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covenant, “I am amazed to think what the Lord would find amongst us. Would he not find ten schisms now for one then, twenty heresies now for one at that time, and forty errors now for one when we swore against them? Was there ever more palpable walking contrary to God, or more desperate crossing of a covenant ? If we had sworn, to the utmost of our power, to have promoted and advanced error, heresy, and schism, could these then have grown and come forward more, than now they have done, though we swore against them?-And so we entered in as solemn an engagement for Reformation in matters of Religion ; and this was the joyful sound that stirred up the hearts of the people, and this was their hopes. Five or six years ago,
it was proclaimed, and between three and four years ago it was covenanted, and our hearts danced within us for the hopes we had in this particular. But what hath been done? I looked, saith God, for grapes, and behold sour grapes, and nothing else! When Reformation was first spoken of, we had order and ordinances; but now, how is the one lost and the other slighted! We had then Sacraments, full congregations, a followed ministry, and fre quented churches; but now sacraments laid aside.-congregations scattered, the ministry cried down, -churches empty, church-doors shut up, equestres Samnitum in ipso Samnio! If you look for Reformation upon our Covenanting for Reformation, how little to be found, and how much clean contrary !"
Richard Vines, in his sermon before the House of Commons, March 10, 1646, inveighs most vehemently against a Toleration, and informs his honourable audience, that such a measure would produce the restoration of Episcopacy. Alluding to the interference of King James, in the case of Vorstius, who had been chosen to the Divinity Professorship at Leyden, the preacher says: “He bears himself upon that common rule, when a neighbour's house is on fire, it concerns all in the neighbourhood to look about them. This vigilancy condemns our (I know not what to call it, I wish no worse might be said than) insensibleness and security. For, what were those sparks at that time smoking in a remote corner, in comparison of that fire which now flames forth at every corner of our house, blown up by that liberty of all religions which may justly be called the Golden Calf of these times! Whereunto many are not unwilling to contribute their strength and policy, and whose birth-day they would not fear to call Festum Jehovce, an acceptable day unto the Lord. Are not the errors which are rife amongst us, either by infecting persons of place and quality, grown into that boldness ?* or, by carrying
The patronage of TOLERATION by “ persons of place and quality" is alluded to, in a subsequent part of this Introduction, as one of the grand causes which prevented the persecution of one Calvinistic sect by another. Though all these sects combined to crush Episcopacy and Arminianism when they could, yet, the interest of the Statesmen was frequently exerted to screen the sufferers.
away BARNABAS* also, crept into that credit ? or, by spreading far and wide, risen to that strength? that they do face, if not seem able to put into danger of routing, our common faith, public worship, authorized ministry, long and much expected and promised Reformation! This, to the common enemy, is the Cape of Good Hope. The sound part are afraid lest the truth should come to beg for poor quarter, and be led captive, following the chariot of triumphant liberty. Some think, that Episcopacy in his Pontificalibus may by this means be retrieved, and recalled from exile, to which it was sentenced by the Covenant. Many that are as distant as the two poles, yet, moving upon one axle-tree, or tied together by the tails of common interest, doubt not but, by laying their stocks together, they shall be able to bid fair for a TOLERATION. And, that we might not be left alone to wonder at ourselves, our sympathizing brethren abroad do wonder also, that we should be made the common sewer to receive the garbage of other churches, and their stinking snuff's should be allowed candlesticks here in England.—I wish that our military men had not transfused error into the several parts of our body. If it be said, that many of those who are charged with teaching of errors or heresy are holy men,t I answer, that a holy man cannot easily be a
The “ Barnabas," of whom mention is here made, was, I think, Dr. John Owen, whose name certainly gave “ credit” to such “a liberty of all religions," as his rigid Calvinism would allow him to indulge. Tolerant principles, it is seen, were " spread far and wide," and those who patronized them became in consequence very popular preachers. (See page 448.) The “ military men" are also here blamed, for “ having transfused error into the several parts of the body." See page
+ What a remarkable difference between this uncharitable sentiment, and that of " the ever-memorable Hales," quoted in a succeeding page : “He would often
say, that he would renounce the religion of the Church of England to-morrow, if “it obliged him to believe that any other Christians should be damned,” &c.
Still greater is the contrast between the unhallowed zeal of these tyrannizing Calvinists, and the heavenly flame” which is beautifully described in the only Arminian sermon preached before the Long Parliament. After an eloquent apostrophe to Divine Love, Dr. Ralph Cudworth, on March 31, 1647, made the following just remarks :
“ Let us express this sweet harmonious affection, in these jarring times ; that so, if it be possible, we may tune the world, at last, into better music. Especially, in matters of religion, let us strive with all meekness to instruct and convince one another The Gospel at first came down upon the world gently and softly, like the dew upon Gideon's fleece; and yet it quickly soaked quite through it : And, doubtless, this is still the most effectual way to promote it further, Sweetness and ingenuity will more powerfully command men's minds, than passion, sourness, and severity; as the soft pillow sooner breaks the flint, than the hardest marble. Let us follow truth in love ;. and, of the two, indeed, be contented rather to miss of the conveying of a speculative truth, than to part with love. When we would convince men of any error by the strength of truth, let us withal pour the sweet balm of love upon their heads. Truri and Love are two the most powerful things in the world ; and when they both go together, they cannot easily be withstood. The golden beams of Truth, and the silken cords of Love, twisted together, will draw men on with a sweet violence, whether heretic; nor are all the errors of holy men to be called heresy, though they may be hay and stubble upon the foundation. But it hath been observed of old, that some Heresiarchs, or heads of heresy, have been well reputed for strictness and unblameableness of life: We learn out of Austin, that Pelagius had a very good testimony; and scripture tells us, they come in sheep's clothing and speak lies in hypocrisy. Lies would not take, if they were not commended by the holiness of the person, and gilded over, as a rotten nutmeg, with gold. There is a transformation of
they will or no. Let us take heed, we do not sometimes call that seal for God i and his Gospel, which is nothing else but our own tempestuous and stormy
passion. True zeal is a sweet, heavenly, and gentle flame, which maketh us active for God, but always within the sphere of love. It never calls for fire from heaven,' to consume those that differ a little from us in their apprehen. sions. It is like that kind of lightning, (which the Philosophers speak of,) that melts the sword within, but singeth not the scabbard : It strives to save the soul; but hurteth not the body. True zeal is a loving thing, and makes us always active to edification, and not to destruction. If we keep the fire of zeal within the chimney, in its own proper place, it never doth any hurt; it only warmeth, quickeneth, and enliveneth us : But if once we let it break out, and catch hold of the thatch of our flesh, and kindle our corrupt nature, and set the house of our body on fire, it is no longer zeal, it is no heavenly fire, it is a most destructive and devouring thing. True zeal is an ignis lambens, a soft and gentle flame, that will not scorch one's hand; it is no predatory or voracious thing : But carnal and fleshly zeal is like the spirit of gunpowder set on fire, that tears and blows up all that stands before it. True zeal is like the vital heat in us, that we live upon; which we never feel to be angry or troublesome; but though it gently feed upon the radical oil within us, that sweet balsam of our natural moisture, yet it lives, lovingly with it, and maintains that by which it is fed : But that other furious and distempered zeal, is nothing but a fever in the soul. Our zeal, if it be heavenly, if it be true vestal fire kindled from above, will not delight to tarry here below, burning up straw and stubble and such combustible things, and sending up nothing but gross earthy fumes to heaven; but it will rise up, and return back pure as it came down, and will be ever striving to carry up men's hearts to God along with it. It will be only occupied about the promoting of those things which are unquestionably good ; and when it moves in the irascible way, it will quarrel with nothing but sin. Here let our zeal busy and exercise itself, every one of us beginning
first at our own hearts. Let us be more zealous than ever we have yet been, in fighting against our lusts, in pulling down those strong holds of sin and Satan in our hearts. Here let us exercise all our courage and resolution, our manhood and magnanimity.
“ There is a straitness, slavery, and narrowness in all sin. Sin crowds and crumples up our souls, which, if they were freely spread abroad, would be as wide and as large as the whole universe. No man is truly free, but he that hath his will enlarged to the extent of God's own will, by loving whatsoever God loves, and nothing else. Such an one doth not fondly hug this and that particular created good thing, and envassal himself unto it; but he loveth every thing that is lovely, beginning at God, and descending down to all his creatures, according to the several degrees of perfection in them. He enjoys a boundless liberty, and a boundless sweetness, according to his boundless love. He inclaspeth the whole world within his outstretched arms; his soul is as wide as the whole universe, as big as yesterday, to-day, and for ever.' Whosoever is once acquaiņted with this disposition of spirit, he never desires any thing else; and he loves the life of God in himself, dearer than his own life.”
Satan into an angel of light, of false Apostles into the Apostles of Christ, of Satan's ministers into the ministers of righteousness ; (2 Cor. xi, 13–15.) and therefore we must not measure or judge of Faith by the Person, but of the Person by the Faith. Truth may be as a jewel in a dunghill, and error carried (as Hannibal carried his poison) in a gold ring. That horse of superstition and idolatry, upon the back of which the Devil hath in former times made war against the Church, is slain under him; and now he is mounted upon a fresh horse of another colour, called LIBERTY OF OPINION, falsely called Liberty of Conscience. Let us not be ignorant of his devices !-Let not Reformation and Religion be cried up for design and to serve turns : Settle it speedily. Send forth the Confession, that it may testify to the world that you hold the form of sound and wholesome words. Let some government and order be established. Religion is the ball of contention: Many men's hopes lie in our differences, and their interests are served upon them. We have professed enough for Reformation and Purity, and have covenanted to endeavour it. The world is weary of words, they look for fruit. Let this day set an edge upon you: No man take a BREAK-fast of this Fast. Let not our ruin be under your hand! There was a but in Naaman's story: He was such and such, but a leper. You have done worthily, covenanted seriously ; But the matter of Reformation lies most of it as yet in the Covenant. It may be, the foolishness of many
opinions on foot makes you slight them,' as Calvin said of Servetus's first onset, securum me reddidit ipsa dogmatum fatuitas. But be not secure; a great fire may rise out of a small spark. Let the souls of so many thousands of people be precious in your eyes; and the Lord make your name like the name of those who have built the house of God !-I pray you, let me not be understood to ship, in one and the same bottom, every error or mistake with damnable herezies. Some differences of opinions, as one (Lord Verulam) elegantly saith, are as the strivings of one • Israelite with another : And these Moses quiets, and parts them ** fairly. And some are like the Egyptian striving with the Israel
ite, whom Moses smites down. There must be differences made between Error and Heresy, Erroneous and Heretics, Seducers and Seduced. I would I might entreat, nay, press it upon, those that are called PURE INDEPENDENTS, that they would zealously and seriously declare against the doctrinal errors and heresies of these days; that such pernicious errors may not shelter themselves under their name or wing, nor ever any INDULGENCE or TOLERATION be either desired or granted upon such a reason, as all may come in at the same breach or port: For that would be but a selling of the Church into a LIBERTY of being in captivity to destructive confusions and errors."
At the subsequent monthly Fast, April 28, 1646, Simeon Ask spoke thus to the House of Commons: “ Lately you appointed
a solemn general Fast, that we might be humbled before God, and pray, in regard of the inundations of errors and heresies. Give me leave to ask you, whether you only intended to speak to God, and to act nothing? If you do not act according to your orders and prayers, God will judge you as hypocritical abusers of his name and ordinances. Doubtless, proportionable to your sincerity in appointing that Fast, will be your zeal to suppress that for which you professed humiliation before God.”
On the same day, and to the same Honourable audience, WilLIAM STRONG uttered many similar sentiments. But the most amusing parts of his Discourse are those in which he employs scriptural threats. One of them is thus expressed: "God doth commonly put men out of their stewardship, secondly, by the tumults of the people; there is a particular curse of God upon the magistracy, in taking off the hearts of the people from them; -(1.) Either openly and at once, as in the case of Rehoboam and Nebuchadnezzar, for their cruelty and oppression, destroying their land and slaying their people; God giving them up unto such cursed ways, that their own subjects cast them out of their own dominions.-(2.) Or, secretly and by degrees. For God is not always a Lion to a State, but sometimes a Moth; and the prophet Zechariah, (xi. 16,) speaks of the 'withering of the Shepherd's right arm,' which is the decay of his authority and ruling power by degrees. Some seditious libels, you know, have been scattered abroad, of the people's re-assuming their power, which doubtless is wicked ;* for God never put the sword into
• These Calvinistic pastors delivered political doctrines in their sermons, to suit different periods ; thus, Richard HEYRICKE, before the Commons, May 27, 1646, preaching from Queen Esther's expression, And if I perish, 1 perish!, said : . The poorest subject may have liberty to prefer his petition, a privilege that Esther, though a Queen, could not have ; but if she would go uncalled to the King, she must run the hazard of the law, for it was not according to the law. How far such laws do bind, I cannot determine : “He is no transgressor,' saith the Civil Law, that crosseth not the mind of the Law-giver,' though he break the letter of the law : And a reasonable cause, as the Casuists and Schoolmen agree, ever excuseth the breaking of a human law. I heard it very lately from the Autho. rity of the Honourable House of Commons, What laws, ordinances, or orders soever, that are against the aw of God, are, by the laws of this land, nulled. The observation of laws is very commendable ; but when exigencies are so violent, when confusion hath turned all upside-down, when the State is disturbed, when wicked men are combined, when all order is perverted, then men are to look to the main chance, then to solicit the principal business ; and so much the more zealously, as Esther did, by how much there is less possibility of compassing it the ordinary way. When necessity is so urgent, that it makes the observing of the laws impossible, Nature, Reason, Laws, Religion, all instruct us to betake ourselves to that which is most necessary. Prerogative, Privilege, Liberty, all must be laid aside.
was a reproach unto Cato, he would rather suffer the Commonwealth to run into all extremity, when he might have succoured it would he have a little transgressed the laws: And contrarywise, Epaminondas is commended, that in case of necessity he continued his charge beyond his time, though the law, upon pain of life, did prohibit it. The Parliament shall ever be :