Page images

your going out; and like Issachar, in your tents; and that the Lord may be the shield of your help, and the sword of your excellency. So shall the city of our God be made glad, and therein shall my heart rejoice; who esteem it no less than a triumph, to deserve the title of, Your excellency's most humbly devoted servant,


To the impartial reader. As the poets feign, that the fair nymphs brought forth ill-favoured satyrs; and as Lodovicus Cælius writes of an ewe that conceived, and brought forth a lion; so the fair nymph of truth, in this little tract, will, I am confident, bring forth the foul satyrs of envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness against me; the ewe of my innocence will bring forth lions, roaring with the loudest reproaches. So that I may say, as Leah, at the birth of Gad, venit turma, a troop commeth, which will shoot out their arrows, even bitter words, at this white and spotless mark. But, for my part, nil moror, the lion of the tribe of Judah is my defence; and altho' the kirk-crocodiles would devour me alive, yet will I fear no evil, for the Lord I trust is with me, and the blast of their fury shall be as a storm against the wall. For God is my witness, I honour pure religion, and undefiled, wheresoever I find it; and as for well meaning, though somewhat seduced, Christians, I rather pity and pray for them with tears, than in the least degree vilify them with taunts; hoping, that they will one day know Christ by experience, and not by tradition; own him as sitting on the throne of glorious mysteries, and not lying in the manger of human inventions. When once their eyes are anointed, with the eye-salve of the spirit, they will cast away those spectacles with contempt, which they so much adore with reverence. They will cast anchor on the rock, Jesus Christ, and not upon the quick-sanıls of giddy brains. They will then go boldly to Christ, that door opened in heaven, without so much seeking for false keys on earth, whether they be popes, or presbyters. Against the errors of both, auspice Christo, will I fight, but, for their conversion, I will ever pray; and herein, though their malice should at any time fail me, yet I should be more than conqueror. Altho' I may be like Abraham's ram, in a thicket of thorns, pricked on every side, and at length sacrificed; yet I will forget myself, and, as it were, forget my soul, in a fiery zeal, with Moses and Paul, for my brethren's sake. For whose better information, I have written these few lines; where, if any be oblique, I desire they should be made right, by a candid interpretation. I know, as a man, I may err; but, if once convinced, I am so much a scholar in Christ's school, as to acknowledge and amend. If I should seem planetary in this revolution, as I hope I shall not, to the best judg. ments, yet I am fixed in this resolution, even to be led by any star that points the way to Christ; in whom I rest

Thy friend, to serve thee,

H. B.

THEN I consider the glorious star-spangled canopy of Heaven,

the uniform motion and harmony of the spheres, with the influences of those heathenish gods, the stars; I cannot but at once behold and lament the irregular motions, or, rather, commotions, of some beluw, who only pretend to be heavenly, how planetary they are in judgment, who judge themselves alone to be fixed in truth; as the frantick Montanists vainly held, that the Holy Ghost was not given to the Apostles, but only to them. So the spurious brood of presbytery in England account none holy, but such as are of their spirit, expelling all, by their bulls of excoinmunication, out of God's court, who are not of their wicked council; as if their convocation-house were the King of King's presence-chamber, and every classis his closet. These fire-spitting malecontents would fain persuade us, that now God speaks unto us only out of the fameing Scottish bush; and, as the pillar of the cloud was a cloud of darkness to the Egyptians, but gave light to the camp of Israel: so they declare, that God will be a sun and a shield to the Scots, but a black cloud of destruction to the English. Thus resembling the serpents in Caria, which kill home-bred people, but hurt not any strangers; and as we read of the dragons of Armenia, that they have cold stomachs, yet spit fire out of their mouths: so we may well conceive, that these dragons have cold stomachs to our nation's prosperity, whilst they spit out of their mouths such a fire of zeal for Scotland's glory. But no marvel, for these Hot-spurs ever opposed that present government, which might any way retard their present advancement; promoting no cause, but as it may be the cause of their own promotion; not caring for the publick treasury, so they may fill their own coffers: cuncta venalia Romæ, is now come home to their doors. And, indeed, the Romanists and presbyterians, like Sampson's foxes, may look several ways, but tied by the tails with fire brands of sedition, able to set the whole land in combustion, both spurning at our commonwealth, as at a common foot ball. And, oh miserable England, if either win the goal !

They both play the game, yet intend, at last, to part stakes; the effecting of the one being the effecting of the other. So that we may well behold their harmony, tending to our discord; and, 10 shew their mutual vote for England's ruin, I shall only declare these instances:

First, As the papists are great zealots of their law, yet the bow of their mind is only bent at their gain and domination, desiring to set up their trophies on the ruins of flourishing states : So the presbyterians, pretending a zeal of God's glory, seek only their own profit and supremacy; Res ipsa clamat, non tam pro aris ipsos, quam pro focis pugnare: Maintaining presbytery, as the pope doth purgatory, only to keep their kitchin warm. They no sooner find that to cool, but they are hot with indignation against such as withdraw the fuel. Whilst the lightning of their rage lasts, they thunder forth ireful execrations against that state, that shall eclipse their glory, or any way mince their upstart majesty, which they intitle to God's throne, under a specious pretence of Jus divinum, which they buz in the people's cars, and keep such a noise, as if they were the geese that kept our capitol.

Secondly, As the pope curseth all' by bell, book, and candle for

hereticks, who abhor his conclave, so the presbyterian, all for sectaries, who contemn his classis; calling them enemies of the truth, atheists, haters of good men, soul-inurderers, &c.

Thirdly, As the people must believe as the church, the church as the pope, and the pope as he list; so here, the people must believe as the church, the church as the presbyterian, and this popeling as he list; saying, as Constantius, that Arian emperor, Quod ego volo pro canone sit, making his will the measure of their actions, and his idle fancy, the rule of the people's faith ; thus making the commandment of God of no effect by their tradition. So that, had this malignant planet been in the ascendent, Nimio traditionum onere gravata esset ecclesia, as Augustine once complained. Their mouths, therefore, must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre's sake.

Lastly, As the pope declares it piety to establish his religion by fire and sword, setting up his idolatrous images, by destroying God's image in man: So the presbyterians, both by preaching and practice, strive to write their religion on the tables of men's hearts, in the bloody characters of their brethren's ruin: as if faith were not rather to be persuaded palmd expanså, than compelled pugno contracto: Or, as if a crown of glory were set on the head of the prince of peace, by setting a crown of thorns upon his people. Indeed, the blood of holy martyrs, shed by the hand of infidels, was the seed of ihe church; but, I am sure, it was ever an antichristian tenet, to sow the seed of the gospel, by making deep furrows on our brethren's backs, or by beating our plough-shares into swords. Esay, prophesying of Christ's kingdom, saith, “He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.' The sword of the spirit must be the spiritual mau's weapon, else he can be no true commissioner of God's militia, in the advancement of Christ's kingdom, by a blessed reformation. God is not in the strong winds, that rend the mountains, and break in pieces the rocks; not in the earthquake, that shakes the foundations of a settled faith; not in the fire of cruel persecution for tender conscience sake, but in the still small voice of an holy and humble admonition, Therefore, saith the great doctor of the gentiles, (who was Oceanus Theologiæ, as Theodoret of Moses:) 'Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.' We ought to have an especial care of tender consciences, for to wound such is to sin against Christ. Wherefore, saith St. Paul, “If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother tv offend.' Ard the wise-man seems to give the reason, saying, A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and their contentions like the bars of a castle. Yet, horresco referens, these presbyterians, like the scribes and pharisees, bind heavy burthens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. Witness the presbytery in Scotland, where they make a man an offender, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought. There, to distaste their rigid discipline is enough to make Christ's zealots of Satan's synagogue; and not to adore the kirk is to be anathematized, as unworthy heaven; as if the way to heaven were through their kirk door: or, as if the King of glory would not admit any into his presence, without Jack Presbyter's pass ; none into his favour, without the kirk's approbation. What made Montrose persecuted of late to such an ignominious death? Surely, it was not so much, because he was an enemy to the state, but excentrick to the opinion of the kirk, which domineers, pope-like, over their King and parliament; so as, in effect, the kirk is both able to turn the chair of state into a stool of repentance, and the scepter into a rod of correction. O brave kirk, which ingrosseth all jurisdiction and supremacy!

See how these reformers allow that in their ignorant selves, which they condemned in the learned bishops. It was a heinous crime in the prelates to negotiate temporal affairs, yet, in themselves, a virtue; whilst neither King must be admitted, nor army raised, but by their consent. The bishops only voted in parliament, but these controul; supposing the highest concernments of state to be like Mount Sinai, not to be touched but by their sanctified selves.

To this height they are already climbed; at this, our English jockies have long time aimed, and would soon compass, if their gun-powder zeal could but blow up the parliament house, or their pulpit granado's fire the castle of independency; which they have long besieged with their malice, but shall never overthrow by their power; notwithstanding their schismatical lectures, private fasts, and whining morning exercises. No, no, God covers himself with a cloud of displeasure towards them, and will not bear them on eagle's wings, that they may build their nests on high. Well may they attempt to soar high, but then let them take heed, lest, with Simon Magus, the father of all hereticks, as Irenæus stiles him, presuming to Ay in the presence of all the people, from Mons Capitolinus, to Mons Aventinus, they fall down, to their utter destruction. For severe punishment from heaven treads on the heels of the unjust on earth, if they pitch their tent in sin. No marvel, if God discharge his dreadful artillery, in a full volley of vengeance, against them; as Paul told Elymas the sorcerer: 'O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the ways of the Lord? And now behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist, and a darkness, and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.'

Whilst Čerinthus labours to build his own house, by pulling down Christ's, suddenly a house fell down to the ground, and slew him, with many of his adhérents.

Whilst Arius, being unable to answer the strong arguments of holy Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, accused him of sorcery, and, in his high towering thoughts, intending to make a battery against the bulwark of true religion, by disputing against Alexander, a reverend bishop; in the morning, when the hour of disputation was come, as this heretick entered among the auditory, a sudden pain in the belly began to seize him, in presence of a great multitude of bishops and common people; so that, being constrained to go to some secret place, to discharge the burden of his belly, his bowels fell from him into the privy, and there he suddenly died, as shamefully as he lived sinfully.

I wish, therefore, these new Arians to take heed, lest they hurt as much, under a colour of reforming and building up the church, as hereticks and open tyrants can do, by persecuting and pulling down. For, as Luther observes, often the greatest peril is on the right hand; in this sense we may cry out, Omnes amici omnes inimici, They may have the face of friendship, but not without the hearts and hands of foes; dealing with Christ, as Herod once did, who, altho' he was troubled at the report of the wise-men, which came, by the direction of a glorious star, to worship the sun of glory, then in a cloud of humanity; yet, to put a good face upon his wickedly intended fact, he pretends also to come and worship him; his full purpose being only, under that cloke, to smother the tender princely babe. As Satan, being the prince of darkness, is often transformed into an angel of light, to bring wretched men into utter darkness, thinking himself most happy, when he makes sinners, like himself, most unhappy: So the children of the devil have not seldom fair vizards to cover their foul faces. For where our enemy, the devil, cannot overthrow in open field of notorious wickedness, he labours to lie in the ambushment of dissembled sanctity; where he hangs not out bloody colours of defiance, as an open enemy, there he seeks to betray, as a seeming friend; when the lion's skin cannot, the fox's skin must then effect the design. They, that are inwardly ravening wolves, delight to come in sheep's clothing, which is indeed nothing else but precise titles of holiness, and mere outsides of Christianity, having linsey-woolsey garments, the plain web of simplicity withoutside, but the subtle thread of deceit withinside; their outside is of lamb's wool, whilst their inside is of fox's fur.

In the forehead of the whore of Babylon is written a mystery. So Paul calls the working of antichrist a mystery of iniquity; because the man of sin doth covertly and cunningly, serpent-like, wind his abominations into the church of Christ. At first they may appear like Elijah's cloud, little like a man's hand; but, in a short space, the heavens become black, with clouds of displeasure against them. Corruptions in ecclesiastical matters, as diseases in natural bodies, creep in insensibly, and sometimes come to that height, that neither the malady nor the medicine can be well endured. As we may exemplify it in the presbytery, which now assumes the infallible chair; having not the patience to have the truth of their doctrines, and dictates, tried by the sure touch-stone of the word of God, which is powerful to bring down strong holds, and every imagination that exalts itself; which alone is able to square and fit the stones for the new Jerusalem, the praise of the whole earth. I dare appeal to the court of their own consciences, that spiritual chancery, whether it be not enough to incur the censure of a sectary, either to dispute their infallibility, or for a layman to ex. ercise the gifts of the spirit, especially that of prophecy? As if the charter in this kind belonged only to themselves, they maliciously deny this

« PreviousContinue »