Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought. There, to distaste their rigid discipline is enough to make Christ's zealots of Satan's synagogue; and not to adore the kirk is to be anathematized, as unworthy heaven; as if the way to heaven were through their kirk door: or, as if the King of glory would not admit any into his presence, without Jack Presbyter's pass; none into his favour, without the kirk's approbation. What made Montrose persecuted of late to such an ignominious death? Surely, it was not so much, because he was an enemy to the state, but excentrick to the opinion of the kirk, which domineers, pope-like, over their King and parliament j so as, in effect, the kirk is both able to turn the chair of state into a stool of repentance, and the scepter into a rod of correction. O brave kirk, which ingrosseth all jurisdiction and supremacy!

See how these reformers allow that in their ignorant selves, which they condemned in the learned bishops. It was a heinous crime in the prelates to negotiate temporal affairs, yet, in themselves, a virtue; whilst neither King must be admitted, nor army raised, but by their consent. The bishops only voted in parliament, but these controul; supposing the highest concernments of state to be like Mount Sinai, not to be touched but by their sanctified selves.

To this height they are already climbed; at this, our English jockies have long time aimed, and would soon compass, if their gun-powder zeal could but blow up the parliament house, or their pulpit granados fire the castle of independency; which they have long besieged with their malice, but shall never overthrow by their power; notwithstanding their schismatical lectures, private fasts, and whining morning exercises. No, no, God covers himself with a cloud of displeasure towards them, and will not bear them on eagle's wings, that they may build their nests on high. Well may they attempt to soar high, but then let them take heed, lest, with Simon Magus, the father of all hereticks, as Irenaeus stiles him, presuming to fly in the presence of all the people, from Mons Capitolinus, to Mons Aventinus, they fall down, to their utter destruction. For severe punishment from heaven treads on the heels of the unjust on earth, if they pitch their tent in sin. No marvel, if God discharge his dreadful artillery, in a full volley of vengeance, against them; as Paul told Elymas the sorcerer: 'O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the ways of the Lord? And now behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun fora season. And immediately there fell on him a mist, and a darkness, and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.'

Whilst Cerinthus labours to build his own house, by pulling down Christ's, suddenly a house fell down to the ground, and slew him, with many of his adherents.

Whilst Arius, beina unable to answer the strong arguments of holy Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, accused him of sorcery, and, in his high towering thoughts, intending to make a battery against the bulwark of true religion, by disputing against Alexander, a reverend bishop; in the morning, when the hour of disputation was come, as this hcrctick entered among the auditory, a sudden pain in the belly began to seize him, in presence of a great multitude of bishops and common people; so that, being constrained to goto some secret place, to discharge the burden of his belly, his bowels fell from him into the privy, and there he suddenly died, as shamefully as he lived sinfully.

I wish, therefore, these new Arians to take heed, lest they hurt as much, under a colour of reforming and building up the church, as hereticks and open tyrants can do, by persecuting and pulling down. For, as Luther observes, often the greatest peril is on the right hand; in this sense we may cry out, Omnes amid omnes inimici, They may have the face of friendship, but not without the hearts and hands of foes; dealing with Christ, as Herod once did, who, altho' he was troubled at the report of the wise-men, which came, by the direction of a glorious star, to worship the sun of glory, then in a cloud of humanity; yet, to puta good face upon his wickedly intended fact, he pretends also to come and worship him; his full purpose being only, under that cloke, to smother the tender princely babe. As Satan, being the prince of darkness, is often transformed into an angel of light, to bring wretched men into utter darkness, thinking himself most happy, when he makes sinners, like himself, most unhappy: So the children of the devil have not seldom fair vizards to cover their foul faces. For where our enemy, the devil, cannot overthrow in open field of notorious wickedness, he labours to lie in the ambushment of dissembled sanctity; where he hangs not out bloody colours of defiance, as an open enemy, there he seeks to betray, as a seeming friend; when the lion's skin cannot, the fox's skin must then effect the design. They, that are inwardly ravening wolves, delight to come in sheep's clothing, which is indeed nothing else but precise titles of holiness, and mere outsides of Christianity, having linsey-woolsey garments, the plain web of simplicity withoutside, but the subtle thread of deceit witlrinside; their outside is of lamb's wool, whilst their inside is of fox's fur.

In the forehead of the whore of Babylon is written a mystery. So Paul calls the working of antichrist a mystery of iniquity; because the man of sin doth covertly and cunningly, serpent-like, wind his abominations into the church of Christ. At first they may appear like Elijah's cloud, little like a man's hand; but, in a short space, the heavens become black, with clouds of displeasure against them. Corruptions in ecclesiastical matters, as diseases in natural bodies, creep in insensibly, and sometimes come to that height, that neither the malady nor the medicine can be well endured. As we may exemplify it in the presbytery, which now assumes the infallible chair; having not the patience to have the truth of their doctrines, and dictates, tried by the sure touch-stone of the word of God, which is powerful to bring down strongholds, and every imagination that exalts itself; which alone is able to square and fit the stones for the new Jerusalem, the praise of the whole earth. I dare appeal to the court of their own consciences, that spiritual chancery, whether it be not enough to incur the censure of a sectary, either to dispute their infallibility, or for a layman to exercise the gifts of the spirit, especially that of prophecy? As if the charter in this kind belonged only to themselves, they maliciously deny this liberty to others; or, as if the Ix>rd Jesus, who ascended up on high, and gave gifts unto men, did ordain the disposing thereof only by the hands of the presbytery, which, being not washed in innocency, cannot present any to God's altar; whilst the pomegranate is wanting, their bells are out of tune.

I am sure the word of God is not bound to their mouths, neither can they be the only oracles to be consulted; though Moses and Aaron have a special mission, yet Eldad and Medad may have a special commission to prophesy in the camp.

The holy apostle, Paul, makes a paranetical oration in general terms, without the least exception, saying, ' Desire spiritual gifts, hut rather that ye may prophesy; for ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.' Peter's vote goes also with Paul's: For, saith he, 'as every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold graces of God.'

Is the spirit of prophecy only mounted on the wings of Mercuriits, or confined to the seven stars of the liberal sciences? Is Christ only learned in the schools of the philosophers, or only manifested by the knowledge of tongues? I tell you nay; for Paul had never been an apostle, by sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, but by casting himself down at the feet of Jesus; he was by the one a learned persecutor, by the other alone a most zealous professor. Yet I despise not human learning, acknowledging it a glorious ornament, and great instrument, where it is sanctified. But, if I should speak against it, I am confident the presbyterian clergy, for the most part, have least reason to speak against me, who little fear them, knowing, that too much learning will never make them mad. Yet I suppose them not to be well in their wits, whilst they strive to stop the mouths of God's saints, which, in a spiritual sense, are the heavens that declare the glory of God, and the firmament which sheweth his handy-work.

What, shall such assail by Christ's compass on this sea of glass, be driven back by the north-wind of blustering presbytery? Or shall they, that are guided by the pole-ttar of truth, be seized on by these pirates, who would rob God of his glory, and his people ofthat liberty, which is Christ's legacy, and hath continual residence with his spirit, and therefore appositely stiled glorious 9 God forbid; we have not so learned Christ, as, in any such case, to fear his enemies, in the midst of whom Christ must reign, and over whom Christ will ever triumph. Though 'the Kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel against the Lord, and against his anointed; those his enemies, who will not that he should reign over them,' shall be slain before his face. What must these his friendly enemies then expect, whilst they only wear Christ's colours, and fight not under his banners for tokens? Which I intend to display, to shew the motto's of their meaning.

Before Mars's dreadful artillery, with thundering eccho's, resounded in our land, and the late King, with his bishops, were in their glory; these Goliahs of presbytery, being then under a cloud, bemoaned themselves as the persecuted (though in most things complying) party: Whereupon, no sooner did a seasonable opportunity present itself to them, but each mouth of theirs was turned into a warlike trumpeti with a ' curse ye Meroz, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof,' &cNay, some of the clergy did not only animate the people against the said King, but did lead them on, making a covenant before men to preserve him, yet an agreement with hell to destroy him; which, if praying, preaching, fighting, lying, or the like, could effect, they were resolved to want no such ammunition.

Well, when their design prospered, by the adverse fate of the King and prelatical clergy; and they, like Pharaoh's lean kine, had eaten up all the fat kine, making themselves rich by others poverty, and great by their ruin; then they were, as the prophet speaks of the inhabitants of Babylon, mad upon their idols of presbytery, compelling the people to bow the knee to Baal, even in the picture of a lay-elder; which is an image in their kirk, and a dumb-shew in their mask. He, forsooth, must be subject with silence, whilst the priest lords it with impudence, taxing all the world with Augustus Caesar, and making his little finger heavier than the bishop's loins; each provincial classis having the platform of a High-Commission-Court, or Star-Chamber, where each petty trespass should have been looked upon in a multiply ing-glass, as a most heinous crime.

The nobles and gentlemen, with the honest commoners, should have been made slaves to their idle humours, and all dissenting brethren, as tributary Canaanites, to these feigned Israelites, which deem themselves the only Joshua's and Calebs, that arrive at the Canaan of a pure reformation, out of the wilderness of cursed superstition.

But give me leave to ask you, What difference there is in the presbyters enjoining sitting at the sacrament of the Lord's supper, and the bishops commanding kneeling? I can assure you, in both you may perceive no small tyranny over the weak consciences of our dear brethren, whom we ought to receive, not to doubtful disputations; wherefore saith the holy apostle in the same place,' Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath accepted and received him. Again, meat commendeth us not to God; for, neither if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.' If therefore, there be so much indifferency in the matter of eating, surely there can be no less, but rather more in the manner thereof; the posture cannot speak so loud as the mouth, of eating.

Moreover, what distinction is there between the bishops enjoining the observation of days, and the presbyterians inhibiting it? Believe it, in both is a breach of conscience-liberty; for the apostle holds it forth unto us very clearly, saying, 'One man esteemeth one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike; let every man be fully persuaded in his own conscience.'

'He that regardeth a day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.' . I therefore, suspect them to be hypocritical, who upon this account are so critical; and I fear they too much idolise their own chimera's, whilst they so much cry out against the people for, as they say, idolising certain days.

Furthermore, whilst the people are compelled to come to shrift before the priest and his lay-elders; what is this, but cousin-german to auricular confession, or at best, usurped jurisdiction over Christian souls; when they have liberty given by the apostle, to 'examine themselves, and so eat ofthat bread, and drink of that cup?' All which, and more, I refer to the censure of the godly-wise; and shall now declare these reformers carriage towards the parliament of England.

As Carolostadius, in Luther's age, did seem to desire the advancement of Christ's kingdom, in the flourishing of the gospel; but yet, notwithstanding his pretended zeal of God's house, he despised authority, neglected human laws, and was altogether transported with his own private humours of ambition and covetousness': So the prcsbytcrians seeing their Dagon fallen, notwithstanding all their great flourishes of piety, and brags of reformation, despise the present authority, because they are somewhat crossed in their ambition and avarice, the two poles which turn the heaven of their zealous pretences. For they came into the ministry, as Stratocles, and Dromoclidas, into the magistracy, tanquam ad auream messem, as it were to a golden harvest, following rather their tythe than their text, and fishing not so much with Peter's net, as his hook: O, it u a fish with money they seek after, according to that of the prophet: 'The priests'teach for hire, and the prophets divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us?'

With the untempered mortar of supposed sanctity, they raise up a Babel of presumption, from whose steep and elevated top, they precipitate their giddy followers; who shall at length, by woeful experience, find the tongues of these teachers heavier than the hands of Moses, when he was supported by Aaron and Hur. Yet, alas! How many poor creatures are seduced by them, who are honoured as the people of the Lord, though they be indeed of Korah's conspiracy?

Their mouth speaketh great swelling words, and these filthy dreamers despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities; God commanding the contrary, saying, Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, there is no power but of God, &c. sailh St. Paul. Besides, the Lord admonisheth the Jews, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the King of Babylon, and serve him, and his people, and live. Nay more, they were commanded to seek the peace of the city, and pray unto the Lord for it.

They therefore that break the peace of our land, fighting with the sword of their mouth against the magistrates, thereby with the fogs of sedition to obscure their light, and with the whirlwind of reproachful words, to blow out the lamp of their glory; such, I say, have their eyes put out, with Zedekiah, and are posting to Babylon, their souls confusion.

Yet such are our blessed presbyterians, whose words are as a fire, to kindle flames of dissension, and as an hammer, to break in pieces the fabrick of our present government, stirring up the people now against the parliament, as before they did against the King; altho' they covenanted to maintain the privilege thereof; yet they take so much privilege to

« AnteriorContinuar »