« PreviousContinue »
lerly fhopbook of Eafter. They pray us that it would pleafe us to let them ftill hale us, and worry us with their bandogs and purfuivants; and that it would please the parliament that they may yet have the whipping, fleecing, and flaying of us in their diabolical courts, to tear the flesh from our bones, and into our wide wounds instead of balm, to pour in the oil of tartar, vitriol, and mercury furely a right reafonable, innocent, and fofthearted petition. O the relenting bowels of the fathers! Can this be granted them, unless God have smitten us with frenzy from above, and with a dazzling giddiness at noonday? Should not thofe men rather be heard that come to plead against their own preferments, their worldly advantages, their own abundance; for honour and obedience to God's word, the converfion of fouls, the chriftian peace of the land, and union of the reformed catholic church, the unappropriating and unmonopolizing the rewards of learning and induftry, from the greafy clutch of ignorance and high feeding. We have tried already, and, miferably felt what ambition, worldly glory, and immoderate wealth, can do; what the boisterous and contradictional hand of a temporal, earthly, and corporeal spirituality can avail to the edifying of Chrift's holy church; were it fuch a defperate hazard to put to the venture the univerfal votes of Chrift's congregation, and fellowly and friendly yoke of a teaching and laborious miniftry, the paftorlike and apoftolic imitation of meek and unlordly discipline, the gentle and benevolent mediocrity of church-maintenance, without the ignoble huck fterage of piddling tithes? Were it fuch an incurable mifchief to make a little trial, what all this would do to the flourishing and growing up of Chrift's myftical body? as rather to ufe every poor fhift, and if that ferve not, to threaten uproar and combuftion, and fhake the brand of civil difcord?
O, fir, I do now feel myfelf inwrapped on the fudden into those mazes and labyrinths of dreadful and hideous thoughts, that which way to get out, or which way to end, I know not, unless I turn mine eyes, and with your help lift up my hands to that eternal and propitious Throne, where nothing is readier than grace and refuge
to the diftreffes of mortal fuppliants: and it were a fhame to leave these serious thoughts lefs piously than the heathen were wont to conclude their graver difcourfes.
Thou, therefore, that fitteft in light and glory unapproachable, Parent of angels and men! next, thee I implore, omnipotent King, Redeemer of that loft remnant whose nature thou didft affume, ineffable and everlasting Love! And thou, the third fubfiftence of divine infinitude, illumining Spirit, the joy and folace of created things! one Triperfonal godhead! look upon this thy poor and almoft fpent and expiring church, leave her not thus a prey to thefe importunate wolves, that wait and think long till they devour thy tender flock; these wild boars that have broke into thy vineyard, and left the print of their polluting hoofs on the fouls of thy fervants. O let them not bring about their damned defigns, that stand now at the entrance of the bottomlefs pit, expecting the watchword to open and let out thofe dreadful locufts and fcorpions, to reinvolve us in that pitchy cloud of infernal darkness, where we fhall never more fee the fun of thy truth again, never hope for the cheerful dawn, never more hear the bird of morning fing, Be moved with pity at the afflicted ftate of this our fhaken monarchy, that now lies labouring under her throes, and ftruggling against the grudges of more dreaded calamities.
O thou, that, after the impetuous rage of five bloody inundations, and the fucceeding fword of inteftine war, foaking the land in her own gore, didft pity the fad and ceafelefs revolution of our fwift and thick-coming forrows; when we were quite breathlefs of thy free grace didft-motion peace, and terms of covenant with us; and having firft wellnigh freed us from antichriftian thraldom, didft build up this Britannic empire to a glorious and enviable height, with all her daughter-iflands about her; ftay us in this felicity, let not the obftinacy of our half-obedience and will-worship bring forth that viper of fedition, that for these fourscore years hath been breeding to eat through the entrails of our peace; but let her caft her abortive fpawn without the danger of this travailing and throbbing kingdom: that we may still remember
remember in our folemn thanksgivings, how for us, the northern ocean even to the frozen Thule was fcattered with the proud fhipwrecks of the Spanish armada, and the very maw of Hell ranfacked, and made to give up her concealed deftruction, ere fhe could vent it in that horrible and damned blaft.
O how much more glorious will thofe former deliverances appear, when we fhall know them not only to have faved us from greatest miseries paft, but to have referved us for greatest happiness to come? Hitherto thou haft but freed us, and that not fully, from the unjust and tyrannous claim of thy foes, now unite us entirely, and appropriate us to thyfelf, tie us everlastingly in willing homage to the prerogative of thy eternal throne.
And now we know, O thou our moft certain hope and defence, that thine enemies have been confulting all the forceries of the great whore, and have joined their plots with that fad intelligencing tyrant that mifchiefs the world with his mines of Ophir, and lies thirfting to revenge his naval ruins that have larded our feas: but let them all take counsel together, and let it come to nought; let them decree, and do thou cancel it; let them gather themselves, and be fcattered; let them embattle themfelves, and be broken; let them embattle, and be broken, for thou art with us.
Then, amidst the hymns and hallelujahs of faints, fome one may perhaps be heard offering at high ftrains in new and lofty measures, to fing and celebrate thy divine mercies and marvellous judgments in this land throughout all ages; whereby this great and warlike nation, inftructed and inured to the fervent and continual practice of truth and righteoufnefs, and cafting far from her the rags of her old vices, may prefs on hard to that high and happy emulation to be found the fobereft, wifeft, and moft Chriftian people at that day, when thou, the eternal and fhortly-expected King, fhalt open the clouds to judge the feveral kingdoms of the world, and diftributing national honours and rewards to religious and juft commonwealths, fhall put an end to all earthly tyrannies, proclaiming thy univerfal and mild monarchy through heaven and earth; where they undoubtedly, that by their labours,
labours, counsels, and prayers, have been earnest for the common good of religion and their country, fhall receive above the inferiour orders of the bleffed, the regal addition of principalities, legions, and thrones into their glorious titles, and in fupereminence of beatific vifion, progreffing the datelets and irrevoluble circle of eternity, fhall clafp infeparable hands with joy and blifs, in overmeasure for ever.
But they contrary, that by the impairing and diminution of the true faith, the diftreffes and fervitude of their country, afpire to high dignity, rule and promotion here, after a fhameful end in this life (which God grant them) shall be thrown down eternally into the darkest and deepest gulf of Hell, where, under the despiteful control, the trample and fpurn of all the other damned, that in the anguish of their torture, fhall have no other ease than to exercise a raving and beftial tyranny over them as their flaves and negroes, they fhall remain in that plight for ever, the bafeft, the lowermoft, the most dejected, most underfoot, and downtrodden vaffals of perdition.
And whether it may be deduced from the apoftolical times, by virtue of thofe teftimonies which are alleged to that purpofe in fome late treatifes; one whereof goes under the name of James Archbishop of Armagh.
EPISCOPACY, as it is taken for an order in the church above a prefbyter, or as we commonly name him, the minifter of a congregation, is either of divine conftitution, or of human. If only of human, we have the fame human privilege that all men have ever had fince Adam, being born free, and in the miftrefs ifland of all the British, to retain this epifcopacy, or to remove it, confulting with our own occafions and conveniencies, and for the prevention of our own dangers and difquiets, in what beft manner we can devife, without running at a loss, as we must needs in those ftale and useless records of either uncertain or unfound antiquity; which, if we hold fast to the grounds of the reformed church, can neither fkill of us, nor we of it, fo oft as it would lead us to the broken reed of tradition. If it be of divine conftitution, to fatisfy us fully in that, the fcripture only is able, it being the only book left us of divine authority, not in any thing more divine than in the allfufficiency it hath to furnith us, as with all other fpiritual knowledge, fo with this in particular, fetting out to us a perfect man of God, accomplifhed to all the good works of his charge: through all which book can be nowhere, either by plain text or folid reafoning, found any difference between a bishop and a prefbyter, fave that they be two names to fignify the fame order. Notwithstanding this clearnefs, and that by all evidence of argument, Timothy and Titus (whom our prelates claim to imitate only in the controlling part