Besides Arnulphus the Martyr, Hugo de Sancto Victore, Robertus Tuitiensis,*Gulielmus de sancto amore, Io•chim Abbas, Niceas,* were Peter Bruis and his Scholar Henry of Tholous•, two famous Preachers against Popish errours, insomuch as Peter was apprehended and burnt. In this Age the Wal∣denses appeared, who were the famous opposers of Anti∣christ.
In this Age are recorded Al••ssiodore, Peter de Vin•is, Ar∣noldus de nova villa,* and those two famous Preachers Gerar∣dus and Dulcinus,* who preached that the Pope was Anti∣christ, and Rome Babylon. Besides our famous Robert Grost∣head Bishop of Lincolne, the great hammer of the Romanists, who wrote to the Pope that he was Antichrist.
In this Century, besides Peter de Alliaco, Nichol. Cleman∣gis and many others, we need name no other,* but those great Worthies and Martyrs Savanorola a famous Preacher in Florence, with Iohn Huss and Hierom of Prague, whose memories are pretious throughout all the Reformed Chur∣ches.
In this Age the Father of mercies raised up Martin Lu∣ther, and so many others,* and from that time the defection from Rome was so eminent, that it hath visibly continued to this day; and concerning the following times there is no question.
And for the more clear understanding of all the persons aforementioned the Ministers of the Lord, we referre the Learned Readers to the Histories Magdeburgens. to Illyricus his Catalog. testium veritatis, to Iacob. Vsher, de Eccles. succes. & statu. and amongst our English Writers, to Mr Fox his Acts and Monuments, and to Mr Sim. Birckbeck his Treatise called The Protestants Evidence.
And if any further demand saying, Though many par∣ticular men did appear against Antichrist, yet how doth it appear, concerning those multitudes of Professors called the Berengarians and the Waldenses, that their Churches had Mi∣nisters?
We Answer, That Berengarius is reported to have been so great a friend to Learning and Learned Preachers,* that at his own proper cost and charge, he brought up many Scho∣lars, specially such as were Students of Divinity, by whose help his Doctrine was spread almost through all France, and the Countries adjoyning, which is a great complaint that the Popish Authors had against him.
They answer, that they wished that happinesse to their Ministers that they might be free from servile labours, for so they should have more time for their studies, and more fitnesse to instruct us. For we are not grown to that super∣stition or rather madnesse, as to think our Ministers do sinne unlesse they labour with their hands. As it is reported of one who of a Priest turned Husbandman, because it is written In the sweat of thy brows shalt thou eat thy bread. Our Lord hath not suffered us to fall in this manner. Yet many of our Ministers are brought to that necessity, that they must either work or starve.
But this these holy Saints did not account in those times to be the Ministers duty, but lamented it as the Churches misery. By all which it appears that the Berengarians and the Waldenses had their Ministers, even under the reign of Antichrist.
*As there were Saints and Ordinances, and Ministers un∣der the reign of Antichrist: so many of these godly Mini∣sters suffered Martyrdom during the tyranny of the Beast, for their appearing against Antichrist. And if these Mini∣sters and Priests died for the Name of Christ against Anti∣christ: then surely the Ministry was not lost, nor is it Anti∣christian. But that there were such Ministers and Martyrs for the Name of Christ in every Country, is apparent by the C•talogue of Martyrs which you may see more at large in Mr Fox.*
In France, Laurentius Cruceus at Paris,*Iohn du-Beck in Champaign, Aimond at Burdeaux, Geffery Varagle at Thu∣ren. What need we relate Peter Bruis, and other godly Ministers, when Thuanus records, that all those who would not recant, were burnt alive; among whom (he saith) were many Priests.
In Spain, Dr Cacalla called the Standard-bearer to the Go∣spellers. Francis de Bivero Priest of Valladolid, Alfonso Perez Priest of Valence.
It would be too long to speak of Savanarola in Florence, of Iohn Hu•, Hierom of Prague in Bohemia, and many other godly Ministers burnt alive for the testimony of Jesus.
But we need go no farther then to England for examples: and here not to insist on the troubles of Iohn Wickliff, Ni∣cholas Herford, Philip Repington, with other pious Ministers in the time of Richard the 2d, nor the cruel burnings of Wil∣liam Taylor and William White under Henry the 4th, and ma∣ny others in the succeeding times. Only peruse the History of Henry the 8th and Q. Mary.
Under Henry the 8th Mr Fox records these famous Mini∣sters suffering Martyrdom.*
Mr Thomas Bilney.
Mr▪ Burfield, both burnt anno 1531.*
Iohn Fryth, burnt anno 1532.
William Tyndal, called the Apostle of England, burnt an∣no. 1536.
Iohn Lambert, burnt anno 1538.
Robert Barns, Tho▪ Garret,*William Hierom Divines, burnt together in Smithfield anno 1541.
We instance in these among others, and have named the time of their sufferings, and the pages of the Book where their sufferings are recorded: that when you have considered their holy lives and godly death, how they imbraced the flames of fire as beds of Roses for the name of Christ, you Page 58 may for ever abhor the thought of accounting such worthy Ministers of Christ as Antichristian.
And if you descend to the bloudy dayes of Qu. Mary, you may finde all the Land over, Ministers of Christ burning for the name of Christ.
Take but the first year of that fiery trial Anno Dom. 1555. and see how these Antichristian flames kindled upon the godly Preachers.
Mr Iohn Rogers Vicar of Sepulchres Protomartyr, burnt in Smithfield, Feb. 8.
Mr Lawrence, burnt at Coventry about the same time.
Mr Iohn Hooper burnt at Glocester, Feb. 9.
Dr Rowland Taylor, burnt at Hadly, Feb. 9.
Mr Iohn Lawrence, burnt at Colchester, Feb. 29.
Mr Robert Farran, burnt at Carmarthen in Wales, March 30.
Mr George Marsh, burnt at Westchester, April 24.
Mr William Flower, burnt at Westminster, April 24.
Mr Iohn Cardmaker, burnt at London, May 30.
Mr Iohn Bradford, burnt in Smithfield, Iuly.
Mr Iohn Bland, burnt at Canterbury, July 12.
Mr Robert Samuel, burnt at Ipswich, Aug. 31.
Dr Nicholas Ridley, and Mr Hugh Latimer at Oxford, Octob. 26.
Mr Iohn Philpot, burnt in Smithfield, Decemb. 18.
Not to name the year following. In this one year you may read of these holy Ministers with others, counting not their lives dear unto themselves, so they might finish their course with joy, and fulfill the Ministry which they received of the Lord: and dare you call these blessed Martyrs the limbs of Anti∣christ, who had all their limbs torn in pieces and consumed by Antichrist? If you profess your selves Protestants, be not like the Papists in their brutish rage who digged up the bones of Bucer and Paulus Fagius. It was the praise of Boaz, that he left not off his kindenesse,* but it will be your reproach, that you have not left off your unkindenesse neither to the li∣ving nor to the dead.
The Turks so farre honoured S••nderberg, that when he Page 59 was buried at Lyssa, they with great devotion digged up his bones, counting it some happinesse if they might but see or touch them, and they that could get any part of them, caused them to be set in silver or in gold, and so to hang about their necks as ornaments of greatest worth. If the Turks did this to him that was an enemy, and they Mahumetans to him a Christian, how may they rise up in judgement to condemn many in this generation, who professe themselves Christians, yet condemn the most eminent souldiers and Martyrs of Je∣sus? Cursed be this anger for it is cruel, and this rage for it is fierce. If you be real Protestants, for shame bridle your fu∣ry, which in some regards is worse then Popish. Do you cry out Antichrist, Antichrist, and yet crucifie Christ again in his members? Is not this to partake of Antichrists sin? How∣soever, when you have done your worst, these holy Ministers and Martyrs are happy in heaven, and their memorial shall be in all ages blessed upon earth, when their enemies shall perish and leave their names for a curse unto Gods chosen.*
If the Lord had his holy Ministers not onely in suffering times to be Martyrs, but also in times of Reformation;* if the Lord stirr'd up his Ministers as his chiefest instruments to bring his people from the power of Antichrist, as of old he led his people out of Egypt by the hands of Moses and Aaron, then surely the Ministers are not Antichristian. But the Lord did stirre up his Ministers in several places to detect the frauds of Antichrist, and by their Ministry he did reduce his people from that Antichristian tyranny. Before you heard of many Worthies, as Wickliff, Hus, Hierom Prague, &c. But in the 16. Century, how wonderfully did the Lord raise up for the rescue of his people the Ministry of Luther, and with him what a troop of expert valiant Champions, Philip Melan∣cthon, Conradus Pellican, Fabricius, Capito, Osiander, Bucer, and many others in Germany, Zui•glius in Helvetia,*Iohn Calvin and Farellus that unwearied souldier of Christ, as he is called.
These with multitudes of others in England, France, and Page 60 oth•r Countreys, held their life in their hands, hazarded all for the Gospel of Christ, these smit spiritual Egypt in her first-born. These, even these bare the heat of the day, and we are entred upon their labours; And is this all the thank that ye render to God or them, that when they delivered you from Antichristianisme, you condemn them as Anti∣christian?
If ever since the beginnings of Reformation, the pious, painfull Ministers in the Reformed Churches have stood in the breach,* have prevented our spiritual relapsing into Ae∣gypt, if they have spent their time, parts and studies night and day to fight the battels of Christ against Antichrist; then it is not only a groundlesse mistake, but an ungodly, sinful scandall to censure them as Antichristian. How is it that ye are not afraid to speak evil of the servants of the Lord, set up by his Spirit for the defence of the Gospel? Will any rational man versed in the writings of those Worthies, believe that Zanchi∣us, Bullinger, Beza, Brentius, Iunius, Pareus, Piscator, Musculus, Scultetus, Chamier, or of our Countreymen Iewel, Reignold, Whitaker, Perkins, with multitudes of o∣thers, who were willing to spend and be spent in defending the truths professed in the Reformed Churches against the Ro∣manists? Will any sober Christian believe that these were members of the Roman Harlot? The Popish party cannot so bely them, but have found them to be their greatest adver∣saries.
Will any man be so senslesse and stupid as to account Da∣vid who slew Goliah,* or Eleazar the son of Odo, who slew the Philistims till his hand was weary, or Shammah, who (when all Israel fled from the Philistims) he stood in the midst of a ground full of Lentiles and defended it, and slew the Philistims, and the Lord wrought a great victory? Will any man be so mad as to say that David and his worthies were the only friends of the Philistims, and so bury them, and cause them to go down to the grave among the uncircumcised?
Forget not the great appearances of Christ which have been gloriously seen and felt in the faithfull Ministers of this Land.*Page 61 Have not they preached and pressed to the conscience the pra∣ctical points of Christianity? and hath not the Lord set a vi∣sible seal to their Ministry in the souls of thousands? Dare you say that these practical Ministers Greenham, Dod, Dent, Dyke, Bains, Rogers, Hildersham, with a world more, of whom the world is not worthy, that they were Antichristian? Who art thou that givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue fra∣meth deceit? Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother,*and slanderest thine own mothers son. Hast thou considered their work of faith, labour of love, patience of hope? If thou hast not, why wilt thou speak evil of things and persons thou knowst not? And if thou hast read and considered, confesse and give glory to God, and say, God was in these Ministers of a truth. Be not like those seduced Professours, Who measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing them∣selves with themselves were not wise.* These silly or rather proud Christians, and their false teachers traduced the great Apostle, as if he had not Christ, to whom Paul answers, and we with him, If any man trust to himself, that he is Christs, let him of himself think this again, that as he is Christs,*even so are we Christs.
These holy Ministers were the precious members of Christ, and will you make them as much as is in you the members of an harlot? God forbid.*
The 9thConsideration is drawn from the sad consequences of this censorious, groundles opinion. For as touching our selves,* and the Ministers of this present Age, We say nothing, but We resolve in the strength of Christ to be faithfull to the death, and not to fear the revilings of men, and in the midst of all your undeserved reproaches, to persist in the work of the Lord, and to commit our selves to him that judgeth righteously.
Concerning these sad consequences we appeal to your seri∣ous and sober thoughts in these few Queries,
Q. 1. Doth not this Opinion (in rejecting all the godly Ministers of the Reformed Churches as Antichristian) much promote the Cause of Antichrist which you seem vehemently Page 62 to oppose. Now if any build that which he hath destroyed, he makes himself a transgressor: For
1. Is it not the great work of Antichrist to destroy our Mi∣nisters, to smite the Shepherd that the Flock may be scatter∣ed? * Certainly if the Lord in his wrath should suffer you so far to prevail as to suppresse Learning, trample upon the U∣niversities, and ruine the Ministers; That there should be no Learned men to detect Popish Impostures, and refell their errors; That neither shield nor spear should be left among thousands in Israel; you would in this more advance Anti∣christ, then if you were his sworn Vassals, even an Army of Friars and Jesuites deceiving and being deceived.
2. Do not most of your Arguments symbolize with the Romanists as if they were arrows shot out of their quiver? They renounce us upon this ground, That we are no true Church, have no true Ministry, and do not you agree with them in this unchristian principle: and are not we forced to prove the being of our Church and Ministry in all ages a∣gainst you, with the same Arguments we use against them? and herein do not you gratifie the common Adversary, and strengthen their hands?
Page 633, Have you not cause to enquire whether you be not act∣ed by the same Spirit? For you know the Spirit of Christ is a Spirit of meeknesse, and that wisedom which comes from a∣bove is first pure, and then peaceable, gentle, easie to be en∣treated: But the Spirit of Antichrist is high, and hot, and furious, usurping an infallibility of judgement, and unchur∣ching all that differ from him; and do not you unsaint all persons, and unchurch all Societies dissenting from you? and may not this rise from the spirit of delusion which worketh strongly in the Children of disobedience?
4. It is the Opinion of many, that the slaying of the Wit∣nesses is not past, but that the time thereof is very near, when Popery shall once again prevail; And the Reformed Churches shall be punished by taking away these Witnesses for a time,*be∣cause they received them not according to the dignity of their Embassage. And are not you preparing your selves and others to help on this slaughter? why do so many pray in bloud, and offer strange fire upon Gods Altar, as if nothing could give content till the Ministry be ruined, and doth not this Tenent, That the Ministers are the Limbs of Antichrist, binde you to shed their bloud, and to account it good service to God, not only to unsynagogue them (which you have done already) but to kill them; That so among you also may be found the bloud of the Prophets and of the Saints.
Q. 2. Do you not hereby wound all the Reformed Chur∣ches, darkning the beauty, and obstructing the progresse of Reformation? When the Lord stirred up Luther in Germany, Zuinglius at Zurich, Calvin at Geneva, to set upon this great work, multitudes in all Nations begun to embrace the truth, and to fly from the rents of Babel:* Antichrist was made so naked and bare in all the filthinesse of his whoredomes, that the whole world was ready to forsake her: Had not Satan stirred up this cursed Tenent wherewith many were levened, Rotmannus, Cnipperdoling, Iohn Leyden, and others opposed Luther as a false Prophet, as bad as the Pope, and of the two they said Luther was the worst. Antonius Pockquius under pretence of spirituall liberty, seduced many into the reality Page 64 of carnall security, and how furious the Antinomians and Anabaptists were in Germany, we had rather lament then ex∣presse; And did not Satan by these Agents prevail to weak∣en the hands of those Heroick Worthies, and so caused the work to cease, and many to relapse? How little hath been the Progresse of the Protestant Religion ever since? And now of late when the Lord stirred up many in this Island, to seek to serve the Lord with a pure worship, the work went forward with great felicity till this conceited opinion obtained, since which time the spirits of professors have been so alienated and embittered, that the way of truth is every where evill spoken of.
Q. 3. Hath not the Lord greatly testified from Heaven a∣gainst this Tenent in his spirituall Judgements upon many the great promoters of it? Since they despised the Ministry, de∣serted the Ordlnance; how are they fallen from heaven, some turning Scepticks and Seekers, others Ranters and Quakers, and what not? falling and falling, till at last they grow open∣ly prophane and profligate Atheists.
Q. 4. Doth not this opinion greatly endanger the souls of others? Are not all sinfull enough, naturally hating Teach∣ers, and scorning to be reproved, being enemies to light and truth? Why should you strengthen the hands of sinners? that whereas formerly they could not sin against light, but they had many checks of conscience, now they despise in∣struction and hate to be reformed, and when they sin most fully and fouly, yet they sin without reluctancy, and glory in their own shame; so that if these men perish in their gain-sayings, yet may not their bloud be required at your hands, who have not only misled them into errour, but have killed them with prejudice against the remedy which should reclaim them?
Q. 5. Is not this opinion the sad abuse of the great liberty now enjoyed? In times of former trouble, How did Professors live sincerely, love fervently, pray, and fast, and mourn to∣gether? But by these Tenents the Staff of Bands and Beauty is broken, and dashed in pieces one upon another, which Page 65 may justly provoke the Lord to cut short the day of liberty, that men may learn by the want of liberty how to prise and sadly bewail their wofull abuse of it.
Q. 6. If your principles about an universall liberty be true, why are you so untrue to your own principles? you can well endure men that deny the Immortality of the soul, the verity of Scriptures, the Deity of Christ, the God-head of the holy Ghost, and those that defend any thing, whatsoever is con∣trary to sound doctrine; These you can tolerate, defend, hug in your bosome; and if any one speak against any the broa∣chers of those errours: You cry out, Persecution, Persecution, yet at the self same time you persecute (to your uttermost) all Ministers, who take themselves bound in conscience to de∣fend the Ministry, You do and can tolerate the most pro∣phane and hereticall, but these Ministers Consciences you cannot tolerate: Are you not partiall in your selves, and be∣come Judges of evil thoughts, whilst you justifie that in your selves as a duty which you condemn in others as an abomina∣ble iniquity? Why are your professed principles so uneven, and you so contradictory to your own principles? Be not like the Jews who please not God and are contrary to all men.
Q. 7. Have you not cause to fear, that the Lord may leave you as he did your Predecessors in Germany, who held the same Tenents with you, gloried (as much as you) in their own confidences, and condemned (as you do) all others; Railed first against the Ministry, then raged aginst the Magi∣stracy, brought both Church and State into confusion, put the Countrey into burning Flames, wherein at length them∣selves were consumed to ashes; Do not therefore persist in kindling these false fires; Walk no longer in the light of the sparks that you have kindled, lest you have this at the hand of the Lord, to lie down in sorrow.