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concerns every dissenter, as he values his own safety and innocence, to use all honest ways to satisfy his conscience in the communion of the established church; where he will not only be secured from those disaffections to the government which he is liable to whilst he continues in any discountenanced sect, but also instituted in such firm principles of loyalty, as, if he follows, will for ever secure him from engaging in factions : for this is the doctrine of our church, expressed in the homily of Obedience; “ We may not in any wise withstand violently or “ rebel against the rulers, or make any insurrection, “ sedition, or tumult, either by force of arms or “ otherwise, against the anointed of the Lord or any “ of his officers : but we must in such case” (that is, when we are commanded unlawful things)“ patient“ ly suffer all wrongs and injuries, referring the “ judgment of our case to God.” And in this, as well as in her other doctrines, her government, and discipline, our church doth exactly copy after the primitive Christianity. If therefore we believe this doctrine, our consciences will never consent to our listing ourselves against the government; but if, instead of believing it, we openly contradict and oppose it, as all those do who pretend religion for their faction, we are so far dissenters from the church of England. For conformity to a church consists not merely in frequenting its prayers, and sermons, and sacraments, and complying with its rites and discipline, but also in believing its doctrines, or, at least, not openly opposing and contradicting them: but whosoever sides with a faction against the government, upon pretence of religion, doth thereby openly renounce the doctrine of our church, and becomes a
confessed nonconformist, how conformable soever he may be in other particulars. So that, though there are too many men, who, to credit their ill designs against the government, shelter themselves under the wings of the church; yet it is evident, they are either nonconformists to the church, or conformists that act against their own principle; which is such a fault as no church can prevent, so long as there is such a thing as free-will in the world. Wherefore, as you would preserve yourselves from those manifold mischiefs that faction draws after it, do not found your loyalty upon humour, or fashion, or interest, which are fickle and variable things; but upon the religious principles of the church whereof you are members; which will keep us steadfast and immovable amidst all the mutabilities of the world : for whilst you have no principles to lead you, and you reserve yourselves to follow fortune and the turns of outward affairs, you will be shifting yourselves upon every change, and, in a very unscriptural sense, putting off the old man and putting on the new. And whilst you thus transform yourselves into a thousand several shapes, as you run through the still changing fashions of the world, besides that it will expose you of all sides to the odious character of turncoats and renegadoes, that are constant to nothing, and to the bosom satires and secret upbraidings of your own consciences; besides this, I say, it will eternally perplex and entangle your lives. For upon every new alteration of affairs, you must act a new part, and put on a new garb of conversation : and whilst you thus shift sides upon every turn, newshape your humours, and jump from one extreme another, you will be always doing violence to your
natures, because you will act no part long enough to render any natural and easy to you. So that, when all is done, the easiest way of living is to live honestly; that is, to set down honest principles in our minds, and then resolve to follow them through all events: so shall we live consistently with ourselves; and, whatsoever happens from without, be always the same, and in all conditions still know where to find ourselves; because we shall always act upon the same principles, and so there will be no cross deliberations in our minds, no mazes or intrigues in our lives, no by-ways of actions upon new emergencies; but whatsoever happen, we shall still be going on through the same path towards the same end; and, whatsoever befalls us from without, whether it rains or shines, proves calm or tempestuous, we shall never be at a loss how to behave ourselves; but our principles will still chalk us out the way we are to walk in. And though in following them we may sometimes endanger our worldly interest, and fall under the disgrace of a rabble, and the persecutions of a prevailing faction, yet our very enemies will be forced to revere and honour us, to acknowledge that we are constant and brave, honest and resigned to our own principles; and, which is better than that, we shall revere ourselves, and be supported under our sufferings with the applauses of our conscience and the hopes of a glorious immortality; which will render our condition not only tolerable in itself, but much more desirable than the crowns and triumphs of prosperous hypocrites : and, which is best of all, God himself will honour us before angels and saints, and plead our cause, and vindicate our innocence, and reward our sufferings for righteousness' sake. Thus, by pursuing the honest principles of our religion we shall be inviolably secured against all the mischiefs of faction, and immovably confirmed in our loyalty both to God and the king; which in all probability will render our lives secure and easy in this world, but, to be sure, everlastingly happy in the world to SERMON V.
THE RIGHT HON. THE LORD MAYOR AND COURT OF
ALDERMEN, AT ST. MARY LE BOW, JULY 26, 1685.
2 SAMUEL xviii. 28. And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And
he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the Lord thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lift up their hand against my lord
the king THIS Ahimaaz was a soldier under Joab, in the battle which he fought with Absalom, the rebellious son of his too kind and indulgent father, king David; who, having newly pardoned him that unnatural murder of his brother Amnon, and received him into grace and favour, and furnished him with a plentiful revenue and a splendid equipage; so that, if he had pleased, he might have lived in peace and glory, and been a comfort to his father, a patriot to his country, and a blessing to his family; and after he had finished the circle of a happy and prosperous life, might have gone down with honour to his grave: the foolish, ungrateful young man, being thereto excited partly perhaps by the insinuations of a company of crafty malecontents, but chiefly by his own ambition, embarks himself in a wicked and desperate design against his father's life and crown: in order whereunto he industriously sets himself, by mean and poor conde