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THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS.
OF SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, FROM MISINTERPRE
TATION OF SCRIPTURE. BESIDES these sovereign powers, divine, and hu- PART IV.
44. mun, of which I have hitherto discoursed, there is mention in Scripture of another power, namely, The kingdom
of Darkness, (Eph. vi. 12) that of the rulers of the darkness of what. this world; (Matth. xii. 26) the kingdom of Satan; and (Matth. ix. 34) the principality of Beelzebub over demons, that is to say, over phantasms that appear in the air: for which cause Satan is also called, (Eph. ii.2) the prince of the power of the air; and, because he ruleth in the darkness of this world, (John xvi. 11) the prince of this world: and in consequence hereunto, they who are under his dominion, in opposition to the faithful, (who are the children of the light,) are called the children of darkness. For seeing Beelzebub is prince of phantasms, inhabitants of his dominion of air and darkness, the children of darkness, and these demons, phantasms, or spirits of illusion, signify allegorically the same thing. This considered, the kingdom of darkness,
PART iv. as it is set forth in these and other places of the
Scripture, is nothing else but a confederacy of deceivers, that to obtain dominion over men in this present world, endeavour by dark and erroneous doctrines, to extinguish in them the light, both of nature, and of he gospel; and so to disprepare them for the kingdom of God to come.
As men that are utterly deprived from their nayet fully freed
tivity, of the light of the bodily eye, have no idea at all of any such light; and no man conceives in his imagination any greater light, than he hath at some time or other perceived by his outward senses : so also is it of the light of the gospel, and of the light of the understanding, that no man can conceive there is any greater degree of it, than that which he hath already attained unto. And from hence it
that men have no other means to acknowledge their own darkness, but only by reasoning from the unforeseen mischances, that befall them in their ways. The darkest part of the kingdom of Satan, is that which is without the Church of God; that is to say, amongst them that believe not in Jesus Christ. But we cannot say, that therefore the Church enjoyeth, as the land of Goshen, all the light, which to the performance of the work enjoined us by God, is necessary. Whence comes it, that in Christendom there has been, almost from the time of the Apostles, such justling of one another out of their places, both by foreign and civil war ; such stumbling at every little asperity of their own fortune, and every little eminence of that of other men; and such diversity of ways in running to the same mark, felicity, if it be not night amongst us, or at least a mist? We are therefore yet in the dark.
has been here in the night of our na- PART IV. tural ignorance, and sown the tares of spiritual errors; and that, first, by abusing, and putting out four causes the light of the Scriptures: for we err, not knowing darkness. the Scriptures. Secondly, by introducing the demonology of the heathen poets, that is to say, their fabulous doctrine concerning demons, which are but idols, or phantasms of the brain, without any real nature of their own, distinct from human fancy; such as are dead men's ghosts, and fairies, and other matter of old wives' tales. Thirdly, by mixing with the Scripture divers relics of the religion, and much of the vain and erroneous philosophy, of the Greeks, especially of Aristotle. Fourthly, by mingling with both these, false, or uncertain traditions, and feigned, or uncertain history. And so we come to err, by giving heed to seducing spirits, and the demonology of such as speak lies in hypocrisy; or as it is in the original, (1 Tim. iv. 1, 2) of those that play the part of liars, with a seared conscience, that is, contrary to their own knowledge. Concerning the first of these, which is the seducing of men by abuse of Scripture, I intend to speak briefly in this chapter.
The greatest and main abuse of Scripture, and Errors from to which almost all the rest are either consequent ing the Scripor subservient, is the wresting of it, to prove that the pures commernkingdom of God, mentioned so often in the Scrip-dom of God : ture, is the present Church, or multitude of Christian men now living, or that being dead, are to rise again at the last day: whereas the kingdom of God was first instituted by the ministry of Moses, over the Jews only; who were therefore called his peculiar people ; and ceased afterward, in the election of
PART iv. Saul, when they refused to be governed by God any
more, and demanded a king after the manner of the nations; which God himself consented unto, as I have more at large proved before in chapter xxxv. After that time, there was no other kingdom of God in the world, by any pact, or otherwise, than he ever was, is, and shall be king of all men, and of all creatures, as governing according to his will, by his infinite power. Nevertheless, he promised by his prophets to restore this his government to them again, when the time he hath in his secret counsel appointed for it shall be fully come, and when they shall turn unto him by repentance and amendment of life. And not only so, but he invited the Gentiles to come in, and enjoy the happiness of his reign, on the same conditions of conversion and repentance; and he promised also to send his Son into the world, to expiate the sins of them all by his death, and to prepare them by his doctrine, to receive him at his second coming. Which second coming not yet being, the kingdom of God is not yet come, and we are not now under any other kings hy pact, but our civil sovereigns; saving only, that Christian men are already in the kingdom of grace, in as much as they have already the promise of
being received at his coming again. As that the Consequent to this error, that the present Church kingdom of
is Christ's kingdom, there ought to be some one man, presentChurch
or assembly, by whose mouth our Saviour, now in heaven, speaketh, giveth law, and which representeth his person to all Christians; or divers men, or divers assemblies that do the same to divers parts "Christendom. This power regal under Christ,
* challenged, universally by the Pope, and in
God is the
particular commonwealths by assemblies of the part iv. pastors of the place, (when the Scripture gives it to none but to civil sovereigns,) comes to be so passionately disputed, that it putteth out the light of nature, and causeth so great a darkness in men's understanding, that they see not who it is to whom they have engaged their obedience.
Consequent to this claim of the Pope to be vicar- And that the general of Christ in the present Church, (supposed vicar general: to be that kingdom of his to which we are addressed in the gospel,) is the doctrine, that it is necessary for a Christian king to receive his crown by a bishop; as if it were from that ceremony, that he derives the clause of Dei gratia in his title ; and that then only he is made king by the favour of God, when he is crowned by the authority of God's universal vicegerent on earth; and that every bishop, whosoever be his sovereign, taketh at his consecration an oath of absolute obedience to the Pope. Consequent to the same, is the doctrine of the fourth Council of Lateran, held under Pope Innocent the Third, (chap. III. De Hereticis), that if a king at the Pope's admonition, do not purge his kingdom of heresies, and being excommunicate for the same, do not give satisfaction within a year, his subjects are absolved of the bond of their obedience. Where, by heresies are understood all opinions which the Church of Rome hath forbidden to be maintained. And by this means, as often as there is any repugnancy between the political designs of the Pope, and other Christian princes, as there is very often, there ariseth such a mist amongst theirsubjects, that they know not a stranger that thrusteth himself into the throne of their law