Графични страници
PDF файл

quisition, which hath been confirmed by so many bulls of their own popes, as they do against the English laws; and condemn the barbarous cruelties of the one, as well as the milder severities of the other? For till they do so, we have reason to believe, that it is not against persecution they exclaim, but against being persecuted. But in the mean time, how can we expect that they should be merciful to our bodies, whose religion damns our souls ? or, if ever they get uppermost, which God prevent, they that are so uncharitable now as to shut us out of heaven, should be so charitable then as not to drive us out of the world? For this is a maxim founded upon the experience of all ages, That that religion which damns us when it is weak, will burn us when it is able.

Wherefore, since God in his mercy hath delivered us from the Romish tyranny, let us with thankful hearts extol and praise his goodness, and take heed for the future, lest by our divisions or apostasies we return again unto that yoke of bondage: and since the emissaries of Rome are now so busily pursuing their old maxim, Divide et impera, and blowing the coals of our divisions, in hope at last to warm their hands at our flames, O that we would now study the ways of peace and reconciliation ! and not, , like the miserable Jews, fall out among ourselves, while the Roman is at our gates. For all the time we are contending in the ship, our enemy is boring a hole at the bottom; and while we are fomenting our unbappy differences, and tearing our own wounds wider, the priest and Jesuit are at work in our doublets; who, ever since their gunpowder treason was defeated, have been strewing trains of wildfire among ourselves, to make us our own executioners,

and blow us up by our own hands : for what else hath been their business among us, but only to raise sects and factions, and sow discords and divisions in the church of England, which, they know, is the only bulwark of the protestant religion among us? O would to God we would once heartily attempt to countermine them! as we might yet easily do, would we but once lay aside our unchristian passions and prejudices, and study mutual compliances, and prefer religion before a faction, and abate some little punctilios to the soberer and more governable dissenters. These things, if they may obtain amongst us, would yet undoubtedly secure us against the attempts of our adversaries, and render their most hopeful designs desperate and unfeasible. But if we will be deaf to all the arguments which our common interests and dangers suggest to us; if we will still squander into sects and parties, and nothing will serve our turns but the ruin of that poor church which for so many years hath been the shelter and sanctuary of the protestant religion, the time may come perhaps, when we may dearly repent of our own follies, and remember with tears in our eyes, that we had once an opportunity to be happy. Let me therefore beseech you, even by all that love you bear to the protestant religion, to your own safety, and to the lives and souls of your posterity, to lay aside all faction, bitterness, and animosity; lest by your unchristian divisions you open the floodgates of popery on yourselves, and cut a gap to let in the Stygian lake of ignorance, idolatry, superstition, and blood; which God of his infinite mercy avert. To whom be honour, and glory, and power, and dominion for ever.





PROVERBS xxviii. 1.

The wicked flee when no man pursues ; but the righteous

are bold as a lion. The two great ingredients that go into the composition of an accomplished soldier are courage and good conduct. As for the latter of these, it is the peculiar subject of your profession, and falls not under the cognizance of our spiritual tactics : nor was it ever well for the world, when the pulpits, which were designed for oracles of the gospel of peace, rung with battles and alarms; and that ýpépa oáterys; that soft and still trumpet of meekness, and charity, and obedience, which should sound from hence, was outnoised and drowned with the thunder of drums and the roaring of cannons. Sure I am, in our commission we have no instructions to put on any armour but the whole armour of God, to list any volunteers but for heaven, or proclaim any war but between men and their lusts, from which all other wars and fightings do proceed. And being of so distant a profession, we may very well be excused, if we understand not the language of your discipline, if we cannot talk in rank and file, and flank and rear our discourses with military allusions; in which it is as easy for us to be absurd and ridiculous, as for a fresh-water soldier, that being to make a speech to a company of sailors, will needs interlard his harangue with terms of navigation. Wherefore, in reverence to your skill and judgment in your own profession, I shall choose to leave Hercules's club in his own hands, who knows much better than I how to wield and manage it, it being, in my opinion, not altogether so decent for a divine to read lectures of war before Hannibal.

But as for that other ingredient of a good soldier, viz. courage and resolution, it being a Christian virtue, and as such necessary, not only (though more especially) for you, but for all others who intend to continue faithful soldiers under the common Captain of our salvation,) it is upon this account a very proper argument both for the speaker and the hearers, and as suitable to the place as it is to the occasion : and therefore, in compliance with both, I have chosen this text, in which you have cowardice and courage resolved into their first principles; The wicked flee when no man pursues ; but the righteous is bold as a lion.

In these words you have all mankind distinguished by their proper characters into two sorts. The first is the wicked; under which name all bad men, of whatsoever denomination, are comprehended, whether they be irreligious in their belief, profane in their manners, or hypocritical in their designs and intentions; and the character here, by which they are all distinguished, is, that they flee when no man pursues; i. e. they are of such base and timorous spirits, that they are ready to run away from the least shadow of danger, though it hath nothing of substance or reality in it; and, being haunted with an ill-boding mind, flee before the spectres of their own fancies. Which words are not to be so understood, as if every wicked man were a coward; for that contradicts experience; and we know, there is a sort of valour which naturally springs out of the very crasis and temper of men's bodies, which is nothing else but a certain impetus, or brisk fermentation of the blood and spirits : and this is common to bad men with good, accordingly as they happen into a warm and vigorous constitution. The meaning therefore is, that they are cowards in their causes ; that their wickedness naturally tends to effeminate them; and will certainly do it, if it be not strongly counter-influenced by the vigour of their bodily temper. The second sort into which mankind is here distinguished is the righteous; by which phrase the scripture is wont to express all good men in general ; and that for very good reason; because all instances of goodness whatsoever are in strictness righteousness, either to God, or to ourselves, or to our neighbours : so that justice, or righteousness, is the common point whence all the lines of our duty are drawn, and wherein they all concentre.

Now of this sort of men the proper character is, that they are as bold as a lion. Which words do not import every good man to be actually a cordelion, to be as bold and stouthearted as that courageous animal is, before whom all the beasts of the forest do tremble: for as some bad men are valiant by nature, so are some good timorous and fainthearted : and it is a very hard thing to cure by discipline that which is the natural defect of constitution. This expression must be understood in the same mitigated sense as the former, The righteous

« ПредишнаНапред »