« PreviousContinue »
finally, with the hazard of his life. That very thing, which had been the only solace to sustain him in the midst of so great labours and perils, did he continually inculcate to the wbole church, as the only remedy to lead a holy life, namely, a continual hope of immortality, which he thought was to be carefully and delicately cherished. So that when a certain old man shewed a tomb built for himself in token of picty, saying, that he did perpetually meditate on death : Socinus replied, that he would do more rightly, if he did meditate on the reason of the resurrection. Certainly his prudence shined forth in all the parts of his life, but chiefly in his judgment of spiritual things, and was, as it were, a certain fruit of his humility and modesty, a virtue so inbred and peculiar to his nature, that, in other virtues, he may seem to have vied with others; in this with himself. He never despised any man, never attempted any thing, but with advice and circumspection. In his very studies also he was so far from all self-confidence, that he never essayed to write any thing, but what had been concocted with long and mature meditation. And this may casily be discerned in his works. How often did he go very gingerly through those rough ways, which others would have securely trodden ? So that no man seemeth to have distrusted another's wit, as he did his own; which, as we have said, was then the reward, and now the token of his singular modesty. But especially his faith did much shine forth amongst other praises. None, in the memory of men, was better furnished with all helps whereby we ascend to fame, and wealth, and the highest pitch of this life: nature, fortune, and, finally, industry, had emulously accumulated nobility of stock, splendor of friendships, grace of princes, liberal means, health, wit, cloquence, learning, and a natural reach capable of the greatest matters. Obedience to the call of God, and the pledge of truth intrusted to him, cost him the loss of so great privileges. It was a small matter to have forsaken so many pledges of the greatest hope, had he not also, as a sacrifice devoted to the publick hatred, wittingly and willingly exposed himself to infinite miseries, want, bazards, enmities, universal contempt, reproaches, contumelies, and to an execrable memory of his name in all places. Nor indeed looked he for any other reward at present, or shortly after. His wishes reached beyond the bounds of his life, yra, beyond the race of the present age; and his hope was so truly erected towards heaven, that it rested ou no prop of earthly solace. I detract not from the praises due to the merits of other men; each of them hath his proper honour. Yet will 1, by their good leave, say, that some famous men have perhaps made an attempt at so sublime a proof of faith, but I cannot tell whether any one hath reached it. For the greatest part wanted not helps whereby their virtue was soon relieved, so that they were not long God's creditors. The magnanimity of Luther, and others, was quickly entertained with the applause and affections of princes and people. How many others, otherwise poor and obscure, were, by the maintenance of God's cause, advanced to riches and power? Whom nevertheless this vicissitude doth not exclude from the praise of faith, if that which was the cause of their advancement did grow up to maturity, together with them.
But they cannot easily be admitted into this number, who, even with the great detriment of their estates, espouse the cause of God (whether truly such, or pretended) being now in a flourishing condition, and come to maturity. For they have what to hope for on the earth, even with out respect to heaven; and, in the expectation of such present rewards, you cannot always easily discern, whether they repose greater confidence in God, than in their own industry.
But Lælius and Faustus, men of so great judgment, and so great knowledge and experience of the age wherein they lived, what solace could they promise themselves in the earth whilst they lived, yea, in the next ensuing age, for so many labours and dangers, having professed such tenets as were set off with no pomp of authority, no engagement of parties, no connivance at a more dissolute life, yea, no other blandishment whatsoever, but were rather distasteful and odious unto all, by reason of their austerity ? Certainly I can here espy no crevice of earthly hope, which may detract a whit from the praise of a most noble faith, which, how great socver it was, being excluded out of all the earth, was mounted up to heaven, and there conversed with the clemency of God alone.
Ignatius also, that I may omit others, in the memory of our fathers, contemned his country, kindred, wealth, honours, and other allurements, and also underwent many labours and dangers of his own accord, having professed a zeal to God's glory, and the warfare of faith. I slight not the greatness of mind, which shewed itself in him, or some like to him. For neither did they hasten unto glory, through such a way as was altogether pleasant. Nevertheless, I do not yet here behold that difficult proof of a more noble faith, which we seek for. I assume not so much to myself, nor is it at present very material, as to pronounce sentence concerning the purpose of any one's mind, which will, at length, be performed by an infallible judge. Wherefore, I regard not what Ignatius had in his mind, since for the present business it is sufficient what he might have. It is true, he saw the Pope's affairs in some provinces afflicted, but could not be ignorant, that in most, or at least in the more powerful ones, and consequently in his country, and where he intended to fis his abode, they were well established and flourishing. Who would affirm, that the immense rewards, which that church presently repayeth to her defenders, were unknown to Ignatius i Certainly, the spur of glory is very sharp in generous minds. Wheresoever an illustrious field of glory is opened, not only pleasures and riches become sordid in comparison thereof, but very life itself is vilified. And, therefore, even martyrdoms are easily undergone for a prosperous and rich church, without a more noble proof of religious faith; nor, consequently, can they deserve more admiration, than those brave lads of Canna and Trebia, who were born for the Punick times; or, if you like not the common soldiery, than Codrus, who feared not to die for his country. Indeed, whosoever hath sought after eternity of name in the church of Rome, did wisely chuse a race for his glory. For the Roman commonwealth heretofore, although she grew great by this means chiefly, did never propose so many and so great rewards to dangers undertaken for her sake, as the Roman church doth hold forth. For those sump
tuous beds and altars were a late invention of the commonwealth, and that lo gratify the emperors only. Whereas the church doth confer upon her benefactors, not only everlasting veneration of name, but also temples and orders, and an honourable place amongst the canonised saints. What higher thing can the most ardent thirst of glory aspire unto : Wherefore, when so large offers are proposed, and alınost grasped with the hand, whosoever, though with some loss of his estate, entered into that warfare, hath no great reason to boast of his faith before God. Whilst the riches of the Roman church, the power of so many princes, and the hugeness of the Spanish empire dispersed over the world,came into his aid, it was an easy matter, even in the greatest danger, to run before the ensigns. That was an essay of a human and military fortitude, not rising up to the more sacred glory of the martyrs or confessors of the primitive church. For they did so sincerely mind heaven, that they had nothing left them to be hoped for in the earth. After their example, Lælius and Faustus did so trust God with those things which they lost for his sake, that they received hardly any earthly pledges of the reward to come, no human security for the divine hope, no solace. They followed the faith and clemency of God alone, in expectation to receive the same a long time after their decease. And, having been through the course of their lives perpetually despised, and inglorious, and only famous for the hatred conceived against them, they did not so much as at their death receive a taste of a more honourable report. Nevertheless, the beneficence of the most faithful God did never turn bankrupt to any one that had trusted him: Nor would have that noble pair of his servants to be buried in perpetual oblivion, but shewed them to the world, on that side of them where they might be gloriously known, having brought to light so many famous monuments of their wits.
And, although the wages of their warfare consisted not in this reward, yet, nevertheless, he hath begun so bountifully to assert the very honour of their name amongst men, that it is, perhaps, more to be feared, lest posterity should confer on them too much dignity, than none at all.
A BRIEF AND PERFECT JOURNAL
OF THE LATE PROCEEDINGS AND SUCCESS OF THE ENGLISH ARMY IN THE WEST INDIES,
Continued until June the 24th, 1655. Together with some queries inserted and answered. Published for satis
faction of all such who desire truly to be informed in these particulars. By I. S. an eye-witness.
Veritas nudata celari non potest.
all records, ancient or modern, of the actions and transactions of
kingdoms and nations, there are not to be seen more suitable successes, attending strange and occult proceedings, than lately in the West Indies; and although the managing of so grand affairs, and matters of high concernment, were committed to some, who had the repute of being well principled, valiant, and politick in war, yet there wanted not means to frustrate the design, and expectations of most men, the particulars whereof I shall deliver in as brief and true a manner as possibly I may; but before I proceed further, it will not be amiss to insert these queries with their resolutions.
1. Whether or not the setting forth of this army were really intended for the glory of God, and propagation of the gospel ?
2. Whether those that were of this army were fit instruments to be employed in the exaltation of God's work, and pulling down of Antichrist.
3. And lastly, whether the hand of Almighty God hath not been plain and manifestly seen in opposition to their actings and proceedings?
To the first is answered, that, after divers serious debates and results, pro and con, it was at length resolved, by the supreme authority and council of state, to send an army into the West-Indies. What preparation was made, is not unknown to most of the nation; but for what, or against whom, was scarce understood by any, except some few superiors; and, for this cause, divers conscientious men, who preferred the service of God, before that of men, and treasure in heaven, beyond riches and honour on earth, scrupled the design, and deserted the service. For what zealous heart would willingly embrace an unknown enterprise, which might perhaps tend to his own destruction sooner than his enemies, by endeavouring to pull that down, which God hath set up, and to set up that which he never called him unto? Shall a multitude perish, through means of some few particular men, in fulfilling that proverb, by pinning their faith on others sleeves ? Hath not God conferred as much of the gifts of grace and nature on the mean men of the world, as on those of the greatest rank and dignity? Doth honour add zeal, riches, valour; or have the most eminent in office and command, always the greatest eminency of wisdom and conduct? Certainly we have found otherwise, for oftentimes such involve themselves in eminent and irrecoVerable dangers; nor is it always pregnancy of wit, valour, and discretion, although these be famous in war, that gives the victory, but God that worketh all in all, and who can say, What dost thou?
To conclude the design to be altogether grounded on a wrong and corrupt principle, were to accuse our grandees with fully, irreligion, and what not; when indeed it is beyond the ability of man to pry into the secret thoughts and intents of the heart, it is only the Almighty can do it; and although there may be a probable conjecture given of the intent of the workman, by the instrument he taketh in hand, yet God hath been sometimes pleased to make the wicked instruments of good. But it doth not therefore follow, that such should be employed in good works, nei. ther the servants of God in bad. All created things move in their proper sphere; the natural man acts in his natural function, and mindeth only the things of the world; and the spiritual man (although he be in the world) is not of the world, bnt mindeth the things of the spirit, and the
fulfilling of the glory of God, whose power and justice are as well seen in the destruction of the wicked, as preservation of the righteous.
Now, to return to the good intent of the cause whereof I treat, if we reflect upon the consequence of actions, it will soon appear there was nothing less aimed at, ihan God's glory, and establishment of the gospel, nor nothing more coveted, than gain to themselves, and establishment in the rich possessions of others. But servants often disobey the command of their master, and act contrary to his will and pleasure; it is possible it might be so now, and that might cause their greater punishment.
If we look upon this expedition in reference to the lawfulness thereof (as it is in itself) we may find, by these following considerations, that it was both lawful, just, and warrantable by the word of God, and law of nations. First, in regard those they went out against were idolaters, hereticks, and members of the false church. Secondly, for that they, some years since, most wickedly, and inhumanly murthered and destroyed divers of our nation that traded peaceably with them in the West-Indies. Thirdly, there was no breach of league in the prosecution of this war, there being no articles of peace or cessation in force betwixt both nations, to the southward of the tropick. Lastly, conquest is free to all people; no law of nations can prohibit the power of the sword; it is only God that sets its bounds and limits, and where his pleasure is, it should make a final conquest, there it is free inheritance to the conqueror, and his successors. By that power did the Normans invade and conquer England, since which time there have no less than twenty-five kings and queens successively,although not successfully,reigned. By the same power was there lately a period put to that government, and a new esta. blished. By this power had the kingdom of France been subject to the crown of England, and by the same power again recovered. By this power are the Turks and Infidels, at this day, possessors of the best and and fruitfullest parts of the earth; and by the same power Julius Cæsar became conqueror of the whole world. Many and incredible are the difficulties and admirable exploits run through and performed by this power, and that sometimes by a weak hand; for, when the Omnipotent punisheth the wicked, and correcteth his own people, he often maketh choice of one and the same means to be instrumental for both.
And thus much for the legality of the cause, by which we must not measure the good intent; if we do, we may deceive ourselves, for, as bath been said, the very actions and deportments of this army were such, that no good at all might be expected from them, either in their intent or proceeding. To condemn all, because many were guilty, were an act of much injustice; some might be better principled, otherwise of all armies were they most miserable, but the byass of riches and honours many times carrieth men headlong to destruction.
A common-wealth of people is as man's body, some member may be corrupted, and yet the vitals preserved, and the head not impaired. In such cases the skilful surgeon, that takes care to keep and preserve the microcosm, dismembereth that part from the rest of the body, that might otherwise destroy the whole fabrick.
Those who are called unto high places, and bear rule and dominion over nations, ought not only to be repleat with truc zcal and wisdom, but