« AnteriorContinuar »
ly, George Fox) cried out, but on what occasion, he knoweth not,' Quakers, Quakers, earth is above God,' in the open house, before hundreds then present. At which, my friend wondered, and pressing forwards a little into the multitude, he saw some disputing upon the same words; who demanding what was the matter, one answered, that George Fox said, 'earth is above God'; and here is one saith,that whatsoever George Fox should do or say, he would maintain (pointing to a young man then standing by) to whom, my friend replied, he had undertaken a harder task, than he was able to perform: For God was the Creator of the earth, and all things else; and therefore above the earth, and not the earth above him, that created it; forasmuch as the workman is above his work: For, although an artificer shall by art compose any thing, that is never so excellent, yet it can claim no equality with the maker, in regard that what is excellent in it, is the Maker's excellency, and not its own: for, destroy the work, and the workman can make the like; but destroy the workman with the work, and both perish. To which he replied, he did not mean the earth under our feet, but earthly sin in man. To which my friend replied, that now his blasphemy was worse than it was before; for take the earth simply in itself, it hath no prejudice towards God; but sin is that, which seeks God's destruction, and therefore he was not to be conversed with, being of so diabolical an opinion.
One Stephens of London, being on a time at their meetings, with an intent to oppose what he should there hear, not agreeing with truth, which, at his first coming, he did for a short time, till one of them, taking him by the hand, and rubbing his wrist very hard; which put him to very sore pain, and so altered his resolution, that he was so transformed by their inchantments, that he since confessed, that, should any one whatsoever have dared to oppose or resist them, as he just before did, he would have stabbed them to the heart, whatsoever had come of it.
There is one Stephens (and it is supposed, the same) a Quaker, that now lieth stark mad, and hath so been a pretty while, through the disturbances of that spirit, which ruleth in the old Quakers.
A CASE OF CONSCIENCE,
Whether it be lawful to admit Jews into a christian commonwealth? Resolved by Mr. John Dury: written to Samuel Hartlib, esq.
London, printed for Richard Wodeuothe, in Leadenhall-street, next to the Golden Heart, 1656- Quarto, containing twelve pages.
I FIND it the practice of most of the protestant commonwealths here in Germany, to admit of the Jews, but they do it with a huge mark of distinction between them and others; by which means they are made vile and contemptible. In the Cantons of Switzerland they are not admitted, no not so much as to travel through the country, or to come into a town or city without leave, and paying a certain duty, or tostay in a city over night; which is said to befall unlo them, by reason of some heinous conspiracy (to do a mischief to the country, where they had liberty to live) attempted by them. I know none of the reformed churches or divines, who make their admission to be unlawful; but it isa work which the civil magistrate takes wholly into his own consideration, to do, or not to do therein, what he finds expedient for the advantage of the state; nor do I remember to have read or heard that the case hath ever been put to any of the churches, to be scanned as a matter of conscience.
There is one of the chief reformed divines, Doctor Alteng, who, in his Problematical Theology, Part II. Problem 21. puts this question: Utrtim Judcei in Societate Christianortm toleramli sint? And he doth. answer it affirmatively, and I am clearly of his opinion, that it is not only lawful, but, if matters be rightly ordered towards them, expedient to admit of them; nay, to invite and encourage them to live in reformed christian commonwealths. How far it may be a sin to refuse them admittance, when they do desire it, upon lawful terms, and in a reasonble way, is a further question, which cannot be decided, till the former points of the lawfulness and expediency of admitting of them be made out.
The apostle makes a large difference between things lawful and expedient to be done, 1 Cor. x. from verse 23, till the end of the chapter. Things are said to be lawful, which, being looked upon in themselves, are not repugnant to any law of God, or of nature; and consequently left free to be done, if there be some cause found inducing thereunto; or not to be done, if there be causes found tobe contrary; in which, resp?ct things lawful are counted indifferent, that is, by themselves, not putting any obligation upon the conscience, to determine it either for doing or not doing, but leaving it at liberty to be determined by the concurrence of other circumstances, which make the doing or not doing of the thing good or bad, as cloathed with such and such qualities concomitant or consequent. An example of concomitant circumstances, making an action, in itself lawful, not to be expedient at a certain time, is given by the apostle, 1 Cor. x. 27, 28, 2,0. An example of a thing, though lawful, yet not expedient, by reason of a consequent circumstance, is given, 1 Cor. vi. 12, 13. And another of the same kind, touching the receiving of wages, for doing the work of the ministry, I Cor. ix. 14, 15, 16, 17, IS. Which the apostle shews was not expedient for him to receive, though it was commanded by God to be given.
By this notion of lawful and expedient actions, we must look upon the admitting of the'Jews, if the question be in respect of lawfulness, without any limitation to be answered affirmatively; for taking Jews as they are, that is, men of a strange nation, who are banished from the country of their inheritance, and made pilgrims and wanderers through the world; a people in misery and distress, and so an object of hospita« E e 4
lity; there is no doubt but they may lawfully be received into any civil society of men, to live and have a being therein, as strangers. For it is not lawful for them to desire to be received upon any other terms, because the rest of the world must be ingrafted upon them towards God, and not they upon any other people. For, in respect of God's providential government of the world, the prerogative is still theirs, to be a people set a-purt above all others, for the manifestation both of his mercies and judgments. I say, then, that they being such a people set a-part, not only in their forefathers, but in their present state, for such an end, and in this state being made strangers every where, and not lawful for them to make any other account of themselves: and God having recommended the entertainment of strangers, as a special duty of charity unto all christians; and no nation of the world being a greater object of charity, and fitter to be pitied by christians, than Jews: It is clear to me, that, if the question be put in general terms, concerning the lawfulness of admitting them, the answer cannot be other than affirmative. But, if the question be made concerning the expediency of admitting of them at such and such a time, in this or that place, upon those or these terms, then 1 suppose the great rules of expediency are to be observed, which are, 1. In respect of God's glory, according to the apostle's direction, 1 Cor. x. 31. 'Whether, therefore,ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.' Whatsoever, then, conducelh to the glory of God, is not only lawful, but expedient to be done. 2. In respect of our neighbours, there is a twofold rule, the one is of edification, the other avoiding offences. The rule of edification is expressed by the same apostle, in the same chapter, verses 23, 24, in these words,'All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every one that which is another's.' Where the 23d verse puts not expedient and not edifying for equivalent terms, expounding each other, and equidistant from that which is lawful. And the 24th verse shews what is meant by edifying. The rule of avoiding offence is again in the same place expressed, verse 32,' Give no offence, neither to the Jews nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God. Even as I please all men,' cVc. 3. In respect of ourselves the rule is, that we ourselves be not thereby deprived of our christian or civil liberty; which the apostle expresseth, 1 Cor. vi. 12, in these words: 'All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any' If, in the circumstances of their admission, nothing be found contrary to those rules, but all can be made consonant to the glory of God, to the edification of others, without danger of offence, and without bringing a yoke upon ourselves; then their admission will be judged not only lawful, but also expedient; and to determine, how the circumstances may agree with those rules, doth belong chiefly to those to whom the power of admitting of them is given by God; that is, to the rulers of the state, without whose consent no societies ought to be formed in the state. For, seeing the Jews o>me into christian commonwealths, not as members thereof, but as strangers therein, and yet form a society, or kind of commonwealth among themselves, it can belougto none pertinently to judge of the expediencyof admitting ofthem, but unto those whom God hath set over the commonwealth to procure the welfare thereof. Others may beconsulted withal concerning particular circumstances, which may be proposed unto them, to hear their opinion what they will judge of them; but, upon the whole matter, none ought to give a verdict, but such as can compare all circumstances at once, with the frame of the whole state, to discern, by the forenamed rules, whether their admission be expedient or not. And, seeing it may stand in their own power, by the admission of them, to order things so towards them, as to make all circumstances consonant to the rules of expediency, I conceive it will be their duty, when they are intreated so to do, to endeavour the performance thereof; and, if they do not so, I know not how to excuse them from a failing in the duty of their calling. And although particular persons, to whom the judgment, super totam materuun, doth not belong, ought not to meddle beyond their lint in the business; yet being required to contribute their assistance and advice, how to frame things in a way towards them, which is most expedient, they ought not to refuse it. Therefore I also shall put in my mite among the rest, although I am at a great distance for the present, and cannot know how things stand at home.
If then the question be, how their admission may beso circumstantiated, as to answer the forenamed rules of expediency? I would advise thus:
I. To advance the glory of God by their admission, I conceive they must be restrained from some things, and may be fairly induced to some other things. The things, from which they must be restrained, are chiefly these: 1. Not to blaspheme the person of Jesus Christ, or, if any doth, that he shall be liable to the law which Moses hath given, in case ot blaspheming the name of God. 2. Not to ieduce any, or go about to make proselytes; or, if any doth, he shall, ipso facto, forfeit his liberty, or undergo some other heavier punishment. 3. Not to prophane the christian sabbath, but to rest upon it, as well as upon their own sabbath; and not to dishonour any of the ordinances of Christianity, under some punishment to he inflicted, suitable to the offence.
Thp things, whereunto they may be fairly induced, are, as I conceive, these: 1. To hear us concerning the grounds which we have for Christianity, and that with patience, and without contradicting contentiously; but, in case of doubts, that they should propose the same by way of question to be resolved, that we may have cause to give them a reason of our faith and practice. 2. To declare to us the grounds of all their faith and practice, and to answer such questions as we happily may propose to be resolved by them, upon suck a declaration. 3. To avoid on both sides all contradictory disputes in these conferences, and not to trouble any of the weaker sort of either side, with the matters to be handled therein, but only to set them a foot amongst a few of the rabbies of each side in a friendly way. Here at Cassel something hath been intended this way, by obliging them to come once a month to a leeture, wherein the grounds of Christianity were opened unto them; and although few or none have been thereby so openly converted, as to embrace all the truth; yet some of them have been so moved, that they have wept much sometimes at the things which they have heard. Also a small catechism of our belief, concerning the Messiah, hath been penned for them, and they have been obliged to read it, and learn it, so as to answer to the questions contained therein, that it might appear they were not ignorant of our meaning, for the aim was only to glorify God in this. For the glory of our God is chiefly made manifest in his truth and faithfulness to make good his word,for he hath ' magnified his word above all his works'; and if we can order their admission so, as to manifest unto them the truth of his word revealed unto us by the promises of the gospel, in the knowledge of his name; and so lay that knowledge before them in the lump, that they cannot hut see that God hath appeared unto us, and doth rule us by spirit and truth and makes a great difference between our communion with himself and their literal worshiping of him; if, I say, we can contrive, in their admission, the business so towards them, that they shall not only be restrained from dishonouring our God and his ordinances, or overthrowing his truth in the minds of any, but that they shall be made to seethe goodness of God's mercy to us, that he hath adopted us to be his people in their stead; then the first rule of expediency will be observed, and there will be no great difficulty to contrive the business so, that the other rules also will be put in practice. Now, concerning the method of spiritual prudence, how to go about this work towards them, is a subject too large to be entered upon at this time. One caveat only may be suggested at present, which is this, that the scanning of particular questions and doubts which they may have concerning the genealogy of Christ, and other circumstantial matters in the New Testament, should be avoided, and the main undeniable truths wherein the Old and Nevr Testament agree, and which makeup the substance of saving knowledge, and of the practice of piety, and the fulfilling both of the promises made to us, and the threatenings denounced against them, should be only insisted upon, and branched out, to let them see the body of the whole truth of God, made out to us, and our endeavour to glorify God thereby.
And thus much shall be at this time hinted at, concerning the observation of the first rule of expediency towards them in their admission; which being not only feasable, but a main duty incumbent to all christian magistrates to intend and endeavour, it is to me evident, that their admission is not only lawful, but expedient also.
II. To advance their edification by their admission, according to the second rule of expediency; I conceive matters may be so ordered towards them, that they may be made to understand, that the intention of the state,in admitting of them, is not to have profit or temporal advantages by them (which may be had as well by our own industry, and perhaps better, without theirs) but rather out of christian love and compassion towards them; and in witness of our thankfulness to God, for the good which hath been derived from them to us; and for the