A Loyal Tear Dropt on the Vault of our Late Martyred Sovereign in an Anniversary Sermon on the Day of His Murther.
By Joseph Glanvill.
London: Printed for James Collins, 1667.
Rom. XIII. 2.
And they that resist shall receive to themselves Damnation.
AS there are some Ages and Times that are more infested with unhappy influences from the Heavens, and noxious reeks from the Earth, which by poysoning the Air, Roots, and Herbs, propagate that deadly venome into mens bodies, that even wearies Death, and gluts the Grave with its slaughters, and was matter of our late miseries.
In like manner there are Times when poysonous Doctrines from the Pulpit, and maligne humours in the Populace, infect the Publick Air, and spread a fatal Contagion into mens Principles and Manners, which flies like Infection, and destroyes like the Plague.
And if ever Times were under cross and unlucky Aspects, if ever there were a publick Spirit of Phrensie and mischief in the World in any days, since the first; certainly this Lot is fallen upon ours; wherein mens Principles and Practices contend, which shall out-do the other in the degree of Evil. And 'tis hard to say which are worse, Mens actions or opinions.
We are fallen into Times, wherein among some, 'tis a piece of Gallantry to defie God, and a kind of Wit to be an Atheist; among others, 'tis Religion to be Phantastick, and Conscience to be Turbulent and Ungovernable. Nor have mens Practices come short of the malignity of their Belief; but if possible have out-done it. Atheism hath not rested in the judgment, but proceeded to all enormities, and debauches. And we had not been called to the sad solemnity of this Day, if Rebellion had slept in Opinion.
But alas the venome of the Asp hath swoln into deadly Tumors; and those seditious Principles have shot their poysonous atrows into the vitals of the publick Body. We yet feel the smart of those wounds, and the Generations to come will wear the scarrs and the marks of our misery and our guilt.
What is past we may lament, but cannot remedy. What we may do, and what we ought, is to inform our selves better of the Duty we owe to God, and those he hath appointed over us; and to endeavour the suppressing those principles and actions which breathed the Plagues that destroyed the Nation, and would again burn us up in hotter Flames than those. And if that fatal Fire which so lately prey'd upon our Peace, and our Properties, our Religion, and our Government, our Persons and our Friends, hath not yet convinced us of the evils and danger of Resistance; yet there is another and a greater, as certain and more fatal, threatned by the Apostle, They that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Which words were spoken in the dayes of NERO, who besides that he was an Heathen, was a Persecutor and a Tyrant, and the most infamous instance in Nature; and yet this Monster is not excepted as to the Tribute of Obedience. Whereas had this been said in the dayes of such a Prince as our CHARLES the First, it might have been supposed that the vertue of the person claimed the reverence and subjection, and not the capacity of the Prince. And that 'twas damnable to resist because he was Good, not because he was Supream; because he was a Nursing Father of the Church, not because the Ruling Father of his Country. 'Twas an happy coincidence therefore to secure the Authority of the Magistrate, which answers the greatest pretensions of Rebellion. If Religion be pretended, an Heathen must not be resisted. If Tyranny, 'tis damnation to oppose a Nero. They that resist shall receive the wrath and judgment of God, which implies the guilt, and expresseth the danger.
Now to resist the Authority Providence hath set over us, is so sinful, and so dangerous, principally upon this three-fold account. RESISTANCE,
1 Affronts the Authority of God.
2 'Tis contrary to the Spirit of Religion. And
3 Destructive to the Interest of Societies.
The two former express the Guilt, and the latter both the Sin and the Punishment. And of them all in order.
1 Then RESISTANCE is an affront to the authority of God. The Lord sets up Kings, saith the Father. And Kings are from God, sayes the Heathen. And a greater than both acknowledgeth Pilate's power to be from above.
The Scripture intitles God to all the Royal adjuncts, and both Christian and Heathen Antiquity symbolize in this with the sacred Oracles; which hath been largely proved by an excellent Prelate, as I instance in some of his Particulars.
1 The King's person is said to be God's; Great deliverance giveth He to HIS King, 2 Sam. xxii.51 and He shall give strength unto HIS King, 1 Sam. ii.10. Yea, I have said ye are Gods, saith the Text; and consonantly Plato calls the King, a kind of God among men. And as the name of God is called upon his person, so also is it (2) upon his Throne. Then Solomon sate upon the Throne of the Lord as King, instead of DAVID his Father, 1 Chron. xxix.23. And saith the Queen of Sheba, Blessed be the Lord thy God which delighteth in thee, to set thee on HIS Throne, 2 Chron ix.8. To a like sense also is that of Nestor to Agamemnon in Homer; “Iove lent thee thy Scepter and Jurisdiction” (3) The Kings Titles also relate him to God, viz. those of Gods Anointed, and his Servant: The former given even to Saul, 1 Sam xii.3. and Cyrus, Isa. xlv.1. and the later to Nebuchadnezzar, Jer. xxv.9. The same also Athanasius gives to Constantius the great Favourer of the Arrians. (4) The Kings power likewise is from God; There is no power but of God, and the powers that are, are ordained of God, saith the Apostle. And the Pythagorean. God hath given him Dominion. Upon which account also Themistius. God sent Regal Power from Heaven. And that a Kingdom is a Divine Good, is the assertion of Plato, and confession of Cyrus: All the Kingdoms of the Earth hath the Lord of Heaven given me, 2 Chron. xxxvi. Yea, and Tiberius acknowledgeth, our Kingdom is from God. And Daniel minds Nebuchadnezzar, The God of Heaven hath given thee a Kingdom, Power, and Strength, and Glory, Dan. ii.27. And Athanasius in his Prayer for Constantius, “Thou hast given this Kingdom to Constantius thy servant.”
These, I think, are testimonies enough to prove that Kings wear Gods Image and Authority. And therefore Menander calls the King, God's living Image; and the Pythagorean, The King is the Figure of God among Men. But besides all this, there is evidence enough in the nature of the thing to prove, that Kings have their Power and Authority from God, and are no Substitutes of the People: which I thus inferr.
God made the World, and consequently the World is his, and his alone is the Right to Govern it. But he being of such immense perfections, that our Frailty cannot bear his immediate converses: 'tis necessary that he rule us by men like our selves, and put the Sword into the hands of Creatures of our own make. This he doth, and hence it follows, that they that Rule are Gods Substitutes, and no Creatures of the People: For the People have no power to Govern themselves, and consequently cannot devolve any upon another.
Upon the whole then I conclude, that the same Commands and Authority that oblige us to obey God, bind us to revere those that so signally wear his Image: and he that disobeys the Vice-Roy, affronts the Soveraign. He that resists, resists the Ordinance of God, saith the Apostle, and who can lift up himself against the Lords Anointed and be guiltless? saith David in the case of Saul.
And thus I have dispatched the first, viz. Resistance affronts the authority of God, with which Kings are invested; as I think I have made evident from testimony, and the nature of the thing.
Secondly, Then RESISTANCE is opposite to the Spirit of RELIGION. Religion is of a calm and pacifick temper, like that of its Author, whose voice was not heard in the street. It subdues our passions, and governs our appetites; it destroyes our pride and sordid selfishness; it allays the tempests, and speaks down the storms of our natures; it sweetens our Humours, and pollisheth the roughness of our tempers; it makes men gentle and peaceable, meek and compliant. This was the Spirit of the great exemplar of our Religion; this was the genius of his Doctrine and his Practice.
He commands the payment of all Duties to Caesar, He acknowledgeth Pilates Power to be from above; He commands his Disciples to pray for their Persecutors; He permits them to flie, not to oppose. He rebukes Peters violence to the High Priests servant; and the revenge of the Disciples, when they called for Fire from Heaven.
He paid Tribute, submitted to the Laws of the Sanhedrim, and to that unjust sentence against his life.
This was his temper: and the Apostles who lived among his enemies and theirs, and met with severity enough to have sowred their Spirits, and exasperated their Pens to contrary resolutions and instructions. Yet as true Followers of their dear Lord, they faithfully transmit to us what they had learnt from him, viz. That we should obey those that have the rule over us; submit to every ordinance of man; pray for Kings and all in authority; submit to Principalities and Powers, and to obey Magistrates.
And those Noble Spirits of the first Ages after, who began to be Martyrs as soon as to be Christians; who lived in the Fire, and went to Heaven wrapt in those Flames that had less ardor than their love. These, I say, amidst the greatest and fiercest Fires that Cruelty and Barbarism had kindled, paid the Tribute of a peaceable and quiet subjection to their Murderers, and made unforced acknowledgments of the right they had to their obedience. Nor do we ever read of any attempts they made to free themselves by resistance, though (as Tertullian saith) they were in powerful numbers mingled in their Villages, and in their Cities; yea, in their Castles, and in their Armies. Yea, there is an illustrious instance of passive obedience in the Thebaean Legion, whose tenth man being executed for not offering Sacrifice to Idols, they quietly submitted to the cruelty. And a second Decimation being commanded by Maximinian, the Author of the first, one of their great Commanders, an excellent Christian, perswades them to suffer it with the same patience: because it was not with their Swords they could make their way to the Kingdom of Heaven, but by another kind of Warfare.
And now if after all this, and infinitely more that might be said on the subject, to pretend Religion, and plead Scripture for Rebellion, is impudent and shameful, an affront to Religion, and a Lie in the face of Conscience. And those that cannot discern those great lines of their Duty which are set upon the High places, and shone upon with a full beam; and yet can find sin in little harmless circumstances, which nothing hath forbidden, but the coyness and perversness of their own humour; are like him that could see the Starrs at Noon, but could not see the Sun; and could spye the shadows made by the Mountains in the Moon, but could not discern the greater spots upon its visible surface. And for men to strain at the decency of an Habit, or the usage of a Ceremony, when they can swallow Rebellion and Sacriledge without chewing; is to be like him who durst not eat an Egg on Saturday, but made nothing to kill a Man. Doubtless had the Scripture said by a thousand part so much for the Ius Divinum of Presbytery, as it hath for obedience to Authority; had there been one plain word against Conformity, as there are many against Rebellion; that would have been worn bare upon the tongue, and have filled the World with endless importunities.
But the Injunctions and Commands of Obedience are against our humours and opinions, against the darlings of our phansies, and the interest of our Party: and therefore here we must shuffle and evade, cogg and interpret by Analogies of our own making, by the Rules of our Sect, and the Authority we worship, by Necessity and Providence, and any thing that will colour Sin, and cozen Conscience, that will turn Religion into the Current of our appetites, and make Scripture speak the language of our humours.
Thus Religion and divine Authority shall be reverenced, and pleaded when they agree with mens own measures, and send any light or advantage to the Favourites of their affections: But when they cross their Models, oppose the people of their imaginations, and call them upon duties that are displeasant; the case is altered, the great motives of perswasion have lost their power and influence, and Religion can do nothing with them.
Thus briefly of the two first Heads, viz. Resistance (1) affronts the Authority of God, and (2) is opposite to the Spirit of Religion. From which I come to the third, which makes resistance both a great sin, and a great punishment, viz.
(3) It is ruinous to the INTEREST OF SOCIETIES. This I must more largely prosecute, because it will lead us into the sad occasion of our present meeting. Man is a Creature made for Society; and what is against the interest of Societies, is destructive to Humane Nature. And if the greatness of a sin, and a mischief be to be measured by its reference to the Publick, for ought I know, Rebellion will be the next sin to that which is unpardonable, in the degree of guilt, as well as it is near it in the penalty threatned.
Now there are two great interests of Societies, viz. GOVERNMENT and RELIGION, to both which Resistance both in doctrine and practice, is fatal.
To begin with Government in order.
(1) Then both doctrine and practice of resistance is destructive to Government. For if Subjects may resist the Powers over them, no Government in the World can stand longer, then till the next opportunity to overthrow it. Every man will resist what he doth not like, and endeavour to pluck down what comports not with his humour. Thus every fit of discontent will stir up the various and inconstant People to seek an alteration. And there was never any Government so exactly framed in the World, but in the menage, and administration of it, many things would displease. Now the generality of men are lead by their present senses; and if they feel themselves pained by any thing (and it may be too, the Grief is but in their Imagination) they are for present deliverance from that Evil by any means; never considering whether the way of Cure draws not greater Evils after it than the distemper: and so upon every discontent the people are inflamed, and upon every occasion, rebel. And thus is a Kingdom laid open to inevitable devastation and ruine: and by a dear experience we have learnt, that 'tis better to endure any inconveniences in a setled Government, than to endeavour violent alterations. When the Sword is drawn, no man knows where, and when it will be sheathed. When the Stone is out of a mans hand, he cannot direct it as he pleaseth. Men with Swords by their sides, will do what likes themselves, and not what is enjoyned them by those that imploy them.
Or, could we suppose what our own unhappy experience hath confuted, that Armies would be obedient; yet the Murders and Rapes, the Spoils and devastations, which are the natural issues of a Civil War, are worse than any inconveniencies in any Government possible. And though, as my Lord Bacon notes, Foreign War is like the heat of exercise, good and healthful for the Body; yet Civil War is like the heat of a Fever, ruinous and destructive.
Besides, those that resist, either overcome the supream Power, or are conquered by it. If the former, their Instruments in all likelyhood conquer them, as well as those they served them against: and so from the just authority of their lawful Rulers, they fall under the insolence of their licentious Vassals. Or suppose they get the Government to themselves, all the evils will follow, which usually do upon Competitions and variety of Claims, which will breed everlasting disturbance, and eternal fears. Such evils will follow if the resisters prevail: and if they chance to be supprest and overcome by the Powers they oppose, they can expect nothing less than to be crusht and ruined. So that those that resist, whether they conquer, or are overcome, draw inevitable ruine upon themselves, and probably on the common Body. For Laws and Government are the great Charter of our Lives and Liberties, our Properties, and our All; and as the Father, ? ?. Murders, rapes, violence, and all kind of mischief invade the World with Anarchy and Disorder.
And how far all this hath been verified in our Borders: a little recollection will inform us. For,
WHEN fair Weather and a warm Sun, the indulgence of Heaven, and a long tranquility, had made us fat and frolick, rich and full, our prosperity made us wanton, and our riches insolent. We began to murmur we knew not why; and to complain, because we had nothing to complain of. Discontents grew upon the stock of our ill Nature, and the perversness of our humours; and every little occasion was Fuel to the Fire that was kindling in the distempered Body. We began to invade the Government with malicious whispers, and private Preachments, with Libels and Declamations, with Insolencies and Tumults. And when Sedition had incouraged it self by Noise and Numbers, by Popular zeal and talk of Reformation, it flew into the highest irreverencies towards the King, and the most violent proceedings against his Ministers, that the nearest Trees being removed, they might have a full stroke at the Cedar. Nor did things stop here.
The Sparks grew into mighty Flames, and those Vapours into Thunder and Tempests. The whispers of the Corner past into the noise of a Camp; and the murmurs of the Street into the sound of the Trumpet. The Cloud like an hand, became a Magazine of Storms, and our New lights set us all on Fire. The Pulpit sounded as much Warr as the Drum; and the Preacher spit as much flame as the Cannon. Curse ye Meroz was the Text, and Bloud and Plunder the Comment and the Use.
Thus began our happy Reformation. From Law to Licentiousness, from Religion to Phrensie, from an happy Government to a wretched Hurry and Confusion: and the progress and the end were suitable to those hopeful beginnings.
God was worshipped with the Devils Sacrifices, humane bloud and slaughter: and glorified by being affronted in his Authority and his Laws. The King was honoured by the persecution of his Person, and murder of his Friends; submisly addrest by the civilities of a Rabble, and petitioned in the humble form of Drums and Granadoes. Welcomed at his Cities by the shutting of their Gates, and entertained in the Country with the glittering of Swords, and the noise of War. Fought against for his defence, and his life sought, for the preservation of the King.
Thus happy were our Reformers in twisting Contradictions, and they would be so indeed, could they reconcile one more, viz. That they are the good People and sure Heirs of Heaven, because the Apostle saith, They that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
But we are not yet at the end of the line, the most fatal part of the Story is to come.
Therefore, after ten thousand butcheries and devastations, miseries and disorders, which cannot be described, but they will in part be felt; prosperous wickedness finally prevailed, the friends of Loyalty and Justice were scattered and destroyed. Majesty is made a prey to the sons of a Dunghil; and afflicted innocence falls into the hands of the Hunters. And after He had been infamously sold like a Slave, and imprisoned like a vile Malefactor: after He had been ravisht from his Friends, blasphemed in his name, and robbed of the ensigns of his dignity: after He had heen tost up and down from one place to another, according as the designs and insolencies of his cruel Jaylors should call him: after He had been mocked by Conditions of Peace, and terms of Accommodation, that were never meant: after He had made concessions to all their Demands, and for the sake of the Peace and Settlement of his Kingdoms, had granted things that Subjects had never the insolence to ask. I say after these and a thousand instances of barbarism and indignity more, that his cruel Persecutors might transcend all examples of wickednesse; that Generations to come might honour them, as they do that HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE, whereof PONTIUS PILATE WAS PRESIDENT, and that they might deserve a deeper damnation than that threatned by the Apostle to bare Resisters. They summon their SOVERAIGN to their Bar, and trie Him by a company of Petty-fellows, that called themselves by a great Name: They buffet him with their insolent Taunts, and bait him with the mercenary noise of JUSTICE, JUSTICE, like CRUCIFIE him, CRUCIFIE him. They upbraid him with their own faults, and charge him with the guilt of that bloud which themselves had spilt; that they might add the guilt of his, to all the rest; which BLACK TREASON, not to be thought on without horrour, nor named without a tear, this Day they accomplisht, beyond any president of former times, and perhaps the belief of the future; contrary to their Allegiance, and their Covenant, to their duty to God, and their professions to the People, to the obligation of all Laws and Common Right.
Therefore let this Day be darknesse, let the covering of the blackest Grief be upon it; because this Day fell a Prince, one of the best, the wisest, and most generous, and the most gracious that ever swayed these Scepters. He fell, and fell by violence, and the violent hands of his own, who ought to have sacrificed their lives to the preservation of His. He fel to the dishonour of God, to the grief of good Men; to the scandal of Religion, to the shame of Protestantism, to the overthrow of Government, and ruine of the Nation. This is a Lamentation, and to all Generations it shall be for a LAMENTATION.
But Oh Heavens! oh Providence! must Vertue be dethroned, and Villany be crowned! must Victory and Successe wait upon Treasons and Paracides, while infamy and losse dogg Innocence to the Grave! Must the most righteous of Princes be the most miserable of Men; and Religion and a good Cause be the onely way to be unfortunate and undone! Will the Searcher of hearts abet hypocrites; and Providence lend it self for an argument to legitimate Rebellion! Shall the Pharisee pray, and prosper; and the righteous cry, and be forsaken! Shall Treason carry Religion in Triumph upon its gilded Banners; and shall the wicked lift up their hands in an appeal to Heaven, and bring them down to the destruction of the Just! Shall Villany raise its head to the Clouds, and meet no Thunderbolts there; while the Devotions of the Innocent return upon him in storms and flames!
Thus Sense and Nature would complain on this occasion. But Providence is just, though we are blind. Prosperous Villany crows and triumphs for a moment, but is covered with shame, and eternal darkness in the issue. The end of things will disentangle Providence, and rectifie all disorders. Then shall we see that afflicted Vertue shoots up on the other side the Grave, and sends its branches into a flowring Paradise, where they shall be green and verdant in an eternal Spring, while every Tree that Vertue hath not planted shall be rooted up and wither in a moment.
This briefly I thought fit to suggest as an Apology for Providence; lest the successes of the wicked, and misfortunes of the Just, in instances so great and so near, might tempt any to think, that there is no GOD that judgeth in the Earth.
And thus I am arrived at the first period of the miseries that we brought upon our selves by Resistance, which concludes in the ruine and dissolution of Government, and this runs into all the mischiefs to which humane Nature is obnoxious. For Government is the great interest of mankind; that which bounds our passions, and secures our rights; prevents confusion, and that deluge of Debauches that Anarchy lets in upon the World. And how far we felt this also in the consequent Calamities, would be considered.
When the Nation then had lost its Head, and its Glory, 'twas turned with its Heels upwards, and governed by a Thing as infamous in its Quality, as its Name. The Dreggs of the Populace, the Creatures of a Sectarian Army, the worst part of a Body, that was bad enough in its best; these were our Senators, and our Patriots, the preservers of our Peace, and the Keepers of our Liberties: and keep them they did, but not for us, but from us. And was not this a Liberty worth the Bloud and Treasure that was spent to purchase it.
O the blessed Reformation that filled our Pulpits, and emptied our Purses; that quickned our endeavours, and inspired our zeal; and that was so glorious in our mouths, and so pleasant in our hopes. Were not all miscarriages of Government well mended, when Government was thrown up by the roots, and was not the disease well cured, when the Body was destroyed? Were we not well freed from evil Counsellours, when we made Kings of the worst we had. And was not Tyranny well extirpated, when we were under an Army of Tyrants.
But the glorious things are to come, and we must be cast into New Models. And when the Birds of Prey have divided the Spoil, and satisfied the cravings of their appetites and ambition, the Nation shall be made happy with New-nothings, and golden Mountains; with Chimoeraes of Common-wealths, and fine names for Slavery. In the mean while Loyalty must be scourged with the Scorpions that are due to Rebellion. And those that feared the damnation of the Apostle, shall be sure to incurr the damnation of the Reformers; and they that would not hazard their Souls, must compound for their Estates.
But when the JUNCTO had run to the length of their Line; that is, as far as their MASTER would permit them; when they were as odious as they deserved, and his designs as ripe as he could wish; then up steps the single TYRANT, kicks them out of their Seats, and BEELZEBUB dispossesseth the LEGION. He engrosseth the prey to himself, and assumes the sole priviledge of compleating our miseries. He made himself after the Image of a King, and invested his Sword with the authority of Law. He ruled us with the Rod of Iron we deserved, and made us feel a difference between the silken Reins of a lawful Authority, and the heavy yoke of an insolent Usurpation.
And when Providence had freed us from this Plague, and called him to account for his Villanies, we fell back into our old disorders; wee reeled to and fro, and staggered like a Drunken man, and were at our wits end. We knew not this week, who would be our Lords the next; nor did our Lords themselves know to day, by what Laws they would Rule to morrow. Confusion was in their Councils, as well as Tyranny in their Actions; and there was but one thing they seemed to be agreed upon, which was to inslave the Nation. And if we would not believe that this was Liberty, we must be knockt in the head with our chains; if the Sheep would not take the Wolves for their Guardians, 'twas fault enough, and good reason why they should be devoured. And were not things come at length to a pretty pass, when men in Buff durst proclaim themselves the onely Legal Authority of the Nation, when our Armed Masters murdered men in the Streets, and threatned the antient Metropolis of the Nation, with Gunpowder and Granadoes. Fire and Sword must be our portion, if we would not be in love with infamous Usurpers, and a worse Powder-plot than Faux's was acting in the face of the Sun. The strength, the riches, the beauty, yea, the almost All of the Nation was designed a Sacrifice to the rage and revenge of our Oppressors; and Plunder and Massacres were almost the least evils we feared.
Thus were we tost up and down from one wave to another, and made the sport of the proud and insulting billows, till Almighty Goodness setled us again upon our old basis, and by a Miracle of Providence restored us our PRINCE and our Government which our sins had deprived us of, to re-establish us upon the sure Foundations of Righteousness and Peace.
These are some sprinklings of that deluge of Wo that we brought upon our selves by resistance, which I have briefly described to this purpose, that the remembrance of these miseries, may beget a sense of our sins, and the truth of the particular Proposition I have been discoursing under this Head, viz. That Resistance is fatal to Government.
And though Government may be fixt again upon its Foundations, and Laws turned into their antient Channel, after the violence they have suffered; yet they lose much of their reverence and strength by such dissettlements. And the People that have rebelled once, and successfully, will be ready to do so often. As water that hath been boyled, will boyl again the sooner.
And thus we see how ruinous resistance is to Government, and how destructive to that first great Interest of Societies, as it is also.
(2) TO RELIGION, which is the other. That Rebellion is contrary to the Spirit of Religion, we have seen; and consequently, that 'tis destructive of its Being, will not need much proof, since contraries destroy one another. Rebellion layes the Reins on mens necks, and takes off the restraints of their appetites; it opens the flood-gates of Impiety, and lets loose the brats of extravagant Imagination. It destroys the reverence of all things sacred, and drives Vertue to Corners. It gathers mens lusts into a common storm, and fills all things with Chaos and confusion. Religion cannot be heard in the noise of battail, but is trampled under-foot in the hurry and the tumult. Faith and love, humility and meekness, purity and patience are overcast and silenced by Atheism and cruelty, pride and barbarism, lust and revenge. Thus Rebellion by breaking up the foundations of the Earth, lets in an Hell upon us, and brings a kind of present damnation upon the World. And that this is another fatal mischief of Resistance, we have felt also by an experience that will keep it in our memories. And what execution it hath done upon Religion must be considered next.
But now this is a tender thing, and I am willing to keep my self within bounds that are charitable and sober; and therefore must premise to what I have to say about it; that I charge not the whole Body of the People of the late Times, with the guilt of all the Follies and corruptions I describe. Nor do I believe, or say, that the whole Mass of their Religion was so monstrously vitiated and depraved. I profess Universal Charity, and have perhaps, more for the worst of them, than they generally will own for any that are not of their own party or opinion. And therefore at present I shall say no more, than what the sober and intelligent among themselves will acknowledge to be justly chargeable upon some or other of the Sects bred by our late Disorders; and this will be enough for my purpose, which is only to prove by near and deplorable instances, that resistance brings mischiefs upon Religion; and not to expose to hatred or contempt the persons of any that are serious in the way of their profession, though I judge it never so obnoxious and mistaken. And having said this out of a tender charity, that none may be wronged by misinterpretation, nor any offended that are not concerned; I come with freedom to describe some of the injuries our unhappy resistance hath done Religion, notwithstanding that both Arms and Tongues so highly pretended its defence.
And indeed men fought for Religion till they had destroyed it; and disputed about it, till they had lost it. Multiplicity of Opinion had quite confounded the simplicity of Life and Faith; and 'twas most peoples business to chatter like Pyes, rather than to live like Christians, or like Men. And if Religion had been computed by mens talk, and dispute about it, those later dayes of the declining World had been its best; and this in its growth and wayes of highest improvement, when all things else were verging to their fatal Cell and Period. But alass, the Tongue was the most, if not the onely religious Member. And many of the Pretenders, like the Aegyptian Temples, were fair without, but Beasts and Serpents, and Crocodiles within. Or like the Bird of Paradise, they had Wings to flye in the Clouds of Imagination, but no Feet to walk on the Ground of a vertuous practice. Yea, some had found the way to swim to Heaven in the Current of their appetites, and to reconcile Covetousness, Rapine, Cruelty, and Spiritual Pride, with the glorious names of the Elect, the People of God, the Church of Christ, and the good Party. Religion with Rebellion, and Sacriledge with Saintship. These had learnt to be godly without goodness, and Christians without Christianity.
These were lovers of God, that were haters of their Brother: haters of open Prophaness, but not of spiritual wickedness. Very godly though cruel, and unjust. True penitents, though they returned to their sins, as soon as they had complained and wept. Their hearts were good, though their actions were dishonest; and they had the root of the matter in them, though that root were a dry stump, and had no branches. They were regenerated, but not reformed; converted, but not a jot the better. Devout Worshippers, but bad Neighbours. Lovers of God, but no haters of Covetousness. Had power in Heaven, but none over themselves. They were Gods Servants, though they obeyed their appetites: and his children, though no better than those, that they accounted of their Father the Devil. Thus had men got the knack to be religious without religion, and were in the way to be saved, without salvation.
This was one of the grossest abuses of Religion that our Disorders brought upon us, whereby it was taken from its foundation of Vertue and Holy living, and placed in emotions, raptures, and swelling words of vanity.
And when these had kindled the imagination, and sent the phansie into the Clouds to flutter there in mystical non-sense: and when it was mounted on the Wings of the Wind, and got into the Revelations to loosen the seals, pour out the vials, and phantastically to interpret the fates of Kingdoms; when it flew into the Tongue in an extravagant ramble, and abused the Name and Word of God, mingling it with canting, unintelligible babble. I say, when the diseased and disturbed phansie thus variously displayed it self, many made themselves believe that they were acted by the Spirit, and that those wild agitations of sick Imagination, were divine motions. And when this fire was descended from the phansie to the affections, and these being exceedingly moved by those vain and proud conceits, caused tremblings and fomings, convulsions and extasies in the body, (all which are but natural diseases, if not worse; and just like those odd exstatical motions of the Devils Priests when they come foming from his Altars) these, I say, the wild phantasticks had learnt to ascribe to the blessed and adorable Spirit And when their phansies being full of turgid notions, and their bodies in an extasie, they dream'd of strange sights, voices, and wonderful discoveries, which were nothing but the unquiet agitations of their own disordered brains. These also were taken for divine Revelations, and the effects of the Spirit of God, shewing it self miraculously in them.
Briefly then, and in sum; Every humour and phantastick unaccountable motion, was by some represented as the work of that Spirit, to which they are most opposite. Thus when warm and brisk sanguine presented a cheerful Scene, and filled the imagination with pleasant Dreams; these were divine Illapses, the Joys and Incomes of the Holy Ghost. When heated Melancholy had kindled the busie and active phansie, the Enthusiast talks of Illuminations, New Lights, Revelations, and many wonderful fine things, which were ascribed to the same Spirit. And when Phlegm prevailed, and had quencht the phantastick Fire, rendring the Mad man more dull and unactive; then the Spirit was withdrawn, and the man under spiritual darknesse and desertion. And when again Choler was boyled up into rage and fury against every thing that was not of the fond Cut and Measure; this also was presumed to be an Holy Fervour kindled by that Spirit, whose real Fruits are gentleness and love.
And now, after that which I have said on this occasion, it may perhaps be necessary to add, that I hope none here will be so uncharitable, or so unjust, as to think that I go about to disparage the Spirit of God and its influence; which, as I ought, I adore and reverence: and because I do so, I think it fit to represent, and shame the blasphemous abuses of it, which would expose the most Divine things to scorn, and make them ridiculous. And that the Holy Spirit hath been thus traduced and injured, and is still by great numbers among us, 'twould be shameful not to acknowledge. And I add, that my zeal and reverence for the realities, make me thus sharp and severe to the Counterfeits. Nor do I think that folly and phantastry is to be spared, because they wear the stollen Livery of things venerable and sacred.
Therefore to go on, this was a kind of Religion that the corruption of it bred among us. A Religion conceived in the Imagination and begot by Pride and Self-Love, which gilded the Professors of it with all the glorious names and priviledges of the Gospel. And when they had encircled their Heads with their own phantastick rayes, and swoln their Imaginations into a Tympany of ridiculous greatness, they scornfully contemned all but their Darling-selves, under the notion of the Formal, the Moral, and the Wicked: and proudly pitied the poor and carnal World, that is, all that were not of their conceited pitch and elevation. And having thus dignified themselves, and debased others: they herded together, drew the Church into their little Corners, and withdrew from the communion of others, who had less conceit, though more Christianity. They bid us stand off, lest we should have polluted them by our unhallowed approaches; and having made us as the Heathen and the Publican, they cried, Come out from among them. The true Church, soundness of Judgment, purity of Doctrine and of Worship (if men would believe them) was confined to their gang, just as they were to the Corners of Africa of old, when their Friends the Donatists were there. Thus did they swell and swagger in their Imaginations, till some other Sect, as well conceited as themselves, endeavoured to take their Plumes from them, and to appropriate those glorious prerogatives to their own party. And then they bussled and contended, Here, the Church, cried one; nay, but 'tis here, cried another; till a third gave the Lye to them both: and then the Scuffle grows warm of Pride against Hypocrisie; the Self-conceit of one Sect, against the Pride of another, and all against Sobriety and Truth.
This among some was the power of Godliness, this the spirituality of Religion, under pretence of which, all reverence to things sacred was destroyed. For when this Spirit had got into the Pulpit, and set up the Cry of the Purity and Spirituality of Worship, it never left canting on the Subject, till mens Tongues and Minds were fired against every matter of decency and order, as formal and Antichristian. And so far had it prevailed, as to drive those of warm affections and weak heads, from all due external Reverence to God and Holy things. And these well meaning people being frighted with the terrible noise of Popery, Superstition, and Antichristianism, (things they had learnt to hate, but not to understand) boggled and flew off from every thing their furious Guides had marked with these abhorred Characters, though it were never so innocent and becoming. And thus a rude and slovenly Religion had made its way into the World, and such a sordid carelessness in matters of divine Worship, that should a Stranger have come into the Assemblies that were acted by this Spirit, he would not have imagined what they had been doing: and that they were about Holy Offices, would perhaps have been one of the last things in his Conjecture. Thus bold and sawcy talk had crept into mens Prayers, under pretence of Holy Familiarity with God, nauseous impertinent Gibberish, under the notion of Praying by the Spirit, and all kind of irreverences in external demeanor, under the shelter of a pretended spiritual Worship.
Thus had men subtilized Religion, till they had destroyed it, made it first invisible, and then Nothing.
And now to gather up all, Religion being thus multiplyed, corrupted and debaucht, being made the Game of the Tongue, and the Frolick of Imagination; phantastick in its principles, sordid in its practices, separated from the foundation of a vertuous life, and made to serve the ends of Pride and Avarice; what was like to follow, according to the nature and order of things, but Atheism and contempt of all Religion? And when one sayes, here's Religion, and another sayes, there's Religion; a third will contemningly ask, where's Religion, and what's Religion? When the Heathen Deities were so multiplied, that every thing was made a God; Protagoras, Diagoras, and others, first began to question, and next to affirm that there was NONE. Religions have been multiplied in our dayes, as much as Gods in theirs; and we have seen much of the same fatal event and issue. They made their Gods contemptible and vile, by deifying things that were so, and we had no less detracted from the credit of Religion, by bringing it down to things of the lowest and vilest rank and nature. Our Idolized Opinions were no better than their Garlick and Onyons. The diseases of the Mind, Phrensie and Enthusiasm, which our dayes have worshipped, were no better than those of the Body which they adored. And they never raised Altars to worse Vices than REBELLION, FRAUD, and VIOLENCE, which our Age hath hallowed and made sacred. So that notwithstanding all the glorious pretensions of those Times, Religion was, among many, taken off all its Foundations, and the World prepared for Atheism. The Follies and Divisions of one Age, make way for Atheism in the next.
Thus also briefly of the Condition of our RELIGION.
And thus I have shewn how much RESISTANCE of the Authority that is over us, is against our DUTY and our INTEREST. The former God hath plainly told us; and the latter we have sadly felt.
It remains that we humble our selves under the sense of the publick guilt, as well as complain of the consequent miseries. That we may not draw down new judgments, by repeating old provocations; and adding our particular sins to the common score. And I think we shall do well to consider, what we, who abhorre Rebellion, have contributed to the fatal evils that followed it. We can perhaps be well enough content that the visible actors of of those mischiefs should be lasht, and exposed; and it may be, are well pleased and tickled with our reprehensions in which we think our selves not concerned. But if we will be just, if we will have this Fast to signifie, we must turn our reproofs upon our selves also, and with grief and shame acknowledge that our sins and Debauches, our contempt of God and scorn of Religion, have helpt towards the plucking down that sad judgment upon the Nation, which we lament this Day. And it must be confest, that there were those that fought against the KING, who yet spent their bloud in his service: and many by their vices, endeavoured to engage Heaven against that Cause, which themselves strove in another way, to less purpose to promote. And therefore we ought not to think; that this Fast is appointed to inveigh against the faults of others, and to make them and their actions odious; but to humble our selves under the apprehension of our own, and to teach us to shew our love to the King, and readiness to obey him, by subjecting our selves first unto God, whose Vice-gerent HE is. And we may be assured that they that are not Loyal to the UNIVERSAL LORD of all the World, can scarce possibly be so to their particular SOVEREIGN. And 'twill need a great deal of Charity to help us to believe, that those that make no scruple to blaspheme the Name of God, and to break the plainest, most earnest, and most express of his Laws, will be with-held by considerations of Duty or Conscience from rebelling against their King, or affronting HIS, when there is any powerful interest to oblige them to it. If therefore we would give any evidence of a serious humiliation at present, or any security of a future loyalty, let us do so by confessing our particular sins, and forsaking them; and then there will be hope that the Authority of God may oblige us quietly and peaceably to submit to his MINISTER; and in doing so we shall be blest with his influence, and deserve his protection. And thus demeaning our selves like Professors of the Gospel of Peace, and Subjects of the Prince of Peace, the Peace He left with his Disciples will be with us here, and everlasting Peace will encircle our heads with rays of glory in the Kingdom of Peace. And so the Peace of God which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Iesus: To whom with God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all Glory, Honour, and adoration henceforth and for ever. Amen and Amen.