An address to Protestants upon the present conjuncture in II parts
Penn, William, 1644-1718.
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In II. Parts.

By a Protestant, William Penn.

Printed in the Year 1679.

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Sober Reader,

THe Present Affairs of this Kngdom are upon a Strong and Unusual Motion: to what Point they tend, or where they will Cen∣ter, must rest with God, that only is Omnisci∣ent. This makes it Hard either to Write or Speak: perhaps I shall be able to do neither without Disadvantage to my self; but I will do it with as little to the Matter as I can. And truly, I say it with some Comfort, the Clearing of an Opprest, yet Peaceable Conscience pre∣vails more with me, than the Safety of Silence. And yet I have no Reason to think, there is an Hazard in the Case, when the Publick Fast secures the Undertaking; and that I am sure, I pro∣pose nothing for my End besides the Glory of Almighty God, the Good of Mankind, and more especially the Peace and Happiness of my own Page  4Country. In which if I succeed not, it is no more, than what hath befallen the Endeavours of Most Excellent Persons: we must not mea∣sure our Duty by Success. Being therefore not discouraged in my self, and having a strong Hope, that Almighty God will favour this Honest Address with his Blessing. I be∣seech thee, Reader, peruse it with a Serious and Composed Mind, and with that Meekness and Charity, which becomes a True Protestant and a Christan to have.

Thine in Sincerity for the Publick Good W. Penn.

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My Friends and Country-men,

IF ye believe, that there is a God, that he is Holy, Just and Good, that he Made us, that we Owe our selves to him, & that he is not Careless of us, but the Constant Observer of our Thoughts and Actions; and that as he is the Rewarder of them that fear, love and obey him, so he is the severe Punisher of all such as transgress his Law, and break his Righteous Com∣mandments: if (I say) ye believe these things, and not only, that there is a Final Day of Reckoning, but that God even in this World recompences his Judg∣ments upon the Wicked, and visit Nations with his hot Displeasure because of their Impiety (which hath been the Experience and Confession of all Ages) then it Page  6 belongs to us of these Kingdoms to reflect upon our selves, and to take a true View of our Actions, since Divine Vengeance is at the door. And for the Lords sake, let us have a Care in the doing of it, since God will not be mocked; and that our miscarriage in such an Inquiry will be as only our own Infelicity, so of infinite Mo∣ment to us. I must needs be Plain and Earnest here; for if we miscarry in the Search, we shall certainly miscarry in the Cure. Sin gives the deadliest of all Wounds to Mankind; I grieve to say it, but 'tis too true; there is no Wound so slightily healed: we ra∣ther seek our Ease, than our Security, like those Fools that love the pleasantest, not the safest Potions. It is ill at all times, to flatter a Man's Self; but it is most Fatal about Repentance: Something men would keep, some∣thing men would hide; and yet they have to do with that Searcher of Hearts, from whom its impossible they should hide any thing. This Folly increases our Account, endangers our Cure and makes our Condi∣tion Desperate, if not Irrecoverable.

O England, my Native Country, Come to Judgment, bring thy deeds to the true Light; see whether they are wrought in God or no. Put not off thy self with Hay, Straw and Stubble; for they will burn, and the Fire is at the Door, that will consume them: he is coming, whose Reward is with him, and will give every one according to his Works. Let us therefore Examine our selves, Try our selves, Prove our own selves, whe∣ther Christ be in us or not; if his Spirit, his Nature, his Meekness, his Patience, his great Self-denyal dwell in us; if not, we are yet Reprobates, yet under the Reproofs of the Almighty; the Charge and Guilt of Page  7Sin; and his Witness in our own Consciences sends up Evidence to Heaven against us every day: this I justly fear and take to be our Case. Let us therefore strictly look into our Conversations, and with an im∣partial Eye take a view of those Sins, that most severe∣ly Cry to the Great Judge against us. And they ap∣pear to me to be of Two Sorts; the one relating more particularly to the State, the other to the Church (if I may without Offence use that Distinction) for my Wit∣ness is with God, I intend not Provocation, but Edifica∣tion.

Those Impieties that relate more particularly to the State to correct, are Drunkenness, Whoredoms and Forni∣cation; Excess, in Apparel, in Furniture and in Living; Profuse Gaming; and finally Oaths, Prophaneness and Blasphemy.

Drunkenness, or Excess in Drinking, is not only a Violation of God's Law, but of our own Natures; it doth of all other Sins rob us of our Reason, deface the Impressions of Vertue, and extinguish the Remem∣brance of God's Mercies and our own Duty: It fits men for that, which they would abhor, if Sober. The Incest, Murder, Robberies, Fires and other Villa∣nies, that have been done in Drunken Fits, make Drunkenness a Common Enemy to Humane Society. It renders men unfit for Trust or Business, it tells Se∣crets, betrays Friendship, disposes men to be Trappan∣ded and Cheated: Finally, it spoils Health, weakens Humane Race, and above all provokes the Just*God to Anger, who cried thus of Old; Wo to the Drunkards of Ephriam! the Drunkards Page  8of Ephriam shall be trodden under feet: they have erred through Wine, and through Strong Drink are out of the Way; the Priest and the Prophet have erred through Strong Drink, they erred in Vision, they stamble in Judg∣ment. Again, Wo unto them that are Mighty to drink Wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink. Wo unto them that rise up early in the Morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till Wine inflame them: and the Harp, and the Viol, the Tabret and the Pipe, and Wine are in their Feasts; but they regard not the Work of the Lord, neither consider the O∣perations of his hands. Therefore Hell hath enlarged her self and opened her Mouth without measure, and their Glory and their Multitude, and their Pomp, and he that rejoyces, shall descend into it.

Yet you will bear me witness, I do not wrong the pre∣sent Humor of too many in this Nation, and those not of the lowest Quality, in saying, that it is too often the be∣ginning and top of their Friendship: it is their Common Diversion and Entertainment; I might safely say, the Poor of England could be maintain'd by their Excess. Oh! hath the God of Heaven given men Plenty for such Ends? or will this kind of Improvement of their Worldly Talent give them Peace in the Day of Judg∣ment? But that men should do all this without shame, nay, glory in it too, is greatly to be lamented; for 'tis not only Appetite, but the Vanity of Conquest ex∣cites not a few, as if it were matter of Triumph to Drown a Man's Reason, and to Degrade him to the Beast. Let us hear upon the whole matter the Sentence pronounced a∣gainst * them by the Wise Man; Who Page  9 hath Wo? who hath Sorrow? who hath Contentions? who hath Babling? who hath Wounds without Cause? who hath Redness of Eyes? They that tarry long at the WINE, they that go to seek mixt WINE. Look not thou upon the WINE, when it is Red, when it giveth his Colour in the Cup, when it moveth it self aright; at the last it bi∣teth like a Serpent, and stingeth like an Adder. Thine Eyes shall behold strange Women, and thine Heart shall ut∣ter perverse things.

Here is much of the Mischief of Drunkenness in a little, & of the Excess and Wantonness of the Drunk∣ard; But did ever any Age come near ours, when the very Tasting of the several sorts of Wine (that are li∣berally drunk of at many Tables) is enough to distem∣per a Temperate Head? But that such, Excesses should be, while the Backs of the Poor are almost Naked, and their Bellies miserably pinch'd with Hunger, is almost as great a shame to our pretences to Policy, as those (I fear) we Unwarrantably make to Religion. Oh! that we were fit to receive that Heavenly Exhortation of the Apostle, Be not Drunk with Wine, wherein is Excess; but be filled with the Spirit, (but God knows, this is mockt at! He goes on) speaking to your selves (not in Lampoons nor Obscene Songs, that excite Lusts, but) in Psalms, and Hymns and spiritual Songs, singing and making Melody in your Heart to the Lord, giving Thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Next crying Sin is that of Whoredom and Forni∣cation. From one of the Cleanest People under Heaven (I fear) we are become one of the most-Inchaste (at least in & Page  10 about London.) The French have sufficiently revenged themselves upon us by the loose Manners they have brought amongst us, of which this makes a great part: but I must needs say to their Credit, they keep their Wits in their Debaucheries, whilst we by Over doing them in the Imitation of them lose both. VVhat is become of that Antient Education of the King∣dom? our Integrity, Gravity and Manhood, which gave our Men so great Reputation in the World, is it not turn'd into Swearing and Drinking, Fidling and Dancing, fine Cloaths, a Duel and a Wench? their Pro∣phaneness is their Wit, and their base Crafts must be called Policy. But where is that Retired Breeding, which made our Women as famous for their Virtue, as they were always held for their Beauty? alas! there hath been a sort of Industry used to subdue their Native Mo∣desty, as if it were an Indecent thing to have it, and Arts practised to make them Hardy against their own Blushes, and master their shy and bashful Disposition (so peculiar to Chastity) into an Unconcerned Confi∣dence: as if it were their Perfection to be Insensible of any ill, and to be Tame at all things. Strange! that Sobriety should be turn'd into Levity! and Lust called Love! and Wantonness, good Humor! to introduce which, nothing hath been so Pernitious, as the Use of Plays and Romances amongst us, where the warm and uneven Passions of our Youth, easily transported beyond the Government of their Reason, have been mov'd and excited to try that in Earnest, which they have seen in Jest.

But which way soever this Ungodly Latitude came in, certain it is, that what forty years ago was not fit Page  11 to be named, is now practised without any Scruple. Marriage, which is Gods Ordinance, & as lovely to Chaste Minds as lawful, is now grown a Dull Thing, Old and Clownish, kept up only for Issue, and that because the Law will have it so; A sort of Formality not yet thought fit to be abrogated, so that, what was once ordained of God for many other Helps and Comforts, and permitted by the Holy Apostle to prevent Lust (Better Marry than Burn) is by the Extravagant Growth of Vice turn'd to quite the Contrary. For some Men & (which is worse) some Women too, have said, They could love their Wives and Husbands, if they were not their Wives and Husbands; (tho that be the true Reason, why they ought to love them) It is in short to say: If they were in that Condition, in which they ought not to love them, they could love them; but being in that Condition, in which they ought to love them, they declare, they cannot love them: Yet Alas! Christians, & Children of God: what a shame is this, & Scandal to Society! But for God's sake, let this Impiety be laid to Heart! let not the Marriage Bed be so horribly de∣filed! let not our Virgins be so basely abused! It de∣stroyes Honour, Fortitude, Health; it pollutes Houses, and makes the Issue of the Nation Spurious; It occa∣sions great Unkindnesses, Rents, Confusions and Di∣visions in Families, between Husband and Wife, Parents and Children, Masters, Mistrisses and Servants: it spots their Name; but above all, the poor Children are un∣happy, that wear an Ignominy they never deserved. In fine, it teaches Young-men to slight Marriage, and Mar∣ried Men to break their Contracts: If Religion were not interested in it, yet the Breed of the Nation is Visibly Page  12 injur'd by it; Good Horse-men are more Nice and Careful in their Studs, the Policy of the Nation is concern'd in preventing the Mischiefs, that follow such Licentious Practices. But if we will consider the share that Religion has, both in Virginity and in Marri∣age, we shall find many severe Sentences past upon the Violators of them. Thou shalt not commit Adultery, saith God; The Adulterer shall be put to Death, saith the same God: I will be a*swift Witness against the Adulterer, saith the Lord. Know ye not, that the Un∣righteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? be not deceived; neither For∣nicators, nor Idolaters, nor Adulterers, nor Effeminate persons, nor Abusers of themselves with Mankind. And the Holy Apostle gives the Reason, The Body is not for Fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the Body: Know ye not (saith he) that your Bodies are the Members of Christ.? shall I then take the Members of Christ, and make them the Members of an Harlot? God forbid! Flee Fornication: he that committeth Fornicati∣on, sinneth against his own Body. what! (saith he) know ye not, your Body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a Price; therefore glorifie God in your Body and in your Spirit, which are God's. If any Man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy. O can men profess to believe these things, and lead that wretched Life they live! But yet again hear this Man of God: But Fornication and all Uncleanness or Covetousness let it not be once named amongst you, as be∣cometh Saints; neither Filthiness, nor foolish Talking Page  13 nor Jesting, which are not Convenient; but rather giving of Thanks. For this ye know, that no Whoremonger, nor Unclean person, nor Covetous man, who is an Idolater, hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. Let no man deceive you with vain Words; for because of these things cometh the Wrath of God upon the Children of Disobedience: be not ye therefore pertakers with them, and have no fellowship with the Unfruitful Works of Dark∣ness; but rather reprove them: See then, that ye walk Circumspectly, not as Fools, but as Wise, redeeming the Time, because the Dayes are Evil. (Ephes. 5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, 16.) I shall Conclude with these two Passages: Marriage is Honorable in all, and the Bed Un∣defiled; but Whoremongers and Adul∣terrers *God will judge! The other is this: But the Fearful and Unbelieving, and the Abominable and Murtherers, and Whoremongers, and Sorcerens, and Idolaters, and all Lyars shall have their part in the Lake, which burneth with Fire and Brimstone, which is the Second Death; This alone ought to deter all People, who have any respect for Holy Scripture, and do believe the Mind of God to be declared therein. Let then both Cities, Courts, Houses and Streets be swept of such Iniquity; let the Law have its course, let not God be provoked to destroy us: and let all such turn to God by unfeigned Repentance; that Sobriety, Cha∣stity and Vertuous Conversation may return again a∣mong us: so shall we escape the Wrath, that for this with other Enormities is ready to break out against us.

The Third Crying Sin of this Land is its Great Ex∣cess, and that in several Kinds; In Apparel, in Furni∣ture,Page  14 in Feasting. An Excess is the Mis-using of any thing, by not observing a Moderation: that which is lawful in it self, may be Abused in the Use of it. What is more Allowable, yet what is more Abused than Cloths and Victuals? The End of Apparel is to cover Nakedness, keep People Warm, Distinguish Sexes; but the End is perverted: 'tis used more for Orna∣ment, for Pride, for Lust; to beget Esteem and to draw Honour to the Person that wears it: A Mean, an Effe∣minate, a Wretched way to Honour; yet such was the Folly of the Age, that few things are yet more Reve∣renced: it opens Doors, gets Access, obtains Dis∣patches, carries away the Cap and the Knee from most other Pretences. The Truth is, this Vanity abuses the Reason of Just Respect: for True Quality, if plain, is not to be known among Fine Cloths. But it does not only Confound all Reasonable Distinction, and those Civil Degrees that are among People; but it be∣gets Pride: they think themselves some Body, if they are Fine; Plain Cloths must give them the Way and the Wall, and keep its Distance too. It introduces Effeminacy, and excites to Wantonness: it provokes to Prodigality, and leads People to Idleness. But there is a sort of Madness in it too: for 'tis not so much the Apparel, as the Trimming; not the Cloths, but the Cut, the Mode, the Figure: and as often as this chan∣ges, Cloths grow Useless, that are not half worn out. This is an Iniquity against the Good of the Govern∣ment, as well as against God; and there is so strong a Temptation in it, that not a Few turn Naught to be Fine, as well as the Fine turn Naught. In short, there is no Good, Prudence or Conveniency in this Excess;Page  15 the Law of God and of the Land is against it: The third Chapter of Isaiah is almost intirely employed * against it, in which God does not only rebuke the Haughty Looks, the Wanton Eyes and Enticing Mean and Behaviour of the Women of those Times; but declares his Resolution to

Take away the Bravery of their Ornaments, Chains, Bracelets, Rings, Jew∣els and Changeable Suits of Apparel, and that their Perfume should be turned into a Stink, and instead of a Girdle there should be a Rent, and instead of Well-set Hair Baldness, and instead of a Stomacher a Girding of Sack-cloth, and Burning instead of Beauty. Thy Men (said God) shall fall by the Sword, and thy Mighty in the War: and her Gates shall lament and mourn; she being desolate, shall sit upon the Ground.

This was also the Sin of Tyrus, as ye may see Ezek. 27. For Pomp and Pride she excelled in those days: she boasted in her Splendor and sumptuous Living; her Build∣ings were Lofty, her Furniture Stately, her Apparel Costly: but her End was Terrible, and her Destruction ve∣ry Great. And God expresly threatens by his Prophet Zephaniah; I will punish the Princes and the Kings Chil∣dren, and all that are clothed with strange Apparel. What is this strange Apparel? is it New Fashions? then we are guilty with a witness. Or is it the Fashions of strange Countries? it is still our own Case: We have been more Careful to receive the Law from France for our Clothes, than from Christ for our Conversation; and so Prevalent is the Humor of that Country with us, and Powerful the Ascendant it hath over us, that we seem to be French-Men, only we live in England.Page  16 But in this, as also in all other things the Christian Re∣ligion excells, and that for the Good of Civil Society: It reproves this Excess, limits the Vain Mind of Man, and teaches that decent Plainness, which becomes the Providence and Gravity of Civil Government. Hear the Language of the holy Apostles, in whose Doctrine we all pretend to believe, I will therefore (saith St. Paul) that Women adorn themselves*in Modest Apparel, with Shamefacedness and Sobriety, not with Broidered Hair, or Gold, or Pearls, or Costly Array; but (which becometh Women professing Godliness) with Good Works. The same Do∣ctrine is repeated by the Apostle Peter, who * speaking to the Christian Women, to whom he wrote; Let not your Adorning be in that Outward A∣dorning of Plating the Hair, and of wearing of Gold, or of putting on of Apparel; but let it be the hidden Man of the heart in that which is not corruptible, even the Orna∣ment of a Meek and Quiet Spirit, which is in the sight of God of great Price: For after this manner in the Old Time the holy Women also, who trusted in God, adorned them∣selves. Would to God! I could say for the Women of our Age, that they trusted in God too, and adorned themselves with no other Ornaments, than what a∣greed with the Modest and Humble Plainness of these Christian Times.

But the Law of the Land as well as the Christian Law reproves this Excess, they only want to be re∣fresht and inforced by the Care of our Superiors; were they Strictly put in Execution, it would not only prevent much Mischief, and enerease the Wealth of the King∣dom, but make Private Men in a little time thank the Page  17Just Severity of the Government. For it will help to keep them within Compas, to preserve (which is one way to encrease) their Estate, to enlarge their Trade, provide better for their Children, and open their hands more Liberally to the Poor: And this I am sure, God requires at our Hands.

What I have said against Excess in Apparel, is also applicable to Excess in Furniture: For as Finery is more valued than Clothes, so is the Furniture, than the House. It is a most Inexcusable Superfluity, to bestow an Estate to line Walls, dress Cabinets, embroider Beds, with an Hundred other unprofitable Pieces of State: such as Massy Plate, Rich Chiny, Costly Pictures and Painted Windows of no use in the Earth, only for Show and Sight: the Interest of which Money so ill em∣ployed, might probably Maintain the Poor of a Nu∣merous Parish.

O Lord God! hast thou given us Plenty, and should we see others Want? should we clothe our Dead Walls, and let thy Poor go Naked? Can we feed our Eyes with these Objects, and not feed the Hungry with Bread? and spend our Money upon Lifeless Pictures, but shut up our Bowels to thy Living Image, the Poor and N edy of the Earth? Rebuke this Evil Mind, and bring down the Pride of all Flesh, O Lord! for thy Name's sake.

The Last Excess is that of Feasting and Voluptuous∣ness, Immoderate Eating and Drinking, with that strain of Mirth and Jollity, which is the Mode and Practice of the Times. Dives is almost got into eve∣ry Family, especially those of Note and Estate: it is Want of Wealth, and not Will, that the Greatest Part Page  18 of the Nation is not guilty; they mostly sin to their Ability: that is sad! But the Sin of Voluptuousness is swell'd to that Bulk, that there are more Receipts for Eating and Drinking, than there are Precepts of Life in the Old and New Law: the Book of Cookery is grown as big as the Bible, and I fear, read, to be sure, practised oftner. In this Art the Lust of the Flesh is deeply concern'd; there is not so much Care of the Stomach as of the Palate, of Health as Plea∣sure: 'tis the Taste, the Gust, the Relish, that makes the Victuals go down; therefore the Sawce is prefer∣red before the Meat. Twelve-penny worth of Flesh with Five Shillings of Cookery may happen to make a Fashionable Dish; plain Beef, Mutton, or any other thing is become Dull Food: But by that time its Natu∣ral Relish is lost in the Crowd of the Cook's Ingredi∣ents, and the Meat sufficiently disguised to the Eaters; it passes under a French Name for a very Good Dish. But there is one thing in this Impiety more than ordi∣narily Condemnable; it destroyes Hospitality and wrongs the Poor: For that Expence, which is now flung away upon a Vicious Palate, upon a French Soup or Sawce, in former Times afforded several Dishes of substantial Victuals; which did not only feed Strangers or Neighbours, but the Poor, who have now little more than (what the Dogs had then) Empty Dishes to lick. This is Abusing the Providence of God, Tyranni∣zing over the Creatures made for man's Use, and sa∣crificing their Poor Lives not to our Lives, but to our Lusts: 'Tis against such as these, that the Creation groans, and from whose Intemperance it cries to be delivered.

Page  19 God in all Ages hath had a Controversie with Vo∣luptuous Men, and the Testimonies of sacred Records are Strong and Numerous against them: I will men∣tion a few of them. Voluptuousness was the Sin of the Old World; they were Eating and Drinking, Marrying and giving in Marriage, pleasing the Lust*of the Eye, the Lust of the Flesh, and the Pride of Life, until the Day of the Flood. This also was the Condition of Sodom; Christ himself has exprest it in these words: In the Dayes of Lot they did eat, they drank, they*bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; the same Day, that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained Fire and Brimstone from Heaven, and destroyed them all. The Prophet Ezekiel has it in these words, speaking to Jerusalem; Be∣hold,*th•… was the Iniquity of thy Sister So∣dom, Pride, Fulness of Bread and A un∣dance of Idleness was in her and her Daughters; nei∣ther did she strengthen the Hand of the Poor and Needy, and they were Haughty, and committed Abomination be∣fore me; therefore I took them away, as I saw good. And it is very Remarkable, that the Voluptuouness of the Israelites was joyned with their Idolatry. It is said, that when Moses was in the Mount, the People Impa∣tient of his Stay sat down to Eat and to*Drink, and rose up to Play: they had got a Calf of Gold, and were Dancing about it. But it was a Dismal Ball, and they paid dear for their Junket; for several Thousands were Slain: and it is said, That God Plagued the People. Job's Children had as Ill Success in their Festivals, they went from*House to House Eating and Drinking; and a Page  20 Tempest rose, and smote the Four Corners of the House and Kill'd them. But most express is that Complaint of God by the Mouth of the Prophet Amos against the Voluptuous Jews: Ye that put so far away the Evi Day, and cause the Seat of Violence to come near; that lie upon Beds of Ivory and stretch themselves upon their Couches, and eat the Lambs out of the Flock, and Calves out of the midst of the Stall. That Chant at the Sound of the Viol, and invent to themselves Instruments of Musick like Da∣vid: that drink Bowls of Wine and anoint*themselves with the chief Ointments; but they are not grieved for the Affliction of Jo∣seph. Therefore now shall they go Captive with the First that go Captive, and the Banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed. And I will turn your Feasts into Mourning, and all your Songs into Lamentation; and I will make the End thereof as a bitter Day.

I shall Sum up these Excesses, and Conclude the In∣stances with the Story of Dives, more commonly known, then reverently believed: It is delivered to us by the Great Lord of Truth in these Words.

There was as Certain Rich Man, which was cloath∣ed in Purple and Fine Linnen, and fared Sumptuous∣ly every Day. And there was a Cer∣tain Beggar, named Lazarus, which * was laid at his Gate full of Sores, and deiring to be fed with the Crums, which fell from the Rich Man's Table: moreover the Dogs came, and licked his Sores. And it came to pass, that the Beggar died, and was carried by the Angels into Abraham's Bosom. The Rich Man also died Page  21 and was buried: And in Hell he lift up his Eyes, being in Torments, and seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his Bosom. And he cried and said, Fa∣ther Abraham, have mercy on me, and send La∣zarus, that he may dip the tip of his Finger in water, and cool my Tongue, for I am Tormented in this Flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy Life-time receivedst thy good things, & likewise Lazarus Evil things; but now he is comfor∣ted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, be∣tween us & you there is a Great Gulf fix'd, so that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot, neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

This Great Passage comprehends the State of Men in both Worlds; it shews to us, what that Life is in this World, which leads to Misery in the Next, and what to Happiness. No Sensual Man, no Voluptuous Person, not those that deck themselves with Delicate Apparel, and fare Sumptuously every Day, that love their Back and their Belly more then God and the Poor, shall be re∣ceived into Abraham's Bosom, or dwell in Blessedness forever; let none deceive themselves, the Jealous God will not be mocked: If ye Sow to the Flesh, ye shall reap Corruption; but if ye sow to the Spirit, ye shall reap Life Everlasting. They that live in Pleasures, Kill the Just, they Crucifie the Just Witness in themselves: such Treasure up wrath against the Day of Wrath. Wo, Anguish and Triulation to every Soul that doth Evil, whether Jew or Gentile, Professor or Prophane, Christi∣an or Infidel: For the Dives's under all these Names must be turned into Hell; but such as through Pati∣ence and Well-doing wait for Immortality, as poor Page  22Lazarus did, after all their Poverty, Neglect and Hunger shall receive Glory, Honour and Eternal Life. And tru∣ly, it is some Comfort to the Miserable in this World, that they shall not live always in it, and that they have to do with a God, who is no Respecter of Per∣sons: This Judge is impartial; the Poor are upon Even Terms with the Rich; and it will not be Quality, but Integrity; not Riches but Righteousness, which will recommend us to him. No wonder then, if the Prophet Jeremiah in the Name of God, charged the Antient Jews Not to go into the House of Feasting; and that Ecclesiastes should say, That it is better to go to the House of Mourning, than to the House of Feasting, since so many Evils follow it. But there is one Feast, that even Christ himself allows us; though I have little Reason to believe, it will be Imitated, when I consi∣der the Natural Aversness, that is even among Profest Christians to his Self-denying Precepts and Example. Then said Jesus, When thou ma¦kest*a Dinner or a Supper, call not thy Friends or thy Brethren, neither thy Kinsmen nor thy Rich Neighbours, lest they also bid thee again, and a Recompence be made thee (This would beget Feasting, the thing which is to be avoided: no such matter.) But when thou ma∣kest a Feast, call the Poor, the Maimed, the Lame, the Blind, and thou shalt be Blessed, for they cannot recom∣pense thee; but thou shalt be recompensed at the Resur∣rection of the Just. There are few, that strive to obey this Counsel; there is so little of Fashion or of Inte∣rest in it. What! Persons of Quality feast the Poor? Carve for the Maimed, and feed the Blind? 'tis too Mean, too Ignominious: If they have the Bones, the Page  23Scraps, the Crums, 'tis well: No, no, this Doctrine is too like him, that taught it, to be practised by them that are so Unlike him; they that follow him in these things, must Take up the Cross, Despise the Shame, and Sow in Hope: But because there is an Everlasting Recompence for those that do; I fervently desire of God, that it would please him to put it into the Minds of both Magistrates and People to Love Mercy, Do Justice, Walk humbly with the Lord, and Meekly and Cha∣ritably towards all men. I beseech you in the Tender Bowels of a Christian Man to consider of the Present Conjuncture: is this a Time for Feasts and Reveils, Plays and Pastimes, when the very Wrath of God seems to hang by a slender Thread over our Heads? O! let your Moderation be known unto all men, now the Lord is so near at hand.

And I do humbly pray the Supreme Authority of this Land, to put a speedy Check to these Exorbitan∣ces, to Discountenance these Excesses by the Revival of those Old Laws, and in making of such New Ones, as may be thought convenient to prevent such Pride and Prodigality. For I think, I may both with Mode∣sty and Truth affirm, if the very Unnecessary Expences of most Ranks or Degrees in this Kingdom could be brought into one Publick Purse, they would arise to Three Times more Money, than either is given or is requisite to the Maintenance of the Poor that are in it: and whether this be a thing Practicable or no, it matters not; the very Preventing of that Excess, which is amongst us, will be pleasing to Almighty God, and one Way or other Beneficial to the Govern∣ment.

Page  24 It may not be improper for me here to add by way of Appendix to this Head of Excess the Sin of GA∣MING, an Invention of much Mischief in the World, & therefore inconsistant both with Christianity and Civil Government. The Evils that attend it, are neither small nor few: It is First a Great Enemy to Business, and that Just Care, that people ought to have for the Discharge of their Respective Capaci∣ties in their Civil Affairs. Next, It is one of the Greatest Thieves to Mens Estates: Many brave Families have been ruin'd by a Gamester: That which hath been got by the Care and Prudence of a Father, it may be hath been lost in one Night by the Extravagant Humor of a Son: But that the Reward of Virtue should be the Stake of Folly, and the Acquest of Wor∣thy Ancestors exposed to the Chance and Hazard of the Die, is such Impiety to God's Providence, Ingratitude to Parents, Injury to their own Families and Disgrace to the Government, that I conceive, it may very well deserve the Care of our Superiors, to prevent that Ex∣travagancy for the future. Thirdly, It is a great Con∣sumer of Time. They who are addicted to Gaming, are the most Idle and Useless people in the Govern∣ment; and give me leave to say, that men are Account∣able to the Government for their Time: there ought to be no Idleness in the Land; for that End Bridewels are provided. Of many other Sins people are Weary, but of this never, unless to Sleep, or Eat, or for Want of Money to Play: We are commanded to Redeem the Time, bècause the Dayes are Evil; but these people chuse rather to Lose their Time, and fall into the Evil, they Page  25 should avoid. A Gamester and a Christian are as oppo∣site as a Saint and a Sinner; for the Christian looks to God in the increase of his Estate, the Gamester to Skill and Chance; and there is no more of God in his Mind, than there is in his Game: and it cannot be otherwise. Fourthly, Therefore Gaming deserves to be supprest, because it has been the Occasion of Breach of Friendship, Quarrels, Bloodshed and Murder: if we ought to shun the Occasions of Evil, to be sure we ought not to in∣dulge them.

The Last Mischief that belongs to Gaming (which I shall mention at this time) is the Horrid OATHS and Passionate Imprecations used by the generality of Game∣sters; but because they are not confin'd to Gaming, but run through the whole Conversation of men, they may very well challenge a place among those FourCry∣ing Sins, that I found my self Obliged in Conscience to Complain of to such, as have Power in their Hands to punish and suppress them. I have therefore reserved to speak of Oaths and Blasphemies till last, because I take them to be the most Provoking Sin. The other Enormities of Drunkenness, Whoredom and Excess in Apparel, Furniture, Feastings and Gaming do more im∣mediately relate to our selves; and are therefore Sins against God, because they are a Transgression of that Order, which he hath placed in the Nature of things: but Oaths and Blasphemies must be referred to God himself; they are Sins committed more immediately against his Being, his Name, and the Majesty and Dignity of his Nature. It is Horrible to hear, how he is called upon about every thing, be it never so Trivial; yea, about nothing, and worse than nothing. He is Page  26 Summon'd at their Games, their Sports, their Obsce∣nities, in their Drunkenness, Whoredoms, Murders, Ra∣pines and Treachery: there is a Generation that cannot speak without him, though they live without him; They would make him a Voucher of all their Falshood and a Witness for their Lyes, as often as they would have them believed. But I tremble to Remember, with what Presumption some Men, when transported into Rage, Invoke him to Damn those, they are Angry with, yea, themselves too! and how Impiously they send him at their pleasure upon the Errands of their Vengeance! Can there be greater Blasphemy, then to dare so much as to think, that the Holy, Wise and Just God should be the Executioner of their Passion, & Fury, and the Avenger of their Malice and Corrupt Inter∣ests! And it is Observable, that if in any thing they are Cross'd or Disappointed, they fall a Swearing, Cursing, Damning, Blaspheming, as if the Name of God should make them Satisfaction; and that it were a Sort of Ease to them, to deliver themselves of a Bur∣den of Oaths.

But that which aggravates this Evil, is the Impu∣dence of the people that commits it: they are not Con∣tented to use it at Home and at Ale-Houses and Taverns abroad; but in the open Streets, Markets and Fairs, in the most Notorious Places of Commerce and Traf∣fick, to the Dishonour of God, the Grief and Offence of Sober Men, and the Bad Example of those that are not so. But this Shameful Impiety ends not here; it has not only prevailed with the Popula••, the Cannale, the Vulgar; but the Men of Quality, the Gentry and the Nobles of the Realm, to whom God in his Provi∣dence Page  27 hath been more Propitious placing, them at the Distance of Example and Imitation to the Multitude. Even those, that ought to be the Heads of our Tribes the Leaders of the people, whose Virtue should at least keep Pace with their Quality, are guilty with this Base Custom; and too many of them more concerned in it, than the Meanest of the People. And to carry this Practice to the Utmost Hight of that Mischief it seems Capable of doing, but too many (God knows!) of those in Authority use it, even the Men, that by Law should suppress it! And if Men of Of∣fice and Power ought in their several Trusts to be a Ter∣ror to Evil-doers, methinks, they should not suffer the Name of the God of the Nation (whom they pretend to worship) to be so prophanely us'd and blasphemed; and least of all, that they should be the Men them∣selves, that Commit the Enormities, they should punish. To say Truth (and with Grief of Soul I speak it) so Universal is this Contagion in the Kingdom, that not only the Youth, but the Children are infected: The Boyes of seven Years Old, that in my time did not think upon an Oath, are now full of their God-damn∣you's and God-damn-me's at their Sports and Playes! And the Women of our Nation (especially those of any Rank) who by a Reserv'd Education and the Modesty of their Sex were scarcely ever heard to Curse even what they did not like, (much less to Swear up∣on Ordinary Occasions) are some of them grown Hardy enough to do Both. At whose Door must all these Mischiefs lie? I beseech God to put it into the Hearts of our Superiors, to Use their Utmost Diligence, to rebuke and suppress this and the like Impieties!

Page  28 We profess our selves to be Christians, Followers of that JESUS, in whose Mouth no Guile was ever found, what Precept did he ever give us? what Example hath he left us to Countenance this Practice? 'Tis true, he Charg'd his Disciples, Not to Swear at all; but we cannot think our selves to Obey him, when we Swear at Every thing? pray consider the great Differ∣ence there is betwixt Christ and such Christians. Christ is Lord of a more Perfect Law, than that which came by Moses, that admits of Oaths in some Cases; but they were Few, and must be kept upon great Penalties: This New Law of JESUS takes away Oaths by taking away the Cause and Need of them, namely, Falshood and Distrust; and by planting Plainness, Truth and In∣tegrity in the Natures of Men, which makes them such Faithful Disciples to him, and so entirely Brethren to one another, that there seems no farther Use for Oaths among Men under that Qualification. Ye have heard of Old Time (saith Christ Jesus) [that Men should: Swear: not when they please, nor yet Swear Vainly? No such matter: What then?] Thou shalt not For-swear thy self, but Perform thy Vows un∣to the Lord: This was thus far Good; it was the Per∣fection of the Law. So it was Not to Kill, Not to Commit Adultery; but Christ Jesus carries it higher: Thou must not be Angry; Thou must not look upon a Woman to lust after her; Thou must not Swear at all: Thou must not do that, which was * Allowed or Dispensed with under the Law. For what the Law could not do through Weakness, I am come to do: Therefore let your Yea be Yea, and your Nay, Nay, Speak Truth; what is more, is Needless, nay, Page  29 'tis Evil. This is the Doctrine of Jesus: Certainly then there can be no Agreement between him and the Swearing, Damning Christians of this Age, who are so far from Obeying him, whose Name they take, that they are not come to the Righteousness of the Law, that condemns all Vain Swearing: but lie under the Heavy Judgment of the Lord for the Breach of his Third Commandment, [

Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in * vain: for the Lord will not hold him Guiltless, that taketh his Name in vain.
] It is esteem'd a Prophanation of things set apart for Divine Worship, to imploy them in our Common and Ordinary Services; and is it not Prophanation with a Vengeance, to suffer the Name of the Great God to be prostituted at Every Turn by Lewd and Debauch'd people? Can we be so Careful of our own Names, and so Careless of Gods? Is it Possible, that we can be so Tender of our selves, and so Unconcern'd for him? for him, I say, who Made us, and gives us Life, Breath, and Being, to whom we Owe our selves, and all that we are. But that Men to Right themselves, upon every little Affront should oppose their Lives to Utmost Peril, and not find in their Heart so much as to Rebuke the Indignities daily put upon Heaven, is an Ill Proof of Zeal and Religion. But as Insensible as such are of their Duty, God is not wanting to his own Glory: he has forbidden these thihgs; let Men disobey at their Peril. Ye shall not Swear by my Name falsly; saith God, neither shalt thou Prophane the Name of thy God, I am the LORD. Hear O ye Swearers, the Judgment of God has de∣nounc'd against you! Every One that Sweareth shall Page  30 be Cut off, [how Cut off?] FROM GOD: Again, The Land is full of Adulteries; and*because of Swearing the Land Mourneth: Behold! the Whirl-wind of the Lord shall hea∣vily fall upon the Head of the Wicked.

To this I shall add a Brief Reflection upon that Pernicious Sin of PROPHANENESS so near a kin to Oaths and Blasphemy. Such is the Degeneracy of the Age we are fallen into, that Prophane∣ness does not only go Unpunisht, but boldly lays Claim to Wit, and fills the Conversation of too many of those, that think themselves rais'd above the Genius of the Vulgar. He is reputed Formal, that will not be Rude to Sacred Things; and a Man Insipid, of no Sence or Salt, who cannot Jeer Devotion: And which is strange, they make the Bible a sort of Common Place; but 'tis for Mockery, not for Piety. The Phrases they use, are pick't to Abuse that Holy Book; and that Prophaneness is placed to the Account of Wit: But truly, if Men must Rallie Religion at the Peril of passing else for Fools, and Abuse Scripture to purge themselves from the sus∣pition of Reverencing it, there is here an Unhappiness in being Conscientious, and on the side of this World the Temptation to be Prophane, is stronger than the Encouragement to be Virtuous. For this is my Soul grieved, that Men should use their Wit to Abuse him, that gave it them: and that though there is more to be said for Religion, than there can be said against it, both with Respect to its Reasonableness and Useful∣ness, and that the Hazard of being Irreligious, is in∣comparably greater on the part of these Atheistical Scoffers, than of Men professing to fear God and be∣lieve Page  31 another World; they would yet be so Constant and Obstinate in their loose and lewd Conversation! But if the Prophaning of the least thing, that was Dedica∣ted to the Worship of God in the Times of the Law, was so Hainous a Sin; what should we say, when men tick not to Prophane the Name of God himself, and scoff at his Revealed Will, so much Greater, than either Temple, or Altar, or any of those Rites belonging un∣to them!

And to you all, that live in the Practice of these Crying Sins I have at this time insisted upon, this I say unto you in the Fear of God: REPENT OF THE EVIL OF YOUR DOINGS! Bring not down the Judgments of God upon this Land; they may be the Affliction of many, but they will be your Punishment: ye shall pay the Reckoning of their Suf∣ferings in the other World, and God will charge you with the Calamity that they shall Endure! Remember, before it is too late. Dreadful Things are denounced against the Wicked; Therefore go not on to Gratifie your Hearts Lusts and to forget the Living God; for this shall be the End of such Works, that God will certainly bring you to Judgment: And who may Abide the Day of that Coming? and who shall*stand when he appears? No Flesh can stand in his Presence. Consider the Awakening Say∣ing * of the Apostle, That the Righteous scarce∣ly are saved; and if so, Where shall the Un∣godly, where shall the Wretched Sinner appear? How shall such be able to hold up their Heads in the Day of his Wrath, in the Hour of his Judgment, at that Great Time of Reckoning, when a Final Account shall be past, Page  32 when all must render an Account of the Deeds they have done, and receive the Reward due unto them? Therefore while it is to day, harden not your Hearts a∣gainst God and his Law: flatter not your selves; To be Christians, ye must be like Christ: and if ye will be Sav'd from Wrath, ye must be Redeem'd from Sin. Encrease not therefore Guilt upon your Consciences by Rebelling against the Light, that shines in them: but lay your Impieties to Heart, mourn with true Contri∣tion of Soul, and yet love Righteousness, and hate Ini∣quity; and ye will prevent the Civil Magistrate, and probably avert the Indignation of God, that hangs over the Nation.

Having thus ended my Reflections upon the Five great Crying Sins of the Kingdom, and my Reproof of the Actors and Promoters of them; give me leave to make my Humble and Christian Address to you, that are in Authority. And in the First place, I beseech you to remember, that though ye are as Gods on Earth, yet ye shall Dye like Men; that ye are Encompass'd with like Passions, and are subject to Sin. Such there∣fore of you, as may be concern'd in any of these E∣normities (to what-ever Degree of Guilt it be) I beg you in the Name of God to search your selves, and to be Just to your own Souls. O! let the Mercies and Pro∣vidences of God constrain you to Unfeigned Repen∣tance! Turn to the Lord, Love Righteousness, Hate Oppression, and he will turn to you, and love you and bless you.

In the Next place, be pleased to consider your Com∣mission and examine the Extent of your Authority: ye Page  33 will find, that God and the Government hath impow∣er'd you to punish these Impieties: and it is so far from being a Crime, that it is your Duty. This is not trou∣bling Men for Faith, nor perplexing People for Ten∣derness of Conscience: for there can be no Pretence of Conscience to be Drunk, to Whore, to be Voluptuous, to Game, to Swear, Curse, Blaspheme and Prophane; no such Matter: these are Sins against Nature and against Government, as well as against the Written Laws of God. They lay the Ax to the Root of Humane Society, and are the Common Enemies of Mankind: 'twas to prevent these Enormities, that Government was institu∣ted; and shall Government Indulge that, which it is Instituted to Destroy? this were to render Magistracy Useless, and the Bearing of the Sword Vain: there would be then no such thing in Government, as A Ter∣ror to Evil-Doers; but every one would do that which he thought Right in his own Eyes. God Almighty defend us from this Anarchy!

There are Three Great Reasons, which inforce my Supplication. The First is, The Preservation of the Government, which by such Improvidence and De∣bauchery is like to be greatly Weakened, if not De∣stroyed. The Industry, Wealth, Health and Authority of the Nation are Deeply concern'd in the Speedy and Exemplary Punishment of these Extravagancies. This is the Voice of Interest for the Common Good of the Whole Society, Rulers and Ruled.

But there is an Higher Voice, unto which Christian Men ought to have Regard, and that is the Voice of God, who requires us to Fear him and obey his Righte∣ous Commandments at the Peril of making him our Ene∣my,Page  34 whom we should make our Common Friend and Protector; for upon his Goodness depend our very Na∣tural and Civil Comforts. So that it is our Interest To be Good: and that is none of the least Arguments for Re∣ligion, that the Piety and Practice of it is the Peace and Prosperity of Government; and consequently, that Vice, the Enemy of Religion, is at the same time the Enemy of Humane Society. Who then should be more concern'd for the Preservation of Virtue, than Govern∣ment? who in its Abstract and True Sense is not only founded upon Virtue, but without the Preservation of Virtue it is impossible to maintain the Best Constitu∣tion, that can be made. And however some particu∣lar Men may prosper, that are Wicked, and several pri∣vate Good Men Miscarry in the things of this World (in which sense things may be said to happen alike to all, to the Righteous as to the Wicked) yet I dare bold∣ly affirm (and challenge any Man to the Truth of the thing) that in the many Volumns of the History of the Ages and Kingdoms of the World there is not one Instance to be found, where the Hand of God was against a Righteous Nation, or where the Hand of God was not against an Unrighteous Nation? and where a Just Government perish't, or an Unjust Government long prosper'd? Kingdoms are rarely as Short lived as Men, yet they also have a Time to Die: but as Temperance gi∣veth Health to Men, so Virtue gives Time to King∣doms; and as Vice brings Men betimes to their Grave, so Nations to their Ruin: 'Tis the Reason given by God himself for the Destruction of those Countries, that he gave into the Hands of the Children of Israel; They were Full of Uncleanness, Adulteries, FornicationPage  35 and other Impieties. And though he is Soveraign Lord of the World, and may dispose of the Kingdoms therein as pleaseth him (for he that gives, can take away; and he that builds, can cast down: and Mankind is but a Tenant at Will to receive or surrender at his Lord's Good Pleasure;) yet he useth not that Preroga∣tive to Justify his Gift of those Countries to the Jews: but at the End of his Prohibition of Unlawful Mar∣riages and Unlawful Lusts he charges them in these words; Defile not you your selves in any of these things: for in all these the Na∣tions*are defiled, which I cast out before you; And the Land is defiled: therefore do I Visit the Iniquity thereof upon it; and the Land it self VOMITETH OUT her Inhabitants. Ye shall there∣fore Keep my Statutes and my Judgments, and shall not Commit any of these Abominations, neither any of your own Nation, nor any Stranger, that sojourneth among you; that the Land Spue not you Out also, when ye defile it, as it Spued Out the Nations, that were before you.

So Saul's Disobedience was his Destruction, and his Sin made Way for David's Title: Saul died (saith the Sacred Story) for his Transgression; this made the Philistines Conquerors: his own Sins Beat him and Kill'd him. Saul died for his Transgression; then if he had not sinn'd, he had lived; he had beaten his E∣nemies and kept the Kingdom? yes, the place implies it. This then should deter all Men, but Kings especi∣ally, who have so much to lose here, and so much to answer for hereafter. But what was Saul's Sin? It was First, not keeping, but disobeying the Word of the Lord, both as it came by the M••th of Samuel, God's Page  36 Prophet, and as it spoke the Mind of God to him in his own Conscience (for Moses had said before, that the word of God was nigh in the Heart, and in God's Name commanded the Children of Israel to Obey and Do it:) In short, he refused the Counsel of God, and God for his Counsellor. For in the Next place he betakes himself to One that had a Fa∣miliar Spirit, for Advice (saith the Story) He enquired not of the Lord, therefore he Slew him and turned the Kingdom unto David. There are too many people troubled with Familiar Spirits; it were well, if they were less Famiiar with them: Had Saul trusted in God, he needed not to have been driven to that Straight; He that was made King by God's Appoint∣ment and endued with a Good Spirit, so basely to de∣generate, as to run to a witch for Counsel! To this Darkness and Extremity Iniquity will bring Men. And truly, a Wo follows all such persons; answerable to that Expression of God by the Prophet: Wo unto them that take Counsel, and not of me. when Saul (saith the place) was little in his own Eyes, God honour'd him; he made him Head and King of the Tribes of Israel: but when Saul grew *Proud, God deserted him & for his Diso∣bedience destroyed him. And what befell the Family of Saul, in some After-Ages befell both Kings and Peo∣ple, and Worse; for their Land was Invaded first by the Aegyptians, and then by the Caldeans and Babilo∣nians: Their Temple was rifled, their Treasures taken, and their Kings, Princes, Nobles, Artificers, and Mighty Men of Valour* (yea all, save the Poorest of the people)Page  37 were kill'd or carried away Captive by the King of Babi∣lon. The Reason rendred is this: Because the Kings did that, which was Evil in the sight of God, and stifned their Necks, and hardned their Hearts from turning un∣to the Lord God of Israel; and because the Chief of the Priests and of the People transgressed very much after all the Abominations of the Hea∣then: * and when God sent his Messengers to Reprove and Warn them (and that out of his Great Compassion;) they Wickedly Mocked his Messengers, De∣spised his Words and Mis-used his Prophets, till his Wrath came upon them.

I will here End my Instances out of Sacred Story: and let us now briefly Consider, what the Histories of other places will tell us; that we may Observe some Proportion of Agreement in the Providences of God throughout the World.

The First Empire had Nimrod's Strength, and the Wisdom of the Caldeans to establish it; and whilst their Prudence and Sobriety lasted, they prosper'd: No sooner came Voluptuousness, then the Empire decayed; and was at last by the Base Effeminacies of Sardanapalus (in whom that Race ended) transfer'd to another Fa∣mily. It was the Policy of an Assyrian King to sub∣due the Strength of Babylon (then under good Disci∣pline) not to Invade it with Force, but to DEBAUCH it. Wherefore he sent in Players, Musicians, Cooks, Harlots, &c. and by those means introducing Corrup∣tion of Manners, there was little more to do, than to take it. Nebuchadnezzar by his Virtue and Industry seen in the Siege of Tyre and in many Great Enterprises, recover'd and enlarg'd the Empire; and his DisciplinePage  38 (those Times consider'd) was so Excellent, that it was prais'd in Scripture. But when he grew Proud and Foolish, forgetting that Providence, that had shown itself so kind to him, he became a Beast and grased amongst Beasts; till God, whom he had forgotten, had re∣stor'd him the Heart of a Man and his Throne together.

He dying left Evil-Merodach Heir to his Crown, not his Conduct, nor the Knowledge of what God had done by him: In his Time Pride and Lux∣ury encreas'd, but came not to its full Pitch, till the Reign of Belshazzar, who did not only as Nebuchad∣nezzar, live, but dye a Beast. In him we have the Ex∣act Example of a Dissolute and Miserable Prince; he thought to fence himself against Heaven and Earth, dissolv'd in Pleasures he worshipp'd no other God: His Story may make us well Conclude, that God and Man deserts those, that desert themselves, and neglect the Means of their own Preservation. The City was taken before he knew it, and the Sword almost in his Bowels, before he believ'd it: his Sensuality had wrapt him up in such a Desperate Security. But he fell not by the Hand of one like himself; God, who had de∣termin'd the End, prepar'd the Means. Cyrus and his Persians were the Men: the people were Poor, Inhbi∣ting a Barren Country; but Hardy and of Sober Man∣ners. Cyrus God had endued with Excellent Natural Qualities, cultivated (as Story tells us) by the Care of Four of the Most Temperate, Just and Wise Persons of those Times: this was he, whom God honour'd with the Name of his Shepheard, and was the Execu∣tioner of his Vengeance upon the Assyrians. While he reigned, all was well, but after he and his Virtuous Page  39 Companions deceased, their Children fell into the Vices of the Assyrians; and though they Reign'd from the Indus to the Hellespont, they soon became the Conquest of the Greeks.

Never was there a greater Instance given of the Weakness of Pomp and Luxury, than in the Resistance made at Thermipoli, where 300 Virtuous Spartans en∣counter'd the Vast Army of Xerxes, consisting of no less then Seventeen Hundred Thousand Men. In short, the Defeats of Salamity and Platea, the Expeditions of Xenophon with Cyrus the Younger almost into Baby∣lon, and the Wars of Agesilaus into Asia made it Evi∣dent, that Greece wanted only Union and an Head, to make her self Mistriss of that Vast Empire.

At last comes Alexander of Macedon, with the best Disciplin'd People that was then known: The Dis∣pute was short, where Steel was against Gold, Sobrie∣ty against Luxury, and Men against (Men that were turn'd) Women. Thus the Persians, prepar'd by their own Vices, God deliver'd into the Hands of the Greeks, who as much excelled them in their Virtue, as they were short of their Dominion and Wealth. But this lasted not long; for Ale ander, who died young, surviv'd his Virtue and Reputation by falling into those Vices of the Nations God had given him Power to Trample under Foot; insomuch that he, who was be∣fore Generous, became Barbarous and Tyrannical. E∣gypt, Asia and Macedon held up their Heads a while; but not resisting the Torrent of Lewdness, that came upon them, suffered themselves to be over-whelm'd with Misery and Confusion.

Nor has this Calamity been peculiar to Monarchies;Page  40 for several Republicks have fallen by the same Mischief. That of Lacedemon or Sparta, so Severe in her Constitu∣tion, and so Remarkable for the Virtue of her People (and that for many Ages) at last growing slack in the Execution of her Laws, and suffering Corruption in∣sensibly to Creep into her Manners, she became no more Considerable, but Weak and Contemptible.

The same may be said of Athens, the Great School of Learning, and of all the Republicks of Greece most Famous for her Virtue and Philosophy (when that word was understood not of Vain Disputing, but of Pious Living) she no sooner fell into Luxury, but Confusion and Revolutions made her as Inconsiderable, as she had been Great.

Rome, as she was the Greatest Common-Wealth, so the greatest Example of Gentiles in Virtue and Vice, in Happiness and in Misery: Her Virtue and Greatness are Commemorated by Austin the Father, and the latter made the Effect of the former. [God (saith he) gave the Romans the Government of the World, as a Re∣ward for their Virtue.] Their Manners were so Good: and their Policy so Plain and Just, that nothing could stand before them. And truly, they seem'd to have been employ'd by God to punish the Impious, and to instruct the Barbarous Nations: and so very Jealous was she of the Education of her Youth, that she would not suffer them to converse with the Luxurious Greeks. But Carelesness with length of Time overcoming the Remarkable Sobriety of her Manners, who before seem∣ed Invincible, she falls into Equal, if not Greater Mi∣series, than those that went before her (though she had not only Warning enough from those Examples, Page  41 but from Hannibal's Army and her great Enemy) For one Winter's Quarter of Hannibal and his Army in the Luxurious City of Capua prov'd a greater Overthrow to them, than all the Roman Consuls and Armies. They that had been Victors in so many Battles, turn'd Slaves to Dancers, Boufoons, Cooks and Harlots; so as from that time they never did any thing Sutable to the Re∣putation gain'd by their Former Actions; but fell with∣out much Difficulty into the Roman Hands. Nay, not long before Rome her self encountered one of the greatest Dangers, that ever had befallen her by the Cor∣ruption of her own People, in the same Place, by the like Means: and though this Defection was recover'd by those that remain'd entire in their Manners; yet after the Overthrow of Antiochus, Mithridates, Ty∣granes, that the Riches and Vices of Asia came with a full stream upon them, the very Heart of the City became infected: and the Lewd Asiaticks had this Re∣venge in their own Fall, that they ruin'd by their Vi∣ces those they were no wayes able to resist by their Force, like the Story of the Dying Centaure. Thus Pride, Avarice, Luxury having prepared Rome for De∣struction, it soon followed. Virtue now grew Into∣lerable in Rome, where Vice dared not for Ages to shew its Face. The Worthiest Men were cut off by Proscriptions, Battles or Murders, as if she resolved ipsam Virtutem exscindere: She destroyed her own Citizens, and sent for Strangers to protect her, which ruin'd her. Which proves, that the Kingdom or State, that under God doth not subsist by its own Strength, Prudence and Virtue, cannot stand; for the Goths, Hunns and others despised to serve those, whom they Page  42 excelled in Power and Virtue, and instead of Guarding took their Dominion from them. And truly, it might rather be called a Journey, than a Military Expedition, to go and pillage Rome; so weak had her Vices made her: she that was feared by all Nations, became the Prey of all Nations about her. Thus ended that Once Potent and Virtuous Common-Wealth.

The Vandals in Africk soon became Effeminate and Lewd; which brought upon themselves speedy Ruin. The Gothes set up a Powerful Kingdom in Spain and Part of France; by the Sobriety of their Manners it flourished near Four Hundred Years: but its End was not Unlike the rest. Two corrupt Princes Vuitza and Roderic by their dissolute Example debauch'd the Peo∣ple, insomuch that men run an Hazard to be Virtuous: This made their Destruction Easie to those, whom God sent against them; which were the Mores, occasion'd by the Last of these Kings dishonouring Count Juliano's Daughter. In the Time of his Calamity in vain did he expect the Aid of those that had been his Flatter∣ers, and the Companions of his Vices: His Security (the Effect of his Luxury) was his Ruin. For whilst he thought he had no body to Subdue, but his own People; by Abusing them he Cut off his own Arms, and made himself an Easie Prey to his Real Enemies: And so he perisht with his Posterity, that had been the Cause of the Mischief, which befel that Great King∣dom. However, so it came to pass, that the Remain∣der of the Goths mixing with the Antient Spaniards (to that Day distinct) recovered the Liberty and Re∣putation of the Kingdom by an Entire Reformation of Manners and a Virtue in Conversation as Admirable,Page  43 as the Vices, by which their Fathers had fallen, were Abominable. But the present impoverisht State of Spain can tell us, they have not continued that Virtuous Conduct of their Ancestors: the Increase of their Vices hath decayed their Strength, lessened their People and their Commerce.

But why should we overlook our own Country? that whether we consider the Invasion of the Romans, Saxons or Normans, Neglect of Virtue and Good Disci∣pline (and the present Inhabitants giving themselves up to Ease and Pleasure) was the Cause (if Gildas the Brittain, and Andrew Horn may be credited: for as the First bitterly Inveighed against the Loosness of the Brit∣tains, threatning them with all those Miseries, that afterwards followed; so the Last tells us, that the Brittains having forgotten God, and being over-whelm'd with Luxurynd Vice, it pleased God to give the Land to a poor People of the Northern Parts of Germany, called Saxons, that were of plain and honest Manners.) God is Unchangeable in the Course of his Providence as to these things; The like Causes produce the like Effects, as every Tree doth naturally produce its own Fruits. 'Tis true, God is not Careless of the World; he feeds the young Ravens, clothes the Lillies, takes Care of Sparrows, and of us, so as not an Hair of our Head falls to the ground without his Providence: but if Men despise his Law, hate to be Reformed, spend their Time and Estate in Luxury and persist to work Wickedness; he will visit them in his Wrath, and consume them in his sre Displeasure. To Conclude, Wars, Bloodshed, Fires, Plunders, Wastings, Ravish∣ments, Slavery and the like, are the Miseries that fol∣low Page  44Immoralities (the Common Mischiefs of Irreligion) the Neglect of Good Discipline and Government. No∣thing weakens Kingdoms, like Vice; it does not only displease Heaven, but disable them. All we have said, proves it; but above all the Iniquity and Volup∣tuousness of the Jews, God's Chosen, who from being the Most Prudent, Pious and Victorious People, made themselves a Prey to all their Neighbours. Their Vice had prepared them to be the Conquest of the First Pretender; and thus from Free-men they became Slaves. Is God asleep, or does he Change? shall not the same Sins have the like Punishment? at least, shall they not be punisht? Can we believe, There is a God, and not believe, that he is the Rewarder as of the Deeds of Private Men, so of the Works of Government? ought we to think him Careful of the Lesser, and Careless of the Greater? this were to suppose, he minded Sparrows more than Men, and that he took more Notice of Private Persons than of States. But let not our Supe∣riors deceive themselves, neither put the Evil Day afar off; they are greatly Accountable to God for these King∣doms. If every poor Soul must Account for the Em∣ployment of the small Talent he has received from God, can we think, that those High Stewards of God, the Great Governours of the World (that so often Ac∣count with all others) must never come to a Reckoning themselves? yes; there is a Final Sessions, a General Assize and a Great Term once for all, where he will Judge among the Judges, who is Righteous in all his ways: There Private Men shall answer only for themselves, but Rulers for the People as well as themselves. The Disparity that is here, will be observed there: and the Page  45Greatness of such Persons, as shall be then found Tar∣dy, will be so far from Extenuating their Guilt, that it will fling Weight in the Scale against them. There∣fore give me leave (I do beseech you) to be Earnest in my Humble Address to you; why should ye not, when none are so much concern'd in the Good Intention of it? Thus much for the First Reason of my Supplication.

My SECOND Reason urging me to this Hum∣ble and Earnest Supplication, is the BENEFIT of POSTERITY. I would think, that there are few People so Vicious, as to Care to see their Children so; and yet to me it seems a plain Case, that As we leave the Government, they will find it: If some Effectual Course be not taken, what with Neglect and what with Ex∣ample, Impiety will be entailed upon our Children. Certainly it were better, the World ended with us, than that we should transmit our Vices, or sow those Evil Seeds in our Day, that will Ripen to their Ruin, and fill our Country with Miseries, after we are gone; thereby Exposing it to the Curse of God and Vio∣lence of our Neighbours. But it is an Infelicity we ought to bewail, that Men are Apt to prefer the Base Pleasure of their Present Extravagancies to all Endea∣vours after a Future Benefit; which besides the Guilt they draw upon themselves, our Poor Posterity must be greatly injur'd thereby: Upon this Occasion I shall take the Freedom to say something of Education.

The Truth is, we are so much out of Order in the Education of our Youth, that I wish I could say, that we had only the Sin of Neglect to answer for: I fear, Page  46 the Care has rather been to Educate them in a Way of such Vanity, as ends in great Inconveniencies here, and must needs find Vexation of Spirit hereafter. Our U∣niversities have made more Loose, than Learned: and what Extravagancy is begun there, is Usually perfect∣ed Abroad, or at our own Inns of Court at Home, that now and then afford us a few Able Lawyers; but the Generality are like the Man of Old, who return'd home Seven times Worse than he went out. The Genius of this Nation is not Inferior to any in the World; 'tis Industrious, 'tis Wise, 'tis Honest, 'tis Valiant, yet Soft and Merciful. And (without Partiality) we have had Men, that have excelled in Every Worthy Qualifi∣cation: But I must needs say, it has been more ow∣ing to the Goodness of God in the Disposition of our Natures, than the Prudence and Care of those who had the Charge of their Education. It was the Saying of a Wise Man; Train up a Child in the Way he should go; and when he is Old, he will not de∣part*from it. This is prov'd to us every Day; but it is in the Wrong Way, in the Way of Idleness, Wantonness and Impurity of Manners: 'tis worth While and High Time to make the Experiment the other Way; to try, what the Suppression of Vice and the Encouragement of Virtue will do? in this our Superiors must begin, and give their Example, as well as shew their Power. There is scarcely any one thing, that so much needs the Wisdom of the Nation in the Contrivance of a New Law, as the Education of our Youth, whether we consider the Piety or Prudence of our Manners, the Good Life or Just Policy of the Go∣vernment: There is such an Example of what Indu∣stryPage  47 may do, in the Practice of the Jesuits, that I hope the Present Conjuncture will make the Proposal of the thing more Welcome to you.

That the Interest of the Jesuits is the Greatest in the Roman Church and Empire, is so far from being doubted, that all Prote∣stants* wish, it were; 'tis our Trouble rather than our Scruple: it may be, some other Orders are of the same Mind, being much Ecclipsed since the Rise of this Great Interest. Ye know, they appeared about the time of the Reformation; and apply'd them∣selves with all Conceivable Industry to secure the Totter∣ing Papacy against the Progress of it: In this Attempt they Ventur'd so much farther, than any of their Pre∣decessors in the Church; that they have been esteem'd of Merit the Great Ministers and Governours of the Chair for some Last Ages. Indeed, they have almost En∣gross'd the whole Power of Church and State; to them all other Orders seem but Small Retailers: their Great Politicians, their Philosophers, Orators, Historians and Ma∣thematicians are generally found amongst this Society: so that we scarce see any thing of Note come out from Men of that Religion, which is not subscribed E. S. J. The Fame and Apprehension of their Extraordinary Learning, and the Arts they have to recommend it, have made their Order the Choice of most Princes and Men of Quality of that Religion for the Education of their Children, in whom they have Carefully instill'd with their Instructions and Principles that peculiar Re∣spect to their own Society, as hath greatly serv'd to the Advancement of it, when they have grown to Age and Power.

Page  48 But that which above all other Stratagems hath pre∣vail'd to extend their Dominion in the Roman Church, has been their Erecting of Schools (where they have Colledges) for the Free Education of Youth: The very Doing of it Gratis makes it look like Charity with the Poor, that have little to give; and with the Rich, that seldom love to part with Money, to be sure, it is no Objection. Thus Obliging the Parents, they next fall to making themselves Grateful with the Children: and here they Exercise not a little Skill. They Strictly Observe the Divers Humors and Dispositions of their Schollars, and take great Care not to baulk their Capa∣city by Cross or Unsuitable Studies. But when once they are fix'd, every Youth according to his Genius it is not Easie to be believed, what pains they take to Allure them to their Studies; how they will Tempt them with Childish Rewards, and Excite them to their Book by raising an Emulation among them: So that to Excell is more than a Rod; and Victory, than any Chastisement whatever. By these Arts they fit all Capacities with Suitable Study, and Cultivate them to the Pitch of Learning, they are Capable of; and all with that Obli∣gation upon the Youth to Love them; that from thence forward they become Partial Devotees to the Advance∣ment of the Honor and Interest of that Society. To Conclude, they have got into their Hands the Educati∣on of the Generality of the Youth of the Romish Religion in every Country, from the King to the Peasant; and being Masters of them, when Boys, they turn Go∣vernors and Confessors to them, when they are Men, so that all seem to have fallen into their Hands, and being but one Entire Interest throughout the World, Page  49 and maintaining a most punctual Correspondence, they must needs have the Knowledge and Disposal of the Affairs of States and Kingdoms by that Share, they have in the Counsels of Princes, and that great Reliance that is upon their Judgment and Ability. This, if we regard only the Romish Religion, shews great Wit, Design and Industry: but if we consider well how Formida∣ble these Arts render them to Protestant Kingdoms, it will become us to use our utmost Prudence to Se∣cure our selves. And there seems not to me a more Effectual Remedy, than a Wise and Virtuous Education of our Youth. In order to it let us improve Methods not inferior to theirs, but for better Ends: Let us use our Skill to improve the Childrens Natural Abilities to excite them to Virtue and Endear the True Interest of their own Country to them. I will briefly set down, what at present occurs to me as a good Way of Education.

(1.) First, Let Care be taken To breed up Youth in MORALITY: for Virtue prepares the Mind, helps the Understanding and gives Industry to compass this. Let no Books be used in Schools, in which there may be the least Indecency, there were (and not without Reason) Ancient Canons against the Reading of such Heathen Authors; and not a few Learned & Sober Men have rebuked that Practice amongst us: It is an Af∣front to Christianity, yea, to our Natures, to fetch our Wit or our Manners from them. It were well, if some Tracts of Moral Virtues and Invectives against Vice were written in those Languages we would have Youth to learn: for in such Discourses they might obtain Good Manners with the Languages; whereas by tying up Page  50Schools to Heathen Authors, our Youth has learned Base Obscenities and a Corrupt Conversation.

(2.) In the Next place, I would propose some of the easier Parts of Mathematicks and the Knowledge of Plants and Natural Bodies to be compos'd on purpose after a Familiar Manner, that they may be Instituted in the Knowledge of Nature, and learn Things at the same time they learn Words.

(3.) The Last Sort of Books, which I would re∣commend (and are in my Opinion most suitable to their Maturity of Age and Understanding) are such as relate to the Histories and Transactions of our own Kingdom; the Interest of the True Protestant Religion and Civil Policy amongst us. But because there are ve∣ry few (if any) of these Discourses extant, it were Worth the Care of our Superiors, and an Act deser∣ving Praise, That some Skilful, Socer and Judicious Men were set to work for the Composure of some small Tracts of this Nature; and as an Appendix to the whole, that there might be a Summary of the Most Virtuous and Infamous Actions of Former Times, with the Rewards and Punishments they have received from God and Just Government: that by the Power of Ex∣ample they may be deterr'd from Vice, and provoked to an Honest Emulation of the Virtues and Reputation of the Antients.

(4.) In the Fourth place, Cross not the Genius of your Youth, Match their Talents well; for if ye do not ste their Studies to their Understandings, it will be Drawing up Hill, Going against the Grain or Swimming against the Tide: that which will be gain'd, will be little; and with so much Labour and Time too, as will Page  51 not quit Cost. It should be greatly the Care of those, who have the Charge of Youth, to make the Wayes of Learning Easie and Chearful; which leadeth me to—

(5.) My Last Observation: Let all Honest Arts be u∣sed by Masters of Schools to provoke their Youth to Learn∣ing without much Fierceness or Beating: For that Sort of Education has nothing of the Free and Generous Dis∣position in it; which might be raised and improved in Youth by more Gentle and Reasonable Methods. They that are taught to obey only for Base Fear, make that Fear and not Reason the Rule of their Obedience; and this grows in too many with their Age, that they turn meer Mercenaries and worship Violence. In short, Make Instruction Easie, Correction Reasonable: Convince them of their Miscarriage with Mildness, then Pardon them; and finally excite them to Amendment by Smiles and Favour. This awakens the Noble Part and ex∣cites Youth to effect that, which may ingratiate them with their Tutors; who, if they at any time commit an Error, should rather shew themselves affectionately Sorry for them, than bitterly Angry. Plato being great∣ly displeased with his Servant, and going about to Correct him, gave the Wand to one that stood by, saying: Do thou beat him; for I am Angry. Cha∣stizement should be used with Reason and Reluctancy: a Discreet and Cool Hand may direct the Blow right and hit the Mark; when Men of Fury rather ease their Passion, than mend their Youth: especially, if the Correction exceed the Fault; for that hardens: This very Bruitishness is more Injurious to the Nature of our Youth, than usually their Instruction is beneficial.

Page  52 Upon the whole Matter I take the Boldness to say, That if we would Preserve our Government, we must endear it to the People. To do this (besides the ne∣cessity of present Just and Wise things) we must Secure the Youth: and this is not to be done but by the A∣mendment of the Way of their Education, and that with all Conceivable Speed and Diligence. I say, the Government is Highly oblig'd: it is a sort of Trustee for the Youth of the Kingdom, though now Minors, yet will have the Government, when we are gone. Therefore depress Vice and cherish Virtue, that through good Education they may become Good; which will tru∣ly render them Happy in this World, and a Good Way fitted for that which is to come. If this be done, they will owe more to your Memories for their Education, than for their Being.

My THIRD and Last Reason for this Serious Sup∣plication to the Civil Magistrate is so Great, that I find Difficulty to express it: 'Tis the GLORY of that GOD, that Made us, that hath so often Deliver'd us, and doth so plentifully provide for us; who sent his Son into the World to Save us, and waits every Day to be Good and Gracious to us. But he hath so particular∣ly and with that Transcendency set the Marks of his Favour upon you, both in your Restoration and Protecti∣on, as scarce any Age can parallel: O! Let a Steady Virtue be the Return of these Mercies, and a Pious Care to Retrieve and Encourage Morality (the very Basis of our Government) be the Humble Token of your Gra∣titude! It is your Office; ye do but comply with the Rea∣son of your own Institution: God expects it and Good Page  53 Men beseech it from you. There is much in your Power at this time, to make this the ISLAND OF PEACE AND LASTING TRANQUIL∣LITY. Lose not the Present Opportunity: Revive the Laws against these Gross Iniquities; terrifie all Evil-Doers, Cherish them that do well. Provide for the Poor, that their Stock may not be Abus'd, nor their Cries pierce Heaven against you because of Neglect; and God may yet Vouchsafe to spare us.

Your Sins (said God of Old) have with-held Good Things from you: 'tis Righteousness that exalts a Nati∣on; but Sin is the Reproach of any people. Would ye Prosper? then please God; and if ye will please him, ye must put away the Wicked from amongst you. It was both his Complaint and the Cause of his Judg∣ment in Former Ages: There are found Wicked Men among my people, they lay Wait, as he that setteth Snares; they set a Trap, they catch Men: as a Cage is full of Birds, so are their Houses full of Deceit. Therefore they are be∣come Great and waxen Rich; they are waxen Fat, they shine. They OVERPASS or OVERLOOK the Deeds of the Wicked, they Judge not the Cause of the Fa∣therless; yet they prosper. These were no Small Folks, but Men of Power, such as got largely by the Govern∣ment, and employed their Authority to Enrich them∣selves, and not to relieve the Oppressed. I must needs say (and can with great Truth) That Mis-government is the Occasion, though the Devil be the Cause of that Mischief and Ruin, that attends Nations.

What Kingdoms hath God destroyed, and Cities turn'd into Rubbish, because of National Evils too much occasioned by the Remisness of Magistrates? the Page  54slack Hand, that the Rulers of Israel held over that Unhap∣py people, made Way for their Unsubjected Passions and Corrupt Affections to break out into most Vile Impie∣ties: but if Men shall be left to their own Licentious∣ness, to Commit Sin with Greediness, and with Impuni∣ty both despise the Laws of God and Men, all I can say is this;

God, who is Jealous of his Glory, the Great Avenger of his Law upon Rebellious Nations, will with-hold his Mercies, and hasten his Judgments upon us!

Hear the Word of the Lord (said the Prophet Ho∣sea) ye Children of Israel; for the Lord hath a Controversie with the Inhabitants of the Land: by* Swearing, and Lying, and Killing, and Steal∣ing and Committing Adultery they break out, and Blood touches Blood; therefore shall the Land mourn. And by the Prophet Malachi God threatens that people thus: I will come near to you, and I will be a swift*Witness against Sorcerers, and against the Adul∣terers, and against False Swearers and such as fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts. Yea, to that Degree was that Magistracy degenerated, that they thought it a Vain Thing to serve God, to keep his Command∣ments: They called the Proud Happy; yea they that workt Wickedness, were set up (they were Advanced to Places of Honour and Trust) and they that tempted God, were deliver'd: But the Word of the Lord was unto them a Reproach; they had no Delight in it: They made a Mock at Sin, laid Snares for the Inno∣cent, and (like us) made Men Offenders for a Word, for a good Word, a Word of Reproof or an Harmless Opinion. Well but what followed? Shall I not visit for these Page  55 things, saith the Lord? shall not my Soul be Avenged on such a Nation as this? Truly, 'tis our very Case; the same Impieties are daily found amongst us: Certain∣ly God is offended, his Spirit grieved, and Heaven is set against us. For the Lord's sake, Do your Duty in this present Conjuncture, and mistake not your Mea∣sures: Let every thing have its Due Weight and Place with you; that is the Way to Succeed. Ye are now Warmly concern'd in the Discovery and Prosecution of a Jesuitical Plot (a Design (it seems) to Destroy the King, and blow up your Religion and Wrest the Go∣vernment out of your Hands) in this doubtless ye do well; and all Just Care to preserve the Peace of the Kingdom from such Mischievous Conspiracies, is Most Commendable in you, and deserves and draws all Due Acknowledgments from Honest and English Minds. But I beseech you, Let God have a share in your Concern; Remember him as well as Your selves: Ye confess, this Great Discovery is only owing to his Goodness; shall we be then more Zealous for our own Safety, than for his Glory? who, when all is done, must Save us or we are Lost. Let us make him our Friend, who is stronger, than the Combinations of all our Enemies; and guard our selves against that which can only bring their EVIL DEVICES to pass, OUR SIN: for that is their Strength and the Poyson of their Arrows; let us Con∣fess and Forsake it; let us Humble our selves under the Mighty Hand of God, that it may not Grind us to Powder. And truly, if our hearts were not harder than Adamants this Testimony he has given us of his Care over us (not∣withstanding all our repeated Provocations given him) should break us into deep Contrition. O! let his Long-suffering Page  56 prevail upon us to Unfeigned Repentance! then shall we stand Clear Men before God; and if so, he will quickly make our Enemies to fly before us. If there be any Truth in Sacred Story, any Cre∣dit to be given to Christian Religion or the Experience of Ages, this, that I say of God and Government is True; it is our Duty, yea, our Interest, the truest and easiest Way to Safety: for God has decreed, The Na∣tion and Kingdom, that will not serve him, shall perish, yea, those Nations shall be utterly wasted (Isa. 60. 12.) But Great is their Peace, that Love this Law; It shall go well with the Righteous, but it shall go Ill with the Wicked: up∣on them God hath threatned to Rain Snares, Difficul∣ties, Perplexities; they shall not know, which way to turn. I am not against the Use of Means: Men have not Wisdom and Power for nothing; but then let them use them in the Fear and Name of God: Cursed is he that putteth his Strength in Man, and his Confidence in the Arm of Flesh. And in another place: Wo to them, that go down to Egypt for Help, and stay on Horses and trust in Chariots, because they are*many; and in Horsmen, because they are very strong: but they look not to the Holy One of Israel, nei∣ther seek the Lord. 'Twas his Reproof to the Nation that professed him, That they should seek to the Stra∣tagems, and rely upon the Strength of Heathen Nati∣ons, rather than upon Faith in him, the Living God; and the Reason he gives (in the third verse) is great, viz. The Egyptians are Men and not God, and their Horses Flesh, and not Spirit: when the Lord shall stretch out his Hand, both he that helpeth, shall fall, and he that is holpen, shall fall down, and they all shall fail together. If Page  57 then the Hand of God be so much stronger than Man, for the Lord's sake, let us lay hold of it; let that fight our Battels and decide the Controversie: He that trust∣eth to the Lord, shall never be confounded. It was the saying of a Great King and a Great Conqueror, By thee I have leaped over a Wall, by thee I have run through a Troop, &c. who preserved the Israelites from Pharaoh's Fury, threw down the Walls of Jericho, when the Priests blew or sounded the Rams-horns; with more of the like kind. And we must not think, that God is alter'd, that Faith is weaken'd, that no Wonders are reserved for the Latter and Christian Ages. The Truth is, that Faith (generally speaking) is lost, and that holy Confidence now a days is esteem'd Presumption; 'tis become a Principle, that such things are not to be expect∣ed: so that we shut up or bar from our selves the True and most-Powerful Way of Deliverance. Let us not betake our selves to the Common Arts and Stratagems of Nations Incredulous of the Strength of the God of Israel, who is the God of True Christians too. O! that our Faith may be greater than our Arms! no mat∣ter for the Strength of our Enemies, if God be our Strength: and truly, 'tis vain to acknowledge a Pro∣vidence in Humane Things, and not to confide in him and rely upon him, that provides for us. I was Young (said David) and now I am Old, but I never saw the Righ∣teous forsaken, nor his Seed begging Bread: It shall go well with the Righteous. Therefore fear God, put away the Evil that provokes him, and trust not in Man, but in the Living God; and it shall yet go well with England.

What Noble Feats did the, Ancients do by FAITH!Page  58 and shall Christians have less than Jews had? Is not God the same? yes; he is Un-Changeable: but Alas! we are not the same; that's our Mischief. Christ did not many Mighty Works in some places, because they believed not in him: if our Confidence be not in God, our Hopes will prove Vain, and our Success will fail us. We shall but have MEN of our side, not God; Flesh and not Spirit: and if we should be so Unhappy, as to make this our Strength; both the Helpers & Help∣ed will fall together. But let Nineve teach us better things, and may her Zealous King be the Example of ours: and let all the people say Amen! The Sutable∣ness of which Story to our present Occasion makes me chuse to End this First Part of my Address with it.

For Word came unto the King of Nineveh; Yet For∣ty Dayes, and Nineve shall be Overthrown. And he A∣rose from his Throne, and he laid his Robe from him, and covered him with Sack-cloth, and sate in Ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineve (by the Decree of the King and his Nobles) saying; Let neither Man nor Beast, Herd nor Flock taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink Water. But let Man and Beast be covered with Sack-cloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, LET THEM TURN EVERY ONE FROM HIS EVIL WAY, and from the Violence, that is in their Hands. Who can tell, if God-will turn and repent, and turn away from his Fierce Anger, that we perish not. And God saw their Works, that they turn'd from their Evil Way; and God repented from the Evil, that he had said, that he would do unto them, and he did it not.

Page  59O God, thou that workest Wonders in the Earth, whose Power cannot be Control'd, in whose Hands are the Souls of Men and the Spirits of all Flesh, who canst turn them in a Moment! Turn thou the Hearts of King and People un∣to thee, and One unto another. Do thou proclaim a FAST FROM SIN throughout these Sinful King∣doms; let Wickedness and Oppres∣sion find no place among us. Turn a∣way thy Fierce Wrath, Wipe away our Reproach and Love us Freely, O God, for thy dear Son's sake!

Page  60

THE SECOND PART OF THE Address to Protestants UPON THE Present Conjuncture.

HAving then finisht the First Part of my Address relating to the Immoralities of the Times, and left it with the CIVIL MAGISTRATE (as in Con∣science I found my self Oblig'd to do) whose Peculiar Charge it is, and (I Earnestly and Humbly desire and pray, that it may be his) Great Care Effectually to Rebuke them; I shall betake my self to the Second Part of this Address, that more immediately concerns us as Profest Christians and Protestants. But before I begin, I desire to premise (and can with much Since∣rity Declare) that I intend not the Reproach of any Per∣son or Party: I am weary with seeing so much of it in the World: for it gains nothing, that is worth keeping; but hardens to a Desperateness, what 'tis our Duty to en∣deavour to soften. But if without Offence I may speak the Truth, that which to the best of my Under∣standing tends to the Present Settlement and Future Fe∣licity of my Poor Country; I shall (by God's Help) Page  61 deliver my self with that Modesty, Plainness and Inte∣grity, that becomes a Real Christian and a True English-Man.

Those Capital Sins and Errors, that relate to the EC∣CLESIASTICAL STATE or Church-Capacity of these Kingdoms, and which are so Inconsistant with Christian Religion and purest Protestancy, and that above all displease Almighty God, are—

First, Making Opinions Articles of Faith, at least giving them the Reputation of Faith, and making them the Bond of Christian Society.

Secondly, Mistaking the Nature of True Faith, and ta∣king that for Faith, which is not Gospel-Faith.

Thirdly, Debasing the true Value of Morality under pretence of Higher Things, mistaking the very End of Christ's Coming.

Fourthly, Preferring Humane Authority above Rea∣son and Truth.

Fifthly, Propagating Faith by Force and Imposing Re∣ligion by Worldly Compulsion.

These I take to be those Church Evils, that have too much infected even these Parts of the (reputed) Reform∣ed World. And though the Roman Church for the most part hath transcended all other Societies in these Errors (and may in a sense be said to be the Mother of them, She from whom they took Birth, by whom they were brought forth and propagated in Christendom) yet there hath not been that Integrity to the Nature of Christianity, and First Reason of Reformation from Page  62Papacy in our own Country, as had been and is our Duty to conserve.

First, In that Opinions pass for Faith, and are made Articles of Faith and enjoyn'd to be embrac'd as the Bond of Communion.

That this is so, let us take the most impartial View we can, and we shall find it to be true, both of the National and many other Select Societies. That I may be understood in the Signification of the word OPI∣NIONS, I explain it thus:

Opinions are all those Propositions or Conclusions made by Men Doctrines of Faith and Articles of Communion, which either are not Expresly laid down in Scripture, or not so evidently Deduceable from Scripture, as to leave no Reason of Doubt in their Minds of the Truth of them, who sincere∣ly and reverently believe the Text: or lastly such, as have no New or Credible Revelation to avouch them.

That this is our Case, let the several Confessions of Faith published by almost every Party in England be perused, and ye will find such Propositions translated into Doctrines of Faith and Articles of Communion, as are (First) not only not Express'd in Scripture, but per∣haps not Deduceable from Scripture. If one Party may be but believ'd against another, this will want no Evidence to prove the Point. And (in the Next place) such as are (though not Exprest, yet it may be) Deduce∣able as to the Matter of them; but either carried so high, spun so fine or so disguised by Barbarous School-Terms, that they are rather a Bone of Contention, than a Bond of Concord to Religious Societies. Yet this has Page  63 been the Unhappiness even of this Kingdom after all the Light of Reformation, which God hath graciously sent amongst us, Men are to be received or rejected for denying or owning of such Propositions. Wilt thou be an Episcopalian? then Sign the Thirty-Nine Articles, Re∣nounce the Covenant and Conform to the Discipline and Jurisdiction of the Church. Wilt thou be a Pres∣byterian? Embrace and Keep the Covenant, subscribe the Westminster-Confession and Directory: and so on to the End of every Society, that grounds Communi∣on upon Conformity to such Propositions and Articles.

What a Stir have we had in England about the poor word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉! He that says, it signifies an Higher Office than 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, shall have no part or fellowship with us: On t'other hand, they that will debase E∣piscopos to Presbyteros and turn Levellers of Episcopal Dignity, shall be Excommunicated, silenc'd, punish't. Is not this Fact? can any deny it, that love Truth more then a Party? The Fire kindled by this Contention, hath warm'd the Hands of Violence: It had been well, if Men had entertain'd Equal Zeal against Impiety, and been but half asmuch Enemies to the Sin, as they have been against one another.

If we look a little back, we shall find, that the De∣bate of Free-Will & Unconditional Reprobation fill'd this Kingdom with Incharitableness and Division. In the Arch-Episcopacy of Abbot (reputed in himself a Good Man) who ever held, that Christ died so for all Men, that all men might be saved (if they would ac∣cept the Means) and that none were absolutely de∣creed to Eternal Reprobation; waa near akin to He∣resie, and Excommunicated as an Enemy to the Free Grace of God, which, it seems, lay in being Narrow.

Page  64 In the time of Arch-Bishop Land the Tide turns: those that hold an Absolute Election and Reprobation without regard had to the Good or Evil Actions of Men, and assert, that Christ only died for the Elect, and not for all; must be discountenanc'd, displac'd and point∣ed at as Men out of Fashion, though at the same time Conscientious, Sober and (at worst) Mistaken, to be pittied rather than prosecuted, and informed rather than confounded.

This Controversie begot the Synod of Dort: he that reads the Epistles of that Judicious man J. Hails of Eaton upon the Matter and Conduct of the Assembly, will find cause of being sad at Heart; too many of them talked of Religion without the Spirit of it. Men perhaps Learned in Books, but few of the Sticklers gave any great Testimony of their Proficiency in that Sci∣ence, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easie to be entreated. This Flame (kindled between Arminius and Episcopius, &c. for the Remonstrants; and Gomarus, Sibrandus, &c. for the Predestinarians) di∣stracted Holland not a little, and had an ill Influence upon the Affairs of England, at least so far, as con∣cern'd the Church. But the Mournfullest part of that History is, the Ill Usage Martinius Crcius the Bishop of Landaff and others had: who though they were ac∣knowledg'd to be Sound in the Faith of those Times (which generally followed the Judgment of Calvin, as to the mean points controverted) yet if at any time they appear'd moderate in their Behaviour, gentle in their Words and for Accommodation in some particu∣lars with the Remonstrators or Free willers; Gomarus and his Followers not observing that Gravity of the Assembly, the Rules of Debate, and least of all the Page  65 Meekness of Christian Communion, fell foul of their Brethren, reproach'd their Tenderness, and began to fix Treachery upon their Sober Endeavours of Ac∣commodation; as if they intended to execute as well as maintain their Reprobation, and blow up their Friends rather, than not destroy their Adversaries.

But if we will yet rise higher in our Enquiry, and view the Mischiefs of Earlier Times, the Fourth and Fifth Centuries after Christ will furnish us with In∣stances enough. We cannot possibly forget the Hea∣vy Life, some men made about the Observation of Easter Day, as if their Eternal Happiness had been in Jeopardy; for so far were they degenerated from the Love and Meekness of Christianity, that about keeping of a Day (which perhaps was no part, but to be sure, no Essential part of the Christian Religion) they fell to pieces, reproach'd, revil'd and hated one another. A Day was more than Christ, who was the Lord and End of Days; and Victory over Brethren better, than the Peace and Concord of the Church, the Great Com∣mand of Jesus.

But the Remarkable and Tragical Story of Alexander Bishop of Alexandria and Arius his Priest, in their known Debate about the Nature and Existence of the Son of God, with the lamentable Consequences thereof, (as all Writers upon that Subject have related) witnes∣seth to the truth of what I say. The Bishop's Curiosity, & the Niceness of Arius, the Presumption of the one to expound beyond the Evidence and Simplicity of the Text, and the Captious Humor of the other, that would not bate the Bishop any thing for his Age or the RankPage  66 he held in the Church; but Logically exacted the Utmost Farthing of the Reckoning, began the ray. Which, as it became the Perplexity of Church and State some Ages, so it raged to Blood; and those that had been persecuted like Sheep by the Heathen not long before, turn'd Wolves now to each other, and made sport for the Infidel, doing their work. Nay so much more Christian was Themistius the Philosopher, that in his Oration (called CONSUL) he commended and ad∣vised the Emperour Jovianus to Exercise Moderation, and to give that Liberty of Conscience, which profest Christians refused to do to each other: who seem'd to think, they never did God better Service, than in Sa∣crificing one another for Religion.

Did we duly reflect upon the Unnatural Heats, Divi∣sions and Excommunications among them, the many Councils that were called, the strong and tedious De∣bates held, the Translations of Sees, the Anathemas, the Banishments, Wars, Sackings, Fires and Blood-shed that followed this Unnatural Division, that sprang from so nice a Controversie; one would verily believe no less, than that Religion it self had been in Utmost Hazard: that Judaism or Paganism were over-running Chri∣stianity; and not, that all this Stir had been made about an Iota: For the whole Question was, whether HOMOUSIA or HOMOIUSIA should be received for Faith? in which the difference is but the single Let∣ter [1] Certainly, we must do Violence to our Un∣derstanding, if we can think, that these men were Followers of that Jesus, that Lov'd his Enemies & gave his Blood for the World; who hated their Brethren and Page  67shed one anothers Blood for OPINIONS: The Heathen-Philosophers never were so Barbarous in their Differ∣ences.

But how easily might all these Confusions have been prevented, if their Faith about Christ had been deli∣ver'd in the words of Scripture; since all sides pretend to believe the Text? and why should any man pre∣sume to be Wiser than the Holy Ghost? 'Tis strange, that God and Christ should be wanting to express or dis∣cover their own mind! or that the words used by the Holy Ghost, should have that Shortness, Ambiguity or Obliquity in them, that our frail Capacities should be needed to make them more Easie, Proper and Intelligi¦ble! But that we should scarcely deliver any one Article of Faith in Scripture-Terms; and yet make such Acts the Rule and Bond of Christian Communion, is in my Judg∣ment an Offence hainous against God and Holy Scripture, and very Injurious to Christian Charity and Fellowship. Who can express any Man's mind so fully, as himself? and shall we allow that Liberty to our * selves, and refuse it to God? The Scrip∣tures came not in Old time (said the Apostle Peter) by the will of Man; but holy Men of God spake, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Who can speak bet∣ter or express the Mind of the holy Ghost plainer, than the holy Ghost? the Scripture is the Great Record of Truth, that which all these Parties in Controversie a∣gree, to be the Declared Mind and Will of God, they Unanimously say, It ought to be believ'd and profest as such. If this be true, in what Language can we so safely and properly declare our Belief of the Truths Page  68 therein contain'd, orexpress those Truths, as in the very Language of the Scripture?

And I cannot see, how those Persons can be excused in the Day of God's Judgment, who make men Heterdox or Heretical for refusing to subscribe their Articles of Faith, that are not in Scripture-Terms, who at the same time offer to declare their Belief of God, Christ, Spirit, Man's Laps or Fall, Repentance, Sanctification, Justification, Salvation, Resurrection and Eternal Recompence in the Language of Holy Scripture? 'Tis preposterous and a Contradiction, that those, who desire to deliver their Faith of Truth in the Language of Truth, should not be reputed True Believers nor their Faith admitted: for this were to say, that therefore their Faith is not to be received, because it is declared in the Language of that very Truth, which is the Object of that Faith, for which it ought to be received, and which is on all hands concluded to be our Duty to believe. It seems then, we must not express our Belief of God in his Words, but our own; nor is the Scripture a Creed plain or proper enough to declare a True Believer or an Or∣thodox Christian.

Are not things come to a sad pass, that to refuse any other Terms, than those the Holy Ghost has given us, and which are confest to be the Rule or Form of sound Words, is to expose a Man to the Censure of being Un∣sound in the Faith & unfit for Christian-Communion! Will nothing do, but Man's Comment instead of God's Text? his Consequences & Conclusions in the room of Sacred Revelation? I cannot see, how any Man can be obli∣ged to receive or believe revealed Truths in any other Page  69 Language, than that of the Revelation itself, especially if those that vary the Expression, have not the same Spirit to lead them in doing so, or that it appears not to me, that they have the Guidance of that holy Spirit. If the holy Ghost hath left Doubts in Scripture (which is yet irreverent to believe) I see not how Men can resolve them; 'tis the Work of that Spirit. And since Men are so apt to Err, Doubts are better left in Scripture, than by us. But it is to cross that Order of Prudence and Wisdom among Men, who chuse to Conform their Expressions to the things they believe. If any honest Man hath related a Story to me of something he hath seen, and I am to declare my Faith about it, if I believe the Fact, I will chuse to deliver it in the Terms of the Relator, as being near∣est to the Truth.

Suppose a Father dying makes his Last Will and Te∣stament, and (as he thinks) so plain, that there can be no Mistake made by the Executors, but what is wilful: if they instead of proving this Will and acting accor∣ding to the plainness of it, turn Commentators, make more Difficulties than they find, and perplex the whole Matter to the Children and Legatees, and send them to the Law for their Right; will we not esteem such Executors Ill Men, and justifie those Persons concern'd in their Refusal of the Paraphrase? God hath at sundry times and in divers manners by his Prophets, his Beloved Son and his Apostles deliver'd to the World a Declaration of his Will and Testament; but some have claim'd and taken to themselves the Keeping, Explanation and Use of it: so as those, that chuse to be concluded by the Let∣ter and Text of this Testament in its most important Points, expose themselves to great prejudice; for Page  70 they are excommunicated from all other share in it, than the punishment of the Breakers of it, which is part of their Anathema, who of all others are most guilty of Adding or Diminishing, by undertaking to determin (for others as well as themselves) the Mind and Inten∣tion of the holy Ghost in it.

But if it be true (as true it is) that few have writ of the Authority of Scripture, that do not affirm, the very Penmen of it to be not only inspired by the Holy Ghost, but so extraordinarily acted by him, as that they were wholely asleep to their own Will, Desires or Af∣fections, like people taken out of themselves, and purely Passive (as Clay in the hand of the Potter) to the Revelation, Will and Motion of the Spirit, and for this End, that nothing deliver'd by them might have the least Possibility of Mistake, Error or Imperfection, but be a Compleat Testament of the Will of God to men; I cannot see which way such Men can excuse themselves from Great Presumption, that will notwithstanding have the Wording of Creeds of Communion, and reject that Declaration of Faith as insufficient which is deliver'd in the very Terms of the Holy Ghost, and deny those Persons to be Members of Christ's Church, that in Conscience refuse to subscribe any other Draught, than their Lord has given them.

Two things oppose themselves to this Practice: First, The Glory of God & the Honor of the Scriptures; for it naturally draws people from the Regard Due to God & the Scriptures & begits too much Respect for Men & their Traditions. This was the Difficulty Christ met with and complained of in his time; they had set up so many Rab∣bies to learn them Religion, that the Lord of the True Page  71 Religion could hardly find a place amongst them. And what did they do? They taught for Doctrines the Tradi∣tions of Men: They gave their own and their Prede∣cessors Apprehensions, Constructions and Paraphrases upon Scripture for the Mind and Will of God, the Rule of the Peoples Faith. They were got near at this pass in the Church of Corinth, when they cryed out, I am for Paul, I am for Apollo, and I am for Cephas, though they had not the same Temptation.

And that which followed then, ever will follow in the like Case, and that is DISTRACTION; which is the Contrary to that Second thing, that opposeth it self to this Practice, and that is the Concord of Christi∣ans. For Peace's sake consider it, Lo here and Lo there always follow'd; one of this mind, and another of that: As many Sects as Great Men to make and Head them. This was the Case of the Jews, and yet I do not hear, that they devour'd one another about their Opinions and Commentaries upon Scripture: but the Christians have done both, Divided and Persecuted too. First, they have Divided, and that mostly upon the score of Opinions about Religion: they have not been Contented with the Expressions of the holy Ghost; they liked their own better. And when they were set up in the Room of Scripture, and in the Name of Scripture, SUB∣MISSION was required upon pain of Worldly Punish∣ments: This dissatisfied Curiosity, this Unwarrantable (what shall I say?) this Wanton Search has cost Chri∣stendom dear, and poor England of any part of it.

I design not to grate upon any to revive old Stories or search old Wounds or give the least Just Occasion of Displeasure to those that are in Present Power: yet I Page  72 must needs say, that Opinion on one side or t'other has been the cause of much of that Discord, Animosity and Confusion, that have troubled this Kingdom. And it seems to have been the great Stratagem of Satan to prevent the spreading of the Glorious Gospel of Salva∣tion in the World, by taking men off from the seri∣ous pursuit of Piety and Charity, Humility and holy Li∣ving, Peace and Concord; and under pretence of more raised Apprehensions and sublime Knowledge of Religion to put them upon introducing Curious and Doubtful Questions, that have given occasion for Contention and Persecution. This was no more uncondemned, than unfore-seen of the Apostle Paul who ex∣horted his beloved Son Timothy, To avoid*those that doted about Questions (those Men, that would be thought Skilful, Inquisitive Searchers af∣ter Truth, such as love to exercise their Faculties and improve their Talents; but let us hear his Judgment) of which (says he) cometh Strife, Railing, Surmises, perverse Disputings of men of Corrupt Minds. And the truth is, none else love such Disputings; they, who seek a daily Victory over the World, the Flesh and the Devil, and press fervently after Fellowship with God and that Consolation, that ensues such an Employ∣ment of their time, have very little to lose upon Contention about Words. I could wish I were able to say, that Vain Controversie were not our Case! But this is not all, the Apostle does expressly tell Timothy, that if any man consent not to wholsom Words, even the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Doctrine, that is according to Godliness, he is Proud, knowing nothing, but doting about Questions, &c. such as used PhilosophyPage  73 and vain Deceit (as he writes to the Colossians)*Beware, says he, lest any man spoil you through Philosophy and vain Deceit, [that is, draw them away from the Simplicity of the Gospel and the wholsome Words of Christ] after the Traditions of men, after the Rudi∣ments of the World, and not after Christ. He used no humane Wisdom, yet he spake Wisdom, but it was in a Mystery, not to the humble Disciples of Jesus; nothing was plainer: but it was a Mystery to the Wise Men of this World. And truly, they that are not unacquain∣ted with the more degenerate Ages of the Greek Philo∣sophers, how Philosophy (once taken for the Love of Virtue and self-Denial, which they esteem'd truest Wisdom, and was begun by men of Ordinary Rank) be∣came little else, than an Art of Rangling upon a mul∣titude of Idle Questions, and so they entertain'd the A∣postle Paul at Athens) may very well guess, which way Apostacy entred among Christians; especially, when we consider, that in the third and fourth Centu∣ries the Heathen-Philosophers had the Education of the Christian Youth, and that no man had any Reputation among the Christian Doctors, who were not well Ini∣tiated in the Philosophy, Rhetorick and Poetry of the Gentiles. Which made way for Impurity of Language, and laid a Foundation for great Feuds in the Church; Christ and his Doctrine must be prov'd by Aristotle and his Philosophy. Yes, Aristotle muff explain Scrip∣ture, and by Degrees Methodize the loose Parts of it, and reduce them to Formal Propositions, Axiomes; and by the Help of such Philosophers the poor Fisher-men were taught to speak Metaphysically, and grew Polite in the Sense of Athens, that (to say true) had been neither Page  74 guilty of Using noUnderstanding it. But as the First Rules of Philosophy were few and plain, and consisted in Virtuous Living; so the Christian Religion was de∣liver'd with much Brevity, yet much Plainness, suited even to the Capacity of the Young, the Ignorant and the Poor, to inform their understandings, subdue their affections and convert their Souls to God, as well as Persons of more Age, Knowledge and Ability.

And truly, when we consider the Smalness of the Writings of the Evangelists, the Shortness of Christ's Sermons, the Fewness of the Epistles writ by the Apo∣stles, and the Many and Great Volumns of Commentators and Criticks; we may justly say, The Text is almost Lost in the Comment, and Truth hid rather than revealed in these heaps of fallible Apprehensions. Where by the way let me say, that the Voluminousness of the Books is no small token of the Unclearness of the Wri∣ters; the more Evident and better digested and Mat∣ter is, the more easie and short it will be in expressing. But after the Christians had declin'd the Simplicity of their own Religion, and grew Curious and Wanton; Lo∣ving God above all, Their Neighbours as themselves and Keeping the plain Commandments of Christ, that relate to good Life, became but Ordinary and Homely things; their Easiness rendred them Contemptible. They gave but little pleasure to Speculative Minds; they had no∣thing in them above Ordinary Capacities: and it seem∣ed hard, that men of Inquisitive and Rais'd Spirits should sit down with the Lesson of RUSTICKS and PEASANTS: Philosophers did not do so; & they would be like other Nations: 'Twas not enough now to know, There was a God, and that he was but One, JustPage  75 and Good, the Observer of their Actions and the Rewar∣der of their Deeds; and that therefore they should serve him: But they must be distinctly inform'd of his Nature and all his Attributes, his Purposes and his Decrees, and the Suitableness of them all to the Line and Plumet of their Understandings: So that God was to be, what their Conclusions would allow him to be; that yet knew not themselves, their own Beings and their Extents. Nor did it satisfie that there was a Christ, that this Christ was the Son of God, that God so loved Mankind, as beholding him in a way of Destruction, he sent his Son to proclaim pardon upon true Repentance, and offer'd a General Reconciliation to as many as re∣ceived and embrac'd his Testimony; and that to that End he laid down his Life a Ransom, Rise and Ascended, and gave his good Spirit to lead his Followers in the Way of Truth and Holiness. But they must search into the Secret of this Relation, how and after what man∣ner he is the Son of God? his Nature, Power and Per∣son must be discus'd; they will be satisfied in this, be∣fore they can find in their Hearts to believe in him. Next Whether he be the Cause or the Effect of God's Love? What was that Prize he paid, that Ransom he gave? and how he died for us? if Properly and strict∣ly or Tropically and elegantly to satisfie the Justice of God? and whether God could or could not have Saved man an other way? If this Mercy were offer'd to all, or but some? and whether Acceptance and Repentance be with the Consent of the Creature, or by an Irresisti∣ble Grace? what Body he Rise & Ascended with? and what Bodies we shall have in the Resurrection, in Nature, Stature and Proportion? Lastly, What this Spirit is, Page  76 that comes from Christ? if it comes from God also? whe∣ther it be God, or an Inferior Minister? how it Exists? If a Person, in what Relation, Degree or Dignity it stands to the Father and Son? with abundance more of this Unreasonable Strain, flowing from the Ungovern'd and Restless minds of men. No man would be used by his Servant, as they serve God: he must wait our Leasure, before we will believe, receive and obey him; his Message is Obscure, we don't understand it; he must gratifie our Couriosity; we desire to be better satisfied with it, before we believe or deliver it; It comes not pre∣sently up to Mens's Understandings; 'tis too obscurely exprest, we will explain it and deliver it with more Cau∣tion, Clearness and Success, then it is deliver'd to us. Thus God's Revelation hath been scan'd and his Precepts examin'd, before Licens'd: Men would be wiser then God, more wary then the holy Ghost. Our Lord (it should seem) understood not, what a kind of Creature Man was; he wanted his Wisdom (belike) to admonish him of the Danger; or haply he thought not upon that Corruption, which should befall Mankind in these Lat∣ter Ages of the World: which might require the Abi∣lities of Men to supply the Wants and Defects left by the Holy Ghost in the Wording of the Scripture.—I wrong not this Practice, I render it not more Odious than it is; 'tis an Inexcusable piece of Presumption; that which debases the External Testimony of God and draws men off from that which is Eternal too. It in∣troduces the Traditions of men in the Room of God's Records, and maketh their Judgment and Results the Rule of Christian Faith and Canons of Christ's Church. This is one of those Things, that made Rome so hate∣fulPage  77 and her Yoke Intolerable to our Predecessors: Preten∣ded Deductions from Scripture put in the Room of Scrip∣ture, with a Supersedeas to all Dissent upon never so Just a Ground of Dissatisfaction.

I beseech you Protestants by the Mercies of God and Love of Jesus Christ ratified to you in his most-preci∣ous Blood, FLY ROME AT HOME: Look to the Enemies of your own House. Have a care of this Pre∣sumption, carry it not too high; lay not Stress, where God has laid none, neither use his Royal Stamp to Au∣thorize your Apprehensions in the Name of his Institu∣tions.

I do not say, that men are never to Express their Minds upon any place of Scripture to Edification; there is a Christian Liberty not to be denyed; but ne∣ver to Articles of Faith, that ever ought to be in the Very Language of Holy Writ. Ye see, how the Con∣trary hath been the great Make-bate in all Ages, and the Impositions of such Opinions, the Priviledge of Hy∣pocrites, but the Snare of many honest Minds; to be sure, the sad Occasion of Feuds and miserable Divisions. It was plainly seen, that by the many Disputes that rise from hence, Mens Wits were confounded with their matters, Truth was lost & Brotherhood destroyed: thus the Devil acted the Part both of Opponent and Defen∣dant, and managed the Passions of both Parties to his End, which was DISCORD. And but too many were ready to perswade themselves from the Miscar∣riages on both sides, that nothing certain could be con∣cluded about Religion: for it so fell out, that whilst men were perpetually wrangling and brawling about some one Opinion of Religion, the most Important PointsPage  78 of Faith and Life were little regarded. So that a Godly Man was distinguish'd from an Ungodly by this one thing (let his Life have been almost, what it would) that he seem'd To maintain the Opinions in Vogue; and to abhor that Doctrine, which in some one or two Points might be reputed Heretical.

O! that we could but see how many and how great Defeats Satan hath given to the Work of God in the hearts of men! what Desolations he hath made by this one Evil CONTROVERSIE, begot of Opinion and used for it! and how few have Contended for the Faith, as it was once deliver'd to the Saints! he must be a Man of Brass, that could not chuse to weep at these Calami∣ties! And truly I must desire to take leave sometimes to bewail this broken Condition of Christendom, and to bestow my Tears in secret upon these Common Ruins: And I beseech God Almighty with a Soul sensibly touch't with the Mischiefs, that naturally flow from this Pra∣ctice, to Awaken you to a most-Speedy and Serious Consi∣deration, your Present Standing and AMENDMENT of that Miscarriage in this and all other points, that may concern your Good and his Glory. Put away Wrath! away with Clamors! away with Arrogance and Impatience! Let that Holy Spirit of God, which we in common profess to be the Christians Guide, have the Ordering of our Understandings in Spiritual things, lest Ignorance should mistake, Interest wrest or Preju∣dice pervert the Sense of God's Book. For as too many are Ignorant of the Divine Truth through their own Concupiscence and vile Affections (that carry them away to the Desire of other things, and therefore easily mistake about Nice or Obscure Matters;) so there are Page  79 not a few, who come to search the Scriptures as with Pre-possess'd Minds, that are sorry to meet with a Contra∣diction to their own Judgment instead of being glad to find the Truth, and use their Wits to Rack out ano∣ther Sense, than that which is genuine: which sort of men use the Scripture for its Authority not its Sense or Truth.

All this while the Head is set at work not the Heart; that which Christ most insisted upon, is least concer∣ned in this sort of Faith and Christanity; and that is, KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS. For 'tis Opinion, not Obedience, Notion and not Regenerati∣on, that such men pursue: This Kind of Religion lea∣veth them as bad as it finds them, and worse; for they have something more to be proud of. Here is a Creed indeed, but of what? the Conclusions of men? and what to do? to prove they believe in Christ; that (it seems) never made them. It had been happy for the World that there had been no other Creeds, than what he and his Apostles made and left. And it is not the least Argument against their being needful to Christian Communion, that Christ and his Apostles did not think so; who was not wanting to declare the WHOLE COUNSEL of GOD to the Church.

To Conclude, if ye desire Peace, love Truth, seek Piety and hate Hypocrisie, Discord, all those things cal∣led Articles of Faith and Canons of the Church, that are not to be found in Express Terms in Scripture, or so plainly Authorized by Scripture, as may with ease be discerned by every Honest and Conscientious Person. And in the Room of those Numerous and Disputed Opi∣nionsPage  80 (made the Bond of External Communion) let some Plain, General & Necessary Truths be laid down in Scrip∣ture Terms, and let them be few: which leads me to the Next point, and that is FAITH, generally mista∣ken in the very Nature of it.

The Second Mischief, that is amongst us, is the Mis∣understanding of the Nature of FAITH: Whence it comes to pass, that men take that for Faith, which is not; and sit down in a Security pernicious to their E∣ternal Happiness. I shall briefly say something, of What is not Faith, before I speak of that, which ap∣pears to me to be Truly and Scripturally such.

The Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ is not only not be∣lieving mens Opinions and Determinations from the Sa∣cred Text (of which I have so freely deliver'd my self) but it is not meerly the Belief even of the things contain'd in Scripture to be True: For this the Devils & Hypocrites do, and yet very Bad Believers; they refuse not the Au∣thority of Scripture. The Devil made Use of it to Christ himself; but he would have the Explaining and Apply∣ing of it: and since he could not hinder the Divine Inspi∣ration, if he may but be allow'd the Exposition, he hopes to secure his Kingdom. Since then the Verity & Authority of both History and Doctrine may be believ'd by the Devil and Hypocrites, that are false to their own Faith and Knowledge; we cannot without great Injustice to the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, (which is the Faith of all his Followers) allow, That a meer Belief of the Verity and Authority of the History and Doctrine of Scripture is that true and precious Faith.

Faith then in the Sense of the holy Ghost is by the holy Ghost thus defined: viz. The Evidence of things Page  81 not seen and the Substance of things hoped for.* This is General and runs through all Ages; but I shall express it thus: True Faith in God, is entire∣ly believing and trusting in God, confiding in his*Goodness, resigning up to his Will, obeying his Law and relying upon his Conduct dan Mercies respecting this Life and that to come. This is in Scripture called the Gift of God: and well it may, for it is Supernatu∣ral; It crosses the Pride, Confidence and Lust of * man: It grows out of the Seed of Love, sown by God in the Heart; at least, it works by Love: and this distinguishes it from the Faith of Ill Men and Devils; that though they do believe, they don't Love God above all, but something else instead of God, and are full of Pride, Anger, Cruelty and all manner of Wickedness. But this Faith that works by Love, that Divine Love, which God plants in the Heart, it inclines Man, and gives him Power to forsake all that displea∣seth God: and every such Believer becomes an Enoch Translated, that is, Changed from the Fashion of this World, the Earthly Image, the Corrupt Nature; and is renewed in the Likeness of the Son of God and walks with God. The Just shall live by Faith; they have * in all Ages liv'd by this Faith; that is, been sustain'd, supported, preserved; the Devil within nor the World without could never conquer them. They walked not by Sight, but by Faith; they had regard to the Eternal Recompense: No Visible things prevailed with them to depart from the Invisible God, to quench their Love or slacken their Obedience to him, the Great Testimony of their Faith in him. This Holy Faith ex∣cludes no Age of the World; the Just Men, thPage  82Cornelius's in every Generation have had some degree of it: 'twas more especially the Faith of the Simpler Ages of the World, such as those, in whom the Pa∣triarchs lived, who having not an Outward Law, be∣came a Law to themselves, and did the things contained in the Law; for they believed in God, and through Faith obtained a good Report. But because that it hath pleased God (in Order to Man's Recovery from that grievous Laps, Disobedience had cast him in∣to) *at sundry times and in divers manners to appear to the Sons of men, first, by his Prophets, and last of all by his Son; & that these several Manifestations have had something peculiar to them & very remark∣able in them, so that they claim a place in our Creed; It will not be amiss, that we briefly consider them.

The first was that of the Prophets, in which Moses preceded, by whom the Law came to the Jews, but Grace and Truth to mankind by Jesus Christ. The first brought Condemnation, the last Salvation; the one Judgment, the other Mercy: which was glad Tidings indeed. The one did fore-run the other, as in Order of Time, so in Nature of Dispensations: the Law was the Gospel begun; the Gospel the Law fulfilled or finisht: They cannot be parted.

The Decalogue or Ten Commandments were little more, than what had been known and practised be∣fore; for it seem'd but an Epitome and Transcript of the Law writ in Man's heart by the Finger of God: This is confest on all hands and in all Ages since. This therefore must needs be a Part of our Creed; for it re∣lates to that Righteousness, which is Indispensible and Immutable: The other part of their Constitution (that Page  83 was peculiar to their Politic, Typical and Mutable, the Gospel is either Unconcerned in it, or else ended it by the bringing in of a more Enduring Substance. But Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ: Grace is opposed to the Condemnation of the Law, and Truth to Shadows: This is the most-Excellent Dispensation; it is ours, and it becomes us to weigh well our Interest in it.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath*in these last days spoken to us by his Son. For God so loved the World, that (after all the World's Provocations by Omissions and Com∣missions) he gave his Only Begotten Son into the World, that the World through him might be saved.

And here Two Things present themselves to our Consideration: First, the Person, who he was? what his Authority? Secondly, his Message, his Doctrine, what he Taught: which though never so Reasonable in it self, depended very much in its Entertainment among the People upon the Truth of his Mission and Authority, that he was no Impostor, but came from God, the Promised Messiah. This was done Two Ways; by Revelation and by Miracles. By Revelati∣on, to such, as were as well prepared and inclined as honest Peter, the Woman of Samaria, and those that were mov'd to believe him from the Authority in which he spake so Unlike that of the Formal Scribes. By Miracles, to those, that being blinded by Ignorance or Prejudice, needed to have their senses struckwith such Supernatural Evidences: from many of whom this Witness came, that he was the MESSIAH, the Christ and SON of GOD.

Page  84In fine, all was done within the Compass of Peo∣ple, among whom he daily conversed, that was need∣ful to prove, he was from God and had God's Message to declare to the World. Insomuch that when some of his Disciples were not so firm in their Belief of his Authority, as he deserved at their hands; he calls his own Works to prove his Commission and convict them of Infidelity: If ye will not believe, that the Father is in me, that he doth these Works by me; believe me for the very Works sake, Thus he argu∣ed * with the Jews: Say ye of him the Father hath sanctified and sent into the World, thou Blasphèmest, because I said, I am the Son of God? if I do not the Works of my Father, believe me not (this is reasonable; he that will Judge the World, offers to be Tryed himself; he goes on) But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the Works, that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me. And he laid the Sin of the Jews upon this Foot, viz. That they rejected him, after he * had made proof of his Divine Mission by such Extraordinary Works, As no men among them all could do: which (to give them their Due) they do not deny; but shamefully pervert and foolishly abuse by attribu∣ting them to the Power of the Devil. To which Ma∣lice and Slander he returned this Inconfutable Answer; A Kingdom divided against it self, cannot stand: What! cast out Devils by the Prince of Devils? 'tis a Contradi∣tion, very Madness it self.

I have nothing to do now with Atheists, or those that call themselves Theists; but such as own them∣selves Christians: and shall therefore keep to my Task,Page  85 namely; What of the Christian Dispensation is so Pecu∣liar and Important, as to challenge of Right the Name of Articles of Faith? I say then, That the Belief of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Promis'd Messiah, the Son and Christ of God, sent to restore and save Mankind, is the first and was then the Only requisite Article of Faith without any Large Confessions, or an Heap of Principles or Opinions resolv'd upon after Curious and Tedious Debates by Councils or Synods: and this may be proved both by Example and Doctrine.

It is evident from Example, as in the Case of Peter, who for having believed in his heart and confest with his Mouth, That JESUS was the Christ *and SON of GOD, obtained that Signal Blessing, Mat. 16. This made Nathaniel a Disci∣ple; Rabbi (said he, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel. It was the like Confes∣sion, that made amends for Thomas's Incredulity, when he was sensibly assured of the Resurrection of Jesus, My Lord and my God. This was also the Substance of Martha's Confession of Faith to Jesus, when he said to her; I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believe∣eth in me shall never dye: believest thou this? She an∣swered; Yea, Lord, I believe, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the World? She answered him not as to that Particular of the Resurre∣ction; but in General, that he was the Christ, the MESSIAH, that was to come into the World, and that suffised. 'Twas a Confession not unlike to this, that the Blind Man made, to whom Christ gave *Sight, when Jesus said but to him, Dost thou be∣lieve on the Son of God? Lord, said he, I do be∣lieve; Page  86 and be worshipped him. What shall we say of the rare Faith of the Centurion, preferred by Christ himself before any in Israel,* though a Gentile? the Faith of the Woman and Inhabitants of Samaria, that he was the Messiah? of that Importunate Woman that cryed to Jesus, To cast a Devil out of her possest Daughter, and would not be put off, to whom Christ said: O Wo∣man, great is thy Faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt. To which let me add the Faith of the People, that brought the Man Sick of the Palsy to Christ, who uncover'd the Roof to let*him down to be toucht: The Faith of Jai∣rus the Ruler; and of that Good Wo∣man, who pressed through the Croud to*touch the Hem of Christ's Garment, to whom Jesus said, Be of good Com∣fort,* Daughter, thy Faith has made Thee whole: Also the Two Blind Men, that followed him out of the Rulers House, crying; Thou Son of David, have Mercy on us: To whom when Jesus had said, Believe ye, that I am*able to do this? they Answered, YEA, LORD: then touch'd he their Eyes and said, According to your Faith *be it unto you. Also the Blind Man near Jericho: The Leprous Samaritan that Christ cleansed: And that No∣table * Passage of the Woman, that kissed his Feet and anointed his Head, to Page  87 whom he pronounced this Happy Sentence; Thy Faith hath saved thee, go in Peace.

I will conclude this with that Famous Instance of the Thief upon the Cross, who neither knew * nor had time to make a Large Confession, like the Creeds of these dayes: but it seems he said enough; Lord, remember me, when thou comest in∣to thy Kingdom. And Jesus said unto him; Verily, I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. By which it is easie to learn, that 'twas the Heart not the Mouth, the Sincerity not the Words, that made the Confession Valid.

Nor was this only in the Days of Christ the Effect of his Gracious Dispensation or peculiar Indulgence, After∣times afford us the like Instances. This was the main Bent of Peter's Sermon: and when the Three thousand believed, that he, whom the Jews had crucified, was both Lord and Christ, and repented of their Sins, and gladly received his Word, they are said to have * been in a State of Salvation. Thus Cor∣nelius and his Houshold and Kindred, so soon as Peter declared Jesus to be the Messi∣ah, and that they had believed, the Holy Ghost fell upon them; and they were recei∣ved into the Christian Communion. But the Story of the Eunuch is very pat to our purpose: As he rid in his Charriot, he was reading these words out of the Prophet Isaiah, viz. That he was led as a Sheep to the Slaugh∣ter, and like a Lamb dumb before the Shearers, so opened he not his Mouth. In his Humiliation his Judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his Generation? for his Life is taken from the Earth. Philip joyn'd to him Page  88 and askt him, If he understood what he read? he desi∣red Philip to interpret the mind of the Prophet, if he spoke of him self or another? Philip upon the place preached to him Jesus: the Eunuch was so well per∣swaded by the Apostle, that coming to a Water, he said, What doth hinder me to be Baptized? Philip an∣swered him; If thou believest with all thine heart, thou may'st: To this the Eunuch replyed; I believe, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Upon which he was Baptized: and 'tis said, He went away rejoycing: which indeed he might well do, that felt the Comfort of his Faith, the Remission of Sin and the Joys of the holy Ghost.

I will conclude these Examples with a Passage in the Acts of Paul at Thessalonica, 'tis this: Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them,*and Three Sabbath-dayes reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alledging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead: and that this Jesus (said he) whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed and consorted with Paul and Silas: and of the devout Greeks a great mul∣titude, and of the Chief Women not a few. Thus we may plainly see, that they were Baptiz'd into the Faith of Jesus, and not into Numerous Opinions; and that this one Confession from true Faith in the heart was the ground & Principle of their Church-fellowship: then God's Church was at Peace; she thrive: there were then no Snares of Words made to catch Men of Conscience in. Then not many Words, but much Integrity; now much Talk, and little Truth: Many Articles, but O ye of little Faith!

Page  89 Nor was this only the Judgment and Practice of that Time out of Condescension to Weakness, and Charity to Ignorance; for both Christ Jesus himself and his Apostles (those blessed Messengers of holy Truth) have doctrinally laid it down, as the great Test to Christi∣ans, that which should distinguish them from Infidels, and justly entitle them to his Discipleship and Christian Communion one with another. Then said they to Jesus, what shall we do, that we might work the Works of God? Jesus answered and said to them; This is the Work of God, that ye BELIEVE ON HIM, whom God hath sent. Verily, Verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, hath Everlasting Life. And * upon another Occasion to the Jews he said: For if ye believe not, that I am HE, ye shall die in your Sins: It must follow then, that if they did believe him to be the Messiah, the A∣nointed of God to Salvation, they should be saved. Most plain is that Answer of the Apostles to * the Goaler, when he came trembling to them and said; Sirs, what must I do to be saved? Believe (said they) on the Lord Jesus Christ, *and thou shalt be saved. The Apostle Paul confirms this in his Epistle to the Romans, when he says: If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the Dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto Righte∣ousness, and with the mouth Confession is made unto Sal∣vation: For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him, shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference be∣tween the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over Page  90 all is rich unto all, that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved. This was the Word of Faith which they preached; and he testified, that it was *nigh in the heart, as Moses had done be∣fore him. And saith the Apostle John on this Occasion, Who is a Lyar, but he that de∣nieth,*that Jesus is the Christ?—Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; every Spirit that confesseth, that Jesus Christ is come in the Flesh, is of God. Again says he, Whosoever*shall confess, that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God: Yet once more he affirms, Whosoever believeth*that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.

I will conclude these Doctrinal Testimonies out of Scripture with a Conclusive passage John useth towards the end of his Evangelical Hi∣story * of Jesus Christ: And many other Signs truly did Jesus in the Presence of his Disciples, which are not written in this Book: But these are written, that ye might believe, that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing ye might have Life in his Name. In which place Two things are remarkable: First, That whatever things are written of Jesus, are written to this end, that we might believe, that Jesus is the Christ. Secondly, That those that sincerely believe, shall through him obtain Eternal Life. Certainly then, if this be true, great must their Incharity and Presumption be, who have taken other measures, and set another Rule of Christianity, than Jesus and his Apostles gave. This sincere Confession contented Christ and his Apostles; Page  91 but it will not satisfy those, that yet pretend to be∣lieve them: 'twas enough then for a Miracle and Sal∣vation too, but it goes for little or nothing now. A man may sincerely believe this, and be stigmatiz'd for a Schismatick, an Heretick, an Excommunicate: but I may say (as Christ did to the Jews in another Case) From the Beginning it was not so.

But I expect here to be Assaulted with this Objection; If this be all, that is necessary to be believed to Salvation, of what use is the rest of Scripture?

I answer, Of great Use, as the Apostle himself teach∣eth us; All Scripture is given by Inspiration*of God, and is profitable for Doctrine, for Re∣proof, for Correction, for Instruction in Righteousness, that the Man of God may be perfect, through¦ly furnisht unto all good Works. It concerns the whole Life and Conversation of a Man; but every passage in it is not therefore fit to be such an Article of Faith, as upon which Christian Communion ought or ought not to be maintained. For though it be all equally True, it is not all equally Important: There is a great Diffe∣rence between the Truth and Weight of a thing. For Example: 'Tis as True, that Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, as that he suffered; and that he was pierced, as that he died; and that he did eat after his Resurrection, as that he rise from the Dead at all; but no Person of common Understanding will conclude an Equal Weight or Concernment in these things, be∣cause they are Equally True: The Death of Christ was of much greater Value than the Manner of it; his Re∣surrection, than any Circumstance of his Appearance, Page  92 after he was risen. The Question is not, whe∣ther all the Truths contain'd in Scripture are not to be believed; but Whether those Truths are Equally Important? and if the Belief with the heart and Con∣fession with the mouth, that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God, be not as sufficient now to entitle a man to Communion here and Salvation hereafter, as in those times? against which nothing can be of Weight ob∣jected.

If it be said, that this Contradicts the Judgment and Practice of many great and good Men.

I answer; I can't help that. If they have been tempted out of their own Curiosity or the Corruption of Times to depart from the Ancient Paths, the Foot-steps of purest Antiquity and best Examples; let their Pre∣tences have been what they will, 'tis Presumption: and it was Just with God, that Error and Confusion should be the Consequence of those Adventures; nor has it ever fail'd to follow them.

Lastly if it be alledg'd, That this will take in all Parties, yea, that Schismaticks and Hereticks will creep in under this General Confession, since few of them will re∣fuse to make it.

I do say, 'Twould be an Happy Day. What Man loves God and Christ, seeks Peace and Concord. that would not rejoice, if all our Animosities and Vexati∣ons about Matters of Religion were buried in this one Confession of Jesus, the great Author and Lord of the Christian Religion, (so often lost in pretending to con∣test for it?) View the Parties on Foot in Christendom Page  93 among those called Protestants, observe their Differen∣ces well, and how they are generally maintain'd; and you will tell me, that they are rent and divided about their own Comments, Consequences and Conclusions: not the Text, but the Meaning; and that too, which perhaps is not in it self Essential to Salvation (as the Dispute betwixt the Lutherans and Calvinists, the Ar∣minians and Predestinarians and such like.) Is it not la∣mentable to think, that those, who pretend to be Christians and Reformed ones too, should divide with the Winds and fight as pro Aris & Focis for such things, as either are not Expresly to be found in Scrip∣ture, or if there, yet never appointed or intended for such Prime Articles of Faith by Christ or his Apostles. Should they then erect their Communion on another Bottom, or break it for deviating from any other Do∣ctrines, than what they (in terminis) in so many words have deliver'd to us for necessary?

If we consider the Matter well, I fear it will be found, that the Occasion of Dsturbance in the Church of Christ hath in most Ages been found to lie on the side of those, who have had the Greatest Sway in it. Very pertinent to our present Purpose is that Passage of J. Hales of Eaton in his Tract con∣cerning Schism:

It hath (saith he) * been the Common Disease of Christi∣ans from the Beginning, not to content themselves with that Measure of Faith, which God and Scriptures have expresly afforded us; but out of a Vain Desire to know more than is Revealed, they have attempted to DISCUSS THINGS, of which Page  94 we can have no Light neither from Reason nor Reve∣lation. Neither have they rested here, but upon pretence of Church-Authority (which is NONE) or Tradition (which for the most part is but FIG∣MENT) they have peremptorily concluded and confidently imposed upon others a Necessity of En∣tertaining Conclusions of that Nature; and to streng∣then themselves have broken out into Divisions and Factions, opposing Man to Man, Synod to Synod, till the Peace of the Church vanished without all Possibi∣lity of Recall. Hence arose those Ancient and ma∣ny Separations amongst Christians, Arianism, Euty∣chianism, Nestorianism, Photinianism, Sabellianism, and many more both Antient and in our Time.

And as he hath told us one great Occasion of the Disease, so he offers what follows, for the Cure:

And were Liturgies (sayes he) and Publick Forms of Service so framed, as that they admit∣ted * not of particular and private Fancies, but contained only such things, as in which all Christians do agree, Schisms on Opinion were utterly vanished. Whereas to load our Publick Forms with the Private Fancies upon which we differ, is the most-soveraign Way to perpetuate Schism unto the World's End.—Remove from them, whatsoever is scandalous to any Party; and leave nothing, but what all agree on: and the Event shall be, that the Publick Service and Honor of God shall no wayes suffer.—For to charge Churches and Liturgies with Things Unnecessary, was the First Beginning of all Super∣stition.—If the spiritual Guides and Fathers of the Church would be a little sparing of Incumbring Churches with Superfluities, and not over-rigid ei∣ther Page  95 in reviving Obsolete Customs, or imposing New, there were far less Danger of Schism or Superstition—Mean while wheresoever false or suspected Opinions are made a piece of the Church Liturgy, he that sepa∣rates, is not a Schismatick: for it is alike Unlawful to make Profession of known or suspected Falshoods, as to put in Practice Unlawful or Suspect Actions.
He further tells us in his Sermon of Dealing with Er∣ring Christians,
That it is the Unity of the * Spirit in the Bond of Peace, and not the Identity (or Oneness) of Conceit which the Holy Ghost requires at the Hands of Christians—A better Way my Conceit cannot reach unto, then that we should be willing to think, that these things, which with some Shew of Probability we deduce from Scripture, are at the best but Our Opinions. For this peremptory Manner of setting down our Conclusions under this High Commanding Form of Necessary Truths, is general∣ly one of the greatest Causes, which keeps the Churches this Day so fr assunder; whenas a Grati∣ous Receiving of each other by Mutual Forbearance in this kind might peradventure in time bring them nearer together.

Thus much of this Great Man concerning Schism, the Cause and Cure of it: and for the Notion of He∣reticks he will help us altogether as well. For though they are generally taken for such as err in Judgment about Doctrines and Articles of Faith, yet if this Man may have any Credit (and perhaps none of his Profession has deserv'd more) he tells us, that

Heresie is an Act of the Will, not of Reason, and is ind eeda Lye, not a Mistake: else (sayes he) how could that Page  96 known Speech of Austin go for true, Errare possum, Haereticus esse nolo: I may err, but I am unwil∣ling to be an Heretick.
And indeed this is no o∣ther, than what Holy Scripture teacheth; A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admo∣nition reject; knowing, that he that is such, is*subverted and sinneth, being CONDEMN∣ED OF HIMSELF. Which is as much as to say, that no body is an Heretick, but he that gives the Lye to his own Conscience and is Self-condemned: Which is not the Case of Men meerly Mistaken, or who only err in Judgment. And therefore the Term of Heretick is as Untruly as Uncharitably flung upon those, that Conscientiously dissent either in point of Discipline OF Doctrine from any Society of Christians: and it is not hard to observe, that those who have best merited it, have most liberally bestow'd it.

But to show you, that neither true Schismatick (who is One, that unnecessarily and unwarrantably separates from that part of the Visible Church, of which he was once a Member) nor true Heretick (who is a Wilful Sub∣verter of True or an Introducer of false Doctrines; a Self-condemned Person) can ever shelter himself under this Common Confession of Christianity sincerely made, Let us consider, that who-ever so declares Jesus to be the Messiah and Anointed Saviour of God to Men, must be supposed to believe all that of him, with respect to which he is so called. Now that for which he is so denominated, is that which God sent him to do: the Reason and End of his coming he could best tell, who hath told us thus; I am come, that ye may have Life, and that ye may have it more abundantly. The World was Page  97 as dead in Trespasses and Sins, the guilt and defilement of Transgression had kill'd the Soul as to Spiritual Life and Motion; and from under this powerful Death he came to redeem the Soul unto Life: in short, to re∣store Man from this Fearful Degeneracy, his Disobedi∣ence to God had reduced him to.

The Way he took to accomplish this Blessed Work was First, To preach Repentance and the Approach of the Kingdom of God, which is his Rule and his Authority in the Hearts of men, which brings us to the Second thing to be believed, namely—

What he Taught?

1. First, his Doctrine led Men to Repentance: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. No Man could receive the Kingdom of God,* whilst he lived under the Kingdom and Pow∣er of Satan: so that to Repent is not only to bring their Deeds to the Light (which Christ exhorteth Men to;) but to forsake that, which upon Examination appeared to be Evil. Wherefore I conclude, that such as have not been acquainted with this Holy Repentance, do not sincerely believe, neither can Rightly confess Jesus to be the Christ the Son of God, the Saviour of the World. Therefore saith the A∣postle, Let him that nameth the Name of the Lord, de∣part from Iniquity: plainly implying, that those do rather Prophane than Confess the Name of the Lord, who do not Depart from their Iniquities. And (saith the Apostle in another place) No man can call Jesus LORD, but by the Holy Ghost: Which opens to us the Nature of the True Confession, to wit, That the True Page  98 Confession of Jesus to be both Lord and Christ is from such a Belief in the Heart, as is the work of the Holy Ghost; and those that do not Confess him or call upon him by Virtue of the Overshadowings of this Divine Spirit and Power, are not truly Christians, true Wor∣shippers, Believers and Disciples.

Furthermore, they that receive Christ, receive his Kingdom, his Power and Authority in their Souls; the strong Man that kept the house, becomes boun, and his Goods spoil'd by this stronger man the LORD's CHRIST, who is come from Heaven to dwell in us and be the Hope of our Glory: for so he was preached to the Gen∣tiles. This Kingdom (the Apostle tells us) stands in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost: and Christ tells us, where it is to be set up? The Kingdom of God is within you, saith the King himself; and where should the King be, but in his own Kingdom? they are blessed, that feel him to Rule and that live under the swaying of his Righteous Scepter: for when this Righteous One Rules the Earth, the Sons of Men re∣joyce.

So that no Man can truly Confess and rightly Believe Jesus to be the Christ and Son of God, that do's not re∣ceive him to be his King, to rule his Heart & Affections. For can a Man be said to believe in one, that he will not receive? but To as many as received Christ of Old, gave he Power to become the Sons of God, which were born not of Blood, nor of the Will of the*Flesh, nor of the will of Man, but of God. What is this will of God? Paul answers the Question: The Will of God is your Sanctification; for this Christ came Page  99 into the World. So that those that believe and receive Christ, he is made to them Righteousness, San∣ctification* and Redemption; that is, he has sa∣ved them from their Sins, Guilt and Defile∣ment, and sanctified them from their Corruptions: they live now by the Grace of God, that teaches them to be of a Sober, Righteous, Godlike Life. Ye shall know them by their Fruits, saith Christ of the Pharisees; so shall Men know them, that sincerely believe & confess Christ by their sanctified Manners and Blameless Conversations. And wo to them that make other Distinctions! for God has made no other; there will be but Goats and Sheep at the Last Day, Holy and Unholy, Just and Un∣just. Therefore let that be our Distinction, which e∣ver was and will be God's Distinction: for all other Measures are the Effects of the Passions and Presumpti∣ons of Men.

But because it may be expected, that I should fix upon some few General Heads of Christian Doctrine from the Mouth of Christ and his Apostles as requisite to Christian Communion; I shall proceed to mention, what Christ eminently taught. He that reads his Sermon upon the Mount, will find in the Entrance, how many States and Conditions Christ *Blessed; The Poor in Spirit, The Mourners, The Meek, They that hunger after Righteousness, The Merciful, The Pure in Heart, and the Peace-makers; which indeed Comprehend the whole of Christiani∣ty. By Mourners we understand true Penitents, Men of Unfeigned Repentance; which leads them not only to Confess but Forsake their Sins. This Godly SorrowPage  100 makes Men Poor in Spirit, Empty of themselves, wanting the Light, Life and Power of Jesus to sup∣port and sustain them; in which as they sted fastly walk, the Attonement of the Blood is felt, and it clean∣seth them from all Unrighteousness: which makes them Pure in Heart. And in this Condition no Food will serve their Turn but Righteousness; after this they Hunger and Thirst more than for the Bread that perisheth. They are full of Meekness▪ and Mercy, Making Peace and Promoting Concord, where-ever they come: For being themselves reconciled to God, they endeavour to reconcile all Men unto God and one unto another.

In short, let us bring it home to our Consciences and deal faithfully with our selves. Do we know this Holy Mourning? this Godly Sorrow? are we Poor in Spirit? not Self-conceited, but Humble, Meek and Lowly in Heart, like him that bid us be so? Do we Hunger after the Kingdom of God and Righteousness of it? and are our Hearts purified by the Precious Faith of the Son of God? Infine, Are we Merciful? Tender-heart∣ed? Lovers of Peace more than lovers of our selves? Persecuted rather than Persecutors? such as receive Stripes for Christ's sake, and not those that beat our Fellow-Servants? No Man has true Faith in Christ Jesus, that is not acquainted with these Blessed Qua∣lifications: This is Christ's Doctrine; and to believe in him is to obey it and be like him.

The great Intendment of this Sermon is to press people to a more Excellent Righteousness than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. For (saith Jesus to the Mul∣titude) Page  101Except your Righteousness shall exceed the Righteousness of the Scribes and Phari∣sees, *ye shall in no Case enter into the King∣dom of Heaven.

(1.) He taught, not only that Killing but Anger without a very▪ Just Cause * is Unlawful to his Disciples.

(2.) he prefers Concord above De∣votion, Mercy before Sacrifice; He that * will not use his Utmost Endeavour to be reconciled to his Brother, shall find no place for his Prayers: And Every Man is this Brother.

(3.) He not only forbids Adultery, which the Law forbids; but Lust: the *Ax of his Doctrine is laid to the Root of the Tree; it reaches to the First Seeds of things, to the Innermost and most hidden Conceptions of the Mind.

(4.) From Keeping and Perform∣ing Legal Vows to not Swearing at all: and * indeed, what Use can there be of any Swearing, where Mens Yea is Yea, and their Nay, Nay.

(5.) He taught Not to resist Evil, but to suffer Loss rather than enter into Contention: his Divine Wisdom did fore-see, how much * easier it would be, to Overcome the Violent Passions of Men by Patience than Contro∣versie. And he that considers the Unruliness of some Mens Dispositions, their Heats and Prejudices, it will be found, that it is not alwayes a Real Injury or Page  102 Loss, but Passion, Revenge or Base Interest, that sets them to Sutes and Clamours.

(6.) He taught us the Highest Complesance and Charity: If any Man compel thee to go a Mile, go with him wain. Be of an Easie and Rea∣dy * Mind to Do Good, and to all Friendly Of∣fices be easily perswaded; and in which rather exceed than fall snort.

(7.) He taught as great Liberality and Charity; to give to him that asks, and from him that would borrow, not to turn away: in short, to be * Stewards of our External Substance for the Good of Mankind, according to our Respective Abi∣lities.

(8.) He advances the Doctrine of Loving Friends to the Degree of Loving Enemies. Ye have heard (said Jesus) that it hath been said,*Thou shalt love thy Neighbour and shalt hate thine Enemy; but I say unto you, Love your Enemies, bless them that Curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despightfully use you and persecute you. Surely then, where no Anger dwells, no Revenge can grow; and if we must love Enemies, there is no Man left to be hated. This is the Doctrine of that Jesus, that laid down his Life for all: and this is the End for which he preached it, That (sayes he) ye may be the Children of your Father, which is in Heaven; for he maketh his Sun to rise on the Evil and on the Good, and sendeth Rain on the Just and on the Unjust, It is as much as if Christ had said; No Man can be like God, that does not Love his Enemies, and who cannot do good to all: Consequently, he that does Love Page  103 Enemies, and is ready to Do good unto all, he is like God the Father, that is in Heaven, who is Love.

(9.) Christ teaches us to avoid Ostentati∣on* in our Charity: Take heed that ye do not your Alms before Men to be seen of them.

(10.) He teaches us the Duty of Prayer, where and what: not in the Corners of the Streets* nor in the Synagogues to be seen of Men; but in the Closet, in the secret of the Heart betwixt God and the Soul.

(11.) He forbids Hoarding and Laying up of Money in Bank; presses Treasuring up of Wealth* in Heaven: and the Reason is this, that the one is Corruptible, and the other is Incorruptible.

(12.) He teaches Dependence upon the Providence of God; calling the Dis-trustful, O ye of little Faith. Which of you (says he) by taking Thought can add one Cubit to his Stature? therefore*take no Thought, saying, What shall we eat or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? for after all these things the Gentiles seek; for your Heavenly Father knoweth, that you have need of all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

(13.) He sets up a Discrimination or Distinction between false and true Prophets, those that are his Di∣sciples, from Counterfeits. Ye shall know them (said Christ) by their Fruits: Do men gather Grapes of Thorns or Figgs of Thistles? even*so every good Tree bringeth forth Good Fruit, but a Corrupt Tree bringeth forthPage  104 Evil Fruit. A Good Tree cannot bring forth Evil Fruit, neither can a Corrupt Tree bring forth good Fruit: Wherefore by their Fruits ye shall know them. This was the Distinction given by Christ to his Fol∣lowers; the Tree was not accounted Good or Bad by the Leaves, but the Fruits; not by the Opini∣ons, but the Holy living. The Faith in that Day was an Entire Resignation and Dependence upon God, and not a Subscription to Verbal Propositions and Articles, though never so True: that was the Work of After∣times, more Corrupt and Superstitious Ages. But—

(14.) Lastly Christ preaches the General Judgment. Many will say to me in that Day [what Day? the Day of Account and Final Reckoning* with Mankind:] Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name, and in thy Name cast out De∣vils and done many wonderful works? And then (said Christ) will I profess unto them, I never knew you, De∣part from me, ye that work Iniquity. Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Hea∣ven; but he that doth the Will of my Father, which is in Heaven. Therefore whosoever heareth these Sayings of mine and doth them, I will liken him unto a Wise Man, which built his House upon a Rock, and the Rain descended and the Floods came, and the Winds blew and beat upon that House, and it fell not; for it was builded upon a Rock. And every one that beareth these Sayings of Mine, and doth them not, shall be likened unto a Foolish Man, which built his House upon the Sand: and the Rain descended, and the Floods came and the Winds blew, and beat upon that House, and it fell, and great was the Fall of it, And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these Sayings, the Page  105 People were astonished at his Doctrine: for he taught them as one having Authority, and not as the Scribes.

By all which it is most plain, that as Christ is the Rock, on which true Christians build; so none can be said truly to build upon this Rock, but those that keep his Sayings, that do his Commandments, that obey his Doctrine. Wherefore that Faith of JESUS to be the SON and CHRIST of GOD must be such a Faith, as does the Will of the Heavenly Father, and keepeth THESE SAYINGS of Christ.

There are Two places, in which Christ seems to sum up his blessed Doctrine: One is this, There∣fore all things, whatsoever ye would, that Men*should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets; Which Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfill. But the other Passage seems to be more full, the first relating only to our Dealings with Men; this Second Passage comprehends our Duty both to God and Men, viz. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all*thy Heart and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind; this is the first and great Commandment: and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy Neighbour as thy self. In these two Command∣ments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

This is the Perfection of the Christian Religion, the Great Commandment of Christ, the Certain Token of Discipleship. A new Commandment (said Christ) I give unto you, that ye Love one * another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another: by this shall all men know, that ye are my Disciples, if ye have love one toPage  106 another. Again, Christ speaks to his Disciples; If ye keep my Commandments, ye shall abide in my Love, even as I have kept my Father's Commandments, and a∣bide in his Love: and this is my Commandment, that ye Love one another, as I have loved you. Yet once more: Ye are my Friends, if ye*do, whatsoever I command you; and these things I command you, that you Love one another. He that hath my Commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me, and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest my self to him: but he*that loveth me not, keepeth not my Sayings. So that only those are Friends, and Disciples of Christ Jesus that do his Sayings and keep his Com∣mandments, and the Great Commandment of all is LOVE: for upon this One Commandment all the rest depend.

For he that loves God above all, will leave all for God; not one of his Commandments shall be slight∣ed: and he that loves his Neighbour, will much more love the Houshold of Faith. Well may such be True Christians, when their Faith in Christ works by LOVE, by the Power of this Divine Love: he that dwells in this Love, dwell in God,* (if John say true) for he is Love. And in this he recommended his Love unto us, that he sent his only Begotten Son,—that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have Everlasting Life: Also herein did Christ manifest his Love, in*laying down his Life for us. This is my Commandment (said Christ) that ye Love Page  107 one another, as I have loved you: and, Greater love hath no Man than this, that a Man lays down his Life for his Friends; ye are my Friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Indeed he gave his Life for the World, and offered up One Common Sacrifice for Man∣kind: * and by this One Offering up of himself once for all he hath forever perfected [that is, quitted and discharged and taken into Favour] them that are san∣ctified; who have received the Spirit of Grace and San∣ctification in their Hearts: for such as resist it, receive not the Benefit of that Sacrifice.

This Holy Offering up of himself by the Eternal Spirit, is a Great Part of his Messiahship; for therein he hath both confirmed his Blessed Message of Remission of Sins and Life Everlasting to as many as truly believe in his Name, and given himself a Propitiation for all that have sinned, and so came short of the Glory of God: in so much that God is said by the Apostle Paul to be Just, and the Justifier of him, which believeth in Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation*through Faith in his Blood to declare his Righ∣teousness for the Remissions of Sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

Unto which I shall Join his Mediatorship or Advoca∣cy, link'd together both by the Apostle Paul and the beloved Disciple John: the first in these * words; For there is One God and one Medi∣ator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a Ransom for all to be testified in due Time. The Apostle John expresseth it thus: My little Children, these things write I unto you, that*you Sin not; and if any Man sinneth, we have Page  108 an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righte∣ous; he is the Propitiation for our Sins, and not for ours only, but also for the Sins of the whole World.

So that (to be Brief) the Christian Creed so far as it is Declaratory, lies eminently in a Confession of these Particulars. Of the Divine Authority of the New as well as of the Old Testament Writings; and therein of these Great, General and Necessary Truths expres∣ly, to wit, Of Christ, his Miracles, Doctrine, Death, Resurrection, Advocacy or Mediation, the Gift of his Grace, Faith and Repentance unto Remission of Sins, the Necessity of Keeping his Commandments, and lastly of Eternal Recompence.—Less once than all this would have done; and it does not shew the Age more Chri∣stian, but more Curious, indeed more Infidel, that there is this Stir made about External Creeds of Com∣munion: for Distrust of Brethren and Incredulity a∣mong Christians is no small Sign of their Decay of Faith towards God; From the Beginning 'twas not so.

But it may be here Objected, How shall we know, that such a Declaration of Faith is sincere? I Answer, By recurring to that Evidence, which God shall give us. They that can try Spirits under the most-Sheep∣like Clothing, have the most-Immediate and Certain Proof; but let it suffise, that Christ hath told us, By their Fruits ye shall know them. If any Man, says Christ, will come after me, let him take up his Cross and follow me: and in another place * he tells us thus; My Sheep hear my Voice, and I knew them and they follow me; that is, They are led by my Spirit, they live my Life, they * obey my Doctrine. And the Apostle Peter assures us, Page  109 that True Faith purifies the Heart: and no * Impurity can flow from a pure Heart. You may know this Faith by that Way, by which Abra∣ham's Faith was known to be True, to wit, Obedience. He believed God, that is, He Obeyed God; he submit∣ted to the Will of God and relied upon his Goodness: He that gave me my Son by a Miracle, can*work another to save him; To God all things are Possible. It is call'd by the Apostle Paul The Spirit of Faith; something more near and inward, than any External Articles and Declaration of Faith, that from whence all True Confessions and good Works come; which made the Apostle Paul thus to say; We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our Prayers, remembring*without Ceasing your Work of Faith.

'Twas this true Faith, that brings forth Works of Righteousness, by which Abel Offered to God, Enoch was Translated, Noah was saved: it is said of him, that he became Heir of the Righteousness, which is by Faith. By this Faith Abraham left his own Country, and obey'd the Voice of God. By Faith Moses was preserved from his Childhood; and when he came to years, refus'd to be called the Son of Pharaoh's Daugh∣ter: by Faith he forsook Egypt, and passed the Red Sea. By Faith the Walls of Jericho fell down, and Rahah was saved. By Faith Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jephtha, David, Samuel and the Prophets subdued Kingdoms, wrought Righteousness, obtained Promises, * stopped the Mouthes of Lyons, quenched the Violence of Fire, escaped the Edge of the Sword; with much more too large to be utter'd.

Page  110 This is that Faith, which the Apostle James magni∣fies against all false Faiths: Faith (says he) if it has not Works, is dead. A Man may say, Thou hast Faith, and I have Works; *shew me thy Faith without thy Works, & I will shew thee my Faith by my Works. And as if he had fore-seen the Men of Creeds and Ar∣ticles, he speaks on this wise: Thou believest that there is One God, thou dost well; the Devils also believe and Tremble. But wilt thou know, O Vain Man, that Faith without Works is dead. Was not Abraham our Father justified by Works, when he had offered Isaac his Son up∣on the Altar? seest thou how Faith wrought with his Works? and by Works was Faith made perfect.—And he was called the Friend of God.

And the Exhortation of the Apostle Peter is a plain Discrimination of true Faith; And besides this, giving all Diligence, add to your Faith *Virtue, and to Virtue Knowledge, and to Knowledge Temperance, and to Temperance Patience, and to Patience Godliness, and to Godliness Brotherly Kindness, and to Brotherly Kindness Charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you, that ye shall neither he barren nor unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things, is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old Sins.

I will seal up these Scripture. Testimonies of Faith with that Account which is given us by the Apostle John; For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the World: and this is the Victory, that over∣cometh*the World, even our Faith. Who is he Page  111 that overcometh the World, but he that believed, that Je∣sus is the Son of God? So that the Belief in the Son of God must have this Evidence to prove it true, that by it Men are born of God and overcome the World: so that their Faith is false, whom the World Overcomes. I am not of this World, saith Christ Jesus; neither can that Faith be, that is called the Faith of the Son of God.

There are Three Passages left us upon Record by this Beloved Disciple of Jesus of Great Weight and Importance to us; when he had discoursed of the Propitiation and Advocacy of Christ, he does immedi∣ately add; And hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his Commandments. He*that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his Commandments, is a Lyar, and the Truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his Word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected: hereby know we, that we are in him. He that saith, he abideth in him, OUGHT HIMSELF ALSO SO TO WALK, EVEN AS HE WAL∣KED.

The Second Passage very pertinent to this present matter is in the next Chapter; My little*Children, let us not love in word neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And hre∣by we know, that we are of the Truth, and shall assure our Hearts before him: For if our Heart con∣demn us, God is greater than our Heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved; if our Heart condemn us not, then have we Confidence towards God: and whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his Commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this 〈1 page duplicate〉Page  110〈1 page duplicate〉Page  111Page  112 is his Commandment, that we should believe on the Name of his Son JESUS Christ, and love one another, as he gave us Commandment.

The Third and last Passage, which I shall mention on this Account is in his fourth Chapter of the same Epistle, viz. And we have seen and do testifie, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of*the World. Whosoever shall confess, that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God. And we have known and believed the Love, that God hath to us: God is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein our love is made perfect, that we may have Boldness in the Day of Judgment, because AS HE IS, SO ARE WE IN THIS WORLD.

These are the Holy Fruits of all that love God and believe in Christ, that are the Family of the Faithful, regenerated and redeemed from the Earth; Where∣ever two or three of them are met together, Christ is in the midst of them; they neither Ask nor Hope in vain. With this Character let us take a View of all Persons and Societies of Christians throughout the World, not forgetting our selves: let us hereby try their Faith and Religion and our own; if it be of God the Father, it is Pure and Undefiled,* it leads them that have it, to Visit the Fatherless and Widow in their Affliction, and to keep themselves Unspotted from the World: Is this our Case?

If it be Objected, Which way shall we obtain this like Precious Faith? I answer: They must take diligent Heed to the Light and Grace, that comes by Jesus, that Candle of the Lord, which he has set up Page  113 in our Souls: we must bring our Deeds to this Light, see, if they be wrought in God or no? For this gives us to discern betwixt the Precious and the Vile; the one gives Joy, the other brings a load of Guilt upon the Soul: do we not know, that we Do the things we ought not? and that we Leave undone the thins we ought to do? this will be our Judgment: For therefore Men are Condemnable, because they knon.

These therefore, that would obtain this precious Faith, that overcomes the World, must embrace the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which this Faith is begotten: and they, who believe not in this Grace, nor receive it in the love of it, nor give themselves up to be taught and led by it, can never be said truly to believe in him, from whom it comes, any more then the Jews may be said to believe in God, when they rejected him that came from God, his Beloved Son. He that denyes the Measure, can never own or receive the Fulness. John bears Record, * that he was Full of Grace and Truth, and that of his Fulness they received, and Grace for Grace: for the Law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ: So that 'tis utterly Impos∣sible for a Man to believe in Christ, and not to be taught by the Grace that comes from him and by him.

'Tis a Common saying of People in these dayes, We are not under the Law, but under Grace; who are in Truth under Sin and the Law of Death, Subjects to the Prince of the Power of the Air, who reigns in the hearts of the Children of Disobedience; and their Lives show it: No; those are under Grace, that live the holy Life of it. For the Grace of God, that bringeth Salva∣tion (saith the Apostle Paul, Tit. 2. ii. 12.) hath Appeared to Page  114 All Men, teaching us, that denying Ungodliness and Worldly Lusts we should live Soberly, Righteously and God∣ly in this present World: These are the People that be∣lieve in Christ unto the saving of the Soul. This is that Blessed Light, which shines in the hearts of those that believe, and gives them the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: the Ancients walk'd in it, and found Eternal Life by it. I am the Light of the World, said Christ, he that*follows me, shall not walk in Darkness, but have the Light of Life. The Saints Armed themselves with it a∣gainst the fiery Darts of Satan, and by the Vertue and Power that is in it, were en∣abled * to overcome Temptation. And this will be the Condemnation of Disobedient Men, that they see, but shut their Eyes; know the Light, but rebel against it. Christ by his holy Light in the Con∣science shews Men their Danger, warns them of it be∣fore it comes upon them: no Man on Earth can plead either Ignorance or Surprise.

'Tis true, the Candle of the Wicked is often put out; But that it implies, 'tis often lighted, and that men Sin against Conviction, against Sight and Knowledge: 'tis wilfull, and that's dangerous. No Faith in Diso∣bedience will do, no Faith without holy Fruits, holy Works, will save. Men must be born again, if ever they will enter into the Kingdom of God: there is no Fellowship between Christ and Belial; People must part with their Vile Affections and Inordinate Desires, or they are no Company for Christ, they have no Share in him. What part can Pride have in Humili∣ty? Wrath in Meekness? Lust in Self-denial? RevengePage  115 in Forgiveness? To pretend, to believe in Christ, and not to be like him, is a Contradiction. *This is the Message (said the Beloved Disci∣ple) which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is Light, and in him is no Darkness at all: If we say, that we have Fellowship with him and walk in Darkness, we lye and do not the Truth. The Truth is, all such Faith and Profession, are a Lye in the Right Hand, a Cheat upon a Man's Self. But (says he) if we walk in the Light as God is in the Light, we have Fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Je∣sus Christ his Son cleanseth us from ALL SIN. If we say, that we have no Sin [to be cleansed from] we de∣ceive our selves, and the Truth is not in us: But if we confessour Sins, he is Faithful and Just to forgive us our Sins, and to CLEANSE us from ALL UNRIGH∣TEOUSNESS.

To Conclude, Christ Jesus the Son of God and Saviour of the World is Holy, Harmless and Undefiled, and so must his Followers be; he is no Head of a Cor∣rupt Body, nor Master of Rebellious Servants: he that has not the Wedding Garment, must be cast out; the Branch that brings not forth Fruit, will be cut off. But those that truly believe in his Name, walk in his Light, and are taught by his Grace to renounce the Lusts of the Eye, the Lusts of the Flesh and*Pride of Life; the Unjust Profits, Pleasures and Pomps of this World, and chuse to follow him in his own Holy Way of Regeneration: the same is his Brother, his Sister and his Mother. And whatever Losses they may sustain for his * Names sake, they have the Promise of Page  116 an Hundred fold here, and the Inheritance of Ever∣lasting Life.

And I do fervently beseech Almighty God, the Giver of all Saving Faith, mercifully to Vouchsafe more and more to beget a Serious Enquiry in us, What that Eaith is, which we have? who is the Author of it? and what Fruits it hath brought forth? that we may not prophane the Name of God by a Vain Profession of it, nor abuse our selves unto Eternal Perdition; But that we may endeavour (by God's Assistance) to ap∣prove our selves such Believers, as sincerely fear God, love Righteousness and hate every Eyil Way, as be∣comes the Redeemed of God by the pretious Blood of his Son. Since therefore we are not our own, but the Lord's, who hath bought us with that Great Price, let us glorifie him in our Bodies, in our Souls and in our Spirits, which are his. Then shall we be Children of Abraham indeed, Heirs of the Promises, partakers of that Resurrection and Life, that Immortality and Glory, which God the Righteous Judge will one Day plentifully distribute to them that abide in this pretious Faith unto the End.

This naturally brings me to my Third Head, and an Unhappiness we have long labour'd under, to wit;

A Debasing of the true Value of MORALITY under pretence of Higher Things, mistaking the very End of Christ's Coming.

By MORALITY I understand Vertuous Living, Purity of Manners, that Justice, Temperance, Truth, Charity and Blamelesness in Conversation, which Page  117 may well Denominate the Man that lives that Life, a MAN JUST; in short, one that does unto all men, as he would have all Men do unto him, this is the Moral Man. It is Notorious, how small an Estimate Two sorts of people have put upon him, the Prophane and the Pro∣fessors (the Publican and the Pharisee:) The First de∣spise him as too Squeamish, Nice and Formal, they de∣ride his Regularity and make a Jest of his Preciseness. And thinking No Man can be good, because they are Nought; and that all must needs fall by those Temp∣tations they will not resist; they construe Sobriety to be a Trick to decoy Mankind, and put a Cheat upon the World. If they hear any one say, Such a Man is a Sober and Just Person, They have learned by them∣selves to call him Knave; that he has a Design upon some body by being Just in little things, to Cheat in things of more Moment. This Man is very Unfashi∣onable among Men of Immoral Principles, for his very Looks and Life carry a Reproof with them upon Vitious Men, who, as if Virtue were their Common E∣nemy, are in Combination against the Lovers and En∣tertainers of her. Because such true Virtuos will nei∣ther do the Ill things, they would have them, nor flatter them in the Ills they do; and therefore where Ill Men have the Power, Good Men are sure to be made the Common Enemy.

But the Reproaches that Men of Morality receive at the Hands of Lewd Men, are more their Honour than their Suffering. But that which is most of all Anxious, is that Morality is denyed to be Christianity; that Virtue has any Claim to Grace, and that those, who glory to be called Christians, can be so Partial Page  118 and Cruel, as to renounce a meer Just Man their So∣ciety, and send him preaching among the Heathen for Damnation. And pray, what's the Matter? Why! though this Person be a sober Liver, yet he is but a Gene∣ral Believer; his Faith is at large: 'Tis true, he believes in God. but I hear little of his Faith in Christ. Very well: Does he not therefore believe in Christ? or must he therefore be without the Pale of Salvation? Is it possible that a Man can truly believe in God and be dam∣ned? But as he that believes in Christ, believes in God, so he that believes in God, believes in Christ: For he that believes on him, that raised up Jesus from the Dead, his Faith shall be imputed to*him for Righteousness. And says Christ himself; He that believeth my Word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath Ever∣lasting*Life: Has he that believes in God, no Interest in this Expression? But more particular is that place of the Apostle to the Hebrews, viz. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is,*and that he is a Diligent Rewarder of them that seek him. Now. if those who so beliee, can come to God, the Moral Man's Condition is not Dangerous even in the strictest sense of the Word, not only such as have a General Faith of Christianity, and never adhered to any particular Party (a Sense, we shall anon consider) but even those, who never heard the History of Christ, nor had a distinct Knowledge of him, as we profess him.

For it seems a most-unreasonable thing, that Faith in God and keeping his Commandments should be no Part of the Christian Religion: but if a Part it be (as Page  119 upon serious Reflection who dare deny it?) then those before and since Christ's time, who never had the External Law nor History, yet have done the things contained in the Law, their Consciences not Accusing nor Hearts Condemning, but excusing them before God, are in some degree concern'd in the Character of a true Chri∣stian. For Christ himself preach'd and kept his Fa∣ther's Commandments; he came to fulfil and not to destroy the Law; and that not only in his * own Person, but that the Righteousness of the Law might be also fulfilled in us.

Let us but soberly consider, What Christ is? and we shall the better know, whether Moral Men are to be reckoned Christians? What is Christ but Meekness, Justice, Mercy, Patience, Charity and Virtue in Perfe∣ction? can we then deny a Meek Man to be a Christian? a Just, a Merciful, a Patient, a Charitable and a Virtuous Man to be like Christ? By me Kings reign, and Princes decree Justice, saith Wisdom, yea, the Wisdom that is from above (see Prov. 8. 15.) so may I say here; By Christ men are Meek, Just, Merciful, Patient, Charitable and Virtuous. And Christians ought to be distinguish∣ed by their likeness to Christ and not their Notions of Christ, by his Holy Qualifications, rather than their own Lofty Professions and Invented Formalities. What shall we say then of that Extravagancy, which those Men are guilty of, who upon hearing a sober Man commended, that is not of any great Visible Pro∣fession, will take upon them to cast him off with this Sentence; Tush! he is but a Moral Man: he knows no∣thing of saving Grace; be may be damn'd for all his Mo∣rality. Nay, some have gone so far, as to say and Page  120 preach (if not Print) That there are Thousands of Moral Men in Hell.

But 'tis worth our while to consider, that he that sins, is not saved by Grace in that state, and that the Virtuous Man is the Gracious Man: for 'tis the Nature and End of true Grace, to make Men so. Unanswer∣able is that Passage of the Apostle, (to the Romans) Therefore if the Uncircumcision keep the Righteousness of the Law, shall not his Un∣circumcision *be counted for Circumci∣sion? and shall not Uncircumcision which is by Nature, if it fulfill the Law, judge thee, who by the Letter and Circumcision dost transgress the Law? For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly, neither is that Circumision, which is outward in the Flesh; but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly, and Circumcision is that of the Heart, in the Spirit, and not in the Letter, whose praise is not of Men, but of God. So that he that keeps the Law of God and abstains from the Impurity of the World, that is the good Man, the Just Liver; he is the Apo∣stle's true Jew and Circumcision.

Wherefore it is not Ill exprest by that extraordinary Man J. Hales of Eton:

The Moral Man (says he) is a Christian by the surer Side, that is, Speculations may fail, Notions be mistaken, Forms wither; but Truth and Righteousness will stand the Test: the Man that loves them, will not be moved.
He tells us, That the Fathers had that Opinion of the Sincerity of the Life of some Hea∣thens, that they believed, God had in Store for such his (even Saving) Grace, and that he would make them Pos∣sessors of his Everlasting Kingdom. And measuring their Satisfaction by the Pleasure I took in reading, Page  121 what the Author both quotes and Comments upon this Subject, I will venture to transcribe him at large, Viz.

Let it not trouble you, (saith he) that I intitle them to some part of our Chri∣stian*Faith, & therefore with∣out Scruple to be received as Weak, and not to be cast forth as Dead. Salvianus disputing What Faith is; Quid est igitur Credulit as vel Fides? (saith he) Opinor fideliter hominem Christo credere, id est, Fidelem Deo esse, hoc est, Fideliter Dei mandata servare. What might this Faith be? (saith he) I suppose, it is nothing else, but Faithfully to believe Christ; and this is to be Faithful unto God; which is nothing else, but Faithfully to keep the Command∣ments of God. Not therefore only a bare Belief, but the Fidelity and Trustiness of God's Servants faith∣fully accomplishing the Will of our Master, is re∣quired as a part of our Christian Faith.

Now, all those good things, which Moral Men by the Light of Nature do, are a part of God's Will written in their Hearts: wherefore so far as they were Conscientious in performing them (if Salvia∣nus his Reason be good;) so far have they Title and Interest in our Faith. And therefore Regulus that Famous Roman, when he endured infinite Torments, rather than he would break his Oath, may thus far be counted a Martyr and Witness for the Truth. For the Crown of Martyrdom sits not only on the Heads of those, who have lost their Lives, Page  122 rather than they would cease to profess the Name of Christ; but on the Head of every one that suffers for the Testimony of a good Conscience and for Righte∣ousness sake.

And here I cannot pass by one very General gross Mistaking of our Age. For in our Discourses con∣cerning the Notes of a Christian Man, by what Signs we may know a Man to be one of the Visible Company of Christ; we have so tied our selves tothis outward Profession, that if we know no other Virtue in a Man, but that he hath Cond his Creed by heart, let his Life be never so prophane, we think it Argu∣ment enough for us to account him within the Pale and Circuit of the Church. On the Contrary side, let his Life be never so Upright, if either he be little seen in, or peradventure quite ignorant of the Myste∣ry of Christ, we esteem of him but as dead. And those, who conceive well of those Moral good things, as of some Tokens giving Hope of Life, we account but as a kind of Manohees, who thought, the very Earth had Life in it. I must confess, that I have not yet made that Proficiency in the Schools of our Age, as that I could see, why the Second Table and the Acts of it are not as properly the parts of Religi∣on and Christianity, as the Acts and Observations of the First? If I mistake, than it is St. James that hath abus'd me: for he describing Religion by its proper Acts, tells us, that True Religion and unde∣filed before God and the Father, is, to visit the Father∣less and the Widow in their Affliction, and to keep him∣self unspotted of the World. So that the thing which in an Especial refine Dialect of the New Christian Page  123 Language signifies nothing but Morality and Civility, that in the Language of the holy Ghost imports True Religion. Thus far J. Hales.

He hath said so much on this Account, that there is little need, I should say any more; yet give me leave to add: Did Men mind the Language of the Holy Ghost more than their own Conceits, they would not Stile those Moral Men in a way of Disgrace, that are not of their Forms; it would suffice, That those, that fear God and work*Righteousness, in all Nations are accepted of him; That Christ himself hath said, He that doth the Will of my Father, which is in Heaven, shall enter in∣to the Kingdom of Heaven; and of them that work Iniquity, Depart from me, I know you not.

My Friends, let us not deceive our selves, God will not be mocked; Such as we sow, we shall certainly reap. The Tree is known by its Fruits, and will be Judg'd according to its Fruits: The Wages of Sin is*Death, Men will find it so: and every Man shall receive his Reward sutable to his Work. For People to talk of Special Grace, and yet be carried away by Common Temptations, it is Provoking to God: but to conceit, that the Righteous God will Indulge his people in that Latitude, which he condemns in other Men, is Abominable. 'Tis Sanctification, that makes the Saint; and Self-Denyal, that constitutes the Christi∣an; and not filling our Heads and Elevating our Fan∣cies by applying those Promises to our selves, which as yet we have no Interest in, though we may think they belong to no body else: this Spiritual Flattery of our selves is most pernicious. I cannot but say with Page  114 the Apostle, 'Tis neither Circumcision nor Uncircumcision, Jew nor Gentile (this nor * t'other thing) but the New Creature crea∣ted after Christ Jesus in Holiness: for with∣out Holiness no Man shall ever see the Lord. And what is Holiness, but Abstaining from Wickedness? and what's that, but keeping the Law of God? Great Peace have they, that love thy Law, said *David, that had known the Trouble of Breaking it; Therefore it is, that Grace and Truth is come by Jesus Christ, to help us to fulfill the Law, not to Excuse our Disobedience of the Law: And * what before we were Unable, this gives us Force to do. So that Christianity is not an Indulgence of people under Weakness and Disobedience, but the Compleating and Perfection of that Righteousness, which without him was but Short and Imperfect, through that Grace and Power that came by Jesus Christ.

Give me leave, I beseech you, for I have a Godly Jealousy upon me; I fear, lest the very End of Christs Coming is Mistaken: And of how Dreadful a Conse∣quence such a Mistake would be, you cannot possibly be Ignorant that believe, there is No Salvation in an∣other Name. Let us hear the Testimony of Scripture: They are the Words of Christ himself; I must*peach the Kingdom of God, for therefore am I sent. Now, what is this Kingdom of God, but God's Government? and where is this Kingdom and Government to be set up, Christ also tells us; Behold the Kingdom of God is within you.* So that the Reason of this being sent, is to destroy the Page  125 Kingdom and Government of the Devil, the Strong Man, that kept the House, the Heart, and to erect and establish the Kingdom and Government of God in the Soul. Thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done:* Would to God, people would but consider what they Pray for! For they are scandal'd at the thing they ask, and both neglect and revile the Sub∣stance of their own Prayers, Thy Kingdom come, and thy Will be done; but believe neither. It was the Office God designed his Son to. The Thief* (says Christ) does not come, but to kill, to steal and to destroy: That is; To steal away the Heart from God, and to kill and to destroy all Good Desires and Inclinations in the Soul: for the Devil is this Thief and Destroyer. But I am come, says Christ, that they might have Life, and that they might have it more abun∣dantly. O Death, 〈◊〉 will be thy Death; as if he had said, I will kill that, which kill'd the Soul. I will breath the Breath of Life into it again; and by my Spirit and Grace I will beget Holy Motions and kindle Heavenly Desires in it after God, after the Kingdom of God, and the Righteousness thereof: This is the Newness of Life. And I will not only restore that Life the Soul has lost; but I will encrease it: I will add to it, that it may have Life more abundantly.

Indeed he was Anointed of God for this Purpose, and is therefore called the Restorer of Paths, the Re∣pairer of Breaches and the Builder up of Waste Places; that is, he is ordained of God for the Recovery of Man from his Fallen and Disobedient State. This is the Rea∣son of his Name: Thou shalt call his Name* Jesus (said the Angel) for he shall save his Page  126 People from their Sins: Not from Wrath only, but from Sin, which is the Cause of Wrath. That is; Of Bad Men he will make them really good Men, and of Sin∣ful and Unholy he will make them Holy and Righte∣ous Men, who truly believe in him. This is the Bur∣den of John's Testimony: There is one (says he) that cometh after me, is mightier than I,*he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with Fire; whose Fan is in his hand, & he will THROUGH∣LY PURGE his Floor. And seeing Jesus coming to him, said, Behold the Lamb of*God, which TAKETH AWAY the SIN of the World.

I know the Use, that too many make of these Scrip∣tures, as if they were an Hebraism borrow'd from the Old Sacrifices: which may be said, To take away Sin by taking away the Guilt; and not, that the Natures of Men are restored and perfected. And indeed, this is that Sense, which I dread above all others; because it perverts the End of Christs Coming, and lodges Men in a Security pernitious to their own Souls. For though it is most true, that Remission of Sins was and is preached in his Name and * Blood, and that Sin in a Sense may be said to be Taken away, when the Guilt of the Sins is removed by Remission; yet this is only of Sis past, that upon Repentance are forgiven: But this is not the Whole, Full and Evangelical Sense, as Christ's own words do plainly import. For (says he) the Son of Man is come to save that which was Lost: * And upon another Occasion he expresseth himself to the same purpose, and almost in the same words, For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that Page  127 which was Lost. Now, who is this that is Lost, but Man? and in what Sense can Man be said to be Lost, but by Sin and Disobedience? that which cast him out of the Presence and Garden of God, and put him in a Con∣dition of Eternal Misery. If Christ then came to Save Lost Man, he must be understood to Save him from that, which puts him into a Lost Condition, that is Sin; for The Wages of Sin is Death, and the Servant of Sin is a Son of Perdition.

Christ has determin'd this Point beyond all Excep∣tion in his Discourse with the Jews (John 8. 31, 32, 33, 34.) Then said Jesus to those Jews, which believed vn him, if ye continue in my Word, then are ye my Disci∣ples indeed; and ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you Free. What Freedom was this? Cer∣tainly from Sin; sutable to that passage in * his Prayer: Sanctify them through thy Truth, thy Word is Truth. But some Jews present, proud of their Priviledges, apprehended not the Liberty Christ spoke of; and therefore answer'd him thus: We are Abraham's Seed, and were never in Bondage to any Man; how sayest thou, Ye shall be made Free? Jesus an∣swered them; Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoe∣ver committeth Sin, is the Servant of Sin. In which place it is very remarkable that Men are only to be distinguish'd by their Works, that no Claims, Privi∣ledges, Successions or Dissents are available; but He that commits Sin, is the Servant of Sin. So that Christ's Free Man is he that is Freed from Sin; this is his Fol∣lower and Disciple. And as Christ oppos'd the Works of the Jews, (who unjustly sought to kill him) to their Pretensions they made to Abraham's Seed; so Page  128 must we oppose the Actions of Ill Men to their better Professions: we must faithfully tell them; He that com∣mits Sin, is the Servant of Sin. From which Servi∣tude Christ came to Save his people, and is therefore called The SAVIOUR and the REDEEMER.

This Doctrine is closely followed by the Apostle Paul in his sixth Chapter to the Romans. Therefore we are buried with him by Baptism into Death, that like as Christ was raised up from the Dead by the*Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in Newness of Life—Knwing this, that our Old Man is crucified with him, that the Body of Sin might be destroyed: that henceforth we should not serve Sin.—Likewise reckon ye also your selves to be Dead indeed unto Sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. As if he had said; The End of Christs Coming is to turn People from their Sins; and that those, who persist in their Disobedience, resist the Benefits, that come by him.

Let not Sin therefore reign in your mortal Body, that ye should obey it in the Lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your Members as Instruments of Unrighteousness unto Sin; but yield your selves unto God, as those that are Alive from the Dead, and your Members*as Instruments of Righteousness unto God.—Know ye not, that to whom ye yield your selves Servants to obey his Servants ye are to whom ye o∣bey; whether of Sin unto Death, or of Obedience unto Righteousness.—For when ye were the Servants of Sin, ye were free from Righteousness. What Fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? for the End of those things is Death. But now being made Free Page  129 from Sin, and become Servants to God, ye have your FRUIT UNTO HOLINESS, and the End Ever∣lasting Life. For the Wages of Sin is Death; but the Gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

To Conclude, nothing can be more apparent, then that Freedom from Actual Sinning, and giving Newness of Life to the Souls of Men, was the great Reason of Christs Coming, and the End for which he hath given us out of his fulness of Grace and Truth, and Grace for Grace, and that to be under Grace and not under the Law, is not to have Liberty to do that now, which ought not to have been done before (as the Ranters in∣terpret it;) but to be Freed from the Condemnation of the Law, First through Remission of the Sins that are past upon Faith and Repentance, and next, by Fulfil∣ling the Righteousness of the Law, in receiving and obey∣ing the Light and Grace that comes by Jesus Christ.

Very pertinent is that Passage of the Apostle Paul (to Titus) to our present purpose, for it seems to comprehend the End of Christ's Coming, the Faith and Duty of his people; which our Great Selden after all his Painful Readings and Curious Inquisitions said but a little before his Death, was the Most-Weighty Passage of the whole Bible to him, as the Bible was the best of Books in the World, viz: For the Grace of* God, that bringeth Salvation, hath appeared to all Men, teaching us, that denying Ungod∣liness and Worldly Lusts we should live Soberly, Righteous∣ly and Godly in this present World, looing for that Blessed Hope, and the Glorious Appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that Page  130 he might redeem us from ALL INIQUITY, and puri∣fy unto himself a peculiar people Zealous of Good Works.

In which Comprehensive Passage we find the End of Christ's Coming to be Our Redemption from all Iniqui∣quity, both to blot out our Sins that are past, & to puri∣fy our Hearts from the Sin that remains. We have the means that works and brings this Salvation into our Souls, which is the Grace, and the Way, by which this Grace doth accomplish it, is by Teaching us to deny Ungodliness and Worldly Lusts, and to live Soberly, Righ∣teously and Godly in this present World. Which has this great Encouragement joyned to it, that those who so live, have only right to look for that blessed Hope and the glorious Appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

I will add the Testimony of his Beloved Disciple John, who has defined to us the End of Christ's Coming thus: Whosoever committeth Sin, Trans∣gresseth also the Law; and ye Know, that*he was manifested to take away our Sins. And to shew that this is understood not only of the Guilt of Sins past, but of the Nature and present Power of Sin in Man, observe what follows; Whosoever abideth in him (Christ) SINNETH NOT. As if this Apostle had foreseen the present Mischief Christianity labours under both on the side of Evil Men and but too many Mistaken Professors, he adds; Lit∣tle Children, let no Man deceive you: he that doth Righ∣teousness is Righteous, even as he is Righteous; he that committeth Sin is of the Devil, for the Devil sinned from the Beginning [Now comes his most express Pas∣sage to the Matter in hand] For this purpose the Son ofPage  131 God was manifested, that he might DESTROY the Works of the Devil: Which is more than the Remission of Sins that are past; here is the DESTRUCTION of the Power and Kingdom of Satan. They that know not this, know not Christ: for as we, so our Lord is known by his Fruits, by the Works which he works in us; therefore it is said, that His own Works praise him.

He therefore that lives in Sin, denyes Christ by de∣nying the End of his Coming: The Fool did not say with his Mouth, but in his Heart, There is no God; yet but too many now adays plead with their Tongues and Pens, for Sin Term of Life by endea∣vouring to shew the Impossibility of overcoming Sin. But what saith this Apostle further of the Business? Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit Sin: In this the Children of God are manifest and the Children of the Devil, whosoever doth not Righteousness, is not of God; neither he that loveth not his Brother. But if*you walk in the Light, as God is in the Light, we have fellowship one with another, and the Blood of Je∣sus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all Sin. Again: He that saith, he abideth in Christ, ought*himself also so to walk, even as Christ walked. A little lower in the same Chapter he says: I have written unto you Young Men, because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have OVER∣COME the Wicked One.

I will add one Scripture-Testimony more in the present Case, and it is this: Herein (saith *John) is our Love made perfect, that we may Page  132 have Boldness in the Day of Judgment, because as he is, so are we in this World.

Behold now the true End of Christ's Coming, viz. To SAVE FROM SIN and to purge us from all Iniquity; that he might present us to God without Spot or Blemish. Let us not then Flatter our selves, for we shall be the Loosers: neither let us make the Impossibility through our Infidelity, which a Grain of Sincere Faith can make not only Possible but Easie: What has been, may be again, nay, in this Case must be: Did the First Christians overcome the VVick∣ed one? so must the Last Christians too: were those Ages led by the Holy Spirit and taught by the Grace of God to live God-like, or like God in the World? so must we of these Latter Ages too, if we will be bles∣sed forever; that having put off the Old Man, the Devil and his Works; we may put on Christ the new and heavenly Man, the second Adam, with his Holy Life and Works, so shall the Fruits of his Spirit shine through us, which are Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Patience, Gentleness,*Faith, Meekness, Temperance; for they that are Christ's have Crucified the Flesh, with the Affections and Lusts: They hear his Voice that leads them out of the Concupiscencies * of this Vile World, and they follow him, and he gives unto them Eternal Life, and a Stranger they will not follow: The World, the Flesh and the Devil make up this Stranger, and those that are carried away by this Stranger are in an Unreconciled State to God, and so dying must inevitably perish. VVell, then Page  133 will be true Christians? Have we Faith, then let us take the Advice of that good man *Peter; Let us add to our Faith Virtue, and to Virtue Knowledge, and to Knowledge Tem∣perance, and to Temperance Patience, and to Patience Godliness, and to Godliness Brotherly-Kindness, and to Brotherly-Kindness Charity: For says he, if these things be in you and abound, they make you, that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was pur∣ged from his Old Sins. Wherefore the rather Brethren, give Diligence, to make your Calling and Election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. For so an Entrance shall be ministred unto you abundantly into the Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Fourth Great Ecclesiastical Evil, is Preferring HUMANE AUTHORITY above Reason and Truth.

This & the next Evil (which is the Last now to be considered, to wit, Propagation of Faith by Force, Re∣ligion by Arms) are the Two Legs, upon which the false Church hath in all Ages, under this degeneracy we find the Jewish Church at Christ's coming, and he complains of it, Ye teach for Doctrines the Traditions of men, ye seek to kill me, a man that has told you the Truth: But I challenge the whole Account of Time and Re∣cords of the World, which are come to the hands of this Age, to tell me, When, where and by whom these Page  134 Principles have been receiv'd, improv'd and us'd with any sort of Proportion or Comparison, with the Practice of that Church, which has long prided her self with the Name of Catholick and Christian. And yet I could wish nothing of these Two Ill Principles had found any place amongst us, that call our selves Pro∣testants; for to them are properly owing most of that Ignorance Superstition, Idolatry, Animosity, Persecution and Blood-shed that have been among Christians, since the Christian Profession hath grown to any Power in the World. I shall consider them severally (respecting us) and in their due Order, with as much Brevity, as well I can.

That Humane Authority hath been preferred above Reason and Truth, that is, That the Apprehensions, Interpretations, Conclusions and Injunctions of Men have been reputed the great Necessaries or Essentials to Salvation and Christian. Commion, insomuch as a Sober and Reasonable Dissent hath been too often over-rul'd not by VVeight of Argument or Evidence of Truth, but by the Power and Numbers of Men in Ecclesiastical Office and Dignity, is (that I may say Modestly) in some Degree true among us. The First Church Evil reprehended in this Discourse, may begin the Proof, and give the first Witness upon this part of the Charge, viz. That OPINIONS have been ma•• ARTICLES of Faith, that is, the CON∣STRUCTIONS and CONCLUSIONS of MEN from Sacred VVrit, and not the TEXT it self have been injoyn'd & impos'd as ESSENTIAL to Eternal Salvation and External Christian Communion. Insomuch as no Reason, Scripture or purest Antiquity have suffer'd to Page  135 prevail against such Determinations, and too often not enough to excuse those, that have pleaded for a Conscientious Dissent from them; the Authors of them either resting upon the Authority of their own Judg∣ments, or conforming themselves to the Example of Ages less pure and clear.

I Conscientiously refuse to name Parties, because I am tender of giving the least Offence; but upon a Just Observance of those Revolutions of Protestancy, that have been amongst us, we may see, with what Stiffness (not to say Obstinacy) several Models of Reli∣gion and Draughts of Creeds have been contended for. I would beseech every Party in Christ's Name to look into it self, for I don't, because such are best able (if they will be Impartial and put no Cheat upon themselves) to make the Application. However I will name those Points, about which the Authority of Man as it seems to me has been so Positive of God, as to his Prescience and Predetermination; Of Christ, as to his Natures and Personality, and the Extent of his Death and Intercession; Of Free Will and Grace; Of Faith and Works; Of Perseverance and Falling away; Of the Nature of the Church; And Lastly, of the Dig∣nity and Power of the Clergy.

And if men please but to lay their Hands upon their Hearts, and cast their Eyes upon the Scriptures, if they will but use the Light that God has afforded them, and bring such Debates and Results to the Test of that Light and the Sound Form of Words, the Holy Ghost hath preserv'd amongst us; I need not take the Employment upon me of pointing to Humane Autho∣rity among the several Parties of Protestants as to these Page  136 points; nothing will be clearer. For it is about the Meaning of this and the Intention of that place of Scripture the Contest hath been and is; and how to maintain and propagate those Conceits; So that the falling out is in the Wood of our own Opinions, and there the Contention is kindled, that consumes all about our Ears. O that we would be but impartial and see our over-plus to the Scriptures, and retrench that redancy or keep it modestly! for 'tis an horrid thing that we Protestants should assume a Power of ranging our apprehensions with the Text, and in∣joining our Imaginations for Indispensible Articles of Faith and Christian Communion.

But the next proof of the prevalency of Humane Au∣thority amongst us Protestants is The great Power and Sway of the Clergy, and the Peoples Reliance upon them for the Knowledge of Religion, and the Way of Life and Salvation. This is such plain Fact, that almost every Parish proves it. Is not Prophecy (once the Church's) now engrost by them and wholly in their hands? Who dare publickly preach or pray, that is not of that Class or Order? Have not they only the Keys in keeping? May any body else pretend to the Power of Absolution or Excommunication? muchless to constitute Ministers? Are not all Church Rites and Pri∣viledges in their Custody? don't they make it their proper Inheritance? Nay, so much larger is their Em∣pire then Caesars, that only they begin with Births and end with Burials: Men must pay them for Coming in and Going out of the World. To pay for dying is hard! Thus their Profits run to the Grave, and that which is Page  137 the Loss of others, is their Gain, and a part of their Revenue.

'Tis of this great Order and Sept of Men only, that all Synods and Convocations are (of modern Ages) compounded; and what they determin, is called the Canons or Decrees of the Church; though Alas! they be only to Obey, what they Ordain; giving us there∣by to understand, that they want the Authority of her Name, where they deny her to have a part, or to be present.

But they have not only been the Usual Starters of new Opinions, and the great Creed-Makers among Christians, but the Sway they have with the People, makes them so Considerable an Interest in the Eyes of the Civil Magistrate, that he often finds it not for his Ends to disobliege them. Upon this it is, we see them so Successful in their Solicitations of Publick Au∣thority to give its Sanction to their Opinions and Forms; and not only recommend them (which goes certain∣ly a great way with the People) but impose the Re∣ception of them, and that on severe Penalties; in so much, that either men must offer up their understand∣ings to their Fears, and dissemble Conviction to be safe, or perish; there is no medium. Something of this lies near us: God Almighty open our Eyes to see both the Truth and Mischief of this thing.

But what shall I say of that Implicit Reverence the people have for the Clergy and dependence upon them about Religion and Salvation, as if they were the only Trustees of Truth, and high Treasurers of Divine Knowledge to the Laity: and we daily see, that the blind Opinion they have of their Office (as that which Page  138 is peculiar to that order and not common to Christi∣ans, be their Gifts as they will) disposes them to re∣ly entirely upon their Performances. The Minister is Chooser and Taster and every thing for them: They seem to have deliver'd up their Spiritual SELVES, and made over the business of Religion, the Rights of their Souls to their Pastor, and that scarcely with any Limitation of Trust too: and as if he were, or could be their Garante in t'other World, they become very insolicitous of any further Search. So that if we would examine the respective Parishes of Protestant as well as Popish Countries, we shall find (and it is come to that sad pass) that very few have any other Religion then the Tradition of their Priest: They have given up their Judgment to him, and seem greatly at their Ease, that they have discharged themselves of the Trouble of Working out their own Salvation and Pro∣ving all things, that they might hold fast that which is good. And in the room of that care bequeath'd the charge of those Affairs to a Standing Pensioner for the purpose.

Thus the Clergy are become a sort of Mediators be∣twixt Christ and us, that as we must go to God by Christ, so must we come to Christ by them; they must be, it seems, like the high Priests under the Law, that only enter'd into the Holy of Holies; whose Lips pre∣served Knowledge: and by whom we must understand a Divine Oracle. As if the Mysteries of Salvation are not to be intrusted with the Vulgar; or that it were a kind of Prophanation to expose them to their View: and the only way to make them cheap and contemptible to suffer Every Christian to have the keeping of them: Page  139 (though they belong to every Christian.) But this Lan∣guage (thanks be to God) is that of humane Authority, that would magnify the Mysteries of Salvation by the Ignornce of those, that should know them, as if the Gospel-dispensation were not that of a full Age, but In∣fancy or Minority.

'Tis true, the State of people under the Law and the Levitical Priest-hood is called a Bondage, Childhood and Minority, and the Law thereof is term'd a *School master to bring to Christ; but it is as true, that the State of Christianity is reputed the Age of grace, freedom, manhood and Inheritance by the same Apostle. And that we should have external Guardians of our Faith and Religion upon us after we are come to Years of Discretion, that might be very al∣lowable under the mbroil Age of our Minority, is not to obtain greater Freedom, but to make our Case worse. For it is more tolerable to be used as Children when we are Children, and know nothing above that Condition, then when riper Years have brought us to the Understanding and Resentment of Men. But it is almost as unpardonable as it is unsufferable, to make that Infancy the Perfution of the Christian-Religion, as if there were nothing beyond wearing a Bib and being fed, carried and govern'd as Nurses please; that is, as the Priests will. It is a Knowing and Reasonable, and not a blind Obedience, that commends a Man; Children should be ruled, because they have no Understanding or Choice; but because 'tis not so with Men, Reason ought to conduct them in their Duty, that the Ser∣vice they perform to God may be such, as the Apostle calls, a Reasonable one: The Will is no longer Will if Page  140 not Free, nor Conscience to be reputed Conscience, where compell'd. The Gospel is not the time of Ceremonial Works but Faith, therefore not Coercive, because out of our own power; it is the Gift of God.

But though this be very unhappy, that so excellent a Reformation, founded upon the freest Principles of Inquiry, common to all-that had Souls to save, should so miserably degenerate into Formality and Ig∣norance, Implicit Faith and blind Obedience; yet that part of our History is most lamentable to me, where we find the Noble Bereans, the diligent Inquirers, People that desire to prove all things, that they may hold fast that which is good, such as would see with their own Eyes, and that dare not transfer the right of Examination to any mortal man, but who desire to make their Faith and Religion, the Faith and Religion of their Conscience and Judgment, that on which they dare depend and rest their eternal Happiness in the Day of Judgment, that, these I say, should instead of being cherisht, be therefore exposed to the Displea∣sure of the Clergy, the Scorn of the Rude Multitude, and the Prosecution of the Civil Magistrate: this I confess is very anxious to remember, and I only do it for this purpose, that it may put us in mind of our great De∣clension from Primitive Protestancy, and how much Humane Authority has crept into the Affairs of Religi∣on since that time of the day, when we made it a prime Article of our Protestant Creed to eject and re∣nounce it. And that you may yet see your selves short of your own Pretences, if not contrary to your express Principles, and how much you have narrow 〈◊〉 your selves from the use of your First Principles.

Page  141 Suppose a Turk be convinced, that Christ is that, which he believed Mahomet to be, the Greatest of all Prophets, That Mahomet was an Impostor, That Je∣sus is the only Saviour and Mediator; but being Ca∣techistically taught the Two Natures in one Person (the Hypostatical Union) in fine, the Athanasian Creed and other Articles of Faith, or Rites of your Church not so clearly express'd in Scriptures, and not easie to be apprehended or assented to, will not this poor Creature be look'd upon either as Infidel or Here∣tick? renounced all share in Christ and Christian Fellowship, because his Weakness or Understanding will not allow him to come up to the full Inventory of Articles believed and imposed by you? Certain∣ly you must either be partial, and give him that Li∣berty you deny to Persons of equl Tenderness, or else you mustafter your present streightness conclude him Infidel or Heretick. But I would beseech you that we may consider if this bears any Proportion with the Wisdom and Love of God, in sending Christ into the World to save you and me?

The Apostle became All unto all to win some; but this is becoming All unto none, to force all: he thereby recommends the Utmost Condescention that can be law∣ful; but this use of Humane Authority about Faith seems to make it unlawful to Condescend: As if Force were better than Love, and Conformity (how ever it become at it) than Christian Condescention.

The Blessed Apostle had his Eye to the Good In∣tention and Sober Life of the Weak; and used an holy sort of Guile to catch them: he seems, as if he •…ssembled the Knowledge of those Averse OpinionsPage  142 which they held, or the necessity of their embracing those Doctrines, which as yet they might not believe. He fell not to Debate and Canvass Points in Diffe∣rence between them, which instead of Union would have enflam'd the Difference and rais'd Contention; No, no: He became all unto all, that is, He stoop'd to all Capacities, and humbled himself to those De∣grees of Knowledge that men had, and valued that which was good in all; and with this Sweetness he practised upon them to their further proficiency in the School of Christ. These Allurements were all his Injunctions, nay, in this Case he makes it an In∣junction to use no other: Let us therefore (says he) as many as be perfect be thus minded;*and if in any thing ye be OTHERWISE mind∣ed, God shall reveal even this unto you. You shall not be impos'd upon, stigmatiz'd or excommunicated for Want of Full Satisfaction, or because you do not Con∣sent before Conviction; for God shall REVEAL it to you; you shall see and know what you do, and to God you shall owe your Knowledge and Conformity, and not to Humane Authority and Imposition: your Faith shall not be implicit, nor your Obedience blind, the Reason of your Hope shall be in you.

Pray let us compare this with the Language of our own Times; where People cannot come up to the Prescriptions of men, but plead the Liberty of Dissent (though with never so much Sobriety and true Ten∣derness of Conscience) they are upbraided after this manner, Are you Wiser than your Superiours? Were our Fore-Fathers out of the Way? Did no body know the Truth till you came? Are you Wiser than all our Ministers andPage  143 Bishops and your Mother the Church? Can't it content you to believe as she believes? Is not this Pride and Presumption in you, a Design to make and head Sects and Parties? with the like Entertainment.

Now this is that which you your selves, at least in the Persons of your Ancestors have stiled POPE∣RY; yea, POPERY in the abstract, the Sum-Total of that Mystery its great Master piece, to wit, IM∣PLICIT FAITH and BLIND OBEDIENCE: If so? then say I, let us also have a care of Popry in Protestant guise, for that Popery is likely to do us most Injury that is least suspected. I beg you by the Love of God and Truth, and as you would lay a sure Foun∣dation Piece here, and eternal Comfort to your own Souls, that you would consider the Tendency of upbraiding and violently over ruling the Dissent of Conscientious and Peaceable People: For if you will Rob me once of the Liberty of my Choice, the Use of my Understanding, the Distinction of my Judgment, no Religion comes amiss; inded it leads to No Religion. 'Twas the Saying of the Old King to the then Prince of Wales and our present King; Make the Religion of your Education the Religion of your Judgment: which to me is of the Nature of an Ap∣peal from his Education to his Judgment about the Truth of his Religion: And that Religion, which is too tender to be examin'd is unsound. Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good, lies an Impeachment against Imposition, deliver'd upon Record by the A∣postle Paul in the Name of the Holy Ghst. 'Twas the same Apostle, that commended the Bereans of Old, for that they diligently searched the Scriptures, whethr Page  144 those things delivered by the Apostles concerning the Messiah, were true.

Nay, Christ himself to whom all power was given in Heaven and in Earth, submitted himself to the Test: he did not require them to believe him, be∣cause he would be believed; he refers them to the Witness, that God bore to him: If I bear Witness of my self▪ my Witness is not true.* He also sends them to the Scriptures, pleads the Truth of his Authority from that of his Doctrine and Miracles: If I had not done a∣mong them the Works which none other Man*did. And finally challenges them to convince him but of one Sin: Which of you convinceth me of Sin? and if I say the Truth, why do ye*not believe me? He offers to reason the Matter, and submit himself to Truth; and well he might, who was Truth it self.

But an IMPOSING CHURCH bears Wit∣ness of her self, and will be both Party and Judge: it requires Assent without Evidence and Faith without Proof, therefore false; Christian Religion ought to be carried on only by that way by which it was introdu∣ced, which was PERSWASON; If any man will be my Disciple, let him take up his Cross and follow me: and this is the Glory of it, that it does not destroy, but fairly conquer the Understanding.

I am not unacquainted with the Pretences of Roma∣nists to Abegation to a Mortified and Self denying Life; and I do freely acknowledge, that the Au∣thor of the German Theology, Taulerus and Thomas a Kempis, and others of that sort of Men in their Page  145 Communion, have written Excellent Practical Things, but there is scarcely any thing of this Violent Popery in those Tracts: On the contrary, the very Nature and Tendency of them is Diametrically Opposit to the present Constitution of that Church, and all others that practise Imposition in Religion.

And as it is one great Mark of the False Church to pervert the right End of True Doctrine, so hath she excelled in the Abuse of that Excellent Word SELF-DENYAL: For she hath translated it from Life to Understanding, from Morals to Faith, Subjugare intel∣lectum in Obsequium fidei (to subject the Understanding to the Obedience of Faith) is the perpetual Burden of their Song, and Conclusion of their Conferences. But what is this Faith? that which conquers the World and purifies the Heart? by no means. But 'tis to believe that the Church of Rome is the True Church, and the Pope Christ's Vicar, and the Visi∣ble Head of that Church.

So as that Self denyal, which relates to our Wills and Affections in a corrupt State, they apply to the Use of our Understanding about Religion; as if it were the same thing to deny that which we under∣stand and know to be Evil (which is the Christian Self denyal) and to deny that very Knowledge and Un∣derstanding, which is God's Gift and our Honour. Whereas Religion and Reason are so Consistent, as that Religion can neither be understood nor maintain'd without Reason. For if this must be laid aside, I am so far from being Infallibly assured of my Salvati∣on, that I am not capable of any Measure of Good from Evil, Truth from Falshood. Why? I have Page  146 no understanding or use of any, which is the same. All the Disadvantage the Protestant is under in this is that, of his greater Modesty, and that be submits his Belief to be tryed, which the other refuses, under the Pretence of unaccountable Infallibility to that Autho∣rity Reason decides.

So that whereas some people excuse their embra∣cing of that Religion by urging the Certainty that is in it, I do say, 'Tis nothing but Presumption. For a man can never be Certain of that, about which he has not the Liberty of Examining, Understanding or Judging: Confident (I confess) he may be; but that's quite ano∣ther thing than being Certain.

Yet I must never deny, but that every Christian ought to believe as the Church believes, provided the Church be true; but the Question is, Which is that true Church? And when that is answered; as a Man may Unlawfully Execute a Lawful Sentence, so he may falsly believe as the True Church believes; for if I believe, what she believes, only because she be∣lieves it, and not because I am convinced in my Un∣derstanding and Conscience of the Truth of what she believeth, my Faith is false, though hers be true: I say, it is not true to me, I have no Evidence of it.

What is this Church, or Congregation rather (as worthy Tindal every where translates it) but a Com∣pany of People agreed together in the sincere Profession and Obedience of the Gospel of Christ. Now look what In∣ducement they severally had to believe and embrace the Gospel, that we must have to joyn with them: for as they made not one another an infallible Autho∣rity Page  147 to one another, upon which they first embrac'd the Gospel; neither are we to ground our Belief there∣of upon their Authority joyntly; but as they had a Rule to believe and commune, so must we have the same Rule to embrace their Communion. So that that Church cannot be the Rule of my Faith, that have the same Faith and Object for my Faith that she has. I argue thus,

I must believe as the Church believes, that is, I must have the same Faith the Church has; then I must have the same Rule, because the Church can be no more the Rule of that Faith, then she can be that Faith of which some would make her the Rule. If then the Church has Faith, and that Faith a Rule; and that she can no more be the Rule of her own Faith, then she can be that Faith it self; it follows, she can∣not be the Rule of the Faith of her Members, because those Members have the same Faith, and that they in Society are this Church. For that which is the Rule of the Congregation's Faith in general, must reason∣ably be the Rule of every Member's Faith that makes up that Congregation; and consequently of every Member that may hereafter adhere to it. So that to talk of believing as the Church believes; to flowrish upon that Self-denyal and Humility, which takes all upon Trust, and revile those with the bitterest Invectives that are modestly scrupulous, and act the BEREANS; for their Souls (who think that Easiness of Nature and Condescention might be better bestowed, and in this occasion ill-tim'd and dangerous) is to put the Knife to the Throat of Protestancy; and what in them lies to so∣crifice it to implicit Faith and blind Obedience. For it Page  148 cannot be denyed but that the great Foundation of our Protestant Religion is the Divine Authority of the Scriptures from without us, and the Testimony and Illu∣mination of the Holy Spirit within us. Upon this foot the first Reformers stood, and made and maintain'd their Separation from Rome, and freely offered up their innocent Lives in Confirmation. With good Cause therefore it is the general Consent of all found Protestant Writers, That neither Traditions, Councils nor Canons of any visible Church, much less the Edicts of any Civil Session or Jurisdiction, but the Scriptures only, in∣terpeted by the Holy Spirit in us, give the final Deter∣mination in Matters of Religion, and that only in the Conscience of every Christian TO HIMSELF. Which Protestation made by the first publick Reformers a∣gainst the Imperial Edicts of Charles the fifth impo∣sing Church Traditions without Scripture Authori∣ty, gave first beginning to the Name of Prote∣stant, and with that Name hath ever been received this Doctrine, which prefers the divine Authority of the Scripture and Spirit to that of the Church and her Tra∣ditions. And if the Church is not sufficient implicit∣ly to be believed, as we hold it is not, what can there else be named of more force with us, but the Divine Illumination in the Conscience, or Consci∣ence in the best Sense of the Word, then * which God only is greater. But if any man shall pretend that the Scripture judges according to his Conceptions or Conscience for other men, and that they must take their Religious Measures by the Line of his Direction; such a person makes himself greater then either Church, Scripture or Conscience.

Page  149 And, pray, let us consider if in any thing the Pope is by our Protestant Divinity so justly resembled to Antichrist, as in assuming Infallibility over Consci∣ence and Scripture to determine as he thinks fit; and so in effect to give God, Scripture, Magistrates and Conscience the Law. To this they have * without scruple applyed that to the Thessa∣lonians; Sitting in the Temple of God, exalting himself above all that is caled God.

To check this exorbitancy, the Apostle Paul de∣mands, Who art thou that judgest anothers Servant? to his own Lord he stands or falls; which sheweth with great Evidence that Christians of all sizes, great and small, are but Brethren, and consequently all supe∣riority, Lordship and Imposition are excluded; But if there be a Difference 'tis in this, that as Christ taught, He that is greatest, is to be Servant to the rest; but what is more opposite to a Servant then a Lord, and to Service then Injunction and Imposition, and that on Penalties too? Here it is that Christ is only Lord and Lawgiver, who is only King of this inward Kingdom of the Soul: And 'tis to be noted that the Apostle did not write this to a private Brother, or in some special Case, but to the Church, as a General and standing Truth, and therefore now as Authen∣tick and proper as then: And if this be true, I can∣not see how any, or even the most part of the Church, that are still but Brethren to the rest, of one volun∣tary Communion and Profession, can with any shew of Reason impose upon them and escape the Reproof of this Scripture; for all Societies are to govern them∣selves according to their Institution and first Principles Page  150 of Union. Where there is Violence upon this part, Tyranny and not Order is introduced. Now since Per∣swasion and Conviction began all true Christian So∣ciety, all Christian Societies must uphold themselves upon the same free Bottom, or they turn Antichristian. I beseech you here, let us examine our selves faithful∣ly, and I am of belief that something of this will yet appear amongst us, that shew great Reverence to that free Name.

But to make good their unreasonable conceit of Church Authority, they object Christ's Words, GO TELL THE CHURCH, that is, say they, The Church is the Rule and guide of Faith, whatever the Church agrees upon and requires your assent to and Faith in, that you must necessarily believe. But though, as before, 'tis confest in a sense we must believe as the true Church believes, yet not because she so believes, but for the same Reasons that she her self does so believe, because none can truly believe as she believes, but must so do upon the same principles and motives, for which they believ'd that first made up that Christian Church: To talk of being the Rule and Guide in point of Faith, is to contradict Scripture, and justle Christ out of the Office which is peculiar to him and his Spirit; he is given to his Church an Head, that is, a Counsellor, a Ruler, a Judge,* and is called a Lawgiver; and says the Apo∣stle, The Children of God are led by the Spirit of God. And he was Wisdom and Righteousness to the Church A∣postolick, and is so to his own Church all the World over. Besides, 'tis absurd that the Church can be the Rule and Guide of Faith, for as such, she must be Page  151 her own Rule and Guide, the Faith of the Members being that of the Church, which cannot be.

But what then can be the meaning of Christs words, Go tell the Church? Very well. I answer, 'tis not about Faith, but Injury? that Christ speaks, and the place explains it self, which is this: *Moreover, if thy Brother shall TRESPASS a∣gainst thee, go and tell him his fault, be∣tween thee and him alone (here is Wrong, not Religion; Injustice, not Faith or Conscience concerned, as some would have it, to maintain their Church power) if he shall hear thee, thou hast gain'd thy Brother; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three Witnesses every word may be e∣stablished; and if he shall neglect to hear them, TELL IT UNTO THE CHURCH; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an Heathen man and a Publican. Verily I say unto you▪ whatever ye shall bind on Earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on Earth, shall be loosed in Heaven, &c. The matter & manner of which passaged eliver'd by Christ shews that he intended not to set up Church power about Faith and Worship; unto which all must bow, even without, if not against conviction. The word TRES∣PASS and FAULT, prove abundantly that he only means private and personal Injuries, and that not on∣ly from the undeniable signification and use of the word TRESPASS and FAULT, but from the way Christ commands for accommodation, viz. that the person wrong'd do speak to him that commits the Injury alone, if that will not do, that he take one or two with him; but no man can think that if it related to Faith & Page  152Worship, I ought to receive the Judgment of one, or two or three against mine own. This has not been the practice, at least not the principle of the most dege∣nerated Church since the Primitive times; for most, if not all agree, that nothing below the Church can dete∣mine about matters of Faith, and even many with rea∣son cannot go so far: yet Christ seems to fix a blame upon him that complies not with the Person he has offended, but more if he refuse to give satisfaction, af∣ter one or two have also intreated him; therefore it cannot relate to matters of Faith and scruples of Con∣science, but personal and private Injuries: Which is yet clearer from this part of Christ's saying, viz. That in the Mouth of two or three Witnesses every Word may be established. Which Implies a Tryal and Judicial pro∣ceeding as is customary in civil cases, about person∣al and private Trespasses; for it were not so proper to speak of Witnesses on any other account. This is in¦terpreted beyond exception by the Apostle to the Corinthians, where he reproves and * forbids them, to go to Law one with another before Unbe∣lievers, arguing thus, Do you not know that the Saints shall Judge the World, and if the World shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? This shews the meaning of Church Authority is those dayes, and is a natural Exposition upon Christ's words (in case of Trespass and Refractoriness) Tell the Church. And 'tis yet the Practice of all sober, just and quiet People, raher to refer their Contro∣versies to approved men, than to tare one another to pieces at Law.

But it is worth our notice that as any Decision up Page  153 on an arbitration oblieges only the Parties to sit down content with the awardment of such loss or gain as they the Arbitrators think equal (as the next best way to accommodate differences, and not that such awardment should alter their first Thoughts and Opi∣nion they had of their right, or force them to declare they are of the Arbitrators mind.) So is it most un∣reasonable, where the Church is only an Arbitrator about Personal trespasses or umpire at most, to ima∣gine a Power to determine and impose Faith, and that upon severe Penalties as well of this (unto which Christ's Church has no relation) as of the other World; I say, this very thing well weigh'd breaks all their Fallacies to pieces, and decides the business beyond all contradiction between those that stand up∣on the Spirit within and the Scripture without on the one hand, and such as meerly rest upon the Traditions of Men and Authority of the Church on the other hand. For if in an Arbitration I am not bound to be of the Arbitrators mind, though for Peace sake I submit to their Award, and that the Church Power in this place controverted relates only to external and per∣sonal Trespasses, Injuries or Injustices, as the place it self plainly proves, there can be no sense, reason or modesty in the Earth, on the part of those high Church men, who would from hence wring and extort the Power of defining, resolving and imposing upon all people, under temporal and eternal punishment, Articles of Faith and Bonds of Christian Communion.

I Conclude this of the Church with saying, that 'tis not Identity of Opinion, but Justice, not Religious Uni∣formity, but Personal Satisfaction that concerns the text,〈1 page duplicate〉Page  152〈1 page duplicate〉Page  153Page  154 and therefore Reason, sober Conscienc and good Sense may at any time lawful insist upon their claim to be heard in all their Scruples or Exceptions without disrespect to that excellent Doctrine (when rightly understood) Go tell the Church.

To this let me add somthing about this great Word CHURCH. Some men think they are sure enough if they can but get within the pale of the Church that have not yet consider'd what it is. The Word CHURCH, signifies any Assembly, so the Greeks used it; and it is by Worthy Tindal every where translated Congregation. It has a two fold sense in Scripture. The first and most excellent Sense is that, in which she is called the Body and Bride of Christ. In this respect she takes in all Generations, and is made up of the Rege∣nerated, be they in Heaven or on Earth, thus Ephes. 1. 22. 5. 23, to 33. Col. 1. 16, 17. 18. Heb. 12. 22, 23. Rev. 21. 2. Chap. 22. 17. Here Christ only can be Head; this Church is washed from all Sin, not a Spot nor a Wrinkle left; ill men have nothing to do with this Church, within whose pale only is Salva∣tion; nor is this Universal and truly Catholick Church capable of being conveen'd to be told of Wrongs or Trespasses. The other use of that Word in Scripture is alwayes referred to Particular Assemblies and Pla∣ces, that is the Church which by Christ's Doctrine is to be told of Personal Injuries and whose determina∣tion for Peace sake is to be adhear'd to must of ne∣cessity be the adiacent or most contiguous company of Christian Believers, those to whom the Persons in difference are by external Society and Communion re∣lated; and that such private and distinct Assemblies Page  155 are so called the Church, is apparent from the acts and writings of the Apostles the Church of Jerusa∣lem, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Thessalonica, Crete, &c. peruse these places, Acts 5. 11. & 9. 31. & 11. 22, 26. & 14 23, 27. Rom. 16. 5. 1 Cor. 1. 2. & 4. 17. & 14. 4. Rev. 2. & 3. Chap. By which it plainly appears that the Universal visible Church, so much bragg'd of for the Rule and Judge of Faith, &c. is an upstart thing, and like mean Families or ill got Goods, it uses false Heraldry to give it a Title.

For the Apostoilick times, to which all others must vail and by whom they must be tryed, know no such conceit; and the Truth is, it was then first started, when the Pride of one man made him ambitious, and his Power able to bid for Headship, Empire and Sove∣raignity; 'twas then needful to his being Universal head, that he should first have an Universal body. But suppose such a Church there were, 'tis utterly Impos∣sible that such a Church could be called together in anyone place, or at any one time to be told or to deter∣mine of any thing; so that yielding the thing by them desired, it is useless and impracticable to the ends they desire it for. But alas! who knows not, that loves not to be blind, that the Church among them is the Priesthood, the few cunning men govern the Ma∣jority, and intitle their conceits, the Canons of Christ's Church; and humane Power and Force, the Policy and Weapons of this world, must back their decrees. And all this comes from the Ignorance and Idleness of the People, that give the Pride and Industry of the Clergy an opportunity to effect their crafts upon them. For so mean spirited are the People as to Page  156 take all upon trust for their Souls, that would not trust an Arch-Bishop about a slit Groat.

'Tis prodigious to think what Veneration the Priest-hood have raised to themselves by their usurpt Com∣mission of Apostleship, their pretended Successions, and their CLINK CLANK of extraordinary Ordination. A Priest, a God on Earth, a Man that has the Keys of Heaven and Hell; do as he says, or be damn'd; what power like to this? The Ignorance of the Peo∣ple of their Title and Pretences, have prepared them to deliver up themselves into their hands, like a Craf∣ty Usurer, that hedges in the Estate on which he has a Mortgage; and thus they make themselves ever in Fee to the Clergy, and become their proper Patrimony. So that believing as the Church believes, is neither more nor less then Rooking men of their Understand∣ings, or doing as ill Gamesters are wont to do, get by using false Dice. Come, come, 'tis believing as the Priesthood believes, which made way for that offence wise and good men have taken against the Clergy in every Age: And did the People examine their bottom, the ground of their Religion and Faith, it would not be in the Power of their Leaders to cause them to Err; an implicit Veneration to the Clergy begun the Misery! What! Doubt my Mini∣ster! arraign his Doctrine, put him to the Proof! by no means; but the Consequence of not doing it has been the Introduction of much false Doctrine Su∣perstition and Formality, which gave just occasion for Schism (for the Word has no hurt in it, and im∣plies only a Separation, which may as well be right as wrong.)

Page  157 But that I may not be taxed with partiallity or up∣braided with sigularity, there are two Men, whose Worth, Good Sense and True Learning I will at a∣ny time engage against an entire Convocation of ano∣ther Judgment, viz. Jacobus Acontius and John Hales of Eaton, that are of the same mind; who, though they have not writ much, have writ well and much to the purpose. I will begin with Jacobus Acontius at large, and do heartily beseech my Readers to be more then ordinarily intent in reading what I cite of him, their Care and Patience will be requited by his Chri∣stian and very acute Sense.

It remains, that we speak of such Causes of the not perceiving, that a Change of Doctrine is intro∣duced, as consist in the Persons that are taught. Now they are cheifly two, Carelesness and Ignorance. Carlesness for the most part ariseth hence, In that the people trust too much to their Pastors; and per swade themselves, that they will not slip into any Error, and that therefore they have small need to have an Eye over them, but that they are bound ra∣ther to embrace whatsoever they shall hold forth, without any curious Examination. Hereunto may be added many other businesses, whereunto men addict themselves: For that Saying is of large ex∣tent, Where mens Treasure is, there is their Heart, and that other, No man can serve two Masters. Now, how it may come to pass that after a people hath once had a great Knowledge of Divine Truths, the said Knowledge may as it were vanish away, besides that Cause which hath been even now alleadged, Page  158 we shall in another place make discovery of some o∣ther Reasons. We shall for the present add only this one; That the people themselves are in a per∣petual kind of Mutation, some daily dying and de∣parting, others succeeding and growing up in their stead. Whence it comes to pass, That since the Change which is made in every Age, is small, ei∣ther the people cannot perceive it; or if they do ob∣serve it, yet they esteem it not of such moment, as to think fit to move any Difference thereabout. This thing also is of very great force, to keep the people from taking notice of a Change in Doctrine; when men shall perswade themselves, that they are not able to judge of matters of Religion, as though it is, it is not, and other words used in Scripture, do not signifie the same which they do in common dis∣course, or as if nothing could be understood without some great Knowledge in the Tongues and Arts or Sciences, and as if the Power of the Spirit were of no efficacy without these Helps. Whereby it co∣meth to pass, that whilst they think they understand not even those things which in some sort they do understand, being expressed in most clear and evident words; they do at length arrive to that Blockishness that they cannot understand them in∣deed; so that, though they have before their Eyes a Sentence of Scripture so clear, that nothing can be more evident; yet if they to whose Authority they in all things subject themselves, shall say any thing point-blank opposite thereunto, they will give credit unto them, and imagine themselves not to see that which they see as clear as the Light. Page  159 And by these means verily it comes to pass, That when the Doctrine of Religion is corrupted, the Mutation is not discovered: Furthermore, when the Doctrine is once begun to be changed, it must needs be, that out of one Error another should spring and propagate infinitely; and God, for Just Reasons of his own, blinding them, men bring up∣on themselves so great Darkness, and slip into such soul Errors; That if God out of Mercy open a mans Eyes, and let him see those Errors he lives in, he can scarcely believe himself, or be perswaded that he was ever enveloped with such blind Errors. Which thing is as true, and as well to be seen in Men of greatest Learning & Experience. If thou shalt thorowly peruse the writings of some of the School-men (as they call them) thou shalt in some places meet with so much Accuteness, as will make thee admire. Thou shalt see them oftentimes cleave a fine Thred into many parts, and accurately Anoto∣mise a Flea, and a little after fall so foully, and avouch such Absurdities, That thou cast not sufficiently stand amaz'd; wherefore we must obey that Advice of the Poet;

Principijs obsta, sero medicina paratur,
Cum mala per longas invaluere moras.
Resist betimes; that Med'cine stayes too long,
Which comes when Age has made the Grief too strong.

Now there is need of a double Caution: viz. That there be no Change made in the Doctrine, Page  260 when it is pure: And if any Change be made, that there be notice taken of it. Now look what Change is made in this kind, all the Blame is laid upon those whose Office it is to instruct the People; for though themselves are the Authors of the Change, yet will the people impute it to the Ministers Sleepiness and want of Care at least. It concerns therefore the Pastors and Teachers to be Eagle eyed, and to be very well acquainted with those Causes where∣by the Change of Doctrine becomes undiscovered, and to have them at their Fingers ends, and to be wary, that on no hand they may miscarry. Now it will be an excellent Caution for the keeping of Doctrine pure, if they shall avoid all curious and vain Controversies: If they shall set before their Eyes the scope and end of all Religious Doctrine, and likewise a Series or Catalogue of all such things as make to the attainment of that End (of which we formerly spake;) if they shall affect not only, the matter it self, but also the words and phrases which the Holy Ghost in Scripture makes use of, and exceedingly suspect all different Forms of speak∣ing. Not that I would have them speak nothing but Hebraisms; for so their Language would not be plain nor intelligible: but I wish that they will shun all such Expressions, as have been invented by over∣nice Disputants, beyond what was necessary to ex∣press the sence of the Hebrew and Greek, and all those Tenets which men by their own Wits do collect and infer from the Scriptures. Now of what Concern∣ment this will be, we may gather by this Instance: The Papists think it one and the same thing to say, Page  161The Church cannot err; and to say in the words of our Lord, Wheresoever two or three shall be gathered together in my Name, there will I be in the midst of them. Yet is the Difference very great, which may thus appear; forasmuch as in case any one shall conceive the Church to be the Pope, Car∣dinals, and Bishops anointed by the Pope: he hear∣ing the aforesaid Sentence, will judge, that whatso∣ever they shall decree, ought to be of Force. But if he shall rather mind the words of our Lord, and shall consider that those kind of men, do regard no∣thing but their own Commodity, Wealth and Do∣minion; he will be so far from so understanding them, that peradventure not being able to allow the Deeds and Practices of these Men, he will come to hope from those words, That if himself with some other good Men loving God with their whole Heart, shall come together, and unanimously im∣plore the Assistance of God, shall be better able to determi•… What it is that ought to be believed and practised for the attainment of Salvation, then if they should persist to put their Confidence in such Pastors. Now this Rule, that the words of the Scripture ought to be used rather than any other, is then especially to be observed, when any thing is delivered as a certain and tryed Truth, or as a Rule of Faith or Life, or out of which any other thing is to be inferred. For in Expositions and Explana∣tions, as there is need happily of greater Liberty, so is there less Danger if it be taken. For, whenas the Word of God, and the exposition thereof, are at Page  162 one and the same time both together in view, as it were; there no man can be ignorant, that the Expo∣sition is the word of Man, so that he may reject it, in case it seem impertinent. And look by what means a man may hinder the Doctrine of Religion from being changed, by the self-same he may find whether it be chang'd or no. Now every man ought to com∣pare the Doctrine of that Age wherein he lives, with no other Doctrine then that which was out of que∣stion spotless, which is the Doctrine of the Apostles. Wherefore, notwithstanding that in our Age the Gospel is as it were revived, yet ought not any man thus to think, That he ought to examin whether the Gospel hath lost any of that Purity whereunto it had at this time arrived; he ought rather to look again and again, whether some Corruption do not yet remain, whether it be not in some part, as yet not sufficiently restored to its ancient Purity and Lustre: and confidently perswade himself, That he cannot be (that I may so speak) sufficiently super∣stitious, in rejecting every word which is not in the Scriptures. Forasmuch as man will ever 〈◊〉 more Wise and Wary than the holy Spirit, and can very hardly forbear to mingle somewhat from his own head: so that whatever comes from man, can ne∣ver be sufficiently suspected. And because a thing will be so much the better preserved, by how much the greater is the number of those that keep it: the people ought often to be put in mind, That both the reading of the Scriptures, and the Care of Re∣ligion belongs not to the Pastors of the Church only; but Page  163 that every one that would be saved ought to make diligent search, whether any Corruption be already, or is for the future like to be introduced; and this to do no less carefully, then if he were perswaded that all beside himself were asleep: and whatsoever is wont to take the common people off from such studies, Care must be taken that that thing be whol∣ly taken away. Concerning which matter, we shall more conveniently discourse anon.

Now, forasmuch as the profit will be small, if some private man shall observe that an Error is intro∣duced, unless he discover the said Error, and lay it open: there must of necessity be some way how this may conveniently be done. Now there cannot be a more fitting way, then that which the Apostle pro∣pounds to the Corinthians. Let two or three Prophets speak, and let the rest judge; and if any thing*be revealed to him that sits by, let the former be silent. For ye way all prophecy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted. If some one person shall alwayes speak in the Church, and no man at any time may contradict him; it will be a very strange thing, if that one man be not puffed up, if he do not fall into such a Conceit of himself, as to think that he is the only man, that he only hath un∣derstanding, he alone is wise: that all the rest are a company of brute Animals as it were, who ought to depend only upon him, and to do nothing but learn of him. And if any man shall think, that himself likewise hath some ability to teach, he will account that man an hainous offender. But what Page  164 says the Apostle to this? Did the Word of God come from you? or came it unto you only? If any seem to be a Prophet, or Spiritual; let him acknowledge what I write unto you to be the commands of the Lord. But if any one be ignorant, let him be ignorant. Wherefore Brethren, labour that ye may Prophesie, and forbid not to speak with Tongues, let all things be done decently, and in order. It is exceedingly to be lamented, That this custom, and the practice of this command of the Lord, is not again restored into the Churches, and brought into use. But some men may say; Such is the rast∣ness of this Age of ours, such the boldness, such the impudence, That if it were allowed to every one to speak in the Congregation, there will be no end of Brawls and Contention. Why so? Is a man another kind of Creature now, then what he was of Old? Thou wilt say, he is. For mankind hath continually degenerated, grown worse and worse, and seems now to have attained the top of Corrup∣tion. Is it so indeed? But, suppose it to be so; Thou that art the Teacher of the people, art not thou also thy self made of the same Mold? Art not thou born in the same Age? Inasmuch as this ordinance princi∣pally was intended to keep Pastors within the bounds of modesty: that they may understand, That they are not the authors of the Word of God, that they have not alone received the Spirit: by how much the more mankind hath degenerated, by so much the greater need is there thereof; for that there is now more rashness, Arrogance, Pride, then of Old; this is true, as well of the Pastors and Tea∣chers, Page  165 as of the rest of the people, Art thou a Pro∣phet, hast thou any portion of the Spirit? If thou hast not, so unfitting it is, that thou alone shouldst speak in the Congregation, that there will hardly be found any that desires rather to be silenc't, then thy self. But if thou art a Prophet, if thou hast the Spi∣rit, mark what the Apostle sayes, Acknowledge (quoth he) that those things which I write, are the Command∣ments of the Lord. Go to then, On the one side we have the judgment of our Lord, willing that Pro∣phecy (for this is a Word that we are oblieged to use) should be common to all, and that not for the Destruction, but the Salvation of the Church. On the other side, we have thy Judgment who fearest lest that may breed Contentions and Confusion; whose Judgment now ought we rather stand to? If thou shalt conceive we must stand to thine: con∣sider what thou assumest unto thy self, and what will become of thy modesty. Our Lord, it should seem, understood not what a kind of Creature man was; he wanted thy wisdom belike to admonish him of the danger; or haply he thought not upon that Corruption which should befall mankind, whereby such a Liberty might prove unprofitable. But Paul answers thee, That God is not the author of Contention, but of Peace: Who well knowing what might move Contentions, what beget Peace, and not loving nor willing to have Contention, but Peace, willed that this liberty of Prophecying should be in the Church. What canst thou say to the contrary? what hast thou to object against God Page  166 himself, wilt thou accuse him of indiscretion? No man hath so wicked a Tongue, as to dare to do it. Yet if thou shalt diligently search thine Heart, thou shalt find there a certain disposition ready to contend even with God himself: Which motion of thy Heart must by no means be hearkned unto, but sharply repressed, and wholely subjected to the Spi∣rit of God. It may seem peradventure an absurd thing, That after some very learned person hath spoken, some contemptible person shall be allowed to contradict him. Can such a person so do with∣out great rashness and temerity? Were I to speak according to the judgment of man, verily I could not deny it. But if we be really perswaded, That the knowledge of matters Divine, ought not to be attributed to our Watching, Studies, Wits, but to God, and to his Spirit, wherewith he can in a mo∣ment endue the simplest person in the World, and that with no more labour or difficulty, then if he were to give him to one that had spent Nestor's Age in study: What reason is there for me to judge that this man does rashly and unadvisedly, if he shall arise and contradict? Is not the Spirit able to reveal somewhat to him, which he hath hidden from thee? Now, if the Spirit have revealed somewhat to him, and to that end revealed it that he might contradict, that by his means the thing may be revealed to the Church: shall I say that he hath done rashly in obey∣ing the holy Ghost? And if thou think otherwise, ve∣rily thou art not perswaded that the Spirit is the Author and Teacher of this Knowledge, but that Page  167 all the praise thereof is due to Studies, Watchings, and the Wits of men. And if this be thy judgment, I tell thee again, That thou art not only unworthy to be the sole Speaker, but worthy rather to be the only person not permitted to speak in the Congre∣gation.

And that thou mayst the better understand, that the most Unlearned ought to be allowed to speak, consider, God will have himself to be acknowledged the Author of his own gifts: he will not have his praise attributed unto our Studies or Wits, but unto himself. But if the man that hath spent all his Life in Study, speak wisely, it is not attributed to God, but to study: In word, perhaps it may be attributed to God, yet not without a ve∣hement Reluctancy of our Judgment: and this is that which (I say) God will not abide. But if so be thou shalt hear a wise word come out of the Mouth of some unlearned Person, thou must needs, whether thou wilt or no, acknowledge God to be the Author thereof. So, when God was minded to give unto srael a Victory against the Midianites, under the Conduct of Gideon; and Gideon had ga∣thered together Thirty Thousand Men, lest the Israelites should boast that they had gotten the Vi∣ctory by their own Strength, and not by the As∣sistance of God, (which might have been concei∣ved, if Gidean had fought with so numerous an Army) he would not suffer him to have above Three hundred, that it might appear that he was Page  168 the Cause of the Victory, and not the Number or Valour of those that fought. Now, besides the Glory of God, hereby great Profit does accrue to the Church. For if the People shall see now one man, now another, endued with the Spirit, be∣yond all Expectation; many will thereby be en∣couraged to hope for the same Gift, if they shall ask it; many will learn and profit; and it will there∣by come to pass, that when Occasion shall be to choose a Minister, the Church shall not need to call strange and unknown Persons to that Office, but she may have of her own such as are fit to be chosen, Men whose Conversation and Manners are sufficiently known. And when the number of such as are able to prophesie, shall be great, the Church will not be forced to use such Pastors as from their very Childhood have proposed to themselves such Offices as the reward of their Studies; and addict∣ed themselves to the study of Scripture and Reli∣gion, no otherwise then they would have done to some Trade, whereby they meant in time to get their Living: So that a Man can expect but very few of them to prove other then Mercenary or Hireling Pastors.

Now, that it was the Custom of the Jewish Church, that all might thus Prophesie; we may hence conjecture, in that it is upon * Record, Luke 4. how our Lord, upon the Sabbath day decording to the Custom, came into the Synagoguge, took a Book and expounded a place of Esay; and how, Page  169being twelve years of Age he sate at Jerusalem in the Temple among the Doctors, and did aispute. For he could not so do by vertue of any ordinary office, for∣asmuch as his Age was uncapable, neither did the Doctors know who he was. Yea rather, our Lord in so doing must needs make use of the power which was granted to every one to speak. It remained in the Christians Congregations until the times of Con¦stantine at the least. Forasmuch as we have these words of Eusebius, the Writer of Church * affairs, to that effect: If any man inspired by the Grace of God, should speak unto the People, they all with great silence fixing their Eyes upon him gave such attention, as if he had brought them some Errand from Heaven. So great was the reverence of the hearers, such order was seen among the Ministers. One af∣ter another, another after him. Neither was there only two or three that Prophesied, according to what the Apostle said, but to all was given to speak; so that the wish of Moses seems rather to have been fulfilled in them, when he said, Would God all the People might Prophesie. There was no Spleen, no Envy, the gifts of God were dispensed, every one, according to his ability, contributing his assistance for the confirmation of the Church: And all was done with love, in such sort, That they strove mu∣tually tohonour each other, and every one to pre∣fer another before himself. But to the end this com¦mon prophecying may be profitable to the Church, we must diligently mark what the Apostle advises, For a sure thing it is, that the Pride of Man is so great, that whatever hath once fallen from him, he Page  170 will by any means have it stand for a Truth, neither can he suffer that any man should infringe the same. So that if he might be permitted to judge, that last spake, it will be a Miracle, if a man in his Life time should see any one give way to him that contradicts him: What is Paul's advice therefore in this case? Let two or three Prophets speak, and let the rest judge. He will not therefore have the same Persons to be Parties and Judges. And he adds a little after, And the Spirit of the Prophets, is subject to the Prophets; for God is not the Author of dissention, but of Peace. So that as soon as any man hath spoken his own mind, he ought to rest himself satisfied with the judgment of the rest, and not obstinately to make no End of contending: if this be not done, a sure thing it is, there will be no end of strife. But what if any man will not be content to submit to the Judgment of the rest: Verily I would avouch, that being sharply admonished, that he disturb not the Congregation, and that he go not against the command of the Apo∣stle, or rather of our Lord, commanding the Spi∣rits of the Prophets to be subject to the Prophets; he ought to be cast out of the Society, though he should hold the prime place in the Congregation. The people likewise must frequently be admonish∣ed; that liberty for any one to speak in the Congre∣gation, is not therefore granted by the Apostle, to the end every one should speak what comes to his Tongues end, as if he were in a Market; but where∣as he gives liberty to him to speak to whom any thing is revealed, he would have all Rashness and Impudence to be laid aside. He that reverences not the Page  171 Church of God, let that man know, he despiseth the Spirit of God, who is President there; and shall be sure not to escape unpunished. Before a man propounds any thing to the Church, he ought to consider again and again, how sure a manifestati∣on he hath of that thing, and whatever the matter be, let him be sure not to forget a sober, modest, bashful behaviour, without which vertues, doubt∣less no good can be effected. But here we must at∣tentively consider, both how far a man ught to sub∣mit to the judgment of the Congregation, and who may deservedly be accounted a Troubler of the Church. Verily, I conceive a man ought so far to give way, as that after I have alledged what I had to say for my Opinion, if yet the rest shall not allow of my Judgment, I ought to give over defending of it, and cease to be troublesome to the Congregation concerning the same: But I ought not to be com∣pelled to confess that I have erred, or to deprecate any fault, whiles I do not yet understand that I have erred, for so I should sin against God. He there∣fore is a Troubler of the Church, that will not, so far as we have expressed, submit to the judgment of the Church, but goeth on to be troublesome; but especially that man who would exact of another that which he ought not to do; viz. to recant, being not perswaded that he is in an Error. But those men are commonly reputed troublers of the Church who refuse to ratifie whatever shall any ways fall out of the Pastors Mouthes. Again, in this place it may reasonably be demanded, whether, when that a matter hath been once or twice debated, and some Page  172 man knowing the judgment of the Congregation, would again reduce it into Controversie, he ought to be heard, or enjoyned silence, and take the mat∣ter for determined. But of this we shall in another place more conveniently dispute. That which re∣mains therefore, is, that we wrestle with God, by daily Prayers, to grant that we may have the use of this so soveraign and saving liberty, so profitable to the Church, and that thereby we may reap abun∣dance of Fruit. And that he would, to that end, tame and break our Spirits with his Spirit, and ren∣der them milde and gentle: and not suffer what he hath ordain'd for the confirmation and establishment of his Church, to be by the stubbornness and per∣versness of our Wits and Minds, turned to the mis∣chief and destruction thereof.
With much more to the same purpose, too large to be here inserted.

What I have cited, makes an Apology for doing so, needless: his whole Book is a most accurate account of Satans Stratagems, to cause & keep up divisions among Christians, deserving a first place with the most Chri∣stian Writers since the Apostolical times. He was an Italian, of excellent Natural and Supernatural endowments, Banisht about Luther's times for the Gospel.

Let us now inform our selves of the Judgment of that great Man J. Hales upon the matter in hand, viz

To your se∣cond * Query, Whether the Keys were confined to the Apostles only? The Answer is in no case hard to give, it may perchance in some case be dangerous; for there is a Generation Page  173 of men in the World (the CLERGY they call them) who impropriate the Keyes unto themselves, and would be ve∣ry angry to understand, that others from themselves should claim a right unto them. To your Question then, no doubt but originally none received the Keyes from the Mouth of our Saviour, but the Apo∣stles only; none did nor ever could manage them with that Authority and Splendor, as the Apostles did, who were above all most amply furnished with all things fitting so great a Work. For where∣as you seem to intimate, that the preaching Mission was communicated to others, as the seventy two Disciples, as well as the Apostles; you do but mi∣stake your self, if you conceive that the Keyes of the Gospel were any way committed to them; for con∣cerning the Mysteries of Jesus Christ, and him cru∣cified for the Sins of the World (wherein indeed the opening of the Kingdom of Heaven did consist) they received it not, they knew it not. To be the prime Reporters of this, was an honour imparted only to the Apostles: Yet were they not so impar∣ted, as that they should be confin'd to them. Every one that heard and received the Light of the saving Do∣ctrine from them, so far forth as he had understand∣ing in the wayes of Life, had now the Keys of the King∣dom of Heaven committed to his Power, both for his own and others use. Every one, of what State or Condition so∣ever, that hath any occasion offered him, to serve ano∣ther in the wayes of Life, CLERGY, or LAY, MALE or FEMALE, whatever he be, hath these Keys not only for himself, but for the bnefit of others. For if Natural goodness teach every man, Lumen de Lu∣mine, Page  174 Erranti comiter monstrare viam, &c. Then how much more doth Christian Goodness require of every one, to his ability, to be a Light to those who sit in Darkness, and direct their steps, who most dangerously mistake their way? To save a Soul, eve∣ry man is a Priest. To whom I pray you, is that said in Leviticus, Thou shalt not see thy Brother Sin, but thou shalt reprove, and save thy Brother? And if the Law binds a Man, when he saw his Enemies Cattel to stray, to put them in their way; How much more doth it obliege him to do the like for the Man himself? See you not how the whole World con∣spires with me in the same Opinion? Doth not e∣very Father teach his Son, every Master his Servant, every Man his Friend? How many of the Laity in this Age, and from time to time in all Ages, have by writing for the publick good, propagated the Go∣spel of Christ, as if some secret instinct of Nature had put into mens minds thus to do, &c.

To this let me add his Sense of the force of the Fa∣thers Authority in the decision of Controversies, and how far the Antients, whether Fathers or Councils ought to be interrested in the debates of these times, which may not be improper to the present subject, be∣cause not a few build upon their bottome.

You shall find (says he) that all Schisms have crept into the Church by one of these three wayes; either upon matter * of Fact, or matter of Opinion, or point of Ambition. For the first; I call that matter of Fact, when something is requi∣red to be done by us, which either we know, or Page  175 strongly suspect to be unlawful; so the first notable Schism, of which we read in the Church contained in it matter of Fact; For it being, upon Error taken for necessary, that an Easter must be kept; and upon worse then Error, if I may so speak, (for it was no less than a point of Judaism forced upon the Church) upon worse than Error, I say, thought further ne∣cessary, that the ground for the time of our keeping that Feast, must be the Rule left by Moses to the Jews; there arose a stout Question, whether we were to Celebrate with the Jews, on the fourteenth Moon, or the Sunday following? This matter, though most unnecessary, most vain, yet caused as great a Combustion. as ever was in the Church; The West separating and refusing Communion with the East, for many Years together. In this Fantastical Hurry, I cannot see, but all the World were Schismaticks: neither can any thing excuse them from that Impu∣tation; excepting only this, that we charitably sup¦pose that all Parties out of Conscience did what they did.

A thing which befell them through the Ignorance of their Guides, (for I will not say their malice) and that through the just Judgment of God, because through sloath and BLIND OBEDIENCE Men ex∣amined not the things, which they were taught, but like Beasts of Burthen patiently couched down, and*indifferently underwent whatsoever their Superiors laid upon them. By the way, by this you may plainly see the danger of our appeal unto Antiquity, for re∣solution in Controverted points of Faith, and how small Relief we are to expect from thence. For if Page  176 the discretion of the chiefest Guides and Directors of the Church, did in a Point so trivial, so inconsiderable, so mainly fail them, as not to see the Truth in a Sub∣ject, wherein it is the greatest Marvel how they could avoid the sight of it; can we without imputation of extream grosness and folly, think so POOR SPIRI∣TED persons competent Judges of the Questions now on Foot betwixt the Churches? Pardon me, I know not what Temptation drew that Note from me.

How these men will come off I can't tell; they have ventured fairly, and yet I think their case not hazard us at all; you have them in three points plain. First, That relying upon the Clergy as Guardians of Truth to the People, and the Peoples not examining the truth of things from them, is not Apostolical, but Apostatical. Secondly, That no Councils or Fathers ought to be the Rule or Judge of our Faith. Thirdly, That to save Souls every Man is a Priest; that is, the people are interressed in the Christian Ministry, which is not tyed to Times, Places, Persons and Orders, as under the Law; but free to all that have obtained Mercy and Grace from God; and therefore Peter calls the believers a Royal Priesthood. So that every one is Priest to himself under the Gospel. But all this I have mentioned with design, if it be possible, to beat men off that superstitious and dangerous Veneration they carry to the Names of Church, Priesthood and Fathers; as if they were to be sayed by them, and not by Christ, who is only Head and Saviour of the true Church. And truly, when I consider the wilde dependance some people have upon the Church, whilst they know not what she is, and make it a Principle not to Inquire, I am Page  177 amazed with what Confidence, they expose their Souls. This Principle it is, and not Inquiry, that makes men careless and unactive about their own Sal∣vation. But let none deceive themselves, as they Sow they must Reap. 'Tis not to be saved, to be with∣in the Pale of any visible Church in the World. That is putting an eternal Cheat upon our selves. Ill things are Ill things, within or without the pale; that mat∣ters not; and as Sin can't be Christened, nor impiety re∣conciled to Christianity by no Arts of men, so the Wages will be Death; eternal Death. To be therefore of the Church, of which Christ is Head, the redeemed, regenerated Church of Christ, is quite another thing, then to be of any visible Society whatever; for in all such Communions there are but too many that have no true Title to Christianity. If then that Immacu∣late Church of which Christ is head, be made up only of holy and regenerated Souls throughout the Socie∣ties of Christians; this will adminster but little Com∣fort to those that presume upon their being within the Pale of the Visible Church.

But to proceed to those Scriptures that oppose themselves to humane Authority in matters of Faith, &c.

There is one place of Scripture, that is irreconci∣lable to Implicit Faith and Blind Obedience; He that believeth, hath the Witness In HIM∣SELF: * This general Rule respects no Per∣sons, 'tis the Result of the Holy Ghost to all Believers. Such have no need to go to Rome, nor Winefried's Well, to the Shrines of Saints, the Priests nor the Church, for a Proof of their Faith; they have an Page  178 Evidence nearer home: they have the witness of their Faith and the Reason of their Hope IN THEM∣SELVES.

'Tis true, this is a Private Judge; but (as it hap∣pens) 'tis one of the Holy Ghost's setting up, of all things I confess most destructive to Papacy no doubt; for here is a Judge in every man, that sincerely be∣lieves, to whom he must stand and fall in this and the other World. For (saith the same Apostle) If our Heart condemn us, God is greater then our Heart, and knoweth all things: Beloved, if our*Heart condemn us not, then have we Confidence towards God; The Witness in our selves dischar∣ges us. The Spirit beareth Witness with our Spirits, that weare the Chldren of God and Sons * of the true Church; not she, that hath fatted her self with the Flesh of Saints, and died her Gar∣ments in the Blood of Martyrs; who hath Mer∣chandized in the Souls of men: but of that Church who is Crowned with Stars, and Cloathed with the Sun, and has the Moon under her Feet: a Church of Light and Knowledge, of Understanding and Truth, and not of Implicite Faith and Blind Obedience: one that tramples upon all Sublunary Glory; and not she that makes her Pretences to Religion a Decoy to catch the World.

Of like Tendency is that notable Passage of the A∣postle Paul to the Corinthians; Examine your selves, whether ye be in the Faith; prove your*own selves: Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be Reprobates? Here is not a Word of the Pope nor an External Page  179 Judge, no humane Inquisition or Authority. Ex∣amine your selves, whether ye be in the Faith? prove your own selves: but which way shall we do this? by Christ, who is the great Light that shines in our Hearts to give us the Knowledge of God and our selves: He that believes in him, has the Witness in himself, he is no Reprobate; his Heart condemns him not.

To which I will add another Passage to the same Purpose (in his Epistle to the Galatians) But let*every Man prove his own work, then shall he have Rejoycing in himself alone, and not in another: FOR EVERY MAN SHALL BEAR HIS OWN BUR∣DEN. Here every man is enjoyned to turn Inquisi∣tor upon himself; and the Reason rendred shews the Justice of the thing; because my Rejoycing must be in my self alone, and not in another: I stand and Fall to no man: such as I sow, I must reap at the Hand of God, if Paul say true. Mens Pardons are Vain, and their Indulgences Fictions; For every man shall bear his own Burden in that great Day of the Lord. It cannot therefore be Reasonable that another man should have the Keeping of my Understanding at my Eter∣nal Cost and Charges, or that I must entirely de∣pend upon the Judgment of a Man or Men, who er∣ring, (and thereby causing me to err) cannot be damned for me, but I must pay their Reckoning at the hazard of my own Damnation.

I am not unacquainted with the great Objection that is made by Roman Catholicks and some Protestants too, High Church-men perhaps, that Love the Treason, Page  180 but hate the Traytor; that love this part of Popery, but hate the Pope, viz. There are doubts in Scripture, e∣ven about the most important Points of Faith; some body must guide the Weak, there must be some one ultimate, Ex∣ternal and Visible Judge to appeal to, who must Deter∣mine and Conclude all Persons as to their Doubts and Ap∣prehensions concerning the Interpretation of Scripture, otherwise So many Men, so many Minds; the Church would be filled with Controversie and Confussion.

I answer, That the Scriptures are made more doubt∣ful than they are by such as would fain preserve to themselves the Umpiridge & Judgship of their Mea∣ning. I deny it in point of Fact, that Man's Duty is not most plainly exprest in all that concerns Eter∣nal Salvation; but 'tis very strange, that when God intends nothing more by the Scriptures, than to reach the Capacities of Men as to things on which their Eternal Salvation depends; yet that no Book, if such men say true, should be so obscure, nor subject to so many Various, nay Contradictory Constructi∣ons. Name me one Author, Heathen, Jew or Chri∣stian, that ever wrote with that Obscurity and seem∣ing Inconsistency, which some gladly pretend to find in the holy Scripture, that they might have the Use and Keeping of them from the Vulgar, and make their own Ends by it. Is then every Body's Book to be understood but God's? Was that writ not to be under∣stood? In short, one of these two things must be true. Either that God intended Not to be understood, or To be understood, in what he commanded to be written. If he resolved Not to be understood, it had Page  181 been better there had been nothing writ; but if it was his purpose To be understood of Men, it must be supposed, that what he caused to be written, was plain enough for men to understand, or he mist his own Aim and End, and writ it to no purpose, which is absurd.

If it should be told me, That it is not denyed, but that the Scriptures may be understood by some body, but not by every body; for that the Great, Visible Judge must needs understand them, because it belongs to his Of∣fice, to resolve those Doubts, and determine those Contro∣versies that may arise about understanding them.

Answ. I must also say, that this is false in Fact. For its ridiculous to imagine, that Luke did not make Theophilus his own Judge in the reading of what he writ to him, or that the Apostles in writing to the several Churches, as Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, &c. to whom they directed their Epistles, did not intend that they should understand what they writ, or that they erected any such Officer in the Church, as an Expounder of their Epistles to the Assembly to be ne∣cessarily believed. For we know in those days The People made the Church, they were the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the CLERGY, however it came about that it be now en∣grossed into fewer hands; as you may see in * the Greek of Peter:〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; which 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is translated Heritage in all our Bibles. But this is as if the Priest's only were the Lord's Heritage, which can't be, for a Reason ob∣vious to all, namely, that they reign as Lords over Page  182 God's Heritage or Clergy (forbid expresly by Peter) therefore not the Heritage and Clergy over which they so rule like Lords: by no means. I will say no more but this, 'tis no convincing Proof to me of their Humility. But to shut up this Agument about the Difficulty of Understanding the Scripture and pretended a necessity of a Visible Judge, I say, What∣soever may be spoken, may be written; or thus, What∣soever a Visible Judge can now say, the holy Pen men by God's Direction might have written; and what an Om∣niscient and Omnipotent God did know and could do for Man's Salvation, an OMNIBENEVOLENT God, that tells us, he delights not in the Death of one Soul, but rather that he should be saved, would have done. And because God is as Omnibenevolent as Om∣niscient and Omnipotent, we must conclude he has done it; and 'tis great Presumption and a mean Shelter to Ignorance to raise a credit to Humane De∣vices, by beating down the true Value of the Scrip∣tures.

They are dark; what follows? they must not be read? what follows then? Why then such Teachers may do as they list with the People. But did the Pharisees with their broad Philacteries know God's mind bet∣ter then the Prophets? or could they deliver it clear∣er? no such matter; 'tis by the same strange Figure that the School-men know the mind of Christ better then the Apostles, and that the Council of TRENT can declre Faith more clearly then the holy Ghost in the Scripture hath don; and yet this is the English of their Doctrine that hold to us those Lights to read Scripture by, and that would have us seach their Ca∣nons Page  183 and Decrees, to find out the Mind of the holy Ghost in Scripture.

The Confusions that are pretended to follow such an Inquiry are but the wretched Arts of ill men, as much as in them lies, to keep Light and Truth out of the World: When the Net was cast into the Sea, there came some good some bad Fish, that was not the Fishers fault they were no better. Inquiry is not to be blam'd for the ill use weak or worse men make of it: The Bereans might not all believe, though they might all search; for men don't inquire with equal Wisdom, Love and good Desire, some seek and find not: Some ask and receive not; there∣fore * must none ask or seek after that which is good? or because some ask or seek amiss, will it fol∣low that the thing it self is naught? If Superstition, Error, Idolatry and Spiritual Tyranny be detected, and Truth discover'd, will it more then make amends for all that Weakness and Folly some men have brought forth by the liberty of such an Inquiry? The Enemies of Light may be as Rhetorical as they please upon the excess or Presumption of some, bolder then wise, and more Zealous then Knowing; but if they had nothing to lose by the discovery, they would ne∣ver be the Enemies of a prudent Search. It is to be fear'd such get that Obedience by a blind devotion; which no man could yield them upon better Information; and is it reasonable that men of that Stamp should se∣cure their Empire by the Ignorance of the People? Ignorance ought to be the Mother of Devotion with none but those that cannot be devout upon better terms; it is the glory of a man that he is Religious Page  184 upon Reason, and that his Duty and Sacrifice are not blind or forc'd, but free and reasonable; Truth upon Knowledge though vext with Schism, wise and good men will chuse before Ignorant Religion with Uni∣formity. Enough of this.

But this Notion of an Infallible Visible Judge is as false in Reason as in Fact. For first, it takes away the Use of every Man's Reason, and it is a Contradiction to have any, unless he were such an Interpreter and such a Judge, as would conclude us by Conviction, and not by Authority: that would be the most Well∣come person in the World. But to over-rule my own Sight, to give the Lye to my own Understanding, say Black is White, and that Two and Three make Ten▪ thus, Subjugare intellectum in Obsequium fidei, to yield my Understanding to such an In-evident Way of Faith, nay, which is worse, to believe a Lye: for so it is to them, to whom the thing to be believed ap∣pears Untrue▪ is most-Unreasonable.

If we must be Led, it had been easier and better for us to have been born Blind, we might have follow'd then the Dog and the Bell, for we could not mend our selves; but to see, and to be Led, and that in ways we see to be foul or wrong, this is Anxious. Here lies the Dispute: and truly here the Question might fairly end. Either put out our Eyes, or let us use them: but if we have Eyes for our Minds as well as for our Bodies, I see no Reason, why we should trust any man or men against the Eyes of our Understanding, any more than we ought to confide in them against the Sense and Certainty of the Eyes of our Bodies.

Where is the poorest Mechanick that would be paid Page  185 his Labour in Brass half Crowns for Silver by either Pope or Bishop? and can we be so bruitish, as to think our Nobler part void of Distinction about that Trea∣sure which is of eternal Moment? For though Pe∣ter was to feed the Sheep, yet the Sheep were not to follow Peter but Christ: My Sheep hear my Voice and follow me, and a Stranger they will not*follow: Here is no Mediator betwixt Christ and his Sheep; nor does any body else hear his Voice for them: but they hear his Voice them∣selves. And though the Shepherd may have many Servants, yet he only is their Shepherd, and they are only the Sheep of his Fold.

But there are three places of Scripture, that come fresh into my Remembrance, that are very pertinent to the present Occasion. The first is this: That which may be known of God, is Manifest in Men,*for God hath shewed it unto them: That is, The Spirit of man being the Candle of the Lord, God hath enlightned it to manifest unto Man, what is ne∣cessary for him to know both of God and himself. Here is no need of Wax-Candles or Tapers, or a Visible Guide and Judge: for e that believes, has the Witness in himself.

Another Passage is this: Be ye Followers *of me, even as I am also of Christ. In which the Apostle is so far from setting himself up a Judge over the Church of Corinth, that he makes his appeal to them concerning his Doctrine and Conversation bounding both with that of his Lord Jesus Christ, and making them Judges of the Truth of his Conformity to that Example. Be ye Followers of me: How? after Page  186 what manner? What! Absolutely, without Exami∣nation? must we believe thee without any Tryal, and take what thou sayest for granted without any more to do? no such thing. Be ye Followers of me, even as I also am of CHRIST: I submit my self to be judg'd by you according to that Rule, and all Men and Churches are to be thus measur'd, that lay Claim to the Name of Christian.

The Third Passage is in his Second Epistle to the same Church of Corinth, 'tis this: Therefore seeing we have this Ministry as we have received Mer∣cy, we faint not: but have renounced the hid∣den*things of Dishonesty, not walking in Craf∣tinesses, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the Truth, commending our selves to every man's Conscience in the sight of God. Here is the Utmost Imposition the Apostle makes use of: he requires not Men to receive him without Evidence, and refers himself to that of their own Consciences in the Sight of God. This was the Way of making Christians then, and this is the Way of making and keeping Christians now.

Conscience (in the best Sense) has ever been allow'd to be a Bond upon Men in all Religions; But that Re∣ligion, which under Pretence of Authority would superceed Conscience, and instead of making Men bet∣ter (the End of Religion) makes them worse, by con∣founding all Distinction betwixt Good and Evil, and resolving all into an Implicite Faith and blind Obedi∣ence unto the Commands of a Visible Guide and Judge, is false, it cannot be otherwise. For to admire what Men don't know, and to make it a Principle not to Page  187 inquire is the last mark of Folly in the Believer, and of Imposture in the Imposer. To be short, a Christian im∣plies a Man, and a Man implies Conscience and Under∣standing; but he that has no Conscience not Understand∣ing (as he has not, that has delivered them up to the Will of another Man) is no Man, and therefore no Christian.

I do beseech you Protestants of all Sorts, to consider of the danger of this Principle with respect to Religi∣on. Of old'tw is the Fool that said in his Heart there is no God; But now upon this Principle Men must be made Fools in order to believe: Shall Folly, which is the Shame (if not the Curse) of a Man, be the Perfection of a Chri∣stian? Christ indeed has advised us to become Little Children, but never to become such Fools; for (as the Proverb is) this is to be led by the Nose, and not by our Wits. You know that God hates the Sacrifice of Fools: I will pray with the Spirit and with Understand∣ing also, saith the Apostle. Let us commend that Testimony, which we believe to be true, to the Con∣sciences of Men, and let them have the Gospel privi∣ledge of Examination: Error only looses upon Trial. For if this had been the Way to Christianity, (with Reverence be it spoken) God had not made our Con∣dition better, but worse: For this translates our Faith and Dependence upon God, to Man, and the Possibility, if not Probability of Man's erring exposes us to greater insecurity than before. For where I ne∣ver trusted▪ I never could be deceived. But if I must abandon my own Sense and Judgment, and yield my self up to the Faith and Authority of another (to say no more of the Blindness and La neness of such Belief Page  188 and Devotion) what Security can I have, that the Man or Men, whom I trust may not 〈◊〉 and deceive me? and that Deceit is irrepairable.

Again, since Mankind is a reasonable Creature, and that the more reasonable he is in his Religion, the nearer to his own being he comes, and to the Wisdom and Truth of his Creator, that did so make him, a Religion without Reason, Imposed by an unaccount∣able Authority against Reason, Sense and Conviction cannot be the Religion of the God of Truth and Rea∣son; for it is not to be thought that he requires any thing that carries any violence upon the Nature of his Creature, or that gives the Lye to that Reason or Sence, which he first endow'd him with.

In short; Either Convince my understanding by the Light of Truth and Power of Reason, or bear down my Infidelity with the force of Miracles: for not to give me Understanding or Faith, and to press a submission that requires both, is most unreasonable.

But if there were no other Augument then this, it goes a great way with me, that as to such as have their understanding at liberty, if they are mistaken, there may be hopes of reclaiming by Informing them: but where the Understanding and Conscience are enslav'd to Authority, and where Men make it a Principal Doctrine to suspect their own Sense and strive against their own Convictions, (to move only by other mens Breath and fall down to their Conclu∣sions) nothing seems to be left for the soundest Arguments & clearest Truths to work upon. They had almost need to be re Created in order to be converted; for who can reasonably endeavour to make him a Christian that is Page  189 not a Man, which he cannot be truly said to be, who has no understanding, or resolves not to use it, but reject it, which is yet worse; for he that has no understanding has no prejudice against it, but he that purposely denys & abuses it, is so much worse, as that he turns Enemy to him that has and uses his understanding. He there∣fore can never be convinced o his Error, who is pre∣judiced against the necessary means of Conviction, which is the use of his Understanding, without which 'tis im∣possible he should ever be Convinced.

To Conclude, I have reserved till last one Argu∣ment, which is ad hominem unanswerable by us Prote∣stants, and without yielding to which we cannot be consistent with our selves, or be thought to do unto others, what we would have others do unto us, and that is this: The Translation of the Scripture was the painful work of our worthy Ancestors. This I call their most solemn Appeal to the People against the Pope and Traditions of Rome in the business of their Separation. For when the question rose of the divine Authority of this or the other Practice in the Doctrine or Worship of the Roman Church, presently they recur'd to the Scriptures, and therefore made them speak English, that they might witness for them to the people. This appeal to the People in defence of their Separation, by ma∣king them Judges of their proceeding against the Church according to the Testimony of the holy Scrip∣tures, puts every man in possession of them. Search the Scriptures, say the first Protestants, Prove all things, see if what we say against Pope & Church of Rome be not true; and in case any difficulty did arise, they exhorted all to wait upon God, for the divine aid of his Spirit to illu∣minate Page  190 their understandings, that one should not im∣pose upon the other, but commend them to God, be Brotherly, Patient, Long suffering, ready to help the Weak, inform the Ignorant, shew tenderness to the Mistaken, and with reason and moderation to gain the Obstinate. In short, Protestancy is a restoring to every man his just right of Inquiry and Choice; and to its honour be it ever spoken, there is greater likelihood of finding Truth, where all have Liberty to seek af∣ter it, then where it is denyed to all, but a few Gran∣dees, and those too as short sighted as their Neigh∣bours. But now let us Protestants examine, if we have not departed from this Sobriety, this Christian Tem∣perance? how comes it, that we who have been forgiven much, have our selves fallen upon our sel∣low Servants, who yet owe us nothing? have not we refused them this reasonable choice? have we not threatned, beaten and imprisoned them? Pray Consider, have you not made Creeds, set Bounds to Faith, form'd and regulated a Worship and strictly en∣joyn'd all mens obedience by the help of the Civil Power upon pain of great Sufferings, which have not been spared to Dissenters, though in Common, Re∣nouncers and Protestors with you against the Pope & Church of Rome; for this the Land mourns, Heaven is displeas'd, and all is out of due course.

To give us the Scriptures, and knock our Fingers for taking them! to Translate them that we may read them, and punish us for endeavouring to understand and use them as well as we can, both with respect to God, and our Neighbour; 'tis very unreasonable upon our Prote∣stant Principles. I wish we could see the mischief Page  191 we draw upon our selves, & which is worse, our cause, for the Papist in this case acts according to his Prin∣ciple, but we against our Principle, which shews in∣deed, that we have the better Religion, but that we also are more condemnable. For if we will consider it seriously, we shall find it not much more injurious to Scripture, Truth and good Conscience that we believe as the Church believes, then that we believe as the Church says the Scripture would have us be∣lieve. For where is the difference, since I am not al∣lowed to use my understanding about the Sense of Scripture any more then about the Faith of the Church: and if I must not receive any thing for Faith or Worship from Scripture, but what is handed to me by the Church, or her Clergy, I see my self in as ill terms, as if I had sat down with the old Doctrine of believing as the Church believes. And had the Con∣troversie been only for the Word Scripture, without the use and application of it, (for at this rate that is all that is left us) truly the enterprise of our Fathers had been weak and unadvised; but because nothing less was intended by them, and that the Translation of the Scripture was both the Appeal and Legacy of those Protestant Ancestors, for the reasons before menti∣on'd, I must conclude we are much degenerated from the simplicity of Primitive Protestancy, and need to be admonisht of our Backslidings; and I heartily pray to Almighty God, that he would quicken us by his present Mercies and Providences to return to our first Love.

Let the Scripture be free Sober Opinion tolerated, Good ife cherisht, Vice punisht: away with Imposition Nick-Names, Page  192 Animosities, for the Lord's sake; and let Holy Writ be our Common Creed, and Pious Living the Test of Christianity, that God may please to perfect the good work he has begun, and deliver us from all our Enemies.

I am now come to the last point, and that is PRO∣PAGATION of FAITH by FORCE. In which I shall, with the Ecclesiasticks, consider the Civil Ma∣gistrates share herein; for though the Church-Men are principally guilty, that being profest Ministers of a Religion which renounces and condemns Force, they incite the Magistrate to use it both to impose their own Belief, and suppress that of other mens; yet the Civil Magistrate in running upon their Er∣rands, and turning Eexecutioner to their Cruelty up∣on such as dissent from them, involves himself in their Guilt.

That in this Protestant Country Laws have been made to prosecute men for their Difference and Dis∣sent from the National Worship, and that those Laws have been executed, I presume will not be denyed; for not only our own Histories since the Reformati∣on will furnish us with Instances, but our own Age abounds with Proofs. Thousands have been Excom∣municated and Imprisoned, whole Familes Undone, not a Bed left in the House, not a Cow in the Field, nor any Corn in the Barn: Widows and Orphants Uncommiserated, no regard had to Age or Sex: and what for? only be∣cause of their Meeting to Worship God after another (yet not a less Peaceable) Manner then according to the Way of the Church of England.

Page  193 Nor have they only suffered this by Laws intended against them, but after an excessive rate by Laws known to have been never design'd against them, and only intended against the Papists; and in these Cases four times the Vallue has not served their turn; we can prove 60 l. taken for 13 l. and not one Penny re∣turned, as we made appear before a Committee of the late Parliament, which is the Penalty of four Offen∣ces for one: to say nothing of the gross Abuses that have been committed against our Names and Persons by men of ill Fame and Life, that have taken the Advantage of our Tenderness, and the present Po∣sture of the Law against us to have their Revengeful and Covetous Ends upon us. And though yet unre∣drest, not a Session of Parliament has past these Se¦venteen Years, in which we have not humbly re∣monstrated our suffering condition: we have done our Part, which has been patiently to Suffer and modestly to Complain; 'tis yours now to hear our Groans, and if ever you expect Mercy from God, deliver us. The late Parliament just before its Disso∣lution was preparing some Relief for us; if that Par∣liament could think of it, yea, begin it, we hope you will finish and secure it.

To remove all Scruples or Objections, that Politi∣cally or Ecclesiastically on the part of the State or the Church, may be advanced against us in this request, I shall divide this Discourse into these two Parts. First, Caesar's Authority; next, the Church's Authori∣ty about Force in things that relate to Faith and Consci∣ence, with my Reasons briefly to both.

Page  194 Our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ did long since distinguish the Things of Caesar from the Things of God, in his plain and notable Answer unto that ensna∣ring Question of the Jews, about paying Tribute to Cae∣sar. Render (saith he) unto Caear the things that are Caesar's, and to God the Things that are God's; that is, Divine Worship, and all things relating to it belong unto God, Civil Obedience to Caesar. God can only be the Author of right Acts of Worship in the Mind: this is granted by all: therefore it is not in the Power of any Man or Men in the World, to sway or compel the Mind in Matters of Worship to God. Where this is attemped, God's Prerogative is invaded, and Caesar (by which Word I understand the Civil Go∣vernment) hath All. For he doth not only take his own Things, but the things appertaining to God also. Since if God hath not Conscience he hath nothing. My Kingdom, says Christ, is not of this World, nor is the Magistrate's of the other World; Therefore he exceeds his Province and Commission when ever he meddles with the Rites of it. Let Christ have his Kingdom, he is sufficient for it, and let Caesar have his, 'tis his Due. Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. Then there are things that belong not to Caesar, and we are not to give those to him such are Gods things, divine things; but those that belong to Caesar and his Earth∣ly Kingdom, must be of Duty rendred to him.

If any should ask me, What are the Things properly belonging to Caesar? I answer in Scripture Language To love Justice, do Judgment, relieve the Oppressed, Page  195 right the Fatherless, be a Terror unto Evil-doers, and a Praise to them that do well; for this is the great End of Magistracy.

But perhaps my Answer shall be reckoned too ge∣neral and ambiguous, and a fresh Question started, Who are the Evil-doers, to whom the Civil Authority ought to be terrible? But this ought in my Judgment to be no Question with men that understand the Nature of Civil Authority; for those are the Evil-doers, that violate those Laws which are necessary to the Preser∣vation of Civil Society, as Thieves, Murderers, Adul∣terers, Traytors, Plotters, Drunkards, Cheats, Vaga∣bonds, and the like mischievous and dissolute Per∣sons: Men void of Virtue, Truth and Sincerity, the Foundation of all good Government, and only firm Bond of human Society. Whoever denies me this, must at the same Time say, that Virtue is less necessary to Government than Opinion, and that the most Vitiated Men, professing but Caesar's Religion, are the best Sub∣jects to Caesar's Authority, consequently, that other Men, living never so honestly and industriously, and having else as good a Claim to Civil Protection and Preferment, shall meerly for their Dissent from that Religion (a Thing they can't help; for Faith is the Gift of God) be reputed the worst of Evil-doers: which is followed with exposing their Names to Obloquie, their Estates to Ruin, and their Persons to Goals, Ex∣iles, and Abundance of other Cruelties. What is this, but to confound the Things of Caesar with the Things of God; Divine Worship with Civil Obedi∣ence; the Church with the State, and perplex human Societies with endless Debates about Religious Differ∣ences? Page  196 Nay, is not this to erect new Measures to try the Members of Worldly Societies by, and give an Accession to another Power, then that which is necessary to the Constitution of Civil Government? But that which ought to deter wise Rulers from as∣suming and exercising such an Authority, is the Con∣sideration of the pernicious Consequences of doing so.

For, First, It makes PROPERTY, which is the first and most fixt Part of English Government floating and uncertain; for it seems no Conformity to the Church, no Property in the State; and doubtless, the Insecurity of Property can be no Security to the Go∣vernment: Pray think of that.

2dly, It makes me owe more to the Church then to the State; for in this Case, the Anchor I ride by, is not my Obedience to Laws, relating to the Preserva∣tion of Civil Society, but Conformity to certain Things belonging to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church; so that though I may be an honest, industri∣ous English man, a great Lover of my Country, and an Admirer of the Government I live under: yet if I re∣fuse to profess the Religion that either now is, or hereafter may be imposed, be it never so false that is all one, I must neither enjoy the Liberty of my Person, nor the quiet Possession of my Estate.

3ly, This not only alters the Government, by sacri∣ficing Mens Properties; for that which cannot be cal∣led a Sin against Property, nor an Offence to the Nature Page  197 of Civil Government, if any Transgression at all; but it narrows the Interest and Power of the Governours: For proportionably, what Number they cut off from their Protection, they cut off from themselves and the Government, not only rendring a great Body of People Useless, but provoaking them to be Dangerous; to be sure it clogs the Civil Magistrate in his Admini∣stration of Government, making that necessary which is not at all necessary to him AS CAESAR.

It is a Sort of DUUMVIRATESHIP in Power, by which the Civil Monarchy is broken; for as that was a Plurality of Men, so this is a Plurality of Powers; and to speak treely, the Civil Power is made to act the Lackey, to run of all the unpleasant Errands the fro∣ward Zeal of the other sends it upon: and the best Preferment it receives for its Pains, is to be Informer. Constable or Goaler to some of the best Livers, and therefore the best Subjects in the Kingdom.

Oh what greater Injustice to Caesar! then to make his Government vary by such Modes of Religion, and him to hold his Obedience from his People, not so much by their Conformity to Him, as to the Church.

4thly, This is so far from resembling the Universal Goodness of God, who dispenses his Light, Air, Showres, and comfortable Seasons to all (and whom Caesar ought alwaves to imitate) and remote from in∣creasing the Trade, Populacy and Wealth of this King∣dom, that it evidently tends to the utter Ruin of Thousands of Traders, Artificers and Husband men and their Families, thereby increasing the Charges, by increasing the Poor of the Ntion.

Page  1985thly, This must needs be a great Discouragement to Strangers, from coming in, and setling themselves amongst us, when they have Reason to apprehend, that they, and their Children after them can be no longer secured in the Enjoyment of their Properties, then they shall be able to prevail with their Consci¦ences, to believe that the Religion which our Laws do now, or shall at any time approve and impose, is undoubtedly true; and the Way of worshipping of God, which shall at any time be by our Laws enjoyn∣ed, is, and shall be more agreeable to the Will of God then any other Way in which God is worshipped in the World.

6thly, That way of Worship we are commanded Conformity to, doth not make better Livers (that's a Demonstration) nor better Artists; for it cannot be thought, that going to Church, hearing Common-Prayer, or believing in the present Episcopacy, learns Men to build Ships or Houses, to make Clothes, Shoes, Dials or Watches, Buy, Sell, Trade or Commerce, better then any that are of another Perswasion. And since these things are Useful, if not Requisite in Civil Society, is not prohibiting, nay, ruining such Men, because they will not come to hear Common-Prayer, &c. de∣structive of Civil Society; pray shew me better Sub∣jects. If any object, Dissenters have not alwayes been so; the Answer is ready, do not expose them, pro∣tect them in their Lives, Liberties and Estates; for in this present Posture they think they can call nothing Page  199 their own, and that all the Comforts they have in this World are hourly liable to Forfeiture for their Faith, Hope and Practice concerning the other World: Is not this to destroy Nature and Civil Government, when People are ruined in their Natural and Civil Capacity, not for Things relating to either, but what are of a Supernatural Import.

7thly, This deprives them of Protection that pro∣tect the Government. Dissenters have a great Share in the Trade, which is the Greatness of this Kingdom; and they make a large Proportion of the Taxes that maintain the Government. And is it reasonable, or can it be Christian, when they pay Tribute to Caesar, to be preserved in an Undisturbed Possssion of the Rest: that the Rest should be continually exposed for the peaceable Exercise of their Consciences to God?

8thly, Neither is it a Conformity to True and So∣lid Religion, such as is necessary to Eternal Salvation, wherein most parties verbally agree, but for a Modi∣fication of Religion, some peculiar Way of Worship and Discipline: All confess One God, One Christ, One Holy Ghost, and that it is indispensably requisite to live Soberly, Righteously and Godlikely in this present evil World; yet is one prosecuting the other for his Conscience, seiz∣ing Corn, driving away Cattel, breaking open Doors, ta∣king away and spoilng of Goods, in some places not leaving a Cow to give poor Orphants Milk, nor a Bed to lie on: in other Places Houses have been •…ept so clean, that a Stool hath not been left to sit on, nor so much as working Tools to labour for Bread. To say Page  200 nothing of the Opprbrious Speeches, Bloody lows and Tedious Imprisonments, even to Death it sel, through Nastiness of Dungeons, that many Innocent People have suffered for their peaceable Conscience only.

9thly, But this Way of proceeding for Mainte∣nance of the National Religion, is of an ill Conse∣quence upon this account, Heaven is barred from all further Illuminations. Let God send what Light he pleases, it must not be received by Caesar's People, without Caesar's Licence; and if it happen that Caesar be not presently convinced it is of God, at this rate I must either renounce my Convictions, and lose my Soul to please Caesar, or profess and persevere in my Perswasion, and lose my Life, Liberty or Estate to please God. This hath frequently occur'd, and may again. Therefore I would entreat Caesar to consider the sad Consequence of Imposition, and remember, both that God did never ask Man Leave to introduce Truth, or make further Discoveries of his Mind to the World, and that it hath been a Woful Snare to those Governments that have been drawn to employ their Power against his Work and People.

10thly, This Way of Proceedure endeavours to stifle, or else to punish Sincerity; for Fear or Hopes, Frowns or Favour prevail only with base Minds, Souls degenerated from true Nobleness. Every Spark of Integrity must be extinguisht, where Conscience is sa∣crificed to Worldly Safety and Preferment; so that this Net holds no Temporizers: Honest Men are all the Fish it catches: but one would think they should make Page  201 but an ill Treat to such as reckon themselves generous Men, and what is more, Christians too: but that which renders the Matter more unjustifiable, is, the Temp∣tation such Severity puts upon men, not hardy enough to suffer for Conscience, yet strongly perswaded they have Truth on their Side, to desert their Principles, and smother their Convictions, which in plain Terms is to make of Sincere Men Hypocrites, whereas it is one great End of Government, by all laudable Means to preserve Sincerity; for without it there can be no Faith or Truth in Civil Society. Nor is this all; for its a Maxim worthy of Caesar's Notice, NEVER TO THINK HIM TRUE TO CAESAR THAT IS FALSE TO HIS OWN CONSCIENCE; besides, raped Con∣sciences treasure up Revenge, and such Persons are not likely to be longer Friends to Caesar, than he hath Preferments to allure them, or Power to deter them from being his most implacable Enemies.

11thly, There is not so ready a Way to Atheism, as this of extinguishing the Sense of Conscience for Worldly Ends; destroy that Internal Rule of Faith, Worship and Practice towards God, and the Reason of my Religion will be Civil Injunctions, and not Di∣vine Convictions; consequently, I am to be of as ma∣ny Religions as the Civil Authority shall impose, however untrue or contradictory. This Sacred Tye of Conscience, thus broken, farewel to all Heavenly Obligations in the Soul, Scripture, Authority, and anci∣ent Protestant Principles, Christ may at this Rate be∣come what the Jews would have had him, and his Apostles be reputed Turners of the World up-side Page  202 down, as their Enemies represented them, and the godly Martyrs of all Ages so many Self-Murderers; for they might justly be esteem'd Resisters of World∣ly Authority, so far as that Authority concern it self with the Imposition of Religion, because they refu∣sed the Conformity commanded, even to Death.

And it may not be unworthy of Caesar's Considera∣tion, if from these Proceedings People are tempted to infer, there is nothing in Religion but Worldly Aims and Ends, because so much Power is abus'd under the Name of Religion, to vex and destroy Men for be∣ing of another Religion, that he hazards the best Hold and Obligation he hath to Obedience, which is Con∣science: For where they are taught to Obey for In∣terest, Duty and Conviction are out of Doors. By all Means let Conscience be sacred, and Virtue and Inte∣grity (though under dissenting Principles) cherisht; Charity is more powerful than Severity, Perswasion than Penal Laws.

Lastly, To the Reproach of this Course with Wise Men, it hath never yet obtain'd the End desir'd; for, instead of compliance, the Difference is widened, the Sufferers are pitied by Spectators, which only helps to increase the Number of Dissenters; for whoever is in the Wrong, few think the Persecutor in the Right. This in all Ages having been the Issue of se∣vere Prosecution of Dissenters for Matters of Religion; what a Cruel, Troublesom, Thankless, Succesles Office is it for Caesar to be imployed in? May he take bet∣ter Measures of his Authority and Interest, and use his Power to the Encouragement of all the VirtuousPage  203 and Industrous, and Just Punishment of the Lazy and Vicious in all Perswasions; so shall the Kingdom Flou∣rish, and the Government Prosper.

Church Power supposeth a Church first. It will not be improper therefore to examine; first, What a Scripture. New Testament Church is; and next, what is the Scripture-Power belonging to such a Church: A Scripture-Church, as she may be called Visible, is a Company or Society of People, believing, pro∣fessing and practising according to the Doctrine and Ex∣ample of Christ Jesus and his Apostles, and not accord∣ing to the Scribes and Pharisees, that taught for Doctrine the Traditions of men: They are such as are Meek in Heart, Lowly in Spirit a Chast in Life, b Virtuous in all Con∣versation, c full of Self-denyal, d Long-suffering and Patient, e not on∣ly forgiving, f but loving their ve∣ry Enemies; which answers Christ's own Character of himself Religion and Kingdom, which is the most apt Distin∣ction that ever can be given of the Nature of his Church and her Authority, viz.g MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. Which well connects with Render unto Caesar the things that are* Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.

It was an Answer to a very suspitious Question; for it was familiarly bruitd, that he was*a King, and came to possess his Kingdom, and was by some called the King of the Jews.

Page  204 The Jews being then subjected to the Roman Em∣pire, it concern'd Pilate, Caesars Deputy, to under∣stand his pretentions, which upon better information he found to center in this, My Kingdom is not of this World, else would my Subjects*fight for me. As if he had said, these Reports are a meer perversion of my Peaceable and Self denying Intentions, an Infamy invented by malicious Scribes and Pharisees, that they might the better prevail with Caesar to Sacrifice me to their hatred and revenge.

I am Caesar's Friend, I seek none of his Kingdoms from him, nor will I sow Sedition, plot or conspire his Ruin; no, Let all Men render unto Caesar the Things that are Caesar's; that's my Doctrine; for I am come to erect a Kingdom of another Nature then that of this World, to wit, a Spiritual Kingdom, to be set up in the Heart, and Conscience * is my Throne, upon that will I sit, and rule the Children of Men in Righteous∣ness; * and whoever lives Soberly, Righteously and God∣lily in this World, shall be my good and loving Sub∣jects, and they will certainly make no ill ones for Caesar, since such Virtue is the end of Government, and renders his Charge both more easie and safe then before. Had I any other Design then this, would I suffer my self to be reproached, traduced and perse∣cuted by a conquered people? were it not more my Nature to suffer then revenge, would not their many provocations have drawn from me some Instance of another kind then the Forbearance and Forgiveness I teach? certainly were I animated by another princi∣ple then the perfection of Meekness and Divine Page  205 Sweetness, I should not have forbidden *Peter fighting, saying, Put up thy Sword, or endoctrinated my Followers to bear Wrongs, but revenged all Affronts, and by Plots and other Strata∣gems have attempted Ruin to my Enemies, and the acquest of worldly Empire; and no doubt but they would have fought for me. Nay, I am not only pati∣ently & with Pity to Enemies) sensible of their barba∣rous Carriage towards me for my Good Will to them (for their Eternal Happiness I only seek) but I fore-see what they further intend against me, they design to crucifie me; And to do it, will rather free a Mur∣derer then save their Saviour. They will perform that Cruelty with all the Aggra∣vation * and Contempt they can, deriding me themselves, and exposing me to the * derision of others; for they will mock my Divine Kingship with a Crown of Thorns, * and in my Agonies of Soul and Body for a Cordial, give me Gaul and Vinegar to * drink: But notwithstanding all this, to satisfie the World that my Religion is above Wrath and Revenge, I can forgive them.

And to secure Caesar and his People * from all Fears of Imposition, whatever Authority I have, and how many Legi∣ons of Angels soever I might Command both to my Deliverance and the Enforcement of my Message up∣on Mankind; I resolve to promote neither with worldly Power; for it is not of the Nature of my Religion and Kingdom. And as I neither assume nor practise any such thing my self, that am the great Page  206 Author, Promoter and Example of this Holy Way; so have I not only never taught my Disciples to live or act otherwise, or given them a Power I refuse to use my Self; but expresly forbad them, and warn'd them in my Instructions, of exercising any the least Revenge, Imposition or Coertion towards any. This is evident in my Sermon preached upon the Mount, where I freely, publickly and with much Plainness, not only prohibited Revenge, but injoyned Love to Enemies, making it to be a great * Token of true Discipleship to suffer Wrongs, and conquer Cruelty by Patience and For∣giveness, which is certainly a great Way off Imposi∣tion or Compulsion upon other Men.

Furthermore, when I was strongly bent for Jerusa∣lem, & sent Messengers before to prepare some enter∣tainment for me and my Company in a Village belonging to the Samaritans, and * the People refused, because they apprehen∣ded I was going to Jerusalem; though some of my Disciples, particularly James and John, were provok'd to that Degree, that they asked me, if I were wil∣ling that they should command Fire from Heaven to destroy those Samaritans, as Elias in another Case had done; I turned about, and rebuked them, saying, Ye know not what Manner of Spirit ye are of; for am not come into the World to destroy Mens Lives, but by my peaceable Doctrine, Example and Life to save them.

At another time one of my Disciples, relating to me some Passages of their Travails, told me of a certain Man they saw, that cast * out Devils in my Name, and because he was not of Page  207 their Company, nor followed them, said he, we for∣bad him; as if they had thereby served and pleased me; but I presently testified my Dislike of the Igno∣rance and Narrowness of their Zeal, and to inform them better told them, they should not have forbid him; for he that is not against us is for us.

My Drift is not Opinion, but Piety; they that cast out Devils, convert Sinners, and turn Men to Righteousness, are not against me, nor the Nature and Religion of my Kingdom, & therefore ought to be cherisht rather then forbid. That I might sufficiently declare and inculcate my Mind in this Matter, I did at another Time, and upon a different Occasion, preach against all Coertion and Persecution for Mat∣ters of Faith and Practice towards God, in my Para∣ble of the Sower, as my Words manifest, which were these; The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a Man which sowed good Seed in his Field; but while Men slept, his Enemy came, and sowed Tares among the Wheat, and went his Way; but when the Blade sprung up, and brought forth Fruit, there appeared the Tares also; so the Ser∣vants of the Houshoulder came and said, didst thou not sow good Seed in thy Field? from whence then hath it Tares? he answered, an Enemy hath done*this; the Servants said unto him, wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? but he said NAY, lest while ye gather up the Tares, ye root up also the Wheat with them, let boh grow together till the Harvest, and in the Time of Harvest I will say to the Reapers, gather ye together first the Tares, and bind them in Bundles to burn them, but gather the Wheat into my Barn.

Page  208 And that I might not leave so necessary a Truth misapprehended of my dear Followers, or liable to any Mis-constructions, my Disciples, when toge∣ther, desiring an Explanation, I interpreted my words thus:

He that soweth the good Seed is the Son of Man; the Field is the World: the good Seed are the Chil¦dren of the Kingdom; but the Tares are the*Children of the Wicked One; the Enemy that sowed them is the Devil; the Harvest is the End of the World; and the Reapers are the Angels.

This Patience, this Long Suffering and great For∣bearance belong to my Kingdom and the Subjects of it, my Doctrine speaks it, and my Example confirms it, and this can have no possible Agreement with Impo∣sition and Persecution for Concience. 'Tis true, I once whipt out the Prophaners of my Father's Temple; but I never whipt any 〈◊〉. I call'd, I cry'd to every one that thirsted to come, and freely offer'd my Assistance to the Weary and Heavy Laden; but I never impos'd my Help, or forced any to receive me; for I take not my Kingdom by Violence, but by Suffering. And that I might sufficiently deter my Followers from any such Thing, as I profess my self to be their Lord and Master, so have I commanded them to love one another in a more especial Manner. But if instead thereof any shall * grow proud, high-minded, and beat or abuse their Fellow-Servants in my Religious Family, when I come to take an account of my Houshold, he shall be cut asunder, and appointed his Portion among the Unbelievers. Behold the Recompence I appoint Page  209 to Imposing Lordly Persons, such as count others In∣fidels, and to make them such Believers as themselves, will exercise Violence towards them, and if they pre∣vail not, will call for fire from Heaven to devour them, and if Heaven refuse them, will fall a Beating and Killing (and think, it may be, they do God good Service) but their Lot shall be with Unbelievers for∣ever.

Nay, I have so effectually provided against all Mastery, that I expresly charged them, not to be many Masters; for one was their Master: I told them, that the greatest amongst them was to be Servant to the rest, not to impose upon the rest; nay, that to be great in my Kingdom, they must become as gentle and harmless as little Children, and such cannot force and punish in Matters of Religion. In fine, I strict∣ly commanded them to love one another, as I have loved them, who am ready to lay down my Life for the Ungodly, instead of taking away Godly Men's Lives for Opinions; and this is the great Maxim of my holy Religion, He that would be my Disciple, must not crucifie other Men, but take up his Cross and follow me, who am meek and lowly, and such so enduring shall find Eternal Rest to their Souls; this is the Power I use, and this is the Power I give.

How much this agrees with the Language, Do∣ctrine and Example of Jesus Christ, I shall leave them to consider, that read and believe Scripture; but some affected to present Church Power, and de∣siring their Ruin that conform not to her Worship and Discipline, will object, That Christ did give his Page  210 Church Power to bind and loose, and bid any Person agrie∣ved tell the Church.

I grant it; but what binding was that? with out∣ward Chains and Fetters, in nasty Holes and Dun∣geons? nothing less: Or was it, that his Church had that true Discerning in her, and Power with him, that what she bound, that is condemned, or loosed, that is remitted, should stand so in God's Sight and Christ's Account.

But tell the Church; and what then? observe Christ's Extent in the Punishment of the Offender, If the Offender will neither receive private Admonition, nor hear the Church, then (says Christ) let him be to thee as an Heathen, &c. Here's not one word of Fines, Whips, Stocks, Pillories, Goals, and the like Instru∣ments of Cruelty, to punish the Heretick; for the Purport of his Words seem to be no more than this; If any Member of the Church refuse thy private Ex∣hortation and the Church's Admonition, look upon such a Person to be obstinate, perverse, no more of you; let him take his course, thou hast done well, and the Church is clear of him.

Well, but say the Church Fighters of our Age, Did not St. Paul wish them cut off that troubled the Church in his time? Yes: But with what Sword think you? Such as Christ bid Peter put up, or the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God? Give him leave to explain his own words; For though we walk in the Flesh, WE DO NOT WAR AF∣TER THE FLESH; for the WEAPONS of our Warfare are NOT CARNAL, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong Holds, casting down Page  211 Imaginations, and every high Thing that exalteth it self against the Knowledge of God, and bringing every Thought into Obedience to Christ.

What think you of this? Here are Warfares, Weapons, Oppositions and Conformity, and not on∣ly no External Force about Matters of Religion used or countenanced, but the most express and pathetical Exclusion and Rejection of any such Thing that could be given.

It was this great Apostle that askt that Question, Who art thou that judgest the Servant of another?*to his own Lord he standeth or falleth: but he shall stand; for God is able to make him stand. Can we think that Imposition or Persecution is able to An∣swer him this Question in the Day of Judgment? Do we with Reason deny it to the Papacy? With what Reason then can we assume it to our selves? Let us remember who said, Not that we have Dominion over your Faith, but are HELPERS of your Joy. HELPERS, then not IMPOSERS nor PERSECU∣TORS. What Joy can there be in that to the Perse∣cuted? but if Paul had no such Commission or Power over Conscience, I would fain know by what Autho∣rity more inferiour Ministers and Christians do claim and use it.

The Apostle Peter is of the same mind; Feed (says he) the Flock of God, not by Constraint, &c.*neither as being Lords over God's Heritage. The Heritage of God is free, they have but 〈◊〉 Lord in and of their Religion, Christ Jesus, and they 〈◊〉 Brethren.

Page  212 The Apostle Paul says, That where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty but where Coertion, Fines and Goals are there is no Liberty. * Is it to be supposed that men in these days are instru∣cted by the Spirit of the Lord to destroy People in this World for their Faith about the other World? it can't possibly be, such mock at it? Again, says that Apostle to the Christians of his time, You are called to Liberty, from what? Sin and*the Ceremonies of the Law. And shall the end of that call be the enthraling Conscience to human Edicts in Religion under the Gospel? this would make our Case worse than the Jews, for their Worship stood on divine Authority; and if to make men free from them Christ came, and that those very Ordinances are by the Apostle call'd beggerly Elements, is it reasonable that we must be subject to the Injunctions of men in the Worship of God, that are not of equal Authority?

The same Apostle yet informs us, For this end, says he, Christ both dyed and rose again, that HE might be Lord both of the Dead and Living: But why dost thou jude thy Brother? then which, nothing can more ex∣presly oppose the Imposition, Excommunication and Persecution, that are among us; 'tis as if he had said, Christ is Lord of Christians, by what Authority dost thou pretend to judge his Servants? thou also art but one of them: A Brother at most. Thou hast no Do∣minion over his Faith, nor hast thou Commission to be Lord over his Conscience; 'tis Christ's right, his purchase, he has paid for it. For this end he both dyed and rose again, that he might be Lord of Dead and Living; that he might rescue them from the Jaws of Oppres∣sion; Page  213 from those that usurpt their Consciences, and made a prey of their Souls. But why dost thou judge thy Brother? If not Judge, then not Persecute, Plun∣der, Beat, Imprison to Death our Brethren, that must needs follow. Come, let us look at home, and view our Actions, and see if we are not the Men.

In short, Let every man be fully Perswaded in his own mind, and if any thing be short, God will re∣veal*it; let us be patient. It was not Flesh and Blood that reveal'd Christ to Peter, they are Christ's words, therefore let us leave off the Consultatins and Weapons of Flesh and Blood, and trust Christ with his own Kingdom; he hath said, the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it; and we cannot think that he would seek to Hell Gates to maintain it; and if it is not of this World, then not to be maintain'd by that Force and Pollicy, which are the Props of the Kingdoms of this World. God, the Apostle tells us, has chosen the weak things of the World to confound the mighty. Therefore he has not chosen the Strength and Power of this World to suppress Conscientious People, that as to humane force, are justly accounted weakest and most destitute in all Ages of defence.

I will here conclude my Scripture Proofs with this Exhortation or Injunction rather of the A∣postle. *Ye are bought with a Price, not to be made the Servants of men. The Subject here is not hu∣man, wherein human Ordinances are to be obeyed, that is not the Question, but Divine, and those that for fear or favour of men desert their Principles and be∣tray their Consciences, they renounce their Lord, de∣ny him that bought them, and tread his Blood, the Page  214Price, under Foot. Ye are bought with a Price, Christ has purchast you: you are not your own, but his that bought you, therefore be not the Servants of men about God's things or Christ's Kingdom, vail to no mans Judgment, neither make mans determina∣tions your Rule. Stand fast in the Liberty, wherewith he has made you free, & be not entangled again into Bondage, for we are not come to that*Mountain that we cannot touch, to Sinai; we are not now to be kept under like School Boys or Mi∣nors; that Imposition might be useful then, which is a bondage now. Moses was God's Servant, and faithful, he saw, heard and went upon the Mount for the People; but Christians are come to Mount Zion, to Jerusalem, the Mother of Peace and Freedom. Much then depended upon the Integrity of Moses; it pleased God then to appear by those ways; but now the Law is brought home to every mans Heart,*and every one shall know God for himself, from the least to the greatest. My Sheep, says Christ, hear my Voice. And let us remember that there is no possibility of deception here, where there is no necessity of*trusting. In fine, Ye are bought with a Price, be not made the Servants of men. One is your Lord even Christ, and ye are Brethren.*

But methinks I hear a stout Objection, and 'tis this: At this rate you will everthrow all Church Discipline, all Censure of Errors, if no man or men can determin. My Answer is ready and short, No Scripture Church Di∣scipline is hereby oppugn'd or weakned, Let not the Sentence end in Violence upon the Conscience unconvinced. Let whoso will expound or determin, so it be according Page  215 to true Church discipline, which can be exercised on them only, who have willingly joyn'd themselves in that Covenant of Union, and which proceeds only to a separation from the rest, a disavowing or disowning but never to any Corporal or Pecuniary Punishment; the two Arms of Anti christ, or rather that great Beast which carries the Whore.

But let us observe what sort of Church Government the Apostle recommends; Avoid foolish Questions, and Genealogies, and Contentions, and Striving about the Law; for they are unprofitable and vain: A Man that is an Heretick, after the first and second Admonition, reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, be∣ing CONDEMNED OF HIMSELF; or Self-condemned.

Its very remarkable; First, That this great Apo∣stle instead of exhorting Titus to stand upon Nice∣ties, and sacrifice mens Natur I Comforts and En∣joyments for Opinions of Religion, injoyns him to shun Disputes about them, leaving People to their own Thoughts and Apprehensions in those Matters, as reputing the Loss of Peace in striving greater, than the Gain that could arise from such an Unity and Conformity: w••ch excellently well coheres with another Passage of his; Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in any thing*ye be otherwise minded, God shall REVEAL even this unto you: He did not say. You shall be FINED, PILLAGED, EXCOMMUNICATED & FLUNG into Prison, if ye be not of our Mind.

Page  2162dly, That, in the Apostles Definition, an Here∣tick is a Self confounded Person, one conscious to him∣self of Error, and Obstinacy in it; but that are not Conscientious Dissenters; for many Ten Thousands in this Nation act as they believe, and dissent from the National Religion, purely upon a Principle of Conscience to Almighty God. And with Men of any Tenderness or common Sense, their continual great Sufferings in Prison and Estate, and their Pati∣ence under them, are a Demonstration, or there can he none in the World.

Nor can their Persecutors disprove them, unless they could search Hearts, and that is a little too far for a Fallible Spirit to reach, and an Infallible One they deny. So that the Apostle makes not the Here∣tick to lie upon the side of Mis-believing, or not co∣ming up to his Degree of Faith and Knowledge, but upon the side of Wilfully, Turbulently, Obstinately and Self condemnedly maintaining inconsisting Things with the Faith, Peace and Prosperity of the Church.

Granting us then not to be Obstinate and Self-con∣demned Dissenters (and you cannot reasonable refuse it us) how do you prove us Erroneous in the other Part? All Parties plead Scripture, and that for the most opposite Principles; The Scripture, you say, cannot determine the Sense of it self; it must have an Interpreter: he must either be Fallible or Infalli∣ble; If the first, we are worse then before; for men are apt to be more confident, and yet are still upon as un∣certain Page  217 Grounds. If the last, this must either be an external or an internal Judge; if an external, you know where you are without pointing; for there stands nothing between you and Popery in that Prin∣ciple. If an internal Judge, either it is our selves, or the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us; not our selves; for then the Rule is the Thing ruled, which cannot be; and if it be the Spirit of Christ Jesus (and the Apostle tells us, That unless we have the Spirit we are none of Christ's) then is the Neck of Imposition bro∣ken, and what hast thou to do to judge me? let me stand or fall to my own Master; And upon this Foot went Luther, Calvin, Melan•…on, Beza abroad; and Cranmer, Ridly, Hooper, Jewel, Bradford, Philpot, &c. at home, and as good Men, and constant Martyrs in Ages before them.

But suppose Conscientious Dissenters as ill Men as the Apostle describes an Heretick to be; what is the Punishment? this is close to the Point; stand it.

3dly, A Man that is an Heretick after the first and second Admonition, reject; that is, deny his Commu∣nion, declare he is none of you, condemn his Procee∣dings by a publick censure among your selves. What more can be strain'd by the fiercest Prosecutors of Men for Religion out of these words?

But will we be govern'd by the Rules of Holy Writ? have we any true Veneration for the Exhor∣tations and Injunctions therein? then let us soberly consider, what the Apostle Paul advises and recom∣mends to his beloved Timothy upon the present Occa∣sion, Page  218 and I dare promise an End to Contest and Persecution for Religion. Flee Youth∣ful Lusts; but follow Righteousness. Faith,*Charity, Peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure Heart; but foolish and unlearned Questions avoid, knowing that they do gender STRIFES. And THE SERVANT OF THE LORD MUST NOT STRIVE, but BE GENTLE UNTO ALL MEN, APT TO TEACH, PATIENT, IN MEEKNESS INSTRUCTING THOSE THAT OPPOSE themselves, if God peradventure will give them Repentance to the ac∣knowledging of the Truth.

There is such a depth of Wisdom lodged in this one Passage, that I find difficulty to express my self upon it, and yet I shall with pleasure endeavour it. Here is both Faith and Government, Religion and Duty, all that becomes us towards God, our Bre∣thren, our Neighbours, yea, our Opposers and E∣nemies.

Flee Youthful Lusts: that is, avoid Sin turn away from every Appearance of Evil, flee the Temptation as soon as thou seest it, lest it ensnare thee; but fol∣low Righteousness, Charity and Peace; seek and love Holiness, and there will be Charity and Peace to thy self, and in thee to all men. For the Kingdom of God stands in Righteousness, and Peace, and Joy in the holy Ghost; not in Contest about Words, nor in maintaining foolish and unlearned Questions, such as reach not the Soul, nor carry any force upon our Affe∣ctions, that learn not men to be better, to have more piety, vertue, goodness, but are meer Notions and Specu∣lations, Page  219 that have no influence upon holy Living, or tendency to the Regiment of our Passions. Such Que∣stions as the Curiosity or Wantonness of Men's Wit or restless Fancy are apt to start under Pretence of Divine Truth, and Sublime Mysteries; these Nice∣ties, Conceits and Imaginations of Men (not bot∣tomed on the Revelation of the eternal Spirit, but humane Apprehension and Tradition) such Questi∣ons avoid, meddle not with them; but next to Youthful Lusts, flee them by all means; for they draw to Strife, to Heats, Animosities, Envy, Ha∣tred and Persecution, which unbecome the Man of God; for says the Apostle, He must not STRIVE, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient (be their Rank, Notion, Opinion or Faith what it will, he must not be fierce nor censorious, much less should he persecute or excite Caesar to do it for him, no such matter) he must be apt to teach and inform the Igno∣rant: and in case it succeed not, he ought not to be outragious, or go about to whip or club it into him; he must be patient, that is, he must not think to bend things to his own Will or Time, but commit his honest Edeavours to God's Blessing, that can raise of the Stones of the Street Children unto Abraham. The Want of this Patience has been the Undoing of all.

But some will object, O but it is not Ignorance, 'tis Obstinacy and Opposition: Hardly judg'd, my Friend; but admit it were so, here's a Recipe for the Malady too, and that of the Apostle's prescribing. Observe the following words; In MEEKNESS instruct∣ing those that OPPOSE themselves, if God perad∣venture Page  220 will give them Repentance, to the acknowledging of the Truth. Then not Fining, Plundering, Beating, Stocking, Imprisoning, Banishing and Killing even OP∣POSERS themselves for Religion; unless there is a Way of doing these things with Gentleness. Pati∣ence and Meekness; which I confess I, and I think no Body else ever heard of.

But as the Apostle gives Timothy another Method then is now used by the Sons of Violence, for re∣claiming Opposers, so the Reason of the Counsel makes all other Wayes unlawful; viz. If God perad∣ventur will give them Repentance to the acknowledgment of the Truth. I would hereupon enter the List with a Perscutor; Is Repentance in my own Power, or is it in thine to give me? the Apostle sayes neither: 'tis God's Gift alone (If God peradventure will give them Repentance, &c.) since Repentance then is in the Case, and that God alone can give it, of what use are Violent Courses, which never beget Repentance? on the contrary, they have rarely fail'd to raise Pre∣judice and beget Hardness.

But was this the Evangelical Rule and Practice? Yes, that it was; Oh then whence comes Impositi∣on, Force, Cruelty, Spoil of Goods, Imprison∣ments, Knockings, Beatings, Bruisings, Stockings, Whippings, and Spilling of Blood for Religion? What Church is that, whose Officers are so far from clothing the Naked, as that they strip the Clothed; from feeding the Hungry, that they take their Bread from them, and those poor Widows and helpless Orphans too; and so remote from visiting the Sick and Imprisoned, that they drag away their Beds from Page  221 under them, and cast their Persons into Prison for Conscience sake? Nay, they haled away an Honest Man from a Meeting to Goal at Reading, (a while since) not permitting him to TAKE LEAVE of his poor Wife, newly delivered, and in a DYING Condition, though she much desired it, and liv'd but just by the Meeting house whence they took him. In fine, what are they that for no other Cause pass such Dreadful Excommunications, as render the Ex∣communicants little better then Outlawed Persons, subjecting their Civil & Natural Rights to their Pride, Passion, Interest or Revenge, unless they will pur∣chase their Enjoyment at the dear rate of giving their own Consciences the Lye? For what else can be the Consequence of conforming to that I do not believe? Is not this to destroy sincere Men, and make and save Hypocrites?

Oh, that such as are concern'd would soberly con∣sider if any Thing is so Scandalous to True Religion as FORCE. Who can think that Evidence Good that is extorted? And what a Church is that, which is made up of such Proselytes, or that employes such Means to make them? 'Tis base Coyn that needs Imposition to make it current, but true Mettal passeth for its own intrinsick value O where is that Christian Meekness, Patience and Forbearance? How many have been ruined, that were never exhorted, and Excommunicated before they were once admo∣nished? This is not to serve God, but Worldly In∣terest: its quite contrary to Christ's Counsel and Doctrine: He came to save, and not to destroy Na∣ture Page  222 to magnifie his Grace. You pretend to hate J. Calvin's unconditional Reprobation, yet practise it; If you say no, Conformity is your Condition: I answer, that its as unreasonable to require an im∣possibility, as cruel to dam Men for not doing it; For as you say, his Doctrine makes Gd to command them to repent, that cannot repent, and yet damn them if they repent not; So you injoyn Men to relinquish their present Faith and Worship, and conform to yours, which is not in their power to do, yet damn them in a temporal respect if they refuse it; For you make such an unavoidable Dissent, punishable with the Destruction of Mens Liberties and Estates. You had better leave off valu∣ing your selves upon the Mercy and Well-natur'dness of that Tenet of the Universal Love of God to Man kind, till you love more then your selves, and abo∣mnate that the Church of England should be such an Elect to the Civil Government as utterly reprobates the rest, as you pretend to detest the like Injustice in J. Calvin's Notion of Election and Reprobation.

And the Truth of it is, this helps on Atheism as much as any Enormity in the Land: when Witty Men, not willing to take Pains to examine after the Truth and Excellency of Religion, behold Men that call themselves Christ's Ministers, and the Apostles Successors and Followers, to affect and seek Govern∣ment, and yet twice deny it, when they go to receive it: That some others grow Lordly, live Voluptu∣ously, and watch after the biggest Preferments, not being excited by most Service for God, but Earthly Power and Wealth for themselves; and at the same Page  223 Time persecuting Men of more Self-denyal, for Mats¦ters of Opinion about Faith and Worship toward-God; so that No Conformity to this Church, No Pro∣tection from the State. Which among Protestants is so much the more unreasonable. First, Because they by these Courses implicitly own and assume the high∣est Infallibility and Perfection, and yet deny any such Thing. For it supposes that nothing is Truer, no∣thing Perfecter, or else they both persecute Men to embrace a Fallible, and Inperfect Religion, and with cruel Penalties provide against any thing more true or Infallible, and the greatest Injury to the World that can be: for it is a plain Endeavour to fru∣strate all those excellent Prophecies and gracious Pro∣mises God has given, and the holy Scriptures declare of the latter Days. But Secondly, It exposes you to the lash and scorn of the Papist unavoidably; for at this rate you, that with reason think it Ignorance and Irreligion in the Papist to imagin himself discharged in God's account, by believing only as the Church be∣lieves, conceive your selves at the same time justified by believeing only as a few of your own Doctors, or else as the State believes. But if the Church can∣not use force in Religion, for this reason, because she cannot Infallibly determin to the Conscience without convincement, much less can a few Doctors or the Civil Authority use force where they can much less judge. Unless you would make them the Civil Ex∣ecutioners of your displeasure that have no Civil Power to give them such Commission; and to be sure no Ecclesiastical to any Force or Violence about Re∣ligion. For the Papist by judging his Principles, pu∣nishes them that believes not as the Church believes, Page  224though against Scripture, but the Protestant, who teaches every one to believe the Scripture, though against the Church, persecutes against his own Principles, even them that in any particular so believe, as he in Gene∣ral teaches them to believe. This is hard, but true upon the Protestant; for what is plainer then that he afflicts Those that according to his own Doctrine be∣lieve and honour holy Scripture, but against it will receive no humane Interpretation though Universal? Them, I say, who interpret Scripture to themselves, which by his Position none but they to themselves can Inter-pret; Them, that use the Scripture no otherwise, by his own Doctrine, to their Edification, than he him∣self uses it to their punishing, and so whom his Do∣ctrine acknowledges true Believers, his Discipline persecutes as Hereticks.

To sum up all at this time; If we must believe as Caesar appoints, why not then as the Church believes? But if not as either without Convincement, pray how can force be lawful? Let me recommend one Book to you, that of Right claims a place with you, and that is Bishop Taylor's of L••erty of Prophecy, never answer'd that I have heard of, and I have reason to believe ne∣ver will be attemped; for indeed it is Unanswer∣able. That was the Judgment of a Bishop under Persecution, I could be glad if it might be the practice of Bishops in their power: I may say the same of J. Tillotson's sober and seasonable discourse before the Commons on the fifth of November. And the truth is, I am the more earnest with you at this time, because I find that God daily shows us he has great good will to poor England. O why should we drive him Page  225 from us by our disobedience to him, and our Severi∣ties to one another. He has lately put a price into our hands, and continues to prove his Favours upon us; all depends upon a sincere Reformation and our perseverance therein.

To give Testimony of this; let us with our whole Hearts turn to Go, and keep his holy Law, and let us but be jealous of his Glory by punishing Vice and cherishing Virtue, and we may assure our selves he will interest himself in our safety. Of this we cannot doubt, for he who has begun to do it under our Disobedi∣ence, will not desert us in our sincere Repentance. And as this is our Duty to God, without which we vainly hope for deliverance, so is there a duty we owe to one another, that is the next Requisie to our Pre∣servation.

Let all Aspeities be avoided, Nick-Names forbid∣den, and the oppressed Protestant deliver'd. Receive the noble Principle of Liberty of Conscience, on which the Reformation rise: For in vain do we hope to be deli∣ver'd from Papists, till we deliver our selves from Po∣pery. This Coertion upon Conscience, and Persecution for Religion are that part of Popery, which is most just∣ly hated and fear'd: And if we either fear or hate Popery for its Cruelty▪ shall we practise the CRUELTY we fear or hate it for? God forbid: this were the way to be deserted of God, and left to their Cruelty. The same Sins will ever fix the same Odium, and find the fame Punishment where-ever they are. If they burnt your Ancestors, don't you strip and starve your Bre∣thren. Remember the many Thousands now perse∣uted in this Kingdom for the sake of their tender and Page  226 very peaceable Consciences; Husbands are unnatural∣ly separated from their Wives, and Parents from their Children, their Corn, Cattel and Houshould stuff swept away, perhaps at the Instigation of some lewd and indi∣gent Informer, or to please the malie of an ill dispos'd Neighbour. In the mean time many, once sufficient, are expos'd to Charity, the fruits of their honest La∣bour and Bread of their Children being now made the Forfeiture of their Conscience.

Friends and Country men, there is deep Doctrine in this present Providence, examine it well, that you may reap the benefit of it: And among the rest, let me tell you, this is not the least part of it, that God is shewing you Mercy, that you may shew Mercy, and has awaken'd you at the brink of the Pit, that you may help your Brethren out of it. Be wise and considerate, 'twill be much your own fault if you are not happy. And truly I have no manner of scruple, but God will preserve us, if w will not cast away our selves. For our own Sins and Folly can only direct the hand that seeks to Stab us; and shall we make it succesful to our own ruin? Let us therefore turn away from all Im∣piety; let the Magistracy discourage and punish it; and let us forhear, and love one another. If we begin with God, we shall end with God, that is, with Success; Else be assured, we shall only inherit the Wind of our own Invention, and be deserted of him, then, when we shall most want him.

In short, reverence the present providence; though your Lives have not deserv'd it, let your Lives now be grateful, and not abuse it. Pursue your advan∣tages throughly, but wisely; be as temperate as zea∣lous, Page  227 and to your Enemies, as generous as just: In∣sult not over ill men for the sake of their ill Principles, but pity their unhappiness, whilst you abhor the cause of it; let them see that you had rather inform then destroy them, & take more pleasure in their Con∣version, then your own Revenge. This will be the greatest coufutation upon them, that they be taught the Goodness of your Religion by the mildness of it, and by its mercy, the Cruelty of their own. The Indian Atabaliba rejected the Romish Baptism, because of the Spanish Tyranny, whence it was usual with those poor Americans, to desire they might not go to Heaven if the Spaniards went thither. I know there be little Arts used to prevent Protestant Union, and that in a Protestant Guise; and 'tis a Trick, not of yesterday, to put one Party of Protestants upon de∣vouring four or five, that both the Protestant Church may have the Odium of Eating or Devouring her own Children, & that another Interest behind the Hangings may find the more easie and creditable access to the Chair: 'Tis the Men of this Strain, though under disguise, that now seek to distract you, and to effect it the better, old Stories must be had up, Acts of Olivion violated, the dead disturb'd, their Tombs rifl'd and they hal'd out of their Graves to receive a new Sentence; That Con∣demning the Living of that interest by the Dead, they might be deserted of those, that to say we cannot be safe without them.

If any thing Sober and Judicious be propos'd for allaying Asperities, accomodating Differences, and securing to Prince and People a just and legal Union of Interest as our Government requires, we must pre∣sently be told of 41. and 42. as if there were a sort of Page  228Necromancy in the numbers, or that the naming of those Figures (long since made Cyphers by an Act of Oblivion) hath power enough to lay the active and ge∣nerous Spirits of our times; but they will find them∣selves mistaken in their black Art, and that things as well as times are chang'd; the Mask is off, and he that runs may read.

Men in their Pleas and Endeavours for Truth, Justice and Sincere Religion will not be over born or stagger'd by such stale and trifling Reflections, rarely used of late but to palliate wretched Designs, or dil∣credit good ones, with men of weak Judgments, though perhaps of loyal Principles.

I beseech you, let us not be unskilful in these Tricks, that we may not be mistaken or abused by them; I cannot tell a ime in which the Minds of all sorts of Protestants have been so powerfully and unanimously engag'd to endeavour a good Understanding between the King and People; And as I am sure it was never more needed, so let me say no Age hath put a richer Price into the Hands of Men, or yielded a fairer Oc∣casion to fix an happy and lasting Union upon: in order to which let me prevail with you, that we may study to improve this great Principle as the necessary means to it, viz. That God's Providence and our own Constitution have made the Interest of Prince and People ONE; and that their Peace and Greatness lie in a most industrous and impartial Prosecution of it.

Those that teach other Doctrine, as that the Prince hath an Interest apart from the Good and Safety of the People, are the sole men that get by it, and therefore find themselves oblig'd to study their mis-understand∣ingPage  229 because they only are disappointed and insecured by their Union.

Experience truly tells us, that such Persons have another Interest than that which leads to a common Good, and are often but too artificial in interesting Princes in the success of it; but prudent and generous Princes have ever seen that it is neither safe nor just; and that no Kingdom can be govern'd with true Glory and Success, but there where the Interest of the Governour is one with that of the Governed, and where there is the strictest Care to steer all Transactions of State by the Fundamentals, or first and great Principles of their own Constitution, especially since swerving from them hath alwayes made way for Confusion and Mi∣sery in Government. Our own Stories are almost every where vext by this Neglect.

To Conclude, and sum up the whole Discourse; If you will both cure present, and prevent future Grie∣vances, it will greatly behove us to take a most deli∣berate and unbyass'd View of the present state of Things, with their proper Causes and Tendencies. Let us confront our Ecclesiastical Matters with the plain Text and Letter of Holy Scripture; this is PROTESTANT: and let us compare our civil Transactions with the antient Laws and Statutes of the Realm; this is ENGLISH. And I do hum∣bly and heartily beseech Al mighty God, that he would so dispose the Hearts of Prince and People, as that now Foundations may be laid for a Just and Last∣ing Tranquility to these Nations.

Page  230


I Impute all Persecution for Religion to these Se∣ven insuing Causes, though properly speaking, there is but one Original Cause of this Evil, and that is the Devil, as there is but one Original Cause of Good, and that is God.

The first Cause of Persecution is this, That the Au∣thors and Users of it have little or no Religion at Heart, they art not subject to the ground and first Cause of true Religion in their own Souls: For it is the part of true Religion to humble the Mind, break the Heart, and soften the Affection: To him, O God! wilt thou have regard, said one of Old, who is of a broken Heart, and a contrite Spirit, and that trembles at thy word; not one that breaks Pates and plunders Goods for Religion. Bles∣sed are they that Mourn, said Christ, they shall be comforted; not those that sell Joseph, and make Merry. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the King∣dom of God; those that are low in their own Eyes; not Page  231 such as devour and damn all but themselves. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth; such as are gentile and ready to help, and not Tyrannize over Neigh∣bours. Blessed are the Merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy; what then shall become of those that are Cruel, under pretence of doing it for Gods sake. Blessed are the Peace-makers, for they shall be called the Children of God; then Disturbers and Destroyers of their peace∣able Neighbours shall not be called so. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after Righteousness, for they shall be filled; but not those that hunger and thirst after our Corn and Cattel, Houses and Land for Conscience sake. And Blessed are you, says Christ, when Men shall Revile and Persecute you, &c. then not those that Revile and Persecute others, and those Sober and Harm∣less: not one Blessing to this Conscience-hunting Doctrine and Practice, that devour the Widow and Orphant for Re∣ligion. Were men inwardly and truly Religious, they would have that low Opinion of themselves, that tender regard to mankind, that awe of Almighty God, that none of these froward Passions would have any sway with them. But the mischief is, unmorti∣fied Passions pretend to Religion, a Proud, Impatient, Arrogant mind would promote it, then which, no∣thing of Man is more remote from it, and mistaking the Nature of Christ's peaceable Religion, which, if the Apostle James say true, is to visit the Fatherless and widow, and keep our selves unspotted of the World. They turn Widow and Fatherless out of House and Home, and spot themselves with the Cruelty and Injustice of usurping their poor patremony, the Bread of their Lives, and Sustenance of their Natures; such men Page  232 as these are devoid of natural Affection, their Religi∣on has no Bowels, or they are without Mercy in the Profession of it; which is the quite contrary to true Religion, that makes us love Enemies, do good to them that hate us, and kindly entreat those that despightfully use us: and so much stronger, in Souls truly Religi∣ous, is the power of Love to Mankind then any Self∣revenging Passion, that from an humble and serious reflection upon the Mercies and Goodness of God to them, they do not only suppress any rising of Heart against their Persecutors (much more against peace∣able Dissenters) but with much softness & charity com∣miserate their Ignorance and Fury; offering to in∣form them, and praying that they may be forgiven. This is to be Religious, and therefore those that Perse∣cute for Religion are Irreligious.

2dly, The next Cause of Persecution, is the gross but general Mistake which People are under concerning the Nature of the Church & Kingdom of Christ, for the lamentable Worldliness of mens minds hath put them upon those Carnal Constructions, which have made way for all the external Coertion and Violence used by bad, and suffer'd by good Men on the score of Religion from the beginning. And no wonder if or∣dinary Persons tumble upon this Construction, when the Disciples of Jesus shew'd themselves so ill read in the Mysteries of his Kingdom, that after all the Inti∣macy they had had with him, they resrain'd not to ask, When shall the Kingdom be restored to Israel. They look't abroad, had a Worldly Idea in their minds; Jew like they waited for external Deliverance from Page  233 the Power of the Romans, rather then an Internal Sal∣vation from the Dominion of Satan, and interpreted that to Worldly loss and freedom, which did relate to the loss and Redemption of the Soul; but Jesus taught them better things; yet so, as not to deny or flatly discourage and rebuke them; that (though true) might have been more then they could have bor therefore he winds off with them upon the Time and the Season of the thing, knowing that the Time was at hand, that they should be better taught and satisfied of the nature of his Kingdom, unto which he referred them. When the Spirit*of Truth comes, it shall lead you into all Truth, &c.

That the Kingdom of Christ is not of this World, has been before observed, and the Reason is so great, that all men of common Sense must allow it upon Christ's Principle; for says he, then would my Ser∣vants fight for me; truly implying, that because the Kingdoms of this World are evidently set up and maintained by Worldly Force, and that he will have no Worldly Force used in the Business of his King∣dom, therefore it is not of this World. Conse∣quently, those that attempt to set up his Kingdom by Worldly Force, or make that their Pretence to use it, are none of his Servants; they are truly but Men of this World; such as seek an Earthly, and not an Heavenly Kingdom; themselves, and not Christ Jesus. Where by the way let me observe, That though the Jews, to engage Pilate the more easily to their side, impeach't Christ of being an E••e my to Casar, they were Enemies, and He a Friend to Page  234Caesar: for he came to reform the Lives of Men, to make them better Subjects, to obey Caesar, not for Fear, but for Conscience sake (so would Caesar's Pro∣vinec have been easie and safe.) But the Jews would have had him Caesar's Enemy, one that should have forcibly rescued them from Caesar's Power; they waited for a Captain General to begin the Revolt, and with an high Hand to over bear and captive Caesar, as he had done them: and 'tis more than probable, that his Appear∣ance being to another End, they therefore rejected him, their Heart being set upon this.

But to return; Christ told his Disciples, that he had chosen them out of the World; how? not to con∣verse or live bodily in it? no such matter: but he had chosen or singled them from the Nature, Spirit, Glo∣ry, Policy and Pomp of this World. How Persons so qualified can make a Worldly Church or Kingdom, unless they desert Christ's Doctrine, is past my Skill to tell. So that the Capacity that Christians stand in to Christ is Spiritual, and not Worldly or Carnal; and therefore not Carnal or Worldly, but Spiritual Methods and Weapons only are to be used to inform or reclaim such as are Ignorant or Disobedīent. And if we will give Antient Story credit, we shall find that Worldly Weapons were never employed by the Christian Church till the became Worldly and so ceast to be truly Christian.

But why should I say the Church (the most abu∣sed word in the World) her Leaders have taught her to e••, and that of believing as the Church believes is so far from being true in point of Faith as well as Reason, that the Church her self his ever believed as Page  235 the Clergy (that is, the Priests) believed, since that sort of Men have practised Distinction from and Superiority upon the Laity. He that will peruse the Ecclesiastical Story delivered us by Eusebius Pamphili, Secrates Scholasticns, Evagrius, Ruffinus, Sozomen, &c. will find but too many and sad Instances of the Truth of this.

In short; Peoples apprehending the Church and Kingdom of Christ to be Visible and Worldly, like other Societies and Government, have thought it not only to be Lawful but Necessary to use the Arts and Force of this World to support that Church and Kingdom, especially since this Interest of Religion hath been embodied with that of the Civil Magistrate; for from that time he hath been made Custos utrius{que} tabulae, and such as offend, though about Church Matters, have been reputed Transgressors against the State, and consequently the State interested in punish¦ing the Offence. Whereas had Christians remain'd in their primitive Simplicity and Purity, in the Self-denying, Patient and Suffering Doctrine of Christ, Christianity had stood in Holy Living, not in World∣ly Regiment; and its Compulsion would have been Love; its Arms, Reason and Truth; and its utmost Rigour, even to obstinate Enemies or Apostates, but Renouncing of their Communion, and that not till much Forbearance had been used to them.

To sum up all; The Kingdoms of this World, stand in outward Bodily and Civil Matters, and here, the Laws and Power of Men reich and are effectual. But the Kingdom and Church of Christ, that is cho∣sen out of the World, stands not in Bodily Exercise Page  236 (which the Apostle says profits little) nor in Times nor Places, but in Faith and that Worship which Christ tells us is in Spirit and in Truth; to this no Worldly Compulsion can bring or force men, 'tis only the Power of that King of Righteousness, whose Kingdom is in the Minds and Souls of the Just, and he rules by the Law of his own free Spirit, which like the Wind, Bloweth where it listeth: And as without this Spirit of Regeneration no man can be made a Member of Christs Church or Kingdom, so neither is it in the Power of Man to command or give it, and consequently all Worldly force employ'd to make men Members of Christs Church and Kingdom is un∣natural and ineffectual. I could be very large upon this point, for 'tis very fruitful, and so much the cause of Persecution, that if there were never another to be assign'd, this were enough; for upon due conside∣ration it must needs meet with every mans Judgment and Experience. I will here add the sense of memo∣rable Hales of Eaton upon this subject.

When our Saviour in the Acts after his Resur∣rection was Discoursing to his Disciples concerning the Kingdom of God, they presently brake forth into this * Question, Wilt thou now re∣store the Kingdom unto Israel? Certainly this Question be∣trays their Ignorance; their thoughts still ran upon a Kingdom like unto the Kingdoms of the World, notwithstanding they had so long and so often heard our Saviour to the contrary: Our Saviour therefore Page  237 shortly takes them up, Non est vestrum, your Que∣stion is nothing to the purpose; the Kingdom that I have spoken of is another manner of Kingdom, then you conceive. Sixteen hundred Years, et quod excurrit, hath the Gospel been preached unto the World, and is this stain spunged out yet? I doubt it. Whence arise those novel and late Disputes, do notis Ecclesiae, of the notes and visibility of the Church. Is it not from hence they of Rome take the World and the Church to be like Mercury and Sosia in Plau∣tus his Comedies, so like one another, that one of them must wear a Toy in his Cap, that so the Spe∣ctators may distinguish them; whence comes it that they stand so much upon State and Ceremony in the Church? Is it not from hence, that they think the Church must come in lke Agrippa and Bernice in the Acts〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as St. Luke speaks, with a great deal of Pomp, and Train, and Shew, and Va∣nity; and that the Service of God doth necessarily require this noise and tumult of outward State and Ceremony? Whence comes it, that we are at our Wits ends, when we see Persecution, and Sword, and Fire to rage against the true Professors of the Gospel? Is it not because, as these brings Ruin and Desolation upon the Kingdoms of the World; so we suppose they work no other effect in the King∣dom of Christ? all these Conceits, and many more of the like Nature, spring out of no other Foun∣tain then that old inveterate Error which is so hard∣ly wiped out of our Hearts; That the State of the Church and Kingdom of Christ doth hold some pro∣portion, some likeness with the state and managing Page  238 of temporal Kingdoms: Wherefore to pluck out of our Hearts, opinionem tam insitam, tam vetustam, a Conceit so antient, so deeply rooted in us, our Savi∣our spake most excellently, most pertinently, and most fully, when he tells us, that his Church, that his Kingdom is not of this World.

In which Word of his, there is contained the true art of discovering and knowing the true Nature and Essence of the Church. For as they which make Sta∣tues, cut and pare away all Suporfluities of the mat∣ter upon which they work; so our Saviour, to shw us the true proportion and feature of the Church, prunes away the World and all superfluous Excrescenties and sends her to be seen, as he did our first Parents in Pa∣radise, stark naked: As those Elders in the Aprocryphl Story of Susanna, when they would see her Beauty, commanded to take off her Mask: So he that longs to see the Beauty of the Church, must pull off that Mask of the World and outward shew. For as Juda in the Book of Genesis, when Thamar sat Vail'd by the Way-side knew not his Daughter from an Where: So whilst the Church, the Daughter and Spouse of Christ sits vail'd with the World, and Pomp and Shew, it will be an hard matter to discern her from an Harlot. But yet further, to make the dif∣ference betwixt these Kingdoms the more plainly to appear, and so better to fix in your Memories, I will briefly touch some of these Heads, in which they are most notoriously differenced.

The first Head wherein the Difference is seen, are the Persons and Subjects of this Kingdom: For as the Kingdom of Christ is not of this World, so the Sub∣jectsPage  239 of this Kingdom are Men of another World, and not of this. Every one of us bears a double Per∣son, and accordingly is the Subject of a double King∣dom: The Holy Ghost by the Psalmist divides Heaven and Earth betwixt God and Man, and tells us, as for God, He is in Heaven, but the Earth has he given to the Children of Men: So hath the same Spi∣rit by the Apostle St. Paul divided every one of our Persons into Heaven and Earth, into an outward and earthly Man, and into an inward and heavenly Man: This Earth, that is, this Body of Clay hath he given to the Sons of Men, to the Princes under whose Government we live; but Heaven, that is, the inward and spiritual Man, hath he reserved unto himself: They can restrain the outward Man, and moderate our outward Actions by Edicts and Laws; they can tye our Hands and our Tongues;—Illa se jactat in aula Aeolus: Thus far they can go, and when they are gone thus far, they can go no farther: But to rule the inward Man in our Hearts and Souls, to set up an Imperial Throne in our Understandings and Wills, this part of our Government belongs to God and to Christ: These are the Subjects, this the Government of his Kingdom; Men may be Kings of Earth and Bodies, but Christ alone is the King of Spirits and Souls. Yet this inward Govern∣ment hath influence upon our outward Actions; For the Authority of Kings over our outward Man is not so absolute, but that it suffers a great Restraint; it must stretch no farther then the Prince of our in∣ward Man pleases: for if secular Princes stretch out Page  240 the Skirts of their Authority to command ought by which our Souls are prejudiced the King of Souls hath in this case given us a greater Command, That we rather Obey God then Men.

3dly, A third great Cause of Persecution for Reli∣gion is this, that men make too many things necessary to be believed to Salvation and Communion. Persecution en∣tred with Creed making; for it so falls out, that those who distinguish the Tree in the bulk, cannot with the like ease discern every Branch or Leaf that grows upon it; and to run out the necessary Articles of Faith to every good or true thing that the Wit of Man may deduce from the Text, and so too, as that I ought to have a distinct Idea, or Apprehension of eve∣ry one of them, and must run them over in my mind as a Child would on a Lesson by Heart, and that as the Creed of which I must not miss a tittle upon my Salvation; this I think to be a Temptation upon men to fall into Dispute and Controversie, and then we are taught, by long Experience, that he that has most Power, will oppress his Opinion that is weaker, whence comes Persecution; this puts Unity & Peace too much upon the Hazard. Mary's Choice there∣fore was not of many things, but the one thing necessary, as Christ terms it, the Lord * of the true Divinity; and pray what was this one needful thing, but Christ Jesus himself, and her Faith, Love and Obedience in and to him: here is no perplext Creed to subscribe, no Systhime of Divinity to charge the Head with, this One Needful thing was Page  141Mary's Choice & Blessing; may it be ours, and I should hope a quick End to Controversies, and consequently to Persecutions.

4thly, Another Cause of Persecution, is The Pre∣judice of Education, and that Byass Tradition gives to those men, who have not made their Religion the Religion of their Judgment: For such will forbid all the In∣quiry, which might question the Weakness or Fals∣hood of their Religion, and had rather be deceiv'd in an honorable Decent, then be so uncivil to the memo∣ry of his Ancestors, as to seek the Truth which sound must reprove the Ignorance of their Ages; of this (the vainest of all Honours) they are extream careful, and at the very mention of any thing, to them new (though as old as Truth, and older then this World) are easily urg'd into a Tempest, and are not appeased but by a Sacrifice. This Ignorance and want of In∣quiry helps on Persecution.

5thly, Another Reason and that no small one, is Self-love and Impatiency of Men under contradiction, be it out of Ignorance, that they are angry with what they cannot refuse, or out of private Interest, it mat∣ters not; their Opinion must reign alone, they are tenacious of their own sense and can't indure to have it question'd, be there never so much reason for it; Men of these Passions are yet to learn they are Igno∣rant of Religion, by the want they have of Mortifi∣cation, such Persons can easily let go their hold on Charity, to lay Violent hands upon their Opposers; if they have power, they rarely fail to use it so; not Page  142 remembring, that when they absolv'd themselves from the tye of Love, Meekness and Patience, they have abandon'd true Religion, and contend not for the Faith once deliver'd to the Saints, (which stood there∣in) but for meer Words.

It is here proud Flesh and a capricious Head that disputes for Religion, and not an humble Heart, and a divine frame of Spirit. Men that are angry for God, Passionate for Christ, that call Names for Religion, and fling Stones and Persecute for Faith, may tell us they are Christians if they will, but no body would know them to be such by their Fruits, to be sure they are no Christians of Christ's making.

I would to God that the Disputants of our time did but coolly weigh the Irreligiousness of their own Heats for Religion, and see if what they contend for will quit the Cost, will countervail the Charge of de∣parting from Charity and making a Sacrifice of Peace to gain their point; upon so seasonable a reflection I am confident they would find that they rather show their love to Opinion then Truth, and seek Victory more then Concord.

Could men be contented as he, whom they call their Lord, was, to declare their Message, and not strive for Proselites, nor vex for Conquest, they would re∣commend all to the Conscience, and if it must be so, patiently endure Contradiction too, and so lay their Religion, as he did his, not in Violence but Suffer∣ing; But I must freely profess, and in duty and Con∣science I do it, that I cannot call that Religion, which is introduced against the Laws of Love, Meekness & Friendship: Superstition, Interest or Faction I may.

Page  143 There is a Zeal without Knowledge, that is Super∣stition; there is a Zeal against Knowledge, that is In∣terest or Faction (the true Heresie;) there is a Zeal with Knowledge, that is Religion; therefore blind obe∣dience may be superstition, it can't be Religion: and if you will view the Countries of Cruelty, you shall find them Superstitious rather then Religious. Religion is gentile, it makes men better, more Friendly, Lo∣ving and Patient then before. And the success, which followed Christianity whilst the antient Profes∣sors of it betook themselves to no other defence, plain∣ly proves both the force of those passive Arguments above all corporal Punishments, & that we must never hope for the same Prosperity till we fall into the same Methods. Are men impatient of having their conceits own'd? they are then most to be suspected. Error and Superstition, like crackt Titles, only fear to be toucht, and run for Authority and number. Truth is plain and stedfast, without Arts or Tricks, will you receive her, well: if not, there is no compulsion. But pray tell me, what is that desired Uniformity that has not Unity? and that Unity, which has not Love, Meek∣ness and Patience in it? I beseech you hear me, for those men depart from the Spirit of Christianity, that seek with Anger and Frowardness to promote it. Let us not put so miserable a Cheat upon our selves, nor af∣front upon Christianity as to think, That a most gentle and patient Religion can be advanc'd by most ungentle and im∣patient Ways. I should sooner submit to an humble op∣position then to the greatest Zealot in the World, and sooner deliver my self up to him that would modest∣ly drop a controverted Truth, then to such as seek Page  144 tempestuously to carry it; for even Error, bashfully and patiently defended endangers Truth in the manage∣ment of impudent & hasty Zeal▪ and gives to it that Lnstre which only good Eyes can see from Gold. Alas! 'tis for want of Considering, that men don't see, that to disorder the mind in Controversie is a greater mis∣chief then to carry the point can be a benefit; in that it is not to be Religious to apprehend rightly, but to do well; the latter can scarcely be without the former, but the former often is without the latter, which brings me to my sixth Cause of Persecution.

6 hly, Another, and that no small cause of Persecution is a misapprehension of the word Religion. For when once the Ignorance or Prejudice of men has perswa∣ded them to lay more weight upon their own Opinion or Dssent of their Neighbours then in truth the thing will bear, to excuse their Zeal or justifie their Spleen, they presently heighten the difference to a new Religi∣on; whence we so frequently hear of such reflections as these, new Gospels and Faiths, upstart Religions and Lights, and with the like Scare-crows amuse the Vul∣gar and render their own design of ruining honest men the more practicable. But I would obviate this mischief; for a new Religion has a new Foundation, and Consequently where there is the same Foundation, there cannot be a new Religion. Now the Foundation of the Christian Religion is Christ, and that only is a∣nother Religion then the Christian, which professes a∣nother Foundation, or corruptly adds to that Foun∣dation by adding other Mediators, and introducing a new way of Remission of Sin: Which cannot be said Page  145 of the several sorts of Protestants? therefore for Pro∣testants to reproach each other with new Religions and Gospels, and by their Indecent and Unchristian beha∣viour to enslave their own Reckoning, and draw in∣to more discord, is a Sin against God, an Injury to the common Cause of Protestancy, and to the Security of the Civil Interest of that Country where the In∣habitants are of that Religion, as well as a real In∣justice to one another; for Protestants don't only agree in the same Fundamentals of Christianity, but of Prote∣stancy too, that is, in the reasons of Separation from Rome, which indeed is Christianity. Let not every circumstantial difference or Variety of Cult be Nick-named a new Religion, neither suffer so ill an use to be made of such Dissents as to carry them beyond their true bounds; for the meaning of those Arts of ill men, is to set the People further off from one another then they really are; and to aggrevate Differences in Judgment, to Contrariety in affection, and when they have once inflam'd them to Variance and Strife, nothing can hinder Persecution but want of Power, which being never wanted by the strongest side, the weakest though truest, is opprest, not by Argument, but Worldly Weapons.

The seventh and last Cause I shall now assign for Persecution is this, That Holy living is become no test a∣mong us, unless against the liver. The Tree was once known by its Fruits, 'tis not so now; the better Li∣ver, the more dangerous, if not a Conformist: this has made way for Persecution. There was a time, Page  146 when Virtue was Venerable and good Men admired, that's derided, and Opinion carries it.

He that can perswade his Conscience to comply with the times, be he Vitious, Knavish, Cowardly, any thing; he is protected, perhaps preferr'd. A Man of Wisdom, Sobriety and Ability to serve his King and Country, if a Dissenter, must be blown upon for a Phanatick, a man of Faction, of disloyal Principles, and what not.

Rewards and Punishments are the Magistrates duty and the Governments interest and support. Rewards are due to Virtue, Punishments to Vice. Let us not mi∣stake nor miscall things; let Virtue be what it al. wayes was in Government, good Manners, sober Li∣ving; and Vice, ill Manners and ill Living. Reduce all to this: let such good Men have the miles and Re∣wards, and such ill Men the Frowns and Punishments of the Government; this ends Persecution, and lays O∣pinion to sleep. Ill men will make no more advan∣tages by such Conformity, nor good men no more suffer for want of it.

In short, As that Religious Society deserves not the Protection of the Civil, which is inconsistent with the Safety of it; so those Societies of Christi∣ans, that are not only not Destructive of the Civil Government, but Lovers of it, ought by the Civil Government to be secured from Ruin.

God Almighty open our Understandings, & pour out the Spirit of thorow Reformation upon us, that we may be all Conscientiously Dispos'd to seek and Page  147 pursue those things which make for Love, Peace and Godliness, that it may be well with us both here and forever.

For yet a little while, and the Wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be; but the Meek shall inherit the Earth, and shall delight themselves in abundance of Peace. The Wicked PLOTTETH against the Just, and nasheth upon him with his Teeth; the Lord shall laugh at him; for he seeth that his Day is coming,

Psal. 37. 10, 11, 12, 13.

The Judgment of King James & King Charles the first about Persecution for Religion.

VVE find it asserted by King James in his Speech to the Parliament in the year 1609. who said, That it is a pure Rule in Divinity, That God never loves to plant his Church with Violence and Blood; and furthermore said, It was usually the Condition of Christians to be Persecuted, but not to Persecute.

And we find the same things in substance asserted again by his Son, King Charles the first, in his Book known by the Name 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, printed for R. Royston, as followeth.

Pag. 67. In his Prayer to God he said, Thou seest how much Cruelty amongst Christians is acted under the colour of Religion; as if we could not be Christians, unless we Crucifie one another.

Pag. 28. Make them at length seriously to consider, that nothing Violent and Injurious, can be Religion.

Pag. 70. Nor is it so proper to hw out Religious Reformations by the Sword, as to pollish them by fair and equal Disputations, among those that are most concerned in the Differences, whom, not Force but Reason ought to convince.

Sure in Matters of Religion, those Truths gain most upon es Judgments and Consciences, which are least urged with secular Violence, which weakens Truth with Prejudices.

Page  148 Pag. 115. It being an Office not only of Humanity, rather to use Reason than Force, but also of Christianity to seek Peace and ensue it.

Some Words of Advice from King Charles the first, to the then Prince of Wales, now King of England, &c.

Pag. 165. My Counsel and Charge to you is, That you seriously consider the former Real or Objected Miscarriages, which might occasion my Troubles, that you may avoid them, &c.

Beware of Exasperating any Faction, by the Crosness and A∣sperity of some mens Passions, Humours and private Opinions, imployed by you, grounded only upon Differences in lesser matters, which are but the Skirts and Suburbs of Religion, wherein a cha∣ritable Connivance and Christian Toleration, often dissipates their Strength, when rougher Opposition fortifies, and puts the Despised and Oppressed Party into such Combinations, as may most enable them to get a full Revenge on those they count their Persecutors.

Pag. 166. Take heed that Outward Circumstances and Forma∣lities of Religion devour not all.

Difficulties in printing have occasion'd some Faults, which pray Excuse and Amend.

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