POPERY A Great Mystery OF INIQUITY.
PROVED In a Sermon Preached in the Parish Church of Newland, in the County of Glocester, on Wednesday the 22d. of December, 1680. being the Fast-Day, appointed by the Kings Proclamation.
AND Now Published for the sake of such secure Protestants that will hardly believe there is a Popish Plot; or, that ever it should take effect.
By THOMAS JEKYLL, M. A. Preacher of the Gospel there.
It is enough for the Disciple that he be as his Master, and the Servant as his Lord; If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his houshold?
Am I therefore become your Enemy, because I tell you the Truth?
LONDON, Printed for Jonathan Robinson, at the Golden Lyon in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1681.
TO THE Right Reverend Father in God; ROBERT, Lord Bishop Elect OF GLOCESTER.
May it please your Lordship,
ALthough the preaching of this Sermon, occasioned very great Clamors against me, by those from whom I little expected any such thing, and of whom I thought I had deserved better, yet I am not in the least sorry for it upon my own account, not only because I am well enough assured of my own innocent and Just intenti∣ons in it, but also because it hath given me an opportunity of being known to your Lordship, in which, tho' at the first, I may perhaps appear under the notion of a Crimi∣nal, yet I do not in the least question but that your Lord∣ship's great Judgment and Integrity will easily acquit or Page [unnumbered]justly Convince and Censure me, either of which, I hope I. shall bear with Modesty and Submission; and there∣fore I am the more bold to appeal to your Lordship as my proper Ordinary, by whom alone I ought to be ordered, and to whom, as I have already sworn; so I am resolved to perform Obedience in all things that relate to the Dig∣nity of your Lordships Place in the Church, or the Du∣ty of my own; and therefore am,
Your Lordships obedient Son and Servant in the Gospel, THO. JEKYLL.
Newland, Jan. 29 1681.
To the Right Worshipful, the Master, and Wardens, and Assistants of the Wor∣shipful Company of Haberdashers in London.
May it please your Worships,
SInce I had the honour of being presented by your Worships to be Mr. Jones's Preacher at Newland, I have had the op∣portunity and satisfaction of being fully assured of the faith∣fulness and integrity in the management of all his Trusts in these parts; and not only so, but I have also had the profitable experi∣ence of many great and extraordinary kindnesses from you, in so∣much that as I have always admired and commended your Justice in the one, so I hope I shall ever with all gratitude acknowledg your goodness in the other; as a particular Testimony of which, I beseech your Worships to accept of this present Dedication of the follow∣ing Sermon, which tho' it was baited into the World by the loud Clamors that were rais'd against it, yet it comes voluntarily to your Worships to make an humble offer of it self to your serious peru∣sal and Service: and the Author is the more bold to send it on that particular errand, that you who are his worthy Patrons, may at once have some account how he spends his time, and what grateful appre∣hensions he hath of your noble Favours too, and if in this he may be any ways serviceable to your Faith, he will be the less concerned at what others say of himself, for tho' his Credit and Reputation are always dear to him, yet he is well contented to be reviled and re∣proached, so the interest of Christs Truth and Gospel may be ad∣vanc'd, especially if he may any ways contribute thereunto on your Worships behalf, for he is resolv'd always to endeavour and Pray for the Peace and Prosperity of all your worthy Society, be∣cause he is,
Your Worships most Obliged and most Humble Servant in the Gospel THO. JEKYLL.
WHen Craesus's Dumb Son saw a private Soldi∣er about to kill his Father, his Affection and Loyalty, forc'd him thro' all the Diffi∣culties of a natural Impediment, to cry out in his defence. No wonder then if in far greater dangers one who (Blessed be God) hath no such defect, cannot hold his Peace, especially too when the Duty of his Place would make it highly Criminal to be Silent.
I had been sufficiently assured by all the publick Testimonies of the Nation, both in Church and State, that there had been a damnable Plot, Contrived and carry'd on by the Papists for many Years, to destroy the King, Subvert the Government, and Root out the true Protestant Religion; and when at the open∣ing of this last Parliament, the King was pleased to recom∣mend the farther Discovery and Prosecution of the Plot unto them, as one chief thing for which he called them together, and for the encouragement of their zeal in it, told them that he thought not himself as yet safe from the dangers of it, I thought I had no longer any reason to believe what I heard a Gentleman (then and now too in Authority) say, about two years since, to above an hundred People, whom he had gather∣ed about him to that purpose, That tho' there had been a Damnable Plot, yet it was then so far discover'd and pre∣vented that it was impossible it should ever take effect; and therefore next to the imploring the Divine aid, I thought it my Duty (as the most proper business of my Calling, and the best service I could do my Country) to Preach up Loyalty to Page [unnumbered]the King, and to assert the truth and Justice of that Royal Su∣premacy, that is yielded to him by this Church and Realm, and to give such an account also of the pernitious Principles of Popery, as should both arm and caution the minds of those I had to do with against the taint and dangers of it; and I was the more encouraged in this design, not only from what I had heard abroad but also from what I had seen and obser∣v'd my self about home, how much the men of that perswasion were indulg'd and coutenanc'd, and those that appear'd zea∣lous and brisk against them, Brow-beaten and threatned; and therefore the last Fast-day I took occasion to lay open and discover those depths of Satan, that Mystery of Iniquity from whence both our Fears and Dangers did proceed; and because I hinted at some particular things that had been done to the incouragement of that Faction, I was in a very rude manner clamour'd against about the Country, and very severe remarks were made (behind my back) both upon my Per∣son and Sermon, all which I heard of, but took little notice, be∣ing very unwilling to believe any such things, till at last the Vicar of the Parish came to me and told me he was sent by a Justice of the Peace to ask me whether I did not mean him by two expressions in that Sermon, Of fetching away Arms by night, and giving Oaths in a Chimney-corner. I must con∣fess I thought it a very odd kind of question upon all accounts, but since it was not ask'd in a sudden heat, but after ten days deliberation and noise, I told him that I did indeed speak words to that purpose, and that I would justifie the truth of them, and that as things then stood, there was a necessity that I should speak as I did, but since I named nobody, if that Gentleman found himself guilty he might take it as he pleas'd, and that if he had sent privately to me at first I would have waited upon him, and given him a particular account of the whole mat∣ter, but that now since I had been so publickly defam'd and threatned I was resolved to appeal to my Ordinary, and to pub∣lish the whole matter to the world.
And this now is the only Reason I have for this Publication, which I hope will also be admitted for mine ex∣cuse, Page [unnumbered]cuse, especially since I do here profess, that as I never thought any thing of mine fit for the Press, so I never intended any such thing, much less in this which was designed only for a pri∣vate Auditory; nor should my own particular Vindication have forced it from me now, for I would have lain still under all the personal Reproaches that could have been thrown upon me, but that I clearly saw, nay I found it by my own experience, how much the Protestant Religion suffer'd, and Popery was encourag'd, and prevail'd daily by such kind of Practises; for it's that, and only that which hath made me thus to discover and betray my own weakness. And for those Persons that took such great Offence at the Sermon, I do hereby assure them that I never in∣tended to give them any, but only to prosecute the business that was before me with all faithfulness to God and his Church; and as for those few things which I did say (which are far short of what I knew) they are so worded on purpose to have pre∣vented what after hapned, that the things themselves are excu∣sed in the same Sentence in which they are spoken; but if guilty minds will be offended when their faults are but mention'd, they may indeed, but I cannot help that; and therefore if they would have me forbear that part of the Duty of my Place and Calling, they must first forbear their making it so, that is, Reform and amend; for as long as Atheism and Popery, Faction and Hy∣pocrisie grow Rampant and Head-strong under their Influence and Example, they must pardon me if I discharge my Trust, how∣ever they may neglect and betray theirs.
And as for this particular Sermon, if the World will but excuse and wink at the weakness which this necessary Publication forces me to discover in it, I'ls ask no body Pardon for the Preaching of it, because tho' it be homely yet it's true, and I shall be very apt upon the like Occasion to speak as much ano∣ther time.Page 1
2 Thes. 2.7.
For the Mystery of Iniquity doth already Work; only he who now Letteth, will Let, till he be taken out of the way.
HOw useful and necessary the most deep and solemn Humiliations that can be, are at all times for a sinful People, the Apprehen∣sions which all men naturally have of the Justice and Power of God do sufficiently discover; And how fit and proper they are for us at this time, not only our manifold Sins and Wickednesses, but also those Great and Apparent Dan∣gers wherewith we are compassed do abundantly declare too; And therefore since it hath pleas'd Almighty God by the Voice of Authority to call us to this great and important Work, let us in the first place bless his Name for giving of us such a Gracious King that takes such Care of our Religion and Government, and of the Lives and Souls of his People, as by such ways as these to procure Gods Favour and Protection, through whose infinite Good∣ness alone it is that we have all been hitherto preserv'd; and then let us endeavour so to behave our selves in the discharge of this Duty now, and of all others too in the several places which he hath set us in, that Glory may dwell in our Land, that the Life and Reign of our King may be Long and Prosperous, that the Gospel may for ever flourish in its native Plainness and Simplicity, and that Peace and Plenty may be the Glory and Blessings of Page 2these Nations. I know very well as our present Case stands we have very little Reason to expect any of these Kindnesses, the multitude and greatness of our Sins cry loud for Vengeance, we have thereby pluck'd at it with both our hands, and may truly say as the Prophet does, that it is of the Lord's Mercies that we are not consumed, * it is not because our Provocations fail but because his Com∣passions fail not. How have we slighted his Judgments, abus'd his Mercies, and turn'd his Grace into Wanton∣ness? making even his Goodness that should have lead us to Repentance, rather an Encouragement to continue in Sin; How hath he tried all ways to reclaim us, and how have we rendred them Fruitless and Vain? How often hath he varied the Methods of his Providence to see which was the most likely means to prevail upon us, and how have we still varied not only our Methods, but even our Manner of sinning, committing it with so much greedi∣ness, and variety of new invented and unheard of Pra∣ctises, as if we would do it, not only out of a particular Love and Liking to it, but even out of a spight to God himself, because he hath forbidden it? and all this too amidst the greatest Hazzards, and nearest Approaches to Ruine and Destruction, and such too as we have been forced to see and acknowledge whether we would or no. How hath Almighty God even by Miracle discover'd to us our Danger, and hitherto as it were constrain'd us to ac∣cept of a Deliverance, whilst we have even striven a∣gainst both; not only by shutting our Eyes against the clearest Light and Evidence, but by hard'ning our Hearts in sin against the strongest Convictions, as if we would rather stand to the Courtesie of our Enemies who have so often vow'd our Destruction, than be any longer be∣holden to the Providence of God that hath so often inter∣pos'd for our Preservation? Certainly (my beloved) this is not the way to make our selves a happy People, for though there were no danger from Men either at home or abroad, yet as long as we continue in Sin we are al∣ways Page 3in danger; *for tho' Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth Trouble spring out of the ground, tho' we see no Cloud arise, or the least probability of any evil coming upon us to make us afraid, yet as long as we continue in Sin, we are surrounded with Dangers, and the Vengeance of God will in time bring upon us both sure and swift Destruction; But since the Case is other∣wise with us, and we are made to see how Ruine and Desolation stand gaping with open mouth upon us, ready to devour and swallow us up, and all that's dear to us, how ought we indeed to humble our souls before God, *to break off our sins by Repentance, and our Iniquities by doing of good, that it may be a lengthening of our Tranquil∣lity; that so that Mystery of Iniquity that hath been working ever since the Apostles days, may be at once both fully reveal'd, and destroy'd too; and the rather because it is still at work even amongst us, for the Mystery of In∣iquity doth already work, only he that letteth, will let, till he be taken out of the way.
In the handling of which Words I shall endeavour by Gods Grace to shew, 1. What is meant by the Mystery of Iniquity here spoken of. 2. How it work'd then in the Apostles days. 3. How it works now. 4. What it is that hinders its full Growth and Power of acting as it would; And then 5. by way of Application shew how far this may concern us now, and what improvement we are to make of it.
1. What is meant by this Mystery of Iniquity? There is I confess great difference amongst Expositors what it is in Particular, however all in general that I have met with, both Papists and Protestants, conclude it to be the Work and Power of Antichrist: but now who, and what that is, is the great question amongst them. Dr. Hammond applies it to Simon Magus and the Doctrine of the Gnosticks; Grotius to Caligula and the Rules and Prin∣ciples of his Politicks; but though I shall always have a just Honor and Esteem for their Judgments and Learn∣ing, Page 4yet in this Case I shall crave leave to understand something more by it; not but what they offer doth in many things very well agree with the Apostles Words and Sense in this Chapter, but yet they do in my Appre∣hension, not so well agree therewith as the Common O∣pinion of other Learned and Sober Protestants doth; for they generally understand by it the Principles of Popery; and their Sense is so far to be relied upon, in that all things concerning it in this Chapter agree very well thereto, as I question not, but by the serious examination of the se∣veral parts of it will also fully appear to you; especially if you please to take notice of three things therein, as 1. The first rise and appearance of it, in what manner it began, 2. The work it self as it was then in some mea∣sure discover'd to the World, and hath since been more fully known and understood; And 3. the way and means of its Growth and Increase. All which you will find so exactly agreeable to this very thing, that one would think the Apostle had written the Relation of what it is now, rather than the. Prophesie of what in after-times it should be.
1. Then, let us consider the first Rise and Appearance of it. In the beginning of this Chapter the Apostle dis∣covers, and cautions the Thessalonians against a very dan∣gerous Error crept in amongst them, of limiting and determining the very Period of Time, concerning our Saviours coming; either (as Dr. Hammond thinks) to punish and destroy the Nation of the Jews, for rejecting him and his Doctrine; or (as others) to judge the whole World it self; the danger of which (if they should live to see themselves Confuted by the Event) he foresaw would be very great, and not only stagger, but over∣throw the Faith of some, yea, and it may be, ruine all; he therefore tells them, v. 3. that that time was not so near as they imagin'd, but that there were some forerunners of it that should sufficiently proclaim its Approach, let no man (saith he) deceive you by any means, for that day Page 5shall not come except there come a falling away first, there must be some great Apostacy from the Christian Faith in∣to Idolatry before then; for so the Word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, doth in that place signifie. It's true in its common and ordi∣nary acceptation it signifies, a Defection or Departure from somewhat that we formerly own'd and defended, a with∣drawing of subjection from some Supreme Power, which when it relates to Men and Civil Affairs, it signifies Re∣volt and Rebellion, but when it relates to God and Re∣ligion, it signifies a spiritual Revolt and Rebellion against God; and because that is seen most in Idolatry above all other sins, it being not only a Neglect and Contempt of God as all other sins are, but also a direct Opposition a∣gainst him, by setting up others in his room and place; therefore it is here and elsewhere in the New Testament set to signifie Christian Idolatry (as the Learned Mr. Mede doth sufficiently make it appear.) Christianity is in the 9th. verse of the first Chapter of the former Epistle cal∣led a turning to God from Idols, and therefore this Apo∣stacy or falling away must then by the Rule of Contra∣ries, signifie a returning from God to the Worship and Service of Idols, and if it be so where now is this Apo∣stacy more manifest than in the Church of Rome? where Saints and Reliques, Crucifixes and Pictures, yea Ima∣ges and Altars are Worship'd with the same kind of Wor∣ship that God himself is; nay rather than want an Ob∣ject to abuse to Idolatry, they can make one every day, as appears plainly in the Breaden-God in the Mass that is so devoutly Worship'd, and if this be not a foul Apostacy, indeed I know not what is. But let us consider,
2. The Work it self as it was then in the Apostles days discovered to the World, This is mentioned at the 4th. verse where the Man of Sin that should give occasion to this Apostacy is said to oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or is Worshipped. By which expressions we may understand either,
1. Those things that God hath lent his Name and Ti∣tles Page 6to, which are therefore called Gods; (for as St. Paul saith, there be Gods many and Lords many) such as are the Civil Powers of the World called often in Scripture Gods, * as Exod. 22.28. Thou shalt not revile the Gods, that is, the Magistrates and Rulers of the World. And this Ti∣tle our Saviour himself gives them, John 10.34. Is it not written in your Law I said ye are Gods? Now over these it is notoriously and shamefully known what Power the Popes of Rome have for several of these last Ages u∣surp'd; to make them attend at Processions, at Mass, at their Table, yea to hold their Stirrups, as Adrian the 4th. made the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, in which Service because he did not hold the right Stirrup, he was severely check'd, and could hardly be forgiven; though he pleaded his Ignorance in not being used to such Ser∣vices for his Excuse. Nay to shew how absolute a Ty∣ranny they can exercise not only over the Persons but the Dominions and Territories of Princes, these have been as insolently and unjustly dispos'd of too; absolving their Subjects from all Oaths of Allegiance and Fidelity, and giving their Kingdoms to such as the Pope pleaseth, and making of it meritorious to Depose and Murder them; as if when our Saviour told his Disciples what kind of Power the Princes of the Gentiles exercised over their Subjects, he gave them Authority to exercise the same over Princes themselves, whereas it is sufficiently evident from Math. 20.25, 26. that he did really intend the quite contrary. This part of Antichrist's work I confess was not so publickly known in the Apostles days as it hath been since, however some beginning of it there were then to be seen in that Ambiti∣ous Desire of Preheminence, which Diotrephes and the rest of his Temper discovered about that time. But
2. If by that which is called God, and which Antichrist opposeth himself against, we understand God himself, and what comes from him, such as are all the Principles of his Religion, the Obligation of his Laws, and the Me∣thods of his Worship, or what ever else he is pleased Page 7to make himself known unto the World by; the Case will then appear to be as plain as it was before, since the Popes have made as much bold with the Laws of God as ever they did with those of any private Prince what∣soever. Have not they oftentimes arrogated to them∣selves a Power not only to dispense with the Divine Laws, but even to change the very nature of Goodness it self, not only like the Pharisees in our Saviours time making the Laws of God of none effect by their Traditions,* but making other Laws in Opposition to them, * and yet blas∣phemously pretending to give them as great a Sanction; How do they put light for darkness and darkness for light, call evil good and good evil, in making moral Evils become Vertues and Meritorious; such as Perjury, Murder, Treason, and Rebellion, or any other Wickedness what∣soever that the practice of, shall make for their Interest and Advantage? And what is all this but an Arrogant Assumption of the Title and Power of God? well therefore may the Pope be stiled as by his flatterers he often is, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, yea and God too, alter nu∣men in terris; & Dominus Deus noster Papa. But,
3. Let us consider the way and means of the Growth, and Increase of this Mystery of Iniquity; and that in the 9th. verse is said to be by the Power of Signs and Lying-Wonders, and if so, where shall we find more of these than in the Church of Rome? what a just Veneration we ought to have for true and real Miracles, I need not tell you, since by these we have the strongest Confirmation of our Faith and Religion that can be; but now to pretend to these when the very reason of them is taken away, is to engage the Power of God to needless things, which is a very high piece of Confidence and Presumption in∣deed, but to do it at the rate of that Church is to en∣gage that Almighty Power to do not only vain but ridi∣culous things, yea and impious things too; the Miracles which they pretend to, are not only Counterfeit and False, but Wicked and Blasphemous, for in many of Page 8them they engage God Almighty against himself, and frequently make his Saints to do the Devils work. They talk highly of the great Esteem they have for the Blessed Virgin, and yet they sometimes tell such Stories of her Apparitions and Miracles, as make but very little for her Credit.
One of them tells us how she came and acted the part of a Midwife to a certain Abbess that had plaid the Whore, and was got with Child, and that she sent the Bastard a∣way presently by two Angels to a certain Hermit to be brought up. Another tells us that she supplied a Nuns place for twelve years together, whilst she went every night to play the Whore in the Stews. What strange Stories do they tell us of the Bones and Garments of Mar∣tyrs, what Cures they have done, what Miracles they have wrought not only upon the living, but the dead too, too tedious for me to mention, or you to hear at this time, and one would think, too Ridiculous and Absurd for any Rational Creatures to pretend to believe and admire; but that the Apostle tells us verse 11th. * of some to whom God shall send strong Delusions that they should believe Lies, and of others whose Consciences are sear'd with an hot Iron, whose Character which he also there gives, doth so well agree to these Persons and Principles I am speaking of, that nothing can do it more; besides which there's ano∣ther Text of Scripture that doth so plainly agree to this Mystery of Iniquity that I cannot pass it by. It is Rev. 17.5. where St. John in his Description of the great Whore Riding upon a Beast with seven Heads, which he explains to signifie seven Mountains, agreeable to the Si∣tuation of Rome, tells us amongst other things that do also agree to the Rise and Growth of the Papal Sovereign∣ty, That upon the Forehead of the great Whore the word Mystery is written, which may very well be understood of the Pope himself, since upon his Mitre the word My∣stery was also written.
2. How did this Mystery of Iniquity work in the Page 9A∣postles days? It's true Popery was not then what it is now, then it was but in its Infancy, now it is ar∣rived to a fuller growth; then it was only the Spawn or Child of the Devil, but now it is grown to the Sta∣ture of the Man of Sin; and this it hath arrived to by certain Steps and Degrees, for nemo repente fit turpissimus, nothing is at the worst all at once; there∣fore the Phrase already work shewed only its begin∣ing to act, whereby afterwards it was able more strong∣ly to put forth it self. It appear'd to the Apostle in those Errors and Heresies which then crept into the Church even in his time, which were indeed the forerunners of Antichrist, such as were that Emu∣lation amongst Pastors, and the Factious siding with them mentioned 1 Cor. 1.11, 12. Chap. 3.3, 4. 21, 22.3 John 9.10. for this desire of soveraign Supremacy was a strong savor of the Spirit of An∣tichrist indeed; insomuch that when John Patriark of Constantinople challenged to himself the Title of Universal Bishop, he was strongly opposed in it by Gregory the Great, (who is esteemed the last of the good Popes, and the first of the bad) and that so stifly too, as that he affirms that whoever should offer to take to himself that Title, was the forerunner of Antichrist; and yet Boniface the Third that succeeded him next but one, did Usurp it, and his Successors have endeavoured to keep it ever since. Another thing that this Mystery of Iniquity began to discover it self by, was a Voluntary Humility, which hath since improved it self into so many Pennances and Pilgrimages, the Worshipping of Saints and Angels, forbidding to Marry, and distinguishing of Meats. Col. 2.18.23. 1 Tim. 4.1.3. to these also may be added the mixtures of Heathen Idolatry with Christian Ser∣vices, which the Apostle cautions the Corinthians a∣gainst, 1 Cor. 10.14. and following verses; all which Page 10with greater Advantage are Improv'd and Prac∣tis'd in the Church of Rome to this day; well there∣fore might the Apostle call it a Mystery, because of its secret Work, *creeping in as it were unawares, and so far it remains a Mystery still in that it works with all possible Art and subtlety, notwithstanding the great Power and Strength it now has, and how long it will be suffer'd to do so, God only knows.
3. How doth this Mystery of Iniquity work now? and indeed this is a thing fit for us to enquire into, that so we may prevent (if possible) our being en∣snar'd by it, and we have the more Reason to do so, because it's now grown more strong and confident, more plain and open, and yet no less cunning and subtle, and by consequence far more dangerous; several ways therefore we shall find it work, but more particularly these five, 1. By Corrupt Principles, 2. By Subornations, Lies, and Perjuries, 3. By Cruelty and bloody Practises, 4. by Incredulity, and 5. By good Natur'd if not treacherous Connivances.
1. It works by Corrupt Principles; so indeed it did then, and this way chiefly, because it had nei∣ther Strength nor Opportunity to do otherwise, but yet those Principles then were neither so many, nor so bad as they are now; they were then only such as misled men into Error from some points of Faith, and only at a distance, and that secretly too, giving Liberty and Encouragement to sinful Practises; but these now are such as Corrupt and Debauch mens Minds, that do directly undermine and overthro' all Gospel-Rules and Precepts of Holy Living; they are such as tend to the Indulging of the Flesh, to the Inflaming of our Lusts, to the Humouring of our Corrupt Inclinations, and to the Encouraging of all manner of Evil in the World, and that I do them no wrong, give me leave but to mention some few of Page 11them, and you will plainly see the undoubted Truth of what I say. The first is that of the Popes Power of granting Pardons, Dispensations and Indulgences; in and by which the most Sacred Laws of God are Cancell'd and made of no Force and Vertue, Incest and Adultery are dispens'd with, Lies and Perjuries are made Duties and Commendable Things; Mur∣der, Treason and Rebellion lose all their Odium and Horror, and become presently the highest Accom∣plishments of a Christian, and the best Qualifications of a Saint; there being no evil at all in them, but when they are discover'd and prevented; but this I can the easier forgive them, because it gave the happy Occasion of the Reformation so seasonably begun, and so vigorously and succesfully Prosecuted in Germany by Luther; only I cannot but take notice, what a pretty Faculty it has, of picking mens Purses whilst they themselves look on, and are willing to be cheat∣ed of their Mony as long as they may be let alone, nay encourag'd in their Sins; and indeed what can do it better than such a Device? for who need fear to commit any Sin when a Purse-Pennance will expi∣ate it! Of the same Indulgent Nature with this, is that Principle of Auricular Confession, in which if I do but Acknowledge and whisper my sins into the Ears of the Priest, I shall be absolv'd without any o∣ther Repentance than a little Pennance enjoyn'd me by him, whom too the Bounty of my Purse shall make as Indulgent to me and my sins as can be. It is alrea∣dy concluded amongst their Casuists that Attrition without Contrition is enough to deserve an Absolu∣tion, i. e. if a man be but sorry for Sin, because it will bring him to Hell it shall be sufficient without any other Ingredient in his Repentance. The distinction they have made between Mortal and Venial, is another that tends not a little to loosness and sensuality, especi∣ally Page 12too when there's no sin so Mortal, but a liberal hand shall make it Venial too, and therefore no won∣der if this Mystery of Iniquity prevail so easily upon sensual and carnal Men.
2. This Mystery of Iniquity works now by Sub∣ornation, Lies and Perjuries. These are used to pre∣vent the discovery of their wicked Practises, and thereby to bring Credit to their Cause; for they have still so much Modesty and Ingenuity left in spite of all those Arts that have been used to root out both, as to stand up stifly in their own Defence, and make shew of the greatest Abhorrence of any of those vile Practices which the more sober part of Mankind do exclaim against; none pretending a greater regard to their Credit and Reputation than they do; which when the discovery of their evil Practises is like to blast, they can then with Oaths and Imprecations not only deny all, but even stand it out too to the very death, as our late Traytors have done and still do; and tho' their Guilt be never so plain and palpable, they are so far from taking Joshua's Counsel, and giving Glory to God by making Confession,* that they will rather rob him of as much as possibly they can by an impudent Denyal; Lying for the Catholick Cause (as it's call'd) is so far a venial Sin, that it carries its own Absolution along with it; and therefore it is that they have so often had Recourse thereto. How often have they reported that several sober and well minded Pro∣testants died mad, and could have no rest or quiet till they were Reconcil'd to their Church; amongst which Beza himself shall servefor an Example, of whom it was publickly divulg'd abroad that he did so, but it pleas'd Almighty God so far to restore him to his Health a∣gain, as to enable him to live to Confute that Calumny sufficiently. They tell us that Faith is not indeed to be kept with Hereticks, and they have so far made it Page 13good still as never to do it any longer than it was for their Advantage; but then methinks they should not belye these Hereticks, and make them worse than they are; yes, rather than want a specious pretence for their Falshood and Cruelty towards them, they will find out one way or other to make them seem to deserve it, Cranmer, Ridly, Latimer, and the rest of our Protestant Martyrs must be call'd Rebels against the Queen, and their Murders justified, as if they were burnt for Rebellion and not for Religion, when there was no such thing laid to their Charge, nor any pretence for it; for if there had, we should certainly have heard of it often and long enough agoe. Nay what pains have they lately taken to make this appear in those endeavours that have been used to thro' their own devillish Plot upon the Protestants? The Presby∣terians were to bear the blame then, and I question not, but they kno' well enough where to lay it yet if the Cursed Design of Murdering the King should take Effect, which God Almighty for ever prevent. But
3. This Mystery of Iniquity works by Cruelty and Bloody Practices; and of these the Histories almost of all Countries do afford us many dreadful Examples; for they use Art and Cunning only where they want Power, which when once obtain'd, no Tyger is half so Barbarous and Savage. Racks and Tortures, Fire and Sword are their common and ordinary Mercies, which without any regardh ad to Age or Sex they do without the least relenting most inhumanly Exercise, to destroy all that oppose their damnable Doctrines and Hellish Devices; as in the French Massacre, the Irish Rebellion, the Spanish Inquisition, and the rest of their bloody Persecutions both at home and abroad may easily be seen; what farther Designs they have ever since the Reformation had upon this Kingdom, I need not tell you, being so happily prevented, by that sea∣sonable Page 14Discourse thereof in the Morning, but I cannot but take notice with what Bloody Purposes and Resolu∣tions they were all taken up and mannaged. I remem∣ber how when the Prophet told Hazael what barba∣rous Work he should afterwards make amongst the Children of Israel;* Firing their Cities, destroying their Armies, ripping up their Women with Child, and dashing out their Childrens Brains; he answers with the greatest Abhorrence of such Cruelty, and is thy Servant a Dog that he shauld do so,* 2. concluding that whoever should be so Barbarous must divest him∣self of all Humanity first; and yet these persons can do all this and a great deal more too without the least Pity or Compassion, yea and Glory in it also, as the Pope and Cardinals did for the French Massacre and the Irish Rebellion; and as in particular Pope Sixtus the fifth did in a set Speech to his Cardinals upon the murder of Henry the Third of France, in which he doth highly magnifie that horrid Fact of Jaques Cle∣ment who did it; and I the rather mention this In∣stance, because Lewis the Priest that was lately Exe∣cuted in the next County, did at his death in his Speech before his Execution, as in the printed Coppy of it I have seen, particularly mention Clement and Ravil∣liac as Impious Villains, and that they were justly pu∣nish'd for their Horrid Crimes, and that their wick∣ed Facts are generally detested by all Roman Catho∣licks; which I must confess I did at first wonder at, because I little expected to hear such a thing from one that had the Repute of a Schollar, imagining that that Speech of P. Sixtus being publickly printed and sold at Paris and Rome too, could not be unknown to him; but when I consider'd what place he was reputed to hold amongst the Jesuits, my wonder quickly ceas'd; for I lookt upon it as a part of the same Plot that the rest of that infernal Crew are carrying on amongst Page 15us, in which how good natur'd and harmless they in∣tend to be, we may plainly apprehend from the begin∣ning of the Tragedy it self, as it has been already acted in the murder of Justice Godfry, and was in∣tended also in the Assault upon Mr. Arnold; these we kno' and have seen, and what more remains behind we may easily guess, when the murder of the King himself is one chief part of the Design. But
4. This Mystery of Iniquity works also by the In∣credulity of Protestants themselves; for even they a∣gainst whom it doth most discover it self do strangly encourage and help it forward, the common Princi∣ples of Humanity are so improv'd by the merciful Disposition of their Religion, that they cannot easily believe that ever there should be such horrid Mon∣sters amongst men as some of the zealous Bigots of the Popish Party have been; and this these men kno' ve∣ry well, and therefore it's one part of their Politicks to make their Crimes as great and barbarous as they can, that so their Stout and Resolute Denials of them, may be the sooner believ'd, and by consequence the Wickedness it self the easier done. This is plain in the History of the Irish Rebellion, in which the Au∣thor of it tells us, that though some curious and quick∣sighted persons suspected some Design against them, nay had private hints of it given to them, yet they would not believe it; by which foolish Incredulity they were the easier destroy'd and murder'd. Was it not so too in the French Massacre, before which there being some reason to apprehend some approach∣ing Danger, yea and some warning of it given to the Admiral himself, yet so great was their security in their too easie belief of the French Oaths and Prote∣statious to the contrary, that with the greatest easei∣maginable in a very short space at least 100000 of them were cruelly massacre'd; all which and a great deal Page 16more too, might for all the first discoveries of the Plot have been acted upon us long before this time, had not Almighty God prevented it, by suffering these Romish Wolves to act some part of it; as if it had been on purpose design'd to make us believe it whether we would or no. For how few were there amongst us that believ'd it till Justice Godfry's Murder? nay for all that, how many have there yet been that have not a little question'd the Truth of it, by which means the Authors and Contrivers of these Villanies have been strangely encourag'd to go on still in their Wick∣edness; but if there should be any person now that should make the least doubt of it after the Attestati∣on of so many Proclamations from the King, so ma∣ny Votes and Orders of both Houses of Parlia∣ment, so many Executions of Justice upon Legal and Impartial Tryals, and so many Pious and well com∣pos'd Prayers by the Bishops (who can hardly be sup∣pos'd to mock God with such Lies, if they were not sufficiently satisfied of the Truth and Certainty of the Evidence) I say, after all these, if any should in the least question the Truth of the thing, I shall not be afraid to declare my Opinion of such, that they are either in the Plot themselves, or wish well to it. But
5. This Mystery of Iniquity works now by good∣natur'd if not Treacherous Connivances. Blessed be God we have good Laws against this Mystery of Iniquity, and all its Abbettors, but I cannot say they are so well executed, whereby these men are encou∣rag'd, and grown bold and impudent. What Liberty have they enjoy'd since the King came in? what Access to his Royal Person and Court; what Freedom and Ease have they still had from all troublesom and char∣geable Offices; yea how freely have they enjoy'd the Exercise of their Religion without any considerable Page 17Interruption, whilst other Protestant Dissenters in many places of the Kingdom were both fin'd and im∣prison'd? yea since the discovery of this Horrid Plot, what favour have they had for all that in many Places of the Land? some of which we our selves kno' and have seen: have not the great Opposers of them been discourag'd and Brow beaten, call'd Factious and Se∣ditious? and all this and more too even in the pre∣sence of Papists, as if it were done on purpose to en∣courage them to go on still in their way; How have they been harbour'd and entertain'd, I had almost said, Protected against the Laws? what sleight searches have been made for Arms, and those too carried away in the night? nay, what's more, the Oaths of Allegi∣ance and Supremacy tend'red to, and taken by some of them in a Chimny Corner. More I could say to this purpose, but I forbear, because I would fain hope it was done out of Zeal and not Design, and that since things are now so plain we shall hear no more of such partiality; nor had I spoken it now, but that I am sure that such Practices do mightily strengthen and encou∣rage that Party. For as long as there be any that ei∣ther fear or favour them, or will become Pentioners to them, we can never be safe from their cursed Con∣spiracies and bloody Plots. But here I would not be mistaken as if I had an Intention, to provoke to any bloody and barbarous proceedings against them; No, I would not have the least hair of their Heads touch'd meerly for their Religion; I would have only the best care taken against the Mischiefs of it, against the bloo∣dy Principles which they have made so considerable a part of it; and therefore it's a great mistake in them (I wish it be not a wilful one) to say, that their Priests and others that have of late been justly Exe∣cuted, dye for Religion; no, it's for Treason; and if indeed that be a part of their Religion, I wish them Page 18more such Martyrs. For my part considering them barely as Papists I would have no more done to them, than I would have done to my self were I in their Case; for I would in the first place give the best security to the Government that possibly I could; I would keep still at home, and never go above five miles from thence without special leave; I would freely surrender all my Arms, and not keep so much as a Dagger or Pistol, no nor a Knife neither if the Government thought it not fit for me; I would renounce and abjure all wick∣ed and treasonable Principles; and if any Oaths or Tests were requir'd that were contrary to my Judg∣ment or Conscience, I would either get leave to de∣part the Realm, or stay, and as cheerfully as I could submit to the Penalties of the Law; however I would by no means Resist or Rebel, or do any thing (as near as I could, and as far as God should enable me) to dis∣honor him or his Truth, tho' I save both Life and E∣state by it; And thus I would commit my Cause to God, and if I did suffer it should be for well doing and not for ill; and this I say I would do were I now in their Case; nay, this I would do were the Power in their hands, and Popery the establisht Religion of the Nation; (which God grant may never be, and which as long as the King Lives I do not in the least fear) but if such a heavy Judgment should befal us (as I kno' our sins have deserv'd it) I should think my Condition very well, and be thankful for it, if I might but be suffer'd to do as I have said, for I desire always to make that Golden Rule of doing as I would be done unto, the Constant Measure of all my Actions. But
4. What is it that hinders the full Growth and Pow∣er of this Mystery of Iniquity? For the better under∣standing of which it will not be amiss to consider what it was that hindred in the Apostles days, and that will the more easily shew us what it is that hinders it in Page 19ours; now that which hindred its Growth and Increase then was the Power of the Roman Empire, which still kept it under that it could never grow to any great Heighth; the Emperors of Rome were too Potent and Strong, too Watchful and Politick, and too great Enemies to Christianity in general to suffer any of the Professors of it to grow any ways Great and For∣midable in the World: but as soon as that Power be∣gan to decline, as it did in the East by the prosperous Advance of the Turks, and in the West by the Invasion of the Goths and Vandals, and other barbarous Nations, this Mystery of Iniquity presently began to appear unmask'd, and to shew the World plainly that it was the Principles of Popery that made up the greatest part of it; for the Popes or Bishops of Rome taking Advantage from the Translation of the Imperial Seat to Constantinople, whereby the Power of the Empire was greatly weakned in Italy, began presently to set up for themselves, and to exercise that Tyrannical Power over mens persons, Estates and Consciences which they have since with so much Cruelty endea∣vour'd to maintain. For it was about the year 600, that Boniface the Third took upon him the Title of Universal Bishop, and then began that Tyranny to be publickly acted, which was before both begun and carried on by stealth. By the Considerations of which you may soon perceive what it is that hinders its full Growth and Power amongst us; and that we may easily conclude to be the Civil Government, by the power of which the Reformation here in England first began, and the Protestant Religion is establisht and up∣held; and so far it will hinder the Increase and Growth of Popery, that as long as it continues as it is, it is impos∣sible that Popery should ever prevail long amongst us; and therefore those persons that endeavour to bring it in here, are still plotting against the Government Page 20it self, which because they kno' it's too secure and firm as long as the King Lives, they resolve to destroy and murder him first; and so far their devillish Politicks are right and firm; for there's nothing (under God) that keeps out this Mystery of Iniquity, but the Life of the King, and the Power and Strength of those wholsom and good Laws against it, that are now so rivitted into the Civil Government as to become a great, nay the greatest Defence of it; and there∣fore it's Ridiculous to offer to Introduce Popery with∣out the utter subversion of it; this they kno' too well, and are therefore so resolutely bent against it; but I hope to God this hind'rance will always be in their way, and that that which thus letteth, will let, and shall never be taken out of the way. But
5. By way of Application, In which let us see what Improvement we are to make of all this.
1. Then, Is Popery such a Mystery of Iniquity? let us Detest and Abhor it, as indeed upon all Ac∣counts it very well deserves, but more especially up∣on these two, 1. Because it is so bad a thing in it self, and 2. Because we have known better.
1. Because it is so bad a thing in it self, it is so Horrid and Barbarous, so Ridiculous and Absurd, so Low and Sordid in its own Nature, that an Ingenuous and tru∣ly Generous Spirit that will be at the pains to consider it aright, cannot but cast it off with Loathing and In∣dignation; I might instance in several particulars wherein the Truth of this will manifestly appear, but I shall confine my self only to four.
1. It's a Sordid and Slavish Religion. It exercises not only a Cruel but an Unmanly Tyranny over its chiefest Votaries, putting them upon the poorest and ba∣sest Imployments that can be, and requiring from them such a blind Obedience to all things that are impos'd upon them, as is absolutely contrary to that noble Page 21freedom of Mind, that the Laws of Nature, and the Principles of Christianity do allow and encourage. True Religion is generous and free, all the Precepts and Principles of it are most agreeable to the highest and most refin'd Reason; it never in the least Abridg∣es us of the most perfect Liberty that is in the World; its greatest Restraints are only from slavish and unman∣ly things; it confines us to nothing that doth not help to make up a perfect Freedom, therefore well saith the Psalmist, uphold me with thy free Spirit,* or as it is in the Margent, let the free or princely Spirit uphold me; but now Popery is of another Temper, there is but little of a free or princely Spirit in it; it's a perfect Usurpation and Tyranny over all that a man is or hath in the World, neither his Person nor his Purse, no nor his most secret Thoughts and Conscience are free, but all subjected to its Vassalage. What an absolute Soveraignty it exerciseth over mens Persons, is suffi∣ciently discover'd in those long and tedious Pilgrima∣ges, which they have been sent upon; in those se∣vere and bloody Pennances which they have been en∣joyn'd, as if every Priest was an Ecclesiastical Cen∣turion, and had a command like his, that could but say to one go, and he goeth, tho' it be never so far, *to another come, and he comes, tho' it's from never so remote a place, and to a third do this, and he doth it, tho' it be never so sordid and barbarous a thing. Nor are they less sparing of mens Estates, witness their costly Oblations, large Mortuaries, their chargeable Masses for the dead, their Purse-Pennances to save the Carkasses of the Living, and the dear Purchases to redeem Souls out of Purgatory; but all this is no∣thing to that Tyranny they exercise over mens Thoughts and Consciences. These now have been in all Ages look'd upon as free and subject unto none but God, till these Lordly and Insulting Priests pre∣tended Page 22tended a Commission from him to inspect and com∣mand them; since which they have impos'd new Ar∣ticles of Faith that were never thought of by Christ or his Apostles; such as are the Worshipping of Ima∣ges, Invocation of Saints, the Papal Supremacy and Infallibility, together with that great Hobgoblin of all Transubstantiation, and the rest that are injoyn'd by that Church; after which they may impose what they please, since for ought I can see at this rate all is their own.
2. It is a cheating Religion. Gain is indeed the greatest part of its Godliness according to that old and true saying Omnia Romae venalia, any thing may be had at Rome for Mony, there you may buy Pardons for sin, Jesus Christ, Heaven and Happiness, yea God himself, and indeed any thing but Sanctifying Grace; we read that the Redemption of a Soul is Precious,* and that none tho' ever so rich, can by any means redeem his Brother, or give to God a Ransom for him, but these men tell us that if you have but Mony enough, you may redeem Thousands. * Our Saviour says that it is ea∣sier for a Camel to go thro' the Eye of a Needle, than for a rich Man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but they say it's much harder for a poor man to do it. St. James tells us that God hath chosen the Poor of this World, ** but they tell us that God hath rejected them. The Prophet Isaiah makes a free and liberal offer with∣out Mony and without Price of spiritual Blessings and Graces to all that shall in a due and right manner come for them, but this sure is Old-Testament Divinity, nay down-right Apocripha at Rome; It's this therefore that makes them so outragious against Protestants, more than against Turks and Jews, because they have discover'd these Cheats, and will not be impos'd upon any longer by them; * our Case being much like that of the Apostles at Ephesus, where the fierce Clamor Page 23was rais'd against him, was by Demetrius and the Craftsmen, who upon the prevailing of the Gospel were like to want Imployment, and to lose all the Wealth that came in by their Trade of making Silver Shrines, or Cabinets of silver, for the lesser Ima∣ges of Diana; and so indeed do these men who have the greatest part of their Livelyhood, from such kind of crafty Devices as these, and are therefore angry with us because we will not take their false Wares off their hands. And indeed who can be so sottish as to think that mony has this Power? none sure but those who as the Apostle tells us are given up to strong Delusions to believe Lies. They call these I kno' piae Fraudes,* pious Cheats, how pious they are I cannot say, but I am sure they are as great Cheats as any are in the World; but they alledge St. Pauls Example and Expression for their Justification, * for he tells the Corinthians that being crafty he caught them with Guile, but certainly he never meant this kind of profitable Guile, this spiritual sleight of hand this devout way of picking of Pockets, for in the next words he freely acquits himself of any such Design or Practice. *Did I or Titus or any that I sent unto you make a Gain of you? no I was so far from it that I would rather spend and be spent for you. St. Peter also was of another mind, tho' his pretended Succes∣sors think it not fit to follo' his steps; * for he fore∣warns the Church of Christ of those false Prophets that should thro' Covetousness make Merchandise of them, but to these I may say as he did to Simon Magus when he offer'd Mony for the Gifts of the holy Ghost, their Mony Perish with them.*
3. It's a wicked and licentious Religion, giving the greatest Encouragement to sin that can be, witness the publick Stews that are tolerated in Rome it self, paying yearly a Tax of many thousand Ducats to the Pope. Paul the Third had a List of 45000 Courtezans in Page 24pay under him at one time, and therefore Pope Sixtus built large and noble Lodgings for them; and indeed no wonder if such a sort of Cattle be encourag'd and provided for, many of the Popes themselves being notoriously Guilty of shameful Adulteries, and foul Incest; all which is necessarily encourag'd in them, in forbidding their Priests to marry, and rather al∣lowing them to keep as many Whores as they can maintain, the deepest Guilt of which is easily wip'd off by a Pardon, if not Anticipated by an Indulgence; nay, the truth on't is, these Pardons and Indulgences give the greatest encouragement to Sensuality and vile Lust that can be. And this Roger Holland a Mar∣tyr declar'd to Bishop Bonner himself. Whilst, says he, I was of your Religion I never cared what sins I committed, trusting to the Priests Pardon and Abso∣lution; Drunkenness and Uncleanness were no sins with me. And the like might be said of many others too, who I am confident had never been so bad if the Principles of their Religion and the hopes of easie Pardons had not made them so. Our Saviour bids the man that he had heal'd go his way and sin no more lest a worse thing come unto him,* but the Language of these Pardon-Mongers is, sin as often as you please you kno' the Price, it is but the same again, and all's well. Many other Instances I could give to confirm this were it needful, and the time would give leave, but I shall summ up all under this general head, which you may Report where you please, and I'll justifie the Truth of it out of their own Authors whenever I am required to do it, That there is no sin whatsoe∣ver but if it tend to Advance the Interest of the Church of Rome, it shall be Pardon'd and Indulg'd, yea and made Meritorious, and that this is the Prin∣ciple and Practice of that Church, I say again I shall be ready at all times to make it appear out of Page 25their own Authors whenever they shall deny it.
4. It is a Treasonable and Bloody Religion. That Subjection and Loyalty to the Supreme Civil Powers is a Christian Duty, that Magistracy is of Divine Institution, and that Kings have an undoubted Right of Supremacy even in Causes and over Persons Ecclesiastical, I have already and very lately in several Sermons at large prov'd unto you, but now Popery is a Religion, that opposes all these Principles of Loy∣alty so clearly and plainly laid down, and so constant∣ly practic'd by Christ and his Apostles, It sets the Mitre above the Crown, nay above all the Crowns in the World, yea and very insolently tramples them under foot, regarding the Dignity of Princes no more than the meanest things in the World; and for the Truth of this the History of all Christian Kingdoms and States do furnish us with plain and sufficient Ex∣amples. With what Luciferian Pride did Alexander the Third set his Foot upon the Neck of Frederick the Emperor? blasphemously repeating the words of the Psalmist, super Aspidem & Basilicum, * thou shalt tread upon the Lion and the Adder, the young Lion and the Dra∣gon shalt thou trample under feet, to which when the Emperor answer'd non tibi sed Petro, I do this Ho∣mage not to thee but to Peter, the Pope as insolently reply'd to him again, & mihi & Petro, thou dost it to us both, to me as well as Peter, making himself therein the Emperor's Master, and St. Peters equal and Fel∣low. It was this Pope that made our Henry the Se∣cond, a Potent Prince in his time, to go three Miles bare∣foot, whilst the Blood ran from his tender Feet, to offer at T. Beckets Shrine, and there to suffer his Back to be lash'd before he could be absolv'd from his Ex∣communication, and enjoy his Crown and Dignity in quiet. And whosoever shall oppose this Power that the Popes do still claim shall be cursed with Bell, Book, Page 26and Candle, and if that fails, shall be perseouted with Fire and Sword till they be ruin'd and destroy'd; hence are all those Treasons and Rebellions, those Murders and Villanies that have been set on foot and acted in this Kingdom since the Reformation, by the men of that Hellish and Treasonable Perswasion. But
2. Let us detest this Mystery of Iniquity, because we have known better; and indeed in our Case this ought to be as convincing an Argument as any, for tho' it be a bad thing to be a Papist, yet it is a great deal worse to turn Papist, because that's an Apostacy from God and Christ indeed; how merciful God may be to those that were born and bred such, that suck'd in these Principles in their Education I kno' not, but for those that have been otherwise taught and kno' better, for these to fall off to it must needs make their Condition very dan∣gerous if not desperate indeed, and therefore we shall always find in Scripture the Expressions of Gods Anger against Israel sharpned by nothing more, than by their sinning against those Gracious Manifestations of his Spirit and Presence to them; hence is that of the Prophet, *you only have I known of all the Families of the Earth, therefore will I punish you for all your In∣iquities; therefore it is that our Saviour represents the Condition of Corazin and Bethsaida as worse than that of Sodom and Gommorrah,* of Tyre and Sidon, because of those powerful Means of Grace which they had more than the other; nay our Saviour goes on farther and tells them that if he had not come they had not had sin;* nay St. Paul makes the Recovery of such as diffi∣cult as any thing in the World can be, and St. Peter I am sure tells us That it had been better for them not to have known the way of Righteousness, * than after the knowledge of it to turn from the Heavenly Commandement, and he gives this reason for it, *because the latter End will be worse with them than the Beginning. their former Ig∣norance Page 27might have strongly pleaded their Excuse, or at leastwise extenuated their Fault, whereas now the knowledge they have had increaseth their Guilt, and adds weight to their Condemnation; and so it will also do in our Case, if we should now return and lick up that Vomit, which our fore-Fathers cast out, and which we have hitherto pretended such a Loathing of; Apostacy hath been always esteem'd one of the worst kinds of Wickedness, because it hath in it so much of the malicious Resolution of the Will. Errors in Judg∣ment may plead a defect in the Understanding for their Excuse, Transgressions in the Life and Conversation may urge the power of inbred Corruption and the strength of a Temptation for theirs, but the Apostate that sins against Light and Conscience, can have no∣thing to say for himself; let not us then by any In∣ducements whatsoever be led away with the Error of the Wicked, * and so fall from our own and the Gospel's Sted∣fastness, but whatever we do let us hold fast the Professi∣on of our Faith without Wavering.
2. Doth this Mystery of Iniquity still work? be ex∣horted to provide the best you can against the Subtilty and Power of it; and certainly the best Provision we can make in such a Case, is to get on us as the Apostle advises the whole Armour of God,* and by all means possible to engage him on our side; Our own Expe∣rience of his appearing for us hitherto is Encourage∣ment enough to believe and trust him, for as the Psal∣mist says, *If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they had swallowed us up quick when they were so wrathfully displeased at us; It is neither our Counsel or strength, our Wit or our Guards, nor any thing of our own that hath hitherto preserv'd us, * but our help hath been only in the Name of the Lord who made Heaven and Earth; and because except the Lord keep the City the Watchman Page 28waketh but in vain, let us do the best we can to pro∣cure him to be our Guardian and Protector still, and the only way to do it is by instant and fervent Prayer, and a Sincere Repentance and Reformation. Preces & Lachrymae sunt arma Ecclesiae.
1. Then, let us apply our selves to God by fervent and devout Prayer, this hath been always accounted a great Priviledge indeed; the freedom of Access that it gives us unto God at all times, is the greatest Consolation to the Minds of good Men that can be, in that it gives them both a present Ease, and a cer∣tain supply to all their Wants. When their Minds are overwhelm'd with Sorrow, and ready to sink un∣der the load of their Miseries, and are ready to burst with Grief, it gives it such a kind and seasonable vent as both Preserves and Cheers it too; it's therefore call'd a Powering out of the Soul,* which when a true Believer has done like Hannah, his Countenance is no more sad, He hath made his Case known which is a present ease to him, and he is sure of a supply which is indeed a great Comfort; for it may be truly said of Prayer as it is of Saul's Sword, that it never re∣turns Empty;* this therefore hath been the constant Support and Relief of all Gods People in their Distress, as if the time would permit, I could easily shew from the Examples of Moses, Job, Samuel, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josia, Jeremiah, Jonah, and St. Paul, all which found no greater Comfort in any thing than in this; and indeed as it's the peculiar Priviledge, so it's the peculiar Consolation of the People of God, and therefore it's made one mark of a true Convert, a signal Note of a Child of God, as you may see in the Case of St. Paul, to whom Annanias is encou∣rag'd to go upon this single Evidence of his Conversi∣on, *For behold he Prayeth.
2. Let us return to God by sincere Repentance Page 29and Reformation. This now is as natural, and as necessary a Duty as the other. For if it be Sin that provokes God to destroy Nations and Kingdoms, as certainly it is, then Repentance and Reformation must be the most proper means to prevent it; there∣fore hence it is that after Samuel had told the Chil∣dren of Israel the manner of the Kingdom, and setled the Government of it as well as he could in so little time in the Person of Saul, to take them off from that Confidence which made them desire that kind of Government, at first he tells them that for all this, God would destroy them if they did not reform and amend. *But if ye shall still do wickedly ye shall be consu∣med both you and your King. Therefore also Solomon tells us That for the Iniquity of a Land many are the Princes of it,* but the Prophet Jeremiah goes far∣ther, and tells us, * that tho' God promise to bless a Nation or People, yet he will not do it any longer than they endeavour to deserve it; * Thus Daniel having threatned Nebuchadnezzar with the being depriv'd of his Kingdom for some time for his Pride tells him how he may do to prevent it, viz. by breaking off his sins by Repentance, and his Iniquity by doing of good: An Example of which we have in the men of Nineveh,* who believed the Threatning of God, and from a natural Apprehension of Gods rea∣diness to forgive upon Repentance, did really set a∣bout the work, and so escaped the danger. Let us then take this good Counsel, and follo' this great Example, that so we may meet with the like Bles∣sing.
3. Is the Kings Life and the Civil Government such a strong Bulwork against this Mystery of Ini∣quity? Let us bless God that hath made it so; The truth on't is, the Reformation of Religion here in England was one of the fairest and justest things that Page 30ever was done in that kind; it hath this Excellency in it to recommend it to our Esteem, and to shew us plain∣ly that there was really a hand of God in it, in that it was done in a most legal way, without the least shew of Tumult and Rebellion; and therefore it is that the Papists are so angry with the Church of Eng∣land, because they cannot fasten any of their usual Scandals of Faction and Sedition upon it, but as it was at first Establish'd so it is still defended by the Civil Go∣vernment. The Reformation in other Countries they say (tho' not altogether so truly neither as they would have the World believe) was begun and car∣ried on by Tumults and Disorders, by Rebellion and the expulsion of Princes; but here now there is not the least Colour or Pretence for such a Charge, ours having been own'd and defended all along by Legal Sanctions and the Power of the Civil Government. Therefore
2. Let us pray daily for the Continuance and Pre∣servation of the same; * we are commanded to pray for Kings and for all that are in Authority, and if this was a Duty when the Civil Government was altogether Heathen, it is much more so now it is be∣come Christian. If it was requir'd under bloody Tyrants and Persecutors of the Faith; much more is it necessary under lawful Kings that are become the Defenders of it; And indeed at this time we have more than ordinary Reason so to do, consider∣ing the Danger which both our King and Govern∣ment, and by consequence our Religion too are in; let us then seriously set about the work, and do it heartily and in good earnest, that so this Let may always be in the way, to hinder the farther Growth and Increase of this Mystery of Iniquity here a∣mongst us.Page 31
3. Let us unite together in Brotherly Love, and Charity amongst our selves; let us lay aside our pri∣vate Differences, and provide against the common Danger, that we may no longer strengthen the hands of our Enemies; for by those we weaken our selves, and help them to get ground upon us, and indeed it is by these that they are most likely to prevail, for if any thing brings in Popery and Ruine amongst us, it will be our unhappy Divisions amongst our selves. Therefore to prevent this
4. Let us Improve and walk Worthy of this great Mystery of Godliness which we do in the Gospel enjoy, that so God may continue it still to us; He never takes it from any till they Sleight and Contemn it, and there's no such Contempt of it as a walking contrary to all its Methods; if therefore we esteem it such a Blessing, and desire still to have it, we must live up to it, and by that excellent Change that it makes upon us shew that we do truly value it as it deserves; we best commend it by our Obedience to it, and we offer the strong∣est Motives to prevail with God to Establish it a∣mongst us and our Posterity when we thus walk worthy of it. They that bring forth the expect∣ed Fruits thereof are those that it is still promis'd to; God will never suffer his Lights to burn out in waste; he will soon remove his Candlestick out of its place, when it's made useless to those great and Glo∣rious Ends that he set it up for. Let us therefore con∣sider from whence we are already fall'n, and how far God may suffer us to fall yet, and let that engage us to a sincere Repentance for what is past, and an earnest Endeavour to Reform and Amend for the time to come, that so God may continue to pre∣serve and bless the King and his Government, and to Establish our Religion amongst us against all the Page 32Force and Policies both of Rome and Hell, Which God of his Infinite Mercy grant for the sake and in and thro' the Merits and Mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord and only Saviour, Amen.