Page images

then been suppressed: “War is the breaking out of the Lord upon an unjust people. I dare say, had the judges walked in judgment according to the Petition of Right,-punished those that first took monopolies, tonnage, and poundage, not exacted, because . not granted in Parliament, or [had] the exacters [been] punished in judgment,-[had] ship-money not [been] judged to be law contrary to law,-it had been impossible to have brought the their fellow-subjects to arouse themselves, and destroy their republican invaders ? The sermons preached by Hammond, Sanderson, Usher, and others, before the Court and the Army, are still extant: Let a comparison be instituted between these pacific and truly christian discourses, (of which many specimens will be found in the subsequent pages,) and those of their adversaries. It will then be instantly seen, that the adherents to Arminianism and Loyalty were better instructed in the school of Christ Jesus, and did not return railing for railing, bat contrariwise blessing. ???

Old D. THOMAS MANTON, though he also was a Presbyterian, had the same view of the bad consequences of suppressing Episcopacy. In his Sermon before the Commons, June 30, 1647, he said : “I confess, God loveth to pour contempt upon the sons of Levi that are partial in the Covenant,' (Mal. ii, 9,) and it is his way many times to cause the voice of many waters,' that is, of the confused multitude, to go before the voice of mighty thunderings,' (Rev. xix, 6,) that is, the regular act of the magistrate, whose sentences and decrees are terrible as thunder. And therefore I do adore the justice of Divine Providence, in causing the former ministry to become base and contemptible before all the people. But, however, I cannot but sadly bewail the mischiefs that abound amongst us by the neglect of men. Though the corruptions of Episcopacy made it justly odious," yet it would have been better it had been, rather than jested down. Arguments would have done more good than scoffs, beside the danger of returning to folly. Do but consider the present inconveniences of making so great a change without more public and rational conviction; when things that before were of reverend esteem, are of a sudden decried. What is the effect ? Why, religion itself is of less esteem : Men suspect all, can as well scoff at truth as error. Calvin's obser. vation is excellent: He saith, that in times of changes there are many that are? of Lucian's temper, who, by jesting against all received rites, insensibly lose all sense and awe of religion; and, by scoffing at false Gods, come the less to dread the true. Consider, and see if the former liberty of tongues and pens hath not begotten that present irreverence and fearlessness that is in the spirits of men against things that undoubtedly are of God. But this is not all : Do but : consider how many are hardened in their old ways, and prejudiced against the : reformers, as if they were men that did proceed, not to perfection, but to permutation, were men given to changes, merely to love things out of passion and present dislike, or, which is worse, out of self-aims.”

The truth is, the Puritans had “ raised a spirit which they could not lay." They had taught the common people to ridicule the decent observances of Epis. copacy, and they could not prevail with them, after having abandoned the form of religion, to shew any attachment to the substance. Besides, all these Puri. tanic complainers studiously conceal the important fact, that Calvinism was inadequate to produce any good effect upon a people that had been carefully instructed in their Christian duties, as the great mass of the nation had been by many of the Bishops and Episcopal Clergy. Though the political might of Calvinism in the Civil Wars gained the ascendancy here, as it had previously done in Holland, yet its « moral power' was gradually diminished during the whole of the Inter. regnum, notwithstanding the strenuous exertions which were made for its establishment, and which had never before been made for that of any other religious system. I could quote several confessions similar to this, from the Calvinistic Sermons preached before the Long Parliament.

people into such a distemper as to fall one upon another. The fault was laid upon the Bishops and CLERGY of the land. I will not excuse them as far as they had any hand in over-swaying the Jadges, putting down the good ones, and setting up such as were servile and might easier be bent to serve the lust of the Court against law, or as they were active themselves in arbitrary Courts to the oppression of the people, such as were the High Commission, Star Chamber, Council Table. But this I dare say, the most immediate causes of breach of peace have been failings in judgment. All failings in judgment are oppressions; therefore ist judgment opposed to oppression.”

The next quotation, from Thomas CASE's sermon before the Commons, May 26, 1647, describes the havoc which this Calvi. nístic Crusade had made in the belief and the practice of the nation, compared with which, the preacher says, the abolished cerem monies of Episcopacy were children's sport: “Is there any thing refused and opposed so much as Reformation? Oh that Popery were so much opposed as Reformation! Oh that Blasphemies were so much opposed as Reformation! Oh that Anti-christi, anism and Atheism were so much opposed as Reformation! Happy we then! Would ye know WHEN all these abominations are broken out in England ? Oh, it is in a time of Reformation ! In a time of the breaking out of gospel-light and liberty, such as the world never saw since it was christian : In a time when we had sworn ourselves to God by Covenant 'to extirpate Popery, Prelacy, • Superstition, Heresy, Schism, Profanéness, and whatsoever shall • be found to be contrary to sound doctrine and the power of god. • liness.' Alas! we run in such a contrary motion, that a man might almost think there was a word in the Covenant mis-printed, and the next errata should bid the reader read ESTABLISH instead of extirpate. Oh, God may say of us, When I would have healed England, then the iniquity thereof was discovered! England was never so bad as in a time of Reformation. Witness the numerous and numberless increase of errors and heterodox opinions even to blas. phemy among us! The world once wondered to see itself turned Arian. England may wonder to see itself turned Anabaptist, Antinomian, Arminian, Socinian, Arian, Anti-trinitarian, Anti-scrip. turist, what not! Alas, what were CEREMONIES to these things, but (as Calvin once called them) tolerabiles ineptiæ, children's sport' in comparison! How much less an evil was it, think ye, to bow at the name of Jesus, than to deny, to blaspheme the name of Jesus ? (2 Pet. ii, 1.)"

These topics are still more amply treated in the next quotation, and might soon be confirmed by numbers of others. In the perusal of this volume, the reader will find that I have frequently alluded to the attachment of the people of England to Episcopacy, and have (p. 779,) called the influence of the Episcopal Clergy, “DEEP ROOTED :" No one, I think, who reads the following il. lustrative passages from Richard KENTISH's sermon. before the Commons, Nov. 24, 1647, will consider that epithet to have been inappropriately, applied: ...

"Oh that the Lord would persuade the people of England, to remember from whence they are fallen. (1.) The people of England once loved the Saints, and honoured those that feared the Lord; but now they loath them. They once longed for a Parliament, petitioned for a Parliament, honoured a Parliament, thought they could not be happy without a Parliament; but now how is the Pare hament slighted! their order and ordinances contemned! and how many are there that say to the Parliament, as the Gadarenes to Christ, Ok that it would depart out of our coasts! Oh how is England fallen , di" (2.) The people of England once desired reformation, petitioned for reformation, covenanted for reformation. But now they do hate to be reformed; they are like Israel of old in their travel towards the promised land ; they preferred the garlick and onions of Egypt, before the milk and honey of Canaan; so now a prelatical Priest, with a superstitious service-book, is more dem sired, and would be better welcome to the generality of England, than the most learned, laborious, conscientious Preacher, whether Presbyterian or Independent. Oh how is England fallen!'.

(3.) Again: About six years since sin began to be ashamed, to creep into corners, to be out of fashion. But now sin is grown brazen-faced, walks in the open streets, is come in great request again, Şabbaths, are profaned, ordinances slighted, swearing is accounted gainful, drunkenness goes unpunished, and whoredom the people are apt to think lawful now, because, since the Bishops' Courts went down, we have scarce any law against it.

“Now here (by the way) I do most earnestly beseech you, (honoured worthies of Parliament,) if you have not been acting that way already, to hasten out some order for the punishment of that heinous sin of adultery. We read in God's law, (Lev. XX, 10.) that he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. - Was. it to be punished with death then, and shall it go unpunished now? I beseech, let some course be taken that such kind of transgresa sors may be made to smart.

“(4. Again: Oh how is England fallen! Time was when we rejoiced that we had days of fasting; we, looked upon them, as. none of our least mercies. But now we are ready to say with those in Amos viii, 5: When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat ? So say our people, "When shall we have an end of these fasting days, that we may follow our callings, look to our shops and our other.

occasions ?" And these poor simple creatures are mad after súperstitious festivals, after unholy holidays. Alas! why should We be weary of well-doing? Are England's dangers all over ? Is not Ireland's case as bad as it was? And shall we give over seek

ing of God?' Oh that we would remember from whence we are fallen !

(5.) Yet it were somewhat tolerable, if there were such a declining only among the generality of England, if it were only among the riff-raffs of the people. But alas ! how are England's professors fallen from hot to cold, from better to worse! They are not like the people they were. Do they not neglect Sabbaths, slight sermons, grow weary of Manna? Is not their love to Christ, to Christians, grown cold? Do they not love the world better than they were wont? Are they not grown more foolish and fashionable, more contentious and complimental than forma, erly? You cannot know a professor from a prodigal, a christian from a carouser, now a-days. , Oh how are England's professors fallen! Oh that England, that the people of England, both high and low, rich and poor, one and other, from Dan to Beersheba, would this day begin, to remember from whence they are fallen, and repent !"

Evidence sufficient has now been adduced to prove, from the men themselves, the erroneousness of Mr. Scott's assertion, and that the most active “ leaders in those tragical scenes" were, in reality, the Predestinarian Divines.' The Puritans who embraced Presbyterianism, were not favourable

to Civil or Religious Liberty. But it is gravely asserted, by some of our most popular hise, ťorians, that these “ Puritans were the renowned fathers of Enga: hish Liberty." This proposition is true in the same sense as, that the devil was the cause of Job's final earthly prosperity ; but in no, other acceptation can it be deemed correct, either in regard to the Presbyterians or Independents as a body.

The ideás entertained, by the leading Puritans, on the subject of TOLERATION, shall be expressed in the very language which they employed in their discourses before the Long Parliament: : In a sermon before the House of Peers, Feb. 24, 1646, Nathaniel HARDY made the following improvement upon the Solemn League and Covenant into which their Lordships and all the Revolutionists had entered: “ Remember, I beseech you, you are within the bounds of a Covenant; for what? for a Toleration? No, for an extirpation of all heresies, schisms, and profane-'. ness. What, if, while the Ark was floating on the waters of strife, you were enforced to entertain wolves and lambs together, yet now that the waters are abated and the ark in some measure settled, send out the wolves from the fold. Oh, let your thanks, fulness to God, for preserving the bounds of your possessions, , appear, by your maintaining the bounds of his worship! Suffer, not yourselves, I beseech you, by self-respects and politic principles, to be withdrawn from this work. He that pieceth God's , Providence with carnal policy, is like a greedy gamester, who, having got all his game in his own hand, steals a needless card

to asşure himself of winning, and thereby loseth all. It is a harel question, - Whether is greater idolatry—to prefer reasons of state before principles of piety, or to worship a golden calf ?' O let policy ever give place to piety, your private affections be swallowed up in the common cause, as small rivers lose their name in the ocean. ** " But as you take with you words, so take to you the SWORD, and think God saith to you as he did to Joshua, Wherefore lie on your faces ? Up and be doing ; take away the accursed errors from among you! That of St. Bernard is true, if taken cum grano salis,

Faith is wrought by persuasions, not by compulsions: Yet that of Tertullian is as true, · Obstinacy must be forced, not wooed. It was a divine speech of Seneca, · Divers nations appoint various punishments, all some for those that violate religion.'-I have learned so much state-divinity as to distinguishi between voluntas signi et beneplaciti : I well know, the biassed Bowls may fetch a compass to touch the Jack. Dumb Zachary begat him [the Baptist] who was the voice of a crier: Neither doubt I but your former silence will end in a loud decrying of all heterodox opinions and practices. My only aim is to add spurs to your pious intentions, that they may appear by such peremp tory actions, as the people may not deceive themselves with vain hopes of unsufferable liberties. It is to be supposed, that -- as in the sweating-sickness in England, the sick persons, when beaten on the face with sprigs of Rosemary by their friends, would cry out, Oh you kill me! you kill me!, whereas indeed they had killed them in not doing it, for had they slept they had died, so those whom the sickness of error hath surprised, being suppressed; will exclaim and say, Oh you persecute them ! you persecute them!; whereas indeed it is not a persecution that lets out the life-blood, but a prosecution that lets out the corrupt blood. Oh happy violence, which pulls men out of the fire! Blessed bonds, that tie men to Christ! Comfortable fetters, which keep our feet in the way of peace !"

On the afternoon of the same day, Dr. John Lightfoot thus pursued the same argument: “ It is not yet four years since we entered into as solemn a Covenant as ever did nation: And will it be believed in the next generation, if our guilt upon it do not. make it too evident, or would it be believed in any remote parts of the world, but that the fame of it is blown through all nations, that, in so short a time, after so solemn an obligation, and the Parliament that brought on the Covenant sitting, the Covenant should be so forgot as we dolefully see daily that it is?-We vowed against Error, Heresy, and Schism, and swore to the God of Truth and Peace, to the utmost of our power to extirpate them, and to root them out. These stones, and walls, and pillars, were witnesses of our solemn engagement. And now, if the Lord should come to enquire what we have done according to this vow and

« PreviousContinue »