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and vigour to carry you through all the weary stages of your duties : and having thus put on Christianity by faith and obedience, you will find yourselves instantly inspired by it with such an invincible courage, as will enable you to conquer all the malice, and triumph over all the miseries of the world. For now we shall be masters of our own fortunes, and we need no longer be tenants at will to the chances and accidents of the world, but have all our happiness in our own hands; and may choose whether we will be miserable : for whilst we keep peace with God and our own consciences, and do not through our own wilful folly forfeit the blessed hope of immortality, it is not all the power and malice in the world can threaten our ruin, or shake the foundation of our happiness: and therefore, as we would be happy both here and hereafter, let us put on the whole armour of God, and sincerely submit our faith to the doctrines, and our practice to the laws of Christianity. Then may we bid defiance to all misery, and march triumphantly through heaven to heaven, and pass through one paradise into another : and our religion having armed us against all the troubles of this life, shall in the end crown us with the joys of the life to come.
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORD MAYOR AND COURT OF ALDERMEN AT GUILD-HALL CHAPEL,
NOVEMBER 5, 1673.
LUKE ix. 56. For the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to
save them. It is the glory of the Christian religion, that it hath conquered the world, and triumphed over all that opposed it, without any other weapon but its own victorious beauty and reasonableness. Had it been proclaimed by the mouths of cannon, or marched like Paracelsus his demon upon the pummel of his sword, it had been rivalled by sundry successful impostures, and the Alcoran itself would have compared victories with it: but in this it hath the preeminence of all the religions that ever were, that it achieved its conquest without scrip or sword, without the aid of worldly force or policy; that by its own native light it vanquished the ignorance and prejudice of the world, and by pure dint of reason subdued men's minds to its empire. For it was not by racks and tortures that it converted infidels and convinced heretics, but by reason and miracles; and till it began to be sophisticated with temporal interests and designs, it taught its followers only to endure, but not to inflict persecutions : for this was their language in the purer ages, Non est religionis, cogere religionem, qua suscipi debet sponte, non vi, as Tertullian expresses it; “ Religion presseth no man to “ her service, and disdains to have any followers but “ volunteers.” But when once its followers began to bend it to their interest, and make it the solicitor of their temporal designs, and to break into parties, and embark their own reputation in the success of those disputable opinions that distinguished them; then, according as they had the luck to succeed in their disputes, and the favour of the emperors, they began to solicit and arm the temporal power against their adversaries: in which bad practice they imitated those whom in all other things they did condemn; namely, the Arians, the Circumcellians, and Donatists, who were the first Christians that either persuaded or practised persecution: and yet for a long while so abhorrent it was from the temper of Christians, that Ursatus and Ithrius, two otherwise catholic bishops, for persuading Maximus to destroy the Priscillianists, were branded by their brethren with an infamous character, and sharply reproved by the good bishop of Trevers; who plainly tells them, (Sulp. Sev. Hist. lib. p. 152.) Satis, superque sufficere, ut episcopali sententia hæretico judicati ecclesiis pellerentur : novum est et inauditum nefas, ut causam ecclesiæ judex seculi judicaret : “ It is 6 sufficient that heretics be banished the church as « outlaws from the communion of Christians : but “ it is a new and unheard-of wickedness, that a cause “ of religion should be judged and punished at a se“ cular tribunal:" and yet this was above three hundred and seventy years after Christ. But as the church's fortunes grew worse, and some of her fathers worst of all; so persecution and tyranny pre
vailed in Christendom, till at last it was baptized into the name of zeal, and enthroned among the graces of religion. For if we look into the history of the Roman church, we shall find persecution first preached from the infallible chair; the popes whereof growing great and proud, and impatient of contradiction, began first to murmur against the toleration of the Novatians; which being a great eyesore to those haughty prelates, as soon as they had gotten power into their hands, they rooted them out by force and violence; but yet they had not so far abandoned all their natural sense of mercy and goodness, as to proceed to bloodshed, till the divine right of fire and fagot was invented by St. Dominick, that rabid and furious incendiary, by whose instigation the Albigenses were wasted by a dreadful war, and one hundred and eighty of them burnt to death, because they would not abjure their religion: which horrid butchery was acted by the commission of pope Innocent the Third, (Antonin. pars v, tit. 19. cap. 1.) who to encourage it granted a plenary pardon and indulgence to the executioners. And now, like Libyan tigers, having tasted blood, they thirst insatiably for more; and instead of pastors, turn butchers to the flock of Christ, by their repeated cruelties converting that church into an infamous slaughterhouse of Christians; and for these six hundred years bleeding hath been the only remedy those spiritual mountebanks have prescribed to cure the diseased church; and this hath been cried up as their great catholicon. Witness the infinite slaughters they have acted and instigated in Italy, Bohemia, the upper and lower Germany: witness the Spanish inquisition, where the holy fathers confute heretics with racks and
gibbets : witness the Parisian massacre, where our religion was confuted only with skeans and daggers : witness the Marian days, wherein the Roman faith was defended so gloriously against all arguments with only that dreadful text, Recant or burn. And if all this be not enough, witness that horrid powder plot, the prevention of which we now commemorate; a villainy so foul and monstrous, as was never paralleled either in fiction or history; and compared with which, the most tragic scenes of melancholy poets, and dismal phantasms of despairing souls, are but all comic tales, subjects of sport and laughter: a tragedy so deep and bloody, that certainly had the most barbarous cannibal in America been hired to act it, the very thought of it must have startled him into an agony; and he could not but have relented, considering thus with himself: I am now giving fire to a train, which at one blow will ruin a whole kingdom; tear in pieces its king and princes, and scatter their members in the air ; strew its fields with the limbs and quarters of its slaughtered nobles and gentry; fill its streets with the threnes and lamentations of woful mothers, the shrieks and outcries of desolate wives and children ; shake its goodly temples and royal palaces into ruins, and in one moment lay all its glory in the dust. And yet, О tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon! all these cruelties were designed under the livery of the most merciful Jesus, and this cannibals' feast of fellow-Christians' blood prepared to entertain the Father of mercies and the Prince of love; as if they, like the heathen demons, fed their hungry nostrils with the nidorous reeks and steams of human sacrifices. Thus by de