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Now let reason and conscience fay, Who is most likely to be the hypocrite ; the man that calls himself a Christian, and under that profession wallows in all profaneness, not once censuring himself for it; or he that lives oberly and godly, against whom malice itself can produce nothing but such inconsiderable trifles as these? Is not this the very case, which Christ hath determined to our hands, and made such censurers, the hypocrites ? Matth. vii. 3. “And why beholdest thou the mote s that is in thy brother's eye, but considereft not the beam that “ is in thine own eye ?” Is was but one blemish, and that a very small one too, but a niote; however this you can quickly fpy, and as rathly censure. But mean while there is a beam, an horrid flagitious wickedness in yourselves; but it is too near your own eyes, to be discerned by you. Which of these two (think you) is the hypocrite ?
2. But what if this mote that you discern, be but a fancy, a mere imagination of your own; how will that aggravate your fin, and evince both your malice and hypocrisy together? You say, their tones and gestures in religious duties, are ridiculous, and sceniçal. This you take up lightly against fome few of them, and as unjustly apply unto the aspersing of the whole party; which your own reason must, and will immediately condemn. For there are multitudes of that party, whose countenances, tones and gestures, are as decorous, grave, and becoming the presence of that God with whom they have to do, as any men in the world.
4. And as for those few whom you thus blemish for their indecent tones and gestures; what if those tones you speak of, amount to no more but natural defects, and unavoidable infirmities, which they would, but cannot help? Do they for this, and no worse than this, deferve to be censured, and con: demned for hypocrites ? Or, what if they be infensible actions, occasioned by the greater intention of their spirits in the service of God? May not these very things, which you profanely flout, censure, and scoff at, either not at all be noted as blemishes to their devotion by the eye of God, or noted with approbation and delight, as the effects of spiritual fervency in his service ? Certainly, gentlemen, you are no good markfien, that neither draw the right arrow, nor levei at the true mark.
4. cand were not this a vain and empty pretence, to cover y ur own malice against godliness; how comes it to pass, hoat more scenical habits, words, and gestures, should pafs as ornaments in others, whom you affect? Whether this be not
partiality unworthy of a man, let reason and conscience freely judge.
In a word ; What commission or authority can you produce, thus to ascend the throne of God, and draw your bittereft censures through the very hearts of God's people, for such pitiful trifles as these; first condemning them as hypocrites, which is a moft unwarrantable presumption ; and then persecute them as far as you can, for their presumed hypocrisy? Have a care what
you do; be not mockers, lest your bands be made strong. This is a Gin which haftens national desolation; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16, 17. “They mocked the messengers of God, and “ despised his word, and misused his prophets; until the wrath “ of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. “ Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, 46 who flew their young men with the fword, &c.
Plea 2. You say, It is not godliness you hate, and would persecute ; but they are a sort of persons, who under a pretence of zeal for religion and reformation, design nothing else but sedition and rebellion, that the nation will never be quiet, whilst such vipers are suffered to live in it: And to fortify this plea, you add, that both their hypocrisy and fedition have been. made sufficiently evident to the world in many instances.
Zeal for the laws, and security of the government, if rightly tempered and qualified, is higly commendable; and wherever fincerity animates, and prudence governs it, it ought by no means to be discouraged. But there are too many grounds and causes of suspicion, that both these will be found wholly wanting, or extremely defective, in inany high pretenders to it, when it comes to be fifted to its bottom principles, and weighed in the just balance of found reason.
For if you be inflamed with a pure zeal for the laws and government you live under; then you will find yourselves on bliged, for your own vindication, to satisfy the just expectation
your own, and other mens reasons and consciences, in the following particulars :
Expectation 1. First, Reason and conscience, in yourselves and others, will expect it from you, that you, of all men living, should be most precisely and punctually obedient to all those just and good laws you live under ; since your zeal burns so hot against those that comply not punctually with them. Fer
that make so much conscience (as you seem to do, of other mens offences against the laws, must be presumed (if your profession be fincere) to make at least as much conscience of breaking any of them in your owu persons ; elle neither
reason nor confcience will ever admit this plea of yours for found and good.
Now the laws sometimes appoint punishments for nonconformity to the rites and ceremonies, affixed to the public national worship, and so they do always for convicted swearing, drunkenness, and adultery. All these laws have the very fame fanction, by the authority we live under. They forbid, and punith, the one as well as the other. And if there be any difference, it lies in this, that these latter are exprefly for bidden and threatued by God, antecedently to the magiftrate's prohibition of them, which hath no small weight in the marter under confideration.
Now, if any man shall pretend zeal and conscience, against diffent in judgment or practice, from the church, but makes no conscience at all to curse and swear, be drunk or unclean; he will find it a difficult task to persuade his own, or other mens reasons or consciences, that this his zeal, for the laws and government, is fincere and pure. For were it fo, it could never allow him to live in the notorious violation of the laws himself, which he is fo fierce and bitter against others for.
Expectation 2. Secondly, If your zeal be fincere, it will con. tain itself within the bounds and limits of the offence, and not lay hold upon the innocent, as well as upon the guilty; and make
you hate and persecute them that were never turbulent and feditious, equally with the greateft criminals. If you will hug this principle as things stand now, reason will tell you, it is as just at all other times, as it is at this.
Would you not think it an unreasonable and most injuri. ous thing, to be plucked out of your shops, or houses, and hurried away to the goal; because two or three diffolute fellows in the city or town where you live, have been riotous or fedi. tious, though you pofsibly know not the men, nor can be fo much as juftly suspected of any confederacy with them? True zeal for the laws and government, is content to wait, and fufpend its revenge, till a fair conviction have paffed upon the guilty. And when it falls upon them, it is careful that it touch none befides them: but fuffers a man to retain, in the very height of it, due love and honour for all that are innocent.
If Christians be first denominated by general titles and terms of distinction, which they cannot help, and then the crimes of any particular perfon, that the world pleases to denominate as one of the same party, must be charged and imputed to the whole; what must the consequence of this be, but that the
whole community become obnoxious to punishment, and the verygovernment itself thereupon be diffolved?
For I take it to be past denial or doubt, that some of each denomination have been, are, or may be guilty of seditious practices. Some hypocrites will lurk among thọfe vast bodies of people, under the most strict and watchful government ; but God forbid their guilt should affect the whole body, under whose names they shelter themselves. God, reason, and conscience, do all command the hottest zeal, to make its pause and just distinction here. Let the guilty be brought to condign punishment, upon fair trial and conviction. This discourse designs no favour for such. But let not those who abhor their wickedness, and are as pure from their crimes as yourselves, suffer with them, or for them: For then
your son will tell you, yourselves are as liable to sufferings as they ; and that your zeal is not kindled by love to justice, but the hatred of a party.
It is not in the body politic, as in the body natural: If the hand steal, the feet are justly laid in irons, and the neck put into an halter ; because all the members of the body natural are animated, and governed but by one soul. But in the body politic, every individual hath a distinct foul of his own; and therefore that member only that offends ought to be punished, and all the rest to enjoy their full liberty and honour as before, Away therefore forever with this church and state destroying fynechdoche.
Expectation 3. Thirdly, If there be a change made upon the laws, and they fhall at any time tolerate and protect that party and practice which once they made criminal; then your reason, and every man's else, will expect from you (if yout zeal for the laws and government be fincere and unfeigned) that your countenance and carriage to that people be changed and altered, according to the different aspect of the laws and government upon them: That your envy and hatred cease with the offence; and that you be as ready to affist and encourage them, when they act according to law, as you formerly were to inflict and profecute them for acting contrary to law: Else, pretend what you will, it is plain enough, that it was not zeal for the laws and government, but somewhat else, (which every body may guess at) that inflamed your rage against them.
For whensoever the wisdom of the government finds it neceffary, by toleration, to take away the crime and offence, it VOL: VIII.
muft necessarily take away this very plea for hatred and perfecution with it: Otherwile it would be all one, to act for law, and against law; to punish them that are offenders, and them that offend no more than yourselves; to turn the edge of your rage and fury, against those that undermine the government, and those that are as zealous as yourselves, to support and defend it, by their persons and purles.
Expectation 4. Fourthly; Your reason will justly expect it from you, that when, or wheresoever you shall see eminent piety meeting with punctual conformity in one man, that man Thall be your very darling; and that both these qualifications should recommend him to your deareft affection, the more flrictly godly he is, the more conformable he is to the laws of God; as well as by his punctal compliance with enjoined rules and rites of worship, to the laws of men. If he be a man of catholic charity to all of every persuasion, whom he judges to fear God, and be truly conscientious; if he boldly and impartially reproves fin, wherever he finds it, though it be in his own patron, or men of his own profession; you will still love him the more for that. For if fincerity and conformity (as you pretend) be the very things which you make such a noise and bustle for in the world, here you have them both in conjunction. This is the man you seem to seek (by these pleas of yours) for a pattern and standard to reduce other men to.
And is it really fo, gentlemen, with you? Do you heartily affect and prize a strict and -ferious conformist, that fears not to expose the odious shamefulness and wickedness of
profane fwearing, cursing, drunkenness and uncleanness, without respect of persons, both in his pulpit and private converses? Do you love him the better, for his plain dealing with your consciences, in detecting the grand cheat of formality in religion ; for his close cutting convictions of the insufficiency of mere civility to your falvation, and the indispenfible necessity of regeneration? Do you heartily love and honour him, for thundering you out of ale-houses and taverns, unto your family and closet-duties? For telling you plainly, your
love must not be confined to your own party, but extended to all that fear God, however they be externally distinguished among men ? Nay, for convincing you plainly, that religion lies not in external modes and rites, in standing, kneeling,
or responses? That the name and cry of the church, the .church, will as little avail to your salvation, as the cry of the
fuperftitious and profane Jews, The temple of the Lord,