Page images

A second principle which I must desire you to review, is that upon which you conclude, that God hath borne testimony to your cause by the many victories which he hath given you. This concluding of yours, first, proceeds upon a premise directly false in matter of fact: For, you say, that the KING, by taking up arins, made his appeal to heaven; which it is most certain that he never did. Nay, secondly, this concluding ot' yours will, by the same reason, infer that Christianity is NOT, and that Mahumetism is the true religion ; because when the Turks asserted one and the Greek church the other, and that difference begat a war betwixt them, it is clear that the Turks were successful, and the Greek church was most sadly wasted and subdued by them, and so remaineth to this hour in that unreturned captivity. Which will therefore be a fit opportunity to make you revert to the trying of that spirit (which inclines you thus to argue) by this touchstone: (1.) By considering and examining whether in the written word any thing be more frequent and visible than the sufferings of God's people, the shedding the blood of the saints, the fastening all kind of contumelies on such, particularly that reproach of Thou bloody man !, upon David who was a king after God's heart, the sending or permitting an host against the daily sacrifice to cast down the truth to the ground, and to practise and prosper. (2.) Whether it were not Rabshakeh's argument against the people's adhering to their lawful king Hezekiah, that his master's arms had been invincible? (3) Whether that saddest fate of Nebuchadnezzar, (who, for conquering of God's people and others, was by God stiled his hammer and battle-axe of the whole earth,) may not be expected the final lot of others also ;-first, to

destroy men, and then to be cast out into the field, to inhabit among ; beasts ?* (4) Whether it were not a crime complained of by the people of God, in those who, when God was a little displeased, did, as adversaries, help forward this affliction? And (5.) Whether the Psalmist lay not the like ill character on all who persecute those whom God hath smitten, and who talk how they may vem them whom God hath wounded ?* By all which it is most evident,

to call them) had received the applause of no mean persons, and drawn , disciples from their school;' he presently stirs up his brethren to finish

the plot which they had begun of an Ecclesiastical association ;' that, by their Presbyterian censures, such a sorcerer as I may be delivered up to the devil.'--When I compare these things with many like passages in his book, (especially page 232,) I cannot choose but conceive that he would threaten me into a silence; and hopes I may think it my safest way, to make as if I were nonplussed by him and his seniors. Much indeed might be done, if I were able to be afraid of such as fear not the Lord of Hosts : But Í seriously profess I do not know which way to do it. For I have learned to distinguish betwixt things necessary, and things convenient. I hold it necessary to keep a GOOD CONSCIence; whereas it is but convenient to keep a GOOD LIVING. I know a man may be persecuted, and yet be saved.

* Dr. Hammond here shews himself to be a better prophet than those whom he reprehends. Not only the soldiers whom the Doctor here addresses, but their Calvinistic Chaplains, and those who so expounded the Scriptures as to convert them into a sanction for rebellion, were by a wise retribution of Divine Providence severally punished for their reprehensible participation in these bloody transactions. Let it be granted, that many of those who in the reign of Charles the Second eagerly engaged in this punitive process, were

not men distinguished for piety : This concession, however, is only another - illustration of the same rule in the Divine Economy,- for God does not

generally commission Good MEN to be the executioners of his wrathful purposes; but He over-rules the wrong dispositions and the unrighteous practices of the wicked, to effect his own inscrutable yet beneficent designs.'

* Were we to give credence to all that has been written by Calvinistic Dissenters in prejudice of the Episcopal Clergy, prior to the commencement of th vil Wars, we must account the latter to have been an abandoned race of evil-doers. The following is one of the mildest descriptions, of the multitude of those which Richard Baxter bas given to the world : “ In some places, it was much more dangerous for a minister to preach a lecture, or twice on the Lord's Day, or to expound the Catechism, ihan never to preach at all. Hundreds of congregations had ministers that never preached, and such as were common drunkards and openly ungodly." Common prudence will however suggest the usual caution to be observed in receiving the testimony of sworn adversaries, many of whom were“ fattening on sequestrations." If any impartial man will peruse the productions of those Arminian Divines who flourished at that period, and who on account of their attachment to the Episcopal Church were refused the common benefit of Toleration conceded to other religious denominations under the Protectorate, he will discover that their ARMINIANISM, their enforcement of Christian duties as well as Christian privileges, was the real cause of the obloquy to which they were exposed and the persecution which they endured. A few of them, indeed, to avoid the cant phraseology of the times, seem to have insisted too much on the fruits of saving faith, without describing its nature and the necessity of its reception : But it must be recollected, that the auditors whom they addressed bad been strongly charged with solifidian doctrines, and were consequently the less liable to incur the charge of LEGALITY.-Yet the great body of these Divines were the real saints of the Most High, and God's peculiar treasure ; and their writings prove them to have been, of all men, the least addicted to “ time-serving and soul-lulling practices." They were, therefore, as Dr. Hammond observes in the text, pot fit subjects for persecution ; and though under the visible chastisements of the Almigbty on account of a nation's crimes and offences, they were not to be vexed by Calvinistic task-masters with impunity. It was well said by Richard Baxter, when in possession of his usurped benefice : “ God will not be satisfied with words when his servants are persecuted, his churches destroyed, or his interest trodden under-foot.” The retribution of Divine Providence speedily demonstrated the truth of this remark, but in a manner exactly the reverse of good Richard's meaning,-for his words were intended to apply only to " the servants of God” wbo held the opinions of Calvin.

While some of their cotemporaries were wasting their energies in lament. ing the decline of high Calvinistic principles and the prevalence of Arminianism, these good men sighed and cried for all the abominations that were done in the midst of Jerusalem, and sedulously endeavoured to effect their expulsion. Where can be found a more eloquent and scriptural specimen of this ministerial faithfulness, than in the subjoined paragraph from a Lent Sermon, entitled CHRIST AND BARABBAS, preached ir

Hammond, before the Court at Oxford ? It is scarcely necessary to premise, that, by a very reprehensible practice wbich had obtained, the high Cavaliers generally distinguished themselves from their adversaries in conversation by uttering a multitude of profane oaths, instead of interlarding their common discourse with scriptural phrases, and profanely introducing the name of God on trivial occasions, which was the almost equally reprehensible custom of the Roundheads. The alarming extent to which this feeling of aversion was actually carried by the Royalists after the restoration, is scarcely credible: It was this which caused Deau Swift to read family(without any necessity of defining or demonstrating any thing of the justice of the cause,) that most commonly the prosperity of arms hath not been the lot of the most righteous, but that either the chastisement of the sword is thought fit to be their discipline, or that the comforts of peace (and not the triumphs.of war) their blessing in this life." - Towards the conclusion the pious Doctor adds, “The last principle to be reviewed is this, that there having been much blood spilt in this kingdom in the late wars, there must now be some sacrifice offered to God, (that is, some more blood shed,) for the expiation of that sin of blood guiltiness, before God can be pacified: or reconciled to the land.-On which particular, it will (1.) be worth your serious enquiry, how it should appear that that great issue of blood, let out in the late wars, (which hath with great reason been looked on as the sharpest of God's plagues, and the saddest part of punishment of the former sins of this nation,) is now the main and only sin of the land with which God is not reconciled. Or, (2.) if it were supposed to be so, yet how it can be thought that a general reformation of that sin, an humiliation before God for it through the whole land, and a resolution never to, spill one drop more, were not a more christian probable means to pacify God, than the proceeding in cold blood to the effusion of more: The blood of men being never thought a fit sacrifice for any but the evil spirit; and peaceable-mindedness, charity, and

prayers to his domestics in the most private part of his mansion:; and which induced some (otherwise) excellent men to veglect many pious observances, that they might escape the dreaded imputation of being Puritans and hypocrites.

* Consider but a few of that glittering train of reigning sins in this our land, in this my auditory, and be astonished, 0 earth, that they should ever be received in competition with Christ! The oaths, that all the importunity of our weekly sermons (when) turned into satires.against that sin, cannot either steal or beg from us,-what gain or profit do they afford us ? which of our senses do they entertain, which of our faculties do they court ? An empty, profitless, temptationless sin, sensuality only to the devil-part in us, fumed out of hell into our mouths, in a kind of hypochondriacal fit: an affront to that strict command of Christ to his disciples, But I say unto you, Cbristians, swear not at all : The best quality that it can pretend to, is that which Hierocles of old mentions with indignation, 'to fill up the vacuities of the speech,' to express and man a rage; that is, to act a madman the more perfectly. What shall that man give in exchange for his soul to get it back again, which he hath parted with so cheap without any barter, sold it for nought and taker no money for it, (in the Psalmist's phrase,) and now cannot redeem it with all his patrimony? It would grieve one, 1 confess, that did but weigh this sin in this balance, and observe the Tekel on the wall over against it, how Tight and kexy and impertinent a sin this is, to hear that any body should be damned for it in another world, part with such treasures for such trifles, make such African voyages, carry out the substantial commodities of a good land and return with a freight of toys or monsters, pay so hugely dear for such perfect nothings! And yet it would grieve one more, that this sin should glitter in a Protestant Court, and become part of the gallantry and civility of the place, ay and defame and curse our armies ; that the improsperousness, ruin, perhaps Mavored pia [the destruction], of a whole kingdom should be imputable to one such; and [that] all our prayers to heaven for you be out-' sounded and drowned by that inost contrary eloquence!

the contrile heart, being the special, if not only sacrifices, which we find mentioned in the gospel. Or, (3.) how it can appear that if God require any such sacrifice, you, or any but those whom the known laws of the land have placed in a tribunal, (and that legally erected for such cognizances,)* have any right to put yourselves into the office of Gentile Priests, as the only persons appointed to slay that sacrifice. Nay, (4.) it will be worth your observing, that Christ disclaimed the office of a judge; and thereby rendered it very unfit for any of you to put yourselves into that office by virtue of no other title but that of being his disciples. And, lastly, it is worth your saddest thoughts, whether by your present councils, and the necessity by you supposed of changing the former Government, it do not now appear, that the defence of the established laws was on the King's part the occasion of his taking arms, and on your parts, the design of altering those laws, and introducing others more suitable to your inclinations.+

* “ Yet for a few military men, of their own accord, to control the Parliament, to put the sovereign to death, and completely to overthrow the civil constitution of the country, was an atrocious assumption of power, wbich nu concurrence of circumstances could possibly justify. The life of any ruler can only be at the disposal of the constitution; or of that system of laws and regulations by which his subjects should be governed. If his life be taken away by any means but those provided by the constitution, it is murder : No pretended or even proved acts of tyranny, can justify his being put to death in any other way. And what constitution in the civilized world provides for the infliction of death upon the supreme magistrate ? Every such infliction either against law, or without its sanction, is murder, by whomsoever perpetrated.” JACKSON's Life of Goodwin.

† For this constitutional appeal, in defence of the rights of bis sovereign, Dr. Hammond was stigmatized by those whose feet were swift to shed blood, aud by their repúblicau defenders, as an advocate of tyranny. But after all the advantages which we, as a nation, have derived from our political experience in the subsequent epochs of our national history, we can find no proposition in the Doctor's Address which will not be readily approved in our days by men of moderation and piety, whether they be Whigs or Tories.

He had urged it as an objection to one of his adversaries, who afterwards became a rigid defender of the regicides,-that, according to the testimony of the Ancient Fathers, all the primitive christians, in the various persecutions which had devastated the infant church, imitated their Lord and Master in meekly giving their backs to the smiters, and their cheeks to them that plucked off the hairs,' (Isa. I, 6.) and were memorable examples of patient and unresisting suffering. Buí this Christian doctrine did not suit the bot spirits of Calvin's followers ; and Dr. Hammond's antagonist, who had learnt his levelling principles in the predestinarian school of those times, coolly replied, that God had hidden from the first christians this liberty of RESISTING SUPERIORS, as part of his counsel to bring Antichrist into the world : but that he had then manifested it to his people (the Calvinists] as a means of casting Antichrist out. It is unnecessary to state what was understood by the English Antichrist.

I might have elucidated this part of the revolutionary history from the productions of many able Arminian writers; but I have preferred Dr. Flammond, because he was accounted the most heretical of his brethren by the Calvinists of that period. In 1648 he had the HONOUR of having bis name, inscribed with disgrace in A Testimony to the Truth of Jesus Christ, and to our solemn League and Covenant ; as also against the errors, heresies, and blasphemies of these times, and the toleration of them : Subscribed by the mi

Bishop Womack has also observed in his Arcana Dogmatum Anti-Remonstrantium : 6This opinion the necessary and infal. lible determination of the will7 is a great and ready inlet, to all

nisters of Christ within the Province of London. This was signed by fiftytwo Presbyterian ministers, and made mention of “ NEW LIGHts and new truths which are broached and maintained here in England among us,mall of them repugnant to the Sacred Scriptures, the scandal and offence of all the Reformed Churches abroad, the unparalleled reproach of this Church and nation, totally inconsistent with the Covenant and the Covenanted Reformation," &c. Of the three “ abominable errors, damnaile heresies, and horrid blasphemies,” which they ascribed to Dr. Hammond, “ the first (says that reverend divine,) is recited by them, page 9, and it is this, • Christ was given to undergo a shameful death voluntarily upon the cross,

to satisfy for the sin of Adam, and for all the sius of all mankind.' This is thus plainly set down in their catalogue of infamous and pernicious errors, but without the least note to direct what part of this proposition is liable to that charge, any farther than may be collected from the title of the ERRORS under which it is placed, viz. Errors touching Universal or General Redemption. From whence I presume to discern their meaning to be, that to affirm, • Christ to have satisfied for or redeemed ALL MANKIND,' is this pernicious error by them abominated. And such I confess I should acknowledge it to be, if it had any right to be joined with that other, by these men set under the same head, THE DAMNED SHALL BE SAVED ; but I hope that error bath received no patronage from that [Practical] Catechism, nor sure from that assertion of Christ's redeeming all munkind."

Such was part of the good doctor's defence in his “ View of some Exceptions to the Practical Catechism,” &c., and I have repeated it in this place not merely to shew the kind of heresies which these intolerant Calvinists condemped, but the double-dealing of which they were guilty in their mode of classification. But their evident intention to fasten upon the doctor the charge of favouring the unscriptural doctrine of the final restoration of all lapsed intelligences, was but a stale trick, which they had learnt of the Dort Synodists. In the Works of Arminius, (vol.1, page 577,) I have exposed the highly disingenuous and inferential character of a similar mode of implication, adopted against an equally plain and scriptural assertion by Arminius on this very subject, which the Dort divines chose to couple with one of the assertions of Vorstius, to give it the semblance of an apology for the doctrine of “ Universal Restoration," instead of GENERAL REDEMPTION !-But the reader will in this work meet with many other instanc which the English Calvinists aped the manners of the successful Dutchmen. who

n ecu win many other instances of the servility with A circumstance which arose from this interference of the Presbyterian ministers, is thus related by Isaac Walton : “ After which there were many letters passed betwixt the said Dr. Hammond, Dr. Sanderson, and Dr. Pierce, concerning God's grace and decrees. Dr. Sanderson was with much unwillingness drawn into this debate; for he declared it would prove un

bim, who, in his judgment of God's decrees, differed with Dr. Hammond, (whom he reverenced and loved dearly,) and would not therefore engage himself in a controversy, of which he could vever hope to see an end : nevertheless they did all enter into a charitable disquisition of these said points in several letters, to the full satisfaction of the learned. , I think the judgment of Dr. Sanderson was by these debates altered from what it was at his entrance into them; for in the year 1632, when his excellent sermons were first printed in quarto, the reader may on the margent find some accusation of Arminius for false doctrine; and find, that upon a review and reprinting those sermons in folio in the year 1657, that accusation of Arminius is omitted. And the change of his judgment seems more fully to appear in his said letter to Dr. Pierce. And let me now tell the reader, which may seem to be perplexed with these several affirmations of God's decrees before mentioned, that Dr. Hammond in a postscript to the last letter of his to Dr. Sanderson, says, God can reconcile his own contradictions, and therefore advises all men, as the Apostle does, to study moderation, and to be wise to sobriety.' And let me add further, that if these 52 ministers of Sion Col


« PreviousContinue »