Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

on of that gallant moralift, Plutarch: If Epicurus (faith he) fhould but grant a God in his full perfections, he must change his life prefently, he must be a fwine no longer.'

The Lord purge out this crying abomination alfo, with Atheism and drunkennefs, the inlets of it, which darken our glory, and threaten to make us defolate.

[ocr errors]


Wherein reafon and confcience are once more confulted, about that bitter and implacable enmity found in thousands this day against all ferious piety, and the strict profeffors thereof, wha differ from them in some external modes, and rites of worfip; and their determinations, upon that cafe, impartial ly reported.

§ 1.



AN is naturally a fociable creature, delighting in company and converse. He that affects to live by, and to himself, must be (faith the philofopher) Suplov, s; either a God that is felf fufficient, and ftands in need of none; or a wild beaft, so savage and fierce, that it can endure nothing but itself.

This natural quality of fociablenefs is diverfly improved, Sometimes finfully, in wicked combinations to do mischief; like the herding together of wolves and tygers: fuch was the confederation of Simeon and Levi, brethren in iniquity; Gen. xlix. 56. Sometimes it is improved civilly, for the more orderly and profperous management of human affairs. Thus all civilized countries have improved it, for the common fecurity and be nefit. And sometimes religiously, for the better promoting of each other's fpiritual and eternal good.

Now the more firmly any civil or religious focieties are knit together by love, and coalefce in unity, by fo much the better they are fecured against their common enemies and dangers, and become still the more profperous and flourishing within and among themfelves. For when every man finds his particular interest involved in the public fafety and fecurity, (as every private cabbin and paffenger is in the fafety of the fhip), every particular perfon will then ftand ready to contribute his uttermoft affiftance, for the public intereft, both in peace and war. United force, we all know, is more than fingle; and, VOL. VIII. Ddd

in this fenfe, we fay, Unus homo, nullus homo; one man, is no màn, that is, confidered disjunctively, and alone; when yet that fingle person, standing in a proper place of service in the body, may, by his prudence and courage, fignify very much to the public weal of his country; as Fabius did to the Roman state, of whom the poet truly observed, Unis homo nobis cunctando reftituit rem ;

That one man, by his prudent delay and conduct, hath faved the whole commonwealth.

§ 2. It is therefore the undoubted interest of Christian flates and churches, to make every individual perfon as ufeful as may be to the whole, and to enjoy the fervices of all their fubjects and members, one way or other, according to their different capacities; that it may be faid of them, (as the hiftorian fpeaks of the land of Canaan) that there was in it, Nihil infructuofum, nibil fterile; not a hrab but bare fome fruit.

No prudent kingdom, or church, will deprive themselves of the benefits they may enjoy by the fervices of any confiderable number of men, (efpecially if they be able and good men') without a plain, inevitable neceffity. No man, without such a neceffity, will part with the ufe and fervice of the least finger or toe, much lefs with a leg or arm but would reckon himself half undone, if a paralytic diseate should strike one half of the body, and render it utterly useless to defend and fuccour the other part in time of danger.

3. Much fo ftands the cafe with churches and kingdoms, when the caufelefs and gruck enmity of one part prevails so far against the other, as to deprive that ftate, or church, of the use and fervice of multitudes of good and faithful members.

It is folly, in its highest exaltation, for one part of a nation, out of bitter enmity to the other, not only to feek all ways and means to fupprefs and ruin it, whilft a common danger hangs over the whole; but to rejoice in the miseries of their brethren, as the principal thing which they fancy would eontribute to the great advantage of their caufe. What but a ge neral punishment, (if that will do it) can work mens hearts into a more general compaffion?

The hiftories of thofe times fufficiently inform us, that the great feuds and factions in the western church, not only immediately preceded, but opened the way to the terrible inundations of the Goths and Vandals. Whilft the fuffering part cries out, cruelty, cruelty; thofe that inflict it, cry as loud, juftice, juftice. Whatever rational apologies, or methods of peace, come from the oppreffed party, are cenfured by the o

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

ther as murmur and mutiny. All men commend unity, and affert it to be the interest of kingdoms and churches. They with all men were of one mind; but what mind muft that be? To be fure, none but their own.

The more cool, prudent, and moderate fpirits of each party, may ftrive to the uttermoft, to allay these unnatural feuds and animofities. The wifdom of the governing part, may take the instruments of cruelty out of their hand; but it is God alone, that can pluck up the roots of enmity out of their hearts.

And what is the matter, when all is fifted and examined? Why the matter is this: fome will be more ferious, ftrict, and confcientious, than others think fit or neceffary for them to be. They dare not curfe, fwear, whore, and be drunk, as others do. They fcruple to comply with what God hath not commanded, and the very impofers confefs to be indifferent, antecedently to their command. They reverently mention the name of God, without an oath, and the folemn matters of religion, without a jeft in their company. They will affume as much liberty to reprove fin, as others do to commit it. They take more pleasure in heavenly duties, and holy conferences, than in ranting and roaring in taverns and ale-houses. That is, in a word, they live up to the principles of religion, which all pretend to; and this is their unpardonable crime, a fault never to be expiated by any lefs punishment than their deftruction.

And are not people (think you) come to a fine pass; when the ftricteft obedience to the laws of God, fhall be accounted more criminal, than the most open and profane violation of them? Nay, though they reprove the other party's fin no other way, but by their most serious and religious lives; yet this alone fhall be fufficient to make them culpable and obnoxious.

§ 4. If the party thus generally hated and maligned, be (for the generality of them) serious and godly Chriftians; or if the ftrictness and holiness of their lives, and tenderness of their confciences, be the true ground and reafon of our hatred of them; fuch an hatred, when it becomes general, is a direful prefage of fome common calamity and mifery haftening upon fuch a people: Hof. ix. 7. "The days of vifitation are come; "the days of recompence are come; Ifrael fhall know it. The "prophet is a fool; the spiritual man is mad; for the mul<titude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred."


And our own reafon will give us this conclufion, as well as

scripture: for whatsoever brings fin to its full maturity, must needs haften judgments. And what can heighten and accent the fins of a people, more than such a cruel hatred of good men, upon the score and account before given? All hatred of godliness hath a tang of devilishness. It is a defperate flying in the very face of God, whofe image holiness is. Sin can fcaree be graduated a peg higher.

Reafon tells the hufbandman, it is time to mow and reap his corn, when it is full ripe. And it may convince you, that God's time of reaping down a finful people is near, when their fins are grown to fuch full maturity as this: "Put ye in the "fickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get ye down, for the "prefs is full, the fats overflow, for their wickedness is great," Joel iii. 1.

§ 5. The true cause and rise of this great and fixed hatred amongst profeffed Chriftians, (whatever may be pretended to falve reputation) is the contrariety and repugnancy of the natures, and principles, by which the godly and ungodly are governed. There is an enmity betwixt the two feeds, Gen. iii. 25. And this enmity runs down in a blood, more or lefs, in all ages, and places; Gal. iv. 29. "As then, he that was "born after the flesh, perfecuted him that was born after the "Spirit; even fo it is now." So it was, and fo it is, and fo it will be, till conversion changeth the heart and principle. This enmity cannot die, whilft Satan lives, and rules in the hearts of children of difobedience.

And the enmity is mutual: "An unjust man is an abomination to the juft; and he that is upright in the way, is an a bomination to the wicked," Prov. xxix. 27. Only with this difference; the good man hates, non virum, fed vitium; not the perfon, but his fin. The wicked man hates both the perfon of the godly, and his godlinefs too; yea, the person for his godlinefs fake.

This hatred of the godly, fecretly and habitually lurks in the nature of a wicked man; as rapaciousness doth in a young wolf, that never faw a lamb. It extends itself universally to the whole kind, and reaches thofe, whose lives are most obligingly sweet: yea, those that are bound to them in the strictest bonds of nature: as we may fee, in that most unnatural inftance of Cain's murdering his own brother Abel. It discovers itself, in seeking the deftruction of them they hate upon a religious account, and in rejoicing at any evil that befals them. Nothing is more grateful to them, than any occasion to difgrace, and expose them with contempt to the world.

§6. But though the ftrictness and holiness of good men, caufing the consciences of wicked, men privately to condemn, and inwardly to gaul and grate them for their looseness, and profaneness, be the true and real ground and caufe of the grudge and hatred; yet they think it fit, for reputation-fake, that this be wholly fuppreffed and filenced, and fomething else pretended for the cause and reafon of it, else it would look too like the devil himself. And therefore, amongst other plaufible pretenfions, for their malignity to thofe that are better than themselves, these three are principally infifted on, and pleaded

1. That it is not their piety, but their hypocrify, which they hate: not because they have indeed more piety than others, but because they make more vain fhew and oftentation of it than themselves do; who, fetting afide their ridiculous grimaces, and affected fantastic words and actions, are every whit as good as themselves.

2. Because, under a pretence of greater ftrictness in religi on, they do but hatch and carry on fedition and rebellion; and that the world will never be quiet, whilft fuch vipers are fuffered in the bowels of it.

3. That both the former have been made fufficiently evident and apparent, in several former, and more recent inftances, of the hypocrify and feditious designs of as high pretenders to religion and reformation, as thofe are, whom they truly hate, and would not fuffer them to live, if their power were answerable to their hatred.

[ocr errors]

As to this first plea, viz. their hypocrify; it will quickly be found to be too thin and weak to endure the tett of your own reafon and confciences. For how will you answer them, when they shall thus argue and expoftulate the matter with you?


You that thus cenfure, and thofe that are cenfured for hypocrify by you, do both profess one and the fame religion. Your profane lives are notoriously contrary to all the principles of this religion. You fwear, drink, whore, revile, and • perfecute the others, only because you fancy their tones, geftures, &c. to be fome way or other indecent. You can⚫ not deny, but they live foberly and godly: they attend upon all the duties of religion strictly and confcientiously. Your malice against them can find nothing to carp at, but fome little trifles, with which the effence of religion is not con'cerned. Did they run into the fame excefs of riot with you, " greater matters than these would be overlooked, yea, and ⚫ applauded too.'

« PreviousContinue »