« PreviousContinue »
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
AND TRULY NOBLE
RICHARD LORD VAUGHAN,
EARL OF CARBERY, KNIGHT OF THE HONOURABLE
ORDER OF THE BATH.
I have lived to see religion painted upon banners, and thrust out of churches, and the temple turned into a tabernacle, and that tabernacle made ambula
and covered with skins of beasts and torn curtains, and God to be worshipped, not as he is, “ the father of our Lord Jesus” (an afflicted Prince, the King of sufferings), nor as the “God of peace,” (which two appellatives God newly took upon him in the New Testament, and glories in for ever:) but he is owned now rather as “the Lord of Hosts,” which title he was pleased to lay aside, when the kingdom of the gospel was preached by the Prince of peace. But when religion puts on armour, and God is not acknowledged by his New Testament titles, religion may have in it the power of the sword, but not the
power of godliness; and we may complain of this to God, and amongst them that are afflicted, but we have no remedy but what we must expect from the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, and the returns of the God of peace. In the mean time, and now that religion pretends to stranger actions upon new principles, and men are apt to prefer a prosperous error before an afflicted truth, and some will think they are religious enough, if their worshippings have in them the prevailing ingredient; and the ministers of religion are so scattered, that they cannot unite to stop the inundation, and from chairs or pulpits, from their synods or tribunals, chastise the iniquity of the error, and the ambition of evil guides, and the infidelity of the willingly-seduced multitude, and that those few good people, who have no other plot in their religion but to serve God and save their souls, do want such assistances of ghostly counsel, as may serve their emergent needs, and assist their endeavours in the acquist of virtues, and relieve their dangers when they are tempted to sin and death; I thought I had reasons enough inviting me to draw into one body those advices, which the several necessities of many men must use at some time or other, and many of them daily: that by a collection of holy precepts they might less feel the want of personal and attending guides, and that the rules for conduct of souls might be committed to a book, which they might always have; since they could not always
have a prophet at their needs, nor be suffered to go up to the house of the Lord to inquire of the appointed oracles.
I know, my Lord, that there are some interested persons, who add scorn to the afflictions of the church of England, and because she is afflicted by men, call her “ forsaken of the Lord ;” and because her solemn assemblies are scattered, think that the religion is lost, and the church divorced from God, supposing Christ (who was a man of sorrows) to be angry with his spouse when she is, like him, [for that is the true state of the error] and that he, who promised his Spirit to assist his servants in their troubles, will, because they are in trouble, take away the Comforter from them; who cannot be a comforter, but while he cures our sadnesses, and relieves our sorrows, and turns our persecutions into joys, and crowns, and sceptres. But concerning the present state of the church of England, I consider, that because we now want the blessings of external communion in many degrees, and the circumstances of a prosperous and unafflicted people, we are to take estimate of ourselves with single judgments, and every man is to give sentence concerning the state of his own soul by the precepts and rules of our law-giver, not by the after-decrees and usages of the church; that is, by the essential parts of religion, rather than by the uncertain significations of any exterior adherencies: for though it be uncertain, when
a man is the member of a church, whether he be a member to Christ or no, because in the church's net there are fishes good and bad; yet we may
be sure, that, if we be members of Christ, we are of a church to all purposes of spiritual religion and salvation; and, in order to this, give me leave to speak this great truth
That man does certainly belong to God, who, 1. believes and is baptized into all the articles of the Christian faith, and studies to improve his knowledge in the matters of God, so as may best make him to live a holy life. 2. He that, in obedience to Christ, worships God diligently, frequently, and constantly, with natural religion, that is of prayer, praises, and thanksgiving. 3. He that takes all opportunities to remember Christ's death by a frequent sacrament (as it can be had ;) or else by inward acts of understanding, will, and memory (which is the spiritual communion,) supplies the want of the external rite. 4. He that lives chastely; 5. And is merciful ; 6. And despises the world, using it as a man, but never suffering it to rifle a duty; 7. And is just in his dealing, and diligent in his calling. 8. He that is humble in his spirit, 9. And obedient to government, 10. And content in his fortune and employ-; ment. 11. He that does his duty because he loves God; 12. And especially, if, after all this, he be afflicted, and patient, or prepared to suffer affliction for the cause of God : the man that hath these