Page images
PDF
EPUB

ture.

are

otherwise) together with whatsoever belongs to judic

And he will be acknowledged the author government. To this end he has put the sword in tł hands of rulers tó punish, not only the sins which ai committed against the commandments of the secon table, but also those which are committed against th precepts of the first table. We ought, then, not onl: to bear for his sake, that rulers should have dominior over us ; but it is also our bounden duty to honour them and to esteem them worthy of all reverence; considering them as God's lieutenants and officers, which he has commissioned to execute a lawful and holy commission."

“ ART. XL. We maintain, therefore, that we bound to obey their laws and statutes, to pay tribute, taxes, and other duties, and to bear the yoke of subjec. tion freely, and with good will; though they should be unbelievers : Provided the supreme dominion of God be preserved in its full extent. And therefore we detest the men (he means republican levellers] who reject su. periorities, introduce community and confusion of pro. perty, and overthrow the order of justice.”

Sir, you are a Calvinist. You follow the French Re. former when he teaches the absolute reprobation, and the unavoidable damnation, of myriads of poor creatures yet unborn. Oh ! forsake him not, when he follows Christ, and teaches God (and not the people) is to be acknow. ledged the author of power and government, and that we are bound to bear cheerfully, for his sake, the yoke of scriptural subjection to our governors. Represent no more this honourable, this divine yoke as abject slavery. And, instead of insinuating that the King and parlia. ment are robbers, because they lay a moderate tax upon their American subjects, help Mr. W. to undeceive those, whom the uneasy levellers of the day work up to almost as high a degree of republican wildness, as John of Leyden and Ket worked up the German and English mobs two or three hundred years ago. So will you shew yourself a true minister of the Prince of Peace, and a wise Protestant, who, like Cranmer and Calvin, ought equally to level his doctrine at a tyrant and a mob :

unto

Ana to pour like contempt upon the republican vanity of a tanner, who assumes the dignity of lawgiver under the Oak of Reformation, and upon the imperial pride of a monk, who, from St. Peter's humble chair, pompously holds out his foot to meet the adoration of prostrate Princes.

Be entreated, Sir, to rectify your false notions of liberty. The liberty of Christians, and Britons, does not consist in bearing no yeke; but in bearing a yoke make easy by a gracious Saviour and a gracious Sovereign. A John of Leyden may promise to make us first lawless, then legislators, and kings; and by his delusive promises he may raise us to—a fool's paradise, if not to - the gallows. But a true deliverer and a good governor says to our restless Antinomian spirits, "Come me,

and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' We can have no rest in the Church, but under Christ's easy yoke: No rest in the state, but under the easy yoke of our rightful sovereign, To aim at breaking this yoke, because we have some objection to the minister or the King, is as great a piece of folly as for the crew of a ship to aim at cutting the rigging, and destroying the rudder of the ship in which they sail, because they have a pique against the pilot or captain. Suppose they should be so unhappily fortunate as to succeed, what will they gain by their success ? Will they be better able to bear the tossings of the next storm? Will they not be at the mercy of every wave-the sport of every blast-ready to be dashed against every rock?

I am so fully convinced of the truth and importance of Calvin's two last Articles of religion, that, though I have for years checked his errors, if I had the wings of lightning, and a voice like thunder, I would, this in. stant, shoot myself across the Atlantic, and preach his loyal doetrine to our deluded brethren.

A seed of the error of the republican Anabaptists, has remained in England ever since the Reformation ; and the fiery zeal of some Independents and later Anabaptists, was the chief ladder by which the artful Cromwell

the outrages which can be expected from a lawless popu lace, who mistake licentiousness for freedom.

This mischief had begun in the church. Some of th German Reformers had, at times, spoken so unguard. edly of the ceremonial law of Moses, which St. Pau absolutely discards, as to pour contempt upon the mora law of Christ, which the apostle strongly enforces Luther himself, in his zeal for salvation without works. had been ready to burn the epistle of St. James, because it speaks honourably of Christ's royal law, by which Christians shall stand or fall when they shall be judged [that is, justified or condemned] according to their works.' When warm men had been taught to bid defiance to God's law, as well as to iniquity and Satan ; what wonder was it, if some of them went beyond their teachers, and began to infer, that, as they were made free from the law of God, so they were made free from the law of the land ! The transition from ecclesiastical to civil Antinomianism, is easy and obvious, for, as he that reverences the law God, will naturally reverence the just commands of the King ; so he that thinks him. self free from the law of the Lord, will hardly think himself bound by the statutes of his sovereign.

This republican, mobbing spirit, after having tossed Germany, began to agitate England. Permit me, Sir, to transcribe some passages from Bishop Burnet's His. tory of the Reformation. They refer to my subject, and will throw much light upon it: “ At this time there were many Anabaptistst in several parts of England. They

| This word, according to its Greek etymolɔgy, means Rebaptizers. Mr. Evans, and the Protestants of his denomination, are called by this name, because their grand peculiarity is to rebaptize those who were baptized in their infancy. No Church-of-England man can enter their church, but at the door of re-baptization. Nor can he go through that door, without renouncing his former baptism and all his communions. Dreadful abjuration! Hence it is, that too many of those who have taken that rash step, are as zealous för re-baptization, as the Christians who have renounced their baptism for Turkish ablutions, are zealous for their new washings. They exceed all others in zal for making proselytes. I do not say this to prejudice the reader against the Anabaptists: On the contrary, I would have him think, as I do, that many of them are very good people, and that most of them mean well ; and I believe this is the case with my opponent.

[ocr errors]

were generally Germans, whom the revolutions there had forced to change their seats. Upon Luther's first preaching in Germany, there arose many, wbo, building on some of his principles, carried things much farther than he did.” Here the historian candidly observes, that, although these men were called Anabaptists, because they agreed to explode the baptism of infants, they were not all of the same temper. “ Some,” says he, “ were called the gentle or moderate Anabaptists. But others-denied almost all the principles of the Christian doctrine, and were men of fierce and barbarous tempers. They had broke out into a general revolt over Germany, and raised the war called The Rustic War: And possessing themselves of Munster, made one of their teachers, John of Leyden, their king, under the title of King of the New Jerusalem,

“There was another sort of people, of whom all the good men in that age made great complaints. Some there were called gospellers, or readers of the gospel, who were a scandal to the doctrine they professsed, &c. I do not find any thing objected to them as to their belief, save only that the doctrine of predestination having been generally taught by the Reformers, many of this sect began to make strange inferences from it, reckoning, that since every thing was decreed and the decrees of God could not be frustrated, therefore men were to leave themselves to be carried by the decrees. This drew some into great impiety of life, &c. One of the ill effects of the dissoluteness of people's manners broke out violently this summer, (1549,) occasioned by the enclosing of lands. While the monasteries stood, there were great numbers of people maintained about these houses, &c. But now the number of the people increased much; marriage being universally allowed. They had also more time than formerly by the abrogation of many holidays, and the putting down of processions and pilgrimages ; so that as the numbers increased, they had more time than they knew how to bestow.”

The historian tells us next, how the Popish priests availed themselves of these favourable circumstances, to raise a dreadful rebellion in Devonshire; and then he goes on thus :-“ When this commotion was grown to a head, the men of Norfolk rose_being led by one Ket, a Tanner. These pretended nothing of religion, but only to suppress and destroy the gentry, to raise the commons, and to put new counsellors about the King. They increased mightily, and became twenty thousand strong, but had no order or discipline, and committed many horrid outrages.-Ket assumed to himself the power of judicature, and under an old oak, called from thence the oak of the Reformation, did such justice as might be expected from such a judge in such a camp.- When the news of this rising came into Yorkshire, the commons there rose also ; being further encouraged by a prophecy, that there should be no king nor nobility in England ; that the kingdom was to be ruled by four governors, chosen by the commons, who should hold a parliament, in common, to begin at the south and north seas. They, at the first rising, fired beacons, and so gathered the country, as if it had been for the defence of the coast, and meeting with two gentlemen, with two others with them, they, without any provocation, murdered them, and left their bodies unburied. At the same time that England was in this commotion, the news came that the French king had sent a great army into the territory of Boulogne; so that the government was put to most ex. traordinary straits. There was a fast proclaimed in and about London. Cranmer preached on the fast-day at Court.-He chiefly lamented the scandal given by many who pretended a zeal for religion, but used that for a cloak to disguise their other vices. He set before them the fresh example of Germany, where people generally loved to hear the gospel, but had not amended their lives upon it, for which God had now, after many years' for. bearance, brought them under a severe scourge.-His. tory of the Ref. (Book i. Part ii. Ed. 2. p. 110–118.)

From this quotation it appears, that the wild, republican spirit which animated Ket and his army, worked in those days, just as licentious patriotism works in ours. Ket, the great patriot, would redress grievances. He

« PreviousContinue »