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he tells us, that he had nothing to do to judge them, but that the judgment of those, that are without the church, God hath reserved unto himself, 1 Cor. v. 13. therefore it doth not appertain to me to meddle with them. But if, as a Christian magistrate, I take him to be within the church; yet his employment, quatenns*, a magistrate, is not mine, nor is he therein my servant, but Christ's; and then the other rule doth take place, Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? Now the magistrate is undoubtedly God's servant, Rom. xiii. 4. therefore I must let him stand or fall to his own master, in matters of outward government, which God hath intrusted him, and not me, withal. And, in case I do look upon him as a brother, and his actions or designs as the atfairs of a private man, then still the former rules do hold; and Christ doth forbid me to judge him in publick, or to lay his faults open to any, till I have dealt with in private, and, by degrees, brought him to the judicature of those, who are his competent judges, Matt, xviii. 15, &c. It is not lawful, therefore, for me, in my private way, to condemn him, whether I look upon him as a brother, or not; and far less is it lawful to judge him in publick, and make myself an informer against him towards the multitude, who are not his competent judges.
Moreover, the law of God in the fifth commandment is, 'Honour thy father and mother, that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee:' all divines have understood this, as well of the respect due unto the civil magistrate, as to natural parents. Now, to take upon us to judge and censure their actions, or to blast and blame their + proceedings in publick, before the multitude, directly or indirectly, is manifestly to dishonour them; and, if this is unlawful in a son to deal so with parents, it is also unlawful in a subject to deal so with his magistrates.
As for the laws of men in this matter, I shall not need to mention any: for, it is evident in all nations, that to controul the actions of the civil' magistrate, and to traduce him in his proceedings, is a crime punishable in subjects, by those that have power, and are in authority over them, with death, imprisonment, fines, or banishment, according to the nature of the fact, and as the supreme authority doth judge fit. Thirdly, the nature of the gospel, whereunto Iam appointed a minister of Christ, is inconsistent with the care of those things wherewith I must intermeddle, if I should take upon me to judge of them. For the gospel is the testimony of Jesus, to reveal him to the world, and to invite all men from the cares and lusts of the world, to enter into his kingdom, and rest; which is a kingdom of truth, and not of this world, John xviii. 36, 37. whereof the kingdoms are but lyes and restless vanities. If then I account myself appointed to this employment by Christ, to mind the mysteries of his truth, and that wisdom which is of God, 1 Cor. ii. 7, 8. which none of the princes of this world know, or, as princes of this world, care for: I ought not to apply myself to intermeddle in their affairs; and, if I ought not to do this, I conceive, it is not lawful tfor me to judge of their affairs in publick, either to com* As, or, so far as, + Ou natural parents. i mend or condemn them in the pulpit. For Christ being intreated, Luke xii. 13, to employ his authority, to cause one brother to divide the inheritance with the other, did refuse to do it, upon this ground, because God had not appointed him a judge, or a divider over men in temporal matters. The disciple is not above the master; and, if the master had no right to meddle in small matters, between man and man, what right have I to meddle in the greatest, between state and state, or rulers and subjects? When Christ called one of his disciples to him, and he desired leave, first, to go and bury his father, Christ bid him, let the dead bury their dead; but go thou, (saith he) and preach the kingdom of God, Matt, viii, 21, 22. and Luke ix. 60. If then those, that are called to preach the kingdom of God, ought to free their minds from the cares, which, through natural affection, and a kind of civil duty, so nearly concern themselves and their kindred, how much more ought they to be disinterested in matters of state, which at all do not concern them?
The cares of a quite contrary nature cannot be at once rightly entertained in the same mind; they are like two opposite masters, whom none can serve at the same time acceptably, nor at different times faithfully; therefore, he that will be Christ's servant, and a faithful soldier in his warfare, must not be inlangled in the affairs of this life, otherwise he will not be able to please him, who hath chosen him to be a soldier, 2 Tim. ii. 4. Now all the affairs of state concern only this life, and nothing else directly and principally.
Fourthly, The intermeddling with state-matters in sermons is contrary to the rule of preaching, and to the true aim, which ought to be maintained in the performance of that duty.
The rule of preaching is, If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God, 1 Pet. iv. 11. We are warranted to speak nothing(if we speak in God's name) but that which is undeniably his word. Nothing can beget faith, and build up the soul unto godliness, but the truth of God; if we speak other matters, which the wisdom of earthly men, or our own imaginations, or passions, dictate, we profane the ordinance of God, and destroy the faith of the hearers. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord, by the prophet Jeremiah, Jer. xxiii. 28. Our own words and dreams, about temporal concernments, are less worth than chaff, and the faith of professors cannot stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. And because Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, therefore, in our preaching, we should determine to know nothing amongst our hearers, but Jesus Christ and him crucified, 1 Cor. ii. 5.
The aim, to be maintained in preaching, is to persuade God only, and not men; and not to please men, or become their servants, but God's alone, Gal. i. 10. for he, that intendeth to please men, is no more the servant of Christ, 1 Cor. ii. 2. Now, when men set themselves to speak of state-matters in the pulpit, their aim is, either to please the magistrates, by commending them to the people, or to shew their dislike against their proceedings, by reproving the same, which doth tend to make the people displeased with their magistrates. Now, whether the design be the one, or the other, it is altogether unworthy of the minister of the gospel; and a man cannot possibly mention th< affairs of state in publick, but it must be either way, and, therefore, he ought neither way to do it.
And, whatsoever a man's aim may be in meddling thus with statematters, as he doth no service to God in it, so he perverts the minds of the hearers, from the integrity and simplicity of the gospel, to reflect upon, and affect, with reference to worldly wisdom, the ways of a party: for all state-matters are continually carried by some plots in the hands of one party or other; and whosoever doth meddle with themj either to commend or discommend the proceedings, must be the servant of a party, and so forsakes the spiritual liberty, and impartiality, wherein they ought to stand, and whereunto he ought to bring the minds of his hearers, that they may be willing to serve all men in love, for their spiritual edification, without prejudice, for Christ's sake. The interests of states-men, and matters, change according to circumstances, by which those, that manage publick affairs, find their advantages. If the minister of the gospel will oblige himself to meddle with these matters, he will be constrained either to say and unsay the same things, if he follow state-principles, (which is to discredit the truth of the gospel) for, when men are swayed with carnal considerations, they must needs make the same thing in their preaching, yea, yea, and nay, nay, (as we have found many do of late) or, if he will be inflexible, and not change his note with the times, he will be engaged into occasions of strife and controversies with others, for worldly matters, as often as they change^ which, how inconvenient it is for a minister of the gospel to do, and how prejudicial it is unto his profession, I leave you to judge.
The scandals, which are given against the gospel to those that are discerning, and perceive men's drifts in preaching for interests, are very heinous and hurtful to the truth, and to the ministry thereof, to discredit it: for, by this means, natural men* become atheists, for thereupon they count all religion nothing else but acloke of hypocrisy. These practices stagger the weak also, who are led with blind zeal to be engaged into factions against their brethren, and to maintain divisions, which overthrow the church's peace and unity; and thereby subtle statesmen take advantages to lay snares before unwary ministers, who have more zeal than prudence, to entrap them, and make use of them for their own ends; and then, when they have made them their hacknies, and served their turns out of them, they turn them away with neglect and contempt at the journey's end, because they deserve no better.
Now, I, knowing these things to be the natural consequents of ministers intermeddling with state-matters, cannot think it lawful for me to come within the reach of these snares, and therefore must avoid the occasions thereof, and am willing to warn you of the same, whereof we see many ezamples before our eyes.
These are the chief heads of reasons, which have made me abstain from that way of preaching, which some have followed; and, as I conceive* these grounds, which justify my way, to be unanswerable, So I never could find any solidity in those pretences, which are alledged for the contrary practice.
* Vii. Such as seek not Ood through Jesus Christ,
For that which is pretended from Ezech. iii. 17,—22, and xxxiii.7, that ministers are made watchmen, to give warning to the wicked, to warn them from their wicked way, and to the righteous also, that they turn not from their righteousness, is not otherwise to be understood, but in clear cases, wherein God's commandment is manifestly transgressed, and to be directed immediately towards the persons themselves, who are transgressors, to make them sensible of the guilt and danger under which they stand. But, in doubtful cases, wherein there is no clear word from God's mouth, wherein the magistrate's actions may be misinterpreted; wherein he pretends to walk by a just rule; wherein his secret aim and intention, by a jealousy of state, is rather condemned than his fact; and wherein he is not expresly dealt withal himself to Convict his conscience concerning the iniquity of his proceedings to rectify it, but is cried out upon before others, and censured before the multitude, who are not his competent judges (which is the practice of those that in the pulpits have meddled, and do meddle with state-matters) I say, in such cases, and in such a way of proceeding, no colour can be taken from the watch-office of Ezekiel to warrant it: for, look upon the charge which he doth receive, and the way how he is to discharge it, and you will see that your practice is nothing like it. The charge is, that the watchman should hear the word at God's mouth, and give the house of Israel warning from God, ver. 17. This imports an express commandment, and a clear transgresison of the commandment in those that are to be warned, and a peculiar mission from God to give the warning. The way, how this warning is to be given to the wicked and the righteous, is by a particular address which the watchman was to make, as from God, unto themselves immediately. If the ministers, that meddle with state-matters, will observe these rules, far be it from me to condemn them; but, if their arguing against the proceedings of those that are in places of authority hath nothing in it approaching unto this way, then I must be dispensed with from following it, and I think it my duty to discover the irregularity of it, by testifying against it. If men will make themselves, through state jealousies, and evil surmises, against those that manage publick affairs, watchmen over their rulers, when they are divided among themselves for state interests, for the advantage of one party to blast and discredit another, and then pretend that they discharge the watch-office, which is com* mittcd unto them, I shall leave them to answer it to the chief shepherd of the flock; for it becometh not me to judge another man's servants, farther than by putting them in mind of the commands of their Master^ Which are undeniably his known will.
But from the contemplation of the watchman's office over the souls of the flock, and their obligation to give account thereof unto God, there is an objection and doubt, which may be raised, thus: "But what if I see my flock like to be led away (by the example of those that are in authority, or the instigation of those that have power) unto wicked and unjust courses, which are destructive to the true religion and the safety of the state; shall I not warn them of the danger in this case?" I answer, yes; you are bound to forewarn them of the danger, which you think they are like to fall into, if the thing be evident, and clearly a transgression of God's will; I say, you are bound to forewarn, as well those that, by their authority and power, lead others out of the way, as those that are led by them. Thus, in cases of idolatry and oppression, the prophets did address themselves directly to the rulers of the people; they shewed them the undoubted commandment of God, and their undeniable practice opposite unto it; and, in a case, which evidently doth pervert the truth of religion, and endanger the safety of the state, the fact itself, and the unrighteousness thereof, is to be laid open before all, from the word of God, and all are to be warned of the dangerous consequences thereof; which may be done in thesi, leaving the hypothesis and particular application to every man's judgment, to discharge his conscience towards God therein. But now we have seen men, that accuse those, whom they would discredit before the multitude, not to meddle with the matter in thesi, but with the hypothesis of their own coining, upon conjectural appearances, charging faults suspiciously, and byway of insinuation, where, upon a strict examination, none were to be found. He, that insists upon the hypothesis of a matter, to charge somebody with the guilt thereof, doth evidently shew, that his aim is not so much to rectify the fault, as to make him odious, whom he charged) with it; but he, thathandleth the thesis of a matter, doth not aim to instruct and warn all men of their duty, that they may look to their ways. The court chaplains did flatter and court the King and the bishops, in their sermons heretofore, with reproaches and aspersions, which they did cast upon the puritans,to make them odious, ratherthat they might be persecuted, than reformed; and, since these troubles, it cannot be denied, but the popular preachers have paid them home in their own way, by courting the humours of the multitude, to incense them against the King and his prelates, that they also might be rather persecuted, than reformed: All which, on both sides, hath wrought nothing else but animosities and confusions, which have brought these distresses upon the nation, and mainly obstructed the ways of true reformation. But, if the watchmen on both sides * had handled matters fit thesi, and dealt with those who were to be warned, to draw them from the error of their ways by the means of God's counsel rather than for human designs, we might have been preserved from the dangers, into which they have helped to bring us.
There is another pretence taken, to colour this practice, from the commandments which the apostle doth give to Timothy and Titus: Them, that sin, rebuke before all, 1 Tim. v. 20. Be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, &c. 2 Tim. iv. 2. and, Rebuke them sharply, &c. Titus i. 13. and such like.
But I conceive,that all these directions arc given to pastors, only in reference to those that are immediately under their pastoral charge, in clear cases, wherein they are to deal with the parties themselves immediately; it is, therefore, a great mistake to apply them unto other persons,
* The preachers for and against the court.