Page images
PDF
EPUB

graces of God.

liberty to others; or, as if the Lord Jesus, who ascended up on high, and gave gifts unto men, did ordain the disposing thereof only by the hands of the presbytery, which, being not washed in innocency, cannot present any to God's altar; whilst the pomegranate is wanting, their bells are out of tune.

I am sure the word of God is not bound to their mouths, neither can they be the only oracles to be consulted; though Moses and Aaron have a special mission, yet Eldad and Medad may have a special commission to prophesy in the camp.

The holy apostle, Paul, makes a parænetical vration in general terms, without the least exception, saying, “ Desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy; for ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. Peter's vote goes also with Paul's : for, saith he, as every man bath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold

Is the spirit of prophecy only mounted on the wings of Mercurius, or confined to the seven stars of the liberal sciences? Is Christ only learned in the schools of the philosophers, or only manifested by the knowledge of tongues? I tell you nay; for Paul had never been an apostle, by sitting at the feet of Gamaliel

, but by casting himself down at the feet of Jesus; he was by the one a learned persecutor, by the other alone a most zealous professor. Yet I despise not human learning, acknowledging it a glorious ornament, and great instrument, where it is sanctified. But, if I should speak against it, I am confident the presbyterian clergy, for the most part, have least reason to speak against me, who little fear them, knowing, that too much learning will never inake them mad. Yet I suppose them not to be well in their wits, whilst they strive to stop the mouths of God's saints, which, in a spiritual sense, are the heavens that declare the glory of God, and the firmament which shewcth his handy-work.

What, shall such as sail by Christ's compass on this sea of glass, he driven back by the north-wind of blustering presbytery? Or shall they, that are guided by the pole-star of truth, be seized on by these pirates, who would rou God of his glory, and his people of that liberty, which is Christ's legacy, and hath continual residence with his spirit, and therefore appositely stiled glorious ? God forbid; we have not so learned Christ, as, in any such case, to fear his enemies, in the midst of whom Christ must reign, and over whom Christ will ever triumph. Though

the Kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel against the Lord, and against his anointed; those his enemies, who will not that he should reign over them,' shall be slain before his face. What must these his friendly enemies then expect, whilst they only wear Christ's colours, and fight not under his banners for tokens? Which I intend to display, to shew the motto's of their meaning.

Before Mars's dreadful artillery, with thundering eccho's, resounded in our land, and the late King, with his bishops, were in their glory; these Goliahs of presbytery, being then under a cloud, bemoaned themselves as the persecuted (though in most things complying) party: Whereupon, no sooner did a seasonable opportunity present itself 19 them, but each mouth of theirs was turned into a warlike trumpet, with a 'curse ye Meroz, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof,' &c. Nay, some of the clergy did not only animate the people against the said King, but did lead them on, making a covenant before men to preserve him, yet an agreement with hell to destroy him; which, if praying, preaching, fighting, lying, or the like, could effect, they were resolved to want no such ammunition.

Well, when their design prospered, by the adverse fate of the King and prelatical clergy; and they, like Pharaoh's lean kine, had eaten up all the fat kine, making themselves rich by others poverty, and great by their ruin; then they were, as the prophet speaks of the inhabitants of Babylon, mad upon their idols of presbytery, compelling the people to bow the knee to Baal, even in the picture of a lay-elder; which is an image in their kirk, and a dumb-shew in their mask. He, forsooth, must be subject with silence, whilst the priest lords it with impudence, taxing all the world with Augustus Cæsar, and making his little finger heavier than the bishop's loins; each provincial classis having the platform of a High-Commission-Court, or Star-Chamber, where each petty trespass should have been looked upon in a multiplying-glass, as a most heinous crime.

The nobles and gentlemen, with the honest communers, should have been made slaves to their idle humours, and all dissenting brethren, as tributary Canaanites, to these feigned Israelites, which deem themselves the only Joshua's and Calebs, that arrive at the Canaan of a pure reformation, out of the wilderness of cursed superstition.

But give me leave to ask you, What difference there is in the presbyters enjoining sitting at the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and the bishops commanding kneeling? I can assure you, in both you may perceive no small tyranny over the weak consciences of our dear brethren, whom we ought to receive, not to doubtful disputations; wherefore saith the holy apostle in the same place, 'Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath accepted and received him. Again, meat commendeth us not to God; for, neither if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. If therefore, there be so much indifferency in the matter of eating, surely there can be no less, but rather more in the manner thereof; the posture cannot speak so loud as the mouth, of eating.

Moreover, what distinction is there between the bishops enjoining the observation of days, and the presbyterians inhibiting it? Believe it, in both is a breach of conscience-liberty; for the apostle holds it forth unto us very clearly, saying, 'One man esteemeth one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike; let every man be fully persuaded in his own conscience.'

• He that regardeth a day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that Tegardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.' I therefore, suspect them to be hypocritical, who upon this account are so critical; and I fear they too much idolise their own chimera's, whilst they so much cry out against the people for, as they say, idolising certain days.

Furthermore, whilst the people are compelled to come to shrift before the priest and his lay-elders; what is this, but cousin-german to auricular confession, or at best, usurped jurisdiction over Christian souls; when they have liberty given by the apostle, to examine themselves, and so eat of that bread, and drink of that cup?' All which, and more, I refer to the censure of the godly-wise; and shall now declare these reformers carriage towards the parliament of England.

As Carolostadius, in Luther's age, did seem to desire the advancement of Christ's kingdom, in the flourishing of the gospel; but yet, notwithstanding his pretended zeal of God's house, he despised authority, neglected human laws, and was altogether transported with his own private humours of ambition and covetousness: So the presbyterians seeing their Dagon fallen, notwithstanding all their great flourishes of piety, and brays of reformation, despise the present authority, because they are somewhat crossed in their ambition and avarice, the two poles which turn the heaven of their zealous pretences. For they came into the ministry, as Stratocles, and Droinoclidas, into the magistracy, tanquam ad auream messem, as it were to a golden harvest, following rather their tythe than their text, and fishing not so much with Peter's net, as his hook: 0, it is a fish with money they seek after, according to that of the prophet: “The priests'teach for hire, and the prophets divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us?"

With the untempered mortar of supposed sanctity, they raise up a Babel of presumption, from whose steep and elevated top, they precipitate their giddy followers; who shall at length, by woeful experience, find the tongues of these teachers heavier than the hands of Moses, when he was supported by Aaron and Hur. Yet, alas! How many poor creatures are seduced by them, who are honoured as the people of the Lord, though they be indeed of Korah's conspiracy?

Their mouth speaketh great swelling words, and these filthy dreamers despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities; God commanding the contrary, saying, Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, there is no power but of God, &c. saith St. Paul. Besides, the Lord admonisheth the Jews, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the King of Babylon, and serve him, and his people, and live. Nay more, they were commanded to seek the peace of the city, and pray unto the Lord for it,

They therefore that break the peace of our land, fighting with the sword of their mouth against the magistrates, thereby with the fogs of sedition to obscure their light, and with the whirlwind of reproachful words, to blow out the lamp of their glory; such, I say, have their eyes put out, with Zedekiah, and are posting to Babylon, their souls cunfusion,

Yet such are our blessed presbyterians, whose words are as a fire, to kindle flames of dissension, and as an hammer, to break in pieces the fabrick of our present government, stirring up the people now against the parliament, as before they did against the King; altho' they covenanted to maintain the privilege thereof; yet they take so much privilege to

themselves, that, by their consent, the parliament shall have none at all.

With Absalom, they steal the hearts of the people; and, if not prevented, will at length openly rebel ; such a whirlwind must we expect to reap in England, whilst they sow the wind of their prating so much for Scotland. If the people, with Ephraim, feed on the wind of their words, no marvel if their stomach be nauseous towards the States advancement.

It is observed truly, that the people are like the sea, and the preachers are like to wind. As the sea of itself would be quiet, if the winds did not move and trouble it; so the people would be tractable and peaceable, if such seditious orators did not set them in agitation. If such minstrels be permitted, no wonder if the people make a noise; if they shall be suffered to rail in the pulpits, let us not blame the people for murmuring in the streets; if they without controul may give a false alarm, the people will be ton apt to take it. As the serpent Porphyrius is said to be full of poison, but wants teeth to vent it; so the presbyterian is full of malice, but wants strength to put it in execution. Their hatred is now like a subterraneous fire, and thunder in a cloud: they only wait for a fit time when it shall break forth into a flame, and affright us with a terrible clap, that they may set up their three-headed Geryon, honour, riches, and pleasure.

Some of the most crafty foxes, altho' they covertly endeavour to soil our vines, by planting their stinking elders, yet they openly pretend their preservation; so that they altogether look one way, and row another. Others not so cunning, but as malicious, stand in a diametrical opposition to all orders of parliament; and when they should fast, they will feast; and when they should feast, they will be sure to fast; turning days of thanksgiving into days of humiliation, and calling adhering to the parliament, a backsliding from the truth. Surely, they mean their covenant; for as, if the way, the truth, and the life, were exactly drawn in that libel, as the world in a map, they pressed it with rigour, as necessary to the commonwealth's well-being; and now, with bitterness of spirit, reject the engagement, as an engine of destruction. Therefore, rebus sic stantibus, let the world judge, who are the maliga nants, either they that desire to live under their vines, and under their fig-trees, in peace, or these that labour to foment a new war; some of them having not only a finger, but a whole hand in the Scottish design against us?

Yet they would fain excuse themselves, by accusing others of malignancy, saying, or rather boasting with the Pharisee, God, we thank thee, that we are not as other men are; neither indeed are they, for they are not half so honest.

As Augustine writes of Faustus the Manichee ; if this were to be just, to justify themselves; assuredly, this generation of vipers had long since flown up into heaven. But, alas! they prefer themselves before others, upon no better ground than the Marcionites did extol the serpent above the Creator, because the Creator did forbid to participate of the tree of knowing good and evil, and the serpent freely did permit it.

VOL. VI.

They would fain make us believe their entia to be transcendentia, and their sots to be Solomons; but let us examine their actions, and we shall find, that they travel with iniquity, conceive mischief, and bring forth falshood. Verbis proferunt virtutem, et factis destruunt veritatem : In their words they may seem to advance virtue, but by their works they overthrow truth; not unlike the cunning lapidary, who sells a beryl for a diamond; but yet Christ suffereth such in his church, that the truth might break forth with brighter beams through the blackest clouds of opposition.

If Arius and Sabellius had not exceedingly vexed the church of Christ, the deep mysteries of the Holy Trinity would never have been so clearly and accurately determined by the orthodox doctors. If Manichæus had not maliciously railed upon the Old Testament, Augustine, that walking library of learning in his time, would never have taken such indefatigable pains in answering all objections against it. So, if these mongrel Geneva proselytes had not, with a storm in their countenance, and a tempest in their tongue, opposed the saints of God, the glorious mysteries of Christ's kingdom had not been so much revealed to his people. Had not these enemies come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord had not thus listed up his standard against them.

For brass God hath now brought gold, and for iron, silver; therefore let their stormy wind praise the Lord, and let the wrath of these men glorify his holy name. Let the antiperistasis of their malice make the fire of our zeal more intense; and altho' the interposition of these lunaticks, as that of the moon, may for a very little while eclipse our sun, yet it shall never go down ; for the Lord himself will be our everlasting light, we shall be ever clothed with the sun, and therefore tread the moon of variableness under our feet; insomuch that the beast, which hath horns like a lamb, and speaks as a dragon, shall never exercise his power over us, though they say, Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of our covenant.

Whoso then is a wise man, and endued with knowledge, among the presbyterian party, let him lay his hand upon his heart, and consider, whilst oil is yet in his lamp, and those candles of nature, his eyes, not sunk down within their sockets; let him descend into himself, and search out the error of his ways; which being once found, let him not be ashamed to cry peccavi from the bottom of his heart; for this will be a key to open the wounds of Christ, and give a ready passage to the mercy-seat.

This is all the harm I wish the worst of them; and, if Alexander the Great wept at the sight of Darius's dead corpse, and Julius Cæsar at the spectacle of Pompey's head, certainly, as severely as they may censure me; I should turn lumina in flumina, in fontem frontem, eyes into tears, and face into a fountain, to behold their destruction, altogether desiring their speedy conversion; for which shall be always my fervent prayer.

And, as for me, the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me. Who will contend with me? Let us stand together. Who is mine adversary? Let him come near me.

« PreviousContinue »