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sincere religion, will not be overborne or staggered by such stale and trifling reflections, rarely used of late, but to palliate wretched designs, or discredit good ones with men of weak judgment, 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 time in which the minds of all sorts of protestants have been more powerfully and unanimously engaged 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 prize into the hands of men, or yielded a fairer occasion, 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 industrious 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 obliged to study their misunderstanding, 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 governed with true glory and success, but there where the interest of the governor is one with that of the governed, and where there is the strictest care to steer all transactions of state by the fundamentals, or the first and great principles, of their own constitution: especially since swerving from them hath always made way for confusion and misery in government. Our own stories are almost everywhere vexed by this neglect; and those of our neighbours must submit to the same truth.
To conclude, and sum up the whole discourse: if you will both cure present, and prevent future grievances, it will greatly behove you to take a most deliberate and unbiassed 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 ancient laws and statutes of the realm: this is English. And I do humbly and heartily beseech Almighty God, that he would so dispose the hearts of prince and people, as that
firm foundations may be now laid for a just and lasting tranquillity to these nations: and, believe me if you please, unless they are just and equal, they cannot last. Time will prove it, because it always has; and that God is unchangeable in the order and justice of his providence. And since righteousness exalts a nation, and that sin is the shame of any people; therefore will I close with David's prayer, Psal. vii. 9. O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and the reins."
CAUSES AND CURE OF PERSECUTION.
I IMPUTE all persecution for religion to these seven ensuing 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.
I. The first cause of persecution is this, 'That the authors and users of it have little or no religion at heart: they are 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. It was God himself that said, "Unto this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word:" not one that breaks heads, and plunders goods, for religion. "Biessed are they that mourn," said Christ," they shall be comforted:" but not those that sell Joseph, and make merry. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God:" those that are low in their own eyes; not such as devour and damn all but themselves. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" such as are gentle, and ready to help, and not tyrannize over neighbours. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy:" what then shall become of those that are cruel, under pretence of doing it for God's sake? "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God:" then disturbers and destroyers of their peaceable neighbours shall not be called so. Blessed are
Isa. lxvi. 2.
they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" but not those that hunger and thirst after our corn and cattle, 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 that are sober and harmless: not one blessing to the conscience-hunting doctrine and practice of him, that devours the widows and orphans for religion. Were men inwardly and truly religious, they would have so low an opinion of themselves, so tender a regard to mankind, so great an awe of Almighty God, as that none of these froward passions would have any sway with them. But the mischief is, unmortified passions pretend to religion; a proud, impatient, arrogant mind would promote it; than which, nothing of man is more remote from it; mistaking the very nature and end of Christ's peaceable religion; which, if the apostle James says true, is "to visit the fatherless and widow," and keep ourselves unspotted of the world." But, on the contrary, they turn widow and fatherless out of house and home, and spot themselves with the cruelty and injustice of usurping their poor patrimony, the bread of their lives, and sustenance of their natures: such men as these are void of natural affection; their religion has no bowels, or they are without mercy in the profession of it; which is the reverse of true religion, that makes us "love enemies, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us;" and so much stronger, in souls truly religious, is the power of love to mankind than 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 peaceable dissenters) but, with much softness and charity, commiserate their ignorance and anger; offering to inform them, and praying that they may be forgiven. This is to be religious; and therefore those that persecute for religion any ways, are irreligious.
II. The next cause of persecution, is the gross but general mistake which people are under concerning the nature of the church and kingdom of Christ: for the lamentable worldliness of men's minds hath put them upon those carnal constructions which have made way for all the external coercion and violence, used by bad and suffered by good men, on the score of religion, from the beginning. And no wonder if ordinary persons stumble upon this construction, when the disciples of Jesus showed themselves so ill-read in the mysteries of his kingdom, that after all the intimacy they + Mat. v. 44.
* James i., 27.
had had with him, they refrained not to ask, "When shall the kingdom be restored to Israel?" They looked abroad, had a worldly idea in their minds; Jews-like, they waited for external deliverance from the power of the Romans, rather than an internal salvation from the dominion of Satan; and interpreted those words 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; for that, though true, might have been more at that time, than they could have borne; 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 and argument; "for," says he, "then would my servants fight for me:" truly implying, 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 kingdom, that therefore it is not of this world. Consequently, 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 crown and 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, impeached Christ of being an enemy to Cæsar, they were enemies, and he appeared a friend to Cæsar; for he came to reform the lives of men, to make them better subjects; to obey Cæsar, not for fear, but for conscience-sake: a way to make Cæsar's province both easy and safe. But the Jews would have had him Cæsar's 'enemy; one that should have forcibly rescued them from Cæsar's power: that was what they waited for; a captain-general to head the revolt; and, with an high hand, to overbear and captive Cæsar, as he had done them: and it is more than probable, that this appearance being after quite another manner, and to another end, than they expected, they therefore rejected him; their hearts being set upon the desire of worldly empire.
But to return: Christ told his disciples, that he had "chosen them out of the world:" how, pray? Not to con
John xvi. 13.
+ John xviii. 36.
verse, or live bodily in it? No such matter: but he had chosen or singled them from the nature, spirit, glory, 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 for that reason, not carnal or worldly, but spiritual methods and weapons only, are to be used to inform or reclaim such as are ignorant or disobedient. And if we will give ancient story credit, we shall find that worldly weapons were never employed by the Christian church till she became worldly, and so ceased to be truly Christian.
But why should I say the church? The most abused word in the world! It is her leaders have taught her to err; and that of believing as the church believes, is so far from being true in point of fact, as well as reason, that the church herself has long believed as the clergy, that is, the priest, believed, ever since that sort of men have practised a distinction from, and superiority upon, the laity. He that will peruse the ecclesiastical story, delivered us by Eusebius Pamphilus, Socrates Scholasticus, Evagrius, Ruffinus, Sozomen, and more especially the councils, B. Usher, aye, and Baronius himself, will find but too many and sad instances of the truth of this,
In short, people apprehending the church and kingdom of Christ to be visible and worldly, like other societies and governments, have thought it not only to be lawful, but necessary, to use the arts and force of this world to support his church and kingdom; especially since the interest of religion hath been incorporated with that of the civil magistrate for from that time he hath been made custos utriusque 'tabulæ; and such as offend, though about church-matters, have been reputed transgresssors against the state, and consequently the state interested in punishing the offence. Whereas had Christians remained in their primitive simplicity and purity, in the self-denying, patient, and suffering doctrine of Christ: Christianity had stood in holy living, and not in worldly 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 and many Christian endeavours had been used to reclaim 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 reach and are effectual. But the kingdom and church of Christ, that is chosen out of the world, stands not in