Page images

II. This is a great vindication of our religion, that it can bear the light, and is ready to submit itself to any impartial trial and examination : we are not afraid to expose our religion to the publick view, of the world, and to appeal to the judgment of man. kind for the truth and reasonableness of it : Truth loves to come abroad and be seen, being confident of her own native beauty and charins, of her own force and power to gain upon the minds of men : and on the contrary, it doth justly draw a great suspicion upon any religion, if it decline the light; and nothing can render it more suspected, than for the teachers of it to make it their great care to keep people in the dark about it ; or, if they chance to peep into it, and to espy the defects of it, to awe them by the extremity of danger and suffering, from declaring against those errors and corruptions which they have discovered in it. I do not know two worse signs of the falfhood and corruption of any church or religion, than ignorance and an inquisition: these two are shrewder marks of a false church, than all the fifteen marks which Bellarmine hath mustered up are, to prove the church of Rome to be the only true Chriftian church. Methinks their church and ours differ like Egypt and Golhen, in the time of the plague of darkness: only in this they differ from Egypt, that God sent the plague among them, but the church of Rome affects it, and brings it upon them. selves; a darkness so gross that it may be felt; and to make it more thick and palpable, they impose up: on men the belief of direct nonfense, under the grave venerable pretence of mystery, as in their doctrine of transubitantiation. And the great design of the inquisition, is to awe men from reading the Icriptures, and from searching into, and examining the grounds of their religion, because they think they will not bear the test. This is the condemnation of that church, that when light is come into the world, they love dark nefs rather than light, because their doctrines and their deeds are evil.

III. And lastly, This gives us the plain reason why some in the world are so careful to suppress and


conceal the truth, and to lock up the knowledge of it from the people in an unknown tongue, and do so jealously guard all the avenues whereby light and knowledge should enter into them ; because their doctrines and designs, and deeds are evil, and they are afraid they should be discovered to be so. This is the true reason why they love darkness rather than light: for the church of Roine are wise enough in their generation, to understand that nothing but the darkness of their shops can hinder people from difcerning the falseness of their wares ; they have several things to put off to the people, which cannot bear the trial of a clear and full light. What else makes them conceal the word of God from men ? That great light which God hath let


in the world, to be a lamp to our feet, and a lanthorn to our fleps? It is not to keep out heresy, but light and truth. When they cannot be ignorant that God has set up this candle on purpose io enlighten the world, why do they put it under a bushel, but that they are guilty to themselves, that several of their doctrines and practices will be discovered and reproved by it?

What makes them in the face of the world to conceal from the people the second commandment, in their ordinary catechisms and manuals, but left the people should come to understand that God had exprelly forbidden the worship of images? We do not conceal those texts, feeding Sheep, and upon this rock will i build my church, for fear the people should discern the Pope's supremacy and infallibility in them, but are content to run the hazard of it, and let them find them there if they can.

And then why do they mask the publick service of God, and the prayers and devotions of the people in an unknown tongue, but that they are afraid they Ihould understand the gross superstitions and idolatry

of many of them? If they, mean honestly, why do they cast such a mist about their religion? Why do they wrap, and cover i all over in darkness, but that they are heartily afraid, that the more people understand it, the worse they will like it :


M 3

The truth is, their do&rines are evil, and their deeds are evil, and plainly condemned almost in eyery page of the Bible ; and therefore it is a dan. gerous book to be suffered in the hands of the people; and there is hardly any thing which the church of Rome contends against

, with more ftiffness and zeal, than letting the people have the fervice of God, and the holy scriptures in a known tongue. When the office of the mass was not many. years since, by some Bishops and others in France, translated into the vulgar tongue, for the benefit of the people, how did the then Pope Alexander the Vilth thunder against them for it, calling them that did it fons of perdition, and condemning the thing as if it had been the wickedest thing in the world, and had dire&ly tended to the overthrow of the Chris ftian religion?

And then for the ufe of the holy scriptures in the pulgar tongue, they have put that under so many Jocks and keys, that the greatest caution in the world is used in the permillion and allowance of it to any particular person: the Priest hath not po. wer to do it, it is only the Bishops that can grant this liberty; and they do it very rarely, and only to those of whom they are very secure, and this pa. Wer since that time again revoked; so that the gofpel, which before our Saviour's appearance was a mystery, hid from ages and generations, continues so Atill to the common people of the church of Rome, and is under a thicker veil, more muffled and hid from the people, in an unknown tongue, than it was to the Jews, under the obscure prophecies, and dark types and shadows of the Old Testament, So that though Christ be read in their churches e. very day, as Moses was to the Jews in their syna. gogues, yet he hath a veil upon his face as Mores had. Wo unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye fout the kingdom of heaven against men, and neither enter in yourselves, nor suffer those that would enter ta go in. The people of the church of Rome are indeed to be pitied, who are kept in is gnorance against their wills; but the governing part

of any

of that church are without excuse, who, to cover their errors and corruptions, hide the scriptures from the people, love darkness rather than light; this therea fore is their great condemnation.

Witness the black and hellish design of this day t, such as never before entered into the heart of man, to have ruined a whole kingdom at once in its Prince and representatives; and by a cruel fudden blow, to have taken away the lives of the greatest and most confiderable afsembly in the world. They must needs love darkness and hate the light, who have such designs to carry on, and such deeds of darkness to juttity and make good; they had need to suppress, and, if possibly they can, to extinguish, not only that revealed truth of God, but even the great principles of natural religion, the belief of a God, and a judgment to come, that attempt such things.

Time was, when in despite of the clearest evidence in the world, they did confidently deny that such design was laid by those of their religion, but that it was a contrivance of some minister of state, who drew in a few rash and hot-headed perfons of desperate fortunes into it, and then betrayed and disa covered them : but when the late popish plot broke out here, then they were contented to own the gunpowder-treason, because they that were executed for it, did confess it, that they might with a better colour bring themselves off from this, which was so con. ftantly denied by those who were condemned and executed for it : But this was but a shift and artifice to blind the clear evidence of this latter conspiracy, which prest so hard upon them: and since that, because they are afraid it is still believed, they have used a!l imaginable arts, and have taken a great deal of pains to wash this black-a-moor;! yet the negro is à negro ftill, and I doubt not but they are till ac work, carrying on the faine design, which if God do not mercifully frustrate and disappoint, is like at laft to involve this nation in great misery and confusion,

But + Preached November 5. 2684.

But the Lord reigneth, therefore let the earth rejoice, and the multitude of the isles be glad thereof. He that siteeth in the heavens laughs at them, the Lord mall have them in derision. There are mavy plots and devices in the heart of man: but the counsel of the Lord that all stand. And if we would but live up to the light which we enjoy, and adorn our reformed religion by an holy and unblameable conversation ; if we would avoid those bloody and rebellious ways, which are so natural and suitable to their religion, and so contrary to ours, and fo scandalous to all religion; if we would break off our fins by repentance, and put an end to our foolish differences and divisions, by returning to the ancient peace and unity of this once happy and firmly compacted church, we have no reason yet to despair, but that God would return to us in mercy and loving kindness, and think thoughts of peace towards us, and preserve the best religion in ibe world to us, and our posterity after us.

Now unto him that hath delivered us so often, and so wonderfully, and doth deliver us, and we trust will fill deliver us; to him be honour and glory, praise and thansgiving, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

JOHN viii. 36. If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be

free indeed.

HE meaning of these words will best appear by considering the occasion of them, which

was this. Upon our Saviour's preaching to the Jews, many believed on him; whereupon he



« PreviousContinue »